Storybrooke Has Thawed: My Take On Once Upon a Time Season 4A

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I'm going to take a fangirl moment here.  If you're not interested or hate spoilers, then please avert your eyes, close the tab, what have you.

Sunday night was the Winter Finale of Once Upon a Time.  Season 4-A is now over, and the entire Storybrooke Has Frozen Over" arc has ended.  As with any show, this arc has had its fans and its critics.  Some people thought that they jumped the shark by bringing in cash cow Frozen, especially since at times it seemed more time was spent with the guest characters than the regulars.  Some people have even thought this half of the season was completely pointless.  I don't, and I'll tell you why.

Regina and Robin
Everyone knows that Emma mucked things up between the Evil Queen and Robin Hood with she brought back Marion from the past in the Season 3 finale, "There's No Place Like Home," saving her from a being put to death by Regina.  Robin, a man who lives by a code of honor, initially chose to stay with his wife.  Then the Snow Queen froze her.  Regina spared Marian's life by ripping out her heart until they could heal her.  In the mean time, Robin chose Regina, who believes villains never get happy endings.  Once the Snow Queen was gone, they returned Marian's heart to her body, but the curse came back.  Regina had to once again say goodbye to her true love, because Robin and Roland took Marian past the town line, to where magic could no longer harm her.

Regina had the chance to turn completely around once again and revert back to her evil ways, but she didn't.  That's not who she is anymore, and I have to say I like her as a good guy with a snarky mouth.  She is one of the good guys now, and I can't wait to see what happens when the "Queens of Darkness" descend upon Storybrooke with Gold in 4B.  I have loved her growth.

Gold and Belle
Well, they're married, but I don't know anyone who didn't see things not ending well.  For all the growth Gold had in Seasons 2 and 3A after finding Neal, once Neal died he went back to his old ways.  Seriously, their marriage could not have started off on a worse foot.  He had already given Belle a fake dagger, causing her to think that he has trusted her with his power.  In reality he has killed Zelena (though no one misses her), and stolen Hook's heart to make him do his bidding in a power-play to relieve himself of his dagger and conquer the non-magical world.

Belle, Belle, Belle, Belle, Belle, Belle.  I spent each and every episode of 4A upset with her.  She has been too trusting, too naive, and too unlike how Belle should ever be in believing Rumple would give up power for her.  He wouldn't give it up for Bae, and he won't for her.  He has no plans to, even if getting what he wants included killing his grandson's mother.  Then, (duh, duh DUH!) in "Heroes and Villains" she finally gets a clue.  She finds the real dagger, stops Gold's nefarious plans, and orders him outside Storybrooke, where he has no power.  FINALLY I could yell, "Right on, Belle!  You go, girl!"  Unfortunately, I'm afraid she has just incurred Rumple's wrath on all of Storybrooke when he brings the Supremes the Queens of Darkness (Ursula, Maleficent, and Cruella) into town with him.

Emma and Elsa
No, this isn't about a romantic pairing.  Like the movie Frozen was about sisterly love, Season 4A of Once Upon a Time was greatly about the love between friends.  You have Emma Swan, who hasn't exactly had a great many friends in her life.  There was Neal, but he was her baby-daddy, not just her friend.  She and Mary Margaret were besties all throughout Season 1, but then the curse was broken, and Mary Margaret is Snow White, aka Emma's mom.  They have done their share of bonding and bickering but in the end, Snow is her mom.  She's always trying to impart the motherly advice she didn't get to give Emma all of her life.  At one point during the entire Neverland arc, Emma even told Snow and David that they're the same age.  They don't have any more life experience than she has.  The dynamic of that relationship has changed.  It's still a great relationship, but it's a mother/daughter thing now rather than just friends.

Since the Season 2 episode "Queen of Hearts," it's been obvious that Emma also wields light magic, as the product of true love.  Other than the fairies (which seem to have been wiped out by a Gold-controlled Hook recently), everyone else in Storybrooke with magic has dark magic.  Emma's pretty much alone in this.  She and Regina have sort of bonded as Regina has tried to teach her how to control it, but that's always a tenuous relationship.  So the truth is, Emma doesn't really understand her magic, nor how to control it.  Enter Elsa.

When Emma and Hook traveled into the past, not only did they bring back Marion, but they also brought back an urn containing non other than Queen Elsa of Arendelle.  Elsa begins a search to find her beloved sister, Anna.  In the process, she creates an ice wall all around Storeybrooke and loses control of her powers somewhat because she is afraid, and Anna isn't there to help her control them.

Emma discovers Elsa, and they get trapped inside in icy cave.  They bond over having powers they can't really control, and being a totally unprepared Queen and savior as Emma almost freezes to death.  It turns out that Emma's dad, David, was aided by Anna back in the Enchanted Forest days, and they vow to help Elsa find her sister.  Meanwhile another Snow Queen has a weird plan to make Elsa and Emma her sisters, since they have light magic like her.

Throughout the whole arc, these two become really good friends.  I equate Elsa as the Ruby to Emma's Snow.  At one point, Emma's powers go out of control.  She asks Gold to help her get rid of them all together.  She almost goes through with it, until Elsa stops her, telling her that she has to love herself, and that her powers are a part of who she is.  What they don't realize is that Elsa actually saved Emma's life also, because Gold planned to kill her.

