Once Upon a Time: A Tale of Two Sisters

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By: Marianne Paluso (@Marianne_P81)

Spoilers Ahead


One of the things I’ve always loved about Once Upon a Time is the way the show balances intricate plots and character development, as well as introducing characters that blend so well into already well established stories. The Season 4 opener proved to demonstrate all of these attributes wonderfully, setting up what is sure to be an exciting season.

There have always been Disney Easter eggs and references peppered throughout the series, but this was one of the “Disney-est” episodes ever. While on their honeymoon, Rumplestiltskin and Belle brought to life the iconic ballroom scene from Beauty and the Beast complete with spot on costumes and the title song playing for their romantic moment. We also see a famous hat discovered- the one that is known from the Disney Cartoon The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The owner of the hat and other mysteries surrounding it are yet to be revealed but its significance must be great to tempt Rumple, because after switching his dagger and promising to be an honest man in honor of his departed son, he switches it back again unable to resist the allure of power.

Of course the other very Disney aspect of the episode was the introduction of the Frozen characters Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven the reindeer, and even Elsa’s snow monster which wreaks havoc in Storybrooke. Georgina Haig and Elizabeth Lail embody Elsa and Anna with such lovely perfection in look, mannerisms, and essence, while Scott Michael Foster makes an adorable Kristoff especially when he spoke of his love and belief in Anna. I suppose the only thing disappointing about these characters is that there are set to only appear in the first half of season 4. I adore them so much already I have a feeling I’ll want them to stay on the show permanently. Moving onto their story, after discovering a journal from their mother, Elsa fears their parents left (and therefore perished) because they were afraid of her powers. But Anna believes there must be an explanation and is determined to find answers, and so sets off for their destination- Mist Haven- otherwise known as The Enchanted Forest. Her quest establishes the theme for the season- to never give up on those you love.

There was also a great deal of Frozen aspects in present day Storybrooke from Elsa’s snow monster to a glimpse of a rock troll. Most especially was a scene between Emma talking to a devastated Regina through a closed door, meant to parallel a scene from the film between Elsa and Anna. Though not close sisters they had reached an understanding and civil co-parenting place. But that seems gone now with the return of Robin’s wife Marian. This situation and each character’s reaction to it is quite telling. Regina is heartbroken and angry at Emma, thinking her happy ending has now vanished. Emma feels guilty, not for saving a life, but for causing Regina pain, showcasing why she is my favorite character (along with Hook). Despite living a lonely, despaired life, Emma has a very kind, compassionate heart. And the fact that she feels sympathy for the woman who’s curse caused her to grow up an orphan proves what a forgiving soul she possesses, much like her mother Snow. Regina’s reaction perfectly demonstrates how far she has come and still how far she has yet to go on her path towards goodness. She repeats her habit of misplaced anger, lashing out at Emma much like she did years before, lashing out at Snow instead of her manipulative and culpable mother Cora. Here, hopefully Regina will eventually realize that deep down she is angry at the person she used to be. This situation will continue to be ever dramatic as Robin wants to honor his vows to his wife but clearly is in love with Regina. Moreover, having Marian alive actually makes Regina’s happy ending possible, for how could Robin ever forgive the person who killed his wife? Now Regina has a chance at redemption. Her back and forth struggles in this episode showcase the duality of her present state of mind. She saves Marian from the Snow monster and gives up the idea of eliminating her, but instead wants to find the writer of the Storybook so her fate can ultimately be changed. I hope to see her abandon this errand and continue on the path of redemption towards true love, because only then will she truly earn her happy ending.

Speaking of the road to true love, Emma and Hook’s relationship may not be defined but has undeniably reached a new level after such a passionate, unguarded kiss. However, as the episode begins Hook fears Emma is avoiding him. She assures him she isn’t but that she is simply dealing with the latest crisis. Hook takes a page out of Charming’s book and implores that there will always be a crisis so you must live your life anyway otherwise it may pass you by. This sage advice is something Emma needs to hear as someone who has spent her entire life running. But the Emma we see here is a much more open and vulnerable woman and it is a wonder to behold. After fighting Elsa’s snow monster, side by side as they always are, they have a lovely moment alone in the forest. He reiterates that now that this latest crisis has been averted it is time to enjoy a quiet moment together. She admits that she was indeed avoiding him, feeling guilty for causing Regina pain. But Hook, who has always been able to read Emma like an open book, can discern that there is something else holding her back. She doesn’t reveal what it is, but this softer and more open Emma Swan is no longer scared of his ability to look right into her soul. Even though she is not quite ready, she is clearly moved and kisses him tenderly, asking him to be patient. He obliges but hopes another monster doesn’t appear and kill him while he is waiting.

This scene demonstrated perfectly why Emma and Hook’s story is consistently my favorite aspect of the show. Jennifer Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue have always had such a natural, enthralling chemistry and this quiet moment conveyed a sense of longing and understanding between two people with a magnetic pull towards each other. The passion is there but not yet fully expressed. It was also lovely to see the two finally kiss in the bright light of day. While the time and place is plot driven, the way the scene is acted and filmed is purposefully done. Emma’s smiles are as soft, sweet, and natural as we’ve ever seen. And though it is subtle notice Hook’s eyes as Emma kisses him. As she leans in he keeps them open for a instant wanting to cherish the moment, and as she pulls away he opens his eyes again watching her leave him. These gestures are small but prove how adept these actors are at conveying these characters’ feelings. Emma may still be holding back but is happy to have this man in her life. And Hook is so desperately in love that he can’t bear to take his eyes off of her even when she is pulling away from him. They are surrounded by sunlight and bright colors of green and yellow which reflects the hopefulness of the moment. This kiss, request, and promise were a beautiful prelude to what is sure to be an emotional, heartfelt journey for these two wounded but besotted souls.

Favorite Moments:
Emma and Hook’s scene in the forest made my heart all a flutter and Rumple and Belle’s Beauty and the Beast inspired dance made my inner 9 year-old cry.

Favorite Line:
Emma : “Want to go home and see what’s on Netflix?”
Hook: “I don’t know what that is, but sure.”


    One Comment

  1. AnaOctober 3rd, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    I wanted to thank you for describing Emma and Hook’s overall story but also their scenes in 4×01 so perfectly. This is exactly how I felt after watching the episode. Seeing Emma not run away after he read her like an open book but instead kissing his doubts away was the most beautiful sight to behold! And I couldn’t be happier with the way Adam and Eddy have handled Emma and Killian’s story. Sk excited to see every single one of their moments that ad warhead of us

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