Tag Archives: Lana Parilla

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Emma Swan

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Every story starts with a hero/ protagonist. In Once Upon A Time, that hero is Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison). At the beginning of the series, Emma has been on her own for as long as she can remember. Orphaned at a young age, she works as a bail bonds woman. On her 28th birthday, there is a knock on her door.

Opening the door, she finds a young man on the other side. His name is Henry Mills (Jared Gilmore) and he tells Emma that he is the baby she gave up for adoption ten years before. Henry also tells Emma that the book of fairy tales in his bag are not works of fiction, but true stories. Emma is not an orphan, but the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas). Her parents and the rest of the citizens of Storybrooke are cursed by The Evil Queen (Lana Parilla), they do not know that they are fairy tale characters. It is up to Emma to break the curse and restore their memories.

When the audience meets Emma, she is smart and independent but also very cynical around the world around her. She reluctantly takes Henry home, expecting to immediately turn around and return to her life as if nothing has happened. Emma does not know that she is about to go on a hero’s journey that will forever change the course of her life.

To sum it up: The hero and their hero’s journey is the core of any story. When a writer has done their job, the reader or the audience member is easily able to go along with the hero on their journey. Emma Swan is the perfect hero because not only does she go on a hero’s journey that no one would have ever predicted, but also she comes into the world of Storybrooke as an outsider and leaves as the Savior.

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Filed under Character Review, Fairy Tales, Feminism, Once Upon A Time, Television

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Henry Mills

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

At the center of every fairy tale is hope and a belief that things will work out for the best. Without either of those elements, a fairy tale is simply not a fairy tale. In Once Upon A Time, hope and belief is personified in the character of Henry Mills (Jared Gilmore). Henry is the natural son of Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), the adopted son of Regina Mills (Lana Parilla) and the center of a very complicated family tree.

It is Henry who finds Emma at the beginning of the first season and convinces her to come with him to Storybrooke.  Throughout the course of the first six seasons, Henry holds onto his beliefs, even when it appears that hope is dead and happy endings only occur in books.

To sum it up:  We all need hope in our lives. Hope is the one thing that pulls us through when nothing else can. The world can be a very dark place. When we are writing our stories and sculpting both the narrative and the character arcs, hope is an important element of the foundation of the hero’s journey. Hope helps the hero through their toughest task, as it does in real life when we feel like the obstacles are insurmountable.

One of the wisest women I know of, Jane Austen, wrote about hope in the following manner in Sense and Sensibility:

Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience-or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Fairy Tales, Jane Austen, Once Upon A Time, Sense and Sensibility, Television

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Snow White/ Mary Margaret Blanchard

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Snow White is one of the quintessential fairy tales. The jealous stepmother, the poison apple, the handsome prince are all part of the basic narrative and character makeup of the fairy tale genre. But that does not mean that every writer has to stick to the same basic narrative and character arc.

In Once Upon A Time, there are two versions of Snow White  (played by Ginnifer Goodwin). In fairy tale land, Snow White is for the most part, the same character that audiences have come to know, with a few minor and important updates. In Storybrooke, she is Mary Margaret Blanchard, a teacher who in the beginning of the first season, like of most of the characters, were unaware of their true identities due to the curse that brought them to Storybrooke in the first place.

When the curse was lifted at the end of the first season, Snow White and Mary Margaret merged into one character. While she has her true love, Prince Charming/David Nolan (Josh Dallas, Goodwin’s real life husband), she also continually in the cross-hairs of her stepmother, The Evil Queen/Regina Mills).

This Snow White is an interesting mix of the traditional Snow White and characteristics of a modern, independent woman who audiences have come to expect.  She has a good heart and takes care of those around her, but also has no problem being a bad-ass when circumstances arise.

To sum it up: While traditional fairy tale characters (especially female characters) are great, they have been done to death. What the writers Of Once Upon A Time have very smartly done is taking the basic characters and narratives that exist with the fairy tale world and twisted them into new characters and narratives that audiences have not seen before. With Snow White, they have retained the skeleton of the character, but have made her human.

