Okay, so the flashback in this episode. Oh, good gravy! Total mindblown moment. Anna’s first stop on her quest through the Enchanted Forest/Misthaven was the farm where Charming lived with his mother, Ruth, back when he was simply David the Shepherd (and with long hair, which was so unexpected.) If that wasn’t surprising enough, it turns out David was actually pen pals with Kristoff (how did those two meet? I can’t imagine it being very easy for non-royals to visit other kingdoms. Unless Kristoff’s ice selling business was a global franchise?) Anyway, Anna’s arrival at David’s farm came at the perfect time, as the land is under the control of the tyrannical Bo Peep (so nursery rhyme characters also exist in this world? Who's next? Humpty Dumpty?) who is apparently running a protection riot. Anna, not one to accept this, encourages David to stand and fight, even teaching him how to use a sword (which explains how he knew how to swordfight upon being instigated as Prince James). But David lacks the spirit to fight back and goes into a whole sob story about how his father lost his fight with alcoholism, which ultimately led to his death. (Hmm. Was this one of the reasons why he disliked Killian so much in the beginning? Because his habit of overindulging on rum reminded Charming of how his dad was an alcoholic? Or am I just overthinking this?) However, Bo Peep then goes and captures Anna, which of course gives David the motivation he needed to stand up to Bo Peep and successfully defeats her. Now that everything is fine and dandy on David’s farm, Anna continues on her way, with Ruth suggesting that Anna seek out Rumpelstiltskin. (Because of course Ruth knows about him, since he did take David’s twin brother away.)
As for what’s going on in Storybrooke, after finding Anna’s necklace in Gold’s shop, Elsa decides to place up an ice wall around town to prevent anyone from leaving until she gets to the bottom of things. The ice wall knocks over the power lines, resulting in a town-wide blackout (which Charming starts getting calls about the instant it happens. Does everyone in town have the sheriff station on super speed-dial?) Emma and Charming head off to check it out and come across Elsa’s ice wall, with Killian joining them seconds after they arrive. (Awww. Emma actually called him up to ask for his assistance. Does this mean she considers him an unofficial deputy?) As they’re investigating the ice wall, we get two moments in which Killian and Charming both try to discuss where Killian stands with Emma. Killian once again bluntly reminds Emma that she still needs to take an occasional break from her duties to live her life. When Emma deflects Killian’s words when she spots Elsa moving around by the ice wall and moves in to get a closer look, Charming takes his chance to have the whole ‘what are your intentions with my daughter?’ talk. Which begs the question- does Charming remember his old buddy, ‘Prince Charles’ and the talk they had? If so, does he know that ‘Charles’ was Killian? It doesn’t seem so, as Killian has to once again remind Charming how he frequently risks his life for Emma, something he’d never do for someone he’d see only as ‘loot,’ and that Emma has equal say in whatever they become.
Anyway, Emma approaches Elsa and begins to ask her what’s going on. While some might wonder how Emma doesn’t seem to know about Elsa and Anna when everyone in Storybrooke is obviously familiar with Disney movies (Nealfirebagelperson mentioned Disney’s Mulan when he met the genuine article) it does make sense when you remember that in OUAT’s timeline, it’s still 2012, and Disney’s Frozen might not have even been announced yet. Emma and Elsa’s conversation is interrupted when Killian and Charming approach, and Elsa, getting understandably scared when Charming impulsively draws his gun, causes an avalanche that traps her and Emma inside an ice cave. When their initial attempts at helping unblock the ice cave to get Emma out fail, Charming suggests that they seek out a magical solution, since magic is what initially made the ice. They go to Gold/Rumpelstiltskin to ask for his help, but he’s not exactly forthcoming. But when Charming mentions that Elsa is looking for her sister and found Anna’s necklace at Gold’s shop, he’s able to figure out how to find Anna, as he recognizes the picture of the necklace from Belle’s files and realizes Anna is the young woman who helped him in the past. (Because Anna had been using the pseudonym of ‘Joan’ during her mission in the Enchanted Forest/Misthaven, Charming hadn’t realized until that moment that they were the same person.) They go to Bo Peep, who is now the town butcher, to get her staff, which will help them locate Anna, who Bo Peep branded as one of her ‘sheep’ during the Enchanted Forest flashback.
