Once Upon a Time (Season 6A, 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 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!

PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Once Upon a Time” – The Season 5 Mid-Season Recap & Progress Report (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 Season 5 premiere aired on Sunday, September 27, 2015, 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. Once boasts some whopper ingredients that promise to result in an explosive and tantalizing mixture of story possibilities; the show has done nothing but live up to that expectation and then some.

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

If you didn’t already know, CPU!’s lovely Once podcast panel of Eddie, Kristen, Amie (and me) wrote a reaction piece to the Season 5 premiere!  You should read here!

And to catch up on prior Once podcast episodes delving into our reactions to Season 4, click on the YouTube links below:

As I said, the podcast panel previously weighed in about this season’s premiere and what they think it meant for the season to come. To see how we fared, listen to our newest chapter of CPU’s ongoing Once Upon a Time podcast, during which we reflect on Season 5A, otherwise known as the “Dark Swan” arc. Do you agree with us? Or, do you have your own thoughts? Comment below!

And never fear, the panel will reconvene following the fifth season finale of OUAT, which will air in or around May 2016.  For now, below are our immediate thoughts.

This podcast was recorded on January 17, 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first 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!

Panelists’ Old Questions

Eddie’s Questions

1) With Lancelot back on the show, will we have a love triangle?

ANSWER: Yes we will, of sorts, but the triangle that we know from legend was not quite what was depicted on this show.  While Arthur (Liam Garrigan) loved Guinevere (Joana Metrass), and Guinevere loved Lancelot (Sinqua Walls), in order to guarantee that he would have Guinevere, Arthur used a potion or dust, which creates illusions and bends wills and which he got from a witch in a wood, on Guinevere to ensure that she would love him unerringly forever.  This put the kibosh on any potential romance with Lancelot.  It should be noted that Arthur was heaps of jealous when he discovered the flirtation brewing between Arthur and Guinevere, which probably wouldn’t have left the ground if it weren’t for the fact that Arthur was scary, ambitious, myopic, and not especially nice to Gwen when he couldn’t find Excalibur in the early years of his reign.

2) Camelot, traditionally, is a land of LOVE. Will someone fall in love? Perhaps, Henry will find a love interest.

ANSWER: Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) did find a love interest, a young Camelot maiden.  Alas, Dark Emma (Jennifer Morrison), his bio mom, sabotaged that budding puppy love to retrieve a tear of true heartbreak from her poor son in order to free Merlin (Elliot Knight) from a tree that imprisoned him in the Camelot gardens.

3) Henry is still the writer of the book. What is he going to have to write to help Emma – will he have to accept his Author powers to help his mom?

ANSWER: Not for now.  When Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) approached Henry about the possibility of saving his mom via his Author powers, Henry said it was too much power and responsibility and urged the pirate to find another way.

4) I also thought it was interesting, when we did see Emma finally all dressed as the Dark One, that she resembled someone familiar: the Snow Queen from the Frozen arc. Did the writers do this because they were so closely related, or is there going to be another family connection happening between Emma and the Snow Queen? Will Elizabeth Mitchell return?

ANSWER: The Snow Queen hasn’t returned as of now, but she did kind of die in season four.  Still, never say never.  Also, it should be noted that Emma did not look like the Snow Queen once she returned to Storybrooke with her plan in motion.  She was wearing black leather and occasionally lacked eyebrows.

Amie’s Questions

1) How did the dagger come from the sword?

ANSWER: It was split, I believe by Merlin, though Nimue (Caroline Ford), his true love and the first Dark One, tied her essence to the dagger half. 

2) Who was that man in the cinema?

ANSWER: It was Merlin, trying to dissuade young Emma, when she was still a child, from following her future dark path.

3) What happened in those six weeks with King Arthur, Merida (Amy Manson), Emma, and all the rest?

ANSWER: That’s a lot of ground to cover!  Listen to the podcast :).

4) How did Emma become the Dark One, and how did she get the dagger from Regina?

ANSWER: She became the Dark One when she stood in front of Regina and absorbed the Dark One’s shadow after its essence left the comatose Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) in the fourth season finale.  The dagger traveled through various hands, but it eventually was spirited away from Arthur before Emma cast a memory curse and returned everyone to Storybrooke.  Emma embraced being the Dark One, ultimately, because of Hook – she made Hook a Dark One too and then embraced the dark powers while she concocted a plan to save him from his sharp regress to villain territory as a second Dark One.

