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Early Observations about “Poor Unfortunate Soul”

The Little Mermaid gets a big role, but Ariel only gets a cameo. Fans get serviced. And it’s not the size of the ship, it’s the portal under the sea.

Michael’s “Always… no, no… never… forget to check your references.”

The Little Mermaid

“Poor Unfortunate Souls”

The episode title is pulled from the soundtrack of The Little Mermaid and while it’s not as popular as “Under the Sea,” it’s denser and more integral to the story. It’s also, appropriately, Ursula’s solo.

The film itself gets a title drop when Ursula confron4x15 Ursula's Charmsts Poseidon.

Ursula: All you ever wanted was for me to be your little mermaid.

And their argument culminates in the same ultimatum from father to daughter as Ariel and Triton’s.

Triton: As long as you live under my ocean, you’ll obey my rules!
Poseidon: As long as you live in my ocean, you will live by my rules.

Ursula in present day Storybrooke is wearing a number of charms on chains around her neck, reminiscent of the shell her animated counterpart used to trap her voice. Here Poseidon creates it and recruits hook to steal Ursula’s voice.

4x14 Triton's Shell

…which is exactly like Ariel’s in The Little Mermaid, because this episode is awesome. At least the ascending vocalization she’s using to lure pirate ships.

She also sings “Fathoms Below,” the first song heard in the animated film.

Ariel herself shows up and saves hook from drowning, much like she did for Eric. And Snow White. It’s kind of what she does.

Ursula’s voice is captured, and returned, with similar graphics and in the same way Ariel’s was in the animated film. It’s also quite similar to how Maleficent’s spark returned to her last episode.

Ariel's Voice

In a similar vein, young Ursula’s costuming is similar to Ariel’s, though with different colors, sort of matching her Vanessa form, but more in keeping with how we’ve seen her on the show.

GlowerhavenAnd finally, Ursula wants to go to Glauerhaven, where her mother loved to sing. It’s not just some random word chosen to be similar to Misthaven, Arendelle’s name for the Enchanted Forest. Grimsby wanted Eric to settle down with their princess.

Frozen

The Jolly Roger was in its diminutive state because Blackbeard had ran afoul of the Nobles of Arendelle.

Hook: Elsa did this?

Ghostbusters

Ernie Hudson, who played Winston Zeddmore in the immortal classic, portrays Ursula’s father, self professed diety Poseidon. Which is terrible funny when you consider this line:

One Hundred and One Dalmatians

Right at the end, there was a well crafted Cruella PoV shot from inside the Panther De Ville that recalled the shaky shots from the animated classic. That they take the time to work those little details in is worth noting.

The movie got nods in a couple lines as well.

Regina (to Cruella): Please, I was torturing people back when you were still playing with puppies.

and

Gold: Cruella will be our guard dog.

Lord of the Flies

4x15 Conch

Hook uses a conch shell to call Ursula, demanding an opportunity to speak. This is actually pretty cool, since it’s a subtle callback to Neverland where there were oh so many Lord of the Flies references. And their history is Neverland adjacent, taking place during the period Hook was working for Peter Pan.

Bonus Pun: Smee: Pan will never notice if a few cakes are missing.

Lost:

Regina sends the Smoke Monster to possess Mary Margaret so she can communicate to Emma and the Charming gang.

Pinocchio

4x14 Pinocchio's Nose

Paradise Lost

Hook: Where is that infernal creature?

Infernal’s an uncommon word that appears fairly frequently in the poem. But the context is perhaps more interesting. Hook offers Ursula an alternative to Gold’s plan, risking himself for the others. While it doesn’t initially work, he persists in trying to rectify his errors and ultimately brings Ursula and Poseidon back together. Everyone involved is simply trying to make what was wrong right and good is brought forth from evil.

Once Upon a Time

4x15 Page 23

Regina’s dream sequence is a reminder about Page 23 and a longing for the happiness depicted therein. It was found in 4×08 “Smash the Mirror,” destroyed in 4×11 “Heroes and Villains,” and Emma discovered it in 4×12 “Darkness on the Edge of Town.”

Ariel and Regina

3×06 “Ariel”

Beyond her timely cameo, and the more or less satisfactory explanation about the sea goddess Ursula vis-à-vis Merrin Dungey’s character, there’s some real follow through with this callback. After the title card, “Ariel” moves right into Regina teaching Emma magic in Neverland with the exhausted and distraught Charmings looking on.

