13 Reasons Why, Season 2 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cpu-final-01large.jpg

NOTE: This episode contains some strong language and direct discussion about the sensitive topics depicted on the show. Listener discretion is advised.

A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in May 2019, our panel of veteran CPU! panelists and conscientious TV fans – including moderator Kylie, Kristen, Andrew, Amie, Emily, and Jeremy (and no longer including Jenn, who jumped the shark as of this season) – is Around the Water Cooler and discussing Season 2 of Netflix original 13 Reasons Why. If you have not watched any of 13 Reasons Why, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think, and/or if there are other shows you’re interested in CPU! covering, below; email us at: couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com; or check out our Guestbook at the website, our Facebook page, our Twitter (@cpupodcast), or our Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite). Until next time, until next episode…buh bye!

Executive Producer/Chief Couch Potato: Kylie C. Piette
Associate Producers: Krista Pennington and Selene Rezmer

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace
Marketing Graphic Artist: Krista Pennington

Theme Song:
Written by: Sarah Milbratz
Singers: Sarah Milbratz, Amy McDaniel, Kelsey Rezmer
Keyboard: Kelsey Rezmer
Bass: Ian McDonough
Guitar: Christian Somerville
Engineer/Production: Kyle Aspinall/Christian Somerville

Advertisements

PODCAST! – Streaming Originals & Around the Water Cooler: “13 Reasons Why” – The Season 2 Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for 13 reasons why title card

Moderated by: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “13 Reasons Why” is a drama-mystery web television series based on the 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and is a Netflix original series, always available on Netflix.

What: “13 Reasons Why,” adapted by Brian Yorkey for Netflix, revolves around a high school student, Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), and his friend, Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), who committed suicide after suffering a series of demoralizing circumstances, brought on by select individuals at her school. A box of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah before her suicide details thirteen reasons why she ended her life.

SYNOPSIS

Clay Jensen (Minnette) returns home from school to find a mysterious box lying on his porch. Inside, he discovers seven double-sided cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (Langford), his classmate and unrequited love, who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah unfolds an emotional audio diary, detailing the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. The series explores the fallout from the revelations on Hannah’s tapes.

When: Season 2 was released in its entirety to the Netflix streaming library on May 18, 2018, with a total of thirteen episodes.

Where: The action takes place in an unnamed, presumably Californian town (the series was shot in California) at fictional Liberty High School.

Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episode via the link below.

How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS

CPU! has covered 13 Reasons Why since the series’ beginning. To listen to our Season 1 review, listen via the embedded link below or via our audio feed at Apple/iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play:

When 13 Reasons Why premiered on Netflix, so many CPU! core panelists advocated for a 13 Reasons Why panel, the Chief CP had to oblige and to subsequently draw lots, since we had more volunteers than actual room on the panel. Since that time, at least one panelist – Jenn – has jumped the shark after watching only a few episodes of the second season, though the rest of the panel, CPU! regulars Kristen, Andrew, Amie, Emily, and Jeremy, all returned to attempt to process Season 2 via what could only be described as a mixed bag of reactions.  In this episode, our remaining conscientious five, along with yours truly, the main moderator, parse through the thirteen new courtroom-based testimonies and three Polaroids of Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why and also delve into the continuing, ensuing controversies that this unflinching and graphic portrayal of social issues confronting today’s teens have wrought.

In the episode linked below, this panel spends considerable time with and meditates upon each of the deeply flawed characters motivating the story within 13 Reasons Why.  The panel also reacts to the continued debates and controversies arising from critical and popular reception of the series: is the show responsible social commentary or irresponsible revenge fantasy? Does the show glorify suicide, or does it provide a stark and necessary depiction of it in order to provoke needed conversation around signs and triggers?  Does the streaming network provide enough trigger warnings? Does the series attempt to tackle too many social issues at once, but only at a surface level, giving none of them a true exploration of said issues due to the sheer number of them, or is the show daring to tread roads where other series fear to go? Our eager and vocal panel participants may not have all the answers, but as with the world at large, some continued strong reactions are voiced during this longer-than-usual discussion.

For those who find it difficult to listen to discussion about sexual assault (rape), suicide, and the other heady topics bridged by this program, please note that we do discuss much of it directly and, in some instances, quite personally. Listener discretion is advised.

