Monday, October 27, 2014

That "Perfect" Girl is Gone

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time, 4.05 "Breaking Glass" - Spoilers!

I don't know if anyone's noticed (no one's said anything - granted, nobody ever says anything about my reviews - but that's neither here nor there. I do this for myself), but all of the titles of these Once Upon a Time posts for Season 4 are all taken from lyrics from the Frozen soundtrack. It was a little bit of a challenge I set for myself - to see if I could find a title from any Frozen song that fit in with the episode, regardless of how much of a stretch it was. So far, they've all fit in pretty well (though I'm thinking I may wish that I saved my title for "White Out" for later. Eh, whatever).  This episode is no exception, but I am allowing myself a tiny tweak. Not to the words, but in how they're presented. And I will tell you why.

In the movie Frozen, Elsa grows up thinking that she had to hide her powers from everyone. Her parents ingrain her with "Conceal, don't feel. Don't let it show." This mantra becomes part of her to the point that she is incapacitated with fear whenever her powers start to manifest themselves. She sees her powers as a flaw - something to be eradicated. Or at the very least, hidden away. Hiding her powers is an achievement and something to strive for until she can do it entirely. Or, perfectly, if you like. Until on the day of her coronation, her loses control of her powers and everybody sees what she can do. And all her striving for perfection is gone. Elsa will never be perfect in hiding her powers because now everyone knows about them. Thus, we get the anthem of "Let It Go" - or, somewhat more accurately - "Everybody already knows that I'm a screw-up, so to hell it with! I'm going to show off everything I can do!"

So, when I hear the lyric "that perfect girl is gone" - I hear the sentiment of a person who was told that one way is best, but she can't achieve that because it's an impossible goal. Elsa's done trying to hide and trying to keep up the illusion of "perfection" - the illusion that she is the ideal ruler for Arendelle, that she has no magic and that she isn't a danger to anyone else. Because perfection, honestly, is killing her. It's killing who she really is and it's killing her chance at a happy life.

However, throughout the movie, we see that happiness is not found in perfection. It's found in being honest and real with yourself and the people you love. It's found in living your life and trying your best, knowing and accepting that you will fail and not everything is going to go your way. But it's also found in the fun moments - in the silly moments. Like turning the city square into a skating rink in the middle of July (or whenever that was) and letting everyone ice skate the way Elsa and Anna did when they were kids.

So, yeah, that perfect girl is gone. Because what Elsa ends up becoming is so much better than being this artificial version of "perfect."

That's great for Frozen and all - but what does that have to do with Once Upon a Time? Quite a bit, actually (continuing on this theme of "It would have been a crime against humanity NOT to incorporate Frozen into OUAT Season 4!")

She Now Joins the Plotline, Already in Progress

Regina Mills hasn't had a whole lot to do this season, admittedly. Then again, she's kind of been on... well, I don't want to say that she's been on a pout, per se. But holing herself up in her vault on the pretense of trying to find a way to cure Maid Marian doesn't lead to a lot of time and room for character development (okay, yeah, she probably really is trying to find a cure, but watching her dig through spellbooks and dusty potion cabinets does not make for compelling television). But in this episode, it was good to see her finally get a chance to stop with this reenactment of "Wizard Angst" and join the search for Snow Queen Prime.

On her way, she runs into Emma who is still trying to make amends for the whole Maid Marian thing. And Regina is totally justified in her anger - even if she's a little... over the top, shall we say, in expressing it. This situation is not easy at all. You feel bad for Regina for losing the love of her life in such a weird way. But you also can't fault Emma for her actions either. And it's easy to be mad at Regina for lashing out the way she does. But we do have to give her credit (as Emma does) that Regina is trying to save Marian. So, there's that. But Regina is certainly not interested in being friends with Emma.

I'm not really sure what I think of Regina lately. One of the things I loved about Season 3B is seeing how far Regina has come from being the Evil Queen that inspires fear in everyone she meets. A huge part of that was finding love with Robin Hood and how he seemed to be one of the few people who didn't hold Regina's past against her. Even back in Season 2 and the first half of Season 3, the people that knew Regina best still held onto those old hatreds - even when she was clearly trying to be better and earn their forgiveness. But Robin didn't - for whatever reasons he had (that we haven't had a chance to explore, but I hope we get there soon). Even with Marian back and her (understandable) fear of the Evil Queen - Robin still trusts and loves Regina, even though his code of honor forbids him from being with her.

I can understand Regina lashing out against Emma, even if I don't like it. Regina once told Rumplestiltskin that the only thing she has is her anger. It protects her and fuels her powers. And though we did see that love fueled her ability to use light magic at the end of Season 3 - well, now she believes she doesn't have love. So, she goes back to her anger. And we saw it in this episode - she is mired even more deeply in her dark magic because that's what she's comfortable with. Which means she belittles and threatens Emma. Emma's an easy target for Regina's anger. Even moreso since Emma is trying to reach out and be Regina's friend - that's when you're the most vulnerable and susceptible to being hurt. Regina sees that as Emma's weakness and she exploits it - leaving Emma to go back to the sheriff's station with regret and guilt and hurt weighing deeply on her mind, not just about Regina, but about things that happened to her in the past.

But yeah - Regina's storyline and her character development is complicated. I like how the story's being told, even if I don't really like Regina's actions right now. And not just because she's hurting my favorite precious duckling princess Emma - but also because it's kind of uncomfortable for me to watch. There are elements of Regina's story that ring embarrassingly true for me (and I'm certain other people have this as well) - where you've been hurt by someone you once considered a friend or at least an ally and you convince yourself that they never truly had your best interests. That they were always going to betray you in time and you have to wall yourself off against that ever happening again. Even when you think of going back and trying to patch things up - you're still afraid that it might happen again and you want to avoid that as much as possible. Even if it means you also close yourself off from true happiness.

Just some food for thought.

Seen It Before

I don't know about the rest of you, but I've been pleading for more Emma Swan backstory and in this episode, we finally got some (I really hope this is something that becomes a regular thing because I really enjoyed Abby Ross as young Emma). Emma's thieving ways started early - more or less out of necessity (and people wonder why she ends up with the pirate. Come on, people! This is a foregone conclusion!). She meets a girl named Lily who says she too is a runaway orphan and they team up to be lonely, thieving runaways together (so Neal didn't teach Emma everything about being a thief. Good to know). Together, they break into this super-fancy summer house (this being autumn in Minnesota, so all the rich vacationers are gone) and they basically enjoy their life on the run and become besties. It's damn adorable.

Except... it turns out that Lily is not an orphan as she led Emma to believe. Lily actually has a family who's looking for her - in fact, her dad is the one who's come to find her. And the absolute hurt in young Emma's face and voice - look, we know that Emma spent her entire life wishing she had a family. It was always in the forefront of her mind. She would give anything to have what Lily has - and Lily is the one running away from it. Try as Emma might, she can't forgive someone who would give up something (that she thinks is) so wonderful and great. Add the lying on top of it - yeah, teenage Emma is somewhat justified in turning away from Lily.

(to be fair - we don't know the kind of home life Lily has. But the fact that her father was out looking for her does give a huge indication that she is loved and cared for. Which is more than Emma's ever had).

