Weekly TV Recap
10th April 2016
I was very busy this week, rehearsing for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and running auditions for 314 Olympia Way, so I didn’t have much time to watch TV, but as always here’s my take on what I did watch. Luckily I had a lot to say this week.
Once Upon a Time
(Season 5, Episode 16: Our Decay)
Good news: We saw Storybrooke again, and though it may not have been for very long, we got the return of Belle into the bargain.
Bad news: my least favourite character is back. Again.
So, I said last week that I wasn’t looking forward to this episode and how I have to say that, whilst I’m not quite eating those words, I was for the most part pleasantly surprised. This is almost as much a Belle focused episode as Zelena. Nor, as the last episode lead me to believe, was there any sort of great love affair or villainous master plan between Zelena and Hades (they do have a meet-cute on a bicycle, but the relationship is very clearly one-sided).
This is an episode that both shows a lot of promise… and creates a lot of trepidation. Zelena may not be unbearable here, as she’s diluted by Belle’s presence, but there’s a risk she’ll continue becoming more prominent even though she really doesn’t need to be here (and bring repeated plot lines with her). Henry’s the author again, which promises a return of the meta aspect, but there’s a fifty-fifty chance it won’t really come to anything. Hades and Zelena don’t overshadow proceedings now (and a reveal about Hades’ backstory gave me a lightbulb that a different Greek God may end up being the Big Bad of the season, which I would love to happen) and I love Hades’ quips about being compared to the devil (that’s a pet peeve of mine), but maybe I’m just letting my imagination run away with me and Hades will stay exactly as he is. Either way, this show is going to some weird places.
I am thankful how this season isn’t letting plotlines drag. They’ve rescued Killian, and now we’ve moved onto Gold and Belle’s baby as our focus (with getting out of the Underworld and dealing with Hades the thread running through). The pacing has very much improved from the previous arc (though I still want closure for the Camelot characters, who are presumably still in Storybrooke). Oh, and thank goodness Gold tells Belle that she’s pregnant, that he sold the baby (with the circumstances behind why, and a promise to fix it) and that he’s the Dark One again instead of keeping it a secret, subverting a trope I absolutely hate in fiction (where people don’t talk to each other only to further misunderstandings).
I do also want to mention that though I don’t like the character, Zelena’s actress does deserve commandment for always throwing herself into the part. The Wicked Witch of the West wouldn’t be the same if she wasn’t being played with a whole lot of ham, and seeing her bounce off of whispery, fabulous Hades is fun. She also has good capes. I just don’t like what she means for the story. Her arc was done with in season 3, and there isn’t a whole lot more being done with her except to pile baby issues onto the sisterly rivalry. What I’m saying is that neither the flashbacks nor the main story develop her as a character.
Oh, and Snow and Charming have a subplot. It is sappy and pointless.
So yes, whilst this isn’t the best episode of OUAT ever, it could have been much, much worse.
Also, Author-Henry doesn’t accepted criticism well. To me, that is hilarious.
(Season 2, Episodes 1 – 5 (and mid-season shorts))
It is going to be difficult not to just make this review just about episode four, Sock Opera, but luckily the beginning of season 2 has been so good so far that I have plenty to talk about. Let’s just say that Gravity Falls is getting into its ongoing plot in a big way. Three of five stories so far have, in some way, contributed to the mystery of the Author in some way or another, and though these are by far the strongest of the five so far, the other two (especially episode 5, Soos and the Real Girl) are also very enjoyable.
I feel like I should talk a bit about Grunkle Stan, since I’ve mostly concentrated on the children as the focus of my reviews (though, to be fair, so does the show). He’s growing on me. Not that I ever disliked Grunkle Stan as a character, he’s always been funny, but he always felt very background, relegated to subplots even in episodes where he had a larger role. He is now, however, coming more to the forefront, and since the first season finale, where his care for Dipper and Mabel is really shown, he really does feel like one of the leads, and a great one too. The first episode (and the end of season one) seems to promise that he will be much more involved in the supernatural side of the show from now on, and I welcome that.
I hope the show keeps up the pace that they have, where most episodes in some way add to the ongoing mystery (even if only in small ways). That really is the only reason why episodes 3 and 5 slide a little down the list in terms of memorability, there’s no tie-in to the mystery. However, those episodes aren’t just throwaway; they provide character development for Pacifica and Soos respectively, in both cases much welcomed.
So yes. Sock Opera. Without a doubt it’s my favourite episode of the show so far. Once again, I really, really don’t want to spoil it for you, but nor can I tell you to just go ahead a watch it (as I might suggest about Dreamscaperers, my favourite episode of season one, and yes there is a trend here), because of how much it hinges on plot points that have come before and exists to further the story. I do want to mention one thing though that stood out to me: a point is made about just how self-sacrificing Dipper has been for the sake of Mabel’s happiness (even if it is sacrificing very childish wants, like his crush or height-complex, after all he is twelve) and Mabel finally returns the favour. I’m glad this was addressed, as the pattern was starting to become a negative point towards the show. To me, anyway. It highlights why I really do favour Dipper as a character over Mabel. Too often, the “silly” or “cute” character gets away with murder simple due to being the “silly” and “cute” one. Once again, Gravity Falls seals its quality by subverting that trope, at least this once. I hope the trend continues.
Anyway, as a result of this episode alone, I think I can give this show the best review I ever could. Watch Gravity Falls, if only so that you can watch Sock Opera with full understanding. And then watch the rest of the show, because if you’re not hooked by then I don’t know what to tell you.
This show really does continue to be great. It’s also worth checking out the mid-season shorts (they are very short, 3 minutes at most). They are a mixed bag (the best being the Dipper’s Guides to the Unexplained) but all very cute and at least raise a chuckle.
Also, its only now The Night Manager‘s wrapped up that I realise I’ve been spending the last four weeks writing mostly about characters called Pines…
Back next week, with a bit of a recap of Game of Thrones season 5, alongside the usual!