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Recap / Once Upon A Time S 4 E 8 Smash The Mirror

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Season 4, Episode 8:

Smash The Mirror

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In Arendelle when the Snow Queen tries to pit Elsa and Anna against each other and it proves more difficult than she anticipates, she takes drastic measures. Meanwhile, in Storybrooke Emma’s powers are out of control and her fear of hurting loved ones pushes her away from everyone she cares about. In her confusion Emma turns to Gold for help getting her powers under control. Gold tells her about a way to get rid of her powers altogether and Hook tries to put a stop to it. Meanwhile, Regina struggles with her plan to find the author of the storybook until her quest takes an unexpected turn. Robin Hood recruits Will Scarlet to assist him on a mission and Mary Margaret and David search for Emma.

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Tropes

  • Be Yourself/I Am What I Am: A cross between these tropes is what Elsa advocates as to how to control her and Emma's powers—that having others who love and support you is both good and necessary, but you also have to love and accept yourself.
  • Call-Back: The scene between Elsa and Emma in the mansion calls back to the reprise of "For The First Time In Forever" - where Anna was trying to convince Elsa to return to those who love her. This time it's Elsa on the other side, trying to get Emma to come back to them. The scene itself is also a call back to "White Out" when Emma was helping Elsa control her magic.
  • Continuity Nod: Quite a few in this episode.
    • When trapping Ingrid in her cave, Gold makes use of ashes collected from the urn, which Elsa destroyed in Zelena's barn after escaping it in the very first episode of this season/the last episode of the previous season.
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    • When Robin needs help finding the Author so he can get Regina her happy ending, Will Scarlet not only tells him about the hands of the Clock Tower being stopped for 28 years, but that when magic came to Storybrooke it first started from there with the hands moving again—and that there's a library under it which could therefore conceivably have magic books.
    • Regina mentions Henry's special power : The heart of the truest believer, the MacGuffin of season 3A.
    • Also courtesy of Regina - "this may be the worst idea you've ever had - and you hired the Wicked Witch as your nanny."
    • Mr Gold mentioned Milah and the century Hook spent getting over her.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The way so many people in this episode speak of Emma's magic and its specialness, how it's part of who she is and she (and those who love her) need to accept it and embrace it, comes across a lot like someone talking about their sexuality—especially during Elsa's final pleading with Emma at the mansion. Considering how many fans of Frozen interpreted Elsa and her powers this way, the carryover is apt.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Hook makes the mistake of mocking Gold, when his gambit to take Emma's magic fails. Gold then reveals that in order to complete his spell with the Hat to break the dagger's curse, he needs the heart of someone who knew him before he became the Dark One, and Hook happens to be the only one who qualifies.
  • Evil vs. Evil: This episode cements Rumplestiltskin and the Snow Queen squarely at cross-purposes. This is made clear both past and present, as in Arendelle he takes the urn with Elsa in it in order to make her give him the Hat, while in Storybrooke he plans to use the Hat to take Emma's Savior powers to help cleave him of the dagger, which also will prevent her from casting her spell and making her new magical family.
  • Eye Scream: The POV shot of the mirror fragments cracking Anna's eyes is quite disturbing. The one next episode is even more so.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Mother: Regina regrets being this to Henry more than anything else.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Elsa and Emma become these quite literally - and it allows Ingrid to use the ribbons on them.
  • Friend or Idol Decision:
    • A much more cruel variation than usual—Ingrid forces Elsa to choose between actually harming the loved one herself or becoming the idol by being trapped in the urn. Unsurprisingly, Elsa chooses the latter, causing something of a Villainous Breakdown for the Snow Queen.
    • Not long after, the Apprentice offers something closer to the usual version to Ingrid herself—with the promise that if she chooses the idol (by giving him the hat) she will eventually get back her loved ones, too.
  • From a Certain Point of View: Both villains in this episode indulge in this; it turns out when she told Elsa that Anna had tried to seal her in the urn, Ingrid really was telling the truth...except she left out the part how she had made her do it with the Spell of Shattered Sight and she immediately regretted it afterward. And in the present everything Gold tells Emma is true, right down to saying he wouldn't go in the room where he has the Hat open for all the world...he just doesn't explain it's for more reason than just his love of magic and its power, or that the reason she wouldn't have to worry any more would be because she'd be sucked into the Hat, too.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Emma. While it's Elsa who talks her out of it, Regina of all people convinces Mary Margaret and David that they also shouldn't try and push Emma into this, as she tried to do to Henry.
  • Jumped Off The Slippery Slope: What Rumplestiltskin tries to do to Emma.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Anna has a good giggle at her own pun about Ingrid having skeletons in her closet - as Hans is in the closet, and he technically has a skeleton inside of him.
  • More Than Mind Control: What the mirror's spell does. Exemplified when Ingrid explains she didn't do anything to Anna, merely brought out of her her true feelings, her deepest, darkest emotions which she had been too afraid to voice.
  • Mouth of Sauron: The Apprentice speaks for the Sorcerer in almost all matters, even one as important as the deal he is making with Ingrid.note 
  • Mythology Gag: The power of the mirror to make people see only the worst in each other is finally explained (and shown to be used on Anna), although the backstory given by Anna and Ingrid is somewhat different from the one in The Snow Queen.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands:
