Once Upon A Time 4×05 “Breaking Glass” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

If this episode has taught us anything it’s that those who learn from their mistakes receive the kind of happiness they’re deserving of.

Flashbacks (1998): While attempting to steal pop tarts after she ran away from her foster home, lost girl Emma befriends someone she feels she has a lot in common with. Lily defends Emma when the grocery store worker accuses her of stealing by saying that they’re doing a little shopping for their parents. They later run away from Lily’s father into a summer vacation home where they bond over video games, food, and hand-drawn tattoos. When Lily’s father finds them, Emma realizes she’s been lying to her and chooses not to forgive her when she asks for an apology. She’s later sent to another foster home where it’s revealed in the end that her foster mother was in fact the Snow Queen.

Present-Day Storybrooke: Charming tries to convince Snow to let Belle babysit little Neal in order for them to have an adventure like old times. Emma, Elsa, and Regina go after the Snow Queen and unknowingly take part in delivering to her the last piece of an object she needs.

If you’ve followed our reviews in the past then you know of our very strict rule not to comment too much on things we disliked. Therefore, we are going to try our very best to discuss this week’s episode as objectively as possible because, for the first time in a very long time, we found ourselves awfully disappointed with a character we’re normally fond of. Just as last week’s episode was meant to show us how much Killian has changed despite Rumple’s claims about him being the same, “Breaking Glass” was meant to show us that Emma Swan’s heart is bigger than the numerous, outrageous claims Regina makes about her being a “life ruiner.”

Regina’s arc has been great up until this very moment — we don’t even know where to begin because the episode has unfortunately inflicted a great deal of anger on us. Yes, Regina’s been manipulated and belittled by both her mother and Rumple and while that’s understandable, the suffering she’s inflicted on the Charming family isn’t. A true “hero” as she believes she now is, doesn’t do to others what’s been done to them. Though in some ways she’s tried to make amends here and there, she’s taken quite a few steps back and landed at square one. A young and naïve Snow White wanting to bring a couple their deserved happiness isn’t the cause of Regina’s happiness as she’s always blamed. Cora’s power-hungry, manipulative parenting is to be blamed.

Regina’s greatest issue at the very moment is the fact that she cannot distinguish anything properly. Frankly, it’s impossible for us not to be angry at Regina’s character when not only is Emma our favorite, but she’s done absolutely nothing wrong to deserve the kind of emotional abuse she’s receiving. In such a heartbreaking episode where we see how the first betrayal from someone she trusts plays a vast role in the way she carries herself, it was awful to see someone belittle Emma the way Regina did when all she was trying to do was reach out. Even though we feel Emma doesn’t have anything to apologize for because for starters bringing Marian back wasn’t intentionally done to ruin Regina’s happiness, there’s never anything wrong with saving a life. However, because of how enormous Emma’s heart is, it’s understandable that she’d feel bad and continuously apologize. She’s a woman with such admirable compassion fueling her that she’d never do to others what’s been done to her. She’ll uplift people even if they don’t deserve it because she knows how damaging it is to be brought down more often than not.

Once again, the episode was meant to showcase that, unlike Regina, Emma has learned from her mistakes. At a young age when she hasn’t experienced an everlasting kind of love and known nothing but loneliness, it’s natural for her to be unforgiving from the first heartbreak she experiences. Instantly connecting with Lily because she believed they were a lot alike allowed Emma to open her heart to someone in a way she never had. It allowed her to trust and see someone as a lifelong friend she could lean on when loneliness struck.

Therefore, to later find out that it’s all been a lie and Lily knows what having a family is like forces Emma to believe that not only is there no one like her, but that she can no longer trust. A child’s first, real betrayal is always the hardest. And we are the first to admit that it’s when we got older that we learned to forgive those who’ve wronged us as children. Although young Emma isn’t a child, but a teen, because the situation with Lily was the first thing closest to her heart, the betrayal struck her deeper than the loneliness she’s felt from not knowing friendship. Presumably, it’s when she grew and experienced life more that she realized the importance of forgiveness — the importance of letting it go rather than holding a grudge.

Emma Swan is a woman whose lonesome and tragic past has shaped her beautifully. And because she understands the pain a loveless life can bring, she’s grown to love deeper than anything. Even with her walls higher than the Storybrooke clock tower, from the moment we meet her, her actions show us just how deep her compassion runs. A paradigm of her selflessness is gorgeously illuminated when she chooses to help reunite Hansal and Gretal in “A True North” with their father believing she’d never see hers. For a very long time, her past governed her present, but she never allowed the good within her to decay. She became a bounty hunter in order for the ones who screwed up to pay for their debts. And most importantly, when it comes to her actions today, she chooses to forgive Regina despite the fact that she’s responsible for the 28 years Emma and the Charmings have lost.

