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saoirse

Once Upon A...SHOULDA HAPPENED THIS WAY!

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Now that the show is over, here is the spot to tweak the mistakes you think were made or...oh, who are we kidding? TS: TW - your spot to fix it!

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@saoirse, you have no idea how long I've been waiting for this thread. Maybe I'll finally regain some HOPE when I see how well this show could've been written. The people on these boards are the true Authors of Once Upon a Time.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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2 minutes ago, Shanna Marie said:

I will pretty much move into this thread when I'm home and have a computer I can type properly on.

I expect there will be many essays to come in this thread from many of us. This will be our own Wish Realm.*

* Not under the jurisdiction of United Realms of Regina.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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I could probably write a 10 page paper for once in my life with everything I thought should've happened lol.

For starters....everyone didn't have to be related! 

Peter Pan shouldn't have been Rumples father, he should've been an anti-hero thinking what he was doing was for the best. 

Ill have to close my eyes and remember everything from the past 7 years.

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I think one of the earliest mistakes was making Bae grow into Neal. In theory, I like the idea of the saviour ending up with Rumplestiltskin's lost son, but the execution did not work. Part of the problem was that Neal looked and acted nothing like Bae. Bae was a very sweet, sympathetic character and Neal just wasn't. I could buy that he became a thief and changed in many ways thanks to having to survive on his own, but there was nothing (to me, at least) remotely recognizable as Bae in Neal's character. The disconnect was too big.

The other part of the problem was that once they made Bae Henry's father and Emma's love interest, then his character became more about that. I would have preferred the focus to stay on his relationship with Rumple, but once he was introduced as Henry's father, Henry was always going to (in theory) be his priority. It took away from the Rumple/Bae dynamic, and as a result, their reunion wasn't as impactful as it should have been.

I have the same issue with Rumple and Belle's relationship (along with a whole host of other issues related to its abusive undertones). I would have much preferred Bae, rather than Belle, as Rumple's true love and moral compass. The father-son story felt more genuine and rootable. The Rumbelle relationship always felt wrong to me (other than maybe in Skin Deep). 

Along the same lines, I think it was a mistake to kill Neal. There was so much potential in his relationship with Rumple, and I think they could have done a lot more with it. I would have much preferred killing off Belle instead. 

I think part of the reason they killed Neal was to pave the way for a Captain Swan end game, and while I'm glad that they realized Hook was a better match than Neal, it felt like a sloppy way of not having to deal with a love triangle and have Emma make a clear choice. I would have preferred to see her actively choose Hook over Neal, and then maybe see her and Neal as friendly co-parents.

My biggest wish for this show is that they had done more with Captain Swan. We got a lot of great moments, but it always seemed like the writers were scared to go full force with them. I would have preferred a Snowing style true love's kiss to the weird true love's tackle (which Emma could have and would have done for pretty much anyone) we got, for example. I also feel like we missed some important moments in their relationship. Instead of retreading plots about relationship angst and lies, I would have liked to see more of them settling in as a couple.

I also think the writers could have done much better with LGBT rep. I enjoyed Alice and Robyn, but it felt like too little too late.

Finally, I want to pre-emptively echo the posts that are bound to come about all the ways the writers messed up Regina's redemption. I don't even know where to start there.

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I have many tweaks/rewrites/and full seasons that should be burned in a trash heap but the most disappointing aspect of the show for me was the disappearance of Emma's relationship with Snow. Ginny and Jen are friends and had great familial chem onscreen that was completely ignored and often undermined for bizarre plot reasons. 

Also (if I'm being shallow) Hook and Emma's first time should have been alluded to. Emma didn't pillage and plunder on the first date, but surely by the third... 

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The last scene should've been The Chief and Nurse Ratchet outside Regina's room because truly the only way the ending makes sense is that it was all in her delusional mind!

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Rumple never should've been all these big time fairytale characters. The beast, crocodile, fairy god mother....it was to much! And deprived us of some good characters. 

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This is the only show I've ever seen where I want to write fanfiction to make it less fanfic-y. Any number of @Camera One's deleted scenes or sneak peeks would have been better than Regina's coronation.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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3 hours ago, Katherine said:

My biggest wish for this show is that they had done more with Captain Swan. We got a lot of great moments, but it always seemed like the writers were scared to go full force with them. 

 

A&E obviously know the fans are upset about this as well because The Apprentice told Henry his story needed more romance. So they hear our criticisms yet completely ignore it. It's such a shame because it's extremely rare to find actors with great chemistry who also portray iconic characters. This show had numerous couples with amazing chemistry, but A&E were bound and determined to ignore the chemistry and focus more on convoluted monologues and explanations of magic rules.

I think the reason A&E were afraid to really go there with Captain Swan was because they so badly wanted Emma to be this feminist icon who doesn't need a man to define her that they purposely didn't give her romantic relationship as much importance as it deserved. But in general, I just think A&E are really bad at writing romantic relationships, so to them, they probably thought they gave Emma and Hook too many romantic scenes.

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I am so glad to see this thread!

I will forever be convinced that Cricket Game was this show's point of no return. I was sure during the early half of 2B that Regina was truly trying to be better and was only pretending to go along with Cora. I actually really liked Regina in 2A and thought that was what they were going for, 

Another thing I wish is that Going Home had truly been a game changing reset. I really liked the spec at the spoiler thread at the time that the EF characters were cursed to forget and Emma and Henry had to somehow get to the EF and help them remember who they were. I guess that would have been a sort of retread of season one, but with the heartbreak of Emma knowing these characters and them not knowing her. 

4 hours ago, saoirse said:

@KingOfHearts, it felt an appropriate substitution to the Spoiler Discussion topic - we can't leave all of you hanging, after all!

Thank you! Maybe one day some skilled fanfic writer can rework all this and do a total rewrite of the show. 

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17 minutes ago, InsertWordHere said:

Thank you! Maybe one day some skilled fanfic writer can rework all this and do a total rewrite of the show. 

I'm really tempted to attempt fanfiction now. Just canon divergent stuff to fix a lot of the problems. I know I've teased it in the past, but I'd really like to see or write something that isn't about just one ship or character, but just a "this could've happened in the show's universe" sort of thing.