As writers, our job is not to create stock characters, but to use those stock characteristics as a building block for the character arc.  Stock characters are great, but if a writer just uses that stock character without building it up, the reader may feel like they have seen the story before and walk away. We don’t want the reader to walk away, so we must make sure that our characters are built up enough to stand on their own two feet and not rely on the standard stock character that has been seen for far too long.

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Filed under Character Review, Fairy Tales, Feminism, Once Upon A Time, Television

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Zelena

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In 1939’s The Wizard Of Oz, Margaret Hamilton’s The Wicked Witch Of The West left an indomitable mark on our culture. She was the ultimate baddy, taking Toto from Dorothy and using her monkeys to terrorize the residents of the land of Oz.  In Once Upon A Time, the character of Zelena (Rebecca Mader) appeared to be a direct cut from that same cloth. But in usual Once Upon A Time fashion, there is a twist to the character and the narrative.

Zelena is Regina/The Evil Queen’s (Lana Parilla) older half-sister. Abandoned by their mother and raised without the luxury or the access to the magic that was part and parcel of Regina’s childhood, Zelena grew up to be spiteful and angry. Arriving in Storybrooke, Zelena made it her goal to get back at Regina for everything she never had. She also manipulated Robin Hood to believe that she was his late wife and became pregnant by him.

Giving birth to their daughter (also named Robin) changed Zelena. No longer seeing life in terms of black and white,Zelena  started to change. She became close to her sister, but she fell in love with Hades (Greg Germann), who also fell in love with her, but she chose her sister over Hades. Unfortunately, Robin was lost in the battle.

To sum it up: When a character is written properly, her or she can easily transcend the archetype that is the skeleton of that character. A good writer is able to flesh out a character, giving them dimensions, failings and complications. Zelena may have started out as the archetypal Wicked Witch Of The West, but she grew into a woman who was more than her archetype. As writers, we have to remember that archetypes are fine,  just as long as we remember that the archetype is only the skeleton of the character. We need to add more to the character than just what is expected. If we don’t do that, then the character is just an archetype and frankly, who wants to read about an archetype? I don’t and I’m sure there are other readers who feel the same.

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Filed under Character Review, Fairy Tales, Once Upon A Time, Television

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Regina Mills/The Evil Queen

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

No one goes through life without heartache.  The question is, do we let the heartache consume us or do we let it fade into memory? In the world of fairy tales and Snow White in particular, The Evil Queen is the female villain we love to hate. Her main goal is to kill Snow White, she will stop at nothing to see Snow White dead. On Once Upon A Time, The Evil Queen or Regina Mills as she is known in Storybrooke, is played by Lana Parilla.

As with the original fairy tale, The Evil Queen hates her stepdaughter, Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and will like nothing more than see Snow White in the ground permanently.  But in this version, The Evil Queen/Regina Mills goes beyond the 2D character we think we know.

Regina does not hate Snow for her youth or her beauty, but blames Snow for the death of her first love and her forced marriage to Snow’s widowed father. We are introduced to Regina as she interrupts Snow’s wedding to Charming (Josh Dallas) and curses all of the inhabitants of the realm. Their memories are wiped clean, they remember nothing of their lives before the curse.

But as everyone who watches Once Upon A Time knows, “magic comes with a price”. The price, for Regina is her inability to move forward with her life and not let the past hold her back. She will eventually find love again, with Robin Hood (Sean Maguire), but not before facing her demons and confronting her past. She will also become the mother to Henry (Jared Gilmore) that she was unable to be when she was consumed by anger and grief.

 

 

To sum it up:  The reason that fans have latched onto Regina’s character arc over the first six seasons is because despite the world she lives in, we can relate to her. No one is all good or all bad. A good writer is able to flesh out a character in such a way that both the good parts and the bad parts of the character’s makeup are given the chance to be in the spotlight. While Regina has done some bad things in her life and made some mistakes (and truth be told, haven’t we all?), she has proved to be loyal and loving to those who knew her best. That is why we love her and that is why we remember her.

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Filed under Character Review, Fairy Tales, Life, Once Upon A Time, Television