Tag Archives: Recap

Once Upon a Time Season Premiere Review and Recap

Just another day in Storybrooke. Oh wait, no it wasn’t. When we last left our fairytale characters, the curse had been broken and everyone remembered who they really were. And then Mr. Gold unleashed a big purple haze of magic on the whole town, changing the rules and blurring the line between fairy tale and reality. That’s what the whole episode was about, really. Blurring the set formula we had last season and transitioning to a place where the show can sustain itself without flashbacks. But let’s dive in.

We open 0n a horse and buggy, apparently in the fairytale land but oh wait no, we’re just in Central Park in NYC. And we follow a man, down the subway, up into his small apartment. we have no idea who he is until a bird delivers a postcard from Storybrooke with one word written on it: “Broken.” Omnious? Yes? Theories? My best bet is on whoever August/Pinnochio was in contact with, and that person probably is Baelfire, Gold’s son. But moving on.

The rest of the episode moves between fairyland and Storybrooke, much like every other episode has. The flashback to fairyland is to Sleeping Beauty being awakened by her handsome prince, a tale I expected to see sooner in the show (given Malificent’s importance to the storyline thus far). He’s accompanied by a masked soldier, who although they try to keep up the appearance of a man, the cut of the outfit and the liner on the eyes immediately gave away this new character as Mulan (Jamie Chung). They encounter a hooded phantom they call a wraith, who marks his victims with a metal disk and then sucks out their souls. Aurora’s prince is marked and he runs away to try to save the women. They run after him but are too late. The prince dies. It all seems a little irrelevant until Gold pulls the disk out of his cabinet and marks Regina, after he promised Belle (love her Australian accent, by the way) he wouldn’t kill.

Meanwhile, Snow, Charming and Emma spend most of the episode trying to convince people not to kill Regina, and then later saving Regina. It’s because they’re heroes and because Henry asked them to. There are also lots of awkward moments where Snow and Charming, full of their memories, try to connect with Emma as their daughter. It’s super weird, as Snow mentions, because they were equal adults before. “There are lots of things I shouldn’t have mentioned, like one night stands.” “One night stands?” “Whale. What we were cursed!”

When it comes down to it, the only way to defeat the wraith is to send it back to fairyland, which Regina swears is gone. She thinks sending it to an abyss will kill it. Everyone’s favorite portal device, Mad’s hat, is required and it doesn’t work until Emma touches Regina’s arm. Curious and curiouser. Of course, all magic comes with a price, and the wraith is sucked it, along with Emma. Snow jumps in after her and so does Charming, but the portal closes and he hits the floor. And where Emma and Snow land is back in fairyland, right next to Aurora and Mulan, and we realize that it was no flashback, it was actually a flash forward, the wraith appearing to Aurora, the prince, and Mulan after it had left Storybrooke. Whef, timelines have always been confusing in this show, but I think they’re going only going to get more so.

And there we leave it. Emma and Snow are back in fairyland, everybody else is trapped in Storybrooke with Regina and Gold magicking all over the place, and there’s a mysterious New York stranger involved. All in all it was a good premiere, holding onto the bomb that it wasn’t a flashback anymore until the very end. But there are many questions left unanswered, and people we haven’t heard from. Where is August? And Jefferson? They’re linked very intricately with the fate of our main characters, but we don’t know anything about them, post-curse. Also, just putting an appeal out there for Amy Acker’s fairy/nun to come back. Because it’s Amy Acker playing a fairy/nun, it’s so adorable I can’t even handle it. But alas, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Do the Right Thing

Political Animals Episode 5 Recap and Review

As the political miniseries moves from character to character, doling out telling flashbacks, I wonder why there’s “mini” in the series. With only one episode to go, I wonder how the story will resolve itself, which it has to to qualify Sigourney Weaver for Best Actress in a Mini Series for next years Emmy’s. But let’s dive in to this week’s episode, in which we learn what makes Susan tick, how crazy Bud really is, Garcetti isn’t really such a bad guy, and that Anne is still boring.

The episode was titled “16 Hours” but it should really have been called “All About Susan.” our intrepid reporter was the focus of the flashbacks this episode, which strangely was devoid of all things Georgia. We see her emerge as a budding columnist and make her mark by tearing Elaine down. Ripping her apart in a column her editor calls more “judgmental” than editorial. To this criticism, Susan accuses him of being sexist. She goes over his head and suddenly her column is published and she has a new swanky office. This is the part that bugged me. Susan steps on Elaine’s ashes to climb her way up the corporate ladder, all the while accuses her boss of being sexist. She doesn’t really know where she stands, and neither does the show. What does feminism mean here? Is what Susan did strength or was it cheating? Are women supposed to help each other or claw each other’s eyes out? I of course have my own opinions and I’m sure you have yours, but I’m not entirely sure what the show thinks. Sometimes I think all the gains that the character of Elaine makes in terms of the portrayal of women on television, Susan gives away. I’m hoping something great will happen next episode.

The more exciting news was Doug and Susan sleeping together, something you could have called a mile away since that first clandestine meeting. He also drunkenly admits to the other thing we all knew before: that he doesn’t really love Anne enough to marry her and that they’re just a puppet couple. He can’t leave her for Susan but I wish he could. Anne is boring and Susan needs to date a nicer guy. Sigh.

