So we’re 7 episodes in and we know Ingrid’s plan – to terrify everyone into becoming a happy family! Reminds me of so many family holidays.
Flashback to Ingrid, Gerda and Helga, all playing with a kite with absolutely no guards at all. A guy tries to kidnap them but given the lack of security I rather think the king and queen may have planned it but their ploy to be rid of their kids is foiled by Ingrid killing the man with a frozen tree. Ingrid is several kinds of freaked out by her power of icy death but her sisters promise to always stand by her, help her keep her secret and help her control it.
In the present, Ingrid sets up the evil magic mirror (which can destroy the town) in the clocktower.
Over to Robin and Regina who have a beautiful tragic argument of Regina telling Robin to stay away because he needs to be in love with Marian to save her – but Robin can’t forget Regina
Regina and Henry also have a really cute moment with her fixing his tie and Regina is clear she will find the author of the book for her own happy ending – but also that she’s moving on from Robin Hood.
Emma and Elsa have a spell from Belle to de-power Ingrid (Elsa doesn’t want to kill Ingrid. Y’know a sniper rifle may be a better choice than a spell). Elsa also tries to bond with Emma about being the only magic one in the family and how hard it is to be seen as different – but Emma’s family don’t look at her that way. They test it but it doesn’t suppress Elsa’s ice magic.
Emma is babysitting her little baby… sibling? (I remember nothing about this child. Whether they appear Mary Margaret is on the screen and my brain cringes back from the twee) and goes to see Mary Margaret at some kind of mum’s group (run by Ashley, Cinderella) and Ashley describes the group as for “first time mothers”. Which makes Emma a little iffy while she gets it she’s uncomfortable and Mary Margaret is all awkward – and Emma accidently magically boils a bottle of milk she’s carrying.
David calls to say he’s seen the frozen slug trail Ingrid leaves behind in the clock tower and they rush in to save the day – Emma uses her fire-handcuffs spell and it works. Ingrid seems awfully blasé about being caught.
Another Ingrid and sisters flashback – this time as adults – and Ingrid is becoming a recluse. She still loves her sisters and they love and support her, but she’s avoiding a dance that is a special moment to her sisters so she doesn’t accidentally ruin it with her magic since Helga wants to introduce a Duke she’s interested in to her father. Ingrid lurks in the corners of the dance. She leaves when she starts to make it snow around her. Later she tries to leave Arendelle entirely, afraid of the damage her power will do, but Gerda has a solution: she’s heard of Rumplestiltskin
They go to visit him and turn down his offer of training he makes a comment on how powerful the sisterly-bond is. He produces the gloves to suppress her magic (if she believes in them) and the urn to imprison her if it gets too much. In exchange he wants the ribbons they’ve worn since childhood – the symbol of their sisterhood and their pledge to always support her. Her sisters think it’s a bad idea but Ingrid doesn’t think her sisters are enough to support her.
And back in Arendelle, the Duke tries to kiss Elsa; Elsa says no and pushes him away with her magic when he grabs her. When Helga arrives the Duke lies and tries to blame Elsa – and Helga gives him his marching orders. The Duke threatens to expose Elsa to the whole kingdom but Helga continues to support Elsa. The Duke continues to berate them and Elsa loses her temper and ices him: but misses and hits Helga in the heart, freezing her solid like Marian – only she then shatters.
In the aftermath, Gerda calls her a monster for killing their sister and traps her in the urn. She then goes to the trolls and asks them to erase the memory of the whole kingdom.
Back to the present and questioning Ingrid. Emma sends Elsa away because she gets emotional about Anna and the suggestion that Anna put her in the urn. Alone Ingrid tries to talk to Emma like they’re family and she is so sure Emma will let her go. She tells Emma that she’s her real family because they’re just like each other and her “real” family fears her.
