TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.08

ELIZABETH LAIL, GEORGINA HAIG

Title Smash the Mirror

Two-Sentence Summary After Emma goes to Rumplestiltskin to get rid of her powers (not knowing he plans to have her sucked into the sorcerer’s hat), Hook and Elsa lead the charge to stop her, which leads to success for one of them and disaster for the other. Flashbacks reveal how Elsa ended up in the urn, which was a byproduct of Ingrid first casting the Shattered Sight curse on Anna, a curse she later let loose on all of Storybrooke.

Favorite Line “You have to love yourself, Emma, the good and the bad. The only way to ever truly be in control of your powers is to embrace them—because this, this is who you are.” (Elsa)

My Thoughts I think we all figured “Smash the Mirror” was going to be an emotional two hours of television, but I had no idea just how intense my reactions would be to what was going to happen. It’s amazing how—after years of watching not just this show but so many shows that featured every twist and turn in the book—Once Upon a Time still manages to surprise me in incredibly creative ways. I had so many predictions and theories about what was going to happen in this episode, and all but one (which was pretty obviously going to happen) turned out to be wrong. And I love that. I love that I don’t want to make predictions and theories for the rest of this half-season because, as this episode showed, the most fun I have as a viewer is watching all of the surprises this show can throw at me unfold.

“Smash the Mirror” did an excellent job of building on the major themes of this season in order to set the tone for the climactic final episodes before the midseason finale, which is aptly titled “Heroes and Villains.” This was an episode about heroism and villainy: how we define it, how we classify ourselves into those categories when life isn’t quite so black-and-white, and how we can change the way the world sees us and how we see ourselves by being brave. And in the world of Once Upon a Time true bravery comes from love, belief, and hope, which was never more clear than it was in this episode.

The flashbacks in this episode were absolutely perfect on both a plot level and an overall thematic level. Plot-wise, it was nice to see so many answers given and so many loose ends tied up in such a rewarding way. It didn’t feel like a checklist being worked through; it kept me emotionally invested and not just intellectually invested. And I think so much of that is because of this cast, whom I have come to love. It’s a mark of how wonderful they are that I get legitimately sad thinking about losing not just these characters at the end of this arc but also these actors. They add so much to this great ensemble, and I wish we could keep them forever.

Elizabeth Lail was once again a bright spot in a heavy episode, bringing the perfect amount of in-character comedic relief to what could have been an oppressively dark two hours. (Her variations on “Surprise!” and her relief at Elsa’s “ruse” were particular favorites of mine.) In addition to showing Anna’s goofy side, though, Lail once again impressed me with Anna’s warmth and strength. I absolutely loved every moment Anna and Elsa shared in this episode because I felt the sisterly chemistry between Lail and Georgina Haig better than ever before. I needed to feel that these sisters believed in one another so much that the climax of their storyline would feel truthful, and it worked. I believed that Anna loved Elsa so much that only the darkest of curses could make her turn on her, and I believed that Elsa loved Anna so much that she instinctively knew Anna would never hurt her of her own free will.

Anna’s love was beautiful in this episode, but it was Elsa’s that was nothing short of heroic. Love is sacrifice, and it’s also belief. Elsa believed in her sister enough to sacrifice herself instead of hurting her, knowing Anna wasn’t in her right mind. There have been many great acts of love on Once Upon a Time, but Elsa telling Anna she loved her as she was pulled into the urn was a truly powerful one because it’s the first we’ve ever seen on this show between sisters. It took the themes of Frozen and deepened them in the ways only this show can. And I can’t wait for these sisters to get their happy reunion.

The biggest thing standing in the way of any happy reunion, however, is Ingrid, whose scene with Anna in the dungeon was truly terrifying in the way only Elizabeth Mitchell can be, calm and cool while being as utterly evil as it gets. I loved all of the stuff with Ingrid and the apprentice, and I thought her appearance in our world was a great way to end the flashbacks. But the most telling part of her story was when she fully embraced being a “monster.” This season has been about how we perceive and define ourselves, and this episode focused on the idea that we all have darkness inside of us, but heroes choose to face that darkness and become more than it while villains become that darkness. Both Ingrid and Rumplestiltskin are two people who have apparently given up on the hope of becoming more than monsters—they both have chosen to let their darkness define them, and that’s what makes their power plays and interactions so delicious. They’re two characters without any sense of internal moral conflict anymore, and it’s fun to watch her go toe-to-toe with him. (Is it bad that I’d rather have Ingrid win this battle between them than Rumplestiltskin at this point? I mean, I’d like both of them to lose in the end, but it would be nice to see someone mess up his plans for a change.)

What’s fascinating about Rumplestiltskin’s perception of himself is its narrow-mindedness. He’s always seen himself as a villain, even when he was doing the heroic thing and sacrificing himself for the people he loved. Coming back from the dead seems to have only made that perception of himself darker; he died seeing himself as a villain, and he came back to life only to lose his son, effectively reinforcing his belief that villains don’t get happy endings. Instead of working like Regina to be a better person despite feeling robbed of his happy ending, he seems to have accepted that all he can be is a villain, so like Ingrid, he chooses to embrace being a monster instead of trying to earn a happy ending by being more than that simplistic view of himself. There’s a distinct kind of hopelessness in that mindset, and we all know that hope is the only way to find a happy ending.

Hope was at the center of Regina’s story in this episode, and I’m not sure I’ve ever liked her character more, which is saying something because I loved her arc at the end of last season. It’s fascinating to compare Regina and Rumplestiltskin—not in terms of who is the “worse” character or anything as petty as that, but to compare their approaches to fearing that they will always be seen as monsters. Instead of simply embracing that and returning back to her “evil” past self, Regina is actively trying to change how she is seen and how she sees herself. This episode balanced her hopes and doubts in a really beautiful way, as is usually the case in episodes with strong Regina/Snow interaction. Ginnifer Goodwin and Lana Parrilla bring something very natural and grounded out of each other as actresses, and I love the dynamic they’ve built between these two women with such a real sense of history between them.

This episode began with Regina in a compromising position—in more ways than one. I’m going to say it right now: That scene in the vault was all kinds of hot; Parrilla and Sean Maguire have excellent chemistry. But I also liked that Regina knew that—despite how right it seemed to feel—what happened couldn’t happen again. Robin is in a horrible situation, but he needs to make a choice. It’s not fair to Marian or Regina to keep things going the way they are. I wonder if that last kiss in the library was a sign that he’s ready to make that choice. It would be less problematic to watch if Marian wasn’t frozen and could actually be an active party in this choice that affects her life, too, but such is the way of this show and its imperfect ways of handling love triangles.

Regina’s story in this episode was less about her actual relationship with Robin than it was about what that relationship represents: hope. I loved that Snow was the most honest and real we’ve seen anyone be with Regina in terms of the storybook and getting a happy ending. She’s right; Regina was written as a villain because she made bad choices, but that doesn’t mean she’s doomed to be a villain forever. Nothing is that simple, and Snow knows that perhaps better than anyone. As she told Regina so beautifully, Snow is not all good, and Regina is not all evil. They’ve both made good choices and bad ones, and the key is to accept the bad choices but believe you can be more like the person who made the good choices. The key is to hope that happy endings are out there and to hope that you can be a person who is worthy of one. To choose hope after living without it is a brave act, and when Regina allowed herself to hope, it literally changed everything.

I’m fascinated by the idea of the book’s connection to hope. I still have no idea who wrote it or why it seems to write itself, and I didn’t care much about Robin and Will’s adventures. But I love the message that our stories can change for the better if we open ourselves up to hope, that there’s no predetermination for our lives based on whether or not people think we’re “good” or “evil.” Our choices determine our lives. And Regina is learning to make better choices, which is leading to more paths opening up for her towards a happy ending.

One of those better choices involved opening up to Snow and Charming about her regret over making Henry feel like he was crazy before Emma came to Storybrooke. I’d always wondered if the show was going to address this, and it did so in a really beautiful way that had real ramifications for not just Regina but also Snow and Charming. Regina’s scene with Henry was lovely because it was a mother encouraging her son to believe she loves him exactly as he is, which is what Emma was missing from her own mother. Therefore, it was nice to see Regina’s patented mixture of sass and sincerity convince Snow and Charming that they were wrong for not fighting for their daughter to love herself and feel loved by them for exactly who she is.

It bothered me to see Snow and Charming so quick to let Emma give up her magic, but it led to this perfect moment of Regina confronting her own darkness in terms of what she did to Henry in order to be a better person and help Snow and Charming to confront their own shortcomings as parents. I would have liked a little more interaction between Emma and her parents (Although Goodwin’s performance in Snow’s phone conversation with Emma was brilliant.), but for this episode, Regina was the only one who could connect with Snow and Charming because she knows what it’s like to feel like a failure as a parent. It was a moment I never knew I wanted to see until it was happening, and it was one of my favorite moments in the episode.

Another major theme of “Smash the Mirror,” as reflected in the Snow/Charming/Regina interactions, was that sometimes the people who help us the most on our journey towards being a better person aren’t always the people we expect, but they’re the people we need in that moment. I’m sure Regina didn’t think it would be Snow and her unfailing hope that would help her find a new path to a happy ending, and I’m sure Snow didn’t think Regina would be the one to help her be a better mother to Emma.

And then there was Emma herself. It broke my heart to see Emma hurt Henry at the beginning of the episode—and not just because watching a Emma’s horror as it all unfolded was tough to take. (Kudos to Jennifer Morrison for once again depicting Emma’s fear of herself perfectly without ever taking it over the top.) It was because both Henry and Emma genuinely hoped that he could be the one to help her control her magic. If your True Love can’t save you from yourself, then who can?

That question made up the heart of Emma’s story in this episode, and the resolution to it was absolutely stunning and incredibly important. Emma’s desperation to do whatever it took to keep Henry safe was such a stark contrast to who Regina once was and who Rumplestiltskin still is—Emma is a mother who is willing to give up her magic for her son. The flashbacks reminded us of the idea that love is sacrifice, and Emma’s story reinforced that beautifully.

However, Rumplestiltskin used that love and her desperation to manipulate her in a way I honestly didn’t see coming—at least not yet. I didn’t expect him to go this dark so soon, but when he threw that paper into the trash, it was clear he was going to try to put Emma into the hat, which was a new level of darkness—even for him. As Hook said later in the episode, Emma is his grandson’s mother, the woman his son loved. Trapping Emma in the hat effectively destroys any sense of Rumplestiltskin trying to honor Bae. But this episode was about Rumplestiltskin choosing to see himself as only a villain, believing he can only be defined by his darkness. So while it was tough to watch him descend so deeply into darkness, it made perfect sense.

While I didn’t expect to see Rumplestiltskin descend into darkness so soon, it was good to know at least one character knew better. I loved the way Colin O’Donoghue played Hook’s desperation in this episode. His tension in the loft and his first, strained voicemail to Emma were perfect, but where he really excelled was in the scene in Gold’s shop. I don’t know what it is about phone conversations in that shop, but they lead to some of this show’s most revealing and emotional moments.

As Hook pleaded with Emma into her voicemail, it became clear that this scene was another example of love being sacrifice, and it was also example of the heroism and bravery inherent in admitting your darkness and wanting to be more than it. In that heartfelt message, Hook admitted to everything he’d done in terms of his deals and dealings with Rumplestiltskin, telling Emma that he tried to be a better man but failed. The way his voice wavered and broke throughout that scene was devastating, and it reminded me that no one on this show plays guilt and desperation like O’Donoghue, which is important knowing the story he’s about to be a part of. And what hurt the most about that scene was knowing Hook believed he was sacrificing his relationship with Emma because her magic and her life were more important than his desire to have her love him. He did the brave thing and admitted his darkness, but he still struggles with believing he can move on from it. The thing is, he’s already moved on from it in so many ways, just by wanting to be a better person; he just needs someone to help him see that.

That person certainly isn’t going to be Rumplestiltskin, who was getting way too much enjoyment out of emotionally torturing him outside the house where Emma was debating whether or not to give up her magic. O’Donoghue and Robert Carlyle are such brilliant scene partners, and they were at their best here. When Rumplestiltskin told Hook he was going to make him watch Emma choose to effectively kill herself, I was shocked at the intimacy of that threat; it harkened back to Hook watching Rumplestiltskin kill Milah, rendered powerless to help her. And then he brought up Milah directly, using that heartbreak to taunt Hook with the idea that he would feel it again after Emma’s death.

Rumplestiltskin brought up Milah’s death with Hook as a way to try to prove to him once again that he hasn’t changed, that all he needed was an excuse to go back to the vengeance-driven man he once was. It’s fascinating to watch these two characters interact because Rumplestiltskin seems to project his own darkness onto Hook, which is simply untrue. Like Emma with Henry, Hook was ready to do whatever it took to keep her from getting hurt or killed, stating that he was willing to fight to death to keep her safe. His bravery (which once manifested itself as cockiness, and sometimes still does) is the perfect foil for Rumplestiltskin’s cowardice. And that bravery is never more apparent than when he’s choosing to fight for love.

That’s what made his heart so bright and red when Rumplestiltskin took it out—he’s not consumed with darkness anymore, even if he still fears it in himself. His heart isn’t dark. It’s bright, reflecting the fact that hearts can change; we’re not bound by the lives we once led or the people we once were. At his core, Hook has always been driven by the strength of his heart’s ability to love. And I thought Carlyle played Rumplestiltskin’s momentary surprise at the state of Hook’s heart perfectly.

Like Anna and Elsa, it was going to take more than manipulation to divide Hook and Emma; it was going to take some villain intervention and free-will stripping. There was something darkly poetic about Hook’s heart—the very thing that defines him—being stolen from him and used against him. But the end of this episode also showed that, even without his heart, he’s going to fight to love Emma the way he feels she deserves to be loved. Regina being able to feel from her soul and without her heart made sense, and I think the same can be said of Hook’s devotion; his ability to be devoted to loving one person has carried him through centuries and across realms. And that intense kiss proved that he’s not going to let the fact that his heart is gone keep him from making Emma feel loved. In fact, it’s only going to make his devotion to her stronger because he’s afraid of leaving her.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out because it seems that Emma already knows something is up with him. I don’t know how she’ll find out about his heart, but she will. And she’s finally in a place where she can both fight for his heart using her most powerful and controlled magic and fight for him to see the good in himself through his darkness, because that last moment of him grabbing the hat showed in a very painful way how much he hates himself for doing Rumplestiltskin’s bidding. O’Donoghue played that disgust perfectly, and, if nothing else, this story is going to give him even more great acting moments before it’s all done.

