The previous episode of Once Upon A Time left Emma (Jennifer Morrison) in fear of her uncontrollable powers, Regina (Lana Parrilla) in the arms of Robin Hood (Sean Maguire), and Ingrid the Snow Queen (Elizabeth Mitchell) mid-deal with Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle): her ribbons for his freedom from Storybrooke. Promos revealed that this episode – the eighth of season four, a two-hour special entitled “Smash the Mirror” – involves a frosty reunion for Frozen’s Elsa (Georgina Haig) and Anna (Elizabeth Lail), while Emma is the latest to get involved in Rumple’s dark magic.
The episode opens a long time ago in Arendelle, where Ingrid buries the box with the hat that strips people of their magic under a rock, freezing it there. Then, in the Enchanted Forest, she meets with Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Timothy Webber), wanting to make a deal with him: She’ll exchange the hat for a third magical sister. The Apprentice warns that the perfect sister will take time, but Ingrid can wait.
Meanwhile in Storybrooke, Emma awakes in her car in the woods, her powers still visibly surging through her hands. Henry (Jared Gilmore) appears, one of many who have been looking for her. He ignores her requests to stay away, and when he touches one of her hands, a bright, yellow light hurls him backward. He stands up, noticing a bit of blood on the side of his head, and finally leaves. Ingrid appears behind Emma, saying, “The only way this ends is you embracing who you are.”
Robin wants to take Regina out for breakfast, after a night together, but she declines, wanting to keep their rendezvous a secret. She wishes that she chose him over evil long ago and feels that their current relationship is doomed. He’s a bit more optimistic, so Regina shows him the storybook that proves she doesn’t get a happy ending. They agree that they can’t see each other again.
Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin), David (Josh Dallas), Elsa, and Killian (Colin O’Donoghue) return home after a long night of looking for Emma. David suggests they rest and refuel before resuming the search, when Henry appears and tells them about his moment with Emma. Elsa says they must go after her, adding, “You can’t run away from the people who love you, because in the end, they’re the only ones that can help you.”
In an Arendelle flashback, Elsa is setting up an elaborate dinner for Anna when Ingrid appears. She says that Anna lied to her about what her parents were after – the magic hat – and that Anna planned to use it on her magical sister. Ingrid adds that their mother, Gerda, was the one who condemned her to the urn.
Elsa visits Anna in the dungeon, pretending to be furious with her, asking the guards to give them some privacy. Once they leave, she tells Anna that she believes her entirely. Anna is terrified of Ingrid’s powers, and Elsa agrees. They plan to sneak Anna out, find the urn, and then trap Ingrid into it.
Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff (Scott Michael Foster) walk around the dangerous East Wing of the castle looking for the urn. Anna asks Kristoff to stand guard outside, while Elsa looks into an old, broken mirror. She wonders what could’ve turned Ingrid and their mother against each other. Anna promises that it will never happen again. They find the urn in a cupboard next the man frozen from when it was found.
Back in Storybrooke, Rumple finds Emma hiding in his pawnshop. After accidentally hurting Henry, she’s willing to do anything to make her magic go away. He says there’s only one way to do that, pulling out a piece of paper with an ancient spell written on it. She agrees and wants him to read it instantly, but he says the spell has a bit of a blast radius. They plan to meet an “abandoned manor” that Rumples points to on a map that night. Once she leaves, he crumbles up the piece of paper and throws it away.
Elsa console Henry, saying that it’s because Emma loves him so much that her magic is so powerful. Regina appears to help with a locater potion, but before they use it, Emma calls Mary Margaret to tell her not to worry: Everything’s going to be fine; she’s going to erase her powers. Suspicious Killian pretends he forgot his phone, walks outside, and leaves Emma a voicemail. He fears that she went to Rumple for help.
When Rumple visits Ingrid at her lair, she wonders if he’s just there to look at her, since he already knows the conditions of her proposed deal. He’s not interested, and suddenly, a ring appears on the ground where Ingrid is standing. She can’t escape. Rumple reveals that the urn’s magic was never destroyed and that there is just enough left to trap her for an amount of time. He leaves her, saying that he won’t have to betray anyone in Storybrooke for his freedom – only Emma Swan.
Robin finds Will Scarlet (Michael Socha) spiking his coffee at a restaurant, where he enlists his help in finding the author of the storybook. Will recommends that they check out the clock tower, seemingly a center for magic in the town, right on top of a library.
Back to the Arendelle flashback, where Elsa and Anna are still creeping about with the urn. They evade some guards, and Elsa begins to think about their parents. Anna confirms the unfortunate truth that they wanted to change her, but points out that they were only human. They make mistakes, and if they knew Elsa now, Anna thinks they would feel differently.
They sneak Anna back into the dungeon and discuss their plan. Elsa will continue to keep Anna locked away, and when Ingrid goes to punish her, Anna will surprise her with the urn. Once Elsa leaves, a frosty force comes out of the urn, binding Anna’s hands, followed by Ingrid. This was her Plan B, in case Elsa didn’t believe her.
Ingrid demands Anna to recite a story that they both read when they were younger. The tale follows a Norse king who made a mirror for his beautiful daughter. She died before receiving it, so all the mirror ever did was reflect his grief. He began to practice dark magic, eventually spreading his sorrow over the whole kingdom so that everyone turned on each other – the Spell of Shattered Sight. Ingrid says that the only person she needs to put the spell on is Anna, crushing a small piece of glass and blowing it at Anna, cursing her.
In Storybrooke, Regina tries to make Henry feel better. He feels helpless, because he is “normal.” She says he shouldn’t feel bad about not having powers, and besides, Emma will be safe. She’s the hero, and heroes always win.
