Sunday, November 16, 2014

You Win or You Die - Yep, it's Game of Thrones!

Hey guys! It's finally time, winter is coming! Oh and ... 


At this point I am only going to write about the television show as this is a film and media blog and I haven’t read the books yet. One of my 2015 goals is to read all the books in preparation for George R.R. Martin’s 6th book The Winds of Winter. (Odds are, he may actually be done by the time I am haha). On that note though, I do have a couple of friends who have read the books, and one in particular is like the Game of Thrones historian fanatic so I know quite a lot for someone who hasn’t delved in yet.

I laugh a little as I write this because when I started watching the show, I was only going to watch one episode…  you know, just to see what it’s like… I did NOT want to be a bandwagon fan and moreover I was only watching it because I heard of certain characters and was interested in them.

Welp, 4 binge-sessions later I finished season four and can’t stop thinking about it. It’s been the most enveloping story for me in a long while. It’s like watching a spider create her web, so intricate and complex, an instrument of both beauty and death. I just can’t turn away until I see it come full circle. 

Like anything else there are things I love and things I don't. I like ending posts on a positive note if possible so first I’ll go into what I don’t love about the show so that I can end on what I do.

What I don’t love…

Yes, I'm a prude for saying this and I don't care. I hate how HBO, well, HBOifies everything. What made me hesitate to watch GOT in the first place was HBO’s inexplicable need to make everything over-the-top and excessive. Now HBO isn’t the only offender, Showtime and Starz and many other premium channels also get a kick out of their ability to show everything, but I think I am not the only one who wishes things were a little more veiled.

The sex and violence in GOT is completely unnecessary. Not that things don’t happen in the books, but from what I’ve heard a lot of the gratuitous scenes and especially the sexual content have been twisted and magnified in the process of book-to-screen adaptation. HBO feels like people won’t watch if there isn’t something shocking or sexually stimulating every five minutes, but I can assure you the plot and dialogue of GOT are so intriguing that adding all this feels like someone just threw a full garbage can all over a sumptuous feast table. It isn't enough to make me stop watching, I can omit all the parts I don't like from my viewing if I want, but it leaves me sometimes with a disappointing taste in my mouth.

For example... Did we need to see Gregor crush Prince Oberyn’s head, watching his eyeballs get pushed in until his skull tore apart? NO. I think simply the aftermath or a sound effect would have been just as effective. Alfred Hitchcock was a master because he knew the art of subtlety. Often seeing mere pieces of an image is enough to leave a haunting impression forever.

Brienne and Jamie.
For them, I fangirl.
Why do we feel like we need a deluge of sex, nudity, and shocking imagery to keep people interested, as if you were trying to pitch this to a 13-year old boy? As a society we really take pride in leaving nothing to the imagination like it's an expression of freedom, yet here we are exhausted and numbed because we’ve seen it all.

On that note, I also know that there are some scenes, characters, and circumstances in the show that are different from the books that really did not need to be changed. I can understand their need to change a few things because things on screen do not flow or make sense in the same way they do in prose. I am huge advocate for NOT being a purist because of those reasons, however when you do stupid things that don’t have a purpose, that’s where I draw the line. Sometimes it changes the entire makeup of a character or situation, and that is unacceptable. 

Okay, thus ends my segment on what I don’t love. Now, onto the good stuff!

What I love…

Jon Snow, as epic as he looks.
I adore the story and world of Game of Thrones, more formally known as the series A Song of Ice and Fire. As a lover of all things Tolkien, I am instantly attracted to the complex worlds, cultures, languages, and characters. George R.R. Martin is a pronounced Tolkien fan and said one of his inspirations for ASOIAF was my favorite story of all time, The Lord of the Rings. Here's what Martin had to say here in his Rolling Stone interview earlier this year:

“As I read Return of the King, I didn't want it to be over. That last book blew my mind, particularly the scouring of the Shire. I didn't like that when I was in high school. The story's over, and they destroyed the ring — but he didn't write "and now they lived happily ever after." Instead, they went home and home was all fucked up. The evil guys had burned down some of the woods; a fascist-like tyranny had taken over. That seemed anticlimactic to me. Frodo didn't live happily ever after or marry a nice girl hobbit. He was permanently wounded; he was damaged. As a 13 year old, I couldn't grasp that. Now, every time I re-read The Lord of the Rings — which I do, every few years — I appreciate the brilliance of the scouring of the Shire. That's part of what lifts the book from all its imitators. There was a real cost to Tolkien's world. There's a tremendous sadness at the end of Lord of the Rings, and it has a power. I think that's partly why people are still reading and re-reading these books.”

Bran Stark, the hope.
In other interviews Martin mentions that The Scouring of the Shire was one of the biggest inspirations for the series. This notion that life isn’t a fairy tale, but that heroes and goodness are always among us. Like Martin, The Return of the King was the book that blew my mind too first reading Tolkien. Martin’s series is incredibly harsh, but I think that’s what makes the heroes stand out more. The light of the hopeful characters, though they are few, is like a lamp held up in a window.

Though I can definitely see Martin’s love for Tolkien in his story, it isn’t quite as high-fantasy or magical as most in the same genre. The magic and mystery are definitely there but the brutality of the story makes it more historical in essence. Personally, it reminds me very much of the Old Testament, particularly the book of Judges which is full of carnality and the wickedness of man as it marks one of the darkest times in Israel’s history. Just like Westeros, during the time of the Judges there was no king and it was a select few trying their best to hold the land together at a time when people treated life as a free-for-all. The time of the Judges spans throughout the OT and includes memorable characters like Samson, Delilah, Gideon, and one of the most interesting females in the Bible, Deborah. The time of the Judges was also a time where men were fighting over gods and idols very much like in Martin’s world, and the honorable men (like Ned Stark) were ignored or killed off.

I adore this image of Arya and Ned.
Daddy's girl is an understatement.
Though Martin's tale is indeed dark and full of terrors, there is also a bond that entraps both reader and viewer and that is the Stark family. The children of two of the last honorable people in Westeros begin together and then are separated over distance and time. The bond and love that unites them is the driving force of the story. I love what Martin said in the Rolling Stone interview about Ned Stark's death and why it had to happen: 

"I knew right from the beginning that Ned wasn't going to survive. For one thing, many of the stars are his children, and you'd have to remove daddy for them to come into their own. That was part of it: I wanted to remove the certainty. There are moments in motion pictures or in books where the death of a character has enormous impact, not only because you miss the character and you identified with the character, but also because the remaining characters are now in serious trouble."

