We're ba-ack! And I'm so excited. I can't wait to see what else this new season has in store.
For my initial resistance to the idea of Frozen coming to Storeybrooke I definitely warmed up to the idea (pun fully intended) over the break. After reading some interviews with the writers and show creators and having time to get used to the idea I was really excited to see where they would go with it. And after tonight's episode I'm not disappointed (well, mostly not, but I'll get to that later).
4.1: A Tale of Two Sisters
Tonight Regina's happily ever after is thwarted yet again and she decides to do what Regina always does - take matters into her own hands by bringing wrath and destruction down on those who are in her way. But it isn't as simple as it used to be. Meanwhile in flashbacks to Arendelle an undefined amount of time after the ending of the movie, Anna is getting ready for her wedding and Elsa finds her mother's journal which seems to confirm her worst fears about herself. And Rumple and Belle finally get their honeymoon, but Rumple just can't resist playing with fire, no matter how many pledges he tries to make.
The juxtaposition of two kinds of "monsters" fighting to overcome their instincts was fascinating to me. On the one side we have Regina. We've seen over the past few years how she came to be the evil queen and watched her fight her way out of the persona she crafted for herself and which almost destroyed her.
Regina became a monster by choice. Her decisions after Snow's betrayal continually pushed her further down the path of anger, revenge, and cruelty. But her love for Henry and the relationships she slowly developed brought her out of it and you can see her really struggle through this episode to subdue the inner monster she's created in herself. Even in the end, when she seems to have finally overcome her gut reaction, she can't help but revert to manipulations and destruction in order to try to gain her happy ending.
On the other side is Elsa. Born with a magical power she was taught to fear, she views herself as a monster. Even after her breakthrough in the movie, she still has this deep-seated perception of herself as monstrous simply because of who she is. So it doesn't take much for her to find confirmation in her mother's journal.
Not even Anna's protestations can convince her that she is not the cause of all of their pain and suffering and that she is not, in fact, the monster she's always believed herself to be. However she comes to be there, even in Storeybrooke Elsa is fighting herself. She's desperate to find the one person in the world who wholeheartedly believes in her and, if the preview for next week has anything to say about it, will find herself becoming more "monstrous" in order to do so.
Another theme, which I pointed out in my write up of last season's finale, is the sanctity of family. It is first and foremost and the most powerful kind of magic. Even though Robin loves Regina and truly wants to be with her he takes his vows seriously and he cannot rightly break the bond of family that ties him to Marian, no matter how much he might want to.
Emma is devastated because she hurt Regina, a woman who against all odds has become a part of her family. And she can't think about beginning new with Killian until she's made things right with the family she already has.
And of course we now have the "Tale of Two Sisters" with Anna's persistent and certain belief in Elsa's goodness and her ability to help make everything right. Anna cannot believe that their parents could have been fleeing - her loyalty to her whole family is the most important thing she can hold onto. And when she needs help, where does she turn? Her soon-to-be in-laws, because where else do you go with your problems than your family?
As much as I'm annoyed about them bringing Marian back (like really?), I did like the opportunity to explore her reaction to Regina. As someone who hasn't seen the past three years, she can only see Regina as who she was. And this perception very nearly causes Regina to revert to that person.
Perception - being seen - very important here as well. Who others think we are has a profound impact on how these characters behave. Rumple wants to be the man Belle and Neal see him as (the question, of course, is whether he can keep his vow - he's off to a very shaky start). Killian, for all his "I'm a pirate" protestations, wants to be the man Emma can love and live with. Each character allows themselves to be defined by the way they are viewed. And what greater tool of perception than a book where all the stories are written and portrayed. Is it any wonder Regina desires to destroy it?
(Side note - this twist of Regina wanting to destroy the book or the writer of the book reminds me a bit of the Ever After High series written by Shannon Hale in which Raven Queen, daughter of the evil queen and destined to take her place, refuses to sign the Book of Destiny consigning herself to a villain's fate and throwing all of fairy land into an uproar as no one's fate is certain anymore. These books are a lot of fun and you can see my Top 10 review
if you'd like to see a bit more :)
And this brings me to another question that was raised in this episode, at least to me. Yes, I can understand Regina wanting to get her own happy ending. She lost her first love, Daniel, in many ways has lost Henry, and now has basically lost Robin - the one who is supposed to be her soulmate. So when she says it's time for the villains to get their happy ending, I totally understand it - but what does that truly mean? What if getting your happy ending means that others won't get theirs? (Another thing brought up in the Ever After High series - if Raven isn't the evil queen, then Apple White will never eat the poisoned apple and be awakened by her true love, right?)
