How does the Snow Queen know Emma? Where is Anna? What wonderful Frozen pun is in store for us next? We find out little bits and pieces of these questions and more in Breaking Glass, episode five of Once Upon a Time‘s fourth season. Take a gander at these observations then sound off your own thoughts in the comments below.
- The Snow Queen must be tracked. Emma and Regina unite to hunt down Elizabeth Mitchell’s still-unnamed Snow Queen, who they soon learn is employing the double-crossing Sidney Glass.
- Anna is a ghost lady. A deranged, hypnotized-ish Anna haunts Elsa and leads her, surprise, straight into the Snow Queen’s clutches. For some reason, the Snow Queen wants to teach Elsa how to better control her powers. But ‘ole Queenie is no match for Elsa. (See, that was my own little Frozen reference. How’d I do?)
- Snow White back in action. Maternity leave is over. At least for this episode.
- Meanwhile, in Minnesota: We flashback to 1998 to see Emma befriend another girl in the foster care system, or so she says. Emma’s lesson about forgiveness parallels what she tries to make better with Regina back in Storybrooke.
Breaking Glass brings us a fulfilling episode that really should act as a model example. The writers acknowledge everything they know we’re missing at this point in the season and give it to us all in one episode. Firstly: Enough story to keep us on our toes, but not too much that we’re confused. It streamlines one central plot, but still gives airtime to plenty of characters. There are enough loose ends left to have curiosity, but not enough to make us frustrated. Overall, there is more balance, and not just in terms of juggling. The flashback sequences are the first of the season to not spotlight Frozen, making Anna and Elsa’s inclusion this week feel more like a natural fabrication of the rest of the show. It feels like a program with Anna and Elsa part of it rather than a program about Anna and Elsa, which I admit, as much as I love Frozen, is a nice breather. Of course, even with all the intentionality on one centralized story, there are still characters who are completely absent (Rumplestiltskin and Henry) or only briefly appear (Captain Hook and poor Belle, who has been an afterthought this year). To me, it’s an argument to keep things simple if there isn’t even room to squeeze in the whole principle cast.
Next up in things we’ve missed: Regina! This week we get to see Regina in all her Evil Queen glory, but at the same time are shown the depth of her character development over the last three years. Her quest to heal Marian has been something we’ve just checked in on sporadically this season, but here she’s really at the forefront of the action. We’ll touch more on Regina and Emma in a moment. Also coming along for the ride with Regina is Sidney Glass. We really remember how much we don’t like him, don’t we?
Lastly, and about darn time, is Snow White being Snow White again. It’s refreshing to see her hot on the trail of Will Scarlet, who, by the way, is being handled very well by the writers. I didn’t watch the whole series of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and I’m intrigued to see where his character is going.
Seguing here, Elizabeth Mitchell shines as the Snow Queen in a big way, starting to show the quiet evilness of her character. However, as this show often does, we get a small hint that “evil” might be the wrong label. As she reconstructs her long-lost mirror, we learn her true motivations: To find a family who loves her. Well if that isn’t the most vaguely specific tease.
Frozen‘s implementation this time around is more of a healthy give-and-take. There are still the eye-roll-inducing puns (see “What-The-Heck Moment” below), but there are also some clever nods, too. I thought the staircase inclusion was particularly effective. And that purple cape! Can you say theme park walk-around winter overlay? And while we’re talking about references, how about Josh Dallas joking about opening a portal to Asgard with him being in Thor and all? Hahuh lolz many laughs much funny.
Additionally, the lack of scenes with Anna and Elsa together means that once we actually see them at the same time, there is a special, intrinsic quality to both of them sharing the screen that would be lacking if they were simply together all the time. The image of Elsa in front of Anna attempting to get her out of her daze presents two now-iconic figures of animation, together on television. It’s a moment that has me looking forward to future Anna/Elsa combos.
And when Elsa saves Emma and Regina and thwarts that Snow Queen to the ground… woah Nellie, YAAAAAS.
- The What-The-Heck Moment: “What are you doing to do?” “Why, my dear Elsa… I’m going to build a snowman.” Did she really just say that.
- The Magic Moment: Emma’s heart-to-heart with Regina. There’s been (understandably) much tension between the two, but this has really been the first time they’ve laid everything out all on the table without any reservation. After being concerned about Regina’s harsh switch back into evil mode, I was comforted to get her full, transparent side of the situation straight from her mouth. The dichotomy that Emma and Regina can never really be besties (Hey gurl, totes Starbucks run holla at yo bff!) but that they’re still trying to find strength in their similarities is quite special.
- The Woah Moment: Again with the cliffhangers. Rumors swirled that the Snow Queen was Emma’s foster mother at some point, and now we pretty much have confirmation of this. But how (and why) did she wipe Emma’s memory of this connection? And how in the world did she get from Arendelle to our world?
- What’s going on with Emma and the Snow Queen?
- What does the Snow Queen want from Elsa?
- How do you think little Henry is holding up under the care of his grandpapa at the pawn shop?
- What are the odds that Mr. Gold is really Lord Business?
- Will we see Lily again? Is she someone we know?
- What are the best steps for Emma and Regina’s relationship?