What are your thoughts on the musical episode? Are you excited? Don't really care? Think will be a huge mess?
I am so stoked! I am adamantly calling it Once Upon a Time with Feeling until the title is released. I don’t care if it’s potentially blasphemous - even if in all my optimism, I know them reaching Buffy levels is probably unlikely.
So here’s what happened. I thought a musical wouldn’t really work for Once Upon a Time and I was very skeptical about the idea… then the announcement came and well. I was giddy and unexpectedly over-the-top ridiculously happy about it? I should have known. I’m a total dork. I love musical. I saw Wicked three times in two days once. My favorite movie - I claim it’s Dogville, but it’s really Sister Act. I read the book that turned into Pitch Perfect. I keep hoping to just one day in my life wake up and find we’re doing everything in song. So okay, maybe I’m… unique.
Since it’s happening and not everyone’s happy about it, let’s look at potential bright sides? At the very least, we’re going to get to hear the actors sing. Cast has some really nice voices! It might be beautiful or cute or unexpected. At the very least it’ll be silly and funny to have this weirdo Disney fairy tale world with costumes and dancing and bursting into song. If you go into it just expecting to get some laughs out of it, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. We may have to loosen up a little. Sometimes you go into an episode and you’re just left… not feeling much of anything. This time. Love it, hate it. Cringing, laughing, feeling. Everybody’s at least gonna have some very strong feelings about it!
Where it gets more interesting is that it’s potentially - of course what else would I say - good news for Emma and Regina. Rule number one for musicals - as in, first chapter in Musicals for Dummies 101 - is that you have to give your characters a reason to burst into song. Musicals give insight into how characters are feeling, they voice emotions in a way that normally doesn’t happen and your story has to fit that concept. Part of the success of Buffy’s “Once More With Feeling” was that apart from the catchy songs and great delivery, lyrics, direction and very good balance of humor and drama, it was an explosive episode that really drove the plot forward. They built the episode around this concept. If you haven’t seen it, basically a dancing demon forces all of the characters to randomly burst into song. One by one they reveal secrets as they are singing. Either to each other, or to the audience.
We’re currently in the land of Untold stories. It’s been heavily suggested all of our main characters are keeping secrets. If there was an episode to get into their heads and reveal some of those stories they don’t want told, this would be the one.
Now the reason I am maybe most stoked about it, is that it fits completely with @colyssa ‘s Women Who Run With the Wolves meta, and more specifically this part of it and this submission she received recently. As she says, there is no way they did not use this book. I’ve started reading recently and I completely agree. Without even getting into the content too much, there’s the title, which… actually happens on the show in the episode when Ruby finds her mother.
The first chapter is literally a scene in the pilot.
The sixth chapter is a recurring theme.
The fifth chapter shares its title almost to the letter with the 7th episode of Once Upon a Time. Incidentally it’s also the chapter that completely matches Emma and Regina’s story. The author uses a tale called the Skeleton woman as a guideline to explain what it requires to enter in a relationship with someone. You’ll have to read Colyssa’s meta for the details, but the part we are interested in is this one.
“Then, while lying beside him, she reached inside the sleeping man and took out his heart, the mighty drum. She sat up and banged on both sides of it: Bom, BommI… Bom, Bomm!
As she drummed, she began to sing out “Flesh, flesh, flesh! Flesh, flesh, flesh!” And the more she sang, the more her body filled out With flesh. She sang for hair and good eyes and nice fat hands. She sang the divide between her legs, and breasts long enough to wrap for warmth, and all the things a woman needs.
And when she was done, she also sang the sleeping man’s clothes off and crept into his bed with him, skin against skin. She returned the great drum, his heart, to his body, and that is how they awakened, wrapped one around the other, tangled from their night together, in another way now, a good and lasting way.”
Might sound a little weird out of context, but once you read the explanation, it makes sense. Hearts being taken of chests is already standard practice on Once and the references to music here are obvious. It’s also in sync with this myth, because the part before this one focuses on a tear, which we saw represented last season.
So when looking at it this way, suddenly the musical episode - while undoubtedly frivolous in its execution, is crucial and may have been planned for a long time. Or at the very least, they knew that if there was going to be a musical episode, this would be the time for it and that’s why they couldn’t confirm before reaching season 6. It seemed sudden and unplanned, but it probably isn’t.
To end, a summary of the seven steps - fitting a show going for seven seasons - from the book so it’s more clear where we are at and how the musical fits in the development of Emma and Regina’s relationship..
While the Skeleton Woman could be interpreted as representing the movements within a single psyche, I find this tale most valuable when understood as a series of seven tasks that teach one soul to love another deeply and well. These are: discovering another person as a kind of spiritual treasure, even though one may not at first realize what one has found. Next in most love relationships comes the chase and the hiding, a time of hopes and fears for both. Then comes the untangling and understanding of the Life/Death/Life aspects of the relationship and the development of compassion for the task. Next come the relaxing into trust, the ability to rest in the presence and goodwill of the other, and after that, a time of sharing both future dreams and past sadness, these being the beginning of healing archaic wounds with regard to love. Then, the use of the heart to sing up new life, and finally, the intermingling of body and soul.
If you’re not into musicals, but you wouldn’t exactly mind Emma and Regina going beyond the platonic, I’d say take a look at what comes after singing up new life and you may want to just hang in there…