Once Upon a Time (Season 6B, MAJOR SPOILERS)

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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 July 2017, 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 six of Once Upon a Time, a half season courting allegedly “happy beginnings.” If you are not caught up on Once, 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!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Once Upon a Time” – The Season 6 End of Season Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

THIS EPISODE OF CPU! WAS SPONSORED BY: HERITAGE THEATRE GROUP

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Check out HTG’s 2017 Season!

Opening Tomorrow: “The Importance of Being Earnest”

For more information, visit Heritage Theatre’s website!

CPU! Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who: “Once Upon a Time” airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, fall/winter/spring Sundays (through the end of Season 6) 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 finale aired in two parts on Sunday, May 14, 2017, on ABC at 8:00 PM.

Where: The show is (currently) 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

Season 6A

 

Our now bonded and totally cohesive and still full Once panel – namely Kristen, Eddie, Amie, Emily, and Micah – reconvene around the Water Cooler once again to discuss Season 6B of OUAT, which finds most of our characters on a path to the discovery of “Happy Beginnings,” though not without an epic “final battle” (and a separate musical episode!) involving our stalwart Savior Emma (Jennifer Morrison) facing another contest between good and evil in the name of love, family, and believing.  Fortunately or unfortunately, several story lines are resolved, and many of our characters reach closure, even as the network renewed OUAT for a seventh season, prompting several full time and beloved cast members to leave the show (voluntarily or otherwise) in advance of a so-called “soft reboot” heading into Season 7.  One of the departing main actors is Ms. Morrison herself, so the new season will require the services of a new Savior, namely Emma’s now adult son Henry, who seemingly forgets that he has a daughter Lucy, who requires his help to save his family.  What will it all mean for Once Upon a Time and for our panel?  Will everyone continue to watch, despite the fact that Once seems to be becoming a whole new show, with a whole new storybook, under the umbrella of the old title?  Will our panel reconvene in six months or so to talk about it?  Or, has anyone jumped the shark in lieu of this shocking and somewhat unprecedented news?  Listen to our newest chapter of CPU!’s ongoing Once Upon a Time podcast, during which we reflect on Season 6B and ruminate on the possibilities swirling around the #potential (#drink) of the upcoming season.  Do you agree with us? Or, do you have your own thoughts? Comment below!

This podcast was recorded in July 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the second half of the sixth 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! In our next episode, our Supernatural panel returns to the Water Cooler to devil out the pesky details of the second half of the twelfth season of that long-running cult favorite. 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.

(NEW) ANSWER: If the events of this last half season are any indication, Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) has no power to rewrite the book.  As the Author, he is beholden to record the events surrounding the Savior of the storybook at hand.  To wit, when he shirks his responsibilities for a time, he starts going into trances and recording strange symbols foretelling the end of the story. Also, Fiona the Black Fairy burns the original “Once Upon a Time” storybook in an effort to stop Emma and to save her son, Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle).  Thus, Henry is forced to hand-draw a new storybook to save the day (more below), so Henry, as the Author, must believe the story at hand and then write about it, or Destiny will do it for him – or put him in the position of having to write about it whether he wants to or not.

Bottom line: we’re deleting this question (finally).

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) Emma and Regina encountered Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) 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.

ANSWER: Funny thing about that Wish Realm.  As panelist Micah predicted, when the Evil Queen (EQ) inadvertently wished the Wish Realm into existence, she created a permanent realm, which people can reach via Magic Bean Portal, Hat Portal, or Powerful Magic Smoke, such as of what Regina, the EQ, and Zelena (Rebecca Mader) are capable.  In that realm, wished into existence, versions of our beloved characters were also wished into existence, apart from Emma, who was merely transported there from Storybrooke.  Thus, those versions were “given life” through this wish.  So, Robin was “brought back to life” while still in the Wish Realm; however, the Wish Robin is not the same as the Robin we formerly knew who passed away. He’s a bit more of a rogue.  Instead of robbing from the rich to give to the poor, he robs from the rich to give to himself.  He also seems to be ageless, since other Wish Realm versions of characters like Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin), Charming (Josh Dallas), and Hook (Colin O’Donaghue) all appear with gray hair and wrinkles.

