Once Upon A Time: “Two Sisters” – 5 Ways To Ruin A Good Series

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Here we go again . . . again!

When Once Upon A Time announced their Fourth Season would feature Disney’s Frozen, many took this as a sell out. It’s true that adapting the Disney film a few months after it had been released absolutely sounded like a way to capitalize on the film’s popularity; but I still decided to give the premier of Season 4 a chance. Even when I started hearing about the different upcoming plot lines were basically the same plotlines we’ve grown accustomed to over the past 3 seasons – Emma running from love, Regina being evil, Belle & Rumple having relationship troubles, etc – I still decided to give them a chance. Spoiler Alert, I was wrong.

If you’re one of the people who enjoyed the premier, then leave now. Though if you’re someone who prefers story, continuity and quality to frivolous Disney references, then stick around. So just how much was wrong with the premier? Well, “why don’t you just ruminate, while I illuminate the possibilities!”

  1. Continuity Errors:

Continuity errors; but how? The season literally just started so how could there be a continuity error? Simple, but sadly it happened with the return of one of our favorite minor characters: Sidney Glass aka The Magic Mirror. When we find Sidney in this episode, we find him locked up in the “Critical Care” wing of the hospital – much like what Regina did to Belle Season 1. HOW?!?!?!?!

Sidney Once

According to Sidney, Regina has kept him locked up like this for years. There’s just one problem with that though. It’s complete bullshit! How do I know? Well, there are two reasons that stand out above the rest. For starters, Sidney couldn’t have been locked up for years since he was around last Season – alive and kicking. Further more, the town wasn’t even in Storybrooke for a few years during that time. They were relocated back to the Enchanted Forest and then woke up back in Storybrooke again a year later after the Wicked Witch recast the curse.

This would all mean that Sidney was free before the Wicked Witche’s curse and a would have still been free a year later when he returned to Storybrooke. Additionally, since Season 4 takes place immediately after the end of Season 3 there is no way remotely possible Sidney would have been locked up in Regina’s prison. Heck, even if we count back from Season 1 time lapse, that’s not even a few years time. There’s another continuity error in this episode concerning ‘time travel’; but you’ll see more about that in Item #3.

  1. Emma Still Can’t Be

One of the truly most fulfilling moments in Once’s Season 3 finale was how after 3 seasons of running from family, running from love, running from who she is, etc, Emma FINALLY stops running, calls Storybrooke home and finds love with Hook. So you can imagine how frustrating it is to see Emma right back to her old ways barely even 24 hours after the finale.

Hook Emma

Hook is forever my spirit animal; and in a very apt manner, you can actually see his frustration with Emma too. Emma says its to make it up to Regina; but Hook knows its more. We know it’s more. She originally said Henry was the reason she was avoiding Hook; but we’ve seen that flimsy excuse before. Truth be told, Henry would be fine with Emma dating Hook since he remembers how they bonded during his ‘missing year’. It’s just frustrating to see all that character development go literally nowhere; and Emma return to not knowing how to ‘enjoy a moment’.

  1. Regina’s Bird Brain Schemes – Change the Past/ Find the Writer:

Speaking of character development going nowhere, Regina. We finally see Regina find love and accept the Light side of magic; and a few minutes later she’s back to her dark ways. Now the reasons behind this aren’t really a character flaw; but more of a writing flaw. Seriously, do the writers just want to make sure Regina stays unhappy because Emma could have met anyone back in time – not just Marian? Though it’s not Regina’s return to evil that annoys us; but rather the evil plans themselves.

Zelena's Time Spell

Zelena’s Time Spell Last Season

Her first plan involves going back in time and changing it so that she killed Marian immediately rather than waiting around for Emma to save her. The one small problem with this is that it’s impossible! As we learned last Season with the “Wicked” arc, in order to time travel you need quite a lot of magic as well as magic totems like Zelina had. The only way to go back in time had a one-way pass and Emma and Hook already used it up. So Regina thinking this was a doable option is laughable at best and just poor writing at worst.

Despite her first plan disappearing and not being referenced at all for the second half of the episode as if it never happened, it’s Regina’s second plan that is a real winner – and by that I mean loser. Regina’s new plan for this season seems to be to find out who ‘writes’ the book and make them change it so that villains can get happy endings. This isn’t the first time we wondered about the author of the book. Back in Season 1, we thought it was August for a little while. Though despite the book’s author being brought up once or twice before; his/her being a ‘god among writers’ was NEVER.

