Once Upon a Time returns for its seventh season with a bold new reboot that delivers new faces, familiar tales and a tested format fans will recognize immediately. With so many favorite characters leaving the show in season 6, fans are worried the reimagined series might have lost all the bits that made it so special. Oncers can relax, at least for now, because season 7 is still charming (sorry, I couldn’t resist), hopeful and as earnest as ever.
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The first episode of the rebooted season, “Hyperion Heights,” has familiar origins, drawing inspiration for the new beginning from the first season. Henry (Andrew J. West) is now an adult living in Seattle, with no memory of his enchanted past. A young girl, Lucy (Alison Fernandez), approaches him with the same story a young Henry told Emma in the first episode of the series. Lucy claims she is his daughter, but he doesn’t remember her because he’s been cursed. This adds a pleasant and comforting symmetry to the mostly-new show.
In the newest incarnation of OUAT, Henry is a struggling writer who gets caught up in the lives of the residents of a Seattle suburb, Hyperion Heights. Much like Storybrooke, everyone in this neighborhood has fairytale alter-egos but can’t remember those lives because of a curse.
Henry meets Jacinda (Dania Ramirez), Lucy’s mother, and it’s obvious she’s meant to be his love interest. Romantic sparks fly, and the dashing adult Henry makes a lot of bedroom eyes at Jacinda and her flawless skin. Jacinda, by the way, is also Cinderella in a parallel realm, but this updated version of the princess has some darker inclinations and edgier motivations than other permutations.
Fans of the show will also recognize Captain Hook (Colin O’Donghue) as a dashing young police officer, and Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) as his grizzled partner, Weaver. It’s encouraging to know we’ll still get a little of the old with brand new.
Speaking of brand new, fans of the period drama Reign are in for a treat as Adelaide Kane joins the cast as Cinderella’s put-upon (but not so evil) step-sister. She’s used to wearing a corset, so her turn as Drisella won’t be such a stretch for her.
It also seems OUAT has a new evil queen, and it’s not who you’d expect. Regina (Lana Parillia) has been ousted as head bitch, and is now relegated to a much tamer character who (in the first few episodes, anyway) isn’t torturing or tormenting anyone. Parillia returned as the perfectly pleasant, albeit jaded, bar owner Roni. She will be the catalyst for Henry and Jacinda’s story, and the foil to the new villain, it seems.
In a plucky move by the writers, the former evil queen will have to square off against the new queen, Victoria Belfry (Garielle Anwar) who is also the wicked stepmother to Jacinda. If her crazy eyes and lemon-sucking pout are any indication, she’s going to make one heck of a bad guy.
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ABC is definitely taking some major risks by rebooting a show with six seasons already under its belt and such a loyal (and vocal) fandom. With so many of its stars leaving the series, the way forward seemed uncertain, but this seventh season has a lot of potential. With the same unassuming cleverness and self-referential nature, season 7 might be the start of an anthology for the network and breathe new life into a franchise on its last legs.
As one of the key brands of the Disney-owned network, ABC is smart to keep Once Upon a Time in the lineup, and even smarter to send it over to the family-friendly Friday nights. Here, among other fantasy shows, it can maintain its core values and keep its hopeful brand pristine.
This new installment of the series is still, at its core, the same show fans love, yet it’s a fresh take on a concept that has run its course. This version could mean something entirely new and exciting for the franchise if showrunners can balance the nostalgia with the novel.
Come for the juicy time jumps, new faces and witty meta-jokes, but stay because this is the show you fell in love with six seasons ago.
Are you excited about the reboot of Once Upon a Time? What has you most intrigued? Let us know in the comments!
Once Upon a Time season 7 premieres Friday, October 6 at 8/7c on ABC. Want more news? Like our OUAT Facebook page
(Images courtesy of ABC)