Title The Black Fairy
Two-Sentence Summary When Rumplestiltskin, Emma, and Gideon travel to a dream realm to find where Gideon’s heart is being hidden, they actually discover the truth behind Rumplestiltskin’s abandonment by his mother. With this new knowledge, Rumplestiltskin makes a choice that will affect not just his future but also Emma’s—on the eve of her wedding.
Killian: This might be the most important mission yet: Operation Best Man.
Henry: Really? I’m honored.
My Thoughts Due to time constraints (and a certain other post I’m working on before next week’s big Once Upon a Time musical wedding extravaganza), I’m afraid I can’t go into as much depth as I’d like to when it comes to unpacking this incredibly rich episode. However, I still wanted to generate some discussion about what was another solid outing in what’s becoming a nice run-up to the Season Six finale. Therefore, here are my Five Fast Feelings about “The Black Fairy,” and I welcome all of you to share your feelings in the comments!
1. My biggest complaint with this episode was that I’m not sure even the writers can keep the show’s mythology straight anymore.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but Emma was originally considered the Savior because Rumplestiltskin built a “Savior clause” into the Dark Curse that he made, right? So much has changed in terms of the mythology of the Dark Curse and the Savior since then, though, that it’s basically impossible to keep it all straight at this point. This season has given us multiple Saviors, different definitions for what it means to be a Savior, and even a different origin of the Dark Curse. Things like that generally don’t bother me too much, but I’m so confused now about what it actually means to be a Savior that it takes me out of the show from time to time. I thought this season would be about Emma learning that she doesn’t have to do all the saving on her own (because that’s far too much of a burden to place on one person—especially since she already seemed to have fulfilled her role as Savior by breaking the Dark Curse), but it just seems to be reinforcing that point instead.
2. I loved the parallels this episode created between Rumplestiltskin and his mother.
The story of their family is a story of parents who believe they need to give in to dark magic to protect those they love, who don’t believe they can be enough as they are to be the parents their children need. But by thinking this way, they make choices that separate them from their children because they’re too afraid to give up their power and give themselves over to hope. Desperation—hopelessness—makes characters on this show incredibly vulnerable to darkness, and that was certainly the case for Fiona, just as it was for her son. In her desperation to save her son from his fate as the Savior (one of the most unexpected twists in the series), she pushed herself deeper and deeper into the darkness, until she became the very evil her son was destined to fight. But instead of using the shears to cut off her ties to her part of that destiny, she refused to give up her power and instead cut her son from his fate. Fiona’s inability to give up her power and have hope that she and her son would be strong enough to face whatever comes started a cycle that has manifested itself in every generation of this family that followed—from Rumplestiltskin choosing power over Bae and trying to cut Gideon’s ties to his destiny to Neal being too afraid to choose Emma when they were younger. Fear and hopelessness have lived in the hearts of this family for so long, and I thought Fiona’s story was an interesting way to finally reveal how far back this painful cycle goes.
3. Robert Carlyle is a genius.
Rumplestiltskin is such a complex character, and this episode reminded me that even though he might not be my favorite, he’s one I’m always fascinated by because of how Carlyle brings him to life. And that’s all because I’m never quite sure how his story is going to play out. This episode took that ambiguity to the next level, and I loved it. The scene with Rumplestiltskin and Fiona on the bench was incredibly tense and layered, and so much of that came from the way Carlyle played that scene. Rumplestiltskin’s self-awareness has always been such an interesting part of his character; he knows he’s a villain. And in this scene, I liked the way he turned that back around on his mother, telling her that they both have done terrible things for their children. Rumplestiltskin was so torn in that scene, but Carlyle played it perfectly—without ever going over the top in either his understanding of his mother or his anger with her. And that ability to keep the audience guessing about his true feelings made their last scene together so interesting. Is Rumplestiltskin fully siding with his mother now, doing whatever it takes to secure his family’s safety? Or is he playing his mother, getting ready to betray her in the end now that Gideon’s heart is back? Either option feels believable, and I love that I genuinely have no clue how this will all end. Rumplestiltskin could be the true villain of the series—Emma’s true foil—or he could sacrifice himself like he did to defeat his father. Either way, I know Carlyle is going to leave me completely captivated in the process.
