Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Once Upon a Time, Season 4, Episode 1: A Tale of Two Sisters

A long time ago we had a ship at sea during a terrible storm; on that ship a queen struggles to write a letter – which is, perhaps, not the most practical thing to do during a storm (she also has a positively amazing pen considering the setting and conditions) she puts the message in a bottle – Arendelle has to know the truth or doomyness will doubtlessly happen.

5 years later we see two princesses (I’m just going to call them Elsa and Anna and stop pretending I don’t know who these people are) at two gravestones showing that queeny should have spent more time with a life preserver and less time writing her diary. Elsa is preparing a surprise for Anna’s wedding day

And now to today and the real world with an angry looking Elsa striding out of the portal leaving a trail of ice behind her.

While Elsa’s bringing a cold front, Regina leaves the party at Granny’s due to Robin’s lost love Marian being returned from the past meaning she is going to be sad and angry for yet another season. Emma comes out to try and comfort her rather than give her space and she really wants Emma to stop helping – because it never helps her and all that heroism gets Regina is more pain; she also references how hard and how completely she worked to build a new future and a new Regina which is all falling apart.

To grind some salt into the wounds, Robin also wants Regina to meet Marian so he can convince Marian Regina is a good person. Marian laces into Regina as a complete evil monster and is outraged that anyone else would even speak to her. Everyone is kind of silent - including Regina who leaves. While Mary Margaret calls after her Hook recognises her need for space – though Charming and Henry worry about Regina going to the dark side.

To Grumpy and Sleepy driving home and Sleepy is a designated driver. Who falls asleep behind the wheel (which someone really should have predicted). The out of control van nearly runs over Elsa – and gets frozen in place instead. The next day Elsa goes into town full of all the trappings of modernity that leave her stressed and panicky – which isn’t a good thing for the frosty one.

Flashback time – to Elsa giving Anna their mother’s wedding dress for the upcoming wedding and Elsa having some misgivings about the whole thing – since Kristoff is a peasant who, well, lived in a barn and is best friends with a reindeer. Until she finds her mother’s diary and discovers that their parents died because of her. Well, kind of. The diary entry is super ambiguous about how scared her mother is of Elsa and them leaving possibly for related reasons. Elsa, having been fed a steady diet of how scary she is (because of the worst parents ever), wallows in guilt. Anna is convinced it’s all a misunderstanding and the Trolls will show them.

The Troll doesn’t know what the Worst Parents Ever were doing but he knows they were going to Misthaven. Anna is all for going to Misthaven right there but Elsa points out the Queen can’t just up and abandon the kingdom (this must be deliberate sporking because that’s exactly what both Elsa and Anna did in Frozen). So Anna wants to go off on her own which is… unwise

Since it’s unwise Ana has to do it and Elsa is briefly delayed by Kristoff (Sven may actually make this season though). The ship leaves before Elsa catches up (alas, if only she could freeze the sea or something) and Kristoff reveals that Anna asked him to stay to keep Elsa company. Y’know, I don’t know about your parents Elsa, but your sister may actually hate you. He does know that Misthaven is the Enchanted Forest

Back to the present and over to Gold going to see his son’s grave, sharing a touching story and reminding us all that he tricked Belle and still has his real dagger that can control him (he kept it so he could kill Zelina) and now he thinks he should give it to Belle – but he’s too afraid to.

From there Bell takes him to see a fabulous mansion that just appeared with the last curse (something which isn’t that surprising it seems. I suppose when magic is all around you just learn to run with things). Gold uses magic to freeze Belle so he can swap the dagger with the fake one in her bag before dancing with Belle (yes to “Beauty and the Beast” of course. But he also notices a box which makes him wary).

Over to Regina and Robin goes to see her to tell her that she’s a good person, that he knows she’s changed, that he loves her (aww) but he’s married to Marian (ah the sound of a knife being twisted); though it’s noteworthy that his feelings for Regina are in the present tense, his feelings for Marian are in the past tense.

