TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.07

OUAT 407

Title The Snow Queen

Two-Sentence Summary Emma’s interrogation of Ingrid turns personal when her former foster mother taps into her deepest fears and oldest scars in order to isolate her from her family, which happens when her magic begins to spiral out of control. In flashbacks to Ingrid’s past, we see where she developed her belief that even loved ones can grow afraid of people with magic they don’t understand.

Favorite Line “When you see the good in someone, you don’t give up on them—especially if they don’t see it themselves.” (Will)

My Thoughts For being a person who tries to focus on the positives and who loves TV shows that allow people to be happy more often than not, I really do love angst when it’s done well. Nothing gets my heart pumping and my brain working like a heavy, emotionally-draining hour of television. The key is the purpose behind the angst; I hate it when it’s done purely for shock or to throw a wrench into a character’s happiness. However, when it’s done properly, a heartbreaking storyline can actually make me feel hopeful as a viewer, because where there is angst, there is often emotional payoff to follow. And where there is angst, there is also great acting. “The Snow Queen” was an example of angst done properly. It may have broken my heart to watch it all unfold, but I know it has a purpose, and it’s going to lead to great things for these characters and has already led to great things for all the actors involved.

So much of this season has focused on the theme of perception and self-definition: How do we see ourselves? How do others see us? Can we really change people’s perception of us, and, more importantly can we really change how we see ourselves? Is love strong enough to help us see the best we can be and to fight to be that best self? Every single one of those questions was touched on in “The Snow Queen.” Snow may have been wrong about a lot of things in this episode, but she was right when she said that—at this point—Ingrid doesn’t need her magic mirror to wreak havoc. So many of these characters are facing their own worst fears and inner demons without even looking into it, and it’s all because of the two master manipulators at the heart of my favorite villainous dynamic since the days of Mayor Mills and Mr. Gold in Season One: Ingrid and Rumplestiltskin.

I find Ingrid and Rumplestiltskin’s interactions endlessly fascinating for many reasons, and this episode only added to my sense of awe whenever they share a scene. First of all, I want Elizabeth Mitchell and Robert Carlyle to share as many scenes together as humanly possible. They are two actors who elevate everyone around them, so to watch them work together, elevating each other’s performances, is a true sight to behold. Theirs is a different dynamic than any other character has ever had with Rumplestiltskin, and we saw from the flashbacks that this was true from their first meeting. It was interesting that Rumplestiltskin told Ingrid that she really didn’t need the devices to control her magic as long as she had her sisters. I found it a rare moment of truth for a character who is usually a master manipulator who tries everything in his power to make deals rather than discourage them. However, maybe he already knew that she would still do anything to get something to control her magic. Also, did anyone catch him asking her if she wanted to stay and take lessons from him? I found it telling that she was the first female villain on the show to turn him down.

From that moment of Ingrid turning him down for lessons, it became clear that she didn’t view him the same way Regina, Cora, and Zelena did. Rumplestiltskin’s power wasn’t something she admired, feared, or was attracted to. He didn’t have control over her—he never did. At first, one could argue it was because she had love in her life, but even now she still doesn’t seem to fear him or think he’s more powerful than she is, even with the sorcerer’s hat. And that’s what makes their scenes in the present so interesting. This isn’t a former pupil, lover, or family member interacting with him. This is a woman who isn’t afraid to try to manipulate him, too, and she can do it without the dagger. Ingrid has a gift for seeing people and for tapping into dark parts of themselves to get them to do what she wants, and I have a feeling she might be doing the same thing to Rumplestiltskin, but more on that will come later.

Ingrid’s backstory was an example of great acting elevating a storyline where many people had predicted the outcome long before it aired. From the moment we heard about Ingrid’s two sisters, it was easy to speculate that she hurt Helga and was put into the urn by Gerda. However, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the emotional impact of this flashback. From its first moments, I was riveted. Kudos to the Once Upon a Time casting department once again for casting another eerily perfect young counterpart to a character we know as an adult. It was heartbreaking to see Ingrid believe the words of the man who tried to harm her sisters. As Hook told Emma last week, wounds from our youth tend to linger, and Ingrid being called a monster stayed with her for the rest of her life. Her magic saved her sisters, but she still viewed it as a curse rather than a blessing.

I love that Once Upon a Time is honoring the relationships between sisters the way Frozen did throughout this arc. It was beautiful to see Ingrid’s sisters supporting her instead of treating her like she was an outcast. But self-loathing is a theme Once Upon a Time comes back to often, and it was clear that Ingrid hated this part of herself that made her so different from her sisters. All she wanted was to be normal—to be the queen and the sister she felt she was supposed to be. But she couldn’t see that her sisters didn’t need her to be some arbitrary definition of normal; they loved her for everything she was—even the magical parts of her.

That’s what made the flashback’s final scene so heartbreaking. I found myself so pleasantly surprised that Helga immediately believed Ingrid over the Duke. (I think that may have been my favorite Frozen cameo yet.) But it fits with the theme of Frozen that the love between sisters is just as important (if not more important) than any romantic feelings. However, my happiness was short-lived, and I found myself completely heartbroken as Ingrid watched Helga’s frozen form crumple in her arms. Mitchell is one of the best and most heartbreaking criers in the business, and once again she reduced me to a crying mess right along with her. She genuinely didn’t mean to hurt anyone, least of all her beloved sister. And that made Gerda’s reaction all the more devastating. Fear makes people act first and think later; it makes them turn on the people they love in a split second. And in that split second, Ingrid lost all faith in the ability for people without magic to love people with it. In Ingrid’s mind, Gerda stopped being her sister the moment she stopped trying to understand her. And without that love, support, and understanding, Ingrid became the monster she’d feared becoming for almost her whole life.

The scenes in the past were riveting, perhaps the show’s best flashback since its first season. Every moment made sense for who this character became and what her endgame ultimately is. And every moment was acted with nothing short of brilliance. Each detail formed a wonderful connective tissue between the past and the present—from Ingrid’s desire for people to see the worst in themselves (because she had to face that after killing Helga) to the mystery behind Elsa’s powers (the price Gerda had to pay for erasing all of the kingdom’s memories) and the reason Elsa’s gloves work as well as they do (they’re magical, given to Ingrid by Rumplestiltskin).

Ingrid’s gentle kindness in the flashbacks contrasted so well with her demeanor in the present. Mitchell is a master of nuance, and she made such a clear but subtle distinction between Ingrid being truly loving towards her family in the past and pretending to care about Emma in the present. Her softness was so beautiful in the flashbacks and so disturbing in the Storybrooke scenes. From the moment Emma captured her, she played everything so cool (pun intended) that it was painfully obvious that she wanted to get caught in order to start her manipulation of Emma in earnest. And once those manipulations began, this episode went from good to great.

Ingrid is the living embodiment of her mirror. What was so painful about Ingrid’s manipulation of Emma was that, like Belle standing in front of the mirror in the previous episode, everything that was said had a kernel of truth in it. That’s why the scene at the beginning of the episode between Snow and Emma was so important and so tough to watch. Emma’s magic is closely tied to her emotions, so it made perfect sense for it to manifest itself when she was obviously thinking about all that she’d missed out on both as a child and later as a mother who gave up her child. I understand Snow’s initial reaction to Emma’s magic affecting Neal’s bottle; I really do. She’s protective of Neal; the show wouldn’t have spent so much time on that idea for it not to matter in this scene. But just because it made sense for her character doesn’t mean I liked watching it happen. Snow and Emma’s relationship has been fraught with missteps since the curse was broken, and so much of it came from Snow trying too hard. In this episode, though, the problems stemmed from her not trying hard enough to understand her daughter and to show her the kind of love she needs. It’s a tough balancing act for Snow, but even I have to say she failed spectacularly in this episode.

I think part of the reason that little moment with the bottle hurt so much was because of how Jennifer Morrison played it. You could see her trying so hard not to show how much it hurt, trying so hard to act like it didn’t bother her to have her mother look at her like there was something wrong with her. You could see in her eyes the effort it was taking her not to freak out and panic, and it made her ultimate loss of control so believable because we saw it building from the very beginning of the episode.

That tension inside of Emma was such an important part of the interrogation between her and the Snow Queen. That whole sequence was like a master class in acting delivered by two actresses who were born to play these roles, two actresses who can convey so much emotion with just their eyes, their body language, or just the smallest change in their tone of voice.

This was Emma’s moment in front of the mirror—the manifestation of her worst fears about the way people see her, the way she sees herself, and the inability of love to be stronger than those damaging perceptions. I could go on and on about this scene, but I will stick to just my favorite moments. The moment Ingrid brought up baby Neal was devastating because it tapped into every single one of Emma’s fears about being replaced by her family because she wasn’t what they wanted. Mitchell’s delivery of the line about Neal being born normal was flawless because you could tell she knew what damage it would cause. She used their shared past to tap into things about her that no one else would be able to capitalize on, namely the family that gave Emma back when she was three because they had their own child.

Morrison’s reaction to Mitchell’s line delivery was just as flawless. When she said, “They love me,” you could see her trying to push down all of the fears that were rushing back. Morrison delivered that line in such a way that you could feel Emma trying to convince not just Ingrid but herself of her family’s love. There was anger in her eyes but a deep sadness, too, and it was because Ingrid had touched on such a primal fear for Emma—the fear of not being wanted for who she is, the fear of being replaced by a child that her parents actually wanted, the fear of being too much for a family to deal with. All of those things were self-perceptions Emma had finally started letting go of, until Ingrid came along knowing exactly what buttons to push to inflict the most pain.

When Emma lost control at the end of the interrogation, I was enamored with Ingrid’s reaction. She was so disturbingly happy to see Emma out of control because she knew her plan was working. Watching her tell Emma that this destructive force she’d become was who she really was hurt to watch, but it was so compelling. I had to wonder if the ice Ingrid cut Emma with had something to do with her powers going so completely out of control (because nothing on this show is done without intent), but ultimately what mattered wasn’t what set Emma’s powers off but how she reacted to it and how others reacted to it. Her shame and fear when she looked at her hands said it all; she doesn’t want to be a monster.

If all of that sounds familiar, it was supposed to. Ingrid’s manipulations towards Emma were incredibly similar to Rumplestiltskin’s manipulations towards Hook in “The Apprentice” (in some cases almost word-for-word). Both Ingrid and Rumplestiltskin claimed to simply be showing Emma and Hook who they truly are, when what they were really doing was trying to cause self-doubt and making them fear themselves in order to get what they wanted from them. I think this important parallel is going to play a major role in Emma’s arc in the next episode. Ingrid made her feel like no one but people with magic could ever understand her, but she and Hook have understood each other from the very beginning, and they have this new level of shared experience now (as long as he tells her about what happened to him). Hook being the only person with Emma on the other side of the downed light pole seemed to be a visual symbol of his ability understand her and stand beside her in a way no one else can, but that’s what made it even more painful to see her run away from his outstretched hand. When Ingrid reached out to Gerda, her sister wouldn’t touch her because she was too afraid, but, in this case, Hook was the one reaching out to Emma, who was too scared of herself to do anything but run away.

It was painfully realistic to see that one parent’s disapproval is all it takes to erase any other signs of love in their child’s mind. When Emma accidentally hurt David, the only one to react in a negative way was Snow, but that was all that mattered. In that one instant, with Snow admonishing her, all of the control and composure Emma had in that scene with baby Neal was gone. She couldn’t act like it didn’t hurt anymore; all she could do was look like a little girl whose worst fears were coming true. Morrison did such a good job of balancing Emma’s very adult sense of guilt and shame with something painfully childlike in her eyes. There’s nothing more painful than disappointing a parent, especially a parent you’ve wanted to have a relationship with for so long. And while both Charming and Hook seemed more concerned for Emma than anything else, all that mattered in that moment was Snow’s disappointment and fear of who Ingrid told Emma she really is. Emma was clearly terrified, and that reaction from Snow was the very last thing she needed to hear.

Running away is second nature for Emma, but now she’s doing it to protect others from getting hurt instead of protecting herself. It was so painful to think of Charming and Hook looking everywhere for Emma, who was hiding from them because she thought they were better off without her. And that’s what made me so angry with Snow trying to lump David in with her, saying they both failed as parents. This failure was all Snow’s. She’s not very good at dealing with a guilty conscience (she either ignores it, uses it to overcompensate, or tries to kill herself), so I hope she gets a chance to apologize to her daughter soon and tell her how much she loves her for who she is—magic and all. Snow has being putting her foot in her mouth with Emma ever since the Echo Caves, and it’s time we finally saw a scene where she says the right thing where her daughter is concerned and chooses to help her daughter find comfort and happiness instead of focusing on her new baby or her husband, and I have to believe this episode happened the way it did to set up a moment like that.

