AUTHOR’S NOTE: There are spoilers for Seasons One and Two of the series; if you have not seen it, please take the time to watch both seasons and become instantly addicted. Also, some slight spoilers for Season Three, so venture carefully.
I love the fantasy genre. As a young girl growing up, I devoured everything that I could get my hands on that was fantasy-based: books, films, art, music, TV shows, etc. In recent years – well, at least the last 20 – I’ve become a huge fan of TV shows that ventured into different fantasy worlds. From the original 1980’s real-world revisionist take on the classic tale Beauty and the Beast starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman, Lucy Lawless as a warrior princess who fought warlords and gods alike (Xena, Warrior Princess), and more recent shows like Grimm and Lost Girl, I’ve been in fantasy-and-mythological geek heaven. These shows bring to life fascinating stories filled with lots of drama, adventure, suspense, comedy, and romance, and heroes/heroines ranging from humans to non-humans (Vincent from BATB is a lion-like humanoid, and Bo Dennis from LG a succubus).
“Fantasy allows us to step away from the responsibilities of the real world and spend a few hours in an imaginary one, escaping for just a little bit and taking the time to enjoy ourselves…” (quote courtesy of my mom).
One of the most popular sub-genres in the world of fantasy is the fairy-tale. We all have fairy-tales that we loved to read while growing up, and many of us have seen the Disney animated film versions of some of our favorite stories, though they are quite different than the original source material in many cases. I remember spending Saturday mornings in the mid-1980’s at a small theater on an Air Force base in Bedford, Massachusetts (Hanscom Air Force Base), watching lots of Disney films with my father including: Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
Snow White is also one of the main inspirations for the modern fantasy series Once Upon A Time, a fan-favorite show featuring many of your favorite fairy-tales (and other classic stories) brought to life in our world, with a few twists to the original tales. Once Upon A Time premiered on October 23, 2011, and became an instant hit for the ABC network here in the United States. The series gave viewers the chance to explore their favorite characters’ lives in the Enchanted Forest, along with exploring the lives of some of our favorite villains like the Evil Queen from Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, and many others. We are able to see these characters residing and trying to survive in our world while they try to return back home.
The show’s popularity with fans was enough for ABC to green-light a spin-off series that will be airing October 19, and it will be running concurrently with OUAT’s third season. Once Upon A Time in Wonderland will be a 12-episode limited-run series based on Alice in Wonderland, and will be airing Thursdays nights while the original series will continue to air on Sundays in its regular time-slot. The creators of both series, Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis, have hinted at crossover episodes between the two series too. Whether the spin-off will be a one-shot run or a continuous series is yet to be determined. I got the chance to see a sneak-peek 20-minute preview of OUAT: Wonderland at this year’s Fan Expo Canada in Toronto, and it looks just as awesome as OUAT. The series features Alice, of course, along with the White Rabbit, the Knave of Hearts, the Red Queen, Jafar from Aladdin (take a few minutes to process that), and the Queen of Hearts herself. The Queen of Hearts is already familiar to OUAT viewers – she makes her first appearance in the first season and her identity is revealed in the second, and she has close ties to our main series villains: Rumpelstiltskin/Mr.Gold and the Evil Queen/Regina Mills.
Once Upon A Time also has a huge and devoted fandom, and fans of the series call themselves Oncers. Using social media sites like Tumblr and Twitter, Oncers have been able to interact with fellow fans and share their fan fiction, art, and videos with one another, as well as discussing the show and its many characters and couples. There are many fan-favorite couples that fall in canon with the series, and couples that fans wish would get together (fan canon, or “fanon”). Two of the most popular couples are canon and fanon: RumBelle, featuring Rumpelstiltskin and Belle French from Beauty and the Beast, and Swan Queen, featuring Emma Swan and the Evil Queen herself, Regina Mills. If I tried to list all of the characters and the many, many different canon and fanon couples here, I’d be writing for hours. Check out Tumblr and Twitter for your favorites – that’s how I discovered that Swan Queen has such a large following. I’ve also spent many hours on Tumblr checking out Swan Queen-related stuff. Umm…before I get distracted any further…
Once Upon A Time aired its season two finale on May 12, 2013 in the United States. Our main cast of heroes and villains – Emma Swan, Snow White/Mary Margaret, Prince Charming/David Nolan, Evil Queen/Regina Mills, Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold, and new addition Captain Hook/Killian Jones – find themselves heading off to Neverland to rescue Emma and Regina’s son, Henry Mills, from the clutches of annoying human villains Greg Mendel and Tamara. They are working for a mysterious “Big Bad” who turns out to be Peter Pan himself, who wants Henry for his own nefarious reasons. Will our villains and heroes (who all have a personal connection to Henry) save him before Peter Pan unleashes his plans for the boy? Season 3 starts tonight, so lots of fun and in-fighting and adventuring will be explored, I’m sure.
