TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.06

Title Family Business

Two-Sentence Summary Belle attempts to control Rumplestiltskin with the Dark One dagger in order to get answers about what happened to Anna, after flashbacks reveal that Belle was keeping a secret about her role in Anna’s disappearance. When Belle confronts a dark version of herself in the Snow Queen’s mirror, this new villain’s plan becomes clearer: get the citizens of Storybrooke to turn on one another, except for Emma and Elsa, with whom she wants to start a new family.

Favorite Line “Spend a little more time in this town, love, and you’ll realize just about everyone is related.” (Hook)

My Thoughts Mythology-heavy shows like Once Upon a Time need setup episodes, moments throughout a season where the plot points begin to come together, plans are revealed, and excitement over what’s to come takes precedence over excitement over what actually transpired in the episode. In many ways, “Family Business” was a classic setup episode: It clarified the motivations of the Snow Queen (aka Ingrid), it answered the question of what she’s planning to do with the mirror and with Emma, and it filled the characters in on important information so they could be on the same page as they head towards the season’s climax. It also raised important questions for the second half of this part of Season Four, which the rest of the season will spend answering.

What set “Family Business” apart from many other setup episodes (both on other shows and even on Once Upon a Time over the last four seasons) was its balance between plot development and character beats. While many setup episodes are heavy on plot and light on character insight, “Family Business” added new, believable layers to a character who so many of us have been waiting to see in the spotlight: Belle. It also did an excellent job of using flashbacks not just to give us more information about the Snow Queen but also to allow us to become even more invested in Anna as a character. The questions answered and the questions raised in this episode didn’t just advance the plot; they had real, emotional ramifications for characters that we have come to care about more with each passing episode—from Belle and Emma to Anna and Elsa.

This episode was woven together by the theme of secrets, which connected the flashbacks to the present-day storyline in a very organic way. However, this theme wasn’t exactly handled with the subtlest touch. Sometimes Once Upon a Time goes for subtlety, but sometimes it can get a little heavy-handed. This episode fell on the latter end of that spectrum. And by going for the very direct approach when outlining the theme of the episode, it made the lack of any sort of mention of Hook’s secret stand out. I know that this episode was meant to focus on Rumplestiltskin and Belle’s secrets (and I am okay with postponing the inevitable Emma/Hook angst for as long as possible), but there probably should have been a little nod to his secret somewhere in the episode, especially because it was set up in “The Apprentice” as a clear parallel to Anna’s secret that she was keeping from Elsa about their parents (and, subsequently, her knowledge of the sorcerer’s hat, which Hook also has knowledge of).

I also have to say that I was slightly disappointed that an episode titled “Family Business” gave us no insight into Henry’s new job at Gold’s Pawn Shop. However, like Hook’s secret, I’m sure the writers are saving that for an episode where more time can be devoted to it, so I’ll just have to work on my patience. And this episode did feature a great moment between Emma and Henry when he gave that important little clue about the ice cream truck. Emma looked so adorably impressed with her son (Jennifer Morrison was nailing the reaction shots tonight, but then again, when doesn’t she give the best reaction shots?), and it reminded me how much I miss the days of Operation Cobra.

In the end, though, I can’t really complain about what wasn’t featured in this episode because those absences allowed us to finally get some real insight into a character who has gone underdeveloped for far too long. I’ve been waiting with bated breath for more backstory for Belle, and this episode delivered that and more. It didn’t just add details to her past; it added layers to her character. It gave her the moral complexity that defines all the characters on this show. She’s not just this beautiful soul who sees the best in people and fights for the good in others. She’s also a woman who has made mistakes and bad choices and is haunted by them. She’s a woman with doubts about herself and the man she loves. And she’s a woman who does desperate things when she feels backed into a corner by a past that haunts her. In short, she’s human, and I couldn’t be happier to see my favorite Disney princess finally get the depth I’ve been wishing to see in her character since Emilie de Ravin became a series regular.

I appreciated that the show attempted to give Belle an organic reason to travel to Arendelle, even if I didn’t really see why her father had to keep her from knowing that her mother died to save her. (It was probably more traumatic for Belle to fear some horrible truth about her mother’s death was being kept from her, but I understand the need to keep the “secrets” theme going.) As soon as she said she needed to get her memories back, I knew she was going to go see the trolls, which made me happy because Grand Pabbie is always a welcome sight (still loving the CGI that went into creating him). It also gave her a good reason to team up with Anna, and I like the running theme of Belle interacting and forming good partnerships with a variety of female characters on this show (Red, Mulan, Ariel, and now Anna). Both Anna and Belle are women who try to believe in and bring out the very best in the people they love, so to pair those two characters seemed like the most natural thing on Earth.

In the end, though, Anna and Belle didn’t get time to really explore just how similar they are. They were literally torn apart by a choice Belle had to make: save the stone that would restore her memories of her mother or help Anna from falling off a cliff. In that split second, Belle chose the selfish option, and she paid for it immediately and intensely. Not only did she lose the stone, she watched Anna fall and get captured by Ingrid. She didn’t make the selfless choice—the “heroic” choice—and it’s clear that this has influenced every decision she’s made since that moment. When she returned to her father, it was with notions of sacrifice and heroism in her head because she wanted to do something to make up for the sacrifice she didn’t make for Anna. In Belle’s mind, a hero is someone who sacrifices what they want for what someone else needs, and that’s why she still—all those years later—was haunted by the idea that she can never be a brave hero.

Belle’s insecurities about the mistake she made in the past caused her to do something drastic in the present: attempt to control her husband with his dagger (not knowing, of course, that it is a fake). This was another great instance of Once Upon a Time asking whether or not good intentions justify problematic actions. Belle was using the dagger to try to fix a mistake she made in the past and help people, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that she was also trying to take away the free will of the man she loves to do that good deed.

Belle used the dagger (and, unbeknownst to her, Rumplestiltskin’s fear of her discovering his lies) to find Ingrid’s ice cave, but she didn’t find Ingrid in there. Instead, she found the manifestation of her dark magic—and the truth about the mirror we saw in last week’s episode. The mirror shows a person a reflection of their darkest self—filled with doubts about who they really are, their ability to be good and heroic, and their ability to love and be loved. Watching Belle confront the darkest version of herself was incredibly powerful, and I loved that it allowed Emilie de Ravin to really sink her teeth into her performance. Watching Belle tell herself that she was a coward, that Rumplestiltskin only wanted her because she was weak, and that she knew the dagger couldn’t be real was very difficult to watch, but it was also one of the most compelling singular moments in what’s been a very strong season so far. In fact, it made me want to see basically every character confront their darkest selves and insecurities in this mirror. I know that probably makes me a masochist, but I think the possibilities for closer looks into these characters and moments of great acting from this talented cast outweigh the momentary heartbreak I would feel watching it all unfold.

In a way, Hook has already faced a version of that mirror in “The Apprentice” when Rumplestiltskin told him he would always be the darkest version of himself. Ingrid’s mirror reflects insecurities, self-loathing, and fears about love, and that seemed to be exactly what Rumplestiltskin was trying to do with Hook. Belle and Hook are not characters anyone would usually see as similar, but there were definite parallels to be made between them in this episode. From having their darkest points of self-loathing preyed on to feeling immense guilt for choosing a selfish option instead of saving a life (Hook followed that same guilty path in Season Three’s “The Jolly Roger”), it was interesting to see these two characters’ inner conflicts paralleled so deliberately.

Belle’s discovery of the mirror (which caused her to lash out violently against Rumplestiltskin) led to a heartbreaking moment of confession for this character who has carried so much guilt for so long. That tearful confession was difficult to watch for many reasons (Kudos to Emilie de Ravin for how raw and honest she made that moment feel.), but chief among them was the knowledge that Belle felt so terrible for lying while Rumplestiltskin was continuing to lie to her. There was a horrible, twisted, but incredibly compelling irony in watching her confess and apologize to a man who is still lying to her about the foundation of their marriage and so many other things as well, including the sorcerer’s hat.

After a week without mentioning it, I was happy to see that little piece of mythology back in play in “Family Business.” It was used perfectly in both the flashbacks and present-day storyline. It’s so much fun to watch Robert Carlyle and Elizabeth Mitchell play off each other. They both convey so much malice without ever raising their voices, and it makes the tension between them so unique. Watching them fight for control over their dynamic was great because, for a while, it seemed that Ingrid actually had some leverage, but, of course, that didn’t last for long. I was happy that Ingrid now knows about Rumplestiltskin having the sorcerer’s hat because it puts another card on the table as the high point of this season’s conflict approaches. It also raises the question of how the hat showed up in his honeymoon house, when Ingrid was the last person we know of to have had possession of it.

