Warning: Spoiler Alert
In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I only began watching Once Upon A Time a few weeks ago. I knew virtually nothing of the show. I assumed I would watch the first few installments to test it out. Two episodes in, I found myself irrevocably addicted, so I shot-gunned the entire series. I only finished a few days ago. I didn’t realize while I was watching most of the series, but season four premieres in just a few days! And it’s a good thing it’s so soon, because the Rumplestiltskin-sized hole in my heart is threatening to swallow me whole.
The writers (headed by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz) consistently delight in their ability to build an intricate universe, and their wrap-up of season three was no exception. The Wicked Witch of the West (Rebecca Mader) got defeated, although not before releasing a bit of post-mortem magic to open a time portal, sending Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) on a field-and-time trip to the Enchanted Forest, 30 years in the past. They made it back though, and in time for the christening celebration of Snow White’s (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming’s (Josh Dallas) son. We find out that they named the son Neal, in honor of the deceased Baelfire/Neal Cassidy (Michael Raymond-James), who died earlier in the season trying to stop Zelena/the Wicked Witch. In typical Once Upon A Time fashion, Baelfire’s significance is too complicated to briefly explain, but between the tearful announcement of the baby’s name and the “finally finding my family” speech from Emma, I will just let you know that I cried so hard that I woke up my cat, who was not in the room with me at the time. Because of Emma’s recommitment to family (and her growing interest in attaching herself to Captain Hook’s face), she decided that her son Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) and her would remain in Storybrooke. In other happy endings, Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) eloped in a private ceremony in the woods. They wrote their own vows. More hysterical crying.
But, this wouldn’t be the Once Upon A Time we love without a fair bit of trouble brewing. Regina/the “Evil” Queen (Lana Parilla) received yet another kick-in-the-happiness when all found out that her new boyfriend Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) isn’t a widower, because Maid Marian (Christie Laing) is very much alive and came back to Storybrooke. Will we see an old-fashioned, jaw-dropping, soap-opera-esque love triangle in season four? God, I hope so. The show-runners filled season three with thrilling action and stunning firefights, but this show is also capable of some devastating romantic storytelling, and I can’t wait to see it happen again. Witnessing Robin and Marian’s happy reunion in the diner would make it seem like Regina’s heart’s destined to get broken for what seems like the thousandth time. However, we learned earlier in the season that a man with a lion tattoo’s (like Robin’s) as Regina’s True Love and Happy Ending, and there have been allusions that Robin and Marian’s relationship was not as Happily Ever After as many legends imply. Will Regina’s ruined romance send her back to Dark Magic and revenge? Will the love and respect of her adoptive son keep her away from the darkness? Will Regina scheme and plot to ensure that Robin Hood remains her own? Will Robin even want to stay with Marian after mourning and moving on with Regina? So many questions! And we’ve barely even started!
Regina isn’t the only one facing romantic upheaval. I’m just hoping that Belle and Rumple get some quality honeymoon time going to town on each other before Belle finds out that Rumple first gave her a fake copy of the dagger that empowers and controls The Dark One (and, of course, himself as well), then killed Zelena with the real dagger after he promised Belle (during his marriage proposal) he would Zelena face jail and justice instead of exacting revenge. Will that final act of dark magic shake Belle’s belief that Rumple is still a good man worthy of her love? Are we really sure that Rumple kept the real dagger and gave Belle the fake? And, speaking of Zelena, her magic seemed to work on its own to open the time portal—was that its only purpose, or will the Most Powerful Sorceress In All the Realms be joining us in some form down the road? The melodrama is billowing like crinoline on a princess’s wedding gown.
Have you noticed how I haven’t even mentioned the final scene and Frozen preview? I haven’t even started talking about how an urn from Rumplestiltskin’s vault started spilling its guts on Zelena’s time portal and lit the thing up with blue goo, with the blue goo then turned into a woman with the most gorgeous blonde French braid you’ve ever seen, clad in an ice blue gown, who shot frost out of her hands and then marched out of that barn like she was gonna kick everyone’s ass? THAT IS HOW MUCH THERE WILL BE GOING ON IN SEASON FOUR. I’m sorry, but I haven’t caps locked once in this entire piece and I was about to explode.
But yes! Once Upon A Time is giving us a Frozen story arc, and everyone on the internet’s heart may burst come Sunday evening. The show has been very careful about what to tease for this, and in the interest of letting everyone marinate in as much self-imposed spoiler denial as they wish, I’m not going to get too detailed about the previews, except to say that we know it’s an 11 episode arc, that at least Anna (portrayed by newbie Elizabeth Lail) and Kristoff (Scott Michael Foster) will be joining the cast along with Elsa, and although the arc will have the typical OUAT fractured-fairytale treatment, there will be tons of references to Frozen. As Georgianna Haig, who is playing Elsa, said, “”You have to do a shot for every reference to Frozen. You’ll get very drunk!” Well, if you insist…
Season four is usually a challenge for shows like this, particularly on ABC (I’m looking at you, Lost!), but even I have to admit that things would have to go off the tracks pretty hard to wreck the quirky, fluffy, resilient fantasy brilliance that has been Once Upon A Time so far. There are dozens of other mysteries, large and small, that have yet to get answered and no guarantee that season four will provide us with all the answers. I think we all hope that it won’t tie things up too tightly (but I will say that if we don’t find out who planted the book for Mary Margaret to find and give to Henry soon, I might have a little tiny fit). We’re on the cusp of twenty-two brand new episodes of magic, true love, and some of the best wardrobes I’ve seen on TV in ages.
How many more days till September 28th?
Once Upon A Time Returns Sunday September 28, at 8:00pm on ABC