One With the Wind and Sky

Back in the world of present day Storybrooke, Elsa thinks she sees Anna in the mists in the graveyard (yeah, yeah, ABC we get it - it's Halloween, you needed some spooktacular thing to put in your promotional stuff this week. Even though Once Upon a Time is a pretty Halloween-ish show to begin with. But whatever), so she takes off after ghost!Anna. And we know who's waiting on the other end of this mini-quest. It's a pretty straightforward trope - but anything to see Elsa make that ice bridge. Because that will never not be cool)

Snow Queen Prime shows up to be one of the smoothest villains that Once has ever had. No offense to the wonderful Rebecca Mader's delightfully evil Wicked Witch (who I adored last season), but I am seriously enjoying Elizabeth Mitchell's Snow Queen. She's evil in a vastly different way than Zelena - where Zelena was tough and brash in her confidence that she has everything under control and she's not above gloating at very victory, the Snow Queen is (appropriately) cooler and more subdued in her approach. We still don't have the foggiest idea what she's up to (I've really got to stop with these weather puns) and Snow Queen Prime isn't about to tell us. But we want her to tell us. We want to know what she's up to. And with the addition of this mirror... well, you really oughta go read Hans Christian Andersen's original tale The Snow Queen and you'll probably have a good idea of what's going to happen (and seeing as what the focus has been in the previous episodes, I'm suddenly very fearful for a certain dashing rapscallion/scoundrel...)

I needed another "Let It Go" gif in here. For reasons.
Date Night with the Charmings

Last week, Captain Swan got their big splashy date night and it was, appropriately, beautiful and feelsy and wonderful and made me all kinds of happy (and I'm just going to pretend that thing with Rumple didn't happen. Until I have to remember it for story reasons, that is. And I will probably start swearing again). This week, the B-plot was Snow and Charming taking a much-deserved break from sheriffing and mayoring and babying to have a nice night out together. Snow is, understandably, hesitant to leave baby Baelfire (I refuse to call him that other name), though even new parents deserve and need some time off. So, leaving the baby with Belle (FINALLY! She gets something to do!), they head out for a nighttime stroll. Except Will Scarlet has escaped from the sheriff's station. But that's okay - because Snowing (Snow + Charming) spent their honeymoon going after a gorgon (...yeah... that happened), so date night can certainly be chasing after an escaped convict (whose crime was drunkenly breaking into the library. Hey, I can understand. If I drank, I would probably do the same thing. Maybe).

Using her Mad Tracking Skillz (is that even a meme anymore?) Snow finds Will out on the beach reenacting Holes. And lovely Princess Mayor Rainbow Lollipop deduces that her charming hubby planned this whole thing in order to help Snow feel like a badass again - let the vicious criminal loose so she could have the opportunity to track and apprehend Storybrooke's newest village idiot (Grumpy was unavailable for comment).

Well - it was cute and all, but Snow really needs to have more faith in her own abilities (and the jail cell at the station needs some new locks. Put that in along the security system replacement budget. Betamax... I ask you...)

Rekindling a Beautiful... Tolerance

Back to Regina and Emma in the woods - they have some tracking of their own to do in trying to find Elsa and Snow Queen Prime (not hard when Elsa leaves an ice bridge to follow - wait a second...)

I will not tire of these
And Regina realizes that Sidney has betrayed her (to be fair, she did trap him in a mirror again), so she and Emma have to work together to beat the Snow Queen (and I'm sad that Marshmallow didn't make a repeat appearance. Then again, would I really want something of Elsa's being used for evil?) After they beat the Snow Queen and Elsa's freed from her prison, Queenie decides that she's got what she came for and she beats it the hell out of there.

(oh, PS - Regina's back to using dark magic again. *le sigh* And she'd come so far, too)

With this season being all about Emma, I think it's fantastic that she's trying to mend fences with Regina here. And not just mend what was already broken, but to reinforce it - by admitting to Regina that she hoped that the two of them could be friends. I mean, the Frozen Swan friendship is wonderful. But (sadly) it's only going to last through this half-season (as much as I plead on Tumblr that the Frozen characters could stay because they're all awesome). And even though Emma has her family and a guy that she cares about - she also needs a friend. And it would be nice if that friend understood something of having magical powers. Regina and Emma's friendship was kind of starting to develop last season when Regina was teaching Emma to use her powers - though at that point it was a mentor-student relationship and only born out of necessity. But wouldn't it be neat if they started to kind of like each other on a more informal basis?

Well - one can dream.

Other Things I Liked/Noticed

- I laughed mightily when Charming listed Asgard as one of the improbably places that he and Snow could end up on their walk. One, because there's nothing saying Once couldn't incorporate Norse mythology into their story at some point (or that Disney-owned Marvel couldn't let Thor into the place). Two, because Josh Dallas played Fandral in the first Thor and that was just a hilarious moment. So, thank you for that.

- Hook wasn't in this episode much, but that's okay. Once is an ensemble show and each storyline needs the time it deserves, so everyone has to take turns (as much as I would totally watch the hell out of the Emma and Hook show). But what we did get of Hook was awesome. Especially since Emma is opening up to him more - that he's interested in her past and her childhood memories and she's willing to share that with him. The entire ending scene in the sheriff's station -

If they keep giving me reason to use this, by damn, I'm going to keep using it!
- Elsa's new purple cloak thingy! Back when they were filming these early episodes, Georgina Haig either tweeted or mentioned in an interview that the flowy Elsa cape kept getting stuck on tree branches during scenes in the forest and they'd have to stop filming and get her untangled. So, I wonder if the new cloak was an innovation out of the necessity of her having to be out in the woods. Or if it was just her showing off her ice-wardrobe-making abilities and trying out new colors. Either way - I liked it!

- A tiny nitpick - but the young Emma flashbacks were supposed to have taken place in 1998. Lily mentions something about her strange birthmark making her feel special like Harry Potter. Except... Harry Potter really wasn't that big of a thing in 1998. It was around, certainly (Philosopher's Stone was published in the UK in 1997, Sorcerer's Stone in the US in 1998). But it wasn't quite the cultural touchstone it is now. It wasn't until Prisoner of Azkaban was published that it really started getting momentum and being this huge phenomenon. It's a tiny thing, but where I spent much of my high school and college years being totally obsessed with Harry Potter - well... don't argue with me on this.

- Snow Queen Prime's Fortress of Solitude was really cool looking. Scary as hell, but cool (sorry - no getting around that pun)

- Will Scarlet's fitting in nicely. Emma even shared her Pop Tart with him.

- Snow Queen Prime was one of Emma's foster parents back in the day! Can I just say - CALLED IT!!!
You need a villain gif to celebrate a villain theory.
- Who was taking pictures of Regina and Robin Hood kissing? Not to mention Neal and Emma? I mean... is the Person of Interest Machine sending out souvenir selfies as a side job? What is the deal??

In Conclusion

Regina's out of her vault (yay!) But she's still not exactly buddied-up to Emma. Or anyone, really (well, that's par for the course, isn't it?) Emma's pretty much let all her walls down and she's opened up to other people (still not over the kissing and the hand holding!) This episode was kind of like a "bridge" between all the high-powered emotional set-up in this stretch of the story and the (presumably) high-stakes plotline full of death and consequences (okay, there better NOT be any death because given who the candidates would be for Whose Demise Will Kill the Fandom the Most - I don't like my chances). And I have to say - it's nice to be able to go to bed without that adrenaline rush of "OMG THIS SHOW YOU GUYS!!!!!1!!11" keeping me awake.

But if this was the short rest before All Hell Breaks Loose... what does that mean for the rest of the season?

Next Time

Oh, Rumple. You hated it.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

They Broke Nelson!

Review/Recap of Doctor Who 8.10 "In the Forest of the Night" - Spoilers!

Kind of not sure what I should say about "In the Forest of the Night." Other than it felt like a calming presence right before everything goes to hell and back in the finale. Hence, the song I chose to go along with this review (I dunno - "Perfect Time of Day" has always been that lovely, relaxing song for me. You just shush).  To sum up -

- This whole thing with Clara lying to Danny about not traveling with the Doctor - was kind of resolved in a fairly okay way. Like - Clara realized she'd done something wrong, she apologized, Danny was upset, but he accepted her apology. Danny knows that traveling with the Doctor is a huge part of Clara's life and it's something that's always going to be a part of her. I think that's something he loves about her - she finds amazing things and gets excited about sharing it with him. And while he has zero desire to travel himself - he supports her in what she loves. Just as long as she doesn't keep secrets about it. And he's willing to give her the time she needs to do it - or decide she doesn't want to do it anymore. I like the way this went. I like that they didn't have a big fight about it. I like that they came to a mature, unselfish conclusion that works for both of them. Isn't that what being in a relationship is all about?