While Charming and Killian go off to seek help, Elsa and Emma start to bond over the fact that they both have magical powers they can’t always control. But this bonding is cut short when the cold starts to get to Emma and she begins to lose consciousness. When Elsa uses the walkie talkies to inform Charming and Killian of how Emma is starting to freeze to death, poor Killian starts to PANIC, and even initiates his original tactic of chipping away at the ice wall with his hook in his desperation to reach her. If Charming hadn’t stepped in to stop him, I’m sure Killian would have continued to try breaking though the ice wall that way, regardless of futile it was or how long it would take, just because it meant he was actually doing something instead of sitting there doing nothing. I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if Killian actually started to cry right here. Once again, he’s faced with the possibility that someone he loves will die, and he’ll be powerless to stop it. This is Liam and Milah all over again, but this time, it’s quite possibly worse. At least with Liam and Milah, Killian had been able to hold them one last time. He was able to be there when they died. But this time? Emma could die in a place where he couldn’t reach her, and she’d have no one but a complete stranger with her. I imagine the very thought of that was destroying him. Which makes their reunion hug so well-earned when Charming, using his past encounter with Anna as inspiration, manages to convince Elsa to hold it together and melt the ice so Emma could be freed.
The subplot with Snow left me feeling a bit iffy. I got the impression I was supposed to think she was out of line when she had her ragequit moment, but I was completely on her side at that point. Okay, so the power in Storybrooke went out when Elsa’s ice wall knocked over the power lines. Fine, I can see how that would be mildly inconvenient to people. But even so, why is it Snow’s job to fix it? What happened to the guys from the power company that Emma mentioned back in ‘Dreamy?’ Were they just all out for a smoke and a beer? Even if those guys managed to escape the second curse and remained back in the Enchanted Forest fairy tale land, there had to have been someone else who was monitoring the power plant. (Unless they were the members of Zelena's flying monkey brigade that the Nevengers seemingly killed at the Storybrooke pier?) Again, when did it become Snow’s job to fix the power? Even if it was her job, she just popped out a baby a few days ago. There is a little something called maternity leave, guys. So I don’t fault her at all for blowing up at everyone. Plus, she had a point. Everyone in that town was a child of the Enchanted Forest fairy tale land. It wasn’t as if they’d never lived without the convenience of electricity before. And besides, a power outage isn’t a dire emergency, just a minor inconvenience. They can survive a few hours without it. I grew up in the Land Without Magic, and we’ve lost power a few times in my lifetime because of high winds and snowstorms. And you know what? I survived. So why can’t the people of Storybrooke? In a related story, how did adding gasoline to the tanks fix the problem? The power lines were down. Fuel doesn’t magically put them back up again. Unless those were the emergency generators? I really do not know.
There was one small throwaway moment that made me go ‘awwwwww.’ Baby Neal’s mobile is a flock of sheep. Obviously a reference to his father’s humble beginnings. So, yeah, that was cute. But the scene were we see this also had a bit of oddness thrown in, when Regina informs Henry that she doesn’t want to see him because she’s still in a funk over the whole Robin situation. The thing that makes this odd was that the message was sent via crow. So, now everyone sends messages by bird? Did Snow and Charming start a trend? Even if they did, they’re currently in Storybrooke, not the Enchanted Forest. We’ve seen they have cellphones. So why use a crow? Regardless, Henry becomes morose over the fact that his other-mother is pushing him away, and I don’t blame him. For the majority of the past three seasons, Regina’s mind was primarily focused on Henry and keeping him in her life. All of season 1 had her being all ‘Henry’s MY son, and I’m not sharing him with anyone!’ In season 2, we saw her trying to stay a part of Henry’s life, and she even relapsed into her season 1 mindset during the second half. And through all of season 3, she was focused on getting Henry back, either from Pan or the magical-induced amnesia. But now that she’s got boyfriend trouble, she starts pushing him away. At the end of the episode, Henry gets the inspiration he needed from Grandpa Charming’s whole ‘we don’t give up’ speech to march over to Regina’s mansion and state he’s not going to let her push him away. Good for you, Henry.
Episode ends with Elsa trying to bring down her ice wall, now that Emma and company are going to help her locate Anna, who is still missing, but thanks to Bo Peep’s staff, they know she’s still alive somewhere. Problem is, Elsa’s magic doesn’t work, which confuses her as she’s supposed to be the only one with ice powers. Except we then see that’s not true, as the woman who works at the local ice cream shop also has the same abilities.