Tuesday, December 9, 2014

“Once Upon A Time” Recap: “Shattered Sight” [4x11]

What is your worst self like? That little voice in the back of your head that grumbles and seethes and snarks no matter how much you suppress it?

What if that voice suddenly took over?

I'll lay off the philosophy for a moment to give fair warning to anyone who hasn't been able to catch up on the show within the past two days...

In the latest episode of ABC's Once Upon A Time, our characters are about to explore just that; the Ice Queen Ingrid has cast a spell that will send a fleck of enchanted ice-glass into the eyes of all, causing them to see only ugliness in the world. While the spell may seem strange to some viewers, for us fairy-tale purists this 'spell of shattered sight' is a refreshing homage to the original tale of the Snow Queen. Which, by the way, was written by Hans Christian Anderson, whom the makers of Frozen honored by naming Hans, Kristoff, and Anna after him. Sort of.

Anyway, after she entered 'our world' thirty years ago, Ingrid tried to go to a psychic to determine where she would find Emma. However, the New York crystal-gazer turned out to be a fraud and when Ingrid tried to punish her with ice-powers, she found those powers gone. Suddenly everything seems a little more tricky...

Back in the present, snow has rained down upon the town, and chaos is breaking loose.

Will Scarlett is robbing people. Granny's got her crossbow out (Wait, does this mean Red could be running around in wolf form slaughtering people!?), as does Happy... who ain't so happy no more. Grumpy's still grumpy, pretty much. And Dopey's still dopey (wow, I guess that means there's not a smidgen of anger in the guy? Impressive).

In the jail, Snow and Charming are tossing back and forth their usual banter, but instead of being laced with humor and love it's laced with barbs of contempt. They start to complain about one another without sugarcoating anything -- even Kristoff starts snapping at Anna for everything she's put him through!

Kristoff yelling at Anna!?

However, I will say this much for the spell: it gave us a chance to see what our heroes were like underneath. It's always interesting to see what pet peeves and secret grudges (however small) people have been putting up with for ages without admitting to them.

As established in the previous episode, Anna and Emma and Elsa are immune to the spell of shattered sight: Anna because she's been through the curse already, and the latter two because of Ingrid's ribbons around their wrists. Also, the Charmings' baby is okay, too. In fact, it's babbling contendedly and seems even happier than normal... which is kind of weird. Why wouldn't the spell affect the baby?

Anyway, Anna explains that the spell is from a legend, and to break said spell one must kill the caster. Emma and Elsa aren't keen on the idea, but they'll do what needs to be done. Even though the solution was Anna's idea, they tell her to keep an eye on Kristoff and the Charmings. Oh, and the baby. So she's going to stay in the jail with Kristoff and the Charmings. And the baby.

Did I mention that Anna loves kids? ANNA LOVES KIDS. So Emma hands over the baby, and everybody says "awww," in three, two, one... ANNA HAS BABY.

Back in the vault where she locked herself in, Regina (now back to her original cranky self) can't get out! (Oh, good.)

She blames Emma for her problems, then gets a load of her good-guy getup and magicks herself back into the hairspray and diamond-studded corsets of her past. If any guys do watch the show (which I somewhat doubt), I'm sure they were cheering at that point. But not I...

The costume design on this show, while elaborate and creative, has been (for me) anything but engaging. The characters look like they're on the stage of an opera, in clothes that aren't meant to actually see wear and tear... how about ever. And the cleavage on the women? Please - they would barely be able to walk or turn (let alone chase each other around the woods) in those freaky strapless things. Where are the patches? Where are the stains? And why are the women wearing leather trousers in the middle ages? It's a fairy tale world, I grant you, but still. Stop applying modern fashions to old cultures, people! This is like Eragon all over again: we even have Robert Carlyle to prove it.

Speak of the devil, Rumpelstiltskin is slinking about in his shop as per usual when Hook comes through the door... also not cursed. It turns out that since Gold has is heart, he's also immune to the curse. Wow, that makes Hook, Emma, Elsa, Anna, Ingrid, baby Neil, and Rumpelstiltskin -- seven people! -- immune to the curse, in at least six different ways! And wait a second -- if Hook's immune because his heart has been removed, shouldn't Regina be immune since she gave her heart to Robin Hood for safekeeping!?

