All I can say is “wow” about this one. Well, not really. Because there’s about to be a whole post with the other things I can say about it. But I haven’t been this impressed with Once Upon a Time in a long while.
- The Snow Queen’s Spell of Shattered Sight has descended upon Storybrooke, turning everyone (and that means everyone) against each other.
- Flashbacks fill in Emma’s lost memories from her past connection with Ingrid, the Snow Queen.
At the core of Once Upon a Time is a sense of something: family. Its Netflix synopsis may hail it being a narrative of twists on fairy tales, classic literature, and animated films, and while it is that, those entities merely make up the background canvas onto which its true purpose, that resonate message of family, is painted. In this case, though, family, as pertinent as that word is, isn’t even the right descriptor. It’s more like ‘ohana: that intentional sense of family, that choice, whether through blood or friendship, to not leave behind those we love. And while a Hawaiian girl and her pet alien have yet to make an appearance on Once (which I personally hope stays that way), ‘ohana is a word that encompasses the feel of what the program is all about. It is when the series embraces this strength—to use the characters it has at its disposal to illustrate that the power of family is the strongest magic of all, just as Frozen‘s theatrical trailer said a year ago—that Once Upon a Time shines its brightest. Shattered Sight, the penultimate episode in an eleven-part Frozen story arc which wraps up next week, is the brightest the show has shined all season.
This is namely because here we are taken to the deep end of the emotional pool for Ingrid. The entire season has seen a number of ups and downs in confusion concerning our feelings toward her. Her actions make us livid yet her story reeks with sorrow. We want to root for her but have no justification to do so. And it is within this rocky sway between hero and villain that Once Upon a Time brings us a brilliant character who, honestly, would have made an excellent plot device for a Frozen sequel if this show hadn’t thought her up first. This week we discover what she’s been meaning when speaking of loving Emma. Witnessing that is touching and devastating all at the same time.
The Spell of Shattered Sight is ripe material for some very fun acting, and the results do not disappoint. Characters are taken to their extremes in a way that feels like we’re opening a toy box and exploring what new boundaries we can find (Anyone catch one of the dwarfs yelling at Dopey to speak?). It opens the door to some quirky banter, too (“You said no magic!” “YOU said you could keep a secret!”). It’s the most action we’ve seen from the Snow White crew in what seems like forever, and it’s grand.
Rather than try to weave in the characters who have frankly had trouble fitting in all year, this week the writers give Belle, Will Scarlet, and Captain Hook a few lines each and call it a day. Robin Hood doesn’t even show up. Quite honestly, they are not terribly missed and it feels nice for the show to not try to worm them in and instead focus on the series mainstays (Emma, Snow, Regina, Charming) and the Frozen mainstays (Anna, Elsa, Ingrid, Kristoff).
With Ingrid surprisingly out of the picture by the end of the episode (more on that later), this episode feels like a finale when there’s really one more week left before the mid-season break. There’s still the matter of getting Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff back to Arendelle, but for the most part, the major Frozen plot points are wrapped up, similar to how last season the Wicked Witch was gone by the second-to-last episode. This leaves the finale some wiggle room to go virtually anywhere. Personally I didn’t find the concluding scene with Mr. Gold very enticing. I’m going to watch next week, of course, but as a teaser, the ending scene is too vague and there’s not enough at stake for that to have been great bait to come back. A better ending could have been a new revelation about the sorcerer’s hat or the book author. I didn’t remember those were even still a thing until I sat down to write this and thought about everything.
- The What-The-Heck Moment: I could have done without the quick cut right after Ingrid’s death to her and her sisters as little girls frolicking through the grass. It felt horror film-ish and out of place.
- The Magic Moment: Iconic is the only word to describe the calm (action-wise) but furiously exciting (dialogue-wise) sequence in the sheriff station with Snow White, Prince Charming, Anna, and Kristoff. The first and newest royal Disney couples together… it’s quite a sight, and one that is scripted wonderfully. From Anna making fun of Snow and Charming’s names to Kristoff grumbling about his haircut, it’s a Disney fan’s dream come true. This is also a good time to mention just how great Kristoff has been. The entire Frozen cast really is spot-on, but they really found a dead-ringer of Kristoff in Scott Michael Foster.
- The Woah Moment: Anna reads the message in the bottle from her mother. We knew this would show up eventually. It’s a powerful moment (that, honestly, could tie in qualifying for this week’s Magic Moment, too) that reigns in everything this season has led up to. The turn-around and death of Ingrid comes surprisingly fast for as long of a build-up as we’ve had (especially with the audience being mentally prepared for one more Frozen episode after this one), but that aside it is a beautiful scene.
As a courtesy to all readers, please refrain from sharing spoilers for future episodes that haven’t aired yet. Other than that, chat away! These discussions are great. What say you?
- How awesome was the face-off between Snow and Regina?
- One of the biggest items the finale will have to address is Maid Marian. What do you think is the best course of action for Robin Hood at this point?
- Why didn’t Henry do a Hulk smash when he was under the Spell of Shattered Sight like he’s been reading about in his S.H.I.E.L.D. comic books?
- What are your feelings toward Ingrid?
- What did you like about Ingrid’s character? How would you have made her different? Were you glad she had a change of heart, if only just before dying?