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The Writers of OUAT: Because, Um, Magic, That's Why

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We talk about them in other threads, but I thought we should have a devoted thread to discuss the writing and the writers on the show. 

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Did you guys check out Jane's livetweets/Q&A from last night? Some of the tweets she gets ara wackos (I can't at people being okay with mass murder and rape but drawing the line at adultery), and I pretty much sideeyed all her Regina and Rumple answers. 

I have to say, though, that I thought her writing in this latest episode was remarkably better than her last few episodes.

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Thank you for this thread, because, wow, do I want to rant about the writers.   I want to rant so very much I’m almost afraid to start because of how hard it will be to stop.   I have never before watched a show that I’ve had so little confidence in the writers, before.

 

Every other show I can remember watching would drop clues in to keep the audience engagement up.  Most of the time, highlighted things hint at the bigger picture, or are important in the show later.  I enjoy this.  It’s one of the things that keeps me interested in a story—trying to see if I can put the clues together enough to figure out what’s going on.  However, in Once, there’s no follow through on the little stuff at all. 

 

No, not every single thing they show on screen is going to pop up later, and I realize that being employed on a show doesn’t mean that you will have the obsessed level of detail focused interest that the obsessed fans have—but I no longer have confidence they even read each other’s scripts.  They highlight things, make sure the audience notices them, make them significant and then . . . crickets.  Never mentioned again.   There’s so much detritus floating around that was important in an episode and never referred to again, that forming it into a coherent pattern is impossible. 

 

Then, there’s basic things like continuity.  Seriously, people, get a timeline.  Put it in the writers’ meeting room.  Then, when things happen—add them to the timeline.  Then, things like when Roland was born, or how long someone was floating around our world or Neverland would make sense.  You don't actually have to remember it yourself, and the people that are interested in the show won't cringe as they try to figure out how someone ended up where and when they did.

 

And the big things?  Where do we start on things like authentic character development, or realistic character reactions, or how no matter how often you frame the story to say inadvertently ruining someone’s life is the same thing as murdering people with a song in your heart—it’s not the same thing,

 

This is the most discouraging show I’m watching right now, simply because I don’t think the writers are competent, and I don’t expect any reasonable payoff on anything.  I’m just glad I don’t tweet.  I’d probably end up one of those scary people who need to be blocked and reported.

Edited by Mari
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Once for me is frustrating because this show could be so. damn. good if it had a better writing team. Or perhaps not necessarily a better writing team, because I do think the individual scripts are good ... the one-liners are funny, the emotional gut-punches work, etc ... but a better (or perhaps more experienced?) set of showrunners. Because it's the overarching stuff where it all falls apart for me.

 

If the show would just slow down for five damn seconds and allow the characters to actually react to what's going on around them. If it wasn't so much about getting from Point A to Point B to Point C as quickly as possible. If the natural consequences of the story were given their due instead of swept under the rug.

 

There is so much potential in this show. The idea is fantastic, the cast is -- pardon the pun -- magical together, the plots are interesting. It's just the execution leaves so much to be desired.

 

The setup of this show came ready-made with all these little emotional gold mines to explore, the Chaming Family being the biggest one for me. How these three people learn to be parents and adult child when they're the same age, how they learn to heal the wounds of the past enough to move forward in the present and future. Or Henry/Regina ... how does Henry feel about his mother really being the Evil Queen? How does a reforming Regina feel about how her actions affected her son? How does Henry feel about his mother trying to kill his entire family? Or even Emma/Henry ... does Henry really understand Emma's giving him up? Does he resent her the tiniest little bit?

 

Let's get into all of this, show, because that's where the real drama is. I don't need a new threat every eleven episodes to keep me interested. Emotional payoff of previous plot points is just as important as driving the story forward.

Edited by Dani-Ellie
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I've actually wanted a thread like this for a long time!
 

 

Once for me is frustrating because this show could be so. damn, good if it had a better writing team. Or perhaps not necessarily a better writing team, because I do think the individual scripts are good ... the one-liners are funny, the emotional gut-punches work, etc ... but a better (or perhaps more experienced?) set of showrunners. Because it's the overarching stuff where it all falls apart for me.

 

See, this is what throws me. The writers can write really good. What's perplexing is that the same people who wrote S1 and 2A also wrote 2B and 3B. The writing is either downright amazing or couldn't fail more. Every week is like a gamble for me - it's either going to rock, suck or just squeak by. Sometimes the writing can go massively right and wrong in the same episode, and that's where it feels super bipolar.

 

 

Then, there’s basic things like continuity.  Seriously, people, get a timeline.  Put it in the writers’ meeting room.

What's sad is that I've actually heard them say there is a giant timeline in the meeting room. 

 

 

Every other show I can remember watching would drop clues in to keep the audience engagement up.

Once tries to pull this off, but it doesn't do a very good job of it. I believe they just write things in without deciding what they'll use it for in the future. The writing is, in a very disappointing way, case by case and has little to no long-term planning. I'm afraid the Wishing Star is what they would consider "clever".

Edited by KingOfHearts
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Yeah but A&E also said they don't care too much about stuff like timeline.

 

I'm going to have to stop singing Jane E.'s praises after last night. I always thought she was the best script writer having written Skin Deep and Miller's Daughter, easily my top 3 or 4 of the entire series but other than those 2 episodes, her stuff has been average. Maybe having to write Woegina fanfiction for so long has killed her brain cells and creativity. She's always been on point with Rumple if not others, which is what I was hanging on too but yesterday I thought the Rumple scenes were off.

 

The scene with Hook where he says "me over everyone" is not Rumple. The spirit of the conversation was right but the "voice" was off. It was basically the same conversation he had with Emma and that one felt more true to Rumple's voice. Also Hook and Rumple know each other well enough by now that that conversation wasn't needed at all and Rumple wouldn't admit that to Hook anyway so that was OOC. Rumple/DQ scenes have been the highlight of the episodes but yesterday meh. The entire "bantering" was off and didn't feel like either of them. The tension and spark was completely missing which may be on the actors too but the dialogue left a lot to be desired.

 

She also butchered Elsa's voice somehow. Yesterday was the first time I didn't get that "regal-ness" and in control in her words. She's been emotional before but I always felt yeah this is a queen talking. The pity party wasn't emotional and the monologue was blah. The reunion was shortchanged on time and pomp but again the dialogue was lacking too. Even Charming/Anna/Kristoff reunion was shallow. Something can be funny but still have substance and I didn't get that at all.

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Jane Espenson mentioned on Twitter last night again that they do have the giant timeline on the wall. They may try to stick to it, but I think if they decide they need something else to happen for the plot, they'll just ignore the timeline.

 

Yes, the writing on this show is SO FRUSTRATING, because it could and should be so much better. I concur that it likely stems from A&E, because the showrunners set the tone of a show. If they don't care about things like character and realistic emotions, then the show is going to reflect that.

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This is what I've said before: people who say the show has bad writers is wrong. It has very good writers, Adam and Eddy included if you're talking strictly script-writing. It's Adam and Eddy's SHOWRUNNING, which by extension casts a negative effect on the other writers, that is the true problem. The writers have little choice but to adhere to their lackluster vision.

See, this is what throws me. The writers can write really good. What's perplexing is that the same people who wrote S1 and 2A also wrote 2B and 3B.

I'd amend that to put 3A with the first group and most non-Frozen stuff of 4A with the second. Edited by Mathius
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Related to the discussion we were having about new-to-the-show writers getting certain episodes, and the writing process for tv shows, Scott Nimerfro is tweeting stuff right now about how the writers room works.

