Once Upon A Time: A Great Idea, Not so Great Execution
The idea of putting fairy tales into a real life setting in the hands of some of the writers from Lost is quite intriguing. It has a solid premise, competent actors, but lacks the direction that Lost had. I know, it's wrong to compare Once Upon A Time with Lost, it's wrong to compare anything to Lost. However, their are similarities. For one, the flashbacks are used to develop the characters and give the viewers further insight. Secondly, the flashbacks usually connect some of the characters together in one way or another. The difference is in how the plot moves along. I can't really say after twelve episodes that much has changed in the land of Storybrooke. Henry brought Emma into the town stating that her presence alone would change things, but what has happened? I know the characters better, which is a strength of the show but it has advanced the general plot rarely. It has had a unexpected death, and the revelation that despite the Evil Queen's spell to make everyone forget their time in the fairy tale land, some still remember. Now don't get me wrong though, I still think this is one of the top shows on the air as of right now. The show however, would greatly benefit from picking up the pace in the next few weeks.
Regina/ The Evil Queen
The Evil Queen is the main bad of the story, both stories in fact. In Storybrooke, she is the ruthless mayor who has her nose in everything as she makes sure she has complete control of her town. In the fairy tale land,she is, well it's kind of there in the name. In order to ensure that no one has anymore happy endings she cast a spell sending everyone in a more real life setting. The spell also makes everyone forget their past lives and loves in the fairy tale land while also giving them new names and lives.
Lana Parrilla does an admirable job in the role, but is better as The Evil Queen as opposed to Regina. As Regina, she too often has the same plain, and wooden expressions. She is much more animated as The Evil Queen and comes off as a much more fully realized character. Granted, Regina knows that she is The Evil Queen, but you still don't see any glimmer of it. Which could simply be something that is done on purpose by the creators, but to what purpose? Clearly, Regina wants complete control as we have seen as she robbed Emma of a chance of love as she did with Mr. Gold in the most recent episode as well. Those two scenes, were the only times we've seen Regina and The Evil Queen truly in the same light.
Snow and Charming
Snow White and Prince Charming are the two most innocent and genuine characters on the show. They truly epitomize the fairy tale couple. So much so that even after The Evil Queen's spell that they can't help but to be drawn to each other. Their Storybrooke personas are that of Mary Margaret Blanchard, the school teacher and David Nolan, also known briefly as John Doe as it was in a coma at first. David was woken up by Mary, further cementing that the pair belong together. Their love story however in the past few episodes has dragged a little bit as David is juggling two women, the woman who he was to wed before falling into the "coma" and the woman he feels that he has the stronger connection with. Mary also struggles with taken David away from the woman he had been with for a longer time, considering they are to be wed as well.
Josh Dallas does a terrific job in both roles as David and Prince Charming. Albeit, the roles are very similar. No pun intended, but all that is needed is a little bit of charm. Ginnifer Goodwin does a decent job as Mary, but is more likable as the rough and tough Snow White. It is a little bit of a shock to see her balance playing two different roles as Snow is more of the hero in the fairy tale world, while Mary is just a woman who doesn't seem to catch a break in her love life.
The Stranger is a very intriguing character, and yet he has been in only two episodes. Nothing is really known about who he may be other than the fact that Regina told him he shouldn't be in Storybrooke. However, he has stated that this is a return trip for him as he had been there before. He also seems to know a lot about the town, and has an interest in Emma and Henry. There are some rumors or theories of The Stranger being the Big Bad Wolf, which is interesting but if that were the case then why was Ruby (Red Riding Hood) not afraid of him? You'd think that seeing how everyone up to this point still has a certain feeling toward the people that affected them in the fairy tale land. It is far more likely in fact that The Stranger is simply the writer of the book that Henry carries around. That would explain for one, his interest in Emma and Henry and how he knows so much about the town. If he is indeed the writer of the book, who is to say that he is not a Grimm? The shoe fits.
Eion Bailey does a good job in what we have seen thus far in the role. His standoff with Emma in the diner was both intense, and a bit comical all at once. It would be really nice to see more of his character going forward in this season.
Mr. Gold/ Rumpelstiltskin
The best big bad of the show. Period. Rumpelstiltskin had a bit of a depressing back story as to how he had become so evil, but boy do we love him. Even more so, Mr. Gold is quite the villain himself to. The cold, and calculating Mr. Gold knows just about everything about Storybrooke. He doesn't have the control over the town like Regina does, but his presence is felt. When Emma begins to run for Sheriff, Mr. Gold swoops in as her benefactor, which is a catch twenty two. She realizes that getting in bed with one bad guy to defeat the other is a bad decision but when she turns him down and wins the Sheriff position, it shows how much the town fears him. As Rumpelstilitskin, he is a bit of a loose cannon. Hell he is a loose cannon, in a sense he is a bit of a Devil. In the most literal sense to, he sees the weakness in people and exploits it.
Robert Carlyle does a fantastic job in both roles. He truly breathes live into both and seems to have a lot of fun with it in the process. As Mr. Gold, he is slightly better as he tends to overact at times as Rumpelstiltskin. However, the overacting doesn't bother me like it does others. The role is a bit odd, which he does a brilliant job of conveying, even though he does have quiet the weird giggle.
Emma Swan, quite the fairy tale name if you ask me. In the first episode she is told to be the one to change it all. In the fairy tale land, Snow and Charming are told that their daughter is the only one that can defeat The Evil Queen. The two did everything they could to make sure Emma was safe when the Queen stormed their castle in an attempt to kill Emma as a newborn, but when they placed her inside of a tree she was gone. Emma, in Storybrooke, explains that she was an orphan. Left on the side of the road for dead, with no parents and no direction as a baby at that. It made her into the person she is now though, a rough and tough woman who isn't afraid to say anything and she will never back down from a fight. All of it sounds quite a bit like Snow White, doesn't it? Henry, her biological son, does a good job in pointing that out. Henry brought her to Storybrooke after reading the book that he had found that painted a vivid picture of who everyone in the town truly is.
Jennifer Morrison does a good job in the role, and seems to excel in the strong, independent female roles. She does convey the toughness needed in the role, while also showing the perfect amount of vulnerability all at once. It is a tough act to pull off but she does it very well. In fact, for another Lost comparison, she is in a lot of ways similar to Kate Austen.