Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Like You've Gone Away

Review/Recap of Once Upon A Time, 4.09 "Fall" - Spoilers!

Oh, "Fall" - where do I even begin with you?

Already, I've seen... not so much accusations, but responses (I guess) that this episode was more or less filler until the Spell of Shattered Sight hits Storybrooke. And I would be inclined to agree with this assessment. But where the term "filler" is typically used as a pejorative against something unnecessary or useless - I don't think that applies here. I may have thought so once before, but that was before I realized how Once Upon a Time tells a story.

Once is a show that thrives on slow burn storytelling. Hints and clues that seemed to be throwaway lines many episodes ago come back to be key plot points and story elements in future story arcs. Nothing is wasted, everything is noted (which gives me hope because there are many things that were dropped in the Neverland arc that I dearly, dearly want to see come to fruition). And while some in the media are decrying the use of "yet another curse" (which - I think that's just Entertainment Weekly looking for click-bait headlines) - the story here is what kind of curse the Spell of Shattered Sight is. And that is why "Fall" is so very, very necessary.

Shattered Sight is about turning love into a weapon. It takes everything good in a person and flips it around to make it into everything bad. For this curse to have the most impact on the story, we needed to see how terrifying a curse like this is for the characters involved. Losing your memories and identity - been there, done that, got the stupid t-shirt (twice). Keeping your memories of the people you love, but those memories are skewed and twisted? So much so that you would likely start killing your loved ones because of it? That is scary as hell.

It makes sense to show these characters first scramble for a solution, then accept the inevitable, and finally prepare for the absolute worst. They've done it before (baby in the magic wardrobe, anyone?) What makes it interesting (even if I wanted to throw things during the course of watching it unfold) is that these solutions are constantly working at cross-purposes against each other. The obvious one is Rumple sending Killian to collect the fairies in that stupid hat. Actually - anything Rumple does works against what everyone else is trying to accomplish and that's why I'm continually pissed at him (to think at one point I thought he was working toward redemption - HA!) But then you also have the central team of the Charmings, Regina, Emma, and Elsa - except Elsa has her own agenda in finding Anna still. I'll come back to this.

One thing that I kept wondering over and over is how the timelines were going to line up - what with Elsa having come from the Dark One's vault thirty years in the past - and I'm glad this episode answered that question. Actually, the Arendelle "flashbacks" weren't actually flashbacks in the traditional sense - they were running directly parallel to what was currently happening in Storybrooke (that's a new one). I mean, when Blackbeard showed up, I thought "Okay, this is definitely in the past because he's supposed to be dead." Except... nope. Turns out Ariel actually did save the guy during the events of "The Jolly Roger." Oh - and take a wild guess at what ship Blackbeard is captaining? I just about fell out of my chair when Hans said it was The Jolly Roger! (but then he called it "an enchanted ship." What the hell does that even mean? I guess we'll find out at some point). The point is, Arendelle was just as frozen in time as Storybrooke was. Okay, I'm down with that.

(Also - the Wishing Star could only be used by someone pure of heart. Which means Ma and Pa Arendelle... well, that was obvious, wasn't it?)

(Also - again - they must have found the Wishing Star on another journey because Elsa said she found it in with her mother's things and she created Anna's necklace around it for Anna's wedding. I mean, if the Arendelles found it on the trip that they died on, it would have gone down with their ship. Don't think about that too much - you get a headache).

(Now I'm just stalling. Fine!)

So - hooray! Elsa finds Anna! Time to get her back to the Fairies Enchanted Lab where Belle and the ladies are working on a cure for the curse. Except... Killian's already been there. On Rumple's orders. With that stupid sparkly hat of death. And an extra side of self-loathing. Because goodness knows Killian Jones hasn't had enough of that in his life.

(you know, I would love there to be this completely unexpected twist that the people that were sucked into the hat aren't really dead and when Rumple goes to use the thing to separate himself from the dagger, everyone that's trapped in the hat is released and they go all super-intense-light-magic-conquers-all-darkness on his ass).