Meanwhile, a gang is checking the mirror and Belle realises that it’s not showing terrible things to her: it’s not the same mirror. They realise Ingrid wanted to be captured
And in the police station, despite being manacled, Ingrid freezes the doors shut. The gang goes to see Rumple who agrees to help (Henry is also in the shop, cleaning – not getting the magic lessons he hoped for) though Killian is suspicious of him.
Inside Ingrid talks about Emma’s old resentment for her family and how the Charmings are exploiting Emma’s magic, her being the Saviour and will turn on her because she’s different and they don’t understand her. Emma is so effected by the tirade that she accidently blows out an entire wall of the prison, which she uses to escape while Emma tries to gain control over her magic.
Everyone arrives and Emma tells them to stay back, Gold agrees with them but Killian grabs her arm and she magically destroys all the lights around them – a falling street lamp injures David. Mary Margaret exclaims “Emma!” angrily and Emma runs
Meanwhile, at Granny’s, Robin is failing terribly at darts when Will (the Knave of Hearts and Will Scarlet) comes in – he turns to leave but a dart next to his head (what about Granny’s woodwork?!) suggests Robin wants to talk to him.
Will apologises for the whole screwing over the Merry Men thing, but that doesn’t mean he wants to listen to Robin’s story of how he met Marian for the 50th time and snarks – but he also has some decent advice on how much love is worth fighting for (in harsh terms, because he’s Will).
Robin goes back to see Regina, telling her his moral code and how he’s totally breaking it – and he kisses her.
Back tom the Charmings and Elsa explains how she’s been where Emma is – having her family fear her. Mary Margaret mopes about how they failed. Emma is out somewhere in her car being sad.
Ingrid visits Gold who sounds both admiring and not very happy with her for what she did to Emma. Ingrid knows what Gold wants – to be free from his dagger and go outside Storyboorke while keeping his power (“what all villains want – everything.”) She’s happy to give him the world because all she wants is in Storybooke. She tells him what he needs to break free of the dagger and he gives her the three ribbons from her sisters. What she tells him make shim very happy.
Y’know, the whole point of Frozen, or one of them, was that “true love” doesn’t have to be between romantic love interests; that a sister’s love was just as pure and good. Marian has a child – can’t his love break the curse?
There’s some very not-subtle metaphors coming from Elsa (and Ingrid for that matter) that I can’t think are going to end in good places. It’s also bizarre to contrast Elsa and Emma’s experiences: Emma only found her family a few years ago, she has no baseline for how they’d treat her. She’s also only discovered her magic recently and hardly ever uses it – that’s not a metric for not being treated differently, that’s a metric for not being treated differently so long as your difference is well hidden. And even then, while Mary Margaret and Charming are not exactly related to magic users, they’ve lived in a world that is utterly magic saturated. To compare and contrast and make it a comparator of whether a family is good or decent is shaky.
I actually really like Emma and Mary Margaret this episode – because their dynamic is awkward. It’s something we’ve seen hinted at several times but not really touched on in too much depth: they’re the same age, they haven’t spent that much time together (certainly not much crisis time) and Mary Margaret is pushing for a full mother/daughter relationship with Emma despite having zero experience as a mother. It is awkward, it should be awkward. But awkward doesn’t explain Ingrid being able to get under Emma’s skin the way she has – where’s this pit of resentment Ingrid is trying to draw on? Emma has no reason to feel the same – she’s reacting like Ingrid hit a nerve but we need a lot more building to show us Emma having that nerve. It’s not that this couldn’t work as a storyline (and could work very well with a normal-world-living Emma coming to terms with having magic in the first place), it’s that it needed a lot more development than it has had.
I also really like the way Ingrid’s withdrawal is presented – not with condemnation or hatred, but with a desire not to “spoil things” or “make a scene.” While overt familial hatred is definitely a thing, the subtle power of saving face can often be a very destructive pressure
I’m a little annoyed by Ingrid delivering the “family is more than blood and genetics” because it’s true – and Once Upon a Time has really fought against that message for a long time: but having Ingrid deliver it, as the villain, is inherently undermining
But I love that Helga didn't believe the Duke - that was perfect