(at least, that's what I hear. Having never been in such a relationship myself... um... yeah... Next Topic!)

- The Twelfth Doctor and kids - especially little Maeve. That was adorable. I love that we got another kid for the Doctor to interact with that wasn't Courtney (she was all right - just too obnoxious to have all the time). Maeve was great, though. Kind of like fairy-tale-struck Amelia Pond - though Maeve's fairy-tale-ness was due to the fact that she'd experienced some life-altering trauma (the disappearance of her sister) and that was how she coped with it. By making friends (of sorts) with the little flying-light-people (didn't catch what they were called - I'll have to figure it out later).

- It's interesting that this adventure was undertaken with the "Gifted and Talented" students at Coal Hill (and even Clara admits they call them that in order to make them feel better about not being... whatever you call it). The kids with Issues, I guess. Anger management, ADD, mental health struggles - things of that nature. Because if there was ever a Gifted and Talented person in the universe, it's the Doctor (especially the Twelfth Doctor). And the problem - that of the sudden growth of trees worldwide - certainly takes some out of the box thinking that clearly isn't going to be solved by follow-the-rules-and-outlined-policies-and-don't-use-any-imagination-whatsoever governments, as evidenced by the fact that they send out fire teams to burn down the forest and that doesn't work (I'll get to that in a minute).  But these kids - they think about these problems a little bit different. They come at it in a new way that isn't "what we've always done." Which is how the Doctor works. And because of that, he's been perceived by authority figures as a rebel and someone to be shut up or gotten rid of. Someone to be medicated or fixed in some way (and here I must stress that I am NOT knocking using medication for mental health issues. Hell, I take medication for anxiety! I couldn't cope with life if I didn't!) I dunno - I just liked that juxtaposition of Things Not Being What They Seem and solutions coming in unexpected ways.

- Question - Why do they go to controlled burning first? Why not send out - I dunno - a bunch of chainsaws or axes or something that doesn't have the potential to burn everything down? One errant breeze and you guys are toast! Pun not intended. Honestly... Bunch of freaking morons...

- There were some really great lines and themes in this story. I'm not familiar with Frank Cotrell-Boyce's writing (though I feel like I should be - his name certainly rings a bell). Some of my favorites:
     - "Even my life is too short for Les Miserables."
     - "Do you need to save the world when it's already saving itself?"
     - The inclusion of this joke:

All in all, a solid episode to finish out the not-finale portion of Series 8. And from the "Next Time" trailer - it looks like the finale's fixin' to be a doozy. Well - let's do this thing. I'm ready for it!

(just kidding - I'm not ready)

(Theory - I think Missy is going to take Clara over and do... something sinister with her persona. Haven't thought that all the way through yet...)

Monday, October 20, 2014

People Don't Really Change

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time 4.04 "The Apprentice" - Spoilers!
"Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us." - from "A Christmas Story"
I had a whole review (more or less) written up about this episode last night. But after stewing about what happened (plus rewatching it a couple of times), I've figured out more or less what I think is going on. Hint: If you think my subject line is referring to anybody but Rumplestiltskin, you are sorely mistaken and I am going to tell you why.

Head Games

If all we had to go by in interpreting what's happening were the events in present day Storybrooke, then most of the blame for everything wrong would lie solely at the feet of Killian Jones. And I admit, I was more than a little ticked off at my precious puppy pirate last week (I am miffed that Rumple took my term of endearment for Hook and turned it into a snide comment, but whatever). However, we also had a flashback to the Enchanted Forest involving Anna of Arendelle. And the key thing about this "Once Is Frozen" story arc is that while Once Upon a Time is not technically doing a straight-up Frozen sequel, they are comparing how the Frozen story parallels with what's going on in Storybrooke right now. Like I've said before, the similarities and the comparisons are so obvious, it would have been a crime not to draw those parallels this season. This go-round, Princess Anna who is the Nicest Nice to Ever Nice going to the Bane of All Our Existences to find out why her parents made the trek to Mist Haven.

In flashback, Rumple is the tried-and-true piece of trash manipulator that we have all come to know and despise. He manipulates good people into doing terrible things. He makes Anna believe that he's sent her to poison the Apprentice, but he really sent her in with the antidote to the poison he's already administered. He tries to make her think that she's succumbed to her inner darkness, which she laughs off because she says she never intended to poison the Apprentice - joke's on you Dark One! But then he brings out that damn contract she signed and tells her only way out of the contract is to kill him. So OF COURSE she's going to think about killing Rumple! And Rumple uses that to get the magic he needs to break into the Sorcerer's Vault (that's what I'm calling it) and steal the Hat Box (that's what I'm calling that too), leaving Anna to feel completely guilty and full of doubt over what she's done. And as a bonus for Rumple - he's also fed her more doubt over her parents possibly being afraid of Elsa and them wanting to find a way to remove her powers. Which, to Anna, would be tantamount to cutting off Elsa's hand. Or something (look, I was trying to work in a hand pun - given what I'm going to address next).

"Unlike me, you haven't changed one bit. Crocodile."

So if Anna of Arendelle - who doesn't have a speck of darkness in her at all and has never struggled with such - can be manipulated by Rumple into believing that she is the Worst Possible Person In All Of Our Lifetimes and Beyond, what chance does the selfish-and-sinister-but-working-on-being-reformed Captain Hook have of coming out of Rumple's convoluted head games unscathed? Even if Killian does think he's got plenty to blackmail Rumple over. Given the way Rumple switched out the real dagger with the fake one that Belle still has (more than likely) - it's highly possible that Killian still has the upper hand (nope, those hand puns aren't going away anytime soon. Not even sorry).

I already did a quick review of the actual Getting Hook's Hand Back scene when the clip was released earlier in the week. The kicker of that scene (according to me) was Killian pointing out that Rumple hasn't really changed from being the sinister Dark One, but Killian is no longer that awful, terrible pirate. And he's absolutely right - while he may not be completely free of it, Killian has proven time and again that his inner darkness is something that he wants to be rid of. Which is a huge part of the battle - it's the desire to do better. Even when you make stupid mistakes - like thinking you can blackmail the Dark One into giving you your hand back and nothing bad will come of it.

But one of Hook's defining characteristics is his cocky, arrogant attitude - which has softened in recent storylines, but it's still very much a part of who he is (and, frankly, if he ever really lost that part of his personality, he just wouldn't be as fun to watch). But it's also a facade to mask all his insecurities. I mean, why does he even want his hand back at all? Because Emma's asked him out on a date. And even though they've both been pretty open and honest with each other all through their relationship (well, so far - it's been a long time in coming) - Killian still on some level thinks that he isn't good enough for Emma. He's gone to great lengths for her - he went back to Neverland for her (which he probably swore he'd never do when he finally left that place), he saved her father from Dreamshade, he sold his ship to get back to her, he faced down the Wicked Witch, he followed her into a time portal - man, I don't know how he could possibly think that he isn't good enough for her. But - the mind is a tricky thing. And sometimes, no matter how often you prove yourself or how much other people tell you that you're good enough, there's always that little voice in your mind trying to bring all that progress crashing down.

Bella Notte

Really, the story of Hook and Emma is the story of two outsiders finding a place to belong. For all Emma is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, she's never felt like she's anything special until recently. Hook's pretty much always lost everything he's ever cared about and he's cultivated this loner reputation (along with the fearsome pirate reputation - I guess those go together pretty well). And even though they've already been through so much, actually going out on a formal date where there's no magic or monsters or threats (they hope) and enjoying a nice quiet evening together is a pretty big deal. They both dress up - Emma adorably nervous about how she looks (and bonus points to Snow and Charming for being the incredibly embarrassing parents), Hook gets a new wardrobe (the squeals of hundreds of fangirls - myself included - echoed across the land).