I cannot wait to start reading the books and even moreso to find out what Martin is going to do in his last two books.

Martin is one of the few male writers
to have created truly exceptional
and diverse female characters.
Technically, the show is proficient in ways so many others only dream of.  It has an intense cinematic look and feel and it's probably a good thing that there are only 10 episodes a season because if there were more HBO would go bankrupt. And on that note, I love that the seasons are only 10 episodes making this deeply involved and complex world easy to digest for non-bookreaders. Though I haven’t read the books, I feel like I have in many ways just by how gloriously exquisite and detailed the show is with everything from the costumes to the food to the landscapes. I feel like I’ve been to Westeros even though I haven’t left my couch, (or really my computer desk). Additionally, the score of each season is breathtaking. And that opening theme? You know you’ve made a masterpiece when people actually look forward to the opening credits. It’s a knockout!

But my favorite part of the show has got to be the cast. I can’t say enough about them. They are so unique, ranging in a wide variety of ages, races, and appearance. Their casting director deserves an Emmy just for that. This wasn’t a happenstance cast but one chosen very purposefully and specifically to suit their characters. I don’t feel that any of them are acting while watching the show, but rather that I am indeed watching events unfolding in real time. I see a lot of funny memes and articles about how weird it is to see GOT actors in real life, and that’s mostly because they are so good at being their characters you forget even the idea that they could possibly be anyone else. 

I would not recommend Game of Thrones to everyone, particularly to those who are sensitive to graphic material. It's quite brutal. However, as a story I couldn't recommend it enough. I've never felt so emotionally torn, intrigued, disgusted, entranced, and even afraid all at once. No one really knows what "Martin the Mastermind" is up to or what is in store, but I hope that he will at least give a few of his wonderful characters a fate that ends in redemptive hope. Even so, valar morghulis!

And if you want to watch the coolest opening sequence ever, here you  go! What is really neat is that every season they show (or don't show) new places on the map based on what's happening where in the story. Also next to each actor's name is their house sigil (symbol) of the character they play. It's the little details that matter. Love it!

Friday, October 24, 2014

#SaveOnceUponATime - An Open Letter

Dear all OUAT writers, directors, producers, and creators of all sorts, 

I have written two previous posts in this same vein, but this one is directed to you because I really respect you as artists and storytellers. I am writing this open letter knowing it may be utterly fruitless, but I have to speak up about the atrocities being done to my (used to be) favorite show Once Upon a Time

As a screenwriter still waiting for her big break, I know as well as anyone that the film and television industry is corrupt. It’s all about the Benjamins and less about what’s best for the story and the original vision established by the creators. It became drastically apparent that Disney (owning ABC) has officially taken over Once Upon a Time and it is a hostile takeover to say the least.

From Lily Sparks,

I would think you have to be at least a little devastated, even if you won’t say it. Maybe Disney has a figurative gun pointed not only at you but at any of the cast members if they say anything remotely negative (however honest) on social media or otherwise. Your beautiful show went from something unique and exciting to being a long-winded commercial for Disneyland. Now I know there have always been Disney references throughout the show, but they have been SUBTLE (key word here). In the past your show quietly referenced Disney films and culture, but maintained its own voice in the genre of fairy tales retold. At the end of season three, we all saw that subtlety was no longer the order of the day.

I've seen better costumes made by teenagers at comicon. >_<

This carbon copy CGI from the movie, really?
Though I dreaded it, I watched these first four episodes of season four and this “storyline” of Frozen shoehorned into the show. Frozen just came out LAST YEAR and more importantly it’s a Disney movie that not only wasn't "one of the greats" but moreover resembles little to nothing of the original tale. ONCE always put story first and uniquely twisting fairytales to weave a new story. The storyline is completely jarring from the nature of ONCE. Whether it’s the cheap, cookie-cutter Frozen costumes, the horrible “plot” where Anna teaches Charming how to sword fight (puh-leeze), the eye-sore CGI, or the fact that Kristoff's character got warped into a complete doofus, it has been painful to endure this as a true fan of ONCE. Don't even get me started on that cringe-inducing reindeer... 

But Frozen wasn’t the only Disney hostile takeover. The scene of Belle and Rumple dancing to Beauty and the Beast while wearing the exact costumes from the movie was like someone edited together for a commercial. As a Belle and Rumple fan, I felt disappointed that such a beautiful moment had to be so Disney-fied instead of keeping consistent with their own exceptional story.  

From Lily Sparks,

And now you're adding the Sorcerer’s Apprentice? If it were a dark and fun retelling of the original Goethe poem that would be one thing, but as soon as I saw that hat, and the painful CGI walking broom, I knew Disney couldn't even keep their hands off of that. It could have been a fantastic story on it’s own, but lets face it, the only reason the show is adding it is because it’s Mickey and Disney told you to. ONCE is a stand-alone amazing series about fairy-tales-- not Disney movies-- retold. If you’ve all lost sight of that, then my heart truly goes out to you. 

Then there’s this Captain Swan nonsense. I know TV loves a love triangle, but did you have to kill Neal to achieve this? Between the constant “ghost” moments of Neal coming back to talk to Emma when she needs it, or Rumple’s hour long soliloquy at his grave in the premiere of this season, or even the mere fact that Henry BARELY got to know him, it’s clear Neal's story was NOT done. He was only axed because squealing fan-girls have the hots for Hook and for some reason they have the sway over the shows ratings and criticism. Baelfire was such a great character and even if people wanted to appease the fan girls by making Captain Swan happen, they could have kept him alive to achieve this instead of making him some cheap symbol.

Additionally, it’s beyond clear that Emma does not love Hook the way he loves her. She has always seemed completely awkward and unsure around him. I actually feel sorry for Hook because Emma’s awkwardness toward him has made him a muzzled, neutered, love-sick puppy. It’s just sad, really. Give this man his ship and his dignity back already! This whole thing is a mess and I don’t see how their “relationship” can even last more than a season. And don’t even get me started on the debacle that happened to my beloved Outlaw Queen, Regina and Robin. Forced conflict anyone? I think most people can agree bringing Marian back was such a crock! 

