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Once Upon a Time - Hyperion Heights - Advance Preview

After four months of anticipation, the new and almost unrecognizable seventh season of Once Upon a Time is, well, upon us. Though the decision to make such drastic changes to a fairly popular show has been -ahem- controversial, many fans, myself included, have been aching to see this new iteration of an imperfect but beloved series, and I do think this episode provides an intriguing look into what could be a solid season.

In spite of some key cast departures, Once has returned as an almost entirely new show. There’s been a lot of talk about this new version, including the basic premise that some time after the Final Battle, Henry has gone off to another realm to *live* his *life* (what a teenager). 10 years have passed in the meantime, and now he, Hook, Regina, and Rumple are living in Seattle under a new curse and no longer remember their former lives.

This is as true a reboot as I’ve ever seen. It’s kind of like when Torchwood drastically changed as in tone in its fourth season, or when Veronica Mars was going to do that FBI academy thing, except it got canceled instead. It really is strange to watch brand new actors for 90% of the episode, though the tone of the show does feel something like classic Once. I don’t dislike the new characters, or Andrew West’s take on a grown-up Henry, and though it’s jarring to see Hook and Regina running around with totally random personalities it’s also comforting just to have them there at all.

That being said, I think the hardest thing to get past here is the fact that is doesn’t really feel like Once at the moment. The reason we’ve been tuning in all these years is to see characters that we love discover their true selves and interact with one another a big, dysfunction-yet-loving family. The curses and costumes and flashbacks are all secondary to that. So to not have many of our favorite characters there is tough, and then to have our other favorite characters technically there but acting as completely different people eats at the heart of the series.

On the plus side, the core four will presumably be getting their memories back at some point, so this is a temporary issue. The episode is also really successful in doing what a good premiere should: setting up the rest of the season. Lady Tremaine is slightly cartoonish, but quite formidable (and extremely British) as a villain, and there are a few good mysterious little threads woven into the hour as well. And though I mentioned the slight disappointment you feel wanting to watch your favorite characters but not getting to see them, the cursed personalities are pretty interesting in their own right and do seem fairly well realized. Regina/Roni gets the most screen time of the three OGs, and she really feels like a totally distinct person who has her own goals and dreams and past. Hook/Officer Rogers just seems a bit sweet and lost, not like Hook at all, and though Rumple is only in two scenes, he has all the impact you'd expect from the Dark One.


There are at least 3 references to Emma Swan that I noticed, some more subtle than others.

"Roni" is pronounced "Ronny" (I can't be the only one who's been saying it like Toni, right?)

You'll want to know more about Alice by the end of the episode.

Lucy and young Henry have a lot in common, but she's also a lot like her mother.

There's a quick Princess and the Frog reference, but blink and you'll miss it!

Adelaide Kane is in an interesting position, both in present day and flashback. She and Alice are the ones I want to know about most.

Not really a teaser, but there are kind of a lot of English people wandering around cursed Seattle.

The flashbacks are very Cinderella/Henry-centric, but we are left with many more questions than we started with.

Henry's cursed personality does have elements of the Henry we know, one in particular.

That's about all I can reveal! Feel free to discuss and speculate in the comments below, and if you have a question that I can answer without spoiling anything too big I'll try to answer before the episode airs.

Once Upon a Time returns for its 7th season Friday October 6th at 8pm on ABC.

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