Emma and Regina team up to track down Queen Frostine—er, the Snow Queen.
Though Sidney Glass (a.k.a. the Magic Mirror, a.k.a. the Genie, a.k.a. Gus Fring) gets name-checked in the title of tonight’s episode, he’s more of a side attraction than the main event. “Breaking Glass” easily could have been renamed “The SwanQueen Hour,” given how much of it was devoted to Emma and Regina teaming up and navigating the tricky waters of their relationship. As fans of one of OUAT‘s most venerable ‘ships will be pleased to know, that journey ends with the queen and the savior in a place of mutual understanding and, perhaps, even friendship. Did you hear the way Regina finally admitted that she doesn’t really want to kill Emma? For her, that tone was downright warm!
Still, Regina hasn’t totally forgiven Emma for bringing Marian to Storybrooke and effing up her happy ending. The queen’s inability to let bygones be bygones is paralleled in tonight’s flashback sequences, which leave the sisters of Arendelle behind (for a change) to focus instead on the foibles of Young Emma. Honestly, the connection between these flashbacks and what’s happening (either thematically or narratively) in the present is more than a little tenuous; I’m guessing that this is because these scenes are the first piece in a puzzle that Present Day Emma has just begun to assemble. As of now, though, here’s what we know:
Way way back in the 1990s, 15-year-old Emma is on the run from her group home. After traveling from Boston to Minnesota, she quickly befriends a brunette girl around her own age. (Emma gets caught shoplifting; the girl, Lily, helps her out of her jam, then advises her to try credit card fraud instead. It’s all very Thirteen, if that movie were rated PG.) Lily tells her new pal that she, like Emma, lives in a place where it feels like no one understands her; Emma assume that means she’s also in the foster care system, and Lily doesn’t correct her. Like many a troubled 15-year-old before them, the two break into an empty house; unlike those other kids, instead of immediately getting hammered on stolen booze, they just play video games and eat junk food and goof around with a camcorder. Maybe it’s not much like Thirteen after all.
Anyway, their little Rebel without a Cause routine is spoiled when a grown-up steps into Lily and Emma’s Neverland. Surprise: He’s Lily’s father; she’s not really an orphan. (Also, her full first name is Lilith, which is about as symbolically loaded as names get; given OUAT‘s history, it’s unlikely that this is an accident.) Emma is so furious about her so-called friend’s lies that she immediately shuts her out, refusing to take Lily’s contact info after social services arrives at the house to escort Emma away. So much for getting matching tongue piercings! It’s unclear whether the Lily incident will matter in the long run, or whether the show’s just using it as a method for Emma to discover what she does at the hour’s conclusion; either way, it’s nice to have a break from Arendelle.
NEXT: Into the Woods (to find the queen!), Into the Woods (to find her sister!)
Back in the present day, Emma discovers something strange while sifting through old files: Among the many stalker shots of the savior that Regina commissioned when Emma first arrived in Storybrooke, there’s a photo of Emma and Sarah Fisher—a.k.a. Queen Frostine’s Storybrooke alias—chatting in the ice cream shop. Emma, of course, can’t remember the incident—and when she goes to Regina’s House ‘o Hearts looking for answers, the queen tells her, coolly, that she’s got none to give Emma. She also informs the savior that she can’t help her find Sidney Glass, the man who actually snapped said stalker shots.
And oh, hey, number one billion on our list of things that prove Emma’s “superpower” is about as reliable as Rumpel after a deal’s been struck: Emma has no idea that Regina totally lied to her face. The queen of course knows where Sidney is; he’s currently trapped in MirrorWorld, searching for the Snow Queen on Regina’s orders. And after Emma exits the vault, he lets Regina know that he’s located Frostine. He won’t tell his queen where her rival’s hiding out—but he will lead her there, acting as a sort of magical GPS in the compact Regina takes with her into the woods.
Which is precisely where Regina runs into Emma again. She’s searching for Elsa, who has disappeared from the Savior Mobile without a trace. Emma figures that Arendelle’s queen went to confront the Snow Queen by herself—and when Regina admits that she’s also looking for Frostine, Emma decides to tag along. She’s hoping to help Regina achieve their common goal and mend their relationship to boot; all she gets in return is snide irritation. It’s almost like Regina’s a teenager being forced to take care of her kid sister when all she wants to do is break into an abandoned house and play video games with a stranger.
Tensions finally boil over when Regina angrily rebuffs Emma’s attempts at camaraderie, asking her what’s next—complimenting Regina’s outfits? Giving her a makeover? Braiding her hair? Calling Robin Hood and hanging up? She’s being witheringly sarcastic, but now all I want is an episode of OUAT devoted solely to a SwanQueen sleepover. They could watch The Craft together! They could bake cookies—with magic! They could use an Ouija board to talk to Sheriff Skinnyjeans and see if he’s still hot in the afterlife!
