Once Upon A Time 4×03 “Rocky Road” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

While last week’s episode was an excellent reminder that we should strive to live and not just survive, this week’s reminded us that it’s okay to stumble and fall.

Arendelle Flashbacks: Hans (Tyler Jacob Moore) of the Southern Isles comes up with a plan to trap Elsa in an urn in order to rule Arendelle as King, but what he doesn’t know is that someone’s already in the urn – The Snow Queen (Elizabeth Mitchell). Kristoff and Elsa decide to take matters into their own hands where they decide they’ll go to Hans themselves in order to stop him before he can stop Elsa. The Snow Queen freezes Hans and sends his brothers running then reveals to Elsa that she’s her aunt.

Present Day Storybrooke: After Marian freezes to death and true love’s kiss doesn’t work Regina tries to find a cure to bring her back to life. Emma and David set out to find who’s keeping the ice barrier up, but instead find themselves dealing with Will Scarlet (Michael Socha). Killian and Elsa seek out trouble of their own. A confrontation with The Snow Queen perplexes Emma for she feels she may have known her. Elsa questions the disappearance of some of memories. Momma Mayor runs her first meeting. Rumplestiltskin and the Snow Queen know each other but she’s not ready to make a deal with him just yet.

The episode opens up with the Hood family taking a stroll in Storybrooke when Roland asks for ice cream. Robin states that they should probably go home because Marian must be tired, but when Roland says Regina used to allow it, it prompts to family to go get ice cream. However, the Snow Queen poisons Marian’s ice cream and we’re wondering why. It doesn’t seem as though the Snow Queen would have any reason for wanting an innocent woman dead and even if she wanted to frame Elsa for it, she could’ve chosen Robin or somebody else. Therefore, even though it may be a plot device for Outlaw Queen, we’re still hoping there’s a bigger reason as why she chose Marian.

Regina asks Henry about who he thinks wrote the book to which he replies, he doesn’t know, then agrees to help Regina find the author. When thinking of a name for their operation, Regina chooses Mongoose. As Caitlin mentioned earlier during a discussion, the mongoose is one of the only known animals who can kill/eat snakes. Before we jump into any conclusions about Regina’s plans, we’re going to hope it doesn’t mean anything too serious such as her trying to bring Emma down. However, to us (mgcircles founders), it felt as a need to appear more superior. And at the end of the day, we’re tired of people bringing Emma down. Regina is a character who’s grown a lot within the last year, but some of her choices, and behavior towards Emma are simply uncalled for. Just as we mentioned last week, we’re hoping Regina comes to the understanding that she must recognize her faults before pointing fingers at others. Her snark is highly entertaining at times, but more often than not lately, it’s a bit much.

We are however, proud of the way she’s handling the situation with Robin. What she must be feeling is unimaginable, but at the moment, she’s taking what’s in front of her with a great amount of goodness. It would’ve been easy for her to simply say there’s nothing that can be done to save Marian, but even knowing Robin’s kiss didn’t work because he’s in love with her, she chose to do the right thing by preserving Marian’s heart until there’s a solution to unfreezing her. Their situation is complicated, and the last thing we want is for Marian to die in order for Outlaw Queen to prevail. We do hope however that Robin realizes that by lying to Marian about his feelings, he’s keeping her from the possibility of finding her soul mate. He too may be out there somewhere, and we hope that sometime in the future, the truth being laid bare would allow for both of them to find their happy endings with those they’re truly in love with. Additionally, Robin and Marian undoubtedly care deeply for one another thus we’re hoping that they’re never far from each other’s lives.

In “A Tale of Two Sisters”, Rumple took a step in the right direction by switching daggers, but then took a few more back when he decided to keep it after opening what appeared to be the Sorcerer’s Hat. Because of Killian’s perceptive nature, he realizes that Belle’s in possession of a fake dagger, and he threatens to tell Belle unless Rumple helps him and Elsa uncover whose magic has frozen Marian. It’s nice to see these men interact again without actually threatening to kill one another. Also, it was a nice reminder that they’re still the crocodile and Captain Hook but they can be around one another without one of them ending up dead.

Even though we’re upset with the fact that Rumple is once again lying to Belle we’re a bit pleased because this could only mean more character growth for her. As great as it is that Belle always sees the best in him, it’s important not to be blinded by reality and what we actually want to see. Perhaps this will allow Belle to be more perceptive of her husband, thus making it easier for her to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Also, with Belle being more perceptive it wouldn’t be as easy to lie for Rumple and that would help him grow more and more as an honest man.

We’ve gone quite a few episodes in the past without a ton of focus on Emma Swan’s character and seeing as how she’s our favorite, it’s not fun to see her sidelined. She’s now given such small yet prodigious moments of character growth that it’s truly wonderful to witness. Because Regina insulted Emma’s magical abilities – something we feel wasn’t her place to since Emma’s still new, and she too was once at a place where she needed help.

