Broken Heart 5X10

Broken Heart: 5X10

Overview: spoiler-free

My first, and dominant, reaction to this episode was satisfaction. I loved this episode. That said, I had a lot of flurrying emotions swirling around my head and it took a while for them to settle into a fluffy, white blanket of cool sadness. They didn’t name it Broken Heart for nothing, after all. Snow is beautiful and quiet. But ultimately it is bleak and cold. I am shivering and it is dark out.

This is not a complaint. This is what I have been asking of Once for a year now. Frozen didn’t do it for me. I have been looking for Once to be grittier, to pack more of a punch. It is and it has. And it’s excellent.

I think the creators are between a rock and a hard place. It seems to me that many fans came to Once because it bordered on children’s television at times and now those fans are probably having a bit of a rough go of it. But after the Pan and Frozen arcs, for those of use who really want adult television which can rip our hearts from our chests and hold them up for us to see, this is it. This is what we have been waiting for.

I know that it sounds a little crazy on the surface to say I like to cry, that sad stories are among my favorites, but if that is crazy, I am in good company. A good story pays the audience in emotion, and, the more varied and deep the emotion, the better the story. In my book. The thing about all those happy, bright emotions of hope and love that we all like and have come to expect from Once is that we have to earn them. We the audience must eat our kale before we get dessert. I happen to like kale (literally and figuratively). And I like dessert. But no one stays with a story that is all sap all the time.

Kale is such a wonderful vegetable, especially with a good sauce.

My point is this, have hope and have faith in Once. Yes, we are in a moment of darkness. Hug the Oncer next to you, grab a box of tissues and ENJOY your kale. Because your tears (your anger?) mean you care about this show, you care about what happens to the characters. Soak a few tissues and rejoice, Once has touched you deeply and it has become real (see the Velveteen Rabbit).

Performance of the night goes to Colin O’Donoghue for his dark glee and two particular scenes which you can probably already guess. But never fear if not, read below and I will illuminate you.

Overall rating: 9/10. The loss of this one point is for yanking me out of the stream in one particular scene. Never, ever let me notice that this isn’t real. The second the veil of belief is shattered, the flow and experience of the episode is ruined at least for as long as it takes for me to fall back under the spell. See below for detail. And also, expect my phone to be off the hook while I’m watching something. I enter deeply into the fictional world of books and film, to the point sometimes that I do not notice even my own thoughts, a lot like a dream state, but I am awake (Show me the fMRI to prove it). I love this and when it gets ruined, I get testy.

Here endeth the spoiler-free overview. Below there be dragons!

Scene 1: Reborn

Opening Image: The eyes of the desperate.

A great choice for opening image. Emma is in for it tonight.

Hook gets his creepy show on the creepy road in a hurry with a good old fashioned memory wipe.

So now we know why Emma took memories… Ok, the mechanism was different and the reason is a really interesting plot point which Once took great pains to explain in long and glorious detail… Have I forgiven the writers for this yet? Oh man, I’m still annoyed. I might have to concede this one, but I’m just not ready to do it yet.

Scene 2 (plus montage): Hi.

Oh Rumple, DO!!! (Dark One.) I am not sure I have ever been more delighted with a character, or with an actor. I just keep giggling delightedly. So shiny! (Browncoats forgive me.) I truly wish I could identify all Robert Carlyle’s source material for even just this one scene. I count five different accents in the space of a one minute scene. That’s four plus Rumple (from his Dark Castle era). One of them reminds me a great deal of an old time showman gathering an audience for a traveling freak show or circus. Or maybe a snake oil peddler from the old West. The rest I can distinguish, but not successfully associate. Can you figure them all out? I know Carlyle has them straight in his head, that much is obvious and they are well executed.

What I love is that this is gleeful, childlike Rumple who has lived so long, he has an endless arsenal of caricatures to mock and deploy for his own amusement. This wealth of expression, I imagine, would be nearly impossible to write for and therefore comes from Carlyle himself. Have I mentioned that this guy impresses me? Besides, why write for it, when Carlyle will do a better job making it up himself on the fly than any planned line could ever extract from an actor?

