TV Time: Once Upon a Time 5.17

OUAT 517

Source: avclub.com

Title Her Handsome Hero

Two-Sentence Summary With Belle and Rumplestiltskin working together to try to save their unborn baby from Hades, the Lord of the Underworld enlists a familiar face from Belle’s past to throw a wrench into their plans: Gaston. Meanwhile, Emma’s nightmare of a beast attacking her mother forces her to confront her guilt about her family’s participation in her quest to save Killian.

Favorite Line “We knew it would be hard—these things always are—but some things are worth it. Love is worth it.” (Snow)

My Thoughts Hope is the strongest force of good there is on Once Upon a Time, and the opposite is also true: Hopelessness is the strongest agent of darkness. So much of this Underworld arc has focused on the way hope can take root in the darkest places, but that can only happen when hope is shared. When someone feels like they’re alone in hoping for the best, it’s easy for them to lose that hope when things get hard. And when that happens, it also becomes easy for them to open themselves up to darkness.

I really loved the visual symbolism in this episode of hope being a flower growing amid the decay of the Underworld. Like a flower, hope can’t grow in darkness, but light makes it grow strong. And Emma and her loved ones have brought light to the Underworld. These characters have a deep sense of hope, and they don’t just keep it to themselves. They’re heroes because they work to share that hope with others, and they’ve done that not just by giving hope to those who have since moved on, but also by continuing to give hope to each other when the darkness around them starts to feel overwhelming.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are Rumplestiltskin and Belle. Hope has never been something Rumplestiltskin has understood. He’s a coward, and fear and hopelessness are often deeply connected. But what made “Her Handsome Hero” so sad was the fact that Belle is also feeling hopeless now—not just concerning the fate of her child but concerning her entire belief system and her sense of self.

For as much as I have always loved Disney’s version of Belle, her Once Upon a Time counterpart has sometimes been a source of frustration for me. And that continued at the start of this episode, when she went back to Rumplestiltskin right after he told her he wasn’t going to change, demanding he help protect their baby without using dark magic. I didn’t think that was a smart move at all, but maybe that’s just because it wasn’t the move I would have made. Belle seems to always be ready to choose Rumplestiltskin—even when he’s just told her he’s not going to choose her first—and while that might make me frustrated, it’s who her character is at this point.

It’s also in her character to believe she can change him and make him a better person by telling him not to use dark magic. But love doesn’t work that way, or at least it shouldn’t in a healthy relationship. You can’t force someone to be a better person, and love shouldn’t be about fixing someone who doesn’t want help. Love should inspire both of you to be the best version of yourselves, but Rumplestiltskin has already stated that he has no intention of giving up the darkness—not even for Belle. So I rolled my eyes a little bit when she walked into his shop and proceeded to act as if she could change his mind after he was finally honest with her about the fact that he has no desire to ever be without dark magic again. (Also, I found it naïve of Belle to believe Rumplestiltskin would do this for his child, when he let Bae fall into a portal because he wouldn’t give up his power for his son.)

My biggest question with Belle is why wouldn’t she just go to Emma and Co. to help her instead of relying only on Rumplestiltskin? The heroes all want to defeat Hades, too, so their goals are the same. By isolating herself from the others, Belle has also isolated herself from a support system of hope. Instead, she’s working with a man who is as hopeless as it gets when it comes to doing things without using dark magic. And by the end of the episode, Belle seemed to have come over to his side of thinking, which is as tragic as it gets for this show.

What happened to push Belle to that dark place? “Her Handsome Hero” brought back a ghost from her past: the handsome (and I mean HANDSOME) Gaston. One of the most interesting things about this part of the episode was its central theme: Don’t judge a person until you know their whole story. That’s been an important part of Once Upon a Time from the start. All of these characters have stories that make them so much more complex and relatable than our assumptions. And that was certainly true of Gaston, too. Both Belle and the audience were trained to assume the worst in him based on his reputation, but he turned out to be very different. I was struck by what I saw as real sincerity in his interactions with Belle. There was a gentle side to him that I wasn’t expecting at all, and it was fun to reevaluate my preconceived notions of the character as the episode went on.

Ultimately, Gaston was more what he appeared to be on many levels. But while parts of him seemed kinder than expected, other parts were darker. I had a bad feeling that he was going to end up hurting the young ogre, but I was left torn about how much of a monster that made him. I did love the callback to Beauty and the Beast with Belle saying, “He’s not a monster—you are!” However, after seeing Belle return to Rumplestiltskin many times after knowing he’s done far worse, it felt a little hollow for us to be asked to believe Gaston was beyond redemption in her eyes. But I can sometimes veer into “ends justify the means” territory myself when interpreting fiction, so I might be showing a bit of bias here.

