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Once Upon a Time - Shattered Sight - Review

Christmas came early for me in the form of this episode. I’ll just start off by saying that it is my favorite of the season so far. And that’s because I had a ton of fun watching it. “Shattered Sight” had a little bit of something for everyone. We saw further into Emma’s back story and her time in foster care, got hilarious exciting moments like the return of the Evil Queen and her showdown with Snow White, as well as a satisfying conclusion to the Snow Queen’s storyline. This episode didn’t hold back, not with the even with the music, which was some of the most moving work we’ve heard on the show. Just about all of our questions have been answered and even though it’s clichĂ© to say “I laughed, I cried” that’s how this episode played out for me. I’m glad this half of the season is going out on such a high note and it makes me very excited about what the writers potentially have in store for 4B. Let’s talk about “Shattered Sight”.

Tonight’s episode opens upon the Snow Queen arrival in our world, circa Boston 1982. She seems a bit flabbergasted as she wanders around a rather seedy neighborhood. That is until she spots what she believes to be a relic for her home world: a psychic’s boutique. “Madame Faustina” the medium with in is every bit as campy and hilarious as you’d imagine a woman in a Boston back alley trying to convince you she communes with spirits is. Think something along the lines of a less benevolent Professor Trelawney from Harry Potter. The Snow Queen, having not suffered through years of Psychic Friends Network infomercials, takes everything Madam Faustina says at face value, believing the fraud would actually be able to point her in the right direction of her new sister, the savior. Well, that is until Faustina predicts the wrong name for the savior. The jig is up and the Snow Queen angry exits the boutique, attempting to blast a significantly less mystical sounding Madame Faustina, who has dropped the act completely and is threatening the Snow Queen with a baseball bat. However, since this is a land without magic, our villainess’s snow powers don’t work. Leaving in a huff with the knowledge the Apprentice gave her, the Snow Queen vows to wait for Emma Swan, no matter how long it takes.

In present day Storybrooke, things are getting just as heated. Basically all hell is breaking loose in the town. People are fighting and attacking each other with not a though or a care. And considering some residents still carry around medieval weapons, the danger is quite real. Things are especially tense at the sheriff’s station, where Snow White and Charming are at opposite ends of their jail cells and at each other’s throats. There are so many great little jabs throughout the episode, it wouldn’t do them justice to detail them all here, though one that stands out to me is Charming accusing Bouncing Baby Neal of being Dr. Whale’s, an excellent and fun call back. This is an episode that has to be seen to really be appreciated.

While Storybrooke’s model couple is busy biting each other’s heads off, Kristoff is chained to the desk and takes it upon himself to be quite nasty to Anna, who is unaffected by the curse since she already befell it in Arendelle. She’s also unaffected, for the most part, by Kristoff words, taking his venom in stride though she retreats to the sheriff’s office to confer with Emma and Elsa. Elsa gently reminds Emma that her parents, who are currently screaming at each other, are magically forced to be at their worst, they don’t mean what they say. It’s interesting for Elsa to have this line, considering she just made peace with the fact that her beloved sister was enchanted to placing her captive for thirty years.

Emma wonders aloud how she will get everyone back their happy endings, the thing she vowed to do when she embraced her saviorhood. Anna, after contemplating the nature of a job like “savior”, has a brainwave on how to help Emma do just that. She remembers the Snow Queen referenced that legend when concocting her initial plan to release the Spell of Shattered Sight on the girl from Arendelle. Anna struggles to remember the ending only to realize that the only way the curse was stopped in the legend was to kill the person who cast it in the first place. Elsa is not on board the murder train, even if it will help the town, but Emma knows that it could come down to just that, take out the Snow Queen to save Storybrooke, and is willing to do whatever it takes to save her home. So the blonde besties, Emma and Elsa, set off to stop the Snow Queen from destroying the town, leaving Bouncing Baby Neal in Anna’s care. In the background this entire time, Snow White, Charming, and Kristoff are still being horrible to each other.

