A pun, a flavor and a truism, the "Rocky Road" episode of "Once Upon a Time" introduces the Snow Queen in all her glory, more trouble -- er, work -- for Snow White, and a mother-son journey with Regina and Henry to get at the root of -- well, everything.
Snow White is in as the mayor. Though she seemed to shrug off the responsibility, snapping at Grumpy, Granny and Sleepy last week, she seems to have embraced the new role. She has her first fireside chat-type of meeting, and as usual, Grumpy sews dissent. There's an ice wall around the city. Panic. Elsa created it but can't take it down; it's not hurting anyone. Panic. And ... Marion faints. Robin catches her, but she's also very cold, and getting colder. This is much more than a brain freeze from the ice cream she was given earlier by the nice-ice-cream-lady-that-we-know-is-secretly-the-Snow-Queen. What did the she do to Marion? And maybe -- what has she been doing to Storybrooke residents?
Mr. Gold doesn't remember the urn/vase that Elsa came out of, though it was in his vault of "dangerous magics." Even when compelled by Belle and the dagger, Rumpelstiltskin says that he knows nothing -- at least while in the company of so many of Storybrooke's finest.
In the past, in Arendelle, Elsa and Kristoff are fretting about Anna, with Kristoff observing that beneath that "Obey me, I'm the queen" thing, Elsa's a "softie." Perhaps, but bigger things break up the bonding. Prince Hans is amassing an army and marching toward Arendelle with his brothers. Though Elsa forbade Kristoff to go, he scouts their camp and finds that Hans has also discovered an urn that can trap magical beings inside. It's the only way he'd be able to defeat Elsa.
Back in Storybrooke, Regina and Henry are doing a little bonding, and decide to find out together who wrote the "Once Upon a Time" tome that seemingly governs every fairy tale character's life. But first, Robin Hood needs her help to try to save Marion -- and she finds out that Snow has assumed the mantle of the mayor. Surely sparks will fly -- but that's for later. Regina surmises that Marion is under a freezing curse, and it's working its way to her heart.
Marion's sudden freeze leads to the townspeople, led by Grumpy it seems, forming a mob to go get Elsa, despite the assurances of Snow and Charming that everything is fine and that she is an ally. Knowing that she is in danger, Emma tells Hook to take her to the sheriff's station. He, as usual, doesn't and the duo of Hook and Elsa are on the look out for danger. Emma and David are also out in the forest looking for clues as to who could've cast the curse on Marion, when who do they stumble upon: Will Scarlet, who used to be a Merry Man, scavenging in the forest -- stealing from Robin Hood's camp.
Hook returns to Gold with Elsa. He knows that Mr. Gold didn't give Belle the real dagger. He knows his "little crocodile" well, and Belle wouldn't be too happy to find out that Rumpelstiltskin deceived her. Gold decides he'll help, remarkably. Using a lock of Marion's hair, Gold reverse engineers the magic, and sends it back to whence it came. Hook and Elsa can follow the snowflakes and find out who cast the icy death spell over Marion and is keeping the ice wall up around Storybrooke.
Scarlet -- who happened to be scavenging during the blackout last episode -- found that the ice cream shop's ice cream was still frozen, even when there was no power. Oh, a clue. Emma and David go to the shop and find that something strange is going on. They know that they need to find the ice cream lady.
Back in the past in Arendelle, Kristoff and Elsa find the urn. Elsa doesn't want to destroy it since it could have some connection to her. Should've done it, because in comes Prince Hans and his bros. They take Kristoff hostage, and will exchange him for the urn. Hans opens the urn to imprison Elsa, but instead releases ... the Snow Queen! Her first order of business is to freeze Hans. She and Elsa, who we later find is possibly her niece, bond in the past as they resolve to find Anna.
In the present, Elsa and Hook follow the magic back to the Snow Queen, who stops them before they can leave. Elsa doesn't remember ever meeting the Snow Queen, though we've just seen that they did in flashbacks. The Snow Queen captures Hook, telling Elsa that Anna was the one who put her in the urn, but that she couldn't remember because of the rock trolls wiping her memory. Why would they do that, and why would Anna put her in an urn?
Before there's any kind of answer, Emma and David arrive. Seeing the deadly dangling human-sized icicles over Hook and the attempting-to-be-heroic David, Emma magically throws the duo away from danger with a wave. "You think your magic rivals mine?" says the Snow Queen -- whom Emma awesomely called "Dairy Queen" upon meeting her. Emma's not sure if her magic is powerful enough, but she blasts the Snow Queen anyway. Weirdly enough, the Snow Queen also appears to know Emma, and when the heroes turn their heads, she escapes.
Regina, in order to be able to save Marion later, takes her heart and will hide it for safe keeping while everyone tries to find a way to reverse the spell.
After the physical confrontation for Emma comes the emotional one. Emma doesn't want to get too close to Hook because everyone she ever loved is dead. Graham, Neal and even flying-monkey Walsh. He gets it, but you know Hook, he's up for danger at any time.
Of course the Dark One/Rumpelstilskin/Mr. Gold knows exactly who the Snow Queen is, why she's there and even where she comes from. They chat in the dark of the forest, in scheming tones. Ever the evil magic broker, it seems that Rumpel and the Snow Queen have a history as well, and we'll learn about their relationship soon enough. Even with the love of Belle behind him, he's still making deals and pulling strings.