After a whole summer of waiting, we officially say goodbye to "Storybrooke", and move onto a new story in the 'Once Upon a Time' universe. We now move to "Hyperion Heights," Seattle, for the 'requel' of the fairytale series. Moving to the Friday Night Death Slot, getting a polarized reception from Oncers galore and announcing new cast members at every turn, did this premiere bring magic and charm back to the long-running ABC series?


Henry Mills (Jared Gillmore as a teenager and Andrew J. West as an adult) decide to travel to new realms four years after the season six finale.

On the last day of his swashbuckling adventures, he collides with a feisty Cinderella (Dania Ramirez), clad in a ballgown suspiciously identical to the 2015 Disney remake. Romance immediately blooms between them as he tries to avoid her causing the ball from taking a deadly turn.

We move onto Lady Tremaine (Gabrielle Anwar) and her daughter Drizella (Adelaide Kane), who play their parts of to ruining Cinderella's life. Killing the Fairy Godmother with a bibbidi-bobbidi-boo, Lady Tremaine sets to marry her daughter off to the prince at the ball, where Henry oh-so happens to be along with Princess Tiana (Mekia Cox) from 'The Princess and the Frog' for a one-off joke involving frogs legs. Oh, and Henry randomly gets drugged so we can hastily introduce another new character instead of waiting for a couple of episodes.

It's here we meet Alice (Rose Reynolds), the titular character hailing from Wonderland. Tying Henry up to a tree. she's disgruntled at being associated with that mad realm and reveals her connection to his grandfather, Rumplestiltskin (betting that she's Rumbelle baby number 2). She convinces him to leave Cinderella be as he's not part of the story.

Henry, the impulsive moron that he is, decides to stay in this new world for Twu Wuv instead of returning home where his family is probably worried sick about him. With this and a token sword fight to prove that Cinderella's no damsel in distress despite six seasons of princesses kicking ass, Operation Glass Slipper is born.

"Poetic opening line goes here"

In present-day Seattle, Henry is now a driver for an Uber-style service and has a big case of writer's block, literally typing "Poetic opening line goes here..." on his laptop. No need to guess what he writes at the end of the episode. He meets his daughter Lucy (Alison Fernandez), who spouts exposition about Hyperion Heights, a new curse and her step-grandmother's evil plan involving gentrification to separate fairy-tale characters from their loved ones.

Lucy's mother, once Cinderella, is now the financially struggling single mum Jacinda living with her best friend Sabine, the cursed counterpart of Tiana. Victoria Balfrey, her stepmother, is in the midst of a custody battle for Lucy and also wants full ownership of snarky barmaid Roni's (Lana Parrilla) bar.

And get this: Roni happens to be the cursed identity of Henry's adopted mother Regina AKA The Evil Queen AKA the actress hanging the show on tenterhooks. Oh yeah, and we see Alice's counterpart Tilly acting like a sullen teenager a'la Ruby as we're quickly introduced to the mysterious Weaver drowning some poor soul. And he just happens to be the counterpart of Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle), back in the hole of infuriatingly tedious character development of being enigmatically evil after gaining a fresh start with his wife Belle and son Gideon. Still, he looks sexy in jeans and a leather jacket and is already the best part of this reboot.

After Henry's car is stolen, he meets Officer Rogers (Colin O'Donoghue), the cursed identity of his stepfather Captain Hook.

As Lucy tries to convince her parents that the curse is real and to have a fresh start, Victoria thwarts her plans by gaining custody of her, sending her dimwitted daughter Ivy to pick her up. After rehashing the heartfelt conversation Henry had with his mother in the pilot, he decides to give Hyperion heights a chance, finally writing the story he abandoned. Oh yeah, and Rogers is promoted to detective and his partner is the murderous Weaver. What a twist!