In the present, I liked seeing Belle choose to try to help Gaston instead of hurting him. That’s what heroes do, and that’s what they’ve all done during this arc. But she started going down a slippery slope by asking Rumplestiltskin to use his magic to open Gaston’s locker, so I thought it was good to have him call her out on that. We saw during Season 5A that it doesn’t matter what the justification for it is, using dark magic only enhances a Dark One’s desire to keep using it. It’s like asking an addict to take just a tiny hit of a drug—it doesn’t end well. And Belle might think she’s on to something with Rumplestiltskin being able to use the Dark One’s powers for good, but he’s already stated that he doesn’t have any real desire to change. And is it just me, or did Killian already fulfill Merlin’s words by wielding the Dark One dagger to get rid of the darkness and save those he loves?

More than anything, I wanted Belle to help Gaston find peace and move on. And I wanted her to continue to stand her ground with Hades, refusing his deal and fighting for her baby with hope that she could do it by taking the high road and encouraging Rumplestiltskin to do the same. However, sometimes you don’t get what you want. Instead, Rumplestiltskin was about to toss Gaston into the River of Lost Souls, so Belle did the only thing she thought she could do in the moment: She used the dagger. While part of me was happy to see her acknowledge that she couldn’t sit back and watch him kill Gaston, Emma’s time as the Dark One has made me much more conscious of the problems inherent in using the dagger for control. If you have to resort to using the dagger, then you don’t have hope that the person you love is strong enough to do the right thing—or that your love is strong enough to help them choose the right path. I’m not saying Belle was wrong to be without that hope in this situation, but that doesn’t exactly say good things about their relationship at this point.

Newly freed from Rumplestiltskin’s clutches, Gaston reached for his arrows, but Belle was one step ahead of him, pushing him into the River of Lost Souls to save her husband. I know Belle was desperate, and desperate souls do drastic things. So I understand why she pushed him, but that didn’t make it any easier to watch her follow Rumplestilskin’s path since he did the same thing to Milah, even though Belle still doesn’t know that.

In saving her husband, Belle hurt someone else. She essentially killed someone to protect the person she loves, which actually isn’t a rare thing on this show. Emma killed Cruella to save Henry. Even Snow White killed Cora. But the difference is those other characters had people around them to help them work through what happened, to help them learn to forgive themselves and find hope that they don’t have to be lost to the darkness because they did something dark. In this case, though, Belle still couldn’t let go of her black and white sense of morality. She did something terrible, but she immediately jumped to the fact that the darkness would always win. And Rumplestiltskin did nothing to help her. That’s because hope is a foreign concept to him. Like Hades, he’s much more familiar and comfortable with despair.

In the end, Belle’s sense of hopelessness seemed to send her back into Rumplestiltskin’s arms, which made me wonder what’s going to happen to her now that she believes darkness is stronger than light and despair is stronger than hope. In the past, she chose to agree to marry Gaston because she felt it was the best thing for her kingdom. Could she be leaning on Rumplestiltskin not because she really wants to but because she thinks it’s what’s best for their child? I honestly don’t know. All I know is it hurts to think about a character who once so strongly believed in good so quickly accepting that it can’t beat darkness. But maybe that’s what happens when you see things as either black or white in a world that’s most often painted in shades of gray.

Belle’s despair plays right into Hades’ game. Hope is dangerous in the Underworld, but there is still a part of Hades that hopes for love. It’s a strange dichotomy: for him to hate hope and yet still feel its sparks in his dead heart. As Zelena said, she’s his only weakness, and that’s because she’s his own personal manifestation of hope.

Zelena’s conversation with Regina in this episode was interesting because it’s the first time we really saw them connect without animosity (at least for a moment). Rebecca Mader continued her streak of episodes in which she breaks my heart in the moment when she tearfully told Regina that it was unimaginable for someone to really love her. Zelena’s inability to believe she’s lovable is the reason why surrounding yourself with supportive people is so important. She spent her whole life alone and left only with the thought that she wasn’t enough for anyone to love, and that kind of despair is hard to turn into hope. You could see those walls—the same walls Emma had for so long—come down for a moment with Regina but come back up almost immediately when she discovered Regina was also trying to get information out of her. This continued the theme of nothing being completely black or white in this episode: Regina did want to get information from Zelena, but I think she was also sincere in caring about her sister. But it’s hard for Zelena to believe that—especially coming from Regina.

Hopelessness was even starting to creep into the heroes’ camp in this episode. “Her Handsome Hero” showed Emma and, to a lesser but snarkier degree, Killian working through feelings of hopelessness as they continued to hit roadblocks on their journey to defeat Hades. But when those feelings manifested themselves, they had people around them who worked to restore their hope and keep them from sliding into total despair.