Emma has chosen to not only forgive Regina for the three decades (almost) of a distressful and traumatizing life as an orphan, but she’s willing to be her friend. The importance of friendship is something that we believe can never be summed up with words thus Emma’s generosity had us in tears. At the moment, Regina isn’t deserving of her friendship, but she chooses to offer it anyway. She chooses to learn from her past because she knows what it’s like to regret not forgiving someone sooner. A hardened heart isn’t fun to carry around and knowing that, Emma rises above showcasing the vastness of her heart more than ever. And because of that, there’s not a character more admirable.

The most upsetting part is that Regina has absolutely no problem blaming Emma for the five-minute pause in her relationship when she’s played a vicious role in ruining a family’s life because of her selfish need to enact revenge on a child’s unintentional betrayal. And that’s an awful flaw in her we hope she learns to fix because as she stands there bringing Emma down for something she’s apologized for more than once, she disregards the fact that she’s intentionally set out to inflict pain on countless people.

As human beings, as long as we’re physically and mentally capable of desiring things, we always have a choice. There is no such thing as “I had no choice,” especially for characters like Regina and Rumple. At the time when the curse was cast, no one held a sword to Regina’s throat forcing her to conjure it. She chose to kill the one person she loves most because seeing the end of Snow’s happiness mattered far more than her own father whose love for her could’ve been more than enough. While Cora would never win the parent of the year award, Henry Mills Sr. loved and defended Regina ceaselessly, and remembering that she chose the greatest form of evil over a father’s pure love is horrifying.

At the end of the day, the outcome of her life is no one’s fault but her own. In a matter of a few hours, Regina chose to belittle and emotionally abuse Emma instead of opening her heart to the possibility of forgiveness. Regina’s choice to throw one insult after another at Emma while Emma chose to endure it all with love and bravery says a great deal about both characters. Emma’s chosen to allow her unfortunate past to thicken her skin and open her heart while Regina’s chosen to allow bitterness and hatred to build a home in her heart. Although the episode ends with Regina showing openness and a bit more compassion toward Emma’s kindness, it still isn’t enough to make things better. Her heartbreak is understandable, anyone normal human would be defeated in her position, but victimizing herself isn’t the way to rise.

Surely we all have different coping mechanisms but Regina’s is to an extreme. Choosing not to forgive Emma for unintentionally saving someone’s life merely shows the cruelty within her own heart. As much as Regina believes she’s changed, this kind of behavior is what shows she hasn’t – just because you don’t kill doesn’t mean you’re a hero. A hero is someone who despite everything they’ve been through, heart remains pure, loving, honorable, and forgiving. Our biggest wish is that she not only apologizes but through her actions proves that she’s truly changed. Actions always speak louder than words; therefore, she needs to continuously prove she’s worthy of the kind of forgiveness and love the Charmings have shown her. At the rate we’re going, she has 28 years and counting to be a decent person, and we’re hoping that’s what’s shown in future episodes. Redemption is possible, but Regina needs to work incredibly hard to be deserving of it. Sincere apologies are a start and here’s to hoping it comes sooner than later.

In such a heavy episode it was fantastic, and much needed to have a mini Snow and Charming date after everything they’ve been through. Snow, like any new mother, needs convincing to leave the baby alone for a night. Charming’s persistence with Snow is as always adorable to watch, but even more than that it’s Snow basically falling in love with herself and her husband all over again that made our hearts giddier than ever. And when Charming came forward with the truth about the fact that he had nothing to do with Snow catching then letting Will escape, it was beautiful to watch how proud he was of Snow finding a part of herself again.

One of the things that make watching a Snow and Charming scene more glorious than anything is the confusion of whether it’s Dallas and Goodwin or their characters. And this week especially, it was sweet to watch each of the actors’ showcase just how much they love one another. Whether it’s Dallas exhibiting a gorgeous form of happiness because of how elated Charming is to see Snow so happy and gratified over their life, or Goodwin flaunting just how deeply Snow’s in love with her husband and their children, the couple once again demonstrates why they’re the role models for love.

Snow and Charming have been through more heartbreak than we could ever imagine anyone going through, but they’ve continuously actualized the conception that goodness and love have a way of benefiting people more than anything. They keep authenticating that at the end of the day, no matter how successful, terrible, tiring, or heartbreaking, when a person is with their true love, everything is more beautiful. It’s inspiring that despite everything they’ve been through with their babies being taken away from them that Snow’s now open to allowing someone to babysit. Snow’s open to Emma having love and leaving one day.

The Charmings are a constant reminder that it’s better to remain humble and open because absolute serenity doesn’t mean there are no problems left in the world to solve, it means knowing yourself and understanding that the greatest happiness can be found in the smallest moments. It’s going to bed at night knowing that whatever tomorrow brings, you have loved and are loved endlessly because there’s no form of happiness greater — whether it’s platonic or romantic, love is everything. Thank the heavens the Charmings are always there to remind us of the fact that there’s nothing more valuable in the world than love. Additionally, we had missed bandit Snow and the phenomenal confidence Goodwin exhibits as that version of Snow dearly. Now that Momma Snow’s okay with leaving baby Neal for a while, we’re hoping to see the Charmings kick some serious ass soon.