He wrote 405. He's the one who retweeted something about wanting to see Young!Emma and the "Regina lookalike" to make out. And this may be a double standard, but a middle aged guy tweeting about wanting two teeenagers girls to kiss will NEVER not be creepy. He also retweeted the tv.com reviews, which are some of the most awful around.

So yeah, he may be my least favourite Once writer.

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This is what I've said before: people who say the show has bad writers is wrong. It has very good writers, Adam and Eddy included if you're talking strictly script-writing. It's Adam and Eddy's SHOWRUNNING, which by extension casts a negative effect on the other writers, that is the true problem. The writers have little choice but to adhere to their lackluster vision.

While I can't disagree with you about Adam & Eddy being ineffective showrunners, I absolutely think the writers also need to be blamed for a lot of the continuity, timeline, and character issues on this show. Television writing is a collaborative medium, and of course the showrunners will have a huge influence on the direction of the show and the individual episodes, but the writers also have to take ownership for their individual scripts. There's a reason why the actual writer of an episode gets nominated for the Emmy in the writing category, not the showrunner. (Unless the showrunner happened to write that script.)

 

When there's clunky dialogue or odd exposition that doesn't fit in a scene? That's a writing issue. When Hook says, "Coming from the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming," even though he himself is an Enchanted Forest character and the most fish-out-of-water of that group? That's a writing issue. I highly doubt Adam & Eddy run a dictatorship in the writer's room; if some plot detail doesn't make sense, one of the writers should be able to speak up and say, "Hey, does anyone know how Walsh was able to hop realms to New York and spend 8 months there? Shouldn't we address that issue? Or do you think it bends our rules of magic to have Regina use True Love's Kiss without a heart, even though we've established that it's hard to have deep feelings when your heart is missing?"

 

But yes, most of the show's writing issues would be resolved if there were better showrunners.

Edited by Curio
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That Emma/Lily retweet was way inappropriate. Now he's conversing with a ton of SQers saying the usual stuff and seems to be on their side. So, yeah, I'm definitely not a fan of him on Twitter.

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When there's clunky dialogue or odd exposition that doesn't fit in a scene? That's a writing issue. When Hook says, "Coming from the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming," even though he himself is an Enchanted Forest character and the most fish-out-of-water of that group? That's a writing issue. I highly doubt Adam & Eddy run a dictatorship in the writer's room; if some plot detail doesn't make sense, one of the writers should be able to speak up and say, "Hey, does anyone know how Walsh was able to hop realms to New York and spend 8 months there? Shouldn't we address that issue? Or do you think it bends our rules of magic to have Regina use True Love's Kiss without a heart, even though we've established that it's hard to have deep feelings when your heart is missing?"

 

But yes, most of the show's writing issues would be resolved if there were better showrunners.

 

I agree. While the general direction of the show has problems, there are some issues that can be flat-out blamed on the writers. Some examples:

 

  • the Frozenbacks have featured some straight-up stealing from the movie. When you redo several Frozen scenes word-for-word, it's not a "parallel".
  • the endless repetition of the word "monster". When Hook said "what did that monster do to you?", especially, it made no sense coming from him.
  • Jane Espenson has often gone for the Whedon-quip-over-making-sense kind of writing. Hook's line you mentioned is just an example. She looooves to give Rumple the "LOL, you're eating roast swan and I can see the future" kind of scenes.
  • Regina's dialogue didn't need to be so mean in 405. When even Lana Parilla thought Regina was being a bitch, you know you've gone too far. And dialogue is 100% on the writer. A&E may rewrite some things, but the writer sets the tone.
  • Jane has been trying to defend the "only Robin and Henry believe in me!" line on Twitter, but no... it's stupid.
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Yes, there are things that the writers can and should be held accountable for, but let's also keep in mind that about 20 minutes worth of script gets cut each episode, and we've come to learn that many of those moments are ones that fix a lot of problems the episodes have without them. So even some apparent script problems are actually editing problems.

Jane has been trying to defend the "only Robin and Henry believe in me!" line on Twitter, but no... it's stupid.

Actually, I kind of agree with her logic: if there's one thing that has been a constant with Regina's character, it's her delusional state of mind and lack of awareness of just how good she's got it. It makes sense that she wouldn't see the obvious here just as she always has. Edited by Mathius
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20 minutes worth of script gets cut each episode, and we've come to learn that many of those moments are ones that fix a lot of problems the episodes have without them.

 

You know, I've never understood this tactic. I get that it's probably mandatory because broadcast network television shows are under the scrutiny of their parent companies and the advertisers, but they also know that each episode is going to be roughly 40 minutes, so why not write for closer to that mark? Yes, things get edited down and sometimes it's good to cut a scene if it doesn't make narrative sense, but it seems to me that writing an episode to meet a standard length, but knowing a lot of scenes will get cut, is not a good way to manage a plot-driven series like Once. And even with the edits to blame, it's not enough to overcome some of the blatant continuity issues when an episode in Season 4 contradicts something in Season 2.

 

What the writing team is sorely lacking is that one person who goes back and checks to see what is actually canon on screen. I don't care if Adam goes on Twitter to confirm if a deleted scene is "declared canon" because he says so - if I don't see it on my TV screen, it's not technically canon. Sorry.

Edited by Curio
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What the writing team is sorely lacking is that one person who goes back and checks to see what is actually canon on screen. I don't care if Adam goes on Twitter to confirm if a deleted scene is "declared canon" because he says so - if I don't see it on my TV screen, it's not technically canon. Sorry.

They're also lacking that one person who has the authority to keep track of things like "Does this make sense for character A at this point in the story?"

 

It's the worst with Regina, and possibly Snow--but, how many times has a character been a completely different person than they were only an episode or two ago?  Sometimes, even within the episode they flip someone back and forth; especially if they want the drama of Regina's Evil Eyes. 

 

And it's not just pretending to be one person, while actually being another--which they are semi-successfully pulling off with Rumple--it's things like Snow is terrified of Emma, but then, with no resolution or discussion of it whatsoever, is no longer terrified of Emma.

 

Someone in the room should be responsible for saying "How did this conflict get resolved, so that Snow's fine with handing over Nealflake to the scary magic girl?" or "Regina and Robin have had two dates and forest sex.  How attached is little Roland actually to Regina?"

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Someone in the room should be responsible for saying "How did this conflict get resolved, so that Snow's fine with handing over Nealflake to the scary magic girl?

 

The writers don't care about Snow anymore.  Even with restricted screentime post-pregnancy, they still use her precious screentime as a prop for Regina, or being a dunce to Regina's intelligence highlighted in these last two episodes.  They did give Snow a ton of flashbacks in S1-S2 especially harking back to the Snow-on-the-run time period, but now I wonder if it's because they just wanted to feature The Evil Queen.  Look at how they listed all those issues with Emma and her parents in "The Snow Queen" and then dealt with precisely none of them in "Smash the Mirror" even though they got an entire extra hour?  It really shows their priority. 

 

It's clear from 4A, that the writers spent very little time mapping each character's arc in terms of their emotional development.  Even for their beloved characters like Regina.  For Snow, they probably had "she becomes attached to the baby" and by the second-last episode, she becomes not.  Amazing character development right there.  Some characters like Charming didn't even get an attempt at an arc, even in his own centric in "White Out".

Edited by Camera One
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I think these writers created an interesting situation and good characters (though I think the actors get a lot of the credit there because I'm not sure how much is really on the page).

