Once Upon a Time RECAP: The Firestarter (S4:E7)
In a season that’s been all about snow monsters, people who shoot ice out of their fingers, and women who accidentally/on purpose get turned into popsicles, “The Snow Queen” was a nice, refreshing, change of pace. Why, you ask? Because this was an hour of television that brought the heat, in more ways than one . . .
Now, unless you own an ice cream shop or a ski lodge, or just find the refrigerator in your home to be a huge waste of space, the ability to shoot icicles from your finger is pretty much one of the least useful super powers ever.
(Almost as unhelpful in life as “being able to tell when people are lying
except for when its plot convenient for you not to be able to tell.“)
Shooting firebolts from your fingers on the other hand, now THAT is pure awesomesauce.
Consider this for a moment. In a single episode, we saw Emma’s magical hot fingers used to warm baby bottles . . .
. . . convert dull tap water into sparkling . . .
. . . provide an inexpensive form of mood lighting . . .
. . . offer demolition and remodeling services . . .
. . . and redirect traffic.
Also bringing the heat, this week, Regina and Robin, who taught all of us the very important lesson that, while cheaters never win, they still can be really awesome kissers.
More importantly, amidst all of this “hot stuff,” the titular Snow Queen finally got her own backstory. And, holy heck, was it a heart breaker (heart freezer?) One that arguably sets her apart as one of the most sympathetic villains in Once history, played with devastating vulnerability and an understated and, dare I say, chilly, grace by Elizabeth Mitchell.
Let’s review, shall we?
The Other Sister
So, in prior episodes, we learned that Snow Queen Ingrid had two sisters. One was the rather unfortunately named Gerda, Anna’s and Elsa’s now deceased mother, who, coincidentally is also a character from the Hans Christian Anderson tale that bears the “Snow Queen” name. The other sister was . . . “some chick named Helga.”
Helga, we quickly learn, is the unfailingly loyal middle sister to the perky but ultimately fickle baby of the family, Gerda, and ole Snow Fingers, herself, Ingrid. One day, while playing in the meadow, the three sisters make a pact that all three will wear cheap yellow ribbons on their wrists for the rest of their lives, even when they take showers,
which, by the way, they may never actually do, as everyone from the Frozen cast seems to only own one outfit a piece, which they never remove under any circumstances.
Then, this random dude pops by with a kite to entice the girls. And while a Disney-approved show will never come out and use the word “pedophile,” it’s pretty clear that’s what this guy is, as he grabs a screaming Gerda and Helga by their yellow-ribboned wrists and tries to take them away.
Fortunately Ingrid is there to freeze a tree and crush a pedo in a single wrist flip. “You’re a monster,” the pedo screams. (Well, now ain’t that the pot calling the kettle a monster!)
Then, he dies. Ingrid is suitably horrified, but her younger sisters are overjoyed. “Your murdery finger powers are awesome, as long as the victims are pedos and unattractive people,” they ensure their Big Sis. “Let’s stay together forever! Or at least until your murdery finger powers actually kill someone attractive, at which point you are dead to us.”
Now, as the oldest sister, Ingrid would technically be in line to become the next queen of Arendelle, but, because of her murdery finger powers, Helga takes Ingrid’s spot in line for the throne, attending balls and chatting up slimy dukes, while Poor Ingrid sits on the sidelines, contemplating her
Mary Margaret old maid wardrobe and uncontrollable dandruff problem . . .
At one of these balls, Helga accepts a marriage proposal from the Duke of Wesel (not Weasel) ton, who looks a bit like Ronald Weasley from Harry Potter, if Ronald Weasley dressed as a cross between the Monopoly Man and a Toy Soldier for Halloween . . .
As for Ingrid, on Gerda’s suggestion (really, really, don’t like Gerda), our Snow Queen does what every character on this show does when they are looking for an easy magical solution to a big problem: she pays a visit to Rumpelstiltskin. In a way ole Rumpel is kind of like the chicken pox, he’s going to be an itchy pain in your ass at some point in your life, anyway, so you might as well get him over with when you are younger . . .