Across town in her vault, Regina is pretty much losing her mind. With the Evil Queen persona returning, so have the Evil Queen dramatics. Regina is scintillating, hammy, and just the fun kind of evil that makes you root for the villain here. Someone in Regina’s curse-twisted brain, she reasons that her entrapment in her vault (her own doing) is the fault of the savior’s. She also catches a glimpse of herself in one of her many mirror and wonders aloud at what she is wearing. A quick flourish, and the Evil Queen is back in all her glory, giant dress and giant hair intact. I love the little stab of harpsichord music and Regina’s loving admission at her own reflection of “I’ve missed you”. I enjoy Regina now, with her struggle to become a hero in the eyes of the Book’s author, but sometimes you just got to have a little Evil Queen too. That’s the behavior that boosted Regina’s popularity with viewers and it’s always good to see her come back every once in a while.

Elsewhere in Storybrooke, Hook has dashed in to the pawn shop to avoid the drama in the streets and found the Dark One packing a bag. Hook remained unaffected by the Spell of Shattered Sight since his heart wasn’t actually in his chest the moment it hit. I wonder if that’s why Snow and Charming are being especially nasty and personal in their attack toward each other; they share a heart.

Rumpelstiltskin commands that his pet pirate find Henry so he can join Rumple and Belle at the town line (Rumple can’t magic Henry to his side since he has no idea where the boy is) and prepare to leave Storybrooke for good. Tomorrow night, when the stars in the sky line up with those on the hat, Rumple’s spell will finally come into effect and he will be free of the dagger’s power. The Dark One gives Hook a small vial of powder that will help the pirate recover Henry. Hook reminds Rumpelstiltskin that villains never win, but the imp with the limp assures Hook that when Belle and Henry wake up the next day beyond the Storybrooke borders, Rumple will paint himself to be a hero who rescued them from a dying town. It’s almost as if Rumple wants the same thing as Regina, to be a hero and to get a happy ending, only he’s going about it in a really dark way. There’s contrast between Regina’s constructive approach and his destructive one.

Out on the street, the Snow Queen has stopped in at her ice cream parlor. She recovers two shining stones hidden in a tub of carrot sherbet because who in their right mind would eat carrot sherbet. Unfortunate for her, Emma and Elsa was waiting for their foe out in the street. The Snow Queen, despite the fact that the pair have arrived to harm her, is overflowing with pride that these two have embraced who they are and their magic. I mean, she is kind of right, it’s a good thing Emma and Elsa are happy with who they are, however the Snow Queen’s fanaticism still remains perverse. Emma and Elsa move to use their powers on the villainess, only to discover their magic has no effect, something is negating it. It’s the ribbons tied to our heroes’ wrists. They make it impossible for Emma and Elsa to harm the Snow Queen due to the strength of the love bond in them. Looks like Rumple was right about how special these ribbons would be. And then the Snow Queen gives one of her creepiest speeches to date. She assures Emma and Elsa that soon it won’t matter because they will no longer want to hurt her, in fact they will come to love the Snow Queen. Good god, at first glance this sounds an awful lot like brain washing and just adds to the single-mindedness of the Snow Queen’s plan.

In a flashback, we see Emma in a foster home the moment the Snow Queen rescued her camcorder from that bratty kid. The Snow Queen is quite gentle here, very subdued and not at all cold as she assures Emma that the soon-to-be-savior will be just fine, despite that little jerk of a kid continuing to pick on young Emma. And so, later that evening, we see the savior creep down the stairs, intent on running away. She is stopped by the Snow Queen who is nonchalantly drinking cocoa in the middle of the night. I’m not sure how I feel about the Snow Queen offering Emma cocoa. Cocoa is Emma’s thing with Henry and Snow. It’s this and much more that conflicts me regarding the Snow Queen in these flashbacks. The Snow Queen knows that Emma is planning on skipping out of the foster home, relating how the savior feels to how she felt as a young girl and assures Emma that just as people in her life stopped her from leaving because they cared, so will the Snow Queen stop Emma because she feels the same. Too bad Emma is less than interested in all this and continues to leave. The Snow Queen plays it as cool as her namesake and hints, hints, hints about how much of a shame it would be if someone didn’t teach that jerk kid a lesson. With the strong implication that plastic spiders will be at her scare disposal, Emma begins to relax a bit more and stays.