There’s only one thing we can’t figure out this week — how to describe Elizabeth Mitchell’s frightening and goosebumps-baring flawless performance. The gentleness in her voice that’s combined with the seclusion in her eyes brings such complex fear to her character. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before and essentially nothing short of brilliant. However, if there’s one thing we’re certain of it’s that villains on Once Upon A Time aren’t born but made, and there’s nothing we want to know more than what’s caused her to become this way. What made her grow so cold and yet desire a family who loves her more than anything? The remarkable performance is the primary reason we’re so fascinated with her character — she seemed so kind as a foster mom, and so sincere when she spoke into the mirror about wanting a family. The smile which made its way onto her face almost effortlessly as soon as the mirror piece completed the entire mirror was a stunning way of showing viewers that she may not be as horrible as she’s presented. Additionally, doing the opposite of what Regina’s done every time she’s gotten what she’s wanted from Sidney by keeping him locked away shows us a bit more heart than we’ve seen from her before.

In order to get what she wanted the Snow Queen needed to use Elsa’s fears, but after a while, her niece (if that was true) proves to be the very opposite and breaks from the chains around her. It’s nice to see Elsa come to terms with her magic, but most importantly herself. The advice she kept giving Emma stemmed from the fact that she first-hand knows what it’s like to block people out when they’re hurting. Although she didn’t hear a lot of the things Regina said to Emma, it’s beautiful that even she has learned from her mistakes. She’s learned that it’s okay to let those we care for in on our heartbreaks. She’s learned that people aren’t to be punished for the things we can do simply by making a choice — just as she has made the choice to trust Emma and the civilians in Storybrooke despite the fact that someone had locked her up. The important thing is that Elsa’s aware of intentional and unintentional.

In an episode where yet another heartbreaking event from Emma’s past was revealed while she was brought down too many times than we’d like to count in the present, it was beautiful to once again be reminded of how deeply Killian loves all of her. It was most impeccable to have Killian utter the words “may I have the honor” in regards to seeing what Emma has kept from her childhood because he realizes that it’s truly a privilege to know her. A man who’s spent hundreds of years chasing silver and gold showcases that there’s no treasure greater than Emma Swan through his actions, ceaseless support, and adoring heart. The sincerity in his voice and the expressiveness O’Donoghue wore before opening the box allowed us to see Killian’s immense gratitude for the fact that Emma’s trusted him with an enormous part of her. O’Donoghue’s performance also allowed us to see that though Killian’s grateful, the fact that these are memories that cause her pain, wound him as well.

As kind and generous as Emma Swan is, she doesn’t share her heart with others. As much as she may open up when needed, most of the artifacts in the box, the video especially, are something that Emma’s never shown another soul. They are parts of her she’s kept concealed because of the enormous role they’ve played in breaking her spirit, and to open up to a man whose reactions were gorgeously reassuring is bound to play a role in healing her.

As always, Jennifer Morrison’s performances leave us more amazed than ever. Just as she removes the small box from the bigger one and takes a breath, we’re able to see parts of the lost girl reappear as Morrison exhibits heartbreaking fear through her expressions, for these are parts of Emma that will make her more vulnerable. Because feelings of abandonment don’t go away overnight, and she’s been shunned in the past when she’s bared her heart, this is a moment where Emma naturally fears the worst. And the most gorgeous part of the scene is that once Killian’s smile grows with the utmost form of happiness and honor that he’s learning more about her, Emma’s reaction shifts wondrously.

Morrison executed the change in Emma with a great form of humbleness because although Emma Swan is a woman who still fears, she wants and is willing to dive into the great unknown. Though she’s evidently heartbroken over what’s occurred in the past and would undoubtedly want to make it right, it’s beautiful to see her make the choice to relive the memories with Killian. It’s lovely to watch her rest her head on his shoulder while holding his hand because even though the memories bring her pain, he makes it easier — he is, in every way, her safe haven. Sometimes, all someone needs is a shoulder to lean on because their person’s unwavering support has the ability to mend the wounds that ache most. And even though it’s a brief instance before the shocking revelation that her memories have been wiped, it’s great to see her embrace another quiet moment.

Just as Charming was there to persuade Snow into embarking on a small adventure he knew would be good for her, Killian was there to silently remind Emma that opening her heart up to him is a safe form of getting through the wounds that have been left behind. Ultimately, there’s not a lot more beautiful than the fact that because true love is home, it has the power to always bring people back from the heartaches/concerns that have taken over them.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode?

Leave a Reply