ABC's Once Upon a Time S4 E1 "A Tale of Two Sisters"

ABC’s Once Upon A Time S4 E1 Review “A Tale of Two Sisters”


Who’s idea was it to make Sleepy the designated driver? Seriously!

Anyway, we’re off to an intriguing start aren’t we?

As the fourth and arguably most anticipated season of ABC’s Once Upon A Time kicks off, we find our diverse group of Storybrooke heroes, really, right where they usually are. Struggling to overcome their faults and fears to meet daunting, mysterious challenges.

ABC’s Once Upon A Time Season 4 Predictions

We begin in Arendelle’s past, learning that Elsa and Anna’s parents made a desperate bid to let their daughters in on a secret, the truth, before the raging storm consumed them.

Flash forward five years to after the events of the movie “Frozen” and we see that Elsa and Anna are happily preparing for Anna’s wedding to Kristoff, when Elsa discovers an old diary from their parents. The pages they view reveal that their parents actually went on their voyage to hopefully discover more about Elsa’s powers. Elsa immediately blames herself, saying that her parents were afraid of her. Anna tries to pluckily reassure Elsa.

GrandPabbie reluctantly tells them that their parents were actually sailing for Misthaven, aka The Enchanted Forest. Despite Elsa’s insistence, Kristoff convinces her to let Anna venture out on her own to discover what their parents truly sought and what became of them.

So how do we go from that, to Elsa leaving a wake of ice in Storybrooke and amassing another ice monster to hide herself? Well, I didn’t expect that question to be fully answered in the first episode. How silly would that be?

In an example of one of the most obviously contrived plot devices the show has ever used, Elsa picks up a newspaper that’s flying by in the chaos of her snow powers, which happens to have a front page picture of Mr. Gold and Belle getting married, which happens to include one of Gold’s random pendants in the picture. Elsa sneaks into the shop and recovers this pendant. Turns out Elsa gave it to Anna years ago in Arendelle.

*Shakes Head* Rumpel. Rumpel, why do you have that? Why have you forced Elsa to seal Storybrooke in ice until she finds her sister? I mean, nobody really leaves Storybrooke, but that’s not the point!

Regina manages to melt the ice monster, conveniently saving Maid Marian in the process, but that certainly doesn’t mean she’s given up trying to get her way. Doesn’t help that the whole extended family is nervous about Regina reverting to full blown evil. Or that Robin stops by her house to tell her that, despite whatever real thing they had, now that his wife is back, he has to honor his family.

The best part of this turn for Regina is bringing Giancarlo Esposito as Sydney Glass back into the show. Missed him. At first Regina wants Sydney’s help to remove some one standing in the way of her happiness. It’s quite clear that despite locking him up, he’s still enamored with her. But his part to play in her plot proves to be trivial. Still using him and discarding him.

But eventually she gets a new idea. Something that Emma said about happy endings sticks with her. Everything in The Story Book happens the way it happens. It’s immutable and Regina has always been the villain, at least until recent events in Storybrooke.

But what if the tales in the book were told a bit differently? What if Regina found the, as yet anonymous, writer of the Story Book and gets them to paint her in a more forgiving light, so that she gets the happy ending she deserves? Honestly I wasn’t expecting that to be a direction the show went in. How would that even work?

Charming and Snow and Henry didn’t get to do much this premiere, other than look on with concern that Regina will be alright and have clandestine talks about, whatever it is between Emma and Hook.

Emma’s wanting her space and to keep busy figuring out this new threat and Hook thinks that’s all the more reason to find quiet, romantic time. Emma may have deep feelings, but romance, isn’t exactly her style. When the snow monster is melted, the two share a reaffirming kiss, at least.

Finally we have Rumpel and Belle. Rumpel, Rumpel, Rumpel. Nice speech to your son’s grave about being the man your son died believing in. Why don’t you actually fess up to Belle about that little revenge stunt you pulled on Zelena, and how you lied about switching the dagger? Oh hell no! That would mess up our honeymoon move into a spacious mansion where we have our Beauty-and-the-Beast dance. That was a pretty sweet scene though. Costumes, music and all.

Now, WHAT is this golden, thing, Rumpel finds in this mansion? Well we certainly know what it transformed into. A purple wizard’s hat, encrusted with brilliant stars? Who wants to bet that it’s the sorcerer’s hat from Fantasia? Who wants to bet that this sorcerer turns out to be the one who wrote the Story Book?

Wrapping up. I so wish there was more than could be crammed into this commercial hour, but I am very pleased and very intrigued. We have multiple mysteries to unravel going forward, and multiple conflicts to work out.

Georgina Haig and Elizabeth Lail excellently convey Elsa and Anna. I think some fans are still deciding how they feel about Elsa and Anna’s behaviors being thrust into the drawn-out, dark, secretive arc typical of OUAT, but I’m confident the show will take them in exciting/interesting directions and stay true to their characters.

Doesn’t mean there won’t be some obvious call backs though.

Emma and Regina having a one-sided heart to heart on opposite sides of a door? I see what you did there ABC. Honestly though, it was cute, and if it means the show is going to thematically strengthen Regina and Emma’s relationship…I could get behind that.

Anything and everything can be shipping subtext on this show.

Oh! By the way, Hook? Once Upon A Time Seasons 1-3 are on Netflix. Knock yourself out.



More Stories
Microsoft Reveals What’s In the Xbox One November Update