Once Upon A Time 4×07 “The Snow Queen” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

As far as tragic villain backstories go, we feel Ingrid (The Snow Queen) takes the crown. She also wins the most frightening.

Arendelle | Mist Haven Flashbacks: As the episode opens up, we’re introduced to three sisters: Ingrid (Brighton Sharbino), Helga (Bailey Herbert), and Gerda (Ava Talek) who’re playing with a kite they’ve found until it gets stuck in a tree and the owner comes for it. After seeing the sisters and realizing their loyalty, he attempts to kidnap them but Ingrid’s powers spiral, and she relieves her sisters from his clutches while trapping him under an enormous tree branch. It’s from that moment when they decide to split the ribbon into three pieces and promise that they’ll always have each other’s backs. Years later at a ball, afraid of what she might do, Ingrid (Elizabeth Mitchell) locks herself in her room while her sisters Helga (Sally Pressman) and Gerda (Pascale Hutton) enjoy themselves. They then decide to venture off to Mist Haven in order to find out if Rumplestilskin has a way of stopping Ingrid’s powers. He gives them the urn and takes their ribbons, but it’s an angry Gerda who traps Ingrid in the urn after the accidentally kills Helga.

Present-Day Storybrooke: After Elsa and Emma learn how to trap the Snow Queen, she goes above and beyond to try to convince Emma that everyone’s afraid of who she is. Robin Hood cannot seem to ignore his feelings for Regina. Henry’s tired of sweeping floors and wearing suits, so he asks his grandpa if there’s anything else he can do. Will Scarlet’s life is still incredibly confusing but his heart seems to be in the right place. A “Mommy and Me” day club led by Ashley (Jessy Schram) doesn’t exactly end in a positive place for Snow and her firstborn child.

As far as storytelling goes, this may have been one of the strongest episodes in Once Upon A Time history, but because of how much it hurt to watch it, it may just be one of our least favorites. Additionally, because next week’s two-hour special seems to be one that’ll tell countless stories and serve as season 4A’s climax, this episode is the rising action. The episode as a whole functioned to once again remind viewers of one of the show’s most prominent themes –we don’t give up on people we care for. Surprisingly, Will Scarlet who’s been nothing but a pest for the past few weeks is the one who delivers the message beautifully.

Ingrid’s backstory with her sisters is so intensely heartbreaking that it’s legitimately left us stunned. And while she’s one of the most psychotic villains we’ve had since the show aired, it doesn’t help that we feel absolutely awful for her. It’s not difficult to sympathize with her, but again, it doesn’t give her any excuse to do what she’s doing now. It’s beautiful to see that throughout the years, the sisters have kept the promise to trust one another, love one another, and always have each other’s back.

For a moment there, we thought maybe Helga would believe a man she’d only known for a while over her own sister, and we’re pleased with the fact that she didn’t even hesitate to take Ingrid’s side. Unfortunately, while Helga was defending her sister to the Duke of Weselton (Jonathon Runyon), Ingrid couldn’t stand the terrible things he was saying, but in an attempt to shut him up, she accidentally strikes Helga in the heart. Serious business aside for a moment, how incredible was the comedic relief provided by Helga’s purposely mispronouncing Weselton – the Frozenreferences are far too enjoyable for us.

If you’re familiar with Disney’s Frozen, then you know that only an act of true love could save a frozen heart, and (spoiler alert) that’s how Elsa saves Anna in the animated film. Judging by what we’ve seen so far, Ingrid seemed to truly love her sisters and it felt as though she was wholeheartedly broken and remorseful over what she’d done to Helga. So we’re wondering why a sister’s love alone or even Gerda’s, wasn’t enough to revive her. Perhaps the show’s version of curing a frozen heart is much different than the animated film’s.

Or it shows us that at the end of the day, maybe the fact that Ingrid felt like such an outsider her entire life she wasn’t able to resonate with her sisters and trust that their love was genuine. Then it comes down to what Gerda’s done and whether or not that was the right thing to do. At the end of the day, we personally believe it was a safe choice to make, but it could’ve resulted in a bit more confrontation. What Ingrid had done to Helga is unexplainably tragic, but it was an honest accident, it’s not something she ever intended to do; therefore, it would’ve been wise of Gerda to tell someone about it — perhaps their parents? Or for her to hand Ingrid the gloves as opposed to locking her up permanently.

Again, the situation is so intensely complicated that there’s really no one to blame for it — except maybe Rumple because surely if there’s anyone who could get rid of power it’s him, but if there’s one thing we know, it’s that he evidently needed Ingrid to keep her magic. Additionally, this also arises questions about Elsa and whether or not when Gerda had all their memories removed if that included hers. There’s one thing we’re certain of though we’ll have to wait until next week to get clarification, and it’s that Anna and Elsa’s relationship differs from their mother’s with her sisters. We cannot for a moment believe that Anna would ever do anything to confine Elsa because of how much she loves and believes in her. It’s probably what’ll differentiate the two generations of sisters.