Rumpelstiltskin wants to take Belle to the town line so that he can leave town. He wants Hook to fetch Henry for him, since he can't cast a summoning spell without knowing where Henry's been hidden. He intends to erase their memories and then, when they wake up outside of Storybrooke, he'll tell them that he tried to saver everyone but failed, and they'll think of him as a hero. He just needs to free himself from the magic dagger's control to leave town, but gosh-durnit, he can't just yet. To do it, he has to wait for the stars in the sky to align with the stars in the magic hat... whenever that's supposed to happen.

Elsa and Emma confront Ingrid on the street: she has a memory stone for each of them. They try to capture her with magic, but their magic is gone; the ‘love’ flowing through the ribbons is without equal, and protects the ‘life force’ of the love in them. Or something namby-pamby like that.

Cut to flashback: we begin when Emma was brought back to her new foster home with her new camera after running away. Unlike the jerk-face boy Kevin who tried to take said camera, her foster mother (coughINGRIDcough) gave the camera back and was quite kind to her. That night, when Emma tried to sneak away, Ingrid caught her in the act. But rather than forcing Emma to stay, she merely told the story of how as a child she was kept from running away by people who cared about her. She then explained that she wanted to care about Emma... and even gave her some great blackmail dirt about Kevin to persuade her to stay: he's afraid of spiders.

It's actually a very sweet scene: a foster mother convincing an orphan to stay and find a home. There's genuine bonding there, and great dialogue. And have I mentioned Elizabeth Mitchell's acting skills? She really carries the role of Ingrid, and plays such a caring mother in this show and back in NBC's Revolution before it got canceled. Her most moving performance thus far was probably her emotional meltdown a few episodes back, when she accidentally killed her own sister and got trapped in the urn: it was an incredible backstory. #toldyoutherewerespoilers

But back to the present: with Rumpelstiltskin away from his shop, Emma and Elsa decide to cut the ribbons off physically. And they start rummaging around his shop for sharp stuff. Because that's not dangerous at all.

Meanwhile, Anna is stuck trying to convince the not-so-charming-anymore Charmings that their ticks against each other are still romantic and overcome-able. But then Snow points out that despite her fuzzy exterior, she’s still a murderer; in fact, she brags about killing Cora, and displays a really dark side that doesn’t even regret the action. She seems to change from Angry Snow into Creepy Evil Psycho Snow... the sort of prisoner you shouldn't be talking to, because before you know it you'll be convinced to unlock the door and then suddenly you'll find yourself bleeding to death.

Back in Gold's shop, Emma and Elsa can't manage to break the ribbons. Then Emma wonders, if the love holding those ribbons is without equal... what if they find an equal hatred to destroy them? All she has to do is find Regina, and then make her angrier and more full of hate for Emma than ever before!

Say whaaat?
Now, since they’re protagonists with less than half the episode left, obviously it’s the right plan. But if this was real life, they’re risking a TON of damage for a result that may not even occur, and could instead end in painful agonizing death. Yup. Seems legit.

Flashback to Ingrid and Emma at a fair: Ingrid taught Emma how play the claw game --

-- by trusting her instincts. As Emma was doing so, the energy in the machine sparked! Ingrid noticed and suspected Emma's powers. In the end, Emma won her prize (a little stuffed dalmatian and plastic ring, because who knows? They might be important in future episodes). Ingrid got a little emotional, and then confessed that she was trying to adopt Emma and be, if not a mother, at least a sister to her (cough). Despite Ingrid's current evil plan, her gentle passion for young Emma in the past is the sort of love every child deserves, and one that orphans rarely ever get. It's so beautiful...

They reach Regina's vault and take down Regina's containment spell (guh-reat job, guys: resurrect that rabid dragon while you're at it). Emma walks up to Regina and announces that she brought Marian back from the past on purpose, just to gloat over Regina and make her watch everyone else in town be happily in love. Of course, this makes Regina just about explode, and the first spell she casts burns up the ribbons... instead of Elsa and Emma. Somehow. Great plan, Emma! Now... 

Thank goodness Regina's in that strapless corset; she'll never catch up on foot!

