Title Breaking Glass
Two-Sentence Summary As Regina and Emma seek out the Snow Queen for different reasons, Emma attempts to mend their broken relationship, which Regina feels is damaged beyond repair. Flashbacks to Emma’s past as a runaway teenager show that Emma was once in Regina’s shoes, feeling alone and unable to forgive after feeling betrayed.
Favorite Line “Now she’ll be able to reach us on our drive, our hike, if we fall through a portal to Asgard—wherever we are.” (Charming)
My Thoughts Once Upon a Time is a show rooted in the idea that love is strength, and I’ve always appreciated that it isn’t afraid to show the other side of that statement, too: A life without love robs us of our strengths and keeps us from being our best selves. “Breaking Glass” reflected both sides of the “love is strength” idea in the tumultuous interactions between Emma and Regina throughout the episode, in the flashbacks to Emma’s lonely life as a runaway, and in even the smallest character beats throughout the episode.
At first glance, Snow and Charming’s little side plot may have felt like nothing more than a sweet little break from the heaviness of what Emma and Regina were dealing with. And yes, it was pretty darn adorable. (But when have Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin shared a scene and been anything other than perfect together?) But it also reflected the central theme of the episode: When you feel like someone is supporting you and loves you, you are more willing to move beyond your fears and be the best version of yourself.
Will is the example of what happens when you feel alone and lost—he’s a shell of the happy man we last saw in Wonderland with Anastasia, reverting to his worst traits. But Snow was stronger than we’ve seen her in a long time in this episode, even if she did pardon Will when she shouldn’t have. And what gave her the strength to find her groove after being afraid to leave her son? Knowing her husband loves her and wants her to be her best self, even if he didn’t actually set up Will’s escape. It’s what made their last scene so sweet. These are two people who have been through hell and back together, but they’ve survived it all because they know someone will always be there to lean on when things are hard, reminding them of the best they can be. And that’s why they’re this show’s shining example of True Love.
On the opposite side of the spectrum from Snow and Charming, we have Regina. You don’t have to like Regina’s behavior in this episode (Goodness knows I bristled at some of the stuff she said to Emma.), but it’s important to remember that she’s behaving in a way that is so true to her character and so true to the entire ethos of this show: When you feel alone, you forget your best self. And Regina feels completely alone at this point. The shots of her holding the picture of her and Robin were so important (Who are we supposed to think took that photo and Emma and Neal’s photo, by the way? That briefly took me out of both moments.) Lana Parrilla plays heartbreak like she was born to show all the facets of that emotion, and even though I knew I should be frustrated with her for pushing Emma away and being so harsh with her, I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for her. Regina is in so much pain, and she needed to process and let out all of it before she could even begin to think about growing from this experience, and that’s what this episode was all about.