Once Season 5B: 9 Hopes
Alert: this article assumes current knowledge of Once Upon A Time
Dearly Departed, we are gathered here today…
… to fish Hook out of the Underworld.
I don’t know about you, but it has been a long hiatus. I filled the time doing this and that, of course, as one does. Life is full of non-moments. In fact, I think it is the punctuations that we live for, the nodes between the links in time, the accent marks in the music. Once is such a mark for me. We as humans attempt to spend as much time doing pleasant things with pleasant people as possible. In between, we go about doing the other necessary, but less fun, things which sustain us and enable us to create the more precious moments for ourselves and other people. You know, adulting. To me, Once feels like getting a break from all that pressure to make good. When I think of the end of this hiatus, I am transported back to those special moments in childhood when I found that Easter egg, before my brother and cousins, and I held that beautiful emblem of parent-love in my hands.
There is nothing in the adulthood quite like an Easter egg hunt. Except perhaps these little moments, which we spend our lives looking for. Specialness is rare, by definition, and Once is special. I have been spending time convincing, cajoling, begging and suggesting that those around me catch up with Once. And slowly, slowly, some of them have come around. I just love getting phone calls disguised as social check-ins which are really an excuse to talk about Once. Folks get caught up and then they call me. And we talk, sometimes for hours.
Fiction is sneaky in its power. Often we think we’re just in the mood to be entertained, or maybe we want company when we’re alone, but then something happens. Instead of indulging in the quintessential passivity, couch loungin’ ‘n TV watchin’, we’re transported somewhere else. Neurons start sparking as we make associations between our real lives and this new land which exists only in our collective mind. Yes, we are Borg, we all have Once suffusing our synapses. This commonality of experience brings our own lives into focus and it connects us to the experiences of others. Eavesdropping on the inner workings of the writers and actors, directors and crew is, thankfully, an acceptable mechanism of voyeurism. There are few more transparent and available looks into the minds of our fellow humans. Fiction is quite an intimate exchange between creators and fans.
And so we are, for an hour or so at a time, vividly imagining, learning and feeling together in spite of our ultimate separateness. Until it ends. The screen fades to black and then we get credits and music as a consolation prize. Hopefully we are left bereft and missing the people we were just hanging out with. That is definitely the case with Once.
It feels like my friends went on vacation and I’ve been just waiting for their return so I can invite them over for dinner and hear all the latest in their lives. I have missed these characters as if they were real people.
Hi Emma! So sorry about Hook, we all miss him. Make sure you send me a postcard from the Underworld.
Rumple, buddy, you gotta talk to your wife about you-know-what… I understand why you did what you did, but, my friend, you need help. Serious help. If you ever wanna talk, just call me, or better yet, come over and I’ll always listen.
Some people say, Barbara, it’s just a TV show, right?
Oh, of course I know they’re not real! But the neat thing about fiction is that while it is all make-believe, our reactions, our thoughts, our feelings, our pain, our fears and yes our hopes are completely and absolutely real. Our mental landscapes happen in real life though they aren’t visible to other people, even when we try to share. The best we can do for each other is to listen because, after all, we cannot experience one another’s internal workings directly. Unfortunately. Everything that happens in our minds happens and is real and impactful to the external reality we share in common.
Speaking of which, the impact, and indeed the whole point, of fiction is for us to react to it, to interact with it in our minds. Chewing over these fictional relationships and situations feeds our ability to deal with our real lives. This process informs us about our deeply held beliefs, can challenge them, can change us for better and, I would be remiss not to say, for worse also.
Fiction is like a dress rehearsal for life.
That’s why stories are so critically important for our life long maturation processes.
So yep, I’ve been thinking about you Belle, for months, fearing for how you’ll deal with what’s coming between you and the man you love. I’m so here for you. Whatever you end up deciding about him.
Regina, I know she’s not yours, but this isn’t your first adoption and I think with all the hard work you’ve been doing these past few years, you’re going to do even better the second time. And you did great with Henry even while being evil.
But I’ve gotta say, I question your judgment, Emma and Regina, in taking your teenage son to Hell with you… He’s not even an adult yet.
That brings me to my hopes for Season 5B. We’ve all had quite a bit of time to think about what we want to have happen next. Since the plane of possibility is so hugely broad I’ll conduct a little poll about my own hopes and see which them you would most like to see come to fruition.
Without further ado, here are my hopes.
Most of all, though less specific, I hope this little mission to the Underworld goes spectacularly sideways for our intrepid adventurers. Once is at its best when I’m left staring at the screen with the blood draining from my face while I’m trying to figure out where that came from. That said, I’m looking forward to warm fuzzies too. Once has given us some of the most touching moments I have ever seen on television in the past and we have no reason to expect less in 5B.
Adjacent to those moments, while I am up front about Rumbelle being my favorite of the romantic relationships, I have grown away from just waiting for snuggles. What I really want for them is to spend time dealing with their lives. We haven’t had a lot of that recently and, together or apart, I want to watch them sorting out their difficulties. Shipping is nice and all, but that’s what fan fiction is for. I want our writers to do some of the heavy lifting required between Belle and Rumple and put it on the screen for us to watch. Real life relationships are challenged by themes of addiction, dishonesty, ambition and codependence. Lots of people struggle with how to manage this and how amazing would it be to see this play out between Belle and Rumple?
What are you hoping for? Please comment below.
It’s clear I have a tremendous amount of faith in the creators of Once, and hopes plot-wise as well. We are in good hands, my friends. The writers have shown over and over a creativity seldom even approached elsewhere on television. Once is a very special Easter egg indeed and our journey of discovery is just about to resume. Even better, the internet just told me that Once has been picked up for Season 6!!!!!
Do you have your basket? Let’s go!
While you’re here, come check out my Once projects:
Before you go, you can check out my research project! I have conducted a study of OUAT viewer preferences and you can check on my progress here. Yay for science!