 

And then they've squandered most of the opportunities they created, to the point that I suspect that some of them were totally unintended. Maybe their best stuff has been accidental.

 

Just the scenario seems like a potential goldmine -- fairy tale characters living in our world. For the first season, there was the fun for viewers of knowing they were fairy tale characters when they didn't, like the scene where Henry's trying to help Ruby find a job, and everything he suggests involves carrying things in baskets because he knows she's Red Riding Hood even though she doesn't. But then once they do get their memories back, they barely bother dealing with the juxtaposition. Even when they do have characters like Elsa and Hook who don't have the fake memory downloads from the curse, the most we get is Elsa freaking out about a car and the running gag of Hook's relationship with cell phones -- using them, knowing about voice mail, but having to rely on the "Emma" button and calling it a "talking phone." They forgot entirely about considering what the people who'd been living in our world would think about returning to the Enchanted Forest. The fantasy writer in me is going nuts with the wasted potential here. I want to send them pages of suggestions and my agent's address.

 

They have a setup loaded with potential character conflict. I remember anticipating how things would go when the curse broke and everyone realized what had been done with them. For a moment, it looked interesting, with Mother Superior/Blue Fairy telling Regina she'd better run and with the hints of the effort to find lost loved ones, but then it was all dropped entirely, except when they need Grumpy to get grumpy. No one's allowed to react like just about every person ever would, which keeps the characters from feeling at all real.

 

Then they create a set of relationships loaded with potential to explore and don't even seem to realize what they've done. Bae/Neal was completely wasted, since he was essentially a human holy grail for Rumple. They didn't bother to do much of anything with that relationship once they were reunited. We never even saw what Neal thought about the fact that Rumple had murdered his mother. Rumple's worst enemy, Hook, spent centuries in Neverland with Bae, and they seem to have developed a close relationship in that time. Not that we saw much of that or saw Rumple's reaction to that. I'm not sure the writers even realized that they'd set up a situation in which everyone Rumple loved and let slip through his fingers ended up with Hook. Then they didn't bother to mine any of this when they tried to create a lame love triangle with Emma. The two guys had known each other longer than either of them had known Emma, but we barely saw how that affected their rivalry, aside from Hook saying he was going to take himself out of the running for Henry's sake. Not that they let that last for more than an episode.

 

So I have to wonder if they even realize they're creating all this good stuff and then not bothering to use it or if this is stuff that just comes up as a byproduct of what they're trying to do and they don't even realize it's there.

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So I have to wonder if they even realize they're creating all this good stuff and then not bothering to use it or if this is stuff that just comes up as a byproduct of what they're trying to do and they don't even realize it's there.

I think they know what they are setting up. I can't fathom that they don't realize what they are setting up. They are the ones giving the actors the dialog. They wrote it, they should know what's there. I think the issue is that they don't want to spend the time dealing with it properly. It's not a priority to them. They think a throwaway line and a hug solves everything. Emotional pay-off is not something they care about or think merits attention. As you pointed out: "No one's allowed to react like just about every person ever would, which keeps the characters from feeling at all real." and that's because I don't think the writers care about the majority of the core characters that they themselves created.

 

I think they write the whole show around two things: first the plot and then Regina. And so when every character has to be contorted to fit around a plot (and Regina) every character's emotional development becomes warped and superficial. And it's gotten even worse now that the show is doing half season arcs. Now not only are the characters written around a plot, but they also have to "handle" these emotional developments in only 10 episodes. And giving these characters time to deal with their emotional realities and the repercussions of everything that has happened to them is not something that can be properly handled in 10 episodes when 40 minutes out of the 42 minutes of each episode are spent on plot exposition; giving the new "villain of the week" backstory (and in the case of Frozen, additional time for Anna and Elsa's backstory); wobbifying the villain; tying Rumple to said villain (because they always are); actually moving the plot forward, and then time set aside for watching Woegina cry, kill or having crypt sex. You can't deal with anyone else's emotional realities in a satisfying or genuine manner when all the time you have has been chewed up by all that other nonsense. 

 

It's interesting that on another thread there was a link to an article where JMo rationalized the excess of curses on this show (apparently there were enough complaints concerning the overabundance of curses in the discussion thread of a recent article about ONCE -- on the EW website --  that it prompted an EW reporter to ask one of the actors about it, and JMo drew the unlucky straw). And while I think people are somewhat bored of the endless stream of curses, I think what they are really bored of is that nothing ever impacts these people in meaningful ways. Curses literally come and go and they are all utterly meaningless in the long run. There is no long term impact to the characters, the story line, or anything at all. If there's no impact or emotional significance each and every time there is a curse (or whatever disaster the characters are faced with), then yes, that's boring. That's shitty writing, writers. I think that's what people are really sick and tired of.

 

If the characters' (that aren't Regina) emotional dramatic elements were being properly dealt with (emotional pay-off, anyone? when's the last time we had any decent amount of that?!? Bueller? Bueller??) then I wouldn't care what curse was coming to town because I would be focused on these characters and their reactions and how it would affect them and their relationships. But the characters have become tertiary to the plot. And when the plot is the main story and repeats over and over (and is full of holes and contrivances) then, ya, the audience gets freaking bored. Unlike the characters on this show, we haven't been afflicted by a memory spell and we all know how the story ends. Every. Damn. Time. We have been watching this show for 4 very long (and mostly horribly written) seasons.

Edited by regularlyleaded
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For me, "emotional pay-off" is delving into the issues the story creates. I'll use the Echo Cave to illustrate my point, because for me, it's one of the most egregious.

 

We have a situation where the characters have to reveal their darkest secrets. The point of the Echo Cave was to tear the group apart ... let their secrets destroy their relationships. Snow admits in front of her daughter that her relationship with her is, essentially, not fulfilling her desire to be a mother. The camera pans to Emma's heartbroken face.

 

And that's the last we hear of it.

 

What would have been emotional pay-off for was for the characters to get into the consequences of that revelation. How does that affect how Emma sees her mother? How does that affect how Snow sees Emma? What does Charming think about what his wife said? What does Hook think about it? Do Emma and Snow talk about it, how it made each of them feel? Do they discuss it at all or do they both just bury it again? If they both just bury it again, is their relationship the same as it was before the revelation? Can it ever be?

 

I felt like it was treated as more of a plot checkmark than a plot point. It just feels like it was brought up to introduce the idea of baby Snowflake but the emotional consequences of the secret and how it was revealed and what it all would mean going forward were never addressed. Which is especially annoying, considering the fact that these secrets were supposed to mess up the groups' relationships was the whole point of this particular plot contrivance.

Edited by Dani-Ellie
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Care to definie "emotional pay-off"? It seems very vague and subjective.

I can only speak for myself (because "emotional pay-off" can be subjective), but I look at it as a situation where not only the character reacts in a meaningful and realistic way because of another character's actions, but the audience also feels satisfied. There can be emotional pay-off because of a plot-related event (Once's go-to method), but I find that the most impactful emotional pay-offs come from character-driven situations.

 

Dani-Ellie used a good example above. Another example would be how the show dealt with Emma nearly getting engaged to Walsh. Being proposed to is a huge event, and declining a proposal should also be a huge emotional event, but the writers played it off as a quick plot point instead of something that would actually impact Emma's character. An emotional pay-off for that whole situation would have been Emma snapping at Hook for making one too many monkey boyfriend jokes, Emma having a meaningful conversation with Snow about how she can't believe she let Henry get close to a man who ended up being a monster, or even Emma discovering Walsh was a human wizard so that she doesn't have to go to bed at night thinking she hooked up with an ape.

