“Once Upon A Time” recap (4.1): Conceal, don’t feel

Welcome to Season 4 of Once Upon A Time! The bad news is, with the absence of Mulan, Aurora, and Ruby, and the persistence of Robin Hood and Captain Hook, this season seems straighter than ever. The good news is, Disney seems to have thrown a lot of extra money into the show’s CGI budget, lest they tarnish Frozen‘s reputation, so the first episode of Season 4 is visually stunning. Plus, Emma and Regina have just as much sexual tension as ever, and that’s really why we’re here, right? So, without further ado, the season premiere.

Previously on Once Upon a Time, we spent an entire lifetime in Neverland, where the sun never came out, the boys were body-snatching old men, and only a little mermaid could come and go. Then we got out of Neverland but Henry and Peter Pan had swapped bodies, threatening make Henry more interesting than usual. After they solved that problem, a new one fell on their heads like a house after a tornado in the form of a very attractive wicked witch named Zelena who gave Regina a run for her money as the evilest in all the land. Regina stopped her by channeling her white magic and was going to spare her for heroism’s sake, but Rumplestiltskin killed her dead since he’s the Dark One again, kinda. Zelena left behind a time portal, which Emma and Hook fell into, where they managed to get into mischief and returned with Maid Marian, and a whole new mess of trouble.

But before we dive back into the trouble Emma and Hook caused, we go to a long, long time ago, in a land far, far away, on a ship that could have asked for better weather. On board, a woman runs into a room and, despite being aggressively rained on, manages to write a letter. A man finds her and tells her that they’re pretty much doomed, but she says she has to try to get this letter back home. “Anna and Elsa must know the truth,” she says. Then the King and Queen of Arendelle take a one-way trip to tour Davy Jones’ Locker.

Five years later, Elsa and Anna visit their parents’ graves on the rolling hills of Arendelle. They tell each other that their parents would be proud and Elsa tells Anna she has a surprise for her. I don’t know who directs the siblings on this show to speak with their faces so close together, but when two crazy-attractive ladies I know to not really be related in real life get in each other’s breathspace, I can’t help but want them to kiss.

OUAT 401-1But they are not Lannisters, and I don’t condone incest.

Flash forward to present-day, where Elsa wanders out of the barn into which she appeared and into Storybrooke, leaving a trail of ice in her wake.

Across town, Regina storms out of Granny’s, still shaken by Marian’s return, and Emma follows close behind. Immediately, she apologizes. Emma looks at Regina with remorse and tells her that she didn’t mean to cause her pain. She just needed to get her competition out of the way. Regina’s most upset because this woman, this Marian, sees her as the Evil Queen, the person Regina has worked so hard to change. Emma swears she was just trying to help, but Regina thinks maybe she should just stop.

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They are interrupted by Robin Hood, who brings Marian out to meet Regina, the new Regina, but Marian isn’t having any of it. Regina is a monster and nothing her husband can say will make her think otherwise. Regina, to her credit, resists setting the frantic woman on fire and simply walks away.

Emma tries to go after Regina again, but Hook stops her. Henry is worried; he says Regina has come too far to become evil again. Surely the writers wouldn’t undo all her hard work! Emma sure hopes he is right, as do we all.

Grumpy and Sleepy leave the party, and since someone decided to put the narcoleptic dwarf on Designated Driver duty, they end up careening toward the wandering Elsa, who instinctively throws up her hands, effectively freezing the dwarves’ truck, stopping it from turning her into crushed ice. She looks at what she did what looks like a combination of fear and awe at her own power. Elsa walks into town (all night? It’s morning now?) and a motorcycle startles her, making her fists turn to ice. She tries not to let it show and heads towards a dress shop.

Flash back to Arendelle, where Elsa guides Anna up to an attic and presents her with their mother’s wedding dress and a snowflake necklace. Something borrowed, something new. Anna rambles about the many ways in which she could ruin the dress when Elsa finds something that makes it start to snow in the attic.

OUAT 401-3Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve.

What Elsa found was a diary, and even though it was written in Webdings, she could read it. And what she read made her feel like their parents’ death was her fault.