If Baelfire and Cora were wished into a Wish Realm existence as a result of the EQ’s wishing, we don’t know.  The possibility exists…if the show revisits this realm for any reason in future season(s).

8) 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?

ANSWER: The Black Fairy, Fiona, is Rumpel’s bio mom, formerly married to the ne’er-do-well who would seek eternal youth and transform into Peter Pan.  She became the Black Fairy when she learned (SPOILER!  TWIST!) that her baby, Rumpelstiltskin as named by his begrudging father, is destined to be a Savior – not dark, as the status of Dark One seems to imply.  Fiona, knowing that Saviors are meant to fight great battles and are at high risk of death as a result, decides to do everything in her motherly power to help Rumpel evade this destiny.  First, she cons Rumpel’s/her fairy godmother, Red Fairy Tiger Lily, into exposing her to texts of fairy magic, which Fiona consumes voraciously, and into letting her transform into a fairy via use of a fairy magic wand and spell.  Second, Fiona’s singular purpose causes her to want to protect Rumpel by whatever means necessary, and so, she rashly uses the Shears of Destiny to separate her son from his Savior fate, thereby steering him toward a dark path and marking herself as a prophesied evil from whence a dark force is born, defeating the savior in her son and turning him into the coward we came to know in earlier seasons.  According to the show, shortly after Fiona Fairy turned black with her evil intentions, the Blue Fairy banished her to a prison realm, which was why the audience never met her before. While Chief CP Kylie vaguely remembers a meeting or some memory of a mother figure in Rumpel’s life, the panel insists that we’ve never met an alternative mother to the young, scarred Rumpel.  The Black Fairy is the only mother we know, and we all agree that Rumpel has some messed up, Skywalker-like beginnings (if he was Anakin, that is).

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

ANSWER: Unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown…but for Ariel, who apparently hangs out in Agrabah for a bit.

10) 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?

ANSWER: Gideon, a powerful magical being, is controlled as a young adult by his grandmother, the Black Fairy, who removes his heart.  She aims to use him to defeat Savior Emma, so that Rumpel’s life, as the Dark One, would be spared and to help her break free from the prison realm.  Gideon intends to defeat Emma for more altruistic aims: to prevent Grandma Fiona from torturing other children that she kidnapped and brought into the prison realm as part of her Black Fairy purpose. Gideon’s resentment against Rumpel can best be explained away by Fiona’s obsession with her son, which led to harm against Gideon, who was also mistreated by his grandma, what with the heart removal and all.  Gideon does not want to kill Emma but sees it as a necessary means to an end, even if he ultimately holds no real choice or agency in the matter.

11) 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?

ANSWER: Fiona Black Fairy just wants to have a happy life with Rumpel, despite the fact that she undermines this long-nursed desire with her obsessive need to prevent him from realizing his Savior destiny.  Otherwise, she uses Gideon against other prisoners and children she kidnapped who are trapped in the prison realm, including Gideon’s friends and other innocents, and breaks Gideon down psychologically with her manipulative wiles.  Gideon manages to open a small crack of a portal from the prison realm with his magic to escape but, in so doing, paves the way for Fiona to do the same, which is what she wanted all along.  She wants to seek revenge against the Blue Fairy and make a “happy” home with her son and grandson.

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

ANSWER: As far as we know, no.  She is married to the man who would be the boy Peter Pan, but we still don’t know how Pan and the Shadow in OUAT are related or came to be connected as they were, beyond the fact that the Shadow turned Rumpel’s dad into the immortal young scamp.

13) 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?

ANSWER: Since the EQ is no slouch, she easily un-snake-ified herself and eventually reunites with Regina meeting-wise only.  In fact, the EQ exists as a separate entity until she makes the ultimate sacrifice (listen to the podcast for details).  Jafar returns, though his return is not related to the Regina/EQ story line.

