ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 4, Episode 12 (Darkness On the Edge of Town)
While I am in the mood to rip someone’s heart out and crush it, or have my own ripped out and buried in the dirt so that wild animals could eat it up…(No points for figuring out which character I identify a lot with!)
So the opening episode of Season 4, Act Two does a very good job of showing how the characters have adapted since the events of the midseason finale and setting up the new plots points. We are given further background into the new villains for this story arc, we have some interesting drama with a dark creature (Fantasia’s chernabog, to be precise), and Rumplestiltskin weasels his way back into Storybrooke despite being banished. The episode sets up interesting storylines for the future – namely, that the Charmings seem to have a dark secret that overrides their heroic personas and that Maleficient is not quite dead. Also, Regina’s question for the Author takes a new turn when the newly-freed Blue Fairy tells her that the Sorcerer and the Author are not the same individual.
This last point was quite intriguing from the point of view that the “quest for the Author” is an allegory for a quest for God. Really, how many of us have thought of God (or the concept of him, for non-believers) as a punishing, finicky tyrant to decides willy-nilly who is bad or good or who gets a good life and who gets a bad one? The Blue Fairy, as a representative of good magic and church allegory, reminds Regina that looking for the Author is a dangerous path. Why is she looking for him? What is she going to ask him? How is she going to approach him (or her)? For her part, Regina actually hesitates. Earlier in the season, she was much more determined – she wanted him to write her a happy ending. But now she realises that her traditional method of walking in and demanding a happy ending (or even simply asking for one) is not necessarily going to work. Why does she want it, and what does she really think her happy ending is?
By contrast, Rumplestiltskin tells Cruella de Vil and Ursula that they are going to demand that the Author write them new endings. He insists that they are not responsible for their own decisions, but the Author is the one controlling everything. All of their bad decisions and bad lots in life are results of the Author’s wishes and writing. He has decided that they are villains and so they cannot make good decisions if their life depended on it. As Cruella herself puts it: “Well, I guess that is better than bad judgement and gin.”
I am looking forward to where the writers of the show take this storyline. From the story so far, I am guessing that they believe that everyone is responsible for their own choices and that whether or not someone is a villain or a hero depends on those choices, not on their circumstances in the story. Also, it seems that they are exploring the fluidity between heroism and villainy. In the realm of fairy tales, it is easy to believe that heroes are always good and they always win, and that villains are always evil and always lose. But whether or not one is a hero depends on one’s point of view and depends on the story itself. It also depends on how you deal with a situation. A hero may not always win, but a hero loses gracefully. Or at least, without senselessly killing anybody.