Previously on Once Upon a Time, Captain Hook and Emma Swan returned from the past to ensure that Prince Charming and Snow White would meet, and in doing so upset the space time continuum as Emma rescued Maid Miriam. As the new season began, not only was everyone dealing with the ramifications of having Regina lose her true love, but upon opening the time portal, Storybrooke got a very icy princess join them in their midsts. Elsa’s plight to find her sister, Anna, is what drives her in the first episode as she retaliates against the people of Storybrooke by creating a snow monster.
This episode was similarly structured to episodes in the past as Anna and Elsa’s past was explored, meanwhile the other universe in question directly dealt with said characters. Although the mystery between Anna and Elsa’s parents and them opened the Frozen arc, Elsa only alluded to the fact that her parents went on their voyage to find a way to contain their daughters nontraditional gift. How the character’s of Arendelle will intermingle with those inhabiting the city of Storybrooke will likely take the first half of the season to fully explore.
This week I’m going to examine the season premiere through a new prism, I’ll examine the strengths, weaknesses, and potential long run pay offs that various components of the show are likely to have. The biggest strength for me was the focus on the family, and how family unites us no matter what the case. So click ahead for my recap and review of Once Upon A Time!
I thought thematically the show started strong, but the ambiguity in Elsa’s reason for being in Storybrooke hurt the strength of the show. When Anna and Elsa were in Arendelle the dynamics between them and even Kristoff seemed to be far more deliberate then Elsa’s icy conquest through Storybrooke. I really loved seeing the sisterhood between Anna and Elsa, and I think that’s stood far in away as one of strong points to the premiere. On a second front, I thought the re-examination of the relationship between the Mirror and Regina also harkened back to the beginning of the show, and showed Regina in a more complicated light.
After the devastating news of seeing Robin pick his wife Maid Miriam over her for the time being, this sent Regina on a downward spiral into depression as she grew in jealousy and disillusionment. Upon returning home, she goes off to the psych ward at the hospital to see her once all powerful genie friend to discuss her heartache with him. When the Mirror questions how they are going to kill Miriam, Regina shows her newer self by saying that she’s not going to approach killing her, but rather wants to convince Robin that she is his happy ending. With that Emma says that she was brought to Storybrooke to help everyone find their happy ending, including Regina, and this idea of hope is critical. Lastly, one of the strengths on the show was the honeymoon between Belle and Rumplestiltskin. With one of the most powerful moments of the series taking place when the two of them danced in the classic Belle and Beast garb from the animated film to the theme song from Walt Disney Animated film Beauty and the Beast. The cinematography, editing, production design, I mean the whole package really came together in that one moment. While there was many strengths in the show there were also weaknesses too.
I thought the writers should’ve have explained what the original Queen of Arendelle wrote to her daughter, and it’s relevance to Elsa’s magical powers. Had they grounded that back story a little more, I could have been more forgiving towards Elsa’s time in Storybrooke when the story was light substantively and heavy viscerally. Yes the visuals were strong, and the moment where the Evil Queen saves Robin Hood’s wife pays dividends towards from the Snow Monster is powerful, but the lack of back story on why Elsa was there made the episode seem to drag on. I think they have strong relationships for both Anna and Elsa to work through; however, I think the vulnerability and insecurity Elsa was portrayed as was right on point, but her naïvete seemed forced.
As far as the potential long run pay offs go, I can’t wait to see the relationship between Belle and Rumple fully realize itself as he struggles to let go of his past and the power he possesses in carrying the Dark One’s dagger. For Charming and Snow, I can’t wait to see them grow as people through the parenting of their baby boy. Although Elsa and Anna will play pivotal roles in the show, it’s been rumored Elsa won’t be considered the villain, so my question going forward is who will be the undisputed villain of Season 4. After some of these questions are answered, I think the show will have the potential to have a strong season. I think they need to further explore Anna and Elsa’s parents relationship to them, as well as the overriding plot to destroy the citizens of Storybrooke’s happiness, if the show’s past is any indication where it’ll go. Tune in to see this season and see if they can find out who the author of the Once Upon a Time physical storybook is.