Oh - and you know the best thing? Emma doesn't even notice that Killian's got his hand back! At least, not until Mama Snow prompts her to notice that he's holding out a single red rose for her with his left hand (*squish*). And she has basically the same reaction when he's comes back with the hook instead, of the hand - Emma sees Killian first, everything else comes after that. And someone pointed out last episode in the end scene where they're kissing in front of Granny's, Killian grabs Emma's arm with his hook and she doesn't even flinch. She just accepts that as part of him and moves on because she loves him, flaws (seen and unseen) and all. I'm sure we'll see this aspect of their relationship played out as time goes on, which is going to be absolutely wonderful.

So, they finally get out on the date. Hold on...

I probably will later, though.
(It's Captain Swan Date Night - how could I not?)

Okay, I just adore how Once Upon a Time has some kind of officially unofficial mandate to get a reference to every classic Disney movie in the show. Even the ones that aren't technically fairy tales. So, yeah - totally getting the Lady and the Tramp theme here. And if you don't think it's the most adorable thing ever, you have no soul (even the waiters in the restaurant were dressed like the guys from the movie!) And because I need something sweet to cry about -

(punch me in the face and bury me where I stand - I seriously cannot handle this)

This was me at approximately 6:15 pm MDT.
The date was perfect. We Captain Swan shippers are most certainly going to be going over every little moment and nuance of the date scenes in the restaurant and afterward (given the utter crapstorm that comes in later - look, just let us have this!) Even Will Scarlet running out of the restaurant and knocking a glass of wine over on Emma's dress couldn't completely ruin things. And I say this, even though Killian nearly choked the life out of the guy because his "cursed" hand made him do it (I'll scream about this in a minute).

Oh - and the doorstep scene. Don't get me started on that. Perfect from start to finish. Killian even asks Emma out on a second date (whether or not that actually gets to happen... well, that's another story). And yes, Emma most certainly needs her own place.

(ps - Snow and Charming were waiting up for Emma when she came home and there is nothing about this that isn't emotional and happy).

Good Times Never Last

But the night isn't over. Killian runs into Will again when Will's trying to break into the library. And Killian actually punches Will's lights out. The way all these moments played out - there is no way that hand wasn't cursed. Or that something wonky wasn't going on. Either way, Killian gets scared about what is happening to him and he goes back to Rumple to ask him to take back the hand. And again - we're back to playing Rumple's mind games. It's all these old grudges coming back to haunt them both - they've hated each other for so long that neither of them can (wait for it...) let it go. So, Rumple makes another deal with Killian after claiming that he switched the dagger back again (look, at some point, Belle is going to notice that something is going on. She's not stupid. Rumple, you friggin' ass), so Killian supposedly has zilch on Rumple. And just like Anna, Killian thinks he's got no choice but to accept Rumple's deal - otherwise, he might actually hurt somebody and Killian's come far enough that he doesn't want that to happen.

The next morning (and how heartbreaking is it that Killian spent the night on a bench near the docks - there could be a whole analysis on that), Rumple drags Killian off to help him scare some nice old man, who turns out to be the Sorcerer's Apprentice that Anna met up with in the Enchanted Forest flashbacks. Well, Rumple's got the Hat Box and he's got revenge to enact against the Apprentice. Turns out, the Sorcerer's hat can trap people with magic inside, which is precisely what Rumple does to the Apprentice.

And I'm sitting here going - why did you need Killian to come along on this little mission? Other than to be the intimidating dumb muscle (which pisses me off to no end, quite frankly). Then I get to thinking - and this gets brought up later - yes, Killian did threaten to tell Belle that Rumple was lying to her. He did threaten to muck up their marriage. And now that things are going really good with Emma - Rumple's got something he can hold over Killian's head if he so wishes. Emma's got magic. The hat could be a threat against her. So, unless Killian wants something bad to happen to Emma, I guess Rumple's going to continue playing his stupid games and Killian really doesn't have a way out of it. So, he has no choice but to keep playing Rumple's minion - and... oh crap - this is just like Season 2, isn't it??

Excuse me...

A Humble Request

Okay, Once Upon a Time writers - can we just have a heart to heart for a second here?  Do you remember last season when I was all annoyed and pissed off that we were revisiting Neal and Rumple angst for the umpteeth time and why couldn't we be done with this damn plotline already??? And then Season 3B happened and we got something new with Rumple and everything just felt right? And I was eternally impressed with "The Jolly Roger" episode and all the character development and awesomely cool stuff you were doing with Hook and that became my favorite episode ever??? Do you remember all that?

I know it's still early in this season and that you all thrive on the long game and I have no way of knowing where this is going. But if Season 4 Hook is just going to be Rumple's minion and running off to do Rumple's dirty work because of this stupid guilt trip and karma doesn't come back to bite Rumple in the ass big time - I think you and I are going to have some issues. I sat through all that in Season 2 with Hook going back and forth between Cora and Regina and even those two morons from "The Home Office" (whatever the hell that was supposed to be) - and he is so damn better than that!

I serve notice on you all - you've got two episodes (only because I've seen a few spoilers and those make me think this is going to happen in the next two) - Killian Jones better be spilling the beans to Emma about this whole situation so she and the Charmings can help him out of it. We did the whole "Hook keeping secrets from Emma" thing last season and that was fine for what it was, but this is a new season with new stuff and you've done really well so far. Do NOT blow it now!

Okay - I'm done. I'm good.

Other Things I Liked/Noticed

- Anyone else think it was awesomely hilarious that Rumple turned the Sorcerer's Apprentice into a mouse?
We're all thinking it. I'm just saying it.
- Anna is no pushover. I love that she got hold of the dagger and made Rumple send her back home - with the Hat Box (thank goodness). And we get the sweetest little reunion between her and Kristoff (with bonus commentary from Sven - seriously, just give the reindeer all the awards).

- Maybe I'm making a big deal out of nothing, but did this thing with Henry at the beginning bug anyone else? Why wouldn't he be okay with Emma asking Killian out on a date? I mean, I know he's all hyped up on Operation Mongoose and helping Regina find the author of the book - but... yeah... that was weird (if anyone has any insight - I'm open to suggestions).

The Dark One Lies, The Dark One Tricks

Rumple is a total and complete piece of shit. I never liked him before and this episode sealed my opinion of that rat bastard. Just so we're clear on that. If he is meant to be fully redeemed, it's going to take some big-time groveling to get to that point (at least, as far as I'm concerned). I do not for one second believe that Killian's hand was not cursed. Like I said earlier, the way those scenes were played and framed and even the music - there was definitely something weird going on. And it all comes down to Rumple planting seeds of doubt and despair in Killian's mind - though maybe it's less about planting doubts and actually feeding the doubts that are already there. It started when Killian wanted his hand back for his date with Emma and Rumple's just toying with those evident insecurities. And I want to kick Rumple for doing that at all.

However - in a huge shift from last season, this means that Emma's going to have to fight for Killian - to prove to him that he is more than good enough for her (for reference, please see all of Season 3). Personally, I kind of hoped that we'd see something like this where Emma finally admits to herself that she loves Killian and she'd do anything for him, just like he'd do anything for her. We've already seen a lot of that in these first few episodes, but their first huge test is coming. And maybe this is the start of it - where Killian feels like he has to push Emma away because he doesn't deserve her and he doesn't trust himself not to hurt her. So, it'll be up to Emma to convince Killian that she doesn't care about what he "might" do or what he "could" do. And, really, I think she's already started.

(How can you not ship these two? They just fit).

