I have a confession to make. I have a lot of issues with "Once Upon a Time." I feel like the writers often treat their characters and viewers like idiots. The characters are oblivious to things that would be obvious to anyone with half a brain (for example, did NO ONE in Storybrooke realize that Henry being the "downfall" of Rumpelstilksin was not the same as death? I mean really). There are also "twists" that the writers work in that can be seen a mile away. The writers are also really bad about actually killing characters off. While it can be hard to say goodbye to characters we love, it can help us feel more invested and more attached to the show, that the stakes are real, even when we know they're not (I'm looking at you "Walking Dead.") And I'm annoyed that the "Once" writers wanted to use the popularity of Frozen to cash in on viewers. I am very reluctantly giving "Once" another chance this season. So with that in mind, let's do this thing shall we?
The first thing we see is a ship being tossed about on the sea. Considering the last person we saw in the finale was Elsa, I'm assuming this is the ship that her parents were in when they died. Sure enough, we see a lady bust out of a room wearing a crown. Anna and Elsa's mother. She starts writing. Right, a letter is going to survive a shipwreck, good thinking. Her husband comes down and tells her they have to abandon the ship. She puts the letter in a bottle. She insists Anna and Elsa must know the truth, it's the only thing that will save them. UGH I ALREADY HAVE A PROBLEM. The chances of that bottle surviving this storm and getting back to Elsa and Anna? Not gonna happen.
So now we're 5 years later, and we see Elsa and Anna holding hands at their parents tombstones. We find out this is after the events of the movie as Anna is getting married. We then see Elsa in Storybrooke with the ice following her. She sees the sign and has a look of mixed recognition and confusion. Good job.
Next, we see Regina leaving Gran’s restaurant, still in shock that Marian was brought back by Emma. Emma follows Regina out to apologize, saying she didn't know. Regina starts chastising Emma for bringing Marian back, Regina is tired of being seen as evil. Regina says she's worked hard to build a future, a future that is now gone thanks to Emma. Sure, that makes sense. Regina tells Emma the more she helps, the worse Emma's life becomes.
Robin then comes out of the restaurant and wants to introduce Marian to Regina. Why? Do you think that’s going to go well Robin? Hey wife, meet the lady I’ve been dating cause I thought you were dead. BTW, she’s the reason you were in jail, no big deal, right? Marian, needless to say, is not happy as she only knows Regina as the evil queen. Marian is appalled to find that Regina and Robin had been dating. And because everyone in this town is so effing nosey, out come Charming and Snow to check on the situation with new baby Neal. Snow and Charming ask Regina if she's ok and Marian is all kinds of confused. Why are people being nice to Regina? Regina goes to say something or perhaps cast a spell, but instead walks away. Henry (oh hey deep voice) is concerned Regina will become evil again.
Next we see some of the dwarves driving home. Sleepy is the designated driver and he's hitting some bumps. Grumpy is complaining about his driving when Sleepy falls asleep behind the wheel (classic!). As they come around the corner, they are heading right toward Elsa. She shoots her ice laser to stop the car in its tracks, but it doesn't freeze the dwarves inside. That's good I guess.
It must be the next day, because it is light out and Elsa is in Storybrooke, still walking in the middle of the street. Ok, she may not have cars in Arendale, but she has roads, so maybe don't walk in the middle. She spots a dress, and we see a flashback to Anna and Elsa in Arendale. Elsa shows Anna their mother's wedding dress. It's the surprise for Anna. Elsa also gives Anna a snowflake necklace, her something new to go with her something old. Anna tries on the dress and makes a comment about not wanting to get it dirty. Elsa then begins talking to Anna about her wedding plans. There's a joke about Sven the reindeer not being the best man. Hardy har har, movie allusions! Elsa starts going through a desk and comes upon an old book. As she's reading, snowflakes begin falling around her. It turns out it is their mother's diary. Elsa blames her parents death on herself, and she takes off.
Next, Gold and Belle are sitting in a car where she tells him he can do this. We then see Neal's grave with Gold going to visit it. He recounts a story from when Neal was young and still going by Baelfyre. Bealfyre heard some horses and was afraid, and ran to Rumpel and Rumpel told Baelfyre everything would be ok. It was the first time Rumpel felt like a man, that he could take care of Baelfyre alone. But then he found the dagger, and it turned him into a monster obsessed with power, when all he needed was Baelfyre. But Belle has brought him love again, but again with a lie. She thinks she has the real dagger. Gold is trying to find the strength to be the man Neal died for, to give the real dagger back. He promises to become that man.
There's a knocking on the door, and its Robin visiting Regina. He wants to talk to her about Marian's return. He apologizes, but Regina says everything Marian said was true. Robin tells Regina that she is not a monster. He also used to be different and left his past in the past. He tells Regina what happened between them was real, and that his feelings are real, but Marian is his wife. He made a vow that death till they part, and though he thought she died, but she didn't, and so he has to live by that vow. He says he has a code he has to live by, and he hopes Regina can understand. He leaves and Regina is furious and breaks a mirror with her fury alone. She picks up a shard of the glass and shows it at herself, and we see the evil queen smile. Uh-oh.