For example, Killian seemed initially annoyed by all the “maybes and hopefullys” they were relying on in their quest. Killian has never been a man who goes into things without a plan; he likes strategy. So it was understandable for him to be frustrated. However, it was beautiful to see that frustration fade when Emma offered him the hope that maybe her plan from her dream would work. Killian has always believed in Emma—even when he might doubt others. And that kind of belief isn’t something Emma had a lot of in her life. The way Jennifer Morrison played Emma’s reaction to Killian’s faith in her spoke to how much it still means to Emma for someone—especially someone she loves—to voice his belief in her instincts and abilities. And it was nice to see her family believe in her plan, too. That provided a nice contrast to Rumplestiltskin, who spent most of the episode telling Belle that her way of doing things would never accomplish anything.

Emma couldn’t fully enact her plan, though, because the nightmare she first saw it in started to come true. And when she revealed the truth of her nightmare, she also revealed a difficult truth about herself. I always love the juxtaposition of Regina’s attempts to get Emma to open up with Killian’s attempts. Regina’s tough love is good for getting Emma to start thinking about uncomfortable things, but it’s only when Emma feels safe with Killian that she can actually voice what’s on her mind.

In this case, what was on Emma’s mind was incredible amounts of guilt. Morrison did an amazing job of showing just how much Emma’s guilt has been weighing on her since her family came to the Underworld, her vulnerability pouring out when she confessed to being frightened all the time that she’s going to have a loved one’s blood on her hands if things go wrong. It’s a realistic fear; this is Emma’s quest, so it makes sense for her to be worried about other people getting hurt in order to save the man she loves. (I also loved the way Colin O’Donoghue played Killian’s reaction to Emma’s confession, his own guilt etched across his face.) It also makes sense for Emma to wish she’d done this alone. That’s her default way to handle hard situations.

But on Once Upon a Time, it’s never better to do things alone. You’re always stronger when you have people in your corner supporting you and reminding you not to lose hope. Emma has that with Killian, who was quick to remind her with swoon-worthy sincerity that she saved him from Hades. But she also has that with her mother. This was the perfect time for a “Snow White Hope Speech,” and it felt so good to hear that kind of speech directed at her daughter.

Ginnifer Goodwin is great at showing the depth of Snow’s convictions and strength without coming across as cheesy or preachy. It also helps that this arc has provided her with great material. With the kind of fierce love only a mother can have, Snow reminded Emma that her family chose to follow her into the Underworld. And they did that because they all believe that love—the kind Emma found with Killian—is worth fighting for. For so long, Emma has fought for other people’s happy endings, so this was Snow’s way to show her daughter that she now has a group of people willing to fight for hers. It made me cry to see Snow encourage her daughter to keep fighting for the love she knows is worth it. This is the kind of relationship I’ve always wanted for Snow and Emma.

With Snow’s strength taking root in the heroes, they chose to stop running from what Emma saw as a hopeless situation and instead chose to stand up and fight the way they always have—together. And when they chose to hope instead of giving in to despair, they discovered that the monster they were so afraid of wasn’t a foe but a friend. You can’t judge someone until you know their whole story, and that’s as true for beauties as it is for beasts. In this case, the heroes ran into someone who’s a little bit of both. It seems Red has found her way to the Underworld, and I couldn’t be happier. There’s no better character to analyze when it comes to finding hope for yourself even after believing you’re a monster, so I can’t wait to see what she brings to this story.

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31 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 5.17

  1. Love this explanation for Belle, Katie – beautifully written as always. It’s very frustrating watching her on this show, being such a fan of the animated version. It’s a vicious cycle of anger, sadness, pity and empathy. We have all been there, in one way or another, where we have sought help from those that may not have had the best influence. Sometimes, you don’t see the light until the damage is done. My hope is that all of these small secrets of Rumple’s past coming out of the cracks will have a some sort of finality. I can only wish for her to cling to the light and get the support she needs and deserves.

    • Thanks, Coral! I never feel like I do Belle’s character justice in these posts because I really struggle to understand her at times, so your kind words mean a lot to me. I so badly want to see her surrounded by a support system instead of isolated like she has been lately. She has no reason to believe the heroes won’t help her, so I’d love to see her go to them at some point.

  2. Belle and Rumple have always been in danger of crossing the line into the trope “all girls want bad boys” and the idea that a woman’s love can make a bad man go good, when in reality that often leads to miserable relationships. In reality, to put it in a simplistic way, it’s more likely that a bad boy makes a good girl go bad than the other way around. I’m very frustrated with Belle, but I do like how this episode showed that very fact: loving Rumple is making Belle lose her hero side, as you pointed out.

    • I think you’re sadly right about Rumple and Belle always being in danger of falling into that terrible trope. I’ve had some personal experience with someone actually using their relationship to make the argument that girls like bad boys. (Needless to say, that “personal experience” did not end well.) I also think you’re right that we might be seeing that the far more likely scenario is Belle becoming a worse version of herself rather than Rumple becoming a better version of himself.

