One of ‘Once Upon a Time’ strengths is when an episode is featured around one particular Storybrooke character. This week, it’s Belle, and the episode was truly a shocking one! Yes, more shocking than last week’s “death” of a beloved resident.
Fairy Tale Land:
Since this episode centers on Belle, it seems appropriate that her backstory gets to be told via flashbacks into the Enchanted Forest. We see she hasn’t changed as she still clings on to her books but continues to long for adventure. Dreamy (which is really Grumpy before he turned sour) convinces her to join the group that is hunting the Yaoguai. But before she leaves, he gives her some fairy dust (this is important, kids, so remember it! There will be a test…)
The condescending group of men teases Belle about reading a book as they head off to kill the Yaoguai. She cleverly tells informs them that her book tells that the creature likes to live by the lakes. The men, thinking they don’t need a female (and one who reads to boot!), push Belle out of the wagon. She snarkingly smiles as the book actually says that the Yaoguai likes to live in caves (stupid men!).
Of course Belle doesn’t do a great job in trying to sneak up to the creature and it wakes up after she steps on a twig. It lunges after her, but lo and behold, Mulan is there to save the day! But she’s angry as she has also been hunting the Yaoguai and now has to try and track it all over again.
Later the two meet up as once again Mulan saves Belle’s life from the two men who kicked her out of the wagon. Figuring she’s useful for something, Mulan suggests they team up as Belle managed to find the Yaoguai much faster than she did. Of course this is Belle’s story, so by the time the two reach the Yaoguai, Mulan’s injury that she sustained while saving Belle has gotten worse. Mulan tells her to fight the creature on her own instead as she can tell the girl wanted to prove herself. She tells Belle, “when you find something worth fighting for, never give up.”
Scared, Belle does manage to defeat the Yaoguai by getting it wet from cutting a water pipe (she is ingenious!) and as it lay dying, the creature spells out “Save Me” on the ground. Belle sprinkles fairy dust (see, I told you this was important) on the Yaoguai and surprise! It turns into Prince Phillip! What is it with Belle and beasts?
She returns to Mulan with Prince Phillip in tow and leaves the two as she goes on to find Rumple. But this is Fairy Tale land and not the end of her story so there os no happily ever after here. Evil Queen Regina finds her and takes her to the castle towers determined to keep Rumple and Belle apart.
Although the curse has been lifted, the inhabitants of Storybrooke were still trapped in their town as those who left the border of Storybrooke would lose their memories of their fairy tale alter egos. While most would rather return to the Enchanted Forest (David/Prince Charming included), Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin wants to escape the confines of the town in order to search for his son Baelfyre. It looks like he’s finally found a way after testing his potion on Smee. Excited, he tells Belle of his success, but alas, he can’t take her with him as he only has enough potion to enchant one item. Being such the besotted girlfriend, she tells him she understands.
Hook, still itchin’ to get at that crocodile that took his hand, finds out what (or rather who) is Rumplestiltskin’s weakness. Of course torturing Archie for the information was helpful. He heads over to Belle’s library to kidnap her but Belle remembers who he is and tries to get away. She manages to lock herself in the library elevator and tries to call Rumplestiltskin for help but it seems that cell phone reception in Storybrooke is just as bad as it is here in real life (damn AT&T)! But Rumplestiltskin gets there and manages to release Belle from the elevator. (Cue Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ music here)
Rumple tells Belle why Hook is after him giving her the abridged version of his history with Hook. Of course he neglects to tell her that he killed his ex-wife by ripping her heart out part because she fell in love with the pirate. Small minor detail that one could see is easily forgotten.
Ah, but Hook is much smarter than we thought as he used Belle as a distraction to get Hook to leave his pawn shop. See, Smee told the pirate captain of Rumplestiltskin’s experiment so the Dread Pirate Hook decides to steal Baelfyre’s shawl so that Rumple can now never leave Storybrooke.
Rumple is furious! Belle begs him to allow her to help him get his shawl back but he orders her to go back to the library to be safe. While most continue to see Rumple as the Dark One, it is only with Belle that he allows the humble self that he was before turning come through. But then he does something stupid like give Belle a gun in case Hook comes back. Um….yeah.
Back at the library, Belle finds a knot that Hook left behind and manages to figure out that he came via a ship. She heads to the dock alone and cleverly locates his ship and boards it. There she finds Archie and releases him. She tells him to tell Rumple where she is as she sticks around to search for the shawl.
But Hook catches her in the act. Belle tries to dissuade Hook from going after Rumple and this is where Hook fills in the blanks that Rumple left out about their history together. He tells Belle that it was Rumple that killed his own wife! But Belle refuses to believe him. She knows that Rumple has a heart that is true. As she talks, she manages to knock Hook with an oar. The girl thinks quick on her feet! She grabs the shawl and runs.
Getting off the ship is not that easy as Hook cuts her off. Ah, but Rumple is there to save the day! (Cheers are heard in the background in my head at this point.) As Rumple pummels Hook with his cane, Belle pleads him to stop and not kill the pirate captain. She tells Rumple that she sees the good in him and begs him to show her that good man again. Rumple acquiesces and lets Hook go telling him to leave Storybrooke.
Later that night, Rumple and Belle drive to the edge of the city with the shawl in hand. Rumple is still in awe with the amount of faith and love Belle has for him. At the borderline, Belle puts the shawl over Rumple as they say goodbye. While on the other side, Rumple tells her he wished she could go with him but Belle tells him not to worry as she will be here in Storybrooke waiting for her. Theyu come together to kiss.
But then, a shot is fired and hits Belle! She is propelled past the boarder! Rumple cries out her name but she cries out in fear, “Who’s Belle?”
Hook got his revenge. He tells Rumple that she will live but will never know who she is. He challenges Rumple to do his worse but just as the heartbroken Dark One is about to throw a fireball at the pirate, a car comes rushing into town and hits Hook before crashing into a tree. The license plate is highlighted: 2TFL 138. What could it all mean?
This was one of the better episodes from the series and unfortunately seems to illuminate the fact that the main story with the Charming family doesn’t have quite the same punch as those written about the other characters. It doesn’t hurt that Robert Carlyle has such a great understanding of Rumple’s struggle with duality that makes TV audiences cheer for him even though he can be horribly evil.
I loved how Belle was portrayed. She was strong, smart, able to think quickly on her feet, and while afraid of the unknown, she wasn’t afraid to fight for what was worth fighting for. That’s why having her memory wiped was so heartbreaking.
Next week we find out who the mysterious driver was that came into the town. Is the world ready to know about Storybrooke?
What were your thoughts to last night’s episode? Let me know in the comments below!