Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie
Who: “Once Upon a Time” airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, fall/winter/spring Fridays 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 7 premiere aired on Friday, October 6, 2017, at 8:00 PM on ABC.
Where: The show, in this season, engages in a “soft reboot” of its story premise and is (currently) set in Hyperion Heights, a fictional neighborhood deep within the heart of very real Seattle, Washington, 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 and events.
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
Our now bonded and totally cohesive and still full Once panel – namely Kristen, Eddie, Amie, Emily, and Micah – reconvene (ish) around the Water Cooler “once” again to discuss Season 7A of OUAT, in which we digest the much ballyhooed, so-called “soft reboot” of Season 7. Unfortunately, because this also happens to be the episode that was being processed for publishing at the time of our now legendary equipment failure, this is a re-recording, using, for the first time, an all online format! What’s more, because panelist Eddie could not make the scheduled recording but still wanted to provide his opinions (because, as regular listeners of this series know, he’s Eddie!), we recorded him separately. So, of course, CPU! and your Chief CP sprung “Newlywed” type hi-jinks on our panel. Because that’s what we do with passionate panelists otherwise separated by time, space, and lives behind the podcast. In the meantime, the new season presents all new characters and holds over only four characters with whom we have grown acquainted and grown to love over the first six seasons. The rest of the original cast departed but for agreed upon one-off appearances in this season’s first half. What does it all mean for Once Upon a Time and for our panel? Is everyone still watching, despite the fact that Once seems to have become something of a whole new show, with a whole new storybook, under the umbrella of the old title? Or, has anyone jumped the shark in lieu of all of this unprecedented change? Listen to our newest chapter of CPU!’s ongoing Once Upon a Time podcast, during which we reflect on Season 7A and ruminate on the possibilities swirling around the #potential (#drink) of the current season. Do you agree with us? Or, do you have your own thoughts? Comment below!
This podcast was (re)recorded in March 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first half of the seventh season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!
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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Next week, we will be publishing another re-run as we gear up for recording (and re-recording) more new episodes; the episode to be re-run will be our prior coverage of the first season of Stranger Things. Also, we will be publishing our quarterly progress report covering new shows of the 2017-2018 season, now that February ratings sweeps have come and gone. In the following week, a new panel will, schedule permitting, launch a new ongoing series covering existentially philosophical NBC sitcom The Good Place. Don’t miss it! Stay tuned!
Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations
1) REPEAT QUESTION: Is baby Neal magical like his sister? (This question will remain until answered!)
SLIGHTLY NEW ANSWER: At this time, baby Neal’s “specialness,” if it exists, is still unknown. Also, we presume baby Neal is no longer a baby by the time we see old characters settled into various new identities in this seventh season.
2) REPEAT QUESTION: 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!)
SLIGHTLY NEW 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, though panelist Micah now theorizes that, perhaps, Will Scarlett visited Storybrooke before he ended up in Wonderland. The bigger issue is that the writers/producers failed to truly spell that out in a way that satisfies.
3) REPEAT QUESTION: 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!)
SLIGHTLY NEW ANSWER: Like Will Scarlett, Maleficient and Lily have both disappeared without a trace or explanation. Though this new coven being teased could foretell the arrival of certain witchy personalities within the Disney universe and from prior Once episodes, and, apart from Snow White’s evil queen, who is the most evil witch of all?
4) REPEAT QUESTION: 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!)
REPEAT ANSWER: Will Scarlett is gone. Where or where has Will Scarlett gone?
5) REPEAT QUESTION: 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!)
REPEAT 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?!
6) REPEAT QUESTION: The panelists still want to know where these characters went: Merida, Mulan, Aurora, Philip, Roland (Robin’s son), and other members of the non-Wished Enchanted Forest?
REPEAT ANSWER: Unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown…
7) The producers and show-runners have been releasing various teaser details to foreshadow the “soft reboot” fueling Season 7. For example, five new actresses were cast to fill mysterious roles, though one of the actresses cast will play Henry’s lover/potential wife and Henry’s daughter Lucy’s mother (we saw Lucy in the sixth season finale), identified to be another version of Cinderella, somehow dissimilar from the Cinderella played by Jessy Schram in earlier seasons. We also know that one of the new actresses will play Cinderella’s stepmother. Who are the remaining actresses playing?
