TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.14

Source: tvfanatic.com

Source: tvfanatic.com

Title Enter the Dragon

Two-Sentence Summary As Regina attempts to gain the trust of the Queens of Darkness in order to go undercover for Snow and Charming, flashbacks show Regina and Maleficent’s first meeting. Meanwhile, Rumplestiltskin uses Hook and Belle’s new friendship in order to get his hands on the Dark One dagger, which he uses to bring back a familiar face.

Favorite Line “For now, Will makes me smile.” (Belle)

My Thoughts “Setup episodes” are a fact of life for TV fans. There are going to be episodes every season on every show where the focus is on establishing plot points and moving pieces into place for overarching storylines rather than on small moments of character interaction and development. Given the choice, I will always take episodes that focus more intensely on characters than plot, but that’s not how TV works. For every “Unforgiven” (where very little actually happened plot-wise), there has to be an “Enter the Dragon,” which put the chess pieces into play for what’s to come this season. And while setup episodes aren’t my favorite episodes on any given TV show, as long as the plot is interesting and seems to be heading in a compelling direction, I can appreciate them. “Enter the Dragon” featured enough fun twists, intriguing developments, and fun character combinations to make for an entertaining hour of Once Upon a Time—even if it was a little light on the emotional beats I love so much.

While this episode wasn’t heavy on the emotional content I crave, it was heavy on something else I love with all my heart: interactions between complex female characters. I love the way the Queens of Darkness are putting a spotlight on the fact that Once Upon a Time has always been a female-focused show. While romantic love obviously plays a huge role in the series, there’s something to be said for the fact that many of the show’s deepest and most compelling relationships are relationships between women—as family members, friends, adversaries, unlikely allies, mentors, and sometimes all of those things wrapped up into one relationship. So many TV shows have trouble writing one interesting relationship between female characters, but Once Upon a Time is brimming with them—especially with the introduction of Maleficent, Cruella, and Ursula.

Throwing Regina into the mix with the Queens of Darkness and spending a lot of time on Emma’s reactions to Regina’s undercover operation highlighted the ways women encourage other women—although that encouragement isn’t always toward a positive end. So often, women in the media are portrayed as always competing for something or tearing each other down, but both Emma/Regina and Regina/Maleficent were shown to be supportive of one another. The difference, though, was the fact that Emma was supporting Regina’s work in the hope that she would be her best self, while Maleficent and Regina were supporting the other’s choice to embrace the strength that comes from darkness. Encouraging relationships don’t always mean healthy relationships—sometimes it can mean enabling each other to be your worst selves. And it was safe to say Regina and Maleficent’s friendship wasn’t exactly a healthy one for either party.

The flashbacks in this episode were focused on Regina encouraging Maleficent to embrace her darkness again. For as much as I love watching Lana Parrilla play young Regina on the brink of becoming the Evil Queen (there were so many layers to her performance in these flashbacks), I wished these scenes would have focused a little more on Maleficent. How did she lose her fire? What motivated her to go after Briar Rose in the first place? How much of her backstory is similar to the movie that came out about the character last summer? That last question was on my mind as Maleficent turned back into a dragon and attacked King Stefan, because I found myself feeling happy that she got her fire back and was able to go after him, which I attributed to leftover anger at Stefan for his treatment of the character in the movie. Or maybe I was just happy to see Maleficent find her strength when Regina needed her to have her back. There are times while watching Once Upon a Time that I find myself rooting for the villains and then questioning how that happened, and watching Maleficent take down King Stefan and his men to protect Regina was one of those How am I rooting for the dragon in this situation? moments. However, my mindset changed again when Maleficent cursed Aurora (who I was so excited to see again!). I went from cheering her victory over Stefan to being horrified at her treatment of such an innocent princess.

I think part of the reason I was so happy to see Maleficent find her inner dragon again was because this show has always portrayed its female characters as being women of action. And in the beginning of the flashbacks, Maleficent wasn’t fitting that mold. Kristin Bauer van Straten did such a great job of playing Maleficent as a shadow of who we know the character to be, and it actually made me sad to see her without the fire we know she has from her scenes in the present. The detail of her basically being a “sleeping curse” junkie was the kind of creative twist only Once Upon a Time could bring to the story, and Bauer van Straten played “hot mess Maleficent” to perfection (complete with the most ridiculously huge hair imaginable). So it felt good momentarily to see Maleficent become an active participant in her own story again, but that good feeling was gone as soon as I remembered that her sense of “active participation” was destructive rather than constructive.

