Once Upon a Time: Season 4


Walt Disney Studios


Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, Lana Parrilla, Robert Carlyle


Genre: Fantasy / Drama


Best for: Ages 13 and up


Show Summary: All our favorite fairy tale characters have been banished to Storybrooke, Maine, a place where no one remembers his or her magical past—until Emma Swan comes to town.


The Review


If you haven't been watching Disney's Once Upon a Time TV show, then there's too much to tell you to get you caught up to Season 4. Suffice it to say that magical and dangerous things happen! Here's the quick premise:


The series is set in Storybrooke, Maine, a place where classic fairy tale characters have been banished and cursed with amnesia about their magical pasts. When Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) comes to town in Season 1, that sets in motion a complex power struggle between the forces of good and evil—or more specifically, the Evil Queen, Mayor Regina Mills (played with just the right amount of campiness by Lana Parrilla).


Because of Emma, the fairy tale characters began awakening and the queen's curse is lifted, but they're not transported back to fairy tale land as they'd hoped. What's worse, Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) has his own ambitions, and he brings magic into Storybrooke. Dundunduhhh!


Fast-forward to Season 4. (Yeah, you missed a lot, but that's what Netflix and binge-watching are for, right?)


By this time, Regina Mills has worked to redeem herself from a wicked past, and has even found true love with Robin Hood (awww!). Until Maid Marian shows up and puts a wrench into that whole situation. But still, the big news in Season 4 is that Emma and Captain Hook have unwittingly brought someone new to Storybrooke. Yep, it's Queen Elsa of Arendelle, fresh off her Frozen adventures!


Elsa's arrival stirs up the attention of the mysterious (evil?) Snow Queen, who becomes obsessed with both Elsa and Emma...dundunduh again! Meanwhile, mischievous old Rumplestiltskin has recruited a triumvirate of evil queens to corrupt the goodness in Storybrooke—but what happens if Maleficent (Kristin Bauer van Straten), Ursula (Merrin Dungy), and Cruella De Vil (Victoria Smurfit) actually succeed in rewriting their own endings?


So, yeah, there's a lot going on in this sleepy little magic town, which is why is been such a popular show for four years running.


Yes, it's really mostly a fantasy soap opera, and yes it sometimes devolves into complex, frothy nonsense, BUT...the characters are actually interesting, the situations are creative and filled with legitimate tension, and hey, it's just fun to watch. So why not enjoy it?


Season 4 has many opportunities to do just that. For instance, episode two, "White Out" is a burner where Elsa and Emma are trapped in an ice cave while flashbacks abound. And in those flashbacks? Why Elsa's sister Anna tackles a ferocious warlord named: Bo Peep. I know, right? Pretty fun.


The two-episode story, "Smash the Mirror" is also filled with high stakes (will Emma give up her powers?) and steadily-building suspense as Emma struggles with her abilities and Regina pursues clues that might reveal The Author who wrote the magical storybook that describes all their lives.


The post-Frozen arc with the Evil Queens (second half of the season) is just must-watch too. Regina goes undercover as a fourth "evil queen" to try and stop their wicked plans. Meanwhile we discover all sorts of delicious details about who's mom hung out with which villain, which heroes were once entangled with wicked sea witches, whose childhood friends were kids of deadly queens and more.


Like I said, it's a fantasy soap opera. But so what? Season 4 still brings the goods, and it's nice to see a TV show that's innovating after a few years of success instead of coasting.


Is Once Upon a Time for everyone? No, not really. But if you and the teens in your family like fantasy shows with a little soapy flavor, then Season 4 could be just the pick for you.















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