  3. I’m sure this will be a deeply unpopular opinion… I think it would be interesting if Belle actually became darker. I have personally been so attached to her as the iconic, good, Disney princess I idolized when I was young that I’ve wanted her to stay that way, but maybe what is more interesting is the fact that she is not. Belle has issues, guys! As much as I really, really want her to kick that dark one to the curb, she isn’t. So lets look at this a different way: Say she IS beginning to think that darkness always wins… what if she just gives into that? I think it would be awesome to see what became of her if she supported his dark magic. Remember Lacey? Isn’t that a part of her? “We are both” and all that…and what would that do to Rumple? It might make him worse but then it might also make him sad to see his beacon of decency gone. Maybe he would finally choose her over his power because would see his power ruin her. Or they become the MacBeths. I think it’s a storytelling win either way. We’ve seen The Evil Queen and Captain Hook find their hope and become good, i’m all in for seeing a Disney Princess lose all hope and turn bad – and not necessarily be redeemed by a baby. Bring it

    • Interesting thought… I’m beginning to feel like that might be a better way to go with her story. I’m sick of seeing her get used by all the men around her, lied to, kept in the dark, etc etc. I don’t really see what endgame they have with the way they’ve written her character… especially since Rumple seems to have been taken to a place of unredeemable evil.

  4. Thank you Katie for another great review. I don’t really have anything to say about the whole Belle/Rumple relationship that hasn’t already been said by others, though I do wish that in the situation that Belle currently finds herself in, that she would go to Emma & co and ask the for their help. I guess we’re all pretty frustrated with Belle at the moment and I hope that as the storyline progresses we see Belle come to her senses and turn her back on Rumple.

    However, i did want to make a comment on one little point that you made; you say “….(Also, I found it naive of Belle to believe Rumplestiltskin would do this for his child, when he let Bae fall into a portal because he wouldn’t give up his power for his son.)” I don’t think Belle was being naive per se because, if memory serves me, after the portal that Bae fell through closed, didn’t Rumplestiltskin instantly regret letting go of Bae’s hand and try to bring the portal back so he could follow him through and didn’t he then spend the next 30 years trying to get to this world to get back to Bae? Belle would know this information and how much time Rumple spent trying to get back to his son to make amends so would possibly have this on her mind when going to confront Rumple in his shop in the hope that, to save his child, he would be willing to do anything – even give up his dark magic? I would say Belle trying yet again to get Rumple to give up the darkness is borne out of desperation for a situation that was not of her making rather than her naivety that she can ‘talk him round’ yet again despite Rumple’s honesty towards her only a short time beforehand.

  5. Excellent Review as always Katie. To me this episode had the theme that hopelessness can only be fought by multiple people, that was even shown through the arranged marriage storyline as without the joining of the kingdoms both Belle’s and Gaston’s kingdoms would have fallen to the orges.

    I loved what you said Emma, that she has a very realistic fear of losing those she loves due to her quest and that she wouldn’t be able to lose anyone. It was a very good way to remind the audience that Emma has been a lost girl a lot longer than she’s been the savior, that she’s been alone for a lot longer than she’s had a family and she rightly fears that losing anyone could destroy everything she’s gained as we’ve watched her story.

    I’m so glad that Snow gave that speech, I’m so glad she’s taking on more of a leadership role. It really fits her role as the embodiment of hope and I love that Regina has learned how powerful hope can be.

    Once again Rebecca Mader completely killed it. Heartwrenching performance and I truly believed that Regina wanted what is best for everyone and that Zelena and Regina are sisters who don’t get along at all.

    Belle bothered me this episode. I was so happy that last episode she refused to think about being with Rumplestiskin again but the two are truly stuck in an utterly destructive cycle. Sadly, Belle will never give up on believing the man she loves can become a better person and that will cost her, it will cause Belle to sacrifice her morals as shown when she inadvertently killed Gaston. Gaston was a surprise, I know the show has always been amazing with creating a complicated nuanced character in one episode i.e. Hercules and Cinderella, but I didn’t expect to understand Gaston or like him in anyway. He is a man with a respect for woman and an dedication to protect his kingdom but that dedication means he’s willing to cross lines that many aren’t willing to cross, namely the torture of a child enemy. An enemy that did go back and report so it’s possible he was right. Gaston had a darkness in him but so does Rumplestiskin which was why Belle calling him a monster felt incredibly meaningless. This storyline is about how sometimes hope isn’t enough and realizing that often is what breaks you.

    I cannot wait to see Ruby again and I look forward to the next episode.

