‘Once Upon A Time’ S4 Eps 8 – 9 recap: Emma’s journey to self-acceptance

Will Rumple do Ingrid’s evil bidding? (Photo credit: Disney/ABC Press)

“Once Upon A Time’s” special two hour episode, “Smash the Mirror,” reveals how long the Snow Queen has been waiting for this twisted sisterly reunion and shows us how Anna and Elsa never lost faith in each other. In the present, Emma’s powers are growing increasingly out of control and she reaches out to Rumple for help, just as Ingrid had done. He manipulates Emma into falling for his trap, which is to make her another embroidery on his sorcerer’s hat. For shame, Rumple! Thankfully, Elsa relates to Emma’s predicament and strives so save her friend before the Savior does something she will surely regret.

A long time ago in Arendelle: “No matter what, I love you.”

Ingrid has frozen and hidden the sorcerer’s hat to keep it safe. She travels to the Enchanted Forest in hopes of speaking with the Sorcerer himself, but she has to settle for his apprentice. The Snow Queen wants to recreate the happiness she felt as a child with her sisters. Things didn’t end up well with her ordinary sisters who did not understand her, so she wants two new sisters with powers. She has found one in Elsa and wants to know where she can find another one. Ingrid is willing to wait for the perfect match. In the meantime, she makes sure to have Elsa all to herself.

The Snow Queen traps Anna in the dungeon and tells Elsa the truth about their mother. Gerda trapped Ingrid in the urn and Anna is bound to commit the same act of betrayal. Elsa appears heartbroken and goes to visit Anna.

Anna admits she lied about their parents’ journey, but swears she would never hurt Elsa. Elsa believes her sister and carries out a rouse to fool their malicious aunt. Elsa sets Anna free and gives her back the snowflake necklace. The Snow Queen is scary, powerful and smart, so the girls need to eliminate her as a threat. Elsa wants to trap Ingrid in the urn, so they search for it in the palace.

Kris, Anna and Elsa explore the East Wing and stumble upon a shattered mirror with a piece of the glass missing. Elsa wonders what could have happened but she’s distracted by their crucial discovery. They find Hansicle hidden in a closet with the urn by his side. Now that they have the urn, Elsa admits that she doesn’t her blame her parents for being afraid. Anna says their parents made a mistake, one that she will not repeat. Anna believes Elsa’s powers make her special and she wouldn’t want her sister to be any other way. Awww. Now that’s the refreshing take on True Love that we like to see.

The girls come up with a trap for Ingrid. Elsa plans to tell the Snow Queen that Anna will be banished. Then Anna can capture their crazy aunt in the urn. Anna tells Elsa to stay far away so that she doesn’t accidently get sucked into the urn too. Sounds like a good plan, unfortunately, we know it won’t work out as the girls’ hoped.

Ingrid magically chains Anna and is already prepared to hear Elsa’s lies. Anna stays strong and promises that they will never turn against each other. So the Snow Queen gives sweet Anna a magical nudge into darkness. She speaks of an ancient Norse legend in which a mirror was enchanted to reflect the ugliness of the King’s pain and sorrow after the death of his daughter. Through the mirror spell, the kingdom also shared in his pain. It destroyed his kingdom and subjects. It was the Spell of Shattered Sight and Ingrid casts it on Anna as shards of glass pierce into her innocent eyes.

Ingrid’s Spell of Shattered Sight has brought all of Anna’s darkest thoughts, cruelest feelings, and terrible doubts to the surface. When the sisters meet again, Anna chastises Elsa for abandoning her for all of those years. She throws her snowflake necklace into the fire. The Snow Queen steps in and tries gaining Elsa’s trust. Only she can truly understand how Elsa feels. Anna continues expressing her resentment towards Elsa, but she refuses to hurt her little sister. As Anna prepares to open the urn, Elsa cries out: “No matter what, I love you.” With that, Anna traps her sister in the urn. Once the job is done, the spell breaks. Anna is distraught and Kristoff tries to comfort her. The Snow Queen got exactly what she wanted. She is outraged by the girls’ behavior and vows to become the monster everyone sees. She will keep Elsa trapped in that urn and continue searching for their new sister.