Dudes. Did you realize that this is freaking exposition? O’Donoghue is in danger of losing his crown for this episode in the second scene for exposition.

Scene 3: Captain Dark One

I guess it was an immobilization spell. We never got the explanation we needed of what Emma was doing outside with Excalibur two episodes ago.

I really like this scene of Emma curled up on her couch not doing a damned thing. These are feelings I have when the excrement gets real. This moment humanizes her, lets us know that while the darkness is twisting her, she’s not as far gone as I had previously thought. Like Rumple, it hasn’t swamped her completely. Unlike, it would appear, certain other people.

No one can tell you you’re an idiot quite like Regina can.

Credit where credit is due. Ginnifer Goodwin gives a convincing mother scolding here. She says what we’re all thinking.

Even though our hero faction is in panic mode, their relief at just having Emma talk to them is palpable in this scene. Frankly, so is mine. I have really missed Emma being on our side. I am so used to knowing what Emma is thinking and feeling that it felt so cold to be shut out.

This, Once, has been a really effective technique. Once used on the audience what Emma used on her family. And it felt bad. We lost someone we loved to the darkness as surely as Regina and the Charmings did and oh how it hurt.

Having Emma back feels like a warm hug. Even if she’s homicidal.

Scene 4: So what are you waiting for? Get on with it.

As a writer, I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to have Hook mock Rumple. But it is O’Donoghue who executes. I am thoroughly enjoying Dark Pirate so far. O’Donoghue looks to be having a blast at it and this might just earn him performance of the night.

I wonder if part of Hook is counting on Rumple to win this fight and set him free (kill him) because he knows he can’t fight off the darkness on his own. Like with Rumple and Emma, I don’t want to believe that the darkness has completely swamped our pirate. But I fear it may have, and so, I believe, does he.

Of note, there is deep misery in Rumple’s eyes. He’s had that haunted look since he woke up. Regret, no doubt, as he expressed to us recently. While I know he wants to live for Belle, I have to consider that Rumple too, might be looking for a way out. I don’t think he cares too much for revenge at this point, but there are two possible positive outcomes to this duel from Rumple’s perspective. First, he ends a threat to his wife and everyone else. Second, it’s over and Rumple gets (again from his perspective) his just deserts. The guilt must be overwhelming for him.

Now don’t mistake me here. I am no advocate for self annihilation and I don’t want to see either character dead. But, these seem like plausible motivations to me for both of them.

Scene 5: War Council- not invited.

Forgive me, but Regina playing with the tip of Rumple’s sword is just to rich for me not to point out. There are many theories as to the nature of their past student/teacher relationship and I certainly have mine. You may all (rightly) point out that I have been known to snorkel in the gutter, but I will point out to you, that that tiny scene, that little moment has absolutely no baring on the plot and could have been shot any number of ways. This, my friends, is subtext and only subtext. Here’s your snorkel, amusement is to be found here.

Side note, you wouldn’t ever balance a sword blade down in a wood table. Not good for the table, also not good for the sword.

PS: thanks for the vote of confidence, Belle. Nice to know you care, but golly, way to boost a guy’s spirits. Of course it is nice to see them touch in public, though.

I love that Rumple laughs at Emma’s offer of protection.

Jared Gilmore does a nice job with this thematic exposition here. No one could have illustrated Emma’s fall better than Henry. Yes, this is summary, but it makes sense. Henry needs to tell his mother off. And we need to hear him do it.

They’ve changed.

Regina gets her warm and fuzzy. Rumple feels guilty and undeserving.

Speaking of unusual. Rumple never sits on the war council to offer useful advice and Emma always gets to go with the heroes. Nice little reversal here.

Class act, both Belle and Rumple respond to the tension between parents and child while Mary Margaret and David tell Emma they can’t trust her. Carlyle and Emilie de Ravin are both actively still in the scene even though they are fuzzed out in the background. It is nice to see that they are not checked out because their moment has passed. Sometimes, if you happen to notice, you can see that checking out happening in the backgrounds of scenes. But not with these two actors.