 

Hook's phone conversation to Emma warning her about the hat is so-close-but-not-quite-there emotional pay-off. Hook was able to confess about his past issues and the audience felt pay-off for a previous floating plot piece (Hook lying to Emma). But with Rumple destroying that message, we're now back to unfulfilled emotional pay-off because Emma wasn't able to react to Hook's character-driven event that could have had a meaningful impact on her character and the plot.

Edited by Curio
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What would have been emotional pay-off for was for the characters to get into the consequences of that revelation. How does that affect how Emma sees her mother? How does that affect how Snow sees Emma? What does Charming think about what his wife said? What does Hook think about it? Do Emma and Snow talk about it, how it made each of them feel? Do they discuss it at all or do they both just bury it again? If they both just bury it again, is their relationship the same as it was before the revelation? Can it ever be?

 

The problem is that, for one thing, Emma isn't the type to just open up emotionally and talk to Snow about their feelings. She's also good at hiding her feelings, so Snow wouldn't notice that it affected her in any negative way and thus she wouldn't bring it up.  

 

But for another thing, what is anyone supposed to say to Snow?  That she's wrong?  Because her feelings are completely understandable: she missed out on her child's first 28 years of life and said child now keeps on rebuffing her attempts at being motherly.  It's not a fulfillment of Snow's motherly desires, everyone knows it, including Emma. Talking about how it makes them all feel would accomplish nothing: Snow said what she did and she meant it, and Emma understands that Snow is justified in feeling that way no matter how hurt she is by that. 

 

Now, emotional pay-off to it in a different way other than just fruitlessly talking about their feelings is another matter.  I think the show accomplished that on Emma's end in the Season 3 finale when she finally owned up to contributing to Snow's feelings of being unfulfilled as a mother and changed her behavior. Where the show has failed spectacularly is on Snow's end, as she's barely responded to Emma's change in behavior and has come off as less and less caring of Emma.  A brief exchange of words and a hug in "Smash the Mirror" to resolve Snow's problematic relationship with Emma coming up in "The Snow Queen"...now that was definitely a complete and ridiculous waste of potential emotional pay-off. 

 

Also, I agree with Curio on the waste of the Walsh and Hook plot points.

Edited by Mathius
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For me? Emotional pay-offs would include:

a) On-screen confirmation that Regina killed Graham, in a fit of pique and Regina knowing that the curse on him was gone. It was played as a major loss for Storybrooke and Emma; it should have been allowed to breathe. The townspeople's reactions could have informed us who they were as well as what was thought about Graham and Graham/Regina.

b) Actual talk between Snow, David, and Emma about everything from 2B on that has not been spoken about. It is painful, and for some boring, but to not have these three characters in particular speak to each other about their family, or lack of feeling that there is one really, needs to be dealt with. No final solutions- that's why series can be open-ended, but the parties involved hashing out what's going on in their heads and hearts. For them and the audience.

c) What happened to the Thai dragon? If Tamera and Owen's gadgets were bogus- as per Pan himself, where is that guy now?

d) Where is Lancelot really? I just truly cannot believe that Cora would be able to kill Lancelot. She could try, but I cannot believe that Lancelot is dead. Never there? Maybe. Dead from old age? Okay. I don't think I'm a crackpot and I hope I am not alone in this thought.

e) What does Belle really think about Mo? She never talks about the pain she has to feel towards the man she apparently trusted and cared about for so long. The same man who would try to kill her personality/ self. The man who was willing to kill her now-husband, yet gave her away at the ceremony in the woods.

f) Granny- how can she handle serving food to the very same people who turned on Ruby the second George framed her for a murder? People with torches, guns and pitchforks!

g)Where the hell is Sidney now? The last we saw him, he was dismissed by Ingrid. Why bring back Sidney to get us to Ingrid's mirror when you aren't going to actually utilize the fantastic actor that embodies Sidney on this show?  

h)Why is Snow so isolated, even as a new mom, that we never see the other moms dropping by? We got one scene with Snow in an adorable Mommy And Me type class. Having the other moms, who are mostly princesses too, being part of her city council seems like a no brainer. Then there is a slow relaxing of Snow's insecurities over whether Neal will be taken away. plus, princesses doing the "ruling" thing.

i)Regina facing down exactly what her mom was and how Regina let that move her into where she is now.  She can stay as evil as she wants, but Regina being honest with herself is long, long, long over due.

j) Where is Mulan?  She is supposed to be with the Merry Men. So...?

 

Emotional pay-offs: things that should happen when big events impact some character's life. Or as someone on another thread here said, reacting like any other person would. These are fairy tale characters, yes, but they have to have some normal emotional responses to things or they are unrelatable. 

 

eta:

Talking about how it makes them all feel would accomplish nothing: Snow said what she did and she meant it, and Emma understands that Snow is justified in feeling that way no matter how hurt she is by that.

 

Now, emotional pay-off to it in a different way other than just fruitlessly talking about their feelings is another matter.

 

(italics mine)

This is where our generalized gripes about the writing come to a head: it doesn't have to accomplish nothing and it doesn't have to be fruitless. The writers have seemingly chosen this way of writing to accommodate the Plot!Plot!Plot! writing that A&E seem to think is acceptable. A scene in which Snowing and Emma comes to terms with the Echo Cave reveals doesn't have to be talky meat or boring. in fact, it should be driving the characters into new ways to interact with each other, which is dynamic and energizing writing.

Where the show has failed spectacularly is on Snow's end, as she's barely responded to Emma's change in behavior and has come off as less and less caring of Emma.  A brief exchange of words and a hug in "Smash the Mirror" to resolve Snow's problematic relationship with Emma coming up in "The Snow Queen"...now that was definitely a complete and ridiculous waste of potential emotional pay-off.

 

Also, I agree with Curio on the waste of the Walsh and Hook plot points.

 

Agreed.

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It's not a fulfillment of Snow's motherly desires, everyone knows it, including Emma. Talking about how it makes them all feel would accomplish nothing: Snow said what she did and she meant it, and Emma understands that Snow is justified in feeling that way no matter how hurt she is by that.

 

Right, but even that wasn't addressed onscreen. It was just information dump, let's move on. They found time in the next episode to have Snow angry at Charming over his secret, but there wasn't even an exchange between Snow and Emma about the Echo Cave afterward, even if was something as simple as, "Are you okay?" "Yeah." At least give us some insight as to whether they're both actually okay or if they're both just putting up fronts. Because like you said, Emma hides her feelings.

 

 

 

Where the show has failed spectacularly is on Snow's end, as she's barely responded to Emma's change in behavior and has come off as less and less caring of Emma.  A brief exchange of words and a hug in "Smash the Mirror" to resolve Snow's problematic relationship with Emma coming up in "The Snow Queen"...now that was definitely a complete and ridiculous waste of potential emotional pay-off.

 

Completely agree. That's one of my biggest complaints: if they're placing all the blame at Emma's feet -- Snow couldn't connect with her because she wouldn't allow her to -- I need to see Snow stepping up to the plate now that the "roadblock" is gone.

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On-screen confirmation that Regina killed Graham, in a fit of pique and Regina knowing that the curse on him was gone. It was played as a major loss for Storybrooke and Emma; it should have been allowed to breathe.

 

This might be the biggest writing fail this show has ever done. I actually stopped watching the show for the rest of Season 1 when I realized they weren't ever going to address that issue on screen. I only came back to the show to give Season 2 a try because I liked the idea of the characters traveling to the Enchanted Forest and the introduction to Captain Hook. But I'm sitting here and it's nearly the end of Season 4A and still no one knows Regina killed off a main character* and Emma's potential love interest? It's ridiculous.

