So, not surprisingly, the season 4 premiere of "Once Upon a Time" left me extremely frustrated and preemptively annoyed with the season. Once again, characters are jumping to unnecessary conclusions. And yet again, it appears the main story line of the season is going to be characters attempting to find one another? Think they can do it?! Of course they will, and that's the fundamental problem with this show. There are no real stakes. Yes, I understand that "Once" is supposed to be a family friendly show, but I think there are ways to develop the plot and make it more interesting without having the same essential storyline for the fourth year in a row.
Which leaves me (and maybe you) with the nagging question: Why do I continue to watch this show? I can't answer for you, but for me it's a fairly simple yet silly explanation. I have to follow through. Once I start watching a show, very rarely do I stop watching it until the show comes to a conclusion (the only two shows that I gave up on that I can think of off the top of my head are "Grey's Anatomy" and "Desperate Housewives.") Call it masochism. Call it ridiculousness. Call it whatever you'd like. There are times when I would have loved to stop watching shows - the last 3 seasons of "The Office" and "True Blood" after season 3. But I can't. I have to know how things end. Plus, you never know when there is going to be a trivia question about a show that could win you a million bucks. So I forge on, watching shows with a skeptical and oft critical eye. Perhaps I'm so critical because TV overall is SO GOOD right now, and I expect more out of shows. "Once" started off promising, but it began to repeat itself in season 2. I wish more shows had the good sense to end after a couple of seasons. More seasons doesn't mean a good show. In fact, it's often quite the opposite. You can really only spend so much time in a universe without ideas growing old. Keeping series short and sweet makes the viewers value and appreciate the experience even more.
Ok, sorry for the preemptive diatribe. Let's get into this week's episode...
The Enchanted Forest:
In our flashbacks to the Enchanted Forest, Anna is seen knocking on a door of a log cabin. We hear the voice before we see him - it's David (AKA Charming) with dem dreamy, flowing locks (sarcasm). Apparently Anna was looking for David. Turns out Kristoff and David are friends. Kristoff told Anna she could trust David, but she needs to keep her mission a secret from him to keep him safe. Anna tries to tell David that her name is Joan, but David sees right through this. She tells him he can't know her real name, but he notices her ring and is able to deduce that she is Kristoff's fiancee. How is he able to so readily jump to this conclusion you ask? Is it THAT impossible Kristoff may know another engaged woman who also happens to live in Arendale? Apparently. But it's "Once" world, so we have to buy this logic. Anna/Joan asks to stay in David's barn, and he says that's fine, but she should get there quickly cause a really pissed off Bo Peep is arriving.
Turns out, Bo Peep is there for payment from David and his mother. David tells Bo Peep it has been a slow month, and Bo Peep gives David and his mother until noon the next day to come up with the money. Bo Peep offers to give them another day if she can have David's horse. Why does she want the horse? She seems to have two perfectly lovely horses of her own, and David's horse doesn't even match hers. But David is super attached to his horse so he refuses. David tells his mother they can leave the farm. WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU SAY THAT IN FRONT OF A WOMAN WHO IS THREATENING YOU?! Maybe wait and share that thought once Ms. Peep has gone on her merry way? But no, David opens his big mouth and Bo Peep stomps her stick on the ground and "brands" David and his mother so now she knows where they are at all times.
David is off to work the farm and Anna is confused as to why. David explains to Anna that Bo Peep is a warlord, and that if he refuses to pay her, he and his mother will be killed. Anna tries to convince him to fight, that it's worth it (she actually is giving a version of the speech David gives so many times throughout the series). When David accuses Anna of being a young, naive girl, she says she is and almost spills her secret as to why she's in the Enchanted Forest. Anna offers to teach David how to fight.
Turns out, Anna is quite the swordswoman and is kicking David's booty in training. David decides he's going to just "give up." Anna tells David she thinks he's being a coward. David tells Anna that when he was 16 he woke up to hear his parents fighting, which wasn't unusual. But that morning it was different, and he heard his father tell his mother he will beat the alcoholism, and promised he would. Every two weeks, his father had to go on a supply run, and it normally involved his father drinking, but after his promise, he thought the trip would be different. On the day when his father was supposed to get back, the constable showed up to tell David and his mother that on the 14th day, his father got drunk and fell to the bottom of the ravine and died. Anna tells David that his dad was lousy, but that he's not the same. She asks him to let her keep training him, but if he doesn't want her help, she'll continue on her way.
David goes to speak to Anna/Joan in the barn, but she's nowhere to be found. Instead, David discovers Bo Peep chilling. Turns out Bo Peep has captured Anna and branded her. Now she gets to blackmail David and his mother.
