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TV Review: Once Upon a Time – “The Outsider”

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It’s been many years (perhaps centuries) since Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) and Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) last crossed paths and swords. But as Hook crosses into Storybrooke in this week’s Once Upon a Time episode “The Outsider” with Regina’s (Lana Parrilla) even eviler mother Cora (Barbara Hershey) in tow, he is there for one reason only, to get his revenge on his old rival.

The first time Rumple meets Hook, Rumple is a victim. Beaten down, labeled a coward for refusing to fight in the Ogre Wars, Rumple’s saucy wife Milah falls into bed with Hook and his band of pirates. Humiliated by the experience, Rumple returns home without his wife to raise their son Baelfire alone. Years later, after Rumple becomes the Dark One and as he desperately seeks a way to find his son Baelfire, he again encounters Hook. This time Rumple learns that Milah is still with Hook, and takes revenge on both the pirate and his lady. 

Hook’s entrance into Storybrooke could not come at a worse time for Rumple or his Storybrooke alter ego Mr. Gold. The town pawn broker has finally conjured a way to leave town while retaining Rumple’s memory; he is free now to go out into the world and find his beloved son wherever he may be. But with Hook in hot pursuit, the path is not so easy. Things for Gold are further complicated, for not only does he have to think of himself, he now has Belle to consider. 

The difference between the good and evil characters on Once Upon a Time is often crystalized by their differing perspectives about the nature of love. Cora, Hook, and even Regina have viewed love as a weakness, something that can be exploited by enemies, something to hold you back. The good guys view it as a strength, something to embrace both as foundation and support when things get tough. Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming’s (Josh Dallas) “I will aways find you” is an example of that. As Regina reminds Rumple earlier this season when he claims that he can best the evil Cora, Rumple now has a “weakness” in Belle. 

But Belle (Emilie de Ravin) turns out to be far from Rumple’s weakness, as her strength and support, as well as her undying faith in him make him stronger than he would be on his own. Hook ransacks the pawn shop while Gold is rescuing Belle from the library, and steals Baelfire’s shawl, the only item he still has from his son. It is an object needed to make his spell work and allow him to travel beyond the Storybrooke border. It is Belle’s adventurous spirit and resourcefulness (as evidenced as well in her parallel story in Fairytale Land) that leads to the shawl’s recovery. 

In Fairytale Land Belle meets Mulan and they set out to slay a beast called the Yaoguai, who has been ravaging Mulan’s land. But the beast is no beast, it is the cursed Prince Philip, and it is Belle’s kindness that breaks the curse. 

During this adventure, which occurs after she leaves Rumple’s castle, but before Regina takes her captive, Belle realizes how much she wants to fight for Rumple’s redemption and love. “I will never stop fighting for him,” she yells at Regina, who takes Belle prisoner just as she sets out to return to Rumple. 

And she never has, even after she learns that Milah hadn’t just died, but that Rumple had torn her heart out and crushed it. Belle hits the nail straight on when she explains why she refuses to give up on him. “His heart is true,” she tells Captain Hook. “Yours is rotten.”

About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • WML

    I am glad tomorrow is today (as far as the review is concerned).

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/barbara-barnett barbara barnett

    HA! I got inspired and decided to post it tonight!

  • WML

    This was my favorite episode of the year. For the first time, we see the depth of Belle’s love for Rumple. It is a love based on her understanding of who Rumple really is – a man who’s inherent character is of loyalty and gentleness. His hear is true, Belle would say.

    What is apparent now is how much Belle is making a difference in Rumple’s life. When Rumple let Hook go, it was an affirmation of Belle’s love for Rumple.

    This episode is also a turning point in Rumple’s life. Until now, his life was a quest to reunite with his son. For the first time, we see that Belle has become the most important person in Rumple’s life. The scene in the car was incredibly moving. What is love but the ability to believe in the best that the other person has to offer. Love is not always smooth, it is not always easy. Love is sacrificial.

    In the Canadian promos, we see Rumple giving Belle a kiss in the hospital. We see Belle waking up, disturbed by the sight of the stranger so near to her. We are going to go on a journey that will examine, finally, what Rumple is willing to do, willing to give up for Belle. That he chose to stay with her and suspend his search for Bae says something about Rumple. Belle is right. His heart is true.

  • WML

    On the other hand, the Canadian promo has a snippet on the meeting between Rumple and Cora, and Rumple calling for a truce. And then something unthinkable. Rumple is giving Cora a kiss. What is THAT about?