Regina is walking down a hospital corridor. Nothing good happens at the hospital. She puts in the code to a room, and we hear a male voice say "What are you doing here?" and we see the Sidney, her mirror. Turns out he's still alive (SHOCKING considering this show does not kill off characters. Also, now that Giancarlo Espositio is no longer on “Revolution” or “Breaking Bad,” he can come back on the show). Regina needs him to get rid of Marian so she's no longer in the way of her happiness.
Belle and Gold are in the car, and they find a new house. Belle says it must have come over in the last curse, and they decide to borrow it for their honeymoon. She wants to explore the house, but Gold freezes her before she can go further. He replaces the fake dagger with the real one. He then notices a trinket box on the table that he clearly recognizes. When Belle asks if he's ok he says he is. She then leads him to a ballroom, library, and sure he enough, a couple of snaps, and the "Beauty and the Beast" theme plays, and they're wearing the costumes from the Beauty and the Beast ballroom scene. I'm torn between cheesiness and annoyance.
It's family stroll time with Snow, Charming, baby Neal, Emma, and Henry. Henry is worried that Regina hasn't returned any of Emma's calls. Henry is going to try, hoping he can save Regina from her depths. Charming stays behind with Henry while Snow and Emma keep walking and talking. Emma's worried what will happen to Henry if Regina turns evil again. Snow points out Henry has been through a lot considering he lost his memories, and came back only to find both of his moms with new men. Emma denies there is no her and Hook, but Snow is skeptical. Right then Hook walks up to let Emma know Regina isn't at the mausoleum. Emma asks for a minute with Hook. Snow stops and turns around, clearly annoyed, and who can blame her, especially since they just end up walking around the corner anyway! Emma tells Hook she’s not avoiding him, there's just a crisis. Hook points out what I've been saying about this show the whole time, there's always a crisis, and Emma better start living. Just then, to prove Emma's point (and I'm sure the writers thought it would be hilarious) Grumpy runs up telling Emma the town is under attack and tells her about the van being iced over. Emma then notices an ice trail.
Flashback time, Anna has run after Elsa who has gone to the woods. (Remember a few minutes ago when she was worried about spilling liquids on the dress? Guess running through the forest is ok though). Elsa tells Anna to go away, but Anna refuses. She wants to know what was in the diary. Elsa tells Anna their parents didn't go on a diplomatic mission like everyone thought. The diary reads that Elsa's power was more powerful than they thought. Elsa immediately jumps to the fact that she's the reason her parents left. THERE'S WAY MORE DIARY! MAYBE READ MORE THAN ONE ENTRY BECAUSE THEY WERE PROBABLY GOING TO TALK TO SOMEONE THAT COULD HELP ELSA AND NOT RUNNING AWAY! Why does every character only listen or read to half the information available to them?!? I DON'T UNDERSTAND. Anyway, Anna convinces that no one thinks Elsa is a monster, the diary is only half the story (or it could be the whole story because you only read only stinkin' entry!). Anna says that her future in-laws can help them figure out the whole story.
Back in present day Storybrooke, Emma and Hook are following the ice path while Elsa is trying to get away. Emma comes out with her gun drawn (seems reasonable), and Elsa hides behind some machine. Hey Elsa, remember the reason they can follow you is the ice trail, so hiding probably won’t work. Elsa makes an abominable snowman appear. Again, seems reasonable. It doesn't make sense to find if these people can help you or not, just go ahead and assume their the enemy.
Back in Arendale, Anna and Elsa are off to meet the trolls that are her future in-laws. The CGI is only slightly improved from normal. Anna asks why their parents were actually on the ship and hands grandpa troll the diary. But he says he doesn't know. Elsa is ready to leave, but the grandpa troll says he may not know what they were doing, but he knows where they were going. They had questions about a place called Mist Haven. Elsa asks what they wanted there. HELLO ELSA! HE JUST SAID HE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THEY WERE DOING. WHAT'S THE POINT IN ASKING IF YOU AREN'T GOING TO LISTEN TO HIS ANSWER. The grandpa troll says they had secrets, and then goes back to sleep. Anna is excited about the answer and says its time to go to Mist Haven. Elsa refuses, saying she's the queen and she can't leave. Anna seems to have forgotten about Hans and his brothers trying to take over. Anna offers to go instead of Elsa. Anna says she'll be back, but Elsa reminds her that's what her parents said.
The abominable snowman is staring down Hook and Emma. He breathes on them and knocks them over, causing the gun to fire and Emma to lay on Hook. Adorable. The snowman takes chase after Emma and Hook and Grumpy gets the town all scared. Back in the warehouse, a paper blows over to Elsa, and on the front is a picture of Gold and Belle, announcing their marriage. Elsa looks concerned or confused. I can't tell.