So if Regina gets her happy ending, what will that mean for others? If she'd married Daniel then Snow would never have been her step-daughter, would never have had to flee into the woods, would never have met the dwarfs, and might never have met Charming.
If Regina had kept Henry all to herself he never would have found Emma, Emma never would have been reunited with her parents, the curse would never have been broken, she never would have reconnected with Neal, and she never would have met Killian.
Now that Marian's life has been saved, Regina getting her happy ending would mean more heartbreak for Robin and who knows what other ramifications.
If there's one thing this show has made abundantly clear, it's that magic always has a cost. What if the cost of allowing herself the chance to have A happy ending destroys her chance to have the happy ending she wants with Robin?
Now onto some shorter and less contemplative observations on the episode.
Leroy and Killian fought it out for favorite line of the episode for me.
I loved the whole truck scene with Leroy being so concerned about his truck: "She needs to be treated gently." And whose brilliant idea was it to make Sleepy the designated driver?!
Also, his cry of "Evil snowman! RUN!" had me giggling.
Killian's lines were a bit more contemplative: "There is always a crisis. Perhaps you should consider living a life through them. Otherwise you might just miss it."
I also loved their little exchange right toward the end.
Emma: "Wanna go home and see what's on Netflix?"
Killian: "I don't know what that is but sure."
And of course, his parting snark shot: "I have all the time in the world. Unless another monster appears and kills me."
Also, did you notice that Emma has this weirdly bizarre "magic casting" stance. It looks incredibly awkward to me :P
As soon as Regina brought back the mirror I started snrking to myself because now I can only see him as Tom Neville from Revolution
and I just can't.
As for that scene between Regina and Emma at the end. Part of me loved it. Part of me was scoffing at the corniness. Part of me was screaming DO YOU WANT TO BUILD A SNOWMAN?
Switching over to the Belle/Rumple storyline for a moment - I'm so scared. I'm scared that Belle's going to find the fake dagger and figure out what he did. I'm scared that he's going to be seduced by power (the ending certainly didn't alleviate my fears there - though I loved the Sorcerer's Apprentice music).
HOWEVER how adorable was Rumple's pledge to Neal? And the ballroom scene? Perfection with the chandelier and the dress and the blue suit and the music... *sigh*
And finally, our new arrivals.
I think the casting of Elsa and Anna was well done. It took me a little longer to settle with Elsa, but I think the actress playing Anna does a fantastic job of doing the slightly awkward, adorable babbling that is Anna without overplaying it.
I was cracking up at a number of her lines as well, especially when she assured Elsa, "You have a sister. You're never going to be alone. Except when I'm not there, but even then I'll be there in spirit."
Though I must admit that I typed in caps lock: DON'T SIT ON THE GROUND IN THE WEDDING DRESS
Because really. Let's not ruin your mother's wedding dress by tramping through the woods and then SITTING ON THE GROUND
I thought Marshmallow the snow monster was done well and even the troll was better than I feared. But I do hope they haven't used up their CGI budget in this one episode.
Also, was it just me, or did it take Elsa an inordinately long amount of time to walk into Storeybrooke. When she freezes the truck it's dark. Like night time dark. And then it's well into the day when she walks into town.... did I miss something?
The only fly in my ointment, so to speak, is the casting of Kristoff. The casting on this show has, overall, been completely spot on. I've had very few complaints and many, many compliments to those doing the casting. But Kristoff... not doing it for me. His face isn't square enough, his head just looks too small for his body - something's off with the shoulder/head ratio. He's too skinny imo. But mostly I think it's the hair. I know they set it up with Anna saying he got a haircut, but the shaggy blonde hair was so much a part of who Kristoff was in the movie so having him with this super short and rather severe haircut immediately separates this portrayal from what we're expecting from the character. So... I'm hoping he'll grow on me, because I'm sure we haven't seen the last of him. But for now, it's probably the biggest casting disappointment of the entire show for me.
So! Misthaven is the Enchanted Forest? Of course it is. So was Anna in Storeybrooke all along? Who is she? How did Elsa find her way to Storeybrooke? When will she remember that being afraid is what causes crazy things to happen like freezing trucks and creating monster snowmen? Will Belle find the fake dagger and flip out on Rumple? Will Rumple put on the hat and start mopping the castle (I would seriously pay good money to see this btw)? Will Killian and Emma ever get a moment to actually be a couple? How did Henry avoid growing too much over the break? Who actually wrote the storybook? Will Regina keep Sidney trapped in the mirror forever? Will she ever get a happy ending?!
I guess we'll have to tune in next week and find out :)