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

ANSWER: Emma finds the adult version of Pinocchio, as he is known in the Wish Realm, and commissions him to carve an equivalent of the magical Wardrobe Portal that his father Geppetto created for Snow and Charming to help Emma escape from the Enchanted Forest and Regina’s original evil curse.  For a time, the magical tools used for such carving become useless, but good old Pinocchio, Emma’s friend in any realm, carves a workable door back into our world, through which Emma, Regina, and Wish Realm Robin return.

15) 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?

ANSWER: The show did not seem to care about such impulses in this half season, so we ask: why should we?

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

ANSWER: Insofar as he is the extension of Fiona the Black Fairy, owing to the fact that she holds his heart, and is the party destined to fight the Savior in the Final Battle, the answer is yes.  Arguably, however, the “Big Bad” is truly Fiona.

17) 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?

ANSWER: Yes.  The Wish Realm exists as one of many realms accessible by portal, permanent and available for visitation by the Portal Network of Magic Beans and Hats and possibly Wardrobes.  The show, as panelist Amie predicted, spends all of “five minutes” there: one full episode (the episode returning from hiatus) and a few minutes of another in which the EQ reunites with Wish Robin, who returns to the Wish Realm after trying to make a go of it with Regina Prime.  Regina Prime realizes that they are not the same couple as Regina Prime and original Robin. This Robin seems better suited for the EQ, so both the doppelgangers realize when the EQ transports to the Wish Realm to make a fresh start after Regina balances both of their hearts with elements of good and evil, effectively equalizing their true natures while in separate bodies.

18) 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?

ANSWER: Henry is forced to remember his Author-ly duties when trances take hold, and he starts writing pages of the storybook in symbols and ciphers he cannot translate and without memory of having done so.  The Author, as former Author Isaac explains in a brief return to the show, is required to record the events surrounding the Savior of the Storybook; as the final battle draws near, this fated imperative will occur whether the Author chooses or not, hence trances. This revelation becomes material in the two-part season finale, when Henry’s status as Author in possession of the Heart of the Truest Believer becomes critical, as he must save his mother from the Black Fairy’s cursing influence, and may become even more material at the start of Season 7, when the story shifts to an adult Henry. So, all of these problems may be solved and holes may be filled in future season(s)…or not.  Listen to the podcast for details, and, otherwise, stay tuned to OUAT for further developments, eh?

19) 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!

ANSWER: I think, in the end, she does.  In fact, she is nothing but honest with Hook and is much chagrined when he is not the same with her.  Plus, when Hook disappoints her with his large lies of omission, she immediately tells her dad. So, all in all, major improvements in Emma’s trust issues are evident this half season.  To this, we can only shout: “S’about time!”

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

ANSWER: Emma is prepared for the ultimate sacrifice and does not, in fact, escape Gideon.  She allows herself to be stabbed by Gideon with the Sword of Savior Death, as exposing her light magic is expected to defeat Gideon, which is what she sees in her vision without knowing why or the next events in the sequence.  Indeed, at the same time (SPOILER), Rumpel finds Gideon’s heart, secreted away by his mom Fiona, who Rumpel sends to a mortal end just prior to this discovery.  Rather than assume control of it, use it to defeat Emma, or otherwise harm his son, he does the right thing: he clears it of its darkness in defiance of his Dark nature. Because the most good being and the most evil being in this story choose to do right at the same moment, everyone gets a reset.  Emma is brought back to life, Gideon returns to the baby he was before he was kidnapped by his willful grandmother, and everyone gets a second chance at a happy beginning, including Rumpel and Belle, who are free to raise Gideon as their own.

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

ANSWER: We see a Wish Realm version of him and a This Realm version of him; in fact, he finds another lost page of the storybook revealing that Hook, “once upon a time,” murdered David’s father in a routine pirate raid, rather than King George as previously thought.  August provides this page to Hook, presumably with the hope that Hook will come clean with David and Emma.  He does, but it takes awhile.