Scene 6: Newly forged

I appreciate that the Charmings use the skills they have to try to solve the problem even though they are woefully lacking. As Regina points out. Great, Mary Margaret can track, but that’s useless. It is consistent with her character that she try that though. The writers could have just cut to the chase with Regina saying Hook could be anywhere because he’s a Dark One, but they chose to use screen time to show us the Charmings being ineffectual. This communicates their helplessness.

Lady of the Lake as Lancelot’s mum. Interesting. I hope they pay this off later.

Scene 7: Why must Dark Ones dress like monks?

That is a great question!!!

And even better than that: we get to see that leather coat again!!!! I’ve been in love with that leather coat since we first saw it.

Then there’s Rumple, DO. Could this scene get any better? This is a glue scene and it’s hilarious! (Glue scene: little moment where nothing happens other than dispensing a tiny piece of vital plot information to move the story forward or grant cohesion.)

I completely missed it about the dark curse suggestion the first time. My guess is that I took the misdirect given by Hook. He dismisses the suggestion out of hand because of Emma… but there’s always a loophole!

Call it 7b: It worked!

Ah yes, where’s his tether? I love Rumple, DO’s expression here. That was so good, they’d cut away from Hook to get it. They could have opted to shoot both of them together, but this was definitely worth the voiceover. By the by, looks like Rumple, DO got new contacts. His eyes are much more yellow now, than grey or even black. Even in the dark. I like them.

Perhaps my favorite part of this episode, Emma and Hook both see the same delusion: Rumple, DO. Talk about having the devil on your shoulder. Rumple, DO peering over Hook’s shoulder at Emma while he calls her ineffectual is creepy, and great.

Side note: willing suspension of disbelief. If any of you have ever been in the woods at night, beyond the campfire, away from any artificial light, you know it isn’t just dark. It’s black dark. You cannot see at all. Unless there’s a moon. So these sequences require artificial light sources which we simply ignore because we must. Unless you’re me, who notices and just doesn’t care.

Emma makes a critical mistake here. She could have perhaps True Love’s kissed the darkness out of Hook right here, but instead she’s more worried about Rumple, DO. She figured she’d have another chance at that? Or did she think she couldn’t use it because it would kill him, Excalibur cut and all.

Scene 8: Meet me at the Well

I feel for Belle in this scene. For Rumple, the path is clear: do whatever it takes to prove to his wife he’s worthy of her, to love her as she deserves.

But for Belle, her ex is a murderer and worse. Sure, he’s been through a heroic transformation, but how long will that last? The last time, it only lasted as long as it took for Zelena to kill Baelfire and torture Rumple’s resolve to fight the darkness away. The first obligation of a prisoner is to escape. The dagger was Rumple’s prison even after Zelena’s kennel. Rumple’s plight is understandable, but Belle knows Rumple is prone to darkness. He’s been shaped by it for hundreds of years. When put up against the wall with power in reach, who among us honestly thinks he won’t reach for it, even if it is dark magic?

Belle has a badly broken heart with few assurances that life with him would ever be any easier. Let’s face it: Rumple would be a pain in the tail to live with. Having to prop someone else up all the time is exhausting. The guy is seriously needy. Yes, caring for those we care about is part of life, but caring for the self has to happen too. It’s not selfish, it’s self care and it’s required for basic function in this world. If you can’t function, you can’t help anyone else function. It really is that simple. Belle, right now, can’t function emotionally. It is so bad that she took up with Will to try to prop herself up. She is facing an emotional dam breach and her first instinct was to shove Will into the cracks.

The person she loves has probably violated just about every value she’s ever had. She loves the guy anyway. Talk about painful cognitive dissonance. But she can’t just tolerate his behavior, look the other way and pretend nothing is wrong. She’s got integrity to look after. She tried to help him change and he did nothing but lie to her, manipulate her and then plan (and mostly execute) some seriously heinous shenanigans. That’s not water under the bridge. That’s the flood that took out the bridge in a torrent of flotsam.

