“Once Upon A Time” staged quite a comeback reaching a two-year ratings high (per The Hollywood Reporter) with the fantasy drama’s new twist on Disney’s animated blockbuster, “Frozen.” If you were a “Frozen” fan to begin with, then you loved “A Tale of Two Sisters.” And if you aren’t really on the “Frozen” bandwagon, the premiere still delivered some sweet and classic “OUAT” moments that foreshadow the frosty season we have ahead of us.
“A Tale of Two Sisters” opens with Elsa and Anna’s parents braving the stormy sea. Before the violent waters swallow their ship, Mama manages to send out a message in a bottle. Flash forward five years. Queen Elsa has learned to “Let It Go” in a good way and Anna is happily in love with Kristoff (basically, we’re picking up where “Frozen” left off.)
Arendelle, Past: “She doesn’t give up on the people she loves.”
Elsa and Anna visit their parents’ grave and try to focus on the positive: Anna is getting ready for her wedding and Elsa has a surprise for her big day. They return to the palace and Elsa surprises Anna with their mother’s wedding gown (something borrowed) and presents her with a beautiful snowflake necklace (something new). While Anna excitedly changes, Elsa opens a desk drawer and discovers her mother’s diary. Snow starts to fall around her as she turns the pages. Elsa feels at fault for their parents’ deaths.
Their parents set sail to get help for Elsa because they were worried about what was happening to her. Elsa interprets this as her parents being afraid of her, but Anna assures her sister that can’t be true. She says her soon-to-be-in-laws, the Trolls, can help they out.
Kristoff’s Troll Papa tells the girls that all he can glean from the diary is that their parents journeyed to Mist Haven. Anna suggests they follow their parents’ lead and go to Mist Haven. They can be back with answers in just two weeks, but Elsa insists that it is too dangerous, plus she can’t leave her kingdom.
The next day Anna is MIA, so Elsa visits Kristoff and Sven to confirm her suspicions. (Side-note: Sven is officially my new favorite addition to “OUAT.” Too cute!) Kristoff buckles under pressure. Anna booked passage on a ship (the Jolly Roger?!) to Mist Haven, which is also known as the Enchanted Forest (well done, writers, good way to bring both worlds together.) Anna wanted Kristoff to stay behind and look after Elsa while she ruled over her kingdom. True to the spirit of “Frozen,” Kristoff says that Anna doesn’t give up on the people she loves.
Storybrooke, Present Day: “Always a villain, even when I’m not.”
Picking up from where we left off, Elsa makes her chilling entrance into Storybrooke. She is scared and confused, so she can’t help her powers from flaring up. As she makes her way through the town, we get to check back in with our “OUAT” favorites.
Regina exits the diner moments after learning about Emma’s inconvenient last minute life-saver. Marian is back in Robin Hood’s life and Regina’s hopes of having True Love have been crushed again, by Snow White’s daughter nonetheless. Regina quips that she feels the brunt of Emma’s heroism and it isn’t fair. She has worked so hard and has come such a long. Now Marian only sees her as the self-serving, unforgiving Evil Queen. “Always a villain, even when I’m not,” laments Regina. (We can’t argue with her there. This really sucks for Regina.)
Robin Hood rushes out after her and wants to properly introduce Marian to the reformed Regina. He wants the three of them to talk. Marian is rightfully disturbed and enraged that Robin is now dating her executioner. She doesn’t want Regina anywhere near her son. Heartbroken Regina walks away and Hook urges Emma to leave her be for a while. As Regina ventures off, the gang voices what we are all thinking: Will Regina turn evil again? Henry finds this the most distressing because he watched how hard his mother has worked to change. Let’s hope Regina won’t relapse.
Elsewhere, Grumpy and Sleepy are riding into town when good old Sleepy, you guessed it, falls asleep at the wheel. (Um, why would the narcoleptic be driving in the first place? It’s common sense at this point. Just saying.) Elsa sees their van sliding towards her so she instinctively throws up her chilly guard and ices their car. Elsa is trying to control her frosty fingertips as much as possible, but she just can’t help it. She won’t be able to hide for much longer. Speaking of hiding, Rumple is keeping a huge secret from Belle and it has been eating away at his conscience.
