Episode Recap by Amy Hood - @Amylia403
With Once Upon A Time rushing forward toward the mid-season finale, this week’s episode proved to be one of the strongest yet in Season Four. There were moments of laughter and lightheartedness, as well as some definite tear jerkers. The themes Oncers hold dear were very much at the heart of this episode. Family, love, faith, forgiveness and hope were at the core of the stories. What makes a family? Can forgiveness really bring peace and does it matter how long it takes? Is hope really enough to carry you through when everything seems dark?
This week the curse of Shattered Sight hit the town full force and we saw the repercussions everywhere. In the streets Doc slaps Dopey, yelling at him to “Talk!” Dopey is mute and doesn’t fight back. Happy, who should by the very definition of his name be Happy, tries to kill Grumpy with a crossbow. Granny, Sneezy, Bashful, Sleepy and most of the townspeople run through the streets completely bent on hurting each other. At the jail some of the funniest moments of the episode took place between Snow and Charming as they argue between the bars of the cells. When Snow says she can’t believe she ever had a baby with Charming, he suggests that perhaps she didn’t, and that the baby could be Dr. Whale’s. After all, they did have that one night stand waaaaaaay back in Season One (We were cursed!). Reveling in all the chaos is our Snow Queen, Ingrid, who walks down the street almost giddy with what is happening.
All this season we have seen what we now know is Ingrid’s struggle to replace her sisters. In childhood, they were the best of friends. As we saw in a previous instalment, Ingrid accidentally froze and killed one sister and was trapped in the urn by her other sister immediately after. No chance to explain, no chance to grieve for the sister she lost. Alone and trapped for years, she became consumed by the need to get back a family; a family who would love her. While she has indeed seemed crazed and unstable, you can understand how her mind could drive her to this point after the isolation. Emma and Elsa are her best chance to get back to the place that she remembers as the only time she was happy and accepted. Elsa is blood, but Emma is not. As we’ve seen on the show, and (many of us) in our own lives as we connect with others, know, family isn’t always a bond made by blood relation. Ingrid has placed those ribbons that once were worn by her own sisters onto Emma and Elsa to cement the bond. Neither thinks for a moment that they will ever or could ever feel anything for Ingrid, but then we see the flashbacks. Neither Elsa nor Emma can remember their interactions with Ingrid in the past. We have seen Elsa’s, but finally we got to see Emma’s this week.
A long time ago, Emma was a lost girl. Bouncing from home to home, never trusting anyone, she moved from foster home to foster home until she was placed with Ingrid. At first, Emma decides to run away, especially after being bullied by an older boy in the home. She finds Ingrid to be different from other foster mothers. She even suggests to Emma a way to keep the mean boy from bullying her again. This may be one of the first times Emma has had someone genuinely reach out to help her without any type of reciprocation needed. We see the relationship between the two grow throughout the flashbacks. Emma and Ingrid bond and in every sense of the word, become a family. At a carnival, they use a claw machine which flickers (maybe from Emma’s magic, maybe from a short in the wires), and then Emma wins a stuffed Dalmatian with the mood ring we have seen her with in present day. Ingrid tells Emma she has decided to adopt her and they both cry. Sometimes we find family in the most unlikely places. In a moment of very poor judgment, Ingrid decides to get Emma to find her powers by pulling her along in front of the car. When Emma pulls away and runs out of the street, Ingrid realizes her mistake. She tries to console Emma and tell her why she did it, but Emma only sees that the woman she thought loved her and would be with her forever just tried to kill her. In tears, Emma runs away. Ingrid is once again left alone, and Emma is again alone. With an opening of the scroll, Ingrid is transported to Storybrooke where she knows one day she will find Emma again.
In present day Storybrooke, Hook is still crushed over the things Rumple is making him do. Without control of his heart he has no choice but to carry out whatever Rumple wants. Sucking fairies into hats, trying to bring Henry to Rumple, everything is part of Rumple’s grand plan to rid himself of the hold of the dagger and leave Storybrooke forever. Once again, Rumple is the puppet master behind a concealed, devious plan. Rumple is very much like any type of addict. His addiction is not only power, but also the magic that provides him with it. He seemed to have finally redeemed himself at the end of Season 3A when he saved the town and sacrificed himself, but now he has fallen off the wagon again. I expected Belle to discover his lies and plans in this episode, but Rumple must have given her a hefty dose of Nyquil, because she slept through the entire Shattered Sight curse. When she wakes up and gets wind of all his shenanigans, the poop will surely hit the fan for Rumple. The question will have to be answered. She loved him in “Skin Deep” even with his darkness. Will she finally just accept it? Will she keep standing by him while he falls back into the darker side of his Rumpleyness? Is there a cap on forgiveness, where you can only dish it out so many times before it runs out?
