Quick Cap — Episode 12 “Skin Deep” — recap, review, etc.

Once Upon a Time episode 12 Skin DeepRumpelstiltskin blows his chance at love; Emile de Ravin is a true Beauty as Belle; Mr. Gold becomes shockingly vicious; Rumpel and the Evil Queen struggle for power in two worlds — and the episode ends, again, with a twist.


Fairytale World

Belle’s town is losing a war against the Ogres. Rumpelstiltskin pops up to offer a deal — he’ll save the town if they give him Belle to be his caretaker. Belle’s father and fiance both say, “No way!” but in this slightly feminist-tinged account, Belle declares herself her own person and goes.

Rumpel acts Beastly, locking Belle in a dungeon beneath his elegantly furnished rooms and treating her as a servant but, improbably, she falls in love with him anyway.

He sends her on an errand, a way to test her or simply let her go. Along the way, she meets the Evil Queen, who tells her that true love’s kiss can undo any curse and turn Rumpel back into an ordinary man.

“True love’s kiss will break any curse,” the Evil Queen tells Belle, as they walk on the road

Belle goes back and kisses Rumpel …

Once Upon a Time episode 12 Skin Deep

Rumpelstiltskin and Belle kiss

… and it starts to work — his skin starts losing its green tint, his claws become more like hands — but then he freaks out, saying it was a trick by the EQ, a way for the EQ to sap his power so that she could be the most powerful in the land.

Once Upon a Time Episode 12 Skin Deep

Belle: This means it’s true love. Rumpel: Shut the hell up. Belle: Why won’t you believe me? Rumpel: Because no one — no one — could ever — ever — love me.

He’s half right — the EQ was trying to trick him — but he overlooks the part about true love. Callously, he tells Belle that his power is more important to him than her love, but she calls him on it and tells him he’s just a coward, that he is afraid to believe she could love him, afraid to take that chance.

He lets her go. The Evil Queen shows up, and tells him Belle was dead. She says Belle’s father shunned Belle when she returned and locked her in a tower, where she was treated cruelly until she jumped to her death.

Rumpel makes a shrine out of a cup that Belle had chipped — which becomes significant in the Storybrooke part of the story.


Mr. Gold, Storybrooke’s one-percenter, seizes a florist’s delivery truck when the man is late on a loan payment. After the man breaks into his house, Mr. Gold captures him and goes all Jack Bauer on his ass, nearly choking him with his walking stick, and then beating him viciously with the stick’s handle. It was a side of Gold we had never seen, and a display of cruelty I thought stuck out as not fitting in with the rest of this show. We’ve seen violence in OUAT before, but it was in the realm of fantasy — the EQ ripping out someone’s heart, Rumpel making people disappear with a wave of his hand, a soldier getting gored through the middle with a spear, magic turning people into shrunken dolls and garden gnomes. This beating, though, was too close to real-life brutality for comfort. (editing to add 2/19/12: on rewatching this, I saw that I was mistaken about Gold choking the man with his stick — he was pushing the stick against the man’s chin, not down his throat, as I had originally thought. So that’s not as bad. The subsequent beating with the cane’s handle, though, remained horrifying.)

In any case, we soon find out the cause for Gold’s rage. The delivery man was the Storybrooke incarnation of Belle’s father, who Gold believed was responsible for Belle’s death. And the item the florist/Belle’s father stole — at Regina’s bidding — was the chipped cup that was all Rumpel/Gold had left to remind him of Belle.

Emma arrests Rumpel, and he has a meeting with Regina through his jail-cell bars. They’re still tussling for power. Regina acts very Rumpel-like, telling him she wants to make a deal — and her request is that he tell her his name. In return, he gets the cup back.

In the episode’s final twist, Regina descends into another dungeon-like space, opens a door — and there is Belle. So we know three things: (1) The Evil Queen lied to Rumpel when she told him Belle was dead; (2) Rumpel is not omniscient and can be fooled by the EQ; and (3) It appears Belle’s story is not over and that Emile de Ravin will be coming back.

Belle locked in a dungeon cell in Storybrooke’s “Cuckoo’s Nest”

The Valentine’s Day subplots

Sean proposes to Ashley (Cinderella), and she is thrilled to accept. David and Mary Margaret don’t have such a good day, though. David gives Mary Margaret a Valentine’s card, but — whoops! — by mistake he gives her the card he bought for his wife. Not a good move.

“I meant this one.”

What we didn’t see

The Mysterious Stranger did not appear at all and neither did his mysterious typewriter or Henry’s book, which is now in his possession. There was, thankfully, only a little bit of the tussle between Emma and Regina — my least favorite part of the show. Jared Gilmore must have gotten a much-needed vacation because Henry only had a brief scene.

