Siege Perilous 5X03
While this episode was definitely expositiony, those elements were well entrenched emotionally. Performance of the week goes to Colin O’Donoghue for his work showing us Hook’s inner conflict over Emma. He and Morrison have excellent chemistry even as drastically altered versions of their characters. Together they give us their pain and it transfers neatly from screen to heart.
Thematically, our characters had a rough episode which kept me engaged. While this wasn’t the get out your hanky episode, there were captivating moments that have stuck with me. That said, points definitely earned for a quite fun and creative action scene. I may be in the minority here, but for me a downer episode is just as wonderful as an upper. If a TV show can get my tears, I know it’s doing its job.
My interest in Arthur is building. I am so pleased that this is true because I never truly managed to care much for the Frozen cast and just wished they’d get out of the way of the story. This start to the season is miles better than last, even with the overused curse plot device. I know I’ve said it before, but this season has so much emotional potential I am not even sure how they will do it all justice. But I hope they do.
Overall Rating: 8/10 with the missing two points being primarily for a minor lack of cohesion and a bit too much exposition.
Here endeth the spoiler-free overview, below there be dragons!
Scene 1: Whistlin’ Dwarves
I, for one, am quite pleased to be seeing more of the dwarves. Emma’s brazen theft of Happy’s axe comes with more evil glee from Morrison, whom I suspect is enjoying the change of pace. I wonder if this experience playing an antagonist character will change her future career choices in favor of darker roles. This switch seems to me like the chance of a career, a chance to prove proficiency on both sides of the coin. Maybe Morrison will have a more broad range of options after Once than she otherwise would have had.
Scene 2: Occasional moments of genius
Research in Merlin’s tower and David is useless. Well not useless, he’s being a parent which is great to see because it is usually Mary Margaret carrying the baby. Who is how old now??? It seems like he should be older.
The dynamic between the four researchers is delightful. Regina cracks the whip and blows off Mary Margaret, Belle tells her to quit being unrealistic and then covers for their lack of progress when Arthur barges in wondering what’s taking them so long.
Giving Belle the genuine appreciation of a scholar for magic is a smart character choice. The writers could have gone the route that Belle resents magic for all it has done to damage Rumple and everyone around him. With the more pragmatic view point, Belle demonstrates the open mindedness and curiosity consistent with someone of her intelligence.
Oh THANK YOU for the Bewitched reference!
Theory: Arthur bursts in as David is agreeing with Regina. How much did he overhear? It seems likely he may have heard Regina say she is pretending to be the Savior. Now that we know he has the same goal with regards to Excalibur that Emma does, I am beginning to wonder if there might have been a temporary alliance between Arthur and Emma during these six weeks. Might he have tried to make a deal with the Dark One? She has Excalibur now, it would certainly be no surprise if she tricked it away from him. Otherwise, she may have simply written its Storybrooke whereabouts into the curse.
Costuming: Amazing work, yet again. Specifically, Belle and Regina’s style of gown. Regina has had, mostly, astoundingly excellent fortune in the FTL (fairytale land) costuming department, but Belle has suffered some rather serious costuming woes in the past. Short-shorts and tights in a snowstorm? Heels in the woods (seriously, what’s wrong with being short???). It is great to see a Belle costume that makes sense and that green is a complimentary color choice for de Ravin.
I can’t leave this scene without mentioning my appreciation for Belle’s suggestion of sampling the tree and Regina’s rejection. Parrilla executes laugh lines like few others.
Scene 3: Halt Thief! oh wait…
In which Arthur begins his pandering to David. Poor gullible David! We can see his brow wrinkle, “gosh this is unexpected,” but he doesn’t get as far as “this is suspect.”
Scene 4: We’ve been violated!
Best cover up for otherwise boring exposition. Thank you Grumpy, yet again. And then Regina passes the buck. Nice. And David BS’s Grumpy. Also great.
Bravo Josh Dallas. David is losing his marbles and Dallas sells it. We can feel his desperate parent and we can feel his really bad day at work that just keeps getting piled higher and deeper. Everyone’s got a problem and they want David to solve it.