In the meantime, if you would like a quick refresher course on the first two seasons and what our characters have been up to since the beginning and the end of the curse, check out Part 2 of this recap. There are spoilers galore in Part 2, so if you’re trying to remain a spoiler-free Once Upon A Time viewing virgin, I suggest you buy or borrow the DVD and Blu-ray discs from your friends or catch it on Hulu Plus or Netflix. It is a fun show that has a very interesting storyline and filled with different origins to all of our favorite characters that sometimes vary drastically from the stories that we all read growing up.
The Fairy-tale Begins
Before I continue, here’s a disclaimer: this recap is neutral and gives the story the way we see it in the series. No shipper wars or bashing of characters here – I have equal love for all. I love most of the established relationships in the series, but my favorite isn’t canon: Swan Queen. I’m also an Evil Regal, but I recognize the good and evil the Queen has done before and after she gained her “Evil” title. I love my villains as much as I love my heroes. There are characters that I love and some that I dislike, and the same goes for relationships. This is a Oncer-friendly zone, and I love the fandom. If you have any favorite characters or relationships that you would like to share, or even favorite episodes, add some comments at the end of this post.
The general consensus among my fellow Oncers is that Season 1 is the best season so far of the show. The main story unfolded slowly and continued to build through the first season as our heroine, Emma Swan, fought against our main villain, the Evil Queen. Now known as the Mayor of Storybrooke, Maine, Regina Mills still rules with a beautifully-manicured fist as she watches the very people that she has cursed live their lives in blissful ignorance of their former selves. She may have had her specially-created happy ending for the first 28 years of living in our world, but all of that will change when Emma arrives in her town and starts to undo her curse, with the help of her own son, Henry Mills.
To make matters more complicated, Henry is Emma’s biological son; she put him up for adoption while sitting in prison for a crime she took the fall for. We find out the identity of Henry’s father in Season 2, but it was an open-secret that all fans knew and guessed correctly even though the creators, Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis, tried in vain to hide until the big reveal. Season 2 started off very strong but seemed to lose focus towards the end of the season. The last two episodes of the season improved upon the somewhat-rushed storyline that started after Episode 16, and and the Season 2 finale was pretty awesome.
Season 3 looks like it will deliver what fans loved about the show during the first season, while trying to balance stories in three different worlds: Storybrooke, where most of our characters still reside; the Enchanted Forest, their former home where some of their friends and family remain; and Neverland, the mysterious and dangerous land that our six heroes and villains venture into to rescue Henry. Along the way we’ll see familiar faces as well as many new ones including: the Lost Boys, Tinkerbell, Ariel, Prince Eric, and Peter Pan himself.
I can’t wait for the premiere tonight. I’m quickly trying to finish my recap of the first two seasons. It won’t be a very lengthy post because explaining the story that unfolded during the first two seasons would take longer than just an hour or two to read and write. It’s best to gain a general idea of what Once Upon A Time is about and enjoy it yourselves. I remember missing most of the first season because I always seemed to be busy on Sunday evenings, and even though my friends DVR’ed the episodes for me, I never got the chance to watch the show until Episode 15 in the first season, “Red-Handed” (Red Riding Hood and Granny’s origin tale).
I was not an Evil Queen/Regina Mills fan either. The woman was so conniving and bitchy and beyond evil, but hot damn was she sexy at the same time! Honestly, I can’t think of another actress who could’ve pulled off the character as well as Lana Parrilla has been able to do in the role. When you’ve got me cheering on the villain over the heroes, you must be doing a heck of an acting job. It’s also cool to see a fellow Puerto Rican on the screen. Half of the time she’s not acting; that’s how Puerto Rican women are sometimes. *wink*
Welcome to the world of Once Upon A Time!