A scared and confused Elsa finds herself in Storybrooke and, fearful of the intentions of its residents, creates a powerful snow monster for protection. With Robin Hood's wife, Marian, back in the picture, Regina wonders if her "happily ever after" with the former thief has been completely quashed. While on their honeymoon, Mr. Gold finds an intriguing object that makes him question whether or not he should officially give Belle control over the dagger that makes him the Dark One, and Hook is dismayed to discover that Emma seems to be avoiding him while she tries to help comfort Regina after being the one responsible for bringing Marian back from the past and into Storybrooke. Meanwhile, in Arendelle of the past, as Elsa's sister Anna's wedding to Kristoff nears, Anna discovers that their parents - who died at sea during a violent storm - were heading to a mysterious destination in a quest that may have held the secret to containing Elsa's out-of-control ice powers. Against Elsa's wishes, Anna wants to finish their journey to find out what they were looking for.
A long time ago....
A crucial message is sent.
Lightning flashes amidst the night sky as rain thrashes down on the stormy sea below, on top of which a ship is struggling to sail, being tossed about by the enormous waves. Its flag blows wildly as its crewmen try in vain to keep it steady, but still water continues to gather. Below deck, which is beginning to flood, a woman in a crown - the Queen of Arendelle - bursts forth from a doorway and heads over to a stationery set, from which she eventually manages to find a pen to write something down on a sheet of paper. As she writes, her husband - the King of Arendelle - begins descending the stairs in search of her and asks her what she's doing, reluctant to approach due to all the water. His wife exclaims that she has to finish "this", but he speaks out against it, managing to make his way over to her as he tells her that the vessel is going down and they have to abandon ship. She simply continues writing and replies, "They have to know." She then finishes her note and rolls it up in her hands, pointing out that, while they might not may it home, this could. The King is wearisome.
With the message now enclosed in a glass bottle, the King and Queen make their way above deck, trying their very hardest, under these conditions, to make a few small steps. The King asks his wife if she's sure they're doing the right thing, and she answers positively, saying that Anna and Elsa must know the truth; it's the only thing that will save them. With that, the King hurls the message in a bottle out at sea and the royal couple look on as their ship is enveloped by water. The waves eventually push the ship up and the boat capsizes into the water.
5 Years Later
The two sisters whom the tale is of.
In the idyllic kingdom of Arendelle, a couple of gravestones are shown amongst a picturesque scene of grassy hills and meadows; two sisters join hands and approach their parents' final resting place. Anna lays a small bouquet of flowers in front of one, while Elsa lays an identical bouquet in front of the other. They stand there for a while in respectful silence, which Elsa breaks by telling her sister how proud their mother and father of her. Anna assures Arendelle's new Queen that their parents would be proud of both of them, and they exchange gentle smiles. Elsa then tells Anna to come along, for she has a surprise for her, but Anna appears apprehensive, pointing out that surprises tend to be hit-or-miss in their family. "This one you'll like, I promise," Elsa says, the two sisters walking away with their arms linked; she stops to add, "It's for your wedding." Anna gives out an excited smile.
Storybrooke has frozen over.
Zelena's barn is shown, its roof torn from the time portal it once contained, as Elsa, in her blue gown and one glove, continues to make her way out of it, leaving an icy trail behind her with every step she takes. She stops at the exit, looking anxious, but soon makes her way to an empty street near the woods. She slowly approaches a sign that reads Road Maintained by the Storybrooke Beautification Society and utters the most prominent and thus most noticeable word there: "Storybrooke..." As she continues to stare at the sign, her magic causes it to freeze over.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Emma tries her best to console Regina.
An angry Regina storms out of Granny's Diner, stopping short of the sidewalk to clear her head. As she does so, Emma is seen exiting also and makes her way over to the Mayor, addressing her by name. Regina, who doesn't bother turning around, simply tells her, "Not now, Swan." Emma simply apologizes, saying that she didn't know who Marian was when she brought her back and didn't intend to cause Regina any pain. Regina, finally turning to face the blonde, points out that her intentions really don't matter, because once again she feels to brunt of heroism; she's always the villain... even when she's not. Emma wonders what she's supposed to have done and Regina tells her that she was dumb enough to travel through time so maybe she should have left things well enough alone, however, Emma refuses to apologize for saving someone's life. Regina wonders why it matters since Marian was going to die anyway, and Emma tells her that it matters because she was a person and, whatever she did, she didn't deserve to die. "Well, maybe she did!" Regina exclaims, to which Emma retorts, "Well, you would now, I saved her from you."
Marian digs a hole for herself.
The former Queen is slightly taken aback to hear this, but soon makes clear that the woman who did that was the person she was, not the person she is; she worked very hard to build a future and now that future's gone. Emma says that she doesn't know that, but Regina exclaims that it's complicated enough now that her boyfriend's dead wife is back. Emma says that, for that, she is sorry and wonders if there's anything she can do, but Regina makes her stop, calling attention to the fact that her life becomes worse the more the savior tries to help her. Robin soon leaves the diner with Marian and Roland in tow, trying his best to assure his formerly deceased wife that the Evil Queen really isn't what she used to be. He then approaches Regina and says that he wants her to meet Marian, adding that he'd like for the three of them to talk about their situation. Sensing something, Marian asks if the two of them were involved and becomes disgusted once she learns it's true, demanding to know if the Evil Queen has been let near her son, asking Robin if he knows what she's done; the terror that she's inflicted.
The Queen sees fit to leave.
