Emma insists that she can win by playing fair—as good must. But in forging an alliance with Mr. Gold, Emma has innocently trod on a darker path. In the end she wins, but not without a little help from the side that doesn’t always play fair. Both she and Rumple play with fire, and that’s always dangerous. We know the consequences (at least some of them) of Rumple’s path; we do not know what Emma’s coerced alliance with Mr. Gold will bring. Lots to chew on!
This review cannot be complete without saying something about Robert Carlyle’s performance in this episode. Carlyle is an actor of astonishing range, as his body of work demonstrates. And as Rumple/Mr. Gold, Carlyle always plays two very distinct sides of the same character. His Rumple is impish and crazy, bizarre and gleefully demonic. Gold is reserved and enigmatic; as menacing as he is courtly.
In “Desperate Souls” the brilliant Mr. Carlyle adds yet a third side to this character—the terrified, powerless victim, who can do nothing but watch helplessly allowing his oppressors humiliate and trample him. It is a great performance.
And a couple of random thoughts: I love Mr. Gold’s ties. They seem to change in every scene. The dazzling colors are always striking against his dark wardrobe. Do they signify some light within the darkness of his soul, or do the costumers just like giving the dapper Mr. Gold beautiful accessories to wear?
The next episode of Once Upon a Time airs next Sunday, January 15 at 8:00 p.m. ET.