ABC’s Once Upon a Time initially managed to lure in audiences thanks to its plot, which featured a slew of fairytale characters stuck in our present-day world without any idea of who they were or where they came from. In Season 1, the sheer scope of the series was impressive—not only was there massive attention to detail in each of the green screen sets, the interlocking storytelling, split between today’s world and the former lives of all the fairytale characters in their world, focused on the characters and relationships, as well as a few great moments of villainy.
With a strong cast, some great guest stars and a totally unique premise, Once Upon a Time should have everything going for it. So, why don’t I feel that way, anymore?
Season 2 has gone a little bit off the rails in terms of plots and premises. When magic was brought into Storybrooke at the end of Season 1, I thought it was a pretty gutsy move for the series to so swiftly cut ties with the original storytelling mold of the show. However, this has led to a slew of complications thus far in Season 2, complications Once Upon a Time’s writers have yet to find an agreeable solution for. Following are my biggest issues with Season 2 thus far, and my hopes for a more successful future. Beware: if you aren't caught up on the series, there are a few plot spoilers!
1. Too Many Nonessential Characters
In Season 1, determining which fairytale character people from Ruby to Archie Hopper had been in their previous existence was pretty endearing. That the writers then found ways to implement the side characters into various scenes to remind us they were still around was the sign of a great ensemble cast. Now, the writers have given newcomers more screen time than their veteran cast, and it’s wearing thin extremely quickly.
Last night’s episode is a great example of this. Viewers got one plot involving a Frankenstein-storyline with a character, Dr. Whale, we’ve barely seen before and are unlikely to see in such a large capacity again. Fans also were privy to a second plot that focused on newcomer Captain Hook. Snow, Charming, Emma, and Gold—our main characters—barely popped up onscreen, and Regina was the only member of the regular cast to be truly involved in the storyline. Ruby and Belle didn’t show up at all, but apparently Jefferson and Mulan were good enough cast members this week to make the cut. Once Upon a Time has already created an army’s worth of great characters, and all they need to do, now, is help audiences to care about the characters, again. And for chrissakes, stop giving new characters full-episode plotlines.