With Hallowe’en being Wednesday, this was the week for monsters of all kinds on television.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 2, Episode 5 (The Doctor)
Scariest villain: the Doctor, who believes science can defeat magic
Scary scale: 5 out of 10 for cheesiness, but 9 out of 10 if one considers the implications
This is the episode where the Evil Queen is both made and unmade, and where the identity of Dr. Whale is revealed to the audience. I really enjoyed it, but it did seem cluttered. There was a greater moral message amid the character development, and I have to admit I want them to give the actual and metaphorical heart-pulling a rest for a few weeks. I love the character of the Evil Queen, but I disliked how that story got mixed up in a general “magic vs. science” debate. The latter was cleverly done, but it clashed with the character arc. I wish the writers had split these concepts into two separate episodes. Poor Evil Queen again – her major episode seemed to be hijacked.
I want to know why the writers (who, being the creators of the series in this episode, clearly had a reason for this) decided to bring up the question of science in a saga about magic and fairy tales. I read quite a few negative reviews about this. Personally, I like the concept of magic co-existing with science, and I like the concept of a character like Dr. Whale who is cynical about magic and believes that it can be trumped by science. I like the idea of there being a colourless world based on old sci-fi movies. Those movies were made in an age where science still was magic – where it was the new magic.
Now, science is heralded as the anti-magic. We are told that there is no such thing as magic. Anything and everything has a “scientific” explanation. Superstitions are either false or true, and if they are true, it is because they have been proved by “science.” Likewise, the paranormal is either hokey hogwash or something natural and scientific – perhaps caused by electricity – and is thus not really paranormal anymore. Science has become a way for humans to control the environment and each other.
Science is very helpful. For many viewers of this episode, hurricane warnings obscured their enjoyment of the show. Thanks to science, we can predict and track hurricanes. We can prepare for them, communicate warnings to those in their path, and save people in danger. To someone unfamiliar with modern technology, this would also seem quite magical. Therein lies the question: in our world at least, magic is but unknown science, and science is but known magic, or is it?
If science and magic are one and the same, then they naturally can’t disprove each other. For one to exist, so does the other. But magic is bumbling and imprecise (probably why I like it so much), while science is deliberate and exact. Hence the scary factor of 9.
Season 5, Episode 5 (Probable Cause)
Scariest villain: the murderer who is so intent on revenge that he steals an innocent man’s life before killing him
Scary factor: 10 out of 10
Once again, I was proven right in my assertion that people who live alone get unfair suspicion thrown at them. Poor Richard Castle! He’s a grown man who lives alone and writes for a living. Why shouldn’t the alibi of being at home writing make sense? Surely give the man some benefit of the doubt. Look for other explanations other than “suspect is lying.” Stop trusting your technology to a fault. The whole murder operation screamed “frame-up!” The vengeful murderer was almost too elaborate.
I was also creeped out by the idea of said murderer stalking Castle (when he was alone or otherwise) and sneaking into his private home. He could have killed him at any time, but that would not have been vengeance. He wanted to steal Castle’s life. The murderer honestly seems to believe that Castle stole his life, although I have little sympathy when that life was one of unmitigated killing. I feel bad for Evil Queens whose happy endings get ruined by Snow Whites and as such, they feel justified in ruining their Snow Whites’ happy endings. I don’t feel bad for murderers who get their just deserts and then blame their sentences on the law enforcement.
Luckily, those who knew Castle knew that he could not have committed the horrific crime that all the conventional evidence seemed to say he did. The episode worked out well. Scary, but well.
Season 5, Episode 7 (Stroll on the Wild Side – Part I)
Scariest villain: Anyone who hides out in a closed library with intent to kill is very scary in my books (pun intended) – all the more important to avoid blocking the lines of sight and having low shelving, not that even those measures do much good in the case of a professional assassin.
Scary factor: 8 out of 10
Det. Murdoch investigates the death of a librarian with a mysterious past. One of his past love interests returns in the present. Dr. Ogden goes on a crusade to ease the burden of women suffering from too many children, while Dr. Grace sees things from a more radical view of liberating women all together. The subplot with the doctors is mostly for dramatic purposes and character development, as well as an excuse to see Dr. Ogden again.
This is foremost an organized crime mystery. It has many twists and turns (and is only half-over at this point), but we are treated to the best of the Victorian underworld. In so many ways, it no different than our own, but it is just otherworldly enough that we are enthralled rather than put off. How many conspiracies are there? Is the victim also one of mistaken identity, or was she the target all along? Is Det. Murdoch’s lady-love Anna a potential victim as well, or is it all in their heads?
To see the conclusion, wait for the second part next week!