However (again) - there is a bit of a wildcard. Because Henry - sweet, innocent, awesome Henry - is going undercover in Gold's Shop. And this is merely speculation, but I wonder if Henry isn't going to find out what Rumple really did and he's going to help get Killian out of this situation. Even though Henry is all over Operation Mongoose, there was a reason that he was there for Emma when she went to ask Killian out. He is still very much on Team Emma's Happiness and Killian makes her happy (even if I still don't get that whole Henry not okay with Emma asking Killian out - again, someone explain this to me).

Basically - 

The first three episodes were all about establishing Emma and Hook's relationship - that where it was very new and exciting at first, it's also quite solid. Which is good, because they are both in for some high-end angst (and I didn't even mention anything about Emma nearly wrecking her car because of Snow Queen Prime's ice slick in the street or everyone searching Storybrooke census records for Anna). Truly, I did ask for this. I hoped that there would be an amazing Captain Swan storyline in Season 4 and so far, I'm quite pleased with it. They've managed to evoke every emotion from me that's possible in a good romantic storyline - happiness, excitement, fear, anger, sadness. And they're all very strong emotions (if you were to film me watching Once Upon a Time, you wouldn't be able to understand a single word I said. It's not so much words as high-pitched squeaking, though). This continues to be my favorite part of the story and I am here for it - no matter what happens.

(Even if I break Tumblr with my keysmashing).

Sunday, October 19, 2014

When the Doctor Was Me

Review/Recap of Doctor Who, 8.09 "Flatline" - Spoilers!

Character development marches on! (I eat this up with a spoon, I tell you!)

I had an interesting conversation with a friend at work yesterday (being Saturday before I had the chance to actually watch "Flatline") - this friend hadn't yet had a chance to see much of Doctor Who with Peter Capaldi beyond "Deep Breath" (time constraints and life getting in the way - you know how it is) and he still wasn't sure what to think of the Twelfth Doctor. And truly, so far in Series 8 - even for those of us who've kept on top of the show - I don't think anyone really knows what to think of him. He doesn't even have a theme tune in the background music (I'm not talking about the main Doctor Who theme - I mean there is not Twelfth Doctor character theme, like Eleven had "I Am the Doctor" and Ten had... something that I can't remember the name of right now. But he had a special theme). This season has been all about the Doctor finding his feet in this new regeneration - even beyond the initial regeneration episode. "Am I a good man?" is the theme of Series 8 and, again, it's evident in this episode.

It's strange that I picked up on this here, given that this is supposed to be a "Doctor-lite" episode (well, as much as "The Girl Who Waited" was a Doctor-lite episode - they're getting very creative in how they do these double-banked things). The Doctor is pretty much sidelined in this story, which means that Clara has to do most of the heavy lifting as far saving the world goes. That is a lot of trust that the Doctor is putting in Clara. Yes, he's trusted her before - the situation in "Kill the Moon" comes to mind (...eeeesh... that's a bad example, isn't it?) - but here, he has to stick by her side. He gives her the sonic screwdriver and the psychic paper. He even gives her his title (more or less) so she can speak with authority and get done what needs to be done. Clara is certainly capable of taking on this responsibility - even if it's just in terms of taking charge and being the leader. The best moment of this was when she got Rigsy out of the train and mocked up the train controls with her headband so he didn't have to be driving the train to ram the Boneless in whatever they were doing.

I See The Stars Through a Mirror

More or less, this story is about reflection. Clara reflects what she has seen the Doctor do - she follows his example in solving the problem of the people in two-dimensions. And she does some pretty tough and ruthless stuff. Stuff that the Doctor is all at once impressed, surprised, and taken aback by. It's strange seeing someone else emulate you - even moreso when you realize that what they're doing isn't exactly what you would want them to do, but all they're doing is following your lead. Which is exactly what the Doctor tells Clara to do - gives her the sonic and the psychic paper and says "You have to be the Doctor." Clara is thrilled by the prospect. The Doctor... not so much. Not because of his ego or anything like that - but because he doesn't want Clara to have to make those kinds of decisions. The kinds of decisions that ultimately mean that he has to pass judgment on the Boneless and send them back to their dimension. Even though they were going to destroy everything and he was saving the entire world - it doesn't ever get any easier.

Even in his moment epic moment - declaring that he is the man who makes the monsters go away and that this plane of existence is protected - the Doctor is not pleased with himself. He does not want to have to do these things. Clara is proud of him, though. And maybe that's all he needs.

Killer Graffiti (Sounds Like a Band Name)

Dressing up this lovely character study of the Doctor (I love how many of these we've had this year, by the way) - is this incredibly creative and engaging story of the TARDIS shrinking and two-dimensional creatures killing everyone. I can't be the only one who's wondered what would happen if "Bigger on the Inside" became so much bigger that the occupants of the TARDIS couldn't get out. That would have been a fun story on its own. But then this story throws in another oddity to explore - that of the idea of a race that only lives in two dimensions. How would we interact and communicate? Even the Doctor tries to do so peacefully at first - but it turns out that the Boneless are simply interested in experimenting in a destructive way and not co-existing at all. Well - fine. The TARDIS is all about multiple dimensions - she can blast those creatures back to where they came from. It's actually kind of refreshing to have a villain be a villain just for the sake of villainy (not because they were misunderstood or something like that).

Of course, this episode had all kind of nice visuals. Just a few of note -

- The Doctor reaching his hand out through the tiny TARDIS to give Clara things - at one point unwittingly making her bag into a Mary Poppins handbag (sudden sledgehammer!) Also, there was a comment by Jamie Mathieson (who needs to come back and write more Doctor Who, I have decided) that in one version of the script, the Doctor reached through and held Clara's hand for comfort. That was taken out in a further edit (darn it), but someone on Tumblr drew what it might have looked like and I share it with you now for your fan delight.

- The not-quite-3D Boneless using the people they sucked into the walls. Yeah... this was the perfect Halloween episode.

- Just the look of the people as they were being made two-dimensional. Heck, even the effect of the couch being flattened - that was creepy and weird and cool all at the same time.

- Tiny TARDIS!

I have one of those! It's a little beat-up, but it's still cute. No Doctor inside, though.
Somewhat curious if they made a special prop for that, or if they just used a mass-marketed toy for those scenes. Either way, it was adorable.

Yet another solid episode from writer Jamie Mathieson. It was enjoyable and entertaining along with taking the time to explore more of the Doctor and Clara's relationship, as well as their individual characters. There were a few stretches where it felt like it was a little slow as far as pacing goes, but the payoff was well worth it. More and more, it feels like this entire season is a slow burn that's going to have a huge resolution at the finale, which is always fun to see - as well as the one-off adventures. And this just added to the overall story. Good job, peeps!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Taylor Swift Needs to Write a Song for This

Review/Recap of Sailor Moon Crystal, Act 7: "Mamoru Chiba" - Spoilers! (though, I'm pretty sure the statute of limitation has run out on this one... oops)

(If you don't mind - listen to The Piano Guys' medley Love Story Meets Viva La Vida. Just because it works with this review and these characters and I'll take any excuse to put these videos on my blog.)

It’s taken me the better part of a week two weeks to decide how best to talk about this episode of Sailor Moon Crystal. Not because I didn’t like it - quite the opposite, really. But because it contains some pretty vital plot progression to the overall Sailor Moon story. Plot progression that I completely adore and, really, all I want to do is bask in the wonderfulness of it.

Also, this episode is a continuation from the last one. Where the first five episodes were more or less character portraits of the main cast (with the exception of “Masquerade Dance Party,” but that one had other things to accomplish) that were only connected by a tenuous thread, Act 7 is pretty much Act 6, part 2. So, what did Act 6 do and where did it leave us?

