Once Upon A Time Roundtable “A Bitter Draught”

Here we go again! Season 6 of Once Upon A Time is now two episodes old, and though this episode was a bit ….eh, slow, there are still a lot of things to go over.  Because we’re fans. And we have opinions. Boy, do we.

Joining me this week will be Fangirlish writers Sarah and Charles.

So, let’s dig in:

ONCE UPON A TIME - "A Bitter Draught" - When a mysterious man from the Land of Untold Stories, who has a past with the Evil Queen, arrives in Storybrooke, David and Snow work together with Regina to neutralize the threat. Belle seeks Hook's help finding a safe place to hide away from her husband, Mr. Gold. The Evil Queen continues to try to win Zelena over to her side, while Emma resumes her therapy sessions with Archie and shares her terrifying vision of the future, on "Once Upon a Time," SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eike Schroter) THOMAS GASIOR, JOSH DALLAS, GINNIFER GOODWIN, BEVERLEY ELLIOT, LANA PARRILLA, JENNIFER MORRISON, COLIN O'DONOGHUE

What were your overall thoughts on this episode?  Rate the episode on a scale of 1 to 10.

Lizzie: Honestly, it wasn’t a great episode. It wasn’t really a good one, either. And following an episode that I’d put at a 7 with one that would be a 5 for me, only because the present stuff was actually interesting, is just not the right way for a show to kick off it’s sixth season. I enjoyed the scene at Granny’s, and the Belle and Hook scene. I loved the Charmings and Regina. But that wasn’t enough. I get why they bring guest stars into the show, I do, but the way they straight-up murdered the backstory of the Count of Monte Cristo was more than a tad depressing to a fan of the book – and there was just too much of the bad story. Too. Damn. Much.

Sarah: It wasn’t a totally bad episode, but the flashbacks didn’t really grab me aside from my excitement at seeing Craig Horner’s face on my TV again (LOTS fan here). My favorite moments certainly made it worth watching the full hour, but I would have preferred to enjoy every part of it instead of just bits and pieces. Namely Hook’s confession to Belle, Regina putting her sword skills to save the Charmings (never thought I’d see that), and the need for a Hook Henry movie night apparently! I’d rate it a 6

Charles: 5. It was a okay episode with a few good moments (Hook/Belle, Regina saving Charming and Snow) but the Count of Monte Cristo wasn’t a very interesting character and the flashbacks felt rather blah to me.

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The Evil Queen’s endgame appears to be to turn Regina against her family. Untold stories or not, do you think she can do it? Or is Regina firmly in the hero column, despite her doubts?

Lizzie: I think the Evil Queen is a smart villain – probably the best this show has ever had, and in a way, the show has suffered from Regina’s transformation into a hero, not because of the story-line as much as the fact that they lost that presence. Do I think she’s counting on Regina betraying her family? No. Do I think she still enjoys sowing seeds of distrust? Hell yes. This is the Evil Queen we’re talking about. I don’t think she’ll manage it, but I do think characters make mistakes when they don’t trust themselves – or each other, and the Evil Queen will certainly take advantage of that.

Sarah: The Evil Queen knows Regina’s weak points, and the fact that she’s already pushing buttons wasn’t something I wanted to see. Despite her manipulations I really believe that doubts or not she’s got her feet firmly in the hero column. Now is the time to prove that evil even her evil side won’t change that. Being a hero is hard and Snow and Charming know that better than a lot of people. With her family by her side I think she can do it. It just doesn’t help that there’s a lot of miscommunication starting to go around between Emma and her visions and now Charming maybe digging into his father’s past.

Charles: I think she has already succeeded in some part by sowing seeds of distrust  with hinting that Charming’s dad accident may not have been an accident at all. The Evil Queen is putting many plans in motion it feels like and you know all of them have something to do with Regina in the end.  I think however it will fail in the end because Regina has grown as person and a hero. Regina trying to convince The Count to stop and end it in a peaceful manner was the actions of a hero through and through.

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Emma showed her vulnerable side this episode – and yet, she still hasn’t told  her family about her visions. How long do you think she can hold on? And, do you think her reasons for not telling them are at all valid?

Lizzie: I think they’re valid in her head, obviously, but are they valid in the context of what’s going on and the people she has in her life? No. I think she’s come a long way from Season 1, and though she now has a support system, she still doesn’t know how to rely on them. However, her confiding in Archie makes me think it won’t take long before she confides in her parents and Hook. The Emma from before wouldn’t have sough therapy, wouldn’t have even trusted Archie, so she’s making strides, they’re just tiny ones. She’ll crack sooner than I thought, maybe within the next few episodes.

Sarah: Emma knowing her will hold on as long as she can to avoid having to do this the hard way and not the hard way she’s used to. Going to Archie and telling him the truth means I do think she’ll eventually tell her family but her point of view is so focused on protecting them she doesn’t see the risk in taking it all on herself. I believe her reasons are very valid in her mind due to the responsibility she’s carried since finding out she is the savior, but she’s also Emma. She deserves to have the people she loves supporting her in this and it takes a lot to break twenty eight years of ingrained habit to rely only on herself. 