That’s what I’m hoping comes out of this arc more than anything—plenty of moments where Emma is reminded of how much the people in her life love her for exactly who she is. All magic comes with a price, and I feel like Emma has been paying the price for hers for a long time. This episode addressed that so wonderfully both in terms of people fearing her and in terms of her feeling like she is only looked at as the savior instead of as Emma. I am so hopeful that this comes with the beautiful payoff that I think it will have, with Emma feeling what Ingrid tragically lost and what Elsa had with Anna—a sense of being loved for everything she is.

I think Emma’s parents are obviously going to play a role in that, and Henry will, too. However, I think Hook is going to be the key to Emma getting her magic back under control. Elsa has often mentioned Anna’s presence helps her control her powers, and I think Hook is going to end up being that person for Emma. I also think Ingrid believes this and is going to try to take him out of the picture because of that. That’s what I think that last scene between her and Rumplestiltskin was all about. Nothing would light his face with glee like hurting Hook, so I have to believe that’s who Ingrid was talking about. However, I don’t see how Hook could be important to Rumplestiltskin’s overall needs, but I do see how eliminating him would be exactly what Ingrid needs to get Emma to feel completely alone and out of control. (Just like taking Anna from Elsa.) Therefore, I think she’s playing Rumplestiltskin, or maybe I just really hope she is.

As far as other stories in the episode, I’m withholding any judgment on the Robin/Regina moment until I see the reaction/fallout next week. I think it was another example of the theme of how we perceive ourselves, with Robin no longer choosing to see himself as living by the code he once lived by. I also think it fit with the theme of how we perceive others, with Robin seeing Regina as someone worth fighting for. (Whatever theme it reflected, it sure was one heck of a kiss. Those two certainly have chemistry.) I was also happy to see Will and Robin interact, and Will absolutely broke my heart with his speech about love. (Again I ask, What happened to Anastasia?!)

This episode ended in a way that was made for speculation, so feel free to share theories or hopes/wishes/fears for the next episode and beyond in the comments. I have a feeling Hook and the rest of Emma’s family will help her get her magic under control by the end of the next episode, but I also think that will just make Ingrid angry, causing her to enact her Shattered Sight curse in a last-ditch effort to isolate Emma and Elsa. (Shauna brought up a great theory—Are the yellow ribbons able to keep the three women from being affected by the curse?) I have no idea how Rumplestiltskin going after Hook would play into this, or what would happen to break the Shattered Sight curse, but having so much to speculate about is endlessly exciting. I know I say this every week, but is it next Sunday yet? This show just keeps getting better and better.

105 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.07

  1. This episode was so painful to watch because it seems all we see is Emma suffer in between tiny moments where she gets to be happy and smile, but I agree that the emotional payoff is so going to be worth it.

    I really hope too that this serves as the stepping stone for the relationship between Emma and Snow to get mended because it has been really painful to watch since early S3, as you said.

    Also, I know I usually don’t comment on your awesome reviews but I just want to say that I love your reviews and I love that you ship CS too and yo have such a beautiful and deep insight into their relationship 🙂

    • Thank you for the comment and for saying such kind things!

      I definitely agree that it feels like we only get these tiny flashes of happiness for Emma before more suffering happens, but I’m hopeful that the payoff for all of this episode’s suffering will be worth our tears. 😉

      • “There is always a crisis. Perhaps you should consider living your life during them otherwise you might miss it.”-Killian Jones, Once Upon a Time

  2. hey great review.. started reading ur reviews 4m last week. I just want to add my assumptions for future story. Just my two cents. I think every 1 also guessed it. but still i want to blurt it out.
    i think somehow Ingrid and Rumple plan would be shattered by the end of episode like instead of Emma, Hook will be taken by the hat/ turn by the mirror. If ingrid’s playing Rumple, Rumple is the Dark one. He always try to be ahead of a game. dere must be a reason he didnt use hat on ingrid because he’s waiting to get strong magic which is ofcourse is Emma. and we all knw he has a greed for power. he will definitely try to hit two birds with one stone. by getting rid of Hook and getting Emmas power and get the control on Ingrid. by the end of epi emma’s going to realize(Actually Accept) what Hook means to her. And Emma strength is in Love. and she also believes in it too.
    sorry 4 any mistakes.
    i think i dont know what I’m writing. Hope u understands it
    thank u for reading it,

    Have a great day.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, and I definitely understand what you’re saying. 🙂

      I think it’s great that you brought up Rumple not taking Ingrid’s magic yet with the hat. I hadn’t stopped to ask myself why that was yet, and it makes for a very interesting question.

      I hope you have a great day too!

  3. Have to say that this one was painful to watch in some ways. Jennifer Morrison really brought it home with the pain that Emma was feeling as she saw herself as a monster instead of a savior. And darn it if the Snow Queen didn’t know just how to play her with the insecurity bit. Interesting that the Snow Queen only focused on Emma’s parents. Henry and Killian were basically missing from her suggestions that Emma is not understood.

    Of everyone, Henry and Killian should understand and accept her the most. While her parents love her despite her magic and abilities, her son and Killian love her because that is a part of her. She is who she is because she wants to save people, wants to find the bad guys, wants to protect the people she loves, etc.

    Henry’s not going to be scared of it. Think of who his family is…he has the Evil Queen as the mother who raised him and the Dark One as his grandfather. His mother boiling water/formula or making some fireworks is nothing compared to what other things his family has done with magic. While he looks to get the brunt of her powers next week (through the preview), I’m guessing that is nothing new for Henry. He’s been put in a sleeping curse by one mom’s power and almost killed with his grandfather’s magic. Not to mention his time in Neverland with his great-grandfather.

    Killian has always been supportive and even proud of her when she manages to use her magic effectively. His face when she zapped the snow monster in the first episode this season said it all to me. The scene with Elsa and Killian in the woods also said a lot that is coming into play now. He has run from magic, but now he’s running straight for it. I’m hoping that he is the one who can help her understand there is a difference between her special talent and uncontrolled power. His statement that she doesn’t want to be found was heartbreaking, but I didn’t take it that he was giving up on her. I’m sure that after that moment he was back out there searching some more.

    The scene with Killian and Rumple was awesome. He certainly understands Rumple’s game. The Snow Queen does too. I wonder what she whispered to him, as I can’t figure out how hurting or killing Killian would help with the hat. However, I can’t figure out what else would make Rumple smile like that.

    • Like you, my first thought regarding the SQ’s whisper was “Hook!” and my second was, “but how would that fit in with the hat?” I hadn’t thought of the possibility of the SQ lying to Rumple (Kudos Katie!), but the more I think about it, the more I like it. It separates Emma from Killian — who is possibly the biggest threat to SQ’s plan regarding Emma. Rumple’s probably just looking for an excuse, so he won’t think to hard about the logic of why Hook needs to go.

      Of course, I could be completely wrong. it may be that Rumple needs to steal Emma’s VW bug because it’s really Herbie with enormous untapped magical powers.

      • The Snow Queen does have reason to get rid of Killian. He ties Emma to the present and to Storybrooke. She’s looking for two sisters. Not two sisters and a brother-in-law. But why not take care of that herself? Why would she need Rumple to do it? I guess I’m thinking too hard on it.

        That said, I forgot to question one other thing. When Emma went to confront the Snow Queen – obvious trap – she had ice? hit her. What was the significance there? Ingrid wasn’t actually fighting back, as she wanted to be caught so what did that actually do?

        • No, I think it’s a good question. Here’s my take: If the Snow Queen dispatches Hook, then she’s really blown all hope of making Emma part of her family. He’s the one person who really accepts all of Emma, and I think the Snow Queen understands that. If she (the Snow Queen) kills Killian, that will drive Emma away. If the Dark One gets rid of Killian, then the SQ can commiserate with Emma, offer sympathy, and perhaps the two could team up to take care of the Dark One . . . Just a guess.

          As for the ice (good catch), I wonder if that’s a reference to the original fairy tale, and Emma’s heart will eventually be frozen.

      • I thought about it immediately when I saw Elsa trying to help there outside the station. It was certainly a role reversal for her since she started this season being the one out of control with Emma and David having to talk her down.

        Killian seemed to take that talk with Elsa to heart though. He even used parts of it in the scene where Emma says she can’t lose him.

        Originally I was a bit put off that he, David, and Elsa gave up looking so easily. Yes, he could have run after her and caught her. We would have probably had a nice romantic moment of him calming her down. So I have to hope and believe that the pay off is going to be better. Last season we saw her learn that she could care for someone else, which we’ve seen develop even more this season. But she needs to take on the other side of that growth too. She is capable of caring about someone and maybe even loving them. But she’s also got to learn that she is capable of being loved and cared for in return.

        In other words, she recognized last season that she does want a life with her family. She has admitted that she cares about them and even let down her walls in ways she had not before. But now she needs to learn and understand that they (her parents, Henry, Killian) want her there too. She knows it on the basic level, but I don’t know that she fully understands that. It is that whole, “how could you love me when nobody else did?” scenario.

  4. I found myself feeling sympathetic towards the Snow Queen which I wasn’t expecting at all.
    I’m torn in regard to Snow, while I completely understand her reactions, as an audience member who saw and heard the convo between Emma and SQ, I felt so annoyed with her because she unintentionally played right into the SQ’s plan and pushed Emma a step in the wrong direction.
    I understand her being scared of giving the baby to Emma, considering she was boiling the milk bottle in her hand without even realizing it, that is definitely a reasonable reaction. I can even understand her shock and shriek when Emma nearly accidentally killed David with the streetlight. I don’t think she genuinely blames her or that it means she loves her any less. I also understand why she is so insanely protective of Neal. From the time Snow was pregnant his safety was in danger, when he was born he was taken, and now there is this new danger in town and she’s terrified all the time that something will happen to him and she’ll lose him too. With Charming, she has held a dead Charming in her arms before and it was definitely one of the worst moments of her life. So I understand where the fear is coming from with him as well. She’s genuinely terrified, not so much of Emma, but just of losing her family (Emma included).
    With all that said, I do think that Snow could have been A LOT more sensitive, like you can look at Emma and see that she is also absolutely terrified and Snow needed to be a mommy and suck up her personal fears momentarily and be more reassuring to her daughter in that moment more than ever. It also really bugged me that Snow was like “OUR daughter needed us and WE failed her”, Charming didn’t do anything wrong, that was all Snow. I felt really awful for Emma especially considering Snow’s actions, while unintentional echoed exactly what the Snow Queen was saying and while Snow doesn’t mean it the way the SQ wants Emma to interpret it, it doesn’t change that it is being interpreted that way.
    It made me sad how badly the SQ managed to get into Emma’s and make her believe things that are so far from the truth. I really did feel for Emma, but it also bugged me that she wouldn’t let the people who weren’t freaking out (side eyes Snow) be there and attempt to talk her down. At the same time though, I understand her being terrified of hurting others and trying to get as far away as possible.
    I was also slightly annoyed that Emma and Elsa though the little handcuff trick was enough to contain the Snow Queen especially considering it was so easy. Which later made me highly annoyed that they all chose to leave Emma (who needed help defeating her on their last encounter) alone with the super powerful Snow Queen. That made no sense to me. Even if you though they had thought they had her contained, just for the sake of caution it would have been smart to have someone else there.

