Once Upon a Time Season 7 Episode 1 – TV Review
Just why, ABC?
Why are we here?
TL;DR It’s a crawl through molasses out of the gate, as OUaT half reboots itself to inexplicably keep this show going; the few returning characters are all amnesiac (or so it seems); the premise is almost exactly the same as before; not a lot happens.
It’s one thing to be a pile of crap, but don’t be a boring pile of crap, you know?
So yeah, here we are at the beginning of Once Upon a Time Season 7. Again: why? An adult Henry is hunted down by his daughter Lucy, who claims his memories, along with his family and friends’, have been altered by a curse, and there’s really a burg full of fairy tale creatures just waiting to be rescued. Henry goes along with the ruse because Lucy steals his laptop, but finds something of interest when he meets Lucy’s hot mum, Cinderella (but not that one). Things are complicated by Cinderella’s evil stepmother, Victoria, who is just a blander, Britisher Season 1 Regina (and we already did that with the Black Fairy, gurl), who wants to buy up land or something and force the fairy tale creatures out of Hyperion Heights aka Nouveau Storybrooke. She also wants custody of Lucy for no apparent reason. Just to piss off Cinderella? Also floating around are Regina as Roni, a local bar owner who stands up to Victoria; Hook as a rookie cop/detective; Gold/Rumple, as a crooked cop/detective/gangster; Alice from Wonderland (but not that one); and Adelaide Kane as Victoria’s daughter/personal assistant. Nothing much of interest occurs. Meanwhile in flashbacks, we see a glimpse of a teenaged Henry leaving Storybrooke for magical worlds unknown. We then skip forward to an adult Henry in that world, where he gets his slap-slap-kiss on with Cinderella, who in this version of the tale tries to assassinate her prince because he killed her father. Victoria turns out to be wicked stepmother Lady Tremaine, and Adelaide Kane is the ugly (but it’s TV, so not ugly this time) stepsister. Henry gives Cinderella the chance to flee the realm with him after Lady Tremaine assassinates the prince herself and pins it on Cind, but when she fails to show up for the rendezvous, he sets off to find her.
No, seriously. The ratings for Once Upon a Time have been falling for years, and Disney’s booming success at the box office is proof that people don’t need a shonky ABC soap opera to help bolster the fairy tale brand.
The fanbase is also rife with exhaustion, so it’s not like we even want more OUaT that badly. I mean, they haven’t turned on it in the same way the Glee and Pretty Little Liars fans did, but was there really anybody who would have shed a tear if Season 6 had been the end?
And even if there are a special few of you out there, did you want your faves to come back like this?
Why I hate this episode:
It’s just so boring. Not even Roni livened things up. How does an equation with “Regina” and “bartender” involved turn out this dull? What the fuck?
The unabashed ripping off of the Season 1 premise is a huge failure of imagination. With the mandate that Season 7 would be a reboot, OUaT could have done literally anything. Instead, the show has chosen to replicate itself almost beat for beat. I’m not against the idea of a meaningful echo, but Jesus, OUaT’s problem was that it had become stale and a parody of itself. You don’t fix that by doing more of the same.
So Henry is Emma, and Lucy’s mission is to make him believe in magic. Victoria is Regina, a powerful bitch running the neighbourhood. Gold appears to be playing himself again, having swapped the pawn shop for the cop shop. How exactly is this a new beginning for OUaT?
One of the only major differences is that Hyperion Heights isn’t some middle-of-nowhere, not-on-the-maps mystery spot. It is a place that other people in the real world are aware of. Because it’s a suburb in Seattle. And Victoria’s mission isn’t to trap the fairy tale creatures in eternal misery, but to use her Trump-esque powers of real estate to force them out and divide them. But if they think they’re real people, and being under Victoria’s thumb makes them miserable, wouldn’t forcing them out into the world give them the chance to improve their lives and live, dare we say, happily ever after? Regina’s plan worked because they were locked in town, and in time, with no way out.
Unless Victoria is also suffering the same curse-induced amnesia? Whatever.
Speaking of Victoria, Gabrielle Anwar does not have the same immediate bitch goddess presence as Regina, or even the Black Fairy. She’s gotta step that cunt up, henny.
I’d also like to register my continuing disgust at Once Upon a Time in Wonderland’s dismissal. The new Alice on the scene is the final insult.
Victoria’s Devil Wears Prada knock-off entrance scene is yawn-inducing. We get it. You’re mean and icy.
Oh, and I’m going to be pretty pissed off if we have to keep calling Regina “Roni” for much longer.
But it’s not all bad:
As long as Lana Parrilla is still here, in any capacity, I’ll be watching.
The surprising highlight of the episode isn’t Roni, however. No, our adult Henry could be what saves this new OUaT. He is charming and earnest, and just good looking enough to be a leading man, but without veering into CW casting territory. I really dug him. I liked Emma initially because of Jennifer Morrison and my enduring love for Urban Legends: Final Cut, but god, she wore on me. Henry I simply like because he seems like a straight-up good dude.
Similarly, Lucy is an improved upgrade to child Henry. She’s a decent child actress, and she’s a got a sass mouth on her. Maybe new OUaT has a chance.
Gabrielle Anwar’s Victoria doesn’t set my heart alight, but as Lady Tremaine her pettiness reaches new heights, as she murders the prince not only to frame Cinderella, but also because he snubbed Adelaide Kane at the ball (thankfully, a different prince filled his place on Adelaide’s dance card. Phew). She also cuts off the Fairy Godmother’s wings while she’s unconscious, and then blithely murders her.
Most promisingly, though, is Lady Tremaine’s insistence that magic is fickle, and a villain on top should instead rely on the power of fear. She’s like all the best parts of Rumple and Queenie combined, and I’m in. Just fix those eyebrows.
I’ll never forget the travesty that was Adelaide Kane’s shortlived role on Teen Wolf, but for the season and a bit of Reign I watched, she certainly wasn’t the reason why that show was garbage (no, that was the lack of budget and dull male characters. If it had been just Adelaide and Anne of Green Gables sniping at each other for forty minutes every week, I would have stayed). I’m cautiously optimistic about her.
Present day Cinderella’s roommate is that cool assassin chick from Impastor, and is secretly princess Tiana. Cute.
Oh, and is this the longest in the last couple years that we’ve gone without Zelena showing up? It’s nice.