22) 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?

ANSWER: Unknown, since Emma did not stick around in the Wish Realm long enough to practice being queenly.

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

ANSWER: They do!  With the help of Emma, Regina, and the entire town of Storybrooke, as well as a song in Emma’s heart (musical episode homage!), everyone makes the sacrifice to take on part of the sleeping curse, diffusing its power enough so that both Snow and Charming can wake up.  Everyone enjoys a cat nap, and then our favorite twue wuv couple is awake to fight, together and for their daughter, another day.

24) 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.

ANSWER: Er, um, yes?  He gets feisty when Gideon whisks Hook out of Storybrooke and prevents his return, even as Hook needs to prove his love (and honesty) to Emma, so they can, like, get married or whatever.  A trip to Neverland, a visit with Tiger Lily, and Shadow Magic get him home, but he has to be pirate-y a few times in this process (and in a few realms) before his return.

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

ANSWER: Well, Zelena does cause some trouble, and it’s kind of irritating.  Basically, she decides to confront the Black Fairy and Gideon by herself in an effort to show everyone that she is the wickedest, most powerful witch ever.  This effort backfires for a minute; however, she also sacrifices her magic to undo the damage she causes. Plus, we get a comical moment when Regina spends time teaching Zelena to drive, knowledge that she uses for good measure to run over Fiona, momentarily slowing the Black Fairy in her tracks, so to speak.  So…this is why we care. Momentarily.

26) 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?”

ANSWER: The show improves markedly in this half season, and it seems the producers were ready for the possible news of cancellation by crafting a season finale that feels much like a series finale.  The network, however, renewed the show, and now we are heading into a “soft reboot,” where only three regular cast members are returning full time, and the story is shifting from Maine to Seattle, Washington, and from Emma to Henry as the focal point of savior-hood.  What does all this mean? Despite the “sideways” feel of it all, it means we have more new questions this time around and no small amount of wariness as this new season approaches.

New Questions

1)  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?

2) How does adult Henry 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?

3) 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?

4) Will Emma die, given that Jennifer Morrison is slated to appear in only one episode next season?

5) A teaser trailer shows Captain Hook wearing a police uniform, Regina standing in a bar, and Rumpel in unknown climes.  How do they get where they are going?  What is the back story for this time jump?

6) Is Henry the new Savior?  Lucy says in the final seconds of the Season 6 finale that he has to save his family – to whom is she specifically referring?

7) 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?

8) 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?

9) 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?

10) 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?

11) Will Rumpel still be the Dark One?

12) 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)?

13) Did the propitious moment of Emma’s resurrection also mean that the Evil Queen, as a separate entity, came into being again?

14) Will Emma and Hook have or be able to have other children?  Are they even interested in new children?

15) Who will be the villain(s) of Season 7?

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

PARTING SHOTS

The podcast panelists reach some consensus, despite some variety of opinions, about the current progress of Once Upon a Time.  All panelists regard the second half of season six as a marked improvement over the previous half season (and possibly the two full seasons before that), with some panelists enjoying it more and others enjoying it less. The panel universally agrees, however and with no hesitation, that #potential (#drink) contentment with the finale as a series finale episode would have been achieved if the show had officially stopped at the end of this season.  As it is, the network saw fit to renew the show, and now we as panelists are presented with an interesting commitment quandary when it comes to staying loyal to Once.