 

I'm not even saying the show needs to punish Regina for her crime now, mainly because it's Season 4 and most of the audience has moved on from that plot. But Regina killing Graham and getting away with it is basically the equivalent to no one figuring out Rumple has Hook's heart. While I'm pretty sure someone will eventually figure out what's going on with Hook, it was just an awful writing/storytelling decision to keep the secret about Graham's death a mystery for the entire series. It's not even a matter of wanting Graham's character back - I'm okay with the decision to kill him - it's the lack of "emotional pay-off" that's the worst.

 

*Even though Graham was only in 9 episodes, he was billed as a regular, so I consider him a main character for Season 1.

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For me, emotional payoff comes down to major events actually affecting the characters in a way that shows. They don't have to talk about it, but their behavior and relationships need to be altered in some way when something that should be life-changing happens. Hearing the revelations in the Echo Cave should have changed the way the characters treated each other, but we just had a temporary snit from Snow about David not telling about being poisoned. Emma didn't seem to change the way she interacted with her mother, and that didn't even come up later when people were wondering why Emma wanted to go back to New York instead of staying in Storybrooke. The status quo seldom changes, not even in subtle ways. All is forgotten by the next episode, and they press a pretty big reset button at the end of each arc, except for the few plot elements they want to carry forward. After last season, Emma does have a better relationship with her parents after deciding she was home and she's kissing Hook, Belle still has a fake dagger, Marian is around and Elsa is in town, but nothing else seems to have stuck. There's no more fallout from the missing year, no reaction to being cursed again, Emma hasn't changed the way she sees Regina after seeing her in Evil Queen mode and watching her burn her mother at the stake, Emma hasn't changed the way she sees Rumple after seeing him in Sparkly Dark Imp mode. David didn't change the way he saw Hook after learning that he was actually his buddy Prince Charles who convinced him not to give up on finding real love. Regina doesn't seem to have any lingering effects from finding out she had a sister, sparing her sister's life and then losing her sister.

 

And I don't expect the current plots to stick, either. The Shattered Sight spell isn't going to have a lingering effect on any relationships, no matter how nasty it gets, the Charmings are apparently already over the fear of Emma's magic and she's over their fear. Belle won't permanently change her opinion of Rumple, and Hook won't be messed up by his time spent doing Rumple's dirty work against his will. Aside from whatever's needed to set up the next arc, you could probably follow that arc without having seen this one because nothing that happens will matter to the characters.

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Care to definie "emotional pay-off"? It seems very vague and subjective.

The question I assume was directed at me, but Dani-Ellie and Curio covered it. IA with what they said.

 

I think the show accomplished that on Emma's end in the Season 3 finale when she finally owned up to contributing to Snow's feelings of being unfulfilled as a mother and changed her behavior.

I disagree here. Mostly because it's not Emma's job to make Snow feel like a mother. It's not a child's job, whether they are young or fully grown adults, to make their parents feel like parents. Emma was keeping Snow at arms length certainly. But find me a teenager that doesn't do that to a parent, and the parent is not allowed to then say, "Oh, well, since you're not letting me feel like your Mom then I'm just gonna write you off." No. That shit doesn't work. If Snow wanted to feel like Emma's mother then she needed to suck it up and act like one even when shit got tough. But Snow didn't do that. She gave up on Emma because she had an easy alternative to making herself feel better - having another baby. Snow didn't feel like a parent to Emma because Snow found it too painful and gave up. The show likes to present it as it was all Emma's fault, but they are full of epic piles of crap on that one.

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There's no more fallout from the missing year, no reaction to being cursed again, Emma hasn't changed the way she sees Regina after seeing her in Evil Queen mode and watching her burn her mother at the stake, Emma hasn't changed the way she sees Rumple after seeing him in Sparkly Dark Imp mode. David didn't change the way he saw Hook after learning that he was actually his buddy Prince Charles who convinced him not to give up on finding real love. Regina doesn't seem to have any lingering effects from finding out she had a sister, sparing her sister's life and then losing her sister.

 

In fact I would argue that Emma, after seeing Regina's vile actions up close and personal, actually sees her in a better light than before -- she's actively trying to befriend her and see to it that she can be happy.  Topsy turvy of what a real consequence/reaction would be. 

 

 

And I don't expect the current plots to stick, either. The Shattered Sight spell isn't going to have a lingering effect on any relationships, no matter how nasty it gets

 

I agree, this particular spell doesn't make much sense, even if all of the Storybrookians killed each other and the 3 sisters were left standing.  Since we know that won't happen, then of course, everyone will either be mind-wiped of what heinous things they said/did, or know that they didn't do things of their own volition, it was magic that made them do it.  Hollow.  Lame.  Everybody hug it out now.

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I try to tell myself that Emma's magic going out of control and boiling the milk in Snowflake's baby bottle was the emotional payoff of Snow's Echo Caves confession, and Snow hanging Snowflake over to Emma when Shattered Sight hits the fan is some mini-ultimate apotheosis in their relationship if not yet in the plot with the Big Bad.

But it's really not.

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But I'm sitting here and it's nearly the end of Season 4A and still no one knows Regina killed off a main character* and Emma's potential love interest? It's ridiculous.

Henry knew from the get-go, and Emma didn't believe him. Now, after finding out he was right about the curse and everything, Emma still thinks it was because of natural causes. Was there never a moment when she thought, "Hey... wait a minute..."? You can't tell me that she never took a second to look back at all the stuff Regina did with the new revelation she was the Evil Queen the whole time. That should have made total sense, or at least as much sense as all the other magical stuff on this show.

 

These writers love to pave over issues they just don't want to deal with. Neal? Dead. Regina's past? Cheerleaders. Emma's issues with her parents? Lip service. It's like sweeping the dust under the rug, hoping no one will notice.

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Since the topic is the writers, I'm going to express how annoying I find it when they announce facts as "canon" on Twitter. Or worse, explain why a character is acting a certain way on Twitter. According to one writer, Rumpel's actions and attitude are supposed to be some sort of magical PTSD. I could understand that attitude if they actually wrote it so that I could see that developing onscreen, but all I see is a power hungry evil man. When the writers are explaining/justifying actions on social media and but it's not shown in the writing, something is going wrong.

 

Playing games with major events like Graham's death and no one knowing about it is another issue. So Emma's running around taking massive abuse and feeling massive guilt about screwing up Regina's romance, but there's no reciprocal acknowledgement from anyone that Regina did the same thing to Emma's budding  romance because apparently, they are stupid and don't know it happened. There are all kinds of problems with the current storyline and it stems from never having dealt with the story they set up in Season 1. Then the writers act surprised when viewers question why the hell Emma is acting the way she is.

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These writers love to pave over issues they just don't want to deal with. Neal? Dead. Regina's past? Cheerleaders. Emma's issues with her parents? Lip service. It's like sweeping the dust under the rug, hoping no one will notice.

I remember back on TWoP there was many a discussion about the writers needing to have a "Come to Jesus" moment with their writing. They needed to stop sweeping everything not just under a rug, but out the door and into a swamp (never to be heard from again). Instead, they needed to address the issues between these characters have them hash things out. And I agree with that sentiment, but I think it may be time (for me) to face some facts here. It's been four seasons now and the writers show no indication that they will be having a "Come To Jesus" moment.  The writers keep papering over and sweeping things out the door because it's a day that ends in 'y' and they also engage in what is for me one of their most loathed writing habits -- the Woegina propping. Therefore, perhaps it's time that I as a viewer had a "Come To Jesus" moment.

