PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Once Upon a Time” – The Season 6 Mid-Season Recap and Progress Report (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Once Upon a Time” airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, fall/winter/spring Sundays at 8:00 PM.

What: “Once Upon a Time,” a fantasy drama wherein storybook and fairy tale characters are not only real but are living in this world, away from their enchanted kingdoms and worlds beyond reality, and how they all interrelate (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/once_upon_a_time/summary.html).

When: The Season 6 premiere aired on Sunday, September 25, 2016, on ABC at 8:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in fictional Storybrooke, Maine, as well as in “The Enchanted Forest,” the fairy tale kingdom from where most of the main characters originate. The action takes place primarily in present day, though there are flashbacks to the characters’ past lives, before they were whisked away to Storybrooke via curse wrought by the Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parilla) and before they were made run-of-the-mill real world residents with serious bouts of amnesia.

Why: Two primary reasons: one, Chief Couch Potato Kylie loves fantasy and fairy tales, and the Disney network green-lit a live action serial television program about fairy tale characters that they would probably own the rights to, if the characters weren’t already public domain. Two, the creators are Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, two of the head writers of Lost. Whatever else may be said about the latter program, I don’t think anyone could argue that Lost wasn’t well written. All of our panel of enthusiastic Once fans finds love for this program via one or both of those reasons themselves.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

To catch up on prior Once podcast episodes, click on the links embedded below:

Season 4A – Frozen

Season 4B – Queens of Darkness

Season 5A – Dark Swan

Season 5B – The Underworld

Welcome back to our fuller Once experience!  Our Once panel – namely Kristen, Eddie, Amie, Emily, and Micah – reconvene around the Water Cooler once again to discuss Season 6A of OUAT, which, for the first time, does not really boast an easily hashtag-ed subtitle to go along with its underlying premise and which largely centers around the fact that Regina and the Evil Queen (Parilla) are in two separate but identical bodies. In fact,  Regina must wrestle with the most existential of questions as she considers whether the seed of evil was really within her all along, or whether she’s made a change for good by separating the worst parts of herself, as she watches that darkest self run amok around Storybrooke as a separate being with bombastic fashion sense.  Listen to our newest chapter of CPU!’s ongoing Once Upon a Time podcast, during which we reflect on Season 6A.  Do you agree with us? Or, do you have your own thoughts? Comment below!

This podcast was recorded in January 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first half of the sixth season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite), Pinterest (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, our Stitcher Radio channel , and/or find us on Google Play to keep track of brand new episodes.  In the meantime, let us know what you think!  Comment or review us in any of the above forums – we’d love your feedback!

Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next podcast episode will rejoin our DCTU (DC Television Universe) panel in a new but cheeky format, less around the water cooler and more within CPU!’s fractured fairy tale version of The Newlywed Game, during which all panelists engage in a brief roundup of the progress of Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl, at least through the mid-season cliffhangers/finales for all four shows!  In this format, each panelist will separately touch base with Chief CP Kylie, providing thoughts and feedback about how the multiverse of the DC Comics is faring on the CW this season. Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Is baby Neal magical like his sister? (This question will remain until answered!)

Answer: At this time, baby Neal’s “specialness,” if it exists, is still unknown.

2) How did Will Scarlett (Michael Socha), aka the Knave from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, end up in Storybrooke and without Anastasia (Emma Rigby), the former Red Queen? And how did he and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) decide to hook up? (This question will remain until answered!)

Answer: Will Scarlett is gone.  Where he went is anyone’s guess.  Why he was even brought to the flagship show with so little explanation for his coming and going is the bigger mystery.

3) Where did Maleficient (Kristen Bauer von Straten) go? Will we see more of her? Will she reconnect with her daughter Lily in a more meaningful way? (This question will remain until answered!)

Answer: Like Will Scarlett, Maleficient and Lily have both disappeared without a trace or explanation.

4) Will the Once writers/producers provide a better, more detailed explanation for why Will Scarlett was on the flagship series? Will they provide a more significant flashback to explain why he and Anastasia are not together anymore? Would Emma Rigby be available to reprise her role of Anastasia? (This question will remain until answered!)