Hook getting his heart taken may have felt like added angst for the sake of angst, but it was really another case of one person being exactly what we need at a given moment in our lives. In this case, Emma needed to get to this exact point in order to be able to fight for him the way we’ve seen him fight for her. And by “this exact point,” I mean this point of magical power and self-acceptance. This episode allowed Emma to finally embrace every part of herself, and that’s something she can use to inspire Hook to do the same and to set her up as a brilliant foil for Rumplestiltskin, who still so incorrectly believes that people can only be good or evil, that heroes and villains can never escape those labels, and that love can never be enough to save a villain from themselves.

The scene between Rumplestiltskin and Emma in the house was brilliantly written and performed. Morrison and Carlyle don’t get to act opposite each other nearly enough. The way Rumplestiltskin was able to so effectively manipulate her by telling the total truth but in such a twisted manner was perfect. It truly showed the depths of his self-loathing, and Morrison allowed Emma to channel a little bit of her mother’s optimism into the scene while still being true to Emma’s inherent skepticism.

In the end, Emma was faced with a choice, and she chose to believe in her ability to save herself from her own darkness; she chose to believe in herself for all that she is, magic included. It was crucial to have Elsa be the one to help her love herself because, in keeping with one of this episode’s themes, sometimes there is only one person who can truly help you be your best self because only they can relate to you the way you need. Only Elsa has walked this path; only Elsa knows the struggle to accept yourself the way Emma needed to in order to be truly free. Only Elsa knows how to be brave the way Emma needed to be brave. It had to be Elsa, and I’m so happy it was. Female friendships deserve this kind of celebration. It’s often our female friends who are on the front lines with us in the battle against self-loathing, reminding us to love ourselves for exactly who we are.

Elsa may have inspired Emma, but, in her own words, “The only one who saves me is me.” Emma chose to love herself, no one else could make that choice for her. And it proved to be its own kind of True Love, calming her uncontrolled magic instantly. Loving yourself for exactly who you are—good and bad, light and dark—is such an important journey that we all have to go on in our lives in order to be the best version of ourselves. It may not have been the “romantic” option to have Hook outside and unable to help Emma, but it was the right option. In the world of Once Upon a Time, romantic love is simply one kind of love among many important kinds—the love between family members, friends, and the love we have for ourselves. Emma had to be her own savior in this moment because no one else can make you love yourself; you have to choose that on your own. It’s a deeply personal journey, and it’s one I’m so happy this show was brave enough to address in such a big episode.

There was so much that unfolded in these two hours: Curses were cast, hearts were taken, confessions were made, and kisses were shared. But at the end of it all, what I’ll remember is the way the savior saved herself, emerging from that house stronger than ever—in her magic and in her sense of self. That’s going to be tested by the Shattered Sight curse and Hook’s stolen heart, but this episode brought Emma to a place where she will be able to help people through these crises just like Elsa helped her. Because that’s what a hero does; they face their demons, and they use that to help others work through their own moments of doubt and darkness. And sometimes, the heroes who help us are the people we’d least expect but the people we need the most.

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104 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.08

  1. Ohmygosh everything, literally EVERYTHING you are saying times 1000!! I will be back to comment more fully later, as I still have a TON to process from this episode…but just wanted to say WELL DONE.

    Also — I was so wrapped up in the tension and horror of the confrontation between Hook and Rumple at the end of the ep that the significance of Hook’s bright, shining heart didn’t even register with me. And now I’m even more done in, the best way possible, by how much I loved the power and emotion Colin put into that performance.

  2. Hook’s confession on the voicemail and the way he looked at Emma were heartbreaking. I cried over that, as well as the way he was looking at her at the end (almost drinking her in so he could remember her). Her surprise at his intensity was also great, as was the way she pulled on his collar as she was walking beside him and that she opened her arms to embrace him (contrast that to other ways Emma has reacted when someone goes to hug her).

    I did find it interesting that his heart was so bright red – rather than darkened like Regina’s last year. Goes to show that while he has done terrible things, there is a good person at the center of it.

    I’m not on board with the whole find the book’s author storyline yet, but did think it was odd that page 23 appeared in Robin’s bag. When the book has changed in the past, it wasn’t a result of extra pages being found. Instead, the book itself has changed. So what is the significance there?

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Rebecca! I’m so happy you pointed out Emma grabbing Hook’s collar at the end because I thought it was such a sweet and natural little gesture of intimacy. It made me smile even as my heart was breaking.

  3. I’m still reeling from the episode, and this was — as always — a fantastic write-up. (Are you going to do something OUAT-related next Monday to keep us all from going into withdrawals?? Please, pretty please . . . written with sad-puppy dog eyes.)

    At this point, I’m still processing, so my comments are pretty simple. I look forward to reading (and responding to) the great comments that I’m sure will follow. So here goes . . .

    — Lail continues to be fantastic as Anna. Even with her “shattered sight” the worst she could come up with was, “You left me alone.” However, why did the shattered sight end once Elsa was in the urn? And yes, Elsa’s sacrifice was beyond moving. *Sob*
    — Regina and Robin. I like your characterization of problematic. Yes, they are exceedingly hot as a couple (and I do like them together), but this feels like cheating. Robin may not feel married (for understandable reasons), but Marion does. This feels shoddy. I understand that people might disagree with my characterization. As always, I reserve final judgment until the arc finishes.:-)
    — Regina and hope. Oh how I do love that they’re pulling Regina out of the I’m-written-this-way-mentality. (Is anyone else having a Jessica Rabbit moment? No? Ok.) She made bad choices, and unfortunately sometimes those bad choices follow us for a very long time. But soon the good choices will catch up.
    — Regina and Snow. What she (Katie) said.
    — Snow and Charming. While their acceptance of Emma’s decision did seem quick, Charming’s rationale did make sense in terms of his character. (Maybe this is the heroic thing.) However, I did want him to call Snow out a little rather than tell her the situation wasn’t her fault. No, it wasn’t completely, but she sure didn’t help.
    — Emma and Elsa. Yes! Ingrid had her sister’s love — particularly Helga’s, but she didn’t accept/love herself– especially in terms of her gift. I wish Elsa’s character
    would stay on the show as friend for Emma. She’s needs at least one slightly uncomplicated friendship.
    — Hook. There aren’t words. Just, wow. Was I the only one expecting Belle to step out of the shadows/backroom/something after that call? Can Emma please hear that voice mail at some point? I, too, assume that all this angst is going to have a major payoff. (This isn’t a Joss Whedon show, so I’m pretty sure A&E wouldn’t spend this much time building this relationship just to kill him.) Love, too, that he’s gone back to referring to Rumple as the crocodile. But seriously, why didn’t anyone notice he was gone?
    — Henry. Oh, sweetie.
    — The sorcerer. I say Merlin. Disney does have The Sword and the Stone. Merlin is considered one of the greatest. Also, his living backwards in time would explain how he knows what will happen.
    — Kristoff. I think “run” will work. I love Kristoff.
    — Ingrid. Elizabeth Mitchell is just fantastic. Loved her since Lost. Her calmness is such a contrast to previous villains. I love how she systematically continued to test the urn-dust parameters. And yes, I’d like to see her upset Rumple’s plans, too.

    Look forward to reading everyone else’s (I’m sure, much more coherent) thoughts. 🙂

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

      You were definitely not the only one thinking Belle was going to end up in Gold’s shop, listening to Hook leave his voicemail. I wish it could have gone that way, but i understand why it couldn’t for the story.

      And as far as the Shattered Sight curse breaking when Elsa went in the urn, I thought of Elsa’s sacrifice and love for Anna as an act of true love that broke the curse. I could be totally off-base there, though.

  4. I’ve always wondered about the book ever since August added the pages back in season 1. We’ve been told that he (obviously) has nothing to do with the writing of the book – but it begs the question that if August could ADD to it, maybe the writer is not as simple as just being one particular individual who can or can’t change the past/future/present. I have no theories other than it all seems very confusing at this time – there is so little we know about it and each little new fact we learn seems to contradict anything I DO know about it. Hahah. One of the many great things about this show is it keeps you guessing.

    I knew that Rumple was going to embrace his inner darkness sooner or later, but I do hope that he seeks redemption in 4×11 or, at the very least, in 4b. As twisted as a character he is and as much as he always chooses power over love, I can’t imagine the writers will continue harping on that without ANY character growth at all. I can say personally that I love the character of Rumple so I find it a bit discerning that the show seemingly refuses to allow growth for him – aside from a few episodes before he takes giant leaps back. I don’t expect his entire character to change, of course, but growth would be beneficial.

    I am still so emotionally sore about Killian/Emma at the moment so I’ll have to force myself to be rational about the whole thing. I do have one question that has always bothered me ….do those who have had their heart ripped from them have the ability/knowledge that they aren’t acting of their own accord? With Aurora in season 2, she didn’t seem to know that she was doing Cora’s bidding until AFTER it was found out. I am curious about the rules of all of that.

    I did find it extremely amazing that Emma knew within seconds of seeing Killian that something was up with him. I have hope after seeing that.

    • im assuming since the heart is alive the feelings and so on are the same, even if its not in the body but someone who has your heart can also make you do something if they press or hold the heart. So really Hook is still Hook and his love and feelings for Emma are there still there but Rumple can USE Hook however he wants and do whatever he wants with his heart whenever he feels like, what is in Hook’s heart still is the same… thats how i am seeing it.

      And seeing as EW just took out a article it says from the actors…
      “She senses something, but she doesn’t have time to figure out, noting that Hook’s lack of heart won’t necessarily change things between them. As we’ve established before, Regina [Lana Parrilla] spent a long time without her heart and it didn’t stop her from loving Henry [Jared Gilmore] or Robin Hood [Sean Maguire]. Hook doesn’t cease being Hook and doesn’t cease having the feelings that he has for Emma. He’s just blackmailed into a circumstance where Gold can, at any moment, control him. He hates having this secret from Emma and he doesn’t know what it means in the long run, what she would do if she found out this secret.” – Jennifer Morrison
      http://insidetv.ew.com/2014/11/17/once-upon-time-hook-dead-morrison-odonoghue/

      • Thank you for the article. I had the same question about the heart.

        Sounds like Hook will end up finding someone to feed into the hat under Gold dictate. I hope Gold do not achieve his goal in the end. Look at all he does even with the threat of the dagger over his head. I can’t imagine what he would do when there’s nothing to holding him back.

        I’m guessing the sorcerer hat story will run parallel with the book author story and intersect at some point which will last til the end of the season? I’ve suspected at the beginning the the sorceror and the writer of the book maybe the same person.

    • Growth for Rumple would be incredibly beneficial, but I don’t think it will come until he has lost this quest for unlimited power, and has lost Belle in the process. But I do think that growth is coming for him; I just think it might be a little slower than fans would like.

      As far as hearts go, I’m very confused on the rules, but I’m going to guess they’re different for every case. I feel like Hook will know when he’s not acting of his own accord, but I just think that because it would make for more compelling television to watch him struggle than to see him acting like a Rumple-controlled zombie.

      • I am now imagining a manual on taking hearts. Perhaps they keep a copy in the library. Perhaps Regina keeps a copy in her vault. Along with the other magic books. In Elvish. 🙂

      • I also think the fact that Killian loves Emma selflessly and unconditionally… His soul and so on won’t feel differently… what he has in his heart is still there but just with Rumple to use as a toy when he can but feelings and love for Emma is still there.
        As we know we can tell when it’s Hook and when it’s Hook being out of his grasp coz Colin will make it come across on – screen.
        Which we saw him going to take the hat with him – that had to be Rumple telling him to do so..

      • The rules of heart-taking seem to be a bit (ha) inconsistent, but I have to think it depends on whether or not “commands” are being issued by the one currently in possession of the heart. In Graham’s case, Regina was controlling him but mentally he was also subject to the first curse, which blocked his memories of his true self. Where Aurora’s concerned…I have to wonder if Cora was pulling the strings the entire time, vs. when Regina lost her heart in 3B & Zelena was holding it as more of a threat than through a desire to actively control her sister…

  5. And one more thing . . . (insert Columbo music here): I did love the observations on love as sacrifice and am currently mulling all the relationships (romantic, family, friends) from this perspective.

    • Love as sacrifice is such an interesting concept, particularly if we tie it to Emma’s relationship with her parents. Not only did they sacrificed her in order to save the whole realm, but Snow was willing to sacrifice her relationship with Emma again to stay with David in Neverland when it seemed he would have to stay there forever because of the dreamshade. They do need to REALLY address that, and soon.

  6. This was officially my favorite episode of the season.

    Snow and Charming
    Last week Snow was like “WE failed our daughter” and I was like “No Snow, YOU failed”. However, this week they both failed. I can’t begin to tell you how annoyed I was that they were okay with letting Emma get rid of her powers and letting their incredibly special little girl become “normal” instead of helping her embrace herself. I wanted to yell at them and call them idiots…and then Regina did it for me. Bless her. They redeemed themselves in the end and I guess that’s all that matters.

    Hook
    I found myself genuinely annoyed with him. He knew that she had gone to Rumple, and that Rumple would use the hat on her and he didn’t think for one second that sharing that info with Regina, Snow, Elsa and Charming was a wise idea. Should Elsa had not used the locator potion, they could have been too late and Emma could be dead or trapped in the hat simply because he wanted to go off and rescue her alone. If he had just told them where she was (since he knew), Regina could have teleported them there, or they at least wouldn’t have had to have wasted time tracking her.
    I understand that from a plot point of view it had to be Elsa that talked her down a and therefore the rest of the team had to arrive late, but from a practical point of view, it was incredibly stupid on his part.
    Secondly, Rumple has powers and he hates Hook…with a passion. In what world did he think taunting him after Emma didn’t go through was a good idea? I can’t say I was surprised that Rumple took his heart, in fact I was expecting him to break his neck or something. Now, Rumple controls him and Emma is again in danger and no one suspects Rumple because he couldn’t just be forthcoming about what he knew. I love Hook but I really did find myself annoyed last night.
    I can’t even truly enjoy him going after her and his voicemail because he put her at risk pointlessly.

    Rumple
    Rumple desperately wants to be free from his dagger and after what he went through with Zelena, I understand why. My thing is that in 4×01 stood over Neal’s grave and gave that long speech about being better and wanting to make him proud, and then couldn’t even stick to that promise for an entire episode. Now he’s out to kill Emma (the woman his son loved and mother of his son’s child) for her power. Rumple frustrates me because it’s like he doesn’t learn. With Neal he chose power over Neal and Neal was lost to him. He spends over 100 years trying to find a way to get Neal back and ruins countless lives (Regina, Snow, Charming, Emma, the entire enchanted forest) in order to get all the ingredients he needs for the dark curse to achieve his goal. Now it feels like all of that was for nothing, he’s still the same person, making the same choices, which are gonna have the same results and he’ll just continue this cycle of destroying ppl to get what he wants.

