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A Thread for All Seasons: This Story Is Over, But Still Goes On.

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One of the (many) issues with 2B was the wacky decision to take both Hook and Cora off the board at about the same time midway through the arc. Even if Colin hadn't broken his leg, Hook's arc was essentially over with the attack on Rumple. I can't think of what else they could have done with him for the rest of the season because he had no connection to the remaining story lines. There was certainly potential material for him, maybe actually dramatizing his realization that he'd wasted his life and coming to terms with what to do next, but I seriously doubt that's what they had planned for him because it's not the kind of thing they ever did. Unfortunately, the Cora story and the Hook story were linked in time, since Cora was killed to save Rumple from Hook's attack. Those two were such a driving force during the season up to that point and were two of the most dynamic characters. There was a vacuum left when both were suddenly gone. If Hook had been available even to just sit in the background and be snarky, they might not have lost so much energy, but there's still the problem that the Greg/Tamara story was so dull that even the writers were able to just ditch it and pretend it really had just been a setup for the Pan story.

I really can't think of what they might have planned for Hook. We've seen enough of their writing to know that they'd have wanted to preserve the surprise of how Hook and Neal knew each other, so we probably wouldn't have seen a lot of Neal and Hook together. You've got to wonder how Hook would have stayed alive if he'd been in Storybrooke with Rumple around and likely angry and without the truce they struck at the end of the season. Him having been in New York for a while actually made that work.

17 hours ago, companionenvy said:

Apart from timing issues and wanting to preserve the surprise at the end of "Second Star to the Right" where Hook saves Bae, I don't think Neal and Hook could really have had a meaningful conversation at this point because of the Milah issue. There's just no way that any discussion between those two characters after Hook has just effectively murdered Neal's father for killing his lover/Neal's mother could have avoided that particular elephant in the room. But that would mean calling attention to the fact that Neal knows that Rumple killed Milah, and apparently just doesn't care, and I think even these writers would have realized that that was a bad idea.

I think that's still an issue that the show never dealt with, and one of the fallouts of their surprise emphasis. Even if we don't know how/when Neal and Hook knew each other yet, Neal knew at the time he ran into Emma and his father that his father had killed his mother, so he should have reacted differently during that meeting. When Neal was trying to convince Emma that he didn't want to even talk to his father, you'd think that a key data point might have been "he murdered my mother." Emma wouldn't have been able to argue with that as a reason to avoid his father. Then his first meeting with his father should have been a lot more emotionally charged. But Neal showing he knew would have ruined that later surprise (though if he knew Hook, it stands to reason that he would have known). And the sad thing is that it was never addressed at all. Either Neal still refused to believe Rumple killed Milah and believed Hook had and he was close enough to Hook to trust him and for Pan to say they were friends, or Neal believed what Hook told him but it didn't affect the way he viewed his father.

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I also wonder how much the actor's skiing accident affected what they ultimately did with him.  If they did have extra screentime to fill, they sure didn't do anything worthwhile with it.  It's difficult to think how Hook could be used at that point in the season.

In this Comic-Con interview from 2013, Michael Raymond-James mentions that he and Colin O'Donoghue were going to shoot their first scene together but then he had the accident.  Was this the source of all the speculation of more Hook/Neal?  They only alluded to a scene, so it could have been a single scene in NYC when they were locking him up, or a scene on the ship returning to Storybrooke.   A sentence like "We both know what your father is capable of doing" or something to that effect.  

Interesting how both of them said they had no idea what was going to happen to their characters in Season 3.

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48 minutes ago, Shanna Marie said:

You've got to wonder how Hook would have stayed alive if he'd been in Storybrooke with Rumple around and likely angry and without the truce they struck at the end of the season. Him having been in New York for a while actually made that work.

They may have just not addressed it, but one interesting thing they could have done was have Neal warn his father against killing Hook. It would actually have been a nice parallel, in that both of them are father figures who Neal would have been righteously angry at, but for whom his anger stopped short of wanting them dead. It also would have tracked with Rumple letting Hook live earlier out of respect for Belle's wishes. 

And yeah, I agree with Camera One that there probably would have been a scene between Hook and Neal on the ship, maybe starting with Hook commenting on Neal sailing the JR, and then ending with a non-specific (so, non-Milah related) reference to Bae of all people knowing why Rumple needed to die. There could also have been a scene in that episode where the Neal/Emma/Henry connection registers on Hook. And if Hook comes back to SB with the rest, though I doubt he would have had any real role in "The Miller's Daughter," he and MRJ are likely to have at least have briefly appeared together in the scene in which they all land back in SB and meet up with Snow and David. 

58 minutes ago, Shanna Marie said:

And the sad thing is that it was never addressed at all. Either Neal still refused to believe Rumple killed Milah and believed Hook had and he was close enough to Hook to trust him and for Pan to say they were friends, or Neal believed what Hook told him but it didn't affect the way he viewed his father.

I'd say the latter, as I think a part of him recognized that Hook was telling him the truth even at the time, and simply couldn't emotionally deal with it yet. Even if he had never seen Hook again after that day, at some point he wouldn't have been able to help acknowledging that if Hook had actually killed Milah, there would be no reason for him to be holding onto a picture of her years later. And he knows his father well enough to realize that him killing Milah for leaving him isn't outside the realm of possibility.

In some ways, we're lucky they never addressed it, or we might have gotten a scene of Bae forgiving Rumple because the situation with Milah was "complicated." 

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2 hours ago, companionenvy said:

I'd say the latter, as I think a part of him recognized that Hook was telling him the truth even at the time, and simply couldn't emotionally deal with it yet. Even if he had never seen Hook again after that day, at some point he wouldn't have been able to help acknowledging that if Hook had actually killed Milah, there would be no reason for him to be holding onto a picture of her years later. And he knows his father well enough to realize that him killing Milah for leaving him isn't outside the realm of possibility.

In some ways, we're lucky they never addressed it, or we might have gotten a scene of Bae forgiving Rumple because the situation with Milah was "complicated." 

So do I. I know he still got mad and blamed Hook but I do agree Bae knew that was true. But your right had that's exactly what we would have gotten. Bae/Neal forgiving his father for murdering his mother. That would have been so horrible to watch. Its bad enough watching Belle knowing that Rumple murdered his first wife and remaining with him and continuing with her he has a good heart crap. 

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4 hours ago, CCTC said:

Josh's show got picked up for three more episodes.   It is doing pretty well in ratings, so am guessing the 16 episode season is more due to they figured 22 would be too much filler for the concept and/or they have a show such as Black List that they already have penciled in for the second half of the year.  It is probably not the best show, but I am enjoying and I think the 16 episode decision is a wise one.  Season 1 of OUAT probably could have benefited having 2 to 6 fewer episodes and avoided some of the mid-season drag.

Even with its pacing issues, I'm glad OUAT had a full Season 1.  

With a show where it's more of a journey, or where the "world" intrigues me, I prefer 22 episodes regardless of whether the plot advances in every episode.  With shows like "Lost" and "Once" (in Season 1), filler to me was more fun times spent in that world.  It was more time to hang out with the characters.  Even filler provided satisfying character moments or cool detours.  Yes, the pacing in Season 1 wasn't great (and it was going to get even worse in later seasons), but I enjoyed something in every episode.

I do agree with a show like "Manifest" where the world is not very interesting, less is more.

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5 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

I think that's still an issue that the show never dealt with, and one of the fallouts of their surprise emphasis. Even if we don't know how/when Neal and Hook knew each other yet, Neal knew at the time he ran into Emma and his father that his father had killed his mother, so he should have reacted differently during that meeting.

The more I think about it though, the less where Bae and Hook knew each other from is a surprise. Bae still thought Milah had been killed by pirates when he used the bean portal. Then Rumpel killed Milah and maimed Hook, whereupon Hook immediately left for Neverland. Neal straight out told Emma that he didn't come straight to this world and that he was older than he looked. It was very clearly pointing to Neverland. Plus, they had Emma throw in the Neverland reference in "Tallahassee". My guess is that the Neal/Emma conversation where they discussed how Neal knew Hook was leading into the next episode where Neal/Hook would have a conversation that confirmed the connection. None of that would ruin the moment where Hook fishes Bae out of the ocean in Neverland because it fills in a surprising backstory that wouldn't have needed to be revealed by simply knowing that they had met in Neverland.

Neal and Rumpel had one interaction with each other after he and Rumpel initially made up. Maybe the lack of Hook was the reason for such minimal interaction. It's possible they threw in that weird scene between them where they talked more about Neal's feelings for Emma than their actual issues with each other because "Lacey" had to be changed due to actor availability and it wouldn't have made sense without the other stuff - even if that was only a brief conversation between Hook and Neal.

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18 hours ago, companionenvy said:

Even if he had never seen Hook again after that day, at some point he wouldn't have been able to help acknowledging that if Hook had actually killed Milah, there would be no reason for him to be holding onto a picture of her years later.