While everyone else in town is trying to rip each other apart, Rumple remains unaffected as he is the Dark One. Hook is unaffected because he has no heart. Anna is unaffected because she has been under the spell before, and Emma and Elsa are protected by the ribbons and the Snow Queen’s design. Regina however, is full-on Evil Queen. In a fabulous moment, she looks in the mirror, asks what the hell she is wearing and then poofs herself into one of her fabulous Enchanted Forrest costumes. She is hell-bent on killing Emma, which works out wonderfully for Emma and Elsa since they need some mega-hate to blast those ribbons off. Emma releases the spell holding Regina in the vault and goads her by saying she brought Marian back on purpose just to break Regina’s heart. Lucky for Emma and Elsa, Regina’s hate works and when she blasts at them, the yellow ribbons are dissolved. They run out to find Ingrid as Regina rushes out shortly after. Later at the sheriff’s station, Regina and Snow, who now despise each other because of this curse, get into a sword fight to the death. Ok, maybe not to the death, but they certainly go at it with gusto. When Regina almost wakes baby Neal, Snow goes Mega-Mom and smashes Regina through a window. I missed badass Snow. I really missed our Evil Queen. How perfect to have them together in the same scene.
Out on the beach, Anna and Kristoff walk along while he continuously informs her how much he dislikes her. Anna isn’t fazed by it. She knows he is under the curse, but she needs to focus and try to find a way to stop the curse and so she picks up a bottle from the sand and knocks Kristoff out. The letter her mother wrote and threw into the ocean before her death in Episode One falls out. Anna reads it and then rushes off to find Elsa and Emma.
Meanwhile, in the cave of the Snow Queen, Emma and Elsa realize that neither one of them has the heart to kill Ingrid. Ingrid tells them that they once both loved her very much, but they just don’t remember. We see a flashback of Emma in the ice cream shop shortly after she arrived in town in which she recognized Ingrid for a moment before Ingrid removed her memories with a shiny purple stone. Ingrid tells them that they don’t believe it now, but once no one is left in town they will finally realize how special they are and they will love her again. They will all be a family and since they all have magic, none of them will be afraid or abandon the others. Emma and Elsa try to reason with Ingrid and she shows them the purple stones. Anna runs in and reads the letter from her mother which brings Ingrid (and the entire Once audience) to tears. I thought for sure it would end up being a way to stop Ingrid in the letter. Perhaps a spell, an artifact, something to stop the curse. But in the end, it was forgiveness, love and acceptance that saved everyone. The letter from Anna and Elsa’s mother spoke of the three sisters. She said how terribly wrong she had been to abandon Ingrid and put her in the urn. The letter went on to say that she would give anything to hold her sisters’ hands one more time, and that the kingdom of Arendelle should be told all about the sisters and have their memories restored. Ingrid refuses to believe it at first but when she reads the letter herself she realizes that her sister really did love her. She is not a monster and that love and forgiveness were there in her sister’s heart in her last moments. The only way to stop the curse is for Ingrid to be destroyed. She pulls the shards of mirror and glass from the air and they begin to swirl around her. She gives Emma and Elsa their memories of her back and both try to stop her from sacrificing herself. Ingrid is at peace. She tells the three girls that they are so very special and that she finally has what she always wanted…her sisters’ love. She smiles through tears and says that she finally gets to be with them, and in a swirl of glass and magic, she is gone. An image plays of the three sisters holding hands as children and running through the field. Love has saved the town, and Ingrid.
Back in the center of town as the curse breaks, everyone rejoices. The dwarfs hug, Dopey walks around catching snow on his tongue, and Happy apologizes for trying to shoot Grumpy with the crossbow. In the sheriff’s office, Regina and Snow stop mid-battle and drop their swords. Regina looks at her dress and asks what the heck she is wearing. (Girl, you look fabulous, don’t you worry about it). Daughter and Step-Mother laugh and things are back to normal between the Charmings and Regina.
With the town saved, Rumple tells Hook that he intends to move forward with his plan. He says that he will cleave himself from the dagger’s hold and leave Storybrooke with his magic. Hook asks him to leave the town alone. Rumple replies that he will not harm them as long as they stay out of his way. With a smirk, he says that he cannot make the same promise for those outside the town lines….