Weekly TV Recap
24th April 2016
Once Upon a Time
(Season 5, Episodes 17 – 18:)
~ This review will include some minor spoilers for episode 18 ~
There’s an irritating lack of communication going on between our heroes in episode 17 of Once Upon a Time. Luckily, that episode is focused much more on anti-hero Rumplestiltskin and the wonderful Belle. Oh, and Zelena’s here too.
Just as we had the return of Hook’s brother Liam earlier in the season, episode 17 sees the return of Belle’s old flame, Gaston (whose name everyone pronounces with a French accent. Especially Hades. It’s hilarious). This was particularly interesting to me, since, unlike with Liam, Gaston comes directly from the Disney Beauty and the Beast movie, and was extremely underutilised and under-characterised when he appeared back in the season one episode ‘Skin Deep’ (and much like Liam I can’t tell if it’s the same actor that played the role in that episode).
Here, Gaston does get a character, which ends up as something of a midpoint between the movie version and what brief characterisation we got in ‘Skin Deep’. He’s a hunter (of beasts and women, according to Belle) and spends the episode hunting the most dangerous game, at the behest of Hades. And whilst Belle’s insistence that Rumple not use dark magic (even though it’s probably going to be the best solution for them currently, meaning Belle’s putting them in even more danger with her insistence, not to mention what she does in episode 18), it leads her, Rumple and Gaston to a great climactic scene by the docks, which, for me, comes to the best conclusion it possibly could have. A dark one.
The main subplot of episode 17 – where Emma, Snow White and Hook are hunted by a strange monster brought – does feel out of place in this episode. Were Gaston involved in hunting the monster, it would have made more sense, but he never does. It seems more suited to a Red Riding Hood focused episode, which is what we get in episode 18. Whilst it’s good that we’re getting more and more characters showing up, it does feel like the show had to contrive stranger and stranger reasons to bring characters to the Underworld, which is only making me wish harder that we leave it soon.
Okay, complaints aside, these are a strong pair of episodes. Rumple and Belle’s relationship gets some development, first of all. But that’s not what people are talking about and it’s not what is going to be remembered about them. No, that would be Red Riding Hood and Dorothy. The showrunners made it pretty clear that season 5 would be where we’d finally get an official same-sex couple in the show, and this is where. Whilst it’s not done perfectly (it would have been better if they’d known each other for a while beforehand, not just a few hours, to really build their relationship from affection into true love, and it’ll take more than a small dog, silver slippers and a bit of blue gingham to make this Dorothy actually feel like Dorothy), their interactions are very sweet, and I’m glad they didn’t just give it to obvious choice Mulan or (as people had been suspecting) to Merida. I hope we haven’t seen the last of the pair.
Also, Snow has finally left the Underworld, which means we might be getting a point of view in real Storybrooke again (and even if we don’t, I’m not going to miss her).
What I noticed most in this pair of episodes is a good sense of balance. No side is having it too hard or too easy. Gaston and Rumple’s confrontation has some dark implications for Belle, but on the other hand, Hades’ attempt to keep Dorothy asleep and the heroes downtrodden fails utterly, and both Red and Snow escape the Underworld. These episodes promise lot of potential. We’ll see where it goes from here.
(Season 2, Episodes 6 – 11)
So… new best episode. And once again, I can say literally nothing about it. Its episodes like 11 that make me wonder if it was a good idea to do a weekly recap of Gravity Falls in the first place, because episodes like 11 (and frankly, the whole show) should be seen completely blind. Knowing nothing makes it better.
So I won’t dwell on episode 11, except to say that once again it’s the fantastic episodes (and more often than not those are the ones that tie more into the overall mystery of Gravity Falls, even if it’s just a brief line or acknowledgement) that make the weaker ones stand out in comparison (and by weaker I mean “Little Gift Shop of Horrors” and “The Love God”). I will commend “Little Gift Shop” for trying something a bit more experimental, it’s just a shame that it’s the connecting segments between the vignettes that are the interesting part. A week later I couldn’t tell you anything about the episode except for the first-person gimmick. Could they have sustained it over a full episode? I don’t know, but I would rank it higher than “The Bottomless Pit” from last season, for that alone.
On the other side of the spectrum, episode 11 aside, we have “Blendin’s Game” – the long awaited return of the hilarious Blendin (and I put every inch of that hilarity to the voice actor, Justin Roiland, aka. Lemongrab from Adventure Time), and “Northwest Mansion Mystery” which gets surprisingly dark, but in the best way. Neither of them are quite up there with “Sock Opera”, but they are some of the best episodes of the show so far.
I only hope that Gravity Falls, after the tremendous cliffhanger that episode 11 left us on, gets better, but it’s one hell of an episode to top.