To be honest, I liked these flashbacks, but I would have much rather found out the story around Maleficent’s child and what happened with Snow and Charming (which I’m sure we’ll get in another episode this season). These flashbacks didn’t reveal too much vital information, but they did set up the idea of Regain helping Maleficent embrace who she really is. In the past, Regina helped her use her darkness to grow strong. However, I have a good feeling that this will play out again later this season, with Regina helping Maleficent to embrace her best self instead of her worst and use her power for good instead of evil this time. I think that Maleficent will end this season aligned with the heroes, and I think it will be because Regina will show her that—as Rumplestiltskin said—strength does come from pain, but you can channel that pain into the strength to be a better person instead of your darkest self. That’s what heroes do. They’ve all experienced pain, but the best among them use their difficult pasts to become people who want to keep others from feeling pain—not people who want to cause more destruction.

As of right now, the Queens of Darkness are all about destruction. I found it incredibly entertaining that their idea of an initiation night for Regina involved copious amounts of alcohol, a game of “magical chicken,” and setting stuff on fire. However, this isn’t an entertaining situation for Regina (which is why I was upset with Snow for getting frustrated that Regina didn’t have any real information for her after one night), and the episode ended with an uncomfortable but realistic bit of ambiguity concerning her ability to resist the temptation of finding a new, darker, way to achieve her happy ending.

The danger inherent in Regina’s undercover operation—not just for her safety but for her ability to resist temptation—was acutely sensed by at least one character: Emma. I loved how worried Emma was about Regina because Emma is a person who has devoted so much of her time to protecting people from feeling the pain she felt in her past. Emma spent so much of her life believing no one had her back, and I think it’s such an important part of her character that she is so determined to have Regina’s back when she needs it the most. That kind of positively supportive friendship served as a foil for Maleficent and Regina’s relationship in both the past and present.

I thought Jennifer Morrison made a very specific and important acting choice in this episode to play Emma’s interest in Regina’s mission with more intensity than Emma usually displays. Yes, Emma is a supportive person. But this went deeper than just supportive friendship. I think Emma initially became so invested because she wanted to prove to her parents that they should have chosen her to go undercover. I think it hurt Emma that her parents trusted Regina with an operation that called for skills Emma prided herself on. (Although her tailing Regina and Maleficent so obviously makes me question how good she really is at being stealthy.)

And later on in the episode, Emma herself voiced the real reason why she was so focused on this mission: She feels like everyone is keeping things from her, and helping Regina was a way to take action in a situation where she felt like she was being purposely put on the sidelines. I thought that moment was one of the most important moments in the episode because it showed that Emma’s lie-detecting superpower isn’t missing anything; she knows her parents are lying to her, but she’s choosing to ignore it. She knows Hook is keeping things from her, but thankfully (unlike her parents) he’s at least admitted it. And after Regina lied to her face about her parents keeping things from her, I’m sure she could sense Regina’s involvement in their secret, too. This one piece of dialogue did a great job explaining why Emma seemed so singularly devoted to helping Regina and also did a great job setting up the potential for Emma being more open to the temptation of darkness because she feels betrayed by the people she trusts.

“Enter the Dragon” was a fairly dark episode. And much of that darkness came from the Dark One himself. While I think this was a fantastic episode for Rumplestiltskin’s story in terms of its complexity, I think this might have been the episode that made him as close to irredeemable as possible in my mind. His continued manipulation of Belle is a sin that I’m not sure he can ever come back from—at least for me as a viewer. If nothing else, I know that I’m not sure I could ever root for her to take him back ever again—no matter how much he might change in the future.

While I may have despised Rumplestiltskin’s manipulations, I was fascinated by them at the same time. And it was all because of Colin O’Donoghue. O’Donoghue is so good at playing Rumplestiltskin in Hook’s body that I can’t even blame the writers for wanting to go back down that well in this episode. From the moment Hook slid into the booth next to Will, I could tell from O’Donoghue’s body language that something was off. This wasn’t the same man who seemed so adorably impressed earlier in the episode when telling Emma about Regina’s ability to hold her own after a night drinking with the Queens of Darkness. This was someone darker, harder, and colder. And it just didn’t feel right. That feeling of unease culminated in the brilliant scene where “Hook” told Belle to summon the Dark One if she really was afraid. When Belle asked him to show himself and all the was in front of her was Hook, staring at her with a dark intensity I’ve never seen on his face before, I got the best kind of chills. O’Donoghue channeled the Dark One’s total darkness perfectly, balancing it also with the inherent awkwardness of Rumplestiltskin trying to interact with Belle though the guise of Hook. It was a difficult acting task to say the least, but O’Donoghue proved to be more than up to the challenge.