Considering it was a picture she drew of herself, there would have been no reason for Hook to have had a picture of her in the first place if he'd killed her at the time she "disappeared." Did Bae think he forced her to draw a self-portrait before he killed her? Did the crew give her art supplies to amuse herself between gang rapes and she drew a self-portrait before they killed her? Did she just happen to be carrying around a self-portrait when Hook kidnapped her? It's hard to imagine that Hook would be in possession of and still holding onto a portrait of a woman that she drew of herself if he'd kidnapped and murdered her. Besides, didn't young Bae come to get her from the tavern at one point? She was hanging out and having fun with the pirates then.

Then again, Rumple also saw her hanging out and having fun with the pirates, and she talked about Killian to Rumple. Why was he willing to believe Killian's talk about the horrible things he was going to do to her?

I don't think that Neal knowing about his mother's fate in "Manhattan" would have necessarily spoiled any surprises. If anything, it would have created a mystery of how he knew, since it happened after he was gone. If we're looking at how people could realistically be expected to respond to situations, when Emma was trying to talk Neal into talking to his father instead of avoiding him entirely, the most obvious thing for Neal to have said was, "He murdered my mother." That pretty much trumps any argument Emma could have made. No reasonable person would keep pushing from that point. Then when Neal was reunited with his father, you'd think that would have been one of the key reasons why Neal wanted nothing to do with him. Again, it's not like you can argue with that. It's weird for Neal to never bring that up at all. Hook seems to be the only person who cares what happened to Milah. Her ex seems to have zero remorse about murdering her (he's still gloating, and he "killed" her again), her son doesn't seem to care, it doesn't bother Rumple's next wife, and no one else seems to mind Henry hanging around with Rumple.

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5 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

If we're looking at how people could realistically be expected to respond to situations, when Emma was trying to talk Neal into talking to his father instead of avoiding him entirely, the most obvious thing for Neal to have said was, "He murdered my mother." That pretty much trumps any argument Emma could have made. No reasonable person would keep pushing from that point. Then when Neal was reunited with his father, you'd think that would have been one of the key reasons why Neal wanted nothing to do with him. Again, it's not like you can argue with that. It's weird for Neal to never bring that up at all. Hook seems to be the only person who cares what happened to Milah. Her ex seems to have zero remorse about murdering her (he's still gloating, and he "killed" her again), her son doesn't seem to care, it doesn't bother Rumple's next wife, and no one else seems to mind Henry hanging around with Rumple.

It was probably one of the plot points that they wanted to deal with in the flashbacks but never bring up in the present-day, because they wanted to leave open the possibility of Neal and Rumple reconciling.  It's like how they rarely mention that Regina killed Snow's father.  

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13 hours ago, Camera One said:

It was probably one of the plot points that they wanted to deal with in the flashbacks but never bring up in the present-day, because they wanted to leave open the possibility of Neal and Rumple reconciling.  It's like how they rarely mention that Regina killed Snow's father.  

That's part of it, but I also think it is just another part of the show's bizarre morality, where it may recognize certain acts as wrong, but has no perspective of degrees of wrong. So Rumple is wrong to kill Milah, and Hook is wrong to try to kill Rumple, and to have taunted him years earlier, and Milah is wrong to have left Bae and Regina is wrong to have killed Leo, and Kurt, and countless others, and Snow was wrong to have killed Cora, and before that, to have told the secret, and Emma is wrong to have lived a rootless life that included crime, and to have lied to Henry, and possibly, to have given him up in the first place. And there's really not a sense that some of those acts play out a monumentally different scale than others to the point where comparing them is laughable and offensive. In turn, if you operate on the premise that all of these wrongs are the actions of flawed people who become "heroes" or "villains" more because of circumstances than because of any intrinsic goodness or badness, there's really not anything that is truly unforgiveable. While the writers don't dwell on Regina killing Snow's father, specifically, it isn't like they sugar coat Regina's past crimes against Snow - quite the contrary. They just don't see that as an insurmountable or even particularly high barrier to their becoming close once Regina has stopped actively doing evil things, because Regina has good in her and Snow isn't perfect either. In that context, I'm not sure that, even if it had been acknowledged, the writers would have seen Rumple killing Milah as a dealbreaker or especially severe obstacle to Neal and Rumple's reconciliation. 

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1 hour ago, companionenvy said:

While the writers don't dwell on Regina killing Snow's father, specifically, it isn't like they sugar coat Regina's past crimes against Snow - quite the contrary. 

Even so, they rarely discuss Regina's crimes against Snow in any detail in the present-day.  It's usually very vague.  Snow rarely talks about specific people Regina has killed, or specific times she tried to kill Snow, or the village massacre, even with David or Emmy or Henry.  It's not sugar-coated in the flashbacks, but they treat that like it was a different time, a different world, which supports their assumption that Regina was a different person then.

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I've been watching more interviews for Season 3 since we're close to that point in the rewatch and some I've never watched before (like ones with the Hook and Neal actors).  

I do find some of the answers amusing.  Like MRJ's "I can't speak to the overarching themes because we don't know what those are going to be".  And when the interviewer asked how Neal was adjusting/responding to being back in the Enchanted Forest, he said right now, the character is too busy with his job, and "I think the time for reflection for me is going to be later."  LOL, how naive.  Characters on this show don't do any self-reflection, silly.

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In case you're wondering, A&E sometimes does still answer Once related questions!

Quote

Katherine‏ @lifemessesofkj 
@AdamHorowitzLA rewatching #OnceUponATime.... Cinderella's mouse friend Gus gets to be Billy the tow truck driver and Pongo stayed a dog?? What kind of curse rules are these?

Adam Horowitz‏ @AdamHorowitzLA
Replying to @lifemessesofkj   Once upon a time!

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7 hours ago, Camera One said:

It's not sugar-coated in the flashbacks, but they treat that like it was a different time, a different world, which supports their assumption that Regina was a different person then.

I've never understood if they really grasped that Regina was horrible in present day Storybrooke. I've heard them say that Regina was a different person in Storybrooke and not the Evil Queen. She was really just a victim and her vendetta against Snow wasn't black and white good vs evil (implying it was at least partially Snow's fault). But this doesn't work with her actions in Storybrooke. How do they explain the murder of Kurt Flynn? He had zero to do with Snow or anything Enchanted Forest related. That was Regina in full Evil Queen mode in the real world after she'd won and gotten everything she wanted. No one was "making" her evil there. 30 years later, she murdered Graham in cold blood. She stood by while Johanna was defenestrated. She planned to murder everyone in Storybrooke. She grinned when he discovered that Owen/Greg was dead. This isn't a good person. This isn't someone who's changed or was somehow forced to act evil. It wasn't like she got a change of scenery and that turned her into a new person. Despite the writers' (and Regina's) assertions that Regina and the Evil Queen are somehow different people, that's just not something that ever worked given the character's actions post-curse. 

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9 hours ago, companionenvy said:

While the writers don't dwell on Regina killing Snow's father, specifically, it isn't like they sugar coat Regina's past crimes against Snow - quite the contrary.

They don't sugarcoat or skim over Regina's past crimes in flashback. We get to see it all in great detail, complete with her crazy eyes of glee. But her crimes are more or less ignored in the present. I don't recall her murder of Snow's father ever coming up, post-curse. They talk about Snow's "murder" of Cora in the same scene that the Charmings discuss whether to name the new baby after Leopold without any mention whatsoever of Leopold's fate or Regina's role in it. About the only thing that ever comes up is the village slaughter. One of the Queens of Darkness mentions it, and Regina brushes it off like she'd react to someone bringing up a bad hairstyle she used to have. Then there's Percival, and he's treated like a villain and killed. David gets to make the occasional remark about all her victims, but it's treated like a joke. I think there are far more mentions of Snow's "crimes" than Regina's -- multiple references to her killing Cora, snark about her not being able to keep a secret, references to her not thinking about consequences, all the "I was such a brat." Zilch about Regina killing Snow's father, ripping out a lot of hearts, or any of her crimes as Regina after the curse. Heck, Regina gets to criticize Snow more for being fat when she's nine months pregnant than Snow gets to criticize Regina for killing her father and stealing her kingdom.

28 minutes ago, KAOS Agent said:

30 years later, she murdered Graham in cold blood. She stood by while Johanna was defenestrated. She planned to murder everyone in Storybrooke. She grinned when he discovered that Owen/Greg was dead.

Plus she plotted to have Kathryn murdered even though Kathryn thought she was a friend, framed Mary Margaret for the murder, tried to send Hansel and Gretel out of town (which she knew would kill them). Then there's the petty stuff like giving Belle a skanky fake identity and destroying all the magic beans. Regina may not have quite the same body count as "the evil queen," but she may have been even nastier. And none of it gets mentioned.

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31 minutes ago, KAOS Agent said:

I've never understood if they really grasped that Regina was horrible in present day Storybrooke. I've heard them say that Regina was a different person in Storybrooke and not the Evil Queen. 

