Storybrooke: Robin Hood and Little John walkin’ through the forest – cept it’s Robin and Marian and kid (Roland), and kid guilts his folks into buying him ice cream by reminding them that Regina used to spoil him rotten. They enter Any Given Sundae, where Mystery Ice Queen (Hereon to be known as the Dairy Queen) gives father and son cones of rocky road POSSIBLY BECAUSE RELATIONSHIPS ARE HARD, LIKE ROADS FULL OF ROCKS ARE HARD TO WALK DOWN, and then offers Marian a scoop of vanilla on the house. She dips it in sprinkles and malign magic, and poor Marian is doomed to be disappointed by it, because of the magic and also because sprinkles are honestly not that exciting when you’re over the age of four.
Dairy Queen’s ice cream parlor is awesome, by the way; it’s hung with at least six and possibly more chandeliers and the flavours are advertised on huge green speech bubbles hanging on the walls. The ‘blood’ in ‘blood orange sherbert’ is bold, by the way. Credits!
Gold’s shop. Belle, making her single appearance this episode, looks on in disapproving disappointment as Emma and Hook question R.Stil about how Elsa wound up in his magical urn, the one from his ‘secret vault of terrors.’ Well said, Emma. Rumplestiltskin’s all ‘make Belle use my magic dagger to prove that I’m telling the truth!’ Belle pulls a face. Emma reminds us all that she has the ability to know when people are lying. The dagger, we know, is still the fake one – but R passes Emma’s lying thing test, so he legitimately doesn’t know anything. Probably.
Arendelle: Elsa, sporting her coiled-up coif from the first half of Frozen (and some distractingly fake braids) and Kristoff fret about Anna’s disappearance. Her hair looks really awesome. Anyway! Hans and his 12 brothers are in the mountains, ready to fight Elsa for Arendelle! What a preposterously dumb idea. The Elsa of the film is phenomenally powerful! So she should be here, too, right?
Mayor’s office: Snow and baby are having a mayoral meeting! (A ‘fireside chat.’ Uh.) Snow hilariously can’t really multitask. She’s also hung some superbly awful art on the wall in Regina’s meticulously appointed office, which Regina later rightfully sasses her about. Anyway, just as Snow explains that Elsa built the icewall Marian’s ice-curse kicks in and she freezes.
Granny’s: Regina, rocking the casual mom look, brings Henry and his damned cocoa a stack of comic books. Regina should always wear her hair in a ponytail. Seriously, everyone’s hair this episode is so good. Anyway Regina tries to get Henry to tell her who wrote the storybook. Henry susses her out immediately, because she’s as subtle as a kick to the head. Regina explains that she wants to make the writer write her a happy ending. Henry, I kid you not, says ‘this is the best idea you’ve ever had.’ Then he says he’ll help her with her mission, they name it Operation Mongoose, and I want to die.
Robin bursts in and asks for Regina’s help. They head back to the Mayor’s office, and Emma and Hook show up with Elsa as Regina sasses Snow (see above). Emma implies that her superpower is inviolable, so Elsa didn’t cast the curse. It is discovered that True Love’s Kiss can’t fix Marian. Other solutions are required. Charming suggests something in reference to a plot I don’t remember from another episode; Emma speaks for me when she asks ‘who the hell’s Frederick?’ Happily, it doesn’t matter. Emma rushes off to save the day, but not before Regina sasses her, too. Regina is on fire this episode.
Arendelle; Kristoff and Sven ‘argue’ as Kristoff wanders around looking for Hans and his army. Which he finds pretty easily. And yay, Hans is actually in this episode! I loved him in the film, probably because I love villains. And also sideburns. Anyway, like so many actors on this show, Hans is blandly good looking (yay, sideburns!) and not quite as charismatic as he should be. And his twelve brothers are, like twelve (more like six, actually) randos they pulled out of central casting. They’re not even ginger. Anyway, they all give Hans a hard time, and Hans is like Jesus Christ, am I the only smart ambitious person in this entire universe? Anyway, Hans has a magic urn – the magic urn, mind you – to defeat Elsa; Kristoff overhears Hans’ evil plan to trap her in the urn and runs back to the castle to tell her.
Undoing much of the previous ep’s good work, Elsa learns she’s not the only magic user in the world. I guess if her memory really is shot at some point between Arendelle and Storybrooke then it’s okay that she had to learn it all over again in the modern day, but it was a boring decision by the writers. We already know this. Spend that precious screen-time developing something else!
Granny’s: Grumpy, as usual, is inciting a mob. Grumpy is the worst, you guys, and I don’t just mean that he’s a boring, two-dimensional character that the writers trot out whenever they need someone who isn’t Regina to stir up shit. Well, maybe I do mean just that. Archie (aka Jiminy Cricket) tries to talk Grumpy out of his lynch mob, or whatever, and fails.