For as impressed as I was with O’Donoghue’s acting in those scenes, the primary emotion I felt while watching them was disgust—disgust that Rumplestiltskin would turn Hook into a weapon once again, preying on his newfound friendship with Belle, and disgust that he would continue to use Belle without showing any sense of regret or remorse. In fact, when he talked about Will “taking something” that belonged to him, my heart sank. That’s no way to speak about a person. Belle isn’t someone who could be taken—just like Hook never stole Milah. Those women left Rumplestiltskin using their own free will. We know little about Belle and Will’s relationship, but we do know that she appreciates his honesty and the fact that he makes her smile. And that is all I want for Belle—for her to be with an honest man who makes her happy and treats her well. I just hope Rumplestiltskin doesn’t try to harm Will because of it (and please don’t let him disguise himself as Hook again if he’s going to do it—I don’t need Hook to be blamed for more destruction Rumplestiltskin caused).

Using an innocent character for dark purposes was at the heart of another twist in the episode, and it’s that twist that has me feeling the most unsettled. I loved the moment when Rumplestiltskin turned August back into his adult self (mainly because Eion Bailey is so nice to look at), but I didn’t love the chain of events that allowed that twist to take place. I know that Regina was caught between a rock and a hard place with kidnapping Pinocchio, but it made me very uncomfortable to watch her use a child without knowing what would really happen to that child. It also made me uncomfortable to watch Emma go along with it. It seemed to go against a lot of the things we’ve been shown about both women to this point, but I guess this was meant to show that this storyline is bringing out morally gray areas in all the characters. I did appreciate that Regina looked ready to throw a fireball at Rumplestiltskin if he tried to hurt the boy, but I couldn’t shake the bad feeling I got watching her use this child and watching Emma let it happen.

Ultimately, I think I’ll remember “Enter the Dragon” for its twists (both the Hook/Rumplestiltskin twist and the August cliffhanger). It’s been a while since Once Upon a Time genuinely surprised me the way this episode did. And sometimes a good twist is all I need from an episode of television. I love when TV shows make me feel, and surprise is an emotion I want to feel sometimes from a show like this one. And when it came to engaging twists, “Enter the Dragon” didn’t disappoint.

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29 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.14

  1. I totally agree with you about Colin’s acting. The look he gave Belle when she told the Dark One to face her was 100% Carlyle. The intensity, the sinister edge, the cool manipulation. And in the scene at the end when Rumple-as-Hook made the Pirate’s Oath with Belle, Colin’s signature sincerity translated perfectly into Rumplestilskin’s longing.

    I completely agree that it’s going to take a lot for Rumple to earn back his redemption. This continued manipulation of Belle proves that he head none of the completely valid complaints she made when she banished him. Belle earned a lot of good will for herself (see what I did there?) when she threw Rumple out of town and no one is going to want to see her take Rumple back without a DRASTIC change of heart from him.

    As a long time Rumple fan, I find this change of heart extremely disheartening. The appeal of season 1-3 Rumple was in watching him search for redemption through finding his son. Never really knowing which side Rumple was playing but knowing that he was capable of love and maybe of redemption. Everything he has done since the start of season 4 has worked against that notion, starting from Rumple ignoring his promise to Neal (the crux of so much growth for Rumple) in the SAME episode he made the promise and continuing through his descent into peasants-be-damned villainy. Although many fans weren’t enthusiastic about Neal/Baelfire’s character, the fact that Rumple immediately turned his back on the son he spent centuries attempting to reconnect to is hard to forgive. Many fans are extremely enthusiastic about Belle, and it’s hard to root for her to take back a man who continually disrespects her agency and her values. As much as I loved Rumple, I’ve actually found that Regina has become my favorite character. I’m a sucker for a well-written redemption arc and hers has been excellent. I’m not giving up on Rumple, but it’s going to take some serious changes for the writers to earn back the good will he once had.

    • That’s what I think I find so absolutely confusing — why suddenly has Rumple gone so, for lack of a better word, dark? I get that being controlled by Zelena really messed with him and his desire to be cleaved from the Dagger’s power, but Belle has always been a light spot in the darkness of his life. I had hopes that he was going to find a way back in the town to prove her WRONG not right. I’m surprised he hasn’t tried to get the hat while he was at it to get the apprentice out to ask him where or who the Author is since they’re all going on the same assumption that the sorcerer and author are one in the same.