For the finale, I would've made Wish Henry kill Regina as the final consequence for her crimes or have Adult Henry walk in and kill his Wish self to save his mother. I feel like something tragic had to be there since Wish Henry was such a tragic character to begin with. Fixing everything with a hug was not the way to go. If Regina died, I would've brought 2017 Regina in as a consolation. However, the time travel rules are so messed up that I'm not sure how I'd do that without messing it all up. It's completely ambiguous as to whether it's an open or closed timeline.

Overall, you can't just make little tweaks here and there to fix the show. You'd have to completely gut 2B, 3B, 4B, S6, and S7.

17 minutes ago, InsertWordHere said:

Another thing I wish is that Going Home had truly been a game changing reset.

I've toyed with the idea of a 3B fic for the longest time.

18 minutes ago, Curio said:

But in general, I just think A&E are really bad at writing romantic relationships, so to them, they probably thought they gave Emma and Hook too many romantic scenes.

It's because they write like a couple of 14 year old boys who just discovered girls.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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2 minutes ago, KingOfHearts said:

I know I've teased it in the past, but I'd really like to see or write something that isn't about just one ship or character, but just a "this could've happened in the show's universe" sort of thing.

I've wanted something like this for a long time. In the early days of the fandom, it was easier to find more fic that was considered Snowing fic but could also basically serve as genfic, since the show itself was basically lowkey Snow and Charming fanfic. I haven't found much of that since the Summer before Neverland, when ship wars took over. 

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But in general, I just think A&E are really bad at writing romantic relationships, so to them, they probably thought they gave Emma and Hook too many romantic scenes.

These are the writers who claimed that Captain Swan breaking up and Hook being forced out of town and unable to return was a romantic adventure full of passion, so...

They are also the minds that came up with Golden Queen (to the strenuous objections of Robert Carlyle) and whatever that mess was of Rumbelle in 6A. Stalking, threatening to steal their child, literally locking Belle up, then cheating on her. That's what True Love is made of, kids. It's so sad that Emilie de Ravin had to make sure her impressionable young fans knew that that was not acceptable behavior and to never allow anyone to treat them that way. 

And let's not forget about Adultery Queen and crypt sex. That's romance right there.

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If I had the time, I'd be so tempted to rewrite the series. I have a couple of different versions playing out in my head. There are major diversions, and there are minor fixes.

The frustration is that a lot of things could have been fixed with only minor changes. In 2B, if Regina had just had an epiphany in the clock tower when she realized her mother was the real villain, that would have helped so much with her arc. Then she could have helped defeat Cora instead of Snow being criticized for it. She wouldn't have plotted to kill everyone in town, but the doomsday device could have been stolen by Greg without her planning to use it or it could have been Pan magic, and Regina could have sacrificed herself because it was her fault that Greg was doing this. That would have made the way Regina was treated later make so much more sense. 

Rumpbelle would have been helped if Belle had taken a break from him after learning about Milah. Then we don't need Lacey (which had no consequences) and it makes more sense for her to think he's changed after his sacrifice.

3B works better if the reason for the curse is that Emma is in danger from Zelena's agents when she won't have the memories to deal with it. Then it's not just a case of her parents only wanting to reach her because they need her and there's less of an anticlimax of her contributing almost nothing after all that effort to get to her.

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How I would ReWrite the Show. 

The obvious would be to focus on the fact that this is a fairytale. I wouldn't have focused on the Disney Flavour of The Week, but what season..... seven? i think touched on was that there is a massive world of Story out there that Emma is the epicentre of it all. I would have re-imagined the world Saviour to something... else. something more fairy-taleish. (Chosen One) and the ultimate struggle should have been (akin to Pan) Fantasy vs. Reality. 

 

the Struggle to Believe 
vs the Struggle of Reality

Emma should have always and constantly have had one foot firmly in "This is Make Believe." (and her love interest 100 percent "Human, no fantasy blood", including Henry's real father (who could have been a "HERO" (ie: fireman guy) and any and all love-interests vs. Hook (if we must, because I was never team Captain Swan, or any future Fantasy Love interest). Emma (imo) was at her best when she walked that line of "this was supposed to be my reality." vs. "This couldn't be reality." 

I wouldn't have had the writer be Henry. I would have made it into some form of Oracle who writes what she sees. so the whole hunt for "happy endings." stems from. "we make our own endings. we make our own choices.  lots and lots of other stuff i'd do too. 

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Oh, there are so, SO many things, but the first one that pops into my head is the ridiculous handling of Regina's "redemption" and the show turning from a show about a woman realizing that she has a whole hidden family and destiny, to a show about one mass murderers quest to get everyone to totally forget about her multiple horrific crimes, and love her unconditionally. A&Es total favoritism towards their favorite character ended up being the thing that really, truly killed the show for me, and took it from normal bad, to absolutely mind blowingly, morally twisted. 

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21 minutes ago, tennisgurl said:

A&Es total favoritism towards their favorite character ended up being the thing that really, truly killed the show for me, and took it from normal bad, to absolutely mind blowingly, morally twisted. 

2

The term Mary Sue needs to forever be replaced with Regina Mills because they somehow made her such a Mary Sue that other fanfic writers will watch the show and say, "Even I wouldn't have gone that far." 

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There are many, but I would start with this season. We could’ve had a wonderful new starting point and another season after this if A&E had done it right. And of course they didn’t. I didn’t mind the new curse, but drop all the Cinderella/Anastasia nonsense and start with the relationships, which is what this show is supposed to be about. KnightRook has so much potential. An organic lesbian relationship had potential. Hooked Queen, in whatever twisted form, could’ve had real potential. But they just totally botched it.

Also, A&E seemed to act like men who get really awkward around pregnant women, which affected Snow’s story. Just because Ginny wanted a few less hours doesn’t mean totally butchering the character and shoving her in the background in frumpy dumpy outfits. Such wasted potential.

And I’m sure plenty of you will cover Regina so I won’t go into that here. I kind of liked her this season, especially her interactions with Weaver and especially WHook — so of course A&E wasted it with that dumb Facilier nonsense.

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17 hours ago, Katherine said:

I think one of the earliest mistakes was making Bae grow into Neal. In theory, I like the idea of the saviour ending up with Rumplestiltskin's lost son, but the execution did not work. Part of the problem was that Neal looked and acted nothing like Bae. Bae was a very sweet, sympathetic character and Neal just wasn't. I could buy that he became a thief and changed in many ways thanks to having to survive on his own, but there was nothing (to me, at least) remotely recognizable as Bae in Neal's character. The disconnect was too big.

