It’s not a true season of Once Upon A Time until a cloud of magic is rolling across Storybrooke to bring a new curse to the town. As the sparkly curse of Shattered Sight slowly made its way from the woods in “Fall”, the residents of Storybrooke had until sundown to find a way to stop the Snow Queen’s threat to destroy them all.
On the surface, this episode felt a lot like filler because we all knew the curse was coming so it seemed like a waste of time to have everyone running around trying to stop it. Not only that, but the flashback to explain how Anna and Kristoff ended up where they did felt completely contrived and left me with more questions than actual answers.
But in spite of those things, I loved the episode as a whole because it yanked on my heartstrings and made me feel just about every emotion under the sun and that is what Once Upon A Time does best. Underneath what can often be thinly veiled, easy to guess plot lines, lies an incredible ability to let the audience connect with these characters and care about them to the point that if they’re hurting, we’re hurting. If they’re happy, we’re happy. If someone wronged them, we want to make them pay. Last night’s episode had all of that and then some and the second it ended, I was already dreading having to wait a week to see the next installment.
Let’s start with Anna and Kristoff. Back in Arendelle, they were unfrozen along with Hans and the rest of the kingdom. The two managed to get away from the wannabe king and his brothers. Anna realized Rumple had taken Elsa and the urn and she wanted to seek out the wishing star so the duo headed out to find Blackbeard and make a deal with him. Once they found the pirate aboard the Jolly Roger, he made a comment about a mermaid saving his life and then Hans and company arrived and Blackbeard double crossed them. Kristoff and Anna also learned they’d been frozen for 30 years and then they were unceremoniously placed in a trunk and dumped in the water.
Honestly, the scenes with Blackbeard made my head hurt. There was nothing seamless about the way we learned all of this important information – Ariel saving him, him having possession of the Jolly Roger again, presumably because Hook traded it to him to get back to Emma – and that Kristoff and Anna and the rest of Arendelle stayed frozen through both curses that brought the Enchanted Forest residents to Storybrooke. I’m going to put my faith in the writers and assume we’ll learn more about Blackbeard and Hook at a later date since they went through the trouble of keeping him alive, but I still think we deserved a better reveal than a quick scene in the middle of the Frozen subplot.
Anyway, back in Storybrooke, Elsa found Anna’s necklace beneath the ice when they tried to breakdown the wall to leave Storybrooke (side note: why can the residents leave now when they couldn’t before? Is it because a different curse brought them over?). Belle and Emma helped turn the necklace into a locator spell, which led Elsa and Emma down to the tunnels. But before they could find Anna, Belle and the fairies realized they could use the mirror shards embedded in the necklace to work on a way to stop the curse. The Charming family and Regina agreed that saving everyone was more important than saving Anna (side note: their scenes were so fun this week – so much sass). But Elsa only pretended to give Emma the necklace and continued her quest to find her sister.
Emma joined her once she realized what Elsa had done and they were led to an empty beach. Elsa didn’t want to give up and promised to keep looking and then with the necklace in her hand, she wished Anna could be with her. That’s when the trunk appeared in the water through a portal and Anna and Kristoff were freed. Again, I have some issues. If Anna had never been in Storybrooke, how did her necklace end up there? Second, how does the necklace still exist because Anna threw it in the fire while under Shattered Sight? Third, how did the necklace get back to Elsa in the first place if their parents never made it back to Arendelle? And of course the message in a bottle arrived at the same time, most likely containing a way to stop Ingrid. There are too many plot holes and conveniences here. (Editor’s Note: I’ve been told Rumple took the necklace from the fireplace when he grabbed the urn. Thank you, lovely Tumblr user).
But those frustrations didn’t stop me from enjoying the scenes, first Anna trying to marry Kristoff while they were both about to drown in the trunk and then Anna and Elsa’s reunion. I love that the sisters just started talking at once and blurting out information with Kristoff randomly joining in – it was just so them. Even if this plot has taken up far too much screen time for my tastes, I will forever adore the characters and the actors and the writers for bringing the movie imagery to life so flawlessly.
