With Haven on hiatus and Rick and the gang walking around Alexandria I thought it would be a good idea to try something new. This is my first Once Upon A Time Review. I have watched Once Upon A Time on an on/off basis for a while. Whenever Haven sucks, I’ll watch this show and vice versa. So far the first half of season 4 has been decent, strangely enough so was Haven. The addition of Elizabeth Mitchell felt special. Her depiction of Snow Queen was both tragic and heartfelt. Though her sudden disappearance raised more questions as did her storyline in general. I would have loved to see Elizabeth Mitchell back in a recurring role but that probably won’t happen. Instead we’re stuck with Robert Carlyle and Lana Parrilla who turn every scene they are in into something brilliant and make you forget about all the other characters. This weeks episode ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ puts the story on a new track that seems promising but also comes with risks to the show.
Once Upon A Time Review
In The Characters’ Past
In the Enchanted Forest, “many years ago”, a gathering takes place at Maleficent’s Forbidden Fortress, with Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella De Vil being brought together by an unknown person. Before they can fight among themselves, the person responsible for this no-so-pleasant meeting, Rumplestiltskin, appears with a plan to change their happy endings. The women are skeptical about his plan at first, but they listen and agree to join him.
At a nearby mountain, Rumplestiltskin points out to the ladies that the curse (concealed in an orb) lies within the deepest part of the area, but to reach it they must first get through a series of obstacles perfectly suited to their talents. After they complete the tasks, they hand the orb to Rumplestiltskin, who reveals he was simply using them and leaves them to die at the hands of the demon Chernabog, the Guardian of the mountain. The ladies hide from the demon, who seeks the person with the heart that has the darkest potential, until Maleficent notices a large crack in the wall that would provide escape. The ladies come out of hiding and while Chernabog targets Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella escape. Maleficent, thinking they are abandoning her, fights off the demon until Ursula rescues her by using her tentacles to pull her to safety.
In The Present Day
New York City
It’s been six weeks since Mr. Gold was banished to our world. Since then, he has been making himself at home at Ursula’s place, eating Ramen and mooching off a furious Ursula, leading to tensions between the two. However, they put their differences aside when Gold receives an e-mail giving them the location of Cruella De Vil. The directions lead them to Long Island where De Vil is seeing her items repossessed by the FBI after her criminal husband is arrested. After Gold arrives to see her lose everything, he tells her about joining him and Ursula on a trip to a place where magic exists, Storybrooke, where they hope to seek out the author of the “Once Upon a Time” book, who Gold believes ruined their lives in the first place and can give them their happy endings.
As Hook and Belle attempt to find a solution to liberate the fairies from Sorcerer’s hat, they talk about their feelings towards Gold and their lives as they attempt to move on from what Gold did to them. Finding a solution, the two visit Regina and Emma in Regina’s office, where Regina talks about the the torn page of her and Robin Hood embracing after Emma finds it in a drawer. Hook informs the two that they managed to get a professor to translate a counter spell to free the fairies from the hat, but only Regina can enact it. When the foursome, along with Mary Margaret, return to the woods, Regina uses the Dark One’s dagger to release the fairies. Unfortunately, just seconds after the fairies are freed, the hat releases a thick, black smoke that begins to ooze out, floating into the sky and forming the shape of a winged demon, revealed to be Chernabog, and starts flying away. As the town celebrates the fairies’ return, save for a remorseful Hook, Regina attempts to ask the Mother Superior about the author, who responds that the author and sorcerer are two different people and that the author had left behind clues to his identity in his works. The celebration is interrupted by earthquake-like thunder and strange cries. The people rush outside to find Chernabog perched on the clock tower. Realizing he must have been released from the hat, Emma asks if they can capture him in there again but Belle tells her that because he was released from the hat, he can not be placed back in. Emma and Regina attempt to use their magic to destroy the demon but quickly discover all they can do is temporarily repel it.
While these events are going on inside the non-existent Maine town, Gold and two-thirds of the Queens arrive at the town limits, where Gold placed a marker on the tree after his banishment. Both Ursula and Cruella are skeptical at first to to trust Gold, but since he was banned, he tells them he has to trust them to enter Storybrooke first, and then come back for him if they choose. Gold then hands Ursula his phone to call Regina, who after getting the call, puts it on speaker so Emma can listen as well. The Queens ask to enter Storybrooke since they too have realized the error of their ways and have decided to turn over a new leaf and be good. Regina, not trusting either Ursula or Cruella about giving up evil, makes a reluctant deal to let them in if they can help destroy Chernabog. The Queens inform them what Chernabog is looking for and Regina suspects he is after her because she has the darkness in her heart. This gives Emma the idea to coax the demon to the town border since magic does not exist on the other side. Regina and Emma drive to the town border as Chernabog attacks them. As the demon smashes the windshield, Regina vanishes and reappears at the line trying to distract him. Emma slams on the brakes as she approaches the border and Chernabog is thrown off the car and across the line where he disappears. Seeing Cruella and Ursula standing on the other side of the town line, Regina and Emma decide they deserve a second chance and the two are given the Snow Queen’s magic scroll which allows them to cross the line. Hours later, the ladies return and get Gold in by using the same scroll.
Both David and Mary Margaret later tell Cruella and Ursula they were reluctant to let them in and they don’t trust them. Mary Margaret says that they’ll allow them on one condition: They must never speak to anyone about what happened between them in the Enchanted Forest, especially Emma. If they do, Snow threatens to rip out their hearts. And with that plan out of the way, Gold tells the ladies that he was the one who told Belle how to free the fairies (the “professor” scheme) while releasing Chernabog at the same time, who in actuality was after Emma, as Gold sees her as the one with the “Darkest potential.”
The sudden disappearance of Elizabeth Mitchell as the Snow Queen felt strange. The show needs to refocus on developing a new storyline, and though it seems to promising to bring Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella De Vil together with ‘the dark one’ there are fears none of the three can get the screen time they deserve. One of the virtues that Once Upon A Time has over Haven is its better use of story arcs, they prevent from situations repeating themselves (too often). Yet I wonder if there is risk that this would happen now that Rumplestiltskin is back in Storybrooke. His return was hardly done through an act of intricate planning. Some of the characters even broke the fourth wall when they remarked that the Chernabog was nothing special. If the show can focus on one of the three female villains, then let it be Maleficent. Her character seems to have the greatest depth and with her history with Rumplestiltskin there is potential for a major showdown. To be honest, two of the major reasons I watch this show are Robert Carlyle and Lana Parrilla as Evil Queen. As luck would have it few of the other characters can be described as irritating, which is a major issue I have with Haven. That said, I am not seeing an end-game. Once Upon A Time can’t remain on TV forever without someone complaining it is boring and underutilizing its literary foundation. With the show’s ratings declining slowly due to viewer fatigue I think it is time to consider to stop after season 4. This was Once Upon A Time Review ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ Review. I can’t promise if I will do Once Upon A Time Review, that depends on whether Rick gets to kill any walkers next week.
Score; 8,2 / 10. A good start to a new story arc, but does it have depth and potential to last the rest of the season.