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Once Upon A Are You Kidding Me?

Welcome to “Once Upon A Are You Kidding Me?”, a new tradition I just started that will bring you the best worst parts of Once Upon a Time and maybe stop me from wanting to punch various members of the Charming family in the face. (But probably not.)

Hiatus is over, and this show is back with a ship-load of mommy issues. That ain’t even a metaphor. There’s a literal ship. Cora’s on it, so you know Storybrooke’s fucked for the foreseeable future.

The original Evil Mother Archetype. Also Rumpelstiltskin's fault.

Just before the winter break, we found out that Cora was the Queen of Hearts (seriously, did anyone NOT see that coming?), that Regina sent Hook to kill her mommy dearest (because she has a soft side, but not THAT soft), and that her mom still outmatches her at Evil Queening and meant to leap out of the coffin Regina put her in and put Regina in it instead (or something involving removable hearts, I don’t know).

Of course, then Regina told her mom’s corpse that she still loved her and Cora decided to go back to the emotional manipulation and torture rather than skipping straight to death. She only wants what’s best for her daughter, you’ll see!

This brings us right up to the point of my post: How do you solve a problem like Regina?

What did you expect with a mother like mine? Also: Rumpelstiltskin again.

I am a sucker for redemption storylines, which means that Regina has my undivided attention this season. Okay, that’s a lie. Robert Carlyle still owns me on this show, and continues to be my main reason for watching it. He has a fever… and the only solution… is more scenery-chewing!

Once upon a time, Rumpelstiltskin did everything. The end.

Okay, that’s another post entirely. Back to Regina. Redemption storylines and lost children and broken people just trying to make families work are pretty much my narrative bread and butter. Emma’s relationship with Henry is what drew me into this show, but it’s turning into Regina’s relationship with Henry that’s keeping me coming back (apart from the RC).

I appreciate that Regina was essentially the Devil in Fabulous Couture (look, she wore a lot more than the occasional blue dress) in FTL, but I’m thinking that Storybrooke needs to take a page out of the Fabletown Charter here and get to making a General Amnesty. I mean, Regina’s not the only baddie running around. Why the hell did no one immediately worry about King George when the curse broke? If I was David, even with all the other shit going down, I sure as hell would have spared a thought for my estranged, murderous quasi-adoptive dad. I’m also sure there’s a variety of witches, trolls, evil dukes, murderous husbands, and the like likewise lurking about the place. We need organization, trials, and amnesty-granting-if-applicable. Stat.

But going beyond that, Storybrooke has been treated as the land of Second Chances for so many of these characters. In a way, it’s their afterlife, complete with personally tailored trials leading to enlightenment . The alleged ultimate Good Guys should be standing firm and making sure Regina gets as much of a fair shake as everyone else, assuming she’s willing to put the work in.

Wait, I didn’t even tell you what I was bitching about. See, Archie supposedly got murdered this episode. Here’s what’s ridiculous about “The Cricket Game”:

1. Police procedure? Fuck police procedure. If you think that Emma set up a police cordon, documented evidence, or engaged in any forensic procedures at all, you’d be sadly mistaken. She just ran in and looked at a corpse. She did not even order an autopsy of said corpse, even though there was no apparent physical evidence of how death occurred. Instead, she immediately listened to circumstantial evidence from a biased third party.

2. Dog memories! Fuck sense impressions and the fact Pongo knew it wasn’t actually Regina. Instead of utilizing any forensic procedures, Emma decided to embrace MAGIC. She doesn’t understand magic, nor does she understand how magic might be manipulated to tell a different story. She doesn’t even wonder if maybe a human trying to interpret a dog’s memories – something based on smell as much as sight – might not give them a perfect picture of events. (This was maddening, especially since we-the-audience know that Pongo knew Regina wasn’t Regina in the murder scene. There may have been yelling at the television.) But, hey, Emma didn’t think forensic science was useful at all! So why should she be logical enough to realize maybe she’s not precisely equipped to translate a dog’s memories?

Also, guys: their star witness is a dog, and not even a dog that can talk. No special intelligence there. Just a dog.

3. Magic! Fuck the fact we know we have it and it can do shit like make disguises. There’s magic loose in Storybrooke now. Everyone seems to be assuming that only Rumpelstiltskin and Regina have it (since there’s no reliable reserve of fairy dust), which definitely blows my mind. See aforementioned comment about how there are probably all kinds of witches and sea-witches and the like running around. There are a lot of fairy tales, guys, and plenty of naughty magic-users in them. Emma knows nothing about magic or how it works, so she should be assuming that magic can do ANYTHING. Her supposed super-power told her Regina didn’t know Archie was dead. You’d think she would have theorized magic was used to frame Regina – the most hated woman in town – before they went straight to dog memories.

