(Beware, spoilers below!)
It’s a two hour bonanza from our friends in Storybrooke, though unfortunately it means we do miss out on an episode next week. As this is a particularly long episode, I’d skip ahead to the last four or so paragraphs of this review if you only want a roundup of my opinions. Otherwise, continue!
We start things off in Arendelle, where Ingrid is hastily concealing her little box. She goes to visit the Sorcerer since she wishes to make a deal with him, for … happiness. She requests two new sisters, but the sorcerer says it will take time for magic that powerful.
Meanwhile, Emma is hiding out in the forest when Henry finds her. He tries to assure her she’s not alone, but as he touches her hand she blasts him away. Her magic is getting out of control… and that’s just when Ingrid shows up, telling her she knows how she feels.
Robin and Regina have been … sleeping. Yeah … just sleeping. For all of this, Marian is still heavy on her mind and she’s tortured as to how she can remain being good, especially as it seems only the good guys get happy endings. She lets Robin know about Operation Mongoose but tells him their tryst can’t happen again. It’s a statement you know won’t last. As Regina later sits with a upset Henry, she consoles him, and we’re once again treated to a Regina Henry scene which reminds us of the core relationships in the show. She tells him that just because he doesn’t have magic it doesn’t mean he can’t be helpful. He does have the Heart of the Truest Believer, after all.
In the Arendelle of the past, Elsa is preparing a dinner for Anna when Ingrid comes in and tells her that Anna has been lying to her all this time. As you can tell, her ‘truth’ is not exactly straightforward, and Ingrid twists Anna’s mmotivations. Elsa goes to see Anna, who is locked in the dungeon. However the actions of Ingrid have not torn apart the two sisters, and Elsa devises a plan to steal back the urn and trap Ingrid inside it. As they search throughout the East Wing of the palace, they find not only the urn but also the frozen Hans.
For all the girls efforts, Ingrid however traps Anna as their urn plan is about to be enacted. Ingrid forces Anna to tell a story about an old mirror possessed by an old Nordic King. It’s the tale that explains the Spell of Shattered Sight and it’s the last thing they discuss before she casts the spell on Anna.
Anna comes back a completely different person. She mentions all her loneliness as a child and gives into her bitterness, trapping Elsa inside the urn. Despite Ingrid’s goading, Elsa does not attempt to freeze Anna for a second. It comes to a head as Kristoff too arrives and as a response Ingrid casts a curse, which freezes over everything. As Rumplestiltskin reappears, he not only takes Elsa and the urn with him (explaining how the urn happened to be in his vault) but telling her that she has to find the hat first.
All the way back in Storybrooke Mr Gold comes into a shop full of self-operating machines. Of course, it’s Emma’s presence in the shop that has set them off. She asks for his help because she thinks he’s the only person safe around him and he says there is a spell to take her light magic, but that it’s permanent. Since it’ll destroy everything nearby he instead directs her to a secluded spot … in an old abandoned mansion. Sound familiar? As one might expect, he’s made up this ‘curing’ spell.
Killian’s onto him however. Emma calls up Mary Margaret to let her know it will all be over soon, but as we’ve thus seen, it’s not easy to get rid of magic and that has aroused his suspicion. But Gold wouldn’t hurt Emma this way, would he? Mr Gold re-visits Ingrid and traps her using the remnants of Elsa’s urn. “I don’t need to betray anyone but you and Emma Swan.” he says. Our favourite saviour’s now caught between two villains, and we don’t know which one we’re rooting for more.
Ingrid’s not completely helpless, however, and she conjures a vision of herself to veer Emma’s car off course. When Emma comes to she realises confronts the vision but here Ingrid’s duplicity in the past fails her and Emma chooses to ignore her advice.
As he’s searching for Emma in Gold’s shop, Killian leaves her a moving voicemail telling her the truth about what is happening (kudos to Colin O’Donoghue for this scene). He sees the map circled on the desk (sloppy track covering, Gold) and goes after her.
Will is drinking at Granny’s when Robin Hood approaches him for help. He wants to try and help Regina find the writer of the book and Will points out that underneath the magical clocktower is a library. Together they enter the library (with a hilarious scene as they try to ‘break in’), and as they search through books a new page magically appears in Robin’s bag. When Regina finally comes to the library on his request we find out it’s a page of Regina and Robin meeting in the pub (all those years ago back in Storybrooke). He believes that it means that Regina isn’t destined for bad endings – that there’s hope around every corner if she’s willing to take it. Regina kisses Robin, renewed with hope.