Charming: This is a bad idea.
Snow: She has it in her; she should learn to use it. We just have to trust her.

Trusting her is exactly what they’re not doing these days. And she’s in full control of her magic, having teamed up with Regina to stop Chernabog and destroying August’s bonds in this episode.

It’s also the episode where Hook revealed that kissing Emma gave him hope for happiness again. The happy ending he revealed Emma to be at the end of “Poor Unfortunate Soul.”

Incidentally, Ursula’s bracelet performs the opposite function of the one in “Ariel.”

4×04 “The Apprentice”

4x04 Love is a Weapon

Love is apparently a lot of things on Once Upon a Time. In “The Apprentice,” Rumpelstiltskin called it a weapon. He used it as one last episode, with Belle, just as she used it against him at the end of 4A.

It turns out you can weaponize anything, if that’s your intent. Sort of like how every problem looks like a nail if your only tool’s a hammer. In this case, Ursula’s voice, which is itself kind of a manifestation of her love for her mother, is weaponized by Poseidon.

2×18 Selfless, Brave, and True

August reveals that the Dragon was looking for the Author. He also gets turned back into wood with a potion that can reverse any spell the fairies cast.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

Finally! Hook mentioned that Will spent more time in Wonderland than anyone he knew. And Will hooked him up with a distillate of Wonderland’s finest mushrooms to restore the Jolly Roger to its original size,

Erin’s Happy Shipper Moments

Captain Swan

  • Much of the Captain Swan love in this episode revolved around what Hook was willing to do and own up to in order to assist Emma’s heroic attempts to thwart Gold’s plans. One of the things it meant was facing Ursula and the wrong he had done her in the past–betraying her trust, breaking his code, destroying her happiness, and turning her into a villain. There are two scenes that especially deal with the Hook of then, the villain, and the Hook of now, ostensibly a good guy.
  • The first is between Emma and her parents, where they very quickly discuss whether Hook has “turned” Ursula or vice versa. Emma defends the very notion of Hook being “dark” by empathizing with wanting to shove the dagger in Gold’s heart. Her parents are taken aback–Snow: “That’s not you, Emma.” Emma: “That’s not Hook either.”
  • The second scene is the real swooner and it comes near the end, after Hook has reunited Ursula and Daddy Poseidon as well as Ursula and her happy ending. Ursula’s villainy comes to an end, but Hook is concerned that Regina’s theory about happy endings might be true and that he might be marked with a V rather than an H. In this concern, Emma realizes that if he’s worried about loosing his happy ending, that means he’s found it, and in true doltish but romantic fashion, Emma asks The-Pirate-Who-Traded-His-Ship-For-Her what his happy ending is. “Don’t you know, Emma? It’s you.” She is obviously touched, with tears welling in her eyes, and they share a very sweet kiss.
  • Regarding whether Hook is on the precipice of losing his happy ending as a marked Villain. This is clearly some heavy foreshadowing, but I’ve been on to the writers since 4B started and they overdid the lovey-dovey happiness between these two. It spelled DOOM. And we got the particular spelling of that doom via Ursula who revealed that the endgame was to fill Emma’s heart with darkness. But on the other hand, Ariel’s cameo not only saved Hook’s life and name-dropped Elsa, it also gave the perspective that perhaps the villains weren’t getting their happy endings because they were going about it the wrong way. So, for instance, Ursula teaming up with Cruella, Malificent, and Gold to force the Author into rewriting their endings=wrong way. But Hook giving Poseidon the shell allowing Poseidon to return her singing voice and also allowing Ursula to forgive her father=right way. Hook seems to be learning the “code” of the Book in this episode. “By taking a page out of your book, Swan. I’m going to return her happy ending.”

Wooden Swan (Emma/August)

  • Reunited! Oh, and the concern by Emma and the knowing grins by August! Emma: “It’s good to have you back. Even if it’s not the way it was supposed to be. I’m glad I didn’t have to wait 20 years for you to be you again.”

Outlaw Queen

  • Well, of course it was a dream. Fan service like that just doesn’t come in normal, reality-based packages. With the exception, perhaps, of the recreation of the ballroom dance between Belle and Rumple. But it was brilliant, that joy at finding each other, the kiss that followed. Too bad that Evil Queen Regina interrupted the works with her fireball. It would seem that Regina feared losing Robin if she lost her newly found goodness, but that’s not how she interprets things later to Emma. Regina thinks Evil Queen was trying to protect Robin.

