Monday, October 13, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon A Time (4x3)

I know it's my tendency to have this review, lately at least, just tear the show to shreds, but to be honest, I quite liked this weeks episode, "Rocky Road." It moved faster, despite all the various plot lines. It had some funny dialogue and most importantly, Elizabeth Mitchell is going to kill it as the Snow Queen. Now this isn't to say that ONCE is "back" or that it resembles in any way, shape, or form the show I was passionate about for so long, but in a world of mediocre ONCE episodes, this one shines like a diamond. I think one of the big themes for this episode is control. Everyone's looking to control their own destiny and the lives of people around them, either for good or for ill. It's not a wholly terrible idea given that our villains and our heroes have always struggled with "letting go" (see what I did there?) and accepting fate as it is. Snow wants to control Baby Snowflake and never let him out of her sight; Emma wants to control who she lets into her life; Elsa wants to control her past and memories; and the Snow Queen? Well who knows what she wants to control but she's got some issues with ordinary people, doesn't she?

Evil Milk

Even though this episode was much better than previous weeks, the flashbacks were still largely uneven and ranged from interesting to dull. Did we really need Hans? My thought is no. He was there because fans of Frozen insist that he be there. His purpose was really just as canon fodder; whether or not he plays a larger role and comes back I don't know, but I honestly hope not. He was rather one note. The thing about Hans in the movie is that he is a sociopath; he was capable of sweeping you off your feet and being charming and then he would leave you to die of a frozen heart. But in ONCE, he just felt flat. Or maybe that is in comparison to Kristoff who, along with Sven, stole the show. Kristoff is probably the best part of the Frozen ensemble. He's witty and charming and he gets the best lines and I love that he doesn't take Elsa's attitude and "I am the Queen" nonsense. By the way, that has to stop. I get it; you're royalty. However, that doesn't give you license to be rather rude to your future in-laws. The flashbacks this week are plot heavy so a quick rundown: Hans, the villain from Frozen, is on the Arendelle boarder and getting ready to invade. Hans is planning to go after an urn (yes, that urn) and trap Elsa inside so that she can't stop their forces. Kristoff gets wind of this and he and Elsa manage to get to the cave and urn before Hans but of course, Hans shows up and sword fight. Naturally.

Like I said, I think I would have preferred if Hans wasn't here at all. Why couldn't Kristoff and Elsa have accidentally opened the urn? Isn't that really a better story? The heroes who unleash villains through their own ineptitude and attempts at doing the right thing? If you think about it, that's actually what ONCE has often been about. Hans, in this case, just adds to the already overwhelming amount of characters I don't care about...yet. Except Sven. More Sven. Now, with all that said, the interactions between Elsa and Kristoff here are nice. It's like Elsa finally warmed up (ha) to Kristoff and sees him as more than just "the guy my sister is marrying." He's a friend; and even if it costs him his life, Kristoff doesn't want Hans putting Elsa in that urn or getting to Anna. Do you realize that we haven't seen Anna and Kristoff together at all? But, the fact that I can tell Kristoff loves Anna very much is a credit to the actor and the writers. Did I just compliment ONCE? The world. It hath ended, folks. So what is inside the urn, which obviously is going to be opened. You don't present an urn with mystical runes on it and then not open it. Chekov's Gun. Look it up. Evil milk is inside. As someone who enjoys her milk, I can assure you that this is my worst nightmare.