ANSWER: The new actresses cast are as follows:
Dania Ramirez as Jacinda aka Cinderella aka Ella
Gabrielle Anwar as Victoria Belfrey aka Lady Tremaine, the Evil Stepmother, aka (SPOILER) Rapunzel
Mekia Cox as Sabine aka Princess/Queen Tiana
Adelaide Kane as Ivy Belfrey aka Drizella, the Evil Stepsister
Rose Reynolds as Tilly aka Alice (of Wonderland)
8) How does Adult Henry (Andrew J. West) end up in the Enchanted Forest (or something like it…and what is it if not the Enchanted Forest) and then back in our realm, beset by amnesia, like his grandparents and Storybrooke friends were when the series started?
ANSWER: Adult Henry, as child/teenager Henry (Jared S. Gilmore), leaves mama Regina (Lana Parilla) to “seek his own story.” He leaves, on a motorcycle, to go specifically to the Enchanted Forest for that story, and he accesses the realm of his ancestors via magic bean and, presumably, a motorcycle powered by a magically-never-empty gas tank (since we presume petrol does not exist in any version of the Enchanted Forest). As for how Adult Henry returns to this realm – how else? By the casting of an evil curse. For the record, it’s not his fault.
9) How will the show explain away the new Cinderella, given that this character was previously introduced, played by a different actress and well acquainted to the Snow White character?
ANSWER: By not explaining at all, apparently. This will remain a question until answered, but, for now, the show is asking us to buy that there is more than one Cinderella – as well as more than one Alice of Wonderland, Anastasia of Evil Stepsister fame, and Jack of the Beanstalk fame – out there, and that all versions of these duplicated characters originated from the Enchanted Forest. Your guess is as good as ours as to how this would be possible, even in the impossible world of OUAT.
10) Will Emma die, given that Jennifer Morrison is slated to appear in only one episode next season?
ANSWER: Emma survives. In fact, she is pregnant again, with hubby Hook’s (Colin O’Donaghue) baby. Listen to the podcast for details.
11) A teaser trailer shows Captain Hook wearing a police uniform, Regina standing in a bar, and Rumpel (Robert Carlyle) in unknown climes. How do they get where they are going? What is the back story for this time jump?
ANSWER: The time jump is explained twofold – Henry grows up while looking for his story, while Rumpel spends some time in the Edge of Realms, where time does not move at the same pace as in other realms. Regina becomes bartender Roni, Captain Hook becomes Detective Rogers, and Rumpel becomes Detective Weaver in the newly formed mystical neighborhood of Hyperion Heights, wrought once again by an evil, memory-affecting curse.
12) Is Henry the new Savior? Lucy (Alison Fernandez) says in the final seconds of the Season 6 finale that he has to save his family – to whom is she specifically referring?
ANSWER: While Henry has not been officially promoted to “Savior” status, like his bio mom Emma, as of yet, Lucy is referring to the need to save Henry’s wife, Cinderella (or Ella for short); her friend and Lucy’s honorary aunt, Tiana; his mother, Regina; his grandfather, Rumpel; his stepfather (sort of), Hook; and Lucy herself.
13) Will this new season and new version of the show truly be different from what we have been watching? Or, will there be a rehashing of story lines and/or a recycling of plot points, only applied to new generations and/or new characters?
ANSWER: More the latter than the former. Listen to the podcast episode for extensive discussion on this question.
14) Will we see any of the departing characters (besides Emma) with any sort of regularity or frequency, or is everyone leaving and gone? How will they explain the departures and absences of so many of the main characters?
