I began my Jerome-ing the TV Landscape column just about a year ago, and for my 25th column, I decided to go back and revisit the very first. Entitled Why Once Upon a Time Is the New Lost, it examines the similarities between the ABC shows, which share writers and producers. After watching last night’s Once Upon a Time mid-season finale, the parallels are even more striking, providing new fodder to muse over, without repeating the same points as before.
At the end of season three of Lost, the Oceanic Six left the island. This was a huge deal because it took many of the main characters home and turned a corner in the storytelling, focusing less on the characters’ pasts and more on the present and future. In fact, when talking about the series as a whole, this makes a very specific break, and Lost can be discussed as two separate halves that fit together nicely.
Once Upon a Time is only midway through its third year, but something very similar has happened. As the most recent episode ends, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Henry (Jared Gilmore) leave Storybrooke, their memories wiped, and everyone else returns to the Enchant Forest. This effectively find the characters split up and returning home, which obviously ruins the premise of the show.
“We have to go back!”
Those words, echoed repeatedly by Jack (Matthew Fox) on Lost apply. The aforementioned episode doesn’t even close out before Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) is knocking on Emma’s door, trying to tell her that the family she doesn’t remember is in danger. Emma is the Savior, as Jack was, and they have to be where the action is in order to save the day. I don’t know how Emma will get back and if that journey will be quick (it’s likely to be a great deal easier for her than it was for Jack, though both south places not on any map), but that has to be an immediate focus when the show is next on the air.
A hero’s accomplishments are not just given, they must be earned. Emma has done a few notable things, such as breaking the original curse, but she hasn’t really lived up to her power or potential yet. I do not know if this will be her moment, but it seems an opportune time, based on the tiny bit of magic we’ve seen her produce before now and her being in a unique position, outside of the Enchanted Forest, to do things those within surely cannot.
Plus, Emma’s choice between Hook and Neal (Michael Raymond-James) is eerily similar to Kate’s (Evangeline Lilly) decision of Jack or Sawyer (Josh Holloway). You could compare Emma to Jack, who had Kate or Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell), but the swarthy, smarmy Hook is absolutely a Sawyer, so I like the first triangle better.
This entire fall run, in which a number of main characters were in Neverland instead of Storybrooke, feels like when several of the castaways went back in time and worked for the Dharma Initiative in the 1970s. They were separated from their friends, but their actions were still relevant to the normal setting. They were in an unfamiliar place, but adapted as they needed to in order to get by, biding their time until they could get home.
Of course, the daddy of all comparisons is that of daddy issues. Lost‘s Jack and Christian (John Terry) have nothing on Rumple (Robert Carlyle) and Peter Pan (Robbie Kay). There is some death and disapproval involved, but the most similar thing about both is that a father and son just can’t get along, since one show takes things to a whole other plane above the other. A plane that won’t crash like Oceanic 815 did.
Emilie de Ravin was benched twice. Granted, Lost left her out her for an entire season and Once Upon a Time just skipped most of the fall episodes, but still, she was missing and her absence was felt.
Lastly, as OUAT fans saw in the preview for the spring return, Rebecca Mader, a Lost alum, will be playing the Wicked Witch of the West. Funnily enough, Lost also contained Wizard of Oz references, with Ben (Michael Emerson) originally claiming his name was Henry Gale.
Sadly, Once Upon a Time still falls short of Lost. Even in the best of episodes, there are usually lots of places to poke holes in the writing or the continuity on OUAT. Yet, it remains an entertaining series, so should it never rise to Lost‘s lofty heights, it doesn’t shame its forefather, either.