This friendship is, I think, the most important relationship development of the season.  Both Emma and Elsa needed a friend who isn't family, isn't a love interest, and doesn't have some other complicated relationship to them.  I don't think that Elsa ever had any friends other than Anna.  In flashbacks to Arendelle of the past, it's a BIG deal when Elsa calls Kristoff her friend, and I think it's a HUGE deal when Anna asks Elsa if she trusts Emma, and Elsa calls Emma her friend.  For either of these ladies to trust someone else like that is a huge milestone. Both Emma and Elsa are better, stronger people for having known each other.  THAT is why it was so sad when the Frozen family returned to Arendelle.  One can only hope that sometime around May Sweeps, Emma calls upon her friend Elsa to help in the fight against the "Queens of Darkness."

Anyway, this gif I found on a Tumblr page pretty much sums up the importance of this relationship.  It makes me think of the close friends I've made through the years and how important they've been in my life.  It truly is wonderful to have friends so wonderful that makes saying goodbye so hard.  The good news is that with such friendships, time and distance can't diminish them.

Courtesy of

I'll miss our friends from Arendelle, because I loved the friendship between the two E's.  Many people were upset because we didn't get to see a Kristoff-Anna wedding.  IT WAS NEVER ABOUT THE WEDDING, FOLKS!  Many were upset because we didn't see a lot of Snow and thought that many of the scenes between Emma and Elsa should have been between Emma and Snow.  Actress Ginnifer Goodwin has even admitted that being in the back burner during this half of the season was best, because she just had a baby in real life and needed the time with him.  Also again, Emma needed a friend, as did Elsa, not another relative or love interest.

In all, I loved the Frozen arc far more than the Neverland arc in Season 3A.  I was sick of that by the second episode of the season. The Winter Finale wasn't quite as intense as last year's, but it was still pretty great.  I'm ready for 4B and everything it offers.

That Time Bart Used My Head As a Tripod At the Garth Brooks Concert

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Saturday was an incredibly busy day for us.  We woke up at 5 am so that we could make it to church by 7:45 and work a few hours at the annual Christmas Store.  Bart and I like to work in the back where the kids wait after picking out gifts for their parents.  I love working the store, because every year we worry so much about what to get each other for Christmas and what to get Ladybug.  We worry about what to get, not if our child will get anything or if she ever has enough food to eat.  These kids are sweet and wonderful and deserve to have a wonderful Christmas just as much as mine does.  I'm thankful I have to opportunity to do this every year.  We almost didn't sign up this year, because we had plans for later Saturday evening, but I'm glad we went ahead and did it.  It just required a stop at Starbucks in Russellville.

Our other plans included Bart's parents coming up to spend the night with Ladybug, Lucy, and Dory while Bart and I drove to Little Rock to watch Garth Brooks in concert.  Bart is probably one of the biggest Garth Brooks fans on the planet, and I promised him after we married that if Garth ever came anywhere near us in concert I would go with him.  So I did.

We made it to the Little Rock metro area in time to check into our hotel, freshen up a bit, then head down to Verizon Arena.  Bart and I hadn't been to a concert there since the Mercy Me / Steven Curtis Chapman Christmas tour of 2005.  Back then, it was still called Alltel Arena.  Thankfully we knew to stay off the Interstate and met little traffic as we found a place to park.  I guess having spent a year living there left us with a few advantages.

It was a good concert.  Bart said that it's the best he's ever been to.  It was probably one of my favorite two or three, but remember, I'm not the country fan in the family.  Thankfully Garth sang only one new song and then sang his classics the rest of the concert.  I feared it would be something akin to his TV special last year where he covered all his favorite songs.  That was awful, and I thought he had lost his showmanship.  Trust me, he hasn't.  I've never seen so much adrenaline in a concert before and was thankful for the little break where Trisha Yearwood sang a few of her songs.  I especially enjoyed Trisha.  I just wish she could have sang Georgia Rain.  That is a song that moves me so that I'm inspired to write chapters when listening to it.

It was nice to get out with Bart and do something just the two of us.  The arena was so packed that we  spent a great part of the concert with me in front of Bart with his arms around me.  It was nice, except for when he decided to use my head as a tripod to steady his phone.  I suppose that's one of the hazards of being a foot shorter than your husband.

Several encores and over $100 of merchandise later, we left the arena to collapse in our hotel room bed.  We finished our Christmas shopping in Bryant (where we stayed), drove by our old townhouse, then headed home.  We we got home around 4 in the afternoon, Ladybug was napping, and Grandma and Granddad were exhausted.  Later that night, L told us that she was "so very, very tired, because Grandma and Granddad played with her so much."  That's not a bad thing.

Yesterday the entire weekend sort of hit me like a wrecking ball.  I was pretty much worthless, but it was worth it.  Getting to be with Bart as he experienced something he has wanted to do since he was a little boy was worth it.  Being a part of bringing Christmas and Jesus to all those kids Saturday morning was worth the early wake up call.  Would I do all of it in one day again?  Yes, actually.

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