David and Mary Margaret then come out, the latter with baby Neal in her arms, and she asks if everything's okay. Charming points out that no one's been incinerated yet, so that's a good sign, and Snow asks the sullen Regina if she's alright. Marian is further shocked, asking what is wrong these people and wanting to know why they're talking to such a vile person; "Don't you know who she is?!" Hook and Henry proceed to join the little gathering and the latter asks his adoptive mother what's going on. Marian exclaims that Regina is a monster and the Mayor clenches her fist, looking as though she's about to perform offensive magic but ultimately decides against it. Marian picks up her son to make sure he's safe in her arms whilst Regina storms off. Emma tries calling after her, but Hook grabs her arm to stop her from following, pointing out that no good has ever come from pushing that woman and suggesting that they give her some space. David says that it's what she does in that space he's worried about, and Henry asks his biological mother if she thinks Regina will become evil again, saying she can't because she's come to far. Emma hugs her son and tells him, "I hope you're right, kid..." Regina continues to walk away.
Walter is driving a jeep through an empty part of town at night, with Leroy in the passenger seat saying that that party went south fast, referring to Prince Neal's coronation celebration. They hit a bump in the road and Grumpy tells his fellow dwarf to take it easy, saying that his jeep needs to be treated gently, referring to it as "she". Sleepy reminds his brother that he was made designated driver, so he shall drive how he likes; Grumpy is spurred to say that no beer is worth this, and he becomes confused when the radio becomes fuzzy, attempting in vain to fix it. He gets annoyed with the idea that the radio station shuts down after dark now, but his annoyance is subverted when surprise sets in, caused by the fact that the vehicle is beginning to swerve out of control. He looks to the driver's seat and sees that Sleepy has, typically, fallen asleep at the wheel, and goes to steer it himself.
Down the road, Elsa is walking the opposite direction to the car, meaning it's soon ahead of her and remains out-of-control. Grumpy repeatedly honks the horn as it appears they're about to run Elsa down, but she quickly moves her hands forward and lets forth a large blast of her magic. The entire jeep jolts and stops - knocking the dwarfs out - as its front half becomes frozen. Scared and looking away, Elsa breathes heavily as she turns back to the vehicle she's immobilized. We see her face stare curiously inward through the ice.
Elsa loses her cool.
It's daytime now as we're shown a long trail of ice running through the center of a Storybrooke road with Elsa at its head; it grows longer as she keeps moving forward, going down Main Street. She begins moving with more caution as her surroundings confuse her further, and when a man on a motorcycle drives by in front of her, she stumbles back in fear. She looks down at her un-gloved hand seeing that ice is beginning to form on the surface. Realizing her magic is coming out, she clenches her fists in an attempt to stop it, trying her best to stay calm. To her relief, the ice soon melts. As she's about to continue, she notices a pretty, white wedding dress displayed in a nearby shop window, and she lingers on it as she begins to approach.
"You have to tell me!" Anna is heard exclaiming in flashback as her sister leads her up an enclosed flight of stairs, refusing. Anna then begins trying to guess what her present is, asking if it's a horse and carriage, to which Elsa replies negatively, leading Anna to realize that this was a silly question because a horse wouldn't have been able to get up the stairs. She then asks if it's a snow palace, or an indoor ice-rink, or if the whole wedding is to be on ice - becoming more excited with each guess - but she soon opens the door to the room Elsa's been leading her to and realizes it's nothing but an.... "Attic?" Elsa confirms this, approaching the wardrobe on the other side of the room, and Anna wonders why they're there. Her sister tells her to take a look, opening the wardrobe to reveal a white wedding gown, and a happily stunned Anna realizes that it belonged to their mother, not knowing how Elsa was able to find it.
Elsa encourages her sister to come forward and Anna slowly approaches the beautiful dress, reluctant to touch it in case it gets ripped; Elsa says that she'll just have to put it on slowly, and Anna appears shocked at the prospect of wearing it, soon realizing that of course she'd want her to wear it because she wouldn't be there otherwise. Elsa removes it from its hanger and holds it up in front of her sister, telling her that it's missing something. With that, the Ice Queen presents a silver necklace with a snowflake pendant and holds it up to Anna, fastening it round her neck and saying that it could be her something new to go with something borrowed. Anna says that it's gorgeous and enchanting, telling Elsa that she loves her and giving her a hug, and Elsa suggests that they see the necklace with the dress. Anna rushes to the privacy partition in order to try the dress on and comments that it's so beautiful and soft and she just knows she's going to end up spilling something on it; she thus suggests only having clear beverages at the wedding. Speaking of the wedding, Elsa wonders if she's to be walking down the aisle with Sven, but Anna assures her that the reindeer isn't the best man - but he is invited. Elsa begs for her sister to say she's joking, but Anna guarantees her that Sven is to be dressed in proper royal attire, prompting Elsa to admit that she's actually more concerned about the groom on that front.
Elsa reads her parents' diary... rude.
Anna peaks her head out the curtain and reassures Elsa that Kristoff knows what to wear; "It's not like he grew up in a barn... fine, yes, he lived in one for a while, but he grew up with trolls! Wait until you see him, he even cut his hair. He's going to look wonderful." Anna resumes changing as Elsa comments that that would be a most welcome surprise, proceeding to go through some of the possessions in the attic and coming across a diary. She picks it up and opens it to a random page, beginning to read. What she reads deeply unsettles her, and Anna soon emerges, fully kitted-out in her mom's dress. Elsa doesn't notice, however, too entranced in what she's reading, and ice crystals begin to form and float around her head. Seeing this, Anna wonders what's wrong and asks what she's reading, soon realizing it's a diary. Elsa reveals that it belonged to their mother, and she closes it, leading her sister to ask what's written in it. "Our parents... their death... it's all my fault!" she exclaims, tears in her eyes. She storms out of the room and a worried Anna calls out her name, beginning to follow.