Regina feels that what happens in the book dictates her life and history so she cannot change unless she chaneges the book. The problem with this idea is obvious; but I’ll say it anyway. The book DOES NOT cause the stories and life events to unfold in some weird deterministic-like way. The book merely recounts what has already happened. This can be seen numerous times throughout the series and has never revealed anything before it had already happened. For example, when Emma went back in time the book was blank because history was changed. New stories didn’t appear; nor did events happen the same because they were in the book.

113Book

Regina’s quest for the ‘author’ is a fruitless dead end at best or horribly idiotic and nonsensical at worst if it does succeed. The writer of the book doesn’t determine Regina’s history, he or she merely records it. Though to be honest, if Regina’s quest to find the writer(s) ends in her slapping Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitis in the face, I’d be okay with that. Though that level of self awareness can work in a Deadpool film; not Once Upon A Time.

  1. Forcing Frozen – Too Soon:

I’m sure no one is surprised by this one. Yes, Frozen was a great Disney movie – visually, vocally, and even story wise. Though the amount of saturation the market has with ‘Frozen’ produts has gone completely overboard. Actually, I take that back, because it’s already been overboard. This season of Once isn’t the straw that broke the camels back; but it is another blatant attempt to capitalize on the fandom. Now sure Frozen does fit with the theme of that gray area between hero and villain; and would honestly be a great story element for Once to tackle – though NOT NOW!

Its like they didn't even try to adapt Frozen. Just copy/paste it in

Its like they didn’t even try to adapt Frozen. Just copy/paste it in

Everything else from Once’s catologue of available subject matter is at least a decade or older – yes Rapunzel was in there; but it didn’t really follow Tangled. Frozen could have been something to be tackled a few years down the line if it ever came to it; but not something that they had to get in if they felt they needed a boost. Whether you change the story or leave it as it, there are problems with both right now – which is exactly the kind of trap Once’s portrayal falls into.

Once’s graphics are usually pretty decent; but the ice graphics here are just pathetic. I saw better ice effect in Batman & Robin – and that movie had ices bending like the poorly constructed rubber it was. Additionally, the look of Marshmellow (snow giant), the rock trolls and even Anna and Elsa’s wardrobe is so spot on that it actually looks fake. It looks like a poorly illustrated attemot at a straight to DVD live action Frozen, which Once never did with any of its other material.

Marshmellow Once

Once always took a unique approach to its subject matter and found interconnecting stories. Rather than doing that, it is presenting Frozen basically as is and is inserting connections ‘after the story we know’. It’s too much of a stretch to be anything but an attempt to a ratings grab. Worse of all, the stuff they do take liberties with just don’t feel right. They went through so much to present everything true to Frozen; but then add details into their parents death and once again make Elsa lose control of her powers again? In a situation like this, you either change too much or not enough; and somehow Once is doing both – and all with the wring focus.

1: Disney Overkill:

Whenever I used to recommend Once to people, the number 1 reason people initially didn’t watch was because: “it seems too corny”; but after I explained the complexities and how this wasn’t just a Disney free-for-all, they gave it a shot and loved it. Sadly, if this season premier is any indication of the season to come: then Once has become exactly what everyone feared it would be.

Beauty and the Beast dance

As if the Frozen theme wasn’t enough, this season had to lay on the Disney extra thick. It seems as though Disney is no longer the source material Once can weave its own story from. Now they must take things directly from Disney for the sake of Disney. The prime example of this is currently revolving around Belle and Rumple.

As if the whole rehashing of Rumple lying to Belle wasn’t infuriating enough – seriously, what happened to all the self sacrifice and character growth – now they have to take a page DIRECTLY from Beauty & the Beast. It was always charming and ingenious that they wove so many different characters into Rumple; but by making him and Belle dress exactly like their Beauty & The Beast counterparts, Once went a little too far. I mean seriously, even the theme song to Beauty & the Beast played in the background. An iconic scene for sure; but once again comes across as nothing more than fan service.

Sorcerer Hat

Though the real shocker came when Rumple discovered that cosmic hat, which was a reference many wouldn’t understand. That is the Sorcerer’s Hat from Mickey Mouse’s Fantasia. That’s right! So seriously, if you want to know why I’m not watching this show anymore, it’s because I want to jump ship before a mouse in gloves appears next season.

Seriously though, what’s next? The episode did start with “A long time ago”. Does this mean #StarWars – another recent Disney property – is coming next Season? *le sigh*

The Chuck Scenario:

Sure, maybe all of these things can be overcome, and there might even be some good moments this season. Though this doesn’t change the fact that if Once is proceeding down this path, it should have ended with Season 3. It’s basically Chuck Season 5 all over again. The Season 4 finale answered all questions and gave everyone their happy endings; but in the last 2 minutes something happened to call for a Fifth Season. And yes, Season 5 did have some good moments; but in the end it was a much less happier and fulfilling ending than Season 4 had given.

