Serious question: Is a Storybrooke in which everyone’s suspicious, caustic, and attacking the people around them really going to be that different from the town’s general status quo? (At least, as long as Grumpy is around?)
We’ll have to wait two long weeks for the answer to that burning (freezing?) question, thanks to the American Music Awards. At least Once prepared for its off week by giving us both halves of a two-parter—a story that, when all is said and done, maybe didn’t need to be told over the course of two hours, though it was nice to see the show take some time to privilege character over plot tonight. The hour also revealed the answers to a few of the season’s long-simmering unsolved mysteries—including how Elsa ended up trapped within the anti-magic urn. Could this indicate the end of the Arendelle fairybacks, considering that backstory seems to be fairly complete at this point? If it does, will you miss them—or are you looking forward to the show not spending quite so much time on the Frozen crew?
Sorry, sorry, sorry; we shouldn’t talk about that before discussing the flashbacks themselves. So: We begin with Ingrid hiding the dumpling box that holds the Sorcerer’s all-important magic hat, then traveling to his apprentice’s cottage to make a deal. She wants him to help her find the perfect third sister for her twisted little Franken-family—rosy cheeks, no warts, plays games, all sorts, etc. It’d help, also if she were a blonde. The Apprentice basically tells Ingrid to get lost; the Sorcerer, whoever he is, is unlike Rumple in that he’s not a big fan of deals. Hint: This means he will be making a deal with Ingrid before the two-parter ends.
In the meantime, Ingrid has to figure out a way to get Elsa entirely loyal to her—and to ensure that Elsa’s actual sister won’t be a thorn in her side much longer. So she feeds her niece a pack of lies, saying that Anna brought the Sorcerer’s Hat back from the Enchanted Forest so she could suck Elsa’s powers away. For a moment, it seems like Elsa actually believes this pile of reindeer poo; she heads down to the dungeon and confronts Anna, acting furious. Thankfully, the key word there is “acting”—all the Snow Queen’s manipulation did was convince Elsa that she and Anna have to find a way to get rid of Crazy Aunt Ingrid. Hooray for common sense! Could Elsa possibly lend a jar of it to David and Emma?
The good news: The urn’s still in the castle, and it doesn’t take long for Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff to locate it. (Along with the frozen corpse of Hans, which is chilling in the same wardrobe.) The bad news: Instead of, say, walking around the castle until they find Ingrid and siccing the urn on her, the sisters decide it’d be a better idea to design an elaborate ruse that begins with Anna returning to her dungeon cell. So much for that jar of common sense. Once Elsa locks Anna back in—promising her incarceration will only be temporary—Ingrid of course appears, wielding a disappointed glint in her eye and a piece of a very special mirror that’s going to make Anna change her ways.
It is, she explains, a fragment of an object Anna may have read about in an ancient Norse legend called “The Trolden Glass.” (Wait, “Norse” mythology somehow exists in Once‘s version of Arendelle, a land with no other connections to our “real” world—but Olaf doesn’t? I’m crying shenanigans.) Long story short: Enchanted mirror; dead princess; grieving father; dark magic spell. The mirror, as we already know, causes those who gaze into it to see only the worst in the ones they love. It’s not explained why, precisely, this clearly evil object was in Ingrid’s room even before she turned wicked, or why it was broken, or why nothing bad happened to Elsa and Anna when they gazed into it earlier—but whatevs, Ingrid’s going to use the shard now to turn the sisters against each other. I’d say that she should’ve just waited to see what happened when, say, Anna borrowed Elsa’s favorite white sweater without asking and inevitably got chocolate all over it, except everyone knows Elsa only has the one outfit.
So Ingrid literally blows broken glass into her redheaded niece’s eyes, magicking Anna into a rage. Suddenly, everything she loves about Elsa is gone, replaced by her deepest, darkest, cruelest thoughts about her sister—her rage that Elsa pushed her away for years, ignored her, could never be bothered to help her build that freakin’ snowman. And it’s not just empty anger, either—Anna still has the urn, and clearly isn’t afraid to use it on Elsa. Ingrid, gloating, tells Elsa that she can stop Anna, but only if she uses her powers against her sister. And because Aunt Ingrid didn’t have the foresight to blow magic glass into both sisters’ eyes, Elsa doesn’t play ball. She keeps telling Anna that she loves her… right up until the moment that spellbound Anna opens up the vessel, which sucks Elsa inside (leaving Ingrid curiously unharmed). The kicker: Anna of course comes to her senses as soon as Elsa’s gone.
NEXT: Who will save the savior?