A Tale of Two Sisters (Once Upon a Time)
|"A Tale of Two Sisters"|
|Once Upon a Time episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4|
|Directed by||Ralph Hemecker|
|Written by||Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz|
|Original air date||September 28, 2014|
"A Tale of Two Sisters" is the first episode of the fourth season of the American fantasy drama series Once Upon a Time, which aired on September 28, 2014. The episode introduces several characters from Frozen to the series. The episode also has the characters deal with the consequences of Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) and Killian "Hook" Jones's (Colin O'Donoghue) time traveling in the third season finale.
Commentators gave generally positive reviews for the premiere, with most complimenting the new characters and the new direction the series was taking; however, some felt that the series was capitalizing too much on the success of the episode's source material.
Snowflakes glide through the title card, and snow is seen littering the forest.
The Enchanted Forest flashback with Gerda and her husband takes place years after the events of "The Snow Queen" and five years before the Arendelle events, which take place two years after the events of Frozen, before "Rocky Road" and before Anna arrives in the Enchanted Forest in "White Out". The Enchanted Forest flashback with Maid Marian and the Evil Queen takes place sometime after "Ariel", and immediately before the events of "Snow Drifts". The Storybrooke events take place after "There's No Place Like Home".
In the Character's Past
A Long Time Ago, lightning flashes amidst the night sky as rain thrashes down on the stormy sea below, on top of which a ship is struggling to sail, being tossed about by the enormous waves. Its flag blows wildly as its crewmen try in vain to keep it steady, but still water continues to gather. Below deck, which is beginning to flood, a woman in a crown - the Queen of Arendelle - bursts forth from a doorway and heads over to a stationery set, from which she eventually manages to find a pen to write something down on a sheet of paper. As she writes, her husband - the King of Arendelle - begins descending the stairs in search of her and asks her what she's doing, reluctant to approach due to all the water. His wife exclaims that she has to finish "this", but he speaks out against it, managing to make his way over to her as he tells her that the vessel is going down and they have to abandon ship. She simply continues writing and replies, "They have to know." She then finishes her note and rolls it up in her hands, pointing out that, while they might not may it home, this could. The King is wearisome. With the message now enclosed in a glass bottle, the King and Queen make their way above deck, trying their very hardest, under these conditions, to make a few small steps. The King asks his wife if she's sure they're doing the right thing, and she answers positively, saying that Anna and Elsa must know the truth; it's the only thing that will save them. With that, the King hurls the message in a bottle out at sea and the royal couple look on as their ship is enveloped by water. The waves eventually push the ship up and the boat capsizes into the water.
Five years after Queen Gerda's ship drowns into the Ocean, Elsa and Anna are putting flowers upon their graves. Then they go to an attic in which Elsa shows Anna her mother's dress and suggests she wear it for her wedding but then finds a diary which reads the real reason why their parents left on the ship. Worried, Anna takes her to see the rock trolls in hopes to find an answer. Grand Pabbie then tells them that their parents were going to a land called Misthaven but didn't know why. Anna decides to go to that land and tells Kristoff to distract Elsa while she embarks on a ship.
A scared and confused Elsa finds herself in Storybrooke and, fearful of the intentions of its residents, creates a powerful snow monster for protection. With Robin Hood's wife, Maid Marian, back in the picture, Regina wonders if her “happily ever after” with the former thief has been completely quashed; while on their honeymoon, Mr. Gold finds an intriguing object that makes him question whether or not he should officially give Belle control over the dagger that makes him The Dark One, and Hook is dismayed to discover that Emma seems to be avoiding him while she tries to help comfort Regina after being the one responsible for bringing Marian back from the past and into Storybrooke. Meanwhile, in Arendelle of the past, as Elsa’s sister Anna’s wedding to Kristoff nears, Anna discovers that their parents – who died on-ship during a violent storm – were heading to a mysterious destination in a quest that may have held the secret to containing Elsa’s out of control Ice powers. And against Elsa’s wishes, Anna wants to finish their journey to find out what they were looking for
- Season 4A is a continuation of the movie Frozen. This episode features the characters Elsa, Anna, their parents, Grand Pabbie, Kristoff and Sven, as well as their homeland Arendelle.
- The snow monster created by Elsa resembles Marshmallow from the original Frozen film.
- Belle and Mr. Gold dress in similar clothes as their counterparts in the Beauty and the Beast dance scene. The song playing during the episode's dance scene is an instrumental version of the same song featured in Beauty and the Beast on gramophone.
- The hat conjured by Mr. Gold is the same one Mickey Mouse wore in Fantasia's The Sorcerer's Apprentice short.
- The scene that shows Emma trying to convince a depressed Regina to come out by talking to her through the office door is a reference to the similar scene that portrays Anna talking to Elsa through the door after their parents died in the movie Frozen.
- The Title sounds like the famous book a Tale of Two Cities.