Yes, and don't forget Regina gleefully strangling David at the end of the Season 2 premiere.  If Henry hadn't walked in, she might have finished the job.  And this was AFTER Snow, Emma and David risked their own lives to save her from the Wraith.  

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I was rewatching the scene in Lacey where we saw Neal and Henry sword-fighting, which got me thinking about 2B.

If the show was actually about the heroes or at least more balanced, the second half of this season should have focused on the decision to stay in Storybrooke or to go back to the Enchanted Forest (instead of this being the C plot).  Emma could have been torn, and leaning towards going with her family.   Maybe Snowing could have gone with Emma, Henry and Rumple to NYC, and Snowing could have been horrified to see the "real world" where Emma grew up.  

Neal coming back and the danger with Cora could have given Emma second thoughts about leaving for the Enchanted Forest, and she might have decided that maybe it was best if Henry were to stay in the World Without Magic.  

Neal being in town could have been used to make Regina feel more paranoid or Cora could have used that to convince Regina to join her instead of "The Cricket Game".  

Regina's sacrifice for the season-ender could have been her killing Cora or sacrificing her life to get rid of Cora, instead of the idiotic fail-safe stuff.  Regina finding out about Cora's machinations by killing Eva and setting her up to marry Leopold with the runaway horse could have been motivation for this.  If A&E wanted apocalyptic imagery, Cora could have caused a tornado to go through Storybrooke or set the hourglass for the town and its inhabitants to be destroyed. 

If Henry had been angry and fearful of Regina throughout Season 2, then it might have made us want him to give Regina a chance in Season 3.

All we needed to set up the Peter Pan arc was a Shadow to come out of nowhere and snatch Henry away.  We could still have the Baelfire flashback in the finale, and Hook could offer to help them get to Neverland.  We didn't really need Neal to fall through a portal.  He could have gone with the rest of them.

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I've been finding the rewatch more and more difficult, and while, because I'm enjoying the opportunity to post meta, I'm going to continue, I've realized that I'm not really looking forward even to some of the arcs I thought were reasonably successful (like Neverland). I've also realized the reason, and it actually isn't the wonky morality and the victim blaming, though that contributes:

This show, post S1, is an almost total misery. 

Emma is allowed to comment on this in 3x01, when she tells her parents that unlike them, she doesn't have the luxury of believing in hope, and in fact they shouldn't either - their life has been terrible since the curse broke. By the end of the episode, it is supposed to be wonderful and heartwarming that Emma has taken her leap of faith and stepped up as a leader. But the truth is, she's right, and the rest of the show - until, perhaps, the end of s6 (and reiterated in s7), where we are left to assume that, whatever other nonsense has happened, Emma, Hook, and Snowing are going to have good lives -- doesn't do much to refute this. 

First, the present day. After the curse breaks, they don't even have a day together before being separated. At least in 2A, neither the EF story or events back in SB wind up being excessively angsty. But then 2B comes around, and, after even their celebration is marred by concern for Regina's feelings, they immediately have to start dealing with Cora. There are very few heartwarming family scenes, and those few aren't given a ton of narrative prominence; what is focused on is Snow's dark heart and Henry being angry at Emma. Emma has to deal with the pain of encountering Neal again, and then losing him. They stop the failsafe, but can't enjoy it because Henry has been kidnapped. Neverland brings up a ton of angst for everyone. They rescue Henry, but Pan has switched with him. They defeat Pan, but at the cost of permanent separation and memory-wipes. Emma has a good year in NY off-screen, but then she's called back to SB in order to deal with another threat. She loses Neal again, isn't ready to really pursue anything with Hook, and then is rendered useless for the battle with Zelena, so the triumph is Regina's. I recall liking the Frozen plot quite a bit, but it is joined with a half season of Hook essentially getting tortured, and the show consequently robbing most of the joy from the start of Captain Swan (even their first date has the stupid hand plot). We can assume Emma is happy in the six weeks between 4A and 4B, but then we get the QoD, and a half season of our non-Operation Mongoose time worrying about Emma having darkness and dealing with what Snowing did in the past. Emma then has to take on the darkness, leading to everyone treating her like a ticking time bomb. She makes Herculean efforts to resist it, but is forced into the terrible, unfair choice between Hook's life and giving into the darkness; her actions as DO lead to rejection from Henry, her parents giving up on her, and, ultimately, Dark Hook going totally evil and her being forced to kill him - which means there is no happy triumph over the darkness.  Hook winning his own way out of the UW is a legitimately satisfying outcome, but before then, he gets tortured, Emma's plan fails, and practically every encounter in the UW - again, except for Regina's -- winds up being angsty. Milah dies again, Liam - though he ultimately moves on -- is revealed to have a dark backstory of his own, David encounters James, Belle encounters Gaston, etc. Robin's soul is obliterated, and Emma and Hook don't get a day together before she's going after Henry and Hook and Snowing are captives in the Land of Untold Stories. Emma spends most of S6 thinking she's going to die, and we don't even get to enjoy Hook's proposal to her under the circumstances. At least the wedding/musical is fun - but of course the Black Fairy's curse hits before the reception is even over. 

Then, let's look at the flashbacks. With a few exceptions, almost all of the flashbacks are tragic or disturbing. Every time we learn more about Emma, it involves loneliness, betrayal, and loss. Every Hook flashback makes his sad backstory sadder and/or provides another example of him giving into the desire for revenge. We get the tragedy of Merlin and Nimue, various sad villain backstories, Anton's whole family getting slaughtered, Whale's brother dying, and so on. 

Where I do think the wonky morality comes in is that part of the reason things seem so woefully unbalanced is that a good proportion of the scenes that to the writers are balancing out the darkness involve characters that I - and a lot of other people on this board, apparently -- don't see as sympathetic. If you buy Regina's redemption, then things like Regina TLKing Henry or helping Cora and Henry Sr. move on are genuinely moving, triumphant moments. In 2B, "Selfless, Brave and True" is a "happy" episode, but only has weight if you don't see August as the total piece of garbage I think he is. The Rumbelle flashback in Lacey ends with Rumple doing the right thing and some sweetness with him and Belle - but even as someone who likes Rumple at this point in the show, I think Rumbelle is offensive and disgusting. 

Really, when it comes to triumphant, genuinely satisfying moments for the most sympathetic characters, I'd say this show might actually be worse than Game of Thrones, which has an unbelievable level of tragedy, but also has tons of scenes that I could point to as "Hell, yeah!" moments where the heroes get decisive, unambiguous wins. 

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7 hours ago, companionenvy said:

I've been finding the rewatch more and more difficult, and while, because I'm enjoying the opportunity to post meta, I'm going to continue, I've realized that I'm not really looking forward even to some of the arcs I thought were reasonably successful (like Neverland). I've also realized the reason, and it actually isn't the wonky morality and the victim blaming, though that contributes:

This show, post S1, is an almost total misery. 

I'm behind in the rewatch, but I'm sort of feeling the same.  Personally, I didn't fully enjoy the "Neverland" arc with the exception of "Lost Girl", so that doesn't help.  Back then, I was watching mostly for Emma and her relationship with her parents, and it is crystal clear now that even by 2B, some of the characters I liked most in Season 1, like Henry and Snow, had already been destroyed.  After "Lost Girl", that was it for Emma and Snow, forever.  From "The Cricket Game" onwards along with lowlights like "Welcome to Storybrooke", and especially in the last few episodes of 2B, anyone watching who didn't subscribe to the wonky morality of the Writers are left with the feeling that they are wrong and heartless not to feel sad that Cora died, or Regina was suffering, etc.  

I actually tried watching the first episode of "Game of Thrones" yesterday but I couldn't get past the first 15 minutes.  The gore was too much.  As you said, on "Once", you rarely get moments where you can fully cheer on the heroes.  "Neverland" is cited as one of the half-seasons when the characters had a more active goal, but they were still prone to the puppeteering by the villain in the background. 

Their "win" was still towards the end.  "Wins" by coincidence, blind luck, blind faith or MacGuffins they found a minute earlier are simply not satisfying to watch, and almost every "win" by these protagonists fall into one of those categories.  Not to mention most of the villains weren't even defeated by protagonists - they were ultimately destroyed by Regina or Rumple or Zelena or guest characters like Anna, while in the face of certain defeat, the protagonists know their place (which is to sit at the diner waiting to die maybe with some cold lasagna, or even sing and dance about how it's a new beginning).

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This is a fun question - What is the worst character in the show? (Including guest characters.)

I'd have to go with Jacinda because she's just horrible in every way. She's a murderous Cinderella who neglects her child, she has zero personality, she's rude, can't keep a job, and we're supposed to root for her because she's Henry's wife. She lacks any redeemable qualities. Despite being a main character, she never contributes anything beneficial to the plot and doesn't make decisions on her own. She's easily manipulated. There's not a single thing I like about her.