    I love Regina and Henry’s relationship and interactions in s4. As he’s gotten older I think he’s just realized that not everything is black and white with her or in general, and that she is human and does feel. They’re both a lot more open with each other and I think they both really need that and it’s doing wonders for their relationship.
    I really enjoyed Robin & Regina’s storyline in this episode. The conversation that he and Will has was so important, honest and insightful for Robin and I’m glad that Will was the one he had it with considering their history and that he knew both Robin and Marian.
    “There is good in him. when you see the good in someone you don’t give up on them, especially if they don’t see it in themselves, and if you’re ever lucky enough to find true love, you fight for it. Everyday.” This quote really does apply to Robin and Regina because I really don’t think Regina does see the good in herself and I don’t think she truly feels worthy of having good people/things in her life even if she does desire them, which is why she was willing to give Robin up despite loving him as much as she does, and why she pushes the Charmings away. I feel like part of her doesn’t believe she deserves to have people around that genuinely care about her. Even with the book, I feel like her search for the author is going to continue simply because she doesn’t truly believe that she can actually have this happiness (even if she works for it) and she needs some sense of assurance that it won’t be ripped from her and leave her broken again. I love that this quote came from Marian and that it was her beliefs on love that made him realize what he needed to do. The part where Robin asked Will if all that he had done (including his betrayal) was worth it and Will told him “If you find someone you’re willing to ruin your entire life for, it’s always worth it” this quote (which Robin’s whole screw the code speech was derived from) was also a favorite moment of mine. I love how both of those quotes lit a fire in Robin and sent him marching back to the vault with a new fierce determination to fight for Regina and their relationship. The contrast between the first time he went to the vault and the second time at the end of the episode was also nice. He was so uncertain and clinging to his code rather than following his heart, and still so conflicted when he went initially. When he went back he was assertive, passionate and rooted in his decision that she was what he wanted, she was who he had chosen to be with and that forgetting her or forcing himself to fall out of love with her simply wasn’t an option to him. I think that this will also lead to helping them thaw Marian. Before they were working alone Robin with his lack of magic trying to force himself into falling in love with someone he’s simply not in love with anymore, and Regina with her broken heart pushing her magic to the limit. Regina’s magic is at its lightest and strongest when she’s happy and feeling loving and loved as we saw at the end of 3B. So maybe now, between the two of them they can find a way to thaw Marian. As much as I like Marian, I feel that while they will thaw her out and something else will kill her not too long after simply because she was meant to die (4 times now) and you can’t outrun death. This is also why I’m happy he chose Regina now because if he had waited, thawed her out, decided to go home and talk about separating and she randomly got hit by a bus leaving the Mayor’s office, he’d end up choosing Regina by default and she would always see herself as a second choice, rather than a second chance. I think Marian will be understanding partially because she cares about Robin and partially because who wants to be with someone that is only with them out of obligation? That’s not fair, that’s not love and that’s not a happy ending.

    • I, too, found myself sympathizing with the Snow Queen. One of the things I’ve liked about the show is that evil is the result of choices. Yes, Zelena got some tough breaks, but we see her over and over choosing envy. Every character has had some tough breaks. (Good grief, think about poor Red/Ruby.) You see these characters choosing their paths. Right now, the Snow Queen’s past breaks my heart. She was trying sooo hard not to hurt anyone. Now, we’ll see if my sympathy holds up once she’s out of the urn.

      Ahhh, Snow White. I’m glad I’m not the only one who wanted to shake her. I agree that her actions are understandable, but they weren’t helpful. That Mom voice when she said, “Emma!” — just heartbreaking. Also, LOVED the whole “we failed her” (and everyone else’s uncomfortable looks) because it’s what we like to do when we (as individuals) fail someone. No, Snow sweetie, YOU failed her, but Snow can’t bear to be by herself in failing her daughter so she drags everyone else in on the blame. And they let her — for the moment.

    • I really enjoyed the comparison you made between Robin’s body language and general demeanor in the first and second vault scenes. It was a very nice bit of acting from Sean Maguire, who I’ve been impressed with every time he’s been given moments of depth and nuance to work with.

  5. First of all, AMAZING recap. You read into this show just perfectly, and I can’t even believe you came up with the Emma/Hook parallel. I didn’t even think of that, but upon further reflection, it absolutely has to be intentional. This is finally how they bond completely; Hook shares the part of himself with Emma that he too, feels is broken. He’s probably the only one in her life that she’ll listen to right now and he’s the only one that can steady her and her magic. Like you, I also think that the Snow Queen wants Hook out of the way, since he’s the closest person to Emma, and also someone Rumplestiltskin would be delighted to make disappear. Kudos to the show; I thought the big Emma/Hook drama was going to be all about Hook; I didn’t even see the Emma angst coming! What an emotional powerhouse from that hour of TV.

    I just have to say that this episode is easily one my very favorites of this entire show. Even with the Emma/Hook relationship on the back burner temporarily, I can still appreciate the masterpiece that was this hour of television. I’m like you; I love watching organic tension unfold, not contrived drama, and this was chalk full of the real thing. Every theme hit the right notes; in a single flashback, I felt sorrier for the Snow Queen than I ever have for Regina and Rumple in their years of backstory, I found myself rooting for a good guy to do bad things, I toyed with the idea that it may have been better to have our princess Emma end up with her adoptive mother rather than her biological one, I felt moved to pick up a copy of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland so I can have those questions answered, I was nearly moved to tears by the precursor to Frozen, and I found myself being ever so okay with The Dark One being, well, dark. What has happened to me?

    Frozen continues to impress; I cannot believe the effort the writers went into to turn this cartoon extravaganza into real, relatable people on my favorite show. I love that Disney is allowing the justified criticism of Gerda in the movie to spill over into her backstory; of COURSE she’s terrified of Elsa after seeing the price of her sister’s magic, and of COURSE she handles it in exactly the wrong way. And Helga is so very much like Anna; the eternal optimist with no way to believe a weasel over her own sister (how perfect was the Duke!?), who meets a terrible demise, cementing the monster idea in Ingrid’s heart. Ingrid would have been better served to remember the sister who stood by her rather than the sister who imprisoned her in the urn; she clearly decided that Anna was the latter and was trying to save Elsa the same fate. Or maybe she was projecting what happened to her onto Anna and Elsa. Either way, the calm and collected crazy coming from Elizabeth Mitchell when she was talking to Emma was incredibly acted; she pushed all the right buttons to prime Emma, and it was almost inevitable that Snow fell neatly into the trap that was set.

    Snow White, way to set yourself back seventy years in one fell swoop. One of my highest praises of Once Upon A Time is its efforts to unwind this Snow from her original caricature, and with one episode, I’m ready to put her back into a sleeping curse. Not that I don’t understand the sheer terror she must have when faced with losing any family members to the price of magic, but c’mon, it’s Emma. And there is no “we”. Not Charming, not Hook, not baby Neal; none of them reacted to Emma like she was a monster; that was all you. Everything the Snow Queen said to Emma rang horribly, painfully true. After years of feeling like one misstep, one mistake could cost you a family in the foster care system; Emma was finally allowing herself to trust that her family loved her for who she was, as her whole self. And Snow reminded Emma in heartbreaking ways that she will always be the adopted child, on the outside looking in. And although I’m gutted for Emma, I’m really glad the show addressed the elephant in the room, so to speak. You can’t just fit a 28-year-old orphan back into a fairy tale family and expect to have a happily ever after ending right away. Nothing can erase those years of being alone, and Snow and Charming will have to navigate a new family dynamic, one that includes Emma as their adult child, but not one they raised.

    The Disney Princess Mommy and Me class remains the greatest meta-moment this show has ever had, as Aurora (don’t touch the box!) and Cinderella join Snow White as life continues to go on after the happily ever after of the movies.

    Congratulations, show! I haven’t watched one second of Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, yet a five-minute conversation between two Merry Men made me want to know what happened to Will and his love, and cemented this quote in OUAT lore: When you see the good in someone, you don’t give up on them, especially if they don’t see it themselves. This show, with the quotable quotes! I want to vinyl them all over my office when I install the birch tree wallpaper.

    Gold being evil and Henry being adorably decked out as a Gold mini-me was a nice touch, and as you pointed out in your recap, Rumplestiltskin sharing a rare moment of truth with Ingrid as a young girl was absolutely phenomenal. He has the best chemistry with her and I really hope there is more to come between the two of them and their stories.

    I saved the best for last. I know I’m supposed to think of Robin Hood as a noble, always-do-the-right-thing gentleman even after a few weeks of mild stalking of the formerly evil queen, but heaven help me; that kiss was hot. I’m sorry, Disney, if I wasn’t supposed to think so, but yes, I had a moment with that married man in a cannon Disney tale kissing someone who is not his supportive and loving wife. Still have no clue how the show resolves that little problem, and I love it. Unlike David Nolan and his fake marriage, which was all okay once we realized that Snow White and Prince Charming needed to be together forever, Robin Hood is truly entangled in less-than-noble, less-than-Disney-prince desires, capped by the line, “I’ve tried to live by that code every day of my life.” As Regina questions, “Then why are you here?” “Because today is not one of those days.” And I’m loving it. And probably feeling worse than he is about it.

    This show. And two hours next week? I’m clearing my schedule.

    • “Unlike David Nolan and his fake marriage, which was all okay once we realized that Snow White and Prince Charming needed to be together forever, Robin Hood is truly entangled in less-than-noble, less-than-Disney-prince desires” I know people like to compare Regina/Robin/Marian senario to David/Katherine/MM , but I don’t see many similaries there, one being exactly what you brought up. The situation between Regina and Robin is much more ‘dangerous’ because we don’t know how its supposed to end! And I feel like the Regina/Robin/Marian senario is closer to the Emma/Hook/Neal debacle last season. I am still sad we didn’t get a scene between Hook and Regina snapping at each other about it, but then again I have this weird need for more scenes between Regina and Hook in general, so I am biased.

      I really enjoyed your whole comment!

      • The only similarity I see is that both men are essentially cheating on their wives, something really out of the box in Disney lore. We can excuse David because of the curse, but the show is making no excuses for Robin, which I actually love, because we don’t have a clue where it’s going! Excellent point about the Neal/Hook/Emma triangle and I also would love to see a scene between Regina/Hook or even Robin/Hook about it. Of course, I have always wondered what would have happened if it had been Graham they had brought back instead of Marian. I think the writers sabotaged Neal beyond repair; Hook never had any real competition from Neal. Graham, however. This show! I literally can’t stop talking about it!

        • And on second reflection, was Neal the original end game until the Hook/Emma story unfolded? Or were both him and Marian props for the real one true loves? And are they really going to break up a Disney paring? Can’t wait for next week. And I also enjoy all of your comments!

          • I am probably opening a can of worms here, but I have always believed that Neal was never meant to be a current romantic interest for Emma. For me, it seems weird to have an entire episode (Tallahassee) that highlighted how Emma couldnt take a chance on a man she felt an instant connection to (Hook) because of how badly she was burned by her first love (Neal) if they intended for Neal and Emma to reconcile. I always thought Neal in the present day was in love with the idea of him, Henry and Emma being a family, but wasn’t necessary in love with Emma as a person. Neal was first and foremost a part of Rumple’s story, and its a shame that he got kinda thrown into the role of being an obstacle for Emma and Hook. But there are plenty of people that would argue otherwise about Neal’s role in the story. I actually really liked Neal, and I would have loved to see a healthy adult friendship between Neal and Emma as they raised Henry. Separated parents (where both of them are still in the picture) is not a relationship we have seen yet on the show, and as someone that grew up with divorced parents I think that kind of relationship on the show would be nice to see, and something a lot of kids could relate to.

            • I couldn’t agree with you more about Neal. I felt like Emma’s feelings for him were the equivalent of a youthful, very intense thing — real but not lasting, burning hot and then burning out. And I think your comment about Neal being in love with this idea of creating a perfect little family with Henry and Emma but not really IN LOVE with who Emma was relative to her role in Fairy Tale Land and as the Savior, etc., is spot on. The Emma as a member of his old world, I never thought Neal wanted to buy into that because he was so soured on magic, etc.

              • Now if only someone would tell that to Snow. One of my main frustrations with her (and there are many) is that she refuses to acknowledge and learn the REAL story about what happened between her daughter and Neal. And to name your kid after your daughter’s ex-boyfriend, bringing up those emotions and pain…I can’t even!

            • I agree with this comment 1000000% percent. I always thought Tallahassee was meant to set up Hook as Emma’s main love interest because it clearly showed why, despite her initial reaction to trust him, what Neal (and August) did to her in the past made her unable to take a chance with Hook. I thought the delineation between Neal as a past love interest and Hook as a future one was made clear in a very smart way. I think things got complicated when Colin broke his leg and there ended up being a lot more scenes between Neal and Emma than there were between Hook and Emma in the back half of Season Two, which I don’t think was the initial intention (but of course that is all pure speculation on my part).

              I also agree that I would have LOVED to see Emma and Neal develop a friendship and a healthy co-parenting relationship. It still makes me sad that all we got was that great scene with them in the forest sharing a happy moment of friendship right before he died.