The way she got possession of the hat was absolutely devastating. I’ve loved the way Elizabeth Lail has channeled all of the strength, humor, and optimism that made me love Anna from the time I first saw Frozen into her performance. But in this episode, she managed to absolutely break my heart and, in doing so, made me love her work this season even more. When Ingrid said she knew Anna wanted to use the hat on Elsa, we (including Anna) knew that she was practicing the speech that she would later give Elsa in an attempt to drive the sisters apart, and Anna’s sobbing reaction was gut-wrenching. Ingrid’s first instinct is to believe everyone without magic hates those who have it (I want more of her past with her sisters ASAP), so it was easy to see why she would turn on Anna so quickly, pushing her out of the “family” she wanted to create. And the fact that she could talk to Anna in such a calm voice as her niece broke down proves just how scary she is.

There’s a kind of cult-leader quality to Ingrid, with her gentle demeanor and desire to form a family of people like her by manipulation and force. Mitchell is playing that aspect of this character so well, and it was no surprise that she wants Emma to join her family because it completes the sisterhood she’s been trying to create for years. This episode raised an important new question about Ingrid’s connection to Emma: Who made the prophecy about Emma being Ingrid’s “sister”? But it also answered quite a few, which is a refreshing change of pace for a show like Once Upon a Time and a major arc like this one. We know that Ingrid is planning to use the “shattered sight” mirror to pit everyone in Storybrooke against one another, leaving Elsa and Emma to turn to her. We know she is making sure Emma finds clues that plant the idea that maybe Ingrid could and did love her like family (the drawings, essays, etc.). And we know that Ingrid’s actions in the flashbacks indicate that she will try to convince Emma that the people she considers family and loved ones fear the magical side of her and will never understand her like her true “family” can (like it’s clear she was planning to do with Elsa).

Much like the mirror did with Belle, Ingrid is planning to make Emma doubt not just herself but the people she loves. However, even though he’s no angel when it comes to their relationship, Rumplestiltskin was there when Belle needed him after facing the mirror, and I think this episode showed how many people are there for Emma. From the first scene with all of the main characters watching Emma’s childhood tape, it was clear that Emma is not alone in this. She has her father and mother. (How heartbreaking was it to see Snow’s bittersweet smile at the sight of teenage Emma? Ginnifer Goodwin played that tiny beat perfectly.) She has her son. She has Regina (who I liked seeing go along on this mission to help Emma, despite knowing the Snow Queen can’t help with Marian). She has a friend in Elsa who is struggling with many of the same things. And she has a man who loves her and has become her steadfast partner. This wasn’t an episode with many moments of interaction between Hook and Emma, but the brief moments we got focused on their partnership and the fact that he is the one Emma is continuing to share parts of her past with, even parts she doesn’t remember. Hook was right—they really do make quite the team.

I’m sure that Ingrid will try to poison Emma and Hook’s relationship in the same way she tried to drive a wedge between Anna and Elsa. And I’m sure the next couple of weeks will be tense ones for all of us who love Emma and have really enjoyed her growth this season. But I’m also so excited to see where the things set up in this episode take not just Emma but all of these characters. If coming into contact with Ingrid’s magic could bring such depth to Belle’s character, I am ready to see it unleashed on as many characters as possible. There’s so much potential for growth, emotional moments, and affirmations (and reaffirmations) of love and support in this storyline.

“Family Business” was a fairly heavy episode. Even the brief interaction we got between Regina and Robin was heartbreaking. Although, it also showed how far Regina has come; she won’t just take what could be her happy ending if it means hurting someone else, and that is a huge sign of growth.

While there were plenty of dark and bleak moments in “Family Business,” there was also more humor in it than we’ve seen in a while, which was sorely needed after the emotionally draining last couple of Once Upon a Time episodes. The appearance of Oaken in the flashbacks put a smile on my face, as did Hook’s line about everyone in Storybrooke being related—self-aware humor (that also makes Emma smile) for the win! I thought Regina had the perfect amount of sass in this episode (Captain Guyliner is an instant-classic Regina nickname). And I loved the banter we got from both Kristoff and Anna and Emma and Hook. Kristoff and Anna’s relationship is so cute that I smile every time they share a scene. And I love that Emma thinks it’s hilarious that she’s dating a pirate who is over two centuries old. There were just enough genuinely funny moments to cut the drama in this episode, and that made all of the emotional moments a bit easier to handle.

Setup episodes can sometimes be boring. But if they’re done as well as “Family Business,” they can leave you waiting excitedly for what’s to come for all of your favorite characters. And all I know is that I’m already counting down the hours until next Sunday.

57 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.06

  1. I was SO happy to see Belle take center stage in this episode (and I hope the writers don’t make us wait too long before featuring her so prominently again).

    I was absolutely gutted as Belle’s history unfolded, leading to that “confession” on the floor of Gold’s shop. And while I perhaps would never have guessed that the sunny Belle’s past would hold a secret failure so…dark!…it worked. This is a woman who confronted the consequences of a moment of selfishness in arguably the most devastating manner imaginable (on this show at any rate) and was so gutted by the experience that she’s done all in her power to atone for it ever since…all while holding that secret shame close to her heart.

    Seeing her confess everything to her husband, to become so vulnerable while he very literally holds her up — and knowing what he’s keeping from her! — that just killed me. Rumple has the potential to have a great treasure in his grasp in his relationship with Belle, but the longer he tries to play both sides of the fence the greater the damage that will ensue when the truth is discovered.

    Ultimately I think Belle will want to fight for her husband and her marriage, but the initial hit has the potential to be devastating when the truth of the dagger comes out. 😦

    In other news, I love how the Once writers are weaving the Snow Queen story ever more explicitly into the Once-verse and the Frozen mythology. It is working out beautifully IMO, and while I’m terribly nervous for the angst that is sure to rip my heart to shreds before the mid-season finale, I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Ruth! Like you, I didn’t expect the darkness in Belle’s past, but that made it even better because it added believable layers in a surprising way. I also definitely agree with you that the show is weaving the original Snow Queen mythology and Frozen mythology together brilliantly. It’s a good balance between characters that are familiar parts of the current pop culture lexicon and surprising twists rooted in a classic fairytale.

  2. I have no idea where next week’s episode will take us, although the cast listing gives us some clues. But one thought that crosses my mind is this: Ingrid/Snow Queen is what she is because apparently her family recoiled from her powers after a ‘deathly’ demonstration of them. She is literally insane seeking to find another family. Ingrid is what Elsa COULD HAVE BECOME without Anna’s faith in her sister and her act of true love to save Elsa. And Ingrid is trying to create another young woman estranged from her family by planting those seeds of doubt in Emma.

    • I love sharing theories, and this one seems very likely. I think Ingrid probably had parents who hated her powers, so she’s projecting that onto the women she’s trying to form her “family” with. No matter what ends up happening—I’m sure it’s going to be a crazy, emotional ride!

  3. Great review! I’ve been wanting some more back story for Belle as well so I’m glad we finally got some. She doesn’t get enough love.

    The preview last week made it seem like Rumple’s secret was going to be revealed, so I was surprised with the way things turned out. I wasn’t expecting Belle to use the dagger like that. The mirror scene was so sad, especially since we know that what the mirror said about the dagger being fake is true. Karma is finally starting to catch up with Rumple – he HAD to fake it otherwise the jig would have been up. After Belle’s confession, I really hope he comes clean about lying. The sooner he does it, the better.

    I can see the Hook parallels, but when I watched it I actually thought of Snow. She had her dark moments in the past (when she killed Cora) and she immediately felt awful about her decision, just like how Belle regretted not saving Anna and keeping it a secret from Elsa. Both women felt awful about what they had done, and since that time have tried to make up for it by being a better person, even though they still carry that guilt.

    I feel like that bit about Hook also having been young once is a bit of foreshadowing. I’d love to see more of his past before he became a pirate. If it’s touched upon in this arc, his relationship with his brother would be a great parallel to Anna and Elsa being close as well. Yay for sibling love.

    I’m so afraid for Emma and what the Snow Queen will do to her, but like I said on Twitter, I’m sure Elsa will be the one to help her overcome her fear and help her control her magic. But what happens leading up to that moment is going to be hard to watch. Emma’s finally surrounded by people who love her, they would never blame her for not being able to control her magic – she only started using it recently, of course she wouldn’t be fully in control of it yet.

    Some last thoughts – I smiled when I saw Oaken, he was so perfect! And Regina’s sass was the best. Still heartbreaking to see her and Robin though.

    • I was definitely in the same boat as you, thinking Rumple’s secret was coming out in this episode. I was surprised it didn’t happen in the end, but I understand why it didn’t; he’s still struggling with his darker impulses, especially now that he has Ingrid to deal with.