Well - the curse is coming. And we're into the "Prepare for the Worst" scenario. Which means every moment of ULTIMATE HEARTBREAK that Once Upon a Time has ever given us get multiplied by a million-plus-two. Regina locks Henry in the Mayor's office and seals it shut for Henry's safety - even though Henry is part of Rumple's deal with Ingrid to keep certain people that Rumple likes safe from Shattered Sight (I'll come back to this in a minute). Belle's safely sequestered in the pawn shop (is she in for a surprise - I'm still doubtful about her complete obliviousness to all of Rumple's shady goings-on. Maybe the whole newlywed-honeymoon-phase thing still hasn't worn off. Lucky her). Robin Hood - the only person that's never seen Regina as the Evil Queen - comes to say goodbye to Regina. The Charmings are all ready to lock down in the sheriff's station.

And Emma - aw hell... she's about to lose her family all over again. Even being entrusted with her baby brother (the first time we've seen Snow hand over Baby Baelfire to anybody) - in many ways, this is much worse than last season's mid-season separation and laser-guided amnesia. But it comes with a final vote of confidence from Snow and Charming in Emma's magic and her ability to stop the Snow Queen - something that Elsa never had from her mom and dad.

And in true Once fashion - they save the best for last (or worst, depending on how your emotional state is at this point. Mine's not doing so hot). Killian comes in - having been given a few hours reprieve from Rumple - to say goodbye to Emma one last time. He still can't tell Emma what's really going on - that no matter what happens with the Snow Queen, he's not going to survive this. Even though clear back in episode 3, he promised he'd survive anything. Even though - after he leaves - there's a look on Emma's face that says she suspects something is not quite right. Which - we'll get to (we'd better!)

Go on to "Other Things," dammit! I can't take this!

Other Things I Liked/Noticed -

- Anna: "Pirates are better than wizards." In this instance, truer words never were spoken.

- Kristoff: "It's a miracle! A really cold miracle and since we're all wet..." CAN'T WE KEEP THESE FROZEN CHARACTERS FOREVER??

- Snow: "Well, Elsa's blind faith is exactly what's screwing us!" Are we sure Shattered Sight didn't hit some people a little early?

- And... that's about it. What, you think an emotionally-wrung-out episode is going to be full of fun and giggles?

- That final shot of Snow and Charming falling under Shattered Sight and pulling away from each other? Had THAT been the last image we had before a two-week break, I think there would have been mass mutiny in the streets. As it is, we've got a week to wait and that is plenty for me.

Pointless Speculation Time!

Well, that sucked. What's next?

I have several theories. None of which you should hold me to, but I'm going to throw them out there anyway and see if anything sticks.

Part of me wonders if Killian, without his heart, has some immunity to Shattered Sight. Maybe not as complete as Emma or Elsa or Rumple - but I think he might be able to fight it off. Or that Rumple's control over him means that he's not affected. Otherwise, why would Rumple keep Killian alive to finish out one last task? Hold onto this - I'll be back for it.

Henry is the ultimate trump card this season. He's squirreled his way into a part-time job with Grampa Rumple in order to play spy for "Operation Mongoose." Rumple evidently cares enough about Henry to include him in his rather short list of people he actually gives a crap about. And, going from the quick shots of the "Next Week" promo - it looks like Killian's last errand for Rumple is to go get Henry and bring him to Rumple.

(hold on - here it is)

I think that Henry's going to realize that he's not affected by the Shattered Sight spell. And he's sitting in the Mayor's office either very scared or very bored and sets up traps just as an added precaution along with Regina's sealing spell. Or something. Either way - Killian's going to tell Henry that he's there to take Henry to Rumple, but Henry's going to twig that somehow Killian isn't under the spell either. So - Henry, being Henry, is going to want to head out to help Emma and Elsa (and Anna - 'cause she's not under the spell either). And Killian can't go back to Rumple without Henry. Thus, a loophole has been found! Team Kick Snow Queen's Ass just got two extra teammates! (yes, Rumple's going to blow a gasket when he finds out that Henry and Killian have run off - but by then, Rumple hopefully will have bigger problems to deal with).

Whether or not my theory comes true (and I'm sure I'll be proven right or wrong by the time the synopsis for the next episode comes out), one thing's for certain: Ingrid is going to be pissed when she finds out that Anna's in Storybrooke. This is far from over, my friends!

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