  6. Preach, sister.

    Fantastic job on explicating your frustration with Belle — which basically echoed my own. One of the things I love about Belle — beyond the whole you-will-pry-my-books-out-of-my-cold,-dead-hands,-for-these-are-my-friends love of books — is that she took what I called the hard approach to heroism. It wasn’t one heroic act that was over and done. It was something she had to live with. She had to live the heroic choice every day when she first went to live with the Dark One. (I am also mildly annoyed now that her decision to do so could be seen as out of guilt.) She had to live with the heroic choice when she forced Rumple over the town line. Her desire to go about saving her child the right way — not using Dark magic — was very Belle. Her decision to enlist Rumple? Oh, dear. His track record with his children isn’t the best. Yes, he spent years looking for Bae — but only because of his own initial cowardice. Basically Rumple is willing to work for his children, but he’s rarely willing to sacrifice for his children. (His death with Pan is as much about killing his father is it is about saving his son.) We don’t see Rumple making a sacrifice he has to live with — unlike Belle. Plus, when Rumple says, “Trust me.” Oh, Belle . . . what were you thinking? This relationship just seems irredeemably toxic. Rumple’s just wallowing in “this is who I am” now, and poor Belle is just overwhelmed.

    Oh, Gaston. Helloooo, tall, dark, and handsome. I loved that I could never quite figure out if he was sincere or not. (Let me be clear — I like it story-wise. In real life, not so much.) How much were lines? Was he really looking for a woman of substance? I think in the end he was sincere. After all, he did try her approach when confronting the Dark One . . .

    Poor Emma. The weight of the whole saviour thing is crushing. I’m glad that there’s the emphasis now on “we do this as a group.” They’re a team. They volunteered to come. Everyone’s fate is not on Emma. I love that Killian let her sleep. I love that they listened to her concerns about her dream and took those seriously. I love the Regina-Killian approach to pep talks. I love how Killian stood right in front of her and basically blocked everyone else out of her view. I love team-leader Snow.

    Questions:
    — Thoughts on the sincerity of Gaston?
    — Can we get folks out of the river of souls?

    I want both to be yes. I’m curious to hear other thoughts.

    Random thoughts:
    — Charming’s grin as he advises Emma not to try and change Snow’s mind about going with her is just . . . charming.
    — Ahhh, the return of Regina’s snarky Killian comments.
    — I kinda want to see Zelena and Hades be the Bonnie and Clyde of the Underworld. Although after the bicycle scene last ep, I can’t get “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” out of MY head when I think about the two of them together.
    — Shallow thoughts part one: The Regina hat. I WANT A REGINA HAT.
    — Shallow thoughts part two: Belle is just so darned cute. I love her wardrobe.
    — Shallow thoughts part three: Killian . . . all sexy with the supportiveness and the hair.

    • I think Gaston was sincere in his pursuit of Belle, he just also really hated Ogres and was kind of a jerk. Which again, is kinda confusing story wise.

      I am convinced that half of this episode was just an excuse to showcase Killian’s hair as much as possible.

      And mic drop to “Rumple is willing to work for his children but not sacrifice for them”. I am trying to think of a moment where Rumple ever truly sacrificed anything? One would think all it would have taken was for Rumple to throw the fight with Gaston and sacrifice himself and Belle and the baby would be free. But I think that would be the last thing to occur to him.

      I am now terrified of every body of water in Underbrooke. The harbor looked so innocent. But no, its like playing the ultimate playground game of “the sand is lava!”.

      • About the hair, the glorious hair- Killian arranging it with his Hook was priceless! I think it was a touch by Colin (like using the Hook to stop sneezy from sneezing in 3.10)

        • I don’t know if these hard to define characters are a writing/story flaws or a genuine attempt to show that no one is all good or all bad, everyone has their weaknesses, it’s impossible to know someone’s full story. Was the young ogre good or bad? (I wanted Belle to turn the mirror and quickly check that!) Even if he was good, could he have been manipulated by bad ogres when he got back, regardless of the torture? Was Milah a horrible person because she left her son? Was Gaston only badly intentioned regarding ogres? These seem like questions that you’re a fool to think have easy answers (and yes, I often think that Belle is a bit of a fool).

  7. Great job with this review Katie! This was a tough one to read, at least for me. Usually the show is pretty straightforward with its message, but Belle and Rumple have always been a bit confusing to me. This show has always operated in shades of grey, but sometimes Belle’s motivations and actions seem too inconsistent for me to get a read off of. The only thing I really took from this is that Belle was willing to sacrifice her own ideals for something outside herself in both the past and present. She agreed to marry a man with darkness in his soul for the protection of her kingdom, and she agreed to stay and work with Rumple to try to ensure the safety of their child. I dont know if its important, but Belle also has a tenancy to seek magical solutions to most of her problems. She is all about the quest for magical items to prove this or help with that. I just wish she had a little bit more faith in her own judgement (although really she doesnt seem to have great judgement). Maybe its because her father never seemed to have any faith in her and she always felt the need to prove herself. Seriously, Mo is my least favorite father on the show. Even more so than Rumple.

