The world premiere of Once Upon a Time season three aired on Sunday, Sept. 29. Picking up where season two left off, the main characters find themselves having to work together to save the boy, Henry, in the foreboding Neverland. Nothing is impossible now as the strange world is revealed to run on imagination and belief alone. However, the question is not what will happen in this series, but will the audience of this show shrink even more from the second season?
Starting out in season one as a new hit TV show, Once Upon a Time attracted attention by introducing new ideas and plot twists on fairy tale stories and characters that many viewers had grown up with. Throwing everyone together in one world, establishing heroes and villains, and adding a curse or two for good measure allowed audiences to come along for a promising adventure to break a curse. So what happened in season two that lost about forty percent of viewers by the midpoint?
At the end of season one, the curse on Storybrooke’s population was broken and magic returned. Now what? Now the two main villains, Regina and Rumpelstiltskin, duke it out, nearly destroying the town and their own lives in the process. New villains, such as Captain Hook, are introduced and new heroes as well. (The only new hero worth mentioning is Neil or Balefire, Henry’s father.) The plot is now cluttered and oddly thrown together merely to open up the possibilities to include as many fairy tale settings and characters as possible and aren’t really needed. The true story lines of the six main characters – Emma, Henry, Regina, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow, and Charming – suffers and drags on slowly, and fans’ interest is choked and dying.
Thankfully, at the end of the second season, the main characters stories are brought back together. A new twist is added, the fight against magic (or so it seems), and Henry is kidnapped and taken to Neverland. To save him, heroes and villains are forced to work together and the audience’s interest peaked once more. Episode one of season three, “The Heart of the Truest Believer,” picks up where the last one left off and the main characters find themselves in a world run by a mysteriously dark figure known as Peter Pan. Surprisingly, this new villain was introduced properly and the story line has reasserted itself in the important characters. Doubt is still lurking, but if done right, this show might make its way back to its higher standard of story-telling. Only time will tell.