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

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On 11/9/2019 at 12:29 PM, Camera One said:

That would have been fleshing out of the town which I think is necessary in shows that take place in a smaller town.  It needs to feel like a real place.  Regina should have had allies and lackeys like the blind witch, or her black guards, or as you all suggested, servants.  

Ditto for Snowing's knights after the Curse broke.  Where were they? 

Storybrooke is terribly underpopulated, considering how many kingdoms are contained in this one town, and there are whole groups of people missing, like all those knights. Maybe only some people were sent to Storybrooke and everyone else went somewhere else.

I was thinking about the town not feeling like a real place because I've been rewatching Haven, another series set in a strange small town in Maine, with the main character being a snarky blonde who grew up in foster care and thinks the town may be the key to discovering her origins. That town really feels like a real one. It helps that it was filmed on location. Even their standing sets were in the town where they filmed. They used a lot of local talent for the extras and minor recurring roles, so we saw a lot of familiar faces. There were more than two cops in the police department, even if only two were main characters, so we saw people in the background at the police station or at crime scenes. There were people in the restaurants and on the streets. Storybrooke looks like it was filmed on a studio backlot, with only the bare minimum of people needed to make the scenes work.

On 11/9/2019 at 12:29 PM, Camera One said:

Then, there were cases such as jaded Snow declaring that love at first sight and true love's kiss didn't exist.  So how prevalent was true love in the Enchanted Forest?  It seemed rare in Season 1 since Rumple bottled Snowing's very special True Love.  But in subsequent seasons, anyone and their biking partner could have it. 

It varied even in season one. Charming wasn't trying to wake Snow with that first TLK. He was just kissing her goodbye, and everyone was surprised when she woke. Regina was furious because the sleeping curse was supposed to have been unbreakable. A true love's kiss was so rare as to be almost unheard of. But before that in the chronology, Charming went in for a TLK to break the spell when Snow took the potion, and he suggested a TLK as though it was the most obvious solution for saving Frederick.

On 11/9/2019 at 12:29 PM, Camera One said:

But then they had episodes like King George rallying people behind a hunt for Red, so it seemed like this dissenting element did exist in town.  Yet there were zero problems when Snowing and Regina are away in 3A.

And no one stepped in to fill the mayor's office in 2A when Snow and Emma were out of town, Regina had been kicked out, and George was jailed for murdering Gus-Gus. Charming had taken over as sheriff, but who was mayor at that time?

20 hours ago, KAOS Agent said:

Wasn't there an episode where Cinderella was totally disbelieving in magic? And by that time we knew that her kingdom and Snow's were really close (Snow & David attended that ball the same day she commented how magic didn't exist), so how could she have missed the crazy magic wielding Evil Queen in the kingdom next door? 

I wonder how widely known magic was in Snow's kingdom. Regina was studying magic in secret until she went full Evil Queen, and even then, how much was she doing in public? The villages she torched would know about the fireballs, but then they wouldn't be alive to talk about it. She did a few more public demonstrations, like crushing the groom's heart, but otherwise it seems like she focused on Snow and her friends. So it is possible that magic something only known by certain people while the general population only had rumors -- the equivalent of our stories about Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. But the big problem here is that we have no idea what anyone outside the core characters knew or thought about anything.

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1 hour ago, Shanna Marie said:

I wonder how widely known magic was in Snow's kingdom. Regina was studying magic in secret until she went full Evil Queen, and even then, how much was she doing in public? The villages she torched would know about the fireballs, but then they wouldn't be alive to talk about it. She did a few more public demonstrations, like crushing the groom's heart, but otherwise it seems like she focused on Snow and her friends. So it is possible that magic something only known by certain people while the general population only had rumors -- the equivalent of our stories about Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. But the big problem here is that we have no idea what anyone outside the core characters knew or thought about anything.

I guess it could have been an urban legend as you said... perhaps people who witnessed Regina's magic weren't believed by people they told?

I was trying to think about Regina's public displays.  One was Snowing's coronation, when she threw soldiers aside and then disappeared in a puff of smoke.  I suppose this would not include many commoners (though you'd think Snowing would be a ruler for the people).  But Lady Tremaine's upper crust friends might have attended from the neighboring kingdom.  

I did a google search for "Regina attacking villagers" LOL, and there was also the one on Regina's birthday when some random lady dared offer her a blueberry pie ("Souls of the Departed").  Regina strangled one man without touching him, and created a fireball in her hands.  These villagers weren't killed because Snowing showed up with the troops.  Then, Regina disappeared in a puff of smoke.  The villagers all gasped, which suggests it was not a common sight for them.  

Then again, surely everyone heard of the nearby kingdom where King Midas could turn anything into gold?  Midas' kingdom was very close to Snow's and Cinderella's as well.

Edited by Camera One
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Regina stormed into Snow's wedding and made a very public demonstration of magic and a proclamation of future plans. That entire throne room was full of people including, one would assume, people from other kingdoms. It's not a secret at all. The Evil Queen's threat would have reverberated throughout the lands. Cinderella's ball occurred after that wedding. It's ridiculous to have Cinderella say that magic does not exist. 

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On 11/10/2019 at 5:37 AM, KAOS Agent said:

Wasn't there an episode where Cinderella was totally disbelieving in magic? And by that time we knew that her kingdom and Snow's were really close (Snow & David attended that ball the same day she commented how magic didn't exist), so how could she have missed the crazy magic wielding Evil Queen in the kingdom next door? At the very least, her kingdom should have been flooded with refugees fleeing the carnage and everyone should have been fearful about Regina getting ideas and invading their lands as well. None of it works if you put even the slightest thought into it.

I have never seen the season 1 Cinderella episode, that is... Ridiculous. Maybe Cinderella of Fairyland One was just so isolated that she thought the stuff about rampaging witches and kings turning their future sons in law to gold were just tall tales? Even so, though, I can't help but think magic should be a commonly accepted part of life in a world like this, even if you never encounter it. Believing in magic should be like believing in boats.

Edited by Speakeasy · Reason: Spelling

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17 minutes ago, Speakeasy said:

I have never seen the season 1 Cinderella episode, that is... Ridiculous. Maybe Cinderella of Fairyland One was just so isolated that she thought the stuff about rampaging witches and kings turning their future sons in law to gold were just tall tales? Even so, though, I can't help but think magic should be a commonly accepted part of life in a world like this, even if you never encounter it. Believing in magic should be like believing in boats.

Strangely, it was in a Season 6 episode when Cinderella said there was no such thing as magic.

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2 minutes ago, Camera One said:

Strangely, it was in a Season 6 episode when Cinderella said there was no such thing as magic.

...

Ok. Don't remember that... Extra weird since by then they'd established Regina as going in a lot more rampages besides her flashy wedding crash.

Hang on, how did she react to Rumpelstiltskin claiming to be her fairy godfather back in season 1? Was she all 'but there's no such thing as fairies and magic!' back then? 

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6 minutes ago, Speakeasy said:

Hang on, how did she react to Rumpelstiltskin claiming to be her fairy godfather back in season 1? Was she all 'but there's no such thing as fairies and magic!' back then? 

Nope.  For someone who didn't believe magic existed a couple of hours earlier, she has zero reaction to the magical things in front of her. And she knows exactly what the wand is.

From 1.04:

Cinderella: Who are you?

Godmother: I’m your fairy godmother. And I’m here to change your life, Cinderella.

Cinderella: But, my stepmother told me that I couldn’t go. She forbade me to leave.

Godmother: Your stepmother doesn’t have this. This wand has the power to take you to your ball, to your prince, and to- (The fairy godmother suddenly disintegrates, dropping her wand. Rumpelstiltskin appears and picks it up.)

Cinderella: What… What did you do?

Rumpelstiltskin: Now, now. I got what I wanted. There’s no need to be frightened.

Cinderella: No need? You just killed my fairy godmother. She was trying to help me.

Rumpelstiltskin: Was she? Do you know what this is? (Rumpelstiltskin holds up the wand.)

