Once Upon a Time: I’ll Be Your Mirror Review

Separator

By: Marianne Paluso (@Marianne_P81)

The eighth episode of season six of Once Upon a Time showcased an interesting dichotomy when it comes to the series, and something that many shows demonstrate: inconsistency. There were nice and sweet moments but compared to the season’s best (“The Other Shoe,” “Dark Waters,” “Heartless,” “Street Rats”), it was somewhat underwhelming and uninspired. The positive moments peppered throughout “I’ll Be Your Mirror” were wonderful and what should be the takeaway from the episode. But they were just that – brief moments, while the remaining parts of the episode featured very settling moments, some odd messages and out of character behavior, and some plot points that felt like stalling tactics. This season has featured some truly amazing episodes, but this week was also a reminder that as precious screen time passes by, some things feel needless and unnecessary while other things are greatly desired. This is something the show struggled with in the second half of season five. Luckily, unlike that arc, so far in season six, the percentage of beautiful and brilliant episodes outweighs the opposite.

Focusing the entire episode in Storybrooke, Emma and Regina tried to trap the Evil Queen in the world behind the mirror, but instead ended up trapped there themselves and discover she also banished the Dragon to this place. Luckily they worked together and knew that Henry was the key to saving them. And they were right, because he and Killian could tell the Evil Queen was not Regina, and despite knocking Killian out and attempting to make Henry kill the Dragon and darken his heart to save his mothers, both came through. Henry made the right and smart decision to crush the mirror instead of the Dragon’s heart while Killian arrived at the right time to force the Queen to “shove off!” Emma and Regina working together also revealed that neither want Henry to lose one of his mothers, while Regina admitted she was afraid of raising Henry alone. But in the end, both watch Henry happily dancing with Violet saying no matter what, he will be okay knowing he is strong and good. Meanwhile, Snow and David are trying to adjust to their cursed lives, trading off giving each other True Love’s Kiss in a sweet but also heartbreaking montage, while Aladdin and Zelena agree to help Belle escape Rumple. Aladdin steals the sorcerer’s wand from Gold’s shop (as well as a magic lamp which will surely be important), and Zelena prepares to open a portal for Belle, but Rumple arrives to stop her, placing a magical tracking device on her, threatening her and their child “out of love,” but also discovering he can’t hurt Zelena himself. So in true villain fashion, he continues his liaison with the Evil Queen and asks her to kill her sister.

While I always try to focus mostly on the positive aspects of an episode, when there are more mixed emotions, it’s necessary to be more critical. The most unsettling thing was seeing just how far gone Rumple has become. He has descended into territory that feels impossible to come back from. While his behavior does not completely shock me anymore, there were still some lines in regards to Belle he never crossed. I should have taken him trapping her on the Jolly Roger as a clue for what was to come because in this episode, those lines were crossed in very disturbing ways. Placing a device on her that takes away her agency, calling her “dearie” (something he only calls his foes) with malice and contempt in his voice, and talking about “taking” children, he has fully crept into abusive, controlling, and frightening husband territory. We’ve never seen Belle look so frightened of him before and I can see why. This scene gave me chills and not in the good way.While I always try to focus mostly on the positive aspects of an episode, when there are more mixed emotions, it’s necessary to be more critical. The most unsettling thing was seeing just how far gone Rumple has become. He has descended into territory that feels impossible to come back from. While his behavior does not completely shock me anymore, there were still some lines in regards to Belle he never crossed. I should have taken him trapping her on the Jolly Roger as a clue for what was to come because in this episode, those lines were crossed in very disturbing ways. Placing a device on her that takes away her agency, calling her “dearie” (something he only calls his foes) with malice and contempt in his voice, and talking about “taking” children, he has fully crept into abusive, controlling, and frightening husband territory. We’ve never seen Belle look so frightened of him before and I can see why. This scene gave me chills and not in the good way.