Rumple proposes a deal to the Snow Queen: he takes the urn and says he will exchange it for the Sorcerer’s hat. He tells Ingrid to summon him when she is ready. After some thought, the Snow Queen retrieves the hat and prepares to summon Rumple. Suddenly, the Sorcerer’s apprentice appears to stop her. He tells Ingrid that happy endings can take a long time, but they do happen. He claims that the Sorcerer knows many things. He foresees that if she gives the hat to Rumple, Ingrid will never get her happy ending. But if she returns the hat to the apprentice, she will find her third sister and be reunited with Elsa. The Snow Queen is willing to wait for what she wants, so she hands the hat over.

The apprentice instructs Ingrid to walk through a magic door and enter a new land. He gives her a scroll and says it will lead Ingrid to her sister when the time comes. Ingrid steps into “Our World” in 1982. The stage has been set for her to meet young Emma.

This all powerful Sorcerer is quite a mysterious figure. It is interesting that the apprentice emphasized how the Sorcerer knows many things. Could the Sorcerer be the author of the storybook? Is that how he knows who will get their happy ending? What do you think, Oncers?

Storyrbooke, present: “They embrace us for who we are…you have to love yourself.”

Emma is in bad shape. She has retreated into the woods as her powers grow increasingly out of control. Her hands are pulsating with magic when Henry finds her. He gives his mom a pep talk, saying that pulling away from the people she loves won’t fix her problems. Emma tries to warn and protect Henry, but she accidently ends up shocking him instead. Poor Henry bumps his head, but bounces back and comforts his mom. She loves him, but it isn’t safe. She tells him to go.

After Henry leaves, the Snow Queen appears and sympathizes with Emma. She knows how it feels. She assures Emma that once she embraces who she truly is, this uncontrollable power trip will stop. Unfortunately, Emma decides to put her faith in another baddie.

Emma visits Rumple, when she enters his shop, her supercharged magic powers animates all of the objects. She is desperate and needs his help to control her magic. Rumple is the only one who she will stay safe around, so he needs to fix it. Rumple says there’s an ancient spell that can take away her magic and make her ordinary. Since Savior magic won’t go quietly, they need to travel out of town. He makes plans to meet Emma in the abandoned manor at sundown. It will be their secret. Oh no Emma, what have you done?!

Meanwhile, Elsa, the Charmings, and Hook are fretting over Emma’s well-being just when Henry walks in wounded from his encounter and says she’s hiding in the woods. Elsa tells them that Emma’s loved ones are the only people who will be able to help her. Henry is completely understanding of Emma’s delicate situation and desperately wants to help her. Unfortunately, Regina is not so sympathetic when she sees what Emma has done to her son.

After spending a passionate night and morning with Robin Hood, in which he agreed to help her find the author of the storybook to ensure her happy ending, Regina arrives late to the search party. She brings the locator spell they requested and is enraged at the site of Henry’s wound. This madness needs to be stopped before more people get hurt. Regina says they simply pour the potion over an object of Emma’s and it will lead them to her. Suddenly, Emma calls home. Mary Margaret answers and immediately apologizes. She assures Emma that they are not afraid of her, she knows their reaction was wrong. Emma tells her not to worry because she is going to fix everything. She will get rid of her magic forever and be back home soon to have hot cocoa with Henry. Emma’s decision causes a stir among her loved ones. Some of them discuss the pros and cons of an “ordinary” Emma, while others rush to save her.

Hook has a hunch that Emma made a deal with Rumple. He leaves the gang saying he needs to get his “talking phone.” Hook dashes to Gold’s shop in hopes of stopping Rumple from hurting Emma, but he is too late. Killian sees Emma’s handprint and leaves her an impassioned voicemail. He confesses all of his sins and warns her about Rumple’s plan with the Sorcerer’s hat. In a moving monologue Hook explains, “I just wanted to be a better man for you Swan and I failed and now because of it I might lose you. I’m sorry but I hope you never forgive me because that means you’ll get this in time to save yourself.” Sigh! Luckily, Killian spots a map to the abandoned mansion. If Emma doesn’t get his message, he might be able to make it in time to stop her himself. While Hook hurries to rescue Emma, her family contemplates the consequences of her decision.

