Caution: This review contains spoilers.
“There’s no problem that can’t be solved with a bit of ice cream.” The Snow Queen’s words would normally hold true, it doesn’t work that way if the tasty treat happens to be from Any Given Sundae and is enchanted. In last night’s chapter of “Once Upon a Time,” Marian (Christie Laing) falls ill because of a spell in her ice cream. It begins by adding a silvery streak to her hair, turning her into an ice statue as the cold threatens to reach her heart and kill her. Yes, yet another pull from “Frozen,” but that’s only one of the issues the Charmings have to tackle. Robin (Sean Maguire) tries True Love’s Kiss, which does not work, because Regina (Lana Parrilla) is his True Love.
Back in Arendelle, Kristoff (Scott Michael Foster) spies on Hans (Tyler Jacob Moore), discovering that the villain intends to trap Elsa (Georgina Haig) in an urn and take the kingdom from her. Hans uncaps the urn and expects victory; instead, he’s unleashed a lady (Elizabeth Mitchell) who can wield powers just like Elsa’s. This Snow Queen, as we’ll refer to her, claims to be Elsa and Anna’s aunt. But just who is she really?
In Storybrooke, the townspeople are convinced that Elsa is responsible for the latest problem, along with the ice wall that remains at the borders. There’s also a renewal of tensions between old enemies. Regina quips to Emma (Jennifer Morrison) that the “Savior needs saving these days,” remarks that get under Emma’s skin. Hook gets Rumple (Robert Carlyle) to help Elsa track down the party responsible for framing her, which turns out to be the Snow Queen. It leads to a great confrontation, whereby Emma saves both Elsa and Hook from the “Dairy Queen.” Even though Emma seems insecure about her status as the Savior, she proves that she has a lot of power when she’s provoked enough. As in the previous episode, she’s still struggling to control her powers. Meanwhile, Regina has enlisted Henry (Jared Gilmore) in Operation Mongoose to find the storybook author and give her a new ending.
Return of the Dark One
The momentum continues to be strong in season four, introducing a new villain but also reviving the evil tendencies of both Rumple and Regina. Rumplestiltskin is certainly an interesting puzzle this season. It was only last season when speculation was abound about whether he would “go dark” in order to save Henry and defeat Pan. I’d argue that he never actually went dark and resorted to “old habits,” though he wrestled with the question a lot. Lately however, the pawnbroker appears to have reverted to his darker tendencies, looking rather gloomy when the Charmings and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) cross his threshold for assistance. He even goes so far as to have Belle (Emilie de Ravin) “command” him with the fake dagger to tell the truth to the Charmings. He’s digging himself deeper in his deceit, all in the name of power, which Rumple unquestionably finds addictive. It’s only a matter of time before Belle discovers the truth and leaves him (for good or temporarily is the next question).
It’s almost like Rumple has reverted back to the way he was in season one. His demeanor and bearing at the very end of the episode seem to mirror those old mannerisms. Arguably, he’s gone a bit further: his voice even changed in the Pawn Shop with the Charmings and Hook to a tone somewhere in between his regular voice and his Dark One voice. It’s difficult to pinpoint it, but I would argue that’s probably intentional on Robert Carlyle’s part as he’s proven before his versatility in portraying the complex history of Rumple. Anyway, Rumple knows the Snow Queen and her plans and he’s itching to make a deal with her.
Next week, the episode is entitled “The Apprentice,” which may bring us back to the curious hat that Rumplestiltskin found. I imagine you have enough questions about last night’s episode alone! How does the Snow Queen know Emma Swan? How come neither Emma nor Elsa remember her? In any case, the Royals of Arendelle and Storybrooke face an uphill battle against their new and formidable foe. Moving forward, perhaps there are some epic showdowns you’re dying to see: Emma vs. Snow Queen? Elsa vs. Snow Queen? Or even the Fire Queen (Regina) vs. the Ice Queen? The older rivalries can also rear their ugly heads, so don’t be surprised to see Rumple vs. Hook or Emma vs. Regina. A little ice cream probably won’t resolve the issues of your favorite Storybrooke characters, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying a scoop of rocky road (or vanilla, my personal favorite) as you tune in in the weeks to come!
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sunday evenings on ABC at 8|7c.