Another aspect “I’ll Be Your Mirror” revealed was that at this point in the season, Regina and the Evil Queen’s story is in a place I would have hoped to have moved further along. Moreover, this is resulting in some misguided messages, with the plot wearing thin without much progress. What is confusing is that the characters keep going back and forth between saying Regina and the Evil Queen are the same person but then contradicting that, with no one thinking of the best choice to deal with this. I’ve come to realize I enjoyed the Evil Queen more in past seasons, not only because that persona was not in every episode but only seen periodically, but also because it still was completely Regina with her good parts still there. The struggle was internal and for me was more interesting to watch. With the split, it just feels like a bit too much and The Evil Queen has no redeeming qualities. On the positive end, I was pleased to see Regina show heart and growth and offer what I expected to see her do last episode – sacrifice herself because she does not want Snow and Charming to suffer because of her. However, this was not the only reason, revealing that she still has some growing to do. She is afraid to raise Henry by herself, especially looking at the way Evil Queen acts, reminding her of the mother she could have become. Saying she was afraid of raising Henry alone is a very natural and understandable fear, but it still not only brings things back to herself instead of thinking of others, but also dilutes the kind of mother she was when the series began. Early on, her more evil side dominated, but since the end of season two, her better side shined through. But both remained a part of her and that internal struggle was part of her journey. It should have remained inside, as the Dragon tells her, which I had hoped she would have begun to see by this point in the season. So I admit to feeling confused by aspects of this story, most especially when Snow said she was proud of Regina for ripping and throwing away that side of her in the literal sense. To Snow’s defense, she just wants everyone to be happy and wants that part of Regina to not exist, so it’s easy to understand why she would think this is the best solution. But it’s also the easy solution, not the most realistic one and not something to be proud of. Regina has been making tremendous strides to be proud of, but ripping away her worst self was not one of them. On the contrary, I still believe she must accept it and work to overcome it. It’s hard to believe they have not considered finding a way to bring both sides of her together again, especially given the amount of screen time that has been allotted to the characters. And we especially don’t need any more time given to the Evil Queen and Rumple “romance.” The is no love there, so it continues to be unsettling and unnecessary to watch.

The remaining aspects of “I’ll Be Your Mirror” reflected and revealed some mixed emotions. Emma demonstrated some quite sad – and somewhat out of character – behavior, but also delivered the best line and message of the episode. While we’ve seen Emma struggling with her fate and fears this season, she still demonstrated a sense of hope and willingness to fight to change her destiny. But in this episode, she seemed completely resigned to it, sad and defeated, and taking solace that Henry would not be left alone. Her attitude, while not out of character for Emma traditionally, does not reflect what we’ve seen from her in the past few episodes. What happened to her fighting spirit? She has so much to live for and she knows it, so why does it feel like she’s given up hope? However, what she told Henry was a beautiful lesson and tied in so well with what Henry went through in this episode. When Henry is feeling insecure about himself, wondering if Violet still likes him and doubting how he should act around her, Emma tells her son to act like himself and never compromise who he is. That is a beautiful truth to tell anyone, but especially for a parent to impart to their child. Emma has never compromised the person she is and now is helping Henry realize that no matter what, he should always do the same. What was lovely was that Henry proved Emma right and acted in a way that made both of his moms proud. When the Evil Queen tried to make Henry kill the Dragon, he fought back and didn’t succumb to darkness, and doing so saved Emma and Regina. That’s a fine lesson to express, as well as what he expressed when he stood up to the Evil Queen: your family can make you stronger than you ever will be alone. We can find strength through unity. And at the end of the episode when he sees Violet again and the two share a sweet and romantic moment, he tells her she doesn’t need a label like the characters he showed her in The Breakfast Club. She’s not a jock, or a princess, or a nerd. She’s Violet, just like he’s Henry. Just like each character on Once Upon a Time can be given a label, but they are still simply themselves. Saviors or pirates, queens or princesses, shepherds or wizards, they are all unique individuals and so much more than their titles.