Regina in Control

This is probably the last article that I’ll write for Once. I much rather remember the brilliance of its early seasons and how it all wrapped up nicely in Season 3. Sure there was a rocky road here or there; but it always was its own thing. This episode – and season – seems to be focusing too much on the quantity of people it can get; and not the quality of writing. The sad ironic truth is, good writing will always outweigh fan service – while fan service actually alienates more than it serves.

“Once upon a time, there was a brilliant show that took your favorite childhood stories and completely re-imagined them in new and exciting ways. ~ The end”

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16 thoughts on “Once Upon A Time: “Two Sisters” – 5 Ways To Ruin A Good Series

  1. Couldn’t agree more. I dont care about the continuity errors and on-going self-drama with regina and emma’s lives. I was expecting it. But the disney references rubbed in our faces, the disney cosplay, the copypaste of frozen, ughh. It’s like watching a straight to dvd movie.

    • Amen Gina! And yah, I expected – or rather was afraid it’d play out like this – but tried to remain hopeful. But alas. There are so many other beautifully written shows out there. Best to remember the good and move on!

  2. 1) ABC Studios is owned by Disney.
    2) All of the characters in OUAT are Disney even including Robin Hood/Marion.
    3) In case you missed it, The time slot that OUAT is slated for is the exact same timeslot occupied by The Wonderful World of Disney in the 60’s and 70’s
    4) While there are stories that move forward beyond strictly historical Disney characters and even the introduction to the Disney Universe (the OUAT universe is a sub universe of the Disney Universe not the otherway round and no they are not separate Universes) that are Non Disney canon (Wonderful Wizard of Oz/Wicked) the PRIMARY source of backstory and the PRIMARY source of current events for Storybrooke/Enchanted Forest is from…Yep You guessed it…Disney. So it should come as no surprise that other Disney elements will be available to the story lines.
    5) If you do not like the new season then by all means find something that does cater to your interests. Meanwhile the rest of us who adore Disney and the extension of the stories in OUAT will not miss you one whit. Your criticisms however as I have shown are not valid criticisms in that your entire premise for said criticism hinge on the Disney is bad angle.

    In otherwords Panda…Get a life.

    • I hate to break it to you, but you didn’t prove anything actually. All your claims are ‘straw men’ arguments or miss the point entirely. 1 & 3 don’t have any bearing since Once is aired on ABC but produced by a separate company. 2 & 4) Yes they are Disney characters but all started as Grimm fairy tales, and are NOT native Disney – despite that being what made them mainstream.

      That all being said, I understand some people will still choose to watch; and that’s fine. I however won’t. There are much more well written shows (Arrow, Walking Dead, Sleepy Hollow, etc) out there, and I won’t waste my time watching a 4th Season that tarnishes the first 3 seasons of a truly brilliant show.

      PS: I actually do have a life, which is why I won’t be wasting any more of it on this season. As for analyzing episodes and series, that is actually one of my jobs. So I thank you for failing at both ‘disproving’ anything as well as ‘trying to insult me’ 🙂

    • Found the angry ranting Frozen fan right here. LET’S MAKE LISTS. THAT WILL SHOW THEM. Look at my opinions, they are FACT.

    • 1. Yes. That IS a fact. Did you want to do anything with it?
      2. NO. No, no-no, no and did I mention NO. Research Copyright law, and public domain, because even your example is wrong. Robin Hood, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Red Riding Hood, Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Mad Hatter, Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, Dorothy, The Wicked Witch of the West, Oz the Great and Terrible, Glinda, The Little Mermaid, Schneewittchen (Snow White), Rapunzel and more are all part of public domain. Disney popularized them but they own none of these characters.
      3. “In case you missed it” Desperate Housewives also filled that slot at one point.
      4. Define Disney Canon. Disney recently released a movie about the wizard of OZ, is it not canon because it was public domain, because with the exception of Mickey and Winnie the Pooh (whose copyright expires in 2020 which means I can get him on my gravestone) most of Disney’s characters are originally part of the public domain. Disney does not own most of the characters and stories they take from, most of the source material responsible for the characters in OUAT and OUAT in Wonderland come from old myths, fairytales, Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm, etc… These are Disney’s stories and characters the same way the Iliad is Warner Brothers’ story and character; Peter Pan belongs to Disney, as much as Helen of Sparta belongs to WB.
      5. “If you do not like [copyright law] then by all means [pretend it doesn’t exist]. Meanwhile the rest of us who [know our laws and rights and understand the reference when someone talks about Citizens United unterstand that] Disney [is a corporation and will lobby tooth and nail for it’s own interests] and the extension of the stories [made by people other than Disney] will [never get the licensing fees Disney demands of it’s own products] [and sadly knowing this will probably] not [change] you one [bit]. Your [defenses and facts] however as I have shown are not valid […].
      In otherwords [Scott Johnston]… [LAWYERED]”.