Rumple visits his son's grave.
Mr. Gold sits sullenly behind the driver's seat of his car as his new wife, Belle, sits beside him and gently assures him that he can do whatever it is he's about to do. Rumple smiles at her, offering a nod, and the two of them share a tender kiss before he exits the car and approaches the grave of Neal Cassidy. He stands before it and begins talking: "My boy... remember when you were small? There was a night, during the Ogres War; there was terrible noise. Some horses' hooves thundering down the dusty path -" he crouches down as he continues talking, "- you crawled into my bed, and I can still hear your little voice... 'Papa, I'm afraid.' And I guess by instinct I just said, 'Don't you worry, son. Everything's gonna be fine.' And you smiled at me... You know, that was the happiest moment of my life, because for the first time ever I felt like a man, that I could truly look after you. Alone. Until I discovered... this." With that, he takes the Dark One's dagger from out of his blazer, saying that it turned him into a monster, obsessed with power, when all he really needed was Bae and his love; and now, through Belle, there's love in his life again... and, once more, he's started it with a lie. He goes on to explain that Belle thinks she has the real dagger and that he only lied to her in order to avenge his son's death, and, now that he's done so, he really needs the strength to give it back and be the man he should be; "The man you died for." He then pledges to Baelfire that he will be that man and says that his heroism has shown him the way. Standing up and concealing the dagger, he promises on his son's grave to spend his life repaying him for what he did. He soon begins to walk away.
A distraught Regina gets an idea...
Someone knocks on Regina's office door and she is shocked to see Robin on the other side, uttering his name once he's greeted her. He wonders if he could steal a moment of her time, saying that he wants to talk, and Regina clearly agrees to it because they're next seen sitting down on her couch together. After initial hesitation, Robin tells Regina that he's sorry, leading her to wonder why he's the one who's apologizing since everything Marian said was true; she is a monster. However, her true love assures her that the woman he knows is the furthest thing from a monster, which prompts her to say that he perhaps doesn't know her as well as he thinks. He disagrees, assuring the Mayor that he knows her better, because she's like him: he was once, long ago, quite different, but he changed and he left his past in the past where it belongs, as she has. "So, what went on between us..." "Was real," he assures her, much to her delight, and he makes clear that his feeling for her are genuine. She is smiling now... but Robin frowns, forcing himself to tell Regina that Marian is his wife and he loved her, having made a vow to be with her until death do they part (and it did... and then it didn't) and that vow remains. She begrudgingly takes this to mean that his choice has been made and he explains that, despite being a thief, he has a code by which he has to live or else what kind of life would he be living? He hopes that she can look into her heart and understand, but a tearful Regina merely remains silent as her now ex-boyfriend gets up and walks out the door. She gets up too, looking utterly destroyed, but her sadness soon turns to anger which then turns to magic, causing a mirror behind her to smash into multiple tiny shards. She seems confused, turning around to look at what she's done, and approaches the mess, picking up one of the larger shards and staring at her tear-filled reflection in it. This then gives her an idea, and she smiles.
Remember this guy?
We are shown a close-up of the back of Regina's heels as she makes her way through the halls of Storybrooke General Hospital, then switching to a shot of her hand as she approaches a door that requires a code and punches it in. She walks through it, entering critical care pharmacology, and shuts it behind her, soon walking up to a locked cell. From within, we see Regina open a small hatch, allowing her to view the inside. She looks happy when she sees what she was hoping for, and the cell door is shortly opened. The Mayor stands at the entrance as a hoarse voice asks her, "What are you doing here?" She smiles and tells the cell's resident, "I need my mirror," at which she's revealed to be talking to Sidney Glass; having been in this place a long time, he is unkempt and disheveled, but the situation at hand makes him overjoyed, and he simply wonders aloud, "For what, my Queen?" Regina explains that there's someone standing in the way of her happiness, and she needs his help getting rid of them. His joy reaches new bounds.
A lovely place to squat.
Mr. Gold's car, as directed by Belle, is seen being driven towards a lavish mansion on the outskirts of Storybrooke. Rumple pulls up in front of it, and Belle explains that she found it on a morning hike; it must have come over with the last curse, and no one's claimed it, so she thought there'd be no harm if they borrowed it for their honeymoon. He smiles, which causes her to laugh.
The two of them are next seen entering the mansion with a little bit of luggage in tow. Belle looks excited as she steps inside, walking through the extravagant room and wondering who this all belonged to. Gold walks slowly behind her, and she dumps her bag on a nearby chair, encouraging her new husband to take a look around because it is spectacular, mentioning that one can see the ocean from every room. Suddenly, Rumple snaps his fingers and Belle is frozen by his magic, completely oblivious. He then unzips one of the bags and takes out something wrapped in copious amounts of cloth.
Rumple pulls the ol' switcheroo.
Once the cloth is removed, we see that it's the Dark One's dagger - the fake one. He then takes the real one from out of his blazer and wraps it in the cloth, placing it in the bag in the fake one's stead and zipping it up. He finishes by placing the fake one into his inside pocket, all the while saying to himself, "If we're going to do this, we're gonna do it properly." Once all is done, he again snaps his fingers and Belle is unfrozen, totally unaware that she was in the first place. She continues in delighting at the house, turning to Rumple and exclaiming that he hasn't even seen the best part yet. She leaves the room and encourages him to follow, but the Dark One is soon distracted by a strange object resting on a table close by: a strange gold cylinder with a swirling blue center, adorned with jewels and stars. He looks taken aback to see it and Belle, noticing this, asks her husband what's wrong, to which he replies that the people to whom this place belonged (whoever they may be) had interesting taste. As he leaves the room to follow Belle, the shot lingers on this mysterious item.
