I mean, seriously, did anyone not see Lily (who we now know as Maleficent’s daughter) coming back to play a major role in the story of Storybrook? Nicole Munoz (Lily) came in at the beginning of season 4 and breathed so much life into the character of Emma (Jennifer Morrison) that it would have been foolish to consider her a one off character (assuming you watch television shows with the same “Meta-Mindset” that I do). While I don’t think anyone foresaw the connection she would eventually make between our realm and that of the Enchanted Forest, it would have been silly to assume she wouldn’t be making an even bigger splash later on. That’s what dramatic television is, right? Big splash after bigger splash after even bigger splash?
With the “Queens of Darkness” season rapidly approaching its climactic conclusion, I can’t help but feel as if the entire series should be wrapping up as well. Series’ should absolutely not be aiming for the 11 season on and on “let’s just kill some characters off to spice things up” dramatic rut that ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ has found itself in. The Evil Queen has gone from bad to good to bad to good; Rumplestiltskin had his time in the light and is now the ultimate villain the heroes must face. Even Zelena, the Wicked Witch that almost killed the show’s credibility singlehandedly, has made her triumphant return on the side of team baddies. After this season’s conclusion, what else is left?
Disney’s adult drama ‘Once Upon a Time’ has, this season, brought in the Magician’s Apprentice, including a walking broom cameo that harkens back to ‘Fantasia’ (arguably Disney’s greatest triumph). The stakes have been significantly raised, Fate and Destiny and Choice and Nature all stand at the forefront in a season that wields legacy-defining struggles for each and every major character in Storybrooke. Parallel storylines that mirror each other as they explain each other have always been ‘Once’s strongpoint, yet this season carries with it a weight that hasn’t been present yet in the show’s run.
I’ve been a fan since September of the return of Kristin Bauer van Straten, who first stole my heart (and loins) as Pam the dominatrix lesbian vampire on ‘True Blood’ and now transforms into a dragon at will as Maleficent on ‘Once Upon a Time’. Props to the casting department for finding Agnes Bruckner, who actually looks like van Straten, to play the dragon’s adult daughter and Emma’s anti-savior. Emma and Lily tempt fate, both questioning purpose, duty and belief in an episode which will most likely be considered one of the best of the season (Lily).
The powers that sit in comfy chairs smoking cigars worth more than your unborn child and make the decisions between the lives and deaths of your favorite series’ should be taking a lesson from the changing landscape that is primetime television. Juggernauts like ‘Friends’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Lost’ don’t come around often, and usually cannot be predicted (I think they had a pretty good idea on ‘Game of Thrones’). This, in fact, has lead to a detrimental effect, most viewers are hesitant to adopt new series, odds are they’ll be cancelled just when they’re starting to get good. So even when a critic-defined “good show” does pop up, many people sit back and say, “I’ll wait until they go three or four seasons and then I’ll catch up.”
It’s a testament to the family nature of Sunday nights that ‘Once Upon a Time’ has made it this far. As the kid-friendly anti-Game of Thrones on Sunday night, ‘Once’ has powered ahead, adding gimmicky Disney-ness at almost every turn, from Mulan and Captain Hook, through The Wicked Witch of the West and the ever-letting go Elsa from Frozen.
Isn’t it time to bow out gracefully? Reward us, break our hearts, shock and awe the shit out of Sunday night and give the series some closure. That’s all we really want (except for those in the Midwest, who just want their favorite shows to run forever no matter how stuck in the mud they are because it gives them something to relate to).
Here’s the thing: final seasons always make news. They bring in fans who’ve dropped the series because of too much work, too much play, or just too much other TV. ‘Breaking Bad’ aired its finale and the whole freaking world stopped to watch. The ending to ‘The Sopranos’ will still provoke an hour-long argument at any bar in the States (provided its after midnight and both parties have already had ample tastes of the sauce).
The wave of the future in television entertainment? Extended Mini-series. 3-4 seasons, no more, no less. That’s what I want to see. ‘Once Upon a Time’ is wrapping up its season 4, with a fifth season probably on its way. Bringing in new lead villains have proven unworthy, and you can only circle back to your original villains so many times before that trick grows stale and lifeless. And even as amazing a hair game as Lana Parilla is having this season (and I’ll watch any movie, show or BuzzFeed YouTube channel appearance she ever does), Regina has seized her redemption, has always been the most interesting and complex character on the show, and deserves to put to rest the Evil Queen on a high note. We all deserve to leave this series on a high note.