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  1. companionenvy

    S05.E08: Birth

    This arc is a major reason I just couldn't continue with my rewatch. Because in some respects, season 5 was a return to form after a dreadful 4B. A lot of the ideas are genuinely interesting, both from a character and plot perspective; I think the twist with Hook being a dark one - even if it was a little illogical - really worked. But the moral scales are so woefully unbalanced that I simply can't enjoy it. Emma isn't justified in everything she does. But her "evil" deeds - especially in the context of a world in which so many arch-villains have now been accepted as part of team hero -- aren't nearly as bad as they're being portrayed, and I agree that, if the other characters were being written like actual human beings, other people would have agreed with her. It is one thing for Snowing or Henry to be horrified by DO Emma's Slytherin-esque plotting, but her idea of killing one villain for the greater good should have been taken a lot more seriously than it was. It hearkens back to season 2 and the unanimous horror at her suggestion that just maybe letting mass-murderer Regina die to save the town that she herself had imperiled was a better option than hoping for the best. That's on top of the absolute unfairness of her situation. I get that life can be unfair. But it isn't always, and it screams of manipulation when a show repeatedly punishes its hero for doing heroic things and blames her for acting like a human in impossible situations while simultaneously letting other characters off the hook for egregious crimes. Worse, it simply isn't enjoyable to watch.
  2. The thing is, I often like the move from "Good vs Evil" to "Its Complicated." The issue here is that it wasn't actually complicated at all. EQ era Regina was written as a narcissistic sociopath who actively enjoyed causing people pain whether or not it was necessary to her goals. While she had legitimately suffered in the past (abusive mom, Daniel's murder), that suffering was laughably inadequate as a meaningful explanation for her crimes; there was never a sense of "Well, obviously she's doing terrible things, but I can understand how a fundamentally decent person might be twisted into this under the circumstances." This is especially true given the horror show that is the backstory of most characters on the show. Compounding it is the fact that her life was, for pretty much the entire period of her reign, one of extraordinary power and privilege, and one that left her with tons of agency. Within the "present day" timeframe, Regina is the acknowledged villain of season one, and in that capacity is as sociopathic as she is in her flashbacks. She reverts to form in the second half of season 2, and as late as season 4 is doing things like contemplating murder as a solution to her sads. Inexplicably, we are asked to sympathize with her throughout this. To compensate, the show then has to drag down other characters. But the showrunners consistently demonstrate a warped sense of both context and proportion. Sometimes, they frame legitimate acts of self-defense or moments of righteous anger as atrocity and darkness. In other cases, they have heroes do legitimately bad and sometimes OOC things, but even beyond the character assassination of it all, it doesn't work because even the worst actions by the "heroes" don't hold a candle to Regina's crimes. Like, Snowing were dead wrong to do what they did to Lily, but there's simply no comparison for an isolated, selfish action taken guiltily on behalf of one's own child and a parade of gleefully performed atrocities. The reason, I think, that the show wound up being commercially successful in spite of this is that casual viewers - the vast majority of any audience -- generally accept the narrative being presented on screen at any given moment. They may not even have seen every other episode, and certainly haven't watched them twice or pored over them on internet forums. So, if the show is being written as if Regina is redeemed and has a sympathetic past and is now worthy of being a member of team hero - or, you know, Queen of the world -- the casual viewer isn't going to go "Wait, that's a total retcon." They may question the morals of individual episodes, or sometimes have a "Why are Regina and Snow suddenly besties?" reaction, but it isn't going to become the show-killer it is for more attentive viewers.
  3. The explanation is Regina being the unlikeliest Canon Sue to ever Sue. She wasn't the only factor that kept the show from achieving its potential -- but she was a big one, and had a ripple effect on everyone and everything else.
  4. companionenvy