In exchange for Ingrid’s and her sister’s totally un-hygenic, worn-every-day-for-at-least-ten-years-and-never-washed yellow ribbons, Rumpel offers the Snow Queen two magical gifts to contain her ice sculpture-making powers: (1) a pair of gloves that will conceal her powers while she wears them and (2) that ole cup we found Snow Queen trapped inside a few episodes ago.
And because, by now, we all know that, all together now, “all magic comes with a price,” at this point, we have a pretty good idea where this little backstory is going . . .
A few days later, when the Duke comes to the castle to court Helga, he accidentally encounters Ingrid and pretty much proceeds to start humping her leg like a dog in heat.
Oh yeah, it’s SOOOOO Murdery Ice Finger Time!
And while Duke Weasel doesn’t die as a result of the Murdery Ice Fingers . . . (
He needs to remain alive so he can pop up again in the Frozen movie)
. . . he does threaten to tell the world about Cool Hand Ingrid, and he even attempts to turn Helga, who pops up seconds after the Duke basically gets his blue balls frozen off against her sister, by claiming that INGRID came on to HIM . . .
For shame, Ronald Weasley, FOR SHAME!
who is clearly a better person than Gerda, as you’ll learn soon enough, stands by her older sister, retracting her agreement to become Mrs. Ronald Weasely and literally kicking him to the curb. When the guy tries to fight back, a furious Ingrid tosses an extra shot of ice up his ass, but ends up freezing her sister’s heart instead. (Someone needs to get better aim.)
Almost instantly, Helga freezes and shatters into about a million pieces.
Now, Once doesn’t generally like to murder its cast of fairytale characters, but when they go, they go HARD! I’m talking Frozen Hearts, and Falling Out Windows, and whatever the heck it was that happened to the Wicked Witch last season . . .
As for Helga, she pretty much suffered the Humpty Dumpty of deaths. And NO ONE, but NO ONE, was putting this lovely lady back together again . . .
Enter Gerda . . . who, as I may have mentioned two or three times now, I seriously dislike.
While a distraught Ingrid begs her baby sister to understand that what happened to Helga was a tragic accident, and to support her in her time of need, Gerda’s all, “Nope, now you’ve gone and killed someone attractive. You’re a monster, and I get to be queen. Sorry! Here, why don’t you hop inside this magical gold cup and cool your heels for another 20 or so years . . .”
Worried about all the bad press the sudden death/disappearance of her two would-be queen sisters would bring about in Arendelle, Gerda the Wench asks Grand Pabbie to wipe all memory of her two sisters from the entire town, as if the women never existed at all.
For lack of a better term, that’s COLD!
Now, I’m kind of glad Gerda took a ride on the Titanic and got crushed by an iceberg in the season premiere. This wench totally had it coming . . .
Meanwhile, in present-day Storybrooke . . .
On Once, in order to advance certain storylines, the writers are sometimes forced to make perfectly likeable characters act out in jaw-droppingly uncharacteristic ways. Last week, as you remember, Belle took a vacation to the Town of Being an Asshole because that was what was required of her in order for Anna to end up captured by The Snow Queen.
This week on Once, Snow White takes a trip to the same town, to make her daughter Emma that much more vulnerable to The Snow Queen’s manipulations than she would be at any other time on the show . . .
It all starts when Emma and Elsa are practicing combining their respective finger powers to use on the Snow Queen, thereby preventing the villain from using her Evil Mirror to make everyone in town an Asshole, much like Belle was an Asshole last week (and Snow will be an Asshole this one).
“Don’t you just hate it, when you use your magical finger powers and everyone looks at you like you have cooties?” Elsa asks her fellow blondie, hoping to bond with her.
“Not me! Everybody loves me and MY finger powers. All the time and always,” Emma responds kind of obnoxiously.
And, once again, we have a pretty good idea where things are headed . . .
Emma excuses herself to meet up with her mom Snow White and pick up Neal for a bit of babysitting. She finds Snow at a Mommy and Me class with Cinderella and Aurora. And it’s all so adorable, it makes me want to vomit.
When Snow casually explains how excited she is to be a first time parent . . . you know, because she shoved Baby Emma in a tree and abandoned her for 28 years, Emma’s resentment gets the best of her, and it results in . . .
