So "Fall" was an excellent episode of television, because it made me really want to see the next episode of Once Upon a Time. That's all a TV series really needs to do—make you want to keep watching—and in that, "Fall" succeeded. Like, I want to see the citizens of Storybrooke ream the shit out of each other RIGHT NOW. Ergo "Fall" was a success.
Granted, in terms of plotting, the episode was kind of a mess, and a lot of it was somehow both confusing and boring. Let's take it from the top...
The "leaders" of Storybrooke saw the Shattered Sight spell coming a long way off and they had time to prepare... by getting the hell out of dodge and leaving the town to be destroyed. Good luck Storybrooke, dealing with the terrible curse that's 100 percent being inflicted on you because of your royal family, who is now scrambling out of town to save their own asses!
Even so, our heroes also bungled getting through the ice wall. Even though the mayor's office has access to backhoes, snow plows, a magical sorceress named Regina who's beamed multiple people into and out of rooms at will in a plume of purple smoke, and a magical sorceress who deals exclusively with ice magic, they decided that the best approach to getting over the ice wall would be to send Charming up a sheer ice cliff face in his dress boots. The ice wall was like, "Nope!" and knocked Charming on his ass, then thoughtfully revealed to Elsa a VERY special necklace.
Elsa got waaaaay sidetracked by the trinket because come on, her whole raison d'etre is finding/being friends with her sister. Emma kind of mopily agreed to help Elsa find Anna when Belle or somebody explained that Anna could help stop the Shattered Sight curse because she had LIVED IT before.
I will say I was FLUMMOXED by Emma's belief Henry's chances were better with her and Blue Popsicle Princess than with Regina, just because they had mysterious wristbands. Henry, of course, knew better.
Meanwhile in the fairy-tale flashbacks, Anna and Kristoff were abruptly unFrozen, but just as they were celebrating being returned to life after a profound brush with death and the loss of Anna's sister by trading their jokey little quips with each other, Prince Hans burst into the room and informed everyone that he still gives a shit about running Arandelle and frankly, I'm glad someone does, since it's clearly the lowest-level priority for current regents Elsa and Anna. Of course, Anna and Kristoff were like, "Nuh-uh!" and beat up a couple guys with like pick axes and scooted outta there.
Meanwhile Rumple was entering full Selfish Villain Fugue Mode. Not only had Rumple arranged a deal with the Snow Queen so that he and Belle and Henry would get to leave Storybrooke unscathed, was ALSO going to use Hook to make sure Storybrooke couldn't fight back against the curse.
Stay with me here: The fairies had decided to meet up at Granny's diner to chemically engineer a defensive spell against the Shattered Sight Curse. Yeah, I thought all magic came from diamonds or Snow and Charming making sweet sweet love, but apparently you can also get out a few beakers and whip that shit up as you please. Belle was supervising, so honestly the plan was probably already doomed. But still, Rumple commanded Hook to go into the diner and vacuum up all the fairies, and Hook was like, "Well you have my heart so you literally control everything I do but I sure am going to whine about it as though I had an independent mind and spirit, so explain the logic of that to me, someone. You can't, can you? Nothing makes sense anymore."
Anyway they went to the diner and the Blue Fairy immediately got all snide and snippy because forget the Shattered Sight spell, the Blue Fairy keeps things uncomfortably real 365 days a year.
Meanwhile Regina made her way out to the woods to alert Robin that by the end of the day. he and his Merry Men would be reenacting Lord of the Flies out there in the forest.
And Arendelle's answer to Bonnie and Clyde had decided to buy a Wishing Star from Pirate Blackbeard, which is what Anna's parents had considered doing but had not actually done, as per Anna's mom's diary? Yo, if you care PM me and I'll explain it. For all the rest of us, suffice it to say that these knuckleheads were headed straight for Ye Olde CGI Pier, where Disney's least-profitable swashbuckler was waiting to make a dramatic return to the screen.
Meanwhile back in Storybrooke, Elsa had enchanted Anna's necklace with a "Find Somebody" charm that led her and Emma to the bowels of the library. But as soon as they arrived in front of this one wall that made the necklace totally freak out, like, "ANNA'S RIGHT THERE OMG YOU GUYS DING DING DING," Emma got really practical and concerned about construction, like, "Whoa whoa what are we going to do just burst through a wall with magic? Let's make sure it isn't load-bearing and maybe look up some blueprints and think this through." What was she on about? Elsa was like, "I could just blast it right now c'mon it would take like five seconds," but Emma was like, "I insist that we respect the zoning laws of Maine."
Basically the writers needed us to tread a little water, plotwise. However, at least they did it with a Character-Revealing Moral Dilemma: The fairies wanted to use Anna's necklace to retrieve mirror fragments with the first Shattered Curse still on them, which they would then use to counteract the current curse and protect all of Storybrooke. However, that would mean destroying the necklace, and then Elsa would NEVER find Anna.
Everyone was pretty stumped choosing between a Utilitarian theory of the greatest good vs. a more Kantian view of individual rights as a moral imperative until Regina insisted that the Lives of the Many Outweigh Those of the Few and it was Snow's job to make these kinds of calls now, she wasn't just a hero anymore she was a MAYOR, albeit the kind of mayor who minutes before had been sneaking out of town and leaving all her constituents to rip each other apart. Snow was like, "Yup okay we need to give me my best chance take the necklace from Whatsherface."
Elsa took the news really well, because she'd already pocketed the real necklace and gave these dumdums a pouch full of pebbles instead because she's fully on the audience's page at this point and that page reads, "The thing with the Charmings is, literally everything they do is wrong."
So our girl went back downstairs and zapped open that wall like it was nothing just as Emma returned. Shows what you know, Emma! Also the underground cavern somehow led out into the middle of Storybrooke's shoreline? Sure, whatever, I don't care either.