Mama and Papa Charming wonder if they should interfere. Mary Margaret admits that Emma saved Storybrooke more than once by using her powers, perhaps they should convince her to keep them. David believes Emma should decide what is best for herself. M.M. doesn’t like the thought of Emma losing a part of who she is, but David views Emma’s sacrifice as a heroic act. This is her best chance to be normal. Elsa overhears this and realizes that she needs to stop Emma from making a big mistake. It is time for Emma to embrace her true self, magic powers and all. She pours the locator potion over Emma’s scarf and follows its lead. Elsewhere, Regina and Henry have a similar conversation about Emma.

Regina checks Henry’s wound and heals it with magic. Henry says it must be nice to have magic, it is such a useful tool. Henry’s just ordinary, so he feels like he can never be as helpful as the others. Regina assures her son that he is special. He has the heart of the truest believer, that is his gift and it makes him extraordinary. Henry reminds Regina that Emma is a hero and heroes always win. There must be a way to help her gain control of her powers. Regina agrees and is appalled when she learns of the Charming’s willingness to let Emma lose her powers. She tells Mary Margaret that she regrets not supporting Henry in the beginning when she realized he was special after the storybook appeared for him. Mary Margaret agrees with Regina and wants to stop Emma. They look for the locator potion and realize that Elsa has already taken it.

You snooze, you lose, ladies. Elsa and Hook have been far ahead of the game on this one. The Charmings’ reaction to Emma’s uncontrollable powers has been disappointing from the start. It has been a relief to know that Elsa and Hook have had Emma’s back when her parents started slacking. Regina’s reaction also proves that Emma has grown on her. Regina taught her how to use magic and seems to be invested in Emma’s growth. It is mind-boggling to think anyone in Storybrooke would let their Savior get rid of her magic powers. Even the Snow Queen wants Emma to keep her powers and she’s devastated when Rumple reveals his nasty plan.

Rumple meets with the Snow Queen and he threatens to take Emma away from her. He says that magic is never completely destroyed and shows her some dust left over from the broken urn. He uses it to draw a magic circle around Ingrid which keeps her trapped inside. That will keep her at bay long enough for Rumple to complete his malicious mission. Or so it seems.

After Rumple dashes off, Ingrid is still able to make contact with Emma by projecting her image like hologram. The Snow Queen crashes Emma’s car on her way to the manor and tries to warn her about Rumple, but the Savior doesn’t want to hear it. Ingrid swears Rumple doesn’t truly care about Emma the way she does; she’s only trying to protect Emma. Once Emma realizes that Ingrid is just a hologram, she breezes past her and drives off. Emma reaches the manor, sees bright lights shining from within and ignores all the missed calls on her cell phone. The gang better be nearby because Emma’s stepping into one of Rumple’s worst traps ever!

Regina, the Charmings and Henry search for Emma the ordinary way and track her car. On the way, Mary Margaret tries to give Regina hope about her relationship with Robin Hood. Snow’s heart hasn’t always been pure and she still managed to get her happy ending. Regina can still earn forgiveness and completely cross over from villain to hero. Regina just needs to have faith that everything will work out for her. Just as the ladies discuss Outlaw Queen’s fate, Robin calls with good news. He and Will searched through the library when a page from the storybook magically appeared. Mary Margaret tells Regina go see what he found. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang continues with their mission to save Emma.

Back at the mansion, Rumple opens the box and prepares the Sorcerer’s hat so that is sucks Emma up when she walks into the room. He pops up behind her and says he has the spell ready in the other room. She tells him about the Snow Queen’s warning and asks if the spell is safe. Rumple cautions that no magic is safe. It is Emma’s choice to take the risk and stop herself from more people. She asks Rumple what he would do if he was in her position. Rumple admits that he has always chosen power. He wouldn’t enter that room for anything because he makes the wrong, selfish decisions. He even adds that he loves Belle for believing in him, but she’s wrong to have such faith. Oh Rumple is being so slimy here! The puzzling truths are both warning and encouraging Emma. He tells her that she always does the right thing. Emma thanks Rumple for being honest. Ugh! This is so frustrating. Stop being so mean, Rumple! And wake-up, Emma! You are dealing with the Dark One. Come on!