The other part of the problem was that once they made Bae Henry's father and Emma's love interest, then his character became more about that. I would have preferred the focus to stay on his relationship with Rumple, but once he was introduced as Henry's father, Henry was always going to (in theory) be his priority. It took away from the Rumple/Bae dynamic, and as a result, their reunion wasn't as impactful as it should have been.

[...]

Along the same lines, I think it was a mistake to kill Neal. There was so much potential in his relationship with Rumple, and I think they could have done a lot more with it. I would have much preferred killing off Belle instead. 

I think part of the reason they killed Neal was to pave the way for a Captain Swan end game, and while I'm glad that they realized Hook was a better match than Neal, it felt like a sloppy way of not having to deal with a love triangle and have Emma make a clear choice. I would have preferred to see her actively choose Hook over Neal, and then maybe see her and Neal as friendly co-parents.

My biggest wish for this show is that they had done more with Captain Swan. We got a lot of great moments, but it always seemed like the writers were scared to go full force with them. I would have preferred a Snowing style true love's kiss to the weird true love's tackle (which Emma could have and would have done for pretty much anyone) we got, for example. I also feel like we missed some important moments in their relationship. Instead of retreading plots about relationship angst and lies, I would have liked to see more of them settling in as a couple.

I also think the writers could have done much better with LGBT rep. I enjoyed Alice and Robyn, but it felt like too little too late.

Finally, I want to pre-emptively echo the posts that are bound to come about all the ways the writers messed up Regina's redemption. I don't even know where to start there.

 

13 hours ago, InsertWordHere said:

[...]

I will forever be convinced that Cricket Game was this show's point of no return. I was sure during the early half of 2B that Regina was truly trying to be better and was only pretending to go along with Cora. I actually really liked Regina in 2A and thought that was what they were going for, 

 

Co-sign to all of these. Another problem with the lack of cohesion between Neal and Bae is they cast August specifically as a "fake-out" and he ended up being a much better match for young Bae in terms of his looks and mannerisms. And in contrast MRJ came across as very old and very modern rather than having that timeless quality Bae and August conveyed.

IMO Regina's redemption falls apart on two big fronts. They had her seesaw way too long on good VS evil and she seemed to lean towards evil at every opportunity. The other is we almost never see her have remorse for the wrongs she did and harm and pain she caused other people or have to deal with the consequences of those acts, and she never really gets to a place of doing good for the sake of being good rather than just wanting the approval of people she loves and ti being the most expedient thing to her getting what she wants. 

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14 hours ago, InsertWordHere said:

I will forever be convinced that Cricket Game was this show's point of no return. I was sure during the early half of 2B that Regina was truly trying to be better and was only pretending to go along with Cora. I actually really liked Regina in 2A and thought that was what they were going for, 

Cricket Game was the death of this show. I'm always read to tear it a new one. It ruined Snowing, Regina, and Henry for me. (Emma to a lesser extent since she was so "we need to blame Regina" then defending Regina most of the episode.) I probably hate that episode more than any other on the show.

14 hours ago, InsertWordHere said:

Another thing I wish is that Going Home had truly been a game changing reset. I really liked the spec at the spoiler thread at the time that the EF characters were cursed to forget and Emma and Henry had to somehow get to the EF and help them remember who they were. I guess that would have been a sort of retread of season one, but with the heartbreak of Emma knowing these characters and them not knowing her. 

Of every cliffhanger this show has ever produced, Going Home, by far, had the most potential. That setup could've easily spawned an entire 22 episode season worth of story. I could write very long posts about how I would've continued that. Off the top of my head, I'd like Henry to never regain his memories so Regina has a consequence for giving him a new life. That way, she'd have to earn his respect rather than lean on "soothing every fever, enduring every tantrum". I wouldn't give Emma her memories back right away. Though, to keep it from being a retread, she would be open to belief and see undeniable evidence. She would come to believe herself from new experiences rather touching a book and getting all the memories for free. I would've love to see Emma go to Oz in place of Dorothy, then learn light magic from Glinda. Zelena wouldn't be Regina's sister, but perhaps she could pretend to be to mess with Regina. 

I'm just not sure how to structure it. Ideally, I would've liked it to be split into two arcs. The first half taking place in the Enchanted Forest/Oz, with the second half in Storybrooke. In SB, the characters would have fake memories of Zelena being this awesome person that helped them during the Missing Year. There would be some other characters in the mix as well to keep Zelena from being too obvious. (Zelena would also have an alias.) I'd throw some Ozians in there, cursing Oz too. Emma's goal would be to find and rescue Glinda. Then once she does, Glinda sees Zelena and everyone realizes who she is.

Another big change I would've made is making Robin and Regina fall in love during the Missing Year, maybe even getting married during the Curse. In Storybrooke, Robin learns Regina killed Marian and gets repulsed, but once the Curse is broken, he finds out they're married and it's all awkward from there.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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18 hours ago, tri4335 said:

The last scene should've been The Chief and Nurse Ratchet outside Regina's room because truly the only way the ending makes sense is that it was all in her delusional mind!

OMG!!!  This is my new headcanon.....THANK YOU... my rage has morphed into laughter  (albeit with a slightly hysterical edge).

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19 hours ago, KingOfHearts said:

Cricket Game was the death of this show.

It was the preemptive harbinger of death, IMO.  "Heroes and Villains", the 4A finale, was the true death.

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I didn't see much of Bae in Neal, but that was intentional (I hope). I saw a flash of it when Neal just told grabbed a sword to fight against Cora after just arriving in StoryBrooke. No questions asked. 

His arc should have been finding that part of him again. 

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I can’t help thinking that the finale should have been a surprise birthday party for Emma instead of a coronation for Regina. I mean the pilot was Emma celebrating her birthday alone with a cupcake and a candle. I tear up every time I think of that Emma even now just writing this.

Can you imagine how emotional that would have been? Emma could have given a speech about that last birthday before Henry found her then blowing out the candles. And as everyone hugs her and wishes her happy birthday the camera zooms out and we see Storybrooke for the last time.

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I wouldn't change a thing because every subplot and character on this show got us to where we are today.