          • Re: Robin/Marian…I know this is probably going to sound like I’m splitting hairs here, but I have never felt like Robin and Marian were supposed to be the live action equivalent of the Disney film…and that being the case (in my head canon), I have absolutely no problem with Robin ending up with Regina. I think he and Marian had their love story, but if she’s “supposed” to be dead, as she would be, if the timeline hadn’t been altered…OQ would be their second romance? The thing I keep coming back to, I guess, is that the reason Robin is probably having issues with welcoming Marian back into his life is the fact that he’s grieved and picked up the pieces and attempted to move on — whereas Marian is coming from a place where there was no separation, no distance.

            But in the end in order for any bit of my head canon to work (ha!) I really need OUAT to step up and give us some significant Robin backstory…

            Great thoughts here by everyone!! 🙂

          • Neal was NEVER meant to be endgame for Emma. That much was obvious from the Tallahasee episode… that episode laid the groundwork for Emma/Hook. The connection – the sexual chemistry and tension. They talked about love and trust, he read her so clearly like no one ever had… and this man also saw how capable and amazing she was. He also understood deep down why she left him up there and let’s not forget the start of Snowing parallels with them so far.
            Colin was already announced main cast regular before his first episode aired which said a lot to how much the creators were impressed and then we know in his 2nd episode he meets Emma… 3rd episode Emma/Hook set up.
            And u were meant to see Emma’s journey with Hook in present vs the past… The whole structure of the episode was present v past.
            I never really saw a triangle between the 3 of them. It was always about Emma moving past those issues and confronting them… and steadily having Emma/Hook development.
            We saw everything in Emma/Hook that was to highlight such difference from her and Neal. Mainly someone who read her like a book, talk about trust, understanding her and each other and importantly CAME BACK TO HER… and also the belief he has in Emma – her thing with lies he never mocked and her magic which he never really judged her unlike Neal and choosing Emma each time which Hook has done. Hook and Henry are also pretty much parallel to in finding her and bringing her home and believing in her…. thats how you write a on going intentional connection and build up and Emma’s love story. And it’s always been Emma and Hook.
            And Adam and Eddy admitted that was always the plan… more do they could carry their original intent coz they found Colin who fitted in and impressed as Hook. Plus ABC and OUAT took put a original music videos of true love promo just after Hook came to Storybrooke with Cork on his ship. They only put in Emma/Hook’s bandage scene in there with rest of the couples (biggest hint there). And Jen mentioned in the OUAT magazine around there that Hook was a flame of hope for her and has always used the term kindred spirits for them 🙂

    • Christy, I could seriously read your thoughts all day. Your enthusiasm and excitement is so contagious, and I’m so happy to have you here, sharing all of that with us.

      Like you, I am so glad the show seems to finally be making a move towards addressing the issues in Emma and Snow’s relationship—because it’s needed to happen for a long time.

      And while I didn’t watch all of OUAT in Wonderland, I can say that Will and his True Love Anastasia were the best parts of what I watched. If you ever get a chance to watch any clips of their story, it would be time well spent. I so hope she’s not dead and will make an appearance on this show someday because I think she’d fit in with this group even better than Will.

  6. I also feel pretty strongly that, given Rumple’s reaction when Ingrid whispered to him, the secret to finally being free of the dagger is going to involve him hurting Hook. I also think, however, that the end goal is not necessarily destroying the pirate, but eliciting a reaction from Emma. I think, much like Anna’s tears on the dagger to get access to the hat, a physical by-product of Emma’s reaction to Hook being hurt/killed is what he needs. Perhaps it’s something nebulous like her “despair,” or the corruption of her light magic that would come from rage/hate/grief, or a physical product like tears or blood, but I think that’s what he needs. Or, as yo said, it might just be Ingrid playing Rumple to further isolate Emma. I think she’s read the Emma-Hook relationship pretty well and understands that getting her to abandon him is going to be a lot harder than making her suspect her parents are afraid of her. Hook, after all, has loved Emma, and all of Emma, even the magical part of her, for a while, and made no secret of wanting her to be everything she can be.

    I also found the backstory this episode absolutely heartbreaking. Of all the minor villain’s we’ve encountered so far, I feel like Ingrid’s is the most complex. Although there were some (sort of) similar themes with Zelena concerning love and family, I really feel like Ingrid is substantially more fleshed out and realistic. Haven’t we all felt a fear of rejection? Haven’t we all reacted negligently and had to deal with the guilt and pain and the consequences of our actions? Ingrid’s backstory is so genuine and tragic, I can sympathize with her motivations even if I don’t support her end game. I knew from the first moments of the episode when young Gerda showed that slight hesitation before taking her sisters’ hands that she would be responsible for putting Ingrid in the urn and also knew from Helga’s unwavering love and support (and the fact that she “disappeared” at some point in the past) that something bad would happen to her, and it would mostly like be Ingrid’s fault. I will say I was SHOCKED that they actually killed Helga, and Mitchell’s reaction was brilliant (major kudos to her for being to cry well, it’s a difficult thing to manage).

    I also wondered about the ribbons, I was thinking maybe because they’re supposed to be imbued with the sisters’ love that they’ll somehow tie the three of them together, like a love spell. After all, having Emma and Elsa isolated and fearful isn’t enough, I think Ingrid wants them to LOVE her too.

    Oh Snow. Snow, Snow, Snow. I believe she has single handedly (what was all this “we” nonsense?!) set poor Emma back years, emotionally. Even as I could rationally understand how she was reacting, it was so terrible to watch. I, too, desperately want a mother-daughter heart-to-heart at some point so Emma can confront Snow about her behavior in relation to her children this season. I love your observation about the divide in the group of supporters by the lamp post, and I also loved that even if he was worried/thinking about protecting Emma, David reacted to the falling post by pushing HOOK out of the way.

    Yay for more Henry screen time and I’m glad the Knave is back, I really want to know what he’s up to.

    • Great catch on pointing out young Gerda taking a beat before holding Ingrid’s hand! I didn’t notice that on my first watch, and it was an excellent little detail and moment of foreshadowing.

  7. Thank you for the detailed breakdown of Ingrid and Emma’s interrogation scene. It was fantastic and I have little to add to it. I think you captured the parallels of the manipulation that the Snow Queen was using in comparison to the sincerity of her youth really well. I like you thought the flashback of this episode was fantastic. I was immediately invested and I loved that we were given the path that drove the Snow Queen to her current evil. I love that this show takes to heart that villains aren’t simply bad. They are truly misunderstood, misguided and isolated. Your breakdown of Ingrid and Rumple really got me thinking about how this is the first villain who has stood toe to toe with Rumple. She’s got knowledge he lacks (about the hat) and the only thing she needs from him in SB is the very thing she gave him. For me, what made the dynamic in the flashback so compelling is that for the first time here was someone with magic who wasn’t seeking a path to power from Rumple. Instead for Ingrid he was a solution to her fears. It is why she devalues the ribbons in the trade. She believes magic requires a magical solution to control, when we know all it requires is the belief and trust from those you love. Rumple understands Ingrid because in spite of being the Dark One (and I love that is how she refers to him in the magic shop) Rumple was first a man driven to magic by fear and inadequacy. The heartbreak that comes from Helga’s demise was so much greater because of the immediate defense she took of Ingrid. Her love and devotion to her sister was unwavering. The idea that Ingrid destroyed the one person who held that belief not only fed into her self-loathing of her magic, but was equal to the fear that caused Gerda to put her in the urn. Ingrid’s fear around the Duke caused her to strike first and Helga paid the price. Ingrid’s loss of faith was cemented with Gerda’s actions. She firmly believes that only those with magic can understand one another. It is why she is driven by her quest and desire to build this new family. That conviction is affirmed by Anna’s questioning of Ingrid’s motives last week. People without magic will always be quick to blame those with it. They will always ultimately fear them. And frankly, that is a truism that has played out throughout the history of this show with Red, Regina and even to a degree Snow when Katherine was suspected to be murdered.

    For me, this show has always been about family and the relationships between parents and children. It is why this week’s clear delineation that we chose to believe in those we love. The power of love is that we chose to believe the best despite what the circumstances show because believing isn’t about when everything is fine, it’s about when everything goes sideways. That’s the lesson that Anna and Elsa carry from Frozen to the characters of Storybrooke. It’s why Will Scarlet’s words resonate so deeply. Everything about this episode was about seeing what others can’t see in themselves. It was true of Ingrid and Helga in the flashbacks, it is true of Hook’s reaction, it’s true of Robin’s response.

    No matter how badly Ingrid manipulated the situation, which she did brilliantly, Emma’s refusal to accept her mother’s shortcomings in their relationship was ultimately what opened the door to Ingrid gaining a foothold. Emma from the start is convincing herself as she convinces others that her family loves her unconditionally. And while that is in fact true, love isn’t about saying the right things, it’s about doing the right things. This is why Elsa talking about understanding how others looked at her was important. Elsa accepted that some people feared her because Anna believed in her. Anna’s belief allowed Elsa to believe in the possibility of acceptance. It is what makes Snow’s betrayal all the worse.

    I have been continually disappointed about the lack of evolution of Snow and Emma’s relationship throughout the series. Emma and Snow share a similar regret when it comes to giving up a child. Rather than serving as a point of connection, Snow has chosen to ignore it. We clearly see that in her reactions/responses around Neal and her lack of compassion when Emma calls attention to it. As you pointed out either Snow completed overcompensated or hasn’t made any genuine attempts since the echo cave. It makes perfect sense that Emma’s powers which are driven by emotion overpower her when she is most afraid. Snow along with the rest of those closest to her have seen evidence of this in the past. It is why the baby bottle incident upset me. Regardless of what was happening Snow had no reason to doubt Emma or her magic (and its intent). In the moment when Snow could have stood beside her daughter from the looks of doubt from the others in the room, she didn’t. She sided with the others. She let fear trump love. She didn’t believe. This is a repeated cadence we’ve seen from Snow when it comes to Emma. The fact is Snow has never actually chosen Emma as her child. First she chose the greater good when making her the savior under Rumple’s curse. She again chose to stay in Neverland if faced with the choice of leaving Charming behind. Where Emma was willing to give her life to save Henry, Snow without a second thought was willing to leave her child alone in the world again. Even when the two of them were in the Enchanted Forest together trying to get back against Cora, they were comrades. At no point has Snow shown the ability to be Emma’s parent. As a parent it is our job to believe in our kids. To love them in spite of their actions. We may disapprove, we may not agree but we fundamentally need to believe in who they are. Snow has never gotten to know who Emma is really. She’s always seen Emma through the prism of her own choices as a parent and that prism is guilt. That guilt has caused her to overprotect all things surrounding baby Neal and ignore that person that her daughter is to forge a relationship that is theirs and that accepts the fact that there is an entire part of Emma’s life that Snow can’t course correct. Just as Emma has found a way to build a relationship with Henry, in spite of giving him up Snow could have done the same with Emma. No one can better understand Snow than Emma, but Snow has refused to allow that vulnerability around the consequences of her choices when it came to Emma. In believing that her choice was for the greater good, Snow has inadvertently held Emma to a standard she hasn’t earned as a parent. Snow holds her against her choices when Emma was a baby, not the realities Emma has actually lived. The idea that she can even say in that moment when they don’t find Emma that ‘they’ve failed her’ is a disillusioned vantage point of what actually happened. As you broke down the layout of where Hook and David were and their reactions. Snow chastising Emma in a moment when she was clearly afraid as everyone approached and SAID SO to them compounded Snow’s immediate fear and rejection.

    As a child, you need to believe your parent sees the best in you. It is what grounds you to keep the voices of doubt from controlling you. When she needed her most Snow rejected Emma by believing the worst in her instead of rejecting it outright, as Helga did for Ingrid. Instead, Snow set in motion a trajectory for Emma that her worst fears are in fact true. That while her family may love her it isn’t the unconditional love we all seek and need as children. Regardless of how old Emma is the need of that lost girl defines who she is as a person. As with so many others our self image is defined by the people who are suppose to see past it. It is what guards her and what makes her most vulnerable. Snow fails Emma at arguably the most important moment in her life and reinforces a fear that has clung to her over the span of her experiences. It’s why she runs. Not simply because she doesn’t want to hurt those she loves but because she believes herself unworthy. What infuriates me about Snow’s reactions even more is that she has been on the receiving end. When she was accused and believed to have killed Katherine before the curse was broken, David had doubts. She rejects David for them and is left alone. She’s experienced what Emma has and still didn’t use that knowledge to connect to her child.