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! Next Wednesday, our A Series of Unfortunate Events panel returns – for the last time – to the Water Cooler to discuss the final season of the quirky Netflix dark comedy (allegedly) made for children, i.e. Season 3. In our upcoming episode, we will also Look Back at the entirety of this popular adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s novels, which we have covered on the podcast since the show’s beginning, and we will examine its relative success (or lack thereof) as an overall series as well as say goodbye, both to the series and to each other (for now). Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) We presume that Tyler Down (Devin Druid) will be the focal subject of Season 3, given the ending scene of Season 2, in which Tyler (SPOILER) brings a gun to school with the intention of unloading it during the Spring Fling dance and following Monty’s brutal act toward Tyler in the Season 2 finale. How appropriate is it for the show to switch gears from a narrative largely about Hannah and sexual assault/mental health issues/suicide to Tyler and the theme of school shootings/violence? Will the show be able to handle this transition sensitively and to broach this issue with care and responsibility? Should the show even be going down this road?

2) Given Chloe’s Season 2 finale admission to Jessica (Alisha Boe) that she is pregnant, a result of non-consensual sex with Bryce (Justin Prentice), the panelists fear that the show might additionally try to tackle the subject of abortion at a time when such a fraught topic might be timely from a sociological and political perspective, even as the vehicle, 13 Reasons Why the series, might not be an appropriate vessel for such a divisive subject. Our panel is especially concerned, as the show originally, again, focused on Hannah as the central character, and as the series has not handled the topics originally depicted by the source novel as sensitively as it could have in these socially aware times. Will the show broach the subject of abortion? Should it?

3) The show seeded a narrative/theme for a supporting character, the Class President Marcus, an African-American male, in Season 2, in which he was blackmailed by Tyler and his new friend Cyrus into labeling Bryce a “rapist” at a public event. The audience is given a glimpse into Marcus’ home life, in which his father praises his hard work and intelligence, particularly in light of the fact that he and his family expect to experience hardship due to race; yet, the show explored this issue, in the panel’s estimation, rather superficially in Season 2. Will the show revisit this theme in Season 3, since we saw Marcus experience no consequences for his actions against Hannah, his on-the-stand perjury (or obfuscation of the whole truth) during the trial, and his wavering sense of morality in light of his behavior and choices?

4) The panel strongly reacted to the show’s handling of Clay’s individual mental health issues, given his profound grief over Hannah’s death, his full-fledged conversations with her “ghost,” and his coping mechanisms related to his pursuit of his private investigation of the revelations around Hannah discussed during the trial, to his reactions and relationship to Skye, and to his dynamic as well as his care and support of Justin (Brandon Flynn) during Justin’s rounds of heroin detox. Will the show more meaningfully revisit Clay’s own mental health journey? Will we be given a better explanation for the Hannah manifestation? Or, were Clay’s reactions and apparent state of mind only dependent upon his obsession with Hannah, in life and in death, and will they be forgotten now that Hannah and, therefore, Clay has “moved on?”

5) Will the show explain or explore how the school district’s defense attorney came to know so many personal details about the various witnesses called to testify in the trial? We can assume or presume that Bryce provided some information, but where did much of the intimate information come from, and how was it vetted, if at all? The trial felt like the consummate courtroom melodrama and, in some ways, represented some of the sloppiest storytelling of Season 2, as far as our panel is concerned.

6) How will Clay’s parents’ decision to adopt Justin play out in Season 3? Will they be as oblivious to Justin’s ongoing addiction as they are to their son’s mental health state?

7) Is there more of a history between Tyler and Monty than what we have already seen, and, if so, what is it? Will we learn more in Season 3?

8) Will the show use another “device” to tell the story, like the cassettes or the Polaroids, in Season 3? What will it be?

9) With Chloe’s pronouncement to Jessica that she is pregnant, and with Bryce’s announcement to Zach (Ross Butler) that he is transferring to a different school, will Bryce be forced to cancel those plans? Will he remain at Liberty? Or, will his parents try to pay Chloe off or otherwise keep her quiet?

10) Will our panel fully return to discuss Season 3? Much doubt was expressed about the idea of extending this series even further beyond its source material than previously accomplished via the second season, and the panelists, mostly, feel trepidation about the idea of the coming third season. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