It wouldn’t be a proper review if we didn’t take a moment to praise Elizabeth Mitchell and her commendable acting — we could write a novel about this woman’s chills-inducing performance. Once Upon A Time is known for great actors and actresses — and what Mitchell’s done with the Snow Queen is indescribable. Whether it was the sincere, fearfully driven, and loving tone in which she spoke to her sisters or the calmly frightening manner in which she attempted to corrupt Emma, the performances were nothing short of brilliant. Ultimately, it’s what makes her the most frighteningly complex figure we’ve seen so far on the show, and that makes it refreshingly exciting to watch her bring the Snow Queen to life episode after episode.

One of the hardest things television viewers around the world probably face is when a character they generally admire does something incredibly heartbreaking. That said, one of the most beautiful platonic relationships on the show is Snow and Emma’s — whether it’s back in the days as Mary Margaret and Emma or now as mother and daughter, it’s an irreplaceable bond. It’s also one of the most complicated ones. At the end of the day, none of us could imagine what their scenario must be like and while we understand a great deal of it, it’s still difficult for us to watch Emma, the lost girl who’s always felt alone, be looked as though she’s a monster.

Deep down, everyone and their mother know Snow’s heart is the purest. Also, deep down, everyone and their mother know Snow would never intentionally harm anyone. However, that alone merely doesn’t stop the ache we feel from the ache we imagine Emma must feel. It’s heartbreaking that the scene goes from the two of them attempting to make the situation of Snow technically being a first-time mother to her pulling baby Charming away from Emma because of the realization that her powers aren’t exactly stable. The fear is entirely understandable — we’ve always felt that there’s a deeply rooted fear in Snow that someday, just like before, her children will be taken away from her, and that would explain the attachment she has along with the overprotectiveness, but it simply seems unlike her not to be supportive of Emma.

She’s someone who understands Emma, who’s always tried to help her embrace who she is, and even though the cautiousness is understandable, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s heartbreaking. It doesn’t change the fact that when Ingrid keeps badgering Emma about the fact that people look at her differently, that’s an instance that presumably kept making its way into Emma’s heart. Again, the perplexing whirlwind of emotions that must be taking over everyone at the moment with what’s occurring with Emma is fathomable. We are however glad that later on Snow realizes that she is being harsh on her and instantly calms herself down in order to try to comfort her as opposed to attacking her. That’s the Snow we know and love — always seeing the best in every situation and trusting that the good can overcome the bad.

And this is where we believe Emma’s family will differentiate from Ingrid’s — the show demonstrated that natural reactions would be stemmed from fear, but further evaluation will allow them (Snow especially), to see that it’s okay. She’s not someone who ever shuts people off but continuously tries to help them, and there’s no doubt in our minds that’s exactly what she’ll do with Emma when they find her. At the end of the day, however, something we’ve personally been waiting and hoping for is a mother/daughter bonding opportunity. Snow’s been incredibly supportive lately as any mother would, but we cannot be the only ones who miss the friendship these ladies once had. Although there will surely be awkwardness when certain topics come up because it’ll be new to them, it’ll fortify their bond gorgeously while allowing them to understand exactly who they are right now after everything that’s occurred in their lives. They need it. We need it. And it would undoubtedly be an exceptional scene.

Emma has grown so much from the lost girl with a wall of armor around her and we couldn’t be more proud. That’s precisely what we are reminded of in this episode despite the fact that her powers are out of control — she’s embraced so much thus exhibiting a kind of strength unlike any other. Jennifer Morrison is one of the very few actresses whose expressions always convey more than the script itself, and the full range of emotions she channeled masterfully this week is what authenticates the unique strength within her.

When the Snow Queen was attempting to convince her of the fact that she’s more of a savior to her parents than a treasure like her younger brother, the defensive anger that is manifested is what showcases to audiences the remarkable amount of love Emma has toward everyone. It’s who she is — an ardently adoring being who gives. When it comes to the Charmings, great love comes naturally. Despite the countless heartaches she’s faced in the past, Emma hasn’t given in what most villains with a similar past have given into. In time, she’s grown to trust, continued to love, and is willing to open up.

Stating that her family loves her in the heartrending, rage-filled tone to the Snow Queen shows just how much she’s embraced lately. Love is something that she’s felt — whether it’d be from her parents, her son, or Killian, deep down, she knows she’s deeply cared for. And the willingness to fight for herself and them is what illuminates the very fact that Emma Swan continues to fight for the happiness she deserves. She continues to fight for what she values because she’s chosen to embrace that in the midst of chaos life can be good. She’s chosen to understand that her family had to let her go or else she would’ve died at the hands of Regina. She’s chosen to accept that she could trust another man after the many times she’s lost or betrayed them. She’s embraced Storybrooke as her home and she’s chosen to fight for it. And that’s precisely why she’s running away, this time it isn’t to protect herself, it’s to protect those she loves. We cannot wait to see where her isolation takes her next week and how she’ll fight to overcome the lack of control she now has.

