6X01 The Savior- Scene Review

Because Real Life is what it is, I am abbreviating my reviews this season. I fell off the wagon last season entirely because I could not keep up with the standard I had set for myself. I am therefore adjusting my style to something hopefully a bit more manageable. I hope you still find this useful and entertaining.

Reviews will include a few of my favorite scenes with analysis of how they functioned and why they spoke to me as well as a scene or two that did not go so well, what did not work. I will look at film craft and scene structure as well as some plot points.

Without further ado- The Savior.

Because I like to end on a good note and because my least preferred scene was short, I will start there and keep my notes on it brief.

First Scene

The Temple of Morpheus: Storybrooke in exchange for your wife

This is what I have termed in the past a glue scene, a snippet of exposition which allows entry into another scene. These are hard to get right to begin with, but this one had a really unfortunate flaw. Mr. Hyde’s narration was over the top performance-wise and distracting from what we really care about.

I know the idea was to cut to the chase and get into Belle’s dream already, but I think we would have been better served to see the conversation between Hyde and Rumple in which Rumple trades Storybrooke for Belle than to have to suffer that cheesy voiceover. We could have seen the conversation and then seen Rumple appear in the temple. Easy, no map plus forest plus funky narration.

And now onto the much more pleasant topic of the top two scenes of the night. My favorite scenes in order of appearance:

Second Scene

Mad House: Mommy’s got to go help barbecue a bad-guy

Our neat and tidy mayor just came home to boxes upon boxes of junk and a screaming baby. Thump. Crash. How will Regina cope with her new world order?

I love how clearly this scene illustrates the theme: Regina’s got some big time growth to do and it’s going to be painful. She has to change. And she has to cope with the chaos that is life. A little chaos is normal. Uh huh, this lady has always liked control. This’ll be a toughy for her.

Lana Parrilla. I can’t say enough good about this woman and I could watch her all day. Regina must visibly switch gears to avoid biting her sister in two on top of her Rumple problems- he gave away the town, after all. But only after she and the rest of the heroes left Belle and his baby to rot, but who’s counting? Blame Rumple anyway, why change now? (Oh, was that tangential? Not sorry.)

Back on track, Regina, clearly disrupted by the hot mess of her life- and now her sister’s life, puts forth a valiant effort at filiality.

Zelena, frankly, does a better job. Rebecca Mader is always such a delight on screen and we can see the effort Zelena is putting into really giving this sister thing a go. She is invested.

And then something goes wrong. Poor Zelena (did I really just say that?) made an understandable mistake. She lost something while moving. That could never happen to anyone.

It looked for a moment like Regina might warm up to this effort and then-

Well, I’m certain the feather is definitely someplace safe.

Of course she isn’t angry. Oh Regina! Parrilla’s expression here… in the running for performance of the night.

Let’s talk cinematography and film craft for a bit.

The main thrust of their conversation happens with them in two separate rooms. What a great choice! They stand at a threshold and make an attempt to be genial with one another. Great blocking decision. Make the theme statement with physicality.

In the beginning of the scene, Zelena crosses the threshold into Regina’s side of things, expecting to be an equal partner in saving the town, but Regina rebuffs her. Zelena then crosses back into her room, still trying to bridge the gap by finding the feather. For a second, Regina takes a little step toward Zelena, but that doesn’t last.

Regina flees the scene. While I realize this is stepping over the scene boundary, this moment of continuity is worth mentioning: we cut from Regina’s false cheer to the rage she really feels while she throws magic at her vault.

The motion of this scene is ping-ponged back and forth over the threshold between the entryway and the sitting room of Regina’s house. Regina feels like a stranger in her own life, can’t even recognize it for how far off the rails it appears to have gone, while Zelena is trying to carve out a space for herself in her sister’s life instead of constantly trying to spite her.

They both have space issues and using the border between two rooms to play this out worked brilliantly.

Third Scene

Help me practice: choices

I can’t help myself, I have a soft place in my heart for Rumbelle and I am a sucker for a love story. This scene is everything I’ve missed since Skin Deep way back in Season 1. There is tenderness here that wrapped me up in a warm blanket and dragged me wholesale into the scene.

Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie ever which made this scene all the more meaningful to me. I had felt quite shortchanged during Belle and Rumple’s honeymoon dance because they barely danced at all before cutting away to some gag with Charming which not only fell flat but robbed us of being able to really savor a sweet moment we had most definitely earned as an audience. Here, the writers paid that debt.

Who would have thought a two minute thirty second fast forward of a love story could work so well? How could that possibly be satisfying? And yet it was. This scene is so simple and yet amazingly complex as I am about to illustrate.

This scene could be summed up by saying: Rumple convinced Belle to dance in her dream world. But there is so much more to this scene. It is a feast in contextual richness.

Let’s follow Belle’s emotional arc through this scene first. One of the wonderful things about this scene is that the set itself is reflective of Belle’s feelings. Here again we are brilliantly treated to the physicality of the scene being used in service to the plot. That means that the set choices and Belle’s emotions happen together and can’t really be separated.