If it were me, it would take a whole lot of healing to even get to a point of forgiveness, never mind taking him back. The guy is an emotional sea anchor caught in a whirlpool. I’m a practical gal, and so is Belle.

So this is messy and painful. If you’ve read more than three paragraphs together of my work you know how much I adore Rumple. I really do. And I support his journey toward becoming somebody worthy of Belle. But I can’t willfully ignore the cost of his behavior on her emotionally.

Take the town line scene from Heroes and Villains for example. In our society, attempted murder comes with a pretty stiff penalty. Jail time, I believe (you can look up the details if they matter to you). Belle happens to be the only person capable of dispensing justice on Rumple, at great personal cost. This is an act of courage which stabs deeply both ways. She was right to do it. He would never have stopped. That’s the nature of the Dark One as we are more and more being forced to face. She could not have loved this out of him. And she tried, vigorously.

All of that to say, oh Belle, I’m here for you sister. That’s one tough choice!!

PS: Not wanting me to die is not the same as wanting to be with me.

Talk about courage! We don’t talk nearly enough about Rumple’s emotional honesty. This is a characteristic he’s always had, when he chooses to use it. It takes a whole lot to call the woman you love from your deathbed, in front of your son and company and in vivid detail, tell her exactly what you think of her and how deeply you love. It takes courage to tell your wife to go with another man, more than once, because you know the quality of what you have to offer is insufficient to what she deserves. I mean wow.

Rumple has compassion and understanding for Belle’s feelings and is demonstrating the path for us. It’s easy to get angry at Belle for tossing him over the line and breaking all of our hearts. It’s hard to wade into all those conflicting emotions neck deep and feel deeply and genuinely for both Rumple and Belle.

Scene 9: You!

How much do I love Nurse Ratched??? If Once were to decide to give a back story on another character, I’d choose her. Follow by our floor mopping, chatterbox friend. I love these little tie-ins with the past.

Of all the truly awful things Once characters have done, Zelena is the first rapist. To be honest, with all the murders, deceit and casting of enslaving curses etc, I was expecting them to go here a lot sooner and a lot more directly than they did. I actually really like how they’ve come at this. A very unexpected look at sexual assault.

This is a bit of a glue scene, but also some thematic exposition. It has lovely motion and emotion though. Also humor. Well put together. Note, Once frequently uses humor to add depth to glue scenes.

Is that a compliment?

Oh wow. I mean. Oh Zelena. She really thinks she has the right of things and that is what makes this character. Zelena does not even notice that what she is doing is wrong.

Regina has a heck of a rap-sheet, but she’s always been aware of what she was doing.

Scene 10: A broken knee is nothing on a broken heart.

I always wonder about what kinds of choices a new magic user will make when it comes to gestures. O’Donoghue just showed me he’s got chops. To be honest, I never bought Merlin’s gestures. Maybe it’s because I’ve been so used to watching Rumple’s theatric and Regina’s often rather practical styles. Though Rumple does use more practical gestures when it seems called for. Jennifer Morrison’s gestures have been ok, but not astounding.  This flippant gesture to render Merida a heap on the floor is emotive and it works very well.

When, as an actor, someone auditions for the part of a wizard, they know at least a little of what they’re getting into. But I’m pretty sure O’Donoghue did not plan on being a wizard when he auditioned for a role as a pirate. How will he adapt? So far so good!

Here’s an ouchy scene and one in which O’Donoghue makes his bid for performance of the night. That little phrase, I want to hurt you, gave me chills.

Oh but this scene feels so bad. I just love Hook telling Emma his feelings for her, and it isn’t overblown. O’Donoghue opted for understated here letting the content do the talking, which was so, so cold and so very effective. I wish more American actors would make choices like that. Actors from a certain group of islands north of Europe seem to have the corner on that market though.

Scene 11: What a cut.

