Holy Moley! Just when it seems that Rumple (Robert Carlyle) needs his Belle (Emilie de Ravin) the most, she morphs into “Racy” Lacey, courtesy of Regina (Lana Parrilla), also known as the Evil Queen in this week’s Once Upon a Time episode “Lacey.”
It is no wonder that Rumplestiltksin finds new urgency in getting Belle’s memories to return afte awakening to a frightful (and frightening dream) in which he turns young Henry into a statue and then crushes it. The fact that this dream greatly disturbs Mr. Gold is suggestion enough that he is trying very hard to hold onto the best of himself. And he believes that the best way to achieve that is to win back Belle.
Consulting David (Josh Dallas) on this matter was a sweet way of letting us understand Rumple’s feelings of inadequacy and nervousness. But Regina, resentful of the fact that Gold is Henry’s grandfather (not to mention that he in a twist of fate, with its odd sense of humor), knows that he is trying very hard to be good and fight his darker nature. She knows that Belle is the key, and in a fit of cold and rather gleeful cruelty, she makes magic and creates for Belle a set of false memories very different from the Belle Rumple fell in love with.
To return Belle to her true self will require a kiss born of true love, but how is that possible now that she is transformed into Lacy? How will Rumple charm, court or otherwise convince her to love him? The answer lies not in Rumple’s goodness, but his badness.
The new Belle finds Gold rather humdrum. “You wouldn’t hurt a fly,” she says. And seems to prefer a darker dude (and in reality the Sheriff of Nottingham) who hits on her in the Rabbit Hole pub.
Rumple and Belle have a date at Granny’s and when Rumple hears Belle utter words he has heard her say before, it affects him to the point of him spilling his ice tea all over her. But Belle is off to smooch with the guy hitting on her at the Rabbit Hole!
In the meantime, we get to see more of Belle and Rumple’s Enchanted Forest back story, probably set somewhat earlier than “Skin Deep.” We learn the origins of Rumple’s affection for Belle as well as the events that begin to make her think of Rumple as not quite as evil as he would like everyone to believe. Belle sees within him the glimmer of good still buried within him, and thrice during the story do we see his better nature take over.
The first can be mistaken for self-interest when he refuses to “sell” Belle to the Sheriff of Nottingham in exchange for information about Robin Hood, who has stolen Rumple’s magic wand. Protecting her honor and her well being might be construed as self interest, and certainly Rumple would explain it that way. After all, who is to clean the castle?
But the second incident is less ambiguous, and happens as Rumple is about to kill Robin Hood for the theft. Seeing that he is using the wand to heal a pregnant woman and save the life of his wife and child gets to Rumple, and Belle’s appeal that he would not want to leave a child fatherless resonates with him deeply. He “misses” with a magic arrow, but we know (Robert Carlyle is sensational in conveying what words cannot) Rumple would not miss his target.
The third moment suggests that Rumple is falling for Belle, and instead of showing her to her cell (or harming her) for letting Robin Hood free, instead, Rumple introduces her to his beautiful, enormous library. Although he denies it, it is obvious to Belle that he created it for her. Just lovely.
But, getting back to the Storybrooke story, it appears that Belle much prefers the not-so-nice version of Rumple and seems to relish his beating of Nottingham’s Storybrooke alter-ego. Rumple doesn’t necessarily care which side of Belle falls in love with him, because he realizes that once she does and they kiss, he will have is old Belle back beside him. Or will he?
While I loved the Fairytale Land story, which was beautifully told and acted by Carlyle and Emilie de Ravin, I less enjoyed the Racy Lacy part of the story. It did not quite work for me, and I’m not sure why. It wasn’t that Belle was transformed into this sexy barfly chick, it was the relish with which Gold embraced his bad side and pummeled Nottingham for no real motivation. The man wan’t hurting Belle, and yes, Gold was jealous, but he knew it was not the real Belle with whom he was dealing.
I get that Racy Lacey was into nasty Dark One Mr. Gold, but it seemed out of character for her to enjoy Rumple hurting Nottingham, even in her state. Her heart is still her heart, and I have to think that the senseless act of violence defied logic, even within the show’s idiosyncratic logic.
That said, I hope that Belle and Rumple are reunited, share a blissful kiss, and his deeper Dark One urge to get rid of Henry will be forestalled by Belle’s effect on the volatile Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin.
There was, of course, more going on in Storybrooke than Rumple’s courtship of Belle. We have learned that the bean crop is doing quite well under Tiny’s tutelage, and that soon, the fairytale characters can return to the Enchanted Forest.
But, oops. Regina now knows what’s going on, and I have no doubt that she will do something to gum up the works in the next two episodes.
Don’t forget, tomorrow night on Let’s Talk TV Live, we will be deconstructing this week’s episode and speculating about what the final two episodes will bring. So, what did you think of “Lacy?” Weigh in below.