    Robin
    I don’t think Robin is still conflicted or trying to choose between Marian or Regina. From the time Marian came back, he’s been pretty adamant about trying not to hurt Regina more than he already accidentally had. He made his choice quickly as to not string her along, he told her he loved her to make sure she knew that she was loved, and that it wasn’t a simple situation of Marian being back her not mattering anymore. Even though that did hurt her, it was never intentional. I think after his convo with Will last week, he did choose her. I don’t think he would go to her vault, slept with her twice and let her fall deeper in love with him, only for him to turn around and break her already broken heart by still being like “I’m going back to Marian”. I think for him he knows that chapter with Marian is done now, but he can’t really close the book until she thaws and he can officially tell her it’s over, so Regina and Robin’s relationship is kinda frozen along with Marian.

    Regina
    (Regina and Henry)
    I love how much her relationship with Henry has evolved. From them being able to just hang out reading comics, to them being very open and honest with each other about everything, to their cute little gestures like the forehead thing from yesterday. I’ve always wondered if he ever felt a way about not having magic like his moms and grandfather and I think Regina addressed his insecurity beautifully.
    (Regina and Snow)
    Another great scene was her convo with the Charmings and her being so honest about the mistakes she made by not embracing Henry with the book and her regret over it. I also like that it was her (especially as she was so upset with Emma earlier this season) that was the one to push them to fight for and embrace Emma for all she is and not encourage the idea that being normal is better. Like you said this was a scene I never realized I wanted until I got it and it was perfect.
    Snow and Regina’s relationship has become one of my favorite things about this show, it’s been amazing to watch it grow from season 1 where they were enemies, and were always worried about what Regina would do next, to season 4 where Regina just walked into their house and no one flinched lol. I love that despite how much pain they’ve caused each other, they’ve been able to move past it and build each other up, and push each other to be better. It genuinely is one of the really beautiful things on this show. I loved Snow’s conversation with Regina about hope and belief. Whenever they have scenes like last night, I always think back to that scene of Snow telling a disguised Regina about Regina, and saying that the person she knew had gone, but she hoped she’d come back one day. Even though it took years, the Regina that she’d hoped would return from the darkness, and come back to being the person she loved is coming back around. Snow always had faith, hoped and believed against all logic that it could happen and it did. I think that’s part of the reason why her words to Regina are so powerful because hope isn’t just a message she preaches because it’s good, it’s her whole life and she understands the power of hope and belief more than anyone.
    (Robin and Regina)
    I love that she feels comfortable enough to let Robin in on Operation Mongoose and that like Henry, he was immediately so willing to help her. His love for her and his determination to make her see that she can and deserves to be happy makes me happy. I love that she has someone outside of her family (Snow and Henry) who knows who she was and is still able to see how much good lies within her and is willing to fight for her.
    The lost page from the book was also a great moment. When Henry needed hope, the book just magically appeared. Now Regina needs hope and a page from that same book appears. She was telling Snow that Snow’s a hero and when she needs help, it just magically appears. For Regina, I feel like she feels the book had her as a villain from the beginning because even when she was good, long before her evil queen years, when she needed help or needed saving, no help magically appeared like it did for Snow, Cinderella, Sleeping beauty etc, even though at first she did have hope. That page appearing was like a sign that the book doesn’t hate her, isn’t out to get her and even some assurance that a happy ending can happen.
    The end with her getting that hope she’d been seeking and telling Robin she owed someone a quarter put the biggest smile on my face.

    I don’t even know what else to say about Elsa, Emma and Anna, so I won’t even touch those. You said everything I was thinking in regard to them.

    I absolutely love your reviews, they’re the highlight of my Monday’s. :p

    • The only thing I can come up with as to why Hook wouldnt tell the rest of them about Rumple’s plans is that it would have taken too long to one, try to convince all of them that Rumple wasnt being honest (when non of them have any reason to question Rumple’s motives at this point) and two, he would have to explain himself to everyone. Trying to convince people you are telling the truth when you have to admit you have been lying is not usually a very successful tactic, and the clock was ticking. You can also argue that Hook knows what Rumple is capable of and didnt want to put anyone else in danger. Just random possibilities, but I can see how you would be frustrated with him. I get frustrated every time any character on this show keeps a secret. Dramatic irony is by far my least favorite irony.

      • Regina knows who Rumple is and what he’s capable of, she may have wondered about his motive but I highly doubt she wouldn’t believe. Also, if it came down to him having to try too hard to convince them, he could have then just left and gone after her, but at least they would’ve known that maybe something was up. Instead he just left everyone in the dark and now he’s Rumple’s puppet.

    • Thank you so much! 🙂 I love reading your comments, too!

      I’m so happy to know I wasn’t the only one who was incredibly frustrated with both Snow and Charming, especially with those heartbreaking shots of Elsa hearing them talk about wanting Emma to be “normal.” And I was so glad that it was Regina to snap them out of that mindset, because like you said, she’d been so harsh to Emma earlier this season.

      I also 100% agree with you on the dynamic between Snow and Regina being one of the best things about this show. It’s grown in such an organic way, and I have come to absolutely adore every single one of their scenes together. I’ve also come to love Regina and Henry’s relationship so much more than I ever thought I would. Lana Parrilla exudes such warmth in those scenes, and it’s lovely to watch.

      And as far as Hook goes, I really think it’s a case of the writers going “Colin is really good at showing inner conflict and guilt, so let’s do that again!” The whole “keeping secrets” thing annoys me on literally every show I watch, but such is the life of a fan of TV dramas, I guess. It’s in-character for Hook to act first, think later when it comes to people he loves; he runs on emotion rather than logic, but that’s not his best character trait in any way. I just really hope that voicemail isn’t gone forever because otherwise what a waste. I still wish Belle would have been listening because then at least someone would know.

    • You make fantastic points, and I wholeheartedly I agree with all of them, except for Robin. I don’t think he’s quite done with Marian, and there’s Roland to consider even though Robin seems to have forgotten he has a son for the time being. It’s the wording he used in the previous episode that bothers me, the “today is not one of these days”. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be a nod to Aragorn’s rally speech before the final battle with Sauron at the end of ‘The Return of the King’ film, or a not very subtle way of telling us that it was a one-off.
      Regardless, the fact that to be with Regina Robin has become a not-so-good person, and is in turn making Regina a not-so-good person in spite of her attempts to do the right thing, hints at this relationship not looking very promising. We’ve discussed in NGN how caring for someone and making the other person want to be the better version of themselves was a recurring theme in OUaT, but in this case it’s proving to be quite the opposite.
      In addition OUaT has tweaked fairytales characters, but never broken a canon, TL couple (remember Mulan/Aurora/Philip?) so I really doubt Regina and Robin will end up together unless Marian disappears, and it would be a bit too much, even for this show, to kill her again.
      What I think will happen is that Regina will let Robin go (probably have him, Marian and Roland cross the town line and give them new memories or something similar) and focus on making her own happy ending happen once she understands that no magic book, and no pixie dust, rules her life.

  7. Hello All,

    I’m a very late joiner to this show….few months old, in fact. The idea of fairy tales characters and their stories that I’ve known and loved all these years get changed at someone else whim just wasn’t my cup of tea so I did not give the show a try.

    Few months ago I came across a fan-made video on YouTube featuring Emma and Hook and I was hooked.

    Thank you, Katie for this site. And, thank you to all your posters and contributors. I feel very lucky and privilege to have found it. It is so refreshing to read all the insightful and respectful discussions and comments here. I found myself nodding often time than not as I read them. Many offered new and different perspective on some characters and stories for me to think about.

    I’m one of those that read the end of a book first so when it comes to TV shows I usually stick with mostly episodic shows because I hate waiting and especially cliffhangers. Binge watching is my friend hence I was able to get through the previous seasons of this show without much heartache. I loved Neverland arc. I can’t believe what they did with Pan and I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I would have lasted the whole journey with all my hair intact if I had to watch it one week at a time though. 🙂

    This season, watching one episode at the time is tortured. How do you all do this….every week….for over 3 years? Oy. LOL.

    I love the message of love, hope, acceptance, and forgiveness in all shapes and forms. I can’t get enough of them. This show have shown varieties of that very nicely. Which is also odd for me since I usually see things in black and white where this show is mostly, if not all, gray.

    When I watched the end of 3rd season where Hook told David that he would go to the end of the world and time for Princess Leia 😉 and David made a comment about her doing the same for him, Hook hesitated and was not sure, I had hoped that the show would address that at some point. I think this is it. The time has come. Emma will reciprocate and Hook will know for sure that she would do the same for him. My heart does a little happy dance thinking about it. 🙂

    I don’t understand all the rules on heart taking and operating without a heart. Is the person aware? Does the person still function under his/her own free will until that exact instant the other person holding his/her heart speaking into it? Or something else altogether.

    I’m sorry for the long post of introduction. Also, advance apology for any grammatical errors in my comments. I’m famously atrocious at it. My communication skills in all forms is nil to none so I try very hard to stop myself from posting but sometimes I can’t help myself. I would like to blame it on English being my second language but I’m too old for that. So, please forgive any mistakes I made and will be making in the future.

    Thank you again for this outlet. I can’t wait to read all the comments.

    • No apologies necessary for the introduction—it’s always nice to meet a new commenter and hear their story! Welcome to NGN, and I hope you enjoy all of the discussions (and that we can help you get through the often-agonizing wait between episodes)!

      I love that this storyline is going to help Hook see that Emma would also fight for him as much as he’ll fight for her. My heart does a happy dance too when I think about it, if I’m being honest. 😉

      And as far as stealing hearts go, I think Hook will have his own free will unless Rumple directly speaks into the heart. I may be wrong, but I think that’s how it will work.

      • You’re very kind. Thank you, Katie, for your words above and this forum.

        As I laid in bed this past week trying to get well, I was thinking about the color of hearts on this show. The explanation I gave to myself is that the discolored/damaged on the heart is a result of souls taken. I think murder is the strongest form of evil that could damage anyone heart and soul hence we saw the dark spot on Snow’s heart after Cora’s death and Regina’s heart for however many deaths on her hands. I don’t think we’ve ever seen Gillian’s murdering anyone, at least on screen, hence his bright red heart? That’s my head canon on the subject until such time that the show choose to explain it to us.

  8. Wow, are we going to be for an action-packed final 3 episodes of 4A. With as many questions that were answered during these two hours, just as much plot and character development was set up for the future.

    I’m a sucker for good angst, so I am very excited to see what the Spell of Shattered Sight does to the whole of Storybrooke. I would have been a little more interested in everyone confronting the worst in themselves like Belle had to, instead of the worst in others, but there is still so much potential for hidden hurts and fears to be revealed. I’m hoping this is when Belle sees Rumple for who he actually is, because it seems like as good a time as any, and as he’s already said, power will always win over love for him.

    For as much as I both dislike and am relatively disinterested in Rumple as a character these days, Robert Carlyle does some great work. The scenes with Emma and Hook showed two very different but equally destructive sides of him. He showed why he’s so good at manipulating others in the scene with Emma. He never lied to her but he spun the truth in such a way that his desired outcome seemed to also be most appealing and beneficial to her. He preyed on her love for Henry and that perceived shared connection through Neal in order to get what he wanted. These characters keep falling into the same trap that I do as a viewer. We want to believe that his love for Neal made him change and made him at least try to be better in some aspects of his life but right now he’s too blinded by power.

    Every scene that Hook and Rumple share is fascinating because there is so much history between them. There is years of hatred and mistrust that has built up between them but that has also led to an understanding of the other that few other characters share. They’ve always known just how to get to the other to be most effective. Until this time, when Hook counted on familial bonds toward Henry being enough to at least give Rumple pause before sucking Emma into a magical hat. This isn’t the Rumple that Hook knew any more because now he can have something greater than he had dreamed of, especially now with Neal gone.

    Then that final scene with Ingrid. Wow. That was some incredible acting by both Robert Carlyle and Elizabeth Mitchell. I cannot wait to see them work against each other in the final 3 episodes.

    While I expect her story will carry through to 4B, I am so excited to see what comes next for Regina. I love that she now has that little bit of hope that her happy ending is on its way and more than anything, I love that she’s learning that everything isn’t set in stone. Our actions do make a difference not just in determining what kind of people we are but in our future happiness. I understand her tendency toward pessimism and self-loathing because really, little has worked out well for her in her life. Sometimes it’s just easier to believe that it’s not going to happen for you instead of continuing to be disappointed. But of course, that’s not going to bring about a happy ending. The first step toward getting one is believing that it’s possible and thanks to Snow’s conversation and Robin’s discovery, she finally has that.

    In other things I want to see more of in 4B, give me more of Snow and Regina being friends and relating to each other as adults and equals. Regina’s conversations with the Charmings in the loft and Snow and Regina’s conversation while looking for Emma showed so much potential for an amazing relationship between the two of them. Regina can teach Snow what it means to embrace your child for everything they are and everything that makes them special and Snow can remind Regina to continue to hope.

    Finally, this was a great episode for Emma. She still has old issues that I would like to see worked through a little more with her parents (though this episode was a good start) but the look on her face when she was making the fireworks was exactly what I want for her. I want her to be happy in who she is and what she can do. I want her to have fun with these abilities, not see them as a burden or something to be scared of.

    I love that it was Elsa who got through to her. Emma needed someone who had been there before and overcome the same problem. Everyone in her life may have sympathized and wanted to help but they will never understand like Elsa does. Having that support, understanding, and unwavering belief in Emma’s ability to control her own magic gave Emma the freedom and space to love and accept herself. Friends remind you of who you are and of your strengths when you forget and this friendship has proven to be one of my favorites in OUaT history.

    • “Friends remind you of who you are and of your strengths when you forget and this friendship has proven to be one of my favorites in OUaT history.” – This sentence is currently making me very emotional. It’s amazing that we’ve only known Elsa for eight episodes, and Emma has only known her for seven but I’m completely invested in their friendship—even more than I was in Snow and Red’s back when Red was still on the show.

      I loved that you pointed out that all of the characters, even Hook, fell into the trap that we as viewers fell into of believing Rumple’s love for Bae was stronger than his darkness. But just like all those years ago, he keeps choosing power over Bae—and now it’s a case of choosing power over Bae’s memory and the people Bae loved and would have wanted him to protect.

      I’m also so happy you brought up the last scene between Ingrid and Rumple. When she closed that gap between them and talked about decorating with his bones, I got more excited than ever for these last three episodes. This is my favorite villainous dynamic in the show’s history, and I cannot get enough of it.

  9. Katie I think this was my favorite review so far! I loved this episode – I am just loving what they are doing with Emma this season – she really is embracing everything she is and it’s just brilliant to watch.

