Once Upon a Time: “Hyperion Heights”

Every once in a while, a television series reinvents itself.   It’s a risky move, often involving changing a location, changing characters, and even changing the entire premise.   Sometimes, it’s done out of the adventurous spirit of the writers and, other times, it’s done because most of the cast takes a powder.

Guess which thing happened to Once Upon a Time?

Yep, so many of the cast left that the show should now be called O ce Up n A T m .   It was a slaughter, that’s for sure, and should have really led to the ending of the series.   After all, the season finale last May felt like a series finale, pretty much all of the dangling plots had been tied with neat little bows, characters came full circle and pretty much ended up in their happily ever after, so why the hell is Once Upon a Time still going?   Why in this realm or the next did it need to continue?

No one knows… not even Once Upon a Time, it seems.

I’m not saying that the hard reboot was bad, because it wasn’t… but I’m not sure how to feel about it.   Everything is unfamiliar and different this time around.   Setting the show in Seattle, completely removing Storybrooke and the relationships that the characters had… it’s very odd, like this is a new season of American Horror Story with fairies and princesses which, I’m sure, will eventually become a season of American Horror Story.

In this new season, we join a grown up Henry Mills played by that cannibal guy from The Walking Dead (I’ve got my eye on you, you fucking rat) who is making a living as an Uber driver since his career as an author never took off.  One day, a little girl appears at his door, claims to be the daughter he never knew he had, and tells him that there’s a curse on her neighborhood, Hyperion Heights, and that all of the fairy tale characters that live there are being pushed out and are drifting apart, including his wife, Cinderella.   Henry, of course, doesn’t believe a word of this…

…hey, this is just like the first episode.


Cinderella’s evil stepmother is the show’s new big bad and is being played like The Devil Wears Prada which is fine.   Regina is there, but now she runs a bar.   Hook is there too, but now he’s a cop.  None of them remember each other either.

I have a mild curiosity about how this is supposed to play out, after all, it had to be a hell of a pitch to sell it to the network, but I’m afraid that it’s going to have to work extra hard to sell itself to me because, frankly, I find myself uninterested.  It already feels like that unnecessary tacked-on season like the last seasons of Two and a Half Men after Charlie Sheen left or the last season of That 70’s Show when Eric left, or that last season of Beauty and the Beast when Catherine left.   Woefully unnecessary and, in hindsight, mostly forgotten.

But, I’m not counting Once Upon a Time out just yet.  It’s got some work to do and I’m going to need some convincing, but it’s possible this hard reboot might work.  The episode wasn’t necessarily bad and it did plant a lot of seeds that could grow into interesting things.   We’ll just have to wait and see.

Once Upon a Time doesn’t seem to know what it’s still doing here, but maybe we ought to give it a chance until it doesn’t deserve one anymore.

About the author

Jason Donner

Jason Donner devoured the universe and you are all living inside him.