PARTING SHOTS

Universally, the CPU! 13 Reasons Why panelists feel that Season 2 of this controversial series is not as well executed as the first season. Without the reliable support of the source material, as the first season wholly adapted the one novel on which the series is based, the series’ second season struck our panelists as “forced,” “contrived,” superficial in its revisit of the issues that rendered the show such a water cooler TV topic in 2017, scattered in its attempt to tackle even more social issues than those originally addressed without being able to deeply or genuinely delve into them, “manipulative,” and, in some ways, more sensationalized in its depiction of sensitive issues, considering the strong negative response to the perceived sensationalism of the show’s first season. The panelists struggled most with the writing and narrative structure of Season 2, finding many of the plot choices and revelations about Hannah to be contradictory to what was learned in Season 1, which was based on the actual book, and in a way that did not add to her story. Panelists also panned some performances, particularly by some of the actors and actresses playing the parents, with the notable exceptions of the fabulous Kate Walsh and Brian d’Arcy James as Olivia and Andy Baker, Hannah’s parents, respectively. To that end, some of the episode direction suffered as a result, with choppy pacing and framing that felt as manipulative as the story being peddled in the series’ sophomore season, at least in our panel’s particular regard.

As a result, the panel no longer universally recommends 13 Reasons Why, at least beyond Season 1, as what many of the panelists enjoyed and lauded about the first season, especially the program’s ability to push the conversation about teen suicide, sexual assault, bullying, and other serious issues affecting today’s youth to the forefront, seemed watered down and worryingly “surface-level” in the second season.  In addition, the risky decision to renew an already shaky story structure for a third season leaves the panel with uneasy feelings, particularly as the show moves away from Hannah as a main focus and attempts to re-position the drama around problematic character Tyler and, presumably, the subject of school shootings as well as, quite possibly, teen pregnancy (and related issues), given Chloe’s circumstances. Thus, for anyone who has not watched this series, particularly Season 2, and is considering it, take this mixed-message recommendation for what it is: watch, and judge for yourself, but watch with caution all the same.

LOOKING AHEAD

13 Reasons Why was renewed for a third season, which is expected to drop later in 2019, though a tentative release date has not yet been announced by Netflix as of the date of this publication. As always, CPU! will keep you informed of all 13 Reasons Why coverage, and this panel will, as such, hopefully return some time after the release of Season 3 to recap the new season. Until then!

Looking Back at Once Upon a Time: Part Two of the CPU! Goodbye to Once Upon a Time (MAJOR SPOILERS)

CPU! final-01

A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in November 2018, our Once Upon a Time panel – moderator Kylie, Kristen, Eddie, Amie, Emily, and Micah – is Looking Back at the entirety of Once Upon a Time, in the second part of a two-part miniseries in which CPU! says goodbye to this long-running, fantastical yarn of fractured if familiar fairy tales. As always, if you have not watched any of Once Upon a Time, be aware that there are, most definitely, MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think, and/or if there are other shows you’re interested in CPU! covering, below; email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com; or check out our Guestbook at the website, our Facebook page, our Twitter (@cpupodcast), or our Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite).  Until next time, until next episode…buh bye!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace
Marketing Graphic Artist: Krista Pennington

PODCAST! – Looking Back: “Once Upon a Time” – The Goodbye Miniseries, Part 2 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for once upon a time title card

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Once Upon a Time” aired on network TV, specifically on ABC, for seven seasons, from 2011 to 2018.

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 show aired in its entirety from on ABC from 2011 to 2018.

Where:  The show is primarily 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. In Season 7, the show engages in a “soft reboot” of its story premise and is set in Hyperion Heights, a fictional neighborhood deep within the heart of very real Seattle, Washington, as well as in “The Enchanted Forest.” 

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 found love for this program via one or both of those reasons themselves.

How – as in How Much Do We Love this Show?!

Couch Potatoes Unite!’s Complete Once Upon a Time Coverage

Season 3 Premiere (Neverland)

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Premiere

Season 3A – Neverland

Season 3B – Oz

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Finale

Season 4A – Frozen

Season 4B – Queens of Darkness

Season 5 Premiere (Dark Swan)

Season 5A – Dark Swan

Season 5B – The Underworld

Season 6A

Season 6B

Season 7A – Hyperion Heights, Part 1

Season 7B – Hyperion Heights, Part 2

Our super-bonded and magically cohesive Once panel – namely Kristen, Eddie, Amie, Emily, and Micah – could not leave Once Upon a Time behind forever without spending some quality time saying a long and (mostly) loving goodbye to this show, which has been in our lives for up to seven years. After our Season 7B discussion, the panel agreed to reconvene around the Water Cooler “once” again to discuss the show as a whole, including all of its ups and downs, for Part Two of our two-part CPU! series in which Couch Potatoes Unite! says goodbye to Once Upon a Time, which is extra emotional for us, as this show and panel was one of our very first three pilot panels! In this second part of this miniseries, our panelists reminisce about what we loved and what we did not like as much from OUAT’s seven seasons and about whether we think this series will hold up over time or whether it was a bit of Disney re-purposed magic in a genie lamp – seemingly and fleetingly popular as, say, three wishes from said genie.  Listen to the newest and final chapter in CPU!’s ongoing Once Upon a Time podcast series, during which we look back, part and parcel, at the whole genie gig and at whether the show ultimately capitalized upon the endless #potential (#drink) provided by this collection of fractured fairy tales.  Do you agree with us? Or, do you have your own thoughts? Comment below!