Cinderella: Pure magic.
 

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The fact that the "Magic doesn't exist" flashback from Season 6 precedes the scene in Season 1 with the fairy godmother by a few hours makes the difference more abrupt.  Though of course, A&E could be counting on 5 years of memory loss so who could remember, right?

Plus there's the fact that in Season 6, Clorinda and Lady Tremaine hardly blink an eye at the existence of a portal to the Land of Untold Stories.  You would think people who were wary of magic wouldn't immediately jump right in muahahaha-ing all the way.

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Its kind of like how people in Oz were like "you have magic you weirdo dangerous freak we hate people with magic! Well...except for that wizard who runs The Emerald City...and the Good Witches who run our entire country...but screw that other random girl!" Its like A&E had seen other shows doing the "person with powers is picked on by society" plot, but never thought that maybe freaking Oz wasnt the best setting for that kind of plot!

It gets even more confusing in season seven with the witch serial killer plot...

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Witch Hunter Hansel was odd, because he was saying to Henry that there aren't any good witches which seems like they were going for the X-Men villain thing of him just having an irrational hatred of all magical people... But with the exception of Zelena, who had personally hurt him and terrorised his country for decades, his other victims were dangerous enemies to the main characters. If you wanted to show him as a dangerous bigot the way to go would be having him go after Alice.

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19 hours ago, Speakeasy said:

But with the exception of Zelena, who had personally hurt him and terrorised his country for decades, his other victims were dangerous enemies to the main characters. 

It was confusing because we knew nothing about the Coven.  Was the Blind Witch "awake"?  At least with her, we knew she was cruel and Hansel was one of her direct victims.  The doctor was more ambiguous.  She didn't seem "awake" at all.  Plus her Coven tattoo was removed, so was she trying to get out of that life?  Were these two members of the Coven who attacked them in the flashback when the Curse was enacted?  

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1 hour ago, Camera One said:

It was confusing because we knew nothing about the Coven.  Was the Blind Witch "awake"?  At least with her, we knew she was cruel and Hansel was one of her direct victims.  The doctor was more ambiguous.  She didn't seem "awake" at all.  Plus her Coven tattoo was removed, so was she trying to get out of that life?  Were these two members of the Coven who attacked them in the flashback when the Curse was enacted?  

Had the show decided on who it's villains were going to be early on, sketching out a super-team of evil witches as enemies and laying clues about who and where they were when transferred to the real world could have been a lot of fun. Especially if you included the possibility that some of them were oblivious and some wanted a fresh start. Like you said, we have no idea if the doctor just had a curse backstory about removing an embarrassing tattoo or whether she was  awake and trying to leave her life of evil behind her.

Given her job healing children, I wanted the doctor to be Medea, but that's not the kind of reference this series made 😉

The other confusing thing was how Hansel suddenly lost 30 IQ points when it came to attacking Ivy and Zelena; his first two killings were so smart and methodical, with him even leaving false flags for the police, then when he gets to number three he just lunges at her with a knife? 

Also, Ivy is rich; if her mother has just been murdered and someone is killing witches, and she would presumably know who the other witches are so she would at least have reason to think she was on the list, why not get a bodyguard?

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Gothel also has magic via Anastasia.  Surely she isn't sitting around doing nothing while someone is killing her Coven.  

How did Hansel know the identity of the Coven anyway, with their giant hoods?  

As you said, Ivy (and Gothel) should know the identity of everyone in her Coven.  Why aren't the Coat Hangers reunited yet?  

1 hour ago, Speakeasy said:

Had the show decided on who it's villains were going to be early on, sketching out a super-team of evil witches as enemies and laying clues about who and where they were when transferred to the real world could have been a lot of fun.

They have a "summer camp" to hammer out storylines, but it seems like their plan is almost always to go without a fleshed out plan.  They only seem to identify a few goalpost "twists", that only stretch to half a season, if that.  I don't know if they're overconfident procrastinators, or they enjoy switching gears every few episodes, or what.  

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2 hours ago, Camera One said:

They only seem to identify a few goalpost "twists", that only stretch to half a season, if that.  I don't know if they're overconfident procrastinators, or they enjoy switching gears every few episodes, or what.  

They are ideas guys. Everything is wouldn't it be cool if... with them. I think that there were some fantastic ideas that the show put out there, but without anyone supervising the follow through, they often ended up falling flat. When there's a pattern of no payoff, the idea of getting invested isn't appealing.

It's telling that the most cohesive stories were the ones that had outside management. They may not have been everyone's cup of tea, but they usually made some sense. In S1, you had both the network and outside advisors like Damon Lindelof providing some guidance. In S3, the network stepped in again after the ratings disaster of S2. For S4A they literally had Disney's Chief Creative Officer on set to make sure they didn't damage the billion dollar Frozen franchise. After that I think the network quit caring. The quality from 4B on is pretty dismal. Things can get a bit echo chamber-y on this forum, so I found it interesting that the posters on Once's subreddit were also in agreement on this same topic. 

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5 hours ago, Camera One said:

Gothel also has magic via Anastasia.  Surely she isn't sitting around doing nothing while someone is killing her Coven.  

How did Hansel know the identity of the Coven anyway, with their giant hoods?  

As you said, Ivy (and Gothel) should know the identity of everyone in her Coven.  Why aren't the Coat Hangers reunited yet?  

Gothel actually seemed to be trying to frame Alice in the first episode where they were investigating, I was sure that meant she was behind the killings to get rid of her competition. I could honestly have believed that based on her performance and that could have been an interesting way to introduce he coven if, like Ivy, they'd been fooled and some of them might link up with the heroes to save themselves.

You could head-cannonade the idea that Hansel learned who the covrn were by researching them during those 8 years that just skipped by in the Disenchanted Forest. The problem with inventing this very long backstory and dealing with it so haphazardly is that there's no way of knowing which option is the right one. A lot would have happened in this entire new world with the war and the threat from the witches and establishing Tiana as queen and Henry's new family and whatever the hell they did with Ivy (was she conscious during those eight years? That seems cruel & unusual). They didn't have time to waste flashbacks on Witch Hunger Games, Gator Hunting in a Ball gown or Looking for Pointless Compatibility Necklaces (Henry's Pirate LARP was fun, though)

2 hours ago, KAOS Agent said:

They are ideas guys. Everything is wouldn't it be cool if... with them. I think that there were some fantastic ideas that the show put out there, but without anyone supervising the follow through, they often ended up falling flat. When there's a pattern of no payoff, the idea of getting invested isn't appealing.

I wonder if there was a system for ranking and prioritising the ideas based on their coolness.

So:

Cinderella on a Motorcycle-I'd put that pretty low, probably like a 2 or 3 out of 10

Characters are caught up in a turf war between groups of evil witches-much better, that's around a 7 or 8

Rumpelstiltskin's 10 year old son kills Beowulf-you know, Beowulf, literally the starting point of all English literature-without a great deal of elaboration to make it cooler I make this a 1 unless 0 is an option.

And so on.

I would like to see how they decided which of the ideas were the coolest and deserved the most attention.

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On 11/13/2019 at 5:23 AM, KAOS Agent said:

or S4A they literally had Disney's Chief Creative Officer on set to make sure they didn't damage the billion dollar Frozen franchise. After that I think the network quit caring.

Its certainly telling that, when they decided to do their spin on Tangled this season, another of Disney's very profitable recent franchises, no one from team Disney could even be bothered to drop by and ask them to stop making their princess evil and adding in rape scenes. This show was so under the radar and so crappy at this point, that no one could even pretend to care. 

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On 11/10/2019 at 9:27 PM, Camera One said:

Regina strangled one man without touching him, and created a fireball in her hands.  These villagers weren't killed because Snowing showed up with the troops.  Then, Regina disappeared in a puff of smoke.  The villagers all gasped, which suggests it was not a common sight for them.  