    I loved Emma’s scenes with Rumple – he was so careful to make sure he never told her a lie. I always thought that Rumple was intrigued by Emma (and especially by the fact that’s she’s the product of true love) so while he never went out of his way to help her, he never really got in her way either. So I do think it’s a really bad turn for his character that he actually was willing to kill Emma. He really has given up on trying to be good, and he’s fully embraced the idea that villains don’t get happy endings. I think it’s especially sad as he knows how much Emma meant to Bae so it’s like he’s given up on ever living up to his promise to his son – maybe I’m being over dramatic but that’s how I’m reading his actions. Rumple is so smug at the moment that I really can’t wait for everything to fall apart on him. He really wants to destroy Hook as much as possible before he crushes his heart, but I’m already looking forward to seeing him realize that once again he’s underestimated Emma and how much she loves Hook, and how much Hook loves Emma.

    Since S3 I’ve been liking Regina more and more and while I am still not on board with her romance with Robin (and it’s Robin I’m not liking on that front) I really loved her scenes with Henry and the Charmings in this episode. I loved that she told Henry he’s special just as he is and how she comforted him by reminding him that Emma is a hero and hero’s always win. And finally she admitted she was wrong when she tried to persuade Henry he was crazy back in S1. It took the Charmings far too long to realize that Emma needed to keep her magic, but I thought it was a nice twist to have Regina point out that they were not in fact supporting Emma like they thought.

    I don’t know how much Hook angst I’ll be able to take but at least I know it’ll probably only last a couple of episodes – I want to see Emma fight to save Hook, and I think that’s exactly what we’ll see before 4×11 ends. The flashback scenes were great and we finally found out how Elsa got into the urn, the Snow Queen was telling the truth Anna did put her in there, but I loved how Elsa refused to give up on Anna even as she was going into the urn. The show has really done a great job of showing the sisters relationship and I want to see the sisters reunite.

    • Thank you for the kind words about this review, Joan, and also for sharing your feelings with us! 🙂

      I completely agree that seeing Rumple actively try to hurt Emma was quite possibly a new low for this character. We’ve never seen him as a direct antagonist for Emma before, and I’m actually kind of looking forward to seeing her find out everything and fight against him for the first time. It’s a new villain/hero dynamic that I’m excited to see unfold.

  10. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
    To me the writers’ choice was so acutely disappointing, not because they didn’t opt for what you called “the romantic option”. But because the previous writing and established canon on the show clearly groomed Killian for the position of helping Emma embracing her magic as part of herself. I am convinced that if Adam and Eddy hadn’t gotten the okay from Disney for the Frozen arc it would have been Killian to help Emma – because it always has been him. I don’t think it requires having gone through the exact same thing in order to be able to relate and understand someone. Otherwise only couples / friends / siblings who both have (or dont have) magic would thrive – and that’s just not the case. I’m disappointed because I feel the writing from the previous season had us convinced that Killian and Emma are indeed kindred spirits who have a unique understanding for each other – and a unique connection. Just like snow and charming share a unique connection that nobody would ever doubt or cheapen. Now we’ve been told that both Regina and Elsa are the ones who can truly understand Emma and that’s just not something that had been part of canon.
    Killian helping Emma embrace all of herself would have made perfect sense because that’s what he’s been doing all along – successfully. And as lovely as Elsa is – she has known Emma for a very brief time. She has magic be she doesn’t know Emma (as her wrong advice to Killian in 4×03 proved). Having a character help Emma in whom I’m not as emotionally invested as in someone who’s been fighting for Emma ceaselessly for a long time now, just made a scene that was so important fall emotionally flat. And the fact that Emma was surprised at Killian being a fan of her magic almost felt like mockery. How could she possibly not know?
    To me it feels like Adam and Eddy are having so much fun with the Frozen arc, that not only are they neglecting the main characters for it (some hardly appear and except for Emma and Regina their stroylines are half-baked at best), but they’re trying to fit 3 years worth of stories and characters into the frozen world, instead of fitting the frozen characters into the established world of once upon a time. And that leads to writing and scenes that some of us feel to be a disappointment considering what the show is able to do.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, too!

      I can understand your disappointment with the Frozen arc taking time away from major characters. I may not share your disappointment because I find myself very attached to these Frozen characters (and have been attached to them since I saw the movie last year), but I definitely understand where you might have issues with the balance this season.

      And I can also see where you might be disappointed with Elsa helping Emma learn to love herself if you were really hoping for it to be Hook. However, I think what happened in this episode in no way diminishes the connection, understanding, or love story between Emma and Hook. People understand us in different ways—our romantic partners understand us on one level, our parents on another, and our friends on another. Hook and Emma are kindred spirits, but so are Emma and Elsa in their own way, and I think this season has done a good job of developing that, at least from my point of view.

      And this scene was less about Emma and Elsa than it was about Emma learning to love herself. And for as romantic and wonderful as it would have been for Hook to help her, he’s not really in a place right now to help anyone learn to love themselves. Elsa is; she’s gone through the self-loathing period Hook is in now and Emma was working through, and she emerged stronger from it. Now it’s Emma’s turn to use the strength she’s found to be there for Hook.

      Also, for as romantic as it is to have people we love support us, it’s not always healthy to have our sense of self-worth dependent on the encouragement of a romantic partner. That’s something we have to come to on our own. That scene was about Emma being the only one who could really save herself, and I really liked that message. Romantic love is beautiful and important, but learning to love and accept yourself is something that doesn’t often get enough focus independent of romance in the media. And it made me happy to see it take center stage here.

  11. While I ran the emotional gamut last night while watching, it wasn’t until reading your review that I had tears in my eyes. Watching it happen and having someone break it down, piece by agonizing piece is such a different experience, thank you for that. I have very little to add, you’ve hit on the most salient points already. I completely agree that Carlyle was so fantastic last night, even as I hated his slimy guts I couldn’t help but relish every moment he had on screen. Whether it was manipulating Emma, menacing Hook or threatening Ingrid, he was just perfect. I found it slightly ironic that Hook seemed so appalled that Rumple would hurt/kill Emma given that she is Henry’s mother, especially considering he murdered his own wife and the mother of his beloved Bae in a fit of vengeance. Like you, I was heartbroken by almost every scene that Colin was in, but really wish he would confess (to Emma most definitely but at this point I’d settle for him telling someone, ANYONE) before things get any worse. I am just a little curious how the spell of shattered sight is going to affect everyone, especially people like Regina and Hook, who have already spent a great deal of time exploring their inner darkness. Considering Hook already basically hates himself and thinks that he’s failed at becoming his better self, what more could the spell do?

    Speaking of Regina, I honestly have not felt all that connected to the Regina/Robin love story until this episode. It might be the relative short time frame given to their relationship development, as opposed to the slow burn we got with Emma/Hook, but I just never really felt for them (I got the chemistry, they certainly have an amazing on-screen connection, I was just never really fully on board). I appreciate the messiness that their relationship introduces, I like the moral ambiguity of it all, but I also appreciate that as much as Regina wants Robin, she is still trying to do the right thing and be a better person. It’s refreshing in a show full of literal fairy-tale romances to see something a little more “real.” I loved that Robin was trying to help Regina because he loves her and doesn’t like to see her so hurt, and I definitely loved the overall message we get at the end of episode about our choices determining our path rather than being automatically shoehorned into a specific role, although I’m iffy about the page just randomly appearing. It just seemed a little convenient to me.

    The Ingrid/Elsa/Anna flashbacks were superb and everything I wanted; I love that much like Rumple, Ingrid (usually) tells the truth, but it’s always just a little twisted. Telling Elsa that Anna put her in the urn was the truth, as it turned out, but there were circumstances that she failed to elaborate on and they made all the difference. Ingrid is such an amazing vilian, the perfect blend of sympathetic and evil, I’m going to miss her in 4b.

    • Thank you for the kind words, and I’ll hand you a virtual box of tissues. 😉

      I also wish Hook would just tell someone, but I think Rumple’s going to make sure that doesn’t happen. However, I still have some hope that Hook’s voicemail isn’t gone forever. Call it a gut feeling, but I really think Emma will recover it somehow. Or maybe Henry overhears something in the shop in the next couple of episodes. Either way, I don’t think this secret will stay a secret beyond the next two episodes. It will need to be out in the open by the middle of the midseason finale at the latest, in my opinion, because I don’t think they want something that complex to carry over into 4B with the storybook stuff already carrying over into the next half-season.

  12. I would say thanks to Once I spend most of my Sunday nights tossing and turning unable to turn my brain off. Last night however, was one of the best Sunday nights sleep I have had since the season started. I am going to say that means I was fully satisfied. Can all episodes be 2 hrs?

    Rumple totally had me going with that “I have a spell that removes light magic” ruse. I wasn’t even thinking he might be lying about it. This is what makes Rumple such a great character, even when I have no reason to believe anything that comes out of his mouth as a viewer, I still believe everything that comes out of his mouth. The moment he crumpled up and threw that paper away I yelled “Oh snap!” at my TV. Well played Rumple you evil, evil man.

    I love that you brought up Elizabeth Lail and the lightness she brought to the episode. I have to say, that for being a pretty intense 2 hours, there was a lot of great humor in here too. I loved Anna practicing her surprise! tone, only for the Snow Queen to turn it back on her (oh snap moment number 2). I also loved the ongoing line about the quarter for the hope jar, and the sight gag of panning to Hook after Charming saying they needed to pour the location potion on something of Emma’s was hilarious. They could have put Emma’s scarf ANYWHERE in that room, so you can’t tell me that wasn’t on purpose.

    I have found a surefire way to get me to like Regina: put her in any scene with the Charmings. I loved her in this episode. And how gorgeous did Lana look in this episode? Regina looked so young and happy and it was nice to see. Regina and Snow’s dynamic is definitely one of my favorite on the show. How much of Snow’s inability to be a mother to Emma stems from the fact that she lost her mother so young? Snow doesn’t have an adult mother/daughter relationship with a mother figure, so its nice to see Regina fill that role at least on some level.

    I have to say I did not see Rumple stealing Killian’s heart coming at all, when it really should have been obvious. If the curse or spell is difficult/never been done before, history has shown us that a heart is likely involved (the dark curse x2, Pan and the heart of the truest believer, Zelena’s time travel spell).

    Speaking of Rumple now having Killian’s heart. I have to say that I am a little disappointed. But only in the way that it kinda absolves Killian from any wrong doing at this point. At least with the blackmailing Killian was making a conscious choice to deceive and be an accomplice to Rumple’s actions, which I think added to the danger of it. Its also frustrating that the rules of this whole “controlling a heart” thing are so undefined. I have to imagine that one of the rules is that the person who is being controlled cant tell others they are being controlled, or the whole thing would be useless. But then where is the line drawn between what the person is consciously doing and what they are being forced to do? Regina didn’t have her heart last season but nobody was actively controlling it. I am trying to think of who we have seen have their hearts controlled. Aurora, Graham, that lost boy are the only ones coming to mind. Graham seemed to be aware that he did not have his heart, but why didn’t Aurora and the lost boy know they were being controlled? So yes, I am more confused about what this actually means at this point.

    I mentioned this on Twitter, but how lucky is Rumple that Killian is still around and he didn’t have to make a decision between using Neal’s heart or freeing himself from the dagger? That would have been a decision I would have loved to see, rather than Killian once again being used as a pawn. A part of me hopes there is some kind of twist to this whole heart thing that makes this detail worth it.

    I loved the scene between Elsa and Emma in the house. Really, I like to think that one scene is the whole reason Frozen was even woven in to this season, and I think its more than justified after getting Emma to the place of self acceptance she is at. It was perfect.

    Speaking of Elsa, I love how much this season we just get shots of her beaming in happiness when she sees Emma and Hook together. My favorite thing about it is she never looks at Hook, she is always looking at Emma. Its not, “Wow, look at what a great guy he is”, it is always “wow, look how happy she is. She deserves this” and I love it. That’s a good friendship right there.

    I wanted to hate the ridiculousness of Emma’s fireworks show at the end of this episode, but I just cant. Their faces were just all so happy and adorable. The show works its magic on me once again. And Storybrooke is going to save bank on 4th of July and NYE celebrations from now on. Fireworks are expensive.

    I was wracking my brain all week trying to figure out what on earth would get Emma and Elsa to voluntarily wear the Snow Queen’s ribbons, so “magically forcing them on” makes a whole lot of sense.

    I feel like that voicemail Hook left for Emma has to come back at some point. Use those bounty hunter skills Emma! Also I have to believe there is some kind of spell that would show if items have been magically tampered with. Didn’t Regina say you can always find traces of magic when she was hunting in Zelena’s farmhouse last season?

    Hook putting his hand over Emma’s burned handprint: Ouch.

    I loved the visual of the glass shards getting into Anna’s eye. It was equally creepy and cool. Until proven otherwise, I am going to assume that the shattered sight curse is solely focused on everyone’s eyes, so David/Snow’s shared heart and Killian’s missing heart might not come into play. Rumple physically controlling Killian’s heart could be the more literal interpretation of his heart being compromised.

    Rumple, for someone who makes very elaborate secretive plans, you kinda dropped the ball with leaving that map with the exact location of where you planned to do away with Emma circled and laying on the counter in your shop.

    You did a great job talking about Rumple’s self-perception and his projecting on Hook, and I have nothing to add. I will say, if I am hoping anything comes out of the shattered sight curse, it’s that people will finally start seeing the worst in Rumple. The irony being everyone seeing the worst in Rumple being the only time any of them are ever seeing the truth.

    2 weeks? Why? The worst Once episode is always no Once episode.

    • You brought up so many amazing points here, Shauna! I said this on Twitter already, but I especially loved the connection you made between the use of Hook’s heart and the fact that it could have been Bae/Neal’s if he wasn’t dead. I think this storyline with Hook is going to make for good drama on Hook’s part, but it would made for even better drama for Rumple if he would have had to directly choose once again between power and his son.

      I also did not expect Rumple to want to use the hat until he threw the paper into the trash. Like everyone, I think I’d wanted to hope Emma’s connection to Henry and Neal was enough to keep her safe from Rumple, but wow was I wrong.

      I do agree that the stolen heart thing kind of takes away some of the drama inherent in the blackmail storyline, but I think it’s going to be replaced with a different kind of drama in terms of Hook always thinking he’s one moment away from dying. I am weirdly excited to see what kind of emotions that brings out in his interactions with Emma now, and I know she’s going to have her hands full at first, but I am also excited to see her react to those emotions. (We already got a nice taste of that at the end of this episode.)

      And, yes, I hope that’s not the last we’ve seen of that voicemail. I feel like it’s Chekhov’s voicemail—you don’t have him leave it and be as detailed as he was in it without it coming back before this is all over. But maybe I took too many drama classes in college. 😉

    • I can’t believe I forgot to add how much I loved you pointing out Elsa’s adorable reactions to all things Emma/Hook. She looks so happy to see Emma with someone who genuinely loves her, with someone who makes her happy, too. I have to imagine it reminds her of how happy she was for Anna to have Kristoff. That kind of joy in someone else’s happiness is what the best friendships are made of. Have I mentioned I want to keep Elsa forever? 😉

      • “Rumple, for someone who makes very elaborate secretive plans, you kinda dropped the ball with leaving that map with the exact location of where you planned to do away with Emma circled and laying on the counter in your shop.”