Answer: Will Scarlett is gone.  Where or where has Will Scarlett gone?

5)  Are we watching a Henry/Author rewrite in progress?  This is Eddie’s meta-Matrix theory.

ANSWER: Still a question; we’ll likely not see an answer to this one until the end of the show.

6) Will Maleficient, Lily, August, Will Scarlett, or any of these disappearing characters reappear?  Will their disappearances, at least, be explained?  (This question will remain until answered!)

ANSWER: Not so far, and it seems irresponsible of the writers.  Maybe they will surprise us in the end.  Where oh where have they all gone?!

7) Will Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) come back, either as himself (as Emily predicts), in flashbacks or as a Robin Hood soul trapped inside a Robin Hood body with a different personality (as Eddie predicts), or as a shell of his former self due to some spell cast by the split-off Evil Queen, who misses the soulmate meant for both her halves (as Micah predicts)?

ANSWER: None of the above!  Though Robin does make an appearance in Season 6A, it’s as but a figment in a so-called “Wish Realm” that came into existence as a result of Emma (Jennifer Morrison) wishing from Aladdin’s famous genie that she had never been the savior.  The mere existence of this “wished” version of Robin, however, entices Regina, who gets sucked into the Wish Realm with gal pal Emma, to stay in the precarious and possibly unstable “wished” version of the Enchanted Forest despite having the means to escape via portal unlocked by magic bean.  The portal opens – and then closes, as Regina reunites with a being that she thinks is her lost love.  What will they do?  Will they escape?  With an in tact Robin in tow?  That’s what they call a cliffhanger.

8) Will the Good Regina go Evil like the Evil Queen?  Eddie predicts this, but Amie and Kristen disagree.

ANSWER: So far, Amie and Kristen win this debate.  Good Regina remains good, if easily susceptible to wishes and temptations, while the Evil Queen (EQ) half takes all of the formerly united being’s evil upon herself.  Sorry, Eddie.

9) Will the Good Regina and the Evil Queen Regina battle each other, as Amie predicts?

ANSWER: Amie had good instincts: there have been a few anticlimactic skirmishes between the two halves, though these skirmishes have been characterized more by wars of words than of magical power, and Regina isn’t as useful magically, since the EQ was responsible for acquiring the formerly united being’s magical ability.  We don’t know what the second half of season six brings, though, so…

10) Will others be forced to “battle themselves” as a result of what happened to Regina and/or Jekyll and Hyde, as a means by which to confront personal demons, as Eddie and Kristen predict?

ANSWER: As it turns out, no – Eddie and Kristen’s meaningful prediction fell short of what actually happened. What we learn is that if any harm comes to the “split off” version of the being split into two by Jekyll’s potion, the original being sustains harm. If the original version is hurt, both versions sustain harm.  So, though the originals may be facing personal demons by interacting with evil copies of themselves, they cannot “battle” themselves for the sake of self-preservation.

11) Will Regina accept that both sides of her personality are part of her, and will her two halves rejoin, as Micah predicts?

ANSWER: We think that Good Regina is beginning to acknowledge how both of her halves make a sum greater than its parts, but the full realization is a work in progress, now that Regina is distracted by the Wish Realm.  As to the latter half of Micah’s prediction, only time, and likely season six’s second half, will tell.

12) Will we see any of the side characters, such as Jiminy Cricket/Dr. Hopper; Pinocchio/August; Geppetto; or any of the Storybrooke denizens we were introduced to in seasons one and two, now that the show is definitely returning to a story structure that spans the whole season?

ANSWER: Jiminy/Dr. Hopper – yes, Pinocchio/August and Geppetto – no, Cinderella – yes, and certainly more of the Seven Dwarfs other than Grumpy.  Also, Dr. Whale/Frankenstein.

13) Will Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) further use his Author powers for more than just recording events, as he began to do in the Underworld arc?  What will happen if he does?