Beauty and the Beast.
Belle slides open two large doors, granting her and Rumple access to the library room beyond. It's mostly empty besides for the books in cases around the edges, and Belle leads her husband into the center, beneath the luxuriant crystal chandelier, and we can now see a gramophone resting nearby. Belle wonders what he thinks, and Rumple replies that what he thinks is they've been married for almost a full day and have yet to have their first dance. He snaps his fingers, pointing to the gramophone, and the needle suddenly hits a record. He snaps his fingers again, pointing upwards, and the chandelier lights up. Again, and Belle is dressed in a yellow princess gown. Once more, and he is dressed in robes befitting a handsome prince. As "A Tale As Old As Time" begins emanating from the gramophone, Mr. Gold asks his wife if she'd care to dance, addressing her as Mrs. Gold. She nods, allowing him to take her hands in his, and says that she would love to. With that, Beauty and the Beast dance all round the room, seething with romance.
A Charming family stroll.
As baby Neal sleeps in his stroller, David is heard saying, "I don't know, maybe we should've gone with Baelfire..." We then see that he's walking beside his wife, with Emma and Henry bringing up the rear of this little family stroll. The latter asks his mother if Regina has answered any of her calls, and Emma, checking her cell phone, answers negatively, saying that it seems as though the Mayor doesn't want to be disturbed. She quickly adds that that doesn't mean she's doing anything... "Evil," Henry finishes for her, "I know. I guess... Let me try calling her. Maybe, you know, it's you she doesn't wanna hear from?" Emma considers this, telling her son that he might have a point, and he lags behind to make the call to his adoptive mother. David walks off to join Henry, leaving Mary Margaret with the stroller, and she says to Emma that she hopes - for her grandson's sake - that Regina doesn't give in to what she sometimes gives in to. She then points out that Henry seems to be handling everything well; "I mean, between losing and regaining his memories, seeing both his moms with new men..." This makes Emma feel awkward, and her mother realizes that Henry has yet to find out about her and Hook. However, Emma argues that there is no her and Hook, meaning that she doesn't know what there is, and she certainly can't talk to Henry about it if she doesn't know what she's taking about.
Emma finds a clue.
"Swan!" a certain pirate is then heard calling out, and Emma manages to utter, "Speaking of..." before Hook is walking alongside she and Snow. He tells the two women that the mausoleum is all-clear and Regina isn't hiding there, which Emma thanks him for, and he goes on to ask the blonde if she's avoiding him. Emma requests that her mother give them a minute, and Mary Margaret purposefully lags behind with the baby in tow, allowing Hook and Emma to walk alone together. Once they're around the corner, Emma assures the pirate that she's not avoiding him, she's just dealing with stuff, pointing out that they're in crisis right now. Hook points out in turn that there is always a crisis, so perhaps she might consider living her life during them in case she misses it. With that, Leroy is heard yelling from down the road, "WE'RE UNDER ATTACK!" Hook rolls his eyes as Grumpy and Sleepy come running, and Emma asks the former what's wrong. He explains that he and Walter were just driving home when some thing blasted them with magic; the whole van's iced over, to the point where it felt like they were waking up in a meat locker. He proceeds to ask, "Who's got that kind of magic?!" to which Emma replies, "Maybe the person who made that..." We are then shown a long trail of ice left behind by...
Elsa is seen sitting down on a semi-large rock in Arendelle of the past. The diary rests on her lap, and her deep sullenness continues to make sad little ice crystals slowly rotate around her head. Anna, still wearing her mother's wedding dress, soon approaches and calls out her sister's name, running towards her in relief at having found her. Elsa requests that Anna leave, wanting to be left alone, but Anna argues that she has a sister so she's never going to be left alone... other than when she's not around, but even then she'll be there in spirit, but that doesn't matter because she's there now and Elsa's not alone and it's a nice thing. She sits on the floor beside the Ice Queen and asks her what was in the diary, assuring her that she can tell her anything, and - after much hesitation - Elsa responds that it turns out their parents didn't go off on some diplomatic mission like everyone thought; that was just a cover. "For what?" Anna wonders, and Elsa gives her sister the diary to read, open to a specific page. Anna does so, reading aloud: "'I wish I didn't have to hide the truth from our children, but the truth would be too painful. What we've seen from Elsa is terrifying, and it has to be stopped.'"
Anna consoles her sister.
Elsa then deduces that their parents left because they were afraid of her and thought she was a monster, but Anna refuses to believe such a thing. Elsa points out that it's all right there, but Anna questions this, pointing out in turn that it doesn't say where they were going or what they were doing; it could be a misunderstanding. Elsa says that, because of her, they left, and because of her they can't walk Anna down the aisle tomorrow. She apologizes, tearing up, but Anna tells her that she doesn't have to because it's not her fault. She stands up, pulling Elsa to her feet, and assures her that she isn't a monster; she doesn't think so, this whole kingdom doesn't think so and their parents didn't think so either. She vows to prove it, saying that the diary is only part of the story, and Elsa wonders how she can know that. "Because," says Anna, "...instinct?" Elsa looks disbelieving and Anna realizes that that's not enough, but she knows that there must be more answers out there about what happened to them. She then gasps and exclaims, "And I know who can help us find them!" "Who?" Elsa asks, to which her sister replies, "My future in-laws."
