Last night, Once Upon A Time gave viewers a backstory episode for Belle that showed us a piece of her life before Rumple. We got to briefly meet her mother and we learned the real reason her father brought the Dark One to his kingdom. We also discovered Belle spent some time with Anna in Arendelle and knew what happened to her – something she’s been keeping to herself all of this time until she tearfully confessed to Rumple and then Elsa after a run in with the Snow Queen’s mirror.
And that’s where my frustration is rooted. “Family Business” may have been billed as a Belle centric episode and she certainly had more screen time than she has since mid-season three, but at its heart, the episode was once again more about the guest stars and their family business than Belle’s. If it wasn’t for Anna, Belle might never have met Rumple, just like if it wasn’t for Anna, David might never have found his inner hero. Six episodes in and the season is repeating itself.
Contrived connections between characters is nothing new for this show – like Hook said, stay in Storybrooke long enough and you’ll find almost everyone is related. The audience is in on the joke at this point and we all groan and roll our eyes when new familial ties are revealed, but for the most part, it doesn’t actually bother us much. And technically, no new relative revelations were made last night because we already knew Ingrid (she has a name!) was Elsa and Anna’s aunt. So what’s the issue? Balance – the show is twisting itself in knots to make sure all the Frozen characters are tied to our main cast, but the problem is we’re still not seeing enough of the cast we’ve been tuning in for three seasons to see.
I get that Frozen is Disney’s current golden child and I can see why the writers wanted to use the characters – there are so many parallels between the movie and Once Upon A Time and I love when they touch on them. I love the actors; they’ve brought the characters to life flawlessly. But unless something has changed behind the scenes that the producers haven’t revealed yet, these characters are all going to be gone after episode 11 so why are they spending so much time giving us complicated backstories for them while ignoring the stories they’ve started for our series regulars?
Regina has had two major arcs introduced this season: the fallout from Marian returning and her mission with Henry to track down the person who wrote the book. We know the latter is going to last for at least the entire season so I can see why the writers don’t want to give it tons of screen time right now, but couldn’t we at least see Henry snooping in Rumple’s shop or briefly meeting with Regina for Operation Mongoose updates before everyone else comes in to talk about the Snow Queen? At least remind the audience that the story is happening so we can look forward to the payoff.
As for Robin, we did get a brief moment between him and Regina this week. She told him that she doesn’t think she’s going to be able to save Marian and he needs to stop loving her and start loving his wife again so True Love’s Kiss can work. Um, what? First, I don’t think that’s how it works because you can’t fake what’s in your heart, but second, this should have been a major moment for them and the actors did a fantastic job making their sorrow palpable, but it was a blink and you miss it scene, tossed in the middle of hunting down the Snow Queen. Regina and Robin both deserve more than that.
While we’re on the subject of dropped stories, what about the fallout from Hook’s deal with Rumple? The two were in the same room at the beginning of the episode and the focus was on the Snow Queen and Rumple had no interest in aiding in the search. Yes, the scene served as a setup for Belle eventually using the fake dagger to control him, but there were zero hints to remind the audience Rumple still has Hook under his thumb and Hook was dishonest with Emma about how he briefly got his hand back. I don’t doubt we’re going to get back to this story at some point, but shouldn’t there be reminders that it’s happening in the background?
I watch this show obsessively and forget nothing, but most people watch an episode and don’t think about the show again until it airs the following week. It’s jarring to be tossed back into a storyline that you’ve completely forgotten about out of the blue, especially after watching two episodes of Hook not seeming to have a care in the world outside of worrying about Emma (which as a Captain Swan fan, I love and have heart eyes for, but I still need to look at this with a critical eye and it’s annoying that this plot has been completely dropped for the time being, no matter how adorable their budding romance scenes are). I’m not even going to mention Will Scarlet, other than to reiterate that they should have waited to bring him onto the canvas instead of giving out breadcrumbs every other episode.
Then there’s the Snow Queen plot. I love Elizabeth Mitchell and I’ve been looking forward to her coming on the show, but this might be the most contrived plot of them all. She wants Emma and Elsa to replace her non-magical sisters. In Arendelle, she locked up Anna because she got in the way and now she plans to use her magic mirror to shatter the sight of Storybrooke residents so they turn on one another until the two queens and the savior are the only ones left standing. It’s so ridiculous it hurts my head. Why couldn’t she just be evil and want to take over the town because it amused her or she had a grudge against someone? Why does it have to be about her wanting a makeshift family?
I think my main problem with the family angle is the fact that we know she gave up on Elsa at some point (assuming she’s the one who stuffed her into the urn, something I feel like we should know by now) and she left Emma after being her foster mother for six months. So she only wants a family when they cooperate? Yes, that shows that she’s insane, but it’s silly. She wants something so badly, but she gives up when it doesn’t go her way, only to wait 15 years or so to try again? I will absolutely eat my words if there’s a reasonable explanation for this, but for now, I am not impressed.
Let’s circle back to Belle and Rumple because there were important developments for them in this episode. Belle’s guilt over Anna led to her using the dagger to order Rumple to take her to the Snow Queen. He played along, but still tried to stop her from entering the ice palace. It didn’t work and Belle found herself in front of the mirror, reliving the time she didn’t act quickly enough to save Anna and the younger girl ended up in the Snow Queen’s clutches. While I have a hard time believing Belle kept this secret and guilt bottled up all these years, I did love the scene with mean Belle taunting her through the mirror. She called her weak and claimed that was the only reason Rumple married her because she could easily be controlled and that he’d lied to her about the dagger.
Rumple burst in and claimed the Snow Queen was coming and Belle accidentally cut him with the dagger so he used his magic to take them back to the shop. Then he convinced Belle that because she told him to keep watch, he got to come inside when there was danger. She felt so guilty for cutting him and what she did to Anna that she accepted his explanation and then apologized to him for lying and begged for forgiveness because he’d been so honest and trusting with her and she’d ruined it.
As they were hugging, Rumple at least had the decency to look ashamed, but these scenes were hard to watch. He is playing her for a fool and it’s like watching a slow motion car wreck waiting for the truth to be revealed. I know they’re a True Love couple, but I don’t see how the writers are going to repair this relationship once everything is revealed. How can Belle forgive him for the ultimate betrayal, especially after she broke down and confessed how bad she felt keeping something from him? Why should the audience want Belle to forgive him?
Finally, we have a new development on the Mickey’s hat front – the one recurring story that does get decent screen time each episode probably because it’s tied to the Frozen arc. In Arendelle, the Snow Queen ended up with the hat after she kidnapped Anna. In Storybrooke, Rumple paid a visit to Ingrid so she’d see that he possessed the hat now and that she no longer had leverage. Does that mean she brought it to Storybrooke? That seems a little too obvious and she was genuinely surprised to see it so I’m guessing it left her possession somewhere between Arendelle and Storybrooke and the owner of the honeymoon house will come into play. I am curious to see where this particular plot is going.
Now it’s your turn. Hit the comments below and share your thoughts, feelings and theories. Are you tired of Frozen? Do you miss Snow and Charming? Do you like the Snow Queen? Which dropped story do you wish was getting more screen time?