5) What’s next for Storybrooke?

ANSWER: Also a big question – listen to the podcast :).

Kristen’s Questions

1) Will some of our Storybrooke favorites find new/renewed love in Camelot during their brief six-week stay?

ANSWER: Henry found love then lost it because of Emma.  Rumpel and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) reunited by the end of the season, when Belle believed that Rumpel had become a true hero, only to be deceived again by a Rumpel who yearned only to become the Dark One again.  Emma and Hook’s love was tested by Emma becoming the Dark One and then Hook becoming the Dark One.

2) Will we see the famed King Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot love triangle?

ANSWER: We did.  See the answer to Eddie’s question above!

3) Will Hook’s love for Emma be enough to save her from the darkness?

ANSWER: It was!  It was Hook’s love and his double sacrifice for her that moved Emma to shed the darkness.  Though, it should be noted, Emma’s love also had to save Hook, after Emma made Hook a Dark One to save his life, and after Hook attempted to bring the Underworld to Storybrooke by marking our favorite characters for soul swapping.  It’s very complicated.

4) Will joining the two pieces – the broken hilt of Excalibur and the Dark One’s dagger – remove the darkness from Emma and eliminate the need for a Dark One, for good?

ANSWER: It didn’t remove the darkness from Emma, but as Excalibur, whole and untouched, it becomes an even stronger beacon for the Dark One’s essence.  Unfortunately, Rumpel figured that out and drew the essence back to him – he’s become the Dark One once more and has all the powers of the previous Dark Ones to boot!

Collective Questions (including Kylie’s questions), Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Is baby Neal magical like his sister?

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, the former Red Queen? And how did he and Belle decide to hook up?

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) Will Rumpel and Belle ever reconcile?

Answer: They reconciled in season 5A because Belle believes that Rumpel is free of the darkness and has become a true hero.  Unfortunately, he has deceived her once again.

4) What’s going to happen now that Emma is the Dark One? What we will she do? How will her descent into darkness affect the other characters, including her son (Henry) and her parents (Snow and Charming)? Will they be able to save her? And when?

Answer: Hook ultimately saved Emma through their shared love, but Emma was particularly cruel to both Henry and her parents (Ginnifer Goodwin; Josh Dallas) as the Dark One.  As we discuss in the podcast, her intentions were mainly good; however, she was doing all the wrong things, tempted by her heightened powers and wrestling with the darkness as she was.  She cast memory curses, made Hook a Dark One, sabotaged Henry’s budding romance with a Camelot maiden, and bound her parents on more than one occasion.  She also stole their memories with the use of a dream-catcher talisman.  Listen to the podcast for more details.

2) Where did Maleficient go by the end of the season? Will we see more of her? Will she be involved in the arc to save Emma? Will she reconnect with her daughter Lily in a more meaningful way?

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

3) Will there be other evil Queens in our future? The writers/producers have teased a trip to Camelot next season and are casting King Arthur and Queen Guinevere as well as Merlin. Will they be good as we have traditionally known these characters to be? Or, will they be evil?

Answer: Guinevere was only on the evil-ish side because of Arthur’s use of a potion/dust on her that made her as power-hungry and as falsely devoted as he was. Arthur was arguably evil, in as much as he was ambitious to a fault, seeking reunion with a whole Excalibur by any means necessary as the needed ingredient to ensure his rule over Camelot.  He also used the potion/dust to make a large kingdom from a single sad tower and a few village huts.  He was like a petulant child who misbehaved when he didn’t get what he wanted.

4) Is Merlin evil? Is Merlin a dragon? Is Merlin Lily’s father? If not, who is Lily’s father?! Who else could be a dragon? Or, is Maleficient kinky for dragons?

Answer: Merlin is not evil, but he was immortal, until he sacrificed his power to the spirit of Nimue, the first Dark One.  He initially received his mysterious power and immortality because he is good of heart, and he used the magic to save a life.  He’s not seemingly a dragon, and there was no connection established to Lily.  Again – that mystery was abandoned in favor of the Camelot arc.

