The Formula of Once Upon a Time Hurts “The Price”

Going back to that split timeline storytelling that totally never gets old, Emma has become The Dark One and has embraced her Dark Oneingness powers, turning on all of her old friends and heralding something big that’s coming that they cannot beat without the savior so, Regina, the former Evil Queen turned good, decides that she has to become new new savior.

Oh, also their memories of what happened in Camelot have been wiped because that’s totally original and has never happened on this show before.

Meanwhile, six weeks ago in Camelot, the Storybrooke gang meet up with King Arthur and the Camelot Crew on their quest to find Merlin who, as luck would have it, has been turned into a tree.

I am not kidding you, I swear.

And then there’s a ball.

I was kind of excited at the top of the season because it almost looked like Once Upon a Time was going to dump the Present/Flashback formula, but it’s back in force this week and I’m actually shocked at how dull it made the episode.  Rather than slowly reveal what happened in the past, I would much rather see the story presented chronologically and be exposed to the shock of seeing Emma become The Dark Swan later in the season.

But, I know… this is Once Upon a Time‘s thing so I just need to accept it and quit complaing.

The curse of lost memories has, once again, been cast.  Shouldn’t these people be developing an immunity like you do when you get chicken pox or herpes?  It’s repetitive to the point of lunacy now and I don’t understand why they’re doing it all over again.

As for the pluses of the episode:  I’m loving the characterization of Emma as The Dark One, jilted and pissed but still Emma.  She’s kind of like a drug addict now in desperate need of an intervention but who can make your balls explode like fireworks if you even try it.  There’s something… cool about that.  Cold and calculating and completely different from the psycho evil Karen I thought we were going to get.

I also enjoyed watching Regina try and fall into the savior role.  In Camelot it’s played off as a joke, seeing her try to fit into a hole she’s not comfortable, but in Storybrooke, it takes a much more dramatic turn — this is a woman who has went through hell and back to be a better person and her own self-doubt and insecurities are killing her.  I’ve said it before and have been laughed at, but Regina is one of the most interesting characters on television today and her arch from villain to redeemed hero has been such a fun journey to go on.

I feel like returning to the old formula has hurt the show after their small break from it and a lot of the character scenes felt flat — surprise surprise, they involved Snow and Charming.  However, Once Upon a Time is setting up some interesting plot points for this season and it’ll be a blast to see where they go next.

At least I’m not looking at this show like I did during the last half of the previous season thinking, “Holy cow, this is stupid!”

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