March 7, 2015

The Darkness on The Edge of Town — Once Upon a Time's mid-season return is everything that's good and bad about the series

images from ABC      
We all love how #OUAT boldly goes where no show has ever gone before, mixing fairy tales with out of place Disney flicks that aren't, working Frozen in before the movie's first birthday, turning Red Riding Hood into a werewolf, Snow White into a bandit (and a badass), Peter Pan into Rumplestiltskin's dad, that sort of thing — and season four part two promises its own bold choices. It's pretty bold to use up three villains in one half season, for example. If they run out of villains, that'll pretty much be the end of the show, but nonetheless, creators Kitsis and Horowitz are using up Cruella De Vil, Ursula and Maleficent all at one time. 

But the best part is, the introduction of these three villains is really just to serve the purpose of bringing back our favorite: Mr. Gold. If you thought at the end of the half season that Mr. Gold being banished from Storybrooke forever meant he'd never come back to Storybrooke ... Well, deary, you shouldn't underestimate the dark one.

Another thing we love about Once Upon a Time is the visuals — the images and the montages that real fans will get, and connect with, that make us smile, like Emma reaching for her sheriff's badge from the bottom of her closet when things go back to normal, Snow teaching a class about ornithology, and Regina with a huge smile on her face while she burns a painting of a bird (wait, why did she burn the painting of the bird? I don't get it).

The Darkness on the Edge of Town opened with a montage of all of our favorite images: the mayor's office with the bowl of red apples, Hook waiting by Emma's yellow bug with a cup of coffee, Henry outside Granny's before school.

Actually, I'm lying — the episode opened on a ridiculously over the top, garishly colored and jarring scene taking place "Many years ago ..." with cheesy special effects and terrible writing in which the three lady villains, Cruella, Ursula and Maleficent, verbally spar and throw cheesy special effects at each other in attack. But I want to stick to the good, and on the pretty parts of #OUAT. I'm a big fan of Ursula in front of the aquarium. Let's focus on that.

Things are back to normal in Storybrooke, but the new normal is that Mr. Gold isn't allowed in and Belle has to cope with a broken heart, while Hook beats himself up for letting Gold manipulate him. I love all this stuff. I mean, in a way it's the same old story, but now there are fairies trapped inside a magic hat that Emma and Regina have to set free. That's different.

What I'm getting at is that what's good about Once Upon a Time is the fusion of the real world and the Disney world, Captain Hook referring to computer as a magic box and Ursula making sure Gold knows how the microwave works. Dwarves in Maine and sea witches in New York City. Cruella going bankrupt and having her house and assets seized by the IRS and Ursula living in a crappy apartment. That's what's so good about this show.

That better not be the last Ramen.
The flashbacks can go either way, though. Two stories wove between each other in The Darkness on The Edge of Town — the heroes in Storybrooke free the fairies while the villains in the enchanted forest fight a monster thing I never got the name of. I know they need to weave together but did that fight scene really need equal screen time to Gold's entire plan to get back to Storybrooke, Emma and Regina's defeat of the same monster thing, and Ursula and Cruella's meeting with the Charmings? A lot happened on the real world side to move that story forward, but we had to plow through an equal amount of, as Hook puts it, "monster bashing" to get to the good stuff.

The half-season to come makes a lot of interesting promises, though. We're definitely going to get Cruella's story, foreshadowed when she says "I will never go back to where I started." We can assume there will be more of Ursula's origin story, for fairness sake. Next episode will explain what the the Charmings want Ursula and Cruella to keep secret (or it had better). And the theme of this half season seems to be the corruptibility of the savior. Emma is definitely going over to the dark side. That's what I'm looking forward to the most, and here's for hoping she steps into Regina's old shoes and really embodies the "e" word: evil.

There were strong points and weak points in this episode for sure. My comment board is a good place to air your complaints! Did you love it or hate it? Which parts made you cringe?

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