ANSWER: Henry was largely distracted from his Author-ly duties while fretting over adoptive mom Regina’s multiple personalities in multiple bodies status.  In addition, bio mom Emma has developed hand tremors and terrible night visions, a side effect of being the Savior and using her Savior magic.  Will Henry revisit his author abilities? Seems careless to forget about them now, so…

14) How much will the Evil Queen half of Regina influence Henry?  Will she pull some Regina/Evil Queen twin switcheroo with Henry or with any other character, as Eddie predicts?

ANSWER: Eddie predicted correctly!  The EQ played the part of Regina while she trapped Good Regina and Emma in a Mirror Realm (where, apparently, the Dragon is also hanging out…though how that came to pass is fuzzy).  She couldn’t really fool Henry, though.  He copped to her ruse pretty quickly.

15) Does Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) finally have her groove back?  Will Snow and Charming (Josh Dallas) finally be compelling again?

ANSWER: Yes…and no.  On the one hand, Snow thought it would be good form, as she enjoyed doing so in the past, to return to her Mary Margaret authenticity and teach at Henry’s school again.  Sadly, she was doing so as a fully realized Snow White, so she struggled to connect with the students without the meek and mild persona that the curse previously brought to her teaching curriculum. That is, until Princess Jasmine (Karen David), who also apparently has taught at the Storybrooke school this whole time unbeknownst to the audience, advises Snow to play to her strengths, which then inspires Snow to use a bow and arrows to teach math.  If you can make sense of that, you’re doing better than the panel.

In addition, we also had the wrinkle of the Evil Queen placing yet ANOTHER sleeping curse on our twue wuv couple, Snow and Charming.  Because they share a heart, if Snow is awake, Charming sleeps, and vice versa.  Unfortunately, some of us on the panel also slept, bored as we were by the repeated use of sleeping curses as a plot device on this show.

16) How will Belle awake from her slumber?  Who will be her True Love in the end?  Will it be the Knave/Will Scarlett, so that he can finally reappear in Storybrooke and explain his comings and goings?  Will Belle come back bigger and badder than ever?

ANSWER: Belle does come back bigger and badder than ever – in fact, the panel was pleasantly surprised by how likable Belle has become – but she did not do so with Rumpelstiltskin’s (Robert Carlyle) help.  Rumpel entered the dream world to try and wake Belle but failed in his attempt because he resorted to trickery and lies, of which she has become hypersensitive about, given all of his lies directed toward her in the past.  Instead, a grown version of Belle’s unborn son comes to her in the dream and wakes her.  He identifies himself in the dream, I believe, as Morpheus, though he later goes by the name of Gideon.  In fact, he is the hooded figure who <SPOILER> may murder Emma in the end…

Will Scarlett/the Knave remains missing in action.  Presumed dead.

17) How much time will be spent in the Land of Untold Stories?  Will we see more of Jekyll and Hyde?  Are they hinting at the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?  Will the Untold Stories affect Storybrooke?  How?

ANSWER: Zero.  Zero time was spent in the Land of Untold Stories this season.  We saw more Jekyll and Hyde in Storybrooke, until Jekyll turned out to be the selfish degenerate in the equation.  When Dr. Jekyll, once thought meek and mild, inadvertently revealed that he was the jerk who alienated his lady love, rather than the suaver, more charming Hyde, the mad doctor started to creep on Belle. Rumpel protectively magicked him to the netherworld, taking Hyde, the more genteel of the pair, with him, since Hyde was the other half of “him” all along. We also briefly saw Captain Nemo from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” in a one-off episode, which was convoluted and generally panned by our panel.  Other than these two non-fairy tale novel sources, the Untold Stories posed little influential effect to Storybrooke.

18) Will other characters drink Jekyll and Hyde’s potion and play good or evil sides of themselves, such as Rumpel, Snow, Emma, or anyone else?

ANSWER: Contending with two halves of Regina/the EQ was enough for our main characters.  No one else was tempted by this potion; Rumpel, the one most likely to double himself, is, in fact, smarter than that.

