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Once Upon a Time Season 4, Episode 1: A Tale of Two Sisters

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Happy birthday to me! Two days before my birthday and I got Once Upon a Time back!

My daughters just finished catching up on all three seasons of Once Upon a Time Saturday. I rewatched some of it with them because I have been suffering from withdrawal since the season ended. Wednesday, they watched the episodes where Nealfire (my favorite character) died and I bawled even more than I did when I first saw it. I’ve seen commentaries online where people have said that bringing Neal back would diminish his sacrifice, but he’s been thought dead before, Rumpel was dead and came back, and now time travel is possible. He was really the character that had the truest motives of any of them. I want him back! I know a lot of people are “shipping” Captain Swan, but I cannot see Hook being domestic, husband and father. And I am still irritated with Emma who took about five seconds to decide to separate Neal and Rumpel, thereby killing Neal and yet leaving everyone else to their fate, including her parents, her baby brother, and her own son just to save Hook with a kiss that took away her magic. Argh! So, who am I left to champion? I’d have to say Regina because I so want her to be good and happy. But…not sure if that is going to be the case if the first episode is any indication…. And I do love Rumpel. Anyway, I digress.

We open with the caption, “A Long Time Ago.” I couldn’t help quipping, “Once Upon a Time, a long time ago….” The scene is the sea and a ship is being tossed by a storm and we realize (if we have seen Frozen and if we have not been under a rock and know that this season is going to be about Frozen) that this is the part where Anna and Elsa’s parents die. Her mom is seen writing something with the intention of putting the message in a bottle. Something she tells her husband that will save the girls if they die. They may not make it, but the message in the bottle might.

Fast forward five years and Anna and Elsa are standing at their parents’ grave. Time out, sidenote: does all Nordic writing look like that? Because I swear it’s the same writing as in How to Train Your Dragon. Time in. Elsa tells Anna that she has a surprise for her for her wedding day. Apparently she is well-controlled because she touches her sister often and there is no hint of freezing.

Back in Storybrooke, Elsa does NOT seem to be in control as she is creating an ice trail behind her, much like a slug trail and things nearby, like the town sign, freeze when she comes near.

Poor Regina. Our heart goes out to her as she dejectedly leaves Granny’s. Emma goes after her and they have an exchange about whether Emma should or should not have brought Marian back. Emma tells her that she was the one who was going to have Marian killed. Ooh. AWKWARD. Robin and Marian come out and Robin is trying to get Marian to see that Regina is not evil anymore, but Marian is freaking out that everyone seems to be friendly with the “evil queen.” Then she realizes that her husband had been involved with her. Talk about a shocker. Again, I say, AWKWARD….

Grumpy is in the van with Sleepy as the designated driver. Not sure that was any better of a choice as a narcoleptic dwarf is as dangerous as a drunk driver. As Grumpy tries to get control from the passenger seat, the van is bearing down on Elsa, who apparently doesn’t have sidewalks in Arendelle and is ice skating down the middle of the road. She defensively throws her arms up to shield herself and freezes the van solid.

In Arendelle, Elsa shows Anna that her gift is their mother’s wedding dress, which Anna tries on, gushing about how she’ll probably spill something on it. Elsa makes a few cracks about Sven the reindeer being “properly attired”, whatever proper attire for a reindeer is, to which Anna replies that Christoph will take care of it. He wasn’t raised in a barn, after all. Well, not his WHOLE life. There was that part where he was raised by troll rocks. Elsa is looking around the attic room and finds her mom’s journal and begins to read. Snowflakes start to swirl around her head as she gets upset because she says she is to blame for their parents’ death and she runs from the tower.

And then they rip my heart out yet AGAIN. Man! I am telling you, I love this show, but I am really getting tired of the writers rubbing Neal’s death in my face. They better make it up to me somehow! Rumpel stands over Neal’s grave, talking “to” his son, telling him that he started things off with a lie yet again, all to avenge Neal’s death. But, he swore to be the man that Neal died for and repay his heroism. If Neal’s death isn’t enough to choke me up, then Rumpel’s soft underbelly exposed does it every time.

Robin Hood goes to see Regina and tells her that he loves her and that she is not a monster. Regina seems to brighten, but then he lowers the boom that we all knew was coming. He’s still married and he made a vow “’til death do us part” and he must honor that. He leaves Regina in tears and her anger causes a mirror to shatter, which reminds her of some delicious evil. And, here we go, down that dark path. Hasn’t she learned yet that she will never get what she wants or be happy by taking the “evil” path? She goes to the mental ward of the hospital to see Sydney Glass, aka the Magic Mirror, aka the Genie. She tells him that she needs her mirror and like putty in her hands, he fawns over her like a puppy. Okay, two questions. One, with all this back and forth between Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest, how is he still on lockdown in the mental ward? I guess this just shows that Regina had not 100% given up her evil side or else she would have set him free. He was her ace in the hole, so to speak. Second, Belle gave her the what-for because Regina locked her up in the same mental ward–why is Sydney so eager to help, considering she has always used and discarded him in the past? Possibly, if he had spent as long there as Belle had, he might be harder to convince. Personally, I think he really belongs in the mental ward.