 

The writers are never going to really deliver on the emotional pay-off. Ever. Things will continue to be swept out the door, buried in a swamp, and forgotten (just slide Graham's dead body over a little; there's plenty of room in the "It Never Happened" Swamp). Instead of delivering on emotional pay-offs, the writers will continue to  build emotional debt at a rate that outpaces the US national debt. The Plot!Plot!Plot! will always dominate the show and always to the detriment of character development (and realistic character reactions). The characters will always be written around the Plot!Plot!Plot! and the Woegina propping will never end. The rule of law will be that magic has no rhyme or reason; all magic has a price, except it doesn't; and that dead is dead, except it's not. All problems will be solved with a throwaway line and group hug -- everyone, hug it out.

 

For me, personally, I think I give up. I'm waving my white flag. Not so much in acceptance or surrender, but rather, I'm taking my ball and going home. I don't feel any compelling reasons to watch anymore. If they are never going to genuinely deal with the human drama particularly amongst Emma, Snow and David (which I think is far and away more compelling than the curse/disaster of the week or the magical gibberish) and if they are never going to deal with the world-building aspects of the show (which could also be interesting but doesn't exist) then frankly I'm left with nothing. No reason to tune in. I still have my favorite character, but because this show regularly fails to deliver on dramatic resolutions that I can find satisfying (and really, the writers don't even bother to address these issues), I've lost interest in the show in general.

 

TBH, I basically forgot the show was even on this past sunday. If it weren't for the fact that yesterday I opened my internet browser that still had a tab open to these forums I would've kept right on not remembering. After watching this show this long, I think there will always be some mild passing curiosity on my part, a "I wonder what happened with my favorite character?" lingering question, and curiosity about where this train wreck will finally comes to a stop. But I don't need to watch any episodes to get that. Recaps are a thing, after all.

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For me, personally, I think I give up. I'm waving my white flag. Not so much in acceptance or surrender, but rather, I'm taking my ball and going home. I don't feel any compelling reasons to watch anymore. If they are never going to genuinely deal with the human drama particularly amongst Emma, Snow and David (which I think is far and away more compelling than the curse/disaster of the week or the magical gibberish) and if they are never going to deal with the world-building aspects of the show (which could also be interesting but doesn't exist) then frankly I'm left with nothing. No reason to tune in. I still have my favorite character, but because this show regularly fails to deliver on dramatic resolutions that I can find satisfying (and really, the writers don't even bother to address these issues), I've lost interest in the show in general.

I've been there before. For me, if my favorite character is still alive, it's nearly impossible for me to quit on a show. (Unless you're Supernatural. Even though I still consider Dean and Castiel to be pretty great TV characters, there just weren't any compelling stories left to keep me interested past Season 6.) But if the writers kill off my favorite character, I am done. (See: Boardwalk Empire

killing off Richard

.)

 

For anyone interested in some behind the scenes writing stuff, I suggest listening to the Nerdist Writers Panel podcast series. Their guests can be hit or miss, but sometimes there are some really interesting insights into how television episodes and movies are written. I just re-listened to the podcast Adam & Eddy did at the beginning of Season 3, and... well. You can decide whether or not they're "master storytellers" or just two guys who got ridiculously lucky after being writers on Lost for so many years.

 

Some interesting tidbits from the podcast:

  • They originally wanted Emma to have 3 children.
  • They said Emma would get some backstories in Season 3. (Which apparently got pushed off to Season 4.)
  • When asked if all the magical beans are gone, their response was, "Uhhhhhhhhhhhh... yes." (That was either a lie or a really bad bluff.)
  • They mentioned how Jared growing up in real life wouldn't make Henry have the "Walt Effect" because Once apparently moves in real time. (Except when they decide to make entire half seasons last exactly one week in story time.)
  • The writers plot an episode out together on a white board. The individual episode writer then uses that to write the episode outline. Changes are made. The script comes back. Changes are made. The script goes to set. There could still possibly be changes.
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They originally wanted Emma to have 3 children.

 

Oh boy.  Then they could do the "who's the daddy" reveal three different times.  So she got pregnant three different times and gave up the baby each time?  

 

 

 

They said Emma would get some backstories in Season 3. (Which apparently got pushed off to Season 4.)

 

They also said before Season 3 that there will be lots of payoff for Snow/David/Emma.  We're still waiting.

 

When asked if all the magical beans are gone, their response was, "Uhhhhhhhhhhhh... yes." (That was either a lie or a really bad bluff.)

 

Now there's the Magic Door.  How many of those are there, I wonder.

 

 

 

They mentioned how Jared growing up in real life wouldn't make Henry have the "Walt Effect" because Once apparently moves in real time. (Except when they decide to make entire half seasons last exactly one week in story time.)

 

Every single half-season thus far too.  

 

 

The writers plot an episode out together on a white board. The individual episode writer then uses that to write the episode outline. Changes are made. The script comes back. Changes are made. The script goes to set. There could still possibly be changes.

 

Too bad they didn't discuss what happens before an individual episode is plotted out.  If it's just done episode by episode, then no wonder there's no rhyme or reason in characters from one episode to the next.  I'm going to imagine they plot these episodes completely out of order too, since that would explain a lot.

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For anyone interested in some behind the scenes writing stuff, I suggest listening to the Nerdist Writers Panel podcast series. Their guests can be hit or miss, but sometimes there are some really interesting insights into how television episodes and movies are written. I just re-listened to the podcast Adam & Eddy did at the beginning of Season 3, and... well. You can decide whether or not they're "master storytellers" or just two guys who got ridiculously lucky after being writers on Lost for so many years

 

Thanks for the link! I'm two-thirds of the way through, and, actually, what they're saying sounds really spot on and smart. They don't want evil characters to be evil because evil: there has to be pain and loss behind it. There can be a big plot arc, but what really matters is the heart of it, the relatability of the characters and character dynamics, emotional payoff and emotional resonance. This show is their longest writer's block ever and so when it was ready to be told, with the experience and skills that they've gained, which shows a lot of care and thought went into Once Upon A Time! They say all of these things!

But then what's actually onscreen, I'm just, like, "But...that's the best you could come up with? Really? Seriously?" I mean, maybe all creative people know that there's usually going to be compromises between the vision in the mind and the actual effect of how it's composed, and every masterpiece is a collage of tiny mistakes...but...I just...why...how...can't even...

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Coming back to this:

I think they know what they are setting up. I can't fathom that they don't realize what they are setting up. They are the ones giving the actors the dialog. They wrote it, they should know what's there.

Obviously, they know that the words exist (then again, they had an episode about Belle wanting to get back her memories of what happened while she was blacked out -- if she's blacked out, she wouldn't have memories of that time). But I'm not sure they're aware of what's under the words -- the patterns they form, the implications of them.

 

Take the relationship between Emma and her parents. If you look at it, it looks like they're creating all sorts of juicy conflict that you'd expect from this crazy family situation, but since it never goes anywhere, I get the impression that no one has ever taken a step back and connected the dots between Snow telling Emma it's her job to make Emma not feel like an orphan, Snow's "this isn't what I wanted" Echo Cave confession, Snow's plan to stay in Neverland with David, Snow showing no sign of missing Emma during the missing year until she needed Emma's magic to save Baby Do-Over, Snow's surprise that Emma wanted to go back to New York, and Emma's magical explosion when Snow acted offended when Emma referred to what her own childhood was in comparison to her brother. If you're doing it on purpose, then that magical explosion was a moment of catharsis that should have brought out all the past stuff before things could be healed going forward, but I don't think they actually realized what they were setting up, considering it was wallpapered over an episode later. To them, there's no doubt that Snow has loved her daughter all along and they think we're nuts for questioning it.