While some panelists continue to foster hope and to devote faith to Once’s seemingly endless reservoir of #potential (#drink), the seventh season renewal and the impending so-called “soft reboot” is giving everyone, even the most faithful and most optimistic of us, some significant pause.  The wariest panelists (your Chief CP included) feel that the producers, network, and parent company are spending a lot of time attempting to woo people back to the fold, when so many expressed skepticism if not outright outrage upon the departure of seven, i.e. more than half, of the regular cast, including Jennifer Morrison, who has played the show’s central figure, Emma Swan, the entire time.  While reboots and spin-offs have existed in prior TV programs and incarnations of same, no show or network or producing team has attempted a “soft reboot” of this type so close to the original story and set of seasons that launched the premise; the Chief CP thinks the marketing team is avoiding the term “spin-off,” when that is essentially what we are about to watch.  Many of the panelists, though curious and/or intrigued about what may come and committed to watching it for the sake of the CPU! Podcast, are also undermined by lack of trust for this producing team and their ability to capitalize upon #potential (#drink).  Though Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, and the Once writing team have offered and toyed with new ideas, they plant seeds without fertilizing them organically.  In fact, this panel directs several levels of suspicion toward the writing team’s ability to create something that will strike a balance between being totally new and different while retaining some of the spirit of the original story and the core/foundation of the characters we have grown to love and have remained loyal to for six seasons of varying quality in execution and in overall storytelling success.  In other words, we’ll be watching, but there is a strong sense that, either through the act of shark jumping or through network experimentation without support – particularly in light of a move to a Friday night time slot never before thrust upon this program – days are numbered for the remaining longevity of the once-upon-a-time CPU! favorite, Once Upon a Time.

LOOKING AHEAD

Once Upon a Time has been renewed for a seventh season, which is slated to premiere on ABC on Friday, October 6, 2017, at 8:00 PM. The Once Upon a Time podcast panel will next reconvene following the seventh mid-season finale of OUAT, which will likely air in or around December 2017.  As always, CPU! will keep you abreast of happenings and special events in addition to all OUAT podcast coverage.  Until next time!

Once Upon a Time (Season 6A, MAJOR SPOILERS)

couchpotatoesunite

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 January 2017, our Once Upon a Time panel – moderator Kylie, Kristen, Eddie, Amie, Emily, and Micah – returns to the Water Cooler to discuss the first half of season six of Once Upon a Time, a half season of, one might say, multiple personalities. If you are not caught up on Once, 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!

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!

iTunes PODCAST – Once Upon a Time (Season 5B, The Underworld, MAJOR SPOILERS)

couchpotatoesunite

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 June 2016, our Once Upon a Time panel – full for the first time as we introduce new panelists Emily and Micah, who join moderator Kylie, Kristen, Eddie, and Amie – returns to the Water Cooler to discuss the second half of season five of Once Upon a Time – i.e. the “Underworld” arc. If you are not caught up on Once, 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!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Once Upon a Time” – The Season 5 End of Season Recap (MAJOR SPOILERS)

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 two-part Season 5 finale aired on Sunday, May 15, 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. Our panel of Once fans is newly full; all of its enthusiastic members, who have joined Kylie for ongoing Once coverage, find love for this program via one or both of those reasons themselves.

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

If you didn’t already know, CPU!’s lovely Once podcast panel wrote a reaction piece to the Season 5 premiere!  You should read it: click here!

And to catch up on prior Once podcast episodes, click on the YouTube links embedded below:

Season 4A – Frozen

Season 4B – Queens of Darkness

Season 5A – Dark Swan

Welcome to a newer, fuller Once experience!  This panel, traditionally and soundly covered by Kristen, Eddie, and Amie over the past year, is now joined by two voices, new both to CPU! and to the panel itself, who have convened with our pioneering three to create a full Once panel for the first time since the CPU! Podcast’s inception (as Once comprised one of our pilot three episodes).  Panelists Emily and Micah join CPU! and our Once group to discuss Season 5B of OUAT, otherwise known as the “Underworld” arc, in great detail. Listen to our newest chapter of CPU!’s ongoing Once Upon a Time podcast, during which we reflect on Season 5B.  Do you agree with us? Or, do you have your own thoughts? Comment below!

This podcast was recorded in June 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the second half of the fifth season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@cpupodcast), or email us at couchpotatoesunitepodcast@gmail.com – or subscribe to this blog, the YouTube channel, our iTunes channel, and/or our Stitcher Radio channel 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 revisit The Vampire Diaries and the second half of its seventh season involving a new vampire huntress and a mysterious Vault – along with one new panelist!  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)  (re-asked, due to Season 5B developments) Will Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) get a new pen? Will he have to act as The Author anyway?