Mary Margaret and David are talking about Emma when Elsa overhears David say that perhaps it would be better if Emma were normal. Misunderstanding and having been on a bad end of magic related reactions, Elsa sets out to find Emma herself. When Regina finds out about Emma’s plan she’s shocked and tells the Charming’s that they haven’t handled it the best way. What she regrets most was not supporting Henry when he was special. Here she teaches her former foes from personal experience, but when they find out the locator potion is missing they realise Elsa’s gone along with it.
Emma enters the house where Mr Gold is and as we suspected, he has the hat waiting for her. The warnings of the Snow Queen are still fresh in her mind, we’re confronted with it’s a manipulation-ridden scene that keeps us on tenterhooks. Killian reaches the house first, but Mr Gold traps him before he can even get in. Elsa reaches the house soon after via a back door, and refuses to give up on her new friend. But Emma’s too devastated because of Henry and as she’s about to reach out to open the door, Elsa makes her realise that she too has to love herself. It a magical scene which I can’t even slightly recreate, and it works – Emma regains control of her powers.
Killian is triumphant when Emma doesn’t succumb to the hat but this is short lived. Rumplestiltskin needs the heart of one of his oldest friends to make the power of the hat: the heart of someone that knew him before he was the Dark One. He takes Killian’s heart with pleasure and instructs him to find a way to take Emma’s powers. Only then will Rumplestilskin finally crush his heart. From then one we can see how Hook’s demeanour is just a little changed. “You look like you’re going to drill a hole in my head.” Emma says to him. Oo-er.
All the way back in the Arendelle of the past, Ingrid is about to summon Rumplestiltskin when the Sorcerer’s Apprentice appears. He takes back the box from her and leads her to a doorway that will help her find her third sister. She takes it and thus starts the journey we’ve recently been acquainted with.
Meanwhile in the world of today, Ingrid has activated the ribbons. She says it shows that all three of them (her and her new sisters) are ‘a perfect match’ and with the ribbons she now harnesses their combined power. She says she is now able to cast a spell over all of Storybrooke – and the threat of Shattered Sight is very real.
It’s been a marathon going through this two hour event but boy has it been worth it. There as some magical moments and the music has been well on par, in a way that has been pleasantly noticeable. The Arendelle Palace is also recreated most beautifully, bringing the Disney story to life in a way OUAT should be proud of. There are some funny jokes: “Why would a cat want a hat?” – Robin Hood, 2014, and the Mary Margaret and Regina scene on the road is one that should warm many hearts. Next to Emma Mary Margaret has had the most trouble connecting with Regina, and it’s really beautiful to see Regina embracing the good in her.
As always, there are still many questions: what of the library hypothesis? Anyone else creeped out by the look on the Apprentice’s face at the end (and does this mean something? But in fact, this episode left me in awe of how far the show has come since its beginnings. The story was able to grip throughout the whole two hours, barely even pretending to lag, and the balance between Storybrooke and Arendelle was well done. Props must go to all the women of the cast: they’ve held up the bulk of the acting (save an always fabulous Robert Carlyle) in the episode. A special mention must go to both Elizabeth Lail as Anna and Elizabeth Mitchell as Ingrid. Their acting was spectacular – Anna’s turn after the Spell of Shattered Sight was obvious enough yet also made us believe these were Anna’s hidden feelings and as for Ingrid herself … need I say more? It just goes to show that sometimes the gentlest looking waters can be the most deadly.
If anything bothers me about this episode, it’s about this dance that Hook and Gold have going on, especially as to Mr Gold’s motives. Why is Mr Gold doing this – why does he need to leave Storybrooke so badly? Does he really want that more than Belle or the good man he was becoming for Baelfire? What is it exactly that he is succumbing too that would still drive him to hide so much from Belle? It’s a questions I’m sure the writers will eventually answer, lest they encounter hordes of disturbed fans.
So now we’ll all twiddle our thumbs (quite anxiously) for two weeks as we wonder who that blasted Sorcerer is, and if ABC was subtly trying to tell us that Dr Seuss in Once Upon a Time ain’t ever gonna happen…