I guess we have to remember that they didn't have camera phones or news media, so it still could have remained the stuff of legend. The people who saw it knew, but most people didn't directly witness it and might not believe what they heard.

Then again, David barely blinked at Snow talking about using dark fairy dust, but at that point he'd already fought a dragon and met King Midas, so it might not have been so shocking by then.

But that's part of the worldbuilding issue. If you don't know how things stand, you don't know how the characters should react. When Regina throws a fireball or vanishes in a puff of smoke, is this totally shocking to people who didn't know magic is real, mildly shocking to people who know about magic and believe in it but have never seen it in person, mildly shocking because they didn't know Regina had magical powers, or ho hum, just another Sunday? When the Charmings find out Emma has magical powers, is it a pleasant surprise because they didn't realize just how special she was, a cause for concern because every non-fairy they've known with magic has been evil, or a sure sign of doom because magic is of the devil? (Never mind that they always knew she was a Savior and apparently Saviors were a known thing and they have magical powers.)

Back to the oddness of Regina not having staff, either as mayor or at home ... What's really weird is that she relied on Rumple to carry out her plans in Storybrooke, even though at that time she already knew he'd conned her into a casting a curse that required her to murder her father and that didn't really give her what she wanted, and she knew he'd gone behind her back to create a backdoor (didn't she know about the Savior? Wasn't that why she tried to kill baby Emma before the curse kicked in?), and I believe she knew, or at least suspected, by then that he was awake. Even if for some reason she didn't have all her black knights there, she had a vault full of hearts, and we know she could use them to control people in Storybrooke because it worked with Graham. All she had to do was go to the vault, get out a heart, give it a random order, see who carried out that order, and if it was someone who was capable of doing what she needed, order them to do it and then to forget it happened. Then there's no one who can turn on her, they can't disobey, and unless someone knows/believes about using hearts to control people, it's utterly impossible to trace it back to her. Better yet, divide up the tasks. Have one person kidnap Kathryn, another murder her, and another set things up to frame Snow. Then it becomes utterly impossible to investigate because even if Emma finds evidence and tracks it back to those people, there's no link to each other or connection to Regina. Instead, she relied on Rumple, who double-crossed her by not actually killing Kathryn and then letting her go.

Come to think of it, this also shows how bogus the "gee, some of the hearts were my mother's, so I don't know who they belong to and can't return them" excuse is. She just needed to order the heart "come to me," and the owner would show up if they were in the same realm. She should have spent the Missing Year returning hearts, since that would have been the first time she was around her vault after turning good, and since they were back in their world she'd have been more likely to be around everyone who might have lost a heart.

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Your point about Regina controlling so many hearts and getting them to do her dirty work would have been her easiest option.

7 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

What's really weird is that she relied on Rumple to carry out her plans in Storybrooke, even though at that time she already knew he'd conned her into a casting a curse that required her to murder her father and that didn't really give her what she wanted, and she knew he'd gone behind her back to create a backdoor (didn't she know about the Savior? Wasn't that why she tried to kill baby Emma before the curse kicked in?)

In hindsight, that really made zero sense.  There was no character reason why Regina would trust Rumple.  Did they involve him solely because he was a main character and they wanted to work him in?  It would have been more satisfying if she had forced townspeople (or some former black knights) to do her bidding and have it backfire on her, when they disobey her orders and not kill Kathryn.

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Did we know at that point that she had the vault full of hearts or did that happen later after we got the Cora backstory?  I suspect the vault in Storybrooke was something they came up with once they made Cora the Queen of Hearts and even though it was part of an actual plan (Hershey voiced the queen in Hat Trick) that was something they were keeping under wraps until S2. 

I also think the heart thing wasn't fully thought out at that point. They showed her control Graham with the heart in S2, but I'm not sure they planned for the control thing to work in S1. She could kill him, but maybe not use the magic in magic-less Storybrooke. Otherwise, why wouldn't she just use Graham's heart to order him around in S1?  She didn't want him hiring Emma, so why not just grab the heart and stop him? She was freaked that he was remembering. How hard would it have been to order him to forget everything? It's really easy to pull the story apart given what they showed us happened later, but looking at S1 in a bubble, I think you have to assume that there was no magic in Storybrooke and she had no magic ability. That's why she had to use Daniel's magical picture to get the poisoned apple. 

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4 hours ago, KAOS Agent said:

I also think the heart thing wasn't fully thought out at that point. They showed her control Graham with the heart in S2, but I'm not sure they planned for the control thing to work in S1. She could kill him, but maybe not use the magic in magic-less Storybrooke. Otherwise, why wouldn't she just use Graham's heart to order him around in S1?  She didn't want him hiring Emma, so why not just grab the heart and stop him? She was freaked that he was remembering. How hard would it have been to order him to forget everything?

I never even thought about that.  It's sad how these major elements of Season 1 can fall apart with retcons and "expanded" worldbuilding.

Was the first time we saw someone squeezing the heart and fully controlling a person in 2A with Cora's possession of Aurora's heart?

I suppose the Writers could say magic decreased as time went on, so Regina could order Graham around in the early days of the Curse, but too little magic was left by present-day?  

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4 hours ago, Camera One said:

I suppose the Writers could say magic decreased as time went on, so Regina could order Graham around in the early days of the Curse, but too little magic was left by present-day?  

That sounds like an important plot point that should've been addressed. It makes more sense than "Emma came to town."

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I was reading Jaime Dornan's exit interview

Quote

Question: Your fairy-tale counterpart was the source of a lot of speculation for fans of the show.  Did you know from the beginning that you were the Huntsman or did you find out when you got the script for episode seven?


Answer: I did know. Originally I was meant to be someone else, but that didn't end up happening because of rights or something like that. But I knew pretty early on.

Not the very beginning, but pretty early on I got the idea from production. And the sooner you know the better because then you can start trying to somewhat play that into what you're doing with your Storybrooke character. I mean, [the Huntsman] is a cool role to play. My only thing is that Chris Hemsworth is playing the Huntsman [in Snow White and the Huntsman]  and he looks like a proper man. I look like, you know, a woman in drag.

Who was he originally supposed to be?  They weren't already thinking about Captain Hook at that point, were they?  

How did Graham's Wolf know to stop Emma from leaving Storybrooke?  You'd think they would have told us the full story of the wolf.  If the Writers actually had one, LOL.  Not likely.

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Now how would Sherlock Holmes have fit into a fairytale world? Would this mean they'd have to introduce Victorian Literature World earlier on or would the Enchanted Forest be an all purpose home fir fictional people? 

I will say, though, that the story of a master detective and solidly rational and analytical character, who's core character would, presumably, start to shine through his curse persona, coming to the conclusion that he was imprisoned by evil magic, would be pretty interesting. That would have been a really intriguing dynamic with him getting bits of his deductive skills back as Emma pointed out things that didn't make sense in Storybrooke, suddenly looking at things his curse had made him ignore and trying and failing to come up with a rational explanation.

He would, I assume, need a bigger role and his death would probably have a lot more impact if he died the same way (and Regina has much more reason to kill him if he's a master detective who could get his skills back while her power is already waning) since Sherlock Holmes is, I think, could be wrong here, a bit more popular than the Huntsman from Snow White 😉

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On 11/15/2019 at 4:43 AM, KAOS Agent said:

Did we know at that point that she had the vault full of hearts or did that happen later after we got the Cora backstory?

Oh, I'm not sure. She seemed to have Graham's heart in the vault, and we saw that she had a special drawer for Snow's heart, which would imply this was a regular thing. But she didn't have direct control or, as you said, she could have just ordered him around. It was more like the thing they also established later that once an order was given to a heart, that order would remain in place until it was changed, so once she ordered Graham to be her sex slave, he had to keep doing it. I'm not sure which would have been more horrible for him, in the Enchanted forest where he knew that he was having sex with Regina against his will because she was forcing him to by controlling his heart, or in Storybrooke, where he thought he was choosing to do this even though he hated it, and he hated himself for doing it.

