Warning: Spoiler Alert
The scene opens in Arendelle. Three young girls (Ingrid, Helga, and Gerta) are flying a kite in the castle gardens. They lose control of the kite, and it gets wrecked in a tree. As they’re assessing the damage (with Gerta declaring the kite just fine, since the ribbon is still intact and beautiful), a man comes along and declares that he’s the owner of a kite. Creepy McGuy’s revealed to be a kidnapper, seizing Gerta and revealing his nefarious plan aloud. Ingrid rushes the man, and blasts some of her ice magic onto a tree branch above his head. He’s distracted by the magic and drops Gerta just before the ice cracks the branch and crushes the man.
Ingrid’s terrified, but Helga and Gerta are in awe. Ingrid insists that her magic, and her inability to control it, makes her a monster. Her sisters assure her that what she has is a gift, and that they’ll help her find a way to control it. In the meantime, it will be the girls’ secret.
Flash forward several years. The girls are now teenagers, and the youngest two are getting ready for a ball. Ingrid watches on, clearly not intending to go. Gerta will introduce a suitor to her family that night, and she wants Ingrid to meet him. Ingrid demurs, and Helga and Gerta depart.
At the ball, Gerta’s suitor’s revealed only as “The Duke”– a stranger on a diplomatic mission from the neighboring land of Wesselton. He looks like a shady fellow, but his fumbling compliments to the king over Gerta and Arendelle appear genuine. The party continues, the crowd dances, and Ingrid slips along the edge of the room. She sees her family interacting with the partygoers, laughing and talking and having a lovely time. She looks as if her heart is breaking. The forlorn loneliness is hard to hide, but so is the slight snowstorm that her distress generates.
After the ball, Helga and Gerta find Ingrid in their room, packing a trunk. She wants to leave, she explains. Her sisters should feel happy, and she’s too much of a magic-ball for that to happen. Again, the younger two attempt to reassure Ingrid that her powers can be kept a secret, as long as they all love each other. Ingrid’s unconvinced. Helga offers an alternative. She’s heard of a powerful sorcerer in a far-off land that might be able to control Ingrid’s powers once and for all.
And so, to Rumpelstiltskin in the Enchanted Forest they go. Rumpelstiltskin offers her a pair of gloves that can keep Ingrid’s powers at bay as long as she believes in them. And, as a backup, a very familiar-looking urn that would at least contain Ingrid should circumstances become dire. All he wants in return are the ribbons the girls wear from the kite that almost got them kidnapped all those years ago. He explains that their love for each other as sisters has imparted magic onto them. Gerta and Helga try to talk Ingrid out of the deal, but she can’t trust that her sisters’ love alone will keep her from harming anyone. The deal’s struck.
Upon returning to Arendelle, Ingrid dawns a glittering, regal gown instead of her usual peasant clothes. She’s in the garden, holding her gloves and urn, staring off into space and reveling in a chance to finally live a normal life, when her sister’s boyfriend The Duke appears. Within a few sentences, he reveals himself to be a total creeper and starts hitting on Ingrid. Gerta never needs to know, he explains. Ugh! What a skeeve!
Gerta enters just as Ingrid blasts Mr. Duke away with some magic. He tries to paint Ingrid as the aggressor, but Gerta doesn’t buy it. He escalates matters, though, like skeevey creepers always do. He tries to blackmail the two girls to keep the magic a secret. The kingdom will turn on Ingrid for being a freak, he promises, and they’ll be so weakened that Wesselton will be able to take over. Gerta continues to rebuff him, but eventually his taunts get the better of Ingrid. She tries to blast him with magic, but Gerta steps in the way.
The blast of magic proved fatal. Gerta froze solid and crumbled into ice cubes before Ingrid’s very eyes. Helga has apparently been alerted of the commotion and comes upon the scene. Helga’s horrified. Ingrid tries to explain, but Helga is too stunned to react in anything but abject horror. She traps Ingrid in the urn before she can do any more damage.