This podcast was recorded in November 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the second half of the seventh 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! Next Wednesday, a new panel gets some hop-ons and gathers around the banana stand, er, the penthouse, er, the model home, er the Water Cooler to begin our three-part Arrested Development series. Listen as we blue ourselves laughing via the recitations of endless quotes while Looking Back at the original Fox run of this critically acclaimed sitcom, i.e. Seasons 1-3, in Part One of this latest series. Stay tuned!

RECOMMENDATION

The Couch Potatoes Unite! Once Upon a Time panel generally recommends Once, particularly to Disney fans, to fantasy fans, to Lost fans, and to fans of guy-liner as a general rule.  The panelists agreeably view the seven Once seasons in ways best described via these pithy reviews:

Season 1: Best!

Season 2: Good! (With some liking it more than others)

Season 3: Neverland – Great! / Oz – Not So Great!

Season 4: Frozen – Bad! / Queens of Darkness – At Least It Wasn’t Frozen!

Season 5: Dark Swan – Uneven and Weird! / Underworld – The Land of Missed Opportunities and Sepia Tones!

Season 6: 6A – Hot Mess of Untold Stories! / 6B – As Good As Season 1!

Season 7: 7A – Better Than We Expected! / 7B – They Stuck the Landing!

Thus, the panelists universally caution that the show’s writing, story progression, and frequent failure to capitalize upon #potential (#drink) may be more frustrating to some compared to others, particularly if specific individuals would need to be talked into watching more than a few episodes in the first place. The panelists experience mixed reactions, however, to the notion of whether or not they were ready for the true end of Once Upon a Time. Most panelists, aside from Eddie and Chief CP Kylie, regret the lack of network support for at least one more season, but all panelists experienced a high level of satisfaction with the fates of some of our beloved characters, particularly those of Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) and of Regina, who may have been the true heroes of the series all along, once these characters realized that “everyone writes their own story.” In the end, though, most if not all of the panelists are both happy and sad that OUAT is done, and while some of us might re-watch the series in future, none of us will be quite ready to do so for some time – which is not to say that the series is bad as much as the series traversed a messy, emotion-wrenching course that both engaged and frustrated in the end, a chemical mixture that might leave some of us satisfied with one viewing only. Of course, only time will tell. Plus, given that the twists are known in this eventuality, when watching a second time, some of the impact would definitely be lost upon re-watch. 

Once Upon a Time is currently available to stream on Netflix in its entirety.  Did you watch Once?  Let us know in the comments, and tell us what you thought of any or all of its seven seasons! And stay tuned!  Though our OUAT coverage is primarily done, don’t be surprised if it makes an appearance or two in coming discussions, from time to time.  In the meantime, from our Once panel of devoted fairy tale enthusiasts to you, thank you for listening to our ongoing Once Upon a Time series, which now officially comes to a close.  To discover other shows discussed by CPU!, check here.  For now, we bid you adieu!

Image result for once upon a time last scene
It’s a happy beginning! Regina, formerly the Evil Queen, is crowned Good Queen of the Realms by her erstwhile nemeses, Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas)
Who’s the Evil Queen in this lineup?
Our Once Upon a Time Panel
Left to right (the girls are just shorter): Kristen, Micah, Amie, Eddie, and Emily


Once Upon a Time, Season 7B: Part One of the CPU! Goodbye to Once Upon a Time (MAJOR SPOILERS)

CPU! final-01

A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, recorded in November 2018, our Once Upon a Time panel – moderator Kylie, Kristen, Eddie, Amie, Emily, and Micah – returns to the Water Cooler to discuss the second half of Season 7 of Once Upon a Time, i.e. the series’ final season and including the so-called seventh season soft reboot of both premise and main cast, in the first part of a two-part miniseries in which CPU! says goodbye to this long-running, fantastical yarn of fractured if familiar fairy tales. As always, if you have not watched any of Once Upon a Time, be aware that there are, most definitely, MAJOR SPOILERS! Tell us what you think, and/or if there are other shows you’re interested in CPU! covering, below; email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com; or check out our Guestbook at the website, our Facebook page, our Twitter (@cpupodcast), or our Instagram (@couchpotatoesunite).  Until next time, until next episode…buh bye!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace
Marketing Graphic Artist: Krista Pennington

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Once Upon a Time” – The Goodbye Miniseries, Part 1: The Season 7 End of Season Recap and Review (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for once upon a time season 7 title card

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Once Upon a Time” aired on network TV, specifically on ABC, for seven seasons, from 2011 to 2018.