      • Exactly! Neal always made him want to redeem himself. Belle has always made him want to be a better man. And yet, Rumple has pushed both of these lights away in favor of darkness for…what exactly? I could always forgive his seasons 1-3 shenanigans because Rumple choosing power made sense. He wanted to choose power so that he could have magic with which to find Neal. He wanted revenge on Regina for abusing Belle. He thought he needed power to defeat Pan. His actions, while not always admirable, at least were rooted in a sort of sense. I completely understand that Zelena scared him by controlling him with the dagger. As far as we know, Rumple had never lost control of the dagger before that and so he would want to separate himself from it to prevent it from ever happening again. The problem was the writers waited to long to spell that out for us and all we saw was weeks of Rumple doing objectively terrible things to achieve that end. Even when he was convinced that Henry would be his undoing (doesn’t that seem like ages ago?), he was still morally conflicted about actually killing Henry. And that was over a situation that was life or death. Separating himself from the dagger is a matter of comfort, security. His life is not in immediate danger like he seemed to think it was with Henry. Yet, Rumple is willing to ensnare not only the apprentice and the fairies in the hat, but also Emma (the love of his dearly departed son’s life) with apparently no remorse. He wants to kidnap Henry and Belle and seems to have no moral dilemma in abandoning Regina, the Charmings, or Belle’s father. Why does he suddenly have no problem committing heinous evil?

      • My theory on this is that the redeemed Rumple died when he scarified himself to kill Peter Pan, He actually died then. What was brought back was the Dark One, who happens to be Rumple currently. He has been a much much darker character ever since then.

        • Or maybe its about Rumple CHOOSING to be a villain then a hero. Because the question laid out this season. What do you choose. Far as i can see Rumple has chosen villain every time. He has not STOPPED his acts and evilness at all.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us! It’s always nice to see fans of different characters around these parts, and I love reading fresh takes on Rumple’s character.

      Like you, I’m trying to figure out where exactly the writers are going with the character. As of right now, I just don’t see how we’re ever supposed to align ourselves with him again after what he’s done to Belle, what he wanted to do to Emma (the woman his son once loved), and how quickly he turned away from his graveside promise to be the man his son would have wanted him to be. But while I don’t know if I can ever root for the character again without some major changes taking place in his arc, I do think he’s a fascinating study of an addict who is on a destructive path and wants to bring others down with him. He seems to have given up all hope for himself after sacrificing his own life for his son and having that sacrifice be all for naught when Neal died, and that hopelessness has caused him to become his darkest self. It’s not a path I ever wanted to see him go down, but I do have to admit that I enjoy watching Robert Carlyle really sink his teeth into Rumple at his worst.

  2. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with this episode, mainly for the reason you touched on Katie – this was a plot driven episode. Normally I don’t mind setting the stage episodes – but this episode felt disjointed, wildly out of character for a lot of the main cast, and felt as though the characters were serving the plot in a way that I’ve never seen this show really do before.

    There were some positive moments that I adored – the twists definitely ranking up there. I knew Eion Bailey would be reprising his role and I had a sneaking suspicion that Rumple wasn’t done with Hook – but the acting was absolutely wonderful between Colin and Robert. The QOD felt campy (I love campy too!) but I would’ve liked to see some darkness that wasn’t so- I hesitate to use the word juvenile- but I think you get my point. The interactions between Regina and Mal made the episode for me. Phenomenol between the two of them – I find myself rooting for Mal as well.

    Will and Belle – I’m on board. Id like to see where it’s going and how Rumple is going to mess it up haha. He may be playing dirty, but I’m still rooting for his redemption!

    Colin rocked his scenes – that intense gaze he gave Belle was amazing! Emma felt a bit out of character to me – the Emma I know would NEVER allow for that to happen with a child, and after last week, I found myself disappointed with her. 😦

    I have so many questions. Where is Hook (like really, I need to know)?! Since when can Rumple shape shift?! Will August know anything worth knowing?! And will Cruella have an even fiercer outfit next week!!?

    • Your last question made me laugh so hard! Give me all the fierce Cruella outfits!

      I think Rumple has always been able to shape shift—or at least I’m guessing he’s always had that ability since we know Cora could do it, and we know he taught Cora magic.

      I do agree that most of the character interaction in this episode was done to serve the plot, but I think anything that felt out of character was meant to be that way. Emma is acting differently than usual because she knows she’s being lied to. Regina was acting differently because she was under a lot of pressure and trying to act like her old self when she’s not that person anymore. And Snow and Charming were acting strangely because they’re so desperate to keep their secret. Lies and secrets bring out strange things in people, and I think we’re seeing that with these characters. That’s also why I hope this secret is revealed to Emma soon, because it’s getting hard to watch her interact with people who are lying to her face on a regular basis.