Of course the evil milk is the Snow Queen. She makes ice cream for a living! It's a pun! It's a not so clever pun, but it's a pun. Hm, back to disrespecting the show, eh? I giveth and I taketh away. Does the Snow Queen have a name? Not yet. But until then, I shall call her...Helga. Helga sounds like a good "cold" name. So Helga freezes Hans and Elsa is instantly grateful to this magical woman who has powers just like her. Oh, Elsa. Have you never seen ONCE before? Did you lose your DVDs? The woman is clearly going to be a villain (and a family member). She reeks of the ONCE villain trope: she was trapped, she feels misunderstood by people not like her, and she speaks with a nice quiet voice that isn't at all alarming or makes you want to peel your skin off. Did you guess that they were family? Cause you should have. We've had evil mothers, evil fathers, evil half-sisters so what comes next: evil Aunt! OF COURSE. Play a new song ONCE. This one is getting old. Yes, the Snow Queen is Elsa's aunt, on her mother's side. Helga gives some song and dance about how she was trapped in the urn by people who didn't understand her which is villain code for "I did a bad thing and people put me in a prison cause justice and that's how the penal system works." Ten bucks says she caused the storm at sea that killed her sister. No, don't ask me how. Just trust me on these things. Now, I must admit that I'm glad they aren't beating around the bush about this. They aren't trying to give us some big mystery about who this woman is or how she is related to Elsa and Anna; they came out with it, just like last season not keeping Zelena's real identity from us. I appreciate that in a show that often keeps the "big reveal" for the final few episodes. What does she want? To hell if I know. But I think Emma is right about one thing (and Emma is seldom right about anything anymore): The Snow Queen was in Storybrooke before Elsa came over by accident. She wants something else.

Why Couldn't It Be Follow The Butterflies?

Ice cream is evil. Bad, bad ice cream. There are many things about the present day that I didn't like, or rather they left a bad taste in my mouth. But they also worked well and flowed together which is why I'm not tearing this episode into smithereens. The biggest issue is the number of plots running concurrently: there's Snow White and her need to be wonder woman while wearing some truly heinous clothing. Seriously, what is up with that skirt and shoes?? Did she dress in the dark? I mean, I know she just gave birth so she wants to be comfortable, but that's why God invented sweat pants. Put those on; no one is going to judge you, Madame Mayor. And speaking of Mayor-ing, it's your job now. Hand Baby Snowflake off to Charming and do your work. You don't need to be holding the baby and the list of things to do and try to conduct a "fireside chat." You are not actually FDR. The Archie and Snow scene was both nice and bizarre. So here's Snow, trying to be super mom and here's Archie dropping in for a nice little chit chat and then LEAVES without actually helping Snow White with what she's struggling with? Pick up the stupid stroller and fix it for her, Cricket!

And then there is this bloody awful love triangle. Now, look, I hated the love triangle of the past. It ended up destroying my insides and killing about 95% of my love for this show. But this love triangle is completely out there and stupid. So Robin and Marian's love isn't good enough anymore? Just because Robin is now in love with Regina after just--what--a week? Ok, sure. So here is this woman who was brought back through no fault of her own, to find her husband and kid shacked up with the Evil Queen, and now she gets Frozen by an ice Dairy Queen? And while she lays dying of a frozen heart, Robin confesses that True Love's Kiss won't work on Marian because he's in love with Regina? What kind of twisted, stupid moral is this? It's terrible. TERRIBLE. I can't support OutlawQueen now or ever. And I was a supporter of it; I liked the idea of it, I did. This is exactly the kind of twisted morality tale that ONCE has become. Love conquers all, including justice, morality, ethics, and good sense. Oh, and story telling.