Although they were brief, the episode’s other positive moments showcased something the show does so well: prove the power and beauty of true love. As Snow and Charming are adjusting to their life sharing a sleeping curse, we see a beautiful montage of them trading off living their day-to-day lives, taking care of their son, trying to stay positive, and leaving each other notes that they will beat this and above all that they love each other. Mirroring each other in every way, no one could possibly doubt the depth of their true love for each other. I lost count how many times the two have shared True Love’s Kiss in this montage alone, but it was the other moments here that represented that love even more than the magic. Loving someone, being loved in return, and being fully committed in good times and in bad is the real measure of love. Neither one are giving up, but still are growing weary so much that in their last moments of the episode, Snow cannot bring herself to write anything to him. She simply crumples up the slip of paper and says aloud “I miss you.” When she awakens David, he sees the paper and knows exactly what she was feeling and says he misses her too, demonstrating one of the exquisite attributes true love couples share: the ability to feel what the other is feeling, both literally and emotionally, and sensing what they are experiencing. David just knew what Snow felt because he feels it too. Similarly, Killian could sense right away that something wasn’t right with Emma and it’s why he repeatedly called her and left so many messages. Just like when he could feel it was truly her that had come to save him in the Underworld, he knew something was not right because “when you love someone, you know.”

As we move forward into the season, I do have hope while admitting to some confusion and frustrations with some inconsistencies and lack of certain aspects being explored. I hope we see Regina continue to make more progress, but at this point, there need not be any more “romantic” scenes between Rumple and the Evil Queen. If we must endure those moments that do not represent love, shouldn’t there be some to counter them? To the show’s credit, we definitely have seen some, but I would love to see more because that is when the show truly soars: when they focus on the deep and beautiful forms of love, whether they be familial or romantic. Moreover, while the show is about a great ensemble of characters, Emma is still the main character and the heart of the show. We definitely have felt focus on her role as the Savior, but at the same time, there could always be more, especially with regards to how that affects her love story with Killian. For as much as moving in together was an important and meaningful step for the couple, it has been four episodes since they have done so and there have only been a few very brief scenes of them together in the house and none since the premiere where they have been alone. Every story ebbs and flows, but theirs is one of the most profound of the series, and at the moment what we’ve seen does not necessarily completely reflect what the story entails. Having Killian just overcome death only for Emma to fear the same fate inevitably awaits her – would that not inspire them to discuss what they are going through and be even more amorous than they usually are? Would not fearing you are going to lose your true love make you cling to each other even tighter or kiss even deeper? We’ve seen them express themselves this way when they feared losing each other, and we’ve seen passionate and poignant moments of both hope and sorrow, so this current story feels like it would be no different. We know how deeply they feel so I can only hope to see romantic and emotional moments like this, especially in their home together. I have faith Snow and Charming will break their curse and that Emma will defy her fate, so I do believe these kinds of moments will soon materialize. Season six has shown that it can be brilliant. As the Dragon said, it’s about balance between the dark and the light. And in Once Upon a Time, it’s the balance between the angst and the happiness and the focus on characters that are inspiring and heartfelt. Find that balance once more and the result will be magical.

Favorite Moments: In this episode, it was the moments that reflected love and pride that shined the brightest. Henry proved to be so strong as he did not succumb to darkness and saved his moms, and I adored his dance with Violet and him telling her she is just her. He is taking Emma’s profound lesson to heart to always be yourself, and it was sweet seeing Emma and Regina beam with pride over what a fine young man he has become. We also saw the power that true love has: an inexplicable connection between two souls where you just know when something is just not right and can feel what they are feeling. Snow and Charming demonstrated this as they sweetly dealt with their sleeping curse, while Killian just knew his love was in trouble. It’s these small but profound moments that I really adore. Lastly, there were some very poignant and clever references the film Aladdin. A small monkey toy helped him when was stealing the wand and lamp from Gold’s shop, while Aladdin acknowledges his Genie that is free now which was a lovely and touching nod to the late, great Robin Williams who voiced the Genie in the Disney film.

Favorite Lines:
Henry: I don’t even know how to act around her.
Emma: You act like yourself. Never compromise who you are.

Dragon: Back in New York, the battle I spoke of deep within your soul was supposed to remain there…Everything is about balance, the dark and the light. This is a lesson sometimes learned at great cost.


    One Comment

  1. obisgirlNovember 18th, 2016 at 10:13 am

    It still bothers how long Snowing’s curse will be dragged out. I think it’ll probably be like this at least until the winter finale. If it’s not resolved before, or even after that, I’m going to think that characters are stupid. Emma is clearly the one to break her parent’s curse, but no one has brought up that there can be both romantic and familial true love kisses, and it’s so frustrating to watch.

    Thanks for the review!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

THE NERD MACHINE GEAR

Read More

CATEGORIES

LATEST VIDEOS

Read More