As I write the first chapter of my epic OUAT fanfiction novel, R&E come upon a chasm spanned by a shimmering ice bridge—clearly Elsa’s handiwork. Though Emma’s worried about what might happen if they walk across it, Regina barrels onward… and, right on cue, when they get to the middle of the bridge, they’re assaulted by a strong, frosty wind. That’s not Elsa’s magic—it’s Frostine’s. And Regina’s only now realizing that her formerly loyal mirror has led her straight into a trap.
NEXT: No sex, some lies, one videotape
One crumbled ice bridge later, Emma and Regina have made it to the other side of the chasm—only to find themselves face to face with another CGI snowmonster. It seems scary, but really, it only takes a few blasts of magic for the duo to realize that they can defeat the beast by banding together to do a Care Bear Stare. Ding dong, the monster’s gone and all is well—until Frostine swans in, snatches the compact, and uses the Force Choke on both Regina and Emma. Is this the end for SwanQueen?
Of course it’s not! Because Elsa, remember, is also in the woods. She did indeed run out of Emma’s car—but only because she spied a figure who looked a lot like her missing sister. It wasn’t until she’d followed her all the way to Frostine’s ice palace that Elsa discovered “Anna” was actually an icy automaton (ice-tomaton?) created, naturally, by the Snow Queen. Frostine then trapped Elsa in a pair of ice-cuffs that fed off of Elsa’s fear. (Frostine = the Dr. Vink of Storybrooke.) It’s a nifty idea that really cuts to the core of Elsa’s demons… well, until she says “I’m not afraid” twice and easily breaks loose. That was quick.
In any case, Elsa saves Regina and Emma; the Snow Queen, showing admirable restraint for a villain, praises Elsa for “losing” her fear, then peaces out, having gotten what she wanted. And as it turns out, Frostine wasn’t angling to get Sidney on her side—she was actually after Regina’s compact itself, which she says is imbued with powerful dark magic. After setting the genie free (I hear he’s heading to India next), Frostine uses her magic to crack the tiny mirror, then extract a shard of glass that she adds to another, larger mirror. “So close,” she says. “Soon I will have what I want.” Which is… something we won’t know for at least one more episode. That’s cold.
Meanwhile, Emma visits Regina in her vault, and the two come to a sort of detente—misunderstood rejects have to stick together!—before Emma decides to take a journey down memory lane. She pulls out a video camera—the same one she and Lily found lo those many years ago—and, because Storybrooke is stuck in the technological dark ages, the sheriff’s office actually has the means to play the tape it contains. Which is when Emma discovers something many of you have already guessed: Once upon a time, she lived in a foster home run by none other than Frostine. Which, all things considered, can’t have been that bad; at least we know the freezer must’ve been fully stocked.
—In tonight’s C-plot, Snow and Charming’s night out is interrupted when they discover that Will Scarlet has escaped his cell. Eventually, Charming magnanimously tells his wife to go home because he can take care of the fugitive; the second he walks out of frame, Snow peers off in the direction David just went and immediately finds Will, proving once more that “Charming” and “perceptive” aren’t synonyms. We could excuse this knowing that, as Snow soon deduces, David set the whole thing up as a fun date night activity (“chase down the criminal” is the new “dinner and a movie”)… except, as David tells Snow once he arrives home, he actually didn’t facilitate Will’s escape. Well, other than by being incompetent.
—Snow discovers Will digging like an inmate at Camp Green Lake, searching for his traveling sack. He’s got a map that shows where the sack is buried… except he accidentally buried it inside of the sack. Will and David should team up to not solve crimes together.
—Timeline weirdness: Two years after Young Emma (played here by Abby Ross) giggled with Lily and promised to be her Best Friend Forever, she’d morph into Jennifer Morrison and get knocked up by Neal. They grow up so fast!
—Lily has what looks like a star tattoo on her wrist, which definitely means… something. She says she “like[s] to pretend it’s some kind of symbol, like Harry Potter or something.” Kinda presumptuous of her to assume Emma would get that reference, since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was only released in the U.S. in September 1998.
—Best out of context line: “Between the curse and the Wicked Witch, we don’t exactly have the best track record with our baby.”
—Charming jokes about falling into a portal to Asgard. Season five plotline, anyone? (Plus, as commenters have pointed out, Josh Dallas played Fandral in the first Thor movie. Synergy!)
—If Elsa doesn’t change her dang outfit by episode eight, I’m calling Edna Mode.
Follow Hillary on Twitter: @hillibusterr