A small troll statue is seen resting in a flower pot in the present day as Emma and Hook continue following Elsa's trail of frozen ground. It leads through a doorway in a fence, the door to which suddenly closes, and they begin running towards it. Elsa, on the other side, begins running but doesn't know where to go. Looking back, she sees her chasers opening the door to the back lot she's in, and so she quickly hides behind large metal cupboard nearby. Emma is pointing her gun out in front of her, unable to see the Ice Queen, and ice crystals begin to form around Elsa's head and fall to the ground as she becomes really scared. The ice crystals soon begin swirling around in the open space and, before long, a giant snow monster is formed. Emma and Hook look up at it, shocked and confused, and the pirate points out, "That's a new one..."
In a small valley filled with rocks, Anna - still in her mother's wedding dress and with the diary in tow - runs towards the disguised trolls with Elsa behind her, who says that they shouldn't be there. Anna points out that they're practically family, but what Elsa means is that her sister needs to be planning her wedding. Anna points out that the wedding is tomorrow, so she's horribly miscalculated if there's any more planning to do, and Elsa tells her that she needs rest; it's a special day and she should enjoy it. Anna argues that she can't if her sister is upset, and she begins calling out for Grand Pabbie, knowing that he's there and wondering why he isn't showing himself. Soon enough, however, one of the rocks rolls over to the princess' feet and unrolls to reveal itself as the troll it is - Pabbie. He says in a rather gruff voice that it's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding, but Anna wonders when they've ever been traditional. He asks what's wrong, wondering if something's happened or if she's been having second thoughts (assuring her that Kristoff won't smell like that forever), but Anna assures him otherwise, saying that this is about her and Elsa's parents. She kneels down and hands Pabbie the diary, asking what they were really doing on that voyage, but Pabbie, reading, apologizes for not knowing.
Elsa shoots down Anna's idea.
Elsa thanks him, taking the diary back, and suggests that she and Anna leave. Anna gets up to follow, but Pabbie suddenly tells them to wait; he may not know what they were doing, but he does know where they were going. He continues in saying that, days before their journey, the girls' parents stopped by to say that they were not going to the Northern Isles, and they had a few questions about a land called Misthaven. Elsa wonders what it is they wanted there, but Pabbie reveals that they never said, for they, like many, had their secrets. He then yawns, saying he needs his beauty sleep, and rolls back over into rock form. An excited Anna exclaims that they have an answer, but Elsa points out that they merely have more questions. Anna argues that they have one answer and more questions, so that's a start, and says that they have to go to Misthaven. Elsa refuses, telling her sister that she can't just leave because she's still the Queen and can't abandon the kingdom; Anna tells her in turn that she's just making excuses, leading Elsa to ask if she's forgotten her last dalliance - Hans - whose twelve angry brothers are out there waiting to pounce at the first moment of weakness. Anna is forced to admit that these are good excuses and so requests to go alone, saying that Misthaven is a short journey so she'll be back within two weeks... which Elsa points out is exactly what their mother and father said. Anna looks deeply disheartened as her sister walks away; she soon follows.
Marshmallow, the giant snow monster produced by Elsa, glares at Hook and Emma as its strength begins to build. Emma, no longer pointing her gun, assures the creature that they don't want to pick a fight, and Hook wonders what it is she's doing. She says that she just wants to see what it wants, and Marshmallow takes one step forward before letting out an almighty roar - one that knocks back Emma and Hook and causes the former to drop her gun, which fires on impact and offends the monster, who lets out another, louder roar. Emma and Hook begin fleeing, running out of the fenced area, but Marshmallow simply steps over it as he gives chase. He begins stomping through the town, walking at a steady pace as his victims run as fast as they can; each step is powerful, and is enough to cause a dumpster to slide across the road. Leroy and Walter soon see it from around the corner and watch as it bursts through some electrical wiring without harming itself in the slightest. Grumpy then yells, "EVIL SNOWMAN! RUN!", causing Emma to roll her eyes as the entire town begins to panic.
Elsa is totes jealous.
Back in the fenced area, Elsa continues to hide behind the large metal cupboard, looking scared as she hears the screams of the townspeople nearby, and some low wind blows towards her a sheet of newspaper. She looks down at it and decides to pick it up, seeing a large picture of Rumplestiltskin and Belle to accompany their wedding announcement. She appears dispirited as she glares at it.
Marshmallow glares down at the citizens of Storybrooke, all of whom are screaming, and he lets out a minor roar before heading off in another direction. Emma hypothesizes that the noise is scaring it, realizing that it's heading for the forest, and she looks towards Hook and David before deciding to follow it.
Regina and Sidney hatch a plot.
Marshmallow stomps past the Mills family mausoleum and, inside the vault below, Regina and Sidney are looking at a picture of Robin and Marian in Henry's book of fairytales. The former Queen tells her willing slave Marian's name, saying that, thanks to Emma, she's back and recapturing that happy ending the book gave her. "The book gave that to her?" Sidney asks, not too sure, and Regina explains to him that it's powerful - it's more than just a book; what happens inside it appears immutable... but she's stronger, and she and Sidney are going to change things. He looks excited, wondering how, and Regina tells him that Marian needs to be removed. Sidney figures that this is where he comes into it, as her murderous arm, going on to say that he knew there was a reason she kept him in that prison for all those years, waiting for him to be of service; he knew she hadn't forgotten about him. "Right," Regina boldface lies, and Sidney wonders how his mistress would like him to kill the maid. However, she reveals that she doesn't want him to do anything of the sort because it wouldn't take anyone long to figure out that she was behind it if Marian showed up dead.
Back in the mirror.
