In which we finally learn what the Snow Queen has up her frosty sleeve—and what her name is.

By Hillary Busis
Updated April 30, 2015 at 08:31 PM EDT
Credit: Jack Rowand/ABC
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So it’s true what they say: Inside of every evil sorceress beats the heart of a sad, angry little girl, furious at the hand she’s been dealt and yearning to change her circumstances to reflect what she feels she’s entitled to.

It was true of Cora, a poor miller’s daughter who wanted wealth and status no matter the cost; it was true of Zelena (remember her? It feels like her arc happened 800 years ago), who tried to change the past so that her own mother couldn’t abandon her; it’s still true of Regina, as reflected by her current quest to change that mysterious storybook so that she can finally get a happy ending. (The Not-So-Evil Queen does realize that life goes on after a “happy ending” has been achieved, right? Or is she hoping things just kinda… stop once she gets what she wants?) And now we can add another woman—one not of the Mills line, for a change—to our list: the Snow Queen, whose master plan and real name are both revealed in tonight’s Once. (Farewell, Frostine! As a placeholder, you served us well.)

OUAT has a fondness for refrains and recurring motifs: “magic always comes with a price,” magically-inflicted memory loss, “evil isn’t born, it’s made,” quests to obtain Very Important Objects that come up once and are never spoken of again, “I will always find you,” serious mommy issues. It shouldn’t come as much of a shock, then, to find out that, like many an antagonist before her, Frostine—sorry, Ingrid—is nothing more than a disgruntled outcast looking for a place to belong. It is, however, a little bit of a letdown to learn that her motivation is so similar to Zelena’s; it would’ve been nice for the show to give us at least another half-season before mining this same material once more.

So, what is Ingrid’s big idea? We’ll get to that. First, let’s begin where the episode does: with a Fairyback focusing on Belle, before she became the Beauty to Rumpelstiltskin’s Beast.

We don’t know what happened to the original Belle’s unnamed, dearly departed mother. OUAT‘s version is, naturally, a little more fleshed-out: The flashback shows her to be a beautiful, British-accented, brunette queen who shares her daughter’s love of books and fighting spirit. Though I believe we don’t hear it spoken aloud, she also has a name—Colette.

From the brief moments they share onscreen together, we can tell that Belle and Colette are close. Unfortunately, they’re torn apart during the Ogre Wars, when an attack on the family’s palace knocks Belle out cold. She awakens to a terrible sight—her mother’s coffin. Belle knows that she was with her mother shortly before she died, but for the life of her she can’t remember what happened after the ogres arrived. Though her father forbids her to leave her chambers until she’s given a clean bill of health (he’s more of a King Triton than a Crazy Old Maurice, eh?), Belle decides to go on a journey to recover her lost memories. Her destination: Arendelle, home of rock trolls practiced in the art of reminding white girls about stuff they’ve forgotten.

NEXT: Belle and Anna pull a Belle and Mulan

Guess how long it takes Belle to run into Anna after landing in Arendelle. Answer: Not long! The two become fast friends when they cross paths in Oaken’s trading post, not least because Anna’s also in search of trolls. (Have either of them considered trying the magical land of 4chan?) See, the princess has just met Ingrid, and heard her backstory—but unlike Elsa, Anna isn’t quite so quick to believe that the Snow Queen is who she says she is. She figures the trolls will know the truth about whether her mother really did have a sister she never spoke about—and, if so, why Ingrid’s existence has been kept a mystery. Maybe the Dharma Initiative is involved?

Thankfully, both ladies get what they want from Grand Pabbie’s kindly hologram, who turns Belle’s blocked memories into a Magic Thought Rock and informs Anna that her mother, Gerda, actually had two older sisters—named Helga and Ingrid—that she never told her children about. (If we meet Helga and she doesn’t look like this, I shall be very put out.)

Both disappeared mysteriously long ago; the royal family decided to mask the tragedy by having the trolls erase everyone’s memories of Helga and Ingrid. Presumably, Ingrid isn’t exactly pleased at the way all of this went down—and Anna’s certain that her aunt has something wicked brewing in her frigid little mind. Her worst fears are confirmed when she and Belle begin to make the journey back to the palace—only to be waylaid by an extremely convenient storm. Anna figures it’s Ingrid’s work. She’s right—and before long, a gust of wind knocks her off her foothold, leaving her clinging to the side of a cliff. Belle goes to help her, but only after trying in vain to regain her Magic Thought Rock (which was also blown away by the wind); by the time she gets to Anna, it’s too late. The princess falls; she isn’t killed by the unplanned descent, but she does end up in the Snow Queen’s clutches. And, subsequently, in a subterranean jail cell that looks suspiciously similar to Regina’s dungeon. (Blame magic.)