Rumpelstiltskin promised Belle (and us!) that he would tell the story of his son — but in the end, that was just a teaser, as all he said was that he lost his son, which is something we already knew. This suggests there will be at least one more Rumpelstiltskin backstory to tell his son’s story in full.

Love and its obstacles

This episode showed both external and internal obstacles to love.

Ashely and Sean had an external obstacle to their love — his long hours at work — that was easily overcome.

Mary Margaret and David’s external obstacle — his marriage — will not be so easy to overcome.

Rumpelstiltskin’s obstacle was internal. It was his inability to believe that Belle could truly love him and his fear of taking a chance in the face of uncertainty.

Empty hearts

Right before she leaves, in the episode’s most significant scene, Belle says to Rumpel: “Now, you’ve made your choice, and you’re going to regret it forever. All you’ll have is an empty heart and a chipped cup.”

There’s a huge parallel here between Rumpel and the Evil Queen, who also has an empty heart — a heart that we’ve seen cannot be filled.

This sense of the similarity between the EQ and Rumpel became even stronger in the episode’s last scene, where they make their deal through the prison bars, with Regina using some of Rumpel’s trademark techniques. They appeared to be enemies who were perfectly evenly matched, almost mirror images of each other.

Hey maybe these crazy empty-hearted kids can find love with each other! Okay, no, probably not.

LOST and previous-episode references

No LOST references that I could see (other than the presence of Emile de Ravine), but did you notice the shrunken dolls in Rumpel’s castle that we had originally seen in the Jiminy-Cricket-centric episode and then in Mr. Gold’s pawnshop?

Once Upon a Time episode 12

Geppetto’s mummified, shrunken parents, now on display in Rumpelstiltskin’s castle


Why did Regina ask Mr. Gold to tell her his real name? Didn’t she already know who he was? I assume she was trying to get power over him by getting him to say his name out loud — the way Rumpelstiltskin got power over his victims by getting them to say their names. But what is that power? And since when did the Evil Queen have access to it? The name thing always seemed to be Rumpel’s shtick, not hers.

Do you feel more or less sympathetic to Rumpelstiltskin after this episode?

Do you think Belle will be a recurring character in Storybrooke? If so, any guesses as to what her Storybrooke identity might be?

24 responses to “Quick Cap — Episode 12 “Skin Deep” — recap, review, etc.

  1. I think she was confirming that he knew everything. Maybe she assumed that the spell had worked on everyone.

  2. Did you see when she was sitting on the table talking to him right behind her was a clock and candlestick. So we had Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, and Coggsworth

  3. Here’s some more cool stuff:

    Picture of the Valentine’s Day card that David meant to give to Mary Margaret: http://instagr.am/p/G7zhx-Lovk/ The one that was supposed to be for his wife was a dog saying “I Woof You.”

    The book that David was reading in the diner in the beginning of the episode was “Anna Karenina.”

    The side of the truck says “Game of Thorns” (take-off on Game of Thrones)

    Rumpel’s magic objects include a Buffy-scythe, sorting hat, and holy grail.

    The nurse and orderly at the end were from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

    (First via @ginnygoodwin ; rest via @JaneEspenson)

  4. I agree with D, I think Regina demanded Rumpel tell her his name because she wanted proof that he remembered everything from Fairytale land…his telling use of the word “please” and a couple of remarks in episode 2 (I think it was episode 2…in the orchard, when he comments on the name Henry) made her suspect he remembered his other life. In this episode, he confirmed it to her and us as well. I don’t think knowing someone name gives power in Storybrooke, I think that only works in fairytale land (but I might be wrong).
    I loved this episode as Rumpel is my favourite character. I am more sympathetic with him now because it shows that even after his transformation he is still very capable of feeling emotions, and I am very intrigued to see how the Belle storyline will be developed. I am sure we’re going to be seeing her again, or they wouldn’t have bothered to have her locked up in a “dungeon”.
    I don’t feel that negatively about Gold’s violent scene in Storybrooke because Storybrooke is – after all – the real world, not some fairytale little village. Violence happens (although I’m glad Emma pointed out no severe damage was made). Also, Mr. Gold is obviously a man erring on the “darker” side. No matter how sympathetic we can be, or how much of a good side he might have, he obviously has a VERY dark streak, although this is the first time we’ve actually seen him lose control like this. A sign of how much Belle still means to him. My question is: when he said to Belle’s Storybrooke father, as he beat him, that he hurt her…that it was his fault she was gone…was he talking about the fairytale Belle? Was he thinking with his fairytale memory and not realising that the flower seller probably had no idea what he was talking about? Or did the Storybrooke Belle have something horrible done to her there by her father, and Gold didn’t know where she was? I think the EQ must have been lying to Rumpel when she told him Belle had died, or she wouldn’t have been magicked to Storybrooke along with the others. Spiteful old witch!