Oops, forgot to take off my A&E goggles.

In a small way, I am hesitant to suggest what would have been better, because the horrible storytelling we got did result in some enjoyable characters and plots that I would not have expected.  4B was so bad but it gave us Cruella.  I hated the Dark Emma subplot but we got to see Underbrooke because of it.  I would never have guessed in Season 2 that Hook would grow on me, or that I would care about his search for his daughter Alice which was the (only) highlight of Season 7. 

Plus if this show wasn't so bad, we would have missed a lot of laughs on this forum.  The horrible writing turned the series into a quasi-comedy and was a stress reliever in some ways because of everyone here.

So I will suggest an alternate timeline version of the show that I could choose to watch for variety.  I would have liked to see Emma gradually but steadily gain belief in Season 1.  I would have liked to see only Charming remember in in the Season 1 finale and a resistance movement in Season 2 against Regina with cases of the week that used many lesser known Grimm and Perrault fairy tales.  Season 2 would have continued further exploration of the supporting cast, with a second centric for characters like Granny/Red, Grumpy/Dwarves, etc.  The Blue Fairy and the Fairies in general would have a deep mythology, as a good force with power but imperfect bureaucratic structures and a black/white morality, who is the main source of magical help for the heroes.   "Sleeping Beauty" and "Cinderella" would both have been told in full, in half-season arcs later on, and Leopold and Eva's pasts would be fleshed out and related to those stories.  Maleficient would have been a worthy big bad.  Henry, Snow and Emma would never truly forgive Regina, but they would have a tentative beginning of trust.  I would have preferred no love interest for Emma until the fourth season, with a lot more time building her relationship with her parents, with Henry and with dealing with her magical powers.  Almost all of Ginny's limited screentime would be with Jennifer Morrison.  Hook would have redeemed himself (through friendship with Emma) but he would get a happy ending with Milah and Liam in the underworld.  No Zelena as Regina's sister but an adventure in Oz that actually would use elements from the books like the Nome King.  Adventures that would bring in mythology and stories from "1001 Arabian Nights", Chinese mythology (in the half-season on Mulan), Russian stories with Baba Yaga, Greek and Roman myths, etc.  Rumple would have died at the end of 3A and Belle would have found a different love interest and the focus would instead be on the relationship with her father.  3B would have been a new separation, with Emma and Henry not remembering for longer, and Snowing struggling to regain their leadership in the Enchanted Forest and Emma/Henry eventually travelling to a magical realm (maybe Oz in a tornado).  Realm travel and TLK would still be rare. The Writers would actually READ stories and adapt them in intelligent ways and plot out timelines and mythologies that made sense (for the storybook, The Dark One, etc.) and character arcs and...

Okay, now I'm basically just asking for the impossible.

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

  The Blue Fairy and the Fairies in general would have a deep mythology, as a good force with power but imperfect bureaucratic structures and a black/white morality, who is the main source of magical help for the heroes.

Still bitter that the writers never did anything with Blue. I've never liked her as a character, but I've always been fascinated with the idea she could be shady or at least have a past where she made questionable choices for the greater good. It would've been funny if the writers were self-aware about it and hinted at her ambiguity without explicitly going there. It's almost as if they were paying homage to Glinda or other "good" characters that are usually troll the protagonists by teaching them lessons via not helping or just being useless. (Really, Glinda? You couldn't tell Dorothy from the start she could go home by clicking her heels? And Gandalf... why are you always in the bathroom when the waiter brings the check?!) I know not everybody was a fan of Blue Shady, but the fairy lore had a ton of potential, especially regarding the Black Fairy. (Which turned out to be a huge waste.)

I'll miss Blue's selective memory.

Quote

No Zelena as Regina's sister but an adventure in Oz that actually would use elements from the books like the Nome King. 

I can't think of a single reason thematically why Zelena needed to be Regina's sister. The writers had to jump through so many hoops just to make it possible. Of all the main characters on the show, Zelena was the most shoehorned in. She just came out of nowhere and didn't fit into the show's mythology at all. Giving Cora a secret love child doesn't deepen her or Regina's characterization at all. I'm totally fine with "Wicked vs. Evil" and Zelena being a rival to Regina, but the family connection adds nothing. Even after Regina accepted her as a sister, she never cared about her that much until deep into S7.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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Several weeks ago I already posted a long version about how I would have changed Regina's arc, and I'm not going to repeat it in full, but briefly: In the flashbacks, Regina would have blamed Cora, rather than Snow for killing Daniel, and would have made a legitimate effort to adapt to her new life, even as she pursued her revenge against her mother. Everything would have gone to hell when Rumple set up a scenario where there would be a witness to her (apparent) killing of Cora, leading to her losing the support of the people - who now start thinking of her as the EQ --, Leopold, who won't divorce her to avoid scandal, but makes it clear that all hope of partnership or children is over, and Snow, who is poisoned against her by Leopold. Her later crimes are then not tied exclusively to Snow, but to a desire to get revenge on everyone for their cruelty to her; she still does terrible, unforgivable things, but with more sense of motivation (i.e, the massacre would be of a town in open rebellion against her, not one that simply wouldn't tell her where Snow was). The Dark Curse would not have the goal of punishing everyone else, but of giving a guilt-stricken Regina, who realizes she has gone too far after the village massacre, a "fresh start," and her initial plan would have been kidnapping rather than killing Emma (though Snowing wouldn't have known this). This would have still left her as a self-deluded mass murderer guilty of mind-raping tons of people, and thus someone in need of serious redemption, but would have, IMO, also left her as someone who one could imagine believably redeemed, and even want to see redeemed. 

Other characters:

Rumple would have stayed closer to gray than pitch-black post S3; having him turn back to total evil in S4 made a mockery of his supposed love of Belle and Neal, and the promises he made at Neal's grave.

Snowing would have had to actually grapple with their responsibilities as the legitimate leaders of the people, outside of a comic one-off where Mary Margaret is mayor. 

Emma's relationship with her parents would have gotten more attention in later seasons, whether in the form of a major emotional arc or just in smaller slice-of-life scenes that allowed us to see them interacting as a family. 

More slice-of-life scenes more generally: it should have been possible to get the occasional domestic episode or just a few more scenes of, say, Hook dealing with the real world, or fairy-tale characters watching the Disney versions of their stories, or someone considering career options in a more realistic way than "Sure, I guess we can all be sheriffs now." 

