Once Upon A Time 4×08 “Smash the Mirror” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

Does anyone want to help us create Wanted posters for Rumplestiltskin because what he’s done in this episode doesn’t fit the okay category?

Arendelle | Enchanted Forest Flashbacks: In the Enchanted Forest, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice sends Ingrid into our world telling her that in time, she’ll meet the one who’ll become the third sister. In Arendelle, Elsa pretends to believe Ingrid when she says that Anna wanted to strip her of her powers using the Sorcerer’s Hat, but later teams up with Anna to trap Ingrid in the urn instead. Realizing what the sisters are up to, Ingrid casts the Spell of Shattered Sight on Anna which forces her to trap Elsa in the urn regretting it shortly after once she’s herself again.

Present-Day Storybrooke: After Emma accidentally hurts Henry with the magic that’s spiraling out of control, she visits Gold in order to make a deal with him that’ll permanently take away her powers. Elsa’s understanding that the powers can only be controlled once the person has accepted herself takes her on a journey to find and convince Emma not to go through with the spell. Robin discovers something about his and Regina’s past. And Rumple realizes that the one last thing he needs to free of him the dagger is Killian’s heart.

Tonight’s episode highlights the importance of hope, belief, and honesty, but most importantly, it reminds viewers that as human beings, the mistakes we make can be forgiven as long we learn from them. “Smash the Mirror” like a lot of Once Upon A Time episodes illuminates the significance of our choices shaping our lives.

As a villain, one of the most fascinating traits Rumplestilskin, and only Rumplestilskin has is the fact that he acknowledges how awful he really is. He doesn’t sugarcoat the truth about his personality or his doing. He lies about many things, but not when they involve his agenda. He doesn’t deny the claims people make about him because he knows very well that he craves power more than anything. He doesn’t victimize himself in any way, and as a villain, because let’s be real, he’s still far from being a hero, he’s probably our favorite. “I am a man who makes selfish decisions.”

We’re not sure how everyone else took the scene between him and Emma at the mansion, but for a moment there, we did see good in Rumple. As twisted and selfish as he is, and as much as he wanted the hat to absorb Emma’s powers, he wasn’t wrong about what he said to her. Emma is a good person and even the dark one sees it in her — a woman who always chooses to make the right decisions. While her powers make her special, Emma’s choice to get rid of them because they’re harming those she loves is the polar opposite of what Rumplestilskin’s choosing to do. She is choosing to be “normal” because she doesn’t ever want to put her loved ones at risk of pain as she did with Henry — love is enough for Emma Swan.

As Rumplestilskin always says, magic comes with a price, but that price and the consequences that follow are based on the decisions one chooses to make. Seeing as how we don’t possess any magical abilities, we don’t exactly know the details of how it works, but from what we’ve seen, the only things that could trigger it are emotions, and any person, no matter how good, when fallen victim to intense manipulation, will lose control over their powers. We haven’t discussed it yet because we tend to stay away from theorizing too much without context, but it’s also what we believe happened to Killian and his hand. We don’t feel the hand itself was cursed or even a symbol of the man he used to be — we feel he allowed it to go out of control because he was afraid it would.

Even in the real world, fear is without a doubt one of the most horrifying emotions that could take over a person — its ability to alter one’s way of thinking and govern their actions is nothing short of tragic. It was the idea of her loved ones later fearing her that slowly forced its way into Emma’s head through the Snow Queen’s manipulation. Just as Killian was afraid of harming Emma, the very fear that one of the entities which make her special could potentially harm those she loves is enough for Emma to take any chance necessary to get rid of it. The parallel between Killian and Emma indicates how gorgeously pure their blossoming relationship is — they’re kindred in countless ways, but the mere fact that they’ll always put their loved ones before themselves makes their bond that much more special. And from what we’ve seen on Once Upon A Time so far, selflessness is key in order for any relationship whether romantic or platonic, to be considered a true form of love.

It’s upsetting that Rumplestilskin continues to choose power over love, and it’s even more upsetting that he continues to ruin everyone else’s lives in the process. If there’s one thing we’re looking forward to most in upcoming episodes, it’s Belle’s realization of her husband’s plot. We believe that deep down, Rumplstilskin truly loves Belle — we saw how devastated he was to lose her after she lost her memories. He recognizes that she’s essentially the purest person in his life and that her love is something he’s grateful for, and while we believe these things when he says them, it’s heartbreaking that it isn’t enough. And that’s what we’re wondering most, when will it be?