However things are not relaxed in present day Storybrooke. General mayhem is ensuing, dwarves are punching each other, and even Granny is running amuck with her crossbow. Inside the sheriff’s station Snow and Charming are still bickering like the cast of Mean Girls. Anna tries unsuccessfully to remind them of who they are, Snow White and Prince Charming, the shining example of fairy tale heroes. Snow’s answer to this is, frankly, the best. In an extraordinarily sarcastic tone, Snow White admits to Anna of Arendelle that yeah, she picks flowers, she talks to birds… but she is also a murderer. Almost in a playful, sing-song tone, Snow goes on to talk about how she “killed the Evil Queen’s mommy”, said she was sorry and didn’t mean it. While amusing on the surface, I have to agree with Anna, it’s horrible. It’s dark and rather unsettling to see Snow White completely without remorse that she murdered a woman. It was at this point for me that I wondered how much of themselves our heroes of Storybrooke where projecting and how much was the curse. Is this the dark spot in Snow White’s heart speaking, the reason it hasn’t gone away because deep down she feel justified in killing Cora? I’d like to see an exploration of all the insults and things said under the Spell of Shatter Sight in future episodes.

Across town, Emma and Elsa arrive at the pawn shop, eager for either Rumpelstiltskin or Belle’s help with their problem with the ribbons. However it seems that the blondes are on their own as neither the librarian nor her husband are around. Probably for the best because who know what further sabotage Rumple might enact to ensure the curse destroys the town. Though Emma and Elsa could probably have used some sort of magical help, since trying every single pointy object in the shop has yielded no results; nothing will cut through these enchanted ribbons. Thinking hard, Emma realizes that the answer is in front of them. Instead of trying to break the bond of great love that flows through these ribbons, they have to counter act it with a great hatred. And who in Storybrooke hates Emma the most right now, but the Evil Queen. Elsa really doesn’t think it’s a good idea to let Regina out to play with the town already in chaos, especially because Emma needs Regina to hate her like she never has before. And don’t we know from season one and most of season two that there is no love lost between the mayor and the savior. Emma and Elsa rush off to certain doom by the hands of Regina, who is sitting in her vault with the biggest evil grin on her face as if she can smell fresh meat approaching.

While her new “sisters” rush off to tempt fate, the Snow Queen is in her Fortress of Solitude, examining the stones she recovered from the ice cream parlor. She plucks some sort of wispy snow magic from one and lovingly strokes it and as she does we jump to a flashback of the Snow Queen and Emma during happier times. They are at a carnival, trying to win a prize at a claw machine. Emma is concentrating very hard and has she focuses more and more on the game cabinet, the machine sparks and the lights flicker. Emma ends up winning the game and presents the Snow Queen with a small stuffed Dalmatian (foreshadowing of villains to come?) and keeps a mood ring for herself. The Snow Queen is extremely supportive of Emma, believing that she can accomplish anything because the young girl is special and will prove to surprise everyone. Here, she also admits how glad she was she got to know Emma and gets rather emotional, making Emma think that the Snow Queen was spending time with her and crying because she was going to give the soon-to-be savior up. Quite the opposite actually, the Snow Queen admits that she has started the paperwork to officially adopt Emma. She promises to be the best big sister Emma could ever want and truth be told, despite her obsessive nature, The Snow Queen would be a good big sister. She is supportive of Emma and on her side, even with the little things like that jerk kid at the foster home. Emma is overjoyed at the prospect of a real family and tells the Snow Queen she loves her, which makes her Royal Iciness ecstatic.

