We admit that when we first found out that “Once Upon a Time” was going with a “Frozen” theme for its fourth season, we were not too pleased. As a matter of fact, we were concerned if there was any way that this show could pull off taking a big movie, and shifting it over to TV so quickly.
What happened in the end was a season that did start a little weaker, but by the time we got to the final episodes this fall, we had the best stuff that the show has given us since the second half of season 2 with the whole Greg / Tarama crisis and the buildup to Neverland (which ended up being kind of a bummer).
What worked – The “Frozen” characters, mostly. While it was a little frustrating how little the characters changed from the Disney movie, strange given how willing they were to make Peter Pan evil, Anna and Elsa actually played very well into the story. Their story touched on familiar themes, and they led to a great villain in Elizabeth Mitchell’s Ingrid / the Snow Queen.
Also, the way they build up the Rumpelstiltskin / Sorcerer story was rather fantastic. The show took its time making this important to the story, so by the time the winter finale rolled around, it did not seem to be suddenly out of left field. The same goes for everything with Regina, from her romance with Robin Hood to Operation Mongoose. We didn’t even mind less Snow and Charming, since they haven’t really had anything good to do for a while.
What didn’t – As we said, it took a while for the season to get going, and there were a few characters that could have been given some more time (Sidney Glass, Aurora). Also, where in the world are Archie, Dr. Whale, and Red? Shouldn’t Meghan Ory be at least reasonably available? While we ended up liking the “Frozen” gang, we didn’t like how they seemed to take away from other recurring characters.
Also, can we find something interesting for Henry to do? Despite getting older, the show doesn’t seem to be reflecting that. It’s the classic struggle of having a kid in the cast.
Overall – While not completely magical, the best 11 episodes of “Once Upon a Time” since they started having definitive fall and winter seasons. This ultimately gives us hope for the Queens of Darkness, and everything else that the show has coming up in the second half of the season. Grade: B+.
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