    While Snow may love Emma, she’s never accepted and believed in who Emma is, not simply as the savior, but as her child. Much like Gerda lacks belief when faced with reality, Snow shared those same traits from the beginning in her refusal to hand over Neal to her outright shaming Emma when she was most scared. Instead of running to protect her daughter she rejected her for her actions, actions she knew Emma wasn’t in control of and by doing so she has set in motion a journey for Emma that we previewed next week where she seeks to get rid of her powers. I know you wrote about the parallels to Hook with Rumple’s manipulation. But I am also hoping that Regina can have the opportunity to be a friend to Emma. To test what they set up when Emma went back to Regina and reached out to her. Because no one knows the isolation being misunderstood and judged as a monster for your magical actions than Regina. I hope that in both Hook, Regina and Elsa she finds her way and that ultimately she is able to confront Snow for the underlying disbelief that has tarnished their relationship.

    • Wow. Incredibly powerful words about the Snow/Emma relationship, and it’s so true. And it’s a bold move by the show; I never bought the show tarnishing perfect Snow White by having her kill Cora; that was a necessary cost of battle. It’s what Snow has consistently done to Emma, over and over, that has really defined her. So many characters on this show are moving forward, to better versions of themselves, even as they have setbacks, but Snow is living in her own world of denial, and I really, really want to see her break free from that. I thought the Season 3 finale may have brought that change, but she really doesn’t know how to relate to Emma at all, and it’s going to cost her something as she figures it out (and I hope she does!).

      • A part of me really believes that Ginnie’s pregnancy derailed her story line a bit and they haven’t quite figured out how to realign it. But like you I hope that they have a great fight and air it out in order to move on. Snow has been acting as though Neal was the only baby she’s ever had. I get that she’s afraid because of what Zelena pulled, but she has shown little compassion to the real awkwardness that Emma must feel watching a life her parents chose not to have with her as a baby when they chose to put her in the portal. It doesn’t matter that it was for a greater purpose. They sent her to another realm as an infant with neither of them to protect her because they chose to remain in EF and stay by each other’s side. That’s a choice Snow repeats in Neverland and Emma needs to call her to the carpet for it if they are going to find a place to be close and connected. Emma possesses magic because of Snow and Charming’s actions and because she is the product of true love.

        • Not to mention the dual conflict of seeing everything her baby bro does that she missed with Henry (fake memories notwithstanding). Part of her inner turmoil at that mommy and me thing is that she is a mother too, but not included in their little clique. She tells herself she doesn’t care, about her mother being there, not being included (whether it’s because Henry is 12 or because she gave him up), but there’s judgement on those princesses faces and it’s not all about the bottle. Only Cinderella hugged her, acknowledged her, and even she got that look. The “you’re not one of us, you couldn’t understand” look.

          Even if Ginnie’s pregnancy changed the direction of the storyline, I think what it’s forcing them to acknowledge here is just as powerful and important.

    • I am also hoping Regina plays at least some role in reaching out to Emma, if only to at least to bring her back into the action. If I have one nagging complaint this season, its that I NEED Regina to have something to do. I am all for her taking a temporary backseat main plot wise, but what is she doing all day? So far from what the show has shown me, Regina’s day goes something like this: Wake up, make coffee, stare at the storybook. Curse my villain persona. Send Henry off to school. Go down to vault to stare longingly into photograph of Robin. Re-read storybook. Its basically the equivalent of Rapunzel at the beginning of ‘Tangled’. I half expect Regina to burst out into song soon – “just wonder when will my [plot] begin?”. Even if they just showed her baking or doing laundry or something productive I think I would feel better about this. I never thought I would find myself wanting to see more of Regina, but now that she is gone, I have to say she deserves better and I miss her.

      • OK first of all I would pay cash to watch Parilla sing the opening number from Tangled. As I mentioned earlier, this is the blind spot of this creative team building the cast of many. I love that they are intertwined ensemble pieces but often (and what has happened this season) is that the field gets too crowded and we wind up with long stretches with key players who have little to do. It was what I most appreciated about the Neverland arc. It took the core who were central to the show (and frankly who I most cared about) and set them off on a quest. Now is s4 it is the price we pay for the Frozen storyline. I can forgive it because it got me that great flashback an the best villain in the show since they introduced Rumple, but it does mean Henry and Regina in particular are dangling in the wind a bit. It’s why I appreciated her in the woods and Captain Guyliner from last week. I like you want Regina to be a part of this contingent against the Snow Queen. I am very hopeful that our scenes about Emma and Regina forging a friendship play out. Especially based on what Emma told Regina that she is one of the few people who is capable of understanding what she goes through having magic. This isolated moment for her could be a place for Regina (and Elsa) to clearly step in and I hope that happens. Especially because the power of family and sisterhood is thematically in keeping with both Frozen and this storyline. More so than true love being what overcomes the Snow Queen ultimately.

        • i think this season is a classic example of too much of a good thing. There are so many great themes going on and so many possible opportunities between all the characters and I am greedy and I want them all. Just if we look at what Emma is going through, there are so many different people that could connect to her right now on different levels. We have Elsa and Regina who can understand having magic and being misunderstood. Then there is Henry and Hook that have always believed in her powers. Hook is going through similar insecurities right now. Snow needs to make an effort to understand Emma and let her know she is here for her. I want to see all of these things happen and its disappointing that they can’t fit them all in!

    • I think its interesting you bring up MM being accused of killing Katherine and rejecting David for doubting her. ‘Hat Trick’ is one of my favorite Emma/MM episodes because of the fact that Emma doesn’t give up on MM when everyone else does. Makes what Snow is doing now even harder to swallow. But I am going to remain hopeful that we will get some much needed Emma/Snow scenes by the end of this half season.

      • EXACTLY!!! Snow just ticked me off beyond recognition this episode. Unlike others here, I don’t see the reasoning for her behavior. I think she simply doubled down on Emma being more a symbol within her life than her actual child.

    • Wow I just love everything you said. It makes me really sad to see how far apart Emma and Snow’s relationship has become. The show has done a wonderful job of developing Emma’s relationship with Charming and I really would love the same for Emma and Snow.

    • I really love everything you had to say about Emma and Snow’s relationship and where Snow went so wrong in this episode and previous ones. You articulated everything so perfectly that I can know skip over them for my comment because I completely agree.

    • This was—in the words of your favorite and mine—an extraordinary comment. I have so little to add except to say thank you for so perfectly getting to the heart of why Snow was so infuriating this week, and I think you said it so perfectly because you have that point of view of a mother yourself. It does always come back to belief, and, like you said, Snow failed to believe in Emma when she needed her the most. I watched the scene outside the sheriff’s station again yesterday, and I was struck by the fact that it’s only David and Hook who approach Emma at first—Snow stays back. Those two men wanted to show Emma that they believed in her even when she didn’t believe in herself, but her mother stayed back. That little detail was so telling but so sad. On a show so focused on the idea of believing in the people you love, Snow’s inability to believe in her daughter at such a crucial point truly was a failure—and it was a failure she should own as hers and no one else’s.

  8. Great review. I’m glad so much of this episode was focused on Emma. I’ve had a hard time with the last two episodes as they focused more on Belle and Regina – two people who aren’t central to the SQ story, but I also feel like they did that to give Emma and Hook their small moments and some breathing room. And I think it is the bond they have continued to build that is going to be central to defeating the SQ.
    I’m very disappointed in Snow’s reactions, but I also think it shows that in trying to be Emma’s mother, Snow has forgotten how to be her friend. And I think that is central to their relationship – Snow wants to be her mother and not her friend.
    Also I think its important to remember that Snow has had very little exposure to Emma’s magic – she has no idea what Emma is capable of. David and Hook have seen Emma use her magic much more often than Snow and are much more comfortable with it.
    I agree Snow’s guilt weighs heavily on her. And she tends to ignore things she doesn’t understand or can’t relate to. I keep thinking about Neverland when Emma told Snow she kissed Hook. I always thought Emma brought it up because she wanted to talk to her friend MM about it. To try and figure out why she did it. Instead MM said Neal would understand. Then there was the pushing Emma to have lunch with Neal and even naming the baby Neal. I’d still love to know who suggested that name, but I’ve always assumed it was Snow. Neal was Emma’s first love, so I think Snow always assumed it was like her and Charming’s love – but it wasn’t. And if they had known that Neal sent Emma to jail, but also knew she was the savior years earlier and did nothing – there is no way Charming would have named his son after him. Snow seems the world through her true-love colored glasses and Emma’s much more of a realist.
    That being said – I would love if this shattered sight curse brought some of the issues to the forefront. Like Charming calling Snow out on her failing their daughter not him. Or Hook telling Snow that she named her son after the man who sent her teenage daughter to jail. I’d even like to see Snow confront Regina on the 28 years she cost her with her daughter.
    I’d like to see the fallout from this really be a chance for Snow to learn about her daughter. But I don’t want it to be overnight. I’d like to see the strain continue. I’d like to see Emma decide its time to move out. And I’d like to see Snow struggle with just how much she doesn’t know her daughter and how much her choices for the greater good have hurt Emma. It was Snow’s death that made Emma realize where her home is, its rather poetic that its Snow attitude that sends her running again.
    I had to laugh at Henry’s line to Regina about getting married – mainly because Regina will be the mother-in-law from hell. Also I have serious reservations about Regina – who knows better than anyone how manipulative Rumple can be – allowing Henry to work for Rumple. Henry may be his grandson, but I don’t think Rumple is above using him to get what he wants.
    Also loved Hook reading Rumple about his possible involvement with the SQ.
    Not sure that they are doing with Outlaw Queen, but the angst is lacking and the only one I feel for is Marian.
    Finally, we know Henry is going to be put in danger by Emma’s magic which is why she wants to get rid of it. And I think it is a smart move that Henry will basically be playing the Anna we met at the ball at the beginning of Frozen who inadvertently sets Elsa’s powers off. Henry has an innocence and a belief in Emma that makes him think she can do no wrong. I can see Henry trying to push Emma, thinking he is helping, but only making the situation worse. And then I think it will be Hook that steps in and anchors Emma and her powers. Hook has a belief in Emma because she is Emma, not because she is the savior. She’s an open book to him and I also think we might be getting more of Hook’s past soon. A lot of Emma’s insecurity comes from her being abandoned and believing she was unwanted. Who better than Hook, a lost boy in his own right, to get through to her?
    Also since the promo looked like Henry found Emma in the woods and I couldn’t tell if it was just him and her, but I have this theory that Rumple manipulates Henry into pushing Emma and maybe even leads Henry right to her? Basically setting Emma up to get her magic and using Henry to do it. While I agree going after Hook would make Rumple giddy I also think the chance to get the savior’s true love magic for himself would also make him just as happy.

    • I loved so many things about this comment, but I have to make special mention of your theory about Henry being like Anna. They both share a similar naiveté, and I think that will ultimately be why he can’t be the one to help her control/calm her powers completely. Unlike Anna, who ultimately grew to become that person for Elsa, I don’t think Henry is old enough yet to be that person for Emma. That’s too much responsibility for a kid. Also, I think Emma’s fear of hurting Henry is so strong that it would only end up making things worse. But I do think it’s important for her to know that her son believes in her as strongly as I’m sure he does, which has me very excited for that scene between them, even though I know her seemingly blasting him with her magic is going to hurt to watch.

      • I agree that Henry is too young and innocent to be the person Emma can depend on to help control her powers. Plus I’ve always thought Henry carried a burden feeling like it was his responsibility to keep Regina from reverting to the EQ since so much of her redemption story was built on being someone Henry wanted in his life, so to make him also responsible for Emma controlling her magic is way too much.
        With the SQ planting doubts in Emma’s mind about her parents, and knowing she pulls away from Henry when she can’t control her magic around him, it basically leaves Hook as the only person that may be able to get through to Emma.