      The comparison you made between Belle and Snow was excellent. And I agree with you on thinking we are going to learn more about Hook’s youth (I cannot wait for Emma to learn more about him, too). I also really hope you’re right about Elsa helping Emma deal with her magic going haywire. It would make for a really nice moment for those two characters.

  4. I’ll preface this by saying that I’ve never been a big fan of OUaT’s Belle and part of that is undoubtedly because I have a irrationally hard time with Emilie de Ravin’s characters in anything since Roswell. She’s doing a great job, I just have a hard time warming up to them.

    All that being said, I think I liked what this episode did for her character. The backstory with Anna came a little out of nowhere, but it seemed to fit with what little we do know about Belle. Her curiosity about the world has always been shown through her love of books because that’s the way the world makes the most sense to her. That is infinitely relatable to me, and I also like the way it manifested in the present day with Belle choosing to research things in the library as a defense mechanism. She carries around that guilt about what happened to Anna, and like so many of the characters on this show (and people in real life), when they are experiencing negative emotions of any sort, they retreat back to what is safe for them. Belle couldn’t see herself as a real hero so she contributed where she could to try to make up for that.

    Which is why that mirror scene was so compelling to watch. It was a visual manifestation of that voice in all our heads that prey’s on our greatest weaknesses and fears. Belle’s strength has never been a physical sort and even she doesn’t believe she really has much inner strength after her moment of failure with Anna. She was so determined to make things right and for the first time be the strong hero she would like herself to be only to have that strength turned against her and invalidated by the mirror.

    Her tearful confession to Rumple broke my heart. Here is this woman who once again had something she thought she really needed (in this case, to make up for the past) and once again did something terrible (or let something terrible) happen in her pursuit of it. Neither her goal of restoring her memory or locating Anna was bad at all, she just made bad choices. It made her more real to me and considering that I didn’t even know I had this many thoughts about Belle, this episode clearly worked for me.

    It also served to continue to make me angry at Rumple. No, Belle shouldn’t have used the dagger against him, real or not real. But I can’t muster up much sympathy for him when he’s willfully lying to his wife. I do think the lies are starting to wear on him but I don’t think it’ll be enough for a while. Robert Carlyle’s pained expressed at Belle saying that she loved him makes me hopeful that at some point he’ll see what he’d be losing if he continued on this path, but that truly may just be the fact that Carlyle is incredible and I want to believe in him.

    There was just a lot of really strong acting in this episode. Elizabeth Mitchell continues to be chilling without ever being over-the-top evil. I like that so many of these characters, heroes and villains alike, are motivated by a desire to find a family and a home. It’s such a basic human need and I love seeing the different ways the characters respond to that need. I’m really looking forward to a little more backstory on Ingrid and her sisters next week.

    It was such a small moment, but I was so happy that it was Snow who was sitting closest to Emma as she showed everyone the tape of her and the Snow Queen. She seemed simultaneous happy and sad that she got to see a different part of her daughter’s life. She got to see what she looked like as a teenager, which is something I’m guessing she never thought she’d see. But at the same time, it was a reminder of just how much she missed out on with Emma. This is one moment in thousands and she likely won’t ever see the rest. I really want to see more of Emma and Snow bonding in the aftermath of Emma’s upcoming arc and to see them build that mother-daughter relationship. Emma may be grown-up now but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t need her mom.

    This storyline with Robin and Regina continues to completely break my heart for all 3 people involved. I guess it’s not affecting Marian much at the moment and she is for the most part completely in the dark about the depths of her husband’s feelings for the woman who is still mostly the Evil Queen in her mind but that doesn’t make it any less sad for her. There are no good solutions to their problem. Any action taken will end up hurting at least one of the three of them and it’s not any of their faults. It’s hard to be the person who lets go and walks away in any situation but especially so in this situation. Regina understands that Robin feels honor bound to stay with his wife, no matter how much it hurts both of them. She knows that Robin loves her and is choosing to walk away anyway. It would be easy to justify them being together, especially now that Marian is once again unavailable. It’s harder to fight for the potential happiness of a couple you aren’t a part of but that’s exactly what she is doing. I hurt for her but I’m also proud of her. It’s not something I’m sure I could do and I don’t have Regina’s history.

    • “…considering that I didn’t even know I had this many thoughts about Belle, this episode clearly worked for me.” – That is exactly how I felt while writing this post! It felt good to have this many feelings about a character I didn’t know I needed to talk about so badly. I’ve been very torn on my feelings about OUAT’s version of my favorite Disney princess, but this episode did a lot in terms of making her feel more realistic, complex, and interesting.

      I loved what you said about the mirror basically being the voice in our heads that preys on our fears about ourselves and our relationships. It’s so true, and it’s why I really would like to see more characters (especially characters whose depth I’d like explored more, like Snow) have to face it.

      Finally, your paragraph about Regina was beautifully stated. It’s a horrible situation for all of them, and I’m really proud of Regina for trying so hard to do the right thing. And although I feel terribly for Robin, I wanted him to leave her alone in that scene in the woods—he’s only making it worse and harder for her. I have no idea how this storyline is going to resolve itself, and I love that.

  5. Another strong episode – I have to say I am really enjoying S4 so far – and the Snow Queen is definitely 1 of the best villains they’ve had. Elizabeth Mitchell is just brilliant in the role – I think it’s the calm way she speaks and I love that she walks everywhere bare foot, it just makes her seem really comfortable in her own skin – and she is definitely a lot scarier that the Wicked Witch! I can’t wait to see how her plan unfolds and I just love that she has ties to when Emma was in foster care – the show has pretty much ignored this part of Emma’s life since S1 so it’s about time they showed us some of it.

    I never thought I’d say this but I’m liking Regina much more than Robin in this whole Marian saga – she is really trying to do the right thing in all of this and Robin is acting more and more like a douche. He wants Regina to save Marian but at the same time he tells Regina he loves her and is then upset when Regina is avoiding him. I don’t know how this is all going to end but I hope they do something quickly to make Robin seem more likable coz right now both Regina and Marian deserve better than him!

    I’ve never been a big Belle fan but I generally liked her back stories but I gotta say I didn’t like her in this one. I just felt it was a very contrived way of getting her to meet Anna. I loved the evil mirror scene – and it was good to show that even if she hasn’t admitted it to herself yet we know she does have doubts about Rumple and the dagger. I just don’t know anymore about Rumple – he reminds me of Regina in S1 when I couldn’t wait to see all her plans come undone and right now I cannot wait for everything to fall apart on him – he’s so used to manipulating everything that he doesn’t know how to stop himself any more. I like that Belle know’s about the box and what it means – and when she does find out about Rumples lies the fall out is going to be huge.

    I am ridiculously excited about seeing how all this plays out – I can’t believe we’re already over half way through this half of the season.

    • I loved that you brought up Ingrid always being barefoot because it’s such an interesting little detail, but I think it does say so much about her sense of comfort in her own skin.

      I agree with you in terms of the Regina/Robin stuff in this episode especially; I know Robin is in a terrible position, but I actually got mad at him in this episode when he called out Regina for avoiding him. Seriously, Robin? You told her you loved her but have a duty to your wife, and you want to keep talking to her about all of this? She has every right to want to stay away from you; it’s too painful for her.

      And as far as Belle’s story goes, I do agree that it seemed like a bit of a contrived way to get her to interact with Anna. However, it did lead to a lot of character growth for a character who’s been sorely lacking in that department, so I’ll take a little contrived plot device if it means good character moments.

      • An interesting parallel in the Robin/Regina/Marian dilemma is season 1 with Snow, David, and Katherine. Regina is essentially walking in Snow’s shoes for once. She is the one in love with the not happily but committed married man and trying to make it work. Even down to Katherine’s murder/disappearance and Marian’s freezing.

        • I see the parallel but I don’t see Regina in Mary Margaret’s role, I see her more as David and Katherine at different points in season 1.
          In the EF Charming was engaged to Abigail, not out of love but duty. He could have married her and gone with what he knew. Or he could go after Snow White who he was in love with and see what might happen. Charming chose Snow. Then Regina cast her curse and he ended up as Katherine’s husband with no knowledge about his past life with Snow/Mary Margaret. Basically it was an alternate version of the road not taken with help from the curse.
          Regina in the EF has a choice outside the tavern – let go of her anger, walk through the door and take a chance on Robin or she could run away and stick with anger – which was all she knew. Regina stuck with anger.
          Then the second dark curse was cast and brought them back to SB. Regina basically got a chance to see what might have been with Robin.
          During season 1 Mary Margaret/David were falling in love despite David being married to Katherine. But Katherine and David’s relationship was based on a curse, not their true feelings. If Katherine and David had remembered the truth – they would never have been involved.
          In season 3B Regina and Robin got involved, but their relationship was based on the belief that Marian had died due to a job Robin was involved in not Regina. If Robin has known Regina was responsible for Marian’s death, would he ever have gotten involved with her? To me Regina is Katherine in that her relationship with Robin (David) wasn’t based on knowing the whole story. For Katherine/David it was about a curse and Robin/Regina was the truth about Marian’s death.