22 hours ago, KingOfHearts said:

That sounds like an important plot point that should've been addressed. It makes more sense than "Emma came to town."

I think there were two different things going on here. Emma coming to town weakened the curse to the point that Graham was starting to get his real memories back, to get the sense that he actually hated Regina and didn't want to be sleeping with her even though he couldn't stop himself. The increase/decrease in magic would have only applied to Regina's direct orders, which didn't have anything to do with Emma's presence. But that seems to have been a retcon added in season two that may or may not have been in mind during season one.

Funny, so much of the stuff that they added when "redeeming" Regina after season one actually ended up making her redemption and the others' acceptance of it even more unlikely and unrealistic.

But I think my point about how she could have been returning all those hearts during the Missing Year still stands. I guess maybe she did and It Happened Offscreen, since I don't recall seeing random hearts in the vault after that, but if you show a character taking hearts and then you redeem that character, you'd think it would be a good idea to mention the fact that she's returned them all or given proper burials to those she can't return so that she no longer has a heart collection.

And it is weird that she trusted the totally untrustworthy Rumple and that she didn't give herself any staff or flunkies during the curse, other than Sidney. She clearly had people carrying out her orders in the Enchanted Forest, and even if she couldn't have given new orders via the hearts, surely there were some standing orders along the lines of "you'll do what I say" to any Black Knights controlled by their hearts.

And, yeah, the people she'd done this sort of thing to would totally elect her queen of the universe.

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In 1x07, having someone's heart simply allowed you to squeeze it and cause them pain, which could probably get them to do what you wanted in most cases.  The only confusion back then was Regina's father seemed to die right away when his heart was taken out.  I guess he just passed out. 

In 2A, they wanted the twist that Aurora was being controlled, so now the heart could be a speaker phone and a form of body control.  They then utilized that for the "Welcome to Storybrooke" flashbacks.  

In Season 1, did we ever see that you could give someone their heart back?  

The degree to which a person could "fight" their controlled heart also seemed a tad inconsistent over time.  How many examples of heart control did we have by the end of the show? 

It's funny how one could probably write an analytical paper or hold a discussion group about each of the flawed elements of worldbuilding on this show.  This week's topic... "The Mechanics of Losing Your Heart and Mind/Body Control on Once Upon a Time".

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9 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

But I think my point about how she could have been returning all those hearts during the Missing Year still stands. I guess maybe she did and It Happened Offscreen, since I don't recall seeing random hearts in the vault after that, but if you show a character taking hearts and then you redeem that character, you'd think it would be a good idea to mention the fact that she's returned them all or given proper burials to those she can't return so that she no longer has a heart collection.

Funny story, there's an answer to this. Here's a fun dialogue between Regina and Wish!Robin from 6.12:

Quote

Regina: I didn't bring you here for that. We need to talk. Were you really going to kill Nottingham?

Robin: Wait, you're not judging me for that, are you? You told me it was your curse that created this place. I mean bloody hell, look around. I mean, wh-what's in these?

Regina: Uh The hearts of my enemies, but, I...

Robin: Oh. And this? This looks nasty enough.

Regina: Oh, no, don't touch it! It's powerful.  Yes, I know I sound like a hypocrite. But I have changed.

She's changed, y'all! I mean all those poor people are wandering around heartless not being able to fully feel emotion, but why bother to give them back? They're Regina's enemies. They obviously don't deserve them. It's not like half of her perceived enemies have been shown to be innocent people.

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22 minutes ago, KingOfHearts said:

Does Regina even know which heart goes to which person? Cora labeled hers, but I don't think Regina did. Are there problems if you switch people's hearts? 

I always thought the best way to demonstrate that Regina was feeling remorse for her crimes was to show her returning the hearts to the people they were stolen from. It could have been an ongoing story for the rest of the series and, knowing how often they ended up realm jumping, her searching for the owners of the hearts could have explained why she'd join them. Maybe she (or Cora since she took some) took hearts from some kids who were later taken to Neverland, or some of the hearts were taken from people who ended up in Oz and turned into flying monkeys, or were travelers from any of the other kingdoms that we saw. Regina taking time from those A-plots to return hearts and express her remorse would have gone a long way. I'd also think that anyone who suffered a serious wound or illness sans heart would stay alive but it would have been nice to get an answer to that question as well. If Regina didn't know the identities of the hearts, well, there was magic for literally everything else so she could have just cast a spell to let her find the heart's owner.

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And it would have been a nice feel-good story.  And Regina would be a hero and the victims would owe her a great debt for returning their hearts.  

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On 11/16/2019 at 12:46 PM, Camera One said:

In 1x07, having someone's heart simply allowed you to squeeze it and cause them pain, which could probably get them to do what you wanted in most cases.  The only confusion back then was Regina's father seemed to die right away when his heart was taken out.  I guess he just passed out. 

In 2A, they wanted the twist that Aurora was being controlled, so now the heart could be a speaker phone and a form of body control.  They then utilized that for the "Welcome to Storybrooke" flashbacks.  

I don't have a huge problem with that as a continuity issue. I seem to recall assuming all along that you could control someone via their heart, mostly because of the Huntsman. I don't think that forcing a man to have sex with you by threatening to crush his heart would result in a very satisfying experience, just from a physiological perspective. There would have to be more control than that, and a mere threat wouldn't keep him at Regina's beck and call during the curse. There had to have been some kind of compulsion involved. Actually seeing it happen with Aurora was a fairly natural progression. The "Welcome to Storybrooke" thing might be more of an inconsistency, since magic isn't supposed to be working. A compulsion set in the Enchanted Forest, like Graham as a sex slave, might still be in place, but would it still work to be able to give new orders? Or is it just that ripping out a heart that way wouldn't have that effect, but if the heart is already ripped, new orders can be given? The real continuity issue that creates is that Regina could have controlled Graham better in season one if she could give him new orders. She could have stopped him from hiring Emma, made him fire Emma, made him keep seeing Regina, etc. Would it have bothered her to keep making him sleep with her while he was more conscious of hating it? It doesn't seem like it bothered her in the Enchanted Forest, where he was aware he was being compelled.

This is the problem with make-it-up-as-you-go worldbuilding. If you don't think it through, your cool new idea makes your characters look retroactively dumb. "Welcome to Storybrooke" is the problem bit in the heart lore.

On 11/16/2019 at 12:46 PM, Camera One said:

The degree to which a person could "fight" their controlled heart also seemed a tad inconsistent over time.  How many examples of heart control did we have by the end of the show? 

Let's see, the ones I remember off the top of my head are Graham in season one (and possibly more of the Black Knights), Aurora in season 2. We had heart ripping with Henry in 3A and Regina in 3B, but I don't recall either of them being controlled. In 4A there was Hook. In 5A, didn't Emma control Merida? In 6, there was the Count of Monte Cristo, who had a lingering compulsion he couldn't break. Then in the Wonderland spinoff, there was Will (and the others under Cora's orders).

Graham seemed to have some resistance if he put in a strong effort. He helped David escape in the past (though that may have been a loophole, if he hadn't been specifically ordered not to). He was able to break up with Regina in the present, but was that because there was no magic, and once he started remembering even a little, he knew he hated Regina? Maybe he could have split from her all along if he'd wanted to, but his cursed identity wanted to be with her. Then there was Hook, who had to make intense effort to break the compulsion not to warn Emma (not that it mattered at all).

22 hours ago, KingOfHearts said:

Does Regina even know which heart goes to which person? Cora labeled hers, but I don't think Regina did.

I figure she could have given a "come to me" order to the heart, then when that person showed up give a random order just to test it, and then give the heart back.

22 hours ago, scarynikki12 said:

Regina taking time from those A-plots to return hearts and express her remorse would have gone a long way.

We needed that Apology Booth at the town festival. Next to Rumple's "get your stuff back" booth. I hope he gave it all back before he and Belle left town.

