Feb 2, 2021
Once Upon a Time RECAP: To Thine Own Self Be True (S4:E8-9)
“This above all: to thine own self be true.”
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius said these iconic words to his son Laertes on the eve of the latter’s trip to Paris to warn him not to go slutting it up with the local Parisian lassies while on holiday. He could be a bit uptight sometimes, that Polonius.
Nowadays, these words are commonly evoked to mean something a bit less . . . celibate. They are about self-acceptance, self-love, self-understanding, and all that other mushy gushy “self” stuff. They are about embracing your flaws and weaknesses with as much passion as you do your strengths and gifts. These words are Dr. Phil: Twitter Edition, basically.
Coincidentally, this famous phrase also just so happens to be the theme of this week’s Super-Sized Edition of Once Upon a Time. Love yourself . . .
. . . even if you have a habit of shooting firebolts out of you fingertips, which occasionally turn your son into a human rocket launcher . . .
. . . or you have a really bad snow dandruff problem, and only own one smelly dress . . .
. . .or if you have the worst haircut in the history of bad haircuts . . .
. . . or you are an Evil Queen with a penchant for boning married dudes in mausoleums . . .
. . . or you’re a popsicle . . .
. . . or you have a delusion that two women who look and are young enough to be your daughters are actually your “sisters” . . .
Love yourself, in spite of all these things, or better yet, because of them.
Because, if you don’t, you can be sure as hell that nobody else will . . .
Let’s review, shall we?
Wanted: Two Hot Blondes with Magic Fingers
I know it sounds like the opening line of a real bad porn movie. But this is actually Season 4a’s Big Bad’s half-baked motive in a nutshell. She confirms as much when she speaks to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in the opening minutes of the episode. You guys remember The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, right? He’s the old guy Rumple vacuumed into his hat a few episodes back . . . the one whose unique appearance and fashion sense would be best described as “vaguely homeless.”
Mickey Mouse really needs to look into upping his hiring standards. Am I right?
(Or wait . . . is Old Guy actually supposed to be Once‘s version of Mickey Mouse? And, if so, how effed up is that? Methinks someone in the writing department REALLY hated the movie Fantasia, which admittedly could have gone a bit lighter on the dancing hippos and orchestral music, and a bit heavier on stuff like “dialogue” and “an actual plot.”)
Anywhoo, the Old Dirty Friend of Rodents promises Snow Queen that if she gets him his precious hat box, she’ll be able to finally achieve her dream of having two pretty blonde “sisters” with whom she can engage in the most dangerous game of finger puppets ever for all eternity . . .
Speaking of doing naughty things with your fingers . . .
A Bone Among Bones
Here’s reason number 126 why Robin Hood, Prince of Babes, is cooler than you. He’s been in Present Time for a few weeks, at most, and he’s already mastered the art of sporting Manly White Tank Tops, the go-to look for every modern man who has just had sex in a cemetery on top of his mistress’s dead father’s corpse.
Not impressed? Think of it this way. Lovely Queen Elsa hasn’t thought to change out of that damn blue dress in about 500 years . . . (She must be taking her lessons on personal hygiene from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.)
To her credit, Regina at least seems to feel ever so slightly guilty about the fact that she just spent the night humping a man whose wife is busy doing her best impersonation of an ice sculpture just a stone’s throw away. (But they can’t actually throw stones at her . . . because her face would break off.)
Robin though? He’s got his own moral code when it comes to bedding ladies that aren’t his lawfully wedded wife. And it goes a little something like this. “It’s not cheating if your wife is currently in a state where, if you try to stick your tongue in her ear, it will most likely get stuck there.”
And so the couple give it another hearty roll on the mausoleum floor (So bad for your back! You aren’t kids anymore, you two!) before Robin has to rush home to chill a couple of bottles of Merlot on his wife’s forehead . . .
Elsewhere in town . . .
A Blast from the Past
Have you ever watched Young Henry on Once and secretly wished the character would be bodily thrown off the screen in a manner that, while not harmful enough to actually kill him, would at least be painful enough that he would have to stay away for a few episodes?
Be honest . . . I won’t judge.
No? Just me?
Anyway, that’s pretty much what happened this week. Young Henry finds a Fire-Fingers-on-the-Fritz Emma in the forest and tries to help her by grabbing onto her hands only to be shot into the trees like a little Cannonball of Puberty by his own mother . . .
Because being the grandkid of Snow White, Prince Charming and Rumpelstiltskin apparently wasn’t enough to keep young Henry in therapy with a top-hat wearing cricket for the rest of his natural born life . . .
A horrified Henry rushes home to nurse his neck boo-boo, while Emma drives off in her adorable yellow car to find Rumpel and ask him for help in removing her fire finger powers for good.
Meanwhile, in Flashback Land, we finally get to figure out how Elsa ended up in the urn, where the heck Anna and Kristoff ended, and how the Snow Queen ended up being Emma’s foster mom in present time. (It’s arguably the most useful flashback in Once history.)
Sister Act – Ice Fingers Edition
When we last left Arendelle, the Snow Queen had secretly incarcerated Anna in Elsa’s basement . . .