 

I also don't think they even noticed they were setting up a second triangle involving Hook and Rumple by connecting Hook and Bae. Hook needed to have spent time in Neverland because he's Captain Hook and that's his story (not that they bothered telling any of that story). I don't know if they'd always planned on Bae having been in Neverland, but it mostly seems to have been a convenient way to make him still be alive when Rumple finally got the curse cast and broken. And then it amped up the Hook/Emma/Neal triangle for Hook and Bae/Neal to have been friends. But since there's been absolutely zero reaction from Rumple to the fact that Hook and his long-lost son had spent centuries together and were friends, I really get the feeling that the writers don't even realize they created that triangle. It would certainly have given Rumple an extra bit of rage against Hook that should have played into the current situation.

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I really get the feeling that the writers don't even realize they created that    .  .

The scariest thing about the show? 

 

How often we end up having to say this phrase.

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To me, the tone of the show changed dramatically at the end of the Cora cycle. Early S2 wasn't all that strong, but there was a sense they were thinking about exploring the tension between Storybrooke and the EF (I just have a hard time calling it "Misthaven," sorry) and that was going to be the core conflict of the story, as everyone decided what was "home." A lot of stories in this period focusing on choosing your family, of picking a tribe - Red choosing Snow over the pack, Anton choosing first humans, than dwarves, Belle choosing Rumpel over Mo, and so on. There was much more emphasis on forming relationships (rather than just 'ships): Gold and Charming, Charming and Regina, Regina and Cora, Emma and Snow, Belle and Gold, Belle and Ruby, Gold and Bae. There was a feeling that the story was more about emotion than plot.

 

I think a bunch of things happened around that time behind the scenes that changed the way A&E approached the show. It was hard to maintain momentum given the frequent long breaks during awards season on ABC. The ratings started to slide as people lost interest or just forgot it was on this week. And, most significantly, A&E were suddenly managing two shows at once. OUATIW was green-lit early in 2013, and suddenly Adam and Eddy and Jane E are splitting their time between projects. Something, somewhere has to give.

 

From 'Welcome to Storybrooke' on to the end of S2, the story becomes less coherent ('Selfless, Brave and True,' anyone?), the emphasis on relationships fades or gets really weird (Gold ignoring Bae to dally with 'Lacey,' anyone?), planned storylines are summarily dropped (how's that family-destroying black heart going, Snow? How's that master plan to take everyone home to the EF, Charming?). The focus starts to drill down on just the main cast, with what little sense of community existed in the first part of the season completely vanishing by the last part. It's just us and the Charmplemilles now. God help us.

 

I'm sure the idea of splitting the show into two 11-episode batches must has seemed like a awesome way to get around the "on for two weeks, off for four" problem, but deciding to run their half-seasons as 9 or 10 episode "Big Bad" arcs capped off by a 1-2 episode finale/cliffhanger has ended up supporting their worst instincts as storytellers. Since moving to this format, their plotting and characterization have gotten increasingly superficial. They pay no attention to detail - how many pages have we devoted to pointing out plot holes, continuity fails, repetitive storylines, missing emotional beats and just plain WTF's? I'd say it's all become downright cartoonish, but most cartoons I watch have more depth of feeling.

 

I'm guess I'm with regularlyleaded. These are characters I no longer like hanging out with, in relationships I find tedious, moving through story I've seen too many times.

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To me, the tone of the show changed dramatically at the end of the Cora cycle.

That was when the show was one large story, not just a set of episodic franchise-of-the-week spotlights. The focus was still on the main characters and their emotions and developments. Episodes like The Crocodile and The Doctor weren't just for touching on certain worlds, (Neverland and The Land Without Color) but about going deeper into existing issues. This was back when the showrunners were still interested in the characters' backstories and how they react to today's events. 2A was definitely a drop-off in quality, but it still felt true to the show.

 

Once Cora came to town I think that's when the show began its steep descent. I'd say The Cricket Game was the beginning of the end. That's when the Woegina movement started, plus the characters started to get bent around the plot instead of dictating it. That's when it started to become clear the writers had no idea what they wanted to do next. Cora died, Neal came, and the writers couldn't choose to go anywhere but down.

 

Now the main character plots are pushed to the side in order to give more screentime to villains and guest stars that are going to die in a few episodes. Nothing against Frozen, but I felt like it was a bit overdone in the flashbacks. The Belle and Charming flashbacks were superfluous at best. If they're running out of stories for the mains, there's still all the reoccurring characters, like Aurora, Jiminy, Mulan or even Granny who have a lot of potential material yet. They deserve more than one-liners.

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I thought that the writers got their thematic swag back going to Neverland. Everyone's an orphan! But between the other triangle getting swept under the rug (Hook/Baelfire/Rumple my OT3) and what to me was a complete dissolution of Snow and Emma's relationship... (Why am I still watching again? Am I really being more entertained than frustrated?)

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Obviously, they know that the words exist (then again, they had an episode about Belle wanting to get back her memories of what happened while she was blacked out -- if she's blacked out, she wouldn't have memories of that time). But I'm not sure they're aware of what's under the words -- the patterns they form, the implications of them.

I don't disagree with what you're saying, Shanna Marie. It's absolutely possible they unintentionally created all these conflicts between these characters and remain unaware that it's there. I understand that all the continuously squandered story potential seems to indicate that the writers are unaware that it's even there. That's not an unreasonable conclusion. But for me, some points of conflict are too consistent throughout multiple seasons for it to be an accident. The same issues appear over and over among the same character relationships, and that's why I tend to think the writers know these are issues, but they just don't care to deal with it except in the most superficial sense.

Take for example Emma's interrogation of the Snow Queen the led to Emma's meltdown which you reference -- The Snow Queen hit upon issues and events that have transpired between Emma and her parents (over multiple seasons) that are the source of conflict in their relationship. And by prodding at these issues, The Snow Queen was able to push Emma into an emotional outburst that precipitated her emotional/magical meltdown.

 

So, okay. Since the writers were aware that all those things were ways for the Snow Queen to get under Emma's skin, then I think the writers are perfectly aware that these issues are a source of conflict between Emma and her parents. (Otherwise, I don't know how the writers could've possibly have written that interrogation scene and Emma's subsequent meltdown.) To me how that scene was played and scripted says, "we, the writers, know these events are a problem between Emma and her parents and we're using them here".