ANSWER: Zelena (Rebecca Mader) returns, possibly for a multi-episode arc but not until near the mid-season finale. Belle (Emilie de Ravin) returns for one episode, where we see her live her life fully with Rumpel in the Edge of Realms. She grows old and dies of old age, while Rumpel, age eternal because of his status as Dark One, seeks to end his immortality and bequeath the Dark One essence to the “Guardian,” whomever that might be (and we do not know yet who or what it is) in order to find his love in death. We also see the appearance of Mr. Smee, but that is because this version of Hook, the Wish Realm version, made young again through magic, transfers ownership of the Jolly Roger to him when faced with the prospect of caring for his newborn baby daughter, Alice, also daughter of Mother Gothel (Emma Booth). Otherwise, the show has provided no other insights into the characters that have left at this time. Listen to the podcast episode for details.
15) Will we see an older Neal, who, as Emma’s brother, would be Henry’s uncle and Lucy’s great-uncle? If so, when, where, and how?
ANSWER: So far, no Neal appears. The panel votes for an appearance, though. We would also like to meet Henry’s new sibling. The show may now be forced to bring about such happy endings, though…since it was announced that Season 7 would Once’s final season.
16) Will we see an older Gideon, who, as Baelfire’s brother, would be Henry’s uncle and Lucy’s great-uncle? If so, when, where, and how?
ANSWER: Older Gideon does return to visit his parents in the Edge of Realms and to help his father following the death of his mother. This family lives a long and happy life there, and Older Gideon seeks to be learned in books and magic like his parents, so he eventually leaves to find his story too.
17) Will Rumpel still be the Dark One?
ANSWER: So far, though he is trying to change his circumstances in light of Belle’s passing, Rumpel is still the Dark One.
18) Will we see any of the long missing characters, or get any explanations for their whereabouts, in the new season (the ones listed in questions 1-5 above)?
ANSWER: So far, we do not see any of these characters or receive any such explanations. While there might be opportunities for reappearances later this season, based upon the story progress, we also predict that the show’s writers/producers are just going to leave us hanging, as their collective track record up until this point is not great. Not cool, team. Not cool.
19) Did the propitious moment of Emma’s resurrection also mean that the Evil Queen, as a separate entity, came into being again?
ANSWER: So far, it seems that the Evil Queen, the separate entity who split from Regina Prime in Season 6, remains no longer in existence, owing to her sacrifice in Season 6, at least as of the present day point in the story. On the other hand, Wish Realm Hook is visited by an Evil Queen, who we presume to be the Evil Queen that used to be with Regina Prime, who then became the Wish Realm Evil Queen. Believe us, it’s confusing just typing this stuff.
20) Will Emma and Hook have or be able to have other children? Are they even interested in new children?
ANSWER: Emma is with child as we speak. Hooray for Happy Beginnings!
21) Who will be the villain(s) of Season 7?
ANSWER: At the start of the season, viewers are led to believe that Cinderella’s Stepmother, Lady Tremaine, is the villain of all villains in this soft reboot. Through a twist, however, we then are convinced that her daughter Ivy, bent on revenge and spurred by a seeming lack of love on the part of her mother, could be the season’s mastermind. In the end, though, the manipulator of all is Rapunzel’s Witch, namely Mother Gothel, posing as Eloise Gardner in The Land Without Magic. She seeks to unite a Coven of Eight mysterious witches and does so through the exploitation of family rifts seeded by Lady Tremaine, who turns out to be the famous Rapunzel herself. Listen to the podcast for details.
22) Where did the rest of Storybrooke go? Is the town still there? Are Dr. Hopper and Granny and the Seven Dwarfs still around?
ANSWER: Where or where did Storybrooke go? We presume it’s still there, but we have seen no one specifically from Storybrooke around as of late, except all characters previously mentioned or cited above.
1) Who or what is “the Guardian,” to which Rumpel wants to pass the Dark One dagger and essence? What is the Guardian guarding? Is it Lucy? Is it Rapunzel’s eldest daughter Anastasia? Is it someone we know? Is it something or someone we don’t know?
2) How do Drizella and Anastasia have magic in this version? How does Rapunzel/Tremaine manifest magic?
3) Does Drizella truly love Adult Henry? Or, was she just using him the whole time?
4) Will Alice encounter her mother, Mother Gothel? Does Alice have magical powers like her mother? Why is Alice cursed? Did Mother Gothel curse Alice? How is it that Alice occasionally awakens from her curse? Someone explain Alice.
