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

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11 minutes ago, KingOfHearts said:

I think combining the Sorcerer and Merlin was a smart move that made too much sense, but it wasn't set up well. The very presence of the Sorcerer in S4 was bizarrely contrived. His mansion ended up in Storybrooke after the second curse, we don't know why he had the Hat and much less why it was laying out on an end table, and the Author thing is just ridiculous. A&E were only interesting in the Sorcerer's Apprentice imagery and having an elusive sage character. Nothing about the Camelot arc was setup in S4, and none of the Sorcerer's actions had anything to do with Merlin's backstory. You can't go back to S4 and say, "oh, this was all about Nimue and Excalibur."

The Camelot arc, the Underworld arc, you'd almost think they were all salutes to a particular Disney movie and scene.

It fits the climax of almost every ONCE arc so well.

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9 hours ago, KingOfHearts said:

I think combining the Sorcerer and Merlin was a smart move that made too much sense, but it wasn't set up well. The very presence of the Sorcerer in S4 was bizarrely contrived. His mansion ended up in Storybrooke after the second curse, we don't know why he had the Hat and much less why it was laying out on an end table, and the Author thing is just ridiculous. A&E were only interesting in the Sorcerer's Apprentice imagery and having an elusive sage character.

Yeah, I think the idea of making Merlin be the Sorcerer could have worked. But they didn't do anything at all to bridge the two storylines. It seems to have all been about the big "aha!" revelation as the Apprentice was dying -- the Sorcerer is Merlin! -- and was an excuse to make Camelot the 5A setting. I was hoping with Merlin we'd get an explanation for the hat, the mansion, the Author, the room full of empty books. It didn't even have to tie into the Dark One stuff other than being related to Merlin, but I felt like we needed a why here. I sort of handwaved a reason for the hat (one of his attempts to deal with Nimue), but the only mention of the Author stuff was using Henry for the spell as someone chosen by Merlin, since he's the Author.

I do think it had something to do with them worrying that Merlin made things too easy. Once he was freed, he could have easily resolved all their problems with no drama, so they had to create drama, and then they had to remove him from the story. Plus, they didn't want to just resolve the Dark One situation and move on. They needed to send Hook to the Underworld to set up the next arc. I wonder when they came up with the Underworld as their 5B plan. Merlin would make sense to have around if they were just going to resolve the Dark One thing and do some other story, but if they decided midway through the arc that they wanted to do the Underworld, then that could explain why so much of the Merlin and Camelot stuff was half-baked and unresolved and why the pacing for the arc was so weird. If they had other plans originally but then decided to do Dark Hook and send him to the Underworld, that's three episodes full of an entirely different story rather than actually dealing with Arthur and the brainwashed Camelot people and Merlin setting all his screwups right. Even if they planned Dark Hook but hadn't planned the Underworld, that's a big chunk of the arc finale that might have been spent on dealing with the plots they started and then forgot about. Emma's actions in Storybrooke don't at all fit what was really going on, but was that always their plan for what was really going on or did they retrofit a new idea onto what they set up? It's like there's a huge "oh, wait, never mind" at some point in the arc, and they lurch off into a new direction that doesn't really fit well with what was set up.

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9 hours ago, KingOfHearts said:

His mansion ended up in Storybrooke after the second curse, we don't know why he had the Hat and much less why it was laying out on an end table, and the Author thing is just ridiculous. A&E were only interesting in the Sorcerer's Apprentice imagery and having an elusive sage character. Nothing about the Camelot arc was setup in S4, and none of the Sorcerer's actions had anything to do with Merlin's backstory. You can't go back to S4 and say, "oh, this was all about Nimue and Excalibur."

This was the problem.  They don't think a step ahead and the focus is always on creating intrigue for the sake of suspense.  They threw out a whole lot of "mystery" about the Sorcerer in 4A, which, as KingofHearts said, was originally to bring in the Sorcerer's Apprentice Easter Eggs like the hat with the stars or the walking broom.  The bigger problem was in 4B when they melded The Apprentice stuff with The Author mythology, having the Sorcerer's Mansion containing the empty books and then the whole Choosing The Author flashback.  At this point, I think they could very well have decided Yen Sid was the Sorcerer.  

