Episode Air Date: November 30th, December 7th, 14th 2014
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Once Upon A Time (Fall, Shattered Sight, Heroes And Villains)
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parilla, Josh Dallas, Colon O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, Lee Arenberg, Emilie De Ravin, Michael Socha, Robert Carlyle, Sean Maguire, Christie Laing, Elizabeth Lail, Georgina Haig, Scott Michael Foster, Elizabeth Mitchell, Timothy Weber
It’s been quite a while since I have reviewed a few episodes of Once Upon A Time (if you want a recap of what I have reviewed, check out the posts here!). In fact, right now we are halfway through Season 4B (which started airing on TV 5 weeks ago)…it’s kinda embarrassing that I haven’t kept up in reviewing what is one of my favourite TV shows this current season. But, life and working full time has kept me from reviewing TV shows (as I now have to prioritise which reviews I want to do first), and though I intended to review every few weeks; I hope it’s some consolation that I am starting to review TV shows again. With that I will briefly speak about the last three episodes in OUAT season 4A, of which you have probably seen the episodes anyway.
So…you know how I said that episodes 6-8 of Once Upon A Time this season was probably one of the most intense batch of episodes I’ve seen of the show (which included the massive double episode, which to this day is my favourite episode of OUAT this season!)? Though episodes 9-11 didn’t come that close to the awesomeness of the double episode, it did wrap up the Snow Queen storyline, provide closure for Anna and Elsa, and gave us some insight into why Rumple wanted the hat in the first place, and also introducing the three villains for S04B- Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella. Though the midseason finale of season 4 wasn’t as epic and mind blowing as the midseason finale of season 3 (Pan being killed, Rumple sacrificing himself, and Emma and Henry’s memories being wiped) or even the finale of season 3 (Emma and Hook bringing Marian and Elsa back from the past); the final three episodes of this arc also generate more twists and turns, as we hear more of the Snow Queen’s plan, sympathise with her a bit more, and realise that the Apprentice is a much more prominent character and interesting figure that first led to believe.
As with my previous review, because there is a lot of things happening (in the present and in the flashbacks as well) with respect to a lot of the characters, with quite a few of them having their own episode centric’s; let me give you a quick rundown of the episodes with respect to the characters and how they were developed. With so many parallel stories, these past few episodes have further reminded me that season 4 is the most complex season yet, and is also the season that shows us many of the characters growing as people as well. What I love about this show is that it seems like everything comes together quite nicely in the end, and there is surprise after surprise.
The end of season 4A sees Elsa (Georgina Haig) and Anna (Elizabeth Lail) being reunited (as well as Kristoff (Scott Michael Foster)), and reminds me of how strong a sibling’s bond can be and how determination, faith and belief are stronger than the circumstances we find ourselves in, and whatever our loved ones say about us, even if it is negative. While the spell of Shattered Sight was in the middle of being enacted by Ingrid (Elizabeth Mitchell), we see Elsa and Emma (Jennifer Morrison), who are both immune to the spell, race to find Anna. Though in the middle of the episode, the rest of the heroes try to convince Elsa to use Anna’s necklace as an ingredient to counteract Ingrid’s spell (but therefore forgoing the only method of trying to communicate with Anna), Elsa doesn’t give in, with her quest leading her to the beach.
And this is where the past and the present collide, as after Arrendelle was frozen during the Dark curse, 30 years later it ‘unfrozen’-ed, with Anna and Kristoff both jumping to conclusions that Elsa has been kidnapped, then sought out a very much alive Blackbeard (Charles Mesure) (who was conveniently rescued by Ariel in season 3B) to try to find out what happened to their parent’s wishing star, so that they can find Elsa. Long story short, Hans (Tyler Jacob Moore) crashes the party, and has been in league with Blackbeard ever since, and they both dump Anna and Kristoff in a chest in the middle of the ocean. That ends Blackbeard’s cameo, and has me scratching my head as to why he was even included in season 4. Anna panics, and want to get married quickly before she dies, but they are suddenly rescued…by Elsa?
