Was very let down by the below average, rather lacklustre actually, Season 7 premiere "Hyperion Heights". Did think to myself after seeing the beautifully done Season 6, which was a very inconsistent season but did have its bright spots, finale that that was the perfect place for 'Once Upon a Time' to stop and that it didn't need another season. Something that was felt watching "Hyperion Heights" and pretty much in general Season 7 disappointed and didn't feel necessary.
"A Pirate's Life" is an improvement over the previous episode, only just, but still underwhelms. Not quite the worst of 'Once Upon a Time', but a lot of Season 7's faults are here, as well as those of Season 6 except executed even worse. And if comparing the quality here to the earlier seasons this is way off. Really did not want to be disappointed by "A Pirate's Life", despite doubts actually wanted to like it as some of the ideas here sounded intriguing enough. Have had doubts about a lot of things frequently, and am often proven wrong to my relief. That's not the case here.
By all means, there are good things in "A Pirate's Life". The production values have a lot of beauty and atmosphere, nothing drab or gaudy here, while being attractively photographed. The music doesn't ever sound cheap or out-of-kilter, fitting well with the mood and never found myself questioning its placement. The main theme is still memorable.
The remaining original cast members do very well with what they have, Colin O'Donaghue, bringing intensity and swagger to Hook, and Jared Gilmore has grown so much as Henry are big standouts here. Have always loved Lana Parrilla in 'Once Upon a Time' and she's fine here (more than fine actually), while Jennifer Morrison is touching as Emma. Of the acting of the newcomers, which at this point of the season was patchy, Gabrielle Anwar's Victoria is the only standout in a good way. A promising villainous character but her storyline doesn't have anywhere near the same amount of juice.
Of the storylines, the dealing of Emma's farewell was very heartfelt and did Emma justice. The Rogers and Weaver scenes are the most interesting after that, and do enjoy the chemistry between Rogers and Roni which is the sole source of the sporadic sparkle in the episode's writing.
Excepting Anwar, the acting for the newer characters is not up to par. Few stand out and the chemistry can feel stiff. There is a standout in a bad way and that is Dania Ramirez, her acting is the most panned of the show and it is hard not to see why, she is too old and she irritates rather than charms. Will say too that despite loving Robert Carlyle in 'Once Upon a Time' and considering one of the consistently great actors on the show, his cockney accent for Weaver is very dodgy.
Like "Hyperion Heights" the writing sees a real nose-dive in terms of quality compared to the early seasons. There is no nuance or little wit here, instead it is a whole bathtub's worth of melodramatic soap and unintentional camp. Especially in the Hyperion Heights scenes and Hook's very forced and too sudden change of heart.
It's the Hyperion Heights scenes that fare worst in the story too. Particularly noticeable in those concerning the relationship between Henry and Jacinda, which is very awkward and soap-operatic as well as full of cliches and like a re-hash of past romantic relationships. Did not find the team-up against Victoria believable either, that felt out of blue and with the lack of development it did feel too early for that aspect to be introduced. The storytelling has very similar problems to those in "Hyperion Heights". Nothing really feels fresh, there is an unfocused feel as a result of trying to include too much, it manages to feel both rushed and dull (with the newer material making no impact) and instead of questions being answered more questions are raised, not what a season with the intent of refreshing a show should do. Nothing really comes together cohesively and feels like two or more episodes in one.
Overall, an improvement but still disappointing. 5/10
3 out of 7 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.