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Once Upon a Time: Smash the Mirror Review
Finally. We finally know who our real Snow Queen is, after all that’s been said and done, she finally has a past to boot. An extra long follow-up of sorts to last week’s flashback of the Disney sisterhoods, our episode of Smash The Mirror said a lot about the merry-go-round Once Upon a Time’s been on so far this season. A serviceable conclusion to a questionably long story arc, our double-episode knows what it has to do and does it well – if not concisely.
Now we seem to know everything about Ingrid/The Snow Queen. Patient, resolute and just a bit compulsive, she’s not aged a day for it. Her plan? She wants to be loved and has no one to love her – this much we know, pay no mind to the iced sisters. The elder Elsa as much as her darker mirror, Ingrid’s obsession is finding a new family and Storybrooke’s will do. Elizabeth Mitchell’s cold stares still may not translate into anything as coy or confident of a villainess as you’d expect with such a low-cut dress. Her anger’s decidedly strained, as if the actress was frozen stiff herself, but now it carries motive and a knowingness that goes with it.
Elsa just happened to make similar ones in a film not long ago. Likewise, Smash the Mirror may have gone to extremes to show just how much Elsa believes in Anna, where a lesser story might have gone the opposite direction. This time, Elsa wasn’t taken in by Ingrid’s lies at any point and for once it made the two’s sisterly bond feel as genuine as they did in the Frozen, which is to say rather adequately. Elizabeth Lail’s Anna is endearing as always and her “mousy” quality can’t help but bring a smile to your face, if not Rumpelstiltskin’s. We’re left to wonder how Anna and Krystoff recovered from the Snow Queen’s icy wrath, but it’s not unreasonable to assume we’ll know next episode.
Elsa and Anna’s connection translated into Storybrooke where Elsa used it to assist Emma. It’s been interesting to watch Elsa come out of her shell as she’s been in Storybrooke, and Georgina Haig has played that transition well. She talked to Emma when no one else could and that was payoff from seeds planted when the two of them first met towards the beginning of the season. They’re bound to become best friends after the incident in the manor.
Emma’s only the latest blonde, then, to be grappling with a magical burden. Emma’s actions affected everyone from Rumple to the Snow Queen to her family. While there were some satisfying moments to be had – including the “believe in yourself” scene with Elsa – hers was the weakest plot of the week. Far be it that it’s one we’ve already seen: it’s also one that’s done little to change the character more than any other disaster in Storybrooke has.
It’s all the stranger that Mary Margaret and David were as indifferent as they’ve been this entire season. It didn’t seem at all like them to support their daughter’s abandonment of magic, or the very thing that brought her into this world. Maybe it was a nice enough touch then that Regina be the one to talk sense into them. She’s one of the few to have sense this season, after all.
Ingrid’s arrangement with Yesnid the sorcerer is about the only logical – if not all too convenient reason – for her to gain entry to our world in a very pleasant return to the storyline that began with The Apprentice. He seems so powerful that surely he could have used his apprentice to steal the hat back, which might suggest he orchestrated events with our Snow Queen for a reason. Regardless, all the apprentice’s talk about the sorcerer’s vast knowledge only strengthens the theory that the sorcerer and the author of Henry’s storybook could be one and the same.
If Smash the Mirror was all about inking a deal, then Rumplestiltskin never disappoints. His failing at redemption compared to Regina’s is a rather powerful observation by now and one that somberly brought Smash the Mirror full circle. His muddled motivations have seen him wrestling to be a better man and failing and Robert Carlyle doubly plays his duality masterfully, certainly worthy of the man who’s shaped this entire series from the get-go. It was only more fulfilling that he should admit it to Emma, the savior that would be his undoing
Once again, Regina and Robin lent the episode their best as their moving subplot’s done every week. Lana Parrilla is as excellent at playing good as when she’s playing bad – Evil Queen regalia or not – and her story’s ultimately come farther than anyone’s by this point. Now she’s taking love advice from Snow White and reading Marvel product placements with her son, all while penning the word “hope” into her vocabulary. It’s rather odd that she isn’t doing more to protect Storybrooke, though – at least for Henry’s sake.
For the first time in forever, all of Once Upon a Time’s arcs fell into place. For a season that’s moved at a rather languid pace, our double serving of sisters galore connected the exasperating dots that have been smudging the series’ field of vision. Here, Once Upon a Time carried itself with a sense of purpose that’s been rare this season. If only this episode hadn’t been the first to evoke that feeling since Elsa sauntered out of that urn, we’d have been worlds beyond a jealous foster mother in a ball gown.
Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights on ABC at 8/7 Central. The series returns in two weeks after the Thanksgiving break. Until then, catch all the latest episodes on ABC.com and the latest reviews here at Tabloid.io
- Emma's Powers Manifest Themselves
- Mr. Gold Got His Revenge
- Regina and Robin Finally Made it to Third Base
- Ingrid's Backstory Is Still Too Little, Too Late
- The Episode Felt Too Jam-Packed