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 finale – the series finale – aired on Friday, May 17, 2018, 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 found 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 the links embedded below:

Season 4A – Frozen

Season 4B – Queens of Darkness

Season 5A – Dark Swan

Season 5B – The Underworld

Season 6A

Season 6B

Season 7A – Hyperion Heights, Part 1

Our super-bonded and magically cohesive Once panel – namely Kristen, Eddie, Amie, Emily, and Micah – reconvene around the Water Cooler “once” again to record Part One of a two-part CPU! series in which Couch Potatoes Unite! says our own protracted goodbye to Once Upon a Time, which is extra emotional for us, as this show and panel was one of our very first three pilot panels!  In the first part of this miniseries, our panel discusses Season 7B of OUAT, in which we digest the culmination of the much ballyhooed, so-called “soft reboot” of Season 7.  As a reminder, the final “Once” 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 – at least for a time.  What does it all mean for Once Upon a Time and for our panel? Did everyone watch through to the end, despite the fact that Once seemed to have become something of a whole new show, with a whole new storybook, under the umbrella of the old title?  Or, did anyone jump the shark in lieu of all of this unprecedented change?  Listen to the newest addition to CPU!’s ongoing Once Upon a Time podcast series, and one of the last two episodes of said series, during which we reflect on Season 7B and whether the show ultimately capitalized upon the endless #potential (#drink) of not only the final season but of all the seasons preceding it.  Do you agree with us? Or, do you have your own thoughts? Comment below!

This podcast was recorded in November 2018, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the second half of the seventh 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! Next Wednesday, schedule permitting, our DCTU Series panel speedily returns to the Water Cooler with its annual Mid-Season Roundup of the four Arrowverse shows, Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. Stay tuned!

Lingering Questions and Impressions

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

NEW ANSWER: As of the end of the series, baby Neal’s “specialness,” if it exists, is unknown, though we are given a brief glimpse of toddler Neal in the final episode.

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

OLD FOREVER 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 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 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!)

NEW ANSWER: Owing to a brief mention and a brief bit of staging in the series finale, we see a glimpse of a flying dragon, who we presume is Maleficent.  We also learn that Lily ultimately finds her father with the help of her mother…and that her father is Zorro, the masked hero from South of the Border. Of course, this new information raises a Dark-One-ambition-sized host of new questions: is Zorro a dragon? How did Maleficent and Zorro meet?  Where did Zorro go? And when the heck did Disney acquire the rights to the Zorro story? The panel has mixed feelings about whether or not the mention proved worth it in the end, given the fact that these questions persist. But thank you, writers, if you’ve listened to our podcast and our endless questions about this very subject and if this scrap of information was dedicated to us – and to fans just like us! 🙂

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!)

OLD FOREVER ANSWER: Will Scarlett is gone.  Where or where has Will Scarlett gone? If panelist Micah’s theory is correct, he is living his happy ending with the Red Queen, Anastasia, in Wonderland, from Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Of course, WHICH VERSION OF WONDERLAND IS THAT WONDERLAND? AND IS THAT ANASTASIA ANOTHER VERSION OF THE ANASTASIA THAT IS LADY TREMAINE’S DAUGHTER? That’s the answer to a perpetual question the world may never know. Because that’s how this show works in the end. The writers set up premises, such as how there are different versions of the same stories co-existing in the same world, without explaining what that means or how that reconciles the various concepts, characters, and elements repeatedly introduced throughout the universe that is Once Upon a Time. That is why our panel introduced a little hashtag for this series we like to call #potential #drink.  And that is why we have had so much to talk about regarding this show for several years.

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!)

NEW ANSWER: Maleficent gets a brief dragon-depicted appearance in the series finale.  Lily might also as well (I think there were two dragons…were there two dragons?). August last appeared in Season 6. Will Scarlett is just gone, man, in Wonderland or not. As is Mulan. As is Merida. As is Aurora. As is Prince Philip. As is…

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?