  9. “So much of this season has focused on the theme of perception and self-definition: How do we see ourselves? How do others see us? Can we really change people’s perception of us, and, more importantly can we really change how we see ourselves? Is love strong enough to help us see the best we can be and to fight to be that best self? Every single one of those questions was touched on in “The Snow Queen.” Oh how perfect was this paragraph? Sums up all the things I am loving about this season so far. And while I love how these questions are being explored between all the characters, I especially love how this parallels are playing out between Hook and Emma when it comes to their insecurities (surprise, surprise). The fact that there has been so much talk about not being able to love someone you don’t understand only serves to highlight how important these two are for each other considering they are going through similar angst right now. I feel like the writers have really committed to the similarities, so much so that some of the dialogue from earlier this season is just starting to make sense. That scene between Elsa and Hook in the woods during ‘Rocky Road’ really confused me when I first saw it:

    “Tried to outrun that [magic] too when given the chance”
    “Its just that Emma has magic and you clearly don’t want to outrun her”
    “More like the other way around”
    “Maybe she feels the same way about pirates as you do about magic”

    Considering how Emma hasn’t really seemed to be all that unapproving of Hook’s pirate side this dialogue confused me at the time, but it makes way more sense now after ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘The Snow Queen’. I think Emma showed in ‘The Apprentice’ she was not scared off by his pirate side, and I love that the flaws that others see in them and that they see in themselves are not flaws they actually see in each other. I think that is huge moving forward into this next episode and the rest of the season. I also love how their intertwined fingers have become such a powerful symbol this season, and it makes Hook’s failed attempt to reach out for her hand at the end of the episode even more sad. I am really hoping that their clasped hands play a role in Emma being able to embrace and control her magic in the upcoming episodes.

    The scene between Emma and the Snow Queen at the station was just flawless. The Snow Queen verbalized so many points we have brought up before about the Charmings’ decision to send Emma through the wardrobe and it was painful to hear them all laid out one after the other. “I don’t have to know you Emma, I’ve been you”. I loved that line for some reason, and both of those actresses just killed that entire scene.

    I think I have to say that even though she gets a total of one episode, Helga is one of my favorite characters in OUAT history. I thought for sure she was going to believe the Duke over Ingrid and that would lead to Ingrid’s feelings of betrayal, but to my pleasant surprise she did not hesitate to defend her sister. I was legit cheering for her. Her unwavering faith in Ingrid was beautiful to see, and made her accidental death at the hands of her sister one of the most heart wrenching scenes of the show.

    Like everyone, I am really curious about what Ingrid whispered to Rumple. You would think it would have something to do with Killian, but I don’t understand how Killian would be important to getting the hat to work. There is the thought that he needs Emma’s magic, but I don’t see Ingrid wanting Emma to lose her powers. So even though I think the next episode is going to be about Emma wanting to give up her powers and Hook convincing her otherwise, I am still baffled as to how this all fits together.

    There were a lot of really nice minor parts of this episode as well. I might be the only one, but I really enjoyed hearing the story about how Robin met Marian. Considering we know pretty much nothing about Robin it was nice to at least get to know where his code came from (and more Will!). I haven’t been very invested in Robin and Regina’s story, but I think I would actually be more interested if it took kind of a dark turn. I am honestly baffled with where they are going with this one.

    And finally, Henry is almost as tall as Regina and he looked so classy in his work suit and tie, and I will now look at furniture polish with a sense of joy and wonder I didn’t think was ever possible.

    • I think you are right about Outlaw Queen taking a dark turn. After watching Snowing & Captain Swan go through all the ups & downs – it’s been too easy. It’ll be interesting what develops in the next few episodes – especially since we know Regina isn’t giving up her quest for the author.
      But I did think Will’s comment about loving someone enough to ruin your entire life was interesting when paralleled with Tink telling Regina in 3×3 that she didn’t just ruin her life when she didn’t go into the pub, she ruined his as well.

      • Wow, that’s a good observation. And it’s a loophole, if Robin should have been with her all along and was derailed by Marian, rather than Regina being the other woman.

      • Robin Hood’s more classical telling in Ivanhoe was more of a squatter/villain and definitely not a hero. He’s pretty well suited to Regina, but I like that they showed he’ll revert a bit. It’s an interesting thought, who would Robin and Regina be if she had gone into the bar that day instead of turning her back.

    • You are not alone on the delivery of “I’ve been you”. They were perfect in that scene and I ate it up like candy.

      I was so focused on my Snow ire this week I sacrificed all things Robin and Regina. I too really loved the Will scene with Robin. In a short amount of time we were given a terrific insight to Robin and his relationship to Marian.

      Am I alone in thinking that Robin was never in love with Marian the way he is with Regina that perhaps Robin’s love for Marian is more the product of a gratitude and deference to the man she helped him become? The more I think about Will’s conveying of Marian’s perspective the more I think about the concept that Marian was never his true love and therefore his ‘trying to remember’ why he loved her will only conclude in the realization that true loves kiss will not be what brings Marian back.

    • And final Regina thought — am I the only one who has considered that Snow Queen deliberately froze Marian to take Regina out of the picture by distracting her when trying to implement her plan of getting Elsa and Emma to herself?

      • Could be, but I am not sure how much knowledge she had of that senario. Her main intention was to frame Elsa, so maybe she just got lucky with her victim. Although she could have froze anyone, so it’s not crazy to think that Rumple could have given her the target with that intention.

        • Ever since it was revealed that Sidney was working for the SQ in 4×5 I’ve been under the impression that Marian wasn’t a random target. Icing Marian was the perfect chance to bring Regina and her dark magic into the story. I’m thinking Sidney told the SQ exactly what was going on with Regina/Robin/Marian and the SQ played off of that to get what she wanted from Regina’s mirror.

          • Great point Mary. I had totally forgot about Sidney’s involvement! It makes total sense that he would give the Snow Queen Marian as a target.

          • Plus, Regina, Robin, and Roland had been in the ice cream shop before, when Snow Queen was Sarah Fisher. She’s been in town at least since season one, so she knows the town dynamics.

    • Can we take another second to completely fangirl over Helga? Like you, I now feel like I have a new character to add to my list of OUAT favorites after only knowing her for an episode. The fact that she immediately trusted Ingrid was the kind of surprise I love that this show is capable of delivering.

      I also want to thank you for mentioning Henry in his suit because it was adorable and he’s growing up so much and it kind of makes me emotional to think about it.

      “I am really hoping that their clasped hands play a role in Emma being able to embrace and control her magic in the upcoming episodes.” – You already know how I feel about this, but I need to state it for the record: I have a very strong feeling that their hands touching/interlacing/holding onto each other is going to play some role in calming her and helping her feel more in control of her magic. There’s just been too much focus on their hands—both in terms of them fearing their own hands and holding hands in moments of support—for it to be simply a matter of a cute thing to focus on. Emma held Hook’s hands specifically to comfort him when he was worried about losing control during their date, and I feel like the same thing might happen with Hook doing that for Emma. Or maybe I’m just reading way too much into the perfection of all of those hand-holding scenes from earlier this season. 😉

  10. Im so glad we are focused on more of Emma this season. I adore her… i watched the first season in a week in the middle of season 2, and i instantly took to Emma… and her journey was the main focus and i thought to myself, if ever Emma has her own romance they will bring in at some point he has to be one notch up from her parents story – and all i can say was i was so impressed with Hook…. and its very much due to the fact that INSTANTLY they laid the groundwork for these two after the episodes Hook was introduced… key thing was how they structured the episode and how he was different as well in terms of the first man to really see HER for who she is and understand and read her like a open book… and since then i’m been intrigued by them and also the parallels with her parents which she shares in her own love story. Ok moving on… i think i got carried away here lol 🙂

    I so very much agree with you on that both Rumple and Ingrid have played pretty much the same tactics with Hook and Emma, and im so glad in a way thats the case coz we can see the parallels and these two have the parallels which hopefully will bring in the UNDERSTANDING and more.
    Im so nervous and excited for the 2 hr episode… more Emma is always a pleasure but also seeing just how much she will hopefully progress and overcome this… and also see Hook trying to save her and i wont be surprised if he risks his life for Emma…. he is known for risking his life for LOVE… Emma is his LOVE and his whole world. But by saving her i do think he will be left in danger sadly.

    Another couple i want to talk about is… OQ, dont get me wrong – i totally get what the writers have set up since they introduced the whole pixie dust and Robin/Regina thing in season 3 and i get it and so on and they are meant to be… but i just find myself not that invested it, its like there is no build up in such as progression… i guess what i am saying is like progression and that flow in a couple. Like i saw with Snowing in season 1… we got told their story in FBacks and so on, and then we have Emma/Hook who are told in present and the build up and growth they have in every scene and dialogue (which as a Emma fan im happy for because this is her journey and she is the focal point of this show)…. i find this very much lacking in OQ (i guess kinda like Rumbelle too) , i dont know if its meant to be like that or ppl are just ok with Regina having love and are just ok with Robin and Regina and dont mind a build up but this is why im not really invested in them as in development i guess 🙂 like dont get me wrong they are one of the main 3 couples of OUAT but i feel indifferent to them i guess. Like im ok seeing less of Regina dominating this season because really what else are we suppose to learn about her through flashbacks and so on, we pretty much know how she was… anyways that all i wanted to say 🙂

  11. I remember Jennifer Morrison saying that one thing she really liked about this season was that we would get to see Emma fighting for Hook for a change, and that’s how I think Rumple hurting Killian would come into play next sunday. My theory is that Killian will definitely play a major role in helping Emma believe in herself and get her control over her powers back (JMo and Colin both mentioned on another interview that Hook is the Anna to Emma’s Elsa in this season), but moreover he is going to get hurt or trapped somehow by Rumple and Emma wil NEED her magic to save him. Either that or the much waited for True Love’s Kiss, but I give Ingrid more credit than to have her simply telling Rumple to trap Killian in a way that the kiss would still work. That seems to obvious for the queen of manipulation here. Now, as to how hurting/entrapping Killian thereby crushing Emma would fall into Rumple’s plans. Well, I think we’re all well aware that Emma’s magic is much more powerful than we’ve seen on the show so far; she was more powerful than Zelena, who was said to be one of the most powerful sorcerers to ever exist in Rumple’s own words in the letter Regina discovered. My guess is, Emma might be just as powerful (perhaps, even MORE powerful) than mr Rumplestiltskin himself. If his ultimate goal is to be free from the power of the dagger over him and thus become the most powerful wizard in the world, to me that certainly includes either stripping Emma out of her magic completely or killing her. I can only assume that Rumple’s plan is to kill/hurt Hook directly, or what I actually think was what Ingrid told Rumple, trap Killian in some some situation on which Emma’s powers would unwillingly hurt or kill her true love just like Ingrid did to her sister Helga. This would cause Emma to loathe herself enough to want to rid herself of her magic, maybe she would even go to Rumple himself to ask for help with this. In summary, this episode hurt me really bad and I am not sure whether I’ll survive two hours of angst and emotional arcs getting even more emotional next Sunday.

  12. Love your recap & this episode! I was not expecting to be so…gutted, I think is the word I’m looking for — by the Snow Queen’s backstory. That was just devastating to watch play out, even though I suspected Helga would die at her sister’s hand. Kudos to Elizabeth Mitchell for the powerful level of horror and grief that she brought to the aftermath of that scene!

    Mary Margaret…oh dear. The writing here, especially, frustrated me. I *get* why she’s so protective of baby Neal, I *get* the fear at the root of her actions — reactions! — to events. But to see her so totally throw Emma under the bus in this episode felt like a cop-out, particularly given the glimmers of Mama Snow that we’ve seen earlier in the season (her joy at Emma’s date night preparations, her emotion at seeing a glimpse of teenage Emma on the videotape). I just wish that somehow the writing for this ep didn’t feel like they were so totally disregarding the previous three seasons’ worth of trust and friendship that MM built with her daughter prior to baby #2.

    Gonna end w/ a quick comment on Outlaw Queen…considering that Robin has had such limited backstory/character development relative to others on the show, I am crazy-stupid invested in his romance with Regina. I love the two of them together on-screen and I think Lana and Sean have a fabulous chemistry. However…I desperately hope that at some point this season (the sooner the better as far as I’m concerned), we get some serious Robin character development and history. In 4×1, when he alludes to believing in Regina because they share a similar history (i.e., he’s done things he desperately regrets…dark things? I can’t remember the exact wording) — we need to SEE some of that. I think it would make the whole Outlaw Queen relationship that much richer in the end.

