Welcome back, friends. Our discussions are one of the highlights of my week. This show has so many layers and perspectives to it that it’s fun to in turn hear your perspective on things. There is much in common between the animation fan and the Once Upon a Time fan, and it’s fun to have those two interests collide. Let’s get started with this week as we dive into season four’s sixth episode, Family Business.
- Homegirl Belle emerges from the Disney Vault into a starring role. A long time ago, she seeks to know the secret behind her mother’s death. Anna helps her, seeking answers of her own. Princess power hour.
- The Snow Queen is cray cray. Memory wiping is the name of the game as Emma searches for more clues behind the Snow Queen’s presence, who she now knows was her foster mother at some point.
The episode opens with something we very seldom see these days: Two scenes with the entire cast. (Well, ok, now that Will Scarlet is a permanent addition, almost the whole cast. Hey, speaking of him, wouldya look at who’s absent this week.) Once in the police station and once in the forest, we see much of the main characters all together, effectively giving us a rare sight while also touching base with many ongoing subplots. We get brief updates on a few things, namely progress on Marian’s great thaw and a powwow tracking down the Snow Queen’s ice cream truck hangout. After those quick check-ins, we switch gears to focus the rest of the episode on a character who has been noticeably on the sidelines all season long: Belle. Finally!
Timeline-wise, the flashback sequences take place long, long ago, before Belle even met Rumplestiltskin. The conclusion that she and her father reach at the end of the episode (to approach Rumple about advice to end the Ogre Wars) will eventually lead to Belle giving up her freedom to live with this Beast. This makes the events Anna and Belle encounter quite important, and illuminate the notion that if she had never been taught a lesson in heroism from Anna, Belle would have never met Rumple. The end of this episode (presumably) leads in seamlessly to the first time we ever saw Belle, back in season one.
Can we pause for a moment, though? Little town, it’s a quiet village. Then why is my main man Maurice chilling with Belle in some upscale medieval tower? That looks a little too classy. And Anna. Come on, girl. You JUST got back to Arendelle and you’re up and leaving AGAIN like it’s nothing. All this time we’ve been thinking Elsa hasn’t seen you since you went to the Enchanted Forest. Nope. You survived that (which definitely held a lot more story/character crossover potential), but then you went and peaced out to confirm your family tree and ended up being kidnapped. Elsa needs to make you a little ice leash.
It becomes apparent here (after teetering on the verge for a while) that Anna’s personality doesn’t mesh well with the tone of the rest of the show. Maybe it’s the switch to live-action without the fantastical suspension of belief that animation brings, or perhaps it’s the contrast of Anna’s bubbly character against the dramatic seriousness of the bulk of the cast, but she’s, I suppose appropriately, awkward. But it’s not an endearing awkward, it’s more like a does-she-really-belong-here awkward. The script translates the Frozen version of Anna verbatim to Once Upon a Time, and that could be where the issue is rooted.
But Anna is not of utmost concern. Looking around, a few things are definitely twisted here. First and foremost, Mr. Gold straight-up lying to his wife the about that blasted dagger. Your woman just put herself at the mercy of the Snow Queen’s taunting Horcrux mirror, Ron Weasley-style. She deserves the truth. But nothing’s quite as twisted as the Snow Queen’s motivation. We now know her name is Ingrid, she definitely is Anna and Elsa’s aunt, and there is a different mystery aunt named Helga who disappeared. All right, sure, let’s go with it. I’ll bet Helga is someone we know, but in the meantime, Ingrid wants to make Emma and Elsa her replacement sisters and finally have a family who loves her. There’s nothing wrong with that… except that she wants to obliterate the rest of Storybrooke in the process. I want to feel for the Snow Queen, but I just can’t. She has everything going for her: a legitimate reason for anguish (being abandoned long ago) and an opportunity for restoration (first with Anna and Elsa, now with Emma and Elsa). But she’s going to throw it away by going turbo. Come on, Ingrid. (You know you’ve always wanted to say that.)
Lastly, things are getting juicy as the Frozen and Fantasia storylines slowly begin to intersect, in flashbacks and present-day plots. They both have an air of mystique to them, with lots and lots and lots of questions remaining unanswered. As we now cross the halfway point in this story arc, I have a feeling the real fun is about to begin as the climax approaches. As an indicator, next week’s episode is boldly titled The Snow Queen and is written by series creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, meaning it’ll be two things: important and awesome.
- The What-The-Heck Moment: Oaken. Ten points to Gryffindor.
- The Magic Moment: Tie. You’ve got Belle and her mother sharing a special bond of reading. (Can you feel the feels tonight?) Then you’ve got Elsa, a powerhouse princess icon of today, asking help from Belle, a powerhouse princess icon of twenty years ago. That’s pretty darn cool.
- The Woah Moment: Not any major shockers this time around. Grand Pabbie’s triumphant return with news of a third sister is surprising, but no huge jaw-droppers. Things are keeping steady.
Now comes the best part: Talking with each other! Let’s consider:
- How does Rumple know the Snow Queen?
- How is the show doing on its Frozen meter? Are there any characters you’d like to see that haven’t appeared yet?
- When will the Sherman Brothers meet up the Snow Queen in Arendelle to write songs for Saving Mr. Maelstrom?
- Did Belle make the right choice on the cliff?