As the fairytale centric Once Upon A Time TV series readies for its winter finale it seems as good a time as any to reminisce about the Seventh Season.
If you’re not caught up with what’s been happening in the series please note that this serves as your Spoiler Alert.
At the end of Season Six it seemed like the inhabitants of Storybrooke had all but attained their elusive happy endings, or beginning as Emma (and Belle) put it. Snow and Charming had happily settled on a farm, Emma had married Hook, and even the Queen had finally completed her redemption by attaining the acceptance of everyone in town.
It seemed like it would be the perfect ending to a series and narrative that had enthralled audiences for six years. But creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis weren’t quite ready to bid Once adieu. What followed was a startling departure of the majority of the original cast with the exception of Lana Parrilla, Robert Carlyle, and Colin O’Donaghue. The scene, and the story, had been completely re-booted for Season Seven as the setting was now Hyperion Heights in Seattle.
In parallel to the first season a grown-up Henry’s daughter, Lucy, finds her father and sets about making him believe that he’s married to Cinderella, his mother is a Queen, and that magic is real. Needless to say, Lucy has more of a challenge on her hands than she initially realizes. Elsewhere, Regina has become bar owner Roni, Gold is Det. Weaver, and (Wish) Hook is Rogers, a tortured soul desperately trying to find a mysterious girl.
Part of why Once worked throughout all of its previous season has a lot to do with how seamlessly they added new characters to the narrative; think of Zelena’s introduction to the show as a perfect example of this. However, the manner in which viewers were assailed, all at once, with several new characters in the latest season was rather jarring. Previously, time would be taken to introduce a new character, unveil their story, and integrate them to the group in a way that felt seamless.
Because we have seen parallel versions of these characters in earlier seasons of the show comparisons are inevitable. While Cinderella and Henry are, arguably, meant to mirror the true love story of Snow and Charming the lack of chemistry and believability between the actors means that it simply doesn’t compare. What’s more Lady Tremaine/Rapunzel’s visage as Victoria Bellfrey is theoretically meant to be similar to Mayor Regina Mills. But it falls dramatically short of the way Parrilla flawlessly played the haughty and elegant mayor.
As the rest of the cast seemed to fumble with finding their feet in the Once universe Lana Parrilla continues to deliver standout performances. Despite her curiously diminished screen time she’s impeccably transformed into a much different character in Roni without seemingly batting an eye, such is the prowess of her apparently endless well of skill. It should be especially marvelous to watch how she subtlety plays between Roni and Regina now that her character has been woken from the curse.
There are clearly some positives to be taken from the latest season of Once and the creators and writers have achieved in creating some intrigue with the new storylines. It’s evident that Once Upon A Time isn’t quite the show it used to be. But here’s hoping that it re-gathers some of the wonder which made it so magical.