She continues in saying that this requires a more elegant touch, explaining that she has to undo Emma's mistake by going back in time before the blonde arrives and killing Marian before she can be saved. Sidney doesn't understand his purpose in all of this and Regina explains further that, as Queen, she captured many prisoners and sentenced many to death, at which Sidney, amused, realizes that she doesn't remember this Marian. "Well, she's awfully vanilla, can you blame me?" the Mayor defends, going on to say that she needs Sidney to show her the exact moment she captured her so she knows when to travel back to. He wonders how he's supposed to do that, no longer being a mirror, but Regina swiftly waves her hand and, in a flurry of smoke, he is one. He bangs his fist from behind the glass, wanting to escape this form, but Regina tells him to relax, assuring him that it's just temporary. He sobs and she begs him to help her, and the Magic Mirror soon finds himself complying, addressing his mistress once again as "your majesty". "Mirror, mirror on the wall... show me who I want to kill most of all," Regina requests, and with that, the Mirror takes us into a flashback...
Regina gets her evil on.
"Your majesty, no!" Marian is heard exclaiming as she's seized by two Black Knights in the Enchanted Forest of the past. Queen Regina, who's standing right in front of her, demands to know where Snow White is, but Marian refuses to talk at all. Amused, the Queen turns to one of her nights and says that the prisoner obviously thinks silence is bravery... and not stupidity. Marian stares at the Queen, who decrees that the maid is to die tomorrow; Regina then turns around and begins walking away, telling her knights to hurry the woman along because the stench of peasant is overwhelming. "I feel sorry for you!" Marian suddenly exclaims from behind, causing an angered Regina to turn around and calmly ask, "Do you?" Marian assures the Queen that if she had a family of her own or love in her life then she'd know she shouldn't be doing this and wouldn't have to be so cruel. Regina re-approaches the woman, getting right up in her face, and orders her not to tell her what she does or does not understand; she knows who she is and what she wants, and right now... it's Marian's head on a spike. She grabs Marian's chin to say this, smiling gleefully as she does so, and as she walks away laughing, Marian accuses her of being a monster, before being dragged away.
Regina watches this in the present, looking guilty, and Sidney asks her, from within the confides of his mirror, if that's what she was looking for. Tearfully, she tells him, "Exactly."
Elsa can read.
In central Storybrooke, townspeople are running around in a panic following Marshmallow's brief rampage. Elsa, still clutching the newspaper from earlier, manages to run into an alleyway unnoticed. She leans against the wall and begins breathing heavily, tired and scared, when Grumpy runs through the streets yelling about a monster being on the loose. She is saddened by this and looks to the frightened citizens, knowing that she's behind what's happening. She then slowly peeks her head out of the alley and turns, suddenly noticing the sign for Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer, which interests her greatly. Through the alley, the Ice Queen disappears from public view once more.
Kristoff plays dumb. So does Sven.
Back in time, Sven munches on a carrot as he peeks over the fence of his stable stall, alerted to the presence of Elsa. She is looking for Kristoff, wanting to know where Anna is, and Sven makes a noise, prompting the Ice Queen to tell him to stop being coy and to answer her. More noises are made and Kristoff soon arrives with a whole bunch of carrots, placing them down beside his pet and telling him to take it easy, for Elsa can't help being bossy. Elsa insists that she's not bossy, merely the Queen, but Kristoff asks if bossing people around is not the Queen's job. She tells him not to change the subject, again asking where Anna is, and he suggests checking the palace. Elsa points out that, if Anna were in the palace, then she wouldn't be there asking him, and Sven grumbles. Kristoff removes his hat, attempting to formulate a story on the spot, and eventually states that Anna had some errands to run because they need more frosting for the cake, with her being concerned that they weren't going to have enough. He goes on to say what perfectionists brides are, but Elsa doesn't buy it, saying in turn that there is no frosting. "Exactly! She's taking care of that," Kristoff tries, but the Ice Queen knows it's a lie and orders the "reindeer-man" to talk. He tells her that it's wedding details and he was just making sure... "That she wasn't followed," Elsa finishes for him, realizing that her future brother-in-law is trying to delay her. After a pause, he asks if she'd like to see the floral arrangements, but Elsa demands to know the whereabouts of her sister. Kristoff soon admits that Anna has set off for Misthaven, having booked passage on a ship that's set to leave... any moment now. He then apologizes, not wanting to have lied, and when Sven makes a noise his owner turns to him and tells the reindeer that he's trying to apologize. When he turns back, Elsa is leaving, and Kristoff leaves with some encouragement from Sven.
Emma, David and Hook are seen running through the woods and come across Robin, Marian, Roland and Little John at their campsite, the former of which asks what's wrong. David, stopping with the other two, explains that some kind of snow monster is on the loose, but Robin assures them that no monster shall cross their path, offering his assistance. The noise of large stomping is heard from not that far away, and Hook deduces that the creature in question is getting closer, soon realizing that it's coming from the north. Emma grabs her gun and steps forward, managing to see Marshmallow as it walks towards them all, and - despite the blonde warning him against such an action - Little John decides to fire an arrow at it with his crossbow. The arrow hits Marshmallow in the shoulder, and Hook tells the Merry Man that it only attacks when it feels threatened; as such, the monster lets forth another one of its mighty roars. The pirate begins counting their collective inventory (a pistol, a sword, his hook, his cunning wit) and says that he doesn't think they've got what it takes, which Charming disagrees with, pointing out that Emma does. She seems surprised, turning to her father in a confused manner, and Hook reminds her of her magic.
Emma makes it mad.