Additionally, why are we sidelining all our wonderful secondary characters into just being the angry mob all the time? Recently it seems like that's all Granny, Grumpy, and the gang do. Mob and complain. They used to have SOMETHING TO DO. And what the hell happened to Dr. Whale, why aren't we seeing more of his super cool Frankenstein story? What about Red, and Jefferson? Mulan? I almost had a heart attack seeing Dr. Hopper in the recent episode.We almost forgot who he was altogether. There are so many people being ignored, even the main characters have been tossed aside too. The only thing frozen here is the character development!  

But hey, I’m not the expert, right? Don’t take my word alone, let’s see what some others have to say…
“Now it's an hour-long commercial for Disneyland with the vanilla-est plot of them all, one that seems built on marketing algorithms.” 
– Lily Sparks,

“Maybe Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz thought they had exhausted the archive of fairytales and folklore. Or, even worse, maybe they were worried their ratings needed a bump…. OUAT is on its fourth season. The first was spectacular. The second was fine. Let’s not talk about the third. It’s rolling toward that place—you know, the one where TV goes to die. That the writers are trying to throw in new plotlines is only strategic.” 
- Alexandra Villarreal, The New York Observer

“It's time the show moves its main characters out of the repeated storylines they keep acting out each season. Sure, “Frozen” is a fun act of synergy between ABC and mothership Disney but it's also a pretty accurate description of the show's main characters season after season.” 
- Jethro Nededog, The Wrap

We live in a society that tells us “Give the people what they want…” and REALLY? You’re going to leave your story, your precious creative child, in the hands of the public? Don’t give the people what they want just for the sake of it or to get ratings. Give your story what it needs. That should always come first. Creators used to take risks making films and shows. Now all I see is creator visions being compromised for the sake of ratings, critiques, commercialism, and greed.

But there is one exciting thing about this for me personally… I am currently writing a ONCE Upon a Time spec script to enter into the WB Writer’s Workshop Competition next May (visit the site at You can choose up to two scripts so I am doing ONCE and Sleepy Hollow. Now, who knows if I actually have what it takes to make it, but maybe it’s just the right time to finally do this. I have had ideas for this show coming out of my ears since day one because fairy tales are my life. If I am going to sit here seething about what has become of the show, I may as well try to do something, even if it comes to nothing. 

So in preparation for this I read the Pilot script for ONCE. It is an incredibly clever and punchy script with a lot of thick descriptions and notes that made me chuckle. Reading this reminded me that when this started it wasn’t anything like the mess it has become. Mr. Kitsis and Mr. Horowitz, have an exciting writing style full of life. We all know your writing team creates material superior to what is currently showing right now. I believe if you had more freedom and less pressure from Big Brother Disney, you would be able to restore the show, and that gives me hope. 

I always hope for the best for the things I love. Storytelling is what I do, it's what I desire while on this earth. So when I write this it's entirely out of love even though I am angry about what's happening. I started to hashtag #FixOnceUponATime over this summer, but things are getting so bad now I think I'm going to change it to #SaveOnceUponATime. Emma is the savior and the thing that needs saving the most is the very story she's in.  

Thank you for your time. 


Alexis P. Johnson

Saturday, September 20, 2014

"You Are Being Watched..." - Person of Interest

So I came to the Person of Interest party a little late and because of that I couldn’t watch Season 3 in real time and had to wait to binge watch it once the DVD was released on September 2nd. But in many ways I prefer marathoning and this was definitely worth the wait! 

Though I currently watch several shows, my personal opinion is that Person of Interest is the best currently on TV. I have broken down the “why” into three parts on all its epicness and what I believe makes the show stand out a head higher than the rest 

So here we go! 

1. The Ladies 
I’ll unpack reason number one by explaining one thing I hate most in contemporary entertainment, feminazis. This on-the-nose, Lara-Croft-Wannabe archetype that seems to be drowning all forms of art and entertainment in a deluge of affectation. Person of Interest is very unique in this aspect because it follows some simple rules of creating bad-ass female characters… 

I. Rule number one, bad-ass women don’t need to say they’re bad-ass… or say anything really to prelude their badassery, for that matter. All they need to do is be themselves. The female characters of POI never say phrases like, “Is it because I’m a woman?” or any other colloquialism we’ve heard so much it makes us want to tear our hair out. No speeches, no sob-stories, no explanations. No on-the-nose monologues that hit you in the face with the abrasive brick of neo-feminism. A true bad-ass female doesn’t need that garbage, she need only be herself and actions will almost always speak louder than words. Additionally, she doesn’t need to bait her respect by being a bully. The women of POI are awesome and highly esteemed with equality and care by each other and their male comrades.  

II. Guns and combat training are not necessary, but they help. The women of POI are either police, military, psychotic or a combination of all three. Their amazing combat skills and weapon-wielding flair certainly make them a force to be reckoned with. And while POI certainly does not shy away from letting these ladies shine with guns a-blazing, it also doesn’t neglect their most important assets, their minds. The ladies of POI are highly intelligent, clever, and (for the most part) rational.  As my dear Tyrion Lannister so wonderfully puts it, their minds are their weapons and they must keep them sharp. I would list the lovely Zoe Morgan as one of the bad-ass women of POI and she doesn't wield any other weapons apart from her mind (and the occasional taser). Additionally, she doesn’t sleep around or seduce people to get what she wants, and yet she has half the people of New York City in the palm of her hand. Power is both might and mind. 

III. And that brings me to door number three, sexuality. A woman does not need to be seductive to have power. She does not need to sleep around to have power. In our contemporary Western culture a woman’s power is stressed almost always through sexuality, and I think that’s sad. Young women especially seem prouder about their ability to go on birth control more than they are to vote, own land, have a successful career or run a business. Feminism today is definitely not the same concept it was before. Our culture likes to spread the lie that Sex = Power, Sex Sells, or whatever mantra is being pushed on us at the time.

I cannot applaud POI enough for keeping sexuality subtle and mysterious. The anticipations and flirtations are far sexier and more alluring than the graphic sex scenes you'll see on any HBO or Showtime program. Any scenes of sexuality on POI are shown with the respect and leave most things up to the imagination. The series is like a film noir, they have nailed the sexuality aspect by not being ostentatious yet not being prudish or ignoring the topic either. I know television is corrupt and I don’t hold out too much hope that this beautiful series will be able to withstand society's pressure and maintain this high standard for sex, but I sure hope and pray they do. Sex isn’t everything and you don’t *need* it to sell your work. Sexuality is in everything innately already, it’s in the atmosphere and it’s about time we tell a story that doesn’t need clips of nudity to hook people. The plot and characters are already hooking enough. 

