Title Strange Case
Two-Sentence Summary When it seems Belle is in danger of being attacked by Hyde and the Evil Queen, Rumplestiltskin goes to drastic measures to try to keep her safe. However, flashbacks reveal that Hyde may not be the one everyone should be worried about.
Favorite Line “I don’t need your protection!” (Belle, to Rumplestiltskin)
My Thoughts Once Upon a Time has always asserted that no one is completely good or completely evil. “Villains” have the potential for goodness in them, just as “heroes” have the potential for darkness. “We are both,” as the show has said time and again, and, as such, it was hard for me to understand how the show’s version of story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that was introduced in last season’s finale—which seemed to be about physically separating yourself into two halves—could fit into that ethos. It turned out that Jekyll and Hyde fit perfectly into Once Upon a Time’s vision of good and evil because neither half was exactly what they appeared to be. Hyde was not the singularly sociopathic monster we thought he was, and Jekyll was far from the meek, harmless man he appeared to be at first sight.
Ultimately, just like every other character on this show, Jekyll and Hyde were both, and no amount of magic or science could completely separate them. At first, I was annoyed with Mary’s obvious attraction to Hyde because the “every girl loves the bad boy” trope is not one I agree with or want to see on television—especially not on a television show kids watch. However, upon discovering just how inseparable Jekyll and Hyde really were, I came to believe that Mary’s attraction was to the fact that Hyde was brave and uninhibited, not that he was bad. She appreciated his passion and his ownership of that passion, which if Jekyll was brave enough to show to her when he was himself, she might have come to love in him as well. Mary was attracted to Hyde because he wasn’t afraid to be himself, while Jekyll felt he had to hide and eventually physically break with part of himself.
It was fascinating to watch Rumplestiltskin act as the devil on Jekyll’s shoulder throughout the flashbacks, encouraging him to separate the “weak” part of himself from the “strong” part. It was easy to see long before his revelation to Belle at the episode’s end that he wanted the serum to separate the part of himself that wanted to love Belle and the part that wanted to remain the Dark One, but his plan fell apart when Hyde fell in love. You can’t cut off the part of yourself that loves just because you think it’s weak. In truth, it’s the strongest part of a person. The sincerity of Hyde’s love for Mary (played with heartbreaking honesty by Sam Witwer) made him feel less like a monster and more like a tragic figure.
Seeing the pieces fall into place with Jekyll and Hyde’s story in this episode was fascinating. When the twist eventually came that Belle was stuck on the Jolly Roger with the real killer of the two, I applauded the show’s ability to still surprise me. Hyde may have appeared to be intimidating and evil, but Jekyll’s brand of darkness was far more realistic—and far more terrifying. When he killed Mary out of desperation because he wanted her to love him, it felt like every woman’s worst fear—a “nice guy” turning into a monster because she doesn’t want to be with him romantically. And when he went after Belle, I was honestly terrified for her, even though I knew nothing bad would happen to her. (The show can get dark sometimes, but never that dark.) Jekyll was willing to hurt not just Belle but also her innocent, unborn child, just to get back at Rumplestiltskin. That’s the mark of a true villain. And Belle was trapped on the Jolly Roger, unable to free herself because Rumplestiltskin wanted to protect her the only way he knows how—by locking her up like a possession (which he has done so many times that it shouldn’t have come as a shock to her—or to me). That’s not love; that’s taking away someone’s agency because you don’t believe they can take care of themselves. And it nearly got Belle killed.
Luckily, Belle wasn’t alone. I did a fist pump on my couch when Killian came to her rescue (though part of me would have loved to see Belle take care of Jekyll herself). They have developed such a beautiful friendship, and my heart melted when Killian gave her the shell to contact him if she needed him. Killian went from trying to shoot Belle to saving her life, and that is the kind of relationship development I thoroughly enjoy watching.
In the end, Killian killed Jekyll, which also killed Hyde. This didn’t really shock me—after all, as Jekyll told Mary, “I am him!” Jekyll and Hyde were ultimately inseparable, even as they existed in different bodies. They were both; Hyde could not escape the ability to love and to care for someone else, and Jekyll couldn’t cut himself off from the darkness inside of him or disown that darkness by giving it a different name and face.