19) Will Regina find a new soulmate?  Was Robin Hood really her soulmate in the end?

ANSWER: Aside from those shipping Regina and Emma, our girl R has not found a new soulmate, and judging by her longing draw to Robin in the Wish Realm, this question remains unanswered.

20) How will Emma and Hook (Colin O’Donaghue) recover or react now that they’ve returned to Storybrooke?

ANSWER: Mostly, they were largely stable, but for Emma’s constant need to not tell people she loves about the serious stuff happening to her.  For example, Emma started developing tremors as a side effect of using her Savior Magic, but she withheld this information from Hook as well as her family.  Hook, similarly, hid secrets from Emma. And so went that never-ending merry-go-round.

21) Will we see Dorothy and Ruby as a couple again?

ANSWER: We haven’t seen them yet in season six, if they make a return at all.

22) Where is Mulan nowadays?  What is Merida doing with her life?

ANSWER: We don’t know about them either, and it’s cheesing panelist Micah right off!

23) What’s next for Zelena (Rebecca Mader) and baby Robin?

ANSWER: A few more double crosses are likely in store, considering that Zelena was wooed by the EQ’s temptations and description of the idea that she is Zelena’s “real sister” and not Good Regina because the EQ has this “evil fun” side that seems to be what the two sisters have in common, though she didn’t remain allied with the EQ. Still, it’s hard to believe that Zelena has turned over an entirely new leaf, baby daughter or no.

24) Have we seen the limit of Emma’s savior magic? Will her power continue to grow?

ANSWER: Now, this is a question.  Her power hasn’t grown, as such, but it is causing deleterious side effects, like hand tremors, from use.  Apparently, being the savior decreases life expectancy by decades, a condition which contains warning signs like hand tremors.  We don’t know what any of it means right now, and we presume the second half of season six will tell us.

25) Will any characters who have moved on, been lost to the River of Souls/the Void, or been trapped in Pandora’s Box ever be seen again, such as Baelfire, Cora, or Pan?

ANSWER: So far, these characters seem to be (still) dead or (still) trapped in the Box. But, in this mystical world, anything is possible, right?  Curse or no curse!  Savior or no savior!

The Chief CP still thinks it’s tragic that Baelfire was marked for permanent death. Sigh.

New Questions

1) Emma and Regina encountered Robin Hood in the Wish Realm.  Can he be brought back to life from that realm?  Or, does magic function there (and in the Regular Realm) like the genie’s rules in Aladdin, i.e. no one dead can be brought back to life because, you know, it’s unnatural and grisly?  If we get an answer to this question, we may get our answer about Baelfire and Cora.

2) Who is the Black Fairy really?  Why have we never seen her before?  Didn’t Rumpel have an adoptive mother who died, leaving him to be raised by his ne’er-do-well, absentee father, who turned into Peter Pan?  Or, was that person the Black Fairy?  Or, did she become the Black Fairy?

3) The panelists still want to know where these characters went: Merida, Mulan, Aurora, Philip, and other members of the non-Wished Enchanted Forest?

4) What is Gideon’s endgame? Revenge on his father, Rumpel?  Ultimate power like his dear old dad?  Where does Gideon’s resentment against Rumpel come from if the Black Fairy raised him in another realm?  Why does he ultimately attempt to kill Emma?

5) What did the Black Fairy do to Gideon while raising him in a parallel dimension with speedier time, and what is her agenda related to her son, Rumpel?  Why are they returning to this realm now, other than convenient writing?

6) Is the Black Fairy related to the Never Land shadow at all?

7) Gideon changed the EQ to a snake and caged EQ-as-snake.  Does this endanger Regina? Will she and her other half ever reunite?  Will Jafar return to make this happen?  He’s kind of an expert in snakes himself.  If not Jafar, then how will it happen?

8) How will Emma and Regina return from the Wish Realm?  Will they return?

9) Do we care about Charming’s darker impulses, which make him fear turning into his twin brother, James, who was vanquished in the Underworld when his soul fell into the River of Souls?