2. This Cast

All I needed to hear was “Hey there’s a show created by Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams and it stars Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson” to get me to stop what I was doing and watch it. Michael Emerson blew me away by playing Ben Linus – one of the most complex and intriguing characters in television – on LOST and Jim Caviezel is just Jim Caviezel. 'Nuff said. Those two piqued my interest, but the rest of the cast swooped in and blew me away. Especially in season three when they all get amazing moments to shine. Taraji P. Henson was nominated for an Oscar for a reason, Kevin Chapman is hilarious, and seeing Enrico Colantoni be a villain is just as awesome as it sounds. Though he’s actually more of a Frenemy, Colantoni’s portrayal of the character Elias is one of my favorite things about the show. Additionally, Sarah Shahi is perfect as the ass-kicking, emotional-robot Shaw and Amy Acker is dynamite as the sugary-sweet, mentally unstable, femme fatale who goes by Root. My only regret is that season three hard barely a trace of the lovely Paige Turco as the sleek and sophisticated Zoe Morgan.

This cast is full of lovely people who go together like PB&J. Though most of them are hard, cold operatives you get colorful bursts of crazy from Amy Acker and Kevin Chapman which balance the brooding tones. I could watch these people interact for days, oh wait, I just did that...

3. Hyper Intelligence There's smart and then there’s smart. This show is the latter. I should expect nothing less than twists and turns from anything J.J. Abrams touches, but Jonathan Nolan’s creative genius is definitely gives it the intelligence and edge it needs to not only maintain consistency but push the envelope as well. In one episode, Mr. Finch compares Shaw to a hammer and Mr. Reese to a scalpel. That's how I view this show in comparison with many others. Lots of shows like to hammer their point, their message, their plots, but this show is a scalpel it cuts so smoothly and seemlessly that it isn't until later you realize what it's done. Masterful. POI gets better and better like a rocket pushing through the atmosphere. A little turbulence in the beginning - like most television shows- but now there’s no limit to how high or how many glass ceilings it will break. POI seamlessly weaves aspects of spy thriller, mobster movies, film noir, action, and political drama. The scary thing is that what is happening in the show could most certainly be happening within higher powers in real life. Art definitely imitiates life here.

Anyway, if you've somehow managed to miss this sleeper masterpiece, I would highly reccomend it. The seasons are easy to find and just as easily addicting to watch. I would love to hear feedback from other POI fans about what they love most about the show in the comments below!

Until next time!

The perfect bromance...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Take my hand..." - Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy was the cleverest, most unanticipated, most fun Marvel-sci-fi-we-never-knew-we-wanted, at least for me. I hadn't even heard of the storyline until I saw the film was coming out, and for a nerd that's pretty bad! I had no idea what to expect really, and this film more than exceeded my expectations. Next to Avengers I think it's my favorite Marvel movie. Anyway...

So what was so great about this movie? It's one thing to have a flashy sci-fi with a lot of visuals but it's quite another to have that in addition to a quippy script and thematic substance. Guardians is one of the most colorful films I have ever seen. As a woman obsessed with the cosmos and all things "outer space" it was like devouring my favorite dessert for two hours. Not just the glorious nebulous backdrops, but the diversity of creatures and alien races, costumes, spacecraft, and terrain made it quite the visual feast. I love how the production designers seemed to have specifically chosen unique and bright colors to sort of visually show the characters journey from the pale yellow prison uniforms to the shiny, garnet leather of the ravager garb. The villain Ronan and his people remain in blues and blacks with a dark, Egyptian style setting them starkly apart from the other beings.

One of my favorite things about Guardians is that it feels so much like a great sci-fi of old. The first of the three times I've seen it, I was overwhelmed as a heavy robe of nostalgia wrapped around me. Channeling the great sci-fi and adventure films of the 70s and 80s you are instantly transported to a childhood memory where everything is possible and magical. But this isn't to say the film wasn't original, it was incredibly so. I am speaking to its credit by pointing out that it was channeling the greats while at the same time authoring it's own legend.

But what I really want to talk about most is the best part of the film. It's the same thing that made Avengers great, a strong backbone of themes rooted in teamwork, defying the odds, and the "losers" being the winners. The Lego Movie released earlier this year (also starring Chris Pratt) is another film about people with insanely different personality types and backstories coming together to overcome a great threat. I have labeled Lego Movie, Avengers, and now Guardians of the Galaxy the "Myers-Brigg study films" because they are perfectly packaged examples of finding harmony and victory between even the most opposite and diverse of types.

In Guardians you have Peter Quill (aka: Starlord), a sweet boy from a podunk American town who has hero in him from childhood, but makes wrong choices on his path and settles for less than he is capable of. A funny, charming ladies-man he spends more time chasing alien tail with his favorite mix tapes playing in his out-dated headphones, rather than figuring out his destiny. Then you have Gamora. A rock hard woman with a rock hard past involving abuse, torture, loss, death, and living in the shadow of evil. However, this life has not fully corrupted her. She has a heart and compassion for others and a mind for honor. She wants to do the right thing, but doesn't always attempt it in the right way.

Drax the destroyer is similar. As dangerous as he appears and from a race of people who speak clearly, and concisely at all times. He does not understand symbolism, metaphors, or deeper thinking. With his wife and daughter slaughtered he can think of nothing but revenge. His loyalty to his people and family is his strength, but it is also weakness. His rage and pain blind him from making tactful decisions and thereby endangering the lives of those around him.

Rocket and Groot show up as a pair. Rocket being the cutting, sarcastic genetically modified Racoon with a cynical outlook on life. Life is money and survival is for the fittest. His small size is a distraction from the truth that he may, in fact, may be the most intelligent of the entire group. His strength lies in planning and strategy, but his bleak outlook and mistrust can lead him astray from the thing he really needs most... friends. Groot is his muscle, his back up. A humanoid tree who can only speak one sentence "I am Groot." He is sweet, distracted, and totally out of his element. However, Groot has a protective nature that proves to be his shining quality in the end.

This is far from the dream team. The awkward bunch of misfits can barely go two minutes without one of them trying to kill the other, with the exception of Peter. Peter is my favorite. Not just because he's played by the super-handsome and funny Chris Pratt, but because of his nature. As an adult he seems like a reckless brat who roams around the galaxy sleeping around and wasting time, but this isn't the true him.