When she’s alone, Regina’s emotions shatter her mirror – and she puts on her Evil Face. She goes to one of her hidden cells – a padded cell – where Sidney Glass has been kept hidden and imprisoned (or Giancarlo Esposito is back because Revolution ended snarky me would say). She needs her mirror to help get rid of Marian. She’s worried about the magic of Henry’s storybook (thinking it can force the happy endings it has inside –including Robin and Marian) and thinks the best way to fix it is to go back in time and kill Marian before she gets rescued. She needs Sidney because Regina has killed so many people she doesn’t remember who Marian actually is. Regina puts Sidney back in his mirror (which he’s very not thrilled about) so she can see the moment she ordered Marian executed (for refusing to give up Snow White).

The Charmings all talk about how they hope Regina won’t go evil, Emma is ducking Hook because of the whole relationship issue – and the dwarfs run up to announce they’re under attack by evil ice magic. The Charmings chase after her, following the ice trail she leaves behind her like some kind of hypothermia slug. Elsa clearly doesn’t see this trail and actually tries to hide. She also creates a giant angry snow man which is considerably more effective than the Hypothermia Slug hiding.

They run to the middle of town with a giant snowman menacing everyone causing everyone to run around yelling “monster” and Elsa to be savaged by Guilt Weasels. Emma, David and Hook lead the Snowman out of the city to where Robin, Marian and the Merry Men are camped (seriously guys? Gold and Belle just moved into a giant empty mansion and you’re camping?) before Emma remembers she has (very ineffective) magic. The snow man knocks everyone out but Marian and Regina appears (yeah, I call shenanigans. No way did she walk through the forest in those shoes – I don’t care what magic she has). For a brief moment it looks like Regina is willing to abandon Marian to being stomped to death – before she squishes the snowman to dust

See, Emma, that’s magic. Regina and Marian have a frosty “maybe you’re not a monster” moment. Job done, Regina disappears because she still doesn’t want to talk to them. This leaves Hook chance to pitch Emma that they need to build their relationship and not wait until all the crises are solved because then it will never happen –because there’s always a crisis. Emma still delays. Honestly Emma – giant snow man or sexy leather clad pirate? Get ye on the pirate already! Also Emma has the Guilt Weasels over Regina.

Emma goers to see Regina (who doesn’t open her door, hiding at the other side – yes, very reminiscent of a scene from Frozen) to say she will get Regina’s happy ending (apparently not innuendo). Regina pulls off awesome sadness. But then, she has had practice. Also, I want to see her stand up again in those shoes. Regina has changed her mind about time travel (which makes sense since the whole second half of last season was about how impossible it is) and is back to the book – she’s cursed because the book doesn’t allow villains to have happy endings. So now she needs to find the author and re-write it.

Shall we check the credits? Because I’ve felt the same thing about the last season. And hey “it’s time for villains to get their happy endings” isn’t that a Shrek plot?

Speaking of villains, over to Gold who uses his dagger (the real one I guess) on the odd box he found to turn it into a magic hat. While Elsa freezes his way into his shop because he saw a photo in the newspaper that showed her sister’s necklace for sale there

Regina has been put, yet again, in an impossible position because the writers have chosen to bring back Marian from the dead as a competing love interest. If she even feels sadness or pain or anger about her situation she is effectively put in a position of wishing for someone’s death or wishing someone dead. And put in a position where she has to endure yet more wallowing in her evil past. She’s in a situation where it’d be hard for even a saint to look good. Pain and evil are constantly thrust onto this character, her redemption always held back. And it pits the shows only two WOC (in a vast sea of characters) against each other.

I have a feeling Anna and Kristoff will compete with Mary Margaret and Charming for the title of Couple Whose Breeding Reduces My Faith In Humanity Deserving To Exist.

Plotwise… I’m not hooked. Honestly there’s nothing there that makes me think “I want to see what happens next”. I’m not saying I’m bored – but if something major happened tomorrow and Once Upon a Time is cancelled I would not exactly be devastated. I suspect that Elsa may be more jumping on the bandwagon of Frozen and extracting every penny than actually telling a coherent storyline. I don’t want to see Regina go evil and sad yet again. And I don’t know enough about Gold’s storyline yet except to guess it’s going to be another tale of epic self-sabotage. It’s a personal taste thing, I know, but I LOATHE self-sabotage stories.

That was pretty damn decent CGI though, I’ll give them that. Actually that’s pretty awesome CGI