Okay, let’s hope Once doesn’t take a week off again anytime soon—because I can barely handle the sheer amount of master plot-advancing stuff that happened in tonight’s episode. (Whether all that stuff totally made sense? Well, we’ll get to that.) Anna’s whereabouts are revealed! Rump forces Hook to decimate Storybrooke’s fairy population! (Think Blue is really, most sincerely dead this time?) Black Beard returns! (Clearly, he’d been hanging out with Dr. Whale.) Everyone cries and hugs and smooches and thanks the TV gods (slash screenwriter Jane Espenson) for giving them ace Emmy reel material! And finally, another all-powerful, never-before-mentioned magical object suddenly saves the day—until it doesn’t!
Yep, that’s right: As of the hour’s end, Ingrid’s Shattered Sight curse has officially infected the (mostly) good people of Storybrooke. Because of course the Once crew couldn’t resist an opportunity to see the lion’s share of its heroes act against type—and to get its rather large stable of redeemed villains back to their pitch-black roots. That 30-second tease of next week’s episode, featuring Regina in full-throttle season 1 Evil Queen drag (and I do mean drag), was enough to make me head outside, find a Wishing Star, and beg Big Papa Walt to make the next seven days pass speedily.
In the meantime, of course, we’ve got plenty to unpack—starting with what appears to be our last fairyback to Arendelle. (Honestly, the prospect of no more Arendelle fairybacks also has me pretty excited.) We begin with Anna and Kristoff, newly thawed and determined to save Elsa from Ingrid. As far as they know, Anna’s aunt has only just absconded with Elsa in the urn; a piece of straw at the scene of the crime informs the redheaded princess that Rumplestiltskin was also involved. They don’t have much time to figure out a plan of attack, though, because they’re not the only former royal popsicles in the castle: Hans and his posse have also broken free. There’s a brief ginger-on-ginger scuffle; our heroes, of course, escape with their lives and get to work figuring out their next move.
Enter that All-Powerful Magical Thing: The Wishing Star. “What’s that?” asks Kristoff when Anna brings it up. “I have no idea, but the important thing is you can wish on it,” his fiancee answers in all seriousness.
So yeah; it seems that all along, Anna has known that her parents left Arendelle in search of this doodad, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. (And we’re just hearing about it now because… magic?) Anna also knows from her mother’s diary that the object is currently in the possession of a pirate named Black Beard. Which means it’s time for the couple to change courses; instead of going after Rump, they’ll simply pay a visit to the scoundrel and convince him to hand over the star. How? The old-fashioned way; while the two of them are rich in many ways, says Anna, “we’re richest in riches.” Sidenote: There’s a lot of this cutesy, Whedon-lite dialogue in tonight’s episode, especially in the Arendelle scenes—and while I appreciate Once getting playful, I’m not sure it really works in this case. The lion’s share of these lines are sort of like the show’s version of Bo Peep, who appeared (uncoincidentally?) in the last episode Espenson wrote; fun in theory, perhaps, but muddled by execution.
Anyhow. In two shakes of a reindeer’s tail, Black Beard has been located and propositioned for said Wishing Star. Unfortunately, Kristoff and Anna discover that they’re not the first people to get to the pirate; they’ve been beaten by Prince Hans, who figured out their trajectory before they left Arendelle, commandeered the navy’s fastest ship, and bought off Black Beard before his ex-fiancee could. Phew. Raise your hand if you kinda want to watch a show about Hans. They could call it Foiled Again!
NEXT: Belle is the Louis Pasteur of Storybrooke