I’m very unusually conflicted about this seen. I enjoyed it very much, but as a viewer I spent the better part of the season realizing how much of a psychopath the Snow Queen is and now I’m getting her human side and I have to say I’m much more sympathetic of the villain. We are seeing this character at ease, genuinely happy, and unafraid while with young Emma and not only does it make you realize what life could have been like for the Snow Queen, but how things could have turned out different for Emma as well. I do think at this point the Snow Queen genuinely love Emma like a sister, not just because a scrap of parchment from a scroll said she would.

Emma and Elsa finally arrive at the vault and break the containment spell, entering the lion’s den so to speak. Regina is of course waiting for them and Emma’s reaction to the Evil Queen get up is worth a chuckle. Now here’s where Emma begins to play with literal fire. In order to rile Regina up enough, Emma digs right into the Evil Queen’s worst anxieties, saying she meant to bring Marian to town to wreck Regina’s happy ending just like her mother before her. And to really rub salt in the wound, Emma goes on to state that she’s been flaunting her and Hook’s relationship around just to make Regina jealous. That is some soap opera level sleaziness and the deception works and the Evil Queen is so enraged she throws one of her famous fireballs at the pair, who have enough sense to duck and hold their be-ribboned wrists in the line of fire. The pure seething hatred Regina packed into that projectile did the trick and the ribbons disintegrate away. Mission accomplished, though now Emma and Elsa have another problem to worry about as Regina is on the loose, tearing after the pair when the beat feet out of the vault, the Evil Queen’s roar of “SWWWWAAAANNNN!” ringing in their ears.

We then flashback to Emma and the Snow Queen waiting for a bus home, where Emma admits how much she would love having powers like Harry Potter. The Snow Queen is intrigued by this and reminds the young savior of how the lights flickered on the claw game, wondering out loud if perhaps this means Emma is on the cusp of a great change. Then, in a rather dramatic gesture, the Snow Queen drags Emma out into the street and tries to get the girl to stop an oncoming car her supposed emerging powers. Emma thinks her guardian is nuts, even after the Snow Queen explains her reasoning; that a traumatic event unlocked her hidden powers. This causes Emma to believe the Snow Queen is even crazier since she’s insisting things like magic are real. Upset that the only person who could ever want her is unhinged, Emma runs away into the night with the Snow Queen calling futilely after her.

In present day Storybrooke things are about to get significantly more interesting for Regina, who had been intent on tracking down Emma, has made her way to the sheriff station and found “those two idiots” Snow White and Charming. And by her account, they need to die. And then she notices Anna with Bouncing Baby Neal are realizes the perfect revenge for all that Snow has taken from her would be to take that baby. Anna tries to intervene and the Evil Queen gets annoyed with her rather quickly, banishing the girl from Arendelle and her fiancĂ© in a puff of smoke back to “where they came from”. I was seriously worried that Regina had poofed them all the way back to Arendelle at this point, It would have annoyed me if that were the case since Anna and Elsa just got reunited.

Regina decides she wants to see her oldest foe bleed and conjures a sword for each of them. Now it’s on, a show down between Snow White and the Evil Queen. And it is entertaining as hell. Neither woman holds back and there is much swashbucklery which devolves into an extremely physical fight. People are thrown over desks and crash through glass doors. I find it interesting that at this point Charming and Snow are less focused on targeting each other and are united, however tentatively, against Regina since she poses a real threat to their child. One of my favorite moments from all this is when Regina finally uses her magic to fling Snow aside and the princess exclaims, “You said ‘no magic’!” Regina counters with “You said you could keep a secret!” and Snow, fed up to the teeth with her step mother charges the older woman with the battle cry of “I was ten!!” It’s as if the curse as set these two back to square one, that none of the progress they’ve had over the past four seasons has even taken place. And yet, it’s extremely satisfying to see them duke it out in this manner, almost cathartic to watch them have the no holds barred fight these two danced around for so long.