      While I still don’t love Emma being complicit in Regina kidnapping Pinocchio, we have seen both Emma and Regina use a child for less than noble means before, so it’s not completely out of character for her. In Neverland, Emma let Regina take that lost boy’s heart and control him as a means of getting closer to finding Henry.

      I am curious to know if we’re going to get any interaction between August and Emma now that he’s back and what Emma’s reaction will be when she finds out what happened to Pinocchio.

  3. I love how you’re always spot on with these reviews of OUAT, and I’m with you on the whole Rumple issue. After all the manipulation his done with Belle I can’t see how Rumbelle could be possible restored at the moment. A&E would have to throw in some major plot twist to win me over with a happy ever after for those two right now. And also, the fact that Rumple won’t look at his own actions can be frustrating. It’s easier for him to blame Will and Killian for losing Belle and Milah instead of examining his own actions in those marriages, these women aren’t property…they have the agency in free will, they left because of him and not taken as he likes to retell the story to fit his role within the failure of his relationships.

    • Thank you! And thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I do agree that it’s frustrating to watch Rumple continually blame others (Killian and Will) for the fact that his own actions were responsible for his wives choosing to leave him. Taking responsibility for your actions is a big theme on this show, and I think it’s a mark of Rumple’s darkness that he’s never taken responsibility for the downfall of both of his marriages (and Milah’s death, which I can’t talk too much about or I’ll just get really upset).

  4. I felt the same way about much of the episode. I think I was expecting more, but what delivered was okay. And I agree with Katie, I think the main purpose of this episode, besides the plot driven stuff, was to show that everyone has a morally gray area and this teased some of that out.

    I have always wanted to see more of the Emma who lived and survived in our world for 28 years. The Emma who was a car thief, who knocked off stores, who lived on the lam between foster homes. The one who was so willing to fall into an active life of crime just because she liked Neil. I’ve always felt that was the central part of her character. Even as an adult, she chose a pretty high risk and violent career in bail bonds person/bounty huntering. I would wager its something she fell into after prison too, because she’s good at finding people and not because she had an innate desire to capture crooks. Shoot, she’s been a Sheriff for a couple years now and still drives her stolen car around. Clearly she doesn’t have a problem with moral ambiguity. All this to say, I’ve always thought Emma was very much an “ends justifies the means” kind of woman, and letting Regina take Pinocchio wasn’t as much out of character as we might like to think.

    • I loved reading your take on Emma’s moral ambiguity because I’ve always felt that was a defining part of her character. Emma is someone who lived in our world and had to survive in our world, and our world isn’t the black-and-white world the rest of these characters inhabited for most of their lives. She’s done plenty of shady things in her past, including stealing the car she’s still driving. And I really like that added dimension to her character. It makes her more realistic, which is such an important part of her character.

  5. [“I thought Jennifer Morrison made a very specific and important acting choice in this episode to play Emma’s interest in Regina’s mission with more intensity than Emma usually displays. Yes, Emma is a supportive person. But this went deeper than just supportive friendship. I think Emma initially became so invested because she wanted to prove to her parents that they should have chosen her to go undercover. I think it hurt Emma that her parents trusted Regina with an operation that called for skills Emma prided herself on. “]

    Surely Emma should have realized that Regina had the past connections to Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella to go undercover. If she didn’t, I think her emotions were getting in the way of her logic. Also, Regina may not have much experience in going undercover, but she can be covert – as her decade long marriage to Leopold proved, along with some of her con games.

    [“I know that Regina was caught between a rock and a hard place with kidnapping Pinocchio, but it made me very uncomfortable to watch her use a child without knowing what would really happen to that child.]

    Regina didn’t seem particularly thrilled either. People are wondering if she will be able to repair her newly formed friendship with Marco after this. Once everyone learns that Snow and Charming were behind this, I’m wondering how their relationship will stand with their former subjects.

    I don’t mind if an episode is character driven, plot driven or both; as long as it adds to the overall story in a somewhat believable way.

    • I definitely agree that Regina was the logical choice to go undercover, but I can see where that would upset Emma, especially on top of the fact that she senses that her parents are lying to her. Having your emotions cloud your logic when you’re upset and stressed out is a part of being human, and I love that Emma doesn’t always think clearly. I’m sure that—under different emotional circumstances—Emma would 100% agree that Regina was the best undercover option, but I can understand why the idea of her parents dismissing her skills would upset her in that moment.

      I’m also very intrigued by the impact all of this will have on Snow and Charming’s standing with their subjects. So many people in the town seem to have a very rigid view of good and evil, so I wonder what will happen when they find out that Snow and Charming have some dark secrets of their own.