5) Will others get a hold of the dagger to control Emma as the Dark One? What will happen, and who might be tempted to use Emma for evil purposes as opposed to good ones? Will Hook get a hold of the dagger? Will Henry? Will Regina? Will Rumple?

Answer: Henry never had the dagger.  Hook was tied to the dagger but never possessed it when only Emma was tied to the dagger.  He had hold of it for a time when he was made a second Dark One.  Emma gave Regina safe keeping of the dagger, but she failed to keep it safe.  Rumpel was given Excalibur when Emma instructed Merida to train Rumpel to be “brave” and a hero and to pull it (again) from the stone, which had also been transported to Storybrooke along with a score of newly forgetful characters.  When he had hold of Excalibur, he machinated to return himself to being the Dark One but did not control Emma or Hook with the sword, though he managed to steal it from them with a magical slight of hand.

6) Will Emma and Regina go head to head in what are tantamount to switched places, with Emma as the Dark One and “villain” and Regina as the “hero,” in an epic battle of magic?

Answer: As we discuss on the podcast, this did not happen, and the panel felt that it was a missed opportunity.

7) Is Zelena (Rebecca Mader) really pregnant? And how is she going to complicate matters, either with Regina and Robin (Sean Maguire) or with everyone else, next season? Will Robin succumb to his nearly stubborn sense of honor with respect to Zelena and the baby, provided that Zelena is really pregnant? If she is pregnant, is the baby really Robin Hood’s?

Answer: As it turns out, the Wicked Witch of the West was really pregnant, and Robin Hood was really the father.  She became a grand annoyance, siding with whomever was against Regina, which turned out to be Arthur in the end.  Dark Emma tried to solve the problem by magically inducing early birth, to a baby girl, and allowing Regina and Robin to take the baby, but Zelena was crafty and prevented that outcome for a time.  By the end of the season, however, Regina and Robin had the baby again, and Regina magicked her sister, via tornado portal, back to Oz.

8) Will Lily still seek revenge against the Charmings? Or, will she turn good now that Emma is evil? Will Lily try to save Emma, or will she let Emma assume the “evil” role in favor of having a better life? Doesn’t that really make her evil in the end (or not necessarily all good…more human)?

Answer: Lily is gone.  Where or where has Lily gone?

9) Is Rumpel out of the woods? Did “preserving” him save him from death?

Answer: He was comatose for a while, but you can’t keep a good Rumpel down.

10) Will the Once writers/producers provide a better, more detailed explanation for why Will Scarlett is on the flagship series and with Belle? 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?

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

11) Will a new Savior emerge now that Emma is the Dark One?

Answer: As it turns out, there’s only room for one Savior in this story.  So, Emma had to stop being evil and dark, but she has done so and has returned to the red leather jacket of her savior-dom.

12) Will Snow and Charming be redeemed, particularly in Emma’s or Lily’s or Maleficient’s or Regina’s eyes, if they are able to save their daughter?

Answer: Snow and Charming’s redemption struggle is still pending.  What Emma and the audience and the Charmings are finding out is that the Charmings are not perfect, but the podcast panelists also struggle to find them interesting.  Snow White, in particular, has lost much of the spark and spunk that her character had when the show started.  We implore the writers to do something about that.

13) Will Henry get a new pen? Will he have to act as The Author anyway? Will his role as the Author figure into redeeming/saving Emma?

Answer: As above, Henry seems determined to not be the Author or to take on the powers of the Author.

14) Will Henry ever straddle the line of good and evil?

Answer: So far, he is still pure of heart.

15) Henry’s a teenager now. Will he meet a love interest? He’s aging like Walt on Lost. Does he ever interact with kids his own age, rather than just his slightly dysfunctional family?

Answer: He found love, but his mom had to go and ruin it for some spell to release Merlin from his tree prison.  To Amie’s delight, however, the love interest was similarly aged, which she felt was more appropriate.  She doesn’t think he should be hanging out with adults so much.

16) What Knights of the Round Table will we see in Camelot, if any?

Answer: We saw Lancelot and Gawain, I believe.  They were barely mentioned.  Arthur is sort of ruthless with his Knights.  Though, he did dub David a temporary Round Table Knight.