So yeah: Belle has known this whole time that Ingrid captured Anna long ago. But she’s felt too guilty about her role in that capture to act on that knowledge, or even confess her secret to anyone—at least, until the Magical Breakfast Club and their assorted hangers-on go hunting for more answers about the Snow Queen’s plan. While everyone’s distracted, Belle decides to go on a reconnaissance mission of her own. See, she remembers that when she got taken by the Snow Queen, Anna was in possession of a rare and powerful object: a sorcerer’s hat capable of absorbing magic. Belle figures that Ingrid still has it; if she can get her hands on it, she may be able to freeze the Snow Queen herself.

In theory, anyway. Because what Belle doesn’t know is that her loving husband is currently in possession of the all-powerful hat—and he can’t either tell her this or stop her from going on her quest, because doing so would let the dagger-cat out of the bag, so to speak. (You know what I mean. Right?)

NEXT: The Mirror Has Two Faces

So Rumpel, on Belle’s “command,” takes her to the Snow Queen’s secret ice cave, where Belle searches in vain for a hat where there never was a hat. Instead, she finds that magic mirror Ingrid assembled last week—and discovers that it’s sort of a reverse Mirror of Erised. Rather than reflecting a person’s deepest desire, it tells them the things they least want to hear—bringing all of their insecurities to light, making them second-guess all of their closest relationships, manipulating them into feeling alone and unloved. Kinda like Lucille Bluth in the form of reflective glass. Belle’s reflection pokes at her guilt over Anna’s capture, then goes for the jugular—telling Belle that she’s a pathetic coward, and that Rumpelstiltskin surely didn’t give her the real Dark One’s Dagger.

Anyway, Rumpel himself intervenes before things get too out of hand; he whisks Belle away, telling her not to believe a word the mirror said. (Even though most of it was totally true. #sorrynotsorry.) She ends up falling into his arms and telling him the whole Anna story—and activating his own guilt sensors by sighing that she knows he’d never keep a secret from her. Oooh man, this is not going to end prettily.

So Rumpel stops by the Snow Queen’s Fortress of Solitude for a good, old-fashioned Threatdown. She’s got big plans for her magic mirror—but he’s got the sorcerer’s hat, which means he’ll be able to head her off at the pass. Theoretically, at least.

And what, exactly, is he trying to stop her from doing? Call it the Vertigo Plan: Ever since she escaped from that urn. Ingrid’s been trying to find herself two substitute sisters to replace the ones she’s lost. Originally, she thought those substitutes could be Elsa and Anna; after Anna’s betrayal, she read a prophecy indicating that the savior would “become Ingrid’s sister.” Which explains (kinda, sorta) why Ingrid became Emma’s foster mother way back when. And now that she’s got the mirror, she’s planning to use it to cast something called the Spell of Shattered Sight—which will turn everyone else in Storybrooke against each other, causing a bloodbath that only Elsa, Ingrid, and Emma will emerge from unscathed. Leaving the three blondes to form what Ingrid’s always wanted—her perfect family.

Now that wasn’t so complicated, was it?


—Wait. If all Ingrid wanted was to form a trio with Emma and Elsa (Three Yes-Blondes?), why didn’t she just, like, freeze everyone else in town? Is this mirror thing really the most efficient way to achieve her goal? Why don’t villains ever conduct a simple cost-benefit analysis?

—And hell, if you want to turn everyone in Storybrooke against one another, you don’t have to go to the trouble of making a magic mirror—just wait for the next time Grumpy decides to declare a state of emergency.

—Nerd alert! Emma estimates that she’s 13 or 14 in the video that captures her with Ingrid; we know that she turned 15 in 1998, meaning that she was placed with Ingrid’s family sometime in the fall of that year but before she’d had her birthday.

—And hey, a nifty bit of continuity: Know how Rumpelstiltskin helped Sir Maurice out during the Ogre War, then demanded Belle as his price? Turns out that enlisting the Dark One was Belle’s own idea—and that she got it after hearing how Anna obtained the sorcerer’s hat. What a tangled web etc.

—You’ve gotta love a lady who refuses to evacuate her castle until her underlings have lugged all of her books onto her carriage. Colette is a women after our own hearts.

—Oh, also? Belle didn’t even have to go to Arendelle to find out how her mother died, because her father knew the truth all along: Colette pulled a Lily Potter, sacrificing herself to save her daughter.

—Gerda, Anna and Elsa’s mother, is named after the main character in Hans Christian Andersen’s original Snow Queen. Ingrid’s mirror, too, is a device borrowed from the story: Andersen’s version has “the power of causing all that was good and beautiful when it was reflected therein, to look poor and mean; but that which was good-for-nothing and looked ugly was shown magnified and increased in ugliness.”

—Obvious line of the night is Regina to Robin: “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m about to storm an evil ice cream truck.” Well, that or her calling Hook “Captain Guyliner.”

—Speaking of, we’ve got a little development in R&R’s star-crossed saga: Because she hasn’t been able to find a cure for Marian’s icing, Regina advises Robin to try to help his wife by forgetting about his love for her. If this means another case of magical memory loss is coming…

—Anyone disappointed not to see Oaken’s family in the sauna during his brief cameo?

Follow me on Twitter: @hillibusterr

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