          I also have to add that while we could argue that Robin and Marian were unhappy – we don’t really know that at this point. All we know is that Robin robbed the Dark One to save her life in season 2 and that he told Regina that he wanted a second chance with Marian in 3×21. And considering Marian was only back about two days before she was a popsicle, how miserable could they have been? I know the assumption has been that Marian was frozen to bring Regina into the Frozen story, but Sidney knew about the Marian/Robin mess since 4×1 – when Regina put him back in the mirror. And we found out in 4×5 that Sidney was working with the SQ – but I think the real question is, how long was the Sidney involved with the SQ and what did he tell her? Also considering Robin’s behavior I am wondering if there isn’t something going on with him? The SQ needed dark magic and Sidney could have told her plenty about how to get to Regina – including her relationship with Robin. Rumple said “Love was a weakness” maybe the SQ is using that same theory.

  6. I had mixed feelings about this episode. I’m not a huge fan of Belle, she’s okay but I definitely put her in the middle of the favorite character list, but I appreciated the backstory/character development. I’m still really angry that the Rumple betrayal is still looming, but I predict that will blow up in a much more dramatic (both in the moment and as how it affects the story arc) fashion later in the season. I liked your comparison of Belle and Hook, especially the nod to the guilt of hurting someone else due to a selfish motivation weighing on them and the desire to make themselves better people in spite of past mistakes, and am hoping that maybe that shared experience will help them to relate, even a little, when the eventual Rumple-Hook-Belle sh*t show goes down. On the other hand, I sometimes feel like introducing new characters/story lines confuses the original time line. I’m now unsure as to how much time has passed between the events we’ve been seeing this season and events in the EF from other seasons. In this episode we see things happen before Belle has even met Rumple, but I’m guessing things are going to go downhill pretty quickly in Arendelle, so I guess I’m having some trouble reconciling the timing given that a lot of “stuff” that’s supposed to have happened between now and the curse being cast is still waiting to happen (granted, we haven’t seen the whole season yet and maybe it will make more sense later). Also, I got really excited when I read that Frances O’Connor was going to be Belle’s mom because I adore her, and was very bummed when they killed her off right away. Oh well. I think the reason that her death wasn’t explained to Belle was to help her from feeling guilty. It’s one thing to think about your parent dying for you in the abstract and quite another to be told that your mother threw herself in front of an ogre to save you. I could imagine dad wanting to protect her from the surviver’s guilt.

    I miss Henry. He gets these quick little bits here and there, but really, I’d like more of him. Is he in school or something? It’s difficult to keep track of days sometimes, so I guess that’s a plausible reason for him never being around. I agree with you wanting to see more of the Henry/Rumple interaction now that they’ve introduced that relationship as a potential plot device. I just feel like there are a lot of things going on with his moms that aren’t being well addressed (we’ve gotten some really good Regina/Henry re: love life so far, but what about Henry’s feeling on Emma/Hook?), and given the little hint of the Henry/Hook relationship from last week, I’d love some more of that as well.

    I agree that the little moments of humor sprinkled here and there were really great this episode; I think my personal favorite was when Elsa, Emma and Hook are looking at the family tree (but, weren’t all the books and records erased? Where did it come from?) and Emma and Hook had the “there are a lot of blondes in the world” “don’t I know it” Emma-eye-roll- exchange. It had me cracking up!

    • I agree about Henry. He gets one or two moments and then he disappears again. I guess there are just too many people and stories going on. I’m sure we’ll get a big episode of him and Rumple at some point soon.
      I guess he does need to go to school.

    • I’m so glad I’m not the only one spending a lot of time trying to figure out the time line right now. I’m sure it will be clearer as the flashbacks get closer to the time Elsa ended up in the urn/in Rumple’s vault, but it’s getting tough to put all the pieces together in terms of how these flashbacks fit with what we already know about the timeline.

      I also miss Henry (especially scenes between him and Emma), but I’m not too upset about him not having more screen time right now. I thought he was a bit of a weak link in the Neverland arc, to be honest, so I’m okay with him only having little moments for the time being. Although I would like to see more onscreen interaction with him and Hook sometime soon. And the episode description for next week seems to hint at a closer look at the new Henry/Rumple dynamic, which I am very excited to see!

  7. It’s interesting that you discuss the episode (and parts that might be missing) in terms of what it is named. I always wonder about the naming of episodes because, like the majority of casual viewers, I have no idea what an episode is called when I sit down to watch it, unless I am watching it online. I almost wish they actually had a title card for each episode since the titles seem to be quite significant.

    Anyway, I loved seeing more of Belle. I had noticed her absence lately, especially after they had her babysit baby Neal without even giving her a line to speak. Her “dark side” in the mirror was wonderful – we all have that nasty voice in our heads, and seeing it played out this way is very powerful. As painful as it would be, it would be awesome to see other characters subjected to that – to stretch their acting muscles as much as anything! And of course, many of Belle’s fears have some validity. I yelled at the TV when Belle apologized for keeping secrets from Rumple. I will be very interested to see how they handle the shit hitting the fan if/when Belle finds out.

    Even more than loving how proud Emma was of Henry’s insight, I loved that Henry was even there. What a town council!

    What Regina had to say to Robin about the cure for Marian surprised me. I hadn’t considered him choosing to true love his wife again as an option. (Is it? Is that how love works? Is that going to be a big idea they are exploring?) I am even more interested to see how that plays out. Will Marian die? or be cured when the Snow Queen is defeated? Will Robin save her? (I don’t think so). Will someone finally drag Roland over to give her a kiss? I imagine it will be something I can’t even imagine. Poor Robin seems to always have that same pained look on his face. I hope he gets his smile back soon. (It’s been so nice to see more of Hook’s cheeky smiles, and all his smiles, since he got his love and lost his eternally pained look).

    Interestingly I managed to forget about Hook’s secret during this episode.

    Captain Guyliner?! I love it. Regina gets some great lines. I loved the self referential humor about everyone being related too.

    Reading your review always helps clarify the themes and details of the episode which I tend to watch less analytically when I watch it for the first time. Thanks for helping me see the bigger picture, as always.

      • I love Belle’s clothes too, but her shoes in this episode gave me pause. I mean really, when one is sneaking into the villains secret lair one should wear sensible shoes. One cannot run away (safely) from an evil-doer in heeled boots!

    • Thank you, Jo!

      You raised some great questions about Robin and Marian, and I don’t think it’s possible for him to fall back in “true love” with his wife while she’s frozen. I also don’t know if getting Roland to kiss his mom would work because he’s been without her in his life for so long and barely had time to get to know her as his “mama” again before she was frozen. I’m incredibly interested to see how this storyline plays out, because, like you, I know it’ll be resolved in a way that I haven’t even thought of yet.

  8. What I love most of all about this season is the backstory that this arc is giving to not only Frozen, but Beauty and the Beast as well. I have always wondered exactly why Belle would have gone with the Beast in the first place; sure, she’s a hero who wanted to save her town, but it actually is brilliant when you consider that it’s her fault that Rumplestiltskin is in their lives at all. “Magic always comes with a price” indeed, and that price was one that Belle was willing to pay to save her village. It only makes sense that she is the one to pay the price, and does so willingly.

    I continue to be in awe of the casting. Oaken was perfect. I think I yelled, “He’s perfect!” more than once at the TV. I was so worried about Frozen during the hiatus, and now I can’t imagine the show without these characters, including the Snow Queen, who plays the crazy with such soft, musical words and reasonable-sounding explanations that you almost believe that she’s a good fairy rather than what is likely a whole lot of evil.

    And the mirror might be my favorite thing ever. It’s like a shadier version of the Mirror of Erised (I saw another recap reference this theme also, but it’s absolutely the first thing I thought of when watching the show), but instead of showing your heart’s desire, it shows your deepest fear; in Belle’s case, the truth. They should really think about installing it in the Town Hall of Storybrooke.