I maintain that Emma missed her opportunity to use True Love’s Kiss on Hook. If she had just kissed him the second he said he wanted that future with her, that emotion would have been pure enough, perhaps. But she distracted him with Rumple, DO’s disappearance. In addition to that, she didn’t believe it would work because she is not surprised that when she kissed him, nothing happened. Hmm.

I know I keep going on and on about Rumple, DO, but the glee I get from watching him keeps going… and going… What a creep!!! I love it.

And Hook is so right. No one believes he can fight it.

A little darkness, a little (a lot) corruption of the heart and a good love story becomes a tragedy. This scene is illustrative of real life in a beautifully painful way. When trust is broken, when love isn’t approached with honesty as well as the best interests the loved one at heart, it cannot breathe. It struggles and squirms, but it cannot breathe.

It’s like what Rumple, and it let’s face it Charming, said: I want to love you with honesty and courage. Here there is a failure of both and disaster is the result.

I’m not saying I could have done better personally, but Emma should have let Hook go. He asked her to. She abrogated his free will for selfish reasons (no matter what Mary Margaret said about choosing love, what nonsense) and infected him with vileness. This was wrong. The dying have the right to decide for themselves and Emma stole that from Hook out of cowardice.

Again, not saying I’d have done any better, but the right choice was not what Emma did.

Scene 12: Rumple takes a swing at his… counter? What?

Sorry, but I don’t get why Rumple was in his shop dulling his blade on his counter top.

I do however appreciate Rumple’s dig at Emma. Yet again, you show up here to make demands. Go… well this is a PG page… yourself.

My feud with the captain predates you by centuries.

Here’s Rumple’s subtext: I’m smarter than he is, and this is a measuring contest between men.

But, he doesn’t like Emma calling him out about his suicidal ideations. Belle’s reaction to his “Let me love you,” speech confirmed what Rumple already suspected. All he has to lose here is himself. But he still hopes.

And he dispenses some truly excellent advice here: confidence is great at starting a fight, but not so great for finishing one.

Rumple’s going to go finish a fight. One way or another.

Scene 13: Bad judgement or the right thing to do?

Line of the night: Once you go Green, you’ll never go Queen.

And now I’m wondering if Lana Parrilla is left handed. Silly, I know, but I like keep track of these things.

My favorite part of this scene is the eye contact between Zelena and Regina. I don’t know if Regina started to get through to her sister or not, but this gave me a glimmer of hope.

Note, Robin did not say that he considers his daughter, Green Bean for now, to be Regina’s child. Ouch again, Regina.

This scene is touching, all snark aside.

Scene 14: Operation Cobra Part II

Scenes between Gilmore and Jennifer Morrison have been wonderful from the start. This is no exception. It is so good to have Emma back. I really have missed her.

But I don’t buy that Emma really couldn’t figure out how to get her dreamcatcher back by herself. I suspect she decided to take Rumple’s advice and involved her son in order to build bridges, not because she couldn’t figure out a locator spell on her own.

Scene 15: Dark One I summon thee

Kudos to Emma for forking over Excalibur… a beautifully played scene.

But what the heck is up with that perfectly straight path through the field of flowers??? That looks like the camera track. This really pulled me out of the moment with this scene. I know that field of flowers is unnatural as can be and I know the camera has to go somewhere, but it’s totally possible to shoot Emma from a low angle so we never see the track and then be a bit careful with how the flowers get trampled. I know it’s possible because we saw it the first time we came to this set. Pressed for time? Pressed for money? Short cuts like this aren’t normal for this show. This loses a point for this episode. Cardinal sin, don’t remind me that this isn’t real.

Scene 16: Don’t you mean die for the people you love?

If I see one shred of hope for Hook it is because of this: he challenges Rumple to a fair fight and then heals his foot. That means that the old Killian Jones, the one with a code, still has some opinions, so voice. I wish I could remember where I heard or read that Mr. Carlyle was the fencing champion at his school. If I can find it easily, I’ll share the link. (Sorry, will keep looking. If you can find it, post it in the comments below!)

Note: I guess Rumple’s preparations included whacking class display cases and a costume change. Hrmmm.