4. All I want is more “normal life” scenes with these magical characters.
Last week’s episode made me so happy because we got to see Snow White and Prince Charming scout venues for their daughter’s wedding to Captain Hook—something you can only see on this show. And this week, we got to see the Evil Queen teach the Wicked Witch of the West how to drive, which brought me more joy than I ever could have imagined. Rebecca Mader showed off her dramatic chops last week, but this week allowed her to show off her equally impressive gift for comedic timing. From fighting with IKEA instructions to complaining that the break and gas are too close together, every bit of the “Zelena navigates life without magic” side plot was entertaining. (Even if I was a little worried that Regina didn’t check with Emma before asking Zelena to get Henry out of Storybrooke for the Final Battle. I admired her protective instincts, but Emma should be shown getting some say in that, too.) And I can’t be the only one who clapped from her couch when Zelena hit the Black Fairy with her car.
5. I have never been this excited for a fictional wedding in my life.
I’m not even sure I’ve ever been this excited for a real wedding in my life. Ever since Killian and Emma were reunited, I have loved every detail of their pre-wedding plot, and this episode’s small moment at the end was no exception. I honestly didn’t expect Killian to ask Henry to be his best man (I thought it would be Charming.), but once he started talking about their adventures and I knew where the scene was going, I found myself with happy tears in my eyes because of how perfect that choice was. Henry has been such a important part of Killian’s character arc; he turned his ship around at the end of Season Two because he wanted to honor Bae and help Henry, and he journeyed back to Never Land to save Henry, a mission that brought him closer to Emma and to the best version of himself. Both Killian and Henry had holes in their lives without Bae/Neal; Killian was missing a boy to raise as a son, and Henry was missing a man to raise him as a father. In each other, they found that missing piece. So when Killian asked him to be part of Operation Best Man and Henry responded with such a perfectly sweet and sincerely happy reaction (Jared Gilmore sold the heck out of that brief moment.), I saw it as the perfect next step in their journey. And when that happy moment was followed by the even happier pre-wedding farewell between Emma and Killian, I just about melted into my couch. Colin O’Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison are doing such a fantastic job of showing their characters’ joy and excitement about the idea of getting married. Their happiness feels as if it’s leaping off the screen, and that’s how it should feel right before a wedding. Killian’s playful smile and Emma’s laughter warmed my heart and made me even more eager for Sunday’s episode to get here.
Speaking of Sunday’s episode, I won’t be around to write about it at length since I’ll be on vacation enjoying a little magic myself in Disney World, but I do have plans to queue up a post that will basically just be a place for all of you to talk about it next week if you need a space to gush among friends!
Ahh, this reminds me a bit of the Peggy Carter posts . . . (*sniffle*). Lovely job on the feelings. (Am I the only one hearing the song? As sung by Beaker? Just me? Ok . . . moving right along)
As one whose eyes rolled mightily at the Black Fairy secret last week, I was pleasantly surprised at the direction it went. Loved seeing power pattern play out with Fiona . . . and how she rationalizes it all under the guise of love. Anyone who’s been around here knows that I’m a HUGE fan of the “love is sacrifice” theme. Fiona isn’t willing to sacrifice for her son. She lets the fear drive her, and so she seeks power that will give her control. Not only is there the comparison with the other members of the family, but think how this plays out in comparison with the Charmings. Snow has always been driven by hope, and look at the difference that makes between these mothers. (We’ve also seen what happens when Snow is driven by fear.) I wonder if Belle’s hope is enough to break this pattern?
Carlyle is a genius. I’m with you. I have NO idea what Rumple’s up to . . . and that is such fun.