Killian goes to the pawnshop and cannot find Rumple. He calls Emma and leaves another voicemail, telling her that Rumple plans to trap her and her magic in the hat, and also revealing that he had been working with Rumple who had blackmailed him. He says that he wanted to be a better man for her but failed. After hanging up, he sees the marked map, and runs to find them.
Ingrid realizes that she cannot escape Rumple’s barrier, but she can still use the magic mirror. Emma is then shown driving to meet Rumple, when suddenly, Ingrid appears on the road. Emma steers off the road and almost crashes before getting out to talk with her. Ingrid says that Rumple is much more dangerous than her, but when Emma realizes Ingrid isn’t physically there, she runs away.
Regina thanks Mary Margaret for watching Henry, and the two start to talk about the situation with Robin when David appears. They tell Regina that Emma has decided to get rid of her magic, and Regina is shocked that they are okay with that plan. Regina says that the thing she regrets the most – despite all her evil – was when she told Henry that being normal, and ignoring the storybook, was better than being special. Mary Margaret and David’s minds have been changed, but when they reach for the locator potion, they find it missing. Elsa has taken it.
Mary Margaret, David, Regina, and Henry find Emma’s car where she left it. As they walk in Emma’s assumed direction, Mary Margaret and Regina talk about Robin, earning forgiveness, and hope. Regina insists that the storybook determines their outcomes, but Mary Margaret thinks that not everyone is entirely good or entirely evil. Regina has started to make good choices now, so maybe her story will change.
At the library – Robin and Will scan book titles while they talk about Regina. Robin notices a piece of paper that wasn’t there before, in his satchel on a table. He calls Regina and tells her that she must check it out. She leaves the others to follow Emma, while she returns to Robin.
Emma arrives at the planned location to meet Rumple. She walks around the mansion searching for him, while Rumple is shown summoning the magic hat from its box. He lays it down, opening the portal at its brim. She finds Rumple in a different room and asks if the magic is safe. He can’t guarantee that, but he does repeat that it’ll keep her from hurting anyone every again. He says that he personally would never pursue this magic-destroying magic. She thanks him.
Killian gets to the manor but finds Rumple near the entrance. He ties Killian to the gate, mocking him. Elsewhere around the building, the locator potion has led Elsa to the manor. She freezes a lock and breaks in.
Back to the Arendelle flashback, where the now-cursed Anna is furious with Elsa for the many years that she abandoned her by hiding in her room, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”-style. She even rips off her snowflake necklace and tosses it in the fire. Ingrid enters, reminding her that she is the only one who will ever understand her. Anna threatens to trap Elsa in the urn, and Ingrid shouts that now Elsa must freeze Anna. She refuses, and Anna traps Elsa in the urn.
As soon as it’s over, the curse fades and Anna realizes what she’s done. Kristoff enters, right as Ingrid decides it’s time to embrace being a monster. She freezes both Anna and Kristoff, taking the urn (with Elsa) with her. Shortly after, Rumple finds Ingrid and takes the urn from her, knowing that Anna has the hat. He’ll give her back the urn, if she can deliver the hat to him.
At Rumple’s manor in Storybrooke, Elsa finds Emma and begs her to change her mind. Elsa says it wasn’t just Anna’s love that saved her when she appeared in Storybrooke – it was also her inner strength. Emma has to love herself and embrace her powers if she wants to control them. Elsa extends her hand to Emma, even though touching her could kill her. When they clasp hands, a surge of magic shuts down the power of the hat.
Outside, Killian and Rumple see the magic surge and Killian mocks Rumple, since Emma changed her mind. Rumple reveals that there’s another way for him to separate himself from the dagger – with the heart of someone who has known him for a long time. He tears out Killian’s heart and says that he controls him now, and once Killian fills the hat with magic, Rumple will kill him.
Killian runs inside and embraces Emma, behaving even more charmingly than usual. Once Emma and Elsa go outside, he picks up the box with the hat.
Regina finally gets to the library where Robin is to find that he stole the storybook. He shows her the paper, which when unfolded, is revealed to be a ripped out storybook image of her and Robin kissing at the pub. He explains that just magically appeared in his satchel, like magic.
Ingrid, once freed from Rumple’s circle, puts one of the ribbons on her arm.
In the Arendelle flashback, Ingrid unburies the box to trade it back to Rumple for the urn. The Apprentice appears to stop her, saying that they found a potential third sister but that she hasn’t been born yet. He claims she will find a third sister and be re-united with the sister she lost. He conjures a door to a new land that he will open if she gives him the box. She hands it to him and he gives her a scroll that will lead her to her third sister when the time comes. Ingrid walks through the door and into Our World, 1982.
In Storybrooke, Emma meets with her parents and Henry who are all glad that she decided to keep her magic, thanks to Elsa. She uses it to create fireworks, now that she has complete control over her powers.
Henry notices that Emma has a yellow ribbon on her arm, and so does Elsa. They try to take them off but cannot. Elsa says it feels like the ribbon is sucking the magic out of her.
Rumple goes to Ingrid’s lair, where she is wearing the third bracelet. She explains that it was Elsa that stopped Emma, not her, despite what Rumple thinks. She says the ribbons can bond three magical sisters together but only if all three are a perfect match – when all three have embraced their powers. Now that they have, she wields the magic of her sisters, the mirror is complete, and she can control all of her Storybrooke – maybe even Rumplestiltskin himself.
Rumple warns her not to underestimate her power, and Elsa tells him to do the same. She turns to the mirror and enacts the Spell of Shattered Glass.