The first half of series 4 aired a few months ago so it was with eager anticipation the second half of Once Upon a Time commenced. There was no connection between the two halves, apart from one brief mention of Elsa and the Snow Queen on different occasions. Other than that, it was a new plot, new theme and new threats.
The second half thinks more about the stories themselves; who the characters are and where they have come from. They are fairy-tale characters, after all. The author is a key figure in this second half, with the `villains` (including Regina) wanting to use the author to gain their happy ending. But there is a cost to getting what they want… and that cost comes in the form of Emma. Gold wishes to darken her heart to save his own. But old secrets emerge and Emma has to deal with the fact that her parents aren’t quite as perfect or hero material as she believed. Everything she has taken for granted now hangs in the balance – and might just serve as the push to tip her over the edge.
Once Upon a Time is known for making connections between the characters. In the early series, this was enjoyable and led to many twists. Now, however, it is becoming predictable. Although Regina makes the point of talking about fate/destiny/powers at be dictating their lives, when a new character emerges and a connection guessed –that then proves to be right – it gets a little tedious. Character development has a cap on it when everyone already knows everyone else.
When thinking about characters, it is as if half have been forgotten about. Snow and Charming now come as a joint pair at all times, normally trying to reassure Emma. David has his hand comfortingly on Mary Margaret while she attempts to say the right thing. In every single scene. Not to mention they seem to have forgotten they have a new-born. A lot of the minor characters have disappeared and the focus on Emma, Regina and Gold adds a different type of intensity to the show – there is no escaping their stories. Without jumping between characters the way the early series did, it also fails to build tension in the same way because the answers are provided in the next episode. The intricacies of the plots woven together no longer exists.
That being said, however, the show is still enjoyable. You still find yourself gripped and wondering if everything is indeed as it seems or whether something entirely different is at work. While lacking the excitement of the early series, there is just enough freshness to the plotlines that it hasn’t become totally predictable. Watching from the beginning leads to an investment in the characters and you want to know how it works out. Not to mention with there being no clear divide between hero and villain anymore, you’re not sure what you want the outcome to be. Still a show that provides good entertainment.