Scene 17: Are you ok?

It looks worse than it is. No, I’d say it doesn’t look as bad as it is.

Scene 18: Merlin records his voicemail message.

The worst case scenario is already here.

That red glow on Hook’s face is gorgeous!

Oh Rumple, DO! Cut it open and count the rings. By the way, Merlin can see Rumple, DO. Without his power. How’s that?

This is a bit of terribly scary exposition. Effective, that.

Scene 19: More delectable fight scene…

Somehow I just don’t buy that Rumple would make a mistake of this nature. He knows his sword can’t kill Hook… so why bury it in his chest and lose it? Maybe he made this mistake… maybe.

Continuity error here: Rumple is sword deep in Hook (no laughing) after having been punched in the face. We see blood, then we don’t, then we see blood again. Then we don’t… These details must be looked after.

Scene 20: Henry the thief.

Just curious, for such a smart guy, why would Rumple leave something as important as squid ink in the “safe” everybody knows about which every child in Storybrooke, apparently, can break into? Continuity oops of the character variety. Another part of that missing point. That’s got to be the least safe safe in Storybrooke.

Scene 21: Killian Jones is dead. Long live the Dark Pirate…

Oh, I don’t actually mean that.

What I didn’t catch the first time was Emma figuring out what Hook/Nimue’s plan was. I was rather distracted by the impending death of Merlin.

I am quite sorry Merlin has died. I had rather hoped to keep him for a while. But good for Once for actually killing someone when the plot demanded that somebody had to die.

Scene 22: Finish him.

So, did Rumple plan the end of this fight in this location? Plan on a distraction then drop something on Hook’s head? Or is this luck, quick thinking? I am still not certain on this and I’m not certain which I would have written. Rumple is wily, but I would prefer Hook’s gloating and distraction to be his undoing.

Also, if Merlin, sans powers, can see Nimue, then Rumple should be able to see Rumple, DO and should have been able to see him since he first woke up in Emma’s basement.

Where’s the blood from Rumple’s lip??? Those bleed a while.

It occurs to me that Rumple might have just decided not to become the Dark One again. I am not sure if Excalibur, now that it’s whole, would render him the Dark One again for killing one with it, but he may have made that choice.

I went on at quite some length about how, in a tight spot, Rumple would again choose power. I still think that’s true. Winning a fight and walking away with the prize doesn’t count as a tight spot. Rumple wants his wife, in this moment, he has a chance to go get his happy ending. I suppose it makes sense that he chose in favor of that outcome.

I am not certain, were I Belle, that I would have let Rumple go to that duel alone. I know she had research to do, but if that were my true love, no matter how pissed I was at him, I’d find a way to show up. I’d probably hide, or watch from a roof top half a block away, because Dark Pirate scares me, but I don’t think I could not watch that. Even knowing there was nothing I could do to help.

Scene 23: The Well

A lot of memories wrapped up in that there sword, Rumple. And it’s quite pretty.

I don’t think he expected her to come. He hoped, but didn’t think she’d show.

I love how he doesn’t respond immediately. He can’t catch his breath for the surging of his heart at hearing her voice.

Ok everyone. Rumple has a broken heart, Belle has a broken heart and so do all the fans. Probably a few, at least, of the writers too. Just so you know, it hurts the writers too when they write this stuff. Writers are attached to their characters, maybe more deeply than fans are. When writing fiction, I have broken my own heart badly enough that I stopped writing for months on end.

Deep breaths. The knee-jerk reaction is to want to shake poor Belle until she sees what she just left standing at their alter. But it will take a little more reflection to come to a place of respect for Belle’s decision. Rumple is a lot of work. Belle has bits of a shattered heart to work with, if she can even find the pieces at this point. Humor me for a moment and pretend that this isn’t a fictional relationship. Yes I realize what I am asking. Pick a scene from a relationship in your life, yours or someone else’s that you know a lot about and have that in mind while you bear with me here on this.