"Right," the savior suddenly remembers as Marshmallow becomes imminently close, and Hook assures her that she can do this. Focusing, Emma raises her hands to the monster and closes her eyes, allowing light to form in her palms. This light strengthens the longer she holds it, but she soon sets it free as a ball of magical energy, which hits Marshmallow and causes him to stumble back slightly. Emma appears proud of herself... until the giant snow thing leans forward and grows mounds of spikes. They are shocked, and its massive fist finds the blonde, knocking her off her feet. Emma remains unconscious on the ground. The monster lets out another icy roar which knocks back the rest of his adversaries, knocking them all unconscious as well. Marian - the only one still awake - soon grabs a bow and arrow and approaches the monster, but it blasts her back with some ice. She looks up at it from the ground, scared, but still she remains the only conscious human around. It stares down at her evilly, and Regina is seen emerging from a nearby tree, approaching Marshmallow slowly before looking towards the frightened Marian. The maid begs for help, and Regina notices all the knocked-out people who aren't able to witness her; she then disappears in a flurry of purple smoke.
Regina the Marshmallow Slayer.
Having been left to die by the Evil Queen, Marian's eyes widen as she knows she's doomed. The creature heftily steps even closer, about to kill her with its gargantuan foot, and Marian prepares for death just as Marshmallow is suddenly melted into nothingness by magic. Regina is standing behind it, having just saved the life of the woman who ruined hers, and Marian is utterly shocked, getting to her feet. Robin then begins to wake up, and calls out for his wife just after she vocalizes the fact that Regina saved her. The king of thieves then takes note of the Queen's presence, and Little John, Emma, David and Hook begin waking up also. Marian concedes that maybe Regina isn't a monster, and Regina agrees that maybe she isn't. "Welcome to Storybrooke, Marian," she then says with a brief smile, before beginning to walk away. Emma calls out for her, attempting to explain that they were trying to find her, but Regina again disappears in purple smoke before she can be talked to. Emma is left disappointed.
Something for the shippers.
Still in the woods, Emma has some remnants of snow, left behind by Marshmallow, in her hands. She proceeds to make it into a ball and throw it randomly, shaking her hands of the cold. From behind her, Hook points out that the crisis has been averted, and Emma jokingly asks if he'd like to go home and see what's on Netflix. He doesn't actually know what that is, but answers positively all the same, and Emma smiles before reminding him that someone created that snowman which means that this isn't over. He refreshes her memory in saying that it never is, which should be all the more reason to enjoy the quiet moments, like the one they're having now. She realizes this, but she has something to do, much to his chagrin. He tells her not to bother saying she's not avoiding him anymore, because he's actually quite perceptive and he's rather sure that that's what she's doing. She freely admits to this and explains to him that she just feels too guilty at the moment, and he realizes that this is all to do with Regina; Emma points out that it's her fault the former Queen lost someone she really cares about and, after a pause, Hook believes there to be more to it. When he calls her on it, she simply leans forward and kisses him on the lips, lacking passion. She then pulls out and tells him to be patient, walking away as he says to himself that he has all the time in the world... unless another monster appears and kills him.
Emma is next seen trying to open the door to Regina's office, only to discover that it's locked. She calls out for the Mayor, stating that she knows she's in there because she can see the light's on, but Regina, who's sitting down on the other side of the door in the fetal position, remains utterly silent. Emma leans her hand up against it and sighs loudly, saying that she knows this is all complicated, but Regina can have happiness; she knows it doesn't seem like it, but she just has to... fight. "Okay, if you won't, I will," the blonde goes on, "Henry brought me to Storybrooke to bring back the happy endings. My job's not done until I do that for everyone... including you." Emma then walks away, exiting the mayoral building, and Regina finds herself looking up, going on to approach Henry's book of fairytales and call upon her Mirror. Sidney appears in one nearby when she finally addresses him as such, and he grumpily asks what it is he can do for her. She excitedly says that he can help her change fate; he responds that he could probably tell her if she was wearing too much eye makeup, but changing fate is beyond his powers of reflection. She points out that his powers and hers shall do it, continuing in saying that the book in her hands is why she's suffering, not Marian. Every story in it has the same thing in common: the villains never get the happy ending. And it's always been right. She thought not being the villain would change things, but the book and the stories in it only see her in one way. Sidney wonders what her plan is and she orders him to find the writer; "We must find out who wrote this cursed tome... and force them to give me what I deserve. It's time to change the book. It's time for villains to get their happy endings."
Something... with a hat.
Across town, Belle sleeps as Rumple sits awake on the edge of the bed on their honeymoon night; he is staring down at something. We are then shown the strange cylindrical object from earlier and the Dark One places something wrapped in cloth down beside it, unwrapping it to reveal the Dark One's dagger. He takes it in his hands and hovers it over the golden item; nothing seems to happen at first, but the star pattern within soon begins to swirl and sparkle and a golden-purply-blue light emanates from within, producing from blue smoke what appears to be some sort of holographic version of a tall blue wizard's hat with a bright purple glow shining from within. Rumple drops his dagger in shock and wonderment, staring silently with a smile on his face at this mysterious hat and the strange galactic pattern swirling around inside it.
The Icy Bandit.
With the newspaper firmly in tow, Elsa approaches Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer and, despite the obvious CLOSED sign in the door and the fact that no lights are on inside, she peers through the window to see if anyone might be inside. She then checks to make sure she has no external viewers, and leans in close to the door with her hand once she knows that no one is watching. With her magic, she freezes the lock and manages to disable it, thus making it so she can open the door without any trouble and sneak into the abandoned store, closing said door behind her. She again looks at the newspaper, seeing a picture of Anna's snowflake necklace in the corner of Belle and Gold's photograph, which features them posed behind the counter. The Ice Queen begins searching for the necklace and spots it displayed on that same counter, happily walking towards it.