Now Emma, Charming, and Hook are all staring at the snowman as he marches through town. Emma somehow deduces that he's headed to the forest. The snowman goes through the cemetery and passes the mausoleum. We then cut to inside the mausoleum where Regina is showing Sidney the story of Marian. The book gave Marian her happy ending. Regina says the book is strong, but she's stronger. She's going to change things, Regina wants Sidney to take care of Marian. He says he knew there was a reason she kept him alive. Regina tells Sidney she doesn't want Marian killed as that would be too obvious. Instead, she wants to go back in time and have Marian killed before Emma saved her. Regina needs Sidney to show her the exact moment she captured Marian. Regina makes Sidney the mirror again and he is not happy about it. She tells him its temporary. Regina asks the Mirror to show her when she captured Marian.
There's a flashback now to Regina questioning Marian of Snow White's whereabouts. Marian refuses to answer. Evil Queen Regina sentences Marian to death. Marian yells after Regina, that she feels sorry for her, that if she had a family, she wouldn't be so cruel. Evil Queen Regina says she knows who she is and what she wants, and right now it is Marian's head on a spike. Sidney then asks present day Regina if that's what she was looking for, and Regina says it is. But you can tell she's disgusted with her old self. She's not comfortable with the way she used to be.
In Storybrooke, the residents are going crazy after spotting the giant snowman. Elsa is hiding between two buildings. She seems to have convieniently gotten her ice trail under control. She peeks out and sees Gold's shop, then hides back between the two buildings.
In Arendale, Elsa is looking for Anna in Sven's reindeer stable. Christoph makes his appearance, and Elsa asks where Anna has gone. Christoph is trying to lie about where Anna went. Elsa knows Christoph is delaying her, and he tells Elsa that Anna booked passage on a ship to Mist Haven. Elsa takes off after Anna, and Christoph after Elsa.
Emma, Hook, and Charming meet up with Robin, Marian, and John in the woods (Really? That’s where they live. Ugh). John shoots an arrow at the snowman. Hook reminds Emma of her powers (why can she not remember she has special powers. I mean really). Emma attempts to take out the snowman, but after she hits him, he grows spikes and knocks everyone out, except for Marian. Marian tries to shoot the snowman, but he knocks her down. Regina appears from out of the woods, and instead of helping she disappears. Right as the snowman goes to step on Marian, fire bursts through. It was Regina on the other side. Robin wakes up and sees Regina. Marian concedes that maybe Regina isn't a monster. As Emma goes to talk to Regina, she disappears in her purple smoke. Annoying.
Following the fight, Hook decides to try and have a little chat with Emma. She jokingly suggests to Hook that they relax and watch Netflix, which he quickly agrees to even though he has no clue about Netflix. She's worried about who created the monster. He says they need to enjoy the quiet moments. Emma admits she's avoiding him because she feels guilty about bringing Marian back and ruining Regina’s happiness He thinks there's more than just Regina, perhaps some guilt about Neal. She responds by kissing him and telling him to be patient.
Emma is at Regina's office. Emma tells Regina she can have happiness, but she has to fight for it. Emma says Henry brought Emma to Storybrooke for the happy endings, and Emma's job isn't done until its for everyone, including Regina.
Regina goes to the mirror and asks for Sidney to appear. She wants Sidney to help her change fate. The storybook is the problem because the villains never get the happy ending. The stories only see Regina as the villain, so she wants to find the writer and force them to change the ending. Normally Regina is the smartest character on the show, but she seems to have forgotten that Gold got his happy ending and he was FOR SURE a villain, so like with everything else on this show THERE IS A HOLE IN YOUR STUPID PLAN.
And as if the writer's are reading my mind, we see Belle sleeping with Gold sitting on the bed awake. He goes back to the trinket box he saw earlier. He waves the dagger over the trinket box, and there is a bunch of purple dust and some noise. It turns into a hat, like in Fantasia or Harry Potter. Meanwhile, Elsa uses her ice hands to break the lock at Gold's shop. She noticed in the picture the necklace she gave to Anna.
One last flashback, Christoph tells Elsa that they can't go after Anna. Christoph tells Elsa that Anna didn't want him to go because Anna didn't want Elsa to be alone. Christoph believes in Anna, and Elsa should too. We see Anna on the ship, and we find out that Mist Haven is also known as the Enchanted Forest. We see Anna stroke the necklace Elsa gave her earlier, and then in present day, we see Elsa holding the necklace resolving to find Anna. The end.
Great, so another season of one character looking for another. I'm sure there will be 5 or 6 close calls, with the characters just missing one another. And Regina will start to do her evil plan, then have a change of heart because her plan will mess everyone else's lives up, like Snow and Charming. I'm already bored. Time to step up your game "Once," and prove to me this is a show worth watching.