From his opening scene as a child you get a foreshadowing of who he truly is. His mother lies in bed dying of cancer. She asks him why he's been fighting with the other boys, noticing his black eye. He replies that these boys killed a frog with a stick. Seeing this defenseless creature get tortured and killed was too much for Peter. He feels the need to stand for the defenseless. There was a light inside him from day one (which ends up being both figurative and literal as we come to find out later).

Peter is the hero, the leader, and peacekeeper. He is the true guardian of the galaxy, even as he guards his misfit team from the volatility of one another. Peter is an ESFP without a doubt. If you want to know why or what the heck that means just read this: and this here: You'll see what I mean.

Anyhow, back to the scene with his mother on her deathbed. This is a crucial moment. As she lays dying she gives Peter a present instructing him to open it only after she's gone. She then asks him to take her hand, but he doesn't. He turns his head away as if he can't look at her. He's afraid. She asks him again this time with tears in her eyes but he still cannot do it. Before he can change his mind her hand drops, she is dead.

We don't visit this moment again till the end of the film, but at one point Rocket discovers Peter's present still unopened after 26 years. Peter defensively kicks it back in the drawer and tells Rocket to shut up. Clearly, he hasn't been able to move on from that day his whole life. His childish actions are a reflection of the little boy inside who never truly could let go of his mother or his life on Earth. Even when the prison guard confiscates the cassette player, Peter is willing to die for it. He clings to it for dear life. It's his security blanket.

Love that they did NOT ending up kissing here or in the movie at all. They are saving that for later.
Finally someone does it right! 
In the climax of the film our guardians face off against Ronan, the warlord bent on vengeance with a mind to destroy an entire planet. Ronan comes to possess an infinity stone (one of six, Loki's teseract in Avengers is also one of the six). This instrument of epic, universal power that can easily wipe out the planet he desires to destroy. Mortals are unable to handle infinity stones, the power is so great it would split anyone apart into irretrievable pieces.

In this moment Peter finally has to make a choice. To choose himself or to choose the lives of the many. In a feverish showdown Peter has an opportunity to take the stone from Ronan. When he does it painfully begins to tear him apart, though he holds onto it longer than any other would normally be able to. Knowing the fate he is about to face Gamora reaches out to him and says, "Peter, take my hand!"

In this moment my heart dropped because they brought his journey full circle. He was too afraid to take his mother's hand, but he now has a chance to rectify that. He reaches for Gamora, and though two energies are better than one, it's still not enough. But Drax is already on his way. He too reaches out his hand for Peter and touches him and Rocket shortly follows. Together, connected out of devotion to each other and a calling to protect the many, they are able to harness the energy of the infinity stone. Seriously one of the coolest, most goose-bump-inducing moments this year. Apart they are weak, but together they are mighty.

But Peter wasn't the only one ready to sacrifice himself. Shortly before this we got a foreshadowing of what would be asked of the others when Groot wrapped himself around his friends turning his very body into an organic safe haven. Gamora and Peter knew what he was doing, he was giving himself up for them. The enemy ship was going down and without something to shield them they would  not survive the crash. Rocket, however, does not understand why Groot would do this, why would he die, for them? Groot smiles and says "We Are Groot" Now at what looks like the end, Groot has learned to think outside of himself. Whereas before he could only say "I am Groot." he now realizes that his friends are a part of him, just like the branches that make up his limbs. And there is no greater love the he who will lay his life down for his friends.

Wow! This got long. But I couldn't wait to dig apart these themes. I will end this post by returning one more time to Peter's mother and her gift. At the end, Peter is at a place where he can finally open the gift and take his mother's hand. The gift is the Vol. 2 cassette of her Awesome Mix. This to me represents Vol. 2 or Phase 2 of Peter's life. He is now the man he was always meant to be, no longer a child who can't let go of childish things.

But speaking of Peter's parentage, how messed up is it that we get all these cool hints about his true father being some ancient celestial being, but that's it! Really!?

But seriously, this film was some good stuff. Go see it if I haven't ruined the experience for you, haha! Have a great week folks, until next time!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Other Video Art - Sia's "Chandelier"

So this isn’t about a film or show, but it is about two other art forms which are just as important in narrative: music video and dance. I felt very compelled to write about this particular music video and though I am a little late to the party, here we go…

It’s been a while since I’ve been absolutely floored by a music video. Often times they are light on substance and heavy on flash. I don’t like much in the way of popular music (with a few exceptions) and especially don’t like the culture magnified in the music or the videos. But every once in a while you can find a gem in the rubble and this video is just that.

I loved Sia when I heard the song “She Wolf” by her and David Guetta. The video was just gorgeous and her powerful, raspy voice was perfect for conveying the deep emotion of the song. I have since come to like many, though not all, of her songs and love her as an expressive artist.

In the song “Chandelier” Sia weaves a sad tale detailing her personal struggles with alcoholism and prescription drugs early on in her career. She is now sober, yay!

I recommend reading the lyrics below first and then watching the video below the lyrics. When I first clicked play I had no idea what the song was about, but once I saw the girl dancing it all became clear to me. It was so exquisitely expressed.

I love that Sia chose to direct the video herself and featured eleven-year-old dancer Maddie Ziegler to portray herself. She put Maddie in a skin-toned leotard and a wig resembling the Sia’s own hairstyle. I think by making the dancer a child she showed the immaturity, vulnerability, and loss of innocence that happens when you dive headfirst into the drug and partying lifestyle.

In Maddie’s modern, interpretive dance she uses every part of her body, every facial muscle and expression, and movement to communicate the out-of-control insanity and addiction of the lifestyle Sia once led. It’s almost like a cross between dancing and miming. The fact that she is in a skin-toned leo also symbolizes innocence and vulnerability but also recklessness, like being naked for all the world to see.

The setting was perfect. Choosing a run-down apartment and showing that no matter how much she runs around and parties she is actually trapped, trapped and unable to leave without help.

It’s a very melancholic video and song in it’s theme of the unruliness of addiction and how though she smiles it’s strained, forced and not genuine happiness or freedom.

Also this was filmed practically all in one shot, amazing!

I can't honestly explain why this video affected me so much. When I first discovered it earlier this week I had to watch it three times in a row and I was just in awe. It made me so sad and feel this renewed mercy and empathy for people trapped inside addictions and who need a high just to make it through the night. That's the power of art! This video is haunting and creepy in many ways too, maybe another reason why I liked it ha ha. 