Swan Queen

  • Regina confides in Emma her dream about Robin. Emma thinks it represents the battle between good and evil within Regina and Regina’s fear about losing the good. But that’s not what’s important–the intimacy between these two opened a door for this sharing. A sharing that was Regina’s priority when arriving at the apartment.

Scarlet Beauty

  • Will and Belle got a cute little moment when Hook goes to re-size his ship. Belle questions whether Hook is really Hook and Ursula mentions how “lover boy here” would already be dead if Hook were really Gold.
  • You know, Will may be “the thief” but he seems straightforward with Belle, and that’s something she has lacked with Rumple.

Rumpbelle

  • See the above “lover boy” comment by Ursula, since it also applies here. Actually, most of the moments concerning Belle and Rumple were more anti-ship moments than supportive of their couple status. I didn’t initially want to include them.
  • When the Charmings Team inform Belle that Rumple is in town and ask where the dagger is, the truth comes out that she was completely duped by Rumple. As always? She bemoans whether she’ll ever be free of his deceptions.


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Frozen Friday: Snowgeeking Out

Frozen Fever Poster

Disney rolled out all kinds of promotional material for its Frozen Fever short this week, which premiered last night with early showings of Cinderella. While we won’t be seeing it until this weekend, we’ve had a lot of fun showing it all off to our toddler. The poster above revealed the snowgies, Disney Animation’s answer to Studio Ghibli’s kodama.

These adorable little mischief makers are apparently a symptom of Elsa’s illness and keen to cause trouble on Anna’s birthday. Our toddler already loves them. Which could be trouble.

Frozen Fever Snowgies Merch

They also released the transitional animation with Olaf adopting a glass slipper for a nose.

The new song, “Making Today a Perfect Day,” pulled straight from the short, went live on iTunes Thursday morning. And it’s already been posted on YouTube several times.

But let’s be honest, as exciting as the seven minute short is, it’s been a bit overshadowed by the official announcement of Frozen 2!

The company revealed plans during the Walt Disney Co.’s annual shareholders meeting on Thursday from San Francisco.

The rest of us learned yesterday morning via this adorable tweet from Princess Anna herself…


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Frozen Friday: Fever Featurette

FROZEN FEVER

Last week Disney Animation Studios released several stills from the upcoming short, “Frozen Fever,” set to premiere with Kenneth Branagh’s live action retelling of Cinderella on March 13th. Elsa and Kristoff plan a birthday party for Anna, but on the day of the celebration, the Queen catches, ahem, cold.

Frozen Fevers

The stills show Olaf stuffing some chocolate in his face.  Elsa models her Spring dress with the floral imagery we saw when early merchandise related to the short was leaked. There’s a portrait seemingly inspired by Awkward Family Photos. In a nice callback to Frozen, Anna’s Coronation Day bedhead is apparently normal. But I think my favorite is the hand painted “Happy Birthday” hung in the courtyard that’ll resonate with young viewers and inspire some hands on party prep at home.

This week a brief featurette with directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. Check it out and catch a few more glimpses of the thing kids will be crazy about this year.


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Early Observations About “Heroes and Villains”

We bid 4A farewell. Two ships are sunk. The cobra joins the mongoose. And the last Arendelle scene mirrors the first.

Michael’s “Always… no, no… never… forget to check your references.”

“Heroes and Villains” – The Beach Boys

Is heroes vs. villains a fair descriptor for the second half of the season?
KITSIS: Absolutely. That is the title of episode 11.
HOROWITZ: It’s “Heroes and Villains.”
KITSIS: That’s actually named after the Beach Boys song.

Frozen

EMMA: [The Snow Queen] wanted to make Storybrooke her Ice Castle.

The perfect “Wait, what?” Anna carries on about how great this Gold fellow must have been and then David tells her he’s Rumplestiltskin.

ANNA: Did you see these bruises?
ELSA: Have you seen Hans’s eye?
ANNA: Yeah. Totally worth it.

Anna Punch

Anna’s wearing the gloves in the family, now.

This scene, with Anna saying, “What is that amazing smell?” instead of Elsa.

The Sound of MusicAnna of Austria

Anna’s skip-hopping arms wide approach to the town line completes all possible riffs on her costume. She hasn’t moved that way at all through the season. While it didn’t seem wildly out of character, it did take a moment to recognize where they were going with it.

When the ad for The Sound of Music Sing Along aired, we had a good belly laugh.