Meanwhile, Emma and Elsa have found their way to the Snow Queen’s lair, where Her Royal Iciness is waiting in the wings, watching. When the Snow Queen reveals herself she seems genuinely hurt that the two blondes have managed to remove their ribbons and effectively reject her love. Despite this setback, the villainess appears to be very intent and calm, telling Emma she is wrong when the savior declares that she could never love the Snow Queen. And here is where the significance of the stones the Snow Queen retrieved come to light. They contain the memories both Emma and Elsa had of the Snow Queen. The villainess talks about nostalgia, of how these stones contain only the good memories Emma and Elsa had of the Snow Queen. Magic may not be able to create love, but it can reawaken it, and that is why both Elsa and Emma are hesitating in doing what they must do and destroy the Snow Queen to stop the curse, deep down on some level their love of the Snow Queen still exists.

Flashback to Storybrooke sometime in 2001. This is the scene I’ve been craving for a while, the confrontation between the Snow Queen and Emma during the savior’s first year in Storybrooke. Emma comes into the ice cream parlor and is shocked to see her former foster mother, who hasn’t aged a day. Naturally, Emma believes the Snow Queen is stalking her, not completely wrong in her assessment of the situation. The Snow Queen never approached Emma as she wanted to give her former ward her space and allow Emma to come to her naturally. Emma is very riled up, still remembering that night with the car. The Snow Queen tries to convince Emma that there is magic in the town and Henry is speaking the truth, but this agitates the savior further, forcing the Snow Queen to take Emma’s memories of her. With her memory wiped, Emma is much friendlier, and the Snow Queen takes the opportunity when asked about her ice cream to mention to the savior that her path to success is a lot of patience and love. I don’t think for a second the Snow Queen was referring to the ice cream.

Back in present day Storybrooke, Anna and Kristoff have mercifully only been transported to the beach they arrived on. This makes since because if Regina’s magic was able to transport a person between realms then Rumpelstiltskin could have saved himself a few seasons worth of trouble. Anna is naturally doing what she does best and is chattering away, while Kristoff, still under the effects of the Spell of Shattered Sight, insists he is getting back to a simpler life in Arendelle, even if he has to swim. Anna slips on the bottle brought over with their trunk by the Wishing Star and seizes the opportunity to use to stop Kristoff from leaving with a blow to the head. This shatters the bottle, revealing the note inside. Anna beings reading it and realizes that it is a message of great importance, one that her sister Elsa must hear.

Back at the Snow Queen’s lair, where Emma has finally gathered enough gumption to magically blast the Snow Queen, when Anna arrives, interrupting them with the news from the recently discovered note. She reads it out loud and we finally discover what the Queen of Arendelle deemed so important to send all the way back in episode one of this season. In her letter, Gerda admits to everything about her sisters, including the Snow Queen. She talks about how much she loved the Snow Queen and regrets what happened. Naturally, the villainess doesn’t believe the words being read, insisting they are lies as she grows more and more emotional. Embedded in the royal seal is a stone similar to the ones the Snow Queen has. It contains all of the memories the people of Arendelle had of the lost royal sisters. It is Gerda’s last wish that these memories be restored. The letter closes with the Queen of Arendelle wishing she could hold her sister’s hand one final time. As we know, that was the trio of sister’s sign for their love for each other and it speaks volumes to Gerda’s regret since one of the last things the Snow Queen asked her sister before being trapped in the urn was to take her sister’s hand.

However, the Snow Queen doesn’t believe her sister’s dying words, using her magic to force choke Anna and screaming that the girl from Arendelle understands nothing. Anna manages to strangle out that the Snow Queen is a part of their family not matter what and this throws the villainess into action. She touches the stone embedded in the letter and sees flashes of all the good memories of her and her sisters. At this the Snow Queen sinks to the floor, overcome with emotion. It’s as if her icy demeanor has finally melted and her single-minded obsession has come to an end. She realizes the gravity of putting the entire town in danger and knows what she must do. She must reverse the curse, destroying herself in the process.

