The time of year when all my favourite shows just stop. Of course, Game of Thrones is still on, True Blood is coming (soon, I hope) but there’s no more Glee, Supernatural, Doctor Who or Once Upon A Time. Which makes me sad.
But at least it means I get a couple of blog posts out of the ends of my favourite series, so today – because I watched the last episode last night – I’m going to talk about Once Upon A Time.
For those that don’t know, Once Upon A Time is set in the town of Storybrooke. The people who live there have been cursed – the first series shows how they got thrown from the Enchanted Forest into the real world, losing their memories and living fake lives. The second series (big spoilers from this point on) shows what happens when that curse is broken.
The second series introduced a lot of new characters outside of the main core. There’s Sleeping Beauty, Mulan and Hook, for starters. We see giants and wraiths and more of the worlds outside of the Enchanted Forest, including the world where Dr Frankenstein (very cleverly Dr Whale, in the ‘real’ world) is from, and glimpsing Neverland. The first half of the series sees Emma and Snow White trapped in the Enchanted Forest, trying to stop the Evil Queen’s mother from getting into the real world. Of course she follows them through, along with Hook (the sexiest reincarnation of Hook ever. Not that it’s hard. But he’s pretty awesome), bringing Tiny the giant. She seems like the big bad threat of this series, with even ‘The Dark One’ Rumple/Gold scared of her and what she could do.
Until we meet (drum roll please) Tamara and Greg. After big bad threat Cora is taken care of, it emerges that Tamara and Greg are in Storybrooke to destroy magic.
Are you following?
See, I love this show. I loved this series. But it felt…I don’t know. Jammed. Like you could barely move for everything being thrown out there. I had to keep reminding myself that this character or that had been introduced this series, not the last one. I had to keep reminding myself that something that felt like it should have been separate, happened only a few episodes before. There was a lot to take in on this one. A lot to keep remembering. But, surprisingly, it all tied together.
It worked. Jumping back and forth between the different characters worked, because they were all linked. Even if it didn’t seem it on the surface, even if it was hard to see why we were seeing Cora’s back story in one episode, or focusing on Tiny in another until the end of said episode, once you step back, you can see the threads and webs that bind these characters together.
Hint; it’s family.
And these people have some of the most complicated family trees in the history of family trees.
Each of the main characters seem bound by something more than coming from the same land. They are blood, and loyal, and will go to lengths to protect those they care for. They act for each other. Emma goes from being a woman determined not to have connections, to not love, to doing anything she can to protect her son Henry. Snow/Mary Margaret and Charming/David are determined to look out for daughter Emma, and even Mr Gold shows a softer side when it comes to family.
But it’s not just blood that matters. Instead, Once Upon A Time also shows the bonds that can be forged when two people are not related. Regina has no blood link to her adopted son, but she tries to fight her urge for power to protect him, and she will do anything she can for him (although sometimes she goes about this in the complete wrong way). The end of series two shows how much Hook cares for Baelfire, the son of the woman he loved and the son of his greatest enemy.
I love the way the story brings these characters together and apart, the way it flicks between different lands but remains smooth and coherent. Although to be fair, Emma’s love interests appear and disappear like flies. (Although turning one into a little boy is a…err…unique way of getting rid of one to make room for another…) Still, the cast is tight, and each actor feels like they fit their roles perfectly.
Plus, well, there’s the Disney element to it all.
People moan a lot about Disney, but I watched their films constantly as a kid, cried because I couldn’t dance with the Dwarves in Disneyland, and cheered up immensely when we found Snow White and Dopey nearby. (My favourite dwarf, by the way.) Disney is my childhood, and I turned out okay. The interesting thing about Once Upon A Time is the way it takes these princess characters – passive women who are always being rescued by the prince – and turn them into kick ass women who don’t need the men, but have them anyway. And yes, it is linked to Disney, as ABC is owned by that childhood staple. Which means, brilliantly, they can incorporate Disney references. The dwarves have the familiar names we know and love, and more than one the cast are seen in some of the iconic clothes worn by their cartoon counterparts. It adds a really nice touch to the show, especially when characters start whistling songs from those movies.