You Know What’s Weird About Once Upon a Time?
I mean, first of all, why isn’t the main antagonist Maleficent? Maleficent put a curse on the whole kingdom because she was pissed that they didn’t invite her to a party. You know? Dang.
But something else just struck me, inspired by Moff’s comment on my last post on this subject, where he said:
The whole “Jennifer Morrison is the chosen-one child, but also there’s her kid” just added a confusing, unnecessary layer for me. (If you’re gonna do a fairy-tale story, maybe MAKE THE CHILD your protagonist.)
That’s a pretty good point, and it makes me wonder if actually the show was originally structured slightly differently. This is the way it’s set up now: the evil queen is about to put a curse on the kingdom, but Gepetto has invented a magic closet that can protect one (1) person from the curse. And Snow White is pregnant, she gives birth, they put the baby in the closet when the curse hits, and she grows up to be Jennifer Morrison. Then SHE has a kid, which she gives up for adoption, and he somehow ends up in the magic town that all the fairy tale characters went to, and then finds her and brings her back so that she can precipitate the final battle.
That is pretty confusing, and it seems a little excessive — what with the Evil Queen, her step-daughter, her step-daughter’s DAUGHTER, and her step-daughter’s daughter’s son (meaning that the Evil Queen has adopted her own great grandson). But more than that, it sort of confuses all the characters relationships, as now the Queen’s primary relationship is with her adopted son/great grandson, and the only thing we actually know about her character comes from her relationship with Snow White, who she doesn’t even remember.
All of which makes me think that this was actually pitched in a slightly different way. Consider: Snow White goes into the magic closet while pregnant (imagine she’s very young — like 18). She appears in the real world, but seems crazy. She gives birth, but the child is taken from her. After ten years, she finally finds out who adopted her son — the Evil Queen in Storybrooke, Maine. She comes to the child to try to tell him the truth, which he’s kind of willing to believe because he’s ten, and he finds himself drawn to the woman who’s his birth mother, in contrast to the kind of mean woman that’s his step mother.
So, now, look: the Queen’s primary motivation remains intact. She’s jealous that the child she raised likes Snow White more than he likes the Queen. Further, Snow White (the stranger) has a reason to stay in town, and an outcome she needs to achieve: she needs to convince the kid of the truth to end the curse or something &c. There’s a basic threat undermining all of her relationships with the other characters, so even if she DOES manage to convince someone like Red Riding Hood, or Jiminy Cricket, about what’s going on, all that effort is wasted when it comes out that Snow White had been institutionalized. And, finally, there’s a looming and legitimate danger in the real world: the possibility that Snow White might really get dragged back to a mental hospital, or arrested for violating a restraining order or some such.
Also, consider how fucking heartbreaking it would be for Snow White to go through all that shit with her stepmother repeatedly trying to KILL HER, only to escape and still lose her kid to the Queen.
I think that you could also make a pretty strong show that didn’t actually acknowledge the truth of the fairy-tale side of the story, right away: like, if we’re introduced to Snow White as someone who could legitimately be crazy, and all of the fairy-tale stuff is a flashback from her perspective, then 1) we can drag out the reveal that all that stuff is true, and 2) we can open up the possibility that Snow’s memory of fairy-tale land isn’t actually 100% accurate. Also, when she goes nuts and cuts down the Queen’s apple tree, it isn’t JUST a “how crazy is this crazy woman?” moment, it’s also got a little bit of justifiable revenge in there, too.
The thing about this is that it’s so much simpler and, in my opinion, so much stronger, that I can’t think of any really good reasons why you wouldn’t do it that way. The only two reasons that spring to mind (in my opinion, bad ones) are firstly that someone with executive authority decided it would be better if it was the little kid who knew the truth, because of little kids and their magic truth-knowing powers and how they’re so sensitive to things that adults just don’t understand (blehhhh little kids are idiots).
The other is that it would have required that, in order for Snow White to have a ten-year-old kid, she would have had to have been pregnant and married by 18 (to avoid being played by someone that the show had to acknowledge was 30). I mean, I don’t think that’s a big deal; 18 is kind of young, but it’s not that young, and it’s legal anyway. And I also don’t see what the big deal is about having an actress over 28, but I also don’t have a successful TV studio, so what do I know?
Obviously, it’s too late to change anything now, so let’s just put that idea on the back burner, wait for Once Upon a Time to wrap up, and trot it out again in, say, fifteen years or so.