    And I continue to not trust Maurice on any level. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he had a vested interest in making sure Belle didn’t recover those memories and I don’t believe his “truth”, really. Why couldn’t he have just told Belle that her mom died saving her life? I think there is more to it than that.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but for the first time, it occurred to me that Rumple and Belle might not be so mismatched, after all. We learned this week the undeniable fact that Belle KNEW something about Anna back when Hook and Charming were so desperately trying to save Emma from Elsa’s snow cave, and so did Rumple. That scene takes on a whole new level of meaning when you consider that neither Belle nor Rumple offered any explanation that might have helped save Emma even though they both knew Anna at two different times in the past, but neither one of them wanted the other to know that. That was an unexpectedly creepy revelation.

    Regina continues to impress, shutting down Robin Hood, as she should. It’s completely unfair of him to bring up feelings when there isn’t anything he is willing to do about them. And her “Captain Guyliner” was positively amazing.

    The Emma files were heartbreaking, as was the scene when Snow and Charming got to see the videotape of young Emma; that knife continues to turn whenever they think about her early life.

    The tease about Hook’s past: “Believe it or not, I was once a child” reminded me how incredibly much I want to hear his story! Hook has been vulnerable with Emma about his feelings for her, but I want to see the same regarding his past and his life as he matches what Emma has shown him. I have been so caught up in how much Hook has shared about his feelings for Emma, and Milah, for that matter, that I didn’t realize how little we still know about his real story, childhood and all.

    I actually thought this episode didn’t feel like filler, but rather, gave us some real answers about why Belle appears to be too good to be true (she is!) and her motivations for believing that people can change. After all, she did. And I also can’t wait for next week!

    • Christy, your insights and enthusiasm are a really gift to this site. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us every week! 🙂

      I also was very skeptical this summer about the Frozen arc, but I could not be happier with how it’s turning out. These characters fit into the show so well that I really don’t want to lose them at the end of this half-season. (I’ve grown way too attached, can you tell?)

      You brought up a really interesting point about the scene with Hook, Charming, Rumple, and Belle when Emma was freezing and they were looking for information about Anna. I was wondering at the time why Belle was so silent, but now it makes perfect sense.

      Next week is going to be one heck of an emotional roller coaster, and I can’t wait to talk about it with you and everyone else after it’s done!

  9. I have to say I really enjoyed learning more about Belle! While Charming’s additional backstory this season didn’t do much for me, I found I connected to Belle’s much more than I was expecting. For me, it wasn’t Belle’s past mistakes with Anna that I connected to most, it was her run in with the mirror. I have always found Belle’s blind trust and faith in others (especially Rumple) to be slightly annoying. But the mirror showed us that while she might seem confident in others on the outside, on the inside she still has insecurities. I feel like even people in healthy happy relationships still deal with insecurities sometimes (I know I do) so seeing Belle admit to herself that she is afraid that Rumple is only with her because she is weak, and that at least a small part of her fears that Rumple is lying to her over the dagger, made her someone I could finally relate to on at least some level. Although I have to say I was surprised how clam Elsa was when Belle admitted to lying to her face the whole time. Elsa (and the rest of the group spending time on this) had every right to be frustrated with her for wasting their time and potentially putting them all in danger.

    It was hard to see her sincere breakdown with Rumple knowing he was still lying to her. But after discussing Rumple at length after ‘The Apprentice’, my empathy with him has increased a little. I think its easy to forget that Rumple is still the Dark One in Storybrooke because he doesnt look like the EF sparkly skin version of himself, but make no mistake, this is a man that is in an intense war with himself. I think a part of him does want to respect the memory of Bae and confess everything to Belle, but the pull of the hat over the Dark One is just too strong at the moment for Rumple to be able to do the right thing. At least this is the only way I can look at this situation without wanting Rumple to suffer for eternity.

    At this point the character I think I am the most mad at is Grand Pabbie. I find messing with people’s memories to be really wrong, and at this point he has messed with everyone. You cant just play with everyone’s brains like that, its dangerous. You cant learn from past mistakes if you dont remember them, and that makes you bound to repeat them. Did anything really good come from Anna not knowing about Elsa’s powers? It just added to the isolation and confusion and fear. And its happening again with Ingrid since nobody has memories of her. And its obvious that Emma has had her memories tampered with as well. Maybe she hurt someone in the past (maybe even Lily?) and the Snow Queen had those memories erased to spare her pain? But instead of learning how to control her powers when she was younger, now she has to go through it all again. Has any of Grand Pabbie’s memory voodoo actually been in anyone’s best interest? In any other story I would think he was secretly evil and he needs to feed off of other’s painful memories to survive.

    My desire to know how the hat got from the Snow Queen to that mysterious house in Storybrooke is getting really intense! I want to know about the house dang it! Especially because I think there is a good chance it could be tied to Hook’s backstory and I want to know now!!

    It was great to see the whole gang in the same room at the sheriff station. Our cast has been so segregated this season and I really miss them all interacting with each other. Especially when it comes to Regina sassing other people. Regina isn’t one of my favorite characters, but I enjoy her way more when she is interacting with the group.

    I also have a huge weakness for couples that lovingly tease each other, so I pretty much cant get enough of Emma/Hook and Kristoff/Anna banter.

    I agree with you that it was jarring for there to again be no mention of the conflict between Hook/Rumple. Its odd to throw down so much drama between two characters and then just ignore it completely for two full episodes. Not so much as a tense glance between the two, but I am sure there will be more than enough drama coming up soon to make up for it.

    I am curious about what is going to happen to the mirror now. I am assuming that the Snow Queen isnt going to cast the spell while Rumple is threatening her with the hat? Does casting the curse involve the mirror shattering into pieces (with the shards getting into everyone’s hearts), or does the mirror need to be intact to have power? Or is someone else going to smash the mirror before the spell is cast, but take the brunt of the dark magic inside (the shards going all into one person)? Will we get more of the characters facing their darkest fears by staring into it? There are so many possibilities!!

    The plot this season is pretty much the most complex its ever been, but I am genuinely interested in everything related to the mirror, hat, and the book. I really hope the payoff is as good as I think it has the potential to be!

    • And one last thing, I absolutely loved that the end of Belle’s flashback directly tied back into the first time we see her when her father making a deal with Rumple to protect the kingdom (and that Anna planted that idea in her head in the first place!). I feel like I now know the Belle that made that deal to go with Rumple, and that’s what makes a rewarding flashback!

      • Haha, I dont think its much beyond wishful thinking at this point. Its mainly just based off the nautical imagery in the house and the fact that Hook is the only main character with an unaccounted for Father (so the house could be tied to him). It would fit in quite nicely with the other heroes’ stories if the reason he left Killian as a child was for an important mission as opposed to him just being a jerk. Plus it would give an extra layer of backstory between Hook and Rumple that could be interesting. So yeah, I think its a possibility, or of course, the house just has nautical stuff in it cause its by the water and there is no bigger meaning to it.

        • I definitely noticed the nautical elements, too! I’m wondering if it has something to do with Hook’s past, or there’s also a part of me that thinks it’s going to be where Emma ends up moving—along with Hook (and Henry when he’s not at Regina’s, of course). Although that house does seem very big for Emma, so maybe not…Too many theories! 😉

    • Your last paragraph is like it was taken directly from my brain. The plot is so complex this season, but it’s somehow completely captivating on every level for me. It’s striking a great balance between answering just enough questions in every episode to allow more to arise, and it’s making all of those questions have real, emotional ramifications for these characters and their relationships.

      All of the possibilities for the mirror that you laid out would make for fantastic television. I could see something happening where the shards go into everyone’s hearts (except Emma’s and Elsa’s), and I could also see someone smashing the mirror (I wonder if Hook’s line about smashing it was foreshadowing?) and taking the brunt of the dark magic. It has the potential for some amazing acting moments, and I am so ready to see what happens.