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the moment you've all been waiting for: Angry Henry, home alone!

When Hook arrives to take Henry 'somewhere safe,' Henry rants that he hates Hook and won't let him in. Hook breaks Regina's containment spell with a potion from Rumpelstiltskin, then opens the door... and slips on a bunch of marbles Henry left for him. While he's lying on the ground in the doorway, Henry jumps over him and runs to freedom.

Wait, what?

That's it!?

No other Home Alone stunts, no booby traps? Henry placed his entire sense of safety in the hands of a few marbles!? And then he left the room by literally stepping over the guy he was trying to stay away from!? A ten-year-old from the nineties can do better than that! And Hook! Hook's a bloody pirate who's been in tons of brawls, but he can't snap out of a fall and grab a foot while he's lying on the ground as the kid steps over him!?

In a flashback, we see that after a night out, Emma and Ingrid were walking home together. Emma casually wished for magic "like Harry Potter" because the script required it, and Ingrid suggested to her that she might, indeed, have powers.

However, her idea of jump-starting said powers was to drag Emma into the road in front of a moving car.

Emma's fear and adrenaline were supposed to (hopefully) kick-start her magic, but instead Emma broke lose and ran for it... quite understandably. And when Ingrid tried to explain about magic and the truth of her own past, Emma ran away... and with pretty good reason, really.

Back to the present. Though I don't know how, somehow Emma and Elsa managed to outrun Angry Regina... even though she can apparate wherever they are. But it seems Regina opted to walk to the jail instead. There she starts slinging barbs with the Charmings. The imprisoned couple are almost happy to see someone new to fight with, but Regina's in no mood for games. Since Snow White took her first love from her, she will take... not Charming, Snow's first love (and current hate) like I thought she would. Rather...

Anna tries to defend the baby and convince everyone that they’re still under the spell, but Regina bluntly says she doesn’t care and magicks away Anna and Kristoff back “wherever they came from,” so her fight won't be interrupted.
     - Side-note: Snow and Charming still care about their baby even though they're cursed? I love babies with all my heart, but if this spell suppresses love and brings out irritations then a baby can become nothing but a bundle o'suffering to someone who's cursed. Not that it's a big issue here, but this spell isn't nearly as dangerous and evil as it was made out to be. Waaay too many people are having an easy time avoiding it.
Then Regina magics up some swords and frees Snow so that they can physically fight... because instantly killing your enemies so they never trouble you again is not how being an evil overlord works.

Flashback: after losing teenaged Emma, Ingrid followed the sorcerer's scroll to Storybrooke's location just before the town magically appeared: thus she became a part of it at its inception.

Back in the present, Emma and Elsa confront Ingrid in her icy lair: she’s shocked that they destroyed the ribbons. She pulls out the memory stones that have their good memories of her, in the hopes that their love for her will be renewed by said memories, and they will finally become her long-lost sisters. When they refuse, she says that they can't stop her because their only option would be to kill her, and yet they're hesitating.

Back when Emma first reached Storybrook, she came into Ingrid's shop and was shocked to find her old foster-mother working there. Ingrid tried to convince Emma that Henry was right about magic and fairytales, but Emma refused. Thus, Ingrid whipped out a memory stone and retracted all of Emma's memories... even though the town was enchanted at the time and thus WITHOUT. MAGIC. Even Rumpelstiltskin couldn't conjure up a spark back then! So how did Ingrid (who arrived powerless in our world) manage to magick away all of Emma's memories and send her on her merry way?

The plot, ladies and gentlemen.
Why don't we just get back to Snow and Regina in the jail now?

I will say this: the two ladies fight dirty. They're all over the jail, clanging swords on the bars and crashing into desks and computers. Charming doesn't seem to be on either side, but still tries to break up the fight when they get close to his cell... even though all the other cursed people in this town seem to love violence at the moment. And through it all, baby Neil sleeps soundly... because what better lullaby is there than clashing steel, Mummy's screams, and a crazed villain making threats on your life?

