"Hyperion Heights" Is Worse Than a Sequel

Yesterday was the premiere of Once Upon a Time's heavily promoted seventh season. With half the cast now absent, the show's creators were forced to take the series in a new direction. Or did they? I was expecting the new season to feel like a Disney sequel, forgoing quality for the sake of selling off a known brand. What I saw last night was even worse than anything I could have possibly anticipated. "Hyperion Heights" is not the television equivalent of a sequel. Instead, it is a thinly veiled Disney remake of the worst possible sort. The episode contained everything we had already seen from Once Upon a Time's first season using new actors and new names.

It's not exactly a crime to make Henry live out the same life as his mother. After all, they share the same DNA. The crime is replacing every other character from Once Upon a Time's first season with a lackluster new equivalent. You might argue that they merely did this as a tribute to the show's pilot, but here's the problem with that. You can't make a tribute to yourself. That's just called narcissism. A tribute would be a reference to another show or movie, which is something that Once Upon a Time already does fairly often. Here, they are essentially plagiarizing themselves in the worst way possible.

We've already established that Henry is the new savior, like his mother, Emma.They tried to modernize it a bit by making him an Uber driver instead of a bail bonds person, but it's easy to see right through that attempt. His daughter, Lucy, is an exact clone of himself from when the series started. She even uses some of the same dialogue. Cinderella is the new Snow White. Just like in the pilot, she is separated from her true love due to a curse that was cast by her stepmother. Isn't it convenient that they chose the only other famous princess with a wicked stepmother? The similarities don't end there. Just like Snow White and Prince Charming, Cinderella first met Henry by stealing something that was important to him. Theft is just so romantic, isn't it? Just in case they weren't similar enough, this version of Cinderella is a badass warrior princess who lacks the innocuous nature of the one from the movies. You know, just like Once's version of Snow White. Had enough references yet?

Just like Storybrooke, Hyperion Heights is populated with fairy tale residents who have false identities due to a curse cast by the leading princess's wicked stepmother. The characters we thought we knew, such as Regina and Rumpelstiltskin, are now leading second lives that are new to us, just like Mary Margaret and David when the show started. Remember how Regina, the original evil stepmother, was trying to maintain custody of the savior's kid?  Well, this stepmother is fighting Cinderella for permanent custody of Lucy, our new savior's kid. Sheriff Graham, Emma's love interest who was killed off in the first season, has been replaced by Detective Rogers, who is actually Captain Hook, Emma's love interest from the last season. It's amazing what lengths they went to in order to intricately reproduce everything they had already done.

But wait, there's more. Remember how Rumpelstiltskin was the wild card on the show, who always seemed to have questionable intentions and knew more than he led on? That role went to the new Alice, who really wants you to know that she's been to other places besides Wonderland. Robert Carlyle is still a member of the cast, and yet, his role in the series was still replaced. This new Alice is a combination of the first season's Rumpelstiltskin and the second season's Peter Pan. Like Peter, she was a child that we thought of as fun-loving and harmless who turns out to be a potential threat to our hero's happiness. Henry seems to have the worst luck with famous fairy tale kids, doesn't he? First Gretel stole from him, then Peter Pan kidnapped him, and now Alice wants to have her way with him, whatever that may be. The thinly veiled references never end.

On the plus side, hearing Adelaide Kane speak with an American accent as Drisella was quite entertaining. She looked as gorgeous as ever, but it was a bit odd that she seemed to be Cinderella's only stepsister. Maybe they'll bring up what happened to the other one later. As far as I can tell, Drisella was the only new element in the season. Unfortunately, her only role thus far is as a bystander to Lady Tremaine's wickedness. Drisella bore witness to the second incarnation of Cinderella's fairy godmother getting killed yet again. It sure must suck to be a fairy godmother on this show. That's two for two now. Wasn't this supposed to be an "alternate" version? Oh right, the new part of this story is that Cinderella wanted to kill the prince in order to avenge her father because she blamed him for her father's death. Wait, that sounds familiar too. Didn't Regina go after Snow White because she blamed her for Daniel's death? If they wanted it to be a perfect analogy, it would have to be the stepmother who killed the prince, not Cinderella. Oh, look, she did.

I realize that there are many secrets the writers have yet to reveal because they want to keep us guessing like they did with Lost, but this episode was far from a tribute to Once Upon a Time's pilot. It was Eddie and Adam giving themselves a big pat on the back for everything they've accomplished so far. They may claim to be trying to sell us something new, but it's actually the same old stale story rotting away with plot holes and rehashes. If I was already of the opinion that the series should have ended last season, watching "Hyperion Heights" confirmed that for me more so than ever.


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