    • I’m glad to see all the different Outlaw Queen perspectives because I’m a little torn. Honestly, I’m really irritated at Robin Hood right now. Regina is trying so hard to do the right thing. (I think that’s why she stays in the crypt so much — it removes her from temptation.) I wonder how much of this is also driven by Regina trying to do the right thing by Roland (much like Hook staying out of Neal’s way with Emma for Henry’s sake). But Robin Hood is too busy thinking about how he feels . . . I think he uses Will’s words as an excuse to go to Regina. Here’s my problem: He made this big issue about being noble, but he bails on it when it gets tough. Any of us can be noble for 15 minutes. Try it over the long haul. I see Regina sticking to it when it’s tearing her apart, so I’d like to see Robin do the same.

      Anyhoo, it’s nice to read other perspectives to temper my crankiness on this issue. 🙂 It’s mark of the power of this story that we care so much about these characters.

      However, I may change my mind once we see where this goes. I did like the bit of insight we got into Robin and Marian and how they met — and Will’s running commentary as Robin told the tale.

      • I think that’s the main problem with the whole OQ situation, everyone is trying to do what they THINK is the right thing, but sometimes what we perceive to be right thing isn’t necessarily the best thing.
        Emma brought Marian back, she believed it was the “right thing” to do and from a moral perspective maybe it was, but in a broader sense tampering with time wasn’t. Every event happens for a reason and in going back and altering one event, you have no idea what mess you’re potentially creating in the future.
        Robin left Regina for Marian because he thought it was the “right thing” to do. He ended up putting himself in a predicament where he’s staying with someone he doesn’t love anymore out of a sense of obligation, while being completely in love with someone else, which honestly isn’t fair to either of them. Eventually, (assuming Marian is ever awoken and he did choose to stay with her) she would realize that his heart isn’t with her anymore and that he’s miserably forcing himself to be with her, which would just end up hurting her. It also wasn’t fair to Regina, as tough as she may be on the outside, Regina is an emotional little thing with not a great deal of self worth. Having him walking down the street holding hands and all in love with her, then 5mins later embracing his happy little reunited family, then the next day breaking it off with her and then continuously telling her that according to his honor/code she was the one worth leaving, has to hurt, and it has to knock her self worth down a notch more.
        Regina is trying to do the right thing by isolating herself from temptation and spending all her time getting Robin his happy ending which is beautiful, good and a testament to her growth, but it’s also cruel and soul crushing for her knowing that once Marian is awakened, he’s gonna ride off into the sunset with her and she’s gonna be left to pick up the pieces of her shattered heart. She’s also isolated herself from everyone else (minus Henry) that cares about her (and there are others, even if she doesn’t feel that way) and is letting herself deal with her emotional turmoil alone (in a crypt full of her dead loved ones no less, which is lowkey pretty morbid) like she’s done the last few times she’s been hurt and it usually leads her back to a darker place. Saying she’s also staying out of his way for Roland’s sake is also a case of attempting to do “the right thing”, but Roland doesn’t know Marian and if Regina and Roland did bond during the missing year, staying away/pushing him away isn’t good for him either.
        I don’t think he’s bailing on his honor because it’s hard, he bailing because he’s realizing that his actions while seemingly honorable, may not necessarily be the right thing and they aren’t really helping anyone, they’re just hurting himself and those he cares about.

      • Honestly…I don’t see Regina trying to do the right thing for Roland’s sake…if anything, it’s to continue to live up to Henry’s faith in her as a changed person…at least that’s how I read it. I’m willing to give Robin some leeway here, at least until how we see how the aftermath of his “lapse” plays out, because I do love me some romantic angst. And it seems kinda believable that the return of Marian is more of a shock than a relief/restoration, esp. considering that for all intents and purposes he’d grieved and been able to move on — and now this has come back to challenge his very fresh, very intense feelings for Regina. I guess I see him as just being kinda overwhelmed??

        I completely, 100% agree with you that his decision was short-sighted and immature — but lacking the backstory I desperately want to see (I guess it’s head canon for me, haha) I’m okay with seeing him like this (because that kiss was hella HOT) because I think we’re supposed to believe being honorable for him has been a long (off-screen) struggle.

        I have been so proud of Regina in respect to this, and I know there is going to be massive fallout for both parties! But a part of me thinks that has to happen, because until they realize the consequences of their actions they’re never going to be able to be together in anything resembling a healthy relationship, whenever they are free to do so. Like…we have to screw up to appreciate the high road.

        Thanks for sharing your perspective and please excuse my rambling. Love talking about these characters so I tend to get carried away. 🙂

    • I totally agree with you about needing more of Robin’s backstory. Part of my desire for it is because I love any and all Robin Hood stories, but the bigger part is because I feel like there’s too much we don’t know about him right now for me to care about him independent of his relationship with Regina. I’m hopeful that 4B brings us some much-needed flashbacks to Sherwood Forest!

      • Oh hope so! I feel like that *has* to happen, since the writers seem to have laid their cards on the table with the whole “pixie dust never lies” thing relative to Robin and Regina being each other’s true love!!

  13. Love your reviews, as always.

    First off – I’d like to take this time to state my annoyance of Snow. It’s been building up for about half a season after they headed back to the Enchanted Forest. Not to go all Snow Queen-psyche, but I totally see the truth in what she is saying. Snow seems to utilize the magic of Emma when necessary, so the fact that she was so haughty with David when she is the one who can’t make up her damn mind whether to appreciate Emma’s magic or fear it makes me irate. Ugh. Maybe it’s because I see more Mary Margaret rather than Snow lately and that’s what is bugging me. /shrug. It’ll be interesting to see how she handles her apology to Emma and if it will be enough.

    So the Rumple thing at the end. My inner fan girl screamed hysterically because I can see it being Killian. Will they kill him off? Of course not because Adam would probably need to go in hiding from the mob that would attack. As far as how it ties in with the hat…I have two theories – take them with a grain of salt of course…

    The first theory being as simple as the Snow Queen playing him. She wants Killian out of the way, yada yada yada. I’d like to think Rumple would know he’d be being played though if this was the scenario (maybe he doesn’t care, but that seems unlikely).

    The second being that with Killian out of the way, Emma would definitely give up her powers. She would have no one fighting for her. Emma giving up her powers TO the hat — well that’s what Rumple is after, isn’t it? The Snow Queen I don’t think necessarily REQUIRES Emma to have her powers (Helga didn’t), but is using them as a powerful tool of manipulation against Emma. As soon as she thinks she has Emma in her clutches emotionally and mentally, I highly doubt the focus will be on her powers but instead on “family” and love.

    • Oh and before I forget – I for some reason can’t get the throwing of the ice shard form the Snow Queen out of my head. Possibly could be irrelevant…but something is telling me it’s not. It bothered me, especially considering the tale of the Snow Queen in the original.

    • Thank you!

      My annoyance with Snow has been slowly building for a long time, too, which is sad because in Season One she was by far my favorite character (even as Mary Margaret), and I still love her in all of her flashbacks, including last season’s finale. I just think she has absolutely no idea how to treat a grown daughter. At first she tried pushing her (especially with all of the Neal stuff in 3A) because she thought that’s what she was supposed to do, but when that didn’t work and she got pregnant with baby Neal, it feels like she gave up in a lot of ways. Part of me wonders if it all comes back to the guilt of being the one to actually decide to put Emma in the wardrobe (since Charming didn’t want to even as the curse was coming); we all know Snow is the worst when it comes to handling guilt. But the reasons at this point are almost irrelevant. Her daughter needs her, and instead of just admitting that she failed her, she tried to make it seem like a group failure to satisfy her guilty conscience. The only thing keeping me from being more upset is the hope that this episode at least acknowledged all of the problems in Snow and Emma’s relationship, so there should be an emotional “put all the cards on the table” scene between them soon.

      • Agree, there is SO much guilt informing Snow’s interactions with Emma…its both frustrating and really really sad. I was thinking about why Snow seemed to push Emma so hard towards Neal…and I wonder, could the fact that Charming was (apparently) her first and only true love, her default is thinking that Neal must have been fated to be the same for Emma? Perhaps that’s a huge blind spot with her…for all that she did go through in the Enchanted Forest with her mother’s death and Regina, she’s arguably led a charmed life (when compared to Emma’s experience). I have to think that not only is the guilt factor overwhelming, but also this lack of experience and valid reference points so she could even BEGIN to understand Emma’s POV…

        • I have always felt that Snow had no concept of the idea of first loves and true loves not being one and the same because of what she had with Charming, and I think that informed everything that happened with her pushing Emma towards Neal in 3A. (I even wrote an essay about basically that exact idea over the summer hiatus.)

  14. I thought the EXACT same thing, about the Snow Queen playing Rumple to get hook out of HER way. He is a major obstacle to her progression with Emma. I agree that i feel he is the key to her controlling her magic, there have been countless scenes of him encouraging her, being there for her, not fearing her, and reaching out/taking her hand which is what Ingrid COULD have used to control her powers, the connection to her sisters. It’s possible he could tie in to Rumple’s plan if we learn more in his upcoming back story, but as of now, i don’t see how hook could prevent rumple’s quest for power over “everything.”

    • The only challenge I have with it being Hook is that it doesn’t solve Emma’s bigger tie to family which is Henry. Getting Hook out of the way is helpful, but I think when it comes to family her bond to Henry is the one Snow Queen should really be worried about in the long run.

      • I do agree that Henry is Emma’s biggest tie to a sense of family, but I wonder if Ingrid still thinks she can exploit the challenging dynamics in that situation like she did with Emma and her parents. This episode reminded us that Emma wasn’t the mother who actually got to care for Henry when he was a baby; Henry is always going to have two mothers. I wonder if Ingrid thinks she can try to get Emma to doubt her relationship with Henry (especially because he has been spending so much time with Regina this season), but I don’t think she’d be successful because Henry has absolutely no issues with magic, unlike his grandmother apparently does.

        • This ^. You took the words right out of my mouth.
          The difference also being that Henry is still a child – and although he is a very mature, observant child – he still has the emotions and reactions of a child. Emma’s tie to family is her son, yes, but that could easily be broken down by the Snow Queen – especially after from what looks like from the promo for tonight’s episode, she hurts him on accident.

  15. You pretty much hit everything I have been thinking about Snow and Emma, and I don’t have much to add. I’ve thought for a long time that those two needed to sit down and talk. I think part of it is that Emma is so used to keeping everything close to her chest, that she avoids mention of anything that could possibly be a heart to heart conversation starter. Right when the curse was broken, Snow wanted to know everything about Emma, but she pushed too hard and pushed Emma away, and then I think she backed off in a course correction, and then the other curse and so on, and now with Neal she hasn’t found herself in the same place to start the conversation. And seriously, the very fact that she named her son “Neal” shows better than anything else just how little she knows Emma.

    I have in my head this idea that Snow still sees Emma through a lens of how she was when she first got to Storybrooke, and the news articles that were in the Mirror, in the beginning. I think she hasn’t tried to connect with Emma via shared baby experiences because, as you pointed out, she believes that she gave Emma up for the greater good. She also knows that Emma was in prison when she had Henry for stealing over twenty grand in watches and is a felon. So if she believes that Emma had a good reason to give up Henry, she not only has to look closer at who Emma really truly is because of her time growing up in our world, but she also has to face the fact that maybe her decision to give Emma up wasn’t 100% altruistic and good.

    And I had completely forgotten about the fact that Emma was given up at three by a family that had a child of their own. That definitely is at play in both Emma’s conversation in the baby group as well as Ingrid’s targeted master manipulation of Emma’s deepest held fears and insecurities. Emma is a strong woman who has learned how to keep these things down, but the downside to being strong is that while the feelings and fears are successfully hidden, others grow complacent that they aren’t there. They are. And when the dam breaks you practically have to relive them as well as struggle to regain control. It’s a lot easier to plug a hole in a dam than it is to rebuild the dam, and right now, Emma has to rebuild the whole freaking dam on her fears because they’re like a raging river right now.

    Another reviewer said they thought the show retconned Snow when it suggested that she doesn’t accept Emma because of her magic. I don’t agree, I think it’s clear that Snow has never accepted that part of Emma, and it’s actually the primary barrier to her accepting Emma at all. When the curse was first broken, Snow was so heavy handed in her desire to get to know Emma, but once Emma’s magic manifested and they came home, that ended. It could be said that Snow backed off because she realized that Emma is a private person and doesn’t want to just dish on her life story, but in light of this episode, I think it’s clear that Snow’s distrust of magic – understandable since she was raised by Cora and Regina after all – is the actual barrier. Looking back, every time Emma and magic come up, Snow either backs off or gets disapproving. I wrote it off to her disapproving of Emma studying with Regina on principle, but maybe it was more than that, and just the fact that she has magic at all?