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On 11/17/2019 at 5:25 AM, scarynikki12 said:

I'd also think that anyone who suffered a serious wound or illness sans heart would stay alive but it would have been nice to get an answer to that question as well.

This is a very good question considering how common it is in fairy tales for the villain to have his heart stashed somewhere and be indestructible until it is destroyed, a trope they used with Cora, although she didn't take out her heart for that reason.

Given how many black Knights got offed over the course of the series I would guess that it wouldn't work like that, but it's really impossible to tell. 

It would also bring up some serious moral dilemmas; someone has suffered a terrible wound while heartless, he wants his heart back so he can feel again but he will probably die if he gets it back. What do you do?

One also wonders if there is anyone whose experiences have been so bad they don't want their heart back because they'd prefer to be heartless as a kind of sedative. I'm imagining Regina's knights in particular might not want to remember committing war crimes and seeing friends get eaten by werewolves with all the emotional weight those things entail.

On 11/17/2019 at 5:32 AM, Camera One said:

And it would have been a nice feel-good story.  And Regina would be a hero and the victims would owe her a great debt for returning their hearts.  

'My name is Regina and I have a list' 😉

Edited by Speakeasy

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What about loved ones who can't "feel things fully" without their heart? Are there parents who can't feel as much love for their kids because they don't have a heart? Are marriages in danger? I get Regina could love without a heart for some reason, but other people couldn't completely. 

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6 hours ago, Speakeasy said:

It very much seems like she was supposed to be the new Rumpelstiltskin, the evil mastermind behind everything, but no one really took a step back to look at her plan and see if it made sense as a way of accomplishing her goals. So you just have her orchestrating plots and then acting in a creepy and superior kind of way without much justification, though supposedly it makes her look smart and manipulative*

Bringing this discussion here so we can discuss spoilers.

In Season 1, they revealed Rumple's endgame in the 1B premiere.

Why did they wait so long to reveal Gothel's endgame/backstory? 

Of course, that's ignoring the fact that her backstory was ridiculous and it was impossible to relate to her in any way, unlike Rumple's human dilemma over his son. 

They also used her less than they used Rumple in Season 1.  Was the actress unavailable or what?  

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2 hours ago, Camera One said:

Bringing this discussion here so we can discuss spoilers.

In Season 1, they revealed Rumple's endgame in the 1B premiere.

Why did they wait so long to reveal Gothel's endgame/backstory? 

Of course, that's ignoring the fact that her backstory was ridiculous and it was impossible to relate to her in any way, unlike Rumple's human dilemma over his son. 

They also used her less than they used Rumple in Season 1.  Was the actress unavailable or what?  

I had a massive post eaten by internet goblins, so I'll just suffice to say that I refuse to believe 'Flower Child' was planned more than sbout a fortnight in advance. I don't think the writers a tialky knew who Gothel was or what she wanted until they wrote that episode and when they write it they really didn't care that much, so they stuck extra numbers into it to make the stakes seem higher: she's older than the other villains since her story was thousands of years ago instead of hundreds, she's worse than them be ause she's wiped out entire civilisations rather than just villages, and she's more dangerous because her plan is to destroy the world rather than take over a dismal New England mining town.

Never mind that no one cares or felt sorry for her seeing five minutes of her family before they died because shed never shown an ounce of human feeling at all in the whole preceding 15-odd hours of television, she'd just been cruel and smug to everyone and everything. Never mind that no one was intimidated by her killing a room full of prehistoric Victorians then claiming she'd wiped out humanity.

I don't know if I'm being unfair here, I want to be a writer and haven't finished so much as a drabble in years, so maybe I can't judge. Still, I look at this season and it seems like the goal was to keep things happening with little or no regard for why they were happening.

Edited by Speakeasy
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I suspect that the Cinderella story was supposed to play out across the full season with the other threads being woven in as the season went on. They had to course correct early in the season when their new main storyline was not well received. With ratings falling even further they knew they didn't need to set up for a S8 and jumped to a poorly thought out new big bad. You'll notice that they quit caring about the Henry/Jacinda/Lucy stuff.  The originals (Regina, Rumpel and Hook) got more focus, they brought back Zelena and gave Alice, one of the few new characters to enjoy popularity, a larger role in the story.

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I wonder what Gothel's role was supposed to be if Murderella's story had taken the entire Season 7 to unfold.  Did she have a different potential backstory and when were they going to lay that out for the viewers?  

Why introduce Hansel the Serial Killer instead of using Gothel (and maybe her Coven lackeys) more?

I also find it interesting how A&E couldn't resist bringing magic to Hyperion Heights by the season's halfway point.  Once magic was in play, having Gothel offscreen just made the whole plot less believable.

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7 hours ago, Camera One said:

I wonder what Gothel's role was supposed to be if Murderella's story had taken the entire Season 7 to unfold.  Did she have a different potential backstory and when were they going to lay that out for the viewers? 

Its impossible to tell what kind of backstory she might have had, though one assumes she still wanted to get to the Land With Less Magic but keep some magic with her, hence needing to find the Guardian, who I gather is kind of a magic sponge. But why? Rumpelstiltskin was looking for his son, which is very vaguely related to the fairytale where he wants to take the heroine's child. Mother Gothel in the fairytale also extorts s child out of someone, but it would be pretty weak if they just repeated that storyline. In Tangled she wanted immortality but I have no idea how that would tie in to coming to America. 

Maybe she's immortal but under some terrible curse (and she just doesn't click with any of the guys she takes on bike rides or any of the girls she argues with late at night... So she just kills them without trying fir True Loves Kiss 😉), she wants to get to a place where whatever handicap she's under doesn't apply but where she can, through the Guardian, still wield power. But what kind of curse? Frankly the best they had was being stuck in a tower unless one of her relatives takes her place, maybe that could have lasted longer? Besides which, though, that story doesn't have the human element of most of this show's villain stories, there would have to be some twist about what was done to her and why and I'm not sure what it would be.

There's a real problem in coming up with a workable motivation for her at this stage, because in Season One the setting was new so we could presume travelling between worlds was difficult. After six years of stockpiling different ways of world hopping, and plenty of precedent for the Land Without Magic being pretty magical, she used DOES need a much more extreme reason to travel between worlds via curse, as do Tremaine and Drizella.

Incidentally, and on a different tangent; while I don't think Jacinda's murderousness was a big factor in fans hating her, I think the obnoxiousness of her dialogue and the meh-itude if Ramirez' performance were the cause of that, they missed a trick by not making Gothel Jacinda's fairy godmother. Hence the explanation for this apparently good spirit helping her kill an innocent(?) man. 

Edited by Speakeasy · Reason: Correction

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On 11/20/2019 at 12:48 PM, Speakeasy said:

I don't know if I'm being unfair here, I want to be a writer and haven't finished so much as a drabble in years, so maybe I can't judge.

I'm a full-time novelist, so I can judge, and I have to say that their writing pretty much sucks. They make zero effort at consistency, and there's no evidence of planning here. I've seen some really good advice for mystery writers that I think applies to anyone writing anything with a villain, and that's to write out a short summary of your story from the villain's perspective -- what they're doing, why, what each of the steps in their plan is -- to help you know what's going on for your heroes to deal with. When this season aired and we had the Gothel revelation, I did that in one thread or another here, and if you lay out what she was doing and why, it looks utterly ridiculous. Really, most of their major villain plots work that way.

That said, they do have things more difficult than most novelists do. They're having to write as they go. Chapter one is essentially "published" while they're writing chapter five. I can't imagine working like that because I do a lot of revisions after the first draft. The book generally changes completely. I have friends who are doing serialized novels on Patreon, and I can't imagine doing that. I'd have to write the whole thing, revise it, and then just release it week by week. Or else I'd have to do some serious outlining to publish a chapter as I wrote it. I feel like that's what's missing here. They may have a general big-picture idea of what the arc's about, but I think a lot of the how and why are missing until they get there. Like with Gothel's backstory that seems to come out of nowhere and doesn't at all explain her actions. Or even with the identity of the serial killer. It seems to me like they set up the serial killer without having any idea what was really going on and then just randomly decided who it was and why at the last minute when they had to reveal the killer.

