I have watched every episode of Once Upon A Time since its premiere in 2011. My view of the show started well, but has been declining since the second season. From bland plot twists to poor character development, my faith in the show is practically non-existent now. Despite that, I watch it in good faith, hoping the show will be as unique and memorable as it was when it started. Then I saw this image circling the internet.
At the end of Season 3, we do see someone who looks like Elsa walking toward Storybrooke, but the show has made it perfectly clear that she is indeed Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. Not only that, but they are using even more characters from Disney films and stories (like Fantasia for instance). I was outraged after the first episode of Season 3, but decided to give the show the benefit of the doubt. Surely they wouldn’t bank on the fact that Frozen is so popular that it’d help ratings (regardless of how much work was done with the plot). Now, nine episodes in, I can honestly say the writers didn’t expect to cheat their way into better ratings. They did a nice job tying these two worlds together, along with answering any questions you might have had about Anna’s and Elsa’s past and future. Not only that, but they continue to develop the characters from their original cast.
Spoilers after the jump!
We’ve already talked about Once Upon A Time and the other character development decisions the writers have made in the past on this site. In the current season, Elsa comes to Storybrooke to look for Anna, who’s disappeared. We get to see glimpses of their future after Frozen, and how other characters from the movie (even the Duke of Weselton) came to be who they are. One thing that irritated me in Frozen was that they skipped over a lot details. Why would Anna’s and Elsa’s parents let them live apart for so many years? Why didn’t they try to help their daughters more? In the show we get these answers. Instead of the parents being neglectful, it’s because there is a history of Elsa’s powers running in the family. Their parents tried to find a way to help Elsa get rid of her powers, because one of her aunts had problems controlling her powers too. There’s more depth given to Anna and Elsa other than adding them to the cast as a gimmick to get more views.
As Elsa is trying to find Anna in Storybrooke, Emma helps in her search while developing her “savior” magic. At first I found it odd that they were getting along so well (as Emma is more of a loner), until one of the most recent episodes. Emma starts to lose control of her powers, and accidentally hurts her father in the process. She gets scared and overwhelmed of her powers and how her emotions control them. Who better than Elsa to know how Emma is feeling at that moment? It’s a realistic problem I believe Emma would have, and I’m rather surprised that it hasn’t happened in earlier seasons.
I mentioned earlier that Frozen didn’t touch on the childhood of their main characters, and sadly Once Upon A Time does the same with their protagonist, Emma. In both stories their childhood seems to be when a lot of trauma has happened, so why isn’t this presented, or at least explained in more detail? Luckily this season is already exploring some of the past events in Frozen, and it looks like we get to see some of Emma’s past as well. When Emma was left to grow up on her own in the real world, she was sent from foster home to foster home. We get to learn more about her experience as a foster child, and how her fear of never having a supportive family still haunts her. It gives the villain more psychological leverage over Emma rather than being more powerful than her. This season the villain is the Snow Queen, and to my disappointment, she isn’t based off of the Hans Christian Andersen story either. The Snow Queen (to my irritation) is an aunt of Anna and Elsa who had caused their parents to fear magic. The Snow Queen actually knows Emma as well, and took care of her in one of the several foster homes she had to live in. At this point in the series, the Snow Queen does seem to have affection for Emma, and I’m curious to see where the writers will do with this dynamic. I’m glad to see a villain that doesn’t solely plan on killing everyone or taking over land; this season Emma will have to battle her deep-seated fears, and not just fight about good versus evil.
Now that we get to see Frozen’s story continue, maybe the show will touch on other topics like queer romance (as it’s one character progression that hasn’t happened for some reason). There are a number of people who made the connection that Elsa may not be straight (since she has no prince herself), or that Frozen was an allegory about being homosexual. Since the show is meant for a mature audience, the possibility is there. At the very least, Elsa is still an independent woman with no love interests in the show, we can hope that she’ll continue to be so. In a series that has shoved a romantic interest onto every other character, it’d be a nice change of pace.
This series isn’t the most creative, but I’m glad they’re making an effort to make their characters more dynamic. I’m surprised they haven’t expanded into other fairy tales over exploring Disney’s tales, but they seem to be putting their inspiration to good use. I just hope it turns out to be more progressive than high budget fanfiction.
Do you agree, or do you find the new season incredibly frustrating? Let us know in the comments below!