The next day, Bo Peep is wearing Anna's necklace, and David shows up to talk to Bo Peep. Bo Peep tells David he can't win if tries to fight, but he tries anyway. Guess he learned more than we saw cause he takes out Peep's guards pretty easily. Peep takes up a sword, but David is able to beat her as well. He rips the necklace off Peep's neck, and grabs Peep's hook and looks into it to find Anna's whereabouts. He's able to find her location and save her. David explains to Anna that he has to live with himself, and that Anna taught him lessons, blah blah blah, moral story telling.
Back at David's cabin, Anna/Joan is about to take off for her mission, telling David and his mother she hopes to see them both at the wedding (where they'll find out her real name). David's mother thanks Anna for his help. Anna asks if magic is common around the Enchanted Forest. Anna asks if there is anyone who can help her understand magic. David's mother doesn't want to say his name aloud, so it's Rumpelstiltskin. She goes to write the name down, and David brings his horse around to give to Anna. He says the horse is a reminder of the past. His mother returns with the name written on a piece of paper, and Anna is off on her journey and she reads the paper. Sure enough it's Rumpelstiltskin.
In Storybrooke: Elsa leaves Gold's shop and makes a promise that until she and Anna have found one another, no one can leave Storybrooke. We see an ice wall go up at the edge of town, and Elsa makes the same vow as last time, to figure out what happened to Anna.
Snow is putting baby Neal to bed while Emma and David try to make jokes. But Snow but IS. NOT. HAVING. IT. Henry has prepared a basket of movies, chocolate, and red wine to cheer Regina up. It's actually a sweet moment, which is ruined by a crow banging on the window, which of course Snow gets being the animal whisperer and all. The crow has a message from Regina saying she doesn't want to see Henry.
Henry leaves to go sulk at Grandma's restaurant. Emma comes in and says that Regina's note said she doesn't want to see Henry for right now, while she's dealing with things. OK! Hold the phone. The one time another character actually takes the time to read and fully understand something, the correct conclusion is the one the original character came to. Henry saying that Regina doesn't want to see him is valid, whereas Elsa thinking her parents left her because they lied about where they were going - not valid. THIS SHOW DRIVES ME BONKERS. Anyway, Emma tries to explain to Henry that Regina is trying to fix everything and she's trying to help Henry by keeping him out of it until everything is back to "normal". Meanwhile, the ice wall takes out the power lines, taking out the power through the whole town. Emma gets the call to come check it out and she invites Henry along, but he declines.
Emma and Charming are riding in the car to check out what's going on. Emma is lamenting to Charming that Henry wouldn't even let her hug him, but Charming reminds her that she is the same way and so is Regina. They roll up on the ice palace at the edge of town. Emma comes to the GENIUS conclusion that this snow wall happened after the abominable snowman last episode. Good deducing, Sheriff! Charming and Emma are off to figure out who is causing these problems.
Hook shows up to inform Charming and Emma that the ice wall goes around the whole town. He also demonstrates his grasp of 21st century technology by coming to the, once again, GENIUS conclusion that the wall caused the power to go out. Emma spots something in the ice wall and goes to check it out. Charming comes up and decides to pull Daddy Duty and tell Hook he needs to know his intentions with Emma. Thank goodness Hook sees that this is old fashioned, cause it is. Also, Emma is a grown ass woman, she can do whatever she wants, so back up Charming. Hook tells Charming it is up to Emma as much as himself about what they become. PREACH!
Emma enters the ice wall and runs into Elsa. Luckily, Elsa decides not to shoot Emma right away with her ray of frost. Elsa tells Emma that she's looking for Anna, and shows Emma the necklace she gave Anna before she took off for the Enchanted Forest. Emma says she'll help Elsa if Elsa helps her.
Within minutes of speaking about Emma's free will as a woman, Hook reverses his stance when he and David bum rush the wall to check on Emma. Why, all of a sudden, did they feel the urge to race in like the unwanted superhero? Did they get bored with talking to one another? Who the hell knows. Whatever their reasoning, the bombardment startles Elsa, causing her to seal off the wall even more, trapping Emma and Elsa inside, and David and Hook outside. When will the other characters learn that Emma can handle her own? Hook tries to break through the ice using his hook. I'm sure that will go quickly. in by using his hook. David comes up with the idea that they need magic to get in. Umm...maybe calm down and realize Emma's life isn't in danger?
Inside the ice cave Emma wakes up a little dazed. Elsa says she'll let Emma go if Emma helps her find Anna. Well bad news Elsa, Emma can't do a damn thing if you're holding her hostage. Emma points this out to Elsa right as the walkie-talkie goes off freaking Elsa out. Elsa tells Charming and Hook via the walkie talkie that need to find Anna before she freezes the town. See what they've done here? David has met Anna, but he won't know since Anna told him her name was Joan. Tricky tricky.