    • I felt more sympathetic to Rumpel because the way he doubted whether anyone could truly love him was touching and very human. But at the same time I felt less sympathetic because of the way he attacked the man in Storybrooke with his cane. That really bothered me. I felt like I had wandered into the wrong show, and was watching “The Sopranos” instead of OUAT. I actually liked “The Sopranos,” but for very different reasons than I like OUAT, and I felt that OUAT crossed a line there that violated my expectations of the show. It was just hard for me to watch.

      Emma did say that Gold hadn’t done any serious damage, and Gold told the EQ that he was getting out of jail soon. But I didn’t believe either of those things — they seemed to contradict what I had just seen with my own eyes — a beating that WOULD have seriously harmed the victim. I actually thought that Rumpel was going to kill him on the spot.

      What you and D said, about how Regina asked Gold his name to see how much he remembered, is interesting. I hadn’t thought of that before, but I think you’re probably right. Regina never knew for sure — she just had hints — that Gold remembered his old life. We were ahead of her as far as that goes in this episode, though, because we saw Gold address the florist as Belle’s father.

      I’m sure the Queen was lying when she told Rumpel that Belle was dead, otherwise, as you say, Belle would not be alive in SB. The Queen’s intent was probably to make Rumpel upset to further weaken him.

      When Rumpel beat up the florist, saying he hurt “her,” I assumed he was referring to fairytale Belle. You make an interesting point that the florist probably had no idea what Rumpel was talking about, because only Rumpel would remember the florist’s past life as Belle’s father. I guess Rumpel was too far gone, at that point, to care.

  5. Belle is Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty (French: La Belle au bois dormant, “The Beauty in the sleeping wood”)

  6. In the Grimm version of the fairy tale the miller’s daughter was required to guess Rumpelstilskin’s name in order to break her bargain with him and keep her baby. I think there is something important about names to Rumpelstilskin that will continue to play out because in the first episode he wanted to know Emma Swann’s name, and he wanted to know the name of Snow’s baby.

    • Anyone ever wonder if it’s just a coincidence that Regina’s surname in Storybrooke is “Mills”? My sister and I have discussed the possibility that the EQ, before she married Snow’s father, was the miller’s daughter and that the first deal struck between her and Rumpel was the famous “give me your firstborn son and I’ll weave the gold for you” deal, and that’s how she married Sn0w’s father…but then we started theorising about Regina wanting a son/adopting Henry/Rumpel finding Henry for her/her owing him a son…it all got a bit too confusing and we gave the idea up. But it’s an idea…and we still don’t know what she was before she married the king, or why he even married her in the first place, as he was obviously still in love with his deceased wife…if she really was the miller’s daughter, then her father Henry who she killed would have been the miller…hmm.

      I think Rumpel wanted to know what they were going to call the baby because he knew she was going to break the curse, so he wanted to be able to recognise her when she came to Storybrooke. Remember when she tells him her name is Emma a shock of recognition flashes across his face and then he smiles and tells her “what a lovely name” or something like that?

      BTW… it’s just a coincidence, but I’m expecting a baby girl and guess what I’m going to call her? That’s right! Emma! LOL I was so chuffed when I saw that first episode :)

      • I love the idea of Regina being the Miller’s daughter. And I think that must be it, because the Storybrooke names always mean something.

        So cute that you are having a baby Emma! Maybe she will grow up to be a fan of the show. :-)

  7. The evil queen wants rumple’s power or at least wants to be the most powerful. That is why she told fairy tale Belle to go back and kiss rumple. The true love kiss would take rumple’s power away making queen most powerful. he is also known as the dark lord (from the previous episodes this was explained). Knowing the dark lords real name is also the way to summon the dark lord and destroy him with the engraved dagger. Additionally in the Grimm fairy tale his precious deal is broken by a girl discovering his name. The queen asking his name while he is behind bars (just like he was when the curse was placed) is just a big slap in the face to gold; giving the queen her evil deed of the day sence of accomplishment. I think mr gold has his rumple powers in the real world and can see the big picture. I think he arranged Henry’s adoption knowing swan was the mother and knows she is the hope , and is taking a methodical approach to defeat the queen by using swan. I’m rooting for gold.

    • I absolutely agree with you, he’s like a chess master arranging all his pieces methodologically to take the queen. He may loose a play now and then, but that’s part of his ultimate plan.