Anna and Kristoff find (or rather, found) themselves on the beach, by the trunk where they were magically summoned to Storybrooke (thank goodness they weren't sent all the way back to Arendelle). While Kristoff rants and Anna tries to convince him not to be cranky, she trips over the washed-up bottle message from last episode, then uses it to knock him out before he can do something stupid like trying to swim to Arendelle. Once the bottle's broken, Anna finds her mother's message...

...and runs straight to the ice lair to stop Emma from conjuring up the guts to kill Ingrid. In the bottle message, the queen had confessed her wrongs and her love for Ingrid. She requested that Elsa and Anna fetch and release Ingrid from the urn hidden in the mountains, enclosing a crystal with the entire kingdom's memories of Ingrid to be restored. (Quite a lengthy letter for someone who was in a hurry right before she died, but okay. Still, weren't her memories of Ingrid also erased by the trolls? I guess the queen always wore or kept the crystal with the memories around, just in case; and while the ship was in peril she touched it and realized that she had to send the message. But that's a whole lot of 'ifs'. Then again, those questions are at the bottom of my list right now).

Ingrid doesn't buy it.

In fact, Ingrid knocks out Emma and Elsa and starts to lift Anna in the air and choke her... wait, ice has nothing to do with this magical ability. Since when did Ingrid become a freakin' Jedi?

But Anna insists she won’t give up on Ingrid. Ingrid smacks her with magic-force and for a moment it seems that Anna's dead... but then Ingrid takes the letter and touches the crystal and memories flood back and she melts… figuratively.

Ingrid realizes she needs to reverse the spell and destroy herself, because she let her fear make herself into a monster and there's no other way to break the curse and save everyone. With a surprisingly-broad smile on her face, she absorbs all the glass of Shattered Sight and returns Elsa's and Emma's memories. They watch her die with new eyes, and Anna and Elsa swear to bring back the memory of Ingrid to Arendelle.

Across the town, the fighting stops. Inside the jail, the swordfight comes to a halt. Soon everyone's having a good laugh about the day. Henry makes it back safe to Regina, Snow and Charming share the classic 'all-is-well' kiss at the end, and the townspeople can finally sleep at night without fear.

Or can they?

With Belle asleep in his shop, Rumpelstiltskin accuses Hook of failing a simple task of literal kidnapping (which, truth be told, he did). He tells Hook that the night's snow will be his last. Hook makes his dying request: that Rumpelstiltskin will at least leave the town and people of Storybrooke alone. Rumpelstiltskin says if he leaves without trouble, he won’t bother them… but he makes no promises about the rest of the world!

...and now he’s our new  old  gently-used  recycled villain.

Tune in next week for the Winter Finale! A fairwell to Frozen, a welcome to an [even more?] evil Rumpelstiltskin, multiple evil queens, and… 101 Dalmatians!?


Current Questions:
A. Where's Olaf?
B. How did Ingrid manage to use the magic of the memory stone to erase Emma's mind... back when there was no magic in town!? Seriously!
C. If Hook was immune to the curse because his heart wasn't in his body, how come Regina wasn't immune even though Robin Hood has her heart right now!?
D. After Emma lied to Regina to make her angry, why couldn't (or didn't) the all-powerful evil queen just *poof* herself to wherever Emma was to finally destroy her?
E. Since the trolls erased Ingrid from the memories of Arendelle and its royals, how did the queen remember Ingrid when writing the message for the bottle?
F. Where's Olaf!?
G. Did Rumpelstiltskin just keep Belle asleep during the whole curse?
H. What was Red doing during the curse? Running around in wolf form?
I. Where's Kristoff? Last we saw him he was unconscious on the beach: I hope nothing's happened to him...
K. Why didn't the spell of shattered sight affect baby Neil?
L. Where's OLAF!?

Current Theories:
A. Emma's past is or was somehow tied up with Cruella DeVille. I could totally see it.
     1. It could have something to do with the little "forshadowing dalmatian" that she won at the fair... though if they try to suggest that Emma owned the fifteen puppies and not a British couple, I will be severely disappointed.
B. [In response to Question D] I guess the queen always wore or kept the crystal with the memories around, just in case; and while the ship was in peril she touched it and realized that she had to send the message.


I'm gonna go try to turn my brain off now. Wish me luck.

1 comment:

    and you watched REVOLUTION TOO