    S14.E15: Peace of Mind

    This wasn't the best or most ambitious episode SPN has ever done, but it was the most purely enjoyable MOW I've seen in a while, one with a humor and energy that's been missing for me for some time. Yeah, the retconned depiction of soullessness still bugs, and Dean's part was pretty minimal, but he's gotten plenty of focus this season, and I liked the opportunity to explore the rarer team-up of Sam and Cas - with Cas winding up taking the lead, no less. This is also the first time in a long time I've been interested enough in the case of the week not to fast forward through the non-main cast scenes. I hope this writer gets another chance. For me, she got the humor/angst balance of an MOW episode of SPN just right, and I wouldn't assume that she can't write the bro-bond or Dean just because it was mostly MIA for this particular episode.
  5. companionenvy


    Most of 4B is, IMO, utterly unsalvageable. But if you wanted to preserve the germ of the Author/Storybook idea, the plot should have been, not Regina trying to get the author to write a happy ending for her, but Regina trying to get the author to undo her own evil actions (she would presumably first have to have some reason to believe that a version of Henry would or could be guaranteed to exist in this altered reality). This would genuinely show the extent to which she has changed. Henry would be on board with the plan, improving his relationship with Regina -- but, ironically ,acknowledging at the same time how compromised that relationship has been, as Henry cheerfully accepts the possibility of a change that will be for Regina the ultimate sacrifice. Emma would be appalled; as grim as her life has been, she doesn't want to change the person that life has made her. She would also be highly skeptical of the idea of some external power impinging upon her free will. Hook would fervently agree on both counts. But as, theoretically, Regina's plan is one that will have the effect of saving countless lives, this means that, in this scenario, Emma is really being the selfish one, creating a thorny moral issue far more credible and complex than the tacked-on darkness scenario. The townspeople at large catch wind of the plan, and those of them who lost the most under Regina's reign are furious with their former savior Emma for refusing to sacrifice her present life for the lives of their loved ones, especially as Emma's life would also improve in this scenario. Snowing would hedge - they'd be on Emma's side, for the most part, but it would come out that the reason that they don't want to change the past is because of their fear of losing Snowflake to the altered timeline; if not for him, they'd be Team Regina because of their remaining guilt and grief over missing Emma's childhood. This throws into relief the complexities of Charming family dynamics, and forces the adult Charmings to work through these complications. The AU world Isaac and Regina wind up creating should legitimately be, in many respects, a better world. Emma prime should be the one who has to go over and set things right, but this brings her into conflict with Wish!Emma, a strong woman who is every bit as willing to fight for this world as our Emma is to fight for hers. Ultimately, our Emma, though still reluctant to trade her life even for this objectively better one, concedes that this is the world that should live on. But wish Henry -- not knowing that he is the next Author -- tells Emma prime that he'll preserve her reality as a story. Because he is the author of this world, just as much as Isaac is (currently) in Earth prime, this generates two equally valid planes of reality, pre-emptively solving the problem of the ontological status of the wish-verse; by the end of the arc, both realities exist in parallel timestreams.
  6. companionenvy


    I can’t see Snowing forcing Emma to give up her child if she didn’t want to, but they could have done something where Bae still left Emma “for her own good” (maybe he hadn’t realized she was a princess) and she made the decision to quietly give the baby up for adoption. A Bae who had been forcibly brought back to the EF by Rumple and then run away from him might even have become a small-time crook a la Neal Cassidy – and a rebellious Princess Emma could have met him during a brief stint as a runaway. You could have even had a sort of flip on the Lily-Emma situation, where Emma is the one who lies about her background to the point where Bae sees her as a kindred spirit, and then feels betrayed when he finds out she’s actually a princess with loving parents, leading him to split before he knows she’s pregnant. I will even acknowledge that it is possible that Snowing would have been overprotective of Emma because of how close they came to losing her – and, as a result, that they wouldn’t have raised her as a badass. But the episode is still insulting, because a) if you care about these characters, you should be invested in explaining how they got to the place they did and b) even if they had been overprotective, Emma should still have possessed enough of her core personality – and enough of Snowing’s values – to be very different from the Wish!Emma we met. That the episode basically turns the entire family into a joke shows how little respect they have for characters whose names don’t begin with an “R.” I agree with you that Hook could plausibly have wound up a drunk in a world without the curse – until season 7, where, while I generally like the WHook-Alice plot a lot, I don’t believe that Whook would have become a useless drunk while he still had a daughter to fight for. If he thought Alice was dead, sure, but he wouldn’t have given up after Gothel cursed them. Comparing this whole episode to Buffy’s “The Wish,” its most direct influence, just shows how inferior Once is. In that episode, the writers take obvious care to come up with a plausible and interesting version of how this reality might look if Buffy hadn’t moved to Sunnydale. Buffy is still acting as the slayer (albeit elsewhere), but she’s harder and colder without her friends, which in the end makes her less effective. Giles is still fighting, and even has a version of the Scooby gang, although it is mostly comprised of different people (which is interesting in itself – one very minor character who isn’t in the know about the supernatural in Sunnydale prime apparently had the potential to have been part of the gang if things had gone differently). Xander and Willow are evil, but not just because it would be fun to make them evil, but because they’ve been turned into vampires; Angel still turned good and tried to atone for his past through helping the slayer, but failed without her, and is now nearly (but not quite) broken after extended torture. In other words, it isn’t simply Bizarro-world, but a thoughtful extrapolation of where these people would be if a crucial event hadn’t occurred.
  7. companionenvy