Meanwhile, Rumple made a deal with Ingrid to spare Belle and Henry from the curse, allowing them to leave town with him in exchange for him not ripping out her heart when all was said and done. But first, Rumple forced Hook to populate his magic hat (my heart absolutely broke all over again when his first response was ‘Not Emma’). Rumple had a different goal in mind – the fairies gathered at Granny’s. I am beyond angry with Rumple right now for what he’s doing to Hook and to Belle and to everyone else (his line about always picking him was the most honest thing he’s ever said), but his utter disdain for the fairies is hilarious.
However, it was not hilarious to have to watch Hook sneaking around the diner and then letting the fairies get sucked into the hat. Blue tried to hide so he had to come face to face with her to get her into the hat and the anguish on his face as he told her that he was sorry hurt so much. Just in case that wasn’t enough pain, Emma arrived with Elsa and company to find an empty diner and assumed the Snow Queen had taken out the fairies while poor Hook had to hide behind the counter, alone and ashamed. Seriously, show, what did I ever do to you to deserve this kind of torment?
And then there were the goodbyes. Earlier in the episode, Regina warned Robin and his Merry Men of the curse and told them to scatter so they wouldn’t kill each other. Robin wanted to stay with her, but she told him that he and Henry were the only ones who believed in her and she couldn’t stand to see that change because of the curse. Regain sealed Henry into her former office where he’d be safe from everyone else and then Robin showed up for one last goodbye before she went to seal herself in her vault. Again, Regina made a point of telling him that he should be afraid of her and that makes me afraid because Robin has never truly seen Regina in Evil Queen mode.
After an adorable reunion with Charming, Anna and Kristoff, Snow told Emma their plan to have her lock them in jail cells to keep them safe until she found a way to stop the curse. In a beautiful speech, Snow and Charming told their daughter how much they believed in her and had faith she’d be able to rescue them all. In the ultimate showing of faith, Snow placed Neal in his sister’s arms (I’m not crying as I type this). This scene was so beautiful and so emotional and it’s exactly what I’ve been waiting for this season – for Emma to see just how loved she is.
Hook returned the hat to Rumple and tried to reason with him again by pointing out how much Belle loves him and they could be happy together. Rumple said they would be and he’d have his power too (his arrogance better be foreshadowing that he’s going to lose and lose hard because I will not accept any other outcome). Rumple told Hook that he needed one more thing from him before he could finally free himself from the dagger and end Hook’s life in the process.
So Hook went to see Emma for what he believes will be the final time. Already emotional from her talk with her parents, Emma told him that she wasn’t the tearful goodbye type, but maybe just this once and then she kissed him. Add this to the list of things that broke me during this episode because the emotion they each poured into the kiss spoke volumes. Hook believed this was the final time he’d get to see her and kiss her and be with her and his simple goodbye when the kiss broke felt so much more poignant than if he’d expressed his love or made what he assumed was a dying declaration. As he walked away, Emma touched her finger to her lips, much the same way Hook did after their first kiss in Neverland. Was it because she sensed something was off or was this the moment she realized how deep her feelings run?
As the curse began to overtake the town, Snow and Charming held hands in their side by side jail cells and spoke of their shared heart and how nothing could break them apart. Was it just me or could you actually hear the curse whispering, ‘Challenge Accepted?’ as their eyes glazed over when the glass shards hit them? Maybe it’s because I have faith they’ll be fine in the end, but I’m strangely looking forward to seeing what kind of anger comes out between these two. Also, I absolutely loved the visuals of the final scenes with nearly everyone separated and waiting, looking up at the sky as the curse rolled through, Anna and Elsa hugging, Emma protecting baby Neal and then the final shot of Snow and Charming letting go of each other’s hands.
Next week’s episode looks like it’s going to be so much fun. All of these actors seem to relish playing comedic scenes when the opportunity arises and I look forward to seeing their evil sides coming out. Not only that, but I imagine there might be lasting consequences from some of these confrontations. I’m also curious whether Rumple will truly be immune as he believes himself to be and whether or not Hook can be cursed without his heart. See you next week….