 

Now, your point is that "If you're doing it on purpose, then [Emma's] magical explosion was a moment of catharsis that should have brought out all the past stuff before things could be healed going forward". Well, I think for many of us that makes sense (I for one would happily welcome those scenes) because we're actually interested in the characters dealing with these problems, watching them hash it out and moving forward from there. However, I don't think the same can be said for these writers. IMO the reason that this conflict (among others that the writers have ignored) is quickly papered over in the following episodes isn't because they (the writers) don't realize how big of a issue it is. No, I think it's because the writers aren't really interested in delving into the complexity of the character's relationships. And IMO that's generally due to three reasons:

For one, these writers want to keep this show as childishly fairy-tale-esque as possible and that means that, whenever remotely possible, they want the fluffy cotton candy solution to everything (which on this show means a platitude and throwaway line delivered with tear filled eyes and wrapped up with a warm and fluffy hug). These writers don't want to deal with the uncomfortable truths (and harsh reality) that underlies many relationships (including all relationships, not just the romantic ones) on this show. No, they want a cavalry of Care Bears riding on My Little Ponies to come galloping down a rainbow, flinging magical happy dust everywhere which will make the fallout from issues like abandonment, betrayal, questionable teenage pregnancies, neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, murder, mass murder, rape, slavery and every single ugly, uncomfortable real world issues they've touched upon magically disappear. They want all the hard hitting punches that come with these issues without having to deal with the actual consequences. (e.g., In the episode following "Going Home", the writers hit the reset button and Storybrooke itself was back and everyone was reunited. No harm, no foul. ). The writers don't want to redeem characters, they just want to sugar coat them in personal tragedy so that it obscures the grossness of the character's actions because they (the writers) don't want to deal with it (because, really, if you look at it closely, if you scrape off all the sugary bullshit, you realize that the writers are trying to make us forget what should be unforgettable (and many unforgivable) betrayals and atrocities).

The other reason these writers squander the potential of many of these issues is because the characters on this show exist to service the plot, not the other way around. Going back to Emma's meltdown -- if Emma having a meltdown because of the existing issues between her and Snow somehow benefits the plot (and in this case also ties Emma's character "journey" in with Elsa's story) then they'll make of use of it. But as soon as the plot has been advanced to the next plot point, they quickly wrap up Emma's issues with Snow. The writer's attribute the grand portion (if not all) of the conflict between them to Emma's insecurities because to lay blame anywhere else (and acknowledge that Snow's behavior only reinforces those insecurities) would make it unnecessarily messy and complicated for the writers to deal with using their go-to method of a throwaway line (and hug) that magically resolves their personal conflict.

Lastly, I also think the show runners suffer from a severe lack of longterm planning. They are enthralled by the novelty of an idea -- Oh, look, shiny! -- and bored by anything that requires more than two seconds of thought to really appreciate it. All too often their reason for introducing certain plot points is because they think "Hey, wouldn't it be awesome if....!" They like to create really insane situations just for the novelty of it all: "Snow White's grandson is also her step brother?!? You don't say!"; " Emma's parents are the same age as her! CraaaAAAAaaazy, amirite?!!";  "Peter Pan as Rumpelstilskin's father?!? *GASP*".  And while there's nothing wrong with those ideas (I think those are mostly interesting ideas), it's the novelty of the idea, not it's potential for meaningful story, that appeals to these show writers. We see all too often how quickly they become bored with these ideas when they have to actually deal with it and instead end up madly rushing to paper over it and ending it all simply because the shine has worn off their new toy.

In the end, whether the writers are aware or not of the story potential in the character conflicts they themselves created is somewhat besides the point to me. Because no matter what, it just comes down to the fact that they aren't dealing with it and that has made watching this show a 42 minute exercise in aggravation and maddening frustration.

Edited by regularlyleaded
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The writers are completely aware of the issues they're skipping over, they just either think they're not entertaining enough to deal with or that they've worked of them already through superficial means. They know Regina is a psychotic maniac, but they don't want to redeem her effectively because it's not as eye-catching or fun as the Evil Queen. They knew it was a ridiculous idea for Emma to not move back to New York, but since they're big plot demanded her to stay, they slapped a time travel adventure on it and called it good. They're fully aware that Emma has issues with her parents, but they only brought it up in The Snow Queen because the storyline needed her to pull away. 

 

The writers seem to care more about the "OMG" element than the strong character elements. It's not out of ignorance, either.

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Interesting exchange on Twitter with one of the writers today:

 

Everything in time ‏@revengepsycho  Dec 4
I think that @ScottNimerfro might be the first ouat writer that support us, that's such a huge thing for such a beaten up fandom as #SQ

Scott Nimerfro ‏@ScottNimerfro  Dec 4
@revengepsycho what about the fabulous Jane Espenson?

∞ Stefanie ‏@Stef5255  10h10 hours ago
@ScottNimerfro @revengepsycho Jane used to be pro-SQ but then CS arrived, and now OQ. So no, not even Jane anymore. Just you, Scott.

Scott Nimerfro ‏@ScottNimerfro
@Stef5255 @revengepsycho Believe me, behind the scenes, Jane fights harder for you guys than anyone. #teamjane

 

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So who's fighting for character development, Emma/Snow/Charming, Granny & Grumpy, continuity, and worldbuilding?

Just we are apparently, and it's a losing battle.

 

 

I have trouble believing anyone in that writing room is actively fighting for Swan Queen romance to become canon.  They're just trolling.

I think they've added a mandatory class for the cast and crew - Placating Rabid Shippers 101.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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I don't know--I can buy that Espenson tries for scenes with Emma and Regina, but I have trouble believing she's in the room fighting for a romantic relationship there.  It just doesn't make sense. 

 

Not begrudging anyone their crack ship--I've had a few myself--but it doesn't make sense from a show point of view.  Both characters are heterosexual, both characters are in a romantic (for relative values of romance and pixie dust soul mates) with other people, and there's the whole thing where about 85% of the time Regina hates Emma.  Given how much work they've put into Emma/Hook and Regina/Robin, it doesn't make sense to scrap both ships now, change the characters' sexuality, and make Regina realize she lurrves Emma and have Emma reciprocate.

 

I have trouble believing anyone in that writing room is actively fighting for Swan Queen romance to become canon.  They're just trolling.

 

I think they've added a mandatory class for the cast and crew - Placating Rabid Shippers 101.

 

 

Yeah, "trolling" was probably the wrong word.  Placating?  Soothing?

Edited by Mari
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That writer, Scott Nimerfro, was partly responsible for that atrocious episode 4x05 where Regina dumps on Emma for a whole episode and then Emma begs for her friendship *vomit, vomit, vomit!*(I'm still seething with hate over those scenes). That dubious distinction plus those tweets, and I'm already conditioned to hate  the upcoming episode 4x10 (or is it 11?) "Shattered Sight" that he co-wrote with one of the other n00b writers. This blows especially considering

that "Shattered Sight" is supposed to be another Emma flashback episode. They really hate her character don't they? It's like they can't even pretend anymore that they don't. Seriously, I wait four seasons for them to finally give us some of Emma's backstory when she was still in the foster system and this is what they come up with. F. GD writers and their Regina Permaboner ruins EVERYTHING.

Edited by FabulousTater
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Yes, that guy is the worst. And I really doubt that if Jane Espenson were really "fighting" all the time for SQ, they've get ZERO scenes between 405 and now.

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I have trouble believing anyone in that writing room is actively fighting for Swan Queen romance to become canon.  They're just trolling.

I assumed he meant more fighting to have them be friends or at least have scenes together, which is something I am willing to believe there is conflict over. I can buy that there are writers who want to see Regina working with the show's main protagonist, and those who think Regina is more fun when she dislikes and constantly snarks at the show's main protagonist (and maybe those who think Regina has done too much damage to the show's main protagonist for them to ever be friends, but sadly I doubt that).

 

If you want to write interesting things for the character of Regina -- without her being a villain -- keeping her mostly apart from the good guys is probably quite limiting. She's stuck with her gormless lover or tween son. I'd guess most episodes of this show pass the Bechdel test, but Regina often doesn't have anything to do with that. This and last half-season was mostly her angsting over Robin, and that is despite the fact that the villain in 3B was her sister. Personally, I'd rather see her be a villain, but I can sypathise with any writer who finds it boring to keep her in some wishy washy kind-of-redeemed-but-not-really state.

Edited by retrograde
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