The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (12/14 – 12/21)

This was a relatively slow week in the world of television, as most shows have already started their winter hiatuses. However, Sunday night was still a great night of television, featuring a jam-packed midseason finale of Once Upon a Time and the ultimate test of Jake and Boyle’s friendship on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

As far as emotionally powerful moments go, Once Upon a Time‘s midseason finale had not just the best of the week but perhaps the best of the whole television season so far, as Belle found her voice and her strength, ordering Rumplestiltskin to leave Storybrooke. Both Emilie de Ravin and Robert Carlyle were at their absolute best in this scene, breaking my heart even as I cheered for Belle finding the courage to walk away from a man who was never going to make her his first choice, who was never going to love her the way she deserved to be loved. There was such righteous anger in de Ravin’s performance, but there was also such palpable disappointment—in both Rumplestiltskin and in herself.

The moment when Belle told Rumplestiltskin that she lost herself trying to help him stay on the right path was so powerful because it felt so real; it was such an honest look at the reality of unhealthy relationships. And that’s when Once Upon a Time is at its best—when it uses these fairytale characters and magical situations to show us real truths about life and love.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

9 thoughts on “The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (12/14 – 12/21)

  1. I agree with how powerful the scene was, but I don’t think this relationship is unhealthy in general (it hasn’t been; in fact it’s been quite healthy) and I certainly believe he will ultimaetly choose Belle……. because she is his TL, not power, not anything else

    • I hope you’re right about Rumplestiltskin choosing Belle in the end. All I want for her is to happiness, and I do hope that’s with a Rumplestiltskin who has grown to finally choose love over power. That’s the reason why I think their relationship had become unhealthy—she put all her energy into loving a man who was lying to her and continually choosing power over her. It’s not healthy to lose yourself because you feel solely responsible for someone staying on a good path, especially when they deliberately stop walking that good path but lie to you about it. But I am still holding out hope that Rumplestiltskin will realize that Belle’s love is enough for him, just like his love was enough for her.

      • I agree that their relationship has become unhealthy this season, but that’s primarily because Rumpelstiltskin himself is not healthy. He’s in the throes of addiction and what he suffered last season at Zelena’s hands has made him all the more desperate. Anyone who’s ever dealt with addiction would, I think, recognise the symptoms in Rumpel’s behaviour this season (e.g, his secretiveness, his seeming to think himself invincible and above the concerns of others, his prioritizing his own needs and wishes above the needs of those closest to him, his confidence that he can keep all of the balls in the air despite the evidence that it’s all about to come crashing down, etc). Unless and until Rumpel comes to terms with his addiction–and the fears of being powerless that are at the root of it–, he won’t be able to make good choices. Regardless of how much Belle loves him, she can’t make those choices for him. I agree completely that Once is at its best “when it uses these fairytale characters and magical situations to show us real truths about life and love.”

        • This is a fantastic analysis of Rumplestiltskin—thank you so much for sharing it here. I didn’t expand on it here the same way I did in my full episode review, but I completely agree with everything you said about him being an addict and Belle not being able to make him give up the object of his addiction. You are right when you say the relationship has become unhealthy because he’s become the unhealthiest version of himself. It’s a powerful story to watch, but it’s also heartbreaking to see him lose everything because of his addiction.

  2. The thing about love an relationships is, you begin to change each other. You rub off on each other. That’s how it’s been from the beginning. Belle has always been the ultimate light to Rumple’s ultimate darkness. She has brightened him and pushed him and shaped him into a better person. But how long can that last until he began to push back, even without meaning to. If this continues on, hoe long until the darkness begins to rub off on Belle

    • I definitely agree that people in relationships begin to rub off on each other. That’s why I’m glad Belle stood up for herself and turned away from what was becoming a relationship shrouded in darkness. It wouldn’t have been good for her to stay with someone who had no intention of embracing the light she was offering him anymore.

      • The real perplexing question is which one if them is the “stronger” one in the relationship. Which one of them would be strong enough to stay around the other without changing. Which one has the inferior will power

  3. Before getting around to your 2014 posts I just wanted to post a quick comment here to say that this was my favorite part of the episode! I was so proud of Belle (and said that to my TV several times while watching :p) and how she had enough strength to face the realization that Rumple was never going to put her first, and to act on that even though it was breaking her heart. I had been so afraid earlier this season that we were going to eventually get an out-of-character doormat version of Belle who reconciled with Rumple even after all he had done this season, and I’m so glad this was what we got instead. It was incredibly satisfying to finally see this confrontation and both de Ravin and Carlyle’s performances were amazing in this episode. I think you and Heather both brought up in your OUAT recap that de Ravin did a wonderful job of showing not just the anger, but the heartbreak of Belle, which really made this scene have more complexity and emotional impact than if it had just been about anger, and I totally agree. I just hope this wonderful scene leads to a bit more story for Belle and development of her character in 4B. (More friendships please, writers!)

    • I love how proud we all were for Belle in this moment. To be honest, I’ve had a lot of moments of pride over female characters in the past year, but I’m not sure any could top the intensity of the pride I felt for Belle in this scene. It was such a wonderful moment for her, while also managing to break my heart at the same time.

      And yes, more friendships for Belle, please! I hope I’m not wrong in predicting this, but I have a feeling we’ll be seeing some good new relationships and friendships developing now that Belle is on her own and potentially interacting more with the rest of the group and not just Rumple.

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