I know a lot of people would say Regina is the worst character because in many respects, the writers' treatment of her ruined the show. But as a character, I don't think she is always terrible and sometimes can at least be tolerable. I can't say she is never helpful at all. In earlier seasons, she had more engaging scenes. They just got more sparse as time went on. I'd say she put the biggest negative dent in the show, but it's not necessarily her fault as a character. It's more of A&E using her as a black hole to suck the life out of all the other characters. 

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15 minutes ago, KingOfHearts said:

This is a fun question - What is the worst character in the show? (Including guest characters.)

LOL, where we do we even start?

I wouldn't put Regina as the worst character either.  I thought she was very entertaining as an over-the-top fairytale villain in the Season 1 flashbacks.  I also felt for Regina at various points in the series as A&E played me like a violin.  

I would probably have to choose Victoria Belfrey.  There was something about her acting that was so stilted I could never shake that impression when she was onscreen.  She was not a delicious villain.  Her backstory as Rapunzel was utterly unconvincing and borderline insulting. 

I couldn't care much about Jacinda either way.  I found her unconvincing as well but I didn't actively hate her.  As a bland "good" character, she was forgettable. 

Meanwhile, a character like Merida was so abrasive she made me want to turn off the TV (with the exception of the surprisingly good "The Bear King").  Merida would probably give Victoria a good run for worst character for me.  Her presence was also part of a horrible arc for Rumple.  But at least Merida fit in to the show better and her acting was fine... it was more the script and how she was used.

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I didn't hate the Victoria/Rapunzel flashbacks, but heavily disliked all of Jacinda's. I agree about Merida. As annoying as she was, "The Bear King" was unexpectedly decent. At least in that episode, she had a few scenes that were heartfelt and weren't just snarling. Dorothy is another contender for worst but only as an adult. As a kid, she was bland and forgettable but not unwatchable. While Ruby Slippers was terrible as both an episode and a ship, it only happened once, so it's hard to call a character "the worst" just for that. 

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Maybe its because 2B is so fresh in my mind, but its hard to think of a worse character than Tamara. Greg is a mess too, but at least I get why he wants to destroy magic and why he hates the town so much. Tamara is just smug and annoying and makes no sense. She isnt a credible threat, is a total moron as it turns out, and says stupid lines about magic being "unholy" and never actually explains why she has such a hate on for it. She is such a lame pointless asshole of a character that she gets quickly killed off as soon as the next season starts, never to be mentioned again, thats what a dud she was. 

Regina is more complicated, because she does have moments when I find her amusing or kind of interesting (and is basically inoffensive as a bland good guy in the last few seasons) but she is probably the worst thing to happen to the show, in that the whole series became tailored around her, and giving her everything she wants, and it tore down other characters to do so, and every interesting plot the show had was scarped to make room for The Regina Show time again. Plus, even when she was a boring good guy or had some funny lines, its impossible for me to forget the shear magnitude of her crimes, and how she never bothered to really deal with that, and the show seems to just think its alright. It would become the shows pattern, to have innocent people suffer while villains get everything they want because they stubbed their tie one time or something, and a lot of that came from A&Es never ending Regina worship. 

Speaking of, 2B (and, honstly, most of the rest of the show) makes a million times more sense if we look at it as in universe pro-Regina propaganda, created to make her look good, and broadcasted to all her new subjects in her new, multiverse of a kingdom after the series ended. It seems to exist to make Regina look like a hero who has suffered terribly and triumphed, makes all of her victims/enemies either cartonishly evil (Greg) or desperately seeking for forgiveness and approval (Snow), and also shows her killing and torturing anyone who doesn't immediately fall into line with her as their authority figure. The message is clearly "Good Queen Regina is the best and most wonderful leader in the whole of reality, and if you forget, you die! 2+2=75, subjects!" 

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How could I forget Tamara as a potentially worst character.  Hating magic is one thing.  But condemning an entire town of people to die?  We never even found out what her deal was, either.  I wonder if A&E had intended to have her and Greg stick around for a bit longer in 3A, or if they were a temporary science vs. faith S2 "Lost" ripoff obstacle.

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1 hour ago, Camera One said:

How could I forget Tamara as a potentially worst character.  Hating magic is one thing.  But condemning an entire town of people to die?  We never even found out what her deal was, either.  I wonder if A&E had intended to have her and Greg stick around for a bit longer in 3A, or if they were a temporary science vs. faith S2 "Lost" ripoff obstacle.

Wasn't there speculation she was Tiger Lily? LOL.

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4 hours ago, Camera One said:

Rumple used that convenient locator-blood-globe, and both Rumple and Hook could simply look at it and go "Neverland".  Does that globe show all the realms?  Is the Enchanted Forest / Neverland world round?  Or are they on separate globes?  I wish we could ask A&E these questions.  I wonder what they would say?  (I'm walking into this one here, LOL).

Hello, @Camera One! A&E here!

First off, we want to say how much of an honor it is for us to be talking to our number one fan. You know us so well, you could probably take the words right out of Adam's Twitter feed! (Before he deletes them.) As for your question regarding the realms, the infinite multiverse of infinite possibilities is split into different planes of existence. The Land Without Magic and Neverland are actually in the same universe, just in different points in space. They're grouped with Wonderland, The Land Without Color, 1920s England, Victorian England, Depression Era Kansas, Oz, The Enchanted Forest, The Land of Untold Stories, and The Underworld. Most of these can be visited with Jefferson's hats. In layman's terms, each of these realms exist on a different planet. Some have higher concentrations of magic particles than others. However, New!Enchanted Forest, New!Wonderland, The Wish Realm, and Wish!Neverland all exist in a different universe. I hope that helps!

P.S. Be sure to watch Amazing Stories! We're currently in talks with every person who ever had any involvement with Lost or Once Upon a Time to guest star!

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Thanks, A&E.  It's always great to hear from our idols.

I was watching the scene between Rumple and Baelfire in "The Return".  Why didn't he just memory wipe the mute maid instead of murdering her?  I guess memory wipes via hand wave weren't as common in Season 1 as afterwards.  Why did Rumple need a maid anyway?  Why didn't he poof dinner into existence?  In that same conversation, he told Bae he could conjure up anything he wanted.  I guess we're supposed to believe he wanted Belle as a maid because he was lonely.  Well boo hoo kill me an innocent.

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Its almost like this universe is super confusing and makes no sense. I thought it would be fun for the EF crew to all finally get back home, and find that they miss the modern world, or some of them want to stay in Maine, or go out into the normal world and try their luck out there, instead of going back to being peasants in a middle ages style forest. I mean, in an infinite multiverse of all fiction, I would be like "could you maybe point me in the direction of a universe that has magic, AND indoor plumbing? Please and thank you!" 

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20 hours ago, companionenvy said:

This show, post S1, is an almost total misery. 

Emma is allowed to comment on this in 3x01, when she tells her parents that unlike them, she doesn't have the luxury of believing in hope, and in fact they shouldn't either - their life has been terrible since the curse broke. By the end of the episode, it is supposed to be wonderful and heartwarming that Emma has taken her leap of faith and stepped up as a leader. But the truth is, she's right, and the rest of the show - until, perhaps, the end of s6 (and reiterated in s7), where we are left to assume that, whatever other nonsense has happened, Emma, Hook, and Snowing are going to have good lives -- doesn't do much to refute this. 

I always had a problem with Snow and David's assertion to Emma in S2 that this world has been nothing but cruel to her and a new start in the Enchanted Forest would give her her happy ending. First of all, every time Emma was screwed over in this world it involved a fairy tale character. She was abandoned in this world because of the happenings in the Enchanted Forest and she remained alone as a child because her parents continued to sacrifice her happiness for the Enchanted Forest people. Then we have Pinocchio, Lily, Ingrid, Neal, Walsh - all Enchanted Forest associated characters - causing massive upheaval and issues in her life. The only time we saw her have a long encounter with a non-fairy tale character, it was actually a positive association. Cleo died, yes, but she set Emma on a track that gave her a career that she was good at and I think enjoyed. The only other time where Emma was settled and happy was during the year in New York. Walsh and Hook were the ones who tore that happiness away from her.

I know Emma's constant mentions of New York  in 3B annoyed a lot of people, but she was right. She and Henry absolutely should have returned there. They were happy. Henry had lots of friends and a normal life. No one was trying to kill them. Walsh wouldn't have done anything if she'd not gotten her memories back and planned to go with Hook to Storybrooke. Even Henry wanted to have his current memories wiped and go back to NYC Henry in 4A. It was a deleted scene (although the showrunners said it was canon), but I think it was a pretty powerful demonstration that life in Storybrooke with the Enchanted Foresters sucked.