During the father/daughter Sheriff duties Emma continues to doubt herself until Charming finally says something about what he’s noticed. One of our favorite things about the father/daughter relationship Charming and Emma share is that they’re so incredibly alike – Charming always seems to know when something’s off with Emma. Charming’s softness is something someone like Emma needs to remind her that she’s important – regardless of what anyone says to or about her, he’s someone who’s always going to be proud of his daughter. He’ll always be there to encourage her strengths. And since she’s never had that in her life, what shows significant character growth is that unlike the times before, she’s not shutting him off but actually trying to take his advice. He’s no longer ‘infuriatingly optimistic’ but the father she’s learning to understand more and more. Josh Dallas has a phenomenally indescribable way of delivering Charming’s inspirational speeches and making them something we take to heart as well – it always seems as though he’s talking to us as well. And in this week’s episode, Dallas does a splendid job of reminding everyone that having faith in oneself is the most important thing we can do – having bad days is normal, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them as long as we continue to fight for what’s right.

During their secret espionage towards the opposite direction of the Sheriff’s station, Elsa and Killian share a heart to heart which beautifully showcases not only their traits, but Emma’s as well. Since no one’s related to Emma in a very long time, just as no one has related to Elsa, she’s able to understand her in ways not many people do. And in an episode where Emma was brought down because of her imperfect magic skills, it was nice to see people uplift her even without her around. Although Killian has always understood why Emma’s walls were so high, confirmation from someone who’s like her, is something that’s always encouraging to hear. He’s always known that he wasn’t the reason for Emma’s walls, but to be reminded of the fact that she’s fragile not because she’s been broken, but because there’s so much weighing her down and she’s not willing to ask for help is something that’ll allow Killian to respect Emma even more than he undoubtedly already does. What we loved about that scene is the facial expressions Haig and O’Donoghue wore because neither of their concerns were for themselves but for Emma. As an audience you could see both of them take her character in and resonate with her in ways they’ve never done before. It was an interesting bonding experience that allowed for them to silently acknowledge how special Emma really is and how much they believe in her. It was nice to see Killian and Elsa bond the way Elsa and Kristoff have  because each times, it was a positively inspiring conversation about the women the men are in love with. Not to mention it once again exhibits what a loving and accepting being Elsa is. We’re loving the fact that Kristoff and Killian mirror one another in terms of how supportive they are not only for the women they love but Elsa as well. As stated, even though Elsa and Emma haven’t known each other for long, their similarities have bound them in an irreplaceable way thus allowing Killian to view her as a friend as well.

In flashbacks, Kristoff tells Elsa that it doesn’t matter how different she and Anna are because at the end of the day, they’re family and that’s a kind of a bond that’ll never be broken. Similarly, even though Emma’s the only one in her family born with magic, they love her more than anything. And her issues have always come from the fact that she hasn’t known family, but little things such as opening up to her father are what show just how much Emma’s beginning to trust them. Can we take a moment to appreciate Foster’s take on Kristoff – they’re nearly identical. The Frozen cast is flawless; we’ve said it once, and we’ll continue to say it, but what petition do we sign to keep them on the show til the end of time?

Moreover, when the Snow Queen sees Elsa in Storybrooke, she states that due to being threatened, Anna’s the one who confined Elsa to a life inside the urn. Thankfully, knowing her sister and the depth of love she has for her, Elsa doesn’t believe this to be true. Someone, the obvious suspect here would be the Snow Queen herself, has wiped some of Elsa’s memories from her, thus she has no idea that the Snow Queen is her aunt – if that’s the truth of course. We’re assuming that since the urn was found in Rumple’s vault, he’s somehow responsible for placing her in there. Perhaps it was a deal made with the Snow Queen herself but as of right now, we ultimately have no way of knowing how she ended up in there.

Since we were introduced to her last week, we sort of expected Mitchell’s Snow Queen to be a bit more vicious, but the gentleness has not only completely thrown us off, it’s made us more fascinated with her character. She’s more familiar with civilians in Storybrooke than we thought, and our savior especially which makes us think that maybe she had something to do with an orphaned Emma Swan. There are a few theories circling around at the moment, and we don’t have one solid theory we’re almost certain with, but she didn’t seem to want to harm Emma. It almost felt as though she was actually afraid of her, somewhat saddened even to see her – so we’re thinking that maybe baby Emma was showing magic long before she even know or understand what it was. The Snow Queen could either be someone who wanted to adopt her but was never given the chance to, or someone who adopted Emma and had her taken away from her due to suspicious behavior. Also, since Rumple’s evidently no stranger to her, we’re wondering if maybe she wanted to permanently adopt infant Emma but Rumple knowing her destiny wouldn’t allow it? Again, there are too many possibilities to this storyline. What do you guys think their connection is? And do you think the Snow Queen is actually Elsa and Anna’s aunt or is that a lie too?