  6. There was a very interesting moment in this episode when Emma suggested that she help Regina in the latter’s undercover mission. Snow’s reaction to the suggestion struck me particularly cool . . . almost insulting to Emma. I didn’t know whether to be impressed or disturbed.

  7. Your review was great and literally covered most of what I was gonna say lol.

    A couple things
    – Regina kidnapping Pinocchio, while I wasn’t loving this on the first watch, in retrospect it was probably for the best. It was clearly in their plan to kidnap Pinocchio regardless of if Regina was with them or not, the bright side of her being with them is that she can protect him and she was standing by ready to do so. Same with Emma and Regina not choosing to hide/take him away from there, was unsure about it at first but again, in retrospect, doing that would have probably just made the QoD & Rumple feel like he was being hidden from them because he actually had some information, and that would have just made them hunt him more aggressively. That really was a very difficult situation and I know especially after snapping on Pinocchio last week and her genuine apology to Marco, Regina probably felt absolutely terrible having to do what she did. The (potentially) good thing that came from this is Regina now knowing that Rumple is back in Storybrooke with his dagger, and assuming nothing happens to her and she manages to make it back and pass this message onto the everyone else, they won’t be completely blindsided by his appearance when he makes it.

    – Didn’t get how the game of chicken was supposed to prove Regina to be good or evil, self preservation simply proves that your sane.

    – How the Charming’s honestly thought that after one night Regina would’ve been told their whole plan really irked me. Regina has changed so much and for them to send her to do this annoyed me in itself. However, to then actually think that there would be immediate answers with no destruction, that it would be so simple for her to go back into villain mode, or that the QoD would genuinely accept her despite seeing who she is now makes me wonder if they fully realize how much she actually has changed.

    – I also hate how they’ve dragged Regina into lying for them. Part of me wants her to tell, but honestly it’s not really her secret to tell. Doing so would probably make it seem like she did it from a place of malice and spite considering Snow spilled her secret all those years ago, and that would probably ruin their new friendship and with Robin gone and her still proving herself to the town, she doesn’t really have many people outside of the Charmings. It really sucks because I feel like if they had just told Emma themselves, the blow wouldn’t have been as bad as its gonna be now when she does find out, plus everyday that they hide it, they are just leaving more opportunity for one of the QoD to find Emma and tell her themselves. Regina and Emma have also finally become friends and now she’s just one more person who is now being made to keep secrets and lie to Emma. With literally every one of the adults that she trusts in her life lying to her, I wouldn’t be surprised if the QoD do find her, be honest with her and use that to lure her to the dark side.

    – I felt some way about Rumple basically being okay with potentially using Regina’s heartbreak to their advantage…again. He really hasn’t changed at all and its kinda sad, you’d think that after losing everything, you’d take a moment to examine yourself and your former actions, but for Rumple he seems to have decided that the only thing he did wrong previously was not be manipulative enough. I wanna root for him and Belle but honestly, he came and the first thing he did was manipulate her into giving him back his dagger, I genuinely feel like she’s better off without him at this point and it will be interesting to see if he even can win her back (honestly). He needs to take the advice he gave Regina back in season two when he told her “You can’t have everything” and decide what is worth more Belle or power.

    • I love that you brought up what Rumple said to Regina back in season 2. I was actually JUST watching that last night and it really irked me that he isn’t taking his own advice.

      Seeing you put in why Regina did what she did, as well as Emma, settled the whole thing for me. It makes sense, but I still don’t like it.

      Ugh. Mary Margaret is really getting on my nerves with her blaming everyone else for her issues, blaming them for not going fast enough, blah blah blah. David seems to just roll with it – and I really want to know if he’s going to have an opinion of his own sooner rather than later. (but maybe it’s because they share a heart?)

    • I always love reading your thoughts each week, Kaydee!

      Your take on why Regina and Emma did what they did with Pinocchio actually makes me feel a little bit better about the whole situation. They really didn’t have much of a choice, knowing the Queens of Darkness were after him anyway. At least Regina could keep him as safe as she could this way. I also can’t wait for the reactions when she tells them all that Rumple is back.

      Now that you brought up Rumple wanting to use Regina’s heartbreak again, I’m even angrier at him than I was before. I know that Regina made her own choices on the path to becoming the Evil Queen, but the way Rumple manipulated her heartbreak as a young woman to get her to eventually cast his curse has always stuck in the back of my mind when I think about his character’s possibility for redemption. Maybe it’s just a personal thing, but I am more disturbed by his manipulations than I’ve ever been by actual acts of evil any villain on this show has committed. (Maybe it’s the fact that manipulation is such a real-world, relatable kind of evil that so many of us have actually encountered.) And the fact that he’s continuing to manipulate Belle and Hook as well as hoping to use Regina’s heartbreak and Emma’s potential for darkness shows just how far he’s chosen to walk into the darkness.