    Maybe I have seen too many trailers for “World of Warcraft”, but I was really sympathetic to the ogres in this episode. Seriously, by the end of this episode I was just kinda sad that the Ogres didnt actually wipe out their stupid kingdom. Or at least Maurice and Gaston and all the other ogre haters.

    I did love all the Zelena/Regina/Emma/Snow/Killian scenes in this episode, but even with those little moments, the emotional impact of this episode was still relatively small and didnt quite compensate for the minor plot progression.

    I did love the symbolism of the flowers. I hope we see more physical transformation in the Underworld as the heroes get closer/further away from defeating Hades.

    Other Thoughts:
    -It was kinda implied that Belle did actually meet up with the heroes right or she wouldnt have known about the moving on business? Why even after meeting up with Team Hero she would think to go back to Rumple is even more confusing.
    -I get kinda sad every episode the Blind Witch isnt in. At this point I look forward to seeing her more than Robin.
    -When on earth is David going to run into James? James seems to be a pretty absentee Sheriff.
    -Has the dark one ever produced offspring before? Is this baby evil? Can we blame evil dark one spawn on Belle’s behavior?
    -I definitely thought Killian seemed overly cranky in that sneak peak, so it was great to see the whole scene. To his credit, all those squiggly lines were a waste of time, but it was still great to see his unwavering faith in Emma once again. And as you mentioned, I think its got to be hard for man of action Killian to feel like he doesn’t have anything to do right now. I have been on team “give Killian a job” since before they got back from Neverland, lol. Its number one on my wish list when they get back from the Underworld.
    -Snow has been so great in this arc. And YES to everything you said about Ginny being able to sell her hope speeches without things sounding cheesy. Josh is equally good at it, and I will take a hope speech from either of them any day of the week!

    • Great point about Belle and magic. I had never made that connection before. I also love the possibility that baby Dark One is somehow poisoning Belle’s soul.

      I’m also on Team Blind Witch. It’s almost like having Anya back. 🙂

      Oh, and yes, please. Give Killian a job. Send him to confront Cruella and/or James . . . Give him some bonding time with Charming.

      • So glad you guys mentioned missing the Blind Witch – she has been so much fun this season! She was definitely channeling Anya last episode when she asked for ‘the breath of the living’ so that she could sell it. Remember how much Anya liked to make a profit? None of this is a surprise, given that OUAT writer and Co-EP Jane Espenson always wrote great stuff for Anya back when she worked on Buffy.

        To your last point, Tempest, yes to more Killian/Charming bonding! I love that this show has strong women as lead characters who drive most of the action. However….I would watch the heck out of a spinoff that was just David and Killian helping people or solving mysteries (or whatever) and grudgingly deepening their friendship. Basically Season 5 of Angel, with David in the noble, straight-man Angel-type role to Killian’s snarky, unpredictable Spike.

        OK, enough of my Buffyverse musings.

  8. This was excellent, Katie. It’s strange because in a lot of ways, “Her Handsome Hero” reminded me of S1 with the introduction of love at its first steps, and for that, I really appreciated the story that was told through Belle and Gaston. But again, as you know the frustration that’s risen from present day Rumple/Belle made it one of those episodes I honestly didn’t even want to write. How strange is this? But I love that you discussed the importance of the dagger because I was too proud of her taking a stand to realize what was actually happening.

    “If you have to resort to using the dagger, then you don’t have hope that the person you love is strong enough to do the right thing—or that your love is strong enough to help them choose the right path. I’m not saying Belle was wrong to be without that hope in this situation, but that doesn’t exactly say good things about their relationship at this point.”

    But you also make an exceptional point here because the difference with Killian and Emma using the dagger is that they were stemmed from desperation and not anger. When Killian tried to summon her in 5×01, he just desperately wanted her back to safety. When she did in the forest, she desperately needed him to hear her out. And the clear difference between the couples is that they consciously respect the other’s agency. They apologize when they’re in the wrong. At the place Belle and Rumple are at, it feels like a lost cause. She can’t hand him the dagger because he’s untrustworthy, plus just last week he said he won’t give it up. And when he said he’ll try this week, unfortunately all I can do was roll my eyes. Hopefully by the end of the season we’ll have a clearer vision of where the couple stands and that’ll make it easier for us to understand the characters. It’s not always black and white as you said, but sometimes, it’s too complicated (lmao).

    On happier note, I loved your paragraph about Snow and Emma. I cannot believe we’re finally seeing the beautiful mother/daughter relationship they were destined for. They’re so much alike in their fierceness and it’s beautiful to see that come to life this season. You wrote that paragraph wonderfully!

    This wasn’t an episode where I feel any of us were really afraid we wouldn’t be able to do it justice, but it wasn’t easy to find an approach and you managed to do such an excellent job with the material we were given. A+, darling!

