swatkat: (avatar: azula bends lightning)
[personal profile] swatkat
I really enjoyed the last OUAT episode. I think this is one of their more inspired takes on traditional fairytales, and there was very little about the episode I did not like. So it has been a weird experience on Tumblr after, witnessing people screaming at each other ('HDU REGINA IS A POOR ABUSED W00BIE' vs. 'HDU SNOW WHITE RULEZ' etcetc) and screaming at the actors/directors/producers via Twitter (including Jared Gilmore, who is 12). It was easier to find more meaningful conversations about Korra than it is about OUAT on Tumblr (though I know it does exist out there), and I don't know, I'm not really used to – or comfortable with! – fandom being this close to the PTB and actors. In my experience with comics fandom, terrible things often come out of it, and comics fandom is far more lowkey than this.

I'll also be honest – I got into OUAT knowing that the writing wasn't always great and that the narrative was OTT and cheesy, so my expectations from it are very different from, say, The Good Wife. It's cheesy fantasy. It doesn't do subtle. It's sparkly Disney princess fanfic on ff.net, with the occasional typos and epithets and lots and lots of clichés, but you read it anyway because it appeals to your soul. It gives me my regular dose of Good vs Evil and women characters of various shades with agency, and that's all I need from it. So it was again a pleasant surprise to see the show do something smart – the way it sometimes does – and make it work. It was obvious Cora would be the one biting it the moment they started with their #OneWillDie promos (the other options were Snow, Charming, Rumple, Regina and Henry. I mean, really). I was also reasonably certain Regina would be involved in it somehow, but the way they used Snow was brilliant and unexpected.

Snow White is a great character when they release her from the layers and layers of SAPPINESS that Ginnifer Goodwin can probably play in her sleep right now. It's easy to forget that she's lived a difficult life that has known little but conflict, and most of it has to do with Regina. It's easy to forget that beneath all that niceness, Snow White is often fierce and a little scary, such as Snow in her Mother Bear mode in the Enchanted Forest. And Snow White, when she decides to do something, gets things done - unlike Prince Charming who, bless his little face, spent most of the time lecturing Snow about finding another way, only to be knocked out yet again three seconds into the actual fight. (I am rewatching S1with [personal profile] zorana; he gets knocked out four times in the first three episodes. It's kind of amazing.) I was particularly impressed by the coldness and underhandedness with which they had her do it. It's not that she wasn't conflicted, or she won't be distraught afterwards – but at that moment, she knew exactly what to say to Regina to get to the heart of the matter (pun not intended), and played Regina – Regina, master manipulator Madam Mayor of the first season – like a pro.

Herein we pause to observe Lana Parilla's face and reflect upon some lines from S1:



The vulnerability in the first cap; the open joy in the second. I quote Emma from 1.03, "Snow Falls": "Not having a happy ending is painful enough, but... giving someone unrealistic hope is far worse."

That's what Snow does, and it's kind of amazing. She does it with a coldness Regina herself could never manage back when she offered her a choice ("I take that apple, and he lives?" "As I said, the choice is yours."), and she doesn't even have to rip her heart out to do it. It makes sense, because Regina has never quite managed to handle all her feelings and has always been OTT - always a little too angry, a little too desperate (or desperately in love, or desperately sad). (Again, rewatching S1 – it's amazing how she plays at being a reasonable grown up when she's in fact growing more desperate with every passing moment.)

It isn't as though Regina (or Cora) didn't have this coming. She was plotting, once again, to kill Snow White's family and anyone else who comes in the way of her reunion with Henry, conveniently forgetting that the only person who's in the way of her reunion with Henry is Henry himself. It also doesn't make it any less cruel, regardless of all of Regina's past and future crimes.

