I promise I’ll get back to non-Once Upon a Time/TV-related content eventually, but there’s just too much stuff to think about, and I want to write it down for posterity!
Last week we talked about the new season of Once Upon a Time and how it was a reboot and a new beginning for the show. (Queue tears for the loss of Jennifer Morrison on the show, but excitement for new stories!)
But basically, we’ve known very little about what actually is going to take place this season or how Emma exits the show (Death? Break-up? No!) But between the first episode of season 7 and the preview images and promo for episode 2 (the one-off episode that Jennifer Morrison agreed to return for), I think I’m getting a better idea of what’s happening, and I’m FREAKING STOKED!
First, let’s talk about the first episode of this season. My first thoughts post-watch were mixed and confusing. It was Once Upon a Time, the show I love. But for a show in it’s seventh season, it had a lot of exposition for a season opener.
But that’s when it hit me that this is a pilot episode. It’s a pilot for this new world and new story and new characters. It’s definitely based in our original OUAT mythology, but this episode is setting up more than a season. It’s essentially establishing a nearly new TV show. Same mythology, but mostly different characters and slightly different execution.
I can understand why this might totally turn off some fans. It’s like getting a spinoff or sequel series labeled as the original series. If you weren’t expecting it, I could see it being jarring. But from what I’ve been observing on social media since season 6 ended, is that people are in two significant camps. They either love the show for it’s unique take on fairytales and will follow it wherever it goes (I’m here!) or they have a very narrow view of the way the show should function (mainly with respect to its seasons 1-6 main characters and the state of their happy endings) and had abandoned ship with the announcement of Jennifer Morrison leaving the show. They might have decided to watch the first few episodes to see where it goes, but I think with the pilot-like feel of episode 1 and what I suspect is going to happen in episode 2, they may not be returning.
And honestly, that’s okay. I think (although I certainly don’t know at this point with only one episode under our belt) that the OUAT creators are going to honor the journey we went through in seasons 1-6 and season 7 is very much a new, slightly unrelated journey.
I will say that I’m excited for this new and untraditional Cinderella. She definitely captured my heart as soon as she knocked out Henry and commandeered his motorcycle! Also, the new adult Henry played by Andrew J. West was a pleasant surprise. While I feel like we’re going to have reintroduce ourselves to this adult Henry a bit, I feel like in the first episode he navigated the line between likable hero and irritating, clueless grownup who doesn’t believe in fairytales that harkened back to Emma in the pilot. (Especially with his “Really?” at the troll under the bridge. Like mother, like son!) Also, a standout is Alison Fernandez as Lucy, Henry and Jacinda’s daughter, who’s taken over the “little kid who remembers, but everyone just thinks she believes too hard in fairy tales” mantel from Henry. She has been amazing on Jane the Virgin as young Jane, and she’s just as innocent and beautiful on OUAT but with a much larger role! So I’m excited to see where she’ll go!
Now for what I think might happen in episode 2 and how Emma’s absence will be explained. First take a look at this picture:
OH MY GOODNESS DOES THAT HAND TO BELLY MEAN WHAT I THINK IT MEANS?!?!?
So I’ve been torn about Emma/Jenn leaving the show. On the one hand, I’m actually glad to put Emma’s story to rest (because she has been through A LOT!), but on the other, I’ve been afraid that in order to explain her absence in this time jump, they were going to have to kill her off or have she and Hook break up so that he could be caught up in the curse because there’s just no way that if Henry were in trouble that she wouldn’t be out looking for him and certainly wouldn’t be separated from her true love in a curse!
But with the promo suggesting that there are somehow TWO Killians and this photo suggesting that she and Hook are expecting a baby, I think I’m getting a clearer picture of what’s going on. We were introduced last season to alternate universes as Regina’s Evil Queen half had Emma sent to a Wish Realm where the Dark Curse had never been enacted. We met AU Robin there who Regina brought back with them, though later it turned out he wasn’t quite the original Robin and not really fit for this world. Eventually, when Regina accepted her Evil Queen side and gave her some of her good heart, and eventually sent she her to live in that Wish Realm. So essentially, we know that alternate universes exist in OUAT mythology and there can be multiple versions of the same person. I don’t know if it’s a Wish Realm or perhaps Killian is the only Captain Hook in the different storybooks, but I think they’re going to introduce an AU Hook and he’ll be the one left in the Cursed World with Henry and the others. And Emma and original universe Hook will return to Storybrooke (or wherever!), have a baby, and continue living their “happy beginning.” I imagine there will be some conversation between Emma and Henry along the lines of, “It’s my story/journey now” and the torch shall be passed.
From a show writer’s perspective, I think this makes sense. We don’t destroy the true love story that was built over several seasons, and we now have a new single Killian Jones to pair off with someone because if we’re being honest here, there was no way they were going to continue with Colin O’Donoghue on the show and somehow keep him single. This is primetime TV we’re talking about and romance sells.
So…these are just my hunches (and maybe a little bit of hopes because I don’t want Emma to die!), but I think we’ve been given enough clues that I’m on the right track. This does open up the question of whether the Regina and Gold in Hyperion Heights are also AU versions of themselves. We know Regina already has a doppelganger in the Wish Realm so could it be the Evil Queen running Roni’s instead? As for Mr. Gold, while it seems unlikely that Rumple would actually let himself get caught by a curse, it’s also just as difficult to imagine there being any other Rumple, but Rumple himself.
Whatever it turns it out to be, we’ll just have to wait and see!