Rumple visits Neal’s grave and has a candid conversation with his son. Robert Carlyle delivers a moving monologue as Rumple recalls his favorite memory. When Bae was a little boy he was scared during the Ogre War. He curled up next to Rumple, saying, “Papa, I’m afraid.” Rumple comforted his son, telling him not to worry. Feeling at ease, Bae smiled. Rumple reveals that was the happiest time in his life because he felt like a man who could take care of his child. Then in a moment of weakness, Rumple allowed himself to become a slave to the dagger. He turned into the Dark One and was obsessed with power. He confesses his sin to Neal. Rumple kept the real dagger and gave Belle a fake only so he could avenge Neal’s death at the hands of the Wicked Witch. Now that Rumple has accomplished his mission, he wants to give the real dagger back to Belle, but she must never discover the truth. Rumple needs to conjure up the courage he will need to be the man that Neal sacrificed his life for. He vows to spend the rest of his life repaying Neal. As always, Carlyle is phenomenal as Rumple. Your heart just breaks for him, even when he’s being bad. This is so sad and troubling. While Rumple tries to right his wrongs, Regina also strives to take the high road.
Robin Hood tells Regina that the woman he has come to know is the “furthest thing from a monster.” He admits that he hasn’t always been such a stand-up guy either, but he learned to leave his sins in the past and move on. He urges Regina to do the same because she isn’t the Evil Queen anymore. Then comes the one-two-punch. The love Robin and Regina share is real. (Aww. Yay!) But Marian is his wife. When they got married, he made a vow. Now that she’s alive, that vow remains and he must keep his promise to his wife. (Ouch!) Robin Hood has to live by his code, no matter how much it pains him to leave Regina. Well, you can’t blame Robin for doing the honorable thing. He has a son with Marian. She was his first True Love. Their past cannot simply be erased. Or can it?
Robin leaves as Regina’s tears well-up. Once he’s gone, her sadness turns into rage. She shatters the mirror on her wall and gets an idea. Remember Sidney Glass, aka the Magic Mirror? Well, he didn’t just disappear. Regina locked him away, removing the greatest temptation from her sight. She tells Sidney that someone is in the way of her happiness, so she needs him to get rid of her. Uh-oh. Is the Evil Queen making a comeback?
Things are starting to get a little too dreary, so we move onto a happy occasion. Belle has found a beautiful, unoccupied mansion with ocean views in which the two love-birds can enjoy their honeymoon. Belle has no idea who owns the mansion, but as Rumple recognizes the star-covered cylinder on the desk, we wonder if he has an idea of who the owner could be. (Start scouring the place for clues, Oncers. There must be some Easter eggs hidden in the mansion.) Rumple then follows Belle into the ballroom, as she takes in the serene atmosphere, her new hubby says they haven’t had their first dance yet. Wait for iiit…
Rumple magically transforms their attire. He takes the lead in a blue blazer and she glows in the stunning gold dress. “Beauty and the Beast” comes to life as Rumple cues-up “Tale as Old as Time.” Some of us are still suckers for the classics. This is definitely one of the best and a totally fan-favorite moment of the whole episode. It gave us goose-bumps and even made some get a little teary-eyed. You can’t help but love it. Thank you, “OUAT” for giving us this treat. Everything about it was perfect.
Back on the streets of Storybrooke, the Charming family takes a stroll, as Snow and Emma walk ahead of Charming and Henry, they squeeze in a little girl talk. Emma still hasn’t told Henry about her relationship with Hook, which coincidently marks Killian’s entrance into the scene. The captivating captain feels as though his new girlfriend has been avoiding him. As she shrugs it off, Grumpy and Sleepy run in with news of their chilly encounter. Emma notices Elsa’s icy tracks, so she and Hook try to find the culprit.