Star Wars

Holo-Belle more or less crying, “Help me, Obi-Wa… Rumplestiltskin. You’re my only hope.”

SW Belle

Wish Upon a Star

Rumple tempts Belle with a honeymoon in “a magical city called New York.” The opening line of this Olivia Goldsmith novel is, oddly enough, “Once upon a time in a magical city called New York a girl under a spell lived on an island.”

Fantasia

The broom is back. With enough personality to outshine some of the other recurring guests on the show, this bit player from “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” struts its stuff, cracks its knuckles, and reveals the portal back to Arendelle. All while its creepy modified theme music plays in the background.

Bonus: Turns out the house does belong to the Sorcerer after all, validating a lot of fans who called it at the beginning of the season.

The Little Mermaid

One of three freebies, everyone’s favorite predatory subprime magic lender Ursula appears as part of a trio trying to swindle Rumplestiltskin.

Her contribution to the plot against Rumple is a sand dollar bearing the holographic message.

After wrapping Belle in her tentacles, she says, “Such a pretty thing.  Seems a shame I’ll have to crack her pipes.” It’s a dialogic stretch to reference the film.

101 Dalmatians

Cruella de Vil, whose costume is a nice mix of mostly animated classic with the makeup of the live action adaptation.

While the green smoke around the Belle-ogram is characteristic of the cloud following Cruella, it apparently wasn’t a big enough clue, so they added a Dalmatian to lead Belle away.

Maleficent

Her raven, Diablo, delivers the ransom message to Rumplestiltskin. At least, his name is Diablo in the animated classic. In the recent reinterpretation, he’s recast as Diaval.  It remains to be seen which one they’ll go with.

Maleficent’s costume has undergone a drastic redesign, bringing it in line with the 2014 film.

Once Upon a Time

Some key themes reappeared in this episode. Color coded clothing showed us a Regina who’d do the right thing in blue and a Belle who’d make some shocking choices in grey and black. Rumple stalked around with Geppetto’s parents hanging in the background, reminding us what an evil imp he is.

But they brought the Frozen arc full circle visually. Our first glimpse of Arendelle’s royal siblings in “A Tale of Two Sisters” was their clasping hands from behind, Anna on the left and Elsa on the right. The shot’s inverted, or mirrored, at the end of their scene with Elsa on the left this time.

Erin’s Happy Shipper Moments

Kristanna

  • Not that we got much interaction between the two on screen, but the good news is that once they got back to Arendelle, Anna’s right hook apparently made short work of Hans, and Kristoff and Anna were finally going to get married. Mazel tov!

Captain Swan

  • To be honest, I had been hoping for the Captain Swan relationship to be more central to the episode. Instead, it fell fourth fiddle to the Arendelle crew, the Rumpbelle dissolution, and the coming of the Queens of Darkness. As the plotline involving Gold having Hook’s heart developed, I fully expected there to be some major touching scene between the two. Instead, we got two minor scenes.
  • The first of these was in Granny’s Diner when Gold puppeted Hook into telling Emma where the portal was to get Anna out of the way. Emma finally touched him intimately on the face and asked what was wrong, that he was acting strange[ly]. The only response he could make of his own volition was to grab her wrist with a shaking hand. But does she pursue him or this clue that clearly something is truly messed up? No. Jeez, Emma, can’t you see your man is in trouble?! You are a less than stellar girlfriend.
  • The second was when she reinserts his heart. (Note, there was no romantic anything when Emma and Snow arrive at the clocktower to see Gold about to crush Hook’s heart.) So he asks her to be gentle, but this is Emma, so she just shoves it back in, thinking that it must be like pulling off a band-aid. But as soon as it’s back in, he lays a great, passionate kiss on her. When the kiss breaks (why, oh why, did it have to?), he reiterates that he’s a survivor, and she shyly smiles.

Rumpbelle

  • This relationship, more than any other, was at the center of the episode. Considering how much damage the writers had done to this ship since the iconic dance in the ballroom, I ended up being rather relieved that Belle finally figured out that Rumple loved power more than anything and kicked him out of town. That said, it was an emotional scene, and Robert Carlyle sold it so well, I actually felt bad for Rumple as he lost Belle, then his magic, and crumpled from the return of his crippled leg.
  • First, Rumple wakes Belle from a sleep that I can only imagine he put her in magically and tells her that he’s going to take her to the magical land of New York. She goes to pack her bag happily.
  • Belle saves the day, or at least Hook, by controlling Rumple with his dagger after using the magic gauntlet to reveal to her what Rumple’s greatest weakness is (that’s not good wife behavior). The betrayal is merely in response to the many, many betrayals Rumple has offered her this season. Not even the sort of sweet flashback scene of him trading the gauntlet for her life could redeem him.
  • So she finally forces him out of town, using the dagger to make him go. It’s painful for both of them (and the audience). We know this won’t be the end of it, since Rumple won’t stay gone for long (you, know, just till March), but Rumple’s going to have to work his hinney off to win her back. She’s gotten wise to his unchanging ways.