OLD FOREVER ANSWER: Unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown…

7) REPEAT QUESTION: How will the show explain away the new Cinderella (Dania Ramirez), given that this character was previously introduced, played by a different actress and well acquainted to the Snow White character?

OLD FOREVER ANSWER: By not explaining at all, apparently.  The show simply asked 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 (as well as Hansel of “Hansel and Gretel” fame) out there, and that all versions of these duplicated characters originate 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.

8) REPEAT QUESTION: Will we see an older Neal, who, as Emma’s brother, would be Henry’s (Andrew J. West) uncle and Lucy’s (Alison Fernandez) great-uncle? If so, when, where, and how?

NEW ANSWER: Neal appears briefly in the series finale, alongside his parents, Snow White and Prince Charming.  They all convene for a very special coronation in which Regina (Lana Parilla) is named the Good Queen of all the Realms. Listen to the podcast episode for details.

9) REPEAT QUESTION: Where did the rest of Storybrooke go?  Is the town still there?  Are Dr. Hopper and Granny and the Seven Dwarfs still around?

NEW ANSWER: Storybrooke is still there! Of course – and what the panelists did not expect – is that Hyperion Heights does not necessarily co-exist in the same time as the Storybrooke we know and love, at least at first.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

10)  Who or what is “the Guardian,” to which Rumpel (Robert Carlyle) wants to pass the Dark One dagger and essence?  What is the Guardian guarding?  Is it Lucy?  Is it Rapunzel’s (Gabrielle Anwar) eldest daughter Anastasia?  Is it someone we know?  Is it something or someone we don’t know?

ANSWER: The Guardian is identified to be the latest incarnation of Wonderland’s Alice (Rose Reynolds), who we meet this season, who is the biological daughter of the scheming Mother Gothel and Wish Realm Hook (Colin O’Donaghue).  The Guardian carries the binding magic that links the Dark One’s essence to the fateful dagger. Rapunzel’s daughter Anastasia was really just a “MacGuffin” and red herring on the season, as it turns out.

11) How do Drizella (Adelaide Kane) and Anastasia have magic in this version?  How does Rapunzel/Tremaine manifest magic?

ANSWER: There is no answer.  Anyone can have magic potential in this world, it seems.  They probably just have to dig real deep to find it. Still, all of these magic-bearers leave the back stories of Regina and Emma feeling less impressive in the end.

12) Does Drizella truly love Adult Henry?  Or, was she just using him the whole time?

ANSWER: Though it appears that Ivy aka Drizella begins her vengeance schemes by involving Henry in a user-way, she ultimately develops sincere and loving feelings for him in the end, though possibly from confusion, since she has not experienced much heartfelt love from anyone since her sister was lost to a frozen lake, ahem, once upon a time.  As part of her personal character growth, though, she also comes to the realization, on her own, that Henry loves Ella truly, and so Ivy gracefully steps aside, while asking Henry to remain her friend, to which he amiably agrees.  It is a nice moment.

13) 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.

ANSWER: Alice encounters her mother because, as it turns out, Alice’s function as Guardian gives her two purposes, not only as the keeper of the Dark One Essence but also as the potential to fill Gothel’s Coven of Eight witches. Alice has magic like her mother; her ability to see the true nature of things and people, for which she is initially pegged as crazy in Hyperion Heights, as the viewer sees all season, is actually a clue to her magical ability.  Alice’s “curse” arises from the fact that she is a magical being, born in a magical place, which allows her to use wish magic to manifest things, including various happenstances of bad luck that keep following her because she continues to believe that she is the victim of bad luck, at least until Zelena’s daughter Robin helps her to realize the pattern. Once Robin, who Alice loves and who loves Alice in return, gets Alice to see that she is making the “cursed” events occur, she is able to stop the magic. At least until Gothel gets a hold of her later.  But that’s the answer to another question.

14) 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?

ANSWER: I think our panel lost track of this charm, though I am willing to bet that Wish Realm Rumpel was the purveyor of said charm, since Wish Realm Rumpel becomes a factor by the end of the season. I also think that this question arose from the panel’s potential confusion regarding Rumpel Prime’s time away from the lands we know to spend time with Belle in the Edge of Realms, leaving Wish Realm Rumpel’s exploits during that time largely unexplored. So, perhaps, in the end, the timeline around the charm does not really matter.  We can let some stuff go, though ironically “some stuff” does not include our general distaste for the Frozen arc.  Listen to the podcast episode for the usual roast.

15) 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?

