Once Upon a Time: White Out


By: Marianne Paluso (@Marianne_P81)

Spoilers Ahead

Every viewer of Once Upon a Time has their favorite characters and preferred aspects of the show. What I have always loved are the episodes that center on emotional development, while my favorite characters are continuously Emma, Hook, and David. “White Out” proved to be a powerful episode that showcased all of these beloved qualities and players with resonant results.

In the Enchanted Forest of the past, we see Anna on her mission to discover why her parents traveled to this land. She seeks out an old friend of Kristoff’s, lowly shepherd David, wanting shelter on his farm for the night. In the earliest we’ve ever seen him (and his first back story without Snow since Season 1 Episode 6 “The Shepherd”), this David is a far cry from present day Prince Charming. At the mercy of ruthless warlord Bo Peep who seeks payment or threatens servitude and theft of their farm, David accepts this fate without even trying to fight back. Anna is shocked at his submission and urges him to stand up to her because survival isn’t enough. You have to live. Her optimism and fighting spirit awakens heroism in him he didn’t even know he possessed and their brief encounter becomes one of the most significant relationships of his life. She teaches him to sword fight and inspires him to strive for a better life. In lesser hands such material could come across quite heavy handed. But here, Elizabeth Lail’s Anna is endearing, while Josh Dallas’ David is relatable and inspiring in his journey of self discovery. The nature of the show is such that character’s stories are slowly revealed over time. Despite being in Season 4, there was still much we didn’t know about David apart from Snow. By having Anna be such an important person in his life, it allows Anna’s character to blend seamlessly into the overall story, while also giving the audience another strong female character to look up to. When Anna departs, David’s mother give her the name of “He Who Must Not be Named” on a slip of paper, aka Rumplestiltskin, as he is someone well versed in magic who may be able to help Anna on her quest.

In present day Storybrooke, Anna again proves significant as Elsa discovers her necklace in Mr. Gold’s shop and vows that no one will leave the town until she finds her sister. She surrounds the entire town with a giant wall of ice causing a blackout and mass confusion. Snow is called upon to be the new mayor and take care of the power outage, while Emma, David, and Hook investigate the ice wall at the town line. Before Emma’s notices movement by the wall we are treated to a flirtatious scene as Hook says to Emma he should have brought champagne to celebrate their second date, after their first one chasing the snow monster. It’s particularly sweet how he considered dealing with town crises dates and it makes me excited for the time they will actually go on a proper dinner date. This charming, light hearted moment is followed by an endearing conversation where David gives Hook the “what are your intentions with my daughter speech.” They reach an understanding when Hook assures him that Emma means more to him than any conquest and that it is up to her whatever their relationship becomes.

Meanwhile, Emma encounters Elsa and offers to help find her sister. But when David and Hook approach, Elsa is spooked, causing her to lose control of her magic and trap her and Emma in a cave of ice, leaving a frantic father and boyfriend in a race to save Emma before she freezes to death. Inside the cave it was wonderful to see a fast friendship form as Emma reveals that she too has magic that is difficult to control and often feels overwhelmed with being a savior. An apologetic Elsa shares how much Anna helps her to control her magic, and asks to hear about Henry trying to keep Emma awake and alert and alive. In the meantime, David and Hook seek help from Mr. Gold who offers no assistance. But when David sees a picture of Anna’s necklace he realizes that Elsa’s sister is the very girl who helped him become the man he is. This allowed him to get through to Elsa to find the strength within herself to melt the cave and save Emma’s life. As Emma is freed she falls into Hook’s arms and the two ardently embrace for the very first time, clinging tightly to each other with looks of profound relief and affection on their faces. They return a chilled Emma back home doing everything to warm her, Hook never leaving her side, and Emma seeking comfort in his arms. While Elsa fears she may never see her sister again, David vows that they will reunite them because their family never gives up and they always find each other, thus continuing the season’s theme of never giving up on the ones you love.

The emotional resonance and poignant growth for Emma and Hook proved once again to be what I enjoyed most about the episode. I had hope to see tender forms of intimacy emerge for the couple, but little did I dream to see so much in one episode, let alone the second one of the season. Colin O’Donoghue astoundingly expressed the sheer fright of Killian Jones (not Captain Hook) losing the woman he loves more than anything with every aching look in his eyes and frantic attempt to break through the ice with his hook. With the very genuine prospect of losing her, he does not call her his usual endearments of “Swan” or “Love”, but rather simply Emma- His Emma whose life is in real peril. It was poignantly beautiful when they hugged each other with such fervor, Emma nearly in tears and cradling his head, Hook smiling, finally able to breathe, and holding onto to her for dear life- a life so precious to him that was nearly lost forever. This moment alone showed a new sense of intimacy as a hug is so much different than a kiss. Their embrace solidified how deeply they feel for each other without any words necessary. It was also truly lovely to see the other forms of gentle affection between them from him wrapping his arm around her trying to warm her up, to her leaning into his shoulder and him softly nuzzling the top of her head, to him holding her hand and Emma interlacing her fingers with his. It is unknown when either shared such gentleness with anyone and the fact that Emma initiates it beautifully reveals how safe, comforted, and happy she is to have him by her side, while his look of adoration and constancy next to her shows just how true his love is. Emma and Killian are becoming each other’s everything and it is truly touching to watch.

Favorite Moments:
All of Emma and Hook’s tender and open affection melted my heart, and David and Hook working together is always a treat, while the Frozen references were charming such as Anna’s delight in sandwiches, Elsa claiming the cold never bothered her, and Hook carrying a frozen Emma much like Kristoff carried Anna in the film.

Favorite Lines:
Hook: I wouldn’t risk my life for someone I see as loot. Whatever we become is up to her as much as me.

David: I might be able to survive, but I also have to be able to live with myself and I can’t do that if I’m trapped in a life I don’t want.

David: We’re going to find her sister. That’s what this family does- we find people. We always do because we really, really don’t like to give up.


  1. AnaOctober 8th, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Bless you forever for this flawless review!! I couldn’t agree more on every single aspect you described and analyzed. Your last paragraph prior to “favoirte moments” is a thing of such perfection that I want to frame it and hang it on my wall. Really. Thank you!!

    I have nothing to add…just that I’m so happy that for once a TV show doesn’t tease the audience with an eternal “will-they-won’t-they” but boldly tells the story of two damaged and broken people who have the potential to heal each other in this real yet magical way.

    It was truly perfect how an episode that featured physical walls all around Storybrooke was all about the crumbling of metaphorical walls. Especially Emma’s. I could not be happier about that.

  2. MalinOctober 8th, 2014 at 10:37 am

    I am a true sucker for strong bonds between characters (romantic or otherwise), and this episode gave me this in abundance. I’m already head over heels for this season, and can’t wait for the next episode. <3

  3. RebeccaOctober 8th, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Excellent review. I enjoyed reading it – especially the “Favorite Lines” :o)

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