As Hook and Emma close in on Elsa, her protective snow monster appears. In a scene reminiscent of “Ghostbusters,” the snow monster charges through Storybrooke and follows the gang into the woods. Meanwhile, Elsa sees a photo in the paper about Rumple’s marriage and we think she may be out to get revenge on the guy who imprisoned her for all of those years. While the gang deals with the snow monster, Regina works on her latest scheme.
Regina looks through the story book, which has changed again since Marian’s life was saved. Now she’s been robbed of her happy ending. She wants to go back in time, undo Emma’s mistake, and remove Marian from the book so that she can be with Robin again. She needs Sidney to show her the exact moment she ordered Marian’s execution because she can’t remember someone so “vanilla.” So she traps him back in the mirror. Poor Sidney.
In a flashback, we see the Evil Queen at her peak. Marian was sentenced to death because she refused to reveal Snow’s whereabouts. Marian says Regina wouldn’t be so cruel if she had love in her life. Then she calls Regina a monster. Oh the bitter irony. Even Regina must have felt a shiver go down her spine when she saw how vicious she used to be. Surely, she won’t go through with this nasty plan…Right? We will soon find out.
The snow monster continues his violent attack in the woods. Nothing can stop him, not even Emma’s non-threatening light magic. The snow beast is about to kill Marian when Regina appears. Suddenly Regina disappears and Marian isn’t surprised. Then a shot of light burst through the snow monster as Regina kills him with magic in a covert attack from behind. Maybe Regina is not a monster after all.
Finally, the moment Captain Swan fans have been waiting for. Hook tells Emma that their worries are never over, so they have to enjoy the quiet moments whenever they can. Emma then admits that she has been avoiding Hook because she feels guilty for sabotaging Regina’s relationship with Robin. She asks Killian for patience and gives him a passionate kiss to prove that she is still smitten with him. In classic Hook fashion, he teases, “I have all the time in the world, unless another monster appears and kills me.” We definitely need more Hook in the next episode, he just makes everything so much more entertaining. Moving on, Emma heads out to set things right with Regina.
In a great parallel shot, Emma stands outside of Regina’s door, while the mayor leans against it in tears. Emma says she returned to Storybrooke to bring back happy endings and she’s sorry for hurting Regina. But there is still hope for Regina to have her happily ever after.
Regina realizes that Henry’s story book is the main problem. Whoever wrote the cursed book made sure villains never got a happy ending. If they can figure out who wrote the book, they can change the endings. Nice! Will this season finally reveal the author? Who could it be? Again, stay vigilant for clues, Oncers. As the episode continues to wind down, more trouble arises.
Rumple sneaks out of bed and takes the real dagger downstairs. He waves it over the starry cylinder and it transforms into what appears to be Mickey’s hat from “Fantasia.” Really?! “OUAT” is taking us way, way back now. Isn’t this kind of like opening Pandora’s Box? Essentially, “Fantasia” is Disney’s version of an acid trip. Whatever magic the wizard hat holds, you can bet on it causing craziness in Storybrooke.
At least the episode leaves us with a sweet image. Elsa breaks into Gold’s shop because she saw Anna’s snowflake necklace in the newspaper photo. Elsa holds onto the necklace and echoes a promise we frequently hear on “Once Upon A Time,” “Anna, I will find you.”
What do you think, Oncers? Did the premiere live up to your expectations? Do you like “OUAT’s” adaptation of “Frozen” so far? What do you think will become of the “Fantasia” hat? Are you afraid Belle will learn Rumple’s secret? Will Regina find the story book’s author? When will we see how Will Scarlet works his way into this season? We have a lot to look forward.
Share your thoughts below and stay tuned for more scoop!
“Once Upon A Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.
I have an insatiable passion for TV, Film, Music & Entertainment news (which is really a fancy way of saying I'm a TV addicted couch potato). I'm currently a National Examiner for "Galavant," "Once Upon A Time," "Saving Hope," and "Sleepy Hollow" on Examiner.com. I provide detailed, thoughtful, witty, and occasionally saucy recaps/reviews, as well as some fun and interesting interviews. You'll frequently see me tweeting away about my favorite shows. If you love chatting about TV as much I do, then join the fun and Talk TV with Tiffany!