Oh, yes, I laughed hard and LOUD at the Zelena scenes. I’m not sure I’d ever considered the barbarity of light switches. Of course, there are so many things I’d love to be able to do with the wave of a hand, so I really shouldn’t judge. And yes, I also clapped when Zelena hit the Black Fairy with the car.
I did wonder, too, if Regina had discussed with Emma the possibility of sending Henry away Zelena. I loved how Zelena perked up when she realized that Regina was trusting her to raise Henry . . . Or rather trusting Henry to raise Zelena. She needs to feel a part of the team, so I adored the fact that she didn’t let herself be side-lined, but found a way to help.
I may have been a puddle on my couch during the last scene. Not only was it 15 kinds of awesome that Killian asked Henry to be the best man, but that the way he asked? Operation Best Man. I love how well Killian understand both Emma and Henry. I’m also glad to see mischievous Hook back. That look as he went out the door? Yep, puddle.
— Where is that rule book? The one for the rules of the savior, the rules of heart curses, sleeping curses, etc.? It’s probably somewhere with the rules for memory spells . . .
— The Regina hats are running a close second to Peggy hats in my hat love.
— The car for Zelena was GREEN!
— Yes, watching Murray and Carlyle just sit and talk made me all kinds of happy. They could probably just sit and stare at each other and make it compelling.
— I love the seriousness with which Killian points out that you don’t mess with a sailor and his superstitions.
Have a wonderful time at WDW. You know the drill: you MUST do something frivolous on my behalf. (If you don’t, I will know. I will feel the disturbance in the Force.) Sing that song out loud. Have that extra dessert. Buy that thing you don’t really need, but it just speaks to you. That sort of thing.
Someone needs to hook Zelena’s lights up to The Clapper. Or maybe she could have Storybrooke’s first smart house.
I loved that they found the greenest, most-Zelena-ish car, with a handmade monkey keyring to boot.
lol, The Clapper! Lets add in one of those Harry Potter wand remotes! We need to introduce Zelena to catalog shopping stat.
Aww… thanks for taking care of us, and have a wonderful time at Disney World!
I’m with you on your #1 point. Actually, this is really frustrating for me because I watch this show, I own all the DVD’s, and I listen to the commentary as well. I’m usually good at recalling details but with this show, I have a hard time recalling things (mostly after S3) because so much as happened and happened rapidly. The characters have been both heroes and villians, Dark Ones and Saviors have traded places, there can be more than ONE Dark One (which I never saw coming), more than one Savior, multiple instances of the Dark Curse, memory wipes etc. It’s gotten to the point that I have trouble spotting inconsistencies when they do crop up.
I am loving the Black Fairy. I really liked her scenes with Malcolm and seeing how this family drama affected him as well. With the Black Fairy and Rumpel, I had a hard time figuring out who was playing who in their scenes together. But, I did know Rumpel was not telling the truth about taking out the Black Fairy. I’m surprised that Hook wasn’t skeptical, but I think the Charming clan prefer to focus on Emma getting her happy ending. I think they really want to believe that the threat is gone, and Emma won’t have to face it.
Zelena plowing over the Black Fairy in her green wicked-mobile will go down as one of the top comedic moments on this show. I really like to see the characters forced to rely more on their wits than on sheer magical force.
I am so ready for the musical episode! I’m going to have a box of tissues handy. Songs move me more emotionally than dialogue; I need to be prepared!
I’m glad I’m not the only one who has problems keeping everything straight as the seasons go on. I thought it was just because I don’t re-watch episodes much any more.
The wicked-mobile? That is brilliant.
We’re missing you at Disneyworld by one week! Have a blast!
Excellent incite & writing as usual. I always look forward to your OUAT reviews.
Thanks for making sure we arent left without our OUAT discussion space!! You are too good to us <3. Have a fabulous time in WDW, I cant wait to hear about it when you get back!