Even now, Arthur threatens all of Storybrooke, but poor David is too, shall we be kind and say optimistic, to see it. He can’t tell the difference between dwarf bluster and problem.
Scene 5: Have you thought about kissing it out?
Now we know what Emma wanted the axe for. And, I sense, importantly, we now know that nothing cuts through magic. Except a kiss.
This is a brilliant piece of exposition. The dialogue is prettying straight forward, but from Carlyle’s mouth it has tension, movement, humor, creepiness and fun. You want exposition done right, here’s your scene. Thanks Rumple, DO (Dark One), I’m getting to like you more and more. We’re all leaning forward wanting to know who the hero is.
Even with Rumple, DO’s creepy-comedic personality, the essential fun of the character comes out loud and clear. That Carlyle remains convincing as this outrageous character seems like magic to me. How can I take Rumple, DO seriously? And yet I do, he’s not a caricature or a thin veneer. Even as far out of the affective norm as he is, he is as believable to me as anyone I know in my real life. Not sure what that says about me. But! It certainly speak well of Mr. Carlyle.
Scene 6: A spot of tea
What a nauseating line. Please give Robin something decent to say. Please.
However, Regina calling out Zelena’s victim mentality works. It is absurd, but this is the first time (ok the second, but that was faint) I have felt true sympathy for Zelena in this situation. She is soundly screwed unless Regina makes a colossal mistake. Zelena’s plan to get the Author to write her happy ending along with Rumple’s only worked out for a little while. Now she’s rather up a creek. The Regina I know and loves shines through while she threatens (promises) to make sure Zelena is miserable/dead. As I have mentioned before, we can’t lose pragmatist Regina without losing the character all together.
Note: I wonder if Zelena made another escape attempt we don’t know about yet.
Scene 7: Shiny Toys
Arthur: Oh never mind a out killing my friend, he wasn’t that great anyway…
Definitely not evil.
Theory: Describing Lancelot’s chair, the seat for the knight with the purest heart who will go on the most sacred quests, as perilous doesn’t seem far off. This concept is a lovely tip-off that Arthur, perhaps in his rage over his wife, dispatched the purest heart for selfish reasons. Did Arthur fall from grace, or has he always been a shade toward the nasty?
Arthur snapping at a glowering squire tells us something important about him which we will have confirmed later.
Scene 8: The reliquary
Arthur berates his squire, again. David hatches a plan.
Scene 9: Robin grosses out Hook
Line of the evening goes to the Robin/Hook exchange here. This gets to the promise of the premise where fairytales and modernity collide. Hilarious.
I am not sure what to make of Robin smirking at Hook as Hook gets the message from Granny. Might be conspiratorial, or even cynical/pejorative.
Scene 10: The beautiful Lady Washington
Or a really good mock up. I hear they built a barge because they couldn’t keep her in Storybrooke for all of their filming needs. This shot doesn’t look like a barge to me, but how would I know?
Hook- It’s not funny…
Emma- Well I thought it was hilarious, but I guess from your perspective…
Just how much of Emma is left to us? Hook tries desperately to find out in this scene. Could there possibly be enough of his love left to give it a go?
I really wanted to believe Emma here. That maybe she really does want to reconnect with Hook. That maybe there is as much left of her as their was of Rumple while he was the Dark One. Rumple loved Belle and went to great lengths to protect her and stay with her (he, with Isaac, constructed an alterverse solely for the purpose of trying to be a good man for Belle). Could Emma do the same, feel the same?
Scene 11: Going into the dark with a creep…
Now why don’t I believe that Guinevere is all goodness and light? We get a good first look at jerk-Arthur. But the comment about the two ton table and humility worked very well. Nice line.
Now a word about that torch: the Unquenchable Flame. Anyone else notice that it looks like a skeletal hand hanging on for dear life? Whose hand is that? I’m convinced that’s somebody’s hand. Death holds out an eternal hope for light? Interesting metaphorical playground with that prop. Yet another example of fine work and making what could have been an ordinary object into something that will run its mile. A little like a certain teacup we know. If they choose to go for it.
