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A Tale of Two Sisters
Season 4, Episode 1
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Airdate September 28, 2014
Written by Edward Kitsis
Adam Horowitz
Directed by Ralph Hemecker
Episode Guide
There's No Place Like Home
White Out

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.

Upon airing, the premiere was watched by 9.47 million viewers and attained an 18-49 rating of 3.5. This marks a significant increase in viewership and ratings from the previous season premiere.

View the A Tale of Two Sisters Gallery.


Opening sequence

Snowflakes glide through the title card, and snow is seen littering the forest.

Event chronology

The Enchanted Forest flashback with Gerda and her husband takes place five years before Anna reaches the Enchanted Forest in "White Out". The Arendelle events take place two years after the events of Frozen, before "Rocky Road" and before Anna arrives in the Enchanted Forest in "White Out", and after the events of "The Snow Queen". The Enchanted Forest flashback with Maid Marian and the Evil Queen takes place sometime after "Lacey", and immediately before the events of "Snow Drifts". The Storybrooke events take place after "There's No Place Like Home".

In the Characters' Past

The episode begins in Arendelle with Anna (Elizabeth Lail) and Elsa's (Georgina Haig) parents sailing harsh waters, preparing for the worst; they release a message in a bottle to the water, containing the truth behind their expedition, before the ship capsizes.

Five years later (two years after the events of Frozen), Anna and Elsa prepare for Anna's wedding to Kristoff (Scott Michael Foster) when Elsa finds her mother's diary, which reveals that the reason for their "business" trip had to do with Elsa's seemingly uncontrollable ice powers. Elsa feels guilty that she may be the reason for their deaths, but Anna sets out to prove it wasn't, and meets with Grand Pabbie (John Rhys-Davies), the Troll King, to find out where their parents had gone. He reveals that they were headed to a land called Misthaven.

Later, Anna goes missing and Elsa seeks out Kristoff to help her find Anna. He reveals that she has set out to Misthaven in an effort to prove to Elsa she was not the cause of her parents demise. Kristoff reveals that there is another name for Misthaven: the Enchanted Forest.

In Storybrooke

Elsa emerges from the barn where she entered Storybrooke. Grumpy (Lee Arenberg) and Sleepy (Faustino Di Bauda) are driving down the road when they almost run into Elsa; she freezes the truck before impact.

Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) leaves the diner to apologize to Regina (Lana Parrilla) for breaking up her and Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) — whom she inadvertently reunited with his deceased wife Marian (Christie Laing) after traveling back in time in the previous episode. Angry, she leaves to her office. Robin later talks to her that although his feelings for her were (and are) real, he made a vow to his wife and intends to keep it. Regina later makes her way to the mental hospital and releases Sidney Glass (Giancarlo Esposito), who she has kept there since the first curse broke. She tasks him to help her turn back time to kill Marian. She reimprisons him within the Magic Mirror, promising to release him once she accomplishes her goal, to show her the exact moment she captured Marian, only to be given a visual reminder of herself as the Evil Queen.

Grumpy tells Emma about the incident with Sleepy; she and Killian "Hook" Jones (Colin O'Donoghue) follow a trail of ice that Elsa left which leads to a warehouse. In order to protect herself, Elsa creates a snow monster which chases them (and others) out of the area. Emma, Hook, Robin Hood, and David Nolan (Josh Dallas) try to defeat the monster in the woods, only to all got knocked unconscious. Marian also shoots an arrow at the monster, which only serves to incur its wrath. The monster then heads towards Marian, and when Regina shows up, she merely smiles when Marian asks her to help, and disappears. However, at the last second, Regina defeats the snow monster by burning it. Marian thanks Regina, with Regina welcoming her to Storybrooke. Afterwards, Regina disappears, still heartbroken, before Emma could talk to her about the recent developments. Emma uses the recent events as a way of avoiding Hook, whom she started a relationship with. Emma later tells Regina that despite her heartbreak, she will continue to make sure that everyone has a happy ending. Regina comes to a realization: everyone in Henry's book of fairytales has a happy ending except the villain(s); she then tells Sidney to find "the writer" of the book so she can make her, the villain, have the happy ending.

Elsewhere, Belle (Emilie de Ravin) and Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) prepare for their honeymoon. Mr. Gold stops by his son Neal's (Michael Raymond-James) grave to say his goodbyes. While there, he tells Neal that he plans on undoing a lie he told to Belle and secretly give her the real dagger that holds his power. The two honeymoon in an old mansion (including recreating the waltz scene from Beauty and the Beast, complete with costumes, chandelier and music), where Mr. Gold sneaks his dagger into her purse. Later that night, Mr. Gold finds a locket sitting next to Belle's purse, and retrieves his dagger to open it. The contents revealed is a sorcerer's hat.