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6 minutes ago, KAOS Agent said:

I always had a problem with Snow and David's assertion to Emma in S2 that this world has been nothing but cruel to her and a new start in the Enchanted Forest would give her her happy ending. First of all, every time Emma was screwed over in this world it involved a fairy tale character. She was abandoned in this world because of the happenings in the Enchanted Forest and she remained alone as a child because her parents continued to sacrifice her happiness for the Enchanted Forest people. Then we have Pinocchio, Lily, Ingrid, Neal, Walsh - all Enchanted Forest associated characters - causing massive upheaval and issues in her life. The only time we saw her have a long encounter with a non-fairy tale character, it was actually a positive association. Cleo died, yes, but she set Emma on a track that gave her a career that she was good at and I think enjoyed. The only other time where Emma was settled and happy was during the year in New York. Walsh and Hook were the ones who tore that happiness away from her.

Snow and David don't know that at this point, though, and I do think Emma's life, once she was left alone in Maine, would have been grim even apart from her interaction with EF people - the show just doesn't spend time on the non-FTL related parts of it. Presumably, most of her foster parents, including the ones who gave her up when she was three, were Muggles. In any case, while the EF clearly isn't a paradise, I can see why David would look at this as a chance to start over for them as a family, where Emma isn't going to be alone anymore and whatever struggles they face they at least face together.

What makes way less sense is 3.01, where Snow is talking about having hope and finding each other and needing to believe, and Emma, quite rightly points out that not only is that not true in her experience in the real world, but that Snow and David's lives have sucked since the curse broke, too. Yet while Emma is allowed to make the point, which isn't entirely discredited, I think it is clear that ultimately, the show wants to suggest that it is Emma who needs to change - as she does even in this episode with the leap of faith thing. Yet ultimately, until the very ending for these characters, where things do work out (for our core characters, at least), there's really no basis for thinking that goodness is rewarded. Maybe the worst example of this is Emma's DO arc. She becomes the DO to save others, works really hard to fight it, and only "gives into" the darkness by saving the life of someone she loves -- and is resoundingly punished for it. What happened to love is a strength?

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2 hours ago, companionenvy said:

In any case, while the EF clearly isn't a paradise, I can see why David would look at this as a chance to start over for them as a family, where Emma isn't going to be alone anymore and whatever struggles they face they at least face together.

You mean the Enchanted Forest Ghost Town filled with people eating ogres? Emma pretty much hated the Enchanted Forest. I get the idea they were going for there, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It would've made more sense for them to move to sunny San Diego or something. At that point in the show, there wasn't magic in the world, so unlike in the Enchanted Forest, there are no magical villains or ogres there to hurt them. Also, there are fun things like indoor plumbing and electricity. The whole let's return to our world so we can have "fun" adventures was never something Emma would've been on board with. Did anyone ever think that Emma was enjoying herself during any of the adventures she was forced to endure?  It's something that her parents liked, but it never seemed like Emma wanted anything more than to get it over with.

Basically, I never believed that Emma would be happy the way the show kept insisting she would be simply because she lived in the same place as her parents. They wanted me to believe that happy, settled Emma in New York would be miserable if her parents were an hour plane ride away and she needed to learn a lesson that they must stay in each others' pockets at all times even though life sucked in Storybrooke. It was all a part of the family is everything nonsense that this show pushed constantly. There was never any compromise. Emma must conform to the fairy tale thinking rather than others changing their thinking. It's ridiculous that the show has Emma say, "A week ago, Henry and I were playing video games and eating fruit roll-ups. Now I am chasing after the Dark One, hoping he can help me find the Wicked Witch of the West." and wants me to believe that they are so much better off in Storybrooke simply because her parents live there and apparently no one has ever heard of planes, trains or automobiles.

By the end of show (which is S6 for me) I still don't buy that Emma's happy ending is where she is. Just because horrible things aren't happening to them on the regular doesn't mean that life is great. I believe that Hook makes her happy, but I don't see either of them enjoying living in Storybrooke or finding sheriffing to be fulfilling. I'd buy them sailing around the world on the Jolly Roger as a happier ending than driving around in the bug chasing random fairy tale characters in a small town.

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2 hours ago, KAOS Agent said:

By the end of show (which is S6 for me) I still don't buy that Emma's happy ending is where she is. Just because horrible things aren't happening to them on the regular doesn't mean that life is great. I believe that Hook makes her happy, but I don't see either of them enjoying living in Storybrooke or finding sheriffing to be fulfilling. I'd buy them sailing around the world on the Jolly Roger as a happier ending than driving around in the bug chasing random fairy tale characters in a small town.

Really, the problem is that we don't really have a coherent idea of what will make any of these characters happy, except in the vaguest sense. Emma is Hook's happy ending, but making him her deputy just seems like the laziest, course of least resistance. We don't really get much of a sense of what Hook likes - does he miss the adventure of his life of piracy, or is domestic bliss really all he ever wanted? Does he wrestle with becoming an officer of the law after years of outlawry? For Emma, being a bail bondsperson originally made sense as part of the desire to find people, but she wasn't happy while she was living that life, and kind of fell into sheriffing. Mary Margaret has an "I'm Snow White again!" epiphany in 5B, and then goes back to being a teacher in 6. Other than being mayor for five minutes in a comedy C-plot, we never deal with the question of whether she wants to be leader or not. David ultimately wants to be a farmer, but there isn't much leading up to that; he seemed to take pretty naturally to being a prince, so it doesn't seem like the result of any kind of process so much as it is a convenient way of finding a place for him while leaving space for Hook to take over as Emma's deputy. In the meantime,

It is a version of the same problem we see with the CS wedding, which winds up being a generic ceremony with nothing that would suggest specific thought about these two characters and what they would want.

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1 hour ago, companionenvy said:

Really, the problem is that we don't really have a coherent idea of what will make any of these characters happy, except in the vaguest sense.

That really is the key.  The Writers never created a unique and consistent POV for most of the characters, and changed their POV according to plot needs.  

If Snow White and Prince Charming lived in a Disney-esque Enchanted Forest where Happy Endings were common and True Love reigned, then it would make perfect sense that they would see the World Without Magic as being incredibly cruel and cynical to Emma.  But the Writers ignore that the Enchanted Forest had not been kind to Snow White - in fact, it was downright cruel.  Even Charming didn't have a charmed life.  Yes, the World Without Magic had orphans, poverty, alcoholism, senseless killing etc., but so did the Enchanted Forest created by these Writers - in fact, it was a thousand times worse.

I don't remember any character suggesting the option that they all move to New York City or Boston and live there together, which would be a logical choice.  For plot convenience, the choice was always Storybrooke or the Enchanted Forest. 

By 4B, living conditions in Storybrooke vs. the Enchanted Forest barely registered on the characters' minds.  I suppose with the power of magic on this show, there was no reason Regina couldn't magick plumbing into Knifington Palace.  But she didn't, so did the characters not care about using garderobes?  It's like the Writers never actually went down to the human level when they were brainstorming ideas.

Edited by Camera One
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I've always found Emma's past ridiculous bleak and lacking in color.  Being abandoned as a baby wasn't going to make her life a ray of sunshine, but she would've likely been adopted quickly and stayed there. I sincerely doubt she never would've made a positive friend or found anyone that cared about her. Life sucks but not everybody gets constantly manipulated by fairy tale characters. It's highly unlikely in modern day America that a beautiful girl like Emma would have nothing but negative experiences with other people yet somehow grow up to be a good person. It's like the writers wanted her to have a crappy past full of heartbreak, but also make her a hero, but also orchestrate secret run-ins with fairy tales. They needed to compromise somewhere but they didn't. Instead, they gave us retcons like the fetus lobotomy.

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7 hours ago, companionenvy said:

Really, the problem is that we don't really have a coherent idea of what will make any of these characters happy, except in the vaguest sense. Emma is Hook's happy ending, but making him her deputy just seems like the laziest, course of least resistance. We don't really get much of a sense of what Hook likes - does he miss the adventure of his life of piracy, or is domestic bliss really all he ever wanted? Does he wrestle with becoming an officer of the law after years of outlawry? For Emma, being a bail bondsperson originally made sense as part of the desire to find people, but she wasn't happy while she was living that life, and kind of fell into sheriffing. Mary Margaret has an "I'm Snow White again!" epiphany in 5B, and then goes back to being a teacher in 6. Other than being mayor for five minutes in a comedy C-plot, we never deal with the question of whether she wants to be leader or not. David ultimately wants to be a farmer, but there isn't much leading up to that; he seemed to take pretty naturally to being a prince, so it doesn't seem like the result of any kind of process so much as it is a convenient way of finding a place for him while leaving space for Hook to take over as Emma's deputy. In the meantime,

It is a version of the same problem we see with the CS wedding, which winds up being a generic ceremony with nothing that would suggest specific thought about these two characters and what they would want.