That's why nothing about the Merlin/Camelot stuff in 5A meshed with the Hat/Author stuff in 4B.  In fact, Merlin hardly mentioned the Hat or the Pen or his Apprentice.  The Writers hardly made an attempt to make it fit.  

30 minutes ago, Shanna Marie said:

I do think it had something to do with them worrying that Merlin made things too easy. Once he was freed, he could have easily resolved all their problems with no drama, so they had to create drama, and then they had to remove him from the story.

That has been their pattern all along.  It was obvious Merlin was going to be doomed or useless or both.  It's like how they made Blue and Glinda so toothless.  In fact, they made them that way so Rumple and Regina was eternally used as the well of knowledge and power.  

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I wonder when they came up with the Underworld as their 5B plan. Merlin would make sense to have around if they were just going to resolve the Dark One thing and do some other story, but if they decided midway through the arc that they wanted to do the Underworld, then that could explain why so much of the Merlin and Camelot stuff was half-baked and unresolved and why the pacing for the arc was so weird. If they had other plans originally but then decided to do Dark Hook and send him to the Underworld, that's three episodes full of an entirely different story rather than actually dealing with Arthur and the brainwashed Camelot people and Merlin setting all his screwups right. 

Who knows what they were thinking.  It seems like they change plans a lot.  Or it could just be their shiny toys "Bored now!" syndrome after playing with Arthur for four episodes.  They seemed to make a big deal about Guinevere but to hardly use her was just weird.  And didn't the actress who played Merida thought she was going to play a big role in the climax?  

It's kind of like how in Season 6, they made Aladdin/Jasmine/Jafar seemed like a big deal and then they disappeared midway through the season just to come back for a one-off conclusion.  They brought Arthur back for an episode near the end of 5B for a conclusion.

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The thing is, the writers have real struggles with writing good characters with magic powers, or even just magic objects. Almost every good guy who has the ability to use magic are useless (Blue and the fairies, Glinda) not around much (Ariel) their powers cause them seemingly nothing but angst and misery (Emma) or have to make up excuses as to why they cant just fix everything (Merlin). They never really bother with coming up with rules as to what people can and cannot do, so they just have the villains be all powerful and can do whatever they want, while the good guys dither around saying they cant fight the bad guy because "we have to find another way" beside actually fighting them, or just flailing around as the bad guy kicks their ass, or they just are "I cant because...reasons". They have no interest in world building or explaining how magic works, so they can never set limits for them or explain why they can or cannot do anything, and they give the good and bad guys excuses as to not just fight with the people they are currently fighting with, even if they make no sense, just to keep the story going.

Merlin being The Author isnt a bad idea, but its so obvious that it was something that came up later, or else it raised about a billion questions. How could he have been doing all of that stuff in Storeybrooke when he was in a freaking tree? And why a pen anyway? Its a cool idea to combine them, but it was just so poorly thought out. And then he didnt matter anyway because they found their next shiny thing.

Edited by tennisgurl
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3 hours ago, Camera One said:

They seemed to make a big deal about Guinevere but to hardly use her was just weird.  And didn't the actress who played Merida thought she was going to play a big role in the climax?  

Apparently, she did. There was a huge plot with Merida and Arthur that was cut from the 5A finale for time reasons. They never bothered to inform the actress about the edit though, so she was promoting a whole thing that never happened. Spoilers showed everyone from Camelot leaving through a portal with Merida dragging along a tied up Arthur. One hopes that all those poor people aren't still sanded. That they never gave any conclusion to the Camelot storyline makes the whole thing a huge waste of time. This type of crap writing is why a rewatch isn't interesting to me. I know it's going nowhere and I can't get invested in a story that doesn't have a conclusion. 

3 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

I do think it had something to do with them worrying that Merlin made things too easy. Once he was freed, he could have easily resolved all their problems with no drama, so they had to create drama, and then they had to remove him from the story.

Merlin's story was uneven from the start. What was the point of him going to Young!Emma? If he could see the future (or possibilities for the future) why would he set up events that would lead to the worst case scenario? Why set Arthur on his path? Why not warn Hook that Excalibur was extremely dangerous? He didn't seem to have issues telling people about their future, so why would he not mention pertinent information to help avert tragedy? Why the hell was he brewing a message potion with a message that had absolutely nothing to do with what he was warning them against? The storytelling on this show is awful because it's all about the twists and gotchas and ignores the very basic elements that they've already laid out. 