    I am really looking forward to the further adventures of Victor Frankenstein.

    I still say that there is a reason that they showed Philip with Belle. And I greatly enjoyed the bookish, smart, resourceful Belle portrayed in this episode. And Mulan without Aurora was more likeable. Strange.

    When OUAT started, the world revolved around Snow and Charming. I am so glad to see Snow’s view of the future to be different from Charming’s. I still wonder where this story will end up, whether they go back to FTL or find that life in the present, even with all its challenges, is really the best life of all?

  • Betsy

    Wow, I just watched the eppy….SOO good and powerful. I cried, I admit it.

    I think this was a great episode for Belle, Gold and Rumbelle. For Belle, she was brave and smart – for herself and for the man she loved. I LOVED her story with Mulan and Phillip and the obvious parallel with Rumple. This only confirms of course what we always knew – that she was returning to Rumple when Regina kidnapped her. I LOVED her scene with Dreamy and how he explained that she only knew from dark magic, that there is fairy/good magic out there.

    She was so brave and calm when Hook had her in his grip…..and I LOVED the fact that she understood that the man she knew was a long way away from the man who’d killed Milha. She loved him then, loves him now – and doesn’t judge him.

    For Gold, I think this was as much of his journey as Belle’s. He first said after telling her that he only had enough potion for one that it was his journey to make alone. Later he said that he had to get the cloak by himself…Of course he was desperate to protect her. By the time we get to the car scene, I think Gold understands that they are in this together, that he doesn’t want to and can’t do this alone. I think he genuinely wished Belle could go with him when they were at the line…..

    All the hugs, oh god – I can’t stand it anymore, lol. She was SO happy for him and he was so happy – at the moment that he told her he could cross. Then later in the library, it was so emotional, so beautiful, as he wrapped his strong arms around her. The way he spread his fingers out – it was as if he was trying to maximize all the touching he could get.

    That “argument”……..I loved it. They were a real couple then, disagreeing/arguing like anyone else. I LOVED how Gold talked about trust – and when Belle suggested he might zap her to make her do what she wanted, he immediately disputed that. That was a bit snarky of her, lol.

    That scene at the line – when they were about to kiss…..ugh, so wrenching. I think it was a bit of a plot device that he stayed where he was instead of immediately going to her across the line…..but still.

    I do not believe Belle will lose her memories for more than an episode, if that. It was absolutely heartbreaking – poor Belle and poor Gold. He was absolutely in agony…..Hook did get his revenge, however temporary.

    I have to watch the Rumbelle scenes again, but I continue to be amazed by Bobby and Emilie. They are SO incredible together – absolutely perfect. Tonight you saw just how much Rumbelle love each other.

  • Betsy

    Oh I did forget to mention that scene where Gold walks away. Belle reached him, even as angry as Gold was, she reached him and he listened to her – that was incredible. What’s heartbreaking is that this show of mercy results in pain and heartbreak for Belle and Gold….unfair, but their love is SO strong. You’re right, WML – Gold’s love for Belle is at least as strong and powerful as his for Bae. He will never ever leave her until she’s whole again

  • WML

    Now we know why Archie is the cricket. He chirped too much.

  • WML

    Would it be a stretch to say that the most beloved characters in OUAT are Rumple and Belle? When the show first aired, I thought the show would revolve around Snow/Charming, Emma/Henry and the Evil Queen. It is a testament to the combined acting talent and fantastic onscreen chemistry between Carlyle and de Ravin. Those two should make a movie together.

  • WML
  • http://www.cinemalowdown.com/ Sherry

    But how far has Rumple really come? He turned that guy into a rat without a second thought. At least he didn’t stomp on him. He was ready to beat Hook to death with his cane. He would have done god knows what to Hook if that car hadn’t taken care of it for him. Not that Hook didn’t deserve it, but that wasn’t Belle’s point I don’t think.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think there is good in him too, but he is not a changed man yet.

    I’m not sure staying for Belle is necessarily the better choice – I’m not sure she is more important than his son, but it was an understandable choice. He will still go eventually.

    I hope they keep the amnesia for a few episodes – good drama.

  • WML

    Jane Espenson tweeted that Jane Austen understood the importance of obstacles to romance (with a reference to Pride and Prejudice). I hope that many people here have seen the fantastic 1995 BBC adaptation that featured Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.

    Maybe Rumple is destined to repeat Mr. Darcy’s mistakes (and ultimate triumph). I hope so. Austen had it right. And let’s face it. There is nothing quite as captivating in American television as Rumple and Belle.