Once Upon a Time Season 4 Review “Heroes and Villains”

COLIN O'DONOGHUE, ROBERT CARLYLE

This week’s winter finale of Once Upon a Time proved what I’ve been saying over and over this season—when they focus on their core characters, the story is much stronger. As the Frozen storyline wrapped up and the Arendelle sisters returned home, the rest of Storybrooke tried to return to some normalcy. Most folks didn’t realize, though, that Gold had other plans. Let’s look at what worked and what didn’t.

Goodbye Frozen
I didn’t mind the Frozen sisters or Kristoff. In fact, Georgina Haig did a phenomenal job as Elsa. What I hated was the Snow Queen storyline. So, I would’ve been ok with the sisters staying in Storybrooke, but it did make more sense for them to return home. I wanted to see the wedding with Anna and Kristoff, but I imagine they couldn’t show us that in order to preserve it for a direct-to-video animated release one day. I liked the friendship between Emma and Elsa, so hopefully we will see them together again. It was a satisfactory ending to a shaky subplot.

Gold’s Plot
Gold’s plan to sever himself from the dagger fell apart surprisingly easily. Emma and Snow learn from Anna that Gold is up to something. Who knows what all Anna actually told them. There is nothing to indicate that they know anything about the hat or what Gold has been doing with it. I expected that when the spell was broken, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the Blue Fairy would have been released, but that didn’t happen. Does Emma even know that they were sucked into the hat? Gold’s plan was foiled by Belle, who found a gauntlet in the store that would allow her to see the thing that someone loved the most. She used it to figure out that Gold loved his power more than her. Why did she feel the need to use the gauntlet? Things had been going well between her and Gold and they were planning on taking a honeymoon. Why would she need to test his devotion? Also, it does not appear that she knew anything about the hat or his plan. Considering this was a significant storyline for Gold and Hook, its wrap up was too rushed. Again, this is what happens when they waste too much time on other stories, like the Snow Queen. This show has a serious time management issue. I did like the confrontation between Belle and Gold at the border of the town. It was a great emotional scene that again should tell the writers–stick to your main characters more!

The Villains Return
Throughout the story, we get brief flashbacks to Gold dealing with Ursula, Cruella de Ville and Maleficent. They use Belle to blackmail Gold into giving them the gauntlet, which they plan to use against the “good guys.” This is flimsy and does not bode well for this storyline when we pick back up in the spring. Frankly, I’m dreading Gold teaming up with these three. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a disaster because it’ll be too much going on. And while Cruella and Maleficent look decent, Ursula’s costume is a hot mess. It makes the Snow Queen’s costume look like haute couture.

Regina and Robin
What a horrible ending for this couple. I hope that it’s not written in stone. Regina deserves her happy ending, and she deserves it to be with Robin. Marian all but gave her blessing to them. Sigh.

The Lakeside Mansion
Henry finds the secret library that looks to be the workplace of the author of the Storybrooke fairy tale book. I liked that Emma jumped in and agreed to help Regina. Their friendship is becoming a highlight of the show. Again, I worry, though, that there is going to be too much going on when the show returns. We’ll have the mystery of the author plus three new villains and who knows what else.

I would love to see more mini-adventures/quests for the Storybrooke residents and less of these convoluted arcs. Wouldn’t it be fun if Emma and Regina had to team up to find some magical item or solve a mystery? Instead, it’s going to be another, “the villains are trying to destroy Storybrooke” plot. Double sigh.