Answer: Henry got a new pen or a repaired version of the old pen!  He found himself compelled to be the Author by the magic of the role; he started writing new pages to the famous “Once Upon a Time” book unconsciously and also consciously used the Author powers to attempt to remove magic from the world by stealing the Olympus Crystal from a library housing “the Holy Grail,” which would have ended magic and a few people’s lives as a result.  His granddad Rumpel (Robert Carlyle) showed up, however, and foiled his plans by enchanting his grandson to sleep and stealing the Crystal for himself.

6) Will Regina have to confront her past sins when she arrives in the Underworld?  Will she meet her mother, Cora (Barbara Hershey), down there?  Will she meet other past characters?

ANSWER: Regina was not forced to confront her past sins as much.  Though there was ample opportunity for Regina to be confronted by Underworld denizens with loads of unfinished business, she met a scant few, who rarely had ire directed at her.  She did, however, find her mom, Cora.  Cora’s unfinished business, we learn, was that she separated her daughters, Regina and Zelena (Rebecca Mader), for her own selfish aims, and that she wanted to reunite them and to ask forgiveness for her actions before she could move on and out of the Underworld.  Regina also found her father Henry, whose unfinished business was that he never saw his daughter happy.  Henry was able to ascend to the heavens (via a Stairway, people) when he realized that Regina was in love with Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) and caring for Henry Jr.  Cora was able to make amends with Regina and Zelena via revealing an unknown past event via a heartfelt flashback scene discussed in the podcast; she was also able to ascend to the heavens after she helped Regina and Zelena see that they once were able to form a sisterly bond, and that they could ultimately trust each other.  Though Regina encountered other characters, her parents were the main two that challenged and/or affected her.

7) If Regina must confront her past sins, how will Robin Hood react?

ANSWER: Not applicable.  Robin Hood remained the supportive boyfriend, at least until the end of the season…

8) Will Henry ever, EVER embrace his Author powers?  The panelists think this will likely not happen until the end of the series, but despite Henry’s prior protests, will it and/or can it happen sooner?

ANSWER: He finally embraced them, as noted above!  Fate had something to do with it, but Henry also realized that he could not forego the responsibility that comes with that power, no matter how much he may want to do so.

9) 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.

10) Will we see Henry’s Camelot girlfriend again, despite the heartbreak caused by Dark Emma (Jennifer Morrison)?

ANSWER: Oh, we saw Violet again, and they seemed a-okay, as two teenagers in puppy love can be.  In fact, Violet accompanied Henry on his quest to destroy magic using his Author powers to steal the Olympus Crystal.  We also found out that Violet’s father is from Connecticut (and may very well be the Connecticut Yankee from Mark Twain’s novel).

11) It’s been advertised that Robbie Kay, who played Peter Pan in the Neverland arc (Season Three), will be returning in this next half season?  How and why will he appear? What effect will he have on our characters?

ANSWER: Pan first reappeared in the 100th episode; he was in the Underworld because his unfinished business was that he did not achieve the power to keep him young and immortal when he was alive.  He also had something of a seed of remorse toward his son, Rumpel, and offered to make a deal with Rumpel: help dear old dad out of the Underworld, and, in exchange, Rumpel and Pan could rule as one Darth Vader/Skywalker duo, together in the world above.  He appeared to Rumpel only for the purpose of making this deal, but Rumpel wasn’t having it.  Not one to trust the untrustworthy Pan, he made sure that Pan would be trapped in Pandora’s Box forever.

12) Will the Underworld souls manage to seep into our main world/Storybrooke after all?  If so, how?

ANSWER: No soul seeped into the “Over-world.” Once in the Underworld, a character is trapped by Hades (Greg Germann) due to etching on a gravestone or because of unfinished business that the soul had when the individual died.  Only when business is finished can a soul escape, either to Heaven or to the Void or to the River of Lost Souls. Or, Hades can remove or change the name on a gravestone. As it turns out, these events rarely happened prior to the arrival of our heroes in the Underworld.