    • My views of the dagger scene in 5.10 is that Dark Swan’s issues and Dark Hook Issues collide, her issues are people leaving her and the need to have control of what’s going on because she lacked it her entire life, he entire life people throw her aside and she was powerless to stop it, and Hook’s issue is not having a free will after being a slave his entire childhood+teen. Darkness brought selfishness to the surface (at least at some extant) and it collided between them, you saw that she hated using the dagger, if in 4.06 you saw that in Belle, you didn’t this episode, she did it quite naturally.

  9. Hi Katie!

    The first thing I said after watching this episode was ‘I don’t know what to say’ , It took me a while to gather my thoughts and still I feel they are all scrambled.
    I have never been a fan of Belle or Rumbelle, This episode showed that they are completely anti-parallel to Captain Swan, That this relationship is toxic,what Rumple does is drag Belle down the dark hole with him and if in the past you can say he hide his motives from her, he is not anymore.She is letting him drag her, she can’t use ‘you lied to me, you hide things from me, you manipulated me’, He told her straight up- I don’t want to change, I love the power, I love the magic and will use it to my benefit and walk on the rest, I love to be the one in control and I don’t intend to change nor for you nor for our baby’. for once I don’t have problems with him, he owned to who he is and her first scene with him she again tried to change the unchangeable and it went down hill from there to the climax of the hug, I was just WOW did I see what I thought I saw?

    Maybe some will ‘blame’ her pregnancy but as a mother, I would want my baby to be miles away from someone like Rumple, Yes he showed in the past he would do anything for him child, he showed he will kill hundreds, manipulate Regina to in-act a dark curse…is that what you want for your child as well? why not go to the Heroes? they are fighting against Hades just like you, and even if not they would have done anything they can to help you save an innocent baby!

    I find it very interesting that both of them ended up throwing someone to the river of lost soul, in this arc I loved how when you help someone move on you free yourself – Regina was freed from her mother’s control, Snow from her other self that stopped her, Killian from his self hate and guilt. Both rumple and Belle could have used something else, Belle could have thrown Gaston to the side, rumple could have used his magic to steer Milla away from the truth, they had other choices but the writers chose to have them throw to the river of lost souls, I see it as both of their souls are lost as well.

    Done rumbling about Rumbelle

    I loved the B ploy of this episode. everything about it!

    For Emma to have her entire family backing her up on a plan that she didn’t even know what that plan was, was amazing!
    Killian endless faith in her abilities, endless believe in her, endless support, This is a healthy relationship!
    I loved how the entire scene in the volt went, from Regina opening the subject, Emma not comfortable enough to replay to her until Killian asks her, he is her person, she is looking for his input on everything, and she tells him, to Snow (I missed you!) reassuring her that all her family wanted to come and for once help her get her happy ending because Love is worth it, beautiful scene!
    what Snow said showed Emma and Killian that they are family, all of them (first time I think Killian saw it) and they fight and help each other and with each other

    I love that Killian isn’t intimidated by Emma’s magic and power, I think a lot of men would have been intimidated by a strong woman, but he worships it, he is proud of her and loves her for it. and that makes her stronger.

    I knew Ruby will be back but I forgot hahah and didn’t notice Megan’s name on the credits so seeing that the beast was her was a wonderful surprised

    Zelene makes me emotional, in the last episode she nearly made me cry and she continued with it, It’s so sad that she doesn’t believe Hadas loves her because she thinks there is nothing in her to love, I do hope they will continue to try to build the sisters bond.

    I love Hadas, he has the exact amount of sas, evilness, cruelty…Greg is doing a great job, please stay!

  10. Katie, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, as always, and you bring up some great points about Belle, who is pretty frustrating to analyze. I especially liked your point about her isolation from everyone other than Rumple. She has never really seemed that close with the Charmings, which makes sense given their relationship with her husband. Her father can be pretty awful, (see: that time he kidnapped her and tried to erase her memory.) So, she’s left with Rumple. It’s always fun to compare and contrast this show’s villains on their varying paths to redemption, and I can’t help but think of how, when Regina wanted to win back Henry’s trust and Killian wanted to prove himself worthy of Emma, they both swallowed their pride and started spending all their time hanging out with the Charmings, ingratiating themselves to the whole family versus trying to pull the person they loved away from it.

    In Rumple and Belle’s case, Rumple never had to make such a sacrifice. He always has her all to himself, so he ends up having such a dominant place her life that his influence over her becomes enormous. To me this is a huge factor in explaining her buying into his line of thinking in the end, which as, you noted, “is as tragic as it gets for this show.”