Scene 12: Homage to the 10th Kingdom?
I hope so. I’d love to see Acorn the dwarf make an appearance in Once.
Sure David, turn your back on the dude who doesn’t fight you to take the risk. He’s not up to something and he’s CERTAINLY not buttering you up… Creepy beacon.
PS: taking giant leaping steps across an unstable surface is not the way to get there safely. But poor David isn’t known for his towering intellect.
Scene 13: In which Belle pulls off exposition. Again.
Does anyone else think it is hilarious that Rumple turned Gaston into a rose and now is represented by a rose himself? Just desserts I guess? Belle won’t be pruning this one.
Now we know Belle found a healing spell. Note, Emma took Killian to the Jolly Roger before this scene. So how did she know about that particular spell? What are Emma’s spying methods? She might have known the spell from Rumple, DO, but spying seems the more likely explanation. Occam’s Razor works in the real world, ish, does it work here?
Scene 14: Doc’tober-fest
I do appreciate David fooling people here, occasionally he manages to use his noggin.
Scene 15: Speeding Horse Chase
Mud-on-the-camera-truck-versus-horse-joust. ’nuff said.
Almost. Seriously fun scene. I’m not a fan of vehicular destruction of nature, but at least they weren’t doing this in a forest. Also, a joust like that with no armor would have likely killed the squire, even with armor this is highly questionable. I prefer my violence to have realistic consequences for the human body.
Scene 16: Retrieving the Shroom
Points for Lord of the Rings Dead Marshes reference. Don’t follow the lights! Oh, Arthur is holding the light…
Scene 17: I’m better.
I see things clearly. What did she hear in her head before she said that?
And she baits him. Then turns her head toward the blade. She has truly embraced being the Dark One when swords are no longer frightening even a little.
I absolutely love finally getting Hook, and the writers, come right out and say that Rumple was not in fact being a coward that day on the deck of Hook’s ship. That Hook knows it too shows us how far he has come.
That you isn’t here! And he thinks about kissing her anyway. Awwwww.
I loved you. Oh poor Emma! That tiny smidgen that might have have been nearer the surface of the darkness just got drowned because Hook is terrified of her. He doesn’t have Belle’s courage.
Colin O’Donoghue gets props here. We can feel how badly Hook wants to believe and how afraid he is because of O’Donoghue solid performance. I’ve had a hard time with his yelling and frustrations these past few episodes most likely because I am morning the loss of the charismatic, charming and disarming reformed Hook we have been getting to know and love. His regression to his pirate emotional skill set has been nearly as hard to take as the loss of Savior Emma. My heart aches for Hook in this scene because O’Donoghue sells it.
Scene 18: After all that…
It’s gone and poor David just can’t get anything right. His poor ego!!
It is a cute bromance in this moment here, soaking wet and miserable.
Interesting that David’s costume here looks a lot like the shroom he was trying to steal. Once we know more about the shroom and what they plan to use it for, maybe this metaphor will come to light.
And yes, Arthur is busily brainwashing this poor fool.
Scene 19: Betrayed by those closest to us
What’s this? Now we know for sure that Arthur hoodwinked David. That final look Arthur gives David… does Arthur have his memories??? He looks nervous here. Of course it is impossible to tell by looking with an actor, we can only go by what they are intending to show us because they are so skilled at emoting what they are supposed to that the normal human tells are absent from performances by virtue of the performance itself being a kind of lie. The really good ones can give us multilayered and conflicting emotional tells like we see in real life, but that’s rare. The subtleties of lies are lost mostly to the medium of the screen.
Scene 20: David, you did it?
But they don’t ask the most important question, why was it in the reliquary?
Scene 21: Totally overblown armor, but awesome!
David, go sit in the sucker’s chair.
Oh poor David!!!
Charming uses the Tudor Rose for a coat of arms. Hmmm.
Theory: Oh, not dead?? Lancelot? Or a manifestation of someone else? Merlin?
And he tells us Arthur is a schmuck.