Helga then seeks out Grand Pabbie and the rock trolls for their memory magic. The Duke is threatening to use Gerta’s death as a way to turn Arendelle against Ingrid, so that his kingdom of Wesselton may take over. Helga asks for a potion that will wipe away everyone’s memories of her sisters, so that the kingdom can remain independent. Grand Pabbie grants her request, but warns that this magic will come with a price. Helga assures him that, in losing her two sisters, she’s already paid it. He is perhaps not so sure.
As usual, the events of the past parallel the scene in Storybrooke. Emma and Elsa are doing more research in the sheriff’s station to fight The Snow Queen and her impending curse. They come across a magic candle that, if they can master it, will allow them to restrain her. The two practice working the spell, but they aren’t as successful as they could be. They’re really two novices, still unsure how to control their powers. Elsa can’t help but marvel that Emma’s family doesn’t make her feel alienated or fearful because of her powers. Emma shrugs it off. Her family loves her. They’d never be afraid of her.
But would they? Emma has promised to babysit her little brother, and so she heads over to pick him up from the Mommy-and-Me group that Mary Margaret attends (run by Cinderella, attended by Princess Aurora, because why the heck wouldn’t it be?). And, because fairytale princesses are sometimes too honest and true to be tactful, Emma begins to get the impression that her childhood wasn’t as important to her parents as Neal’s. The differences between Emma’s infancy (shoved through a magic wardrobe, spends 18 years in foster care) and Neal’s (cared for obsessively by both parents when they’re not busy saving the world) come up. It’s so upsetting that she releases a little bit of leftover magic. Mary Margaret’s reaction doesn’t inspire a lot of acceptance.
But, The Snow Queen appears to play another round of rope-a-dope with the Storybrooke Magic Brain Trust. David calls Emma to tell her that she’s appeared in the clock tower with her cursed mirror. Emma, Elsa, Hook, and David rush the clock tower, and the two sorceresses manage to execute the candle spell, binding The Snow Queen in shackles.
They haul her in to the station for interrogation. Elsa isn’t the kind to stay cool and collected around a manipulative crazy person like her aunt, so Emma sends her away to work on finding a way to disable the cursed mirror. It leaves Emma and The Snow Queen all alone in the sheriff’s station, which is exactly what The Snow Queen wanted. She’s physically shackled, but she’s still able to cast a spell around the station, freezing it shut.
Emma tries to get The Snow Queen to confess the motivation behind her agenda, but she simply says that she wants to be a family with her and Elsa. Their magic binds them all together in a way that is stronger than blood, after all. Emma demands to know why The Snow Queen first tracked her as a child and then erased her memories, but The Snow Queen will only answer that some things are best forgotten. Eventually, The Snow Queen’s taunts become too much for Emma. She loses control of her magic and blows a hole in the side of the building.
And, naturally, this happens just as the rest of the crew has realized that The Snow Queen was just trying to get caught so that she could score some alone time with Emma. Mary Margaret, David, Hook, Elsa, and Rumpelstiltskin, panic at the destruction at the station, and Emma is so upset she can barely explain what has happened. They try to comfort her, but Emma flinches away, and throws another wave of magic that accidentally knocks a light pole onto her father. Everyone’s horrified, and Emma doesn’t miss a beat.
Her powers really do alienate her. She’s a danger. Usually, Emma is too savvy to be emotionally manipulated, but her relationship with her family is her most vulnerable spot, and The Snow Queen knows it. Mary Margaret realizes first that Emma feels ashamed of what she’s done, and tries to reassure her, but it’s too late. Emma runs to her car and drives away.
Elsewhere in Storybrooke, Regina’s again in her vaults, researching her magic and trying to find a cure for Marian. Robin Hood enters. The man just can’t get enough of telling Regina that he’s still in love with her, and that he can’t find a way to love Marian. Regina is getting pretty tired of having to pull herself away from the man he loves so he can save his wife’s life. And she damn well should. Robin, if you love Regina so damn much, quit walking around the woods mooning for her and do what she asks. Quit forcing her to push you away! Gaaahhhhhh!!!