Yep, the wishing star was Anna’s necklace (no surprise!) and with everyone reunited just moments before the spell enacts, we see Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and David (Josh Dallas) locking themselves in prison (Emma is given baby Neal to look after), Regina (Lana Parilla) hiding in her mausoleum and also getting Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) to safety, Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) and his merry men in the forest away from everyone, Kristoff chained to a desk, and Ingrid looking up to the heavens and smiling. To everyone’s surprise (not!), Rumple (Robert Carlyle) is unaffected by the spell (as he made a deal with Ingrid) and as he makes plans for him to run away with Belle (Emilie De Ravin) and Henry to New York, Emma and Elsa race to stop the Snow Queen. Oh, and Hook (Colin O Donoghue) is unaffected too, as Rumple still has his ‘heart’ as he hasn’t finished with him yet, a fact that Emma isn’t aware of.
Coming up to Emma and Elsa’s relationship with the Snow Queen, we flashback to a teenage Emma (Abby Ross) in 1999 where Ingrid, her most loving foster mother, is planning to adopt her, wanting to be ‘the best big sister’ she’s ever had. While we know that in the present that Emma and Ingrid are hardly friends or familial in nature, we see in flashbacks the event that breaks them, as Ingrid pushes Emma in front of a car one night, and asks her to stop the car, as she tells Emma upfront that she’s special and that she can be whoever she wants to be. Freaked out, Emma calls Ingrid mad and insane, making this scene all the more heartbreaking because of the love Ingrid and Emma felt before Ingrid started ‘acting like a crazy person’. Fast forward to 2011 (sometime in the present day in OUAT season 1), Emma stumbles upon Ingrid again in Storybrooke, and demands to know why she hasn’t aged and who she is. Ingrid takes Emma’s memories of who Ingrid is to her away, on the spot, sort of like how Grand Pabbie took Belle’s memories of her mother and placed them into the stone as well. So that is why Emma doesn’t remember Ingrid prior to the present day in Season 4.
Back in present day, Emma and Elsa try to cut off their ribbons, but with no luck, and Emma realising that Ingrid’s love for them, and their subconscious love for her is making the ribbons stronger. Therefore they provoke the already irate and frustrated under-the-spell-Regina in the mausoleum, with Regina’s fireballs breaking the ribbons. Once free, Emma and Elsa confront Ingrid, with unexpected results. See when the spell is released, Anna is found to be immune as well because she already was exposed to the shattered sight spell, (and is also left with looking after baby Neal when Emma and Elsa take off); so when Regina (as the persona of the Evil Queen) barges into the sherrif’s station, and taunts Snow and David, she poofs Kristoff and Anna elsewhere (the beach of all places), and challenges Snow to a duel, while simultaneously trying to hurt baby Neal as well.
But Anna’s findings on the beach result in a change of heart for Ingrid, as Anna rushes to Elsa and Emma, bringing a letter to them written by their mother. After reading the letter aloud, we know that Gerda was feeling remorseful on the boat, and writing a letter to Anna and Elsa explaining to them the truth about what happened to their aunts Ingrid and Helga. Ingrid breaks down and cries, in the middle of her ice home, and does a massive 180 U-turn. She sacrifices herself to end the shattered sight spell, apologises for her actions, and gives back all the memories she stole from Emma and Elsa. It’s a bittersweet yet odd ending for Ingrid, who spent most of the season as a calculating villain who wasn’t going to back down, to being someone who just wants love, and is willing to sacrifice herself to be happy. I’m not sure why Ingrid died (oops, sorry about the spoiler) in the penultimate episode of season 4A but I guess the final episode is all about Rumple, and setting up the story for the Queens Of Darkness…
The Queens of what you say? Well, in the 12th episode, the last episode before the mid-season break, we are shown a part in Rumple’s past where Belle is with him. It’s a part of his past when Belle and Rumple haven’t quite fallen in love with each other yet. Belle stumbles upon a gauntlet in Rumple’s home, and she is told that this magical object, procured from Camelot, will be able to reveal any enemy’s weakness. Belle is kidnapped later on by the Queens of Darkness, who demand the gauntlet. As Rumple is somewhat falling for Belle at this point in time, he gives up the gauntlet and they release Belle. But as we know with Rumple, there’s always a catch and a loophole- he retrieves the gauntlet back from the three witches, and yes this is something that haunts him later on in the present day.
