Once Upon a Time: Smash The Mirror Review


By: Marianne Paluso (@Marianne_P81)


This week’s epic two-hour episode of Once Upon a Time was filled with dramatic twists and turns that set up what is sure to be an emotionally satisfying conclusion to this story arc, further solidifying the themes of hope and love in the darkest of times. Although our main characters were all given their chance in the spotlight, this was the first week I felt the Arendelle flashbacks, though enjoyable, were given too much screen time. The important events can be summarized quickly: Despite Ingrid’s best efforts to drive a wedge between them, Elsa and Anna team up to trap Ingrid in the urn. However, Ingrid discovers this and casts her spell of shattered sight on Anna. Just like the Hans Christian Andersen “Snow Queen” fairy tale, the shards of glass that land in her eyes turn her loving perspective into one of bitterness and anger. These flashbacks also revealed some significant answers. It is this spell that makes Anna trap Elsa in the urn and Ingrid then freezes everything and everyone in sight. Rumple swoops in and steals the urn, and lastly Ingrid makes a deal with the Sorcerer, returning his hat for a promise of happiness and a portal to our world, alluding to how she came to be Emma’s foster mother.

In present day Storybrooke, I was pleasantly surprised by the positive development for Regina’s character. After she and Robin share a wonderful night together, she still feels guilty and hopeless in their situation, revealing to him how the Storybook portrays her: as a villain. Wanting to help, Robin and Will head to the library to search for clues when something miraculous happens. A page magically appears in his satchel – an alternative image of Regina and Robin had the former not run away from her destiny. This gives the two hope that happiness may be possible and raises some intriguing questions as to how this book truly works. It seems to be fueled by people’s need for hope, which is a lovely thought indeed. Although I don’t think it is right to make light of the fact that Robin is cheating on his still very frozen wife, as a conversation between Snow and Regina displays, I particularly enjoyed these two ladies’ interactions. Gone is the Evil Queen hell-bent on revenge on Snow. Instead we see a very open and understanding dialogue where Snow implores that a chance at grace is always possible. Moreover, Regina’s quiet moment with Henry and her admission to Snow and David that her biggest regret was making Henry feel crazy rather than special was refreshing. It was moving to see her act like a loving mother and tell her son that he is not ordinary with or without magic and to have faith in Emma because she is a hero. She has come a long way from season one. It is also Regina’s admission that helps the Charmings to realize that they need to find their daughter before it is too late.

After Emma’s out-of-control magic accidentally hurts Henry, she is so distraught and frightened that she seeks out Rumple to help her rid herself of her magic. He tells her he can help and to meet her in that large manor on the edge of town, with Emma naïve to his true motivations. She calls her parents and reveals what she plans to do, but not how. Her parents are okay with her decision until their talk with Regina, but Killian and Elsa are not, as Elsa went through the same thing and with Killian fearing what is indeed the truth – that Rumple will trap Emma in the sorcerer’s hat. Emma’s journey throughout this episode was extremely resonant. She arrives at the manor, the hat behind a closed door, and trepidation in her heart. When she asks what he would do, Rumple is surprisingly honest in telling her he would never give up his power, and that unlike him, she will always do the right thing. He hopes that means she will go through with her plan and leaves her to make her choice. But luckily for Emma, Elsa arrives, determined to help her friend realize that giving up her magic would be a mistake. Elsa tells Emma that it wasn’t simply Anna that helped her control her magic. It was also a love and acceptance of herself. She offers her hand to a tearful Emma, whose own hand suddenly radiates a blast of true love magic. In this moment, Emma finally embraces her power and love of herself – the good, the bad, the in between. And on a show that emphasizes true love in all its forms, this was a beautifully brilliant moment that showcased that truly loving yourself is just as important as any other love. When you do, the love you accept and give to others will be at its fullest and most glorious. Jennifer Morrison portrayed this scene so exceptionally, tears streaming down her face, with a look of purity and sheer joy. Emma Swan is such a special character. She has suffered so much pain but is still loving and compassionate. She is truly a good person and yet saw herself as less than that. It makes her moment of self-acceptance even more powerful. And I loved that a friend helped Emma to realize that. Friendship is such a meaningful entity and one not nearly given enough credence. Although Killian could very well have helped Emma in that moment, Elsa knew exactly what Emma was feeling having gone through it herself. It needed to be a person who had learned to love themself and Killian is still on his journey of self-acceptance.