Reduced flashbacks.

Some one-off episodes or plotlines centered around the ramifications of the curse breaking for people other than our core cast. Are there people who wanted to leave Storybrooke? People who had to struggle with, say, the fact that they had a curse-family that wasn't actually their family in real life? Or with finding out that they had pasts that they weren't proud of?  Did the fairies/nuns struggle with faith at all? 

Here's a biggie: Not gaslighting Emma at every turn. Or, in other words, abandoning the idiotic notion that killing someone trying to kill you or a loved one was soul-corrupting. Somewhat related would be allowing Emma to take active agency as a hero more frequently than she did. 

There's tons of other possibilities I could consider, but the main commonality uniting most of them is giving a lot more thought to the emotional ramifications of events rather than being so concerned with plot, plot, plot at every turn. 

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6 hours ago, Camera One said:

The Blue Fairy and the Fairies in general would have a deep mythology, as a good force with power but imperfect bureaucratic structures and a black/white morality, who is the main source of magical help for the heroes. 

In general, I would have done more with the fairies (origins? hierarchy?), and, in general, would have made them less freaking useless. In general, the show had a real problems with having magical beings either be A. Evil or B. Useless. And if they were evil and the became good, they often became useless as well. The only character that I guess averted that was Emma, who was never evil (unless you count Dark Swan, which I really dont) and she did, at first use her powers to actually do stuff. But them, of course, she was swallowed by all that Savior nonsense, and became a shaking mess, a shell of her former self, and basically lacked any real agency, and just waited around to die. She didnt even get to take out the Big Bad like she was supposedly going to. Really, it just comes across as laziness. You cant have the heroes use too much power, or the writers think they'll be written into a corner, and their latest villain wont be enough of a threat. Just ignore how easy it is to deal with that it you have limitations of powers or reasons why people cant just jazz hands their way out of everything (see, below), or that about 1000 billion other stories have come up with decent reasons for the heroes not to just turn the big bad into a slug until the third act.

In general, I would have not only spent more time on a wider variety of stores and genre, like more folk tales and mythologies from different cultures, as others have mentioned, as well as playing with genre more, like going to more realms like Dr. Frankenstein's black and white horror world, or other things that were actually unique and would get the heroes off their game (how do fairy tale character function in, say, a Space Opera? Or a gritty dystopian novel?), I would have spent more time actually establishing the mythology, and what the rules are. When you have a fantasy story (or science fiction, or superhero, or whatever) you NEED to establish the rules of your universe, and explain why certain people have certain powers, what they can and cannot do, how this world functions on a day to day basis (government, religion, etc.) if its different than ours, things like that. As I mentioned above, you have to come up with a reason why people cant just get rid of the villain by turning them into a slug, if they have ability to do so, be it a personal thing (doesn't want to use powers for darkness) or practical (villain has spells against that kind of attack), and if you establish those, early on, its much easier to write the story, and get the audience to go along with it. When your in a story with fantastical elements, you have to sell the world to your audience, and it has to make sense, in the context of world already created, so the audience buys it when a character shoots lighting from their eyes or travels via magic carpet. As long as the rules make sense, the audience will usually buy pretty much anything. Plus, a rich world allowed for more interesting story opportunities, and ways to make your story more real, and your world more lived in. However, Once really sucks at all of that. All the stuff about Saviors and Authors and Guardians and Dark Ones and the billions of other useless chosen one jobs would have made WAY sense if they had actually explained what all of that was, and what that actually meant. Instead, they never rally did, so the audience could never really get invested. And the world itself is sadly underdeveloped. We dont know about the culture of the EF beyond being vaugly medieval European, its faith systems, how many magical creatures live their and how do they interact with the humans that live their? What are their foreign policies? How big of a planet is this? But, the show either didnt care, or realized that if they never explain how their magic worked, how their setting worked, or even how their universe functioned, they might actually have to put effort into their story, instead of just making stuff up to fit their latest shiny thing. And, what I really want to know, how does this freaking Author thing work?! Do Authors observe all worlds, and report on them? Or are there other ones that that mess with things? Does that mean all writers ever are just creepy peeping toms watching people at their most vulnerable moments and selling it to people in other worlds for their own gain? Because either way, thats messed up, and I would kind of like to know if every movie, book, or TV show I watch is actually some kind of twisted, intradimentional snuff film, thank you! Or is it just the "important" ones? Who decides that? Do the Authors have a boss? Some kind of uber Librarian? Do they all use pretentious magic pens? Why are some things changed from the versions we supposedly know, if Authors are just reporting what they see? I dont know why they didnt explain how this works, because its supposedly one of the most important parts of the shows mythology. Of course, thats just how Once roles. Why explain things? Then you cant just make shit up as you go along!

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1 hour ago, tennisgurl said:

In general, I would have not only spent more time on a wider variety of stores and genre, like more folk tales and mythologies from different cultures, as others have mentioned, as well as playing with genre more, like going to more realms like Dr. Frankenstein's black and white horror world, or other things that were actually unique and would get the heroes off their game (how do fairy tale character function in, say, a Space Opera? Or a gritty dystopian novel?),

Oh the money I would've spent to see the gang being dropped into Alien or George Orwell's 1984 for a few minutes. It would've been cool if in one of the finales, the multiverse was out of whack and the characters kept being dropped into different worlds of bizarre genres and time periods.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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So giving more though to how I'd retool the show while keeping the same general plot thrusts here's what I'd do for the first 3 seasons. (I plan to cover the latter ones in a separate post):

Season 1: Integrate the supporting cast better with the main heroes. Have MaryM and Ashley become friends, maybe David gets friendly with Thomas or Archie, have Kathryn interact with anyone ever. Show Henry hanging out With Nicholas, Eva, and Paige. And have those interactions lead to some kind of payoff that helps Emma in the finale. Either-Rather than MaryM and David having a pro-longed affair they have the initial false start, and the episode 10 kiss, but when stuff comes out everyone thinks they had an affair/Otherwise be more explicit how the curse pushes people into making self-sabotaging decisions and how only interacting with Emma/the Savior can push them out of the patterns. Let Regina be more conflicted that her relationship with Henry has deteriorated so badly. Address Graham's death either in the S1 finale or the start of Season 2. 