You can’t escape your darkness, your demons. All you can do is learn to live with it and work through it instead of trying to hide it or cut it out of you like a tumor. That’s where Jekyll failed, and that’s where Regina is failing right now. She doesn’t have to meet Jekyll’s fate of dying to destroy the Evil Queen. All she has to do is be brave enough to find a way to reconcile with that part of her identity. She is both the Evil Queen and Regina; it’s clear to everyone now that they’re not two different people. But instead of dying in order to stop her, I think the key is going to be accepting that she has to live with her.
I really liked the parallel of both Regina and Emma thinking they have to die this season because of the parts of their identity that have defined them since the show’s pilot: the Evil Queen and the Savior. These two women are living on what they think is borrowed time, and I found it especially poignant that Regina made Emma promise that she would kill her if it would save everyone else—not just because it echoed the promise Emma made Regina make in Camelot, but also because of the fact that it echoed Emma’s self-sacrificial visions. There was an extra layer of depth to that exchange between them because of what Emma believes about her own destiny, and I thought Jennifer Morrison played that inner conflict and realization really well. Both women don’t see a way to escape their destiny or find a happy ending for themselves, and I hope that Emma’s pledge to help Regina find another way will be echoed by Regina when she finds out about Emma’s visions.
Regina has to come to terms with the fact that she can’t escape her darkest self, but it seems Rumplestiltskin came to terms with that fact long ago. This was the darkest he has been in quite some time, which I should have expected after a few weeks of me starting to soften toward him. Just like Jekyll, Rumplestiltskin does not handle rejection well. First, he trapped Belle on the Jolly Roger under the guise of protecting her. Then, he resorted to threatening her when she stood her ground and refused to take him back. But Belle did not back down. This was the most I have respected her since she pushed Rumplestiltskin over the town line in Season Four. She rejected his offer of protection with a fierce sense of self-respect, and she’s right; she doesn’t need him. She has friends like Killian who will drop everything to help her when she needs it, and having that support system has made her stronger. Emilie de Ravin was excellent in that confrontation scene, giving Belle the backbone I have wanted her to display for so long. Robert Carlyle was equally compelling; I wish I didn’t love his acting so much when Rumplestiltskin is at his worst, but I do. Whether he was trying to scare Belle into taking him back in the present or unleashing his unhinged rage on Jekyll and Hyde in the past, Carlyle was at his most captivatingly dark in this episode. (Or maybe I just really like his new haircut.)
“Strange Case” dealt mainly with the dark side of the “We are both” theme, but one storyline highlighted the beauty of it. Snow’s first day back as a teacher was a triumphant moment of reconciling Mary Margaret and Snow White. I loved seeing her combine her love of teaching with her badass archery skills, emerging more sure of herself and stronger as a teacher because she accepted that she can live with both parts of her identity and use both parts to help her students learn. And who wouldn’t want to learn about Newton’s Third Law by shooting arrows at bad test grades? I’ve really been enjoying the work Ginnifer Goodwin has been doing so far this season, and I hope it continues.
Snow found support in her journey from an unlikely source—her new teacher’s aide, who happens to be Princess Jasmine. I’m excited to see Jasmine’s backstory, because this episode hinted at the fact that she ran away from her problems to the Land of Untold Stories—another character who put her life on hold out of fear. I’m also intrigued by Jasmine’s relationship with the seer who foretold Emma’s death. I still believe that the seer is Jafar in disguise (because of the staff), so it will be interesting to watch what happens between those two characters in the future.
“Strange Case” was an episode that reminded us that none of these characters are one-dimensional. Jasmine is a princess and a refugee. Snow is a warrior and a teacher. Emma is a Savior and a girl who loves her dad’s pancakes. Charming is a sheriff and a dad who just wants to take care of both his kids. Killian is a hardened pirate and a protective friend. Regina is the Evil Queen and the woman willing to die to rid the world of the Evil Queen for good. Hyde was able to love, and Jekyll was able to kill. Belle always saw the man behind the beast, but she now knows when to walk away as the beast overtakes the man. And Rumplestiltskin loves his wife, but he doesn’t love her enough to let her be free.
