Cleverness, momentum, and the complete element of surprise. That’s what makes a good cliffhanger, and ABC’s Once Upon a Time does it better than anyone else. Its season three finale was sure to spark something, though no one was quite ready for the blindside that its final seconds elicited.
In an abandoned barn somewhere in Storybrooke, the audience gets an up-close look at blue gel oozing from a thought-to-be closed portal just used by Emma Swan to save her family. As the gel assembles, a figure begins to take shape, and it appears to be that of a person. An aerial view is shown. It’s a girl. A blonde one. Upon further inspection, she’s wearing a blue dress. Say, that looks an awful lot like… but no… surely it’s not… And then she takes off her glove and emits ice from her palm. [Audience picks up jaw from ground.]
And just like that, as the screen drums to black, Elsa the Snow Queen, and with her, Frozen, makes her entrance into Once Upon a Time, the hit drama that retells and intertwines classic fairy tales, most of them true to the Disney versions of the characters (as Disney owns ABC). We reported last month how creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz teased Frozen making its way into the intricate story of the show, though now it’s clear at the time of the interview they must have known all along and were laughing behind our backs.
In the same interview, Kitsis and Horowitz spoke of how it would be “unbelievable” and they would be “honored” if Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel appeared on OUAT as Anna and Elsa. While Anna has yet to make an appearance (and, for all we know, may not show up at all), casting regarding either character has not been announced.
It’s OUAT‘s forte to bring fresh vivacity to old stories, though it does typically stick to the tried-and-true tales that have been told for generations. The inclusion of Elsa is a bold step and a surefire hype of synergy. This show knows its audience well. Fan or not, there’s no denying that Frozen now having a presence on national primetime television is a pretty big deal.