tek's rating:

Once Upon a Time, on ABC
ABC; Amazon; A.V. Club; Disney+; IMDb; TV.com; TV Tango; TV Tropes; Wikia; Wikipedia

Caution: spoilers!

Season Four
This season's first story arc involves Elsa trying to find her sister, Anna, who's gone missing. I don't want to say too much about that part of the story, but I'll say that while Elsa causes some trouble for Storybrooke at first, she soon befriends the town's residents. But there's another Snow Queen, named Ingrid (Elizabeth Mitchell), who turns out to be the arc's major antagonist. As always, there are lots of flashbacks, in which we see various events in Arendelle and elsewhere, and slowly learn about all the events that finally led to Elsa coming to Storybrooke. Meanwhile, I must now reveal that the prisoner Emma freed from Regina's dungeon last season was Marian, Robin Hood's wife. So that makes his relationship with Regina... about the most complicated love triangle I've ever heard of. But it's not long before Marian gets frozen, and Regina tries to find a way to free her from that enchantment. She also decides to search for the unknown author of Henry's book. She wants the author to rewrite her story so that she can finally have a happy ending. (Henry will help with that, and the two of them refer to their plan as "Operation Mongoose," which I thought was a cute and clever play on season one's "Operation Cobra.") Oh, and Rumple has plans of his own, which involve the Sorcerer's hat from Fantasia (or more specifically, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"). And I should mention that Mary Margaret is now the mayor of Storybrooke, which comes as a surprise to both her and Regina. And I think Emma and David are now like co-sheriffs, or something. And I think it's during this story arc that Emma and Hook officially start dating, but it's hard to remember, because there were lots of twists (both flirty and adversarial) in their relationship up to this point. Anyway... Ingrid is finally defeated. Elsa is reunited with Anna (and Kristoff), and they return to Arendelle. And... lots of other stuff happens. Eventually, Robin has to leave Storybrooke with Marian and their young son, Roland, for reasons I won't get into. But presumably this means he and Regina will never see each other again, because there's now a cloaking spell which makes Storybrooke both invisible and inaccessible, from outside the town line. Meanwhile, Belle learns that Rumple had been lying to her about some terrible things he'd done, which makes her realize he doesn't truly love her. (Or at least, not as much as he loves power.) So she uses the Dagger to force him to leave Storybrooke (which not only means he'll be unable to return, but unable to use magic). But he has plans to return, for which he recruits Ursula (from The Little Mermaid). Thus ends the first half of the season.

Incidentally, in my review of the Wonderland spin-off, I never mentioned that Will (aka the Knave of Hearts) was actually Will Scarlet, one of Robin Hood's Merry Men. Well, now that that show is over, he's joined this show, albeit in a minor role. It's always been hard for me to follow what order any of the various phases of his life took place, like when was he first with the Merry Men, when was he first in Wonderland, or Oz, or Storybrooke. And it's even more confusing now, because the fact that he's currently in Storybrooke suggests that something drastic has changed since the end of the spin-off, but so far we have no idea exactly what happened. So I hope we learn that, at some point. Meanwhile, there's nothing I particularly remember or consider important to say about him from the first half of this season, but I will say that in the second half of the season, he begins dating Belle. But even that's not particularly important, and it doesn't last very long.

Season 4.5
Well... at first I wondered how Ursula came to be living in our world (as a normal human, rather than a half-octopus), but not in Storybrooke. But anyway, she has a history with Rumple (in one of the Magical realms), which we see in flashbacks, that gives her good reason to distrust him. However, she reluctantly goes along with his current plan. Actually, Rumple had a history with three villains from the other world: along with Ursula, there were also Maleficent (from Sleeping Beauty) and Cruella De Vil (from 101 Dalmatians). Viewers had known since the end of the first half of the season that Rumple would team up with the three of them (referred to as "the Queens of Darkness") in the season's second arc, in spite of their previous enmity. It seemed really weird to me, at first, that Cruella is depicted, on this show, as having magical powers, but that is eventually explained via flashbacks, which I don't want to spoil. (I will say that I liked her origin story a lot more than I expected to, in part because there's a neat twist to it that's very different from the way this show normally does villain origin stories.) It also seemed weird that Maleficent would be able to participate in Rumple's latest plan, since she'd supposedly been killed in season one. But that's eventually explained, as well. Meanwhile... we also learn that Snow and Charming have a history of their own with Ursula, Cruella, and especially Maleficent, which they want to keep secret. Oh yeah, and apparently Regina is mayor again. I don't recall any scene where Mary Margaret abdicated the position, but whatevs.