Oftentimes people don’t fathom how great they have it until it’s all lost, and we’re assuming that it’s probably what’ll happen to Rumpelstiltskin. Being as kind and pure as Belle is, we’re certain she won’t stand by his side without the understanding that he craves power more than their love. Therefore, that’s probably when he’ll be forced to choose between love and magic once and for all. What are your thoughts on Rumplestilskin’s journey so far? Do you think his power-hungry phase will ever end or will it eat him alive during the 215th season? To what lengths do you think he’ll go to harm Hook now that he’s got his heart?

Speaking of hearts and Hook — surely you all noticed that there weren’t traces of any darkness in it, and for someone who was once the most “vile villain” around, we’re pretty proud to see the purity of his heart. Killian is the paradigm of a man who’s been saved by love, and while no one’s perfect, he’s proven that true love is enough to bring out the best in a person. We know that in the world of Once Upon A Time, a person is still capable of feeling even without their heart in their chest, and though at times they’re controlled by whoever is in possession of it, we know that Killian’s reunion with Emma was the real him.

O’Donoghue has knocked it out of the ballpark this week — we can’t decide which scene was more heartbreaking, his voicemail or the reunion with Emma. Simply based on the way he kept looking at Emma is enough for us to understand that even if Rumple’s controlling parts of him, Killian’s still inside fighting against it. Prior to the heartbreaking fear making residence into his being and painfully being reflected through his eyes, the pure form of elation that’s exhibited as he tells Emma he’s a fan of all of her is the entire reason we’re so fond of him. It’s why he’s the perfect match for Emma. There seems to be a pattern, which we love more than we can say, by the way, where halves of a whole are willing to go to extreme measures in order to protect the ones they love most. Although they aren’t quite similar in terms of storyline, Charming was willing to die in order for Snow not to darken her heart by murdering Regina. And on tonight’s episode, Hook was willing to die at Rumplestilskin’s hands in hopes of not letting Emma strip away the powers that make her special.

You’ve heard us say it a thousand times now, but here’s a thousand and one: Emma Swan is special — she isn’t your ordinary heroine for the very things that make her special isn’t powers and nobility. Emma’s compassionate, strong, and wise because she’s been angry and broken. She’s risen above whatever life’s thrown at her and made the best of it by remaining good. Regina asked Snow a very interesting question this week: if you do good to receive it then isn’t it technically cheating? And it’s not, but despite that, in her past, Emma hasn’t done well just to receive it because there was a time she didn’t even believe she’d ever had it.

Emma’s done good things and made the right choices because she knows what it’s like to be alone and hopeless. No matter how many times she tried to deny the fact that she couldn’t be a mother to Henry, she wouldn’t leave him because she couldn’t bear doing to someone what had been done to her. She couldn’t leave a child behind like she had believed she was left behind. Emma Swan believes in people — she believed in the good life despite never living it so she became a bail bonds person in order to help others live it. Thus, for someone who’s experienced more heartaches than happiness, it’s vital that her partner be someone who loves all of her. It’s vital that she experiences being loved for everything that makes her special. Killian’s sincere declaration at that moment and the unwavering adoration he’s manifested illuminates what love should be like — praising their partner’s strengths, understanding their weaknesses, and accepting every part of them. We’re not sure how long it’ll take until Killian reveals his heart’s whereabouts, but we’re certain that when he does, Emma will stop at nothing to get it back for him.

It’s unfortunate that Emma could never hear Killian’s voicemail because if there’s anyone who can expose anguish and genuine remorse through their voice, it’s Colin O’Donoghue. The earnestness in Killian’s message substantiates the very fact that he loves Emma more than anything else in the world. He wants her to remain the special woman that she is regardless of what happens to him and what she thinks of him — now if that isn’t a true hero’s plea then we don’t know what is.

After last week’s heartbreaking reactions to Emma’s powers, we’re glad Snow got to apologize. Tonight’s episode should’ve been called “tearjerker phone calls” because that’s precisely what each call with/to Emma did to us. Goodwin and Morrison are always beautifully brilliant together and the phone call between Snow and Emma is a great example of it. Snow’s ultimate fear is losing her family — no matter how close in proximity they are to her, it’s still something that’s deeply rooted within her.

Thus, it was lovely to watch her tearfully tell her daughter that there’s nothing she would want to change about her even through the phone. Snow’s strongest moment is when she states: “of course, it matters” — Goodwin has an exquisite way of emphasizing Snow’s love when she’s defending someone close to Snow’s heart. Those four words speak louder than anything she’s said because they actualize the fact that as a mother, her love is so indescribably strong that every choice Emma makes and every emotion she feels are more significant to her than anyone could realize. At the end of the day, nothing matters as much as Emma knows she’s loved by her parents. It’s great that at the end, both Charming and Snow took a moment to tell Emma that they don’t want her to change because they love her the way that she is. In the future, we’re merely looking forward to more scenes with the entire family where they just bond over random things. There was a moment when Snow and Charming were looking at a family picture and we couldn’t help but wish they did that very thing with Emma by their side. The simple moments hold an irreplaceable kind of beauty so we’re hoping that in the near future, there’s a lot more of them with this family.

