Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Once Upon a Time, Season 5, Episode 23: An Untold Story

Hyde’s steampunk world looks kind of awesome, to be honest. I want to see a lot more of its shininess. This is apparently a world where all the lost stories play out.

Jekyll isn’t entirely defeated, or so it seems, he may have lost the wand but he does still dare to try and release the Charmings, Killian and Zelena so they can help him make a potion. One that will finally separate him from Hyde.

And it works. Because Hyde wants it to. He quite likes the idea of being separate from Jekyll all the time and not being suppressed – especially since he’s super strong and highly magically resistant. The good guys have to run and still have no way to return home

In New York, Emma and Regina have discovered that the inept foursome have been sucked into another world

Emma: My Parents, Hook and Zelena got pulled into a portal!
Regina: Again?!

That’s some quality 4th wall scratching snark there Regina.

So they need a plan – especially since, with Gold having the crystal, they have no magic. Unless they work with him; which is what Regina tries to do, portraying her recent tragedy as having pushed her back over the edge to full blown evil queen mode.

Gold doesn’t buy it. Nicely skewering everything Regina said last episode, he says she has changed too much, become too good a person to slide back into evil queen-ness. Her Redemption Train is too complete. And he plans to kill them all

Except Henry and his anti-grail he happened to just run across with which he sucks up all the magic. Which means no death. But it also means no way to open a portal. Now what are they going to do?

See an Asian stereotype of course! A man called The Dragon who came straight out of central-casting for Enigmatic Asian Mystic is duly cryptic and vague in advising them that there is magic in the world if they just believe

It comes to something when even Once Upon a Time where everyone, his dog and his puppet has magic, still has to resort to POC-woo-woo to help the predominantly white cast.

This inspiring vagueness and a little CGI with a terribly rendered flower now puts Henry back on team Magic (I know teenagers are supposed to have mood swings but c’mon!) and he’s willing to open a portal to a completely unknown realm by convincing a crowd of New Yorkers to believe in magic next to a wishing well

I’m not even going to try and describe this scene in more detail because it’s so ridiculous it doesn’t deserve. Y’know I said Zeus was a terribly convolute Deus Ex Machina two episodes ago? Clearly it was just foreshadowing this nonsense. Did the writers all get drunk and then, about 2:00am, realise they still had two episodes to write and quickly scrabbled “wishing well, I believe in fairies, fuck it clap or something. Portal, spooky Asian guy – what a name? Dragon? That’s asiany right? Yeah call it done. Pass the tequila”?

Hey, remember in Neverland when Henry’s super power was his childish inability to grow up and stop being so damn naive? Well turns out it’s fecking catching because a speech is all it takes to make New Yorkers believe in magic and not just laugh at him

So the whole gang is returned to New York and there’s much hugging and now everyone believes it’s a show (what they believe a kid making a speech, but a fountain turning into a tree is a trick? The writers passed out about now. It’s the janitor trying to finish the script. There should be no reduction in quality) so they don’t have to deal with any complexities like the world learning about magic

Good gods just let this end. Never have I seen an episode so obviously phoned in in my life. Seriously, I sat through the Neverland bullshit. I endured the Frozen nonsense. Once Upon a Time you have already reached and surpassed your nonsense quota.

Ok, happily ever after twist: so Regina is still all tormented because of Robin dying and her belief that she’s constantly struggling against evil impulses and endless cursed with her dark side’s karma. Since convincing her that she’s already been redeemed doesn’t work, we decide it’s time to magically wipe the slate clean by using Jeckyll’s serum to separate Good Regina from Evil Queen.

Oh dear gods there’s so much wrong with this. Can we start with how just manifesting your evil side to absolve yourself is a really shitty morality lesson? Or how Regina may have lost her true love but still has friends and family and still has good things? Or how it’s such a terrible idea to make major life decisions while grieving? Or because the show just can’t give her a damn break for a second that her Redemption Train can never reach the station – and we know, we KNOW, this is going to backfire which is just going to lead to MORE Regina pain. Or how about the fact these two episodes of Regina suffering and thinking she’s evil (AGAIN oh gods, again, didn’t we resolve this with the White magic rescue of Henry? Or Emma refusing to let Regina become the Dark One? Didn’t we do this already?) is actually more storyline and involvement than Regina has had this entire season?

Of course they do it, summon the Evil Queen and Regina kills her (wait, can we address the “good side” when you just crushed someone’s heart? Snow White killed Cora and then Took To Her Bed from the evilness of it all!)

At least good Regina can let go of her angst? Maybe?

They restore magic to Storybrooke (Henry is still team magic. Oh and there’s some shit about Valerie's daughter is from Connecticut) 

And Hyde appears – because Rumplestiltskin has pulled some naughty shenanigans. Of course he has.

While the Evil Queen is Not Dead (are we shocked? I’m not shocked. No-one is shocked. If you’re shocked than you are drunker than the writers) and she hunts down Asian Stereotype guy and rips out his heart. Why? Who even knows. At least we get to admire her awesome wardrobe

Can I stick a fork in it now? Is it done?

Well, well done Once Upon a Time I actually really liked this season, the underworld and the whole Dark Swan storyline – I was going to miss this show. Thank you for ending in a way that leaves me not missing you one damn iota, and ensuring I will regard your return with the same enthusiasm as a bar tender opening his doors to a bus full of evangelical teetotallers.

These last three episodes have relied on some really broken and convoluted storytelling to force the plot along. It’s been a problem all season but these last three have been utterly terrible. This ending is garbage. Utter, terribly written, inexcusable tripe and everyone involved should be ashamed.

But yes, in terms of the season, I did like this storyline, the plots, the twists the whole Dark One storyline. It was fun. There were flaws: Regina’s non presence is an issue. Zelena’s rapid redemption an extreme issue. This season has also been terrible with POC – it has raised our hopes with the presence of Mulan, Merlin, Lancelot, Guinevere and Nimue, definite, powerful, capable and interesting POC and one by one they were killed off or dropped in the plot box (along with Regina’s storylines). I stress again, this show has an immensely HUGE cast, a ridiculously huge cast and it’s appallingly whitewashed. POC presence is so minor – and to have some tiny attempt to correct that be so callously dashed aside, these characters be so ill used and discarded is appalling.

I will return to give a nod to Once Upon a Time having it’s first non-ambiguous, non-deniable LGBTQ characters in FIVE SEASONS (with that aforementioned HUGE straight cast). Ruby is bisexual. Dorothy is a lesbian or bisexual. They appeared, they kissed and they went back to the plot box. One episode. I could almost hear the writers yell “there, are you happy?! Now shut the fuck up and let’s return to the hetfest.” No it wasn’t bad, but it was tiny.

I see no real indication in the coming season we’re going to see an improvement with the POC or LGBTQ characters, sadly. But I do hope the writers sober up and manage to serve up better than this.