    I guess with Bae, if the writers wanted him to still have a child with Emma, there could have been a scenario in which Rumple found a different way of getting his son back from the LWOM against his will (as many have pointed out, there were plenty of ways of crossing realms). Adult Bae could have gone off to help Snowing defeat Rumple, which would have brought him into contact with Emma. While he wouldn't have been a good match for a Princess, she (or at least a non-ninny version of wish Emma) could have still gotten involved with him as an act of teenage rebellion - possibly, with unplanned out of wedlock pregnancy included. In the EF, this probably would have resulted in a hasty marriage.
  8. companionenvy


    Also, while it is a nitpick, but even if somehow there were a wish Henry, he shouldn't have been named Henry; that was the name Regina gave him. Presumably, Emma would have chosen something different. If we assume that somehow Emma and Nealfire were destined to meet and have a child together - and that somehow, that destiny applied even in an altered timeline with no curse -- one could fanwank scenarios where they still met and had a son. But the writers, of course, didn't feel the need to put any thought into the issue, so we can only fanwank. And even if we do, we're still left with the most insulting and nonsensical part of the episode, which is Snowing raising Emma to be a nitwit.
  9. I would agree, but they probably would have made Emma's life even more canonically miserable (likely in the form of having her and Hook lose baby Hope and not meet her again until she was at least as old as pilot-Henry), and might have character-assassinated Hook to the point where I couldn't even enjoy Captain Swan fanfic.
  10. companionenvy

    S03.E13: Pandemonium

    One thing that isn't clear to me from this finale is how they are going to replicate the torture element from the original neighborhood. The initial scenario was set up to be the perfect torture for all four humans. Eleanor thinks she is in TGP by mistake, and has to keep up her disguise in front of tons of people she is going to see as disgustingly perfect. Depending on what she chooses, either a stick-in-the-mud ethics professor is her only confidante, or just the hardest person to keep the façade up in front of. Indecisive, always tormented Chidi is going to, at minimum, have to deal with being paired with a soulmate who is obviously unsuitable for him -- and, likely, going to deal with the ethical crisis caused by figuring out/being told that Eleanor is here by mistake. My guess is if Eleanor hadn't fessed up, at some point, Michael would have engineered the situation so that Chidi found out another way. Tahani, who is consumed with a sense of inferiority, has to be around a whole group of perfect people. She is paired, to all appearances, with a silent Buddhist monk who isn't going to lavish her with praise and is going to make her feel even more inferior with his presumed nobility. Jason, of course, is stuck pretending to be a Buddhist monk, committed to an acetic life. Throughout, Michael and the other demons were helping things along. From giving Eleanor the small, creepy clown house to letting Tahani see that she was the bottom point scorer to bringing in "real" Eleanor, the whole neighborhood was designed to subtly torture them while appearing to be a paradise. Now, the other residents are neutrals, not demons, and as it doesn't seem Shawn has a say in the day to day running of the neighborhood, there's really no one left to be an obvious source of torture - which is going to change the dynamic significantly already. In addition, Simone can't logically take the Eleanor spot, since everything we know about her suggests that Simone is a thoroughly decent person. She would have no reason to think she wasn't legitimately in the Good Place, and even if she somehow figured it out, there isn't an obvious reason for her to need to seek ethics lessons from Chidi. None of this is necessarily a problem, but it raises a lot of interesting possibilities. Do Michael, Eleanor et al realize they have to start torturing Chidi and the new four humans to jump-start the process? How do they engineer things so Chidi plays ethics teacher again? Not that I think the experiment is going to work anyway - or at least not in the way Team Cockroach 2.0 expects; four new people aren't likely to wind up in the same place that the original four did.
  11. companionenvy