    • The best theory I heard on the game of chicken on the train track was that the QOD were testing Regina to see if she’d just save herself and leave the rest of them to die or if she’d save all of them.

      It’s funny with Rumple he’s always been the dark one, but this is the first season where i really don’t like him. I guess it’s because now his motivations are not sympathetic, and I actually don’t think he can change. I really hope the season ends with Emma, Regina & co taking on Rumple.

  8. Totally agree on everything you said about Rumple – he really has gone too far now for me & I don’t see how he can get back together with Belle after all he’s done. I didn’t even think that Emma would be upset that her parents didn’t ask her to go undercover, but it makes perfect sense – along with knowing her parents are lying to her it’s another thing that’s chipping away at her trust. All this lying is really going to backfire on Snow & Charming.

    • The lying is definitely going to backfire on them, and it’s going to break my heart to watch it happen. (But it’s going to make for great TV!)

  9. Setup eps are always harder to talk about, so I will just do a random list of 10 thoughts:

    1. Because setups don’t leave us much to digest, kudos to this review. You were able to pull a lot of great themes out of a very plot driven 40 minutes.
    2. I have a HUGE crush on Kristin Bauer van Straten. That woman is flat out gorgeous, and that outfit in Storybrooke was classy as hell. I can only hope I look that good when I am pushing 50.
    3. I don’t mind Maleficent’s new outfit, but the lack of costume continuity does annoy me. Seeing the old outfit in the flashbacks would have been nice. Also Aurora’s dress when she was cursed is not the same one she awakes in which means someone changed her and that creeps me out.
    4. Speaking of being creeped out, I was so appaled at Rumple!Killian touching Belle I had to fast forward during the “pirate oath” thing. Impersonating Killian to get close to her was bad enough, but to physically touch her under false pretenses is just a level I can’t even stomach to watch.
    5. I will never get tired of this show giving ridiculously named fairytale characters more modern nicknames, so I think its adorable people refer to Maleficent as “Mal”.
    6. Cruella’s car can drive itself, once again proving Cruella is awesome.
    7. There is a fine line between campy and corny, and unfortunately the whole ” bad girls night out” fell into the latter for me. Really ladies? I expected more from you. Or maybe I just can’t stand the term “bad girl” being used on anyone over the age of 25. I am not sure if this was a specific acting decision on Lana’s part to play “undercover” Regina so over-the-top, cause it definitely felt like Regina was laying it on thick.
    8. Speaking of Lana’s acting, I always love seeing young Regina and the way Regina’s voice changes between unsure young Regina and confident Evil Queen.
    9. Colin’s acting continues to be flawless. I loved that moment in the rain when he turns to face Belle with that dark stare. And I loved how Colin played Rumple!Killian. There was a sincerity and charm lacking in those scenes, and it makes me appreciate the way he plays real Killian all the more.
    10. Do you think Jared Gilmore gets annoyed when he gets his script week after week and all it says is “stare at Storybook intensely. Eat donut”?

    • I literally laughed for five minutes at points 6 and 10.
      My husband, who swears that he doesn’t watch the show (yet I find him intently staring over my shoulder every Sunday), asked the same thing about Jared last Sunday. He was so perplexed that someone who used to have so many lines now was reduced to eating a donut (but he doesn’t watch, right?!). I am excited to see where they’re taking his character because I doubt they’d keep harping on him staring at that book unless he’s the one to figure it out. But perhaps I’m just dreaming on that.

      Love your 9th point. So true.

      When her car drove by itself, it was like that moment when the broom started dancing across the street to the Fantasia music all over again. Love it!

    • Point No. 10 just made me laugh out loud in my office. At least he gets a donut out of it? 😉

      I’m with you on loving Maleficent being called Mal. It adds a nice little layer of familiarity and affection between her and fellow Queens of Darkness (Regina included).

      I knew something was off about Aurora’s dress but was too distracted by how pretty it was to notice exactly what was weird about it. I do not want to think about anyone changing her in her “eternal slumber” state. (Although now that I think about it, wasn’t Snow in a different outfit too when she bit the apple than she was when Charming woke her in the pilot? I’m just going to chalk this up to a misstep in the continuity because it really creeps me out to think about someone undressing these ladies without their knowledge.)

