When the show “Once Upon a Time” first came out, I was a true fan. I loved the twists and changes they made to classic fairy tale characters. I listened to a podcast where the hosts discussed theories about what secret plots were occurring in the background of episodes. Yet, as the third season just wrapped up, I’m beginning to grow tired of the show.
For those of you who care about not knowing details of the season three two-part finale, turn back now. I’m going to guess at how certain parts of the finale will play out going into the fourth season and point out various parts of this time-travelling finale that annoyed me.
In the second half of season three, the town of Storybrooke is tormented by Zelena, aka The Wicked Witch of the West. In this version, she is the step-sister of Regina, aka The Evil Queen (Snow White’s nemesis). Their rivalry is mostly unknown to Regina, until Zelena reveals her nefarious plan. She wants to travel back in time and have the good life her step-sister had. Of course, she is using Rumpelstiltskin (once thought dead after resisting his dark side). Zelena is eventually defeated and killed, in secret, by Rumpelstiltskin. Somehow this triggers her interrupted time travel spell.
Emma, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, and Captain Hook go to investigate the shining beacon of the time spell and accidentally get sucked in. This sends them back to when Emma’s parents first met because she was thinking about that event. Emma starts spouting off how it’s just like Back to the Future. She seems to know the movie well. Yet, when the Evil Queen rolls into a village and starts picking on the villagers, Emma thinks it is a good idea to go start a fight. Hook, who doesn’t even know the name Marty McFly, has to continually hold Emma back and remind her to hold her tongue as they keep bumping into people they know in the future who don’t know them yet.
Time travel is never easy for a TV show to pull off. I was annoyed the whole way through with this attempt. “Once Upon a Time” just isn’t bold enough to actually have a whole season of playing out what would happen if Emma ruined her future. Which she nearly does. Exactly like Back to the Future, Emma does interrupt her parent’s first meeting by scaring her mother out of a tree.
Later on in the episode, Emma is captured because she is terrible at staying in character. She is able to escape from the jail cell because of ancient technology that is susceptible to lock-picking. Emma also frees her cell mate, who withholds her name for dramatic effect. But astute viewers knew it was Maid Marian, the wife of Robin Hood. Full disclosure, I didn’t. Hook tells Emma it was a bad idea to free this woman who wasn’t freed in the original past, but Emma don’t care. They eventually take Marian back to the future.
Marian surviving causes a problem for Regina. Since the original timeline involved Marian dying, Robin Hood then fell in love with Regina. At the end of the finale, Robin Hood and Marian have a loving family reunion. This infuriates Regina, who has again lost the love of her life. But the way I see it, the reunion between Robin Hood and Marian could just be one-sided. Robin Hood may tell Marian that he has gotten over her, but she can still be a part of his life along with raising their child. The seemingly sole purpose for this reunion was to turn Regina evil again, as she had come more into the good side through raising Emma’s son, Henry.
During the finale, Rumpelstiltskin marries Belle (of Beauty and the Beast). They are truly in love and suffered greatly to come together. Yet, I see trouble in their future. Rumpel is lying to Belle by letting her believe that she can control his magic. He has given her a replica of the dagger that gives him power. Because of this, he is deemed innocent in the death of Zelena. Belle does not take kindly to lying, especially about his dark magic. I think this is one of the better storylines going into season four.
There is also much hullabaloo about the naming of Snow White and Prince Charming’s new baby. In the Enchanted Forest, there is normally a procession leading to an official announcement of the name ceremony. To mimic this, they have a party at Granny’s Diner. It is finally revealed that their baby will be named Neal. This is from Henry’s dead father, the man that Emma was in love with for most of season two and three. Except his real name is Baelfire, because he is Rumpelstiltskin’s son. I can imagine the future conversation with this child. “So we named you after your nephew’s dead father. He was the man your older sister was truly in love with. But we didn’t use his real name because its too weird!”
I still can’t decide if the final shot of the season has me excited or bothered. As part of the time travelling accident, a vase from Rumpelstiltskin’s secret dangerous magic crypt was also brought forward in time. The vase breaks and a viscous liquid oozes about and forms the shape of a person. It is a woman who shoots ice from her hand. It’s Elsa! You know, the ice queen from Disney’s Frozen? This feels like a desperate tie-in. Putting her appearance like this, at the end of a season, gives the writers enough time to actually come up with a compelling reason for her to exist in this world and how they’re going to tell her story. It might also tempt fans of the animated film to flip their television over to ABC and catch what this alternate-Elsa is up to.
On the other hand, I really like Elsa as a character. “Once Upon a Time” isn’t exactly a cable show, but it’s more adult than a Disney cartoon, so maybe they can really dig into Elsa as a person. I’m just afraid they’re going to make her blatantly evil. The characterization of Elsa in Frozen is so good, she’s just misunderstood.
Overall, in season four, I’d like less plot revolving around Snow White and Prince Charming. Those characters are played out. Most of my favorite episodes barely feature the couple, instead showing how more interesting characters(Jiminy Cricket, Grumpy, Captain Hook) came to be who they are.