        Just reading this now made me think maybe Rumple left it there on purpose knowing that Hook would come looking for Emma…

        Also I love your comment about not hating how ridiculous the fireworks display was because everyone looked so happy and adorable. A happy Emma makes me happy. 🙂

  13. Great review. This is an episode I need to watch again just because there was so much going on and to absorb. I’m still on the fence about where they are going with Regina’s character and her relationship with Robin. And there is still a lot left unsaid between Emma and her parents.

    Like a lot of people I assumed it would be Killian helping Emma embrace her magic – because he is the one who has always encouraged her. But I also understand that the story wasn’t about Emma recognizing Killian or even Henry as her Anna, but about learning to love and embrace herself. Elsa can talk to Emma because she has been where she is at, but also because Elsa is an outsider. It’s often easier to hear something from someone that has no prior connection to you than someone that you know has feelings for you – like a child. parent or lover. Plus, sadly, for as much as Hook loves and admires Emma, he doesn’t feel the same about himself. I’d love for Emma to help Killian realize he needs to love and accept himself, flaws and all, just as much as he loves and accepts her with all her flaws. Plus I don’t think Emma has accepted her feelings for Killian just yet, so for him to be the one to help her might have been more than she can handle.

    I love Rumple as a villain. He is the classic love to hate character. And I love the difference between Rumple’s cowardice and Hook’s bravery. Rumple using the hat is just another form of cowardice imo. Rumple doesn’t want to fight for what he wants in life, he wants to accumulate enough magic so that no one can challenge him and he can take over the world. I really do think Rumple will be losing big by the midseason finale and I think that includes Belle. But I wonder will Rumple fight for Belle or will he just accept her lose?

    As painful as it was, I love the scene between Rumple and Killian. Rumple chaining Killian to the fence was a painful and visual reminder of what he did to Killian when he murdered Milah – which was the beginning of Captain Hook. In season 3B Zelena wanted Emma to lose her magic and used Hook to try and do it. Now Rumple wants Emma’s magic (at the cost of her life) and is planning to use Killian to get it before killing him. And Rumple is the only one in town that knows that Emma sacrificed her magic to save Killian in 3×20. He may not have witnessed it but he’s smart enough to figure out what went down and I wonder if that knowledge will figure into his plans? In 3×20 when they went to confront Zelena in the barn and get back baby Neal, Rumple told Emma and Killian to get the dagger to get the dark one on their side or else he’d destroy them. And know a few weeks later in SB time, the dark one is trying to destroy them both. I don’t know if we can consider it foreshadowing but its interesting just how quickly things fell apart with Rumple once the dagger was in his possession and how his main targets are Emma and Killian.

    The next few weeks are going to hurt but I also think that this is where we will see Emma fighting for Killian and Killian be inspired by Emma. The character poster for Emma was that love was the strongest magic of all and Killian’s was that a man who doesn’t fight for what he wants deserves what he gets. I think Emma and Killian are going to prove that love is actually strength and both are going to fight for what they want, the exact opposite of Rumple who is still very much a coward and considers love a weakness to be exploited.

    • I love this comment, Mary!

      Your thoughts on Hook/Emma/Elsa and the importance of learning to love yourself were wonderful to read.

      You also raise a really interesting question about what would happen if Belle were to leave Rumple. Would he fight for her? As of right now, I have to believe he wouldn’t; he thinks he’s a villain and has bought into all that means so completely at this point, so I don’t think he would fight for her, as sad as that makes me. I feel like he will figure out he has to fight for her eventually, though, because the whole theme of this season is not giving up on the people you love.

      Nice tie-ins with the character posters, by the way! 🙂

      • I think having Belle use the dagger on Rumple, which in his eyes must have been the ultimate betrayal, was a hint at Rumple not feeling as safe in the belief that Belle is different from the rest of people in his life. It will probably be the perfect excuse to not fight for her, at least at the beginning.

  14. As always, amazing review of an amazing episode. I haven’t had time to read everyone’s awesome comments, but I wanted to leave a few thoughts of my own.
    I loved the pacing of the episode. There was a lot going on and at times I was thinking “isn’t she there yet?!” but it allowed for time for all of the emotional stuff to play out without feeling too rushed.
    Thanks for pointing out the brightness of Hook’s heart. I had missed that.
    I loved Elsa giving Emma the help she needed in that moment. Emma being in control of her magic once she accepted and embraced it – another instance of coming to terms with what she is, what her reality is.
    I could see where Snow and Charming were coming from – I think they just wanted Emma to be happy, and it seemed like getting rid of her magic would make her happy. They don’t have magic so they don’t get that it’s like excising a part of yourself. I’m glad Regina called them on it though – she was the best person to give them that telling off, just as Snow was the right person to tell Regina that she wasn’t just a villain. When Regina referred to having done worse than sleeping with a married man I felt like that was a tiny acknowledgment that she understands how wrong what she did to Graham was.
    I completely agree that the Regina/Robin scene was all kinds of hot, and I feel like he has chosen Regina, in so far as a person can choose who he loves. I’m interested to see how this is resolved.
    I liked the story line with sharing Operation Mongoose with Robin and his and Will’s research (love a good library story line!) I didn’t think that Regina was really going to be able to hunt down the writer of the story book and make him change it – this kind of thing was more in line with how I saw this story playing out – emphasizing what people like you have been saying all along – that you have to choose to change and trust that things will work out in the end, rather than thinking that every bump in the road is proof that you’re fated to be unhappy.
    I’m sure there was a bunch more stuff, but those were my initial reactions. It was a great episode. And all of this angst is headed towards something amazing. I have hope 🙂

    • Yay for hope! Snow would be proud. 😉

      I also wanted the storybook stuff to play out like this, with Regina learning that her choices and belief in her own goodness are what will determine her ability to have a happy ending, not forcing the creator of the book to change her story. I’m actually getting excited to see this story play out, which I wasn’t before this episode.

    • I was disappointed in Snow and Charming that their reaction to Emma getting rid of her magic is to sit back, relax, and do nothing. I expected unconditional love from them for their daughter. To accept her removing a part of herself because they can’t relate to it is not loving her for who she is. She is a product of them. I can’t repress my feeling very well but their actions or non-actions irks me.

  15. As much as I love for the Killian missing heart to be resolved quickly, if the sorceror’s hat story continues through 4B, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

    I would not be surprise if Emma mistakenly attribute any kind of off-feelings she might have about Killian to the Shattered Sight curse that will be affecting everyone in 4A.

    4B would be when she realize somethig is still off and will be on her journey to fight for Killian and get back what he lost and have him whole again.

    I hope I’m wrong though because I don’t know if my heart can take the angst for that long. Yep, I’m a sap. 🙂

    BTW, didn’t the lights went all wonky when Emma gave birth to Henry, the same as when Snow gave birth to Emma and Neal? I need to go back and watch those scenes again. Would that be an indicator that these 3 babies are special in some way?

    • I can see where people might think that Hook’s stolen heart might carry over into 4B, but I can’t see it going past the midseason finale. If anything, Gold might still have his heart in 4B, but Emma will know. (Although I really do think he’ll have his heart back by the end of the midseason finale.) Last season didn’t really have too much carryover in terms of story elements between the A and B seasons, and I don’t see that happening this time, either, with the exception of the storybook stuff because that’s already been confirmed.

      I think the Shattered Sight curse will end before the midseason finale, probably in episode 10. That leaves the finale to deal with Rumple’s plans, including Hook’s heart. But that’s just my opinion. I just don’t see them wanting to carry over too many complex, character-driven stories into 4B, at least going on 3A/3B as a guide.

      • Thank you, Katie. This is great news and I hope you’re right. I don’t think I can stand the angst of Killian without his heart carry through to the latter part of the season.

  16. So much two hour goodness! I could hardly wait for your recap today! Have to organize my thoughts and will post 🙂 Thank you for your careful attention to this amazing show. “Little John is a bit of a gossip”, “decorate my walls with your bones”, “Surprise!” and “The countless innocent lives you destroyed”. So many great lines.

  17. Thank you for your lovely recap. I wish I could have enjoyed the episode more, but there was a bit too much that was hurtful for that to be possible for me. As much as I know that the pain Killian and Emma are being put through will make them stronger in the end, it’s still really hard to watch. I am thrilled to see them officially becoming so important to the show though. It looks like they’re going to face at least as many challenges as Snowing did in season 1, if not more. Any couple that has to go through this much has to be acknowledged as a main couple.
    But I just can’t get behind Regina and Robin as a couple. I found their behavior in this episode repulsive and I’m officially never going to be able to accept them together. Adultery is not something I can take lightly. It’s something that can really be damaging to many lives. I’m appalled that this show is dealing with it in such a casual manner. I think those kind of poor choices deserve serious consequences but, unfortunately, I doubt it will ever happen on this show. After all, Regina has never really been held accountable to some of the truly monstrous things she’s done, it’s all been kind of swept under the rug. I guess, from now on, there will just be parts of this show I won’t watch anymore.

    • I feel your pain on Regina and Robin. (I’d seriously like to shake Robin Hood right now. I feel like he’s the one dragging Regina down.If we go back to the idea that love is sacrifice, we see Regina ready to sacrifice. She was willing to sacrifice her own happiness to save Marian.) However, I’m holding out hope that there will be some fallout on this. The writers did show this to be a stupid decision in the similar situation with Snow and Charming — which is why I was surprised at Snow’s comment to Regina about being with a married man. Does Snow not remember how that all went? Does she not remember her own comment that they didn’t do the right thing? (Honestly, Snow’s parenting skills are a little off right now.) Even Regina has said this shouldn’t happen again. Hopefully, there will be some follow through on that.

      • And because I can’t seem to ever get all my thoughts into one post . . .

        The show has set Regina and Robin up as fated to be together. If that’s the case, I don’t think they’re going to get together (completely happy) too quickly. (Story-wise, that’s just too fast. There must be drama!) There are going to have to be roadblocks, bumps, obstacles, etc. for the two to overcome in their journey. This may be the thing that actually drives them apart temporarily — an obstacle they have to overcome in their journey.

    • I definitely agree that all of these obstacles being thrown at Emma and Hook’s relationship mean they’re being established as one of the show’s most important couples. And I like that it seems Rumple will be the main antagonist for them the way Regina was for Snow/Charming. Everyone gets their own villain! 😉

      And I can understand completely where Robin/Regina would rub you the wrong way. I see the complications in their situation because Robin didn’t fall in love with Regina believing he still had a wife, so I personally can get over some problematic aspects of their relationship because of that fact. However, he’s not acting in an honorable way now, and I do think there will be more fallout from that. And I can see how all of this would make you want to skip parts of episodes, and sometimes that’s the best way to deal with parts of shows you love that you find problematic.

    • I agree with everything you said.

      I’ve been skipping anything to do with Regina/Robin for a while now. I can’t get over the show destroying Robin/Marion iconic hundreds of years love story for the sake of Regina and a pixie dust.

      This show blase treatment of adultery is one of the few downside I don’t care for. I didn’t care for the Mary Margaret/David/Katherine. I didn’t care for the comment that Emma may had an affair with a married man. I especially didn’t care for Killain/Milah/Rumple adulterous story. I was rooting for Rumple to stand up and gave them what for, but didn’t expected what actually happened.

  18. Okay now that I’ve had another day to try to emotionally come to terms with this episode I think I’m ready to talk. 😉

    Robin & Regina – As I mentioned last week (I think?), Robin’s lack of characterization has been incredibly frustrating for me, as I love the character and really like the actor & his chemistry w/ Lana. This week gave him some emotional nuance, as the almost boyish enthusiasm he has to reinforce his positive view of Regina, to give her HOPE, was pretty adorable IMO. For the first time in a while he seemed very active and motivated in his desire to love her on more than just a physical level (though, WHOA NELLIE as Mindy Lahiri would say, the OQ scene in the vault was ALL KINDS OF HOT). 😉

    Going into this episode I *assumed* that it would be Hook to talk Emma back from the cliff of wanting to give up her magic and walk through that door…but I’m so glad it wasn’t. Not only was the scene between Elsa and Emma absolutely BEAUTIFUL to watch, it was a glorious way to reinforce the importance of a healthy self-love and how that plays into one’s confidence and ability to function in a positive manner. And Elsa is really the only character who could help Emma see that (I really hope that one day after the Frozen arc is over Elsa will be able to cameo again and we can see how much this friendship has impacted both of their lives post-Snow Queen crisis).

    This episode really drove home for me in a devastating manner just how low Killian’s self-esteem really is — and it would have been a false positive, I think, to have someone so full of self-loathing talk Emma out of going through that door. It’s going to be Emma’s turn to emotionally build up her pirate, as he’s been so faithful to support her and be a fan of every part of her (best. line. ever.). Hook has undergone such a glorious redemptive hero’s arc, and while not yet complete, the bright, shining nature of his heart proves that his change has been real and genuine and DEEP. He is on the cusp of realizing his glorious potential and I love that, even as my heart just shatters over the pain on his face after Rumple’s despicable actions.

    Speaking of Rumple…what he’s doing to himself, and by extension Belle as his wife, makes me see red and cry by turns. Again and again he takes positive steps only to lose any ground gained and then some in a massive display of fear and selfishness. I don’t know how or to what extent, but I expect he’s going to lose Belle…and she’ll be the stronger for it. Him…he’s got so far to go, I have no idea how he’ll ever walk this back.

    • First of all, excellent Whoa Nellie reference. 😉

      Both of your paragraphs on self-love and self-esteem were beautifully said. Hook isn’t in a good place in terms of his self-worth, so it wouldn’t have been right for him to be the one to help Emma love herself. This way, it will be Emma fighting to help him love all of himself, and I actually love that idea even more than Hook helping her do the same. Who doesn’t love a story about a badass princess fighting for her man in every way she can fight for him? 😉

      • Can. Not. Wait. I need to remember to avoid the haters on Twitter & Tumblr who want to see anything BUT the story the writers are telling. This is gonna be painful but I think the payoff is gonna be worth it. 🙂

    • Ohhhh, good point on Killian and his (lack of) self-esteem. There’s that brief flicker of hesitation when he asks Emma for a second date — as if he’s afraid she’ll say no. He was surprised that Emma gave up her magic to save his life. He’ll follow her to the end of the world (and time), but he’s not sure if she’d do the same for him. And notice how those who have known him longest — Pan and Rumple — play on that insecurity.

      • YES! The fear that he could let her down, that he could look in her eyes and see disappointment is such a paralyzing reality for him. Looking forward to the day when he realizes that he IS worth fighting for too. 🙂

        • I think that’s always why his line in the voicemail about failing to be a better man was so sad and poignant; he’s made a mistake and been blackmailed into a corner, but in his mind he’s become a loathsome thing unworthy of Emma or her love. Breaks my heart 😦

  19. Random thought, but I think the inhabitants of Storybrooke should all have the option to get a ‘my heart can’t be ripped out’ protection spell put on them. Like a flu shot. I know Regina can do it, she used it on Henry after Neverland. Let’s stop making things easy of the villains shall we?

