Welcome, welcome, fa-hoo doray. It’s time for another batch of our Storybrooke Sound-Off, where we’re picking apart, discussing, ranting, raving, and baking cookies about the fourth season of ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Let’s dive into episode seven, The Snow Queen.
- In Arendelle, a really long time ago, where they’re celebrating the invention of the green screen: Ingrid (the Snow Queen’s snazzy real name) grows up with a loving bond with her two sisters but fears the powers of her icy magic. Sound familiar?
- In Storybrooke, today: Emma, pushed by manipulation of the Snow Queen, becomes unstable in her powers and fears she is becoming a monster. Sound familiar?
This episode has all the expectations to be big. For one, its title is The Snow Queen, the name of this season’s primary antagonist and of course the original fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen that inspired Frozen. In expanding the world of Frozen, Once Upon a Time has the chance to explore portions of the original text that Frozen didn’t, which it is doing with Ingrid’s character. The episode is also written by Once Upon a Time series creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, a rarity reserved for premieres, finales, and episodes with special significance.
While the episode does mean a lot for the story, it’s not in the way we might think. It’s a relatively low-key hour of television. Not very much happens in terms of plot progression, but that’s because it shouldn’t. The first six episodes of the season set many different elements in motion. Rather than add to that complexity, this week we take a breather. Emma sits the Snow Queen down to ask her questions, which is exactly the same thing the audience wants to do. In a very literal way, we get answers to the teases put in place. It’s a very effective outlet to catch us up to speed.
In Ingrid’s grand quest to have a happy family of herself, Elsa, and Emma, she eventually pushes Emma to feel the same thing she and Elsa have before: rejection from family caused by fear of their magic. However, while Elsa and Ingrid’s came naturally, Emma’s is viewed through a false lens implanted by the Snow Queen. Emma wasn’t feeling that way, but when Ingrid claimed she would, she began to believe her. And then quicker than you can say Stitch Has a Glitch, Emma no longer feels part of the family she searched 28 years to find. It’s here that we finally see the true villainy behind Ingrid’s character: not in a dramatic or extravagant performance on Elizabeth Mitchell’s part, but a sly, coy performance whose delivery comes from the results of her actions, not her in-the-moment dialogue. It’s when Emma feels destructive that we truly hate the Snow Queen, not any moment that the Snow Queen is onscreen. The onscreen performance builds up the villainy rather than depicting it.
In the thick of all this is a prominent spotlight for the backstory of Ingrid, the Snow Queen herself, in a very well-done explanation that spans multiple generations before Anna and Elsa. For our weekly dose of all things Frozen, the rest of this paragraph will revert to Internet fanboy mode. Here we go… Where was Anna? She was M.I.A. and I thought Frozen was totally suppose too be bout hur! But where is she? But at least we see Anna and Elsa’s grandparents. THEIR GRANDPARENTS. Grandparents yeeesssssss. The whole thing with Ingrid, Gerda, and whatever the third sister’s name was, that got me in my heart. And what’s up with little girls of Arendelle apparently being able to be sophisticated in their conversation enough to make important life decisions spur of the moment when they find out Ingrid has powers. Their tutor must rock! But Grand Pabbie, hmmmm like who gives him the power to grant wishes to just anyone? The whole kingdom now doesn’t remember Ingrid and the other sister because she wants it? Mama Gerda, how cud u? But hey, they said let it go!!! Let it go![Fanboy mode over.]
Moving on, we also get a bit more substance with Robin Hood and Regina (thanks to a convo with Will Scarlet), but it’s still that awkward once-an-episode check-in to see how they’re doing, with little more. The Marian plot is being stretched out far too long. I understand whatever happening to her taking place in a few episodes at the season’s climax, but at the pace it’s going it would have been better to condense that subplot into fewer episodes or remove it altogether. The direction Robin and Regina are headed (with that schmoozy kiss) leans a little too much toward soap opera-ish for my taste.
On the bright side, this week we see Snow White in true form again. She’s out and about and integral to the story, while also managing time for baby Neal. Very well done (to her and to the writers). And her being in mommy class with Cinderella (!) and Aurora is also just great. Can you imagine their animated counterparts doing that? Funny image. (As is the other character combo crew on a mission this week with the fake mirror: Prince Charming, Captain Hook, Elsa, and Belle… imagine those four in animated form all together!)
Going back to Will Scarlet, we hear a little glimpse of his past this week, which certainly helps is one watched Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (which I didn’t). I wonder if viewers of that show have caught on to something that the rest of us haven’t noticed yet.
- The What-The-Heck Moment: Duke of Weselton was a great surprise. Since he was younger, I didn’t recognize him at first, but when it clicked, it was a fun “Aha!” moment. Missed opportunity not having him be played by Alan Tudyk, though.
- The Magic Moment: This episode had a lot of feels. The magic moment this time came not from a typical feel-good scene, but when Emma makes the sheriff station explode. As she dashes away embarassed, all the characters who she truly cares for are together, urging her to come back. Just rip our hearts in half, why don’t ya.
- The Woah Moment: Whatever the Snow Queen whispered in Rumplestiltskin’s ear in the final scene has to eventually be a woah moment, but for now, it’s just a moment.
Now it’s your turn:
- What’s your take on Ingrid’s backstory and the decision Gerda (Anna and Elsa’ mother) made?
- If you watched Once Upon a Time In Wonderland, is there anything everyone who didn’t watch might not know about Will Scarlet, the Knave of Hearts?
- Which early 2000s video game do you think Arendelle’s graphics most closely resemble?
- How will Emma overcome her current feelings of defeat?
- What did Ingrid whisper in Rumplestiltskin’s ear? What does he need to overtake the land beyond Storybrooke?