New format – I’m going to catch up on each show individually.
In Breaking Glass, the writers explored the relationship between Emma and Regina. The two of them both went after the Snow Queen with their own agenda and reluctantly ended up working together. Including in their love of Henry, the two women are actually very much alike. Emma spends the episode trying to convince Regina to forgive her and let them be friends again, while Regina tries her hardest to convince herself that she does not want to be friends with her. Regina is not used to having friends – she is accustomed to being used and abused and dishing out the same in return. While Emma puts up walls to her loved ones, Regina lashes out – no need to put up walls if you’re constantly on the attack! Both women have magic power, even if Emma’s are innate and Regina’s are learned (as far as we know). Much like how a grown child prodigy is on an even keel with musicians who trained their whole lives, Emma has much to learn from her step-grandmother.
The only downfall of this episode is the parallel story with Emma’s past life. On its own, the subplot with Emma and Lily is fine. However, Lily seems much too important of a character to only be a one-episode wonder. For one thing, she looks enough like Regina to be her long-lost daughter! After watching this episode, I was wondering if there was a way that the writers could make such a thing possible. It would be convoluted, but it could work. After all, as Hook says, sooner or later everyone in Storybrooke is related. Why take the time to introduce such an intriguing and mysterious character as Lily if she was only to illustrate an event from Emma’s past? And why make her so much like Regina in looks and mannerisms? (I suppose there is the simple possibility that it was a coincidence that the best actress who auditioned had such looks.) Any young actress would have sufficed. We got the point of the parallel story: once Emma had a chance to forgive a friend who did her wrong and begged for forgiveness, but like Regina now, she had shut her out and never forgiven her.
Family Business explored Belle’s backstory and her own relationship with Anna and the Snow Queen. We find out how bad the Ogre War was going in Belle’s homeland and what led her to summon Rumplestiltskin to save them. As it turned out, she found out about him from Anna, who helped her search for her lost memories before being captured by the Snow Queen. As it turns out, her lost memories are of her mother’s heroic death at the hands of ogres.
To be honest, Belle’s backstory is not all that interesting and serves mostly to fill in gaps in the established timelines while giving us some insight into Belle’s life. What is interesting, however, is how her past actions serve to have Belle attempt to go after the Snow Queen herself and end up revealing to us the latest evil plot to befall Storybrooke. Belle falls victim to a mirror that turns her against herself and her husband, forcing her to question her deepest fears and dislikes about Rumplestiltskin as well as her own character. Intriguingly, the mirror (or the Spell of Shattered Sight) does not lie. The fears and dislikes are Belle’s own. It reveals that deep in her heart, Belle knows what kind of horrible man her new husband is. She knows what others think of her, how she thinks she needs to save him, etc. These are all true. The mirror distorts reality, showing only the negative aspect of a person or situation. One could easily remind Belle that her husband is complex (albeit quite horrible) and that her dedication to saving him is admirable. Like her mother’s heroic sacrifice, her love for Rumplestiltskin might cost her everything – but she is prepared for that.
The Snow Queen’s, or rather Ingrid’s, origin story is revealed in full in The Snow Queen. This episode does have the downside of focusing almost entirely on the new Frozen characters. Aside from Ingrid’s attempt to isolate Emma from her family and call into doubt their love for her and her powers, our main plot is how Ingrid became the way she is.
Her own family rejected her out of fear: her sister, Gerda, imprisoned her in the urn after Ingrid accidentally killed their third sister when her powers became uncontrollable. I could hardly blame either of them, really. Ingrid had just nearly been sexually assaulted, while Gerda had just discovered that her sister was dead. Helga, the unfortunate third sister, had been the glue that held them together. Gerda seemed to resent Ingrid for being different – as Gerda was the youngest sister, any attention given Ingrid naturally detracted from her. It was quite clear that throughout their childhood, Gerda held this against her eldest sister. How dare Ingrid have powers that needed to be controlled! (A non-magical equivalent would be a chronic illness or condition.) Without Ingrid, Gerda could get married and rest assured that her future children would be safe from suffering from Helga’s fate. Despite her sadness at her loss, it was much easier for Gerda to accept that both of her sisters were dead than to deal with Ingrid’s powers any longer. She euthanized her chronically-sick sister. It was hardly any wonder that she sought to rid Elsa of her powers. She wanted to cure her of her illness – any mother would.
As an aside, if Elsa and Anna’s mother is named Gerda, is their father named Kai?
ONCE UPON A TIME
Season 4, Episode 8 (Smash the Mirror)
What I am impressed with the most about this season of Once Upon a Time is that they have taken new characters – namely Elsa and Anna and company from Frozen – and integrated them into the mythology not just of the show, but of the wider folklore of European fairy tales. While Frozen was based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen and Scandinavian folklore, it was quite removed from the original story such that it is barely recognizable as being related to Andersen’s tale. With this arc on Once Upon a Time, the writers have integrated elements from Andersen’s tale such as the Snow Queen herself, Gerda the protagonist, the Snow Queen seeking family, and a smashed mirror whose shards enter into the victim’s eyes to turn them against their loved ones. In Smash the Mirror, this last element comes vividly into play.
First of all, however, this is a double-episode primarily about Emma. She seeks to get rid of her powers and Rumplestiltskin is keen to add her to his collection, even if it means killing her. Hook tries to stop her, but is thwarted by his old crocodile and has his heart stolen for his troubles. Rumplestiltskin needs him to do his bidding before he kills him, and despite his belief that he is a survivor, Hook is most definitely in mortal peril. Do the writers really want to kill off another of Emma’s love interests? Or will it be Rumplestiltskin who loses? Or will they come up with Plan C?
Emma herself is saved by Elsa, who finally embraces her own powers and convinces Emma that she can control hers. For the most part, Emma has always been able to control her power, but Ingrid planted doubt in her mind, and Elsa drove her doubt away again. Elsa and Emma truly have come to see each other as friends, if not sisters. Furthermore, the Charmings came to their senses and decided that letting Emma get rid of her powers was not giving her her best chance after all. Surprisingly, it took a sharp tongue-lashing from Regina to point out to them that obvious fact. But from a parenting perspective, they did have good points. Emma was suffering because of her powers. If she didn’t have powers, she couldn’t hurt them, their new baby, or Henry. But although she is their daughter, she has been their friend first. Friends do not let friends make rash life-altering decisions.
We finally find out how Elsa came to be trapped in the urn – namely through Anna being a victim of the Shattered Sight. Elsa never wavered and let her sister capture her rather than give in to Ingrid’s plan to have her destroy Anna. I do believe that repays back Anna’s sacrifice from the film tenfold. Now Ingrid has unleashed the Shatter Sight onto Storybrooke – it will be exciting to see how they break this one!
Finally, Robin Hood and Will Scarlet are in on the plan to find the author of the book. Robin Hood, despite his code of honour, gives in to his desire and enters into an affair with Regina. Well, wasn’t he always a thief, anyhow? He is no saint and neither is Regina, but they are well-suited to each other. He also discovers that the book is not set in stone (er, ink) and that they could still have a happy ending depending on their choices. Regina, for her part, confides in Snow White and allows the possibility of hope enter her life again. Sadly, I don’t think that the Spell of Shattered Sight is going to leave her unscarred, and she is still the mistress and not the wife of Robin Hood.
Then again, perhaps their romantic interlude will lead to a half-sibling for Henry and Roland!