Killian’s scenes were few, but the most devastating of the episode. Bravo to Colin O’Donoghue’s ability to showcase a character’s utter devastation, fear, and love all with defeated tones of voice and intense looks in his eyes. He rushes to Gold’s shop and when he sees a hand imprint that Emma’s magic made and his worst fears are confirmed. This leads him to make a tearful and heartfelt confession on Emma’s voicemail. He reveals everything about the hat, the blackmail, wishing to be a better man for her, and believing he failed because now he may lose her. His most heart-wrenching admission is that he hopes she never forgives him because that means she will have received the message in time to save herself. True Love reveals itself in many ways, one of which being when you care more about the other person’s well-being than your own. He wants to be with her more than anything but would rather her be without him than her be gone forever. He has a small glimmer of hope when he figures out where she has gone and rushes to help. Ingrid may be the villain this season, but so is Rumple, who has seemingly abandoned all signs of redemption. When Killian arrives, Rumple restrains the furious Captain who screams he would die fighting before he’d let Rumple trap Emma in that hat. But Rumple prevents Killian from entering the manor, even when he applies to Rumple’s sense of humanity. Not even the fact that Emma is the mother to his grandson changes his mind. Instead, Rumple taunts that Killian will get over Emma as Rumple did Milah and that he must miss his revengeful ways. But when they see that Emma did not go through with the plan, Rumple boasts that the day will not be a total loss. He knows what he needs to cleave himself from the dagger: the heart of someone who knew him before he was the Dark One. With great sadistic pleasure, he takes Killian’s heart, telling him that he will force him to help collect all the magic he needs before he kills him. Little did we know that when Ariel told Killian that he was “heartless” in 3×17 “The Jolly Roger” that it would be a foreshadowing line. The heartbreaking realization is that she also called him “selfish” and Killian, although once very self-serving, is far from selfish. When Rumple pulls out Killian’s heart it is bright red without a dark spot to be seen, indisputably proving that if darkness ever covered his heart, his journey to be a better man has made that fade away. As Elsa helped Emma, Killian will need that outstretched hand of understanding to help him realize that he is the good man he hopes to be.

What should have been a moment of pure joy was bittersweet as Killian rushes inside, embraces Emma, kisses her fervently, and tells her he is a fan of every part of her. In this moment, I felt as if my heart had been ripped out. He is so relieved that she is okay but now fears he is living on borrowed time. He promised Emma he was good at surviving, but with the seemingly hopelessness of his situation, all he can do is show her affection even more intensely. And if that is not tragic and heartbreaking, I don’t know what is. She can tell something is wrong by the intensity of his stare and in that moment Emma’s expression is exquisite. It was as if for the first time she truly saw the depth of his feelings. And he does so without his heart! There should be no doubt about how deeply this man loves. But for now he deflects, telling her she should celebrate with her loved ones outside. Killian proved in these moments what we’ve seen with other Once Upon a Time characters. Even without his heart he can still feel, and he can still express his love for Emma, proving that he not only loves with all his heart, but with his entire soul.

Emma’s happy moment with her family was complete with hugs, smiles, and a control of her magic as she treats them to a beautiful fireworks display. Morrison’s expression of elation and pride in her power was nothing short of stunning and it was beautiful to see Emma so completely happy with every part of herself. But this elation doesn’t last. With both Emma and Elsa embracing their magic, Ingrid’s plan is set into motion. Her yellow ribbons appear on their wrists, draining their magic and channeling it to the Snow Queen who at last smashes her mirror and casts her spell of shattered sight. I truly wonder how this spell can be broken. I wonder if Killian will be affected now that he is without his heart, and how Snow and Charming will be affected because they share one. And I wonder how our heroes will prevail in the end. At this point, it is easier to believe that Ingrid is more capable of redemption that Rumple. As twisted as her plan is, she does care for Emma, and I don’t believe she would ever let anything happen to her. I don’t think Emma will take what Rumple has done to Killian lightly either, and will literally have to fight for his heart when she finds out it’s been taken. With only three episodes left until the winter hiatus, things are nothing short of emotional and exciting for the residents of Storybrooke. I cannot wait to see how this story ends.

Favorite Moments: This season has placed a beautiful emphasis on hands and reaching out and the moment that Killian recognized Emma’s hand print as the one he has held, and when Elsa reaches out to her friend and a pulse of true love radiated from Emma’s hand, I was brought to tears in two completely different ways. I hope to see this lovely motif continue throughout the season. Seeing Emma’s look of innocent glee at creating fireworks and Killian able to express his love without his heart were also both beautifully poignant.

Favorite Lines:
Emma: I didn’t know you were such a fan of my magic.
Killian: Why would you say that? I’m a fan of every part of you.

Regina: (To Henry) You have the Heart of the Truest Believer. You brought us all together. Never think you’re ordinary just because you don’t have magic.


  1. GuestNovember 21st, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Wow….just wow!

  2. SarahNovember 21st, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Well put!! I loved this episode but it also broke my heart into tiny little pieces. So ready for Emma to fight for Killian!

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