Anna sets off for Misthaven.
In flashback, Elsa walks angrily towards the fjords as Kristoff chases after her in a hurry, calling the Ice Queen's name and begging that she wait. She watches as the nearest ship sails away, and Kristoff points out that it's too late. Elsa exclaims that she has to go after Anna, but her sister's fiancé thinks otherwise. She asks if he's really saying "no" to his Queen, to which he points out that he's saying "no" to his future sister(-in-law). And for good reason: they both love Anna; they both know her; she will be fine. Elsa frets that she didn't have to do this alone, but Kristoff says that she did, reminding the Queen that she told Anna and she was right - she is the ruler and they all remember what happened the last time she left. She then wonders why Kristoff didn't go with her and he explains that she didn't want him to because she thought he was needed where he is. "For what?" the Ice Queen asks, to which he replies, "She didn't want you to be alone." Elsa is touched by this and watches as the ship continues to sail into the horizon. Kristoff continues in saying that Anna will be fine, adding that he believes in her and her sister should too, because she doesn't give up on the people she loves... and she always succeeds. Elsa argues that she also sometimes acts before she thinks, and worries about the dangers Misthaven might pose. As the two of them talk, we see Anna on the boat as it makes its way further and further from Arendelle. "What do we even know about this... Misthaven? How have I never heard of it?" Elsa is heard asking, and Kristoff tells her, "You might know it better by what the inhabitants call it..." "What's that?" "The Enchanted Forest." Basking in the wind, Anna continues journeying to fairytale land that was, gently placing her mittened hand over her beloved snowflake necklace.
Elsa makes a vow.
The same necklace that's again seen on display back in Mr. Gold's shop in present-day Storybrooke. Elsa is now holding it in her hand, treating it with care as it remains a symbol of her sister and the strong love and bond shared between the two of them. She stares at it with a longing expression on her face, breathing deeply as though the next thing she has to say will be very difficult. Almost tearfully, the Ice Queen proceeds to utter her first full sentence since arriving in this town: "Don't worry, Anna... I will find you."
- The title card of this episode features the main logo amidst a blizzard.
- The same title card is featured in the second part of "Smash the Mirror".
- As of this episode, Michael Raymond-James (Neal Cassidy/Baelfire) is no longer a series regular. In turn, Michael Socha (Will Scarlet), star of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, joins the main cast.
- Although credited, Michael Socha (Will Scarlet) is absent from this episode.
- This episode's title is most likely derived from the novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, which also inspired the title for the third season premiere of Lost, a show for which Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were previously writers.
- Elsa's dress contains many noticeable differences from its last appearance, which takes place mere moments before the present-day portion of this episode begins.
- The title of this episode was revealed by executive producer/co-creator Adam Horowitz, via his Twitter account, on July 8, 2014.
The episode, thanks in part to the buildup around the Frozen storyline, saw its biggest numbers since the second season, as it pulled in a 3.5/11 among 18-49s with 9.47 million viewers tuning in, despite tough competition from NBC Sunday Night Football (which won the night), CBS' freshman hit Madam Secretary (which won the time period despite seeing a drop in viewers) and Fox's The Simpsons (who pulled in higher 18-49 numbers). It also saw a major increase in viewership numbers from the third season finale and surpassing the third season premiere. The show placed third in its timeslot, and sixth for the night.
In Canada, the premiere was watched by 1.606 million viewers, placing second for the night, falling behind CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. This marks an increase in viewership from the previous season premiere as well, which was watched by 1.285 million viewers.
- The premiere drew mainly positive reviews from critics, with most to all complimenting the new characters. Christine Petralia of Buddy TV said the premiere "picks up right where last season left off and doesn't skip a beat. Frozen fans will be pumped that it looks like Elsa and Anna are going to stick around for a while as they search for answers about their parents' death. Meanwhile, a heartbroken Regina seeks out an old friend to help her "change the book" so she can finally get her happy ending. And as usual, Rumple can't seem to shake his obsession with power."
- Amy Ratcliffe of IGN rated the episode 8 out of 10, signifying positive reviews, saying "The Season 4 premiere of Once showed the addition of Anna and Elsa works for the series, but it did more than focus on the sisters. Regina and Rumple both took strides forward, and that sends the signal that the front half of the season won't be all Frozen all the time - unlike the trip to Neverland last year."
- Philiana NG of The Hollywood Reporter said of the premiere "Once didn't veer too much from the backstory already established in last year's blockbuster, something co-creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis were adamant about from the start. Instead of sprinkling on the Once twist, the portrayals of the Frozen characters were rather faithful, keeping true to the DNA of the Elsa [...], Anna [...], Kristoff [...], Grand Pabbie and even Sven that we knew on the big screen."
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- ↑ Adam Horowitz tweet.
- ↑ Premiere Week Live+7 Ratings: NBC, CBS Win Network Race, ‘Gotham’, ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ Lead DVR Gains, by Nellie Andreeva, Deadline (October 13, 2014)
- ↑ http://brioux.tv/2014/10/big-bang-back-big-in-canadian-premiere-week-ratings/
- ↑ Bill Brioux Tweet.
- ↑ 'Once Upon a Time' Season 4 Premiere Recap: 'Frozen's' Elsa Comes to Storybrooke to Find Her Sister, by Christine Petralia, Buddy TV (September 28, 2014)
- ↑ =Once Upon a Time: "A Tale of Two Sisters" Review, by Amy Ratcliffe, IGN (September 28, 2014)
- ↑ 'Once Upon a Time': 10 'Frozen' Moments From the Premiere, Philiana NG, The Hollywood Reporter (September 28, 2014)