Though Ingrid is dead, the effects of her spell still remain, that people who leave the town can never come back. So Rumple, recognising Anna, uses Hook (still with his heart in Rumple’s possession) to ensure that the Arrendelle folk return back to their homeland without revealing his secrets about the Apprentice, the hat etc. So Hook ‘speaks’ to Emma (it’s really Rumple), telling her of a portal back to Arrendelle in the mansion in the beginning of the first episode this season (the Scorcerer’s mansion). The gang then all arrive at the mansion, but just before Anna, Elsa and Kristoff leave for their home, which they find is ruled by Hans and his brothers, Anna reveals her past with Rumple after initially wanting to thank ‘Mr Gold’ and David telling her his fairytale world counterpart. That’s when everything goes pear shaped.
We have always known throughout the entire 4 seasons that Rumple was obsessed about power and wanted to be in control, even when he was trying to find his son. Now even more than ever, because of the loss of his son, we can see that he’s unhinged, and desperately searching for meaning and purpose in this weird way. So when Belle, who is packing for New York, stumbles across the gauntlet in his shop, and realises that he has stayed the same this whole time; she furiously asks the gauntlet to find the dagger, then commands Rumple to stop killing Hook and to stop using the hat. She then teleports Rumple and herself to the town line, and banishes him from Storybrooke forever, hurting both of them as they are indeed true love and soulmates, and he’s just broken her trust and betrayed her immensely. Kudos to Emilie and Robert’s portrayal of their respective complex characters; this scene is utterly heartbreaking.
So what does Rumple do in that moment? Surely he must have a plan, a tale to spin to Belle? Well he leaves. Yep, Belle is Rumple’s weakness, and it’s in that moment that we eventually realise that maybe by the end of season 4, that he and Belle will reunite, it’s just a matter of time. Fast forward to 6 weeks later, and Rumple, who seemingly hasn’t changed, contacts Ursula, saying it’s time to visit some old friends. But how is she in the real world? Don’t worry, we will get to that in Season 4B. With the Queens of Darkness storyline, as well as the Author storyline driving home the rest of the season, we are in for one reveal after another and many plot twists we haven’t seen coming. At the end of the episode, Regina, after bidding Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) farewell, as he travelled to New York in order for his wife to be fully healed from Ingrid’s curse, is heartbroken, but Henry eagerly shows her a secret room in the Scorcerer’s mansion, filled with blank storybooks. Thus Operation Mongoose is in full effect, and this is definitely another storyline I am looking forward to (now that the author has been revealed midway through season 4B), as well as Regina’s redemption, the fallout from Rumple’s many silly decisions, and Will’s continued presence in the show, adding depth and a freshness to his character.
Acting wise, again everyone stepped up to the plate, with Elizabeth, Georgina, Elizabeth and Scott all showing us why they deserve to stay in the show (and reminding us sadly why they can’t as it would provide discrepancies with the Frozen sequel in the works). Robert’s portrayal of the duplicitous Rumple is exemplary also, as you can’t help but love him and hate him at the same time. And while at this point Will’s storyline about Wonderland hasn’t been revisited, let’s just hope that he becomes useful soon, as Michael Socha is too good of an actor for him to be wasted on other people’s plot points. Anyway, scenery wise, Arendelle is a picturesque place, and I also loved how the sorcerer’s apprentice was interwoven into the main plot (and he is also heavily featured in season 4B as well!). Who thinks the sorcerer’s apprentice is the scorerer?
Did episodes 9-11 of season 4 of Once Upon A Time leave a lasting impression on you? Did any themes in the episodes speak to you, and which was it? What elements of the show are you enjoying and looking forward to? Do you think The Queens Of Darkness will stick around after their arc has ended, unlike previous villains Pan, Zelena and The Snow Queen? Is Rumple able to be redeemed? What do you think will happen when we find out the author’s identity? How about the sorcerer?
Will you be tuning in, in a week when Season 4 continues with the continuation of season 4B? Our review and recap of the second half of the season will be online in May sometime. Let us know in the comments.
RIYL: Grimm, Arrow, Supernatural, Revenge, Merlin
Rating: 4/5 (based on 12 episodes)
Once Upon A Time Season 4 airs every Sunday at 8/7c on ABC.