TV Talk for Sunday, February 12th 2012
Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8pm) - S1, Ep12: "Skin Deep" - For a show about fairy-tales, this Valentine's Day episode was quite depressing. For one thing, David (Josh Dallas) effed up a simple card, so Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) once again resigned herself to the fact that they couldn't be together. For another, there wasn't nearly enough of either of them in the episode. Girls' night was fun and all (whoever would have expected those three characters, from such different original stories, hanging out together? It reminded me of an incomplete spoof Disney SING script I wanted to direct in high school theatre), and I know we needed to get to know a new side to the story, but so much of why I'm attached to this show is because of these two. Screw it, I'll call myself a shipper; I don't care! The pilot started on them, promising the audience that this was their journey above all others, so when episodes play out that push them to the back-burner, I can't help but feel like the show is just killing time these days. As strong as this episode was for making me think twice about the layers to villains in modern day anthologies, there was a lot that was explicitly said that I was not of the mind-set needed to be said. Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle)'s heaviness in the episode aside, the mere fact that they played fast and loose with the tale of Beauty and the Beast kind of bummed me out, as well. My childhood was built on that movie. I know the producers promised they would take liberties with different stories, mixing and mingling the characters in new ways in order to make this story their own, but I still expected a traditional Beast. After all, Belle (Emilie de Ravin) can't fall for Mr. Gold in the Storybrooke world; he's too far gone to be worthy of love, let alone redemption. Or at least, that's my older, no-longer-fairy-tale-toting, cynical outlook. All of the little nods to the "tale as old as time" did make me smile, especially the Easter eggs hidden within the props and production design-- I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I was hoping Chip would start talking when Belle realized she had broken the cup, for example. And snapping your fingers and making Gaston disappear? Let's face it, I wished I could have done that in the original, too. As much as I liked believing that it was Mr. Gold who was pulling all of the strings, there is something much more interesting and complex about the fact that it's actually Regina (Lana Parrilla). At least right now. The two have been locked in a power struggle for, well, tale as old as time, and sometimes the wheel of the Gods put The Evil Queen on top and sometimes Rumplestiltskin. Unfortunately for him, it appears the curse froze the wheel at a time when she was on top, which gives her the power in the so-called real world. Mr. Gold is just a victim of a broken heart, like everyone else in town. It doesn't justify the bad things he does, of course, but it was a "nice try" to humanize him nonetheless. Of course, it would have been a stronger humanization if we were actually allowed to see more of him sitting with his pain and less of the anger and violence he hides behind. Once we saw him make Belle laugh, we immediately saw a different side to him and knew where this particular story was going. Yet, then the story took a few steps back, showing him imprisoning people in both worlds, and it felt like we were being led to believe he really couldn't be capable of anything but the bad guy one-note. Maybe it was just me, but I felt like the whole truck driver plot point in Storybrooke was a red herring-- supposed to show just how sinister he is and imply that though he may be letting this guy go once, he has never done it before-- that Belle is in Storybrooke but locked away somewhere at his hand-- like Rapunzel, apparently. Maybe Carlyle's just too good at being bad. Maybe Carlyle's just inherently creepy. Because at the end of the episode, we saw Belle walk away from him in the fairy-tale world. We got a split second of the distrust that led him to lose his one remaining shot at happiness. But we also learned the truth about so much more. We finally got the confirmation that I thought was always implied, especially once he started beating that truck driver, referencing Belle's father from back in the day, that Mr. Gold truly remembered (why the eff Emma would let Regina have a private convo with him in the jail aside). And this makes it so much sadder. He gave the Evil Queen the curse, probably figuring he'd be immune or could build in a clause to retain his own faculties or whatever, so now he's forced to actually remember what he lost. And he assumes he has lost it forever because he was wounded enough by Belle leaving him in the fairy-tale world to believe the Evil Queen's own spun yarn (heh. see what I did there?) about her killing herself. In truth, Belle's fate should be somewhat inspiring. Regina may be holding her hostage (but hey, at least he isn't?), keeping true love away from everyone by any means necessary, that seems like a Shawshank escape waiting to happen. And it begged the question: when the curse inevitably breaks, could it be at Belle's hands-- err, lips-- instead of Snow White and Prince Charming? Personally, I feel that would cheapen Snow and Charming's story a bit-- because so much of this show is their story-- but the story is so heavily Mr. Gold's now, too. Besides, we've already seen Snow and Charming kiss, and yet the curse is still in place. So what does that say about their supposed true love? Or even Cinderella (Jessy Schram)'s own? Presumably now that she has reunited with her own Prince, they are doing a little kissing. I mean, they have a newborn, which is why I said a "little," but there's no way they haven't locked lips at least once. Yet the curse remains intact. So was the Evil Queen wrong, or simply lying, when she said all it took was a "true love's kiss" to break any curse? Or are things more complicated now because this isn't a fairy-tale anymore? I need answers, show!!! Because right now I'm thinking true love sex is what is going to break the curse, and all that theory is doing is fueling the shipping of Snow and Charming!
Shameless (SHO, 9pm) - S2, Ep6: "Can I Have A Mother" - Oh Steve (Justin Chatwin), I missed you, too...sorta. Here's the thing: I really did like Steve and Fiona (Emmy Rossum) as a couple, despite his bad boy tendencies. I just didn't like how he lied to her about who he was and then just left without an explanation. I know that was the deal he cut, but he was so good at getting around other rules, I figured if he really cared about her, he'd find a way to tell her what really went down. Even if it was just over the phone after he was gone. But he didn't do it. So enter Adam (James Wolk) who has an adorable smile and a cute chin dimple and actually cares about Fiona and could provide for her in a legal (well, at least white collar legal) way. I hate how Fiona treated him. She slept with one married man this season, of course she was going to make it two when the guy on the other end of the ring happened to be Steve. And deal or no deal for his marriage-- it's still crossing the Gallagher line out of character for her. I've also missed Rob Benedict, who I had forgotten had a guest starring part in this show this season until I heard his voice, walking into what he thought was a breast augmentation. If his hair was a little more unruly, and his eyes a little more buggy, I would think he was still working with meth, and I'm super intrigued to find out exactly what he knows about the Gallagher family that he thinks is suitable leverage. His blackmail certainly seems like a stronger tactic than Ian (Cameron Monaghan)'s silent treatment. Once upon a time (read: last season) I thought Ian was one of the more mature Gallagher kids, but the way he reacting toward Lip (Jeremy Allen White) is just immature and proving he really isn't ready for West Point. Maybe he's just sexually frustrated and taking it out in weird ways, though; it has been awhile since we've seen Mickey (Noel Fisher)...but his silent tantrum was matched only by Frank (William H. Macy)'s own outburst at his mother. Meanwhile, Kevin (Steve Howey) and Sheila (Joan Cusack) both really impressed me in this episode-- the former for his innate paternal side when Ethel (Madison Davenport) faced her cult family again and he realized she and Jonah are more than just a check from the state to him (and how cute is Ethel and Malik, by the way!!? An unconventional and unusual couple, for sure, but adorable nonetheless), and the latter with her half-drunken angry rant against Grammy Gallagher (Louise Fletcher). They're both stronger than I considered in very different ways, and it was great to see them take varying degrees of strides toward putting their feet down and changing how things go in their neck of the woods. Sheila telling Grammy off was one thing-- kicking Frank out was another-- but I think this is just the tip of the iceberg for her. She may still be stuck in the house-- and upstairs at that-- but she found her balls in a whole other arena, and her new attitude is bound to have her drawing some newfound respect.