Killian is someone who’d do anything to protect Emma – it’s something he happily does not because Emma can’t take care of herself but because she shouldn’t be expected to carry the weight of the world on her shoulder. He doesn’t try to save the savior because she needs saving, but because she deserves it. It’s not that he feels she needs to be taken care of because she can’t handle it herself, but he does these little things to show her that she’s loved and treasured — diamonds are resilient as well, but they’re handled with care not because they’re fragile but because they deserve to be cherished. One person shouldn’t be given the responsibility to save an entire town on their own. One of our favorite things about Once Upon A Time is the fact that it shuns the conception that needing help is a sign of weakness. Snow could’ve taken on the entire kingdom by herself, but she needed Charming to remind her of her worth. Anna’s capable of returning safe from the Enchanted Forest, but she needed someone to not only believe in her strengths but to be there for Elsa just as she would. Although Emma’s capable of “sheriff-ing” on her own, there’s nothing wrong with her father being there with her. There’s nothing wrong with Killian wanting to help her because everyone deserves the kind of partner that’ll reassure and encourage them when it all becomes too much.

Since Snow was never given the chance to be a mother to Emma, she’s holding onto baby Neal for dear life. Archie reminds her that separation is in fact healthy which presumably we’ll see Snow deal with next week. What we’re hoping for, and knowing Snow this is precisely how it’ll go down, she’ll find the perfect balance between being a mom and being the town’s mayor. And this time, she’ll be okay with needing help from Charming because it seems she now understands that she won’t lose the baby as they did before. Also, we’re hoping to see more Snow and Emma time so perhaps she’ll help her grown daughter get ready for the anticipated date? Why not.

We’re going to have to agree with Hook on the whole “why should I carry around this ridiculous thing if you’re never there when I use it.” We’re fairly certain there’s not a single soul in the world that doesn’t know how frustrating it is when someone doesn’t answer the phone when we need them to. The scene offered the perfect comedic relief in an episode that was otherwise heavily focused on taking care of deeper issues than Hook’s dilemmas with a cell phone.

Emma Swan’s life has been anything but simple. No one should have anyone they care for die an untimely death in their arms and it hasn’t just occurred in Emma’s life once, but twice –three times if we consider Walsh. One of Killian’s most beautiful traits is how carefully he listens and takes things into consideration thus, when Elsa told him that Emma’s situation makes it difficult to trust, he takes it upon himself to tell her that even though they’re different, it’s safe to trust him. But what he doesn’t realize is that, Emma’s learned to trust him long ago and the issue at hand is that anytime she’s opened her heart to love, she’s either been betrayed or they’ve left her too soon thus instilling the horrifying fear in her that she’ll lose everyone she cares for. Because she’s been an orphan for nearly three decades, belittled and betrayed more times than not, subconsciously it’s forced her to believe that a happy ending isn’t in the cards for her. And for the first time in a very long time, Emma Swan trusts someone other than herself with her heart. It’s the kind of trust however that’s stemmed so deep within her, it’d destroy her to lose him. While in “A Tale of Two Sisters”her magic wasn’t powerful enough to take down the Snow Monster, with Killian’s life on the line, her magic, which came effortlessly to her this time, was powerful enough to save Killian’s life and knock the Snow Queen down. While she’s not fully in control of it, it says a great deal about Killian’s place in her life since magic tends to come easier to her because of the faith he’s shown in her.

However, along with that trust and adoration comes the haunting fear that fate could take Killian away from her. It’s tastefully revealing that it’s always been safe for Emma to be vulnerable around Killian – through the ceaseless adoration he’s shown, he’s made it easy for her to understand that with him, all of her is welcomed. And for a woman who’s been shunned down in the past, freely being able to address her fears of losing a man only to have him assure her that she never has to worry is wonderfully comforting.

Morrison has an indescribable way of making the audience feel each and every one of Emma’s emotions. Through her breathlessly, tearful line deliveries and childlike expressiveness, we could not only see how afraid Emma is of losing Killian, but even without having gone through the heartbreaking losses she’s seen, you could feel the depths of her pain entirely from Morrison’s astounding performances. One of Emma’s most admirable traits is the fact that despite how broken she may have been, she’s never been afraid of being vulnerable – she hasn’t allowed her heart to grow cold; though her walls have been up, she’s remained compassionate. And what this means for Emma Swan, the woman, is that she’s finally at a place in her life where there’s someone she values as her equal – someone she cannot bear to lose because of how much she wholeheartedly cares for him. In the past when Emma’s ran from him, it wasn’t because she didn’t care for him, it was because deep down, she felt that they were kindred spirits and that not only meant opening up, but it meant it could potentially be lost. Just as Morrison’s performance showcased how deeply Emma cares, O’Donoghue’s poised and enamored delivery of the lines “you don’t have to worry about me. If there’s one thing I’m good at it, it’s surviving,”is precisely what Emma needed to hear in that situation. Killian’s confidence in the manner is what she needs to be reassured of the fact that just as he’s done so in the past, he’d do anything and everything he can to be by her side. And we love that once he saw a faint smile forming on her face, for the first time, he felt confident enough to initiate a kiss himself. He embraced her welcoming expression and kissed her in a way that felt like a promise – each of their kisses different and more passionate than the last have always meant something beautiful for this duo. Killian initiating the kiss after a heartbreaking reveal was his way of showing Emma that he’s not going anywhere, that his love for her goes deeper than anything he’s felt before.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode?

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