Sunday, May 5, 2013

Once Upon a Barrie-Land

This post contains spoilers about the TV show Once Upon a Time.  Proceed at your own risk.

I’ve made it known before that I enjoy ABC’s Once Upon a Time.  It’s a clever and fresh take on fairy tales.  Well, once upon a time, they expanded the definition by including the Lewis Carroll Alice tales.  A little later on, Dr. Frankenstein came into the mix.  Yet it still remained as fantastic as the stories from which it borrowed.  In a nutshell, “The Mad Hatter” explains to the skeptic character that all stories are histories.  They’re just told differently.  Our ‘actual’ history, in other words, probably lost something of pure truth in the writing of it.  Speaking sort of metaphorically, all worlds can be peeked into, or semblances of them.  In this way, we can allow for the spins on characters and events that we thought we knew.  The creators of tales heard whispers and tried to get it right.  Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t.  Of course, this only works within such a construct.  Separate Peter and Wendy and it becomes law until itself.  It can’t be told differently or contradicted or re-imagined… not unto its own telling as told by the author.   But the show does allow for deviations and it’s in this way that Once Upon a Time finally fully approached the Neverland.
With some rather unexpected results!

Hook has been on the show for quite a long time now.  However, we get to know him completely away from the Neverland.  Although we do know (and saw him chart a course for) the infamous isle.  [Once Upon a Time utilizes flashbacks to fully tell and realize their story.]  Their Hook is meant to make us swoon.  He’s much younger with good looks.  And his personality is sort of Jack Sparrow mellowed out with a touch of Barrie’s evil man.  The hook is on the incorrect hand, but then, it’s correct for Disney’s version and this is a production under their jurisdiction.  An interesting variation and major change is that Peter Pan did not cut off the captain’s hand.  Nope, not here.  Rather it had been the crocodile.  Except the crocodile isn’t an animal.  It’s a man with scaly skin, none other than the show’s Dark One himself, Rumpelstiltskin, who’d been thwarted by the pirate earlier in life before obtaining his magical power. The way I figure it, Peter would convince himself he cropped off the hand and bragged as such, thus the tale came to be.  For a whole season or so we’ve been wondering about the Neverland and Peter Pan.  Lemonie and I, and probably a slew of others, suspected a character as being Pan.  He even recognized and disliked seeing Hook.   But, we were wrong.

Well, they finally showed us how both the boy and the island manifestation in this version of fantasy on the episode “Second Star to the Right.”  Naturally they used Disney insertions into the tale of Peter Pan.  The second star to the right is one of two.  However, despite the title, it is never spoken.   We see a “second star” flash when Wendy is taken away.  And yes, I phrased it that way on purpose. For the living shadow is the other Disney touch.  Yet another unexpected twist.  It’s just the shadow!  There’s no boy.  He’s never referred to as Peter nor Pan.  Only the magic shadow.  Yet we can see that he’s dressed in leaves. Though Wendy wants to go (and it’s just her, by the way, not her brothers, too) the shadow forcibly drags her away.  She had been warned by a boy she’d been harboring in the house unbeknownst to her parents. (I didn’t know the nursery had a hidden compartment either, but it’s quite Barrie-like!) And oh – this boy happens to be from another world.  (This character fell into ours through a portal too many moons ago in the overall story.)  He fears magic, but away Wendy goes.  She comes back, though.  And mentions the mermaids and fairies…and the darkness at night.  She then describes the cries of children wanting to go home.  But the shadow won’t let them leave!  She escaped because it wanted a boy (imagine that!) and she said it could take one of her brothers.  The boy from the Enchanted Forest (the main place the storybook characters in the show came from) tries to defend them but ultimately goes instead to save the Darling Family.  (The boy lost both his parents, so it’s important to him.)  He fights the rapidly and dangerously flying shadow along the way, though, and plunges into the sea.  He’s picked up by Captain Hook.

As for the Neverland itself, we don’t get to see it other than glooming in the distance.  I’m not disappointed in that.  For their version needed to have it mysterious and foreboding.  Overall, I rather liked this take on it.  A recurring theme and line of the show all throughout has been “Magic comes with a price” so I enjoyed making the Neverland and its child thief as dark as can be.

Lastly, I’d like to say the portrayal of the Darlings is wonderful.  They certainly “looked” like them.  And how wonderful to weave in more of Barrie by having Mrs. Darling all too welcoming and ready to have another little one join the family.  Of course, Mr. Darling had two shillings to say about it.  But in the end, Mrs. Darling won out.  Any doubt? 

Once Upon a Time, thanks for bringing this to the dark.

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