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Something that's becoming more and more obvious during the rewatch is that as much as this show talks about concepts like heroes and villains, happy endings, darkness, etc., it doesn't actually seem to have a real viewpoint on these things. At least, not deliberately. You don't come away from any of these arcs with a sense of anything being defined or explored in a meaningful way. There's a thing in story theory about how a story can be looked at as a battle between worldviews or philosophies of life, with the protagonist and antagonist each having different views, so their battle is like the views being contrasted, with the winner also being the winning view.

That kind of works in season one, where we have Regina driven by revenge and never happy, no matter what she has, and we have Snow who's driven by love and happy no matter what her circumstances are. Plus there's Rumple, who's driven by selfishness and fear. Emma's torn between all these worldviews and attitudes but ultimately goes with being open to love, and that allows her to save the day. I think we learn a lot about what they're saying about love in that season, with Emma gradually developing a motherly love for Henry and being open to friendship love with Mary Margaret, and meanwhile Regina possesses rather than loves. In the past, there's Snow's facing the world with love -- and even her fatal error with Cora and Daniel comes from her mistakenly assuming that everyone feels about love the way she does and trying to intervene to allow Regina to be with her love. Meanwhile, Regina's so driven by hate that she kills the things she loves in the service of hate.

I can't really find a way to do that with most of the subsequent arcs, even the ones that are heavily themed. Like with the 4B arc of heroes and villains and happy endings. We never really learn what the show thinks a hero or a villain is, what a happy ending is. There's no conflict of worldviews or life philosophies. Regina thinks that villains don't get happy endings, and so she needs the rules of the world to be rewritten. The heroes all think villains don't get happy endings, so they need to get the rules of the world rewritten so Regina can get her happy ending. The villains all think heroes don't get happy endings, so they're trying to get the rules of the world rewritten to get their happy endings. The only real dissenting voice is Ariel, who says villains don't get happy endings because they go about things the wrong way, and the events of that episode prove her right, but this is never really shown as being the right answer for everyone else. Regina later has her "I write my own happy ending" epiphany, but none of the other characters seem to notice that they've been wrong and pursuing the wrong goal all along. The only viewpoint the show itself seems to really take is Isaac's view that heroes are boring and villains are interesting, except that there continue to be characters talking non-ironically about wanting to be heroes, and they're not wrong to do so. I guess the writers are ambivalent about heroism, where they think it's something they should want to be but realize they aren't so maybe heroes aren't actually all that good and they're boring anyway, so who wants to be a hero?

Then there's all the darkness stuff in 5A. I still don't know what they're saying about darkness, what they think it is, what it might represent, what different attitudes about it are. There's Emma trying to get rid of it and Rumple desperately wanting it back and Hook struggling with it but overcoming it, but then they all get what they want. Emma gets rid of it, Hook overcomes it, and Rumple gets it back. Emma and Hook don't seem to be at all changed by their experiences. Rumple just goes on the way he was before his dark heart nearly killed him, and him scheming to get the darkness back isn't even treated like a moral event horizon, given that he ends as a hero (ironically, since he still seems to have had nasty moments even after supposedly turning good and living out the rest of Belle's life, it's not Belle who finally influenced him to truly become good, but rather WHook/Rogers).

And in 5B, there's no telling what they really mean by unfinished business and where people end up in the afterlife or what this says about life.

They just throw out all these high-level concepts without any clear sense of what they mean by them or what they're trying to say.

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The Writers take empty buzzwords or platitudes  and use them with whatever context fits in a particular arc or scene. 

Their messages are also contradictory because different characters are judged by different moral standards.

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2 hours ago, Camera One said:

The Writers take empty buzzwords or platitudes  and use them with whatever context fits in a particular arc or scene. 

And often they contradict what was in a previous arc or scene.

Sometimes I mourn the show that could have been. With the casting and premise they had, there's so much they could have done, exploring the nature of fairy tales and concepts like heroes, villains, and happy endings. Have fun with the mix-ups and mash-ups, letting the fairy tale princesses compare notes, the princes get together and talk about what they had to deal with (did we even really get the various princes together other than Philip and Charming being in a couple of the same scenes and Charming being at Cinderella's ball with Thomas? We needed Thomas, David, Eric, and Philip all together, though I guess they weren't all in Storybrooke at the same time). The recovering villains support group. The fed-up heroes support group. Culture clashes among the people from various kingdoms thrown into Storybrooke together.

