This blog is full of excessive fangirl ranting with strong language and sarcasm. Snark levels have hit severe readings. This is your only warning. I encourage you to click the links throughout the piece. They’re opinions from other fans who help drive points home.
It was announced on TV Line that Michael Socha will not return to Once Upon A Time as a series regular.
I’m going to be blunt here: That is stupid.
Wait, I’m pissed. I’m going to be more honest:
This is the single most moronic move they’ve made in this show since announcing Frozen. Hell, since they’ve moved to the half season format in season three! Let’s be more honest!
I was already planning to write a blog this summer called “What’s Up, Will Scarlet?” over on my personal website. It was going to analyze the abuse these writers dished out to the single most show saving character through season four. But because of server issues, my personal site suffered a major crash. It’s been down for weeks as I rebuild it. Now with this news, I can’t wait for my site to finished.
Anger brimming over. Fingers flexed. Let’s talk about how this is the worst decision ever, and how it might just end Once Upon A Time for me.
To understand the depth of this tragedy, you must know the steps taken to get us to this point.
The Destructive Half season format
I have not been quiet about hating the half season format. I’ve said it on my own podcast and multiple others. That is hand down the biggest problem with the show. It only worked for Neverland, and even then there were unanswered questions that will never be addressed (What happened to the Darlings? What deal did Pan and Hook make for the Captain to leave Neverland? Why didn’t we see the reason why Pan trusted Tink? What happened with Pan and Baelfire in Neverland? How did Pan find out about Henry?). Since season 3B with Oz, this hasn’t been the show I used to love. Don’t get me wrong. Once is still one of my favorite shows. But lately you could call it “Once Upon Majorly Missed Opportunities Because People Like Playing With Shiny New Toys Opposed to Continuing With Already Established Story Lines.”
The problem with the half season format is there no time. It’s moving the plot so fast that it leaves the beautiful character moments from season one and two behind. There’s no time to properly develop anything. These guys barely talk to each other anymore. It’s become, “Oh my god a monster! Magic! There’s the Bad Guys! Magic Item! End of episode.” Thus, they had to fall back on the magical deus ex machina item of the week to save the day opposed to letting the character solve the problems on the own. It affects the romances too. The awful storytelling of Belle and Will aside, look at Outlaw Queen. We know these writers can create amazing couples. Snow and Charming and Rumpel and Belle (before it got bad) were some of the major highlights of season one and two. Hell, I was a hardcore Neal and Emma shipper, but Captain Swan has grown on me the last two seasons. But Robin and Regina is just bad storytelling. I want to ship Outlaw Queen so hard. I adore Robin, and I love Regina. I think they would be great together if it were written well. Instead of showing them naturally falling in love over the course of the missing year in 3B, they decided to let Regina follow another magical item (fairy dust) to a tattoo. A TATTOO! They are true loves over Robin having a tattoo. She shouldn’t have a true love from that. She should learn to love him as a person. Do they want us to root for Outlaw Queen at all? And what’s with Robin’s response to the truth of Marian’s death? Cry more fake tears into your beer, Robin. You apparently never loved Marian with that reaction.
Good writing comes from showing the audience the process and not just telling us “Hey they’re true loves because Robin decided on a whim one day to draw on his arm.” Come on, now. It gets worse with Will and Belle, but I’ll tackle that later in this post.
The half season format isn’t working anymore (did it ever?). I miss those minor characters that made Once an ensemble. I miss looking into the background and seeing Archie, Whale, Ruby, Blue Fairy, and Leroy. Now we have random towns person #5 behind the main cast. I think Oz should have been an entire season. It was loaded with so much plot that it imploded on itself. Problems were solved “because of reasons.” Oz could have been stellar. The fan theories for Oz were worlds better than what they actually produced. There were beautiful theories about Victor being the Wizard, Jefferson as the Scarecrow, Gerhardt as a steampunk Tin Man, and Rumpel as the Cowardly Lion. Emma was the Dorothy character, and there was still room for Zelena. Instead, we got an evil green Mary Sue crying over her sister, Back to the Future (which I will admit was a cool finale), and more magical items that didn’t make sense.
We go onto the god awful waste of time called the Frozen arc. Seriously, can I get my three months back? If they were trying to make a live action Frozen show, that was awesome. Elizabeth Lail stole the show as Anna. Georgina Haig was great in her role as Elsa. The entire Frozen cast made a perfect television show for the animated movie. It just didn’t fit into the world of Once. Poor Mr. Carlyle looked like he wanted to kill himself in every scene. What’s worse is nothing came out of three months of writing other than revealing the Apprentice and the scroll (yet another magical item) which was the key to Storybrooke. What were they smoking when they thought this was a great idea? They were smoking pot wrapped in Disney’s money, that’s what.