    • LOL.

      I love this idea.

      BTW, what’s the rule on taking out hearts? Can anyone with magic take hearts out of anyone or only ones without magic? Why was Cora not able to take out Emma’s heart?

      • I think only people with magic (or magically enhanced tools, like when Hook was able to take Aurora’s heart because his hook had been magicked by Regina to take out Cora’s heart) can take out hearts of anyone, magical or not. Regina sent Hook to take Cora’s heart and the reason he couldn’t was because it wasn’t in her chest, not because she had magic; same with Zelena trying to take out Regina’s heart. Also, Regina took Henry’s heart out of Peter Pan and he definitely had magic.
        The case of Emma seems unique and was cryptically explained by Rumple because she is the product of True Love. It still doesn’t add up though, because by that reasoning Snow’s and David’s new baby should also have magic, as well as Aurora’s and Phillip’s, and probably Cinderella’s and Thomas’s.

        • Thank you. It was all so confusing to me as to the rules on heart taking if there is one. And I had forgotten about Regina taken out the Henry’s heart from Pan. Did we ever saw what happened to Pan’s own heart? Also, Pan had to enchanted Henry’s hand to take out his own heart. Why? Is that because of the sacrifice ritual to be true or because he can’t.

          I would love for the show to explain more or be more consistant with all matters of the hearts i.e. the color, the taking out, the control. 🙂

          I was wondering about Hook taken out Aurora’s heart with his magical hook….wouldn’t it physically poke a hole in her heart to pull out because it is a hook, magic or not? 🙂

          • I imagine the same magical rules apply for hands, hooks, or whatever object is enchanted to take out the heart, since it doesn’t seem to leave a permanent mark when done with the hand in spite of the laws of logic.
            Also, I just remembered that Rumple asked Regina to take a unicorn’s heart in one of their lessons so that would be another argument for the possibility of taking anyone’s (including magical creatures) heart if you have the magic/magical tool to do it.

            ABC merchandising should sell a “Once Upon a Time Guide to All Things Magical” with a “Once Upon a Time Timeline” appendix. I for one would definitely be grateful.

            • While I have been championing a manual (that I keep imagining resides either in the library or Regina’s vault), I’m now want a Monty Python-esque Ministry of Magic. I’m having fun imagining them popping up in random episodes questioning the magic-logic.

              And yes! A timeline would be awesome. I keep hoping some enterprising fan will splice the flashbacks together chronologically . . .

  20. So I had to watch this episode again to really be able to form some thoughts about this episode. And it’s 75 degrees here, so I can only wish I was snowed in to talk about this episode to my heart’s content, but I fear I’ve written too much already. I still don’t know how I feel about this episode, even days after it has aired, and the twice I’ve watched it now. I’m gutted for Hook, of course, and somewhat confused on who I am supposed to be rooting for in the Regina/Robin saga, but I am strangely pleased about the full-on return of the Dark One after the sham of his marriage appeared to soften him. And the quotable quotes. A veritable bonanza in this episode, including “Why would a cat want a hat?”, “I prefer her this way. More cooperative, less mouthy.”, “You knew I was a thief when you met me.” “We should probably look into hiring some new guards when this is all over.” “Do we have a secret signal?” “I think Run! will work just fine.”

    And my favorite: “You are not all evil and I am not all good. Things are not that simple.” Isn’t that Once Upon A Time perfectly summed up in two sentences?

    First and foremost, kudos to the show for the incredibly twisted number it did to Emma’s superpower in this episode by having both villains (Ingrid and Rumplestiltskin) manipulate Emma using nothing but the truth. Emma’s superpower was never going to work against either one of them, and it’s just brilliantly written as to why. Everything Ingrid said out in the road as a hologram to Emma about Rumplestiltskin was, in fact true. These are all true statements: “Wherever you are headed, turn around and go home. You are in great danger. Whatever he promised you, it’s a lie. You mustn’t trust him. He doesn’t do anything unless it benefits him. He doesn’t care about you; he would kill you to get what he desires. I’m trying to protect you and that’s the truth.” Fast forward to Rumple’s speech to Emma: “You still have doubts? (Emma: Do you blame me?) No. (Emma: Is it safe? Will I be okay?) No magic is without risk. Even magic used to take away magic. This is very much your choice. And of course, it was also your idea. (Emma: But it’s going to stop me from hurting people) That much I can promise you. (Emma: What would you do?) I wouldn’t go in there for anything. (Emma: She [Belle] believes you can change) And I love her for that, but I fear she’s quite rightly wrong.” All true. The only way to beat someone with a lie-detecting superpower is to use the truth. Well-played, show.

    Done right, the curse of shattered sight could be spectacular for the show. Among my favorite scenes this season were Belle talking to herself in the mirror and in this episode where Anna says everything we yelled at the screen during Frozen. It’s an extremely interesting concept; that of using deep truths as weapons.

    Ingrid’s inflection as she delivers her lines remains perfect, “Of course not!” to the sorcerer’s apprentice, “Surprise! How was that?”, “The other option is I just kill you” to Anna, “…decorate this place with your bones; shall we try?” to Rumpelstiltskin, “…especially with people like me” to the sorcerer’s apprentice. All different, and all spectacular.

    And yet, she was matched by her counterpart, line for line, as Rumpelstiltskin, almost erotically circles around Ingrid with a slow, “I never do anything without a good reason” as he traps her within the magical circle.

    The writers are also nailing the anachronisms for the characters new to our world; it reminds me of the success Sleepy Hollow is having with the same tactic, with the driving machines, the talking phones and the TV boxes.

    I wouldn’t mind a little more hard truth thrown the Charming family’s way. I don’t even know where to start. A simple “I’m sorry” over the phone and a hug are not going to erase the deeply entrenched feelings of being feared and unsafe that Emma is feeling. And Snow, who was so perceptive asking how Henry really was, and she didn’t mean his superficial injury, completely missed the cues around Emma that Hook didn’t. How did Snow and Charming think that Emma was going to remove her magic? There was only one person in town that Emma would have visited, and maybe Hook was already primed not to trust Rumpelstiltskin, but Snow knows better than anyone the deals that he makes and she was so blasé about the steps Emma would have to take to remove her magic. And while we’re at it, what is up with Charming continuing to use “normal” to describe non-magical beings? You live in a fairy tale! Half of your friends and family and neighbors have magic. However, this was contrasted nicely with Henry’s “ordinary” speech, where he laments that he doesn’t have magic. I will admit that there was something decidedly creepy about Regina and Henry in unison repeating “Heroes always win”. It was almost said in the same tone as Pan used when he inhabited Henry’s body.

    I’m not going to get much further without addressing the Outlaw Queen. I do like that Regina confessed everything to Robin Hood, including everything with Tinkerbell and the curse and the OAUT book, but in my head, after that hot kiss in last week’s episode, Regina kicked him out in her continued efforts to be “a good person”, so I was surprised to see him still there overnight. And granted, what is Robin supposed to do, break up with a person in a popsicle coma? He’s literally in a lose/lose situation, and I’ll give Regina that she’s never looked better than in that outfit in the crypt, but I didn’t buy Snow absolving Regina completely nor approving of Regina and Robin, even if it was so nice to see her not judging for a moment. Snow and Regina talking in the kitchen was such an obvious callback to Snow and Emma as they used to talk in the kitchen. The conversation with the Charmings about Regina’s actions towards Henry in Season One just brought everything back full circle, and Snow and Regina’s conversation in the woods was 30 years in coming. I loved the idea of the Hope Commission, and the idea magical items like the storybook showing up to help heroes. Yet as referenced by another forum, other things have been given to characters on the show too; the scroll with Henry’s face on it to Pan, the storybook page to Robin, and the scroll with Emma’s prophecy to Ingrid. I’m also a little taken aback that Robin would spend countless hours looking for the answer to Regina’s happiness, but can’t be bothered to spend a moment finding out how to save Marian’s life, and even in the most generous angle of the Regina/Robin story, I can’t see where Regina is “now making good choices”.

    I continue to be in awe of these sisters who believe each other, no matter what, in the face of very good liars. Even with presented—again—with a twisted truth, Elsa never believes that Anna would betray her. However, I’m still mulling over if Elsa believed Ingrid when she told her that her mother was the one to put her in the urn? Elsa definitely sympathized with Ingrid’s cause at least for a moment when she looked at the painting of her parents and realized that Anna loves her parents in a way that Elsa never will because her parents loved Anna in a way they didn’t Elsa. And that was a truth Elsa believed from Ingrid.

    Searching the abandoned (“forgotten”) wing of the Arendelle castle was so very Beauty and the Beast. That was a nice Disney touch, as was Gold’s shop with Emma’s magic bringing everything to life.

    As much as I’d love to believe that Gold has been evil all along, I think he might not have realized the sheer volume of magic that Emma possessed and decided to harness that only when she came to him for help. I could be wrong, but I don’t think his motivation this time is magic and power; I wonder if all he really wants is freedom—freedom from the dagger that ruined his life, and he is willing to sacrifice anyone and everything—including his marriage and his grandson’s mother—to that end goal.

    Continue to adore Elsa. Running off with the locator potion after Emma’s insufferably slow parents couldn’t connect the dots to save Emma, Elsa telling Emma to love and accept herself; the good and the bad. Someone really should have had Regina eavesdrop on that conversation. And of course, the way Emma manifests her powers is not through snowmen and snowball fights, but rather fireworks. It was all so adorable, until Rumple took on Hook.

    Both of Hook’s voicemail’s were absolutely heartbreaking, and we didn’t even get the emotional payoff of Emma hearing his heartfelt confession. If he had told her everything earlier, she would know better than to ever trust Gold, but let’s be honest, she should have known that anyway. The emotion in Hook’s voice, though, wow. And how unselfish is Hook? He wants Emma to live, even if she can never forgive him. He is willing to let her go even if it means losing her, and I think that will be something we’ll come back to later in the season. And a thousand points of cruelty goes to Rumple taunting Hook with Milah. It was lower than low, and I can’t help it; Rumple’s a villain, not a hero, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I felt cheated by the Hook/Emma kiss, but then I remembered Graham; we’ve clearly been led to believe that characters can still live and feel without a heart.

    So I’m still wondering why Elsa is looking for Anna in Storybrooke. At first I thought, shouldn’t she have built an ice bridge to get back to Arendelle by now? And then we learned that Elsa’s memories were wiped in the urn, so she probably doesn’t remember Anna returning to Arendelle in the first place, but why hasn’t Elsa been looking for a way back to the Enchanted Forest, the last place she remembered Anna? Also, why couldn’t Ingrid just have opened the urn to let Elsa out? And did Will Scarlett check out a glimpse of Ruby in the diner twice? I swear I saw a flash of her last week, too. Wishful thinking, I suppose. So, how about next week, huh?

    • Nice insights. You probably couldn’t see me nodding, but there was nodding. Lots of it.

      Re: Gold — I hadn’t thought of it as a desire for freedom. I tended to think of it as a desire for control, or rather that he doesn’t want anyone to have control over him. While this is tied to power and magic, his end goal is to be free of the possibility of someone having power over him. It’s an interesting thought to ponder. Aaaand we do have time to ponder. Sigh.

      Like you I absolutely adore Elsa and Anna and Kristoff — which is nice because there are other characters I really want to shake until their teeth rattle. I think Elsa continues to look for Anna in Storybrooke because of Anna’s necklace. I don’t think she remembers that Ingrid took the necklace — because, you know, there’s all that willy-nilly removing of memories.

      For a show that emphasizes choices, I really think that Robin’s and Regina’s choices are going to have consequences. Robin characterized what he was doing as going against his code. Regina said it should’t happen again and seemed conflicted. I would certainly hope that the writers won’t let that slide. I keep wondering, too, about the parallels to Snow and Charming’s Katherine situation in season one. Is Regina about to go through what Snow did in Season One? This seems deliberate: otherwise why invoke the parallel in Snow’s conversation with Regina? (Evidently being in love with a married man was even referenced in a deleted scene earlier in the season.)

      And oh yes, I am with you on the Charmings. Maybe a session with Archie? Some tough love from Granny? Some snark from Grumpy?

      I hold out hope that Hook’s voice mail is in the cloud somewhere. All these crime shows tell us that stuff is never lost. Prove it now, people. Find that voice mail. However I do think that all this angst is going to have a great payoff. I really look forward to seeing Emma fight for Hook.

      Until then, at least we all have a nice little support group. And we can all imagine the line to Regina’s house for heart-stealing inoculations or the search for curse manuals at the library.

    • “We should probably look into hiring some new guards when this is all over.” I forgot that one, but it was one of my favorite of the two hours.

      I also remember being struck by how both Ingrid and Rumple never lied to Emma the entire episode, it was nice to see it all written out to see just how clever the dialogue really was.

      I am glad I am not the only one that was thinking about Beauty and the Beast when they searched that wing of the castle. Right up to the staring at the painting on the wall.

      When the season started and the hat storyline was introduced, I really did think that maybe Rumple might be wanting to free himself from the dagger for a more noble reason. But at this point, even if it is more about being a free man and less about power, the means to get that freedom has been pretty much unforgivable at this point. And out of everything that Rumple has done, him controlling Hook’s heart I think is one of the worst, because if anybody knows the pain and humiliation of being controlled to do things against your will, its Rumple. And I love how even after all he has done, it is still so easy want to believe he is actually trying to be good. His character is so amazingly written and acted its kinda infuriating.

      • I am in total agreement with you about how terrible Rumple controlling Hook is, especially considering the fact that he knows exactly how horrible it is to be in the position Hook is in now. The psychological/emotional torture aspect of it is really twisted and sick, but it’s what makes Rumple such a compelling villain.

    • First of all, you are not the only one who wanted to believe Will was checking out Ruby—I miss her so much, so I always try to pretend she’s in a scene whenever I can. I also made a Beauty and the Beast connection with the East Wing scene, too. I have to believe that was deliberate.

      I loved your breakdown of all of the manipulative truths told by Ingrid and Rumple. It was the perfect way to work around Emma’s “superpower” and show just how devious the two of them are, in very similar ways.

      Part of me understood Rumple’s initial drive to be free of the dagger, especially after what he went through with Zelena. However, at this point, I think freedom and power are basically the same to him. He wants to be free of the dagger, but he also wants to keep his powers and, in fact, gain more control than ever by putting everyone else with magic in the hat. (I’ve always believed that’s why his kisses with Belle have never even come close to breaking that curse after their first kiss—he chooses his “curse”—his power—every time.) As much as my heart breaks for Hook, it breaks even more for Belle because I feel hope for Hook but only see hopelessness when I look at Rumple and Belle’s relationship.

