I’ll be the first to admit that Once Upon A Time hits rough patches. Too many of them, but mostly it’s really only guilty of getting bogged down in its own rich playground. There’s simply too much story to potentially be told even if the series runs for decades. Fairytale characters and endless permutations thereof are like a candy store so big no story lover can choose any easier than the proverbial kid in a candy shop. Inevitably sometimes the kids fall all over themselves trying to get the most licks out of that one luscious lollipop, when there are divine assorted chocolates waiting on the next shelf.

So, yeah, I could have done with less Hugo and the magic beans and Tamara and whatsisname. Things got a little top heavy when Regina tried so hard to be good that she made herself badder in the process. And I stopped caring about Neil before…oh, yeah, well, I never really cared about him. His little boyness I liked though, and I came to extend that to the grownup version….

…this season.

This season Once Upon A Time did what they do best. Reboot! Suddenly we’re in Neverland and the twist/reveal/twist/revealapalooza begins. Oddly my two favorite characters are Henry the true believer and Rumple the true black heart. Or is that quite right? Robert Carlyle is an amazing actor. That tragically romantic devil Mister Gold had his origins in the soft spot The Dark One developed for Belle. Subtlety wrapped up in flamboyant darkness. What’s not to love?

The season so far, for all the other characters’ coolness moments, belonged to Henry and Rumple. Family and longing, honor, dishonor, and redemption. Peter Pan’s origin was the centerpiece and that singular reveal is my favorite of the series so far. It becomes harder and harder for a television series to blindside us, in our everyday world of constant, instant information.

Once Upon A Time blindsided the heck out of me this season…time and time again. I love that. The thrill of WTH is the holy grail of modern day entertainment. To get sucked so far in that we care is, in my opinion, the reason for entertainment. Books, movies, TV…characters that make me love them in spite of how flawed they are…that’s what storytelling is all about.

Transport me to another place…another time…give me characters I want to know…want to be…want to run away from in the dark…want to fight with shoulder to shoulder…. Give me Rumple and Henry and Pan. Then reboot again and again and again. Keep it fresh. Keep it real, within its unreality. Promise enough and keep those promises most of the time. That will keep me believing and watching…once upon a time.