Outlaw Queen

  • I liked that the first thing we saw Regina do this episode was return Marian’s heart, that there was no hesitation. In return, Marian offers to back off if Robin chooses to be with Regina. How civil.
  • Robin chooses Regina! He points out that though it may be complicated, the most important thing he can model for his son is to live honestly and follow his heart.
  • Not that it matters, because Plot Conveniences Playhouse presents the relapse of Ingrid’s ice curse, and the only way to save Marian is for her to cross the town line into the non-magical world from which she can never return. But Regina won’t let her go alone–she insists that Robin and Roland have to go with her. Which is honorable and stuff, but very sad for the Outlaw Queen shippers around the world.
  • Their good-bye is full of feels. Thank goodness Marian couldn’t see that kiss–not that Robin would know that. Ballsy, Robin!

Swan Queen

  • Emma offers to do shots with Regina after Robin leaves town, but then Henry breaks up their fun with news about The Author (pretentious indeed!). The three of them go to the mansion’s secret room and find the blank storybooks. Emma opts in for Operation Mongoose and reiterates her promise to bring Regina a happy ending.


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Frozen Friday: Spring Fever

Frozen Fever

 

When we first heard about “Frozen Fever,” a new animated short, netizens speculated that it would be attached to Kennth Branagh’s upcoming live action Cinderella.  Disney confirmed this on Wednesday and released the spiffy logo you see above. With both coming at the tail end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, I really like the fade to green toward the bottom.

Wait, what?! Walt Disney Animation Studios’ all-new short “Frozen Fever,” will open in theatres on March 13, 2015, in front of the new live-action Cinderella.

Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, “Frozen Fever” features Anna’s birthday.  Elsa and Kristoff want to give her the best celebration ever, but Elsa’s ice powers may put more than just the party at risk.  Don’t worry, Olaf’s in it, too, along with a new original song by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

This pretty much means we’ll get the opportunity to see how well our toddler handles the movie theater and whether anything airing after Olaf and Anna can hold the same attention.  If you’ve missed it, here’s the trailer for Cinderella:


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Frozen-Adjacent Holiday Tunage

xmas olafIf I were Disney, I would be marketing the crap out of holiday-buffed Frozen merchandise. Put a Santa hat on that stuffed Olaf! Add a red sash and bow to that Anna doll’s green coronation gown! String some bells on that Sven plushie’s antlers! But, alas, I’m just a lowly high school English teacher.

What I can offer is some Frozen-adjacent holiday songs featuring Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel).

The first comes from Straight No Chaser, a 10-man acapella group, and features Kristen Bell. They’ve done the good deed of adding to the limited number of Christmas songs by writing “Text Me Merry Christmas.” It’s cute, funny, touching, and ever so slightly naughty. It’s video, though quite simple, matches the levity of the song and punctuates the jokes.

The second is an ol’ holiday standard made acceptable for a Disney audience through some lyric tampering–“Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” This one comes from Idina Menzel’s new holiday album and features Michael Buble as her duet partner. The vocals cannot be faulted, but I miss the sauciness of the original lyrics. The video features the amateurish dancing of children. They’re cute, but that’s about it. Weirdly, the whole video is styled like something off of Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby soundtrack, which doesn’t jive with the whitewashed lyrics and cutesy kiddos.


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Frozen Friday – A Frozen Holiday Wish

Cinderella's Castle is FrozenNot even the Magic Kingdom itself can control the power of Frozen.  “A Frozen Holiday Wish” is replacing the long running “Cinderella’s Holiday Wish” from Novermber 5th through December 31st, 2014.  While Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and the Blue Fairy used to perform the nightly show at Cinderella’s Castle, this year Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf will preside over the spectacle, with Elsa transforming it into a shimmering ice palace amid the traditional fireworks.

Inside the Magic presented a breakdown of the debut show and provided this video for those of us who could not, and cannot, be there in person.  Enjoy.