What’s even worse was the Queens of Darkness were so. fucking. good. Cruella ended up surprising me, and I fell head over heels in love with her. But oh no! She’s more interesting than the main characters! Plus she doesn’t have a background wrapped up in mommy issues! So she must die! Then we have Ursula who exited far too soon. Excuse me, Dumbass Charming Family, why not keep her around as an informant when she knows Rumpel’s plans? What’s that? You’re morons? Okay, we’ll let Ursula go back to the sea. Finally, Maleficent ended up being the last Queen standing. She had such a fantastic shift with the arrival of (boring) Lily. In fact, she’s a better mom than Snow White who seems to lose baby Neal every episode. Belle and Granny must be rich by now with their nanny fees. What’s sad, though, is Mal-Mal wasn’t even in the finale. What was the point of months and months of Queens of Darkness promos if they don’t even make it to the end? I’m not going to lie, I loved this finale minus the last fifteen minutes when they got back to Storybrooke. Isaac ended being a wonderful villain. Once again, this is the strike of the terrible half season format.
Season 4B NEEDED SO BADLY to be a full out season. There was way too much to cram into eleven episodes. Too many characters in one space. Too many shifting plots that were dropped or killed off (Cruella). There were seven villains in season four! Count them! SEVEN! Only to end up at a predictable final fifteen minutes where Emma became the Dark One. Even without the leaked footage from Steveston from the finale shoot, I sensed that coming the moment Emma bitched at her parents like a sixteen year old who lost her car driving rights. Frozen should have never happened. All of season four should have been the Queens of Darkness, the search for the Author, and Operation Mongoose from beginning to end.
Dear Half Season Format:
I am incredibly biased on one thing. I’ll admit it. I’ve been pretty bored with the main characters minus a couple of them since they decided to drop every interesting character. All my favorite characters but two of them are minor characters. I’ve accepted that Jefferson will never come back thanks to Sebastian Stan joining Marvel. Victor could have returned before David Anders started iZombie. Raphael Sbarge filmed multiple scenes in season four and most of them were cut. Poor Archie! Leroy, who was a strong and well developed character in season one and two, has been reduced to the comedic town crier. Don’t even get me started on Ruby. What about Blue Fairy? The minor characters add so much to the narrative. There could have been many fantastic stories over the years, but they were all ignored for the repetitive main story lines. It’s sad that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic can have an incredibly successful 100th episode focusing only on minor characters, but Once can’t give some love to the ensemble that helped get them to five seasons. To quote My Little Pony’s 100th episode “Slice of Life”:
It makes you realize that everypony is the star of their own story. And it’s not just the main characters in our stories that make life so rich! It’s everypony – those who play big parts and those who play small. If it weren’t for everypony in this room and many more who couldn’t be here today, Cranky and Matilda’s lives wouldn’t be as full and vibrant as they are.
Yeah, your fan’s lives wouldn’t be as rich either, Once Upon A Time.
That’s why Will Scarlet was so important to me. He’s pretty much the only person left that I care about on the show. He’s my only hope for enjoying the series and not sliding into the realm of Hate Watching. He’s Jefferson 2.0 being one of the few grey anti-heroes left. Will was never a villain like Hook and Regina who turned into heroes. Will was straight up an anti-hero from the get go. He’s the last logical character on the show since Emma is wrapped up in magic and true love being a ghost of who she was in season one. Apparently logical Jefferson and Whale are dead in a ditch somewhere. Neal was another logic based character living in our world for so long. I’ve said before that Will’s character is as if Neal, Jefferson, and Hook had a love child, and it’s Will Scarlet. All these characters use their wits first. We’ve seen Will easily trick Snow, Emma, and David without breaking a sweat. They need someone who can bring them to Earth and make them use an ounce of their brains. If they would have used Will in the main group, he’d be the one going, “Um, letting two crazy ladies in our town is pretty dumb, mates. Maybe we should keep that Ursula lass around for a bit of help. We all know that Rumpel is here, so we should move the dagger to a safer place, yeah? We should send in Archie to Zelena instead of sweeping her under the prison rug and ignoring the problems. I lived years without a heart. I know what it means to ignore your problems, and it’s not good.”
In the midst of a troublesome seasons three and four, there was one shiny star of hope:
I know that I’m in the minority for this, but I loved Once Upon A Time in Wonderland. Since the Oz arc, Wonderland is the stronger of the two shows. It has some of the best writing, character arcs, and twists that remind me why I love the Once-verse. To understand the tragedy of Will Scarlet in season four of Once, you must look at Wonderland first. I’m going to breakdown what made Wonderland a phenomenal show, and then tackle Will in season four of Once.
Go to page two to find out how Once: Wonderland is the better of the two shows!