Quick Act 6 Recap: Usagi is the leader of the Sailor Guardians. She can barely pass middle school, so what the crap are you thinking? Usagi is troubled and stressed and doesn’t think she can do it, but she’s not going to tell her friends because they depend on her and she’ll probably get chewed out for it anyway. But she does trust and believe in Tuxedo Mask (who none of the rest of the group trusts, so there’s another worry on her part). And, right on cue, he shows up because ~*~destiny~*~ (magical girl genre - it’s a staple. Just go with it) and he gives her the pep talk that she always needs (and what makes this relationship so special - we’ll get there in a moment). Sailor Moon shows up, renewed in her confidence, kicks ass with her new magical item (in stores now!), but using this new power drains her and she passes out. Tuxedo Mask takes her to safety and the final scene of Act 6 reveals the most non-reveal in the history of non-reveals - that Mamoru Chiba (that guy that Usagi’s always running into and she feels an odd connection to) is Tuxedo Mask (hold your surprise, please folks).

To the surprise of precisely no one.
(I only poke fun at this because Sailor Moon has been around for twenty years, but I’m sure someone back in the early 90s was surprised at this reveal. Tropes have to get their start somewhere, you know).

So - Act 7 opens and we get to explore Mamoru the regular guy rather than Mamoru the mysterious thief who’s after the Silver Crystal for Reasons Unexplained. Because here - those reasons are going to be explained. And it just about breaks your heart (well - it does me. But I’m a sap like that). We learn that Mamoru lost his parents and his memories in a car accident on his sixth birthday (I never knew it was his birthday until I read the manga, which made my heart ache for the guy even more). Since then, he’s dreamed about some mysterious person asking him to find the Silver Crystal, but there’s no reason for it. And that’s what his life has been consumed with. Because maybe the Crystal can bring back his memories of who he really is.

Usagi’s reasons for looking for the Crystal are much less grand - it boils all down to Luna told her to find it. And she even seems to play it off like no big deal (in true Usagi fashion - bless her). Again, comparing sweet, lovable Usagi to someone who has dealt with heartbreak and tragedy in life - Usagi could come off as unfeeling and uncaring, but it’s just the opposite. It’s a subtle thing (and the hints were left in earlier episodes, so it’s not like comes out of left field), but this is where Usagi and Mamoru really start to understand each other on a deeper level. I love how tender this whole scene is, without really being grand and amazing about it (there’ll be time for that later). They both care about each other a lot, but neither are very good at saying so. Usagi’s spent most of her time daydreaming about the dashing and handsome Tuxedo Mask and how he always comes to save her. She lives out these fairy tales in her mind, heedless of what people around her say or do - even accentuating that spacey reputation she has around others because that’s who she is and she’s unapologetic about it. Mamoru - well, he’s kind of socially awkward in general. But in an endearing way. And it turns out that he’s had other things to deal with that took him away from trying to cultivate good social standing for himself.

Both of them have lived their lives outside of their normal societal expectations, but in such a way that it goes unnoticed. Or, at least, it’s not troubling to anyone else who might be watching. And somehow, both of these daydream-obsessed people find each other and discover that they've been living in the same daydream. It’s poetic and gorgeous in its simplicity - how can you not love it?

Back in reality (it always comes back, doesn't it?), the Dark Kingdom is hatching new plans - Queen Beryl seeks an audience with their great ruler, Queen Metalia, and offers up the human energies they've been able to collect for her. It’s all pretty bog-standard villain and her minion plotting the end of the world - except for one thing that’s slightly different from the other versions of this story. Beryl has an aside to herself about how Metalia will consume the Earth like she tried to do anciently (before the Sailor Guardians of old defeated her - as is alluded to during their conversation) and they won’t be able to take the planet back from her. Which does nothing to quell my speculation of how the small changes to the Dark Kingdom in Crystal is going to impact the greater story. Will Beryl turn against Metalia in the end? In the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, that version of Beryl almost seemed to become one of the good guys, in that she wanted to stop the Silver Crystal from feeding Metalia and thus enabling the destruction of the world - except Princess Sailor Moon kept using the damn thing and creating more problems (PGSM was kind of a mess in who was doing what and who the good guys and bad guys were. And we never got a proper Silver Millennium flashback, which still irritates me. But that’s neither here nor there).

So, yeah, Dark Kingdom - shady as crap, but interesting all the same. Until they revert back to “Send some flashy new thing to Earth to steal energy from the stupid humans.” This time, the flashy new thing is... Blockbuster.

Well, it’s a video store that the people become obsessed with renting DVDs and then they watch the DVDs at home and in turn become obsessed with finding Sailor Moon because she’s supposed to have the Silver Crystal (which she doesn't. Oh Dark Kingdom, your evil plot skills continue to underwhelm and bore me. But that’s not the point). Of course, one of those gripped by the obsession is Umino - and Crystal gives us one of the more hilarious Umino Info-Dump Moments (and that is saying something, given what we've gotten thus far).

Umino doing his best Professor Tomoe impression. Weeks before Halloween.
I also adore that Ami is looking up information on Sailor V on an
off-brand iPad. It almost makes up for the lack of the Mercury Computer.
There’s some funny little visual gags with Luna talking about Usagi being the leader and Usagi stuffing her face and getting ketchup all over (in true not-very-graceful-Usagi fashion - oh, Usa... never change). She goes to find her handkerchief to clean off, but realizes that she’s left it somewhere (clear back in Act 4, during the Masquerade). But she does have Mamoru’s broken pocketwatch and she thinks back to their Moment that morning and that she wants to see her Mamo-chan again. And at the same time (we think - why not, right?) Mamoru has Usagi’s handkerchief and is pretty much thinking the same thing about his Usako and it’s beautiful and cute and fluffy and it’s everything you could ever want - let me have this!

Don't mind me. I'll just be here in the corner sobbing my eyes out.
Back at the Sailor Guardian Base of Operations under the arcade (still awesome, btw), Ami’s been analyzing the goings-on with the Crazy DVD Rental Place and when Zoicite puts his plan in motion, she calls the other Guardians and the three not named Usagi go after the bastard.

Split Screen - Make-up!
Elsewhere, Mamoru’s noticed people acting weird and saying they need to go after Sailor Moon, which shakes him out of his thoughts (which have been mostly about Usagi since she left his place. Side Note: She’s been returning the sentiment parallel to him. It’s damn adorable). I don’t have anything more to add to this other than it’s remarkable how fast he goes into Hero Mode when Usagi’s in trouble. It’s always been one of the best things about Mamoru Chiba and it will continue to be so. That’s all.

I tried so hard to get a cool-looking screengrab of
Moon Healing Escalation and I FINALLY did it!
You best I'm going to use in a review!
Of course, when Usagi discovers that everyone in Juban has gone all zombie-mode and is after Sailor Moon, the logical thing for her to do is transform and say “Here I am!” (that’s Usagi-logic for you - just go with it). Zoicite is there and ready for her (after having dispatched the other Sailor Guardians quite handily - dammit).  And, again, Sailor Moon hopes that Tuxedo Mask will be there to save her. He always does.

And, my friends, indeed Tuxedo Mask comes in to save the day. With a good old fashioned well-timed punch to Zoisite’s face.

And the fandom rejoiced ("Fandom" here meaning me.
I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who even remotely likes Mamoru Chiba).
I’m sure I’ll get to talk about this more as Crystal unfolds, but one huge character trait for Mamoru is that he doesn’t have powers. Not like the Sailor Guardians. He’s just himself - with his own wits and physical strength. And in this episode, we get a little bit of that where he’s unsure of himself and his ability to protect Usagi, even though that is the first thing he wants to do. This dovetails into that moment where Usagi is in trouble and Zoicite isn’t about to let Tuxedo Mask get the upper hand again - Mamoru says that he used to be so focused on finding the Silver Crystal, but that’s changed.