While Hook and David are off to find a solution, Emma tries to talk to Elsa to figure out what's going on. Emma is freezing her butt off, and is trying to convince Elsa to go somewhere warmer. Emma realizes that Elsa can't control her powers, and shares with Elsa that she herself struggles with controlling her powers. Elsa tells Emma that Anna helps her control her powers. When Emma tries to use her magic to melt the ice wall, nothing happens because she is too cold. Emma wants to pass out, but Elsa is afraid this will result in Emma dying, so the two bond over their shared responsibilities, Queen and Savior.
David and Hook go to see Gold to see if he can help with the ice cave. David explains that Elsa found a necklace in Gold's shop, and Belle hands over a card with the necklace. (Side note: is it just me, or does it look like daylight outside? Also, why would Gold and Belle come into the shop at night after the shop had been closed all day? But when David and Hook go back to Emma in the ice cave, it's dark outside again. THIS TIMELINE DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.) How David would know what the necklace looks like is beyond me. After all, the necklace is in the ice cave with Elsa and Emma. But David recognizes the necklace from when Joan came to visit. THANK GOD HE PUTS THE TWO AND TWO TOGETHER.
Meanwhile, Snow receives a visit from Grumpy, Gran, and Happy to complain about the power being out. They tell Snow this her curse, so she's the Mayor now. Oh great, Regina is going to LOVE that. They're off to the power station to try and get the power back on. The three are snipping at Snow and she finally flips out on them telling them she's doing her best, and reminding them they lived without electricity for years. Though they leave, it's Snow, so we know she won't give up. Baby Neal starts crying because he's hungry. Snow realizes that the power station also needs fuel and miraculously she gets the power back on. Wait, what? The power lines were down. Wasn't that the problem with the power being out? I don't understand.
David goes to the Chop Shop, the butcher shop where Bo Peep works in Storybrooke. After Peep attempts to hack David in half, he tries to find out where Anna is, but Bo Peep refuses to help. Hook finds Bo Peep's hook and they're off to find Anna. But before they can go, they hear on the radio that Emma is passed out and is freezing to death. Guys, you realize this is a little bit your fault, right? Emma had control of the situation and you couldn't just let her handle it, and now she's freezing. Ugh.
David and Hook return to the wall with Peep's hook. Somehow, Elsa has very effectively figured out how to work the walkie-talkie. Elsa says she needs Anna in order to control her power and melt the ice cave, but David starts telling her he knows how she feels. It's an impossible battle, but she has to fight it. Survival isn't enough, you have to live. Elsa realizes that David knew Anna, and he says Anna saved his life along with Elsa's, and now Elsa needs to save Emma. Apparently all it takes is a tough speech from David, cause Elsa is able to get her powers under control and melt the ice. Emma and Elsa leave the ice cave. Elsa feels awful about putting Emma in danger, but David says Elsa also saved Emma. David tells Elsa that he owes Anna everything for becoming who he is, and that they will find her.
Back at Chez Snow/Charming, David, Hook, Elsa, and Henry are all working on warming Emma up. We see a tight hand holding between Hook and Emma. Cute. When the power comes back on, Hook grabs a heater, and Henry goes to make Emma some hot cocoa. She apologizes for not being able to help him more earlier. Elsa is looking concerned because she lost Anna's necklace. David grabs Peep's hook to see if they can find Anna. Elsa looks hard hard into the staff, but she can't see anything. Elsa is worried that Anna may be dead, but they hear a heart beat and assume that means she's alive. Snow gets home and David informs her that they;re going to be finding Anna because their family doesn't like to give up. This resonates with Henry, so he's off to see Regina. He tells Regina he won't give up on her. She lets him in and the hug. Cute.
The next morning, Emma and Elsa are back at the ice wall. Emma is admiring Elsa's handiwork saying she's impressive. Elsa realizes there's no need for a barrier any longer so she tries to take the wall down, but she isn't able to. Emma is confused since Elsa is supposed to be the only one with this power. IF YOU HAVE TO SAY YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE WITH THE POWER IT MEANS YOU AREN'T.
Sure enough, this is confirmed when we see Grumpy at the ice cream shop in Storybrooke. He's making small talk with the shop owner, asking her if she lost any ice cream in the power outage. She says she just got lucky, but obviously she's got ice powers too. Once Grumpy leaves, she leans against the freezer and everything turns to ice. While I'm excited to see Elizabeth Mitchell, I'm already concerned about her character. Is she going to be some jealous fellow ice queen witch? I certainly hope not.