Belle hit the nail on the head, he’s broken her heart and her trust too many times. There is a limit to how much trust to extend to someone before cutting the offender off from hurting you anymore. He has by far crossed that line by any measure of reasonability. And love stretches those limits much further than any more practically objective measure ever would. Belle has done absolutely everything she can for this guy.

She has nothing left for herself. Her emotional well is dry. Asking her to do anything other than what she just did is asking her to be a doormat. She should stand up for herself. Take the time she needs to figure out who she is without Rumple so she can decide what she is or is not willing to risk on him as he is now. She has every right to do this. This is boundary setting. It is about self respect. Every person decides what kind of behavior they will and will not accept from those they love. If not, they and their values are trodden upon. Belle has declared that no more of his garbage will she take.

Rumple’s actions have consequences. He hurt his wife, over and over again. Reformed now? Quite possibly. But wounds take time to heal, if they ever do.

This scene is beautifully written because Once has risen to the challenge of playing these two sides of the coin against each other. They are showing us the conflict. These conflicts are so very real in our daily lives. Within every relationship, one party will do something the other doesn’t like and the two of them have to figure out what to do about it next.

For minor infractions, you put the damned toilet seat down and wipe the urine off the floor. Only animals and tiny children get a pass on just peeing on whatever is convenient and leaving it. Petty and lazy behaviors are changed through maturity and deciding to do what someone else wants you to because you love them and it would make them happier. And stuff like toilet seat etiquette costs very little emotionally to change and can reap huge benefits in a relationship. It comes down to the fine art of negotiation. For the little stuff, it’s fairly easy. But values are big ticket items. High emotional costs for both parties. In cases such as these, sometimes there is no middle ground, someone has to change, a lot. Sometimes this is impossible, but sometimes real change can happen.

Belle got on Rumple’s case about skinning Robin Hood alive, then hunting him down to kill him, because he stole from the Dark One. She declared that this was a big ticket item for her. It was for him too. If the Dark One is a push-over, his power base goes to hell in a hand-basket. Belle grabbed Rumple by the values and demanded he see her side of things. Quite aside from not wanting to leave a child fatherless, Rumple decided to let this go because it was important to Belle. Love.

It is tempting and easy to rage against Belle for breaking our hearts. Again. But that would be a mistake and an oversimplification. It isn’t wrong for her to need time to lick her wounds alone. And that’s what she asked him for here. She didn’t just not show up. She showed up and said, “I love you.”

Our hurting hearts crave resolution, an easing to our pain. But here is the most healthy part of the meal which is best not left on the plate. The kale. We stand to learn a great deal about ourselves and what we value by looking at our attitude toward Belle in this moment. Do we respect Belle for being the strong woman that she is and standing up for her values? Or do we blame her and say she is being selfish, not giving enough of herself?

Belle has given more than I would have. By a long, long way.

I hope, for both of their sakes that Rumple gets it together and earns her trust again. But that guy’s got work to do, my friends. And it starts by respecting her choices.

Scene 24 plus montage: Where did Emma send Merlin’s remains?

Oh how I love the curse boiling over Emma as she holds Hook. That is beautiful!

Scene 25: We can trust her.

A nice but necessary little scene where Emma tries to pull herself back toward those she loves.

Scene 26: Congratulations.

That’s a lot of Dark Ones.

Fin.

Consider my heart broken, and me terrified. Job well done Once!

This is why I am so satisfied with this episode. This is packed with substantive material and it moves. I didn’t see Hook opening the gate to the underworld coming.

Once heard my heart’s desires and answered. Last year I was frustrated by Frozen, it was light on substance with motivations that strained believability. And I had thought they couldn’t do worse than Neverland during which our characters wondered lost in the woods and whined for half a season. Don’t get me wrong, there were elements of both arcs which I dearly loved. But my heart was aching for something adult, something with depth, and grit and yes, pain. Christmas has come early, Once broke my heart.

Now, where’s that kale?

Before you go, you can check out my research project! I have conducted a study of OUAT viewer preferences and you can check on my progress here. Yay for science!

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