      I know I say this to you all the time, but I’ll say it again: I’m so happy you found us and comment here every week. It’s always a pleasure reading your thoughts!

    • Great post. I also nodded through most of it.

      I never thought about both Rumple and Ingrid didn’t actually lie to Emma. I had been wondering about that aspect of her superpower.

    • You brought up something I hadn’t thought of….Emma came to Gold. He didn’t seek her out to take away her magic.

      I initially was really upset with Gold for going to hat Emma, essentially killing her, eventhough she never caused him harm. He usually doesn’t do anything to people who hadn’t done something to him first, if I remember correctly. In this instance, eventhough Emma didn’t do anything to him, she did came to him and asked for help. He decided to take advantage of the opportunity presenting itself, not considering the consequence to anyone other than accomplishing his goal.

      I’m still upset with him on what he tried to do to Emma and what he did to Killian but I can see what lead up to it more objectively now, I think.

  21. As usual, brilliant recap. This goes for the previous one, too, even if I couldn’t comment.
    You’ve put into words most of my thoughts so I’ll just add the ramblings that come to mind after watching the episode(s) and reading your post, and hope I manage to make sense!

    First, I’ll start by saying that the Snow Queen is the Miranda Priestly of fairytales, scary and chilly (yes, pun intended) without even needing to raise her voice. I keep waiting for her to say “That’s all” after sassing Gold. Elizabeth Mitchell is absolutely fantastic.

    The Frozen storyline:

    I loved the flashbacks, and loved all the questions answered and the new ones raised. You covered basically all I thought about this but I’m a bit worried about Anna, Kristoff and all of Arendelle. Are they… dead? After what happened with Helga, and what would have happened with Marian if Regina hadn’t taken her heart out, I don’t really know what it means that Ingrid froze them all. I imagine they aren’t dead because Disney is sure to keel over if that’s the case but seriously, this show abuses the grey area of things insufficiently explained.

    Emma’s storyline:

    From a stand-alone point of view, I really liked the episode(s) just as I’m enjoying the Frozen arc, but I’m still having conflicted feelings about it all. It’s clear that adding Frozen to the story wasn’t originally planned, and there’s this little niggling feeling that they’re capitalising on their success. It worries me a bit that they’re using concepts that weren’t really an issue to begin with for Emma’s character development, and introducing them just for the sake of making sense of the Frozen storyline. Obviously, characters evolve, new strengths appear as do new flaws and insecurities, but for all her abandonment issues, for all the time it took Emma to accept her role as the Saviour, she didn’t seem to have the same problem with her magic. Granted, she’s had problems with it (chiefly not being able to make it work) and wasn’t very good at using it but she never seemed scared by it, or out of control. With Regina’s lessons she started getting the hang of it and actually seemed to be enjoying this part of herself (remember that self-satisfied and amused smile when she made Hook’s hook disappear?). Yet now out of the blue, just because the Snow Queen got under her skin, she completely loses control? Magic is emotion, but Emma’s been angry before, for many reasons including his son having been kidnapped to another realm, and still she never lost control like this, so explosively and for so long. The only instance I can think about was when she first arrived to Storybrooke and Henry wouldn’t tell her where he lived; she got out of the car, frustrated, and a traffic light exploded. But I’m not sure it even counts since there was no magic in Storybrooke at that point. So like I said, it seems a wee bit far-fetched that all of sudden she reacts this way when she’s faced more stressful situations and her magic hasn’t even manifested then.
    Not taking this into account, though, the two-episode film we got last Sunday was certainly great.

    I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t Regina who found Emma and talked her out of giving away her powers. You say “it had to be Elsa”, and I agree to a point, but it could as well have been Regina; mainly because Emma’s “they don’t know what it feels like to be rejected and misunderstood, not the way I do, not the way you do; and somehow that makes us, I don’t know, unique” speech a couple of episodes ago seemed to point that way. And it would have been great but apparently Regina was too busy being at the beck and call of her boyfriend (more on that later, if I get started now this won’t be pretty). Anyway, Elsa was an excellent choice too, because she’s been through the same and she also knows what it feels to be rejected and misunderstood, and it was a nice surprise to see her both show Emma that she should learn to love herself, and re-learn the same lesson herself without needing Anna to be there to tell her.

    Hook’s storyline:

    Once more, Hook had information that might be of great help for Emma, even save her life, yet he decided to go alone and not tell the others, when it is glaringly obvious, as proven once and again, that he is no match for Rumplestiltskin. Probably no one is, but there’s Belle who supposedly can convince Rumple of behaving, there’s Regina who has magic (and can poof to whatever location in a second), there’s Elsa who also has magic, and then there’s strength in numbers… I’m not sure if he kept quiet because he didn’t want the others to know about his dealings with Gold, or if he was just so blinded by desperation that his mind was not working properly, but whatever the case it only endangered Emma in the long run. Again.

    He said in his second call to Emma’s phone: “Gold blackmailed me into helping him. He knew I’d do whatever it takes to be with you, and he used it against me. I just wanted to be a better man for you, Swan.” How convenient to forget to say that he went to Gold and tried to blackmail him in the first place because he knew Gold would do whatever it takes to be with Belle and he used that against him… I know it was a rushed phone message, and hopefully the time for longer confessions will come (because those two really need to talk), but OUaT has done this before and it bothers me a lot that people continually play down their own hand for the bad things that happen, particularly when they have negative consequences for others. For instance, I’m still not ok with Emma giving Neal a free pass after they talked (right before he died) and he said he “didn’t have a choice” when he abandoned her.

    I was quite surprised about the completely-red-heart thing. My first thought was that even Snow White has a dark spot in her heart, but then she managed to pass the ‘Glinda door’ that only the pure of heart could cross so I’m not sure if the darkness just conveniently disappeared, plot hole be damned, or if what Regina (heart expert extraordinaire) said in S2 about how once you blackened your heart it only grew darker was wrong. I’m leaning towards the second option, since we should all hope that the red can gradually conquer the black in all of our redeeming villains’ hearts. Still, Hook’s heart shouldn’t have been completely red. Granted, he’s boarded the Redemption Express and become one of the ‘good guys’ in record time but really? He’s done some despicable things in his life, and some of them quite recently.
    I’m not sure I agree with you when you say “at his core, Hook has always been driven by the strength of his heart’s ability to love”; he was exclusively driven by vengeance (or, in other words, his heart’s ability to hate –regardless of the origin of said hate) for over 200 years; this surpasses even Regina’s ability to hold a grudge and I think that should have been reflected in some way, and not ignored/erased by showing a shiny, completely red heart. Let’s not forget that Regina’s heart was still mostly black when she managed to break a curse with TL kiss and perform white magic, so I don’t think the writers are trying to imply that having the ability to love or becoming a ‘hero’ automatically makes your heart completely pure. I don’t really understand the point or the reasoning behind making Hook’s heart completely red and other than assuming the special effects team effed up again (like they did with Rumple’s shadow in Neverland), I don’t really know what to make of it.

    Still on the heart issue, I don’t think not having your heart equals you can’t feel in the OUaT universe. At least not for everybody. So far, we’ve seen five persons without their hearts (six if we count the Lost Boy). Both Cora and Graham were individuals who didn’t understand love, or didn’t feel love, the same way most people do: Cora was always driven by power and didn’t give herself the opportunity to truly love anyone; Graham didn’t love people. Maybe that is why not having their hearts affected them by making them unfeeling. However, Aurora, Regina and Hook do know love, and love deeply, and just because their hearts have been removed they don’t stop feeling things. I believe that the heart removal is more a representation of taking someone’s free will rather than their ability to feel; if the consequences were really literal, then the removal itself would be enough to kill someone, not needing to crush the heart. I’m not sure how it works as far as telling other people you don’t have a heart goes; Graham was cursed and didn’t really know, Aurora seemed to not be aware and the Lost Boy didn’t tell Pan. Both Cora and Regina did the removal themselves and weren’t controlled by others so they were ‘free’ to know, remember and tell. I’d wager that Rumple will not make Hook forget he has his heart, but will forbid him to tell anyone else.

    Regina’s storyline:

    Well, since I only watched the previous episode last Sunday and forewent commenting in the respective post so that I could catch up here, let me backtrack a bit. I should probably warn you that I am quite mad at OUaT for the character assassination of one of my childhood heroes, so to say this is biased would be a given. Still, I do have arguments.

    I have stated in many occasions that I don’t like or even understand the Regina/Robin pairing. I won’t go again into why I think it’s all kinds of wrong (if anyone is interested, I will provide a link to a very comprehensive and eloquent tumblr post which echoes my thoughts on the matter perfectly) but what I got from the last episodes (on top of the pile of you-know-what that this has been character and development wise) was:
    – Robin was drunk enough to miss at darts (not that his aim seems to be that good to begin with, for such a famous archer, but still). Not a good condition to make decisions. Actually, a condition in which lots of people make mistakes that they later regret.
    – He took Will Scarlet’s words FROM Marian (and quite possibly ABOUT Marian) and decided to act on them WITH Regina. Did he understand it as Marian telling him to be with Regina, instead of a reminder of why he fell in love with Marian the first time around so that he can fall in love again and save his wife from dying?
    – The wording rubbed me the wrong way: basically, Robin said that EVERY DAY OF HIS LIFE he’s followed a code and been good and honourable (even though he had just told Will he started that path AFTER meeting Marian and stealing her horse, but who cares about details, right?) but TODAY (that day) was not one of these days. So what about TOMORROW, when he’s sober and wants to go back to being honourable? What about EVERY DAY OF HIS LIFE afterwards?
    This is a guy who claims to be duty bound, loyal and honourable, who chose his wife over Regina because of his vows. This is also a guy who confessed to be in love with another woman over the freezing body of his cursed wife, who didn’t respect Regina enough to keep his distance from her (in at least three instances, no less!) like she asked. And this is a guy who, the ‘morning after’, even after agreeing with Regina that it shouldn’t happen again, not only did not what she asked (again) but even joked about staying in that vault forever. I kept wondering about wee Roland, who spent most of one day (who knows how long Robin was at Granny’s ‘playing darts’), the whole night, and apparently part of the following morning without one of his parents while the other lay frozen and barely alive. And the only worry Robin had was that Little John was a bit of gossip. Very good and honourable, indeed. Father of the year on top of husband of the year.
    – There’s also the fact that I don’t particularly like the actor who plays Robin. I’m sorry, but I think Sean Maguire is not up to par with the rest of the cast, less of all with someone as expressive as Lana Parrilla (his only facial expressions are neutral and constipated, check out his first visit to the vault if you don’t believe me). Then again, Lana Parrilla has chemistry with a spoon as the show has previously established so it’s no wonder they still work together to an extent.

    *deep breath*

    All right, now that that’s out of the way… Regina. This was one of the episodes I’ve loved her more, and at the same time one of the episodes where I wondered what the heck was wrong with her.
    I love the Snow/Regina dynamic that the show has been presenting lately. Be it with the scenes in the Enchanted Forest, or right after the ‘Ouija’ session with ghost-Cora, and both parts of their conversation in this last episode, Snow and Regina have reached a very believable point in their relationship, with, like you said, “a real sense of history between them”. It’s a pity the same care doesn’t apply to the development of Snow’s relationship with Emma, which has been terribly neglected since the curse broke, IMO.
    And I agree with everything you said about that scene between Regina and the Charmings. It was perfect, and like you, I had no idea I wanted it so much until I watched it unfold. This openness and vulnerability from Regina reminded me of that scene in the stairs of the Mifflin Street house, at the beginning of S2, with Henry about to leave with Charming and Regina saying that she didn’t know how to love very well.
    The Regina and Henry interaction was sweet too, although I feel like Henry has been a bit out of character since the second half of last season. Maybe he’s growing up…
    Now, the part where Regina just stopped looking for Emma because Robin had to see her right that instant? No. No, no, no. This is a woman who not so long ago would have hunted down Emma to snarl at her for hurting Henry, unintentionally as it was. This is a woman who never in a million years would let Henry go looking for his mother again after what happened without being there to protect him if necessary (as far as they’ve come in their relationship, I rather doubt Regina really trusts the Charmings with the safety of her son when it comes to making Emma angrier). This is also a woman who’s been, for better or worse, Emma’s teacher when it comes to magic, and who’s recently begun to accept the possibility of a real friendship with the other mother of her son. Would she just turn around and forget about all of this because Robin Hood called with a cryptic message? I really didn’t think so, but I guess this Regina is full of surprise. Or the writers just needed a way to get her out of the way and buy time for Hook and Elsa to have their moments without the timely interruption of the rest of the gang, and couldn’t be arsed to come up with a sound, well thought out reason. Oh well.

    “But at the end of it all, what I’ll remember is the way the savior saved herself, emerging from that house stronger than ever—in her magic and in her sense of self.”
    Perfect closing idea, so I’m just quoting you. 😉

    I apologise if I seem more negative than usual. We have a new baby in the family and the lack of sleep is getting to me. I was going to read all the comments right after posting this, because I haven’t had the chance so far but alas, I hear wailing! Maybe in a couple of hours… 😉

    • You are not alone in feeling like Elsa seems to have made Regina a little redundant this season. Although I do think that Elsa comes from a more similar place than Regina in this scenario. Regina has always used her magic very intentionally. She may have been misunderstood, but her magic has never freaked out on her and hurt others unintentionally. Also, Regina’s magic typically comes from a place of anger, and Emma coming to a place of self love and acceptance is not something I could ever see coming from Regina, who seems to have a problem taking responsibility for her own happiness and future. I am going to stand by Katie’s assessment that Elsa was the best person in this senario. I don’t see it as trying to fit Elsa in, I saw this moment as the exact reason why they wanted to use Frozen in the first place. Well, this, and the viewer grab, but I don’t think it was a completely baseless viewer grab.

      I am actually more curious what they plan for Regina moving forward if Emma is now going to be super powerful magic woman. Having two magical women heroes in one small town again seems redundant.

      • Like I said, Elsa was an excellent choice. I was just disappointed that they seemed to setting the stage for it to be Regina and it seemed like a wasted opportunity. I’d say that Elsa was the perfect, obvious choice, but Regina would have been an interesting one because of their history, Regina’s history and particularly Regina’s recent history with white magic and the reasons why she was able to perform it. The twist would have been great (and we all know how much OUaT loves its twists), but I am still very happy with Elsa being the one to reach out to Emma.
        As for the Elsa/Regina redundance, I imagine that’s why we’ve seen so little of Regina this season so far, and why her storyline seems quite disconnected from the Frozen arc. To be honest I think they were so bent on using Frozen that some parts were ‘sacrificed’ for the greater story and ended up being somewhat detached from the main acr. They can’t completely ignore Regina for obvious resons, but it’s like she’s waiting in the sidelines for this first half of the season to be over so everything can go back to place. I don’t know, just the feeling I get.

