Once Upon A Time 4×02 “White Out” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

This week’s episode fortified and built strong relationships while once again reminding us how vital it is to fight for the things we want most without ever giving up.

Enchanted Forest Flashbacks: Kristoff had given Anna, Charming’s name as the one person he’s known in the Enchanted Forest and Anna ends up playing a vital role in his life. When Bo Peep (Robin Weigert) comes to collect her debt, Anna inspires Charming to actually fight for what’s rightfully theirs. Not exactly as sweet and friendly as the one in Toy Story is she? However, it’s not until after Anna’s held captive by Bo Peep that Charming packs up the courage, and wins the impossible fight against Bo Peep and her men.

Present-Day Storybrooke: Persistent to find her sister Elsa puts up an ice wall and traps the entire residents of Storybrooke, but what she doesn’t expect to do is play a part in Emma freezing to death. Charming and Hook team up to both find Anna, and save Emma, meanwhile the exhausted new mother, Snow attempts to save the town from a blackout as her first duty as Mayor.

Anytime we get an episode that’s centered around Charming, we’re reminded of the very fact that he’s fought to become the humbly strong and incredible man that he is. Charming wasn’t always the courageous one of the bunch, though it was in him, he needed the push to embrace it. There was a point in his life where he did whatever he needed to simply get by. David’s life was about survival, and what Anna did is remind him to live, something he knows continuously does for those around him — namely the daughter that’s a lot like him. And though the episode focused heavily on Charming coming to terms with his inner strength, we saw a physically vulnerable Emma connect to someone in ways she hasn’t before.

Charming tells Anna or as he knows her as Joan (Frozen reference anyone?), the story of his alcoholic father who he overheard one day swear that he’d change for the sake of his family. As he waited for two weeks in order for his father to return from battle, he learned that though he fought heroically, on the last day, he gave in to alcohol once more ending in his death. This understandably forces Charming to believe some battles are too difficult to ever overcome. Interestingly, the story reminded us of the one Hook told Baelfire in “And Straight On Til Morning” about his father abandoning them. The parallels between the two men are essentially what deem them as the heroic male figures on the show. They’ve not only both seen great losses in their lives, but they know the depths of broken promises which is unsurprisingly why they’re men of their word who’ll do anything in their power to make sure those they care for know they’ll never be given up on.

We could always use more Charming-centric episodes because Josh Dallas is extraordinary in speech giving. He could attempt to encourage anyone on whatever the topic is and it’ll come off as incredibly uplifting. Dallas has a way of delivering his lines in an eloquent and truly charming manner.

Presumably after this Charming gets rid of Fabio’s hair and turns into the shepherd we’ve seen him as back in season one – the one who’s lived a peaceful life until he was told he’s meant to be a prince instead. Obligatory commandment for Elizabeth Lail’s faultless performance as Princess Anna once more. She gave it her all this week and sold each of her scenes with the right amount of awkwardness, strength, and Anna-esque bubbly spirit.

Every episode of Once Upon A Time leaves its viewers with a significant message, and tonight’s focused on a few: we need to live and not just survive, but also, it’s okay to need help — a push that’ll remind us of the things we often forget because we’re so used to taking care of things on our own. In flashbacks, just as Anna always encourages Elsa, she was also just what Charming needed at the moment. Charming had to be the voice of reason for a distraught Hook and also, a frightened and confused Elsa. Henry had to be the incite for Regina. And baby Charming was unknowingly just what Snow needed to return light to Storybrooke.

What stood out most in this week’s episode, and it’s not just our biased opinion on the great bromance blossoming is the partnership between Charming and Hook. Captain Charming’s got a fantastic ring to it, when the show’s over, we’ll personally fund a cop show spin-off featuring the two.

When the father/daughter duo arrive at the town line, it turns out that the town’s sheriff also wanted the captain at her side, and that inevitably prompts a “let’s talk about your intentions with my daughter” conversation. At this point, we’re assuming Charming remembers the conversation he and Prince Charles had the night they rescued Princess Leia — a conversation which ended in Charming stating that Princess Leia’s parents would be crazy not to approve of Charles given the lengths he’s gone through for her. Hook mockingly responds to the statement as being old fashioned even for him, but to us, it felt appropriate for the two of them.

