‘Once Upon a Time’ season 2, episode 9 review: How is ‘Once Upon a Time’ season 2 faring?

"Once Upon a Time" - CastOver the course of the next several weeks, we’re going to take a “progress report” of sorts on shows that have recently ended for the year, and try to analyze the good and the bad. Are they living up to expectations, or even finding a way to raise their game to the next level?

We are going to kick things off here Thursday with a show that clearly premiered in September to great anticipation, but has seen a few stumbles since in “Once Upon a Time.” Ultimately, what happened this fall was the end result of trying to replace one gimmick (and we don’t mean this with a negative connotation) with another. The curse was a great obstacle to force on some of the characters, since it provided a challenge, a purpose, and allowed us as viewers to get to know characters who were not privy to all of the information that they had. In breaking it, showrunners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz took an enormous risk: they likely knew that not everyone was going to love raising the stakes so early so that the characters were aware of their double lives, but it was fun to see a show take that gamble so early in its run.

In some ways, the gamble paid off during season 2 as it was great to see the characters of Rumpelstiltskin and Belle evolve in Storybrooke, and the molding together of past and present created great challenges for Red and especially the Evil Queen. However, the Charming Family Reunion was a tad botched: why get a couple together, only to separate them a week later? The circumstances surrounding the trip to the fairytale world that is felt tacked on for the sake of drama, mostly since it felt like it didn’t need to happen.

Things did get slightly better once we started to see Emma and Mary Margaret in that world, but the new characters felt largely like wasted opportunities. There was some great, awkward tension between Mulan and Aurora within here, and it is still unclear as to whether or not that story will continue now that everyone else that matters is back in Storybrooke. Meanwhile, even Captain Hook felt like a bit of a letdown given that he seems more charming than evil, really (but this may be in comparison to Cora). Plus, introducing so many new characters, nice as they may be, detracted from the fact that Archie was a non-factor in the first half of the season and we are still waiting to see more of Grumpy’s story, as well.

The great thing about “Once Upon a Time” is that we are about many of the characters, and there is probably not a show out there that is more fun when it comes to guessing who could turn up next. Sadly, it just felt like the writers cast their nets a little too wide during the first half of the season, and they realized the challenge of trying to create a story that had stakes on anywhere near the same level as the curse. Now that the family is finally together, it feels like the season we have been long waiting to see will start to really unfold.

Overall, it was a nice start to season 2 … but not something that will have new fans flocking to see what the buzz is about. It’s probably a step above the first half of season 1, but a step below the episodes that aired earlier this year.

If you want to read some more news on the future of “Once Upon a Time,” be sure to head on over to the link here.

Photo: ABC

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