Robin goes to throw darts at Granny’s (because when you’re romantically frustrated, throwing pointy objects at a circle feels good?) Will Scarlett pops in for a drink, but sees Robin and tries to back away. Robin spies him (well, actually, he throws a dart at his head), and the two sidle up to the bar for the kind of drink that two men share when they share not only animosity for one another, but also being in a very sad state of affairs. Full disclosure: Will Scarlett is also a character in Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, the spinoff series that I don’t watch. The two have a heart to heart about their former friendship that ended when Will betrayed the Merry Men for love. There could be allusions to plot points here that I don’t follow.
But Robin also tells Will how he met Marian (a story that Will has heard, he proclaims, three dozen and one times). Back in Robin Hood’s stealing-for-himself days, he poached Marian’s father’s horse. Robin was doing better as a thief than Marian’s family was doing trying to earn an honest living, and their livelihood depended on the horse Robin stole. Marian went to him and plead for his mercy. The following day, he returned the stolen horse, plus the two he already had.
And from that moment on, Robin Hood began to steal from the rich and give to the poor. It wasn’t an easy road, cleaning up his act, but being loved by Marian inspired him to become a better man. It wasn’t an easy life for Marian, either. Will, confides that he once asked her why she stuck around with the thief. She replied that she saw good in Robin even if he didn’t, and that it was their love that kept the good within him.
It’s a touching scene, and Robin appears wracked with emotion as he remembers his wife. Curious, then, that he runs back to Regina’s vault. Bless you, Regina, for not slapping him in the face and hauling him by the ear to the door. She tries to give him another earful of the reasons why he should leave her alone, but he interrupts her. He’s lived his life he says, by a certain code. Day in and day out, he’s stolen from the rich to give to the poor, he’s been truthful, honest, and brave. Seems kind of puzzling things to proclaim to a woman that you’re in love with when you’re married to someone else. Robin admits as much, and pulls Regina into a steamy embrace that she tries her very best to resist. But, even though Robin’s an emotionally stunted dummy, he’s got some dreamy green eyes and a girl can withstand so much.
And, with the Outlaw and Queen pawing at each other in the vault, and The Charmings trying to find a way to convince Emma that they don’t fear her, the town is settling in for the night. No one out on the streets, no one looking out their windows.
That “Closed” sign on Gold’s Pawnshop really means nothing.
He knows that it’s The Snow Queen paying him a visit before he even turns around. She’s ready to make a deal. She wants the ribbons back, and she’s willing to give The Dark One information. She knows, she says, what he’s up to with that hat he found. He wants to be free of the dagger’s control without losing his powers. He wants to be able to leave Storybrooke and rule a bigger, more impressive realm with Belle at his side. But he hasn’t been able to. And, it so happens, she had the Sorcerer’s Amazing Magic Stealing Dream Hat for a long time. She knows the piece of the puzzle that he’s missing. It’s a big deal, though, so she wants more than just the ribbons she gave him in the Enchanted Forest. She’s certain he’s plotting to take over the rest of the world. She just wants Storybrooke, so that she can live happily ever after with Emma and Elsa.
It’s a good enough deal for Rumpelstiltskin. He produces the ribbons, but he bids her to tell him her part of the bargain first. She leans in and whispers in his ear. He smiles an absolutely Rumpelstiltskin-up-to-no-good smile. He’ll need to do something to complete his work with the hat. And, apparently, it’s something he’ll do with great pleasure.
Just a guess, but he’s probably not going to be doing anything that will make Belle very happy if she finds out about it.
Hopefully we’ll find out next week. We’d better. It’s a double episode. In two hours, I’d better see some RumBelle, too.
The Story Continues Next Sunday at 8:00 pm on ABC.