13) Will Rumpelstiltskin end up enchanting Belle to either be unaware of his new Ultimate Dark One status or to be happy/make peace with it?  Or, will Belle find out that Rumpel has returned to form, and what will she do?  How will they handle Emilie de Ravin’s real life pregnancy?

ANSWER: Rumpel performed no enchantments in Belle’s direction.  His approach in this half season was basically to tell Belle, “I am what I am.”  Belle, thus, found out that Rumpel was the Dark One again.  She also found out that Rumpel made a deal with Hades to protect his son Baelfire by promising Hades the soul of his second child. Figuring that he would never have a second child, Rumpel signed away this soul in one of Hades’ soul contracts.  Belle found out that she is pregnant (thereby including de Ravin’s real life pregnancy) and was none too happy about this news.  In order to stave off Hades’ usurping of her baby’s soul, she underwent a sleeping curse, which can only be broken by true love’s kiss.  Though Hades was destroyed in the end with the Olympus Crystal, Rumpel found out that he is no longer Belle’s true love when he tried to kiss her awake.  Where does that leave Belle and Rumpel?  Only time will tell.

14) The show has cast a new actor to play Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast.  What will we learn from the flashbacks into Belle’s past?

ANSWER: We learned that Gaston wasn’t as big a tool as we all thought he was.  We also learned that Belle was quite taken with him at the time, and that she would have married him had she not been later made captive by the “Beast,” i.e. Rumpel.

15) What is Rumpel’s big plan or end game?  Is it just the power and the love of Belle, or does he plan to use this power for something?  Or: does he plan to resurrect Baelfire (Michael-Raymond James) somehow, which is a possibility raised by several panelists, including the moderator? What’s he going to do while Emma, the Charmings, Regina, et al, are in the Underworld?

ANSWER: The panel was confused after the first half of the season; it appears that Rumpel accompanied Emma et al down to the Underworld.  Also, his aims are truly 1) power, 2) Belle’s love, in that order.  He doesn’t seem to want to try to resurrect Baelfire; in any event, we learned in the 100th episode that Baelfire moved on, as he visited Emma in a vision and told her that he was in heaven and happy.  In the Underworld, Rumpel largely kept to his own devices until his grandson wanted the Olympus Crystal, which Rumpel also wanted to destroy Hades and the soul contract on his second child.  Other characters occasionally wanted to use his power, but he mostly stayed away from the others.

16) Will Baelfire be trapped in the Underworld, given the fact that the Dark One/the Shadow partly caused his death?  Will Henry and/or Emma get to see him again?

ANSWER: Baelfire moved on; his business on Earth was finished when he found Emma and Henry, which he told Emma in a vision.

17) Will Henry’s life be at risk in the Underworld, and if he is truly endangered, how will his endangerment affect the uneasy friendship between Regina and Emma?

ANSWER: Henry, despite hanging out down in the Underworld with his family, was only as in danger as the members of his family were.  He did eventually make it back to Storybrooke along with the others, and he was generally protected by his moms, who got along quite well this half season, all things considered.

18) How much of the Hercules universe will be present in the Underworld – will we meet any of the Greek gods and goddesses other than Hades (as we speculate that Greg Germann has likely been cast to play the King of the Underworld)?  What will we learn of Hades, as castings of the characters of Hercules and Meg have also been teased?

ANSWER: Hades (who was, in fact, played by Germann) was there, and we met Hercules and Megara in one episode, which the podcast panel felt was too short shrift, given the omnipresence of Hades.  We also met Zeus in one episode.  Hades in Once is just like the Hades in Hercules, though he is capable of falling in love, apparently with Zelena.  The sincerity of his love is in question, though, considering that he wanted to escape the Underworld along with her, tired of ruling hell as he was.

19) Cruella de Vil (Victoria Smufit) is also slated to return for the 100th episode.  How will she reemerge, and what effect will she have on our characters?