  11. Ugh. As soon as Belle went to Rumple and started trying to convince him to change (again, right after he said he never ever would) I just slumped in my seat. I thought finally, maybe, Belle would walk away. But no. Not even when he reiterated that no, he hadn’t changed him mind in the last day about wanting power/darkness more than anything. Not even when she finds out about another murder that Rumple committed during their time together. (Which makes me think that finding out about Zelena in the cell, Milah, etc won’t make any difference to her either). Sigh. I hope this is all part of a grand plan. I just don’t see how this storyline can play out in the long, long run that will satisfy people who like Belle.
    The men in her life have treated her as a pawn in their games, time after time. And I can’t help but wonder if she’s going to be that in the show too – if the writers have her do things for the sake of other people’s plots…? I have (somewhat dwindling) faith that everything is for a purpose in this show and a hero won’t be given a super crappy story arc when all is said and done.
    Confession time: I don’t believe I’ve watched Beauty and the Beast all the way through. If I have, I don’t remember much about it. So I don’t have much sense of Belle and Gaston outside of what the show has given me. I figured that Gaston couldn’t be trusted, but he didn’t seem like a terrible guy once he and Belle went for a wander, until the red glowing eyes bit. It seemed like that marriage could have been OK, as arranged marriages for the good of the kingdom go. And then he had to go and torture the ogre (for what purpose even?) Ugh. Maybe Belle just has issues because of her daddy, preferring men who value power and strength at any cost, who always think the ends justify the means.
    Emma was amazing, struggling under the weight of that guilt. I loved when she said she didn’t have issues. She seemed to practically spit the word out. And then — the dead silence of her loved ones not wanting to say, um yeah, well…. you kinda do…. hahaha! And Snow is not only acting more like herself, she’s looking more like herself. I’m not sure if that’s just Ginny, or if they’ve altered her wardrobe or makeup to make her look a little less matronly. Hope! Speeches that should be cheesy but aren’t when given by a Charming parent.
    Random thoughts:
    — I like Zelena better when she’s not green. I don’t love her, but I like her better. I hope she gets over her “no one can ever love someone like ME” issues soon. I’ve never had any patience for that crap. Zelena + Regina acting sisterly would be grand.
    — Hades can’t possibly locate Robin and Peanut (or is the babe a Pistachio) if they’re hiding in the woods? How is that? Does he have hayfever? Is he afraid of tall trees? Surely the woods are as much part of his domain as anywhere else and he seems quite capable of creeping on anything and anyone he likes.
    — I don’t understand how or why Red is there, but yay!
    — I spend way too much time looking for Emilie’s baby bump under her coats.
    — I’m glad you love long comments…

    • Its interesting you bring up that maybe Belle’s purpose is more to further other people’s plots without really having an arc of her own, because at times I have felt that way about Snow. Sometimes it seems like Snow’s main job on the show is to contradict Emma within in the story. When Emma is questioning herself or hope in general, Snow is right there to prop her up. When Snow starts to doubt, Emma is the one who steps up.

      I think most of us have such an ingrained sense of who Belle is supposed to be, its hard to accept that her story is not one with a happy ending. The fact that the show hasnt spent all that much time developing her enough to change that bias makes it even harder. A villain becoming a hero is something that is easy to root for. A hero becoming a villain is something most of us dont necessarily want to see happen, so its kinda our default reaction to make excuses and try to find a different explanation.

      Belle’s Storybrooke counterpart Lacy was quite dark. She seems to be the only character whos cursed persona varied so much from her fairytale one. Perhaps she has always had that darkness in her, we have all just been in denial about it.

      Another interesting theory I see floating around is that Belle is actually contractually binded to Rumple. That when she made that deal to “go with him forever” to save the kingdom, she sealed her fate, and as long as Rumple holds the power of the dark one, Belle cant leave, even if she wanted to. It grosses me out that she would have no free will, but it would be a logical explanation for her behavior that seems to be so illogical (see I am still trying to make excuses!).

      • Yes, the magical obligation theory might make sense… Good point about Lacy being so much darker than you would expect. I wonder if that is significant. Or if poor Belle is just a tool in the writers’ arsenal.

  12. Interesting analysis of the episode. You bring up some good points. Why didn’t Belle go to our heroes for help, instead of going to Rumple? Belle’s isolating herself from her friends and putting herself into a situation with Rumple, where she ultimately gives into what he wants.

    I’m still trying to figure out what the writers are trying to accomplish with Belle’s character? She’s mad at him for less than two episodes about the whole baby situation and then she goes back to him. I suppose if Rumple committed murder, she would be mad at him for a second and then completely accept his reason why he killed because she wants to believe the best in him; even when he doesn’t deserve it.

    I do applaud Rumple for finally being honest with Belle about his magic. She’s been kept in the dark for too long, but I also suppose Belle is partly at fault for that because she refused to look past that side of him.

    I think my proudest moment with Belle, is when she stole back Rumple’s dagger; but after one moment of weakness within herself, she loses all hope that good can’t win. And I’m just thinking, ‘Who is this character?’

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