Once Upon a Time Season 4 Preview: Storybrooke has Frozen Over


By Marianne Paluso (@Marianne_P81)

When we last saw our residents of Storybrooke, peace seemed to be restored to the sleepy little town in Maine. And indeed there was much to be celebrated. The Wicked Witch had been defeated and Snow and Charming were happy to have their new baby boy safe in their arms. After years of separation and struggles, Rumplestiltskin and Belle were married in a private ceremony. Regina seemed to have finally left The Evil Queen behind her and found a new-found sense of love and happiness with Robin Hood. And Emma learned that Hook sacrificed his ship to save her, bring her back to her family, and indeed also did so with the romantic hope of simply seeing her face again. She was so touched that she stopped denying her feelings, allowed her walls to come crumbling down, and opened her heart to him with a loving, passionate kiss. But things are never peaceful for long in Storybrooke and Season 4 promises a lot of excitement and drama.


Rumple is keeping a dark secret from Belle, switching the “Dark One” dagger she believes is in her possession with a fake one, marrying her with that one lie hanging over them. How will Belle react when she learns of this betrayal of trust? Snow and Charming are joyful to be able to raise their son, but how will they handle being parents to a baby for the first time? Emma and Hook are in a happy, love-filled place and will be going on their first official date. But they will need to learn to navigate their new relationship, especially when internal struggles, insecurities, and wounds are so difficult to heal. And Regina’s happiness seemed squashed now that Emma and Hook unknowingly brought Robin’s wife Marian back with them from the past. Will her broken heart lead her back toward a path of darkness? Robin will surely be torn between his wife and the new love in his life. The theme of the first half of Season 4 is to never give up on the ones you love. All of these couples will surely have struggles but I look forward seeing their stories continue to unfold and these characters fight for true love.

One of the things to be most excited for is the introduction of the Frozen universe to the Once Upon a Time family. After their trip to the past, Emma and Hook brought another woman back with them: Elsa, who had been trapped in an urn in Rumplestiltskin’s vault. How and why was she trapped, and what will she do now that she has escaped? Fans of the film, fear not. Creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis have promised to stay true to the characters of Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Hans. What is particularly lovely is how natural adding these characters to the show feels, as the themes of Frozen have been a staple in the series since Season 1, most significantly learning to let go. We have seen Hook let go of his vengeance, Emma begin to let go of her fears of opening her heart, Snow let go of her insecurities, Rumple let go of his son, and Regina let go of her darkness. These themes will no doubt continue in beautiful ways.

Another addition to the show is my favorite character from the now completed spin-off Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Will Scarlet (Michael Socha). The last time we saw the former member of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, he was living happily ever after with his true love Anastasia, so why is he in Storybrooke? If you did not watch, one interesting aspect of that show is that Will’s sister drowned in a frozen river. I sense a connection here. Moreover, as in true Once fashion, we will most certainly see an abundance of parallels between the Frozen characters and our heroes. Actors Jennifer Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue revealed that not only will Elsa and Emma form a friendship (surely formed from a shared possession of magic difficult to control), but we will also see parallels between Anna and Kristoff and Emma and Hook, as well as Anna and Elsa to the couple. Perhaps we will see Emma’s magic go awry as Elsa’s did, and see her back away from Hook, only to discover that fully embracing their love will help her to ultimately control her power and be happy.

Right now we can only speculate, but there have been seven episode titles revealed thus far that might give us a clue. 4×1 “A Tale of Two Sisters” will focus on the introduction of Elsa and Anna (radiantly perfect Georgina Haig and Elizabeth Lail), while 4×2 “White Out” will most likely be Snow White-centric. 4×3 “Rocky Road” will reportedly shed more light of Emma’s past. For being the main character, she has had the least amount of backstory revealed and I have been longing to see her life in the foster system as well as her life just after prison. Chances are my wish will be granted. 4×4 is entitled “The Apprentice.” Who that character is remains to be seen, but the first image that popped into my head was Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia.

The most enigmatic and intriguing title is for 4×5. “Breaking Glass” could refer to Sidney Glass (returning Giancarlo Esposito), magic mirrors, and many other things. But I can’t help but think of the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen.” In said story, a goblin creates a mirror that makes everything that is beautiful appear ugly. When the mirror breaks, it shatters into millions of pieces, some as small as grains of sand. If they land in your eyes, you can no longer see any beauty or the good side of things. If they land in your heart, it becomes frozen. Unlike the film, this frozen heart does not kill you, but rather your heart freezes in a more metaphoric way, making you cold and unfeeling. Given the show’s penchant for plot points involving hearts and the fact that the film’s “Only an act of True Love can thaw a frozen heart” is such a significant part of the story, I cannot help but hope to see something similar to this on Once. As they are my favorite characters, my first thoughts went to Emma and Hook and Snow and Charming. If you recall, Snow and Charming now share one heart and there must be repercussions for that. Moreover, I truly believe it must be significant that Hook is the ONLY current main character to have never been cursed with false or missing memories. It would be a dramatic turn of events if Hook’s heart was frozen, he became cold, and he forgot his love for Emma. Firstly, this would parallel what happened to Snow White in the Season 1 episode “Heart of Darkness.” But it would also be emotional and beautiful to see Emma fight for his heart as he has done for her for so long.

Rounding out the episode titles is 4×6 “Family Business” which will reportedly reveal Belle’s mother (Frances O’Connor). Can Belle please have her own centric episode? She certainly deserves it. Lastly, 4×7 is entitled “The Snow Queen” which I suspect is who LOST’s Elizabeth Mitchell will be playing. If anyone could pull off an icy, cool villain it would be her. This episode is also penned by series creators Horowitz and Kitsis and could quite possibly be the crucial episode that will set up the rest of the first 11 episodes in a dramatic way. This would resemble what the episode “Ariel” did in Season 3, whose echo cave confessions all came to pass in poignant ways.

However the first half of Season 4 plays out, I could not be more excited to see our characters continue to evolve, enchant, and enthrall. There may be a chill in the air in Storybrooke, but Once Upon a Time will surely continue to be heartwarming gem for the soul.

Season 4 of Once Upon a Time returns September 28th at 8pm on ABC! Watch a sneak preview here!

    One Comment

  1. Frances PooleSeptember 19th, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    amazing write up. I love your thoughts on breaking glass. I never thought of it relating to the snow queens curse. I’m ready to see Emma fight for Killian.

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