Because he’s met Usagi and seen her through all her happiness and sadness and how she keeps going on in spite of all her challenges and he loves her for it. And suddenly - his entire life is different and it’s all because of her.

I just love these two so mu-u-u-u-ch!
(excuse me - I’ve got to go find tissues).

This right here. This is why I love Sailor Moon and I am so glad Crystal is giving us this moment. Yes, the friendships between the Guardians are wonderful. Yes, the story is fun and enchanting. Yes, the kick-ass female superheroes are awesome. But I adore the love story between Usagi and Mamoru. Even discounting what’s revealed later (oh good grief, you know the story - fate, destiny, love that transcends death and time) the way these two crazy, awkward, broken kids fall head-over-heels in love with each other is simply perfect. They aren't perfect by any means. In fact, they’re both extremely unconventional and far away from that glorified happy ending. But that’s what makes their love story special. It’s that they never even consider giving up on each other - they’re determined to make everything work out because they’re just so damn in love. And that resonates with a lot of people (to be fair - it doesn't resonate with others, but everyone’s tastes are different).

Thing is - even after all this anguished declaration of love and loyalty, neither Usagi or Mamoru save the day. Like in the rather similar episode in the '90s anime, a mysterious-yet-very-familiar character comes out of the shadows and thwarts the Dark Kingdom’s evil plans. A gold light comes out of nowhere and on a nearby rooftop *cue dramatic reveal* -

It’s Sailor V! Who precisely is featured in the next episode! (and all the complainers that are mad that Mamoru got two episodes can stop their kvetching. Besides - it wasn't completely about him. It was about him and Usagi and their relationship. Which is what basically started this whole story in the first place!)

(enough grumping - I just love this story so damn much! And it's about to go down, big time!)

Monday, October 13, 2014

No Escape From the Storm

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time 4.03 "Rocky Road" - Spoilers!

...and everything was going so well, too.

I said this over and over during the summer hiatus - especially when the angst over Marian came up from the Outlaw Queen ship. Conflict creates drama and drama creates interesting characters and interesting characters create good stories. And there was no way that Regina and Robin Hood weren't going to be together at the end of the day. It’s all going to be fine eventually. There are just going to be some hiccups and trials along the way.

So, why am I having a hard time accepting this fact when it’s my ship that’s heading for stormy seas?

(there are so many puns in that sentence, I don’t have time to dissect them all)

On the surface, things are going pretty all right for Hook and Emma. I mean, in the last four episodes (including the Season 3 finale), they've gone from “Will they, won’t they?” to kissing every other episode and cuddling after near-death experiences and killing the entire Captain Swan fandom in the process (but it hurts so good!) Neither of them are really good at talking about their feelings and being particularly mushy and gooey around each other (that’s Snow and Charming’s thing), but by their actions - yeah, they’re crazy about each other. And that’s not going anywhere any time soon.

But because good things don’t last long - something’s gotta go to hell soon. It’s not a matter of if, but when. And, like so many things that go to hell in Once Upon a Time, I’m blaming Rumple (mostly).

Never Smile at a Crocodile

The trouble gets started early when Emma, Elsa, and Hook are in the pawn shop asking Rumple if he remembers trapped Elsa in that urn from his vault. Rumple denies it, which, of course the bastard’s lying. He only tells the truth when it suits him. Even worse, the jackass uses Belle - the woman that he claims he loves - to “prove” that he’s telling the truth. And Hook - yeah he’s not buying it.

I’ll admit, I kind of wasn't complete on board at first with this idea of Hook suddenly figuring out that the dagger Belle has is a fake (sorry if you click that link and get distracted by the pretty. Take a moment to enjoy. I'll wait). Like - that happened at the end of last season. Why choose NOW to question it? But then I got thinking about it. And this could very well be the first time that Hook is aware that Gold gave Belle the dagger. I thought back to every instance where the dagger was discussed since Zelena was defeated - Hook was never there to hear about it. And while everyone else is going “Aww.... that’s so sweet of Rumple,” Hook - ever the canny and perceptive pirate captain - twigs that something just isn't right here. He even says it later - there’s no way that Rumple would let anyone have control over him. As much as Hook has changed and tried to leave that life of revenge behind - 300 years of vengeance eating away at you doesn't go away overnight. While Hook and Rumple put their feud aside last year in order to deal with more pressing matters, none of that old hatred is gone. Even if the reasons for that hatred seem to be far behind both of them at the moment (but when you think about it - it’s really just been put on hold).

The funny thing is - while everyone else is scared of Rumple, Hook isn't. He knows to be careful and play his cards just right, but he’s not afraid of the Dark One (and as much as I love Captain Hook and he’s definitely my favorite character in Once Upon a Time - I have spent the greater part of the last twelve hours calling him every iteration of “you freaking idiot!” over this whole thing. Stupid thing is, everyone spent some time tossing around the Idiot Ball during this episode and it was only after letting the events of this episode stew in my head did I realize how dumb he really was in this. Fandom knows no logic, my friends). Which is probably why he thinks that he does have the upper hand. He seriously thinks that he can blackmail Rumple over this whole dagger thing. And what completely kills me is that he uses this information to help Elsa and, by extension, Emma. They need to find whoever cursed Marian. Rumple’s the only one who can do it. So Hook unwittingly makes a deal with the Dark One (credit where it’s due - I didn't pick up on that until this Tumblr post pointed it out) thinking that he really does have one over Rumple and won't his Swan be so happy to see that he's being helpful - but that is where it’s all going to go to hell. Because I’m pretty sure that Captain Swan date night (from the Next Week promo) is going to be the pinnacle of this whole endeavor and it’s all downhill from there. I don’t know how and I don’t know when - but it’s going to go to hell in a hurry. There’s not going to be any sweet and feelsy denouement next week. They've been really nice to us for the past four episodes - it’s time for some big time heartache.

Poisonous Toadstools Don't Change Their Spots

So - let’s look at Rumple. And bring in Snow Queen Prime while we at it. Because this is all going to connect at some point. Rumple and Snow Queen Prime are clearly working together. Probably also doing some weird memory thing in the process. And there’s no changing the fact that Elsa was locked up in Rumple’s vault (and as much as Rumple tries to pass off that he doesn't keep track of everything he collects - the rat bastard was cataloging all his crap in the last episode! Granted, emotions were running high and there were other things that Our Intrepid Heroes were concerned about to not take note of such a detail - but still!), so Rumple’s relationship with the truth remains - HA! ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME? And, apparently, Rumple’s only concerned with helping the Savior when it suits him (like, you know, when he’s being kept prisoner by the Wicked Witch and Emma’s the best chance he has of escaping). But once he’s back in control - he’s only out for himself and no one else. So whatever he and Snow Queen Prime have cooking, it’s all going to not only hurt Hook, but also Emma and likely all of Storybrooke, plus our new friends from Arendelle.

Let’s look at Snow Queen Prime for a second. First of all - what’s her name? Even her cursed Storybrooke name? Or was she not cursed? Did she somehow come to Storybrooke on her own and insinuate herself into the town as the resident ice cream lady? Clearly, she is the new mystery of the season. But, credit where it is due, I do like that the reveal that she’s Elsa’s aunt came early. So that’s obviously not the Big Thing they’re leading up to (I hope this means the writer’s room took some notes on that whole “Peter Pan is Rumplestiltskin’s Father” debacle and wisely decided not to repeat that mistake). Personally, I’m getting a sense that there’s a bit of a Lily and Petunia Evans things going on here - but possibly in reverse. I mean, Elsa’s parents haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory regarding magic. And clearly there was some kind of falling out between Snow Queen Prime and Mama Arendelle (who also doesn't have a name - and neither does her husband. Though he’s less important in this whole thing. Maybe). So much so that - did Mom trap Snow Queen Prime in that urn? No wonder they freaked out when Elsa’s powers became too much and she was encouraged to “Conceal, Don’t Feel.”  And if that’s what it turns out happened - Oh. My. Sweet. Fresh. Hell. Hi - I’ve been begging for some good Elsa backstory ever since I saw Frozen! Like - why did they never try to find someone to teach Elsa to use her powers? Why did she have to be locked away and kept hidden from people until she became queen? Why was she basically taught and trained to be afraid of herself? And the cherry on the whipped cream of this scrumptious banana split of character development - is Snow Queen Prime is working to turn Elsa and Anna against each other, just like (presumably) Mama Arendelle turned against Snow Queen Prime!

