Once Upon a Time: Family Business Review


By: Marianne Paluso (@Marianne_P81)

Spoilers Ahead

If I was to sum up this week’s Once Upon a Time it would be that everyone has a secret: Rumple is keeping one from Belle, both Anna and Belle are keeping ones from Elsa, the Snow Queen from her nieces, not to mention Killian whose secret was not even mentioned in this episode. Moreover, this week’s stories were filled with a sense of heartbreak and fears, and with some mysteries coming to light more questions arose. At the halfway mark of this first part of season 4, “Family Business” sets up what is sure to be a continually exciting story that affects everyone in Storybrooke.

In the Enchanted Forest of the past we see Belle and her mother (Frances O’Connor) attacked in their palace by ogres. They had been trying to save their library of books from the monsters, a nice commentary on the preservation of literature and the written word which I greatly appreciated. After the attack we cut to Belle awaking from a nightmarish sleep and she is devastated to see that her mother has died. In truth we learn that her mother had sacrificed herself to save her daughter, but with no memory of what happened she sets out (against her Father’s wishes) to find the rock trolls of Arendelle who have the power to restore memories. On her journey Belle comes across Anna who is heading to see the trolls herself, suspicious that the Snow Queen, Ingrid, is not really who she claims to be. This quest not only allowed another friendship to be established but revealed significant answers and character depth. Belle is given a stone that can restore her memory when she drinks it with a tea, while Anna learns something most shocking. Ingrid is indeed her aunt, the oldest of three sisters including her mother Gerda, and another aunt, Helga. The three were very close but one day Ingrid and Helga mysteriously vanished, and so, wanting to forget this tragedy, the entire kingdom had their memories of them erased. Unfortunately for Belle and Anna, what they learn on the quest remains only with them. As they head back, the Snow Queen sends a storm to impede their trek; as they fall Belle chooses to reach for her precious stone first before helping Anna, but it tumbles down the mountain and breaks. Because of this Belle cannot reach Anna in time and she plummets to ground. Ingrid arrives whisking Anna away and placing her in a prison cell, determined to drive a wedge between her and Elsa. With very little of Belle’s back story beyond Rumple revealed previously, I loved learning more of her history here. And it was quite poignant to see such a moral woman make a relatable mistake- to think of herself before her new friend causing tremendous repercussions. This humanized her and brought a new and welcome gravity to her character. The guilt Belle feels plagues her in present day Storybrooke and gives her one of the best stories we’ve seen for her character in the entire series.

After the shock of seeing the Snow Queen in Emma’s childhood video our heroes head off in search of her ice cream truck, while Belle and Elsa stay behind in the library. However, it is not long before Belle’s secret ignites her guilty conscience about Anna, so she commands Rumple to take her to the Snow Queen’s cave so she can make things right. Having to keep up the ruse that she has the real dagger he agrees, and the scenes that follow are equally chilling and heart wrenching. In the Snow Queen’s cave Belle discovers the Queen’s mirror and its dark magic reveals itself. A reflection of Belle taunts her playing on her guilt, deepest fears, and insecurities: that she is not heroic but rather a coward, that Rumple only married her because she is weak and easily manipulated, and that the dagger she has is a fake. She is so transfixed by this dark image that she slashes at Rumple who entered because the Queen was approaching, and he quickly transports them back to his shop. She clings to her husband, horrified that she hurt him, “abusing” the dagger and keeping a secret from him, especially when as she says he would never keep one from her. As she begs for his forgiveness he hugs her tightly and the guilt ridden pain on his face is obvious. What was so heartbreaking about these scenes was the sad irony about them. Although the mirror taunted her, it did reveal some truths. Belle is heroic and courageous with a good heart, but she is still too trusting. Rumple does truly love her, but right now her unfailing belief in him, though touching, is undeserving. He had the perfect opportunity to tell her the truth but still chooses not to. Consequently, Belle’s remorse for her mistakes and belief in her husband now makes Rumple’s secret seem even worse by comparison. In this heart breaking scene, Robert Carlyle once again demonstrates his brilliance with a single look of torment. Though that suffering is self imposed, this look was the first sense of shame we’ve seen from him this season, showcasing a hope that has been practically nonexistent. But it was Emilie De Ravin’s performance that really struck me. The duality of her sardonic, ominous reflection along with her heartbreakingly tearful plea for forgiveness was the best we’ve ever seen from her and finally gave Belle an affecting depth of character.