As for point #1, I think the hardest thing to wrap my brain around is the multiple saviors thing. Because really, up until this season, it was really implied that there was only one. So the whole multiple saviors idea is so new, and we really havent had much time to explore what it means. I think perhaps its just a yin/yang type of thing? For every dark force, there is a savior that will stop them? Emma I think is a strange case because she was specifically chosen rather than simply fated, but at the same time, I never did fully understand why she continued to be the savior once the curse was broken. That was her destiny and she fulfilled it. Or is it anyone with light magic is considered a savior? The light magic to balance out the dark magic in the universe? Who knows. I think it probably just boils down to the same rules as everything on this show…the rules are whatever the writers need it to be.
This episode had big shoes to fill – It needed us to feel the weight of the Black Fairy's menace, and I think by tying it so closely with Rumple's fate they did a better job than I thought they could. I loved that moment when Rumple told his Mother that they both had done horrible things. There is clearly a vicious cycle here that started with Fiona, and all the other main characters have been caught up in the wake of it. Rumple was a coward due to his mother's meddling, lost his wife to Killian, became the dark one to protect his son, lost his son, created vengeful Captain Hook, then corrupted both Regina and Zelena in order to try to find his son, which led to a whole lot of pain for the Charmings and basically the whole kingdom. It all fits together quite nicely and makes me feel better about the fact that Regina is more of a sideline player in this final battle, because really she was always just a sideline player in Rumple's mess.
I do hope in the end Rumple makes the right choice, but I do love that it doesnt feel like a given at this point. He is a true wild card. I am going to be on team heroic sacrifice. He knows there is a pattern here, and I think if he truly cared about his family, like I genuinely believe he does, he needs to break the pattern (for a second time, because he kinda already did this once before until someone made the fatal rash decision to bring him back). Hell, he already killed his father, why not his mother too?
-Yay operation best man!! So glad Killian asked Henry to be his best man. I loved how Henry called the Nautilus trip more of a "mishap" than an adventure. Hell 90% of the show is one big mishap.
-I am going to give the heroes a bit of a pass on believing Rumple since Emma had zero reason to believe that Rumple was not the savior anymore. Was it still foolish? Yes, but not completely baseless.
-I cannot express to you how big my grin was during that final scene with Killian and Emma. I think my face still hurts. They are so happy. And their happy makes me happy. And the fact that these little moments in the past two episodes have made me so happy and the writers have been keeping us from this for so long make kinda makes me want to punch them (not really but seriously they have been MEAN for the past 3 seasons).
-I loved all the Zelena stuff in this episode. Killian is fitting into his new life pretty well at this point and we dont get those fish out of water moments as much anymore, but a magic-less Zelena is filling that role beautifully. That moment she hit the black fairy with her car was so unexpected and perfect. I loved that feathers literally went flying.
-I am very curious to see if at one point Killian's need for revenge against Rumple flairs up again. I mean, he is currently on a path to helping kill Emma, You know, the woman that finally gave him something to live for after centuries of villainy after the man killed his first love. I dont think anyone could blame Killian for losing it in a fit of rage at some point. (and SPOILER, it might not be completely arbitrary that 'REVENGE! REVENGE! REVENGE!' is now stuck in our heads forever).
-I really enjoyed seeing Tiger Lily again, and I actually liked her fairy costume! And its not too hard to believe she ended up on Neverland considering her ties to Malcolm.
-I still have absolutely no idea why the black fairy stole and tortured children? Or why she really cares so much about this final battle? Why is there always this need for characters to hit the reset button and have "fresh starts" that involve screwing with everyone else's life? If the stiltskin family just went to the Charmings and said, "hey we are going to move to a new town for a fresh start" do they think they wouldnt let them? Thats what normal people do when they need fresh starts. They get in their car and they go someplace new.
-I think its safe to say that considering we both had a picnic to celebrate the upcoming wedding, I am pretty dang excited. I think there is about a 0% chance it doesnt get crashed, but if they at least let us hear the vows I think I will be satisfied.