Above all things, it’s beautiful that she feels loved enough to defend it. And speaking of love, there are no words to describe Killian’s selflessness when it comes to Emma. It doesn’t matter what’s occurring, if Emma’s in trouble, then Killian won’t even think twice about protecting her. As we’ve said before, it’s not that she cannot defend herself, but it’s the fact that she doesn’t have to – even the savior needs a savior, and she’s found him in Killian. Much like in “The Apprentice” when Killian thought he wasn’t in control of what the reattached hand was doing, Emma wasn’t in control of her magic. And even though she wasn’t aware of what was going on with him then, knowing what was going on with her didn’t stop Killian from fighting for her. This is where Marian’s quote comes into the picture for, in the past, she’s stated that: “when you see the good in someone, you don’t give up on them, especially when they don’t see it themselves.” At some point, every character faces the challenge of wondering who they are and where they stand. Just as Charming once fought to make sure Snow didn’t murder because it isn’t who she is, we don’t doubt that Killian will do the same for Emma — he’s already begun to. He’s someone who’s always seen that her powers make her special. He knows they come from the strongest form of love in existence — her magic is so incredibly pure that because of it, it strengthens her heart. We don’t doubt that we’ll see him reminding her of that soon because that’s who he is and what he’s always done.

Is anyone else incredibly heartbroken over the fact that we’ll soon have to say goodbye to Elsa and the Frozen crew? The friendship Elsa and Emma have established is probably our favorite since season one for Emma and Snow. It’s poignantly remarkable how deeply these two women understand and support each other. It’s gorgeous to see them bond over magic but most importantly that they’ve helped each other come to terms with the fact that they’re not alone. In this week’s episode especially, we love how hard Elsa was trying to encourage Emma and to show her that she’s been there — that she could help. And well, who wants a friendship like that to be short-lived? Is there a petition we can sign to keep them because that’s something we’d be willing to do?

How sweet was it of Daddy Charming to push Killian aside when the pole was falling over? These men have gone from punching each other at every opportunity they get to defending one another at all costs. What makes the scene so poignant in terms of storytelling is that surely Charming’s aware of how much Killian and Emma care for one another and that in itself is enough for him to go out of his way to protect someone his daughter cares deeply for. Even though she’s still his little girl, he’d sacrifice himself to make sure the man she adores is safe because he sees how great Killian’s been for her. It’s admirable, respectable, and the very heroic thing we’d expect from Prince Charming.

Speaking of Hook and people coming to his defense — it’s nice to see that he and Belle aren’t on the edge with one another. It was selfless and genuinely kind of Belle to push him aside in order for the powers of the mirror not to affect him, and we loved seeing that.

Sean Maguire has done a remarkable job of stealing our hearts as Robin Hood. And we’re now more conflicted than ever with the situation he’s in. As we’ve said in the past, we don’t want Marian to die in order for Outlaw Queen to prosper. We don’t want death to be the reason Robin’s choice is easier even though it seems he’s already chosen. While we get that they’re soul mates and that means they’re uniquely bound, we have to wonder what that means for what he felt towards Marian in the past. She’s made him the man that he is and if there’s one thing we know about true love and what it’s done with the rest of the couples on the show, it’s that it effortlessly changes people for the better. It inspires them to be the best versions of themselves possible.

It’s what Robin’s adoration has done for Regina. And although she hasn’t been our favorite person lately because of the way she’s treated Emma, it’s nice of her to tell Robin that he needs to forget about her. It was selfless of her and that’s something Regina hasn’t been in a while. Knowing how much Robin cares and how hard it is for him to fight through the conflicts within his heart and his mind, she could’ve taken the easy route and allowed him to be with her. Therefore, kudos, Regina. You did well today. And in regards to the kiss, we aren’t exactly sure what we feel about it — we don’t think it was just Robin trying to get it out of his system, but again, we rather have the situation with Marian be solved first. We rather her be alive, and Robin tells her the truth about where his heart lies than pursue whatever it is he wants to with Regina.

The episode concludes with Ingrid finally making a deal with Rumple for the ribbons she and her sisters once gave to him. As it turns out, Rumple’s ultimate desire seems to be that he’d like to control the world with his powers. And all the Snow Queen wants is control over Storybrooke. If there’s one thing we’re looking for during upcoming episodes it is to see how these individuals fight to attain what they want and just how far they’re willing to go for it. And when it comes to Rumple especially, he can’t possibly believe that Belle would be okay with all of this, can he?

We’ve tried to come up with a few plausible theories in regard to what could’ve happened between Will and Anastasia after we last saw them happily leaving Cyrus and Alice’s wedding, but we’ve got nothing. We’re excited to find out though because clearly Will’s still in love with her and he knows very well that their love is something that doesn’t come often. It was nice of him to try to remind Robin of his love for Marian. It was also nice of him to provide comedic relief in such a heavy episode with the bit about how many times he’s heard the story of Marian and Robin’s first meeting. Gold.

Next week, Emma’s off to convince Gold to take her powers away. We’ll probably find out who locked Elsa in the urn. And if we thought this week’s episode was an emotional roller-coaster, then we’re definitely not ready for the next.  What are your thoughts on this week’s episode?

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