That really is the problem. We don't have any idea what would make any characters happy. Even Regina's ridiculous Queen of the Universe I mean Realms. Why? She never wanted to be Queen or acted like she enjoyed it. The writers can't be bother to tell us why any of the characters ended up where they did. Why would Snow want to do the job she did when she was Cursed? Why does Hook what to be a deputy? To work with Emma every day? As part of his complete redemption he now hunts down criminals? As part of him getting justice for others because he was never able to get justice for Milah because he lived in a world where it wasn't possibly? These would all have been interesting things to explore does David want to be a prince or a farmer? He didn't get a choice in that really but now he does. Does he want to be a prince and help people like him and his mother? Why would Snow ever give up her throne (yes A&E it was her throne not Regina's Snow should be Queen) she never gave any signs as wanting to do that. Maybe she likes being ruling and helping people or maybe tries to rule exactly like her parents did.  Why did Hook and Emma want that kind of wedding? Why did Emma where the dress she wore? It would have been a great scene to have Snow as why and Emma say that she always like Princess Grace's dress. It would have at least given us something.

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23 hours ago, Camera One said:

How could I forget Tamara as a potentially worst character.  Hating magic is one thing.  But condemning an entire town of people to die?  We never even found out what her deal was, either.  I wonder if A&E had intended to have her and Greg stick around for a bit longer in 3A, or if they were a temporary science vs. faith S2 "Lost" ripoff obstacle.

Considering that their actions right up to the end of the 2B finale have very little to do with, and make almost no sense in context with what their plot was ultimately revealed to be about, my guess is that something else entirely was planned and they just threw it out the window and did a handwave to transition to the Pan plot. My guess is that we would eventually have seen Tamara's backstory that led to her hating magic, the way we saw with Greg/Owen, and I don't think they'd have reached the point of destroying the entire town, the way they were talking earlier. That was just a convenient way to turn Regina into a hero and set up the next story. The whole thing pisses me off because the anti-magic thing was a perfectly valid storyline that needed to be done, but they turned it into a strawman and dismissed it in a way that made it nearly impossible to bring it back again. Really, someone should have been questioning the value of magic, and there was already material set up for that to happen. There was Neal's anti-magic stance, which makes it silly that Tamara pulled the whole fake fiancee routine on him -- which is a pretty heavy amount of commitment, to get into enough of a relationship that you end up engaged when you would actually prefer to be with someone else. He'd have been open to a plan of "let's destroy magic," especially if he thought it was a way to stop his father from being the Dark One. Then there was Henry's annual "magic is bad" exercise. Emma's parents were worried about her turning out to have magical powers, and there was some sense that her having the great potential for darkness had something to do with how much power she had. Hook may be a cheerleader for Emma's magic, but he has reason to be suspicious of magic. A true plot to question the value of magic would have affected all the major characters. Would everyone other than Rumple and Regina have been open to getting magic out of Storybrooke, as long as it didn't kill anyone who relied on magic to live or stay in their preferred form? There's so much that could have been done with that, and it's amazing just how badly they bungled it.

8 hours ago, companionenvy said:

Really, the problem is that we don't really have a coherent idea of what will make any of these characters happy, except in the vaguest sense. Emma is Hook's happy ending, but making him her deputy just seems like the laziest, course of least resistance.

My current mental fanfic used during bouts of insomnia involves an alternate season 6 in which Hook was essentially reborn when he was returned to life by Zeus -- not only does he have his hand again instead of the hook, but all his past scars are gone, his ear piercing has healed, and his tattoo is gone. He has a whole new body, more or less, and a clean slate, and it's kind of wigging him out, to the point he actually starts seeing Archie. Who is he if he's no longer "Captain Hook"? So he starts exploring and trying out new things, from wardrobe to career. He keeps trying random kinds of outfits, trying to pick a new look that fits who he is now, though Emma points out that he can actually change clothes and wear different things for different occasions. I haven't yet totally settled on a career, though he does seem to keep falling into teaching, starting with tutoring Henry in math, since a navigator would have to be pretty good at that.

But that's the weird thing -- this is a fairly well-developed character, and yet I have a hard time figuring out what he should do with his life because they only developed a few aspects of him. He's not all that three-dimensional. And he's one of the better-developed characters in the series.

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6 minutes ago, Shanna Marie said:

The whole thing pisses me off because the anti-magic thing was a perfectly valid storyline that needed to be done, but they turned it into a strawman and dismissed it in a way that made it nearly impossible to bring it back again. Really, someone should have been questioning the value of magic, and there was already material set up for that to happen.

Oh, but they did bring it up again... the S5 finale we dare not speak of, where Neal totally-absolutely-100% was teaming up with Henry to find the Unholy Grail. I really hated Henry's whiplash between "you have to believe in magic" and "let's destroy all magic because it makes my two moms catty". 

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1 hour ago, KingOfHearts said:

Oh, but they did bring it up again... the S5 finale we dare not speak of, where Neal totally-absolutely-100% was teaming up with Henry to find the Unholy Grail.

But that's what I mean. An anti-magic organization and a serious exploration of whether or not magic is a force for good or evil might have made that plot somewhat palatable or at least interesting. They occasionally brought up random bits of "magic is bad" but didn't really explore the role magic has played in their lives. Greg, at least, had a valid viewpoint, but since it was dismissed because he was a dupe of Pan, they didn't really bring it up other than with Henry's whim, which was treated as a whim and, again, was something of a strawman, since his destroying magic had a negative effect at that specific time that it might not have had otherwise. If the Charmings and Hook hadn't been sucked through a portal and trapped on the other side, would it have been that bad to destroy magic?

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1 hour ago, Shanna Marie said:

But that's what I mean. An anti-magic organization and a serious exploration of whether or not magic is a force for good or evil might have made that plot somewhat palatable or at least interesting. They occasionally brought up random bits of "magic is bad" but didn't really explore the role magic has played in their lives. Greg, at least, had a valid viewpoint, but since it was dismissed because he was a dupe of Pan, they didn't really bring it up other than with Henry's whim, which was treated as a whim and, again, was something of a strawman, since his destroying magic had a negative effect at that specific time that it might not have had otherwise. If the Charmings and Hook hadn't been sucked through a portal and trapped on the other side, would it have been that bad to destroy magic?

Between season 2 and 3 I was convinced that Tamara and Greg worked for an organization that was anti magic and founded by Wendy, her brothers, and/or the Darling descendants.  

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11 minutes ago, ParadoxLost said:

Between season 2 and 3 I was convinced that Tamara and Greg worked for an organization that was anti magic and founded by Wendy, her brothers, and/or the Darling descendants.  

Yet another example of fandom speculation outclassing what the writers came up with. Dorothy Gale and Alice from Wonderland could've been members, or even Van Helsing.

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They never wanted to evaluate magic on its face because they needed it too much as a crutch and their favorites were largely only awesome to them because they had it. What's sad is that I found Mayor Mills way scarier than the cartoonish figure the Evil Queen turned into. Rumpel lost his magic for a couple episodes in S2 and that was powerful, but then when he really lost it in S5, they had no idea what to do with him. He was no longer interesting to them as a powerless figure, which is also weird because he was a fascinating character as magic-less Mr Gold in S1.

To me, magic was a neutral. It was simply a weapon that few could wield and those with the aptitude seemed to generally have bad motives. It's only that this show tended to ignore the good magic users like the fairies or punish those with good intentions when using it while praising the darker characters who used it for pretty dark purposes. It was just another layer to add to the double standards of the heroes vs the semi-reforming villains. Snow, Emma, et al can't ever kill even in self defense, but Regina and Rumpel are given a pass or even congratulated when they do so.

Magic was good when they wanted to use it to elevate the villains, but bad when some upstart like Emma started using it for protective reasons. Healing was never shown as anything but a positive thing until Emma saved Robin and suddenly she's irretrievably on the path to full Darkness. Killing the Black Fairy in anger because she'd betrayed Rumpel was portrayed as a hell yeah! moment for him, but Emma uses magic to protect a kidnapped Henry from the woman holding a gun to his head and she's suddenly showing her evil. In S6 they treated the exact same situation differently for different characters. It was okay for Regina to use magic to kill Edmond Dantes even though he was being forced to attack, but Emma facing the exact same situation had to not defend herself and allow Gideon to kill her. 

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10 hours ago, KAOS Agent said:

Snow, Emma, et al can't ever kill even in self defense, but Regina and Rumpel are given a pass or even congratulated when they do so.

Emma was even punished for using magic to heal a person for goodness sake. We never saw Regina or Rumple pay a price for such things. They really do seem to hate the character of Emma when you look at the double standards.

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It's mainly to create angst and struggle for the characters.  The Writers are so bad at coming up with storylines for the "good" guys that they almost always default to struggling with "darkness" (the other common source of drama is keeping lies to "protect" their loved ones - which A&E also used).  Because they don't want to have the heroes killing, they choose other dilemmas for them to face, by ramping up the price of magic.  When characters suffer, the actors have something more difficult to play and the Writers can boast their show is morally complex.   Unfortunately, happy characters and couples lose their relevance on shows, especially ones with writers who never wanted to write for them in the first place.

