While it's fun to see the OUAT world expand, some fans complain that the cast is getting too large, and too much time is spent on insignificant characters who don't forward the plot.
We're of two minds about whether or not this is a problem. On one hand, OUAT is built on an episodic model. It has interesting ongoing plot arcs, but each episode also has self-contained stories, especially in the flashbacks. Arguably, the characters who are introduced for one or two episodes are no different from the patients of the week on a medical drama like Grey's Anatomy, or the suspects on a cop procedural like Law & Order.
On the other hand, these guest characters feel different on OUAT. They're part of classic stories that we know and love, and that alone lends them a greater significance in viewers' minds. A medical patient can easily be an interesting catalyst for a main character's story, but when your guest character is Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, it feels like she deserves attention on her own. Of course, we've also grown to love some of the guest characters. Jefferson (Sebastian Stan), for instance, remains one of our favorite characters, and "Hat Trick" is one of the best episodes the show has produced. But more often than not, we agree with the fans that find the standalone stories a frustrating distraction from the main characters.
What do you think: Does OUAT have too many characters, or do you enjoy the episodic stories, even when they aren't linked to the main characters or plot?
Catch the next episode of Once Upon a Time on Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.