From “Once Upon a Time” to “Happily Ever After”

I realize I haven’t written a lot about Once Upon a Time lately, but I wanted to go ahead and say something about the series finale. Yes, series finale. After seven wild seasons, the heroes finally got their happily ever afters (in theory, anyway–I didn’t entirely agree with what the writers thought constituted a happy ending). From what I’ve heard, this finale was far better than the one Lost fans got, and I’m truly grateful that Once Upon a Time actually got to have a finale instead of being canceled outright (the ignominious fate of Resurrection, Houdini & Doyle, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and Galavant among others). Yet at the same time, I can’t help but feel that season six had the better “happily ever after” wrap-up.

You see, season six was supposed to be the last season because the writers hadn’t heard if the show was being renewed or not. After hearing that ABC wanted to renew it after all, they didn’t do the smart thing and say, “Sorry, but we’ve already wrapped up the story lines; the show is effectively over.” No, they went scrounging in the bottom of the plot barrel and slapped together the show’s worst season. The plots were recycled; there were some questionable casting decisions (tried to like the new Cinderella but didn’t really feel much of a connection between her and Henry), and remaining story lines were hastily and untidily resolved (we never did get a decent backstory on Facilier, and I really wanted to know how he met Regina in the first place).

It may sound like I’m dumping on the finale, but I’m really not trying to. I guess I was just disappointed at how a show that started out great declined so much. One thing I did admire about tonight’s episode, though, was Rumple’s sacrifice, proving just how far his character has come. It also furthers my suspicions that he was the true Savior all along–we learned in season six that he was supposed to be the Savior, but the Black Fairy used the Golden Shears to change that destiny. Yet it was prophesied that she would meet her doom at the hands of the Savior, and it was Rumple and not Emma who delivered the killing blow. Combining that with the fact that this is the second time we’ve seen Rumple sacrifice himself for everyone else, I’m really starting to believe Rumple was the real Savior all along–kind of like how Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One all along but took a very lengthy detour through Sithdom.

I’ve often pondered the question of how many fans are going to pretend season seven never happened, but I’m not sure of the answer. Towards the end the show began to exhibit some of its old magic. But whether you choose to accept this season or not, I think the important thing is that, like all good stories, it will live in us forever. We will always remember the best of Once Upon a Time.

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Happy Star Wars Day!

The Force will be with you…always.

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St. Augustine Continues to Impress

A few years back I ready St. Augustine’s City of God, which is quite honestly one of the most impressive books I’ve ever read. I had planned to read is Confessions later, but it slipped my mind until recently–a friend mentioned he was reading it, and that reminded me that I’ve meant to read it for a while. Read it I did, and just like the last time, I was thoroughly in awe of what I read.

Confessions is written in a different style than City of God. The latter was intended as an answer to several heresies that had popped, but the former is, well, pretty self-explanatory. St. Augustine is addressing God in this book, acknowledging his past sins and offenses and glorifying God that he was able to turn his life around at all. He glosses over nothing; everything is exposed. He even starts to wonder if being a fussy baby counts as a sin (I’m no theologian, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t).

St. Monica makes notable appearances throughout the book, which is understandable since she played a key role in her son’s conversion. She never gave up praying for him even when things looked hopeless. St. Augustine even recounts a brief biography of her life, including how her patience and dedication converted her pagan husband Patricius.

Once again I loved just how alive everyone seemed. This didn’t feel like a book written centuries ago; this felt like something happening today–heck, I felt like I actually knew the people in the book! Once again I wonder if the past is really so primitive as everyone says it was. St. Augustine’s world certainly didn’t seem primitive, and some of the science and math that appears in the book is known to us today. Of course, if I actually went and lived in the past, I’d probably start complaining about things, but viewing it from afar, it doesn’t seem nearly as bad as everyone says.

I have to say that after reading this, St. Augustine feels more like a real person than ever before. I mean, I knew he was real, but he seemed a bit…distant, I guess. But here I felt like I got to know him, and in knowing him got to know God a little bit better, too.

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Reflecting on “Beren and Luthien”

I sort of feel as if I need to apologize for this post–I received this book for Christmas last year, but it didn’t occur to me until recently to write about it here. Not sure why, though, because it’s quite a fascinating read.

As pretty much anyone familiar with The Lord of the Rings is aware, one of the legends recounted therein is the story of Beren and Luthien. Beren, a mortal Man, fell in love with the immortal Elf princess Luthien, but her father King Thingol forbade the marriage unless Beren could steal a Silmaril from Morgoth. Recounted in further detail in The Silmarillion, this was an important story because it showed the very first human/elf marriage, a marriage whose descendants included Elrond and Aragorn. But the story we got in The Silmarillion was only the latest version of a story that had taken many different forms over Tolkien’s writing career.

Beren and Luthien is not a strict retelling of the version found in The Silmarillion; rather, it is a compilation of the various different versions Tolkien had written over the years. There are some rather surprising variations of the tale–for instance, in one of the earliest versions, Beren was an Elf, not a Man, and Luthien’s name was Tinuviel (instead of being the name Beren gave to her when he first saw her). Other versions are more recognizable but still deviate from the Silmarillion one. Some are told in prose, others in poetry.

Tying everything together is Christopher Tolkien’s commentaries on his father’s work, explaining certain changes and adding helpful notes on the Elvish language. Some people might find stuff like that a bit boring, but I was fascinated. Beren and Luthien might not be for everyone, but for die-hard Tolkien fans, it’s a must-have.

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Happy Easter 2018!

Christus resurrexit! Vere resurrexit!

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Good Friday 2018

We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee
Because by Thy Holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.

If you’re like me, you probably like to meditate on Christ’s Passion on Good Friday. One of the ways that I find helps is to think about the Shroud of Turin, and one of the best resources for that is shroud.com, the official website for the Shroud. This website is run by Barrie Schwortz, who was one of the original researchers on the Shroud of Turin Research Project in 1978. By his own testimony, Schwortz originally believed the Shroud was some sort of painting. But the more the team studied it, the more they found that defied explanation. Although he is Jewish, he strongly believes the Shroud is the real deal: “The only reason I am still involved with the Shroud of Turin is because knowing the unbiased facts continues to convince me of its authenticity.”

All in all, it’s a fascinating website and especially timely for today.

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Holy Thursday 2018

Holy Thursday is always a great time of year to reflect on the great gift that is the Eucharist. To that end, I recommend the new book The Fourth Cup, recently released by Catholic apologist Scott Hahn. The parallels between the Passover and Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary (and, by extension, the Mass) were what spurred his interest in Catholicism back in his Presbyterian days, and they ultimately planted the seeds that led to his conversion. Consequently, the book is filled with a passion and enthusiasm that is difficult to top.

I also have my particular favorite, the presentation on the Fourth Cup. It covers a lot of the same material that Scott Hahn does in his book, but there’s some extra info in there, too.

http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/SaintPaulMinistries-734333-bible-study-mark-14-22-25-the-fourth-cup/

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