Anyway, I was really inspired by Sia’s honesty in sharing her personal experience in such a profound way. It’s hard to do this without coming off as pretentious or ostentatious but I think she nailed it. I hope more people will come to see the beauty and power of music videos and using dance more as an artful expression instead of all the bump n' grind crap they call dance in videos today. There's so much to be done in this field and I hope more will follow in Sia's footsteps.

Also check out part two where I unpack Elastic Heart and all it's "controversy."  Click this link:

By, Sia

Party girls don't get hurt
Can't feel anything, when will I learn?
I push it down, push it down

I'm the one "for a good time call"
Phone's blowin' up, ringin' my doorbell
I feel the love, feel the love

1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink

Throw 'em back 'til I lose count

I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I'm gonna live like tomorrow doesn't exist
Like it doesn't exist
I'm gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

But I'm holding on for dear life, won't look down, won't open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, 'cause I'm just holding on for tonight
Help me, I'm holding on for dear life, won't look down, won't open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, 'cause I'm just holding on for tonight
On for tonight

Sun is up, I'm a mess
Gotta get out now, gotta run from this
Here comes the shame, here comes the shame

1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink

Throw 'em back 'til I lose count

I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I'm gonna live like tomorrow doesn't exist
Like it doesn't exist
I'm gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

But I'm holding on for dear life, won't look down, won't open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, 'cause I'm just holding on for tonight
Help me, I'm holding on for dear life, won't look down, won't open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, 'cause I'm just holding on for tonight

'Cause I'm just holding on for tonight
Oh, I'm just holding on for tonight
On for tonight

On for tonight

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dear Walt, Wish You Were Here...

Hey everyone!

Wow… it has been a struggle to write in here lately. Not because I haven’t had time. I’ve actually had time for once! But I have been feeling so uninspired and I can’t just crank something out without inspiration. It’s too hard for my heart haha.

I know people were asking if I would do a follow up to my most popular post on X-Men: First Class by doing X-Men: Days of Future Past. Now I LOVED Days of Future Past, it was brilliant, but for whatever reason I just felt no inspiration to write about it. I think because it’s so connected to First Class that I feel like I would be writing about a lot of the same things. It’s a connection story binding X-Men films together and thankfully undoing the damage of the deplorable Last Stand film. But even still, in all it’s awesomeness. I just don’t feel like writing about it…. Sorry!

I think the reason for my lack of inspiration to blog is I have been very upset about the film/television world lately. Mainly my beloved Disney and what their company is doing, but even just other aspects in general. I wrote a post last December kind of a long these lines, but my heart just grows sadder and sadder each day seeing what’s happening in my beloved industry and how certain creative engines are being destroyed. As a passionate creator, I have actually been very depressed about it lately, to tell you the truth.

It does mainly root in how I currently feel about Disney and ABC. You see, I don't just like or enjoy Disney... I LOVE Disney. It pretty much goes back to the first days of my life. Walt’s films and ideas shaped who I am in a way that no other culture has. I have a natural love for all things fairy tale, but it was more than just that. His innovation and his constantly expanding mind and ideas I could relate to even then. Walt Disney was the first biography paper topic I ever wrote about in school (I think I was about 8) and he was the first person I wanted to be like. I don’t like to make earthly idols of people and things, but Walt Disney comes very close to crossing that line. People always try to chime in and tell me about unsavory things about his character or what he thought and I just want to tell them to shut up because I don’t care. His personal life isn’t why I admire him. I have always been in awe of his creativity that never ceases, his ideas that literally shaped and molded culture, changing the film industry (and storytelling in general) forever.

Walt wasn’t about the money. One of my favorite quotes of his is “Money doesn’t excite me, my ideas excite me.” I completely understand that. I have never wanted to be rich and famous, but I HAVE wanted to make big films that will make an impact the ways his have. That’s the priority. Ideas are why we do what we do.

But obviously, somewhere along the way, Disney as a company lost sight of Walt’s true vision. Walt was a risk-taker and a culture shaker and money wasn’t the objective but rather the result of just being creative and sharing it with the world. He also said, “We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.” But today the objective of his company (which now has engulfed ABC and several other companies) has reversed that thought. They now unfortunately do make movies to make money, and when you do that, you completely spoil and confine the boundaries of the creativity. They are playing it safe, but the ironic thing is there is nothing safe about letting the minds of the general public decide how and what you create. Disney didn’t give the people what they wanted, at least not intentionally. He made what he wanted to make and the people fell in love with it on their own.

Disney is now just regurgitating old ideas, recycling old stories and old productions. This is NOT moving forward. This is not the root vision. The company as a whole is like a carousel. They are just going around and around in circles heading nowhere new and pretty soon it will cause so much dizziness that the world will be sick of it and give up on them forever. But if Walt were still here he would make those horses fly right off the carousel and into a new world… in fact, he did that literally in one of their greatest pictures...

Now I explained in a previous blogpost ( my problems with Frozen. I don’t dislike the movie, in fact most of it I really loved, but it fell short in so many ways it left me feeling a dissatisfaction. It was missing something. In my own opinion, Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph were far superior because they were created by people who seemed to understand Walt’s ideas of new ways and new worlds. But anyway, another good example I can give of carousel story-telling is Maleficent which came out this year.

I liked the film, but I didn’t love it. It wasn’t because of anything mechanical… the actors were superb, the visuals beautiful, the score fantastic, and the idea of the retelling was great. However it was the execution of that idea that made the movie fall flat.

Maleficent introduces some great new twisty themes to the tale of Sleeping Beauty. The best parts involved Maleficent having a relationship with Aurora’s father Stephan, a man who claims he loves her and then ultimately betrays her in the worst way. I loved this dark idea presented by both Maleficent and Stephan… the idea that true love doesn’t exist. It’s so sad and so twisted and it’s an idea that causes them both to fall away into darkness, each for their own reasons. 

The movie then twists the tale even further by having Maleficent and Aurora form a sort of mother daughter bond and that mother’s love being the true love that breaks the spell and awakens Aurora from her sleep. True love takes many forms and shapes and meets us in so many ways. I like the idea that romantic love is but one of those loves and showing Maleficent that true love does exist and is alive within her. This was a wonderful theme!