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5 hours ago, Camera One said:

It's mainly to create angst and struggle for the characters.  The Writers are so bad at coming up with storylines for the "good" guys that they almost always default to struggling with "darkness" (the other common source of drama is keeping lies to "protect" their loved ones - which A&E also used).  Because they don't want to have the heroes killing, they choose other dilemmas for them to face, by ramping up the price of magic.  When characters suffer, the actors have something more difficult to play and the Writers can boast their show is morally complex.   Unfortunately, happy characters and couples lose their relevance on shows, especially ones with writers who never wanted to write for them in the first place.

Well, when they take away all the good storylines for the heroes and don't use anything from their backstories except Snow's hope, Emma's Walls and Charming's yearly I hate Hook there isn't much else left. Dive into Emma and Snow relationship? Nah, that's boring plus hard to do when its entirely the fault of Regina. Besides who is going to be there to cheer Regina on? It has to be one or both characters. Dive into Emma and Henry relationship? What no that can't happen Regina has to be shown to be the best Mommy in the world! In the universe. Emma can only get him on days when Regina doesn't care or is moping about her week long boyfriend going back to his not so dead wife. They won't the heroes use their own back story, work on relationships with each other or get any storyline that could possibly be remotely interesting. Which is why we get stupid stiff like eggnapping which makes no sense. Or Emma's teen years constantly getting screwed over by Neal, Lily, and Ingrid. Or the stupid OMG Emma murdered someone in self defense. OMG Snow murdered someone in self defense and saved all of Storybrooke and Fairytale lands.   

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So, to test my sense that one of the problems in the show is its increasing darkness, post S1, I went back over the first two seasons - the ones I've finished rewatching -- and evaluated each episode, present day in flashback, as either "positive," "mixed (to which I sometimes added "leaning positive" or "leaning negative"), or negative. I based my assessment largely on where the characters were left at the end of the episode. An episode with one positive and negative plotline could be deemed overall "positive" if I felt that the positive plotline or elements strongly outweighed the negative ones in terms of level of importance or degree of extremity, and overall negative on the same grounds. So, Price of Gold is positive even though Rumple successfully separates Cinderella and Thomas in the past, because Emma helping Ashley and taking the sheriff job is the clear A plot, and reuniting Ashley and Sean kind of makes up for the past separation anyway. I also want to note that I gave comparatively less weight, in the ranking, to a lot of the S1 flashbacks because we so often knew what the end result would be: Snow and Charming wind up together; Regina casts the dark curse. Those sequences inspire pleasure in seeing how everything came together more than sadness at a villain's victory or Snow and Charming's temporary separations.

To be clear, I'm not equating negative with "bad." Many of my favorite episodes are negative (i.e, Manhattan and the Miller's Daughter). I also acknowledge that plots run on conflict, so plenty of episodes should bbe negative - though I'd note that, in theory, the flashback structure, in addition to the presence of multiple plots in one episode, should provide an opportunity to balance out some of the angst and bring most episodes into the "mixed" category.

I'll post my episode by episode notes in a separate post, if anyone is interested, but here are my takeaways:

1. Four of the first five episodes of the show are pretty positive; this is wildly unrepresentative of what the show winds up being.

2. Though S1 becomes more negative as it goes on, most of the episodes are still "mixed," with something good or hopeful enough happening to keep it from a negative rating. 

3. The difference between Emma's role in S1 and in S2 is drastic. In S1, Emma is almost always central to main events. Even in "negative" episodes - and despite her refusal to believe in the curse -- she is often acting in proactive, even somewhat admirable ways - for instance, when she decides to run away with Henry. A lot of positive episodes revolve around her triumphs, even if only small things like helping an individual person or taking a step in her relationship with Henry. This is much less true in S2, and especially 2B, where she spends episodes at a time more or less reacting to events around her

4. 2Bs episodes, far more than those in the back half of S1, are disproportionately negative - and solidly negative, where the main "bad" event is not being even partially relieved by a good event in a flashback or B-plot. I would call every episode from Manhattan to the finale overwhelmingly negative, with the exception of Helpless, Brave and True.

5. This is exacerbated by the fact that the episodes and plotlines that the writers seem to intend as positive involve moral judgments I don't subscribe to. Helpless, Brave and True is mainly positive and hopeful - but that rings hollow if you think August is so awful that you don't care about his redemption, and don't think Mary Margaret needs to be redeemed. Lacey is intended to be mixed, in that Rumple's decision not to kill Robin in the past is supposed to be evidence of a good heart, but if you think Belle is a total Stockholm case, it becomes negative.

6. In S2, the flashbacks are almost always negative. The only wholly positive one I can think of is Belle's adventure in "The Outsider;" I'd count "Lady of the Lake" and "Red-Handed" as bitter-sweet. Otherwise, every flashback - save the problematic Rumple one in "Selfless, Brave and True" -- involves a character making a terrible choice, giving in to temptation, getting betrayed, or suffering personal tragedy. 

7. While S1 has plenty of darkness in the back stretch, the finale is overwhelmingly positive and satisfying. This is not true of S2's finale; even if you bought Regina's redemption and didn't think Snow was an idiot, not only is Henry kidnapped, but the solution to the failsafe issue isn't the culmination of a whole season's worth of build-up. To the extent that it is solving a long-standing issue, those issues are Mary Margaret's dark heart and Regina's redemption, so if you find the handling of both of those plots baffling and offensive, the episode really isn't going to give you anything like the satisfaction you got at the end of S1. That makes it harder to bear with the disproportionate gloom and doom of 2B. 

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And here's the list. My goal is to continue for each season:

Pilot – Present - the Clock moves forward. Flashback – The curse is cast, but Snow remains defiant. Overall: Positive

The Thing You Love Most – Present: Emma and Henry bonding; Gold getting one-up on Regina, clearly on Emma’s side. Flashback: Regina kills Henry Sr. Overall: Positive

Snow Falls: Present: Katherine revealed as David’s “wife,” Emma moves in with Mary Margaret. Flashback: Charming and Snow meet, but part because he is engaged, obviously, we know they will wind up together. Overall: Mixed

Price of Gold: Present: Emma helps Ashley/thwarts Gold; takes sheriff job. Past: Rumple separates Cinderella and Thomas after she breaks the deal. Overall: Positive

A Still, Small Voice: Present: Emma saves Henry from the mine; Archie threatens Regina. Past: Archie gets Geppetto’s parents killed, but then finds his courage and turns into a cricket, which is supposed to be oddly heartwarming? Overall: Positive, though the flashback is kind of icky.

The Shepherd: Present: David “remembers,” then chooses Kathryn. Flashback: Charming reluctantly chooses Abigail. Overall: Negative

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Present: Regina kills Graham. Flashback: Regina steals Graham’s heart after he refuses to kill Snow. Overall: Negative

Desperate Souls: Present: Emma wins the election for sheriff, though she realizes Gold manipulated her and she now owes him a favor. Past: Rumple becomes the Dark One. Overall: Mixed

True North: Present: Emma reunites Nicholas and Ava with their father. Past: Regina separates Hansel and Gretel from their father. Overall: Positive.

7:15 AM: Present: MM and D resume their affair. Past: Snow takes the potion to forget Charming. Overall: Mildly negative.

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree: Present: Regina forbids Emma from seeing Henry. Past: Regina kills Leopold, enslaves the Mirror. Overall: Negative

Skin Deep. Present: Regina finds out Gold is awake (Emma gets a brief visit with Henry), we find out that Regina has Belle locked up. Past: Rumbelle begins, but Rumple refuses to be cured and rejects Belle. Overall: Negative

What Happened to Frederick: Present: MM breaks up with David, Kathryn tries to leave and is thwarted. Emma gives Henry the book back. Past: Charming saves Frederick, and goes after Snow. Overall: Mixed.

Dreamy: Present: Leroy raises the money for Astrid; town starts to let up on slut-shaming MM; Katherine missing. Past: Dreamy becomes Grumpy. Overall: Mixed

Red-Handed. Present: Ruby finds herself; reconciles with Granny; Kathryn’s heart is supposedly found, with MM’s fingerprints. Past: Ruby accidentally kills her boyfriend, Snow rescues and befriends her. Overall: Mixed 

Heart of Darkness: Present: The case against MM deepens, she escapes from prison, Gold encourages Emma. Past: Snow gets her memories back, vows to save Charming. Overall: Mixed leaning positive.

Hat Trick: Present: MM voluntarily returns to prison after she and Emma escape Jefferson, with Emma resolving to help, but Regina and Gold are still plotting against her. Emma sees Jefferson and Grace’s picture in Henry’s book. Past: Jefferson trapped in Wonderland. Overall: Mixed leaning negative.

The Stable Boy: Present: Emma’s plan to prove Regina framed MM fails, but then Kathryn is found alive. Past: Cora kills Daniel; Regina starts turning vengeful. Overall: Despite the Kathryn reveal, still mainly negative.