  8. This episode was probably one of the best…if not, THE best! I love Rumple and I love Beauty and the Beast so it really hit home for me.
    There were a lot of tears, but I came to 2 main conclusions:
    1. The story between Rumple and Belle is not over. Whether it be in the fairytale world or in storybrooke, they will find each other again.
    2. Mr. Gold will be a determining factor in breaking the curse. He knows, before everyone else. So I believe he will be a lot of help in bringing down Regina.
    So. Belle or whatever her name is in storybrooke is in an insane asylum? Could this be because she knows? Is Regina going to try harder to keep her away from Rumple now?
    Who was that fat guy with the flowers?

  9. I agree this was the best episode so far. I loved when EQ confirmed that Mr. Gold remembers everything.
    I thought when Gold said “her” he was referring to life now. Could it be that Gold knew Belle prior to Emma coming? Wouldn’t of Gold had many chances to hurt the father before this?
    The theme “loves true kiss breaks any curse” repeats over and over. Whose kiss do you think will break the SB curse? Emma and???
    When did gold get a body guard?? Who is he in FTL?
    Does Regina know who everyone is from FTL? Who has she figured out and who is still unknown to her?

    • I think Gold never met Belle in SB. He thought she died in FTL so she would never have been transported to SB in the first place…that’s why I think when he was beating her father he was talking as Rumplestilstkin in FTL, not Mr Gold.

      • I think the SB curse will be lifted by something drastic happening to Regina, like her getting her heart back or her and Snow making peace or Regina finding her one true love. Definitely something to do with Regina’s redemption, in any case. She cast the curse because she didn’t want anyone to have a happy ending, because she couldn’t have one…apparently because Snow couldn’t keep her secret, which made her lose the one she loved. Who was it? What was the secret? This is the biggest question of all, I think. And ultimately, the secret to breaking the curse.

        I believe Regina knows who everyone is in SB because I think she had a major hand in deciding what kind of lives they would lead (see how she had the Prince marry someone else, to keep him away from Snow). She had to give Mr. Gold a nice position because that was part of the deal, but she had a free hand with everyone else!

  10. I think that Belle, in Storybrooke, is still Mr. French’s daughter (the florist)…she is just in the Cuckoo’s Nest (which, THANK YOU! I totally thought of that when Regina went down there).

    I think Regina knows who everyone is…EXCEPT Emma. Mr. Gold knows who EVERYONE is…but he doesn’t know Belle is still alive. And I’ve always thought that Mr. Gold remembers everything, since he knows that when he says “Please” to Regina, she has to acquiesce to his wishes (even if they’re as minor as, “let’s talk about this later…PLEASE”).

    But what I love about this episode is that it completely showcases the central theme of this show: The battle of Good vs Evil…vs Chaotic Neutral.

    • I completely agree with you (although I would add that she doesn’t know who The Stranger is either…at least I don’t think so, that’s why she was so scared when she saw him talking to Henry and asked Emma to investigate)

  11. I was just reading the archives of episode-writer Jane Espenson’s live chat from Sunday night, and she answers the question of why Regina asked Mr. Gold for his name: “Regina didn’t ask his name because she wanted to know it. She wanted to force him to come right out and admit it.” So there we have it, straight from the horse’s mouth.

    Though, come to think of it, that still leaves the question of why she wanted him to admit it.

    Another very interesting thing Jane said was, “You guys all hate Regina now. Remember, you don’t know yet why she hates Snow so much.” So you think the EQ will turn out to be sympathetic after all? It’s hard to imagine, but that does seem to be what Jane is hinting.

    • I think she wanted him to admit it just to “lay it out on the table”. She was tired of playing games and his smug face when he said “please”…whenever he did that she was left wondering. Does he or doesn’t he? Just for the satisfaction of making him reveal it. She could have had an ulterior motive, but that’s what I picked up.
      I definitely feel that sooner or later we will find out Regina’s back story and understand her a lot better, even sympathise with her. You could tell there was something there, something good and desperate for love and happiness, when she talks with her father before she killed him.

  12. This was far and away the best episode, due to a well written script, an intriguing story line, and the talents of Robert Carlyle, who dominates every scene he’s in. The show is lucky to have him. He’s one of the only actors in the series who can be believable in both worlds. I look forward to Mr. Gold finding Belle in Storybrooke; I hope that’s how it plays out.

  13. I think Regina asked Mr. Gold’s name because she wanted to confirm her suspects about if he remembered his past as Rumple or not, because that would help her to face to her news difficulties.

    The idea of Rumplestinkin as the Beast was great in my oppinion. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite tales and Rumple my favourite character. I can say I like him much more after watching this episode. I just hope Rumple and Belle story finishes with a happy ending…

    By the way, great blog!!! I’ll be reading your new posts… and sorry for my English =$

    • Thanks, and welcome! :-) I think you may be right — at that point, Regina may not have known for sure whether Rumple remembered.

  14. I think Regina only asked him to be sure that he really knows everything… and I don’t remember Rumpel asking many people for their names? Or am I wrong?

What do you think?