      • *claps hands* As if taking the time to respond to that . . . horribly misinformed poster wasn’t enough, you ended it with LAWYERED! Chloe – I mean Dread Pirate Roberts – you are my hero lol 😀

    • Again, old, but it is really sad that so many seem to think that the characters in once either originated from Disney or that all the characters on the show are their Disney incarnations. Um, Rumpelstiltskin, anyone? little red? Frankenstein? Definitely none of these have ever been touched by Disney before Once. But the main thing is that the writers were so saying in the first season that they were looking to the source tales. Now (as of season 5) that is clearly no longer the case.

      • *high fives* THANK YOU Mona! Yes a little old, but I always like finding someone who gets what the show at least WAS about. Thanks for commenting Mona and welcome to the Panda Club! Hope you enjoy my articles on … more satisfying shows lol 😀

  3. I came upon this article from Barbara Barnett’s article. You are so spot on its crazy! To me the show was never a “kid” show. It did borrow from Disney since they are owned by Disney and we all probably are most familiar with those versions and they used to use the imagery in subtle, cool ways. Now it feels like a cheesy marketing tool. To me the show was looking back on the fairytales you liked as a child and bringing a new twist to it while keeping the original spirit of it. Not enough time has passed from Frozen for such reflection. To be honest though I would still hang in even with with the direction the show has gone in if it wasnt for what they did to Rumbelle. There was so much beauty and potential in that story once. As pretty as the dance scene was I felt it was a distraction from how they basically erased Rumple’s character development and made his love for his new wife seem insignificant compared to a shiny hat… Not to sound corny but the magic is gone. The show was and could have been so much more than it is now. It is a great ensemble cast and they deserved better.

    • Aww, thank you Michelle! And I agree completely. There were certainly little pitfalls that could be overlooked; but it seems like everything that could prove a happy distraction has also been tampered with. So many much more well written shows out there (Walking Dead, Agents of SHIELD. Arrow, etc) but as far as ‘fairy tale’ is concerned, I think I’ll wait for ABC’s Galavant – because as you said, like Once, it seems to be geared towards adults but playing upon old traditions. and not a marketing tool

  4. Frozen wasn’t that good. It didn’t even make sense, the plot and goals were so half cocked. The trolls were stupid, their were unnecessary scenes, like the wolves, the trolls musical number when Anna was dying. No real villain, Hans was a victim of stupid movie twists. The fact that this movie has infected OUAT, this, if any other period of the series, is a definite negative and a ramming of a mediocre movie down your throat!

  5. I feel like it is not fair to say the show either has to be exactly the same as the original stories or completely re imagined. It can be both in my opinion. I can see though how the show has gone from small references to the original movies to full scenes copied from the movies. But I know many fans liked that. Also, the thing about the characters reverting back to their old ways was intentional. The fact that you are upset about that was the intention. If Regina became happy the show would need a new direction. When the shows time is up, rest assured Regina’s feelings will not be up in the air. I just don’t get why you hate them creating the very conflict driving this story.Emma might not completely understand how to handle a relationship even after all she’s been through. That is ok. Rumplle might not be ready to give up power yet. That is ok. Also, sorcerers hat was a nice touch and homage. That story line, which as nothing to do with Mickey,is peaking my interest. I guess I agree with some of what you say but just am not as angered by it as you are.

  6. Nick, old post I know, but the reason this frustrated her was because writing to fill time doesn’t have to involve bad writing. The writers’ falling back on retooling their characters cheapens the story and character development that came before and causes us to mistrust future changes in character as they become increasingly unrealistic and inconsistent. We lose the reality of watching real characters and are left with puppets that we know are manipulated to serve an already nonsensical plot. This is characteristic of much TV writing but it doesn’t have to be. There are shows that have stories with integrity. Dickens wrote in serial and often had to satisfy word count but his stories’ and characters’ integrity usually remained consistent, a mark of good writing and (something I seriously doubt these writers have) a long-term plan.

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