No one should be defined—or should try to define anyone else—by one facet of who they are. People are complex, and Once Upon a Time has always understood that. We are the sum of our parts—the best and the worst parts. And once we realize that, we can finally live the fullest version of our story.
• Did anyone else die of “Daddy Charming” feelings when Charming worried that Killian moving in meant that he couldn’t make breakfast for his daughter anymore? I will always have a soft spot for Charming and Emma’s relationship, and this episode was full of adorable moments for them. I found it especially moving that he shows his love by cooking for her, given the fact that we’ve seen that Emma went hungry often in her past.
• Speaking of Charming and his kids, I have discovered that Josh Dallas holding babies is my ultimate weakness.
• I thought Killian’s single chest full of possessions was a nice little parallel to Emma’s single box of possessions. They’ve always been kindred spirits in that way.
• Can the Evil Queen please stop hitting on Rumplestiltskin soon? It’s not getting any less uncomfortable.
• I was so excited to see that Violet is still around—and still clearly into Henry.
• Is there any way Rumplestiltskin and Belle can find their way back to each other at this point? I feel like this was entering into “last straw” territory, but I’ve definitely said that before.
I do so love reading Happy-Katie perspective. While I did enjoy this episode, the Jekyll-Hyde material felt strained. I do think the “twist” could have been executed better. At the time, it felt like M. Night Shyamalan syndrome: a twist because that’s the established pattern (e.g. last week’s Cinderella episode). It was a twist for the sake of a twist. I think a better approach would have been to emphasize the complexity of the characters versus the simplistic good vs. evil approach – which I noticed is Katie’s read on this . . . which I repeat: I like reading Happy-Katie views. So I’m curious where people fell on the happy-cranky divide. 🙂
As for the issue of what part of Jekyll was Hyde . . . last season, Jekyll told Killian that the other half or dark side looks the way you perceive your dark side to look. What if it was more than just the look? What if the other half was what you perceived your worst or dark side to be? Hyde was the part of Jekyll that he either didn’t like or really didn’t know what to do with. This would make sense with Regina, then, the other half is everything she associates with the Evil Queen. In other words, it’s not necessarily what is the evil part of you – it’s what you think of as the evil or undesirable part of you.
I’m curious to hear everyone else’s read on this.
Rumple and Belle. Nope, Rumple. Sorry – not even sexy reading of Celtic poetry will get you back in our good graces. Loved seeing Belle stand firm. Like you, Katie, I am torn between loving Killian’s dashing rescue to being annoyed that Belle couldn’t handle the whole thing herself. (My annoyance is somewhat mitigated by the awesome shell-stabbing.) I’m focusing on the fact that Belle has back-up; she has friends who will support her. I also love watching Killian swashbuckle. (We all know I’m shallow that way.)
I was curious how they would handle Carlyle’s Begbie hair. I thought the reactions were better than the explanation. (Belle’s was my favorite.)
Snow – no, sweetie, you don’t approach teaching the same post-curse. You were CURSED! So glad Jasmine was there to . . . well, to be Snow for Snow.
Violet and Henry 4ever.
A moment of sniffling while I mourn the passing of Hyde. I repeat my mantra of this season: Sam Witwer rocked Hyde. Can I have a scene of Hyde in the Underworld? (Please do NOT try to bring in logic regarding the possibility of Hyde/Jekyll one-ness in the Underworld. I want to imagine Hyde meeting Cruella.) I really wanted more episodes of Hyde and EQ just walking around discussing their evil plans.
I really thought the oracle character was some Hyde minion who was just handing Emma a lie. Evidently not. Huh.
Did not see Charming’s enthusiasm for pancake’s coming. I love that he has a secret ingredient – which he immediately shares with his daughter.
Poor Killian – his expression when he realizes that breaking out the rum with a pregnant woman is a non-starter.