Arendelle: We rehash, again, the ‘Elsa is all alone because she uses magic’ thing. Then Elsa nearly walks off a cliff. I’m not even kidding. She just… almost dies because she’s incapable of watching where she’s walking.
Storybrooke: Hook and Elsa disobey Emma’s instruction to hide in the sheriff’s office and go running into the forest to find the Dairy Queen. We get a good shot of the utterly ridiculous necklace Hook wears while Hook and Elsa talk (because, of course, they have to talk about what to do before doing it). Have we discussed this necklace? There’s a skull and a little saber charm. And why wouldn’t a pirate decorate his manly pirate chest thus? Though I do wonder whether it gets tangled in his manly pirate chest-hair. It looks super heavy, too; it can’t feel great to go tearing through the woods with a lump of sterling banging into your sternum, can it? Of course, I have my doubts about the practicality of Hook’s entire outfit, beginning with the crazy boots and ending with the undoubtedly very warm three-quarter-length leather jacket, but what do I know?
Storybrook, Robin’s Encampment: Emma resolutely refuses to talk about her feelings with Charming, and then turfs Will Scarlett out of someone’s tent. Emma trips over a log and falls down while chasing him through the forest. It’s not quite ‘walks off a cliff’ but it’s pretty bad. Charming catches Will, who leads her and Charming into town, telling tall tales of an ice cream shop that stayed cold during a blackout.
Gold’s Shop: R. Stil is doing a thing with a thing. Seriously, he’s like poking at a clock part with an eyeglasses screwdriver. Hook and Elsa enter. Hook and Stiltskin glower at each other for a while, and then Hook reveals that he knows that the dagger is a fake and blackmails Stiltskin into helping him find the Ice Queen. Rumplestiltskin is wearing a really very natty pocket square this episode. Anyway, R. Stil turns some of Marian’s hair into snowflakes and blows them off his hand, out into the world, to lead Hook and Elsa to the Dairy Queen. The snowflakes, being magic, don’t instantly melt, I guess.
Meanwhile, Snow, continuing this episode’s love affair with making competent, powerful women look weak and useless because ROADS ARE ROCKY LIKE LUMPY ICE CREAM, can’t hold a baby in one hand and close up a stroller with the other. (‘They make these contraptions so complicated!’) Or ask passers-by for help, apparently. Jiminy Cricket wanders over to offer some free psychoanalysis. I think people like this character, but I find him so tiresome – mostly because characters who wander around proffering unasked-for advice are as annoying in fiction as they are in reality. Anyway, Cricket tells her to ‘let it go, even just a little,’ and I roll my eyes hard enough to scare the cats. He leaves without actually helping her out.
Any Given Sundae: Emma can’t or doesn’t use her superpower on Will Scarlett to figure out whether he’s lying about the ice cream parlour being cold. Because GOD FORBID this show be even a little consistent from episode to episode, much less within an episode. The thing is, I really like Emma’s crazy lie-detector power, because it cuts down on so much bullshit. But I hate how inconsistent the show is in its application. If people can’t lie around her – then use that. All the time! It’s such a great device!
Anyway, they discover that Will’s telling the truth by breaking into the shop… and then Will steals all the Ice Queen’s money and bolts, which is awesome. Emma freaks out and talks about her feelings for a while – turns out, she took Regina’s sass to heart and is afraid she can’t save anyone anymore. It’s like she’s the anti-savior, she grumbles.
Forest: Hook and Elsa follow the magic snowflakes and talk about their feelings. Elsa proposes that Emma’s afraid of getting close to him for some reason. Hook, who is aware of how Tumblr feels about him, is like ‘what is her problem, I am hands-down the hottest man on this show.’
Arendelle: Kristoff and Elsa face down Hans. Elsa fights for a bit but can’t take too many people coming at her all at once, unlike in the film, and busts out a couple of weak icicles but doesn’t manufacture a stompy ice monster or anything, and is soundly defeated.
Forest: Hook and Elsa find… the Dairy Queen building a miniature snow castle, I guess? Elsa looks on, impressed, while Hook wrestles with modern technology and tries to call Emma.
Arendelle: Hans opens the magic urn and out comes… Dairy Queen! She freezes Hans (bye?) and chases off his brothers. The green screen in this scene is terrible.
Forest: Dairy Queen catches our heroes and tells Elsa that the rock trolls made Elsa forget Dairy Queen, and then tells her that Anna put her in the evil urn. She also threatens Hook, gluing him to the forest floor with ice and then threatening to drop icicles on him. Dairy Queen’s evil plan, by the way, is to frame Elsa for Hook’s death, to make her feel like everyone hates her. It… is incredibly stupid. Anyway, Emma and Charming show up in the nick of time and Emma steals my joke and calls Dairy Queen ‘Dairy Queen.’ Boo. Anyway, DQ seems to know Emma but denies it, and they have a magic-off and Emma saves the day while DQ escapes.
Arendelle: Elsa’s super excited to have an icy new friend and shows DQ around her palace. We learn that DQ is actually Elsa’s aunt. I am deeply suspicious, because that seems awfully convenient (and also we have 19 episodes to go this season). By the way, these two actresses are really, really pretty. I mean, on a show full of pretty, pretty people, these two are really really pretty.
Back in the present day, Emma’s upset that DQ got away and yells at Hook, because that’s how she deals with stress. Elsa (refreshingly) doesn’t actually believe that Anna trapped her in the evil urn. Emma (also refreshingly) intuits that there’s a bigger picture they haven’t figured out yet.
Wrapping up one of the episode’s loose ends, Regina rips Marian’s heart out (to save her life, natch) and Robin declares that true love’s kiss didn’t work because he’s not in love with his wife; he’s in love with Regina. I feel for him; I’m also a little in love with Regina.
Meanwhile, Emma runs into Hook, who is (as usual) drinking his problems away. They yell at each other for a while (in a very empty street in this ‘bustling’ town) and then Emma, in a legitimately well-earned moment, explains that she’s pushing him away because everyone she’s ever been with has died, and she cares about him, so she doesn’t want to lose him too. He reassures her that he’s pretty good at ‘surviving,’ which: dude is like three thousand years old. I’d say ‘pretty good’ is an understatement. The man’s a leather-wrapped cockroach. Then they kiss, which: finally. Jesus. The camera pulls up and away in the Crane Shot of Epic Love and we leave Emma and Hook to the tender mercies of the Tumblr gif-elves.
In a frankly beautiful shot, Dairy Queen wanders around in the moonlit forest until she runs into Rumplestiltskin because, and say it with me now, all roads on OUaT lead to Rumplestiltskin. We learn that DQ definitely knows Emma and Emma definitely doesn’t remember DQ, and then R Stilt makes a really weak pun and trots away as the music swells and we fade to black.
So, hey – pretty good, right? Elsa’s plot has been integrated nicely into the show and the Arendelle scenes weren’t over-long and distracting this week. We didn’t get any Anna this episode, but I didn’t mind; I vastly prefer having the show stick with the characters I already know and care about. Regina’s little mid-life crisis has given her character an interesting direction, though I’m ready for our confident Evil Queen to return; wumpy Regina wears on my patience. Emma talked about her feelings with, like, two separate people and also kissed Hook, which makes my feelsquees go lolsquirm.
I’d be willing to lay money down that this season’s major thing will be about Emma learning about where her magic comes from – the fact that neither of her parents has magic has pointedly come up already, and it would tie together nicely with Elsa’s own arc. How the Dairy Queen fits into it I don’t yet know. Remember too, we’ve got the sorcerer from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice lurking around somewhere, and Henry and Regina searching for the author of the storybook – but yeah, I’ll bet it’s all about Emma’s magic this season.
Thematic sledgehammer: JOURNEYS ARE DIFFICULT. Sometimes the road is not smooth, like vanilla ice cream, but full of bumps and lumps, like rocky road ice cream. Sometimes, like Emma, you trip over those bumps and lumps. Sometimes you can’t fold a stroller closed, like Snow. Sometimes you almost walk off a cliff, because you’re a complete idiot.
Quote of the Episode: Hook, trying to explain his cell phone to Elsa: ‘It’s a device for talking… I don’t bloody know. I press the Emma button and she answers, usually.’
Poofy dresses: None! Though the Dairy Queen sported one hell of a hell of a full-length white beaded evening gown with shoulder pads, a high collar and a train.
- Emma’s secret superpower! (x2 but should have been at least x3)
- Emma draws but does not fire her gun (x1)
- Hot cocoa with cinnamon (x1)
- ‘savior’ (x2)
- Operation [Viper, Cobra, Mongoose] (x3)
- Heart ripping-out (x1)
I have so many questions!
- So, is Hans dead now? Like, canonically dead?
- Is Regina really okay not being mayor now? What is she going to do now?
- Has Emma really only been with three guys? Neal, Graham and the monkey? Really? Ever? What was she doing for the ten years between giving birth to Henry and finding Henry on her doorstep?
- Belle: has had nothing to do this season. It’s such a waste. Though, to be honest, I’m not the world’s biggest Belle fan. I don’t think the actress is selling it, honestly; I love movie-Belle, who’s strong and feisty; OUaT Belle simpers and disapproves and then is (inevitably) disappointed by Rumplestiltskin again and it’s… just… boring. Don’t you think?
- WHERE IS BO PEEP.