    David, on the other hand, has never balked at the magic at all and has in fact been the one who encouraged Emma to pursue it and learn it and use it. He’s the one who has accepted her for who she is, and like you all, I wanted to yell at Snow when she lumped him in with her at the end. David never pushed her away or kept her at arms length for anything. He didn’t push too hard when she needed space, and he was right there when she needed a shoulder, but Snow has been so caught up in her own fear of magic and fear of losing Neal, and probably worse than everything, the fear that just maybe she did the wrong thing when she gave Emma up to the wardrobe, that she hasn’t been able to accept Emma as a person. When she used the candle on Cora, she later said it was the wrong choice because it was easy, and I wonder if sometimes she feels guilt looking at Emma and thinking she made the wrong choice, because it was the easy choice? (I’m not saying she did. In all likelihood Regina would have killed baby Emma outright and that would have been that, but rose-colored glasses of the past being what they are…).

    Outside the sheriff’s station, I knew Emma was going to run as soon as she saw the mob of her family coming toward her, and almost unheard was Rumplestiltskin saying, “I would heed her,” and Henry calling out, “Mom!”. I think it’s significant that the only voice loud enough to really hear is Snow’s condemning, “Emma!” And also significant that at the primal moment of fear, she ran from everyone, including Henry. Like Snow said at the end of season 1, she reverted, just like that, except instead of kidnapping Henry, this time she left him behind. But as bad as that was, I think it’s worse that Henry of all of them, didn’t run after her. He would have before, but as he gets closer to Regina again, he pulls away from Emma, and that was pretty clear here too.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. I think Regina is going to get more screen time in 4b when Malificent comes out to play, them being best frememies and all. Plus, I thought they played Robin Hood perfectly, and like they usually do, they’ve woven the Disney story with the real story of the character and the result is more a real person than an idealized caricature. I actually read Ivanhoe (I’m not usually one for classics) and seeing him embrace his other side was refreshing.

    And Henry, well, I don’t think he understood what an apprentice is when he decided to work for his grandfather, and I think Rumple is testing his resolve to actually work there as well as see what Henry is made of. I’ve seen that look when he gave the furniture polish to Henry; I’ve seen it on Drill Sergeants when they’re giving you useless work to try and break you and make you argue. Rumple is waiting for Henry to snap and I think its going to be hilarious when he does. Probably it will be ala Karate Kid, but it will definitely be worth it.

    The only thing I’m really missing this season so far is Emma and Henry time. The only real time they spent together was Henry rebuffing her, and I miss their camaraderie.


    • I loved reading your defense of David because it was perfect. I think it’s very telling that it has never felt like he’s tried to hard to be a parent to Emma, and that’s what makes him such a great one. He seems to instinctively know what she needs and how to support her in the best way, and that’s what made Snow trying to lump him in with her in this episode especially aggravating.

      • It just occurred to me, but what if this is an outcome of Snow and David sharing half of Snow’s heart? He has easy compassion but she has less? Will have to give that some thought.

  16. Ok folks, stop being so insightful and interesting. I’m not getting any work done. And obviously it’s too much to ask me to exhibit self-control . . . .

  17. I was watching Frozen for the 2nd time with my little almost-5 year old friend last night and it was so much fun to see the characters through the lens of their Once versions! They are doing SUCH a good job of interpreting the film and blending it in with the Snow Queen tale (which I’m sure we’re about to see a lot more of) and all the wonderful fairy tale and Disney aspects of Once. Everything comes together so well. This show is just – !

    Something that no one has mentioned – when the ship was going down in the storm Gerda wrote the truth to Elsa and Anna and we haven’t seen that yet. I’m assuming at some point in flashback Elsa is going to get that note and it’s going to reveal Ingrid’s true nature or something. I’m not sure if that’s going to show up sooner, or later, but we still have to find out how Elsa ends up in the urn and in Rumple’s vault (obviously he is very familiar with the urn, surprise surprise!) So many storylines waiting to come together!

    I’m not much for speculating. These writers are just too good at wrapping things together and revealing things we could never imagine. I think a lot of the ideas here are probably pretty good guesses as to where we’re going, but I’m just looking forward to seeing what the writers pull out of the hat (or who they pull into the hat??)

    Thanks for the awesome recap, as usual. And I’m so happy to read so many insightful comments here too. This is a great place to come after the show ends while I’m waiting for the next episode. =) This week is going to be epic! I’m predicting that the next review is going to be your longest ever!!

    • Also, I’m am not feeling the Belle love from Rumple. On second watch, he was downright sarcastic about his “loving wife” during the scene in the shop. Is he going through the motions with her as a front for what he is really up to?

      • I caught that too. He also was quick to tell everyone to heed her. I think the only reason he actually went was professional curiosity about whether Ingrid could pull off what she planned with Emma. Talk about secrets, wait till Belle learns that he KNEW she was going to set Emma out of control and let it happen. And admired her “product” when it was done.

      • Ugh, Rumple is so fickle it seems about his love with Belle. One second, he’s remorseful and madly in love. The next? He’s sneering at her! I don’t understand at all why the flip-flop between episodes and have no theory as to why.

    • Thanks, Jo! I’m so happy you’re enjoying all of the comments this week, because they’ve been amazing. And I have a feeling my editing skills are going to get a workout when it comes to the review for this upcoming episode! 😉

  18. I have been waiting since the curse broke for Emma and her parents to finally face up to what they all lost when they put Emma into the wardrobe and I think we’re finally here. The Emma/Snow Queen scenes in the police station were amazing – both actresses were excellent and you just knew that everything the Snow Queen said to Emma were things she’d always feared but probably never admitted to herself. What made these scenes so powerful is that everything the Snow Queen said had a kernel of truth in them, and I can’t wait to see how this will all play out.

    So many excellent points have already been made about Snow that all I’ll say is that I really hope the issues brought up in this episode will be dealt with properly in the next couple of episodes.

    I always kind of wish they hadn’t killed Cora and I have to say I really hope they don’t kill off the Snow Queen at the end of this story arc. Elizabeth Mitchell is so good in the role and she has great chemistry with everyone. I just love her scenes with Rumple, she really is not afraid of him and I think she intrigues him.

    Rumple is in a really interesting place right now, I honestly have no idea what his motivations are – I know he wants to rid himself of the dagger, but what does that actually mean – he’s already the most powerful wizard in the Enchanted Forest and he’s pretty much immortal already so I don’t know what is making him tick right now. Up until now Bae has been the reason behind everything he did so I don’t know how far he’ll go now to get what he wants. Emma is my favorite character so I’ll always be most interested in seeing her story, but this season Rumple’s story is definitely fascinating to watch as well.

    • I’m with you in wanting Elizabeth Mitchell to stick around for as long as humanly possible. She’s such a fantastic addition to this cast, and she’s such a big part of what’s making me so interested in Rumple’s story this season as well.

  19. I nodded along so much with your review and with so many of the comments here that I’m left with very little of my own to say.

    First off, I loved that Helga’s first instinct was always to believe in and love her sister. I was worried that she’d side with the Duke and I actively cheered when she didn’t. Of course, that just made what happened next all the more heartbreaking but it made for an amazing scene.

    My heart completely broke for Emma during this episode. Her worst fears were confirmed at a time she was feeling extremely vulnerable. Deeply ingrained fears like that are tough to deal with. No matter how much we convince ourselves that we’re over them, once something triggers them again, it’s tough to overcome. In that instant, no matter how secure Emma had been in her home and family, that feeling of not being wanted came flooding back with all those old insecurities and hurt. I obviously never want to see her hurting like that, but I feel so hopeful that she’ll see just how much she’s loved by so many people by the end of this arc and that’s all I want for her.

    As much as I don’t like what it’s doing to Emma and the rest of the characters, I love how effective Ingrid is as a manipulator. The best villains on this show have always gone for the more psychological methods of getting to people rather than physical force and it makes for great TV. No one can hurt you quite as well as your own mind can.

    • I completely agree that this show’s villains are at their best when they work from a psychological angle. It’s what made Pan so captivating, it’s what I’ve always found most intriguing about Rumple, and it’s what has me wishing Ingrid could stick around forever.

  20. Can i point out Emma’s jacket this episode…. THIS JACKET is the very one she wore in the Enchanted Forest with Hook on the beanstalk… and the season 3 finale… and to me and i assume its meant to be seen as Emma Swan major development, getting deep into her – reading her like a book, getting under her skin in a way… this all happened in all these moments when THIS jacket was present (and note again not just for Emma Swan development but also for Emma/Hook development) 🙂

    Another thing want to add i love how Hook and Charming were the ones going up to Emma (also remembering White Out – these two men trying to get to Emma)… and these two men always make me remember the two statue figurines in Emma’s nursery near Emma’s crib – one of a knight and one of a lieutentant navy officer (like protecting her)… Charming is a prince/knight and Hook we know was a lieutenant officer –


    • I love how you pointed out her jacket. Clothes-especially Emma’s, are always so symbolic on this show. And I would never have even noticed that about the two statue figurines.

      • Those statues are important if we look back on that scene/moment i guess in season 1 or whenever we see her nursery/Emma’s crib and see what those statues really are – to me its Charming and Hook (i mean look at it, a knight in armour and a navy officer/captain and cue i guess also pirate 😉 )
        Also back in the nursery pretty sure on the ceiling is 4 paintings… and one of the painting looks like a beanstalk and guess who went and climbed a beanstalk 😉 (im trying to remember the other 3 painting, i think was a sun and i think not to sure there also was compass ( – which again lets says thats what they were looking for on top of the beanstalk to go home and also really just Emma who overall has been looking for HOME from the beginning one of main arcs of the character imo) cant remember the other one 🙂

  21. I watched “The Jolly Roger” again tonight and there’s all the magic! From Regina training Emma by fire to Hook encouraging her magic (to Snow disproving of it all); it really tied in. Kudos to the writers. I’d only watched that episode once, but I’m still just floored at how much emotion Hook showed when he was apologizing to “Ariel”. Does Emma even know that whole story? She told Hook that she didn’t care what happened in the year and she didn’t want to keep living in the past, but did he ever tell her exactly what happened with him and Blackbeard and Eric? Emma knows that he gave up his ship for her, but does she know how he got it back in the first place?

    In a nice callback to the original recap (which I finally had a chance to read; where have I BEEN?!), you said, “I love angst. And by “correctly,” I mean, “brought about with believable choices made by characters acting consistently to what we know about their pasts and their current motivations.” which paralleled both that episode as well as this one. And your “Perfect characters are profoundly boring to me because they are profoundly unrealistic.” just kills me because that’s exactly how I feel about Snow White.

    And it makes sense that Hook is Emma’s person. From your original recap: “Hook has always been the one character to embrace all that Emma is. In the beginning of the episode, we saw him beaming with pride over her magical abilities.” I would think that the writers have set it up perfectly to have Hook continue this line of thought.

    Is it Sunday yet? (sits on keyboard)

    • I give you so much credit for having the emotional fortitude to watch The Jolly Roger again! 😉

      I’m also so glad you enjoyed my review of that episode—I remember it being a very (obviously) emotional one to write, but it’s nice to know that some things haven’t changed for me, such as my apparent love of well-written angst.

    • I dont think Emma knows the full story of his lost year in the EF… how he was, how he found his ship and how he couldnt go back to being to himself (he just told her in words that he couldnt go back) and the only time he has mentioned any of it is when she finally asked him how he got back to her and that was he traded his ship for her. It kinda heartbreaking in some ways how much Emma doesnt know because that lost year we saw how he was and we know he didnt move on, couldnt move on and we pretty sure and even Emma is deep down that he’d think of her everyday as he promised.
      I think she might know how Zelena must of cursed him with curse lips or probably doesnt as a whole story, unless we get a scene of them knowing that Zelena was Ariel in SB but i doubt it. But as audience we were meant to get what was happening and why… and why he did what he did, how he felt and the whole i swear on Emma Swan

      The Jolly Roger is one of my fave episodes…

  22. Pingback: The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (11/9 – 11/16) | Nerdy Girl Notes

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