I love your thought that the dark half of a person isn’t necessarily the evil stuff but just the stuff they can’t accept and want to push away. I’m not sure if it will play out that way, but yeah, I can definitely see that idea working/making sense.
I second the liking the idea that the serum separates you from your “unwanted” half rather than just your evil half. In the beginning it didnt really seem like Jekyll felt like he had to use the serum on himself, he was developing it for others for the greater good of society. Perhaps this also contributed to the fact that the lines between good and evil seemed so muddled between the two of them – Jekyll didnt really have a clear idea of what the worst parts of him were either. But this is probably getting way more nuanced than ‘Once’ would ever be, lol.
I’m enjoying having more time for school hallway kisses and piles of pancakes and Leroy having a line other than his usual “the sky is falling” and all the other little things that might not necessarily have made the cut if this was a super-fast half-season storyline.
The moment that Rumple trapped Belle on the ship I didn’t anticipate it putting her in danger necessarily but I did hear your voice Katie, from all the way on the other side of the country, screaming about taking away Belle’s agency AGAIN. gah!
I was happy for all the Belle/Killian friendship in this episode – another nice part of the pacing – we get to see some different character interactions and new dynamics developing.
Jasmine seems rather lovely. I know I know the actress from somewhere but I can’t place her right now… I guess I’d better look her up. But yes, lovely. I guess that’s another Disney movie I should actually watch someday… this show is exposing my shameful lack of movie knowledge once again. I guess I saw it once… maybe?
Shes from Galavant 🙂
Which reminds me how MUCH I want the musical episode . . .
Thank you!! I finally figured it out last night… when I was watching her for the better part of an hour. I LOVE HER. She’s so gorgeous.
Ditto on the small character moments. I had no idea that Granny’s served mutton . . . I also may have gotten distracted by the cuteness that is wee Neal. It’s nice to have a moment to be distracted by his cuteness . . . and then return to the pancakes — because the pancakes were awesome.
One of the things that I love about this site is knowing that I am not alone in yelling at my tv.
And yes. You do need to see Aladdin. It is oodles of fun.
oh yes the Mutton and servant Leroy. I can just picture Leroy commenting in disgust on Jekyll later “I KNEW there was something off about that guy, ordering me around like a slave!”
The Jekyll/Hyde story was intriguing, and I thought they had just the right amount of reference to the source material, but ultimately it wasnt quite as engaging as I had hoped. But one of the the things I like about this show is that even when it fails on the emotional front, its always interesting. And you did a fantastic job discussing the interesting, as always! I will say I am quite surprised that they are gone so soon! While Jekyll was pretty boring, I LOVED Hyde, and thought him and the evil queen made a fun duo. But with Aladdin and Jasmine coming in, the storyline was getting crowded. For me the most enjoyable parts were the supporting storylines, so thats what I will gush about:
– Yay Violet cameo!! That was the perfect way to remind us that she is still around without taking up unnecessary screen time. Super sweet.
– Those were some BAD test scores. Yikes.
– Belle and Killian’s friendship is one of my favorite things on this show. This is what happens when you are THE WORST Rumple. Two former enemies bond over getting screwed over by you and then have each others back to make sure you dont do it again. The irony of Killian once attempting to get back at Rumple by shooting Belle on the Jolly to saving her when she gets put in danger by Rumple on the same ship was just too perfect.
– Killian’s face when he realized he finally found a problem that couldnt be solved with rum was perfection. Fearsome pirate pouting about losing his drinking buddy. That was definitely Colin coming through, but if there was ever a moment were the line between Killian and Colin would realistically blur, that was it. The bf came out after the show was over and asked what I was laughing at. This was it.
– What do you do when your best mate just also happens to be the father of your gf? You talk about your relationship issues with Disney princesses instead! Killian has now discussed Emma with Elsa, Ariel, Cinderella, and Belle. Is Jasmine next? I love that Killian is the one that has all the girl talk. I really want him to have a heart to heart with Snow at some point. Really, as a fan of Killian Jones, I am just so excited he is getting a chance to have meaningful interactions with other characters in Storybrooke, especially since we didnt have him around in Season 1. But I still think he needs a dang job.