10) Will Gideon be the “Big Bad” of the next half of the season?

11) Is the Wish Realm now a real “nuts and bolts” realm, wished into existence with the genie’s powers?  Is it permanent?  How long will the show spend in this new realm?

12) Will Henry find some of his own adventures again?  Will he remember that he’s the Author?  Will his Author responsibilities help right these new wrongs?  Why is the show so reluctant to develop this part of the story?  Why does Henry sometimes feel like extra baggage?

13) Will Emma ever learn to rely on her friends and family (and lover) in times of strife and tell them what’s bothering her or threatening her life?  It’s been six years.  We think your family has given you enough reason to trust them!  Hook too, for that matter!

14) Will Emma really die?  And if not, how does she escape Gideon?  Or, is that really what she is seeing in her vision?

15) Where is August nowadays?  The panel universally votes for his return.

16) Since the Wish Realm’s version of Snow and Charming have died, will Emma ascend to being Queen of the Wish Realm Enchanted Forest?  Will she be a good queen or an evil queen, and how will she handle her queenly duties?

17) Will Snow and Charming escape the new sort-of-twisty-but-not-really sleeping curse affecting their shared heart?

18) Will Hook sharpen his hook?  He feels largely toothless but is just as yummy to look at as ever, according to 4/5 of the panel.

19) Why do we care about Zelena?  Seriously.  We need to know.  Even the rare panelist that likes her.

20) Will the show get better, once and for all?  Or, is it time for the executive producers and writers to consider the possibility that Once should depart, make for its sideways version of the Island, and get “lost?”

PARTING SHOTS

The podcast panelists offer a variety of diverse opinions about the current progress of Once Upon a Time.  Some panelists thought that this half season offered some improvement over the past four half seasons, which were largely focused on story arcs neatly-ish resolved within those half seasons.  These panelists enjoyed the return of Storybrooke residents not seen since earlier episodes and enjoyed the omnipresence of Regina and/or the EQ. Other panelists felt that the show was overcompensating for some of the shortcomings of previous “arc” half seasons by throwing in every available character they could resurrect from the first two seasons, likely driven by actor availability, creating a scattered, disengaging narrative that began to reek of desperation.  All of the panelists felt that the “Land of Untold Stories” byproducts received too little attention, while the Aladdin infusion was introduced too abruptly and not always effectively.  Most of the panelists agreed that the most interesting characters and story lines so far this season involve Rumpel and Belle and all of the elements swirling around them and Regina’s existential tete-a-tete with her darkest self, the EQ, which may have been sidelined when Gideon, Rumpel and Belle’s son, transformed her into a snake and caged her.  While some panelists continue to foster hope and devote faith to Once’s seemingly endless reservoir of #potential, others were put off by the consistently unrealized #potential that Once’s writers never appear to solidly capitalize upon, veering into new story territory while rushing resolution of older, more intriguing story questions.  In fact, half of the panel squarely feels that the Once production team squandered the upswing of creative energy that seemed to appear from the depths in the back half of the “Underworld” arc, while the other half of the panel remains intrigued by the possibilities presented.  Still, though some panelists have begun to lose interest in the show, panelists who might now differ from those who began to lose interest at the end of the fifth season as others become interested again, all remain loyal and plan to keep watching because, if nothing else, the writers know how to bait viewers with tantalizing possibilities, even if they unevenly capitalize on those possibilities in satisfying ways in the end.

LOOKING AHEAD

Once Upon a Time returns from its mid-season six hiatus on Sunday, March 5, 2017, at 8:00 PM. OUAT has not yet been renewed by ABC, but most TV pundits call #potential renewal of this Sunday night staple a “safe bet.” The Once Upon a Time podcast panel will next reconvene following the sixth season finale, which will likely air in or around May 2017. As always, CPU! will keep you abreast of happenings and special events in addition to all OUAT podcast coverage.  Until then!

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One comment

  1. kyliekeelee · March 2

    Reblogged this on Reel Musings.

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