Hey everyone, how’ve you been enjoying this Frozen Once Upon A Time season? If you’ve been keeping up on season four, you know that our neverending themes of magic and family and happy endings and hope all remain iron-clad intact. You can call it limited, or a lack of initiative, but you can’t say these OUAT writers aren’t consistent.

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Even as the writers have stretched this Arendelle plot extremely thin throughout several episodes, with Anna’s run-ins with Rumple and Belle and David and trips to the Enchanted Forest that don’t really amount to much except Anna stealing the Mickey Mouse sorcerer’s hat. Rumple’s a lot more fun when he’s messing around with people, but it was nice when he was on our side, taking down Pan and trying to be a good father to Neal. Now with Rumple’s quest for the sorcerer’s hat, all his promises at Neal’s gravesite have added up to absolutely nothing. Rumple wants power so badly, that even after all they’ve been through, he is ready to off the mother of his grandson to absorb her magical strength. Even I call this out as a completely heinous move, and he’s my favorite character on the show.

Surprisingly, the best parts of OUAT right now are the two romances of Emma and Hook and Regina and Robin. Hook’s anguished one-sided confessional phone call to Emma was easily an episode highlight, and Robin and Regina offers lots of needed smolder to the show in their various scenes together. I don’t see how a missing page in the book cures their frozen Marian problem exactly, but at least it’s hopeful (loved this line from Regina to Snow: “You get a quarter from the Hope Commissioner every time you say that word, admit it.”). Hook and Emma are in peril again, as Rumple takes his heart to do nasty things with (let’s all remember what happened to Sheriff Graham), but hey, how boring would romantic Storybrooke bliss be? (Answer: Charmings.)

But even these romances may be trumped this week by the greatest love of all, as Whitney Houston put it. Elsa saves Emma by convincing her to embrace her power, not reject it. The scene offers a wonderful message that she can only control her magic by learning to appreciate it, that it doesn’t matter if other people don’t love her power as long as she does, that being normal isn’t as important as being special. Unfortunately, Emma then chooses to show her power off by creating a cheesy fireworks show. Oh well.

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Coincidentally, Ingrid has latched onto a spell even Rumple doesn’t know about: When three magical sisters embrace their power, their force is unparalleled. This will enable the Snow Queen to inflict the “Shattered Sight” spell on everyone, which apparently just makes everyone extremely cranky toward each other. When I was a kid, I used to watch this local Chicago show called Gigglesnort Hotel, which featured a character called The Lemon Drop Kid who would drop lemons on people and turn their sweet personalities into sour ones. It kind of sounds like that. So while I think it would be fun to witness bitchy Snow going off on Emma, for example, not sure what the Snow Queen would be getting out of all this, except to make everyone as miserable as she is?

But OUAT’s commitment to family seems almost pathological at this point. Emma is a spiritual, perfect-match sister to Elsa and her aunt. Because everyone in Storybrooke must be related to absolutely everyone? Does this make Snow White Elsa’s aunt? It’s all sorts of confusing, and pointless. Especially when family often has its own downsides: Anna’s dark side rightly points out all of Elsa’s nasty behavior outlined in the “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” song from the Frozen movie; although we know why Elsa abandoned her newly orphaned little sister, a simple explanation for little Anna would have been nice.

Fortunately, no one of us is the sum of a single action. There are lots of comments in this episode about the choices we make, and the dark sides we have: Ingrid wants to pull out everyone’s nasty selves. Anna’s dark side winds up trapping Elsa in the urn. Rumple’s sure isn’t doing anyone but himself any favors, but Regina, after years of treachery, is at least still trying to do right by her lover and his wife. (Classic Regina: She asks Charming and Snow, “Do you know what I regret most?” When Charming counters with, “Countless innocent lives you destroyed?”, he receives an epic Evil Queen eyeroll.)

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Snow’s right about one thing (finally): Her character isn’t all good and Regina isn’t all bad, no matter how the book paints them. We all make different decisions that affect our paths along the way. Emma’s decision not to go into the room is a smart one (but shouldn’t her super-sense be able to let her know that Rumple is lying?); Hook’s previous one to make a deal with Rumple to get his hand back turned out to be a huge mistake. Ingrid’s smile at the yellow ribbon at the end of the episode reminds us that there’s a good person underneath all her icy rage, just one that really wants a new triumvirate of sisterhood (I admit, I found that moment sadly touching in a Miss Havisham way). But we’re not good or bad people due to the choices we make; most times, we’re just a mixture of all sorts of elements, with most of us just trying to do the best we can.

Since it stems from fairytales, you can see where OUAT would have a problem with over-simplification, but that’s why its attempts to integrate its platitudes into the real world ring so false. Snow actually believes that “When you do good, the universe takes care of you,” even though we know that bad things happen to good people all of the time. I’m more inclined to go with Robin’s belief that there’s a “Bright future for you around every turn, even if you miss one,” because we’ll more than likely be missing one. Still, it’s fun to take a look at our characters as they wrestle with their various sides, which could make the Shattered Sight spell of everyone revealing their darkest selves an interesting development for Storybrooke’s various heroes and villains.

Stray Observations:

  • “Get out of my way, crocodile.”
  • The Charmings get more pointless with each passing week: “Do you remember the night Emma was born…you said we have to give her her best chance?” Are you kidding? You only pull that quote out just about every single episode.
  • Don’t you think Elsa gets so very tired of wearing that crazy outfit all the time in Storybrooke? Couldn’t they offer her some pants or something?
  • I like when the OUAT writers poke fun at their own selves: “This could be the worst idea you’ve ever had, and you hired the Wicked Witch as your nanny.”
  • How does everyone not just eye-roll whenever Anna goes off on one of her weirdo tangents? When you write out Anna’s exceedingly long quotes, they’re even crazier, as in the following description of her dungeon as not that bad “Except for the dankness and the darkness, and the mice, who are cute, except when they’re scurrying over your toes, but I have shoes!” You notice how no one, not even Elsa, responds to all the crazy she’s talking about?
  • Also: Hey Anna! Someone’s throwing a Shattered Sight spell at you, you might want to turn your head or close your eyes, or something. I could have lived without those CGI effects of the shards going right into her eye.
  • The line about Mary Margaret giving Henry the book reminded me: Remember when Snow was a schoolteacher?
  • That Storybrooke library has the worst reference filing system, where a Mercedes car manual would be shelved right near The Cat In The Hat (although Robin did get in a pretty funny line “Why would a cat want a hat?” in an episode devoted to various people tracking down one particular hat).
  • Thanks for this brief sojourn back into Storybrooke!

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