The Return: Present:. Sidney’s confession thwarts Emma’s plan to prove Regina framed MM, and Emma then vows to fight for custody of Henry. Past: Rumple leaves Bae. Overall: Emma’s final, proactive decision brings it into mixed territory.

The Stranger: Present: Emma refuses to believe and rejects her identity as savior; decides to run away with Henry. Past: Pinocchio abandons Emma. Overall: Negative

An Apple as Red as Blood. Present: Henry eats the turnover. Past; Snow White goes under the Sleepign Curse. Overall: Negative, but clearly a TBC situation.

A Land Without Magic. Present: The curse breaks, Rumple brings magic back. Past: After the TLK, Snow and Charming vow to win their kingdom back. Overall: Positive

 

Season 2:

Broken: The family separated again; MM and Emma under threat from Mulan and Aurora in the EF; Philip “dead”. Overall: Negative

We are Both: Present: MM and Emma in prison, where Emma meets Cora; David inspires the town with the We are Both speech, finds out the EF is still there and tells Henry he knows Snow and Emma are alive. Past: Regina begins learning magic with Rumple. Overall: Mixed leaning positive.

Lady of the Lake: Present: MM and Emma bond in the nursery. Cora burns the wardrobe; continues scheming. Team Princess forms. Past: Charming’s mother dies, Snow and Charming marry, Snow finds out her first child will be a girl. Overall: Mixed leaning positive

The Crocodile: Present: Belle and Rumple start reconciling; we learn Cora and Hook are working together. Past: Rumple kills Milah, Hook’s revenge quest begins. Overall: Negative, though seems intended to be mixed if you are rooting for Rumbelle despite finding out that Rumple murdered his first wife.

The Doctor: Present: Regina has to kill resurrected Daniel; Hook leads Team Princess to the beanstalk to get the compass. Past: Rumple works with Jefferson and Whale to offer Regina false hope about Daniel, leading to her first murder. Overall: Negative.

Tallahassee: Present; Emma and Hook’s beanstalk adventure, which succeeds, though Emma betrays Hook. Past: Neal betrays Emma. Overall: The present day scenes are too much fun for me not to call this mixed.

Child of the Moon: Present: David saves Ruby from the Mob; thwarts George, the plan for Henry to contact the EF in dreams is concocted, Aurora realizes she is seeing Emma’s son in dreams. Past: Red kills her mother to save Snow; they affirm their bond. Overall: Positive.

Into the Deep: David goes under the sleeping curse, Hook steals Aurora’s heart. Overall: Negative

Queen of Hearts: Present: Emma and Snow make it home, Regina is sad, though she and Henry begin to reconcile, Cora and Hook sail the JR to SB, Emma learns about her magic. Overall: Positive.

The Cricket Game: Present: the Charmings falsely believe Regina has killed Archie, who has been kidnapped by Hook and Cora. Past: Snow lets Regina go; Regina plans to enact the curse. Overall: Negative, though E & H probably see Snow not killing Regina as a positive.

The Outsider: Present: Hook shoots Belle over the town line. Past: Belle saves Philip from the Yaoguai. Overall: Negative

In the Name of the Brother: Present: Whale gets his groove back and saves Greg Mendel, who lies about not seeing magic, Rumple demands that Emma come to find Bae with him. Past: Victor gets his brother killed and turns him into a monster. Overall: Mixed.

Tiny: Present: Anton finds acceptance in SB and gives hope of being able to return to the EF; Rumple Emma and Henry board the plane for NY. Past: James kills Anton’s family. Overall: Positive.

Manhattan: Present: Emma/Neal/Rumple reunion. Past: Rumple maims himself; is rejected by Milah, hears the seer’s prophecy about Henry. Overall: Negative.

The Queen is Dead: Present: Cora kills Joanna, Henry is furious at Emma, Snow vows to kills Cora, but this is framed as a bad thing; Tamara is introduced. Past: Queen Ava dies. Overall: Negative.

The Miller’s Daughter: Present: Snow kills Cora (framed as bad); Rumple lives (framed as good). Past: Cora leaves and tricks Rumple, marries Henry, and vows her daughter will be Queen. Overall: Negative.

Welcome to Storybrooke: Present: Regina tells MM her heart is darkening; Greg Mendel’s identity revealed. Past: Regina separates Kurt and Owen, who is left orphaned. Overall: Negative.

Selfless, Brave and True: Present: August turned back into a child, giving MM hope that her darkness can be overcome; Tamara’s sketchiness established. Past: August makes terrible choices. Overall: Supposed to be positive, but that depends on you caring about August and buying into MM’s guilt.

Lacey: Present: Rumple and Lacey engage in petty violence. Regina finds the bean-field, Greg and Tamara bring Hook to SB. Past: Rumple lets Robin live. Overall: Supposed to be mixed, but if you don’t find Rumple not killing RH compelling evidence of goodness, and don’t like Rumbelle, negative.

The Evil Queen: Present: The bean field is destroyed; Regina captured by Greg, Tamara and Hook; Greg and Tamara are clearly being depicted as evil. Past: Regina commits to evil when Snow rejects her over the village massacre. Overall: Negative

Second Star to the Right: Present: Neal “dies,” Regina reveals that Greg and Tamara have the failsafe. Past: Bae sacrifices himself for the Darlings; is picked up by Hook. Overall: Negative

And Straight on Till Morning: Present: Emma and Regina stop the failsafe, Belle’s memories return, Henry is kidnapped, Nevengers assemble, Neal lives. Past: Hook gives Bae to Pan. Overall: Mixed.

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You put in a lot of work!  It is interesting how important framing is to this show.  Snow vowing to kill Cora wasn't a kickass call-to-arms, it was a sign of Snow heading down the wrong path.  Supervillain Cora being killed wasn't a big heroic defeat, it was a sad permanent separation between a daughter and mother who finally recognized the importance of her daughter.  Time and time again, the Writers decide what the viewers should think.

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I was thinking about LOST today remembering how satisfy it was when the group captured Ben. How many of them were able to punch and beat him up. Ben was their enemy who yes ended up joining the group. But we got to see Losties threating him, punching him and treating him like crap as they should after everything Ben did to them. They didn't just magically forget everything and become besties like with Regina. Ben suffered for what he did. He lost as leader, his daughter left him, he was captured by the very people he had terrorized and they got to beat him up, he was held by them, he underestimated that Keamy wouldn't kill Alex, he was so certain that he was right and he was used to always being right, he was wrong and his daughter was killed,  he was banished from the island. He schemed to convince everyone to go back and hid the fact he murdered Locke. The pure joy of Ben's reaction to seeing Locke up and walking around, forced to do whatever Locke told him to do, right up to the point when he murdered Jacob. Only after he did so realized he had been manipulated into doing just that for someone else's reason. Just like he manipulated so many people.

Lost writers clearly loved Ben he got so much attention. But they still gave him a comeuppance. We got to see the Lost group treat him like they should. There was no instant forgiveness, no jokes or remarks how the Lost group deserved everything Ben did to them. We got to see him pay for his crimes. He lost being the leader, his daughter, the island, he was tricked into killing Jacob and in the end no he wasn't allowed to go with everyone else to Heaven. 

It would have been so satisfying to see Regina get some or half of that. They want to redeem her? Fine. But first show her victims getting justice, being able to call her out on her crimes and crap, show her losing and hitting rock bottom. Maybe charged and locked up or out on bail but on the run because people keep wanting to kill her for what she did. She was asked to step down as mayor but show more. Maybe kicked out of her house or town. Show her losing, defeated. Show her realizing or owning up to every decision she made. Show her trying to change. Apologizing for her crimes, giving back the hearts, deciding what she actually wants. They don't have to go as far as they did on LOST and same with Rumple. He caused so much damage instead of this he has a good heart crap without any signs of that. Lost had many characters who were bad or just crappy people they changed. It wasn't instant Sawyer's change? It took time. Jin took time. 

Edited by andromeda331
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I'd probably feel bad for Regina if everyone treated her like crap and she had to suffer. She may be a mass murdering rapist, but it really doesn't take much to get viewers attached to a character who has committed atrocities. That's a common trend these days. If Regina had tried to genuinely be a good person and got kicked in the shin repeatedly, I could root for her. I've seen characters from other shows try to redeem themselves and apologize to their victims. It can work. The problem with OUAT is that Regina is entitled and complains even when everyone worships the ground she walks on. There was never an apology tour. Whenever she did good things, it was because she wanted to be a "hero". The moments she actually cared about someone, while not non-existent, were few and far between. I truly don't understand the Swan Queen friendship that started in S4. Mostly because Regina had no reason to like Emma or hang out with her except as co-parents or partners in defeating the villain du jour. It's not like Emma was her only friend. Why can't she go get mani-pedis with Maleficent? Heck, why not Zelena? Clone Queen wanted to go out with Zelena, but Regina didn't? It's weird that Regina would choose to hang out with the people who should hate her. They're not the only people in Storybrooke. (Even though sometimes it seemed like it.)

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