– Charming making Emma pancakes (with cooking advice) and holding down the fort while Snow went off to school was too adorable. I dont even like babies, but I do like Charming holding babies.
– Anytime the show works in changes to physical appearance into the plot its appreciated. I am actually curious if Robert cut it for the show, or the show worked around the haircut.
– I was totally ok with the moving in obstacle this ep, but I hope they dont drag it out too long. With what seems like more angst coming in the next episode, it seems like a good possibility its not going to end up happening for a bit. Sigh.
– I enjoyed the moment when Belle realized that Jekyll wasnt to be trusted – when he mentioned Mary in a possessive way. If anybody knows the danger of that its Belle. And boy did she slay at the end with Rumple. My favorite Belle is always the one laying into Rumple for being THE WORST.
– I need Killian to be the Godfather of Belle and Rumple’s child. It would piss Rumple off so badly. But Killian would be a great godfather, and I could see Belle asking, so this is my new want of week.
As always — much love for this comment. Carlyle trimmed his hair for Trainspotting 2 (the character of Begbie — hence my earlier comment).
I am on board Killian as Godfather train. So on board. And yes to Charming with wee ones and Charming giving Dad kisses. (I love that those come across as completely Dad kisses.)
Ok, I now imagine Killian in a support group made up completely of Disney princesses . . . all giving him advice.
(And if anyone is wondering about my flurry of responses, I am NOT procrastinating on work . . . no, not at all . . .)
Hahaha, Killian support group with a bunch of princesses. Priceless!
I’m so glad that you mentioned wanting Killian to be the godfather of Belle and Rumple’s son. So good to know that I’m not alone in that. I think it would be very sweet and a great way to further show how far these characters have come together. Overall, I did enjoy the episode. I’m going to miss Sam Witwer as Hyde. I thought he was a fantastic addition to the cast and had great chemistry with the other characters. I am excited about Aladdin and Jasmine, though. I thought Karen David was great in this episode and I can’t wait to see more of her.
I found this episode a bit slow and disjointed. I found the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde a bit rushed. Or it may have been me. Or it may be because I do struggle with Belle as I have never connected with her as a believable character. Whatever, this was at least a step in the right direction for Belle. I still loved the episode as a whole, just not as much as the first 3.
All that aside, I, like you above, am a little sad that Mr Hyde has already left us. I thought he was awesome. Him and the Evil Queen together were great and I would have loved to have seen more mischief created, but I guess we need room for Jafar’s evil ways to come in (he is coming in right?). I wonder if Jafar and the EQ will team up. I’m looking forward to seeing Oden Fehr in full evil mode! He is a great evil actor.
I also thought that Robert Carlyle was brilliant in this episode. Both past Rumple, who i found particularly nasty/creepy and present Mr Gold, who was showing his true twistedness in his lack of understanding of love and Belle’s agency. He just doesn’t get it. That’s what the Dark One does, as we saw last year with Dark Hook and Dark Swan, they just kept missing the mark as the Dark One twists love up so it’s all wrong, controlling and selfish.
With Regina, I wonder/hope that she can somehow suck the EQ back into herself otherwise I have no idea how this will end. I’m looking forward to this arc playing out.
I loved that Charming was scared that Hook was taking his place with Emma! I’d love to see a little rivalry between Hook and Charming for Emma’s time/attention but i guess that’s just a little childish.
Love that Hook has been the hero and saved Belle, a big step in his self redemption. I would have liked to see more depth behind that.
Tempest, I think there is merit behind your comment re the perception of your undesirable side. If Dr Jekyll was twisted, then his perception of what was good/evil would also be twisted. With Regina, she had spent a lot of time/growth becoming “good” and had a clear perception of what is good and what is bad. Therefore it makes sense that the part she separated was the clear evil part of her.
I’m with you on Carlyle. A lesser actor would not be able to pull this off. I’m seriously looking forward to Oded Fehr as well.