I ♥ Diaval haha
But the film made some mistakes. Numero uno is that it was rushed… ugh just like Frozen and just like every other movie being cranked out right now. The story fell victim to this ADHD catering our culture seems to be obsessed with. It’s crap. Secondly, it also fell victim to commercialism and appeasing people to get butts in the seats. Mainly this was brought up with Prince Phillip who was an utterly pointless character and the movie did not need him to be good or to make it’s point. But they felt, as they always do, that if there’s isn’t some cute One-Direction-wannabe actor in it, girls won’t go and see it. Stop insulting everyone’s intelligence! Not having Phillip in the movie would have been a risk but it would have been one worth taking. His presence was jarring, random, and completely unnecessary. Personally, I was hoping they would twist the tale even further and have Aurora fall in love with Maleficent’s “servant” Diaval who was much hotter and cooler than Phillip haha… but that’s my own imagination at work.

“I don't believe in playing down to children, either in life or in motion pictures. I didn't treat my own youngsters like fragile flowers, and I think no parent should. Children are people, and they should have to reach to learn about things, to understand things, just as adults have to reach if they want to grow in mental stature. Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful, insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows. Most things are good, and they are the strongest things; but there are evil things too, and you are not doing a child a favor by trying to shield him from reality. The important thing is to teach a child that good can always triumph over evil, and that is what our pictures attempt to do.”

In my previous post regarding Once Upon a Time I explained how the show spiraled downhill. This was also the handiwork of post-Walt Disney, commercialism, and fan appeasement to get ratings and to make money. ABC and all involved made horrible decisions for that show that desperately need to be fixed. The show went from 2.5 brilliant seasons to flushing itself now swirling around the toilet bowl of entertainment. I am mad about a lot of things they did that show, but I think the commercialism has me the most upset. I HATE that they are bringing in Frozen. First off, the movie just came out, give it a rest! But I suppose there is no rest when there is more money to made. Secondly, Frozen isn’t even the best source of the fairy tale, it’s Disney’s completely retold version of the Snow Queen. OUAT is now about remaking Disney movies and not about retelling fairy tales into their own story which is how it began. I can’t imagine the Frozen storyline will be even remotely good, but because I am a true fan I will stay loyal to the show… for now… and see how it plays out.

If you feel like I do about the wretched decisions ABC and the Once writers have made for the direction of the show, please post with the hashtag #FixOnceUponATime and tell them you aren’t happy. If all the Captain Swanners and Frozen fanaticals can make an impact, than so can we. If we ban together to reclaim the heart, soul, and roots of a beloved show we can have a chance to pluck it from the toilet before it officially reaches the sewer of entertainment. 

Anyway, I know this has been kind of a rant. But in my depression about the state of our industry and art, I just can’t bear to hold these feelings inside. We have to stand for good material. In an age of a gluttony of content, we must strive for quality not quantity. Our aim must be to please the story and everything/everyone else second. To be true to our hearts and the hearts of the stories we are telling. Stories are living things, but if we keep going the way we are with film and television they will soon become an entirely artificial intelligence.

“Fantasy, if it's really convincing, can't become dated, for the simple reason that it represents a flight into a dimension that lies beyond the reach of time.”

(All quotes in this post from the late, great Walt Disney)

P.S. Did you know they are making a live-action Dumbo film with a guy who helped make Transformers? Heaven help us all! I can only say, WTF!? 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What-the-Flying-Fairy-Dust Was THAT! - ABC's ONCE Upon a Time S.3 Finale

While live tweeting during the show, I made it clear the issue I had with the story decision surrounding Neal's death. Now at the end of the season I continue my disappointment with the downward spiral of some bad story decision making. The ending of the finale was like the thick layer of crappy store-bought icing on the cake. Strap in folks! I will first dissect the many things going wrong, but I will still share the few things they got right at the end. Here I go...

First on the menu, the commercialism. Wow... I mean it was more than just the shameless plugs of the Mickey plush doll at the beginning of "Snow Drifts" or the timing of using Princess Leia as a name... yeah very subtle Disney now that you own Star Wars and episode 7 is right around the corner. But that wasn't the problem ultimately, the problem is the greed is really starting to show.

Because of social media being a link between fans and creators, TV creators are now catering to their fanbases instead of catering to their story. This is huge mistake. Story comes first, PERIOD, end of discussion. However, due to the pressure to have high ratings and make money, we are seeing good shows being cancelled left and right. ABC has taken the low road by kowtowing to what viewers might want to see. Captain Swan is a HUGE product of fangirling tweets and facebook comments. I mean why give Neal a half-assed death and knock him out of the picture if not to create a path for the pirate to swoop in and steal the girl? As I explained in my previous post, Neal's death was a rushed, sloppy mess and a pathetic waste of a fantastic character who was not done telling his story. Now he's reduced to being (as my friend Jenny puts it) Emma's personal "Yoda" guiding her in flashbacks. These moments are so sweet though, and because of that it's even more infuriating. His character deserved better, much better, and so does the story.

But Neal wasn't alone, the very last clip of Elsa coming into Storybrooke is another steaming pile of evidence that it's all about the Benjamins. Frozen was an insanely popular film. While I personally don't think it's quite as amazing as everyone else does in comparison to other Disney films, I do still love it. However, it feels completely forced and out of nowhere to suddenly have Elsa be a part of this story. To me, it feels like they are feeding off the leftover fat from Frozen's popularity. The natural flow of the ONCE story doesn't have room for Elsa yet. There are still so many undiscovered and underdeveloped villains to work with, why suddenly bring in Frozen when the theater seats still have butt marks on them from people who just saw the film? It's too soon! But it's also guaranteed viewership because of the roaring fan base and therefore $$$ cha-ching. (I suddenly hear Abbas "Money, Money, Money" playing in my head).

I don't have much hope of Elsa being a very deep or memorable part of the story. My proof? Zelena.

Zelena was unfortunate. Not that her place and her story wasn't interesting, but that it was so much so that the fact it went underdeveloped and rushed through ruined any potential of greatness it might have had. Regina having a sister is a HUGE deal, yet it always felt smaller than it actually was and very soap opera-esque. Rather than really take off this amazing concept of Regina having a sister and this witch's downfall being envy and jealousy, they made it into a melodrama, girl fight fit for a day at the Kardashian home.

There was so much left unexplored with Zelena. Unlike the Peter Pan and Neverland story the first half of season 3, which was incredibly clever, twisted, and interesting, Zelena's story ended up being just a gimmick to get OZ somehow into the world of ONCE. The entire finale she was barely alluded too, and by the end you totally forget about her. It goes without saying, but that is not good storytelling, not the way we know this show is capable of doing. I heard a lot of rumors that fans didn't like her, but who cares! If this is your story, you tell it the way you originally intend, don't worry about appeasing your "fans."

