Review: Once Upon A Time 4.01 – “A Tale of Two Sisters”

Unless you’ve been living under a very large rock all summer, then you should know that Frozen – the much beloved sister tale that burst onto the scene less than a year ago — is coming to Storybrooke in Season Four. Apparently the world can’t let it go… Now, there are so many questions as to why this is happening. I’m just going to ignore them all and instead build a snowman with the rest of the cast of Once Upon a Time. I find it’s best to not question things on OUAT, but instead just accept them and go with it. It makes for a more enjoyable viewing and- trust me- I just binged the latter half of season 3 all in one day. So, I’m going to try and let all my questions go (but seriously, wtf is that Baelfire/Rumplestiltskin stuff? I still don’t know!).

SPOILERS BELOW

Anyways, it’s a new season (Season four, whoah!) and time for some newish storylines! Let’s start with the flashbacks to Frozen’s land of Arendelle: we see a ship struggling through a storm. This looks oh-so familiar! That’s because it is straight out of a scene from Frozen when Anna and Elsa’s parents so suddenly die at sea. Well, we get some insight: the sister’s mother (Pascale Hutton) wants them to know the “truth” so she writes a message in a bottle that she hopes will get to them. Then they die. Sad.

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Five years later (and after the events of the movie), Anna (Elizabeth Lail) and Elsa (Georgina Haig) visit their parents graves. Anna is getting married soon and Elsa has a surprise. She prepared her mother’s wedding dress for Anna to wear (side note: the dress is not the best-looking). Elsa also gifts Anna with a beautiful snowflake necklace that will come into play later. They talk about Kristoff and Sven, but Elsa gets distracted by a book of runes. As she reads it, snow starts to fall around her. She then cries about her parent’s deaths being her fault and rushes away. Does Elsa have any other clothes besides her icy blue dress? No? Okay, cool.

Anna finds a mopey Elsa in the woods and tries to cheer her up. Apparently the diary says that her parents left because of Elsa. Anna thinks there is more to the story and thinks her in-laws, the rock trolls, will know the answer. Sure enough, Grand Pabby (voiced by Jonathan Rhys-Davies) comes to life and I must say, I was impressed by this effect. He tells the sisters he doesn’t know the truth, but knows their parents were actually going to a place called Mist Haven. Ooh, mystical. Anna is all gung-ho. She wants to go there and find out, but Elsa refuses to let her go.

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Later, we finally meet Kristoff (Scott Michael Foster) and Sven the Reindeer! I’m digging it. Elsa is searching for Anna and Kristoff lies about her whereabouts. How many times has Elsa said “I’m the queen!” in this episode so far? About three times too many. Of course Anna left for Mist Haven. I loved the banter between Sven and Kristoff and I’d be okay with an episode of just that.

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Elsa reaches the harbor to see a ship off in the distance. Too late. Kristoff tells her to let it go (there’s that line again!) and that Anna doesn’t give up on the people she loves. We see a cheery looking Anna off on the ship, headed towards Mist Haven, aka the Enchanted Forest!

Now that we’ve covered the Arendelle storyline, let us turn our attention to Storybrooke! Elsa has somehow found herself in a new place and she does not look happy. She almost gets hit by a car driven by Grumpy (Lee Arenberg) and Sleepy (Faustino Di Bauda), but she stops it with her magic ice powers right before it hits her! More on her later.

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Last season, “savior” Emma (Jennifer Morrison) saved Maid Marian (Christie Laing) from death. This, of course, ruined Evil Queen Regina’s (Lana Parilla) budding relationship with Robin Hood (Sean Maguire). Maid Marian is NOT a fan of Regina, still thinking her to be evil. Robin later comes to tell Regina he can’t dishonor his vows to his wife. Regina cries and moans and breaks a mirror- that reminds her, she has been holding Sidney aka the Magic Mirror aka Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) captive this entire time. She throws him back into his mirror. At first she wants to use him to travel back in time and kill Marian, but later she gets the idea to discover who wrote Henry’s magic “Once Upon A Time…” book and change the endings so that the villains finally get their happy endings. Okie dokie.

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Meanwhile, Emma and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) keep playing the “will-they-or-won’t-they?” game. She feels guilty about ruining Regina’s love life accidentally and keeps trying to make amends with Regina. Unfortunately, they keep getting interrupted by “crises” and this time is no different thanks to Elsa. Emma and Hook are hot, er cold, on her trail but then she sends her abominable giant snowman (the one from the movie! Der!) after them. The snowman wrecks havoc on the town, but Regina ends up saving everyone, including Marian, who changes her mind about “evil” Regina.

After the giant snowman crisis is averted, Emma jokes about watching Netflix (a joke that hit a little too close to home for me). She admits she is avoiding him, but plants a smooch on his lips, telling him to be patient. Alas, us viewers shall be patient too. In a scene reminiscent of “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” from that one movie, Frozen, Emma visits Regina and tells her through the door that she will give Regina her happiness. If only she knew…

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In a side story, Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) are happily married (gag). They visit Neal aka Baelfire’s (Michael Raymond-James) grave and Rumple promises to be good now. Belle finds a mansion that appeared from nowhere (um, what?) in Storybrooke and decides to take up residence with Rumple there. The two have a dance (in signature Beauty and the Beast apparel with accompanying “A Tale As Old As Time” music) and I can’t help but think this isn’t as fun without the peppy sidetalk from the enchanted waitstaff. Where’s Cogsworth when you need him?

Anyways, Rumple manages to switch back the dark blade with the fake and discovers another enchanted object that looks frighteningly similar to the magic hat from Fantasia’s “The Magician’s Apprentice!” Yay, more Disney crossover!

Meanwhile, Elsa discovers that Rumple had Anna’s snowflake necklace in his shop. She finds it and promises to find Anna! Where did Anna go? So much mystery and intrigue!

Can I take a moment to address Henry’s (Jared Gilmore) puberty? His voice has dropped five decibels! Puberty done hit him hard! Also, is anyone else wishing that Kristen Bell had just played Anna? I mean, Elizabeth Lail isn’t bad, but she doesn’t have the same warmth and spirit that Kristen Bell does. Time will tell to see how Anna’s character plays out.

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But there you have it, folks. Season four is off to an icy start. I must say, I had low expectations and so far I am not let down. I have been bogged down in the past by the endless, repeating stories of OUAT, so it is nice to see a change of pace, even if it is in the form of Frozen. The newcomers were good and full of much needed life in terms of the tired flashbacks to the same ol’ Evil Queen vs. Snow White schtick.

Here’s hoping that Frozen continues to bring the much needed fire back to Once Upon A Time and adds some new, intriguing, and altogether different stories to a show in it’s fourth season. Let me know what you guys think in the comments below! By the way, where is OLAF?!

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Post Author: Ben Fleck