I completely agree with what everyone has said about the Rumbelle situation. It’s sad that it has taken the complete decimation of that relationship for me to respect Belle, but the only times I have ever bought into her character were the moments when she kicked Rumple to the curb. And this episode was everything I’ve ever wanted Belle to be. She was smart enough to recognize the red flags in Jekyll’s speech about Mary, she had faith in her friends to protect her, she was brave and competent (stabbing Jekyll with the shell??? resourceful!), and she STOOD HER GROUND with Rumple.
My roommate and I were floored by how horrifying the writers have made Rumple’s actions towards Belle. Everytime it seems like we’ve hit rock bottom with that relationship, Rumple finds new ways to prove us wrong. To paraphrase John Oliver, “Last week, I told you to look up to the sky and you would see rock bottom. This week, if you look up, you’ll see where we were last week”.
Thoroughly enjoying Killian and Belle’s friendship though. If you had told me back in season 2 that I would be rooting against Rumbelle and rooting for Killian/Belle’s friendship, I would have wondered what you’d been sniffing, haha! This show has made that friendship completely believable and that is something to celebrate!
–Emma and Daddy Charming is forever my favorite dynamic on the show. <3<3<3<3 Josh Dallas and Jennifer Morrison always sell those scenes so beautifully.
–VIOLET BELIEVER LIVES!!!!
–Both Killian and Belle having interactions with characters that aren't their love interests!! Bless the slowed pacing of this season, it's wonderful to see these other dynamics again.
–As a teacher, I find it incredibly difficult to watch teaching plotlines in shows without rolling my eyes. I wonder if this is how doctors feel watching medical shows…or cops feel watching procedurals. That said, I loved that Snow is embracing both sides of herself and that she is finding creative ways to reach kids.
–Of course, the real reason her style isn't working isn't because she was cursed before….she taught 5th grade in season 1 and now she's clearing teaching high school. Come on, Snow. These are drastically different age groups.
–JASMINE. I've been waiting for Aladdin and Jasmine all summer and I'm so nervous. Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie and I need Once to do the movie justice. That said, I thought Karen David was awesome so far as Jasmine and I'm intrigued to see her backstory with Aladdin next week (aaaaaaaaaat laaaaaaaaaaaast). What would drive Jasmine to the land of untold stories? What happened to Agrabah? If Aladdin is in Storybrooke, where is he and why is he hiding? What separated Aladdin and Jasmine? And what are we going to call their ship?
Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie too, and so I am also nervous. But mostly because we are going to have to suffer through the CGI. I know Karen David is going to kill it, she was awesome this week.
This was a good episode. Given that Adam and Eddy said season 6 deals with duality, I was shocked that Jekyll and Hyde were killed off so quickly.
Bravo to Sam and Hank for their portrayal of the characters, especially Sam. He has a magnetism to him that draws you in—he had it on Smallville and he played it with Hyde.
I had a theory that Rumple wanted to split himself in the past and that’s why he approached Jekyll and I was right. But he came to him because he wanted to be rid of his feelings for Belle in the past. He believed that love is a weakness.
I really don’t know what to expect with Rumbelle anymore. But them fighting this season feels different. I think Belle finally sees Rumple for the person he really is and Rumple definitely isn’t hiding who he is anymore either.
If they break up for real, let the characters break up. And not just for a few episodes. I feel like there’s this tug of war in the writer’s room for this relationship—they’re together, they’re not together. I don’t think anyone in the writer’s room can come to a general consensus about where the relationship should go. Lather, rinse and repeat.
I don’t ‘ship it but I find it is exhausting watching them. Something definitive needs to happen.
But I do feel like Belle is on the right track by continuing to resist Rumple (who threatened Belle and made her a prisoner against her will).
I enjoyed Killian and Belle’s friendship this episode. Killian wasn’t able to protect Milah from Rumple but he saved Belle. Killian knows better than anyone who Rumple really is and the damage he can do. It makes me thrilled that he cares enough about Belle to protect her from Rumple. Killian and Belle have come far in their friendship and I love it.
Same feels apply to Captain Charming. Charming admitted to Emma that he hated the pirate when they first met and look at Captain Charming now. They are friends and Killian has grown on Charming.