5) What is the timeline surrounding Wish Realm’s Hook procurement of the white elephant protection charm from Rumpel – and was that Rumpel Wish Realm Rumpel or Rumpel Prime?
6) Who are the Eight Witches or the Coven of Eight? Are they real? What is their purpose? What are they trying to do? Is Maleficent one of the witches? Is Regina? Is Zelena? Is Emma? Is Snow White/Prince Charming? Are the Wish Realm versions of any of these characters eligible for membership? Is there one? Is there a “superior?” Is that person Mother Gothel? Is it Anastasia? Is it Regina?
7) Will all of the characters survive? If not, who will die?
8) What realm is this show’s Dr. Facilier from? Is he from the Underworld?
9) Will the season – and now the series, as it was announced by ABC and by the creators that Once Upon a Time is ending after this season – end with the breaking of the newest curse?
10) Where is Mother Gothel from? What is her back story? Is she driven by vendetta? Against whom? What are her motivations?
11) Did Drizella actually cast the curse against Alice/Tilly? Why?
12) To whom is Zelena engaged? Do we know her fiance and husband to be?
13) How does Henry’s motorcycle run in the Enchanted Forest? Where are the gas stations in the Enchanted Forest? How does Cinderella II learn to operate it so fast – is she really Anakin Skywalker?
14) Why are there duplicate versions of various characters, including Cinderella, her step-sisters, Alice (of Wonderland fame), Jack (of beanstalk fame), and so on? How are all of the different versions from the same Enchanted Forest? The panel universally agrees that the writers better take some time to explain this plot point beyond “there are different versions of the same story” because we do not understand how different versions can coexist within the same story.
15) Will the curse placed upon Henry and Lucy be broken? How? Is Cinderella II really Henry’s true love? How?
16) The producers have teased potential returns of original characters in possible reunions convened in advance of the series finale. Which characters will we revisit? Will Jennifer Morrison aka Emma Swan ordain to exceed her contractually obligated one episode appearance and give a nice second episode sendoff for the fans?
In this episode, the podcast panelists reached some consensus, despite another wide variety of opinions, about the current progress of Once Upon a Time. All panelists regard the first half of season seven as a surprisingly engaging soft reboot of the show, despite healthy skepticism from all panelists in advance of said reboot, which was explored in our previous Once episode. The panel still universally agrees, however, and with no hesitation, that #potential (#drink) contentment with the sixth season finale as a series finale episode would have been achieved if the show had officially stopped at the end of that season. Though some panelists prove utterly won over by the unprecedented soft reboot and continue to foster hope and to devote faith to Once’s seemingly endless reservoir of #potential (#drink), the wariest panelists (your Chief CP included) feel that the producers, network, and parent company have a bumpy road to hoe going forward, now that the series finale has been announced, in order to wrap up not only loose threads from the original six seasons but also nearly all of the seeded plot points of Season Seven. After all, Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, and the Once writing team tend to plant seeds without fertilizing them organically, as evidence by their track record on this program thus far. The entire panel will still be watching, but we believe that lack of network support – particularly in light of a move to a Friday night time slot never before thrust upon this program – numbered this series’ days, effectively dousing long-time strong ratings and quashing any hope of additional season renewals; most panelists, aside from Eddie and Chief CP Kylie, wanted at least one more season. Unfortunately for them and for the remaining longevity of the once-upon-a-time CPU! favorite, Once Upon a Time, the next half season will be the show’s last and will be the subject of a final two episodes for our (currently) longest running panel.
Once Upon a Time returned from its mid-season seven hiatus on Friday, March 2, 2018, at 8:00 PM. In February 2018, however, OUAT was officially canceled by ABC. As such, the Once Upon a Time podcast panel will next reconvene – for the final time – following the seventh season and overall series finale of OUAT, which will likely air in or around May 2018, with a two-part goodbye series of podcast episodes. The first of these episodes will review the show’s final half season; the second will look back at the show as a whole. As always, even for the limited amount of time remaining, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional OUAT coverage. Until then! Stay tuned.