As much as Killian values Emma’s agency above all things, the conversation by the fire is what revealed that there’s also a part of him that evidently values her parents’ approval as well. Though we believe Charming’s approved of Hook and Emma as a couple, long ago or at least he saw it coming, it’s expected of him to want to have the formal talk. Emma may be a grown woman but to Charming, she’s always going to be his little girl. And once Hook reveals that whatever they become will be up to her, Charming’s silent nod is the official stamp of approval. Again, it’s something we’ve always sort of expected because even though Charming knows Hook’s reputation, he’s also seen what lengths he’s gone through for Emma and though they may not verbally acknowledge it, they see parts of each other within the other. Charming knows and at this point visibly sees the amount of horror Killian’s overcome with when Emma’s life is in danger. He knows that just as he’d do anything for his family, Killian would do the exact same. But ultimately, Charming knows that when he’s not around, his daughter’s in good hands.

Before Emma gets too cold to even stand, Charming and Hook contact her via walkie-talkies and learn that in order to get Elsa to bring the ice wall down, they must find Anna. A visit to Mr. Gold’s office and seeing a photograph of the necklace helps Charming remember that Anna is in fact, Joan. He then visits Bo Peep, a butcher as her Storybrooke occupation, and Captain Charming retrieves the shepherd’s crook in order to find Anna.

However, a distressed call from Elsa stating that Emma’s freezing to death makes them take a different route. Using the walkie-talkie, Charming tries to talk Elsa through melting the ice, but when she states she doesn’t know how to do so, he gives her the same, uplifting speech Anna once gave him; thus hearing the very words Anna would’ve told her and knowing that Charming’s someone she could actually trust, Elsa successfully melts the ice and saves Emma from death. After Emma’s rescued and safe in Killian’s arms, Charming promises Elsa that since Anna played a great role in his life, he’ll help reunite them. Even though using the shepherd’s crook at the loft doesn’t give them a location for Anna, the beating heart they hear signifies that Anna’s alive and can be found. And we all know that once a member of the Charming family says they’ll find someone, they’ll most certainly succeed in doing so.

Killian’s misery this week and O’Donoghue’s performance are what caused heart palpitations, evoked tears, and forced inhuman screeches out of our mouths. There wasn’t much intense dialogue but the fear O’Donoghue brought to Killian’s voice was boldly heard every time he spoke to or called Emma. However, it’s the silent torment he showcased that was stronger and louder than anything he could’ve possibly said. Instances such as when he tried to break the ice using his hook every chance he got or the heartbreaking expressions O’Donoghue wore throughout the episode were enough to convey the absolute horror that must’ve been stirred up within Killian knowing the woman he loves is trapped and helpless. Even the way he held onto Emma for dear life when she was finally in his arms spoke wonders. He’s lost more people in his arms than any man should and for the first time, he got the chance to welcome someone back. O’Donoghue still wore fear on his face even when they were reunited because, for Killian Jones, this is a moment of disbelief.

It’s a moment he can’t fully grasp because the thought alone of losing her broke him in unimaginable ways. Their embrace didn’t just break us because of the enormity of what the two certainly felt while apart, but because it signified complete and utter momentary contentment. In that brief instant, Emma was safe in the arms of someone she deeply cares for while Killian finally got to take a breath – something O’Donoghue’s performance depicted he isn’t doing much of that doesn’t force him to want to break everything and everyone in his way. Killian fits into the Charming family effortlessly because he’s just like them.

As you all most definitely recall, the first time we met him, he made sure to state that above all things he believes that when something is desired it must be fought for. Something we loved, and felt was meticulously delivered by Morrison was the moment Emma clutched Killian’s head as they embraced. Just as Kristoff’s faith in Anna is so incredibly strong he’d trust her to accomplish anything, Killian’s is the same way. But most importantly, even though it appears that Elsa and Emma will play a huge role in the other’s life when it comes to controlling their powers, Killian is the one who’s always making sure Emma knows she’s special. At the end of the day, from the moment they left for Neverland, Killian’s always been by her side; therefore, knowing she could’ve died, undoubtedly prompted her to intuitively lean towards the man who’s time and time again proven he’ll never leave side. The moment was meant to exhibit just how much Emma treasures him — a man who she hasn’t exactly avoided, but she hasn’t given into the quiet moments with him as she should have.