For more depth, really get into what makes a villain, and not just that one bad thing that turns them into an utter psychopath from being a truly good person, and then doing one good thing that turns them into a hero after years of evil. I think they did a decent job with Hook, with it being a process turning him from villain to hero and him doing a lot of soul searching along the way. He might also have been a good case study for how a villain is made, showing the difficulty of his childhood and lack of real parental guidance, then his struggles to turn himself around in the navy, then maybe the gradual slope from turning his back on the king into full-on piracy, maybe turning back again a bit with Milah before going over the edge from one loss too many. We only got to see the main turning points that made it look like he flipped a switch, but there was room to explore if they'd spent even half the time on his backstory that they spent on rehashing every moment of Snow vs. Regina.

Instead of the characters taking stuff like happy endings seriously, have them react to that concept in story books and comment that they only got a happy ending because that's where the story ended. In their case, they might have had a big good moment, but life goes on, and it can't always be all happy. Let Regina learn that she's seeking something that doesn't exist, an endpoint when life goes on. She'll never have a happy ending unless she dies. Other moments will come, and they won't all be good. You sometimes don't even realize what your big happy moments were until you look back. Sometimes the things that seem like big losses at the time turn out to have been good fortune. If you'd been stuck with the thing you thought would make you happy, you wouldn't have had the thing that eventually really did make you happy.

The fairytale motif would have been a great way to explore all kinds of themes and make interesting comments on our society by contrasting it to the fairy tale society, both in the fairybacks and in what they built in Storybrooke.

Plus swashbuckling adventure, the fun of a Disney princess who carries a gun, giving real twists to the old tales (like Bandit Snow or Prince Charming really being a shepherd), fleshing out the stories, and examining and exploring the world where all these things happened.

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The last two seasons showed that A&E are only capable of rehashing the same scenarios.  Sometimes, the show feels random, but it's somewhat consistent in its inconsistency.  In Season 6's "The Other Shoe", we yet again had Cinderella committing the cardinal sin of revealing a secret.  Just because Clorinda was heartbroken, she went along with her stepmother's plan to kill Ashley, who then had to apologize to Clorinda after paying penance by getting run through with Lady Tremaine's cane.   The messed up morality showed up yet again in a one-off episode.  

Then, we have cases where they insist on going the same route again despite controversy.  After the rape of Graham, they then had the rape of Robin and the rape of Whook, by bold and audacious ladies.  

Although Season 7 seemed like it was a tad better than Season 6, how unoriginal can you get than switching the genders of the characters from Season 1 (Emma = Henry, Henry = Lucy) and then having the exact same freak'in Curse except in Seattle (where they didn't bother to differentiate how it worked compared to the Curse being in an isolated town in Maine).   The only enjoyable part was when they actually tried to do something new, with Whook and Alice.  Then again, Hook was the only character who got a fully realized redemption arc.  At the end of the day, he was the one who won out, in all iterations.

Edited by Camera One
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1 hour ago, Shanna Marie said:

Sometimes I mourn the show that could have been. With the casting and premise they had, there's so much they could have done, exploring the nature of fairy tales and concepts like heroes, villains, and happy endings. Have fun with the mix-ups and mash-ups, letting the fairy tale princesses compare notes, the princes get together and talk about what they had to deal with (did we even really get the various princes together other than Philip and Charming being in a couple of the same scenes and Charming being at Cinderella's ball with Thomas?

Yes, especially because this is the only show I've watched that was a true-mashup which wasn't totally silly or meant to be a satire or reworked into the most humorless medieval bloodfest.

Edited by Camera One
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16 hours ago, Camera One said:

Yes, especially because this is the only show I've watched that was a true-mashup which wasn't totally silly or meant to be a satire or reworked into the most humorless medieval bloodfest.

We do have to give them credit for that much. They may have forgotten some of the fun factor along the way, but they did mostly find a good middle ground that wasn't silly or farce but that also still wasn't going for gritty "realism." I remember when they first announced the show and I was dreading something like the sitcom of The Charmings. They took the fairy tale stuff more or less straight instead of winking spoof.

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