Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Once Upon a Time, Season 4, Episode 2: White Out

Elsa decides that until she and Anna are reunited no-one can leave the town – and she blocks all the roads out with ice. Y’know, you’ve spent two seconds looking for Anna and haven’t even asked anyone if they’ve seen her but you’re already resorting to magical menace? This strikes me as a little… unnecessary. I mean, she just found Anna’s necklace in a pawn shop, she didn’t think to speak to the shop keeper first? Maybe?

With decision making like that she’ll fit right in. Anyway flashback time to many years ago and in the Enchanted Forest where Anna has arrived and by pure chance she knocks on the door of a quaint hut and the door is answered by David (that would be Prince David before he became a prince by being semi-adopted by King George). Apparently David, this shepherd, knows Kristoff from Arendale (quite how these two peasants working industries closely connected to the land would have fit in the world travel I don’t know). Anna babbles in classic Anna fashion and generally shows how terrible an agent she would be, David trusts her because a) he’s a Charming so he kind of trusts everyone and b) she’s far too inept to be sneaky. Babbling is interrupted when Little Bo Peep shows up – she apparently runs a protection racket on the shepherds.

Little Bo Peep runs a protection racket, complete with magical crook that lets her track and find her “debtors”. Ok, I’ll give them points for that.

Of course, Anna thinks they should fight against the magical warlord and her army with the perfect logic of having to fight the impossible battles rather than the easy ones. Which makes no sense at all – and naïve as well. Damn Anna, when David calls you naïve that’s saying something. However, this being Once Upon a Time he is the wrong one and she teaches him how to use a sword (which her soldiers taught her. How this helps him against an army remains to be seen). David keeps trying to give up and focus on survival while Anna chivvies him into keeping on fighting.

“I want to survive”
“It isn’t living”
“It’s actually the definition of living”. So very true. I’m beginning to see that Anna is the one who infected David’s brains and turned him into Charming. He shares a story of his alcoholic father as if it were kind of relevant.

Anna is kidnapped so David decides to fight – both of her guards at once after a day’s training (managing to defeat them both without killing them or even wounding them) and then taking on Bo Peep and winning against her as well and using her crook to find and rescue Anna.

Wait, he’s won? She only had two men? She’s warlord with 2 men? That’s less “warlord” and more “Pub Brawl Lord”.

Anyway everyone is happy and reunited and David’s mother gives Anna the name of someone who could help teach her about magic - Rumplestiltskin

To the Charmings in the present and in Storybrook (who actually amused me for 2 seconds with David and Emma suggesting babies dream of “bullfighting” and “laser tag” much to Mary Margaret’s denial) and Henry putting together a break up care package for Regina (and very clearly labelling both Emma and Regina as his mothers) but Regina sends a note – by raven (y’know, email would really make you look a little less like the Evil Queen) to Henry saying she doesn’t want to see him right now

Henry drops into full angst mode while Emma tries to explain things to a mopey teenager. Teenage pouting is interrupted by Elsa’s ice knocking down a power line and cutting the whole town’s electricity off (and David calling Emma to say the whole town’s electricity is off – the timing’s really off because everyone must have told him before the electricity went off). Henry stays to mope while David and Emma check out the town’s new frosty wall. Elsa hides among the ice looking all tense that people are investigating her attack on the town. Hook joins them because we need more sexual tension and make snarky points that he has to count imperilled attacks as dates otherwise he and Emma would never actually have a date.

While Emma goes to check the wall, David tries to have a “what are your intentions with my daughter” talk with Hook who points out how old fashioned that is, even by his medieval standards and does an excellent job of saying their relationship, whatever it is, is as much up to Emma as him.

Emma finds Elsa and introduces herself – Elsa is wary and hostile – and she panics when Hook and Charming arrive, burying both her and Emma in ice. Hook hammering at the ice with his Hook achieves little and David realises they need magic. Inside the ice cave, Elsa decides to hold Emma hostage until David and Hook find Anna – because she’s so great at making friends. She also threatens to freeze the whole town if she doesn’t.

As Emma and Elsa talk, Emma realises Elsa can’t control it and her threats are less threats and more warnings of what her emotional distress will cause. Elsa needs Anna for control – or Emma to use her own magic to free them both but Emma’s busy freezing to death.

Hook and David go to see Gold and Belle (snarking follows) and Gold has an idea who Anna is – David goes to see Bo Peep, a butcher in Storybrooke now who tries to kill David with a cleaver (and understandable reaction) alas, Hook stops her and they claim her shepherd’s crook since she used it to “brand” Anna so she can track her.

They rush back to the ice wall because Emma is freezing and David repeats the same hookey rubbish Anna told him to Elsa to try and get her to control her powers. Of course it works (and Emma is magically cured of hypothermia as well).

All together the gang tries to help Elsa find Emma, they use the crook which only confirms that Anna is alive. David makes another speech about not giving up which Henry hears – and he goes to see Regina and yell at her through the door that he’s going to keep coming back and yell at her through the door until he gets to see her. Regina opens the door and we have hugging.

Meanwhile Granny, Grumpy and Happy drop in on Mary Margaret to demand she do something about the power being out – after all, they got her her kingdom back, that makes her the authority and that means she has responsibilities!

This involves Mary Margaret poking at electrical things and failing dramatically – she loses her temper and rants at the people, yelling that just because she’s the ruler and cast the curse doesn’t make her responsible and even saying it’s the people who drove Regina to become evil. When she’s driven them off she figures out how to use the generator and get the power working again

Afterwards, Emma says how impressed she is by Elsa’s rather incredible power – but Elsa finds she can’t bring the barrier down around town, it’s not just her magic. Cut to the ice cream parlour in town which managed to lose no stock at all during the power outage… the shop keeper also has Elsa’s power.

Anna and David in the Enchanted forest – leaving aside the more plot twisting to make David and Kristoff friends – this whole storyline is annoying. People who are attacked, oppressed, persecuted et al are not just too weak or too cowardly (nor, for that matter, is an alcoholic who falls off the wagon) nor are they giving up because they don’t try to suicidally challenge overwhelming odds. Is this scene supposed to be empowering? Because it feels more like victim blaming, applying a far too neat cover to a much more complex situation. Yes people do manage to overwhelm their oppressors but they don’t do it because some spoiled rich girl shows up and lectures them on their cowardice, has a day long training montage and then SOLUTION

High point of the episode? Mary Margaret losing her shit because people expect her to live up to the responsibilities of ruling rather than just leading people and expecting their support. I am so glad that finally someone expects the head of the kingdom to step up and do something, even if it is just to fix the power – and that she finally gets a taste of the responsibilities she has been so willing to fight for.

Regina… aaaaaaaaaaaargh, so her angst is now an excuse to remove her from most of the episode? And heart broken or not, Regina has spent 3 seasons fighting tooth and nail for Henry, everything she has done has been for Henry, her overwhelming passion has been to have her son – and now she pushes him away? I don’t buy it. (Of course, it’s also a story reason to try and keep her uninvolved, because like most of the first half of season 3 they need to find a reason why Regina’s magic doesn’t just fix everything).