After the snow monster is defeated, Elsa finds out about Mr. Gold's pawn shop and breaks in. She finds a necklace she remembered Anna wearing, which resurrects her plans to find Anna in Misthaven.

Cultural references

  • 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.


  • When Mr. Gold and Belle are dancing, they are wearing similar clothes to what Beast and Belle wore during the dance scene in Beauty and the Beast (1991).
  • The song Belle and Rumplestiltskin dance to on their honeymoon is "Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast (1991).
  • The scene with Regina and Emma, where Emma is trying to get through to an emotionally wrecked Regina through her locked office door, mirrors a scene in Disney's Frozen between Anna and Elsa, with Anna locked outside attempting to reach her emotionally walled-off sibling.
  • Elsa and Anna's mother's diary is written in Nordic Runes.
  • When Rumplestiltskin waves his dagger over the box, a hat appears. The hat pays homage to the sorcerer's hat from Fantasia (1940). Furthermore, the music in the background strongly resembles Paul Dukas "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", which is the same music heard in Fantasia during the segment when Mickey Mouse borrows the sorcerer's hat.
  • To escape Emma and Hook, Elsa conjures the same giant snowman as she did in Frozen (2013) to ward off Anna, Kristoff and Olaf.


  • Elsa pulls out a book covered in dust, but when she opens it in the next shot, the book is completely dust-free.
Season 1
PilotThe Thing You Love MostSnow FallsThe Price of GoldThat Still Small VoiceThe ShepherdThe Heart Is a Lonely HunterDesperate SoulsTrue North7:15 A.M.Fruit of the Poisonous TreeSkin DeepWhat Happened to FrederickDreamyRed-HandedHeart of DarknessHat TrickThe Stable BoyThe ReturnThe StrangerAn Apple Red as BloodA Land Without Magic
Season 2
BrokenWe Are BothLady of the LakeThe CrocodileThe DoctorTallahasseeChild of the MoonInto the DeepQueen of HeartsThe Cricket GameThe OutsiderIn the Name of the BrotherTinyManhattanThe Queen Is DeadThe Miller's DaughterWelcome to StorybrookeSelfless, Brave and TrueLaceyThe Evil QueenSecond Star to the RightAnd Straight On 'til Morning
Season 3
The Heart of the Truest BelieverLost GirlQuite a Common FairyNasty HabitsGood FormAriel (Episode)Dark HollowThink Lovely ThoughtsSave HenryThe New NeverlandGoing HomeNew York City SerenadeWitch HuntThe TowerQuiet MindsIt's Not Easy Being GreenThe Jolly RogerBleeding ThroughA Curious ThingKansasSnow DriftsThere's No Place Like Home
Season 4
A Tale of Two SistersWhite OutRocky RoadThe ApprenticeBreaking GlassFamily BusinessThe Snow QueenSmash the MirrorFallShattered SightHeroes and VillainsDarkness on the Edge of TownUnforgivenEnter the DragonPoor Unfortunate SoulBest Laid PlansHeart of GoldSympathy for the De VilLilyMotherOperation Mongoose
Season 5
The Dark SwanThe PriceSiege PerilousThe Broken KingdomDreamcatcherThe Bear and the BowNimueBirthThe Bear KingBroken HeartSwan SongSouls of the DepartedLabor of LoveDevil's DueThe Brothers JonesOur DecayHer Handsome HeroRuby SlippersSistersFirebirdLast RitesOnly YouAn Untold Story
Season 6
The SaviorA Bitter DraughtThe Other ShoeStrange CaseStreet RatsDark WatersHeartlessI'll Be Your MirrorChangelingsWish You Were HereTougher Than the RestMurder Most FoulIll-Boding PatternsPage 23A Wondrous PlaceMother's Little HelperAwakeWhere Bluebirds FlyThe Black FairyThe Song in Your HeartThe Final Battle
Season 7
Hyperion HeightsA Pirate's LifeThe Garden of Forking PathsBeautyGreenbacksWake Up CallEloise GardenerPretty in BlueOne Little TearThe Eighth WitchSecret GardenA Taste of the HeightsKnightfallThe Girl in the TowerSisterhoodBreadcrumbsChosenThe GuardianFlower ChildIs This Henry Mills?HomecomingLeaving Storybrooke
Down the Rabbit HoleTrust MeForget Me NotThe SerpentHeart of StoneWho's AliceBad BloodHomeNothing to FearDirty Little SecretsHeart of the MatterTo Catch a ThiefAnd They Lived...