On September 27th, Once Upon a Time returned to ABC with the heavily advertised addition of characters from Frozen. Last season’s big cliffhanger felt disconnected from the rest of the series, with Emma unintentionally bringing back an extra passenger from her time traveling adventure in the Enchanted Forest. It ended with the form of Elsa materializing, leaving a trail of ice behind her.
After a summer break full of bees-a-buzz and kids blowing dandelion fuzz, every Disney fan’s favorite Sunday night drama returned with an episode called “A Tale of Two Sisters.” In Storybrooke, the drama was amped up due to Emma saving the life of an innocent woman named Marion… you know, Maid Marion… which would be okay, except Regina and Robin Hood started a little romance. And not just any romance, Tinker Bell foretold that he was Regina’s destiny. So now Regina is madder than an evil queen and turning back to her wicked ways.
The Storybrooke story is juxtaposed against a moment in Arandelle, another realm where Queen Elsa is helping her sister Anna get ready for her wedding to Kristoff. The search for their mother’s wedding dress lead her to discover her mother’s diary and a revealed secret that eats her up inside. At the end of this flashback, Anna sets sail to the place her parents were looking for on their fatal sea voyage… the Enchanted Forest.
While the love triangle was going on in Storybrooke, reports of a new visitor that can create ice came to Emma. A search for this unregistered guest lead to a confrontation with the marshmallow monster. At the end of the episode, Elsa broke into Mr. Gold’s shop and found a snowflake necklace that we saw her give Anna in a flashback…
My concern going into this season was that it would be too focused on characters from Frozen and that our favorite Enchanted Forest friends wouldn’t get enough screen time. My concerns were diminished by this episode, where Regina is the real heart of the story. In fact, her arch parallels Elsa’s in a way. People are scared of both characters and their expectations of them influence their actions in positive and negative ways.
Disney fans should be on the lookout for two Disney songs that have cameo’s in this episode. One is blatantly obvious (and it’s not “Let it Go”) during a touching moment between Rumple and Belle. The other is a little harder to hear since they use a very stylized version of the tune (hint: it involves a hat…). I believe this is the first time a song from a Disney film has been used to represent their Once Upon a Time counterparts.
The casting for the Frozen characters is spot-on. I loved the performances by Georgina Haig (Elsa), Elizabeth Lail (Anna) and Scott Michael Foster (Kristoff). If I have one complaint about the way Frozen is incorporated into the series, it’s that they didn’t do anything to make them different from the film. All of the Once characters have something that makes them different, even if it’s just a stylistic change to their clothing. It may have been the result of rushing Frozen into this universe, but I would have enjoyed seeing the costume designers add their touch to these designs. The other oddity is the trolls and marshmallow monster look like they copied the CG models from Walt Disney Feature Animation and inserted them into the show. They feel a little out of place in a world where Captain Hook is handsome and Maleficent’s horns are a headband instead of a cowl.
Overall, this episode rejuvenated my excitement for the series and settled my concerns about Frozen taking over the way it seems to be invading other aspects of the Walt Disney Company. Questions that remain for me are:
- What happened to Anna?
- How did Elsa end up locked in the chamber from the end of season 3?
- Will Regina fill out her wish of removing Marion from Storybrooke?
I look forward to the exciting adventure that the masterminds behind Once Upon a Time have in store for us in season 4.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.