      Speaking of doing things without proper consent, I was also incredibly creeped out by Rumple touching Belle under the guise of being Killian. It was especially uncomfortable after she voiced to Rumple-as-Killian that she was genuinely afraid of encountering Rumple again.

  10. Colin really gave a very chilling performance as Rumple. I can’t root for Rumple and Belle anymore, not when he continues to plays these stunts around Belle. I seriously hope by the end of this season, Rumple ends up with nothing because that’s exactly what he deserves at this point.

    In fact, when he talked about Will “taking something” that belonged to him, my heart sank. That’s no way to speak about a person. Belle isn’t someone who could be taken—just like Hook never stole Milah. Those women left Rumpelstiltskin using their own free will.

    I’m so happy you brought up this point because this is not a new thing with Rumple. Between Hook and Rumple, Hook has more appreciation for women’s agency than Rumple does. Rumple seems to regard women as objects and the fact that he considers Will stealing Belle away from him when Belle has every right to move on from him, speaks volumes. He has zero respect for Belle and with each episode, I think it highlights how much Rumbelle has become the most unhealthy true love relationship currently on this show.

    Rumple thinks of himself as the victim and he’s trying to take back what he thinks is rightfully his, but the reality is, Rumple is not the victim here. Belle was the victim; Rumple was the abuser. But the thing about abusers is they think that they were victims too.

    Despite all the nasty things Rumple keeps on doing, I have this small sliver of hope that maybe, just maybe he will actually learn something this season. But it’s a very small hope. I hope he realizes that the healthiest thing for him to do is let Belle go and let her move on with her life, but knowing Rumple, he’s probably going to continue to stalk her and Belle, won’t have any idea about any of it.

    Speaking of true love, I think what we might be seeing with Rumbelle this season is a reverse true love. Rumbelle started out true love, but I think the ultimate end game here is to break up Rumbelle permanently. The truth is going to come out yet again that Rumple was manipulating and using her and Belle once again, is going to be rightfully angry with him. Maybe even angry enough to declare that she doesn’t love Rumple anymore.

    This was a set-up and a filler episode but hopefully, this Sunday’s episode picks up the action and moves the story along in a reasonable manner.

    I do hope we get more Sleeping Beauty backstory but probably not.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

      I do hope that you’re sense of hope in Rumple—however small—isn’t all for nothing. I also want to believe something will allow him to see the error of his ways, but at this point it just seems so unlikely. He needs to understand that—as you said—Belle was the victim in this situation. He hurt her and made her afraid of him, and she had every reason to want to move on with someone who made her happy. I’m interested to see how they’ll fix this broken relationship—or if it’s a relationship that can even be fixed at this point.

      • I don’t think Rumbelle is fixable at this point. I read something the other night from a rumbelle stan, she even doesn’t want rumbelle back together and if Rumple dies, she wouldn’t even shed a tear. That’s how bad it’s become. I feel the same way too.

  11. Pingback: The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (3/15 – 3/22) | Nerdy Girl Notes

  12. I finally was able to catch up a bit on OUAT last night, and I really enjoyed reading your review!

    To be honest I didn’t really understand the “magical chicken” train game. Maybe I was thinking about it too hard? I just kept wondering that if Regina was supposed to show her darkness by letting the train hit them, wouldn’t that cause damage to the ladies in the car as well as the train passengers? How was that supposed to work, exactly? It’s not essential to the story but I was confused over that :p

    Oh Emma, you weren’t actually a great choice for going undercover, because despite your skills in that area I think the Queens of Darkness would have a harder time believing you were going dark than they’d have believing Regina never went fully good. Regina just fits that undercover role better because of her past history, even though it may not be great for Regina in trying to resist temptations and continue to be her best self. I liked that Emma was worrying about Regina (I’m loving seeing their relationship develop this season), but I think being backup was the best way for Emma to be involved in that plan at that moment. Also, neither Emma nor her parents have very good stealthy skills – she wasn’t good at tailing subtly this episode, and she and David weren’t very good at it when they were tailing Cruella and Ursula last episode either lol.

    I felt disgust in those scenes with Rumple as Hook as well, because I hate the way he’s manipulating Belle. Also, I was a little surprised Belle didn’t pick up on how Hook was behaving differently; I don’t know if it was just because I knew what was coming, but I was hoping Belle would recognize there was something fishy going on.

    To be honest, Rumple has been irredeemable for me ever since we knew what he was up to in the last half-season. I used to enjoy his relationship with Belle in the early days, but now I never want to see him with Belle again. My current fantasy for this season’s end is that the Queens of Darkness turn to the heroes’ side and then they team up with the town/the heroes to take down Rumple.

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