    • Another method of traveling to our world was invented in this episode to explain how Ingrid came. Although if anyone would know of this method or have the power to employ it, it would be the Sorcerer and his apprentice.
    • The sister's ribbons followed this trope more closely: when they first appeared, they were just regular ribbons made from a broken kite. Then when the three sisters meet Rumplestiltskin, he said they were imbued with their love and were now magical. And then in this episode, apparently one ribbon can transfer magical power from those who wore the others to the person who cast the spell on it. Since the power of the ribbons was based on a bond of love, it does however make sense that this could allow power to be drawn between them.
    • There's also Ingrid having learned the trolls' memory-affecting magic, to be able to use it on Elsa and Emma. The trolls being the source is foreshadowed, but it's a bit of a headscratcher how Ingrid learned it when she was sealed in the urn for years, and before that she stayed cooped up in the palace all the time like Elsa...apparently she did get out sometimes? Or the palace library had information about them and their magic, just as it did the Spell of Shattered Sight.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Said by a villain to another villain: thanks to Rumplestiltskin's manipulation, Emma and Elsa bonded and they both accepted their magic as part of who they are, which allows Ingrid to further her plan.
  • Nothing Personal: Gold's plan if successful will result in Emma being sucked into the Hat. Despite the fact this will get him one step closer to freedom, eliminate a rival, and spoke the Snow Queen's wheel, there is no real malice in it, and in fact all the words he says to her when she asks for his advice on whether to give up her powers is sincere and true, and he clearly wishes he didn't have to do this (considering the pride he'd shown in her as a student of magic, this only makes sense). He's also quite right that she was the one who came to him for help; while he was the one to devise the method, and did not tell her what the true price would be, he obviously would have done nothing without her approaching him and giving consent.
  • Not So Different: While Elsa and Emma have been feeling this about each other ever since they met, it's in this episode where it comes to a head, since it compels Elsa to steal the locator potion and go after Emma so as to implore her not to give up her powers...and in the end the similarities between them are how she's able to get through to Emma and get her powers under control again.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Elsa comes to Anna's cell, seemingly having believed Ingrid's lies about her sister and being ready to pass judgment on her...but as soon as the soldiers have been sent out, this is all revealed to be a ruse so she can free Anna. Unfortunately, when Anna later comes to Elsa and starts lashing out about her sister's treatment of her while growing up, this turns out to not be a ploy.
  • The Reveal: Not only do we find out Anna really was going to seal Elsa in the urn (while under a spell), we find out what happened to her (and Kristoff and the rest of Arendelle) and why Ingrid took Elsa's memories. Thanks to Bo Peep's staff it was at least clear Anna and the others were still alive in the ice; as it turns out, so was Hans, more's the pity.
  • Screw Destiny: A non-combative version of this (it is Snow White giving it) is used to inspire hope in Regina for her getting a happy ending. The alternate page from the storybook that Robin Hood finds also implies the trope is possible by making other choices.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Ingrid claims to the Apprentice that both her sisters feared her for what she was; only Gerda did, but Helga did not. This is a sign of how far off the deep end she's already become that she's convinced herself that every non-magical she knows hates and/or fears her for her powers.
  • Shipper on Deck: Elsa showed that she was this in a silent way to Emma and Hook when they were kissing.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil:
    • Ingrid declares this after Elsa is locked away and Anna lashes out at her for what she made her do...and then freezes her, Kristoff, and all of Arendelle. Interestingly, she actually looks rather shocked afterward, as if she didn't intend it to go as far as it did.
    • Killian pleads with Rumplestiltskin to avoid a Face–Heel Turn (namely, in not harming Emma since she's the mother of his grandson), while Emma (in a separate scene) reminds him that he worked for centuries to find Baelfire out of love, sacrificed himself to save the town, and loves and is loved by Belle. Rumple counters her that despite all his efforts to be good, they have achieved nothing: Bae is still gone forever, the town is still in peril, and Belle's faith that he is a good man is misplaced. Rumple says he is choosing power for its own sake as he has always done—and thus also tells Killian that while he wishes he didn't have to, putting Emma in the Hat is the only way for him to get the power he needs to break free of the dagger.
  • Title Drop: We get a literal (and visual) one at the end of the episode when Ingrid casts her Spell of Shattered Sight, although it could also be taken more metaphorically in the number of characters whose image of either themselves or others gets shattered in this episode: Hook, Gold, Emma, Elsa, Ingrid...
  • Wham Episode: What happened to Elsa, what happened to Anna and the rest of Arendelle, Gold getting Hook's heart, Ingrid casting her spell...this season seems to have a lot of these too.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Unlike Ingrid's plan, which depends entirely on Emma's distrust of Gold and Elsa displaying the same faith and love as Anna, Gold's plan works no matter which way it goes—if Emma gives up her power he is a huge step closer to freeing himself from the dagger, has eliminated the greatest source of light magic in Storybrooke, and Ingrid cannot complete her spell without Emma; but while the way things turn out is admittedly not as much of a victory, he does still have the Hat and now he has Hook's heart.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Despite Emma almost giving up her powers (and thus giving Gold the power he needs to free himself of the dagger and eliminate the greatest good-aligned threat to his plans), a bit of judicious Astral Projection by Ingrid to plant seeds of doubt, plus Elsa's impassioned pleas, convinces Emma to keep them. And this, thanks to the ribbons, allows Ingrid to have the power to use her mirror and cast the Spell of Shattered Sight.
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