Here's the thing: 'goodness' of the sort that Snow White and Prince Charming stand for often comes with a generous helping of blindness and hypocrisy. You are good because you are good, and everything you do or say is therefore in the service of good and so what if it's also self-serving? It's good. That's what matters, unlike the self-serving actions of those evil villains out there. The Good Wife, for instance, is in the middle of slowly unraveling all these strands of hypocrisy and self-righteous in its 'good' protagonist in a couple of seasons long, well-planned out storyline that is fascinating to watch; I will never, ever claim to expect any such thing from OUAT (it's like comparing apples and oranges), but I was a little impressed in the last episode when they had Snow ask herself what she's ever achieved doing the right thing, echoing Regina's, "And what did it get me?" You don't do the right thing because it will get you something, you do the right thing because it's the right thing to do. I didn't expect them to go further with this, but they did ([personal profile] grimorie here points out the presence of APPLES in Snow White's vicinity in this episode, and WE ALL KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS), and now we have Snow Not-So-White being responsible for Regina effectively killing her own mother. There's some narrative irony too, because it's her desire to not let Regina lose her mother like she had lost her own that led to her to blabbing Regina's secret to Cora, leading to the murder of Daniel.

It's important to not lose sight of what led Snow to do this in the first place. It was the most practical thing to do at that moment, and had she not done it she would have endangered her family for the sake of her reputation as a 'good' person. But as it always happens with Snow and Regina, it seems that there isn't anything either of them can do without hurting each other and messing things up even further. It will now cost her her self-image; it will now haunt her with the knowledge that had she been able to bring herself to do this back in the days, her mother would be alive and perhaps none of this would have happened. It will, perhaps – I hope – help her understand what it is like to be that desperate (she's been there once with the No Feelings Ever potion, and managed to escape it thanks to Charming).

I don't know how this'll play out later – there's Rumple to consider, and Henry, and the prophecy; the possibility of Rumple putting Henry in danger in some way (it's very clear that Snow doesn't actually trust Rumple or consider him a part of her 'family'; Emma does, however grudgingly, but that's who Emma is). But for now: Snow, a little tarnished; Regina, not that unsympathetic. I like that. Snow vs. Regina is at the heart of the show, and this adds another layer to it that I like very much.

Etc:
* I continue to be in love with Emma's many hilarious faces. I read somewhere that Katee Sackhoff auditioned for this role, and I don't know, I <3 Katee but I can't imagine anyone else playing the part. Her with the invisible chalk, aw. She can spell 'spell'!

* Cora sending Emma and Neal into the forest with a swipe of her hand, whee.

* Rose McGowan was really great.

* Also apparently Meghan Ory has been cast as the lead (opposite Josh Holloway) in one of ABC's upcoming shows. Yay for Meghan, boo for Red!

* Regina has now effectively killed three of the four people she's really loved. WILL SOMEBODY FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GIVE HER A HUG????

* She's also clearly Simba. I rest my case.

* Neal's a bit of a dudebro, but I did like the Rumple/Neal reunion scene.

* I would now like the show to address Rumple's involvement in this whole mess, and have him take responsibility for his actions. Because here's the thing, if Rumple and Regina were wankers famous on the internet, Regina would be the Big Fandom Bully who posts ALLCAPS screeds and makes fandom hell for people she does not like (read: everyone); Rumple would be msscribe.

Date: 2013-03-13 09:59 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: Jeune fille de Megare statue, B&W (Default)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
their #OneWillDie promos

Oh, that's why everyone's been saying they weren't surprised by Cora dying!

But yes, I loved this episode, and Snow was terrifying. I always had the feeling that she wasn't the kind to actually fight and win a war (involving killing people), and wondered if they'd ever bring that up. Well, I don't have that feeling any more. Snow made her plan, and carried it out by telling the truth and trading on her own "goodness". It was masterfully done, and I'm glad the writers didn't shy away from the consequences by saving Cora at the last minute (but poor Regina's face!)

Date: 2013-03-13 02:21 pm (UTC)
kerithwyn: blathering like a monkey doing Shakespeare (monkey Shakespeare)
From: [personal profile] kerithwyn
I was nearly breathless with Snow's cold, deliberate manipulation of Regina. Flashed me right back to all those variants of Snow White where she's really completely evil. *g*

ITA about Charming being completely useless. Sit down before you hurt yourself, man.

Rose McGowan was perfectly cast.

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swatkat: knight - er, morgana - in shining underwear (Default)
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