Additionally, since when did ONCE become LOST? I know they have a similar presentation structure as both come from writers from the same teams, but ONCE is not LOST! They aren't even close, so stop trying to use the same gimmicks to keep viewers, it has destroyed everything! I loved LOST, but they made some pretty obnoxious mistakes in that show and it seems the ONCE is following suit.

Mistake #1: Cheap Deaths

We already covered this regarding Neal, so no need to explain again, it's obvious.

Mistake #2: Using love triangles as method to keep a story "interesting."

I cannot express with enough words how much I hate love triangles and what wretched plot devices they make. Especially in cases like LOST and now ONCE where they are only thrown in as an effort to keep people watching by throwing a wrench into relationships.

Now granted, love triangles CAN happen in "real life" and I am not naive enough to believe they don't. However, they do not happen at the level that television produces them where they seem to come flying of the conveyor belt of the plot.

I like Hook and I like Emma APART, but I don't like Captain Swan at all. I find it incredibly forced and contrived, but the real atrocity done here with romantic relationships happened to my beloved Outlaw Queen. Regina's redemption and story arc was one of the best things about this third season. She rocks my socks, and FINALLY we got to see her have a shot at a happy ending with her destined True Love, Robin Hood. Their relationship represented and symbolized so much, but especially themes like: guarding your heart, right timing, and second chances. They have one of the hottest romances I've ever seen, but it's also one of the most beautiful because of what they mean to each other, it's so much deeper than meets the eye.

So then why, for the love of heaven, WHY did they have to go an ruin it by going... "Surprise! Emma brought back Robin's wife from the past who would have died but they ruined the timeline and saved her, so here she is!" REALLY? An insanely forced love triangle was the best you could do to give Regina and Robin some battles to overcome? Personally, I waited excitedly all season for them to get together, they finally do, but then this happens and it completely destroys the payoff. It also reverts Regina's character back to the way she was with hating Snow White for destroying her happiness, now it's going to be with Emma... been there, done that.

Love isn't easy, duh, but there has to be at least a dozen more clever ways to give Regina and Robin something to work through than to bring back his "dead" wife to throw a wrench into things. Especially because Regina already went through this with her first love she lost. It's almost identical. It totally cheapens the development of her and Robin and the meaning of their new life and second chance. Additionally, we already went through this true love struggle in the first season with Mary Margaret, David, and Kathryn. Again...been there, done that. This move does little more than frustrate the audience with it's pointlessness. I can bear Captain Swan for now (though I don't think it will last) but I cannot bear what has been done to Outlaw Queen. One of the worst mistakes this show has ever made.

Mistake # 3: Making Characters Take 180 Degree Turns for No Reason

Speaking of cheapened developments, what the heck was that with Rumple's proposal to Belle? That was horrible! Finally we get the proposal we've been waiting for from one of my favorite love stories ever, and it's drenched with lies and deception. Rumple is a changed man, everything he went through with Pan should have re-birthed him into the new person he was becoming. Instead, we find him making a choice that sets his character back lightyears in development. I'm sorry, did you mean to completely destroy everything you've built, ONCE writers? Because that's how it looks from here. It made absolutely no sense. Rumple reverted before he had a chance to even relish in his redemption. STUPID.

But yet here we are finally getting to witness the wedding of Belle and Rumple. Their vows are just exquisite, every word brought me to tears, but even moreso the tears of knowing they are setting out on their life together with this huge lie underneath their feet that one day will trip them. It was just another bad story move. We were finally getting to a good place with Rumple, but instead being forced to endure it drag out even longer simply to keep things "interesting." It' isn't a good enough reason, dang it!

So basically, season 4 has A LOT of fixing and explaining to do, but at this point, I am losing some of my hope. Things like Neal can obviously not be undone. But what amazes me is that this is a show based solely on fairy tales. They've barely hit all the characters and stories they could dive into, their pool of ideas and is boundless, yet they are turning to overused, ordinary television plot devices to keep the story interesting? I can't fathom that! Rather than reverting the story and it's people backward, move them forward by giving them new challenges to overcome, not recycled challenges that ultimately belong on soap operas. I know in my heart that these creators have it in them to blow us away by tapping into that pool of endless fairy tale possibilities. Please, please start doing that and stop using conventional methods of contemporary television. This story is better than that!

Okay I've been scathing enough for now, I will go on to say there were some completely awesome moments and messages in this messy second half of season three. Namely, The Charming family. I really loved Emma's journey to finding home and to finally feeling like she is truly apart of this fairy tale world.

The bond that holds this whole show together is Snow, David, their children, and their legacy. They symbolism of family holding together through literally every evil storm is so beautiful. Of course in playing with time, their daughter Emma has missed out on growing up with them and being a part of their fairy tale world, her REAL world.

Emma is definitely her father's daughter.
I love the dynamic of the actors so much. Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin have been able to pull off being the parents of someone who at the time they meet her is the same age. Especially Josh Dallas, his fatherly presence is so perfect. One of my favorite scenes was his dream he had about Emma. Even though it ended up being sad, the way his face lit up seeing her in her ball gown and him saying "This is what I always wanted for you." I mean come on, who wasn't choking up? Then they shared a beautiful father/daughter dance. The feelings between this family are so believable, which is an amazing accomplishment considering they are fairy tales characters.

When Charming and Snow finally get a chance to have a second child and get to truly experience parenthood since their first experience was taken from them, things blossom even more gloriously. They name their son Neal to honor the father of their grandchild who was a hero. It's a beautiful moment.

But leading up to that, I thought it was clever that Emma ended up going through Zelena's time portal to the moment her parents met. She and Hook mess up a few things, but she gets to witness Snow and Charming coming together and see them fall in love. Like Hook tells her when she begins to cry, "It's okay Swan, not many people get the chance to see their parents fall in love." It is at this point that Emma realizes she is a part of their world 100% and she can't wait to go back to tell her parents how much she loves and misses them. This whole thing really got the waterworks going, it was wonderful. Even in the midst of all these mistakes, ONCE remains true to it's roots of family and true love being the bonds that hold all things together.

Though I am sure Captain Swan shippers are ecstatic right now, are there any of you who had the same problems I did with the second half of season 3? It felt to me like the writers were drunk or something for this last half and it steered the show off course. I am a Oncer to the end, but season has been a true trial for my hope in the show.