Title Rocky Road
Two-Sentence Summary In flashbacks, Elsa and Kristoff work together to eliminate a threat posed by Hans and his brothers, which leads them to the urn that will later be used to imprison Elsa and was also used to imprison a woman claiming to be her aunt, who also has freezing powers. In Storybrooke, that same woman freezes Marian in an attempt to turn the townspeople against Elsa, but her villainous identity is uncovered by Hook and Elsa (after Hook blackmails Rumplestiltskin) and Will Scarlet (after Emma and Charming discover him in the woods).
Favorite Line “Hey, Dairy Queen!” (Emma)
My Thoughts The first two episodes of Once Upon a Time’s fourth season were very strong, but I think we can all admit they were a bit imbalanced. The season premiere was fairly heavy on the plot, while “White Out” favored focused character development over really moving the plot forward for a variety of characters (which I didn’t mind one bit but I know was an issue for some). “Rocky Road,” however, struck a really lovely balance between plot progression and character growth for the entire main cast.
What made “Rocky Road” work despite the sheer number of storylines was its thematic cohesion, which was my favorite part of “White Out,” but was even more impressive in this episode because of the broader scope of its storytelling. Despite the sheer number of stories being told, each one was—at its core—the same: a story of a person who believes they are fated to be unhappy and alone struggling to let themselves hope that their fate can be changed.
Regina’s story this season seems to be the most literal interpretation of that overarching theme. When it comes to the “changing the book” plot, I’ll admit to still being very confused by the details. I was always under the impression that the book ended with the casting of Regina’s curse, so I don’t know what exactly she’s planning to have them change in order to get her happy ending. Does she simply want the book to reflect her point of view as well as that of the heroes, or does she actually want to change the events of the past so she looks less villainous? Because she may be changing in the present and may not a villain anymore, but it’s not incorrect to say she was a villain in the past. I was hoping Henry would ask for more clarification, but I think he was so happy to be spending time with her again that he just went along with it. It was cute to see him excited to embark on “Operation Mongoose.” Also, did anyone else notice that Regina’s name was a subtle—but very in-character—dig at “Operation Cobra?” (Google “mongoose versus snake” if you need proof.)
What I find the most interesting about Regina’s story so far is that she’s already changing her fate without changing the book, simply by being a better person. It makes sense for Regina to feel as if she needs the validation of the book claiming she deserves a happy ending, but I hope she comes to earn that happy ending by continuing to do the right thing in Storybrooke. I loved her choices with Marian in this episode because they were so selfless. There was a part of her that did it for Robin (because true love is selfless love), but there was also a part of her that seemed to want to do the right thing simply because it’s right.