Once Upon a Time “Wish You Were Here” Review (Season 6 Episode 10)

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There’s an undeniable comfort in repetition. It’s the reason that it can be daunting to start a new TV show, but oh so easy to lose an entire afternoon watching Friends reruns on TBS. At the end of the day, it’s far easier to lose ourselves in the familiar than it is the new, and that’s an element that has really fueled Once Upon a Time in recent seasons, an element that’s extremely present in “Wish You Were Here.”

I bring up the idea of comfortable familiarity because, after the promise of the early episodes of this season, it really feels as if Once is content to just keep remixing and repacking the same familiar beats. This show has certain tropes that it falls back on time and time again, and almost all of them are on display in the midseason finale. For some, that’s going to work, as all they want is to see Emma, Regina, and the others have another random adventure every week.

However, from a critical perspective, it’s hard to enjoy the show repeating itself so much, and make no mistake, just about every plot beat here is unoriginal. The idea of an alternate reality fairy tale world was first seen in the season four finale, having characters stranded in the fairy tale world is how we started season two, and watching David deal with his insecurity and self-doubt is more or less the only drum the character has to bang anymore.

Worst of all, though, is to see the show yet again trotting out the evil family member as Big Bad storyline. Whereas this once provided some of the show’s best plot reveals – Neal as Gold’s son, Peter Pan as Rumple’s father – it’s now a surprise when someone doesn’t end up a member of television’s most convoluted family tree. The reveal that the cloaked figure destined to kill Emma is actually Gold and Belle’s son is even less exciting than usual, given that this is a character that we know next to nothing about.

And it’s exhausting to imagine what any of these developments mean for the show once it returns in March. I can only hope Emma and Regina escape the Wish Realm immediately, because the thought of discovering the backstories of a bunch of fake versions of characters is too much to bear. Of course, that means putting full focus on our new villain, who likely harbors the same vague sense of betrayal and vengeance that just about every bad guy has. We’ve switched out the Evil Queen for a dude with a terrible haircut.

Still, there’s some hope for better times. The show could always surprise, bring something fresh and original to the table. Perhaps we’ll actually see more of Aladdin and Jasmine, who’s departure here being final would make their very presence on the show less meaningful than Wonderland survivor Will Scarlet’s. And hey, Lana Parilla remains an absolute delight, with her outright exasperation with weak-willed Emma scoring some of the season’s biggest laughs. Still, as things stand, the hope for this show to surprise seems dim at best.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments!