‘Once Upon a Time’ concludes with ‘Heroes and Villains,’ but mostly villains

A recap of the first half of season four. Warning: major spoilers below!


Photo via ABC under Creative Commons license

Hook, played by Killian Jones, and Rumplestiltskin, played by Robert Carlyle, share an intense moment on screen.

Martika Theis, Reporter

All aboard the emotional roller coaster Frozen edition! This season has been a doozy for the fans if the internet is anything to judge by. Overall we gained a new villain, an old one, and ended up with a whole town of them right before the midseason finale gave us three more.

After Elsa swaggered off the screen in episode 3×22 it seemed evident that she would be the villain, and she was. Only for two episodes. A rush of cruel joy filled my body as a nameless ice cream shop owner leaned back and froze her refrigerator in 4×02. I never thought I’d be saying that. It will take five episodes since her first appearance for us to discover the ice cream woman’s name.

Speaking of villains, let’s talk about Rumplestiltskin. Oh you annoying, crafty imp. This show’s endless bad habit is reforming villains and then ripping them back into their previous mold as if they had never left. I am beginning to think Rumple is never going to escape the cycle. First, he kills Zelena and lies to Belle; but it’s alright because he promises to fix his mistakes at his son’s grave. Which he doesn’t do, but instead crafts a master plan to escape Storybrooke with Belle and Henry forever by killing the fairies and crushing Hook’s heart. Sigh. Pick a personality and stick with it.

Regina is the opposite side of this coin. The former Evil Queen is now a full on hero, slogging through the pain of life inflicted upon her by other villains. Miss Evil Ice Cream decides be first in line and casts a frozen curse on Marian, Robin Hood’s wife, and the biggest obstacle to Regina’s happiness. Great. Robin’s knowledge of trustworthy magical people is apparently very small, so he approaches Regina for help, dragging his estwhile lover through a world of pain as he attempts to give his wife true love’s kiss in front of her, follows her everywhere asking how to solve his problems, and finally cheats on his wife with her instead of staying morally loyal and respecting his marriage. It was quite upsetting to see how blasé the show was about adultery. I didn’t spend those kisses laughing, I spent them yelling at my television, hoping it all would stop. This decision made me lose respect for Robin where I had initially had a ton because of his loyalty to his wife, and worse, it made me lose respect for Regina.

Emma and Captain Hook weren’t faring much better. They had a cute date scene in 4×04 but the rest of the episode was spent with Hook making unwise deals with Rumplestiltskin in order to rid himself of his supposedly cursed hand. Rumple made a very interesting point when he revealed to Hook that the hand was not cursed, it simply gave Hook an excuse to act at his worst. An interesting point but also just another person to add to the list of not-exactly-maybe-kind-of reformed villains which led to me not enjoying it as much.

Main villain evaluation time. Our new villain is Ingrid, the main villain of The Snow Queen, the book which Frozen was based off of. “Once’s” writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis have decided to make Elsa and Ingrid two different characters, an astonishingly creative act they used to great effect. Ingrid lived with her two sisters happily in Arendale until she discovered her ice blasting powers when an obviously creepy man attempted to abduct her sisters for ransom. Seriously, I am not one to judge by appearance and I immediately knew this guy was bad news. Sisters Ingrid, Helga, and Gerda pledged their promise to keep Ingird’s powers secret with yellow ribbons and lived happily for about ten to twelve years where every single important event would result in Ingrid temporarily running away. That’s even worse than Elsa’s parents’ plan to stop her powers. Long story short, Ingrid ends up accidentally killing Helga after being assaulted by Helga’s boyfriend and Gerda puts Ingrid in a magic urn that keeps people with magic trapped. How convenient. (That scene was actually heart breaking. Why do you do this to me Elizabeth Mitchell?)

When Anna leaves Arendale to discover why her parents left and Hans decided to attack again, Kristoff and Elsa find the urn hidden in a cave. Hans opens it, expecting the strange white goo inside to suck Elsa in and trap her when it rises into the air and Ingrid is free. She spends the rest of her time trying to teach Elsa that Anna will never accept her but Elsa’s bond with Anna is too strong.

Okay, here we go with the totally expected curse of the half season. This half season’s curse was actually very cool in idea and absolutely hilarious in execution. The Curse of Shattered Sight sends pieces of glass into people’s eyes, causing them to revert to their worst selves and only see the negatives in other people. Ingrid first uses this on Anna resulting in Elsa getting stuck in the urn and Rumple stealing it. Now we know why it was in his vault. Here is where the timelines get tricky. Ingrid freezes Arendale over for thirty years, which happen to be the same years of Regina’s curse with a little extra wiggle room for character development and random happenings. During those years she collects mirror fragments with dark magic, all to create a giant Spell of Shattered Sight which she casts over all of Storybrooke in the hope that everyone will kill each other and she can live happily with Emma and Elsa as her replacement sisters, the family that loves her. Wait really? Looking at the big picture isn’t her motivation almost exactly the same as Zelena’s? I know I’m biased because I thought Zelena was awesome, but doesn’t Ingrid’s plan seem rather familiar? And also rather psychopathic? Ingrid wants Emma and Elsa to be her replacement sisters and she is willing to kill…how many people are in a kingdom again? Was I sold? Yeah, mostly. Was I sold when I thought about it longer than ten seconds? No. Not at all.

Does it seem like this review is long? That’s because there was so much going on in each episode I can barely describe the most important events without giving whole episode’s worth of backstory. I noticed this in the third season and its high time someone said it. The writers write episodes like they’re insecure. They feel the need to make something happen in each and every episode, some large jolt to move the plot along as if they will lose viewers without some sort of action. This show is on its fourth season, there is a dedicated fanbase with millions of members, we will live if the major plot is teased in tiny segments through filler episodes. I would appreciate less action and more complex plot manipulation.

Following the wonderful episode of Shattered Sight when all of Storybrooke went crazy, the Evil Queen sword fought with Snow White, and Ingrid killed herself after reading the letter we saw being written in the premiere, Rumple implemented his evil plan to cleave himself from the dagger and retain his power. He was all set with his magic Mickey Mouse hat, Hook’s heart, and the star’s alignment, but thankfully Belle came to the rescue and used the dagger to order him over the town line from whence he can never return. I phrase it easily but my heart is breaking. Also, Marian made a wonderful speech to Regina about accepting that Robin loves Regina which led to him Robin choosing to be with Regina, but then the frozen curse came back and Marian started to freeze. This meant she had to cross the town line and Robin had to go with her, forever ripping him from Regina’s life. I might cry.

At least we are done with the Frozen arc, albiet a very good Frozen arc, and now can look forward to seeing Rumple team up with Cruella De Vil, Ursula, and Maleficent to defeat the heroes once and for all. Yes, we’re playing hardball again. People are evil for the sake of being evil rather than having complicated familial motivations.

I just have one question, how is Maleficent supposed to be in New York when she had spent her most recent time in a screeching zombielike form that was supposedly killed by Hook in the second season? Who wants to bet they won’t explain it?