The rules of the savior issue highlight the difficulty of television: in some ways it’s like a rough draft of writing. You can have a long-term plan, but sometimes the story has other ideas. I often wonder if TV writers/show-runners wish they could go back and revise earlier episodes to fit how the story evolved. I’m curious how much of this was planned and how much evolved over time. The savior mythos could be really fascinating . . . but it often does feel inconsistent.
Haha, I think the problem with this show is that because of the flashback structure, it IS possible for them to go back and change history. Most shows don’t operate in a split timeline like this one does. It makes an already complicated show even more complicated!! Lets not even go into the fact that you could pretty much explain away recent inconsistencies with flashbacks up to the 3B finale with the fact that that Hook and Emma altered history with their time travel adventure…
Ok, now I’m irritated with the writers for not doing something like this.
Also, have the faries ever done ANYTHING right?! Sheesh.
I’m going with “no” — they may have helped with some small things, but overall, “no.”
they are pretty inept, aren’t they?
So, for starters, I’d like to say thank goodness Eduardo and the costuming dept got to try again with the fairies. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see that their dresses were Pringle-free. Shame the fairies can’t seem to do anything right, as Shauna pointed out…
The “wicked-mobile” was perfect in every way. I loved seeing all the black feathers flying as Zelena came out of nowhere in that thing. I was glad she was able to do something right and help the good guys. They really need to get her some good 21st century technology to help her out with her lack of magic though. I’m sure it must be frustrating not to be able to “poof” anything you need, but at least Regina is there to help.
I was a little surprised we didn’t all see the Fiona-Malcolm-Rumple-Bae abuse/neglect cycle coming from a mile away – as it payed out it felt so obvious! (Except the whole Rumple as Savior bit, which I hope they circle back to in a way that makes it all make sense.) But yeah, of course Fiona turned into the very thing that she was trying to protect her son from. And Malcolm wasn’t just a selfish asshole from the outset – he was wounded by Fiona’s choices and turned his pain against his baby. (Not a great way to handle it, but understandable.) Poor baby Rumple.
This show is at least consistent in its message. Let’s hope Rumple makes some better choices in the future than those he and his family members have made in the past. Him being a Savior originally gives me hope that he’s going to find the best part of himself and end the cycle that Fiona began.
Operation Best Man was delightful and fitting, and Killian’s pre-wedding superstition made sense but was I the only one who wanted to warn against him going off alone — goodness only knows what trouble he could get into overnight! If I didn’t know the wedding was definitely going to happen (and that they’ve had all the unnecessary drama already) I would be very worried wraiths and portals and bad guys and curses…
Have a great trip Katie 🙂
I am with you on the “Killian needs a babysitter” scenario. We can just pretend that Emma called David to go check in on him periodically.
I like that Fiona had such a glamorous fairy outfit. I think that came from being a human…she took one look at their outfits and said “yeah right!” and wore whatever she wanted. Also, was I the only one that thought of the 3 fairies from sleepy beauty when they were all hovering around Rumple? If only Fiona’s outfit had been more green…
I am soooo late on this, but it has been on my mind since the end of this episode. Why, oh why, did ANYONE think it was a good idea to let Rumplestilskin go off and deal with the Black Fairy by himself????? I mean, he is the most untrustworthy person, with the most power and they all decided to go have dinner and let him take care of the biggest threat to the town ever. And then they all just believed him when he comes back with a heart?
If he has her heart, that means she’s still alive, folks. Doesn’t that worry anyone a little bit? Everyone was so non-chalant, like he’d just taken care of alleviating Sneezy’s allergies.
Other than that, I loved this episode. The story line explained so much, Robert Carlyle is a master, Killian and Emma’s moment was gold, Zelena hitting the Black Fairy with her green car made me laugh outloud, and I am so excited and nervous for tonight’s episode.