We Have One Answer and More Questions!

So - where does Emma figure into all this? Why is Snow Queen Prime so interested in her? And why doesn’t Emma remember? Popular theory (one that I see no reason to discount) is that Snow Queen Prime was one of Emma’s foster mothers. Though that brings up more even questions (of course it does). And Emma, who was in and out of foster homes so many times, probably never thought anything of the woman. Or it could even be that something went sideways in the course of Emma losing her memories of Storybrooke and getting new memories from Regina in that whole missing year thing and then getting her old memories back again, so things are kind of jumbled for her. I’m sure - whatever happened - we’ll get those questions answered. there is an Emma-centric episode Tcoming up that’s going to show some of her childhood in the foster system - and while we’ve been clamoring for something like this since the Pilot episode, Once Upon a Time never shows us a flashback just for the sake of showing a flashback (unless it’s Snow and Charming’s honeymoon and they’re going off to find a gorgon in order to stop Regina from casting a curse that she clearly casted a long time ago in terms of screentime - yeah, that was kind of pointless).

Oh yeah, PS - Emma’s kind of having a bit of a personal crisis of her own. Because while all the character stuff from “White Out” was just so good and delicious and emotional and - yay! - there’s also a HUGE problem leftover from that. Namely that Emma still isn't accustomed to having other people look out for her. And it doesn't matter if it’s her parents or Henry or Hook coming to her rescue - she doesn't like having to be saved. She has to take care of herself. Getting trapped in the ice cave was scary for her. But I think what’s even worse in Emma’s mind that she should have been able to get herself out of that - whether by her own magic or by convincing Elsa to do it. And she couldn't do anything. So, she’s mad at herself and mad at the situation. And it doesn't help that Regina comes in with her brand of snark - which is even more cutting and hurtful toward Emma, given what else is going on with the whole Marian thing (between that and that little jibe about Operation Mongoose - I don’t think the Swan Queen friendship is faring very well these days. Yeah, I went there). So Emma takes even more control - she’s Head Sheriff in Charge. She orders Hook to take Elsa back to the sheriff station and chews him out when he doesn't do what she says. She deflects David’s benign attempts to give fatherly advice. She even takes control when Will Scarlet is breaking them into Any Given Sundae to ask the question “When is an ice cream parlor not an ice cream parlor?” Thankfully, she eventually does get to take out that frustration in a productive way when she’s confronting Snow Queen Prime and she saved Hook and David from getting skewered by killer icicles (huh - guess her magic works great when she’s saving people she loves. NOPE. NO PARALLELS OR HIDDEN MEANINGS HERE. NOTHING TO SEE. MOVE ALONG!)

This all circles back around to the end of the episode. Back to probably our last truly good Captain Swan moment for a while (I’m trying to be optimistic about our chances for next time, but so far - no luck). Emma’s still pissed that Killian didn't listen to her when she told him to take Elsa to the sheriff station - but, again, that’s just deflecting the real problem. And this - this right here is where I totally lost it.  Because it’s not that he didn't do what she asked. It’s that he was in danger. And everyone that Emma has ever loved or come close to loving has gotten killed. And this time - she’s in so far deep that if Killian dies, she’s probably going to become a full-on wreck (don't believe me? Take a look. And read the tags [they're hidden off to the side - stupid fancy Tumblr layouts...]). Forget Regina moping around because Robin’s dead wife is really alive - yeah... I don’t even want to finish that thought, let alone the sentence.

And Killian - bless his patient, perceptive, puppy pirate heart - with that stupid cocky attitude hiding not only years of hurt and loneliness, but the biggest soft spot of any reformed not-villain, breaks out his complete and total romantic soul that just kills me every time he lets it show. He assures Emma that he’s really good at surviving and that she doesn't have anything to worry about (which makes his deal with Gold even worse - you freaking idiot why do you have to do these beautifully stupid things and why do I love you so much????) and the episode leaves them kissing in the middle of Main Street Storybrooke - likely for the last time for an episode close-out (I hope to heaven that I’m wrong - but I’m pretty sure that everything’s going to go the way of the penguin next episode).

Other Things I Liked/Noticed - 

- Have you ever seen a guy be more ineffectual and unhelpful than Archie Hopper? Could the guy have - I dunno - helped get Snow’s stroller in the car? Or held the baby while she got the thing in? Instead of giving Snow a guilt trip about being too clingy toward her child? (though - to be fair - holding a newborn throughout a mayor’s fireside chat was a bit much. Especially with her husband sitting right there and more than willing to hold the baby while she conducted the meeting).

- Captain Hook with a cell phone. Pure. Unadulterated. Genius. Not only does it advance the plot with getting Emma where she needed to be, but Hook’s attitude and reaction toward the phone itself (“I press the Emma button” - oh my gosh), plus when his call went to Emma’s voicemail... friends, I don’t know how I can love this guy anymore than I already do (but he’s trying).

- I’m really glad The Kristoff and Sven Show wasn't just a one-off thing for the premiere. Because that reindeer needs an award.

- Will Scarlet makes his Once Upon a Time debut! And he’s just as perfect as he was in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. The best was when he found out that Storybrooke has two sheriffs and it’s his worst nightmare come true. Lovable idiot (and I say that with the most affection possible).

- Henry being really excited about finding the Writer of the book. Okay - maybe this won’t be so terrible after all (um... maybe?) But anything that gets Henry in a position to help his Evil Mom not be so evil. Even if she did call it "Operation Mongoose" because mongooses (mongeese?) kill cobras and Operation Cobra was Henry's thing with Emma. Well - whatever.

- Wanna know the most tragic thing about the ending of this episode? The ice cream parlor isn't Snow Queen Prime's hideout anymore. Which means no more ice cream for Roland. Sad day.

- Snow putting her own personal touches on the Mayor's Office and Regina being disgusted by it. No reason for that other than it's funny.

This Week’s Frozen Parallel - Kristoff and Elsa discussing how different Elsa is to everyone else and how that the only person that really has a problem with it is Elsa and that there are people who care about her, even if they don't fully understand her (but they still try). This is obviously a theme that’s running throughout this entire episode - and it comes up when Hook and Elsa head out to the forest to find whoever cursed Marian. In a way, that moment was instructive for Hook in understanding where Emma is coming from. Emma certainly isn't ready to have that conversation about herself with Hook - but Elsa can certain give him some insight in how best to help Emma and be there for her when she needs help. Which is precisely what he wants to do (which is why he's out tracking down imminent danger when he could/should be elsewhere). Again - just showing how perfect it is that Once is playing around with the Frozen storyline at this particular point in its own narrative. It would have been a crime for them not to draw these parallels and comparisons.

The drama of Season 4 is really getting going. With the proper introduction of the Snow Queen (wonder where she’ll be hanging out now? The ice cream parlor cover’s been blown) - the conflict with the villain can begin in earnest. And while we still don’t quite know the Whys and Wherefores of what she’s up to - I’m actually looking forward to what she’s got going and how it all came about. So - even though I know I’ll regret this - bring on the conflict, the drama, and yes, bring on the angst! I’m in no way ready for it, but I’m cautiously optimistic that it’ll be okay.

Next Week - It's Captain Swan Date Night! (prediction - all hell breaks loose. I dare any of you to argue with me about this).