The start of what we’re already certain is going to be a gorgeous friendship wasn’t exactly ideal, but after a few moments, the women began to bond over the one thing they’d felt most unsure of. Not only are they relatable in the sense that they’ve allowed the years of loneliness they’ve felt to build walls around them, but they’re in possession of powers they haven’t exactly mastered. The two of them then bond over the fact that Elsa’s the Queen of an entire land all on her own while Emma’s the savior, a duty she doesn’t fully understand, either.

Tonight’s episode, as always featured outstanding performances, and Jennifer Morrison and Georgina Haig’s inside the ice cave was nothing short of it. While Haig’s shining moment was apologizing to Emma about trapping them in there, Morrison’s was the confession about not understanding savior duties. Haig has been doing an exceptional job of manifesting Elsa’s fears. From the voice breaks to her uncontrolled hand movements, she brings a rawness to Elsa. The small touches Haig added to her character showcased Elsa’s compassionate nature wonderfully as she held Emma’s hands in an attempt to both warm her up and try to distract her from the cold — at that moment, the audience no longer sees an ice queen but an older sister figure. Someone who’s used to taking care of another person. Anna may have helped her with her powers, but at the end of the day, she’s the older sibling who’s used to the caregiving, and during their time in the cave, Elsa’s intuitively done that with Emma.

Emma’s always been the character, we as an audience related most to because of her realistic reactions to the way her life’s unfolded. And even though she’s accepted that she’s the savior, she’s still a normal human being who’s unsure of what it all means. She doubts herself. She puts up walls. She’s not always certain, or able to keep up the strong exterior. And even during such a life-threatening moment, Morrison managed to not only keep Emma’s spirit alive by telling Elsa about her uncertainties in a joking manner but reminded the viewers of the fact that just like us, she’s real and imperfect.

One of the things we’ve grown to respect most about Emma’s character is her generally selfless nature for even when she’s the one bundled up in the cold, she still takes the time to ask Elsa how she’s doing. She’s been broken numerous times, but she still welcomes people into her life. She forgives, and she loves immensely. It’s primarily one of the reasons she’s easily our favorite character. And from time to time, that deserves a mention of its own. Emma’s grown immensely within this last year, and though it was a brief instant, calling Charming “dad” showcased that growth in the most adorable way.

Yes, she called her parents “mom” and “dad” in the finale, but to hear it come out of her mouth in a regular conversation is now incredibly heartwarming. She’s finally at the level of comfort where she doesn’t have to call her parents by their first name — a remarkable addition to this week’s episode especially because like Charming, for a while all Emma’s known is how to survive. But what made our souls do a somersault, is the moment she chose to lace her fingers with Killian’s — the camera motion did a pristine job of almost shoving the growth in our faces. Emma’s brief choices to display affection are the exact moments that authenticate how open and welcoming her heart now is. When it comes to their body language, Killian and Emma contextualize the notion of show don’t tell. And what the conscious choice of lacing her fingers with his did masterfully, is signified Emma embracing the quiet moments.

Storybrooke civilians, Grumpy and Happy especially, need either a nice cup of tea or a hug of some sort because their level of demand was through the roof. I mean sure going I guess having to check all their social networking sites is important, but c’mon, dwarves, let’s tone it down a notch. However, it did offer fantastic comic relief which an episode like this needed. But there was not a moment throughout the episode, sweeter and more adorable than Snow White high-fiving her new baby. Being a new mother herself, Goodwin’s glow shines brighter than the enormous ice castle in the dark.

At this point, Regina’s character arc is the only one we’re hoping to see improvement in. All throughout season one, she fought to gain Henry’s love and respect back, but heartbreak is enough to keep her away from him. It doesn’t feel right to us. Of all people, she should be most willing to be around Henry. Even though it was nice to see Henry substantiate the Charming family code of never giving up, we wish it were the other way around. Hopefully, seeing Henry’s unwavering persistence gives her the push she needs in order to embrace her heartbreak without damaging those around her.

Elsa’s no longer the one in control, but the Snow Queen (Elizabeth Mitchell) has trapped the civilians in Storybrooke in their own town. What are your thoughts on what she could possibly want? And it’s now necessary to ask, but do you think she’ll be related to anyone?

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