The episode, thanks in part to the buildup around the Frozen storyline, saw its biggest numbers since the second season, as it pulled in a 3.5/11 among 18-49s with 9.47 million viewers tuning in, despite tough competition from NBC Sunday Night Football (which won the night), CBS' freshman hit Madam Secretary (which won the time period despite seeing a drop in viewers) and Fox's The Simpsons (who pulled in higher 18-49 numbers). It also saw a major increase in viewership numbers from the third season finale and surpassing the third season premiere. The show placed third in its timeslot, and sixth for the night.
In Canada, the premiere was watched by 1.606 million viewers, placing second for the night, falling behind CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. This marks an increase in viewership from the previous season premiere as well, which was watched by 1.285 million viewers.
The premiere drew mainly positive reviews from critics, with most to all complementing the new characters. Christine Petralia of Buddy TV said the premiere "picks up right where last season left off and doesn't skip a beat. Frozen fans will be pumped that it looks like Elsa and Anna are going to stick around for a while as they search for answers about their parents' death. Meanwhile, a heartbroken Regina seeks out an old friend to help her "change the book" so she can finally get her happy ending. And as usual, Rumple can't seem to shake his obsession with power."
Amy Ratcliffe of IGN rated the episode 8 out of 10, signifying positive reviews, saying "The Season 4 premiere of Once showed the addition of Anna and Elsa works for the series, but it did more than focus on the sisters. Regina and Rumple both took strides forward, and that sends the signal that the front half of the season won't be all Frozen all the time - unlike the trip to Neverland last year." Philiana NG of The Hollywood Reporter said of the premiere "Once didn't veer too much from the backstory already established in last year's blockbuster, something co-creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis were adamant about from the start. Instead of sprinkling on the Once twist, the portrayals of the Frozen characters were rather faithful, keeping true to the DNA of the Elsa [...], Anna [...], Kristoff [...], Grand Pabbie and even Sven that we knew on the big screen."
Patrick Gomez for People gave the premiere a positive review, saying "if the Season 4 premiere is any indication, Once has made it through its awkward teenage years and emerged a more nuanced and self-aware drama that just happens to be about witches and dwarfs – and, now, an ice princess from Arendelle." He then called the highlight of the episode "Lana Parrilla, who continues to pepper her Evil Queen with just the right amount of realism to make her deliciously wicked deeds seem justified, but Frozen is just the thing that has gotten Once really moving."
Brian Lowry of Variety gave the episode a generally positive review, saying "“Frozen” might not be able to glide through all the mazes that have taken “Once Upon A Time” from boundless promise to convolution, but incorporating characters from Disney’s animated smash has made the ABC series feel a whole lot cooler. The season premiere is heavily driven by the arrival of Elsa, the movie’s ice queen, in a continuing plot that will have her searching for her sister Anna. Frankly, it’s still surprising the studio would risk such a formidable asset in this manner, but the stunt should help rekindle interest in a program whose happiest days appeared well behind it."
Gwen Ihnat of The A.V. Club gave the premiere a less positive review, giving it a C+ grade. She said "Unlike other seasons, which took us to places like Wonderland and Neverland and Oz, Arendelle does not have a massive, mythic past to draw from. There are no crocodiles with clocks in their stomachs, or literary silver slippers (to contrast with cinematic ruby ones), or tiny bottles that say “drink me.” Instead, basically, there is one movie. A massive, record-breaking blockbuster, to be sure, but a single screen outing does not produce a relatively rich mythology from which to pull. [...] If the season four premiere (and all the promos for it) is any indication, this season will be Frozen-centric, and story supply is already running low. They already blew up the evil snowman, for God’s sake (although I guess Elsa could just conjure up another one)."
- "Listings - ONCE UPON A TIME on ABC". TheFutonCritic.com. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
- Andreeva, Nellie (October 13, 2014). "Premiere Week Live+7 Ratings: NBC, CBS Win Network Race, 'Gotham', 'How To Get Away With Murder' Lead DVR Gains". Deadline. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
- Bibel, Sara (October 1, 2013). "Sunday Final Ratings: 'The Simpsons' & 'Bob's Burgers' Adjusted Up; 'Revenge' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- Brioux, Bill (30 September 2013). "SUN o'nites". Twitter. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
- Petralia, Christine (September 28, 2014). "'Once Upon a Time' Season 4 Premiere Recap: 'Frozen's' Elsa Comes to Storybrooke to Find Her Sister". Buddy TV. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
- Ratcliffe, Amy (September 28, 2014). "Once Upon a Time: "A Tale of Two Sisters" Review". IGN. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
- Ng, Philiana (September 28, 2014). "'Once Upon a Time': 10 'Frozen' Moments From the Premiere". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
- Gomez, Patrick (September 28, 2014). "Fall TV Review: Frozen Characters Have Made Once Upon a Time Even Better". People. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
- Lowry, Brian (September 26, 2014). "TV Review: 'Once Upon A Time' Gets 'Frozen' – And Cooler; 'Resurrection' Stays Lifeless". Variety. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
- Ihnat, Gwen (September 28, 2014). "Once Upon A Time: "A Tale Of Two Sisters"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 28, 2014.