In the other edge of the woods, Regina and Robin as well as Emma and Killian search for clues in the Snow Queen’s ice cream truck, and each couple have emotional and significant heart to hearts. Regina tells Robin that if he truly wants to save his wife he must try to fall in love with Marian again and forget about her because she has not been able to find a cure for the freezing spell. Sean Maguire’s expression here absolutely broke my heart as we see a deep sense of longing and despair. He may want to save Marian and honor his vows but he cannot forget Regina. You cannot fall in and out of love so easily. Considering the scenes that were difficult to watch last week, seeing Regina act in a more selfless, understanding manner was refreshing. Her love for Robin brings out the good in her and I truly wonder what path their story will follow.

Emma and Killian’s moments together were the most lighthearted of the episode and yet still had an undeniable poignancy. Emma discovers folders that the Snow Queen had kept of Emma’s old art projects, essays, and cards raising questions as to the nature of their relationship. Killian wants to make sure she is okay because wounds from childhood often linger, but she quips back that it’s been a long time since he was a child. Though she makes light of it, Killian is right. Emma’s wounds have only recently begun to heal, and they sadly may come to the surface again. It was wonderful to see these two sweetly teasing each other demonstrating a sense of comfort and companionship. This lightness is no doubt a prelude to impending darkness that seems to be on the horizon. Killian’s devotion will not waiver but when Emma finally learns his secret it will be emotional to see all that follows. To answer a reader’s question, I do think she will be angry, but Emma has come too far to revert to her old ways of running away from her problems and shutting out those she cares for. If she initially is hurt, I believe understanding will come and as well as a fight for their relationship which only grows more and more profound.

In the final scene we at last learn the Snow Queen Ingrid’s unsettling plan. Ingrid believes in a prophecy that Emma and Elsa will replace the sisters she lost, creating her own “perfect family.” Killian looks understandably distressed at this, as do Emma and Elsa. Moreover, Belle relays what the mirror can truly do. Killian asks why they cannot just smash it, but things are never that simple. Infused with the darkest of magic, if she casts her spell of “Shattered Sight” everyone will turn on each other, destroying the town and leaving only Emma and Elsa behind. The dialogue here was filled with a sense of foreshadowing as upcoming episodes are entitled “Smash the Mirror” and “Shattered Sight.” And with this mystery revealed more questions arise. What happened that made Ingrid erase Emma’s memories all those years ago? Ingrid took the Sorcerer’s Hat from Anna, so how did it end up in that mysterious, unclaimed house in Storybrooke? And what will happen with the sinister mirror? It would be amazing to see how other characters would be affected by its magic particularly Emma, Killian, Charming, Snow, and Regina all of which have deeply rooted fears, guilt, and insecurities. Will the Snow Queen’s spell come to pass? One thing is for sure, this chilling season just keeps getting more and more entrancing.

Favorite Moments:
Belle’s reflection scene and her tearful plea to Rumple was an absolute revelation in terms of performance, showcasing De Ravin’s best work on the series to date, while Emma and Killian’s playful banter brought much needed levity to an episode filled with sadness. It was also beautiful to see that young Emma had painted a picture of the sea, a subtle way of showing how she and Killian are kindred spirits.

Favorite Lines:
Belle: Sometimes a hero has to sacrifice everything to save the people they love.

Killian: Spend a little more time in this town love, you’ll realize just about everyone’s related.

Regina: It’s bad enough I’m stuck with you and Captain Guyliner making eyes at each other.

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