The Cold Never Bothered Her Anyway. In Case That Wasn't Clear.
The snow glows white in Storybrooke tonight as the gang meets Elsa, and two new baddies get introduced.
Shortly after the events of the last episode, Elsa comes out of hiding in Gold's shop (where she found Anna's necklace) and somehow no one notices the lady in the Halloween costume standing in the middle of Main Street. She's understandably terrified of cars (and black people, it's oddly implied?)...
...and she makes an ice wall so that no one can leave Storybrooke until she finds Anna.
I thought no one could leave Storybrooke anyway? I can never keep track of all these curses. Where would they go? These people are useless in the real world. Anyway, the wall knocks over some power lines, causing a town-wide blackout. The setup is hokey, but it leads to a whole lot of plot in both Storybrooke and Flashback Forest, making for a much stronger episode than the season premiere.
How did everyone do? Let's rank them all, from Drag Queen (that's good) to Henry (that's not).
Okay, so stay with me here: Bo Peep is some sort of warlord (David's word) extortionist with a private army. She's not so little, and she has a magical staff and an amazingly horrible (emphasis on amazing) cockney accent. She's basically Mrs. Lovett crossed with The Godfather crossed with...well, Little Bo Peep. They don't explain it and they don't have to; we just need to know that she's bad, and that she can "brand" her "flock" and later find them with her staff. The show doesn't have a strong villain right now, with Elsa still scared of walkie-talkies and Regina still moping, and Robin Weigert's draggy performance is exactly what we needed this week. For all the talk of her power and her army, she's defeated pretty easily, but she keeps chewing the scenery the whole way down. In Storybrooke, she's a butcher or chef of some sort (who we've never seen before), so here's hoping we'll get to see more of her later.
- The Snow Queen
It's a big week for businesses and people who have been in Storybrooke all along but whom we've never seen before, as we meet the still-unnamed proprietor of the ice cream parlor, Any Given Sundae (yup). We only see her for a brief tag at the end of the episode, but Elizabeth Mitchell shows promise. She's an actor who can get the tone of this show right and have a ton of fun doing it. I'm excited to see more of her next week.
The Enchanted Forest flashbacks are set when David is still a humble shepherd in a hideous wig (it's actually a pretty good wig, but it is not a good look), which helps establish the timeline of Anna's visit amid events we've already seen. Anna seeks him out because he's friends with Kristoff (of course he is), and they bond over dead parents and betrayal and such. Back in Storybrooke, he adorably asks Hook what his intentions are with his daughter, but more importantly saves the day, using his past with Anna to stand in for her when Elsa needs support to control her powers. Points deducted for the way he points out that Emma and Regina put up walls too. Ugh.
Anna is better this week! She doesn't quite fit in in The Enchanted Forest, but it's clear they're going for the tone and slightly anachronistic dialogue of the movie. More importantly, she's lost the bumbling act (except for being a terrible liar about her "mission"), and is actually kind of a bad-ass, teaching David how to use a sword so that he can fight Bo Peep. (The Charming we know is pretty good with a sword and doesn't run from a fight, so does this mean that's all due to Anna? That's a nice bit of retconning, OUAT.) If you're playing the "not-so-subtle-references-to-other-media" drinking game at home, when David's mother gives her a snack for the road, she chirps "I love sandwiches!"
- Snow White/Mary Margaret
Apparently, Mary Margaret is Mayor now, having broken the curse and gotten her "kingdom" back. That wasn't what she had in mind, but Regina doesn't want to be in charge anymore, and there's a crisis. Grumpy, Happy, and Granny push her to deal with the power outage, and she flips out, ranting that she never asked to be in charge, especially while breastfeeding a newborn. It starts out super-whiny, especially from a woman who was supposed to be Queen one day under normal circumstances, but by the time she ends with "I'm starting to get why Regina was evil! It wasn't her, it was you! You have survived your entire lives without lightbulbs -- buy a flashlight!" you have to admit she has a point. Plus, baby Neal is crazy cute, and enough of a newborn to make me think he might be Ginnifer Goodwin's actual baby.
Sure, she gets herself trapped in an ice cave with Elsa and nearly dies, but she does some good work while she's there, calmly talking Elsa down and bonding with her over having newly discovered powers with no guidance on how to use them. She does a mostly decent job of being a mom to Henry and a sheriff to Storybrooke. And she has no time for Hook's bullshit.
Your name is Grumpy, not Asshole. As a janitor and a miner, you've probably got at least as much experience at fixing generators as schoolteacher/princess/outlaw Mary Margaret. There's no need to yell at the poor woman.
Your name is Happy, not Whiny.
It's not at all clear why she's even in this episode, let alone why she goes with the dwarves to complain. She's certainly shown herself to be far more resourceful than this in the past.
Emma: Aren't you cold?
Elsa: It's never bothered me.
I want to like Elsa. I really do. Normally, continuity with the fairy tales or Disney movies doesn't matter on OUAT, and in fact is kind of antithetical to the show's whole mission statement. But there's only one version of Frozen, and we've already seen that most of what we know from the movie is true here too. So it's impossible not to notice that Elsa has backslid quite a bit, losing control of her powers again. She says it's because Anna helps her, and I buy that, but it's boring to watch. There's no spin here, it's just something we've seen before, minus the catchy song. It's a dramatically convenient way to make Elsa a threat, which she's really not, and it's not consistent with where her character should be now. She's a little bit Little Mermaid, a little bit Anya from Buffy, a lot boring.
Fortunately, by the end of the episode Elsa's in control and in good with the Charmings, using Bo Peep's staff to try to locate Anna, who was branded back in the day. It doesn't quite work, but it does tell them she's still alive, so Elsa can...warm up a little bit. It turns out she's not the season's Big Bad after all. Unfortunately, she can't seem to melt the ice wall. Who could be keeping it frozen? Who??
Hook is a decent sidekick/bodyguard for David, but his continual begging with Emma just is not cute. He calls their meeting at the ice wall their "second date," with the fight against the snow monster (which was, like, an hour ago?) being their first. "If I waited for us to have a quiet dinner, blah blah blah." Just make out with David already.
Mopey Regina is barely on screen this week, but she does send Henry a message via crow, which is an A+ drama queen move. It says she doesn't want to see him, which is just sensible. In the end, Henry whines his way back into her heart, but time will tell what she'll be like going forward.
- David's Mom
Mrs. Shepherd sends Anna to Rumplestiltskin, which is an astonishingly stupid thing to do.
- Ice Cave
I know I rag on the CGI on this show a lot but nothing is as bad as this styrofoam set. Go back to the green screen! We didn't know how good we had it!
He's barely in this episode but they still make Robert Carlyle get into makeup for a one-second shot. Poor guy.
And we're back to Belle just standing around. I think she had one line?
- ABC's Copywriter
"Next Sunday, frost bites." OOF.
Henry Googled how to get over a breakup ("It didn't talk about your boyfriend's wife time traveling back from the past") and put together a gift basket for Regina including DVDs, chocolate and red wine. Even when he's being nice, Henry is the worst. This also brings up, once again, the technology situation in Storybrooke. They have Google but Regina sent a scrap of paper tied to a crow instead of texting. I won't belabor it, but the show shouldn't draw attention to it. And what year is it? Has Frozen come out yet? Has Henry? (I'll be here all week! Try Bo Peep's veal!)