ANSWER: The Coven of Eight/Eight Witches are real and happen to be a group of magical women, all of whom meet Gothel at a time when she, as a wood nymph, relegated to the magical wooded outskirts of the realms, desired to become human, only to be spurned for her magical ability.  It seems Gothel, as a young nymph, wanted what she could not have: the finery and pretty things that humans enjoy, which are apprently so much more fascinating than earth and roots. Misguidedly, she leaves the nymphs’ hideaway thicket and breaks into the house of an Enchanted Forest damsel, who catches Gothel in the act of using magic. The damsel and her group of “mean girl” friends befriend Gothel, only to pull a “Carrie” and to ridicule her for her use of magic in the end, as those who wielded magic were once scorned by the denizens of, even, the enchanted world.  One of the mean girls turns out to be another magic user in disguise; she joins with Gothel in solidarity and in the bonds of magical girl power. Gothel soon recruits other ostracized bearers of magic to form this powerful coven for the purpose of destroying humanity, fairy tale and otherwise, and of sending the world back to its more natural, plant-dominated roots. None of the Eight Witches are people we know; Ivy aka Drizella once fought for a spot in the Coven but ends up leaving the Land Without Magic with her sister, in order that they might start a new life together and flee Gothel’s hold of Ivy.  Gothel, further, does not have her full Coven until she enchants her daughter Alice to join unwittingly, lest Gothel harm her beloved father, Wish Realm Hook. In the end, the Coven is part of Gothel’s master revenge plot against all of humanity for the ill-advised doings of some entitled teenage girls. Hey, and I thought this show was about fairy tales.

16) Will all of the characters survive?  If not, who will die?

ANSWER: At the risk of the most major SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS, we can reveal that several characters die, including Lady Tremaine/Rapunzel, Mother Gothel, Dr. Facilier, and all versions of Rumpelstiltskin.  We refuse, however, to say how.

As a side note, though, the Blue Fairy’s whereabouts are currently unknown.  Listen to the podcast episode for details.

17) What realm is this show’s Dr. Facilier from?  Is he from the Underworld?

ANSWER: Though were are not given much back story on Dr. Facilier, we do learn that the bayou voodoo practitioner first encounters Regina in the Enchanted Forest, when she is the Evil Queen.  Chew on that bacon for awhile.

18) 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?

ANSWER: The latest curse is broken before the end of the season; the series ends on a different footnote entirely.

19) Where is Mother Gothel from? What is her back story? Is she driven by vendetta?  Against whom? What are her motivations?

ANSWER: Mother Gothel is a wood nymph; her people have existed as long as the earth has existed.  See above for her back story and the details of her vendetta against the whole of non-magic using humanity, though her plan would have taken out magic-using humanity too. Villains are always so short-sighted.

20) Did Drizella actually cast the curse against Alice/Tilly?  Why?

ANSWER: Alice/Tilly’s curse is of her own making.  Alice has power, as well as a low sense of self-esteem and a fertile need to leave the Tower in which she was born.  Arguably, though, being Mother Gothel’s daughter does her no favors in the end. Drizella/Ivy and Alice/Tilly, meanwhile, have no beef.

21) To whom is Zelena engaged?  Do we know her fiance and husband to be?

ANSWER: Zelena is engaged to an ordinary bloke named Chad, who she meets while under the spell of the latest curse and while posing as a soul-cycling hippie in San Francisco named Kelly.  We have never met Chad before, and the panel was not so happy with the fact that Chad was no one special in the end. It seems our panel found some love for Zelena at the last and wanted her to have some of the special she, for so long, envied in others. But maybe that was the lesson, friends? Sadly, your Chief CP did not make that point during the talk.  Hindsight and all that.

22) 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?

ANSWER: This motorcycle question will bug Chief CP Kylie until the end of time.  The show does not address the motorcycle and its fuel availability in magical lands. We also do not think Cinderella II is Anakin Skywalker, but both family trees are so convoluted, who really knows anymore?

23) 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.

ANSWER: The writers take no time to explain this phenomenon, except to imply, with the events of the series finale, that several versions of one character can co-exist, in different realms and/or in the same lands; that it’s absolutely okay; and that we as viewers should maybe stop bitching about it already.  But WE CAN’T HELP IT. This was literally a conceit dropped on the viewer with the premiere of the Season 7 “soft reboot,” and it demanded a heck of a lot of suspension of disbelief based purely upon assumed trust in the writers to capitalize upon their many moments of created #potential (#drink) on which they never seem to capitalize very well, if prior seasons are any indication. Can we help it if we DON’T HAVE THE TRUST? Of course, it’s all moot now. Both versions of Cinderella attend Queen Regina’s goodly coronation, without so much as an awkward shout-out. Some of our panelists resigned themselves to this development. Clearly, your Chief CP has THE FEELINGS.