ANSWER: Cruella’s unfinished business stemmed from the fact that Emma killed her (and she can’t be blamed for it).  All she wanted in the end, however, was back out of the Underworld and generally to make lame mischief, such as cavorting with Charming’s twin brother James (Josh Dallas), until he got tossed into the River of Lost Souls, and destroying a telephone that allowed trapped Underworld souls to call the mainland as ghosts.  In the end, she sought to rule the Underworld, though I don’t quite remember what happened to her.  The panel generally agreed that her presence was unnecessary and boring.

20) Will our Underworld visitors have to confront and/or be tested by these trapped souls: Emma by Cruella (who she accidentally killed), Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) by Cora, Regina by any of a number of souls she terrorized as the Evil Queen, etc.?

ANSWER: Emma was kinda/sorta confronted by Cruella, but it happened more via sarcasm than anything else.  Snow eluded contact with Cora, and Regina really only talked to her parents.  The panel believes that Kristen’s theory, that personal demons would be confronted in the Underworld via souls harmed in life before death, will be more likely to happen in the coming season (listen to the podcast for details).

21) Will any of our heroes be left/trapped in the Underworld at the end of this arc?  If so, who, why, and how?

ANSWER: No one was trapped.  Even Hook escaped, but Robin Hood was a casualty of the process.  RIP.

22) With Zelena in Oz, will we see her again in this half season?

ANSWER: Zelena didn’t stay in Oz.  She went to Storybrooke to visit her baby, who was in the care of Belle, but they all got sucked into the Underworld via portal due to Rumpel’s deal with Hades and Belle’s pregnancy with Rumpel’s child.

23) 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?!

New Questions

1) Will Robin Hood 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)?

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

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

4) 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?

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

6) 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?

7) Will Henry 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?

8) 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?

9) Does Snow White finally have her groove back?  Will Snow and Charming (Dallas) finally be compelling again?

10) 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?

11) 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?

12) 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?

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

14) Will any character realize that True Love is not necessarily the only happy ending possible?

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

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

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

18) What’s next for Zelena and baby Robin?

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

20) 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?

PARTING SHOTS

The podcast panelists, the new panelists included, felt that the Underworld arc was tighter and more focused than the Season 5A Dark Swan arc or either of the Season 4 arcs (“Frozen,” “Queens of Darkness”); however, they also felt that it was somewhat boring and repetitive, featuring a “saved soul” of the week format, at least until Henry’s, Hades’, and Rumpel’s aims collided at the end of the season.  There is also a permeating sense that Once might be on an upswing in terms of its engagement and compelling story offerings but also that the show has not quite reached the heyday of its first two seasons since those seasons aired. Most of the panelists are optimistic that the show’s return to a season-long storytelling path will allow OUAT to find the spark of what made the first two seasons great.  Some panelists believe that there is solid potential for the ratings to go up, as these panelists feel that the show’s split season story arcs alienated some viewers. In any event, all of the panelists are excited by the prospect of a season featuring two versions of Regina/the Evil Queen and fully regard Parilla as up to the task.  Though some panelists have begun to lose interest in the show, 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 has been renewed for a sixth season, which is slated to premiere on ABC on Sunday, September 25, 2016, at 8:00 PM. The Once Upon a Time podcast panel will next reconvene following the sixth mid-season finale of OUAT, which will likely air in or around December 2016.  Of course, we may also write another reaction piece to the sixth season premiere (stay tuned!).  As always, CPU! will keep you abreast of happenings and special events in addition to all OUAT podcast coverage.  Until then!

iTunes PODCAST – Once Upon a Time (Season 5A, Dark Swan, MAJOR SPOILERS)

couchpotatoesunite

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 on January 17, 2016, our Once Upon a Time panel– including moderator Kylie, Kristen, Eddie, and Amie–returns to the Water Cooler to discuss the first half of season five of Once Upon a Time – i.e. the “Dark Swan” arc. If you are not caught up on Once, 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!