Season 2: Have an episode or two before the portal separates the Snowings. Have Regina go into hiding and see incognito the damage she's wrought and actually have her feel bad about it. Make Greg/Owen and Tamara anti-magic crusaders without the weird magic-killing taser. Maybe they're associated with a group that wants to wipe out all magic with ties to the Salem Witch trials. maybe a Hocus Pocus tie-in? Also, have Regina not have killed Owen's Dad. Maybe have it be one of the anti-magicers that do it and frame her for it, thus converting Owen. Give Ruby a decent story-arc. Have Cora actually need to do some work to corrupt Regina, maybe even taking her heart and forcing her while everyone thinks it's Regina doing it of her own free will. Perhaps she manages to get a message to Henry thus foreshadowing his "truest believer" status. Have Snow, Emma, and co make a mission to retrieve Regina's heart and Regina is the one to kill Cora and have a moral crisis about it. Make Neal and August less jerky. Maybe the anti-magicker cult are the ones who inform the police about the watch job to keep Emma from Storybrooke and Neal feels guilty that he got her locked up and is then convinced to stay away for Emma's sake? No weird Lacey subplot that doesn't go anywhere. Integrate Belle with the main cast more. Make Tamara actually interesting. 

Season 3: Have Pan be Rumple's older brother rather than his Dad. Give Ariel's arc an actual ending where we see her tell Eric what she is and the two of them have to deal. In fact, bring them into the second half more along with Aurora, Mulan, and Phillip. Show how Phillip was saved. Rather than Neal dying stupidly, he willingly sacrifices his life to bring Rumple back because Rumple has some specific knowledge of how to defeat Zelena no one else has, but the process plus Neal dying scrambles Rumple's sanity and memories temporarily so it takes time to get the solution they need. Use memoryless Henry to explore belief VS cynicism. Have him interact with Storybrooke kids and be weirded out when they seem to know him better than they should. Have Regina and Robin have interacted during the missing year and fall for each other then. In the present they're snippy with each other at first because there's some weird niggling feeling they don't understand when they are around each other. Make Zelena a reflection of Season 1/Enchanted Forest Regina and have Regina articulate how now she sees what she did was wrong etc. which is what triggers her ability to use light magic. Have Robin and Regina realize she may have killed Marian but even she's not sure for "because for me it was Tuesday" reasons before the finale which strains their relationship. After the time-travel have Hook and Emma restore the original timeline and take Marian with them, thus Regina never killed her because time was always supposed to go that way. Foreshadow Zelena-as-Marian.

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1 hour ago, SilverShadow said:

Address Graham's death either in the S1 finale or the start of Season 2. 

I wonder when would've been the best time to address it. Perhaps instead of framing Regina for killing Archie, Emma would realize she killed Graham.

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Safe to say that there was a lot that could have been better throughout all of the seasons, so I'll just toss this one in for now: it would have really been nice if they were just a wee less rape-happy on this show.  Regina forcing Graham to sleep with her was pretty disgusting, but at the time, I was like "OK, this is pretty bad, but at least they seem to be aware she is evil and this is wrong, so maybe they just got overzealous with it?"  But then came Zelena pretending to be Marion and the whole rape-baby thing with Robin, that was just straight offensive on every level.  And even in the final season, they have the whole Gothel tricks Wish Hook into sleeping with her, and it's somehow gone past offensive to just straight-up annoying that they keep resorting to this particular, for a real lack of a better word, "scenario."  And there is never any real consequences for any of it.  Hey, if Kitsis and Horowitz got some kind of fetish about being raped by magical witches, who am I to judge?  But maybe, just maybe, keep it in the bedroom and away from your network show, if you're not going to actually treat it as the horrible act that it actually is.

Other then that, there is always the classic of "Hey, if you're going to perfectly cast great actors like Oded Fehr and Karen David to play the likes of Jafar and Jasmine, maybe actually use them?"

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12 hours ago, thuganomics85 said:

And there is never any real consequences for any of it. 

Mass murder doesn't seem to have any consequence either.

12 hours ago, thuganomics85 said:

But maybe, just maybe, keep it in the bedroom and away from your network show

Someone should have told them these exact words before they wrote the Regina worshiping ceremony in the finale.

12 hours ago, thuganomics85 said:

Other then that, there is always the classic of "Hey, if you're going to perfectly cast great actors like Oded Fehr and Karen David to play the likes of Jafar and Jasmine, maybe actually use them?"

Both actors tried their damndest to make it work, and I feel sorry for them. The writing choked their characters dry.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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30 minutes ago, KingOfHearts said:

Both actors tried their damndest to make it work, and I feel sorry for them. The writing choked their characters dry.

I even wonder if it might hurt Karen David's future prospects in some way. It was a definite low after a good run on Galavant.

Edited by Rumsy4
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14 minutes ago, Rumsy4 said:

I even wonder if it might hurt Karen David's future prospects in some way.

She's been pretty highly praised for her guest role on Timeless, as the younger version of Agent Christopher.

I doubt too many people even remember that she played Jasmine.

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Season one always seemed perfect to me, so no change there. The fact that none of the characters could remember who they were, or their EF origins, really gave the show an edge it lost once the curse was broken and it never got that back. So from season 2 onward after the curse broke I would have no magic in Storybrooke. Leave that to the EF flashbacks. It would have been so much more satisfying to see the fairy tale characters deal with being fairy tale characters in our world WITHOUT magic. We never got to see that. As soon as everyone got their memories back POOF they got their magic back too and Storybrooke became the EF with cell phones and cars. Think of how capable and villainous Mr Gold was in season one without magic. I'd like to have seen more of that.

And season 2 would have been entirely about the aftermath of the curse breaking. It was all brushed under the carpet in "we are both" with a rousing speech from Charming. In my head it would take a whole season for the characters to come to terms with their memories coming back. Shop owners remembering a time when they were kings, powerless peasants maybe now in a position to get payback on those who oppressed them in the EF, magic users coming to terms with technology, talking animals that are now humans, etc. THE POSSIBILITIES WERE ENDLESS! 

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I don't know that there are so many stories that they should have done. I just wish they'd delved more into the stories they did do -- really explore them from various facets and then get into the consequences. They burned through so many stories that they barely touched upon, and then it was as though they never happened.