      Your take on the tampered memories reminds me of how frustrated I was with Grand Pabbie and Elsa and Anna’s parents in Frozen when I first saw it. I understand wanting to remove the memory of the trauma Anna suffered, but why remove any memories of magic, keeping one sister from ever truly knowing the other? Also, scaring a little girl by telling her of the danger in her powers probably wasn’t the best way to get her to let go of her fears. (Also saying “Fear will be your enemy” is a surefire way to make someone more anxious.) Can you tell I have a lot of leftover frustration with the adults (human and troll) at the beginning of Frozen? 😉

  10. Wow this episode single handily made me change course on my understanding of Belle after years of wondering what they’re going to do with her. What I found most fascinating about the flashback here, is what exactly makes Belle *this* driven to rediscover her memory and save the rock? As Anna tries to tell her, is seeing a scarring flashback of her mom getting eaten going to make her life better? Yet it’s not about the memory itself but what it represents. It’s HER memory and it’s not fair that it can just be taken from her, that someone can just manipulate her like that. Just like how books is her thing and the feelings she gets from one belong to her only. What makes Belle feel weak is when she feels her life is owned and controlled by others… from her father (who goes on to effectively sell her and I suspect is not telling the truth about what happened to the mother), to Rumple, to even Regina. That’s why I feel she knew before the mirror scene that Rumple was lying but was in denial… she knows someone like her isn’t just going to be given control by someone like Rumple. Belle apologizing and being in denial about the whole thing to Rumple when so many signs were he lied (eg. Rumple coming in the cave wasn’t enough evidence, how about the fact that yelling “let me go” repeatedly didn’t work too?) was brutal and showed the crippling pain this lie caused her. Belle is the person who would be hurt the most by being manipulated like this, which shows how much Rumple doesn’t get it. At the same time Belle is not purely innocent either… if she did suspect the dagger wasn’t real, putting off that realization and pretending she gets a storybook marriage with a perfect man, to not acknowledge there’s a still damaged beast underneath… was a dangerous and self-serving idea

    I think the Anna/Snow Queen scenes were interesting because both sides deserved blame for what happened, even if the Snow Queen’s reaction was more extreme. Anna did NOT give Ingrid a fair shake. She suspected immediately she’s bad and went off to Pabbie to go confirm it, then when what Pabbie wasn’t nearly as Ingrid is evil-y as Anna expected, in fact he told her to go talk to Ingrid, Anna *still* decided that Ingrid was a threat just because of keeping secrets (which Anna is also guilty of) and decided to rush back to warn Elsa. When the storm came on, Anna’s immediate reaction was assuming immediately it was Ingrid and to use the hat to take Ingrid’s power. So while once again SQ went to extreme measures, Anna did indeed judge her as a monster far earlier than she needed to and tapped into the fears in the people SQ has met in the past that has made her feel like such an outcast.

    The stuff about Emma looking like Helga, the prophecy, whatever’s up with SQ/Rumple, etc. came on a bit too fast and hard for me in this episode, though clearly, it will be more developed soon.

    • You brought up a really interesting point about why Belle would so desperately want her memories back. They’re hers, and they were taken from her without her consent. I think that would make me act desperately, too, so I liked that she had a real, believable reason for choosing the stone over Anna, even if it did haunt her for the rest of her life.

      I’m also very intrigued by the way this episode hinted that Belle may just be in denial about the dagger. There’s clearly a part of her subconscious that knows the truth or at least fears it. It’s going to make things very interesting and even more dramatic when the truth finally comes out.

      I do think you’re right in saying that Ingrid turned on Anna because Anna tapped into the fears and preconceptions Ingrid already had about people without magic. However, I don’t think Anna was completely wrong to judge her. If someone came into my house in my absence and got close to my sister, claiming to be an aunt I’d never heard of, I’d probably react in the same way as Anna. She’s being protective of her sister, and while it wasn’t necessarily fair, it was understandable. Although maybe that’s just because I’m looking at it through the lens of already knowing Ingrid has ulterior motives.

  11. I really love that the Snow Queen’s motivation is because she wants a family. She’s taking something that should be full of warmth and love and with her soft spoken voice turning it into something scary. But I also find her motivation reminiscent of Rumple writing the dark curse all to be reunited with Bae and Regina adopting Henry to try and fill the whole in her heart.

    I’m so glad you brought up Emma’s reaction to Henry’s insight about the ice cream truck. It was such a cute moment and it reminds me of how much I love their relationship and how different it is than Henry/Regina.

    I thought it was interesting that when Belle faced the dark mirror it brought up that Rumple hadn’t trusted her with the dagger. I think deep down Belle knows that Rumple wouldn’t trust her or anyone with the dagger, but is trying to see the best in him.

    Also I think its interesting that Hook already faced a version of the dark mirror in his dealings with Rumple and based on the promo Emma will face something similar with the SQ. Not sure if it means anything but it is interesting that even before the SQ casts her curse they are already facing their darkness.

    Also loved the banter between Hook and Emma and I definitely think the developments in their relationship are going to be essential going forward.

    As for Rumple and Hook – I think the reason we aren’t seeing the same concern we saw with the Zelena situation is that they are both at a standstill. Rumple hasn’t asked Hook to do anything yet, but neither wants to push the situations. Rumple could cost Hook Emma, but at the same time if Rumple pushes Hook too far, Hook could still tell Belle. Its a chess game. But I did notice their positioning in the sheriff station – Rumple and Hook at opposite sides and neither one letting anyone stand behind them.

    I definitely liked this episode more than last week’s but not as much as previous episodes. I think there are a lot of stories going on and not a lot of time to develop them. It was great to learn more about Belle, but I’m not sold on them tying both her and David to Anna’s backstory.

    And if this was season 3B I’d like Regina’s sass, but I felt like her working with Emma and Hook was nothing more than a set up to meet with Robin (and I’m having all sorts of issues with that story). I know I should suspend logic, but it really bugged me that Gold went off to explore the woods alone and apparently so did David, but even if MM was with him, wouldn’t you want to sent someone with magic with David?

    I really liked Outlaw Queen in 3B, and I didn’t mind when they brought Marian back as I thought it would be the chance for Regina to face her past and Robin to deal with his feelings for his dead wife as well as his feeling for Regina. But that isn’t what’s playing out on screen. Robin told Regina he made a vow to stay with his wife – hard to hear, but he has a code he has to try and live by in 4×1. But in 4×3 Robin is telling Regina he loves her while Marian is freezing to death on the couch? Robin may be in love with Regina, but in 3×21 he was talking about wanting a second change with Marian. And its not like he never loved her – he loved her enough to risk his life breaking into Rumple’s castle at one point. I could buy him as conflicted and in love with two women, instead he comes off like Marian is a burden. He actually reminds me of Neal who was in love with Tamara right up until she shot him and a week later was telling Emma he loved her and was going to fight for her. (I have a theory that the SQ messed with his ice cream in 4×3 and that’s why he’s acting like an ass and that ice cream theory also explains Grumpy’s attitude in 4×3 since he was eating ice cream in 4×2. Otherwise Robin’s character is rapidly going downhill.)

    And then there is Regina who last week was still whining and blaming others for not getting her happy ending. I didn’t see her telling Robin to try and fall out of love with her as growth because we know she intends to force the author to give her a happy ending. I had hoped that with Marian’s return we’d see Regina own up to her mistakes and finally discuss her past. But we haven’t even gotten a scene where Robin and she discuss that she was responsible for Marian’s death.

    One of the things I like about Hook and Emma is that Emma knows who Hook was, she first met him as Captain Hook, so she knows what he is capable of and how far he has come. But more than that Hook knows when he screws up and he owns his mistakes and misdeeds, its what has made his redemption arc so good – he is self-aware. Robin says he’s heard the stories, but does he really know Regina? Regina has yet to really deal with what she has done (if she had she wouldn’t be trying to change the book) and because of that I am having a hard time believing this is some sort of a redemption arc or buying into Outlaw Queen as a great romance. Plus we know that Outlaw Queen isn’t going to be resolved anytime soon as Regina will be looking for the author for the entire season – if she was getting Robin back then I doubt she’d still be looking for the author.

    Finally Regina really irked me when she made a comment about before Emma went into the system when they found the file in the ice cream truck. I wanted to yell at my tv that Emma was always in the system Regina because you cast a curse while irrationally angry at a ten year old. I just thought it showed that Regina didn’t have a clue about what her curse had cost Emma or anyone else.

    I didn’t mean for this to get so long, but as much as I liked Outlaw Queen and hoped for some good angst for them. I’m just finding their story lacking and what there is isn’t enough to make up for what is missing. Especially when you look at Snowing or Captain Swan in comparison.

    • I just realized that maybe I should be comparing Outlaw Queen to Rumbelle – with Robin as Belle and Regina as Rumple. Robin is Belle determined to see the best in Regina despite all she’s done because of his own past mistakes. I don’t know what they are going for with OQ but its not working for me at this point.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us, Mary!

      You bring up some really good points here about the Regina/Robin dynamic and why I’m sure you’re not the only one struggling with it right now. I think one of my biggest issues with Robin and Regina was how quick he was to ignore who she was before. I appreciated him representing a fresh start for her and a second chance. However, it bothered me that he seemed to want to gloss over what she’d done in the past instead of accepting her for exactly who she was and loving her for moving beyond the evil that had been in her heart in the past. I think they didn’t do their best job developing that relationship last season (It all felt very rushed), so it’s making it harder to relate to it this season.

      I do, however, think this arc is more about Regina trying to do the right thing. It’s hard to know exactly how that will all turn out with the storybook, but I do think her attempts to save Marian have shown real growth, independent of her quest to rewrite the book. Even just the fact that saving Marian seems to have taken precedence over her storybook mission seems to bode well for Regina’s growth, at least in my eyes. However, until we know more about exactly what Regina’s plan is with the book, it’s tough to tell how much she’s truly grown.