Upstairs, a still clueless Elsa is wondering if it’s appropriate to serve ice cream at her younger sister’s “Welcome Back from Searching for Our Dead Parents Who Were Murdered by an Iceberg” party of two. (Too soon? Might I suggest a Baked Alaska instead, or perhaps a nice flan.)
Snow Queen arrives on the scene to say, “Your sister, Anna, is unfortunately unable to attend your party of two because she is currently guest starring in Arendelle’s version of Frozen is the New Black in your basement, and also because she is a ginger, and us blondes HATE gingers, don’t we, Sis?”
But Elsa doesn’t hate gingers. In fact, she’s been a member of the Sisters of Gingers Support Group ever since she hit puberty. (Other members of the support group include all 20 of Ariel’s sisters and Mulan, who, while not technically related to Aurora, considers her a “sista” of another type entirely.) And so, Elsa pointedly ignores Snow Queen’s attempts to convince her that Anna and Elsa’s dead parents hate Elsa and her stupid ice fingers and want to lock them both in a hatbox forever. She quickly rushes to the basement prison to free her younger sister. Together the two plot to trick Snow Queen into coming into the basement, where they will vacuum her up into a teapot and use her to make iced tea.
First though, they have to find the teapot, which they do, locked in a closet, along with Anna’s icicle ex-fiancé.
Hans . . . in the closet . . . I see what you’re doing there, ABC. Very crafty!
The plan is for Anna to go back into her cage, wait for Snow Queen to find her there, and then It’s Teapot Time!
What the two sisters don’t count on is the Snow Queen anticipating the girls plans and holding Anna captive long enough while she breaks a mirror in her eyeballs. Um ow?
By doing this, the Snow Queen is afflicting Anna, albeit temporarily, with the Curse of Shattered Sight a.k.a. the Asshole of the Week Award Title, previously held by Snow White last week, and Belle the week before that . . .
RUH ROH! This doesn’t look good for this Season’s Favorite Ginger. In fact, it looks rather awful to me, and I don’t even have nasty broken glass in my eye . . .
I blame Gerda . . .
In fact, I’ve decided to blame Awful Gerda for everything bad that happens in this episode from this point forward . . .
Now, afflicted with a serious case of Asshole of the Week disease, Anna scoffs at Elsa’s Welcome Back from Visiting Our Dead Parents’ Ice Cream Dinner (I told you it was too soon!) and gives her a whole lot of crap for not hanging out with her more when they were kids.
Did I mention she then proceeds to stuff her own sister in a teapot?
GERDA! THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!
Snow Queen actually seems surprised and hurt by this recent turn of events, which I feel like she totally should have seen coming back when she put glass in Anna’s eyes while she was carrying the teapot and made her into an Asshole. “Since everybody sees me as a monster, that’s what I’m going to be,” yells the Snow Queen
who was pretty much already acting like a monster throughout this entire flashback anyway as she proceeds to freeze the entire castle. Caught in the deep freeze were a no longer Asshole-ified Anna and Kristoff . . . the latter of whom was apparently in the castle throughout this entire episode but never once thought that it might be a good idea to intervene when ALL THIS BAD SH*T WAS HAPPENING JUST INCHES AWAY FROM HIS FEET.
Ladies, this is what happens to you when you choose to marry a guy who was raised by rocks . . .
(Also, when you get involved with people named Gerda. Just saying.)
Rumpel then magically appears (how did HE get there?) to take the Elsa-flavored tea from Snow Queen, steal its memories, and promise the Snow Queen that she’ll get her little teapot, short and stout, back, once she finds and gives him his precious hatbox.
Snow Queen eventually does find the hatbox, but decides instead to give it to that Old Dirty Sorcerer’s Apprentice, who, as you recall, promised her the Sisterhood of the Time Traveling Teapots if she delivered this item to him. Old Dirty Sorcerer’s Apprentice then thanks the Snow Queen for her generosity by sending her to 1982 . . . which, to me, seems like it would be more of a punishment than a reward.
(If it weren’t for Gerda, I bet she could have gone to a better year.)
Danger, Danger, EMMA SWAN!
Back in the 21st century, Emma visits Rumpel, who tells her that if she drives to his honeymoon cabin, the Dark One will take away her fire fingers for good . . . and by “take away her fire fingers for good” he actually means “vacuum her up into a hat so that no one will ever again be able to hold a toy sword over his head and force him to dance the Macarena in public.”
GERDA, STOP MAKING RUMPEL DO BAD THINGS TO EMMA!
Emma doesn’t know this, of course, so she happily drives to the honeymoon cabin, even going as far as to call dear old mom and dad to tell them that they won’t have to worry about her accidentally warming baby Neal’s bottles anymore.
Mom and Dad say, “That’s nice, dear,” hang up the phone and promptly turn their attention back to their other kid, the one they are actually “good” at parenting.
Meanwhile, pretty much everyone else on the show whose sperm and egg didn’t create Emma figure out that this is a terrible idea. Because when has doing anything with Rumpelstiltskin involving magic on this show ever been anything BUT a terrible idea?