"When it's not your story, bad things happen"

The above quote said by Alice sums up my feelings towards this premiere. Looking back at six years of development, Henry has been a character who's remained static. He has been easily moulded into whatever the writers have required him to be in the plot, rather it be The Truest Believer or The Author AKA the Harry Potter Chosen One.

For season seven, Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis have moulded him into Emma Swan number 2: a jaded cynic with a tragic past looking for hope and belief in his life. While nicely performed by both Gillmore and newcomer West, Henry's motives for leaving the beloved Storybrooke felt sporadic and inconsistent with his beliefs. In an incredibly rushed and nonsensical opening scene, I refuse to believe he'd choose travelling to potentially dangerous lands with no financial stability over getting a good college education and a stable job. But hey! If the writers can make the Wicked Witch of the West pregnant with Robin Hood's child for drama's sake, I guess that means they can get away with anything!

The same can be said for the new curse, heroes characters, and villains. Hyperion Heights has none of the quirks Storybrooke had, even in its cursed state. It feels like the setting of every generic U.S crime show, with gritty urban apartments and seedy alleyways around every corner. After being invested in Jessy Schram's take on the Cinderella story, I can't warm up to the new interpretations. While they're all nicely performed (albeit poorly directed in some parts), they all feel like cardboard cutouts of previous characters but with different names and appearances.Cinderella is the badass princess a'la Snow White, Lady Tremaine is a mix of The Black Fairy and The Evil Queen (especially in the hammy department), Ivy is the resident bitch a'la Cora AKA The Queen of Hearts/Miller's Daughter and Sabine and Tilly are aspects of Ruby AKA Red Riding Hood, with the former as the main princess' best friend and the latter as the rebellious teen.

Familiar faces

The returning cast members do the best with the material given. Seeing Lana Parrilla as the snarky and carefree Roni was enjoyable as we saw a whole new side to the character. Although I'm not a fan of Captain Hook (sorry for all you Hookers), Colin O'Donoghue's Officer Rogers was pretty good. His partnership with Rumplestiltskin after years of feuds and near deaths will certainly be an interesting turn and I'm intrigued what they'll be investigating. The best, as previously mentioned, has to be Robert Carlyle as Detective Weaver. Although only in two short scenes, the impact he brought to the episode was palpable. Playing the same part as Mr. Gold as the feared mysterious man wrapped in enigma and leather, I'm thoroughly intrigued to see how he became this new persona and is now separated from his wife and son.

As there's always an ulterior motive with Rumplestiltskin, let's see where this arc goes before it becomes tedious like season four onwards.

At war with itself

To establish a new world and characters after six years of getting to know a previous world and characters is impossible. I can think of one word why this premiere or the premise doesn't work - time. It immediately expects us to be invested in Henry and Cinderella/Jacinda's romance, his relationship with Lucy, and the new world and characters in the space of forty minutes. Season one spread the story over the course of the season and it gave us time to process the premise, giving us plenty of room to breathe and watch equal amounts of character development.

Horowitz and Kitsis have tried to over-complicate what was initially a simple premise: fairy-tale retellings with a modern twist, both figuratively and literally. While it's fine for the show to acknowledge foreign retellings of 'Snow White', 'Cinderella' and 'Beauty and the Beast', 'Once Upon a Time's' purpose was that it was it's own interpretation of these stories. It only needed one focus. Season seven is now the empty calorie version with spouts of exposition at a hundred miles an hour replacing genuine emotion or charm.

I can't say that I'm excited about this reboot (except for one episode which I'll have to wait three weeks for) as this premiere felt more like a chore to watch. Despite good performances from great actors, they deserve to be in projects which utilize their talents.

'Once Upon a Time' had it's day quite a while ago, and I feel like continuing with more seasons will be a detriment to everyone involved. I suppose I'll watch this reboot as a spin-off instead of part of its canon, so if the show is mercifully cancelled, the blow won't feel so hard. And with next week's episode featuring the return of former protagonist Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), I guess I can't stop watching until there's full closure for the characters I once cared about.