Once Upon a Time Season 4 Episode 2 – TV Review
I don’t think we needed any more reasons to find David laughable.
But then again, the best gifts are surprises.
Thank you, Once Upon a Time.
TL;DR Emma and co help out Elsa in Storybrooke; Snow finds out being the leader of the town isn’t a lot of fun; flashback Anna helps David overcome the oppression of a mob boss Bo Peep.
So following on from last week‘s golem, Elsa decides this week to put her powers to use on creating an indestructible ice barrier around Storybrooke so nobody can escape her search for Anna/Anna’s abductor/murderer/whatever. She accidentally knocks out the power lines, which sends Emma, David, and Hook investigating, and Emma runs into Miss Frosty. Naturally, Elsa is easily startled and accidentally traps Emma in a frozen pocket of death, so Hook and David must scramble to do their best to find Anna while Elsa holds Emma hostage. Except Elsa isn’t really holding Emma hostage: she just sucks at controlling her powers. A pep talk from Emma and the boys later, and our main cast is out of danger, with the prospect of finding Anna still on the cards. Meanwhile, Granny and Grumpy (and one of the other dwarves whose name I don’t care about) hassle Snow to sort ouf the electricity issue (Regina has abandoned her mayoral duties), which pisses Snow off. And in flashback, we see Anna’s first steps into the Enchanted Forest taking her to pre-Charming David, who is a friend of Kristoff’s. David is under the thumb of warlord/mafia don Bo Peep. Anna helps him overcome her, and also earns a tip from Mama David to go see the wizard.
Well, Rumple. But Mama says wizard. I’m not lying about that.
So we’re two episodes into the season, and we’ve already settled back into that familiar Once Upon a Time groove: have a mostly ineffectual flashback subplot that complements the Storybrooke plot, which itself only moves forward at a glacial pace. Sprinkle in some soap suds, some low-budget CGI, and a some adversity for Regina and we’re done.
It’s a system that works.
A dull system.
Why I hate this episode:
I’m kind of getting over this whole Once Upon a Time thing. It’s been evident since last season that the show doesn’t have anywhere to go anymore. The characters are all stuck in this sleepy little town, and the only solid progress in the entire show is Henry’s ageing. Regina keeps flip-flopping between good and evil as the plot requires; David is still useless; Snow’s only purpose is to worry about being a mother; Emma does nothing but get in everyone’s way. And having much of the story rely on these incrementally revealed, apparently sensational flashbacks just makes me go “well why didn’t you mention that earlier?”
What the show needs is some genuine conflict. Peter Pan was Gold’s dad, so it was like “you’re evil so we’ll vanquish you, but you’re also family so we have to kind of be nice to you, too.” Same thing with Zelena. I’d be excited to see a villain that the cast can really rally against. And, more importantly, that can really fuck some shit up without having some Freudian excuse behind their actions.
Elsa has already abandoned her villain potential (not that it’s surprising). She comes close to being cool when she takes Emma “hostage.” But, of course, Emma’s only stuck in the ice mass because Elsa can’t control her magic. Nut up, bitch.
Elsa demands they bring Anna to her, because Anna’s kind words help Elsa relax and regain control of her powers. David just says Anna’s little mantra to Elsa, instead, and that proves enough to work. What a pointless endeavour. If it didn’t matter who delivered them, why couldn’t Elsa have just said the mantra to herself? Lazy girl.
Flashback David (hereby referred to as Hippie David. Because of the hair) is deathly afraid of Bo Peep and her ruthless army of thugs. So much so that he’s willing to mortgage his entire life to keep out of her way. But this is a fairy tale, so he needs to fight back. Anna gives him half an afternoon of sword training (which he barely picks up), and that proves enough to win a 2-on-1 battle against Bo Peep’s body guards, and a duel with Bo Peep herself. Fighting back never looked so easy.
Also, David mentions that Bo Peep is a warlord. And it’s not like he killed her. Wouldn’t she just come roaring back with her entire army in tow to raze his hut to the ground the next day? What the fuck kind of ending to the subplot did they give us? I don’t think mob bosses take kindly to being roughed up and let go. Especially when they have an entire army at their disposal. Jesus.
Anna is also relentlessly naive and idealistic. Which is par for the course, but still obnoxious.
Regina resolves to not see Henry. But then he knocks on her door and she opens it like “Oh hai.” Weak.
Oh, and Elsa mentions that the cold’s “never bothered” her. Obvious.
But it’s not all bad:
At least we know that Elsa is incredibly powerful. Which should come in handy whenever the next Big Bad shows up.
In fact, they might already be here. The only actually compelling sliver of episode comes at the end. Elsa tries to use her newfound control over her magic to take down the rest of the ice barrier around town, but it doesn’t work. She and Emma theorise that maybe someone else in town might share a similar power, and that’s why it’s sticking. We then cut to a local ice-cream parlour, and Juliet from Lost demonstrates that she, too, has ice magic. Fingers crossed that she isn’t related to anybody and doesn’t have some kind of sob story to undermine her villainy.
The other highlight of the episode is Snow’s descent into frustration at the incessant nagging of the hapless townsfolk. She earns herself best line of the episode after finally snapping: “I’m starting to get why Regina was evil. It wasn’t her. It was you!” That’s what we’ve been telling you!
Hippie David tells Anna his sad story about his alcoholic father: he died after drink driving and crashing his cart. I fucking love it.
Bo Peep is a cute choice for a villain. She’s got a slobbery, Cockney accent that clashes with her otherwise prim exterior. And did a warlord ever look so poofy?
Her crook has some magic in it that lets her “brand” her debtors and grants her the ability to locate them at any time. Hippie David uses it to rescue Anna after Bo Peep kidnaps her. And in Storybrooke, David and Hook shake down present Bo Peep for the crook so they can try to find Anna. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show them where she is. But it does emit a heartbeat, which they and Elsa take to mean that Anna must be alive. Somehwere.
Present Bo Peep is a butcher. I lol’d.
Henry shows that he cares a lot about Regina this episode. Now that Henry is suddenly 45 years old, I might start to give a shit about what he thinks.
Mama David reluctantly points Anna in the direction of Rumple, who himself watches and cackles at her through his crystal ball. I wonder if Gold remembers her?
Oh, and Emma almost dies. That’s something, right?