24) Will the curse placed upon Henry and Lucy (Alison Fernandez) be broken?  How?  Is Cinderella II really Henry’s true love?  How?

ANSWER: The curse that ties Henry’s life to Lucy’s in the seventh mid-season finale is broken with the help of Lucy’s step-grandmother, Rapunzel aka Lady Tremaine, who, with the help of the resurrection amulet secured from Madame Leota of “Haunted Mansion” fame, sacrifices her life to save Lucy’s and Ivy’s. Of course, the curse that affects everyone’s memory, and that created Hyperion Heights, is not solved through the use of that amulet.  

Also, Ella II does appear to be Henry’s true love. There is no real how offered, except for the meet-cute flashbacks of the first half of the season. Again, we as the viewers just have to go with it, even if their love story is exceptionally underwhelming compared to, say, Snow and Charming’s or Emma and Hook Prime’s – or even Regina and Robin Hood’s. Henry, as the Author, simply relates to a plucky young girl who can fight for herself.  Neat.

25) 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?’

ANSWER: In short, we saw just about everyone, including Snow White, Prince Charming, Emma with Henry’s newborn little sister, and all of the Storybrooke residents we have come to meet over the course of the series, with the exception of Rumpelstiltskin, who bravely sacrificed his life earlier in the episode (okay, but that’s all we’re saying!).  It was another happy beginning. We encourage you to watch this show if you want to know why. With our many ample cautions in the back of your head, of course.

PARTING SHOTS

The panelists, even in the end, continue to offer wildly mixed reactions to the notion of whether or not they were ready for the true end of Once Upon a Time. Though all panelists regard the first half of Season 7 as a surprisingly engaging soft reboot of the show, despite healthy skepticism from all panelists in advance of said reboot, the panelists still universally agree, 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 were utterly won over by the unprecedented soft reboot, the wariest panelists (your Chief CP included), while relieved and in agreement that the writers/producers “stuck the landing,” felt that they had to rush to wrap up not only loose threads from the original six seasons but also nearly all of the seeded plot points of Season 7. Most panelists, aside from Eddie and Chief CP Kylie, regret the lack of network support for at least one more season, but all panelists experienced a high level of satisfaction with the fates of some of our beloved characters, particularly those of Rumpelstiltskin and of Regina, who may have been the true heroes of the series all along, once these characters realized that “everyone writes their own story.” In the end, though, most if not all of the panelists are both happy and sad that OUAT is done, and while some of us might re-watch the series in future, none of us will be quite ready to do so for some time – which is not to say that the series is bad as much as the series traversed a messy, emotion-wrenching course that both engaged and frustrated in the end, a chemical mixture that might leave some of us satisfied with one viewing only.   Of course, only time will tell.

LOOKING AHEAD

Once Upon a Time has officially ended, but the CPU! OUAT podcast panel is not quite finished!  We will publish a second part to this mini podcast series saying goodbye to OUAT, in which we will Look Back at the series as a whole, later this month! Stay tuned, subscribe, like, and follow to keep abreast of that publication, and tell us what you think in the comment forums.  What’s more, review us on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or YouTube, and check out our other podcast episodes related to a growing array of TV shows!  Until next week!  Stay tuned!

American Horror Story Series, Episode Seven, Season Seven: “Cult” (MAJOR SPOILERS)

CPU! final-01

A new podcast episode of Couch Potatoes Unite!, which is based on a blog of the same name hosted at couchpotatoesunite.wordpress.com. In this episode, our returning panel of casual to serious horror fans (and rotating moderators!)–including moderator Kylie, Nick, Sarah, Emily, and Kallie–gathered Around the Water Cooler to chat about the seventh season of American Horror Story, otherwise known as “Cult.”  This is the seventh episode of an ongoing CPU! podcast series examining one of our favorite television programs throughout its anthology of various seasons depicting different and unique horror stories per season, and it was recorded in June 2018. If you have not watched American Horror Story: Cult, be aware that there are MAJOR SPOILERS. Tell us what you think in the comments below, and check out the blog and YouTube for other TV related discussions, in both podcast and blog format. Also, if there are other shows you’re interested in the blog covering, sound off below! Tell us what you like or don’t like. Keep the discussion going!

Editor: Kylie C. Piette
Logo: Rebecca Wallace
Marketing Graphic Artist: Krista Pennington