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Once Upon a Time: Breaking Glass Review
Five episodes into its fourth season, we’re still scratching our head over questions Once Upon a Time is spewing out. Questions like: why is the Snow Queen taking memories? Why is she obsessed with Emma? Has Emma EVER seen through a lie? And why do all these sorcerers walk everywhere when they can teleport? This week, Once bumbled through questions Breaking Glass was even more reluctant to answer.
Out of the woods and back onto the streets, Once attempted breaking new ground diving into Emma’s prodigal past. Just about any Emma flashback involves a story about her trusting the wrong person and getting hurt. Breaking Glass saw nothing more, nothing less, and on cue Emma met another wayward youth – another teen girl, Lily– and it all played out rather safe, if not unwittingly comical. The two “party” like giggly ten-year olds for hardened runaways for one thing, and draw BFF stamps with felt markers for another.
It’s difficult to believe Emma and Lily leave behind so many sour grapes twenty-four hours after meeting over shoplifting pancakes, unless decoding some sort of lesbian subtext is in order. At least we got some deathly amusing gamer poses from the two playing Gran Turismo, not to mention the awfully convenient moments in between, including Emma’s possession the video camera she stole and was somehow allowed to keep. And was it a clumsy coincidence that Lily was our not-Regina lookalike? It’s a shame that fake-out never paid off.
Though foreshadowing was its forte, Regina and Emma nevertheless shared the best scenes in Breaking Glass. From week to week, Once’s been more or less snow blind thematically this season, and female friendships made for a solid theme to complement the two’s magical double-teaming. Regina’s motives are getting harder to gauge at the same time. So, she’s upset with Emma for bringing back Maid Marian, but she’s obligated to keep Marian alive for Robin, but she’s angry at Emma for making her feel guilty about it all, and Emma wants to be friends with Regina because they’re both different, right? No? What we do know is that she’s still the most likable character in season four’s wishy-washy roster, even through Lana Parilla’s trademark flair.
Meanwhile, things back at the Charming homestead wasted time of a different kind. It’s been seasons since Snow and David’s sub arcs amounted to much and the pages of their scripted date night this week that turned into a search for the Knave could’ve gotten stuck together from its gooey sweet dialogue. Bonus points go to the pen behind the Asgard reference, but raise your hand if you’re betting Thor’s the next Disney princess to drop into Storybrooke.
Elizabeth Mitchell’s Snow Queen stands front and center as the frostbite eating away at Breaking Glass. While we’ve seen Regina’s stylishly Evil Queen, Pan’s calculated scheming, and Zelena’s cartoonish flamboyance, our Snow Queen’s still blown over like an old prop. Her icy stares notwithstanding, her performance can’t help but echo an emptier shell of what Cora left behind seasons ago: cold, determined, yet lifelessly inept at convincing us she’s terrifying. If anything, she gave a good excuse to bring back our man in the magic mirror, Sidney, for a brief moment of triumph, albeit it a random one.
It all comes down to Frozen to fray loose ends further like it always does (somehow.) Ana and Elsa are just about as lost navigating everyone’s arcs as they have been this whole time and even Elsa’s own confrontation with the Snow Queen proved lackluster. What’s far more interesting is the implications the Snow Queen left Emma to ponder if some chin-scratching video footage can be believed; hopefully it can be, because enough straws have been grasped by now.
Girl power may have gone south propping up Once’s weak plotting and weaker consistency still. It’s all too tempting not to think of the far more intriguing developments in Mr. Gold’s pawnshop and it just might be the only decent route unspoiled by the season’s half-baked efforts. Breaking Glass Right is the hardest crossroads we’ve seen so far, but right here, right now, Once is going to have to roll up its sleeves if it wants to shovel itself out of this storm.
- Regina Stepping Up to the Plate
- A Nice Cameo By the Magic Mirror
- Emma's Flashback Felt Lacking
- Frozen's Arc Long Gone Cold
- What's Up With the Charmings Anymore?