The other challenge they have that I don't is that television is a collaborative process. The writing isn't the end of it. They're dependent on other people bringing their writing to life. No matter how good the script is, an actor who doesn't really get it can tank the whole thing. A well-written romance can fizzle if the actors have zero chemistry. And then we're back to that problem of having to air the "chapters" while it's still being written. You may not realize that the actor is all wrong or that the actors have zero chemistry until it's too late to do anything but change your plans, and it's even later before you know what the audience thinks about it. Sometimes roles get recast after pilots are shot, but I doubt they had the budget to do a quick recast for the final season of a sagging show after they shot the season premiere, even if they'd noticed that their casting just wasn't working. Their best hope, which they did, was steer the story away from the parts that weren't working. They killed off Victoria and mostly sidelined Jacinda as the season progressed, and then they came up with other stories. Some of those stories might have been planned somewhat all along. It looks like they had always planned Gothel as some kind of mastermind. But I suspect the serial killer plot came out of thin air midway through the season, mostly because you could cut it out of the season without affecting any other storyline.

On the other hand, a really good script can bolster weaker actors or create chemistry where there is none. If you want a relationship on the screen to really sizzle, you have to do more to develop it than announce that they're so perfect for each other that they can make necklaces glow and leave it at that. I don't know what the deal with Victoria was. I've liked that actress in other things, and she seemed to be really trying here. Maybe it was the writing, which didn't really give her much to latch onto and work with. Her character doesn't make a lot of sense.

12 hours ago, Speakeasy said:

After six years of stockpiling different ways of world hopping, and plenty of precedent for the Land Without Magic being pretty magical, she used DOES need a much more extreme reason to travel between worlds via curse, as do Tremaine and Drizella.

At the very least, traveling to Storybrooke from other worlds seems to be easy, so why not go there, spend a little time trying to take over Storybrooke (because everyone does), and then hop a flight to Seattle? If she's not doing the obvious things, there needs to be some explanation of why she can't -- did she try and Emma repelled her, so she has to do this the hard way? Can she not use a magic bean? Once curse 2 had been enacted, Hook was able to go to New York, so it seems like she should have been able to get to Seattle that way.

20 hours ago, Camera One said:

I also find it interesting how A&E couldn't resist bringing magic to Hyperion Heights by the season's halfway point.  Once magic was in play, having Gothel offscreen just made the whole plot less believable.

And ruined the whole "we can't break the curse or Henry will die" bit, since supposedly the reason they had to cast the curse was to get him to a land without magic so he wouldn't die, but then there's magic all over the place. The only remaining aspects of the curse are a few people's memories. Breaking it shouldn't change all that much.

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50 minutes ago, Shanna Marie said:

I kind of consider the 4A finale to be the real shark jump, since after that point there really was very little good, and revisiting 4A on the rewatch made me really reconsider its quality. I think the depiction of the Frozen characters was good, and I liked the addition of Ingrid to their mythology. But the rest of the story was pretty weak. I generally wanted to fast-forward past any part other than the Frozen characters, and even those characters were underutilized. They mostly dropped the friendship between Emma and Elsa along the way and forgot the fun fish out of water stuff they'd been doing with Elsa in the earlier episodes.

And 4A is what gave us cryptsex and Regina telling Henry to stay away because she was sad about losing her boyfriend of less than a week. And the townspeople expecting a woman who'd given birth two days earlier, and who was mayor by default after Regina quit because she was sad about a breakup, to fix the electrical grid.

Though the end of nuance did come earlier. I think that hit in 2B.

I was thinking of the 2B "first" shark jump, but I would also agree that another good candidate for the shark jump was the end of 4A or the premiere of 4B. 

There are elements I really dislike about 3B, but I suppose it was more tedious than anything.  Whereas 4B had the eggnapping retcon, the insistence to continue Rumbelle and the ridiculous Author subplot.  

And the final shark jump was the 5B finale.

56 minutes ago, Shanna Marie said:

I'm a full-time novelist, so I can judge, and I have to say that their writing pretty much sucks. They make zero effort at consistency, and there's no evidence of planning here. I've seen some really good advice for mystery writers that I think applies to anyone writing anything with a villain, and that's to write out a short summary of your story from the villain's perspective -- what they're doing, why, what each of the steps in their plan is -- to help you know what's going on for your heroes to deal with. 

That said, they do have things more difficult than most novelists do. They're having to write as they go.

I do agree that television writers do have it tough since they also have to juggle actor availability and budget, etc.

But at the end of the day, the planning process you detailed was simply not done much of the time, and from the way they talk, I wouldn't be surprised if they are so arrogant they felt such planning was not necessary.

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6 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

I'm a full-time novelist, so I can judge, and I have to say that their writing pretty much sucks. They make zero effort at consistency, and there's no evidence of planning here. I've seen some really good advice for mystery writers that I think applies to anyone writing anything with a villain, and that's to write out a short summary of your story from the villain's perspective -- what they're doing, why, what each of the steps in their plan is -- to help you know what's going on for your heroes to deal with. When this season aired and we had the Gothel revelation, I did that in one thread or another here, and if you lay out what she was doing and why, it looks utterly ridiculous. Really, most of their major villain plots work that way.

This sums up the problem perfectly with the villains, as the show goes on their viewpoints and goals make less and less sense. Regina's goals in season one aren't healthy but they make sense from her perspective, as do the actions she takes to get them. She can't kill Emma without losing her power and can't injure her too directly or obviously without alienating her son even more, so she tries to undermine her and hurt the people around her. But fast forward to season 5 and Hades is trying to get the heroes to leave in one episode, then trapping them in the next, then torturing Hook when most of the ghosts just get to roam free in Underbrooke, and it's hard to see what he hopes to gain from any of it. 

6 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

The other challenge they have that I don't is that television is a collaborative process. The writing isn't the end of it. They're dependent on other people bringing their writing to life. No matter how good the script is, an actor who doesn't really get it can tank the whole thing. A well-written romance can fizzle if the actors have zero chemistry. And then we're back to that problem of having to air the "chapters" while it's still being written. You may not realize that the actor is all wrong or that the actors have zero chemistry until it's too late to do anything but change your plans, and it's even later before you know what the audience thinks about it. Sometimes roles get recast after pilots are shot, but I doubt they had the budget to do a quick recast for the final season of a sagging show after they shot the season premiere, even if they'd noticed that their casting just wasn't working. Their best hope, which they did, was steer the story away from the parts that weren't working. They killed off Victoria and mostly sidelined Jacinda as the season progressed, and then they came up with other stories. Some of those stories might have been planned somewhat all along. It looks like they had always planned Gothel as some kind of mastermind. But I suspect the serial killer plot came out of thin air midway through the season, mostly because you could cut it out of the season without affecting any other storyline.

This season must have been especially difficult to plan because:

A) half the main cast was gone and with then the connection to the rest of the series

B) they had committed to a new lead in Adult Henry, and the actor was an unknown quantity

C) It was probably going to be the final season even if they wanted another one, and the ending if the final season would have to be different from the ending of a late season because they'd need something to wrap up what happened to Storybrooke and all the old characters, as well as Wish Rumple and Wish Henry since they'd decided to use Wish Hook. But if by some miracle they got a season 8 then they presumably wouldn't want to rush through the end of their new plots like they did.

D) Corollary to the above; if the series ended then you could just wrap up everyone's stories, but if there was a season 8 you'd need to work out who was staying on. Wish Hook's story would probably end very differently if there was a season 8 with Rose Reynolds but no Colin O'Donoghue, compared with how it ended in the finale. And apparently they didn't know which it was going to be until pretty late in the game.