Next: Page 2
(Continued from Page 1)
So back to Fairy-Tale world: Kristoff and Anna had made a deal with Blackbeard to give him a small fortune for an alleged Wishing Star, but whoops, here comes Prince Hans again, that sly smug bastard.
Prince Hans works fast, guys. I don't even know how he anticipated the Blackbeard move, but he was two steps ahead on that one. Before anyone could so much as outbid him for the Wishing Star, he'd drained their bank accounts and arranged for them to be tied up, thrown in a trunk, and tossed onto the very spot where Anna's parents had died years before. Yeah, I don't know how he figured out where that spot was either, since presumably no one survived that shipwreck but Hans, dude. He's on top of his shit.
The biggest reveal in all of this nonsense was that the fairy-tale storyline was now running current to the Storybrooke storyline! Anna and Kristoff had been frozen in place (along with, I guess, their whole kingdom and people?) for 30 years, so fairy tale stuff was happening at the same time as Storybrooke stuff. Yeah, that was pretty damn convenient, but Once Upon a Time managed to kind of shoehorn in a really on-the-nose line, like: "Well the Snow Queen must have found something better to do with her magic, like maybe a curse!" so it actually kind of made sense? Credit where credit is due. You covered your asses there, OUAT. Juuuuust barely.
After filling us in on this vital detail, the two lovers were chucked into the waves to make their way to the bottom of the sea floor/death. But they were like all snuggled up together at least? Got to think positive in these situations.
So Anna's imminent drowning death was happening at the EXACT SAME TIME that Elsa had made the bold decision to sacrifice all of Storybrooke to a painful end. Elsa's necklace stopped glowing or ticking or whatever the hell it was doing and she realized Anna was dead. Of course, Anna wasn't dead, so that necklace was dumb. Anna was just having the worst day of filming ever, all pressed up against Kristoff in a box reenacting the "drink from the firehose" scene from UHF.
So Elsa had a big teary breakdown and WISHED on that damn Snowflake necklace that Anna would just be with her, and lo and behold the water slooowly leaking into the surprisingly well-lit trunk fizzed and bubbled and suddenly the trunk containing Anna and Kristoff popped up on Storybrooke's beach, right in front of Elsa! Like, that thing landed so fast that it sent Elsa and Emma FLYING backwards. How many times will Jennifer Morrison be thrown backwards for no good reason on this show?! Prayer circle for her spine.
So guys, add Wishing Stars to our growing list of whoozits and whatzells that allow people to easily cross realms in the OUATverse, along with mermaids, top hats, Pan's Shadow, Pegasus feathers, unicorn queefs, and other evidence that Rumple absolutely did not have to make Regina cast that damn curse in the first place because there were a million less-complicated ways to get to earth, JUST SAYING.
Speaking of Rumple's wicked schemes, back in Storybrooke Hook was creeping around the diner kitchen like that one raptor in Jurassic Park, sucking up fairies into his vacuum hat. What a world.
Ugh, the "Rumple owns Hook's heart" storyline is so unnecessary, dudes. And then Rumple just straight-up told Hook he's going to murder him? No way, I'm not that lucky. Though it did make me vaguely nervous for Rumple, like they've shot his character to hell so hard this season. Maybe Robert Carlyle wants to go perform like King Lear at the Globe or something and no amount of ABC's money can talk him back into a contract? I'm worried, guys.
Anyway this was roughly where the episode started getting good. Like, really good! Snow and Prince Charming locked themselves up in the town jail so they wouldn't literally tear each other to pieces when the storm of broken glass hit. Yes, that's just the kind of selfless leaders they are: They protect themselves first and let the peasants sort it out for themselves.
Instead of taking any burden of the current crisis onto their shoulders, they were once again hanging it all on Emma. I mean, Snow even passed off Baby Neal to Emma. Snow was like, "Could you just deal with it? With all of it. Could you just like solve all our problems again? Uh uh uh, no objections young lady. We believe in you. I'm going to take a nap."
Kidding aside, it was sort of set-design porn to see all the different locations with the characters battening down the hatches in the face of YET ANOTHER curse cloud: Belle in the pawn shop, Regina locking Henry away and then magically sealing up the mayoral office, which we saw from his POV behind a glass door...
...Robin Hood out in the woods doing who knows what, and Regina hunkering down in her vault because let's face it she's the biggest threat in town, with incredible power and zero patience.
Not only was the content interesting, the cinematography was striking. It really ramped up the drama, and then there was this gorgeous shot of a twinkly sky:
And then this shit happened, and I cackled until I could've wept. There were chunks of CGI glass floating through the air ducts!?!?!!!! Okay WHO, like WHO greenlit this?!? Insanity. INSANITY!!!! It did not sync up with the actors reacting to the imagined sensation of ground glass falling on their faces, in a way that was similarly hilarious.
Anyway so, yeah, basically next week all our saccharine Disney characters are going to unleash a full hour of cosplay wrestlemania on each other? Will Dark Snow return?
That shit is going to be hi-larious. Of all the weeks for Blue Fairy to be safely in a magical hat! I was really hoping Baby August would run up and kick her in the shins.
... What message do you think is in that bottle? I mean obviously it's written by Elsa and Anna's mom, but what benign, ambiguous platitude is it going to embody?
... Um so I just watched the promo for the next episode and does Snow throw Regina through a plate-glass door? WTF is this, the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling?! This show I swear.
... Are Snow and Prince Charming like way too dependent on Emma to solve all their problems?
... WTF was Regina talking about, that only Henry and Robin didn't hate her?! What about Emma vowing to get her a happy ending? I can't. I can't even.
... What two characters would you like to see tell each other off next week?