Scene 22: Thief! Liar!
Oh yes, think of my kingdom first… that couldn’t possibly be a cover for screwing someone else for expedience.
Scene 23: Waco, Storybrooke?
Arthur, what do you hold dear?
Oh yes. Arthur plans to overthrow the Charming faction and install a ruthless dictatorship. This is shudder worthy. Manipulating weak minded people is SO evil!!
Theory: Wait a moment… that’s not what death from viper poison looks like. That looks like what happens when Zelena transports.
Scene 24: Hook Wants Something Stolen and Belle Owes Granny for Some China
I can see an emerging friendship between Hook and Hood. Hood might be a worthy accomplice if he doesn’t succumb to midday drunkenness…
Nothing can ever go right for poor Belle. Rumple almost bought the farm, but no. And then. Well. Where is he? Poor Belle!
The symmetry between this scene and the scene in Skin Deep where Rumple drops everything and races down the stairs to greet Belle is how we know he’s in love. We know Belle is still in love because she dashes out leaving a forgotten sandwich and some broken pottery in her wake. And dashing in heels is no easy feat. More on the travesty of Belle’s high heels and other wardrobe woes in an upcoming article.
Her WTF face says it all.
Scene 25: He doesn’t look too good.
There is something charmingly self-deprecating about Rumple, DO providing commentary about Rumple. I have to say, I am enjoying getting to see Rumple, DO routinely and I do hope that continues. I know I was severe on the idea of Rumple, DO as Dark One tour guide, but having him around seems worth the price.
For just a moment, and with Rumple, DO saying the word “stroke” at just the right time, I wondered if Emma was going to kill Rumple right here, but then I remembered that this little part of the scene takes place in the past, though the very recent past.
Here is the first time since her acceptance of the darkness we here Emma defy Rumple, DO even a little. She says, “Quiet,” but that sounds like it took effort.
Emma says she worked hard to get this sword. I am still curious as to exactly how she got ahold of the exact spell Belle found.
25 B: Where the hell is he?
25 C: First words, what do you want from me, I’m not the Dark One anymore.
He’s showing evidence of his anxious prior self. And Rumple, DO is gleeful.
And the rolls reverse. Emma is now the predator/puppet master and Rumple is going to dance to her tune.
I absolutely love the childlike ecstatic expression on Rumple, DO when Emma looks to him for validation. And it gets even better when Rumple follows her gaze to an empty space and Excalibur. Does Rumple guess that Emma is seeing the Dark One?? Did he ever seen Zoso in like manner?
And that expression! Talk about a closing image.
Theories: Now. What does Emma mean by the purest that ever lived? Emma needs a hero. Rumple, DO thinks Rumple’s blank slate heart is just the ticket. How will Emma make Rumple into a hero? He’ll need some motivation because I doubt a heart-rip-puppet-job will satisfy the conditions set forth for the person who can draw Excalibur from the stone. Assuming that Merlin set forth some parameters that weren’t linked to only one specific person, that the sword is meant for a great leader as opposed to only Arthur as would make sense if anyone else can withdraw the sword like Emma clearly thinks is possible. Rumple will need to meet those qualifications. And then some if the purest hero that ever lived is to be taken seriously.
I suspect Arthur fell hard off the bandwagon of good sometime after drawing Excalibur. Of course that is also assuming that Merlin and his Apprentice are actually forces for good, which seems likely with the evidence we have, but not proven. So, if Merlin intended the sword for a great leader of the forces of good, Emma could sic Rumple on Arthur and set him on the path toward hero-land by blaming the curse debacle and whatever other convenient ills she chooses to make up, or actually happened during the six weeks, on the wayward Arthur.
Arthur wants to restore Excalibur, same thing the Dark One wants, but Emma doesn’t have to tell Rumple that. She only needs to convince Rumple that Arthur’s up to no good, thus giving Rumple a legitimately good cause to fight for. The Dark One should be able to handily manipulate Rumple if it has any competence at all, but at the same time, Rumple’s been living with it for a very long time and should be able to spot such a ploy. We shall see.