Once Upon A Time never fails to tell beautiful love stories, but the strength of this show also comes from the stunning stories that are being told through platonic love as well. Most importantly, we admire the fact that this episode emphasized the notion of self-love being a form of healing — there is a massive difference between being selfish and loving yourself. It’s remarkable to have people believe in us, but the things they say will never impact us unless we begin to believe them as well.

Additionally, one of the things we love most and felt Once Upon A Time lacked a lot in the past was significant friendships. There hasn’t been a lot of material in that area since season one; therefore, Emma and Elsa’s friendship is one we’ve grown to really treasure. And the scene between the two females at the mansion was more beautiful than we could’ve imagined. Despite the two of them not being the only ones with magical abilities, they’re most alike. Just as Emma was forced to grow up without her family because of a curse Regina cast, Elsa was forced to live without her sister because of the manipulation and chaos the Snow Queen stirred up within their household. Both females have gone an incredibly long time without any kind of love and that later allowed them to lean on other people to control their gifts.

It was lovely to have Elsa talk things through with Emma because they both faced the same kind of fear of potentially hurting those they love most. And while Emma’s powers have always been welcomed by her loved ones until recently, she never embraced the fact that because her parents’ love is the purest, truest form to exist, through her, they created a light, pure form of magic. It was never a big deal to Emma until moments when she had to use it, but this was the understanding that magic is just one of the things that make her special. Jennifer Morrison and Georgina Haig could not have been more marvelous in that scene if they tried — although that’s something we’ve said before. Impeccable chemistry aside, the gorgeous amount of hope, vulnerability, and strength both females exhibited as they joined hands was astounding. It brought to life another message the show emphasized — hope is powerful enough — believing in oneself is powerful enough. Emma had to believe that she wouldn’t harm Elsa when they joined hands, and Elsa had to have hope that she wouldn’t. However, unlike scenes in the past where the females have paralleled Elsa and Anna, at the moment, it isn’t about anyone else but independence. It makes sense for Elsa to be the one helping Emma because she’s the one who’s grasped the concept that self-love plays a fundamental role in control.

It’s interesting that magic seems to come in many colors depending on what’s been conjured, but it’s even more interesting that when Emma held Elsa’s hand, she radiated colors of the rainbow — the perfect combination of colors because the scene was about accepting all entities that make her great – flaws included. There’s not a single soul in the world who’s perfect and free of sin, but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that people choose to make good decisions and learn from their mistakes.

Though not quite similar, just like Emma, Elsa chose her loved ones instead of her powers — exemplifying the importance of choosing goodness over power. From what we’ve seen with the villains in the past, they’ve each chosen power over love. In Arendelle, Elsa chose to have Anna lock her up in the urn instead of harming her sister as Ingrid had hoped. Selflessness and self-love are two very unlikely combinations that have shaped Emma and Elsa gorgeously.

As a reminder to our readers, we don’t believe in spending too much time discussing the things we aren’t pleased with in hopes of not disappointing or offending any of you. We do, however, believe in discussion when necessary so we’re just going to take a moment to give our thoughts on our least favorite storyline this season. As you all know by now, we were very fond of Robin and Regina’s relationship when it first began, but now, it’s gotten too messy for us to enjoy. In this week’s episode especially, there were moments where we were pleased with Regina’s doings but mostly we found ourselves disappointed and not just in her, but in Robin as well.

While Snow and Regina’s relationship has been a favorite of ours since season three, some of the conversations that were had today made us shake our heads. The “love triangle” (obligatory mention of how much we hate this trope) between Snow, David, and Katherine is not even close to the one between Regina, Robin, and Marian. David and Katherine were never married – their relationship was forged through Regina’s curse in order for Snow to lose her true love. While it was still wrong of David to kiss another woman when he was married, what makes there’s slightly okay is the fact that the foundation Katherine and David were sitting on was based on lies.

Robin’s memories of his life with Marian are fully intact, she’s nearly dying, and they have a son. While he’s always been a man with code it’s incredibly disappointing that he isn’t sticking to it. Isn’t true love supposed to make you the best version of yourself possible? It’s disappointing that instead of finding ways to help Marian, he’s chasing Regina’s happiness. It’s unlike him and it’s not something we can support at this point. It’s unfortunate that Marian’s continuously being neglected while we’re on the pursuit of an author — there’s a time and place, but this isn’t it.