There is a lot more going on in this episode, but I guess it will have to be saved for notes, because I want to get to the real meat of it all: Elsa, Emma, and the Snow Queen. And a bit of saucy Rumple. But, first, a confession: I was madly cheering and hoping for one of those icicles to break off and plunge right through Hook's head and kill him. Hate me if you must, but when I saw that pirate trapped and in trouble, some part of me clapped gleefully and rooted for his demise. Of course, it'll never happen. ABC is in love with his dashing self...or should that be meself. Yeah, Emma. You picked a real winner. The guy is a keeper! Can't even speak proper English. Great catch. Am I bitter? Yes. Moving on. The Snow Queen and Elsa have a lot of catching up to do and there is a lot of PLOT thrown at us in exposition form--naturally. Basically, Elsa can't remember anything about who put her in the urn because the rock trolls took her memories and then Elsa ended up in the urn because Anna put her there. Yeah, sure. I believe you, Blondie. Not. But then there's a twist: The Snow Queen knows Emma. And it was quite an emotional reunion...for The Snow Queen. Emma obviously has no idea who this woman is. So who do I think she is? Emma's foster mother. We know Emma had a lot of foster parents growing up, but she did have one that kept her until she was three years old. I think that's who The Snow Queen is. How did she get to our world? Good question. But I'll be pretty unhappy if she magically got to our world whereas Rumple and Regina and Snow/Charming had to cast the Dark Curse in order to get here. Oh, and you know, sacrifice Neal in the meantime. And most confusing aspect of all--or rather, adding to the confusion--is the fact that Rumple and The Snow Queen know each other. They've obviously had dealings before. So it's all a mystery. As it usually is. The episode was plot heavy but since it managed to flow nicely and connect some dots, I'm okay with it. I have major issues with some relationship stuff on all fronts, from Rumbelle to OutlawQueen to that which shall not be named. ONCE needs to exercise some control over itself and somehow manage to combine plot and romance without forsaking moral and good storytelling. Of course, that probably went out the window some time ago...

Miscellaneous Notes on Rocky Road

--Will Scarlet is finally in town and it's VERY nice to see him. But heaven help me if they retcon his entire Wonderland story. They've already done it a bit by saying that he was never anything but a thief. He wasn't. He was a king.

--Operation Mongoose. I have issues with this, mainly that Regina seems to think "I was written as a villain." No, Regina. You WERE a villain. You did terrible, horrible, no good things. That makes you a villain. And what's even more offensive is that Henry thinks this is a good idea and that "the book was wrong about you." No. Just, no.

--Two Neal shout outs. I'll begrudgingly accept them except what should be explored is dealing with this death. It's insulting to anyone who has ever lost a parent or a child to think that you can get over this kind of emotional trauma in a few days.

--Hook blackmails Rumple WHY exactly? There was no logic here. Why not simply ask Rumple for his help? If he says no then you can try blackmail, I suppose. But starting with blackmail is just a sign of bad things

--Sven. I love him. Deeply.

--"I didn't try to kill her; I left her to die." "Important distinction."


  1. Will was only shown as White King in the distant future, when Alice and Cyrus had a daughter. He's obviously not become king just yet in the current timeframe.

    Also, Hook knew Rumple would say "no" because that's what he did just last episode when Hook and David asked him for help AND because he knows that he's still untrustworthy as heck when he's manipulating Belle of all people with a fake dagger. I'm honestly more stumped that he's going to be making a deal with Rumple next episode after this....Huh!?

    1. About Will: it still begs the question of why he's in SB and where Anastasia is. I'm worried on that front. And while you're right that he's king in a future timeline, he was still changed by his adventure in WL which is supposed to have taken place during season 2 of ONCE. He got his heart back for one and was also reunited with his true love. So this whole thief bit seems OOC when you take his WL arc into consideration. I know that not everyone watched WL but for those of us who's a bit puzzling.

      About Hook: Yes, but there are other options. For example, asking Belle to ask Rumple. This avoids the blackmail angle since Belle would clearly want to help Maid Marian. I get that there needs to be "drama" between Hook and Rumple after an entire season (3) off from it, but there are other storylines they could take that don't revert back to antagonistic ones. It's also frustrating when the villains keep saying that they are turning over new leaves but then do the exact opposite. If this was the first time they've "fallen off the wagon" I'd give them a pass, but it's not. It's a storyline ONCE keeps repeating and it's a bit weary.

  2. I thought Rumple slipped the real dagger back into Belle's bag at the Honeymoon; you know, when he found the Sorcerer's hat that has yet to be mentioned again. So I thought Belle now had the real one, which means he should not have been able to lie about what he knew.
    And if SQ really was Emma's foster mother, how could she possibly know what she looks like now?

    1. Re Rumple: Yeah, I think he gave Belle the fake dagger after he took the real one to make the Hat work. So she has the fake one again, he has the real one. Character development...not a thing on this show.

      SQ: Logic. This show also does not have it. Unless the SQ kept an eye on Emma.