ABC’s Once Upon a Time was always a show that had very immature foundations. Anybody could have seen that their definitions of what is good and what is bad was very childish, to say the least. And although the plot for Once Upon a Time is needlessly intricate and bizarrely sprinkled with a thousand different fairytales, it still remains very popular.
The reason for this popularity lies not in the fact that the people in the Once Upon a Time have amazing adventures, have exciting lives, or any of the other escapist popularity. It’s the characters. Characters from Once Upon a Time are oddly detailed, with a lot of complexity, and a lot of depth. In a story which follows so childish a moral code, it would be curious to find characters of so much depth, but that is because Once Upon a Time was never meant to always follow a childish moral code.
The writers of the story had the foresight to leave room within their own interpretations of “evil”and “good” characters to expand later. And boy has it expanded. Once Upon a Time has become a very confusing world, one with a lot of plot lines, one which has a lot of people doing a lot of things which are hard to follow, and one where simply everyone seems to be related. But Once Upon a Time is also a world where you would question all the concepts of good and evil you have ever had.
The character arc of Regina Mills, for one thing, is a very good example. The earlier episodes of Once Upon a Time always showed evil characters in two lights: who had originally been good, and eventually became bad.
Although the motivations for these characters were always different (Regina becoming the Evil Queen due to bitterness; Rumplestiltskin becoming evil to compensate for his cowardly heart; Zelena driven into jealousy; Peter Pan wanting a lost youth), the formula was always similar. Character, back story, good and evil.
There is a shift into the kind of evil characters they show on Once Upon a Time now. We have Cruella, who simply enjoyed the concept of madness. We have the original writer, who wanted to play god. We have Arthur, who was literally driven by madness and by conceptual ideas.
We have other characters like Hook, or the redemption of Regina. And we have so many good characters doing such horribly questionable things, trying to trick fate, trying to prove that they are good, and so on. Once Upon a Time has become a curious stage to see a world where all the childish ideas of good and evil are going topsy-turvy.
Which all ultimately brings us to whatever happened to Emma. The savior, the one with the heart which never wavered from the right path, the one who would always be the strong one – turning dark?
It sounds like some kind of joke, doesn’t it?
But it’s not. Emma’s acceptance of her darkness is beginning to show already – for a woman who has always battled her demons, it is becoming obvious that she’s giving in. Rumplestiltskin isn’t in her head anymore, so these are her choices. This is who she is.
Everybody has a dark side, but Emma falling into it was certainly something that was not expected. However, her darkness signals the most important turning point in Once Upon a Time.
It is no longer about “good’ and ‘evil.” It is now all about the people fighting.
And in this climatic world of Once Upon a Time, the next episode needs to come out, and fast.