    S03.E13: Pandemonium

    On one hand, this episode was TGP at its best - at one end of the spectrum, you have things like the sublimely absurd RBG/Drake jokes and Jason's sequence of pizza questions, and on the other, you have things like Chidi's genuinely lovely and moving Jeremy Bearimy speech. But as a whole, I have to agree with those who feel a little jerked around by the whole thing. It isn't that I don't think that -given this particular set of circumstances - Chidi would do this, or that it wouldn't make sense for him to do so. Yet, as the show (like the bad place demons) is responsible for engineering the situation to force this choice, it still comes off as manipulative - and, frankly, a little too close to a traditional sitcom move for this show. Yes, the circumstances are bizarre, but once you take away the Pandemonium of it all, what we have is a show forcing a complication on its OTP, in the form of the return of a romantic rival, immediately after finally bringing them together, which is a really old trope. Plus it relies on yet another memory wipe, which is by now becoming a tired trope for this show, specifically.
  12. companionenvy

    S04.E02: White Out

    And, of course, such an amazing mayor that people are satisfied to have her continue acting as mayor despite the fact that she cursed them for decades, terrorized them for years before that, and racked up a kill list that must have included loved ones of a sizeable number of her constituents.
  13. companionenvy

    S04.E01: A Tale Of Two Sisters

    Not letting an innocent person die when you have the means to save them without much risk to yourself is, like, the absolute bare minimum for being a halfway decent human being. It is not a sign of heroism. The fact that Regina first considers killing Marian at all says more about her than the fact that she ultimately decides not to. To be fair, it is a significant moment of growth for Regina, in that it is only a very, very short time ago that she was coming off of literally decades of mass slaughter/enslavement in which killing Marian would have been as much a no-brainer for her as saving Marian would have been for any normal, functional person. But the show can't have it both ways - to the extent that the moment is significant, it is only because Regina was an absolute monster until very recently, in which case the response of our heroes to her makes zero sense. Especially, in Emma's case, after just getting firsthand experience of Regina's reign of terror at its worst. What the show is doing with Regina isn't a redemption arc, it is a retcon. But bizarrely, it is a retcon that coexists with active reminders of how terrible she was in the past. Essentially, in the present, people act in a way that is totally inconsistent with Regina's past, even as Regina's past is being shown repeatedly on screen. Which suggests that something more disturbing than a retcon is going on - the writers legitimately don't understand how absolutely morally reprehensible and unforgiveable Regina's actions are, or at least think she deserves a pass because she had a tough backstory (though not as tough as tons of her victims'), and because Snow isn't perfect either. Once again, I really wonder about the writers RL opinions. Like, do they legitimately think that a genocidal dictator should get forgiven - not to mention retain shared custody of her illegally adopted kid, who is also the biological kid/grandkid of some of her primary victims -- as long as she stops killing people and says "my bad?" Not that Regina even really says "my bad," at least not in any sustained way.
  14. companionenvy

    S04.E01: A Tale Of Two Sisters

    I love everything about this comment.
  15. companionenvy

    S03.E11: The Book of Dougs

    It is possibly she would have considered any group of humans good-looking. In this case, it just so happens that her cheerful evaluation corresponds to conventional standards of beauty.