Anyway... lots of stuff happens, and I fear I must spoil a lot of it, but I'll try to leave out as much as I feel I possibly can. Um, so, Ursula and Cruella manage to convince the good guys to let them into Storybrooke, saying they've reformed. Oh, and once they're in town, where magic is possible, Ursula gets her tentacles back. (I won't get into how it's even possible for anyone to get into Storybrooke. Suffice to say it's not nearly as impossible as the midseason finale made it seem, but it's still... tricky.) But once they're in, they secretly let Rumple in, too. So... he resurrects Maleficent, and he'll be behind the scenes for awhile before anyone realizes he's back. But it turns out he has the same idea as Regina: he wants to find the Author, and get him to write a happy ending for villains. But the plan requires more than that... because, while the Author has a magic quill, he also needs magic ink, which can only be acquired in a way I don't want to spoil... but it ties into something that had been hinted at for awhile, about Emma. And it ties into the secret that Snow and Charming were keeping, and to something tragic from Maleficent's past. And it ties into a character named Lily, from flashbacks in the first half of the season, to when Emma was a teenager. (As a teenager, Lily is played by Nicole Muņoz, whom I knew from Defiance.) Oh, and it ties into how one of the new villains eventually makes her exit from the show. Yeah, that damned ink... a lot goes into it. Meanwhile, Regina pretends to side with the villains, so that she can spy on them for the heroes. (Btw, by the end of the season, Maleficent will be the only one of the Queens of Darkness left in Storybrooke. The other two exited in very different ways... neither of which I want to spoil.)

And um, we see more of August Booth (because he knows something about the Author). And Emma finally learns her parents' secret, which leads her to hold a major grudge against them, for several episodes. And we learn that the Sorcerer's Apprentice had trapped the most recent Author in a page of his own book, for breaking the rules. (There have been a long line of Authors, and viewers are given reason to suspect that Walt Disney may have been the last one prior to the current Author, whose name is Isaac Heller.) Anyway, Isaac gets released, and teams up with Rumple. Also, Rumple reveals something to Regina that he had learned during his time in New York, between story arcs: the woman Robin Hood and Roland are living with isn't actually Marian. It's actually Zelena, who had somehow not died when she was defeated in season three. Instead, when Emma and Hook went back in time, she did too (unbeknownst to them), and she killed the real Marian back in the Enchanted Forest, and used a spell to make herself look like Marian. So Marian never even came to Storybrooke at all. Regina and Emma now go to New York, where they reveal the truth to Robin, but it turns out that Zelena is now pregnant with his baby. So... yeah. Um, they all go back to Storybrooke, and lock Zelena away, but that's still going to be a very complicated problem. (But at least now Regina and Robin can be together.) Also, Regina and Emma find Emma's old friend Lily, and bring her to Storybrooke... for a reason I think I'll hold off on spoiling, for now. But I will mention that in the two-part season finale, we get to see an alternate reality in the Enchanted Forest, which Isaac has created by switching around all the familiar roles. Henry enters the story and tries to set things right, but no one there remembers what the story's really supposed to be... no one except Emma, who's been imprisoned by the evil queen Snow. So Henry teams up with Hook to rescue her. But Isaac also enters the story, and does all he can to make sure the new version plays out the way he wrote it. Naturally, Henry succeeds (though not before it seems all is lost). It was pretty fun seeing how different all the characters were, but it was a great relief seeing things return to normal (and I liked the way that happened). However, after what seems like a happy ending, some really bad stuff happens, which sets up the storyline for next season, which should be epic....

Season Five

fantasy index