As the Snow Queen recalls all of the mirror shards from the Spell of Shattered Sight and they begin to engulf her, she assures Emma and company that this is the right choice. The Snow Queen was never a monster because of her powers, but she let her powers turn her into one. She has made peace with the fact she must die because Anna and Elsa found each other and Emma found a family, even if it wasn’t with the Snow Queen. Emma is still distraught, believing that the Snow Queen deserves a happy ending too, but her former foster mother assures the savior that she has found it. All she ever wanted was the love of her sisters and now the Snow Queen realizes that she always had that and. She is happy to finally be reunited with them in death and there is one parting shot of the three young royal sisters of Arendelle frolicking in the meadow before her Royal Iciness is no more. The music in this scene stands out to me the most. It heightens the emotion of the Snow Queen sacrifice, highlighting the peace that has now fallen over the villainess. For me, this is a satisfying end to the Snow Queen’s tale, that she does finally get her happy ending, though not as we all expected. She dies on her own terms instead of being destroyed and is finally at peace and happy.

After the Snow Queen’s demise, snow gently falls on the town of Storybrooke. As it does, the fighting all over town ceases and everyone begins to make amends for the things they said and did. The best reconciliation is between Snow White and Regina, who pause in their fight, the Evil Queen looking down and questioning what the hell is she wearing before she, Snow, and Charming burst into gales of laughter. It’s just a beautiful moment, my favorite of the night. The laughter seems to genuine I wonder if it was left in from an outtake and goes to show that the water is truly under the bridge for these characters. Emma, Elsa, and Anna wander back into town, hand in hand in hand as Snow, Charming, henry and the rest all appears and greet each other with hugs and kisses, all while the snow continues to gently fall. This could be an incredible cheesy moment and yet as fun as it was to see our favorite characters at each other’s throats, there’s something incredibly comforting in seeing them all unite in the middle of town.

While this is going on outside, Belle has been sleeping in the pawn shop, under the watchful, if untrustworthy, eye of Rumpelstiltskin. Hook arrives back at the shop and admits that Henry evaded his capture. Rumple coolly remarks on both the pirate’s failure and that of the Snow Queen, assuring Hook that he won’t befall the same fate. Hook pleads for the Dark One to spare Emma and the town and Rumple assures him that the pirate’s loved ones have nothing to fear as long as they stay out of the way. The rest of the world on the other hand…With that chilling thought, Rumpelstiltskin dons his coat and strolls down Storybrooke’s main street amidst the newly fallen snow.

And there it is, “Shattered Sight”. What a ride, let us know what you think in the comments section!

This episode was fun. Seeing everyone at each other’s throats, but also seeing them reconcile was perfect. I always go on about how far these characters have come, but I really do enjoy the fact that these characters are a family even outside of just being related to Henry. They have grown together, through many different realms and dangers and really showcase one of Once Upon a Time’s central themes of family in all shapes and sizes.

The Snow Queen's sacrifice was something I don’t think we’ve seen before on Once Upon a Time. I believe this is the first time a villain has ever be defeated by themselves, and not even really defeated, she did win in a way. This is the perfect ending to this tale in my opinion. The Snow Queen was unhinged and I had fun with that, but at the end of the day she was so overcome with loneliness and her perception that she was unloved that she didn’t realize what she had, what she had that she never lost, until it was gone from the physical realm.

Rumple’s plan still puzzles me. Do you think it succeed? I personally don’t and I think that whatever happens will cause the hat to reverse flow and spew out everyone trapped inside… including the new baddies they’ve hinted at for season 4B. I also question why Rumple so interested in going out into the world and how exactly will the power in the hat separate him from his dagger. What’s more, all magic comes with a price. Could the price of being free of the dagger mean Rumpelstiltskin becomes powerless? I’m also wondering what specifically will happen when the stars in the sky match those in the hat. And finally, this viewer is most interested in seeing what Belle has to think about all this scheming. Perhaps when Rumple’s plans all come to light, this might be the end of the couple, at least for a while.

Tune in next week when some new faces come to town for the mid-season finale, “Heroes and Villains”.

About the Author – Ashley B
Ashley is as serious as a sleeping curse when she says television is her life. Professional event planner, avid movie viewer, convention enthusiast, and resident sass master, Ashley writes reviews for ABC's Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and Galavant, as well as Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. She looks forward each week to the weird and wonderful world her favorite television programs provide.
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