      • I don’t think it’s that he doesn’t accept who she was. He’s had an entire year to get to know her (both the good and bad, and in the EF she was a lot more difficult to deal with). They’ve talked, they’ve argued, she’s pushed him away, been snarky, been vulnerable and he’s watched her struggle to attempt to change and be the best she can in the EF and in SB. I think he’s very aware of her dark past & he knows she’s not perfect, but like Belle with Rumple (even tho lately Rumple has been severely slipping), he realizes that having a person beside you that knows your darkness but will still believe in and fight for the good in you, helps you in fighting that darkness and becoming the best version of yourself. While he may have forgotten the time in the EF due to the curse, once it was broken, he had every moment, memory and conversation they’ve ever had had back.
        I do completely agree that the writers could have done a better job developing their relationship though, even if just by showing more of their relationship during the missing year.

        • You make excellent points, Kaydee. I do wish we would have gotten more of their time together in the missing year. I think I wanted so much more from that than we ended up getting, and I’m still trying to work through my disappointment about that. (There was so much missing year stuff I wish we could have seen for all of those characters!)

    • But more than that Hook knows when he screws up and he owns his mistakes and misdeeds, its what has made his redemption arc so good – he is self-aware. Robin says he’s heard the stories, but does he really know Regina? Regina has yet to really deal with what she has done (if she had she wouldn’t be tryin

      You say that “Hook knows when he screws up and he owns his mistakes and misdeeds” whereas “Regina has yet to really deal with what she has done”. I’m genuinely curious about how you’ve reached this conclusion. The fact that Hook hasn’t yet told Emma, the Charmings and Co. about his dealings with Rumple doesn’t seem to support your claim. But since he will hopefully come clean soon, I’ll add the fact that he hasn’t really been honest about the whole Ariel thing in his centric episode last season. It turned out ok, granted, but he never clarified his true involvement and what he really did, he just let everyone believe that he had helped her and that was it. Feeling guilty about something does not equal owning up to it. Just like having no regrets does not equal feeling no remorse, in the case of Regina. She literally said the previous episode that she knew she had hurt people and that she had to learn to live with that.
      I’m not saying Regina is a better ‘villain-in-the-mend’ than Hook, or trying to compare their redemption arcs. I just think they’re both very flawed characters and I really can’t see what you’ve based your statement on.

      • I agree both are flawed, but as I said Hook is much more self-aware. He told Regina in 2×20 that his revenge was an ending not a beginning. He knew after he killed Rumple, he’d have nothing else in life. Regina always felt like getting her revenge on Snow would be her happy ending and it wasn’t it. Eventually she got bored with the curse and it wasn’t her happy ending after all. She adopted Henry to make herself happy, until Henry realized something wasn’t right in SB, and then their relationship splintered. We know Henry was in therapy long before Emma came to town. And I still don’t think Regina ever considered the consequences of adopting Henry and bringing him to SB during the curse. She thought she’d have it all and be happy – when its obvious she couldn’t.
        I’m not really bothered by Hook not telling Emma about Rumple because its all going to come out eventually and they’ll have to deal with it. But for story purposes the writers need to put off having that secret come out. Now if Emma had asked Hook about Rumple and how he got his hand back and Hook had lied then I’d be bothered by it.
        As for Ariel and what happened with her – I also don’t need to have Hook tell Emma unless she asks. What happened with Ariel in the EF wasn’t about Emma, it was about Hook and him trying to go back to who he was – a pirate. The scenes with Ariel in SB were about Hook making amends with Ariel because he had realized he’d screwed up. That he made the wrong choice. Now since Ariel was actually Zelena I’m sure if the real Ariel ever crossed paths with Hook, they’d likely have to revisit the history, but Hook showed his remorse in those scenes and acknowledged that he made the wrong choice.
        My issue with Regina is that she doesn’t seem to learn from her mistakes because they are always someone else’s. In 4×1 Regina told Sidney that she needed to fix Emma’s mistake of bringing Marian back. No mention of the fact that Regina was initially responsible for Marian’s death, In 4×5 Regina calls Sidney a traitor – if Regina hasn’t imprisoned him in the mirror in the first place he likely never would have been contacted by the SQ. Regina says the villagers added Evil to her title – they added evil because she earned it with her treatment of them. Regina blames the book for casting her as the villain – Regina’s the villain because she did all those things.
        We can argue that Hook needs to come clean with Emma about his past, but then I think we could see the same thing about Regina. It’s kind of a giant elephant in room that she and Robin haven’t discussed Regina being responsible for Marian’s death.

        • Well then, if it’s a case of what ‘you don’t need’ from a character then I can understand where your reasoning comes from; we’ll have to agree to disagree because I find that omitting the truth is often as bad as outright lying, but that is my opinion and you are certainly entitled to think otherwise.
          I would like to point out though that Emma did ask Hook about Rumple and how he got his hand back and Hook lied, so maybe you should be bothered: “The Dark One kindly restored what he once took from me. It seems he has indeed changed his ways.” But as I said it seems we’re discussing a rather subjective point, so I’ll leave it at that. =)

  12. I agree with some of your concerns about OQ Mary. Right now I’m seeing it as a Regina arc individually more than an OQ one and how Regina has to go against her temptation and do the right thing by saving Marian. It feels to me like this may end with Robin Hood getting his Regina memories erased so his true love’s kiss for Marian returns, though that’s also what a more predictable show than Once would do, we’ll see

  13. I always appreciate reading your thoughts very much! So first of all, thank you for taking the time to write these reviews.
    I hope it’s okay to say that “Family Business” felt rather flat to me. I am very happy for all of those who had been craving more Belle focus (understandably) and hopefully this episode gave them what they wished for. For me personally, it felt a little bit like showering a starved man with the most extravagant foods. It lays heavy on the stomach and after taking a few bites you realize you can’t stomach much more. What I’m trying to say is that it felt a bit contrived to me – not only Belle’s storyline (having a secret for so long, not remembering how her mother died, being “haunted” (cause we only saw her be that in one ep) by a selfish choice) but also the fact that she had to have a link to Anna in her past.
    I’m a huge fan of Frozen and am so happy that the frozen storyline seems to have increased ratings for Once Upon A TIme, but I do wish we had more focus on our main characters and a bit less on the frozen ones. I think most of us have understood the significance of the connections and parallels between the two worlds and its players by now…I just feel like the writers are trying to accomplish too much at once – the frozen storyline, the snow queen and not neglecting the arcs of the main characters – and for the last two episodes this hasn’t worked too well, imo. Mostly at the expense of the main characters, which are the reason why I watch the show in the forst place and love it as much as I do. Especially considering that the frozen characters won’t be sticking around, i fail to understand why that much screen time is spent on them. This is why I loved the Neverland arc as much as I did – it was absolutely brilliant in focusing on the main characters and shedding more light on them while introducing a new villain.
    I’ve found the past two episodes rather lacking – though I am grateful for every interaction we get between Emma and Killian. But I do miss Snowing and I basically miss the main focus being on the main characters – their secrets, their emotions, their stories.
    As far as the Snow Queen goes I find her motives are a bit reminiscient of those of Zelena – in terms of being willing to bring doom on everyone for the sake of being loved by family. For Zelena it was Cora and for Ingrid it’s her sisters – or rather, a replacement thereof. I know “family” is a VERY important topic on Once, but I still wish the writers were a bit more creative when it comes to background and motivation.
    I am curious why Emma shares such a resemblance with Helga and where Ingrid got this prophecy from but other than that I just know she’ll be defeated and we’ll be on the next villain pretty quickly. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go back to one villain a season?
    I’m hoping this week’s episode will pick up a bit.

    • Thank you for the kind words about my reviews! It’s totally okay to think an episode fell flat—everyone looks for different things in the shows they watch, and you did a great job explaining why this just wasn’t your cup of tea.

      I can understand feeling like there’s too much going on. Adding the Frozen characters has definitely taken some time away from the main cast, but, if I’m being honest, some of the backstory episodes we’d been getting before this season were boring enough to me that I found these new characters and their stories to be a breath of fresh air.

      While I do think the Frozen characters have taken some of the focus (especially in flashbacks), in the present I think there is still a very definite focus on the characters we already knew (and even in some of the flashbacks—Emma finally got one!). It might just be my Emma bias talking, but I think they’ve done a good job of crafting a story that brings in new characters while giving Emma some much-needed attention.

      Neverland did a great job of developing all of the characters, but even I had to admit that it got a little boring plot-wise by “Save Henry.” It’s tough to strike the perfect balance in that regard, and it’s different for everyone, so I can see where you would prefer that to the story we have now.