Belle and Rumpel are “borrowing” a house for their honeymoon. Apparently it hasn’t been claimed and it has spectacular views. Rumpel freezes Belle and replaces the fake dagger with the real one in her purse, to make good on what he promised Neal. So, will Belle, or anyone else for that matter, ever know that he had given her a fake? He unfreezes her and shows some interest in a round mysterious box. She shows him a ballroom in the house and we have, quite possibly, one of the best moments in the entire series. In a completely smooth move that probably has all the fangirls swooning, Rumpel snaps his fingers a few times and the chandalier is lit, Belle is wearing a yellow ballgown, he is wearing the beast’s typical blue jacket suit, and the phonograph starts playing “Beauty and the Beast” as they dance. Aw! Maybe some will find that scene cheesy, but I absolutely loved it!!!

Meanwhile, Hook is hounding Emma for why she is avoiding him. She says that there’s just too much going on and Hook says it’s an excuse, that there will always be danger. Right on cue, Grumpy comes running down the road, screaming, “we’re under attack!” He describes the frozen van and they suddenly notice the ice trail.

In Arendelle, Elsa is in the forest with the diary, clearly upset, when Anna comes and plunks down beside her in the dirt still wearing the wedding gown. Yeah, don’t have to worry about spilling anything on it now! Elsa says that the diary said their parents were afraid of her and that their death was all her fault. Anna believes there must be more to the story and wants to go ask her soon-to-be new in-laws what they know about it.

Hook and Emma follow the ice trail (sort of reminds me of Frozone!) and Elsa gets scared and runs and hides and her fear conjures up a mean snow monster.

Elsa and Anna learn from the rock troll that their parents were going to Misthaven but he didn’t know why.

Regina wants to go back in time to kill Marian (do something useful–go back and save Neal!), so she puts Sydney, much to his chagrin, back in the mirror and asks him to show her when she sentenced her to death because she doesn’t remember and she needs to know when to go back to. Except I am wondering how she is going to go back in time anyway–going to try to kidnap the baby Prince and collect the other elements to make it happen? Sydney shows her the encounter, in which Marian was protecting Snow’s location and then she told the queen she felt sorry for her because she didn’t have love and a family. I can’t tell if that softened Regina or made her more angry.

We get to see Sven when Elsa goes to the barn, looking for Anna. Christoph is trying to cover for her, but eventually he confirms that Anna has just left on a ship for Misthaven, also known as the Enchanted Forest.

When Emma’s “light magic” only makes the abominable snowman even more angry, we figured it was a job for some of Regina’s fireballs. It made me think of new song lyrics:

Emma: “Regina?
Do you wanna melt a snowman?
Come on, let’s go and fight.
I never see you curled up on the floor,
Come out the door,
It’s like you’ve gone back to your evil ways.
We used to be best frenemies
And now we’re not
I’m sorry I’m the reason why!
Do you wanna kill a snowman?
You don’t have to kill Marian.”

Regina appears in the woods as the snow monster is about to stomp Marian. Marian begs for help and is shocked when Regina disappears in a cloud of purple smoke. We think she has decided to let the snow monster do the dirty work for her. But, she appears behind or inside the snow beast and explodes it, saving Marian and everyone else. Marian says that maybe she’s not a monster after all. Before Emma can say more than four words to her, though, Regina disappears again. Hook again tries to get some of Emma’s attention, but she rebuffs him again because she feels guilty about Regina, though Hook suspects she feels guilty about something else…. I won’t comment on that.

Emma goes to Regina’s office where Regina has locked herself inside and is sitting on the floor with her knees drawn up and her head in her arms, crying. It’s one of the saddest things to see, the stoic queen in her power suit, crying like a heartbroken teenager. She looks so pitiful and you so want her to be happy, we just don’t want to see her be evil again. Emma says through the door that she is the savior and she won’t rest until everyone has their happy ending, including her. This seems to have given Regina an idea. She tells Sydney that the book still sees her as a villain and until she can find the writer to change it, she will never have a happy ending. Any ideas on who the writer might be? The only idea I had was possibly Pinocchio/August Booth. He was a writer and he seemed very interested in the book and took it apart to add his story to it. Will we see Pinocchio again?

Rumpel, after Belle is asleep, is once more intrigued by this round box. He has apparently rifled through his wife’s purse again to get the dagger out once more. I wonder why he needed the dagger–doesn’t he have enough magic on his own–why would he need the dagger of the Dark One to open this box? The box morphs and bursts out like a small galaxy, then it takes the shape of what looks like Mickey’s hat from Sorceror’s Apprentice. And considering there is an episode coming up called “the Apprentice”, this is a strong possibility. But, who is the apprentice? Where will this fit in to the current story line?

Elsa seems interested in Rumpel when she sees a picture of him in the paper, announcing his and Belle’s marriage. However, when she breaks into his shop, we realize that her interest was in the snowflake necklace that was sitting on his shop counter, as it was a gift to her sister. If Anna was on her way to the Enchanted Forest and the necklace is there, was she caught up in the curse? And why haven’t we see her before now? Elsa ends the episode vowing to find her sister.

The preview for next week’s episode show Elsa holding the town and specifically Emma hostage until she gets her sister back.

So, squee! OUAT is back! And, just as in the animated film, Elsa seems to be a misunderstood, not evil character. Can’t wait for next week!

Thank you for sharing!