The magic vs. technology/is magic evil story really should have been its own arc, and it should have happened later in the series. Season 2 was too early, and it was rather ridiculous to do it while Regina was still a villain. She's plotting to murder everyone in town, we see that she killed Owen's father, and yet Greg/Owen was the villain for being opposed to Regina. Meanwhile, Emma is only just starting to realize she has magic, and we haven't yet learned a lot about magic in that universe (not that we ever did). Then it was all undermined by making it just be a Pan thing.

But it could have been an interesting and complex story to explore. Is magic in and of itself evil, and will it corrupt inevitably? What would a reformed Regina think about being confronted with a former victim (sorry, that was worth a giggle, but this is my fantasy, so it actually comes up)? Would having this question come up make Emma think twice about magic, especially if she's been up against some magical villains? Would some of the townspeople have sided with the anti-magic faction? It could have divided the town. Instead of killing the victim, they could have had a good magic person (Emma) use magic to save his life, so he started to learn that Regina wasn't the only representative of magic, and it's like any power, with positives and negatives. Make Gregowen a scientist, and maybe he and Emma have to team up, using both science and magic, to defeat some bigger magical power, or perhaps a mad scientist. This would have been a good place to work in the Frankenstein story or Jekyll and Hyde.

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Back during the season 4 winter hiatus I threw out the idea that the 'find the Author' plot could have resulted in Regina going back in time pre-Curse to "change things" only for things to unravel in almost the exact same way with one key difference: Alexandra is the one born the day the Curse is cast and goes through the portal to become the Savior.  I liked my idea so much I put together part of a fanfic so I could work out the potential details.  Before anyone asks, no I'm not going to dig it up.  Thinking about what Once should have done brings me back to this idea and I wonder if they should have just done a reset for season 7 rather than what they did?  Reset the story so that they're still in Storybrooke but now Regina is facing off against Alex and that leads to the final battle that Rumpel predicted would come after the Savior breaks the Curse. 

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- Not getting a better actor for adult Baelfire, then making adult Baelfire a total asshole. I mean, I can handle him having left Emma in the past (although a lot of Emma fans never would have), but he didn't have to be as condescending after she met him again. That's why the "triangle" in 3A wasn't fun at all. Why would Emma ever want Neal based on the way he treated her in the present?

- Killing off Cora too early. Not only did they not follow through on her potential once reaching Storybrooke, the rest of the season was a meandering trainwreck. They should've saved her death for the end of the first episode of the two-hour finale, with the second leading into Neverland. I also feel the story would've been stronger if Regina had played a role in her death--not believing Cora's feigned love for her and turning on her to side with Emma and co.

- Not keeping Henry as played by Robbie Kay (after the switcheroo). That was the show's chance to ditch a bad actor who'd lost the child-cuteness from the premiere season and they didn't take it. All his scenes on this show were/are painful.

- Making Rumplestiltskin the Dark One again at the end of 5A is still what I'd call the show's biggest mistake, imo. I didn't mind that someone had undermined Emma's attempt to destroy the darkness--that part was actually a good shock reveal--but having it be Rumple also devalued his entire arc up to that point, made both Rumple and the Rumbelle pairing repetitive and flat-out unwatchable (probably decimating the Rumbelle viewer base if there still was one), and took the entire show back to square one. I still say it would've been a better idea for Zelena to be the one who became the new DO, because it would've kept her relevant and followed-up on her threat to Emma while she was Dark Swann, but anyone would've been better than Rumple.

- Cutting the Hyde arc too short. Going with a season-long arc in S6 rather that one arc in the Fall and one in the Spring.

 

I haven't watched any of S7 barring a couple minutes of the premiere, but I'll say their biggest mistakes there--because they lead me not to watch--were keeping Rumple around, dumping Zelena (although I read they brought her back later, but I'd already jumped ship, sorry), pushing the old characters into the background for new characters nobody cared about, and hiring atrocious actors to re-tell Cinderella for the third time on the show in the same vein as Snow White in the first season after they'd just copied the first season in the S6 finale with Fiona. 

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11 hours ago, TheGreenKnight said:

Going with a season-long arc in S6 rather that one arc in the Fall and one in the Spring.

There were a lot of complaints about the half-season arcs, and it became a textbook case of "you don't know what you had 'til it's gone". 

Full-season arcs didn't make the writing any better, in fact they arguably made it worse.

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59 minutes ago, Inquirer said:

Full-season arcs didn't make the writing any better, in fact they arguably made it worse.

Wacky idea: What about making the arc long enough to suit the story instead of imposing artificial constraints? A more complex story with a lot of subplots might take all season. Some stories might fit the half season mold. Some might be maybe just short of a half season, with the other arc for the season being a little more than half a season. Or they could do trimesters. Does it really matter if the mid-season cliffhanger wraps up one story and starts another or just cliffhangs between episodes?

Season three might have benefited from uneven arcs. While the Neverland arc was one of the better ones, it really didn't have enough story to it to justify an entire half season. It got a bit redundant, and there was a lot of walking around those same few potted plants on the sound stage. On the other hand, the spring arc didn't have enough time to really deal with the Missing Year. They could have wrapped up the Neverland arc before that music awards break that always kills the ratings, then started 3B a few episodes early and taken their time with it instead of rushing everything.

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I remember having positive thoughts about the half-season arcs in S3. I wasn't a serious viewer at the time and I was tired of them wandering aimlessly through unconvincing jungle and worried that they were going to have 23 episodes of that plus a million fake-outs of getting Henry back/not getting him, so I was glad to be spared that. However, looking back with 20/20 hindsight, there was so much more they could have done with Neverland. Increasingly, I find myself wondering what the heck Hook did there for 200 years. Did he just sail in circles around that tiny island, occasionally popping into the Echo Caves or going on cake runs for Pan? How did he get his dastardly pirate rep if that's the case? Neverland really shouldn't have been so completely closed off from the other realms. I would have liked to see a better story for Tinkerbell (one without Regina), some pixies, maybe some other neighbouring islands where Hook & Co could have gone pirating, more interesting geographical features, more flying, a sea battle, probably all that stuff was too expensive, but still. Pan should have kept up his pretence of friendliness for Henry longer, and been more mischievous rather than full-on evil. Also, he should not have been Rumple's father. Not everyone has to be freaking related to each other. I'm just rambling now--tl:dr I didn't hate the Neverland arc, but it was flat in so many ways. 