Rumple leaves Emma alone to make her decision. He finds Hooks outside and taunts his foe once more. He buckles Hook down and forces him to watch Emma disappear from his life forever. Rumple even took her cell, so Hook has no way of warning her. Rumple assures Hook that he will get over Emma the same way he got over Milah. That took hundreds of years! Hook tries appealing to Rumple’s humanity one last time by reminding him that he is killing the mother of his grandson. But it is no use. Power has always trumped everything else in Rumple’s life. Thankfully, Elsa arrives just in the nick of time.

Elsa stops Emma in her tracks. She will not give up on her new friend. She knows how scary everything seems right now, but there is another way to regain control of her powers. Anna’s love saved Elsa, Emma’s version of that is Henry, but seeing him didn’t help her situation. Elsa explains that Anna’s love alone did not save her. Their loved ones may accept them for who they are, but they key lies in self-acceptance. Emma must love herself completely and embrace who she truly is. Good, bad, powers, all of it. Elsa tells Emma it is time to stop being afraid. Elsa reaches out and Emma takes ahold of her hand. As she finally embraces her true self, Emma’s powers neutralize. Yay!

Outside, Rumple is enraged by his failure, while Hook is ecstatic. The Dark One warns him not to rejoice just yet. There is still another way to separate from the dagger and gain ultimate power. Ingrid whispered the secret ingredient to him and now we find out what that is. Rumple needs the heart of someone special, someone who knew him before he became the Dark One. Rumple rips Hook’s heart out of his chest. Hook has now become Rumple’s puppet. Once the hat is full, Rumple will kill Hook for good. NOOO! Curse you, Rumpelstiltskin!

Hook goes to Emma and when she asks how he feels about her powers, he cheekily teases, “I’m a fan of every part of you.” As the two embrace, we know Rumple has his heart and can control him, yet Hook seems to still have his conscience intact. This is going to be so hard for him. Even if he wants to tell Emma the truth, will he be able to with Rumple holding the reigns? Will Emma ever hear Hook’s revealing voicemail about his deal with Rumple? This situation sucks! As if we needed more to worry about. At least things are starting to look on the bright side for Regina.

The new storybook page shows an illustration of Regina and Robin Hood kissing in the pub. Instead of leaving, Regina met Robin. Their fate could’ve gone in many ways, so having a bright future is still a possibility for Outlaw Queen. The page’s magical appearance offers Regina a much needed sign of hope, which is rare for a villain. Regina gets teary-eyed at the thought of actually attaining a happy ending. Mary Margaret was right after all. Regina just needs to keep having faith in herself and her happy future. Unfortunately, others’ happy endings are getting the shaft.

Ingrid is freed from her circle. She immediately retrieves the yellow ribbon and places it on her wrist. Now that Emma has embraced her true self, the Snow Queen is ready to make her family complete.

The Charmings join Elsa and Emma at the manor and they celebrate. Emma is in control of her powers, so she gleefully puts on a fireworks show. Suddenly, Elsa and Emma are surprised to find yellow ribbon tied around their wrists. No matter what they try, the ribbons won’t come off. With these ribbons, the Snow Queen can funnel and harness the girls’ powers. She rubs her victory in Rumple’s face.

Elsa saved Emma like a sister. The ribbons have bonded them all together as sisters and now Ingrid wields the magic of three. She is finally able to cast the Spell of Shattered Sight over Storybrooke. Rumple warns her not to overestimate her power and the Snow Queen snaps back that the Dark One should not underestimate her abilities. With that said, she shatters the mirror and we’re left with a haunting poof of impending doom.

This is horrible, Oncers! Rumple and the Snow Queen are succeeding. Our heroes have a lot of work to do if they want to stop Rumple and Ingrid from causing more pain and suffering.

What did you think of “Smash the Mirror”? What moments did you love or hate? What surprised you most? Can they stop the Spell of Shattered Sight? Will Hook tell Emma the truth about his situation with Rumple? Is there a way he can get his heart back? Does the new storybook page mean that the history and future may be changing for Outlaw Queen and possibly others? Are you excited to see more of the growing bond forged between Elsa and Emma?

Share your thoughts below!

“Once Upon A Time” airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC.


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