        I’m not very worried about two magical women heroes in one small town because as we’ve been shown once and again they’re at they’re best when they work together: they’ve opened a portal to another realm, stopped an unstoppable device, caused an eclipse…

        • I have to disagree about wanting Regina to help Emma with embracing her magic. I think that while Emma and Regina are willing to work together for the sake of Henry, there is a lot left unsaid about Regina’s role in casting the first curse and her attitude towards Emma and the Charming’s. So much of Emma’s issues stem from her parents sending her through the wardrobe and her feelings of abandonment having Regina be the one to tell her to embrace her magic would not have worked since it was Regina’s actions that were the reason her parents felt they had to give her up in the first place. Also I don’t think Regina would have understood what Emma needed to do to control her magic. Emma has white magic and it stems from love, Regina has dark magic stemming from anger and hate. Different emotions may require different methods of control. Finally, I really wonder if Regina truly loves who she is. I’ve always felt that Regina hides her own insecurities and fears in her sass and bullying. Being in control and in charge gives her self-worth. I’m actually thinking that the shattered sight spell may give us more insight into how Regina really sees herself if its suppose to bring out the darkest thoughts.
          I do agree that the Robin and Regina story is a mess, but I also think that Regina has been kept out of a lot of the frozen story on purpose. Regina’s arc this season is centered around the idea of trying to her happy ending and doing so by finding the author of the storybook. And while it’s still not clear to me about what Regina wants the author to do (force her happy ending?, stick the new found page into the book?, rewrite the past?), I do think that trying to force her happy ending will put her at odds with Emma, Snow and Charming. I would actually like to see Regina more at odds with the Charming’s – there is a lot of unresolved history between them I think would be good to reexamine. And I think that by putting a distance between Regina and the Charming’s rather than act like everything is okay the writers have more to work with story wise. It’s the same with Rumple – by leaving him on the outside of things with the SQ, by having him not tell Belle the truth and by not bonding him with his grandson, the writers have given him a much more compelling and interesting story.

          • I think Emma and Regina are well past only being willing to work together for the sake of Henry, as established from S3b onwards.

            I also think that Regina’s attitude towards Emma and the Charmings, as well as Emma’s and the Charmings’ attitude towards Regina, have vastly improved in a very plausible way as the show has progressed (and no, I’m not counting Regina lashing out at Emma in 4×07 —there was quite an interesting discussion in this blog about why that happened).

            I agree that much of Emma’s abandonment issues stem from having been sent through the wardrobe by her parents. I also agree that Regina’s actions had a very important weight in the Charmings making that decision. But if we start playing the blame game it’s going to go on forever… IF Regina hadn’t cast the curse, the Charmings wouldn’t have sent Emma through the wardrobe; IF Snow hadn’t told Cora about Regina and Daniel, Daniel wouldn’t have died and Regina wouldn’t have become evil and cast the curse; IF Snow’s mother hadn’t told Leopold about Cora being pregnant, Cora would have been queen and Regina would have not been born, been manipulated by her mother, have her love murdered and been basically sold out to a man twice her age, become evil and cast the curse; IF Rumple hadn’t chosen power over his son, he wouldn’t have lost Bae to another world, spent most of his life looking for a way to get him back, including manipulating Regina into casting the curse; IF Milah hadn’t met Hook and fallen in love with him, she wouldn’t have abandoned her husband and child, Rumple wouldn’t have become the Dark One and Baelfire wouldn’t have felt the need to ask the Blue Fairy for help, ending up in another world without his father, prompting Rumple to spend most of his life looking for a way to get him back, including manipulating Regina into casting the curse; and so on. So obviously EVERYTHING is Hook’s fault because he’s devilishly handsome and Milah couldn’t resist him! 😉
            I’m joking, of course, but the point I was trying to make is that everybody in OUaT has made choices, good and bad, and all the choices have consequences, good and bad. There are many characters who need to talk it out, but this doesn’t take away the fact that many of these characters have evolved, changed, and made connections with each other which would have made them a good option for being the one to help Emma with her magic outburst. For different reasons that have been developed throughout all the seasons of the show, Elsa was a perfect choice, but Regina would have made sense too, Hook would have made sense too, Charming and Snow would have made sense too, Henry would have made sense too… Ruby would have made sense too, when I think about it. Even Cinderella, using back at Emma the little speech she gave her in that laundry room in S1. So many possibilities…

            “I don’t think Regina would have understood what Emma needed to do to control her magic. Emma has white magic and it stems from love, Regina has dark magic stemming from anger and hate. Different emotions may require different methods of control.” Maybe, maybe not. The fact remains that Emma’s loss of control didn’t stem from love, but from fear and possibly anger and jealousy, so maybe Regina would have known a wee bit about that. Regardless, ALL magic is emotion and Regina has been teaching Emma and helping her with her magic since Neverland, so maybe she could have helped in some way. Guess we’ll never know.

            I really like your point about Regina and how she sees herself. She was conveniently spared from sharing her darkest secret in the Echo Caves so I’ve always been very curious about her inner thoughts, and it would have been fantastic to have seen her take a look at that mirror. Here’s hoping the Shattered Sight Spell gives us some insight on that.

            I’m not sure about bringing back the conflict with the Charmings, though. At least not for the same ‘old’ reasons. IMO the show is developing very nicely Regina’s path to redemption, and that includes her current status with the Charmings. It’s been a very rocky road and it still has its bumps, but it’s never actually felt “like everything is okay”, at least not to me.

    • Congrats on the new baby! Hopefully you will see regular sleep soon . . .

      — I agree with much of your characterization of the Regina/Robin situation. I hope the writers show the results of these decisions — of having to face Marion, for instance. Since they did this in the similar Snow/Charming/Katherine situation, I hold out hope that they aren’t going to gloss over the situation here.
      — As for Hook, I think the reason he didn’t tell the rest is that he thought it would be quicker to go straight to Emma rather than 1) try to convince everyone that taking Emma’s magic is bad, 2) try to convince them that Gold is the one that would take her powers, and 3) try to convince that Gold has gone bad again (since they all think he’s back to a relatively straight and narrow path now). Hook did ask if Emma mentioned how she was going to be de-magicked, and when David said it didn’t matter THAT was when Hook went all lone wolf. However, I will admit to not being completely objective where Hook is concerned. 🙂
      — The hearts . . . maybe it’s because at that moment Hook’s love was pure since he was willing to die for Emma? That’s really all I’ve got right now. We seriously need a manual on this stuff.
      — I hadn’t thought of Elsa as redundant since her relationship with magic and with Emma is different from Regina’s. Elsa doesn’t have the level of control that Regina does, and Regina pursued magic. Emma and Regina also have a complicated history. Emma and Elsa don’t have that, and I think Emma needs a friend like that. (Not that I don’t love seeing the Emma/Regina friendship develop.) I did like Killian wanting to save Emma, but it felt right to me that Elsa was the one who brought her back from the edge. I do see your points, though, about Regina on this.
      — I enjoyed your post — some interesting ideas and different perspectives to mull over.

  22. Thank you! I don’t think regular sleep will be in the cards anytime soon, but that’s all right. =)

    – Maybe I’m just projecting, but sometimes it feels as if the writers are purposedly making Robin less and less likeable, so that the audience doesn’t get too upset when the relationship and storyline effectively ends (I for one think it’s not going to last, pixie dust and all — unless they kill Marian a third (two and a half?) time which is unlikely). And not only are they making Robin a not-so-good-guy, they are also implying that he is not good for Regina, who keeps trying to do the right thing and keeps finding Robin in the way.

    – I know plot wise it had to be done this way, but regardless of what the others think about Gold and the information they don’t have, I believe something like “I promise I will explain later because we’re out of time but we have to stop Emma now or she is going to die” would have sufficed to convince the Charmings to trust him for the time being.

    – I’d love a manual on hearts. I don’t believe it’s quite so simple as it reflecting your feelings and actions of that last moment right before having it ripped out. Regina was willing to die for Henry (and all of Storybrooke by extension) when the mess with the failsafe happened and I highly doubt her heart would have been presented as completely red. I guess I’ll keep thinking they made a special effects mistake; they did mess up royally Rumple’s ‘lack of shadow’ and it was an important plot point, after all.

    – I agree with everything you said about Elsa, and I actually think it’s a shame that we can’t keep her in Storybrooke once the Frozen arc ends.

    – Thank you! I haven’t had the chance to read Katie’s commenters’ thoughts yet (except the direct replies to my own) so I’m pretty sure I’m in for a lot of very interesting arguments, including yours. =)

    • Yep, you’re in for some good reading.

      — Surely either Rumple or Regina has a manual on hearts. Surely.

      — I think the idea the Robin and Regina don’t end up together is intriguing. (I feel like he’s dragging her down in her growth, and while I love seeing Regina in love, I’m not as emotionally invested in R&R’s relationship as in others. *cough*Hook and Emma*cough*) I’ve assumed that because of the pixie-dust-doesn’t-lie, new-page-in-the-book, that the two would end up together. As with any couple, they’d have their obstacles to overcome — and that the fallout (assuming there’s fallout) would be one of those obstacles. (I’ve been envisioning an epiphany like Snow’s in season one where she realizes that she and Charming have been unfair to Katherine.) However, I hadn’t considered that the consequence might be the end of the relationship. Hmmmmm. More to mull!

      • The reason I believe Robin and Regina won’t end up together is because so far, OUaT has never broken a TL couple. They have had one of them dead, hence giving the chance for new pairings, but never have a TL couple break up so that one of them could be with someone else. Take Mulan and Aurora/Phillip as an example.
        When Marian was dead, it could have worked out, but they took great pains to bring her back and even though right not she’s not in mint condition, I really doubt they’re going to kill her again. What’s more, I am still convinced that this whole Robin/Regina idea was not planned at first (Robin didn’t have the tattoo when he first appeared in the show, played by another actor), they just needed someone to give Regina a lil’ bit of loving and for some unfathomable reason, among all the fairytale and lore characters, they took one with a canon TL.
        Like I said in a comment above, what I think will happen is that Regina will let Robin go (probably have him, Marian and Roland cross the town line and give them new memories or something similar) and focus on making her own happy ending happen once she understands that no magic book, and no pixie dust, rules her life.

        • I think this theory is really interesting, Red, especially because it’s so different from my prediction for how the Regina/Robin/Marian stuff will turn out. I am still convinced Marian is going to die again at some point—though probably not until some time into 4B. Maybe that’s because—as bad as this sounds—I’d rather she died some sort of honorable, meaningful death than only serve as an underdeveloped point in a love triangle. (I really REALLY love Maid Marian in all versions of her story.) And while I do agree that it was weird for them to choose a love interest for Regina who has a canonical love already, I think they might feel more freedom to play with the story because there is no “magical” confirmation for that love like there was in the pre-OUAT stories of the confirmed “true love” couples (Snow/Charming, Aurora/Philip, and Belle/Rumple). Maybe, because of that, they don’t consider Marian and Robin “True Love” in the same way as those other couples. But that’s just my gut feeling, and that’s coming from someone who has always been a fan of Marian and Robin’s love story in every version. Part of me likes the idea of Regina choosing to be happy in an unexpected way, but Robin does seem to make her genuinely happy. I’d hate for her to lose the hope he has come to represent for her. But I’m sure that it will ultimately all turn out in a way that is satisfying for Regina’s arc because it has been building in such a great way. I just want Regina to have reasons to smile, whatever those reasons turn out to be.

          Congrats on the new addition to the family, by the way! Sorry if my reply isn’t as detailed as I’d like for it to be. I’m still trying to find time to get back to full NGN duties after digging out from all of our snow.

          • I know I was the one to use the ‘TL couple’ expression in the first place, maybe I should have just said ‘canon couple’. We haven’t had magical confirmation for Cinderella/Thomas or Ariel/Eric either, but the canon pairings have been respected. That’s why I highly doubt they will go there with this relationship; choosing a character with a canon partner seems too intentional a choice to not have ulterior motives. And like I said, I really doubt they will kill Marian again, both because it would be more than redundant and because of wee Roland. But this show keeps surprising me so who knows? If they do go there, I certainly hope they take more time to develop his character because so far they’ve done a very poor job of it.

            Thank you and don’t worry, I keep commenting way late so I’m actually surprised anyone takes the time to read my ramblings a week after the episode has aired. I do hope you’re doing better and your own little Arendelle gradually thaws out.

            • My little Arendelle is slowly thawing—I actually got to leave the house today for the first time since Monday night! (Small victories.)

              I 100% agree with you on needing more Robin development before this thing with Regina goes any further. I love Robin Hood stories, and I want to see this show’s take on that mythology instead of just giving us little, vague hints without much else to go on. I know I’m greedy when it comes to character development, but I want more! 😉

              • Character development greed is my addiction! Why, I want to know EVERYTHING about Granny!!
                (No, seriously, I miss Ruby and Granny and Archie and Tink and even shady-as-f***-Blue! Bring them back OUaT!)

                • You know you’re in the right place when people start admitting to character development addiction . . .
                  Can we get the Robin back story via conversations with Will Scarlet? I still love the diner scene where Robin explains to Will for the umpteenth time how he met Marian.
                  And yes to more Ruby, Granny, Archie, Tink, and Blue. I really miss Ruby. Ruby’s another good example of accepting all aspects of who you are. As someone else noted, her absence is especially glaring when they’re tracking anyone. I also keep thinking she’d be the logical babysitter choice. I understand these roles are tied to real people, but you’d think they’d at least throw us a line or two of explanation.
                  I also want an explanation of the discrepancies in Marian’s fate. Robin thinks it’s his fault. In the prison waiting to be executed, Marian even said her family thought she was dead, so what happened?
                  I’m also wondering if some of these long buried issues that various people have felt need to be addressed (and I’m with you) will be brought out in the open with the curse of shattered sight.

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  25. Possibly you’ve touched on this – but i didn’t see it in your analysis of 4×03 or 4×08, and I’m curious to know if you think there is any significance to it.

    The rainbow flare thing that appeared on the screen between Hook and Emma in 4×03 when Emma was confessing to Hook how scared she was to lose him was pretty noticeable, and I remember from filming spoilers that they did, in fact, film that scene in front of a green screen. I’m just lost as to what the meaning behind it would be!

    My curiosity doubled when I saw on Tumblr that people had noticed the same rainbow flare thing (for lack of a better term) on the screen in 4×08 when Hook is leaving Emma the voicemail in Gold’s shop. It appears to the left of his head when he talks about losing her. It is super subtle though, I didn’t notice it when I watched, anyway.

    So, when they voice concerns about losing each other, it causes some kind of rainbow effect in the air? The winter finale growing ever nearer is possibly causing me to obsess a little too much in the details, but I am curious to know if you think there is any significance!

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