Review: Once Upon a Time - 'Fall'
The last ten minutes
Everything else
2.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

It took three episodes of garbage but the end of “Fall” finally kicks the plot back into gear. Only it took three episodes of garbage to get here. All pointless and inelegant filler that dragged down a season of Once Upon a Time that started off surprisingly strong. At least the Frozen crossover is finally laid to rest with Elsa and Anna’s timelines converging in the present (and their hometown left to the machinations of Han’s fabulous bouffant) and the more pressing (and fascinating) plot gets to be pushed forward.

But it took thirty minutes of a forty minute episode to do all that. Thirty minutes of plodding narrative that ignores all the show’s characters to check items off on a list of plot points. Thirty minutes of Elsa crying and Emma being uncomfortable with emotion and Gold growling and Hook looking pained and Regina being terrified of what’s to come.

Regina’s descent into giggly romanticism, tenderness, and heroism has been surprisingly gradual. Lana Parilla has come a very long way in her portrayal of her, but it’s only when Regina warns Robin that you realize how far she’s taken the character. Here’s a good-hearted woman legitimately terrified of what she’s capable of. All the good in her keeps something extraordinarily sinister at bay. Yet even when she’s good she’s still the most even keeled person in the group. She’s quick to make the hard decisions that give the “heroes” pause.

Her terror bookends the episode and it’s a shame we don’t get treated to it as a through line. We do, at the very least, get a few other moments of terror. All in those last few minutes. We see Anna certain she’s about to drown (she doesn’t) and the Blue Fairy positive she’s about to be sucked into a ridiculous magic hat (she is). The terror of the three women punctuates the three stories of the hour and also shows just how unwieldy this season has become. Which is a little surprising. The show has burdened itself with ample plot but still finds it necessary to do three hours of filler.

An hour after I watched “Fall” I’m still struggling to remember anything that happened beyond that last minute where Regina’s worriedly pacing and the music is swelling and everyone looks skyward and then Ginnifer Goodwin pulls her face into bitch mode. That moment is so good, but it isn’t enough to fix the sense of waste this episode burdened itself with.

Cross your fingers. Maybe next week something will actually happen on the show.

Notes

  • Hook is still conflicted because he doesn’t have a heart. It means nothing because no one else knows.
  • Gold HAS to be having a comeuppance soon right?
  • I have taken a dump on these last few episodes but props to Anna calling out Han’s for a musical number.
  • And props to just Elizabeth Lail in general. She takes the random Buffy-style dialogue they throw her and sells the hell out of it. If she sticks around it really wouldn’t be a loss.
  • Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin act the hell out of the jail scene and contribute to the excellence of those last few minutes of the show. When they want to bring their A-game it can be worth it.
  • Elizabeth Mitchell is largely MIA this episode. Her boobs, however, are not.
  • When Elsa went in for a hug with Anna after saying “I’ve been wanting to do this,” I honestly thought the show was going to go Game of Thrones on us.
  • I complain about filler and Gold’s plot? Feels a lot like filler. Fingers crossed something actually comes of the ridiculousness that is his storyline.
  • Emma knows something is up with Hook. Emma don’t got time for it.
  • Emma calling her parents Mom and Dad. It took a while for them to earn that moment but now it is totally natural.
  • Emma and Regina’s mutual surprise when Mary Margaret agrees with Regina.
  • But Regina saying Henry and Robin are the only ones who trust her? Less natural. Was the ice bridge Regina/Emma bonding episode a fevered dream of the viewers?
  • Next Week: No. Seriously. This time it’s for real. The curse we’ve been promised for weeks will ACTUALLY hit and people will go evil/bad and Mary Margaret will body slam Regina through glass and we will likely get a whole scene where Regina feels evil and opts for a wardrobe change.
  • merwordup

    “But Regina saying Henry and Robin are the only ones who trust her? Less natural. Was the ice bridge Regina/Emma bonding episode a fevered dream of the viewers?”
    Let’s not forget that Snow also tends to believe in Regina as well. They are trying to sell Outlaw Queen but it is cheap and contrive.
    And why is Robin not trying to find his son in the midst of a game-changing curse????????? I forgot, Marian and Roland do not exist anymore. The only person in Robin’s world is Regina.