Charles: I think Emma will keep her vision from everyone for a while.  One flaw about Emma is her inability to open up to people and this feels like a prime example of that. As for if her reasons for not telling them is valid, I don’t think they are at all. Emma on the other hand thinks they are because she thinks that it’s  her role as savior to protect her family – Snow, Charming, Henry and Hook.  Emma still feels shame I think as her actions as the Dark One and her decision feels like one of a person who can’t burden her family and friends with another problem.

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What was your favorite interaction in the episode – and why?

Lizzie: Hook and Belle was a highlight, but since everyone else talked about that, I’m gonna go with Regina and the Charmings. It was hilarious, poignant and also a nice reminder of how far all these characters have come. Once Upon A Time is always as it’s best when it can make fun of itself, and that was a nice reminder.

Sarah: Hands down the scene when Hook confesses to Belle about working on forgiving himself. In season three we saw him give an apology since the situation demanded it. Now he came forward citing everything he did wrong to her and truly showing remorse for hurting someone he now considers his friend. Their friendship has come out of some bad events in the past, but now to see them honestly talk and level with each other the amount of respect they have is something I’m looking forward to seeing more of.

Charles: Hook and Belle’s on the Jolly Roger. No doubt this was my favorite moment of the episode seeing these two open up to each other . I’m very hopeful that this is the start of a friendship between the two and a few more scenes between them would be nice.

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Hook indicated in his conversation with Belle that he still doesn’t see himself as a hero. What do you think about his journey so far? Is being a hero 90% action, 10% belief?

Lizzie: I don’t think the journey of being a hero – just as the path of true love – are ever truly over. That’s the message of Once Upon A Time. You can be a hero, but you still have to fight for it and make the right choices, and you can find true love, but that doesn’t mean you get to sit back and do nothing. Hook has come a long way – a really long way. He’s now a hero and he found his true love. Does that mean he’s feeling secure? No. Should he? In Storybrooke? No. So, though, in a way, I think most of doubts come from fear, they’re certainly understandable. I think he is  a hero. And I think he’ll get a chance to prove it.

Sarah: His journey to redeeming himself has been one of my favorite ongoing storylines of OUAT since the beginning of Season 3 (or end of season 2 really). His character has never been one to claim attention in a way that made him uncomfortable since he spent many years believing his happy ending was his revenge or that having one at all was impossible. He’s come a long way since we met him in season 2 and while I think he has some work to do it’s mostly now to learn to, as he said forgive himself for his past. I think it’ll be an ongoing journey for himself for a long time, but he’s certainly proved to be a hero in my eyes.  Being a hero is a lot of action, but I think belief is more on par with that than people I think really give it credit for. Belief drives people fight for what’s important to them and the moral compass many have (and perhaps was buried for a long time) can come out when they find something or someone that inspires them to take that step. It’s a lot of work, but like anything worth doing in our world it’s always worth it.

Charles: I think Hook’s journey is one that will never end, at least he thinks that. Hook will always feel that he will never be quite a hero like others are in his mind (which is bs, Hook is a hero through and through).  As for being the action/belief of being a hero, I believe being a hero is not just in actions but also giving people belief in things. Hook is there but he doesn’t feel that way. Hopefully in the future he will.

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Speculate with me – who’s the person in Emma’s visions? Is it Regina? Is it the Evil Queen? Is it Emma herself? Where do you think Once Upon A Time is going with this?

Lizzie: I think it’s Regina, not the Evil Queen, and I think when we get to that point we’ll see there’s a plan in play and everyone’s play-acting. Including Hook, who shields Henry but never moves to try to help his true love. The setup for Emma’s “death” is just too perfect for it to happen exactly like that. This show likes it’s surprises, after all.

Sarah: At this point I don’t think I can wager a guess at who is under the hood, because frankly it could be any one of those options. I hope it’s not Regina, but honestly the only theme I can follow from Emma’s struggle is the dangers of a self fulfilling prophecy. We see the danger and take what we know to combat it only to end up in the trap we worked so hard to avoid because thinking outside the box and breaking habits can be very difficult. Emma has spent so long being the savior, she doesn’t see herself as being someone just as worthy as being saved as anyone else in that town. When the truth comes out I’m hoping she’ll learn the true value of letting others help you and that being the savior doesn’t mean she has to give up being Emma along with it.

Charles: I’m not sure to be honest who it is in Emma’s vision.  My early guess is a creature brought forth by the Evil Queen or a possessed Regina by the Evil Queen.  As for where the show is going with this, it feels like the season is about each character being pushed to their limit and whether or not they can remain what they are now or revert back to what they once were. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Agree? Disagree? Have your own answers to these questions? Are you interested in participating in one of these round-tables? Sound off in the comments below!

Once Upon a Time airs on Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.

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