However, our disappointments aside, we’re very intrigued by the fact that it seems Robin Hood and Regina’s first meeting wasn’t when he saved her from a flying monkey. A photograph of the two of them kissing outside the bar mysteriously appears in Robin’s coat indicating that at some point in the past, Regina did take Tink’s advice to the fullest. We’re assuming someone’s wiped their memories and at that time, who could it have been other than Cora? Although it’d be an interesting surprise if it wasn’t her.

While Regina still has a long way to go to earn forgiveness, it was nice to see her wrong some rights this week with Henry. It was heartbreaking to watch Henry battle with the fact that he’s ordinary when the truth is he’s an unexplainably incredible being. It takes a lot of strength to be as hopeful as Henry at that age — by now he’s probably 12 and at that age, no kid is that understanding or accepting of the wonders of the world. It was sweet to watch Regina right the wrongs she’d committed in the past by making him believe he was crazy by acknowledging just how special his heart is since he’s the truest believer.

In the past, she’s never really been a mother to him; therefore, it was great that she chose to mention that superheroes aren’t the only people in the world who are gifted. What Henry’s done, no kid could ever — he found and convinced Emma to believe that she’s the savior all on his own. He later encouraged everyone to forgive and accept that they’re a family thus exemplifying heroic traits remarkably It was also nice of her to acknowledge that Emma’s hero considering she blamed her for ruining her happiness. Surprisingly, it was great of her to play the voice of reason with the Charmings by stating that Emma’s powers are what make her special and that they shouldn’t support her wanting to get rid of them.

Although our hearts broke in the midst of the scene, it’s exciting that the show chose to tackle on Anna’s feelings of abandonment. Because of her generously giving persona we were to believe that she’d always understand her sister’s need to isolate herself, but it’s fascinating that we were given a moment of her expressing the anger within. Even though the shards of glass are meant to bring out pain and suffering, it’s understandable that even though Anna forgives and loves Elsa deeply, there are parts of her that have wondered why she was left alone. It’s also understandable that she’d even blame herself from time to time. In terms of performances, it allowed Lail to bring to life a version of Anna we’ve yet to see before, and truthfully, it’s still astounding that this is her biggest role so far as an actress — something tells us we aren’t prepared for what we’ll see in the future with her. Lail’s done a marvelous job of capturing Anna’s bubbly spirit, but bringing to life the angrier, broken side of her isn’t something we ever thought we’d see. As sad as it was, the “go away, Anna” Frozen reference was, it was genius. It’s one of those scenes, that everyone who’s loved the animated film should see because of how marvelously it fits both characters.  And now we’re even more thrilled about their upcoming reunion than we were before.

Speaking of performances, there aren’t enough words for Elizabeth Mitchell in that very scene as well. Mitchell did a great job of simultaneously bringing to light both Ingrid’s heartbreaks of continuously being perceived as a monster, and the anger it projects within her. She’s so twisted and complex we literally could never predict what she’ll do next. Did anyone else get an Enchanted vibe when she landed in our world? A+ reference, Once Upon A Time. A+.

Now that we’ve covered the heavier side of the episode, we can’t pass up the opportunity to discuss how lovely the Arendelle flashbacks were this week. Elizabeth Lail, Georgina Haig, and Scott Michael Foster effortlessly bring so much color into the show we’re dreading the day we have to say goodbye. It was nice to momentarily be taken away from the heartbreaks in Storybrooke with their scenes because the unique personalities they each have are an absolute delight to watch. Kristoff and Elsa going at each other with the fact that Kristoff’s slept in a barn and Anna’s excitement with the realization that Elsa wasn’t serious about being angry with her were marvelous to watch. “If you see Ingrid, use the secret signal, wait do we have a secret signal?” “I think run will work just fine.” We’re pretty thankful for the fact that Kristoff and Anna bring an eccentric form of entertainment to the show with their love.

We’d also love to point out how much we adored that little scene of them sneaking away with the urn, as we all know, they never got the opportunity to do things such as sneak around in the castle together while their parents were asleep or something. It felt like a moment where the sisters were making up for lost time, especially with Anna’s remarks about skeletons in her closet and actual skeletons – there was a sense of heartbreaking beauty to that scene where it almost seemed as though they were children again.

Fireworks are the perfect way to celebrate Emma finally having control over her powers. And what makes the scene even more beautiful is Emma’s childlike excitement. Morrison has an amazing gift when it comes to manifesting emotions and she shines gorgeously when it’s regarding Emma doing something she’s always wanted as a kid — sharing her happiness with a family. We can imagine how much sweeter the scene would’ve gotten if Emma and Elsa didn’t realize they were wearing yellow ribbons that couldn’t be removed.

As it turns out, now that both women have embraced their powers, Ingrid’s gotten what she’s wanted and next week she’ll be turning Storybrooke upside down. What are your thoughts on this week’s episode?

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