REVIEW: Once Upon a Time, S7 Ep1 – Hyperion Heights

Once Upon a Time, S7 Ep1 – Hyperion Heights

Once Upon a Time began its seventh season with a serious re-set of events that introduced a grown-up Henry Mills, a (non)magical new town, classic Fairy Tale characters with twists in their stories, and a few familiar faces with brand new personas. The Once Upon a Time creators took a big risk in re-booting the story so much but after six seasons of increasingly contrived plots, this was a refreshing change. This was going back to basics, to the structure that made Once Upon a Time so addictive in the first place.

Once Upon a Time, S7 Ep1 – Hyperion HeightsSure, Hyperion Heights will never be Storybrooke, and Lucy is basically the new Henry, and once again, everyone is cursed with memory loss, but there’s something about this new take on the story that makes me want to give it a chance. For one thing, the new cast is charming, with Alison Fernandez as Lucy, Dania Ramirez as Jacinda/Cinderella, and Mekia Cox as Sabine/Tiana. Then, there are Gabrielle Anwar as Victoria/Lady Tremaine and Adelaide Kane as Ivy/Drizella as the villains, and Rose Reynolds as a mysterious new Alice.

Grown-up Henry is a one-hit wonder author, struggling to find his next big hit while surviving as an Uber driver. His adventure is kicked off pretty much as Emma’s was way back in the first season of Once Upon a Time. Whatever follows is familiar territory for fans of the show, but with this new set of characters and circumstances, some part of it still feels fresh. It almost makes me wonder why the Once Upon a Time writers didn’t choose to take this bold direction years ago, instead of forcing us through seasons of increasingly convoluted or even irrelevant (Frozen, anyone?) plots.

Once Upon a Time, S7 Ep1 – Hyperion HeightsThe season premiere also brought back the dual time frame structure of the earlier seasons. One half takes place in modern day Seattle, while a flashback to the Enchanted Forest (or whatever magical realm) shows Henry with his memories intact, meeting his true love, Cinderella, for the first time. We can expect that as the season progresses, we’ll learn more about this new curse, there will be a sympathetic backstory for the villains (because this is Once Upon a Time, after all), and the flashbacks will show how another epic love story plays out.

Once Upon a Time, S7 Ep1 – Hyperion HeightsThere’s also the matter of the three veteran cast members now with cursed personalities in Hyperion Heights. Little does Henry know that he is surrounded by family, with his adoptive mother, stepfather, and grandfather all in the same town. But they have some new and interesting personalities, with Regina as “Ronnie,” a cheerful bar owner who stands up to Victoria; Hook as Rogers, a good cop just recently promoted to detective and who meets his partner at the end of the episode; and Rumpelstiltskin himself, now a mysterious detective called “Weaver.”

I’m looking forward to learning more about these new cursed personas since they seem so different from the characters we knew in Storybrooke. I have to admit that I gave a cheer when I heard Regina giving the “hope” speech at the end. Snow would have been so proud.

Just like the first season, Henry’s arrival in Hyperion Heights stirs things up. Jacinda makes a wish at a wishing well and a hyacinth blooms. Hook/Officer Rogers stares longingly at a familiar blonde Savior in a story book that will surely play a significant role in the rest of the season. Once Upon a Time is back and for the first time in years, I’m excited about what is coming next.