1/15: I added some thoughts and questions at the end
We learn more about Belle’s backstory in this episode that is sometimes uneven but pulls out all the stops at the end with an exciting final scene that has two surprise twists and leaves us with a new mystery. More after the jump.
Rumplestiltskin finds a way to leave Storybrooke
Rumple still wants to find Baelfire (though there is no guarantee, as Hook points out, that Bae wants Rumple to find him). He concocts a potion that will let him leave Storybrooke and still retain his memories. He tests the potion on Smee, who he later turns into a rat, after Smee, at Hook’s bidding, steals the scarf Rumple needs to make the potion work.
Archie comes back
We still don’t know who the dead guy is — but the citizens of Storybrooke bury someone under Archie’s gravestone. Later, Belle rescues Archie from Smee’s ship. Archie returns to town, where he is greeted by the Charming clan, who are strangely unsurprised to see him alive and well, even though they just went to his funeral that morning. Now they know that Cora was responsible for Archie’s temporary disappearance, so the short-lived Regina-killed-Archie subplot can R.I.P.
Belle discovers her inner badass
Back in Fairytale Land, Belle gets a chance to be a hero. A CGI beast with a mane made of fire is terrorizing the area. Using the awesome power of books, Belle finds the beast. Mulan, who is also hunting the beast, gets wounded while saving Belle’s life for the second time. She says that Belle needs to get in touch with her warrior spirit and kill the beast herself. Belle cleverly defeats the beast by pouring water on it, putting out its flames. But lo and behold, a little fairy dust reveals the beast is really Prince Philip (Aurora’s love) who Maleficent had cursed.
The fearsome beast is really a kindly prince on the inside — just as Rumplestiltskin is a scary beast on the outside but, at least in Belle’s eyes, a good man on the inside.
Belle is brave (or foolish, depending on how you look at it) in Storybrooke too
After defeating the CGI beast in Fairytale Land, Belle isn’t going to let a mere pirate intimidate her in Storybrooke. The now fashionably dressed Belle escapes from Hook in the library, then boards the invisible pirate ship to try to retrieve Bae’s scarf. She frees Archie, then leaves her gun where Hook can get it — and he does. Hook looks and sounds very sexy, his lips inches from Belle’s and his voice whispery and growly, as he tells Belle the truth about how Rumple ripped out Milah’s heart.
Belle seems to struggle with the truth for a grand total of about two seconds. Then, oddly calm considering what she’s just learned about the man she loves, she leaps to Rumple’s defense, saying she still sees good in him and believes he’s changed.
Rumple does his best to persuade her (and us) otherwise by showing up on the ship and going into a frenzy beating Hook with his cane. Hook offers the accurate psychological insight that Rumple is compelled to prove he’s not a coward, but Belle is able to persuade Rumple to stop.
The dwarfs want to go back to FTL. So does David/Charming. Mary Margaret/Snow does not. Is there trouble ahead in their perfect relationship?
The dwarfs also foreshadow the episode’s ending by worrying that an outsider can enter their town, now that the curse, which kept them invisible to the outside world, is broken.
Rumple tells Belle part of the truth
When Belle insists that Rumple tell her why he is feuding with Hook so that she can understand why Hook is after her, Rumple tells her that Hook took his wife Milah from him and from Bae, so he took Hook’s hand. But when Belle asks what Hook did to Milah, Rumple only says, “She died.” — conveniently leaving out the part where Rumple himself ripped out her heart. It is Hook, as mentioned above, who tells Belle the full truth.
“I’ll never stop fighting for him”
After Belle takes care of the beast, Regina’s men capture her and put her in a cage. “You can’t keep us apart forever,” Belle shouts at Regina. “I’ll fight for him. I’ll never stop fighting for him” — a line reminiscent of Snow and Charming’s often repeated line, “I’ll always find you.”
Rumple, wearing the potion-infused scarf, steps over the red line at the edge of town. Belle, standing just on the other side of the line, clasps Rumple’s hand. They say their goodbyes, and Belle leans over to kiss him, when — bang! — Hook shoots her and she falls over the line into Rumple’s arms, losing her memory.
Rumple conjures up a ball of fire in his hand to hurl at Hook when — watch out, Rumple! — a car barrels towards him.
Rumple rolls out of the way, and the car, now entering town, hits Hook. His body lies crumpled on the side of the road. For the episode’s final few seconds, the camera lingers on the car’s license plate — Pennsylvania 2KFL 138.
(editing to add):
Thoughts and questions
I liked Rumple less by the end of this episode. He came very, very close to beating Hook to death with his cane, a particularly personal and vicious type of murder. He only stopped, at the very last minute, because Belle begged him to. If Belle ever leaves him, will he revert totally back to what he was? How much of a change would that be then?
I also liked Belle less. I did like seeing her “warrior spirit” — especially the way she used her own cleverness and the aid of books, rather than brute force, to achieve her goal. The pen really is mightier than the sword for her. But I can’t understand her turning such a blind eye towards Rumple’s continuing evil tendencies and towards the revelation that he had killed his wife. Shouldn’t that have scared her more? Her faith in his goodness might be more heartwarming if it didn’t seem at least partially based on her naiveté or willful blindness.
I still love Robert Carlyle’s portrayal of Rumple, even if I liked Rumple himself less in this episode. The way Carlyle injected a bit of Rumpelstiltskin into Mr. Gold in the beginning of the episode — with Gold’s voice starting to trill when he pushed Smee over the line — was wonderful.
I’m liking Hook more. The sexual tension between Hook and Belle was thick enough to cut with a knife in the scene on the ship (see the picture at the top of this post). Hook and Belle actually seem like a more plausible couple to me than Rumple and Belle — and if Belle can see Rumple as ripe for redemption, surely she could do the same with Hook, who seems far less intrinsically evil. But Hook has chemistry equally as strong with other characters in the show, notably Emma and Regina. He’s such an interesting character — he’s like the grand seducer, but his seductions never seem to work, and the show’s women always seem to outwit him in the end.
Will Belle’s amnesia be a good or a bad thing for her and for her relationship with Rumple?
Do you think David/Charming and Snow/Mary Margaret will split up for a while? He wants to go back to FTL, and she does not.
Do you think we will ever see a non-evil side of Cora? Do you want to — or would you rather she remain 100% a villain?