. . . some surprise bottle warming . . .
All the fairytale moms look horrified, but I think having the power to heat up your food is harmless and pretty cool. And I expect Snow White, who’s lived around magic all her life, would agree with me, except for the fact that she’s vacationing in the Town of Being an Asshole this week. And so, she looks at her daughter Emma as if the blonde has a giant neon sign that says, “I’m going to eat your baby” hanging over her head.
Well, that’s one way to get out of babysitting duties . . .
Emma is called away on a sheriff mission, where she learns that the Snow Queen is attempting to conduct her Evil Mirror spell to make everyone an Asshole in the clock tower. Emma uses her magic to strip away the Snow Queen’s powers and drag her away to the pokey. And the latter looks so genuinely bored by all this, we instantly know it’s a setup.
And lo and behold, Hook and company soon discover that the mirror in the clock tower is a Big Ole Fake. But by then, it’s already too late; Snow Queen has already frozen Emma into the sheriff’s station with her, buying her some time to do to Emma what the Evil Mirror did to Belle last week.
Your Cheating Heart . . .
I find it an interesting turn of events that the “EVIL” Queen Regina has been working hard to do the right thing and respect Robin Hood’s marital vows to frozen popsicle Marion, while Mr. “I only take from the rich to give to the poor” keeps popping by her crypt to say, “Hey, like my tongue? Want me to shove it down your throat?”
Later at Granny’s, Robin and the Knave of Hearts chat a bit about “the crazy things you do for love” and reminisce about what a swell gal Maid Marion used to be, back in her glorious pre-popsicle days.
“This is all lovely. But if you don’t mind, I’d much rather be tongue raping my Super Villain Mistress,” Robin Hood explains before casually excusing himself . . .
They don’t call him Robin Hood, Prince of Babes, for nothing . . .
The Burning Ring of Fire
“Hey, Emma,” the Snow Queen opens, focusing her Svengali stare on the one they call The Savior. “Don’t you just hate it that your parents totally abandoned you. You grew up alone and unloved. And blonde, which is really important to me. And now all the mommies look at you like you’re a monster because your fire finger powers are completely destructive and out of control?”
“Hey! My powers have never been completely destructive and out of . . . uh oh, did I just blast a hole through the sheriff station?” Emma replies.
Nicely played, Snow Queen.
Outside the recently reconstructed Sheriff Station, Emma tries to keep her distance from her concerned family and friends but ends up accidentally burning up a street lamp and causing it to fall on her father’s leg.
“Don’t worry, I’m fine,” an in pain Prince Charming offers kindly. “I never really liked my left leg anyway. Now, lets talk about your feelings.”
Hook, too, is supportive of Emma in her hour of need, giving her a look that says, “Hot Fingers are Hot! You can warm up the baby bottle in my pants anytime you like.”
But Snow, who is vacationing in the Town of Being an Asshole says, more or less, “Clearly, you tried to murder your dad on purpose, because you hate your half-brother, who, by the way, you also tried to murder through your ninja bottle warming. P.S. Nobody loves you. Your leather jacket is stupid. And your hair is stringy.”
A dejected Emma gets into her car and drives away, desperate for some “Mommy and Me” time, only without the “Mommy And.”
“We failed today,” Snow explains later to Charming, Hook, Elsa, and the rest of the cast. “We looked at Emma with fear, when we should have been looking at her with love and support.”
“Actually, that was just you. The rest of us behaved like perfectly nice people,” says nobody, but clearly everyone is thinking it.
Murder She Wrote
Elsewhere in town, Henry tries to get some info from Rumpel on who wrote the fairytale book, but ends doing nothing but manual labor and contemplating his recent battle with puberty throughout the entire episode . . .
Speaking of Rumpel, at the end of the episode he finally cuts a deal with the Snow Queen. She gets those three ugly un-hygenic ribbons, one of which was worn by her miserable sister Gerda. And Rumpel gets the missing ingredient to the spell he wants to cast to break the Dark Sword’s magic hold over him and leave Storybrooke forever.
Snow Queen may be a solid villain, but she sure is bad at making deals. Talk about an uneven trade!
Until next time, dearies!