4. Redemption! Fuck your redemption, Emma’s the only one who gets to redeem herself for her son. It pisses me off to no end that Regina’s positive actions are completely ignored by the so-called Good Guys on the show. Snow White is supposed to be this incredibly compassionate woman who has wanted nothing more than to see Regina trying to fix things.  Somehow, however, she completely misses that Regina risked her own life to open the well for her and Emma. And I guess Charming never bothered to fill her in on what Regina did to stop Daniel, aka her One True Love, aka the source of her conflict with Snow. All to save Henry! (Okay, so Charming doesn’t know what precisely happened. He does know Daniel disappeared.) The characterization of Snow, Emma, and Charming is horribly inconsistent when it comes to Regina.

Then there’s this, from “The Price of Gold”:

Followed by this in “The Cricket Game”:

Way to not be a hypocrite, Emma.

5. Mothering! Fuck the fact that I should support what you want, I’m gonna isolate you and abuse the hell out of you. Horowitz and Kitsis are on record as saying that the motivation for every single character in this show comes down to love. In the case of Cora, this makes me horribly sick. She is the consummate abuser, and, yes, it’s true that love and abuse can be so very tangled that you can’t separate one from the other. It’s also true that the abusive parent or spouse is a very basic premise in a number of fairy tales, a way of teaching people that those who love you (or should love you) can still hurt you in terrible ways and that it’s okay to fight back. It’s still awfully uncomfortable to watch, and makes me root for Regina even more and even despite the awful things she’s done that still require atonement.

Look, it’s okay if the show wants to break Regina down to her most basic parts, so that all that’s left is her and she can choose to stand back up as a decent person. I don’t mind that all. Very Inanna of them. Yes, please, let this glorious goddess be broken so she can remake herself. What I do hate is stupid writing, and stupid writing is what’s driving this plot. Characters are making bad decisions. That are out of character.

At least the show’s not falling down too terribly on the dialogue front, and let me tell you: the Evil Queens continue to have the best damn dialogue on this show. To wit, two awesome barbs thrown by Regina and Cora this episode:

Dr. Hopper: I said nothing specific. I would never betray the doctor-patient confidentiality.
Regina: Doctor? Doctor?! Need I remind you, you got your PhD from a curse!

* * *

Hook: If that’s him, then who did you kill?
Cora: How do I know? It’s my first day in town.

Once Upon A Are You Kidding Me? out. We’ll meet here again the next time OUAT is the worst.


Once Upon a Time GIFs courtesy of athomewithlana and vollha, both on Tumblr. If I’ve mis-attributed any gifsets, please let me know and I’ll correct my mistake.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Fair Escape January 14, 2013, 6:07 PM

    Completely agree with your assessment that this show occasionally tosses character intelligence and internal consistency out the window in favor of progressing plot. I also have trouble believing that magical manipulation/shape shifting/etc. was never considered, not even by people who might want to believe Regina was innocent. (You’d think Henry might suggest it?) I can accept that the town exists in a strange isolation, and maybe they don’t have access to forensic labs and such, but I would also kind of like to see Emma at least try- maybe take some pictures or something.

    Emma’s hypocrisy doesn’t bother me so much- I think it actually makes for an interesting flaw on her part- it’s very human and very real. I don’t know if it was even intentional on the part of the writers, but I’m choosing to treat it like it is.

    Another thing that bugged me? I couldn’t believe the scene where Mulan gave Belle a sword and told her she had to believe in herself. What the hell? Belle hasn’t had a day of martial training in her life and said as much. Well, the plot needed Belle to discover Philip, so off she goes. The whole “ha ha ha little girl, books can’t help!” was pretty heavy handed. I know they’re trying to make Belle seem special by contrasting her with people who don’t like books, but that was over the top.

    Thanks for posting- I stumbled onto your tumblr awhile back and have been lurking, and it’s nice to read someone’s well thought out opinions on the show.

    • Deborah January 15, 2013, 4:37 PM

      Thank you for commenting! I guess it is possible that Regina never went through a crime drama phase (she’s totally a closet TVphile, right?) and so didn’t revise her town to include a nice forensic lab with specialists. But still! Emma should have tried something, as you mention.

      I agree that Emma’s hypocrisy makes for a nuanced character. To be honest, much of my frustration regarding Emma’s treatment of Regina is accentuated by the fact that I like the idea of Swan Queen. I’d really love to see a “Henry Has Two Mommies” storyline, especially since there hasn’t been any non-hetero love on this show as yet.

      Oh, good grief. “The Outsider.” I definitely have another Once Upon A Are You Kidding Me? brewing for “The Outsider.”

      • Fair Escape January 15, 2013, 5:07 PM

        Oops, I was confusing “The Outsider” with “Cricket Games.” Looking forward to your post on that.

  • Brittany January 15, 2013, 12:03 AM

    Brilliant as always, you’re excellent at hitting on the deep rooted problems in this show.

    • Deborah January 15, 2013, 4:38 PM

      Brit, thank you! Wait until you read what I have to say about “The Outsider.”

  • RVCBard February 5, 2013, 2:39 AM

    Thank you for saying all this.

    • Deborah February 5, 2013, 6:30 PM

      Thank you for reading!

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