Elsa and Hook each head off separately to look for Emma.
Meanwhile, the Snow Queen, who Rumpel has conveniently drawn a chalk circle around and said, “Stay,” to prevent her from intervening, attempts to astral-project herself in front of Emma’s car to stop her from becoming hat food.
In spite of this, Emma ends up at Rumpel’s Love Shack anyway, where she runs into the monster formerly known as The Dark One, himself. “Hey Emma. See that room over there that’s glowing, looks radioactive, and has a big neon sign over it that says, ‘This way to certain death?’ Go in there. It will be fun!”
“Um, OK, sure,” replies Emma, whose fire fingers may actually be burning off her brain cells based on how uncharacteristically moronic she acts during this episode, and in this scene in particular.
Hope – Now on Sale for 25 Cents
Though clearly preoccupied with (1) all the great graveside sex she’s been having; (2) trying to find the author of the Fairytale Book, so that she can write herself a “Happy Ending” that’s a bit longer term than the “Happy Endings” she’s been getting from Robin Hood all morning; and (3) cleaning Henry’s neck wounds and telling him that he’s still cool, even though he lacks magic fingers like both his moms have and has started growing hair out of weird places in his body, Evil Regina still manages to take time out of her busy schedule to be a better parent to Emma than her actual parents.
“Newsflash, Mom and Dad,” she tells Charming and Snow. “Allowing your daughter to get her magical finger powers surgically removed, is the fairytale land equivalent of telling her she needs breast implants and a nose job or you’ll love her less. Your job as a parent is to make your daughter feel confident in who she is, even if that means sometimes secretly fearing she’ll accidentally burn your Little Dutch Boy hairdo into a Mohawk.”
Then the former nemeses head off into the woods together in search of Emma, and this exchange happens:
“You know, that stuff you said before about not telling Emma she needs boob implants. That was good advice,” replies Snow. “Which reminds me, are you still boning a married man, like I was, back in Season 1?”
“I am,” admits Regina. “But I know its going to end badly because my name has the word Evil in it.”
“Mine didn’t end badly,” offers Snow cheerily. “In fact, everyone seems to have completely forgotten that my husband was ever married to what’s her face while we were having sex.”
“Yeah, that’s because your name has the word White in it,” Regina responds. “I’m sorry if that sounds a little racist. I mean ‘White’ as in pure, not white as in . . . I’m just making it worse, aren’t I?”
“You have to have hope that things will get better. Hope, hope, hope, hope, hope,” says Snow White.
“Hope hope hope hope hope,” repeats Snow White.
“Do you get 25 cents from the Hope Commission every time you use that word?” Regina asks.
“Hope hope hope hope hope,” replies Snow White.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
Elsewhere in town, Robin Hood and the Knave take a road trip to the library to see if they can learn anything about the author of the infamous Fairytale Book that’s made Regina’s life kind of sucky. (Because clearly, it was the book’s fault that her life has been sucky, and not, you know, that she’s a serial killer.)
While there, Robin finds a “deleted scene” from the Fairytale Book that shows Regina not becoming Evil and making out with Robin in Fairytale Land before he married Popsicle Maid Marion. “Hey, sex partner, I think the Fairytale Book we have all been reading is actually a Choose Your Own Adventure, like the Neil Patrick Harris’s Autobiography.”
“Does that mean you can continue to cheat on your wife with me, and I may not be damned for it for all eternity?”
“Maybe,” replies Robin Hood.
“Works for me,” Regina replies, as she pulls him in for a romantic kiss.
And then they all lived
happily ever after To Be Determined . . .
To Be or Not to Be . . . Inside a Hat for All Eternity
Hook gets caught outside Rumpel’s house trying to save Emma from being hat-ercized and ends up getting chained to his security fence. Kinky!
Elsa, however, has a bit more luck. She convinces Emma that the key to controlling her powers is not the love of family, but believing in herself.
And then, poof, Emma believes in herself, the hat stops being radioactive, her powers get under her control, and she starts making fireworks in the sky, all in a matter of about two minutes.
If only all life crises could be solved so easily.
That’s the good news of the episode. Here’s the crappy stuff . . . or as I like to call it The Gerda Stuff . . .
If You Liked It, Then You Should Have Tied a Yellow Ribbon Around It
Thwarted in his plan to vacuum the savior into his hat, Rumpel opts for a plan B. He rips out Captain Hook’s heart (which he apparently also needs as part of his Freedom from the Sword Recipe) and forces him to carry out his bidding . . .
Elsewhere, Snow Queen steps out of her Time Out Chalk Circle to find that ugly yellow ribbon around her wrist. Elsa and Emma have one on their wrists too. Apparently, their acceptance of their magical fingers was all it took to bind them together. And binding them together was all it took for the Snow Queen to harness all of their powers and use it to break her big mirror and make EVERYBODY IN TOWN INTO A MAJOR ASSHOLE.
And that was “Smash the Mirror” in a rather long-winded nutshell. Until next time, Dearies!