      As far as only having one villain per season goes, I have to disagree. I think splitting the seasons has saved the show from the mess it was in the latter part of Season Two. Yes, it’s lends itself to some predictability, but I’m okay with that. But again, that’s definitely a matter of personal taste.

      I hope you enjoy next week’s episode, too. It seems like we’ll be getting a lot of focus on Emma (and possibly her feelings about her parents and new brother), so that should be fantastic to watch!

    • I agree with the weariness about the big bad every half season formula and how SQ is made less unique by how much Cora+Zelena she is. I was surprised they stuffed the 2nd curse storyline into last half season when that could have been its own breather from BBs one of these half or full seasons. However I do feel there’s a chance SQ loses her powers and then her plot with Emma continues in 3b after Frozen is wrapped, unless Mitchell for half a season only is confirmed. Also clearly they left the door open for Zelena’s death to not be permanent (I also continue to find it suspicious Rebecca Mader’s twitter activity continues to be as Once heavy as if she was still on the show). Bringing either character back but as humans looking for redemption is up the show’s alley and clearly these are actors with skill they love tapping into.

      • I don’t know if it’s just me, but I see Cora, Zelena, and Ingrid as having completely different motivations. Cora craved power itself regardless of the cost. Zelena was envious of what she didn’t have, and it wasn’t family she wanted but the things they had. Particularly, she wanted to go back in time not so Cora wouldn’t abandon her, but so that Rumple would choose her over Regina to cast the curse. Even at the end she didn’t understand that she could never cast the curse because she didn’t love anyone but herself. Ironically, the Evil Queen had more heart than the Wicked Witch, and Rumple cultivated Regina for exactly that reason.

        Ingrid’s motivation is to replace her lost sisters with…magically better versions that will understand her. I’m interested to see how that plays out, but my guess is that she she won’t require they have free will.


        • “Particularly, she wanted to go back in time not so Cora wouldn’t abandon her, but so that Rumple would choose her over Regina to cast the curse. Even at the end she didn’t understand that she could never cast the curse because she didn’t love anyone but herself.”

          I’m not sure that’s actually true. I seem to recall it was stated at some point that Zelena wanted to go back in time to kill Princess Eva (Snow’s mum) which would have meant Leopold marrying Cora and being none the wiser about her being pregnant from another man. Zelena would have grown up a princess, and Regina would have never been born. And Rumplestiltskin chose Regina over her because he knew Zelena was in love with him, which made having her cast the curse quite counter-productive (what with the whole ‘sacrificing the one you love the most’ clause).

  14. I didn’t realize how much I wanted to know about Belle until this episode! Belle has always been one of my favorite Disney characters, but I’ve never been that invested in her on this show. (Although her clothes are always amazing). But Once has also turned some of my least favorite characters, like Hook and the Evil Queen, into some of my favorites, and has also made me want Robin Hood with someone other than Maid Marian. So that goes to show how much this show can change your thoughts and feelings. But back to Belle, the mirror scene was the best. I wholeheartedly agree with you about wanting to see every character face that mirror. I loved how we got a glimpse into her insecurities and doubts, especially about feeling weak and being a coward. She’s usually not the one physically fighting all the evil villains or out with Emma and the gang. So it’s completely understandable why she would doubt herself and feel like she’s not a “hero”. Especially considering her mistake with Anna. I also think Maurice is hiding something from her about her mother’s death. He was acting very strange during that whole scene when she came home. I kept expecting him to do something crazy or for something to happen. And when she broke down in front of Rumple, I just kept yelling “Come on, Rumple!” at the screen. I feel like everything will be coming to a head in the next couple of episodes between Belle/Rumple and Hook/Emma. I’m simultaneously excited for the truth to finally be out about everything and also dreading the sadness. And I agree that this quote pretty much sums up the entire episode: “Secret secrets are no fun, secret secrets hurt someone.” Thanks for sharing all of your insights!

    • Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us!

      I definitely agree that Maurice was giving off a weird vibe in this episode. It makes me wonder if he’s hiding something more about her mother’s death from her.

  15. Something I’ve been wondering about the Emma timeline for the flashback and the video. It’s almost certain Emma was 14 in the video, but it looked like summer or early fall in the flashback, so I’d guess she will turn 15 that Oct 22nd.

    In S1 during the sheriff’s race , they showed the newspaper that referenced she had Henry in jail. But it also mentioned a juvie stint at 15, something to do with her foster parents. I can’t help but think the reason she confronted Ingrid in Storybrooke in ‘re the photo was that. Clearly she remembered her then, so that’s when her memories were taken.

    I think this was my favorite episode of the season, so far. I liked seeing the storylines come together, Regina and Emma still themselves despite everything, and Belle is maybe a bit darker than she originally seemed. Which is good. I would rather Belle be darker – and deeper – because otherwise she seemed too much a simpleton doormat and I didn’t want that for her.

    All in all the only think I’ve really missed in the Henry and Emma interaction. I loved their back and forth in S1 and wish we got more of it. I would particularly love to see the moment he realizes the bug was stolen by both his parents and she kept it. I think it’s hilarious.

    My take on the Regina, Robin, and Marian issue is that it’s mirroring the Mary Margaret, David, Katherine dilemma from S1. Katherine was imprisoned while Marian is frozen, so the only difference is that Regina can’t be jailed for Marian’s murder. However, in the back of my mind, I wonder if at some point Regina will be accused of purposely not thawing her.

    So far, I’m really loving this season. I admit the first episode gave me pause, but each one since has slowly deepened the overall story, which is exactly what I love about this show.

    Thanks for yet another awesome review!


    • Thanks for sharing your thought with us, Dez! I like the comparison between Mary Margaret/David/Kathryn and Regina/Robin/Marian. It’s especially interesting because Regina is now in the shoes she once cursed Snow to be in.

  16. And to think I actually considered the possibility of Elsa and Anna’s parents being Gerda and Kai, and discarded it from my mind because it didn’t seem likely with the Snow Queen claiming to be their aunt… OUaT keeps surprising me, and I’m happy about it!
    Also, just a reminder that in the original fairytale it was an evil TROLL who made the mirror… Grand Pabbie, I’m looking at you! 😉

    This episode didn’t do much for me, so I’ll stick to shorter comments this time around but it was great to read your very nicely thought out and worded post, as usual.

  17. OK, a few quick points as we head into tonight’s episode.

    1) Snow Queen/Ingrid is the best villain since Rumple. Her mastery of manipulation started last week (and Katie you highlighted perfectly) and I can’t wait to see where it heads this week and the rest of this first half of the season’s arc.

    2) The mirror — I think Rumple ultimately breaks the mirror. I have no basis for this belief but, I feel like he’s the only one who can absorb the dark magic with minimal consequence. I am in complete agreement that I want to see all the characters line up and face the mirror if for no other reason than the potential for the actors. It reminded me a lot of the cave in Neverland. I am curious to see if and how those who use dark magic are effected by it – namely Rumple and Regina.

    3) Timeline — I am SO CONFUSED by the timeline. I assume we will get more answers as it unfolds especially in learning how Elsa became trapped in the urn. But right now, the timeline is perplexing me because of the Snow Queen’s knowledge of Emma from the moment Regina enacted the curse and her ability to layer into the timeline of Emma’s childhood. She obviously lived outside the original curse but how did she know enough of it to find Emma. How is the prophecy tied to the curse and Emma’s role as the savior. What happened to the third sister that Emma is suppose to ‘replace’. I am assuming that Arendelle exists outside the realm of the curse, but then how did Ingrid access SB during the original curse and without Regina knowing? I assume Rumple is tied to the answer given his oversight to the curse in the first place. But needless to say I am more perplexed by this timeline than anything else happening this season. I haven’t been this confused since they added sideways world into the LOST time movement.

    4) Elizabeth Mitchell — I can watch her all day long. She has the creepiness of Ben from LOST with the emotional neediness that makes her twisted plan make perfect sense. She’s perfectly playing out the balance of ends justifying the means. It’s a delight to watch and I can’t wait to see more of it each week.

    • I’m very intrigued by your Rumple breaks the mirror theory, because I’m going in the other direction; I think Hook breaks it. But like you, I don’t have any real basis for my belief—just a feeling. It’s going to be so interesting to see how it all plays out. Maybe Ingrid breaks it herself and lets all of the shards loose on the town, and that’s how her evil plan works? I love that I really have no idea how this is all going to play out, but Elizabeth Mitchell has left me with complete hope that whatever happens is going to be good.

      You are not the only one completely confused by the timeline. I’m hoping that the next couple of episodes will help us out with that, because I have so many questions.

  18. Pingback: The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (11/2 – 11/9) | Nerdy Girl Notes

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