In the meantime, TJ is unconscious in the hospital after an overdose which Elaine covers up by leaking the Chinese nuclear sub story to Susan. The rescue mission is underway but China is so dead set on keeping the sub out of American hands that they threaten to release their nuke onto California if a rescue is attempted. When Vice President Asshole votes to kill the Chinese, Garcetti makes the first good call of the series and steps out as a not-so-bad-guy after all. Of course no bomb is deployed and all is saved, especially Garcetti’s political future. Elaine herself says he’ll be unbeatable. It was noble of her to sacrifice her own political aspirations for the lives of a hundred men, but it’s clear that she’s needed in the federal government, as Garcetti wouldn’t  have lifted a finger without  her. I wish Elaine would have had more to do this episode besides talk about the sub and talk about TJ. It was Bud who got the real action, taking swing at the Vice President for blackmailing Congressman Gay way back when. It was a hilarious scene, one that got me thinking, what would the secret service do in that situation? President, VP, and former President in a fist fight? I wonder if something like that has ever happened…

And of course, we can’t forget Margaret and Anne, busy searching the house for drugs to flush so that TJ can come home and rehabilitate. When they find some good old fashioned Mary Jane, they decide to smoke it instead of flushing it. Cue the high revelations, all of the good ones coming from Margaret of course. The pot brings on a case of the munchies and of course, causes Anne to hit the bathroom to puke her guts out. Only Grandma knows all, and confronts her. It’s a great speech for Ellen Burstyn and she handles the scene well while Brittany Ishibashi sort of stands there like the doll she is. She is such an unnecessary character and even her own personal storyline is boring. They’re spending so much time with TJ and addiction they don’t really have time for another mental health problem in the short six episodes. My only hope is that we leave the series with Doug and Anne resolutely broken up. We’ll just have to wait until next week to see.

Let’s Take the Politics Out of This

Political Animals Episode 4, “Lost Boys,” Review and Recap

In this week’s fourth installment of the USA miniseries, our animals become a lot less political, and a lot more personal. Plot-wise, we actually didn’t cover a lot of ground. Elaine finally told Garcetti she was running against him, TJ backslid (again), and Bud gave up womanizing. Character-wise, this episode was all about TJ and, surprisingly, Georgia. She became an actual character this week, not just a device so that Susan could feel what it was like to get cheated on. Let’s dive in.

We open with Doug, Susan’s new pet monkey, recapping the last few weeks of Hammond family life, for Susan and for the viewer. Garcetti has sent Elaine all around the world to keep her from campaigning, TJ got a “sober partner” to keep him, well, sober, and Bud got a Hollywood publicist and did a tearful interview expressing his love for Elaine. Again, plot wise, not that earth shattering for a show with only two episodes left.

Elaine’s big hurrah was a security crisis in the form of a Chinese submarine sinking off the coast of California and disagreeing with Garcetti about how to deal with it, again. Eventually, after Vice President A**hole confronts her about it, Elaine tells Garcetti that she is running against him. She visits him late at night while he’s with his son to tell him that she’s running and she’s going to resign after he saves the Chinese men. I actually thought it was really interesting to show Garcetti with his son. This episode reminded us that that the Hamonds aren’t the only family in politics, and what they do can have ramifications against more than just their political rivals. But this was as political as the show got this week.

On the journalism front Georgia interviews Anne about her interior design business. Fascinating stuff. Until Georgia slips in a question about Elaine’s campaign and Anne confirms without meaning to. Anne has now moved up from the most useless character to the stupidest! I didn’t think anyone could out-dumb our pretty brunette blogger but, by Georgia, Anne did it! And here we see Georgia have some depth for the first time. Susan told her to take herself seriously, and she did. After Doug turns to Susan for help and Susan confronts Georgia, we see Georgia hold her ground and demand a shared byline with Susan on her story. When Susan says no and tells Doug this, he reveals something about Susan to herself: she wants Elaine to succeed. Not just professionally, but personally. This has been clear from the first episode, that Susan’s initial hatred of Elaine came out of jealousy and idolization. And now Susan knows it to. She bites the bullet and takes on Georgia as a partner.

But the real focus of the episode was TJ. Last week’s Doug flashbacks were replaced with TJ flashbacks, to right around the time he tried to kill himself. It’s the happiest time of his life. He’s sober, and he’s in love, with a closeted Republican congressman who is attempting to pass a bad bill. The Democrats find out about the affair and want to blackmail the Congressman into dropping his bill. When Elaine confronts TJ and tells him what the Dems are going to do, he says something I think about politics all the time: “we’re supposed to be better than them!” But Elaine is a realist, and knows they’re going to do it no matter what. TJ tries to convince Congressman Gay that the blackmail is a good thing, because he can finally come out. Unfortunately, Congressman Gay isn’t having it, he wants his career and his family and his power, and not really TJ anymore. He calls him a “national punchline” and dumps him. And now we know why TJ tried to kill himself. And we see him try it.

Back in the present, Bud is with his publicist, clothes off, talking shop. She informs him that he can’t go to TJ’s club opening, because he would appear sleazy. It’s not lost on Bud, or us, that he is sleazy, but hey, politics is all about how everything looks. When he tells TJ he won’t come, it turns into a family fight. Bud refuses to admit that he won’t go for himself, and blames TJ’s bad decisions. Elaine gets involved and soon the whole family’s arguing. TJ leaves for his club opening alone (well with his sober buddy).  For some reason said 24-hour sober buddy leaves him alone long enough for him to get free cocaine from one of his partners and then to snort it. When he finds TJ high, instead of taking him home, he lets TJ to convince him to get high and then allows TJ to OD. This guy should probably think of a different career path. The episode ends with Bud, having dumped his publicist both personally and professionally, rushing to the club and finding TJ passed out on the floor.

I suppose this does count as motion in the TJ storyline. We at least learn why he is the way he is, even if he’s not changing at all. I admit that it is probably incredibly hard for people like him to change, but change is what stories are about, and he is in a story. We’ll see what happens next week, and find out whether the OD (I assume it’s an OD, he took a bunch of drugs and then passed out) was intentional or not. And possibly we’ll get a little more politics in this political show? Nah. Sex, drugs, and intrigue are way better.