Because when has wishing for something ever gone wrong?
In all seriousness, I’ve watched five and a half seasons of Once Upon A Time now and like any fan who takes this stuff too seriously, I’ve got a wish-list.
- Explore/expand Rumple’s relationship with his grandson. Please! Let Rumple and Henry get to know each other. If I were Henry, I would be asking Grandpa Gold for stories about my dead father. How could these two being thrust together to solve a problem not be great drama?
- I want to see the promise of the premise: fairytale characters in our world. Evict the cast from Storybrooke! That, or do start driving tour buses up and down Main Street such that our rather magical characters have to confront that they now live in a world “without magic.”
- Start teaming up other non-obvious duos for shenanigans: Belle and David could have to solve something or Granny and Hook. Yes. That sounds like a riot, Granny and Hook save the day.
- More Archie! So many of, all of, our main cast really need some couch time to deal with their issues. And therapists are problem solvers, use Archie!
- A direction. I would like to see an overarching goal for the series, a grand arc. Give us a sense of where this has all been going so that when the series does end, because like all good things it will, we get the satisfaction of having arrived.
None of these things are related to my hopes for the currently active storylines, not because I don’t have such hopes, believe me I do, but rather I wanted to take a look at the bigger picture. These wishes are more for the distant future, wishes I think could bring Once viewers (me!) a lot of satisfaction.
Admittedly, I think the first one is a bit of a plot hole that needs filling. In a story so focused on family, it doesn’t make sense not to address a huge loss for two major characters. Both Henry and Rumple have unmet needs with regards to Baelfire’s death. These two characters need each other for support and there is no way Henry would not want to know everything about his father. Rumple is the only source of information about Baelfire’s childhood.
In addition, the fact that Rumple lost his son is what caused this entire story; it’s a little bit important. So it would likewise be important to show how Rumple is dealing with the death of that son. He would want to know his grandson and do everything he could to preserve that relationship. As it stands, he has a relationship with Henry in name only. The last time we saw a hint of this relationship was early in season four.
My second wish could be a way to raise the stakes and address the fundamentals of the show. The interaction between two worlds is a conflict so huge there are a million directions they could take this. Exploring this concept would be a perfect way to use the characters we have to full advantage. We, if it’s not to presumptuous to say so, are attached to the characters who have been in our lives for years and their stories are important to us. I do not feel the need to add more fairytales to the mix, but to explore how the players we have (and that’s a lot already!) would handle our world, the world outside the town line.
Of course, opening this door would allow us to exit the typical patterns of interactions we have come to expect between our characters. Who knows what Granny and Hook might get into when Granny expands her franchise to include catering river cruises on the Jolly Roger?
And oh dearie me do our poor characters all need therapy! Archie is the town secret-keeper and I can just see him feeling unable to stay uninvolved in a particular catastrophe because of what he knows, doctor-patient confidentiality or not. A rich vein for exploration largely untapped.
Lastly, the sense of direction. One of the greatest strengths of several stellar television shows in the recent past has been that they are a complete story. I’m talking about Breaking Bad and Battlestar Galactica, the 2003 reimagining. Both of these had an infinite array of possibilities which could take place between the beginning and the end. The writers could go after any theme they wanted as long as it served the spine of the story. Without spoiling either show, having an end point doesn’t have to mean a fixed number of seasons or episodes, it is only a direction that, when the writers are satisfied that they have explored the world they created, can be employed to satisfy the audience and tie everything together neatly.
A direction does not have to be the back of a cave with nothing beyond it, it can be more like a doorway at the end of the hall. It can even be an open door, but it is a marker and it let’s the audience know what to anticipate. In my opinion, anticipation and the guessing game the audience plays with fiction are a huge part of the fun. I have this inkling of where a story is headed, so I become an investigator picking up clues trying to figure out how to get there, wherever there is.
A directional hint also gives the audience confidence that the writers themselves are not lost even when the story meanders delightfully somewhere unexpected. I am certain there are disadvantages to having a known direction, but a direction can serve the story by revealing just enough of the spine to hold what would otherwise appear to be disparate pieces together. I believe that gentle boundaries help keep a story focused on what is important and help it keep moving toward its ultimate purpose. And stories do need a purpose!
Once may have hinted at a direction with Snow’s goal of getting back to normal and in how Emma and Aladdin both have expressed fatigue over the constant barrage of hardships suffered because they are saviors. I earnestly hope that Once does not conclude its run with everything being “normal” in Storybrooke because for me, there is no worse death for a story than to rip away what made it special in the first place.
That said, I would still find it quite satisfying to have our characters learn to live with and accept their extraordinary lives and be able to pursue more ordinary dreams. But don’t take away the magic; that would kill something beautiful and unique.
Some may be wondering why I’ve been talking about how to end a story with reference to Once. No, I don’t have any scoop or inside knowledge. I would not want any such thing anyway because I am vehemently anti-spoiler. But, because I am a writer, I know that the end of the story is the thing that keeps a story on track. I would be delighted to see Once successfully go on for several more years. I would not be delighted to see it wander fizzling in the dark for several more years. So it is with that in mind that I am thinking about its ultimate aim.
It needs to have one, even if it doesn’t tell us at all, my stated preferences aside.
I’m certain it is obvious to everyone that Once means a great deal to me. I have a wish-list not because I think Once is a lousy show, but because when I think about Once, my brain starts sparking off in a million different directions. I have so many ideas about what Once could do it isn’t even funny. If Mr. Kitsis and Mr. Horowitz are looking for another employee, consider this my audition piece. Yeah, I’d love to write for Once. That would make me extremely happy!
Do you have a million ideas about Once too?
What do you need from Once? What are you hoping for quite aside from the granular season level plot points? If Once were yours, what would you do with it?
I can’t wait to read your comments!
While you’re thinking about it, you can check out some of my projects! I have conducted a study of OUAT viewer preferences and you can check on my progress here. Yay for science!
You can also check out my fan-art! This pottery project is a thank-you to the creators of Once and a testimonial of what Once has become to its fans.