17) Will the Camelot/Dark Emma layers be crammed into a half season, or will the writers percolate these plots throughout the whole of next season? The panel votes for the latter scenario.

Answer: Dark Swan was a half season gig.  We now move to the Underworld, where Emma hopes to save newly Dark Hook, who stopped being Dark and sacrificed himself to save Emma and her family.

New Collective Questions

1) 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?

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

3) 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?

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

5) Will we see Henry’s Camelot girlfriend again, despite the heartbreak caused by Dark Emma?

6) 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?

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

8) 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?

9) 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?

10) 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?

11) 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?

12) 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?

13) 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?

14) 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?

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

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

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

18) Will Maleficient, Lily, August, Will Scarlett, or any of these disappearing characters reappear?  Will their disappearances, at least, be explained?

PARTING SHOTS

The podcast panelists, while hopeful for the second half of the fifth season and the Underworld arc, are experiencing mild degrees of trepidation regarding the continued quality of Once Upon a Time.  Though we all agreed that some parts of the Dark Swan arc worked, we also agreed that some parts did not work and were, at times, confusing, repetitive, and/or boring, veering concernedly toward Lost season three territory (no more Nikki and Paolo!).  There is a general sense that the Once writers are trying to make the show “bigger and better” by introducing scores of new characters, but the more characters are introduced, the more convoluted and potentially lost among the sea of new personalities the story becomes.  In addition, most of the panel reacted cautiously if not outright negatively to the fact that our core characters lost memories again at the beginning of the season, and we implore the Once writers and producers to abandon that conceit for good – three times is enough. Yet, all remain hopeful that the Underworld story will be meted out in an interesting way that provides a good payoff in the end, and we are particularly excited for the 100th episode extravaganza, so long as the writers and producers remember that they are telling stories for a core group of characters first before branching off into tributaries involving minor characters with no through-lines or satisfying conclusions (after all, we already anticipate story lines involving Storybrooke, with Rumpel and Belle; the Underworld with those who travel there; and the Enchanted Forest, with Merida, Mulan, and Ruby).

LOOKING AHEAD:

Once Upon a Time is currently on mid-season hiatus (Galavant is airing in its spot) but will resume on March 6, 2016, and continue to air Sundays on ABC at 8:00 PM.  No renewal announcement has yet been made, but most TV pundits agree, the chances of ABC NOT renewing Once are slim to nil. Until next time and next podcast, which we will likely record in May or June 2016, after the fifth season finale!

New Panels, New Page, New Year!

Have you ever wondered how to become a podcast panelist for CPU!?

Look, I’m not delusional.  We haven’t been around as a podcast very long, so if you’re reading this, chances are you might be pleasantly intrigued but not necessary full of the wonderment about panel participation.

If you have been following the blog, though, or are stumbling across it for the first time, a new page (reachable via the floating dialog box at the top left) will tell you how to become a panelist.  Because, believe it or not, we’re a podcast panelist by the people for the people!  Looking to talk about all kinds of TV with like-minded people?  Ever wanted to be part of something media-related to add to the global internet conversation? Excited to be part of the technology that connects us all?!

Follow this link to find out How to Become a CPU! Podcast Panelist.

Also, from time to time, the Chief Couch Potato (i.e. Kylie) will post a list of shows about which we are looking to podcast.  Starting now!

If you have any interest in joining one of the following panels (English required), comment on this post with your contact information.  You don’t have to love the show, but we only and do ask that you be caught up on it.  You at least have to be knowledgeable about it, after all:

Once Upon a Time (2 openings)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (3 openings)
Resurrection (4 openings – needs one more to run; one time panel)
Revenge (open – needs two more to run; one time panel)
Gotham (2 openings)
The Vampire Diaries (3 openings)
Marvel’s Daredevil (full; wait list only)
Futurama (3 openings; one time panel)

One of CPU!’s New Year’s resolutions is that we’re looking to grow this year, and we can’t do that without the support of listeners and participants alike.  So, if the spirit moves you, message us and let us know if you want to be part of the adventure.  If you’re feeling guilty about binge watching, this is one way to assuage some of that regret – you’re not binge watching!  You’re doing research for a podcast.  Am I right?

Hope to hear from you!  Stay tuned, keep listening, keep watching! Buh-bye!

Kylie, The Chief Couch Potato