But with all that it doesn't make a lot of sense why they would do things like adding the serial killer, which was just a sidetrack to the whole thing. Maybe they had planned a serial killer as a potential plot, then when they cut the Cinderella/Rapunzel storyline down to size they decided to replace it with the previously abandoned story? A serial killer targeting cursed magical people seems like it would be a major plot, hell, when two of the characters are detectives it sounds like the first episode would show them frowning as they examine the scene of the third murder in two months.

Then again the contrived identity of the killer (even by this show's standards) and the complete lack of fallout (so Cindy, your daughter's father was a schizophrenic murderer who based his delusions around your boyfriend's books, and your daughter is convinced your boyfriend is her father because it's in his books... no, no thoughts on that?) argues that maybe it was just invented to fill space. Murder is a good way to make it look like things are happening.

Actually the main thing I don't understand is why they got rid of Drizella, probably the 2nd most popular new character, rather than have her join the heroes for the rest of the season, was Kane unavailable? 

6 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

On the other hand, a really good script can bolster weaker actors or create chemistry where there is none. If you want a relationship on the screen to really sizzle, you have to do more to develop it than announce that they're so perfect for each other that they can make necklaces glow and leave it at that. I don't know what the deal with Victoria was. I've liked that actress in other things, and she seemed to be really trying here. Maybe it was the writing, which didn't really give her much to latch onto and work with. Her character doesn't make a lot of sense.

I think you're right about Tremaine just not giving her anything to work with she was just... I just didn't like her from the start, she was nasty and violent but unlike Rumpelstiltskin or Regina she had no style. Compare her first scene with Regina's epic wedding crash, or Rumpelstiltskin introduced as a mix of Gollum and Hannibal Lecter. Add to that, it seemed like the character wasn't that invested in anything, again compare with Regina obsessively pursuing her vengeance or clinging onto her power. Victoria is just there, she's the villain but there's not much in the script that lets you know she is really committed to the curse or to any particular goal.

6 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:
6 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

Apologies for the extra boxes, using a phone trying to navigate the use of the quite function here.

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16 hours ago, Camera One said:

I was thinking of the 2B "first" shark jump, but I would also agree that another good candidate for the shark jump was the end of 4A or the premiere of 4B. 

There are elements I really dislike about 3B, but I suppose it was more tedious than anything.  Whereas 4B had the eggnapping retcon, the insistence to continue Rumbelle and the ridiculous Author subplot.  

And the final shark jump was the 5B finale.

There are just so many negative turning points on this show, and which one was the actual "shark jump" depends on how you define that.

In retrospect, the big "this is where things went wrong" moment was in season two, when they zoomed in on Regina's sad face when her victims, the people she'd spent decades tormenting, went off to have their first ever family dinner after she'd done everything in her power to keep them apart for 28 years. It was mildly annoying at the time, but that was the moment when they flipped the narrative from Regina being a (reforming) villain to a victim. Yes, there had been some victimy moments before, but she'd also been called on her wrongness and others had been allowed to dislike her and mistrust her. After that moment, the whole story was about poor, sad Regina who always gets the wrong end of the stick. If you could go back in time and change that moment, such as having Rumple point out in the face of her tears that she couldn't expect her victims to just automatically become friends with her, and then if people had been allowed to react naturally to her as she earned some kind of redemption, the show might have gone in a very different direction. It wouldn't have solved everything because there was a lot of nonsense that wasn't Regina-related (like Rumple's flip-flopping, his terrible relationship with Belle, and their tendency to recycle plots), but it probably would have prevented the whole Author/Queens of Darkness arc and the split with the Evil Queen.

If you're looking at a shark jump in terms of the origin of the term, a big stunt intended to generate huge ratings as a desperation move, then the Frozen arc might actually fit. It was well-cast and mostly came out well (though there were some stinkers there, too, like Anna teaching David to have courage or Anna's adventure with Belle), but it was something of a stunt that didn't integrate all that well with the rest of the show. You could remove most of the Frozen stuff without really changing the big-picture story of that arc. Emma's magic issues that Ingrid brought up came out of nowhere and were easily reset. The shattered sight spell didn't change anything. And the stuff around the edges of the Frozen stuff was really bad. We got the cryptsex and Regina's overreaction to losing her new boyfriend, Emma chasing Regina around begging to be her friend, Hook's Chekhov's Arsenal of clues that there was something horribly wrong that no one picked up on, a dozen repetitions of "the stars in the hat align with the stars in the sky," and the creepiness of Rumple putting Belle to sleep when she became inconvenient.

So, even though the Frozen stuff in and of itself was pretty good and was respectful to the source material, you could kind of look at it as an entire arc of shark jumping, a desperate bid for ratings and attention by grabbing onto the hottest recent Disney property and shoehorning it rather awkwardly into the show. After that, it became pretty clear that these writers really had no more ideas of their own and couldn't develop a story to save their lives.

The season 5 finale was the "it's all downhill from here" moment.

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5 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

If you're looking at a shark jump in terms of the origin of the term, a big stunt intended to generate huge ratings as a desperation move, then the Frozen arc might actually fit. 

but it was something of a stunt that didn't integrate all that well with the rest of the show. You could remove most of the Frozen stuff without really changing the big-picture story of that arc. Emma's magic issues that Ingrid brought up came out of nowhere and were easily reset. The shattered sight spell didn't change anything. And the stuff around the edges of the Frozen stuff was really bad.

To me, the only reason why it was a "desperate" move was because "Frozen" was popular.  Aside from that, I don't think the inclusion of the "Frozen" characters to be all that much different than including an arc with Peter Pan & friends in Neverland, or The Wicked Witch, or characters from the King Arthur legend.

The fact is in most of their half-season arcs, you could remove most of the stuff without changing the big-picture.  I thought "Frozen" integrated into the rest of the show as well (and problematically) as most of their shiny toys.  Even though the Emma-Elsa friendship was only within the arc, it did allow Emma to explore her relationship with magic, which previous to this was just something she could now do.  I think it strengthened her confidence.  Elsa interacted well with Hook too.   The Snowing family helping Disney heroes in need was natural.  It was more character-driven storytelling than many of the arcs that came before or after.  It actually explored realistically feelings that Elsa, Anna and Kristoff might have had after the first Frozen movie.  Including elements of the Hans Christian Anderson fable was this show actually taking advantage of its premise to mash-up two versions of the story.   In all these ways, "Frozen" was more than a gimmick.  There was actual thought and planning put into the story. 

I agree the stuff around the edges of Frozen in 4A were the worst, with Regina/Robin/Marian/author quest and the Rumple/Hat Box/Apprentice stuff, but these were the B and C plots of the arc, and I wouldn't brand an arc based on the side storylines which were setups for 4B.  

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Yeah, that sad face at the end of 2A was jumping the shark. The beginning of poor Regina she has it worse then everyone else and she's the victim while showing every horrible crime she ever committed. Ah, poor Regina all she did was slaughter a village! Ah, poor Regina she's being tortured by one of her victims who's life he ruined and murdered his father while trying to kidnap him. The first couple episodes into 3A seemed like they had learned from that mistake. But of course it wasn't long until they were back to their poor Regina crap starting making it clear that 2B wasn't a mistake or sophomore slump. Not to mention every interview with A&E making it clear how they completely believe that crap. When the actual writers/head runners of the show completely believe that Regina is a victim, sassy and that their writing shows that, you know its not just the show that's jumped the shark, the writers and runners of the show have jumped that shark.

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I don't actually think there's a single jump the shark moment on this show, because the issue wasn't the show going seriously OTT, it was the lack of emotional continuity.  Even most of the "poor Regina" moments wouldn't have been so bad in isolation - the problem was that accepting the character and emotional logic the show was trying to sell required ignoring tons of previous context, occasionally context provided within the very same episode

I actually think the reason the show was able to remain so relatively successful for so long is that casual or new viewers, who weren't well-versed in things like just how very awful Regina had been or all of the passages in the Belle/Rumple relationship, could simply accept the narrative the show was pushing at any given moment. It was only the die-hards who couldn't get over pesky little details like that time when Regina massacred a village who couldn't buy it - and we were too invested in certain characters to quit!

