Television Review: Once Upon a Time, Series 5 Part 1

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OuaT 5 2Plot: With Emma consumed by darkness, her family and loved ones will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if that means travelling to Camelot and to track down Merlin. But nothing in Camelot is as it seems and finding the answers is harder than it seems.

Six weeks later and they are back in Storybrooke with no memory of what happened and Emma a true Dark One. To learn the truth of what happened, the inhabitants of Storybrooke must again fight to remain with their loved ones. This time, there’s no telling where the darkness will come from.

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Once Upon A Time – Series 4 Part 2 Review

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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.

There's no clear line between heroes and villains.
There’s no clear line between heroes and villains.

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.


Once Upon A Time – Series 4 (Part 1) Review

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Once Upon a Time returns for the first half of the fourth series and this time takes on the phenomena that is Frozen.

As Frozen has been so huge this last year, with the characters and story known to all, even those who haven’t seen it, there was uncertainty about whether Once Upon A Time was simply jumping on the bandwagon and trying to make money out of something they knew was popular.

However, I have to admit that despite the concerns, they made the characters loveable enough that it worked.

Storybrooke had returned to normal – well, as normal as things could get – after the defeat of the Wicked Witch. However, when an ice wall erupts around the town, they know their problems are just beginning again. Elsa, it seems, is not to blame for the ice wall as she is unable to take it down again, stuck believing her powers cannot possible work or be controlled unless she can find her sister. A new villain is in town, one who is linked to Emma’s past… despite the fact that she can’t remember it.

David, Emma and Hook hit a wall in their investigations.
David, Emma and Hook hit a wall in their investigations.

The first half of series four follows our heroes as they try to find a way to defeat the Snow Queen, despite no one truly knowing who she is. It seems that she has been in Storybrooke for this whole time, but no one can remember her coming over with the curse or whether she arrived on her own accord. But even more mysterious is the fact she seems to know both Emma and Elsa – and want something from them – despite them not having any memory of ever meeting her at all.

As the team finds a way to defeat evil again, Regina continues her fight to be good, even making sacrifices that she would have never done during her time as the Evil Queen. Henry promises to help her find the author to give her a happy ending while Rumple takes his deceit with Belle just a little too far, despite them now being married. Meanwhile, Charming and Snow must adapt to being parents again, only this time with a baby to raise rather than a magical portal.

The plotlines as the series develops are certainly not as tightly woven as back at the beginning, where everything related to each other and left your brain spinning at the complexities of it. However, despite starting to believe it might have run its course, this first half of series four was pure entertainment through and through. It is getting a bit predictable over good winning, but the character development – especially through Regina – means that it hasn’t become stale yet and still continues to engage with the audience.

With new villains being lined up for the second half of the series, Once Upon A Time still seems to have something magical that keeps its audience gripped and enjoying the storyline. Let’s just hope that they continue it in the second half and prove that its time is not yet up.