 

Another thing I'd change is I'd diversify the magic a little bit. OUAT magic was pretty much just fireballs, bursts of light, and coloured smoke. Plus the magic beans that are rare until they're not. It would have been interesting to see different kinds of magic, maybe more magical objects that could be used by anyone or other ways for non-magic people to fight the magic ones, different kinds of potions, more about how wands work, more about the Jolly Roger being made of enchanted wood--wouldn't it have been cool if the JR had genuine magic attributes, other than just being fast? The more you think about the possibilities the more it becomes clear how this show was hampered by the showrunners' lack of imagination. 

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1 hour ago, profdanglais said:

wouldn't it have been cool if the JR had genuine magic attributes, other than just being fast?

Even though they never explicitly said it the Jolly has to do some of the sailing on its own. No way could the best sailor sail that ship alone. The sail management alone would take 2-3 sailors.

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4 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

They could have wrapped up the Neverland arc before that music awards break that always kills the ratings, then started 3B a few episodes early and taken their time with it instead of rushing everything.

The spring premiere could've been returning to Storybrooke and Emma believing again. The few episodes before that could've been Emma/Hook/Walsh/Henry shenanigans in New York or on a road trip, with Missing Year flashbacks. We wouldn't actually see Zelena until after the hiatus, just her flying monkeys.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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Generally, I think the show should have slowed down, maybe not have done the "one season, two arcs" every time they they ended up doing. It usually made the show seem disjointed, and it left the show frantically running from plot point to plot point, throwing jazz hands at every new villain in sight, without the time for character development, world building, or just giving the characters some time to breath and react to whats happening in ways that make sense.

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The root problem is A&E's short attention spans.  They did a one-season arc in Season 6 and Season 7, but they didn't slow down to develop the characters or build the mythology.  It felt even more unfocused because they were basically spinning their wheels until Gothel got her centric, which was 19 hours into the season-long "story".  With A&E, whether arcs were full season or half seasons, it was always going to be throwing a bunch of new crap at the wall at frenetic speed and then an episode or two to get rid of old trash, and then more crap at the wall.  Even with a half-season arc, like 5A, some Camelot characters like Guinevere and Lancelot became irrelevant after a few episodes.  Ursula lasted four episodes into 5B.  

Edited by Camera One
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4 hours ago, profdanglais said:

However, looking back with 20/20 hindsight, there was so much more they could have done with Neverland. Increasingly, I find myself wondering what the heck Hook did there for 200 years. Did he just sail in circles around that tiny island, occasionally popping into the Echo Caves or going on cake runs for Pan? How did he get his dastardly pirate rep if that's the case?

I guess Hook got his "Captain Hook" reputation on the cake runs, and I can imagine how that might have worked -- he shows up every decade or so, always looking about the same age, does something really dastardly, then vanishes again for a decade or so. That's the stuff of legends and tall tales -- "My grandad told me of a vile pirate who appeared from nowhere and attacked their ship. He fought like a demon and had a hook for a hand. As soon as he took their cargo and my grandad's ring, his ship was gone. No one saw him again for years, until the day a pirate with a hook for a hand attacked my ship -- and he was younger than me, but he was the same pirate. He wore my granddad's ring." Which is why the killing the witness thing was so silly. He was trying to maintain a bad rep. He'd want someone to tell the story of what Captain Hook did since he was about to vanish back to Neverland, where the king couldn't reach him.

As for Neverland, yeah, there was so much wasted potential. Book Neverland was basically written to be the ultimate place to go to have adventures. This Neverland was pretty dull. It was just a jungle. The mermaids only showed up in the premiere. I can see how the "Indians" might be problematic, but surely they could have come up with some kind of substitute that was more respectful, so the Lost Boys would have someone to fight (and to make the island more dynamic). The only fairy was Tinkerbell, who just moped around in her treehouse. Meanwhile, there was so much related to that story that they could have explored in flashbacks. Thematically, they should have delved into the fact that so many of them were basically Lost Boys/Girls -- Henry was given up for adoption, Emma was seemingly abandoned as an infant, Hook was abandoned as a small boy, Neal's father let him go alone to another world, David lost his father very young, Snow lost her mother very young and lost her home and her father when she was a young adult. Even Regina felt "lost" because her mother disregarded what she wanted. From a story/character angle, Hook and Neal had a past in Neverland. They both had a history with Pan and with each other. We should have seen flashbacks of the pirates in Neverland, having to deal with the evil mermaids, fighting the Lost Boys, having to try to rescue members of their crew from the Echo Caves. We should have seen Bae trying to survive and Hook looking after him, then Bae escaping and maybe the beginning of his transition to being Neal. Instead, we got entirely unrelated flashbacks of Snow learning to believe in herself, Snow vs. Regina, Regina being unhappy with her own curse, Regina finding her soulmate. I once counted, and Regina, the character who has nothing to do with Neverland, got more flashbacks in that arc than the characters who actually had a relevant history.

I wish Tink had been given an entirely different backstory, in part to ditch the whole pixie dust soulmate thing and in part to maybe make her more of the trickster she was in the book. If you're keeping the relationship the way it was in the book, then making Pan a villain makes Tink something of a villain, since she was loyal to him. Would she have been jealous of Henry for having the magical heart Pan wanted, and would that have ended up making her help Emma and the others, as a way of getting rid of Henry?

5 hours ago, profdanglais said:

wouldn't it have been cool if the JR had genuine magic attributes, other than just being fast?

I mentioned this in the Other Fairy Tales thread, but I recently started reading the Liveships trilogy by Robin Hobb, in which the ships are built of enchanted wood, and they're sentient. The figureheads talk, use their hands and arms, etc., and interact with the crew. Or there's the living ship on The Magicians. The Jolly Roger would have to be able to more or less sail itself, since it would be impossible for Hook to sail her singlehandedly (literally, in his case). It would have been nice to see how that worked, with him giving orders and the ship just doing it, the sails adjusting, and all that. It could have been fun if the ship were sentient and in love with Hook. Through most of 3B, I was convinced that the way he got to Emma was by riding the curse out inside the ship, with the enchanted wood ship working like the wardrobe. Instead, all they did was talk about the Jolly Roger being made of enchanted wood.

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