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Thinking more about when/how the shark was jumped made me realize something else: What these writers did best was riff on and play with other stories. As long as they stuck fairly close to the source material, they did okay. Whenever they tried to do their own thing, it tended to fail miserably.

Season one was essentially the Snow White fairy tale, with some twists. The core of it was the Evil Queen vs. Snow White. We had Prince Charming, the Huntsman, the Magic Mirror, and the Seven Dwarfs. The flashbacks told the basic Snow White fairy tale, but expanded upon and with some additions, and the present continued that story.

3A was another pretty good arc, and it focused pretty closely on the Peter Pan mythology. We had Peter Pan, Captain Hook, the Lost Boys, the Darlings, and Tinkerbell. Where this arc failed tended to be in some of the flashbacks, when the story got sidetracked to the Evil Queen/Regina.

The Frozen arc was one of the good ones, at least for that side of the story, and they brought in a new conflict taken from the original fairy tale that was the inspiration for Frozen. Unfortunately, even though most of the success of that arc (ratings and critical) came because of Frozen, it seems to have convinced them that they were Master Storytellers, so they pretty much winged it after that.

The bad arcs tended to be the ones where they were scattershot instead of focusing on a primary story (and its related mythology) and/or when they tried to make up their own mythology. 3B didn't quite work, and a lot of that may have been because they barely paid lip service to the Oz story. They called Zelena the Wicked Witch of the West, but they pretty much just took some of the iconography and made up something entirely new. The story had almost nothing to do with The Wizard of Oz. The less said about the Author story, the better. Ditto for the Dark One and the Savior.

2A is a bit of an anomaly because it was one of the better arcs, and yet it's not based on any particular story. I think it mostly works because it was just a bunch of characters playing in their world, with no real attempt to make up any mythology. They had twists on the stories (like Hook's backstory and characterization), but they weren't really doing any major world-defining mythology on the level of the Author, etc.

There is a certain kind of creativity at work to take something and adapt it to give it a fresh perspective, and sometimes they did a good job with that. They just didn't do well when they tried to strike out on their own, and the deeper they got into the series, the more they were just namedropping characters rather than really using their stories and mythology, and they were attempting to make up their own mythology.

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I agree that they do better when they generally do better when they take more of the existing story to work with.  That would be cases where they seemed to do more research.

I mean, even the Merida flashbacks that took place in Scotland were actually pretty decent, because they were essentially continuing directly from the end of the movie.

Situations where they changed the premise more drastically often failed.  For example, making Tiana into a generic medieval princess.  Or making Rapunzel a younger Lady Tremaine.  Or the whole Maleficent eggbaby retcon.  "Beauty and the Beast", even, since Rumple was nothing like the Beast.

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19 hours ago, companionenvy said:

I actually think the reason the show was able to remain so relatively successful for so long is that casual or new viewers, who weren't well-versed in things like just how very awful Regina had been or all of the passages in the Belle/Rumple relationship, could simply accept the narrative the show was pushing at any given moment. It was only the die-hards who couldn't get over pesky little details like that time when Regina massacred a village who couldn't buy it - and we were too invested in certain characters to quit!

As a somewhat more casual viewer (I have seen almost all of the episodes but I don't rewatch them*) I will say it was not an issue of not knowing all the details, just of accepting that it wasn't really worth caring about them. I wanted them to do a serious exploration of the kind of person who could kill a village using black magic and whether that person could experience real love or happiness and if society could ever really accommodate them, and what it would take for that to happen, but when it was apparent the writing wasn't looking into that I just shrugged and looked forward to whatever madcap fairytale adventure was happening next and amused myself by writing mental fanfic and world building rationalisations for what I saw.

In my case, at least, I also think the fairy tale horrors were far easier to ignore. For instance Rumpelstiltskin was the one character who made me consistently angry, but all his magical murders didn't impact me at all because they were all done with silly special effects often against silly green screen backgrounds. The way he constantly lied to, sold out and manipulated his wife and family made my blood boil, because it was so much more low key and so much more real.

Just as a quick question about this distinction though... Where do all those novel-length Swan Queen stories come from? Those aren't the work of people who just see the show as background noise. Where do you slot everyone who is clearly deeply deeply invested in the show but is absolutely Team Regina or Team Rumpelstiltskin, exactly?

*If it is bad form to comment on the episode threads without having recently watched the episide in question please let me know and I'll stop doing it.

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2 hours ago, Speakeasy said:

Where do you slot everyone who is clearly deeply deeply invested in the show but is absolutely Team Regina or Team Rumpelstiltskin, exactly?

I think those viewers watch the show solely for one character or one pairing, and this show makes it easy to do that, with the centric structure.  Some viewers identify so strongly with a particular character, that they seem to begin adapting that character's POV.

Quote

If it is bad form to comment on the episode threads without having recently watched the episide in question please let me know and I'll stop doing it.

Commenting is definitely welcome regardless of rewatching!  The rewatch structure was a way to try to keep the community alive and have a reason for coming back every week.  The rewatch was also meant to allow for thoughts on episodes after the entire show had aired, now that we know how it ended and all "future" events.  Now we can definitively say that this subplot or this episode went nowhere, LOL.

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12 hours ago, Camera One said:

"Beauty and the Beast", even, since Rumple was nothing like the Beast.

That was a particularly weird case because on the one hand, they mapped that pretty closely to the Disney cartoon, down to the wardrobe and using the theme song. But then they also made Rumple the Beast and had him keep doing evil, which was the polar opposite of the Beast. They were doing two mutually exclusive things at the same time.

3 hours ago, Speakeasy said:

In my case, at least, I also think the fairy tale horrors were far easier to ignore. For instance Rumpelstiltskin was the one character who made me consistently angry, but all his magical murders didn't impact me at all because they were all done with silly special effects often against silly green screen backgrounds. The way he constantly lied to, sold out and manipulated his wife and family made my blood boil, because it was so much more low key and so much more real.

I had a real problem with him murdering Milah, even though both times it was a more magical, fantasy-style killing. But that's because although his methods were magical, a husband murdering his wife for leaving him for another man is such a real-world issue. You can't open a newspaper without seeing a case like that. Yeah, these men generally use guns rather than ripping out and crushing hearts, but the sentiment and the motive are just the same. And making him be a romantic figure in spite of that -- and then having him "kill" Milah again in the afterlife and still be a romantic figure who gets an eternal happy ending with his new wife -- was really, really bad.

59 minutes ago, Camera One said:

Some viewers identify so strongly with a particular character, that they seem to begin adapting that character's POV.

I think the opposite also happened, where a number of viewers mapped their own issues onto Regina, for whatever odd reason, and therefore they sympathized with her. I've seen a lot of things online about her struggling with racism and discrimination because she was Latina, which was never in the show -- in fact, her Latin grandfather was a king. Or there was talk about her being a rape survivor, since they decided that because she didn't want to marry Leopold, he had committed spousal rape if he had sex with her. It seems that a lot of the more obsessive Regina stuff and SwanQueen stuff had very little to do with the character we saw on the screen. It didn't help that the writers played into that and skewed the sympathy of the show toward Regina, even while also having fun with how deliciously evil they could make her in the past. It's another one of those mutually exclusive things -- she's the saddest victim who ever victimed and she always gets the short end of the stick and no one really understands her, but she's also super-powerful and deliciously evil in a fun, campy way as she slaughters whole villages and rips out the hearts of anyone who so much as looks at her the wrong way when she's having a bad day. These are the writers who actually said that Regina represented the struggle to make it as a writer in Hollywood and didn't seem to see any irony in the fact that she lived in a castle that she stole -- even after she lost the war -- had great wealth and magical powers, managed to cast the curse that was successful for 28 years, and even after the curse broke, she not only didn't lose any power or wealth, but her victims begged her for friendship. But, yeah, she represents struggle.

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