To begin, Belle enters the great hall with the tea, quickly, quietly. Her anxiety and stiffness are obvious. She is afraid.

The hall itself is dark with marble floors the color of dried blood. Rumple enters in shadow at the doorway and the light is only around Belle. He is clad in dark, somber colors.

All but quivering, Belle stumbles through apologies in terror of his displeasure. I am uncertain if the Rumple we see as she looks toward the opening door is our Rumple playing the part of what she expects to see or what she is projecting onto him in her dream. I want to guess that this is Belle’s projection based on the less than warm flourish of his hands, but that could also just be Rumple’s own nervousness at the situation.

Rumple appears before her, catching the cup. Belle has no idea what to make of Rumple’s suddenly considerate and flirtatious behavior. What game is he playing? Why did he catch the cup? She is shocked at this. And, why attempt to ease her fear?

But then his thumb is over her fingers and Belle starts sensing the emotion rolling off of Rumple. She knows something has changed in him and we can see the moment she sees it. Her anxiety is melting away.

The second Rumple is near Belle, he begins to shine in the light, her glow reflecting on him.

In the absence of mocking or cruelty, Belle’s courage mounts and she overtly questions him. She turns to face the music and I wonder in this moment if memory, though still below her consciousness, is beginning to stir at the familiar music.

While I am not usually one to tolerate let alone condone overt thematic statements in dialogue, this one really works. Belle wasn’t aware she had any choices as his servant. Rumple says, “You do.”

This whole business between Belle and Rumple is about choices, hers and his and how they fit together, or they don’t. In the real world, Belle has been backed into so many corners because of his choices that she feels like she has no space to choose for herself: he throws her out of his castle originally regardless of her feelings, he runs off to Neverland and does not let her come with him, he kills himself in front of her, he gives her a false dagger and trots off to commit murder et cetera in order to rid himself of the dagger, he creates a fake world without her consent to protect his heart, he traded their baby’s life for Baelfire’s, he made a string of decisions about their baby without her consent and acted even after she explicitly asked him to promise not to. That’s probably not even everything.

So when Belle, in her dream world, feels powerless and helpless with regards to him, having her say so in the context of a dance stands in for all that I just listed above. It’s a tiny phrase that says so much. Oh wow does it say so much.

And then Rumple, giving his own thematic material voice, gives her the choice. There have been many times when Rumple has desperately tried to give Belle choices: go to town and fetch straw- he does not expect her to come back but he gives her the choice, he tells her overtly he is still a monster just after the curse breaks and gives her the choice through his honesty to be with him or not, later he gives her the library in Storybrooke and the truth about why he was doing magic thereby again giving her the choice to accept him or not, Belle chooses to marry him and he does intend for her to have the real dagger even if he falls off the rails two seconds later, Rumple gives her back her heart and accepts her choice of Will, Rumple is honest about the impending death of his humanity and gives Belle the chance to get far away from him, he makes Belle’s choice clear to be with him or not after his duel with Hook and then, amazingly, gives her the choice to leave Storybrooke- and him- to go make her dreams a reality.

I’m certain that’s not an exhaustive list, but the point should be clear by now. Though Rumple has taken choices from Belle, he has not done so indiscriminately and he has tried to respect her within his own limitations (considerable as those are). Rumple doesn’t disregard Belle’s feelings because he wants to control or dominate her, he does so because he’s not very good at being a partner. The self-proclaimed monster. And now he’s trying to be a better man.

All that got communicated in two tiny sentences.

Morpheus accused Rumple of taking Belle’s choices away from her by using her state of unawareness to his advantage. Rumple was not deaf to this! He gives Belle this choice: consider him or not. And just before she wakes, he presents his case and then waits for her decision, much as he wishes it were different.

To sum up, a huge amount of thematic work done in an itty-bitty space.

Getting back to the lighting, when Belle and Rumple are touching, he enters a lit space, when they are apart, only she is lit. Watch what happens when she puts her hand in his, accepting the dance. Her light spreads to him.

Performance wise, that little movement, Emilie de Ravin placing her hand in Robert Carlyle’s, was so tangible, so warm, I could all but feel the radiance of that touch myself. I was that wrapped up in this scene.

I know this is a trick, Rumple knows this is a trick, but this is still a healing moment, if not for Belle overtly, for Rumple while he acts on his love for his wife to save her and his child. Even with Belle unaware of what is happening, Rumple is right, his love for them is true and we can all feel it.

And so can Belle. As her fear lifts away, the room changes from a torture room to what we remember complete with her own alterations: open curtains and light pouring in.

This moment, how can I even put this into words? As she dances, the changes in the room communicate that Belle goes from seeing the Beast to seeing the man behind the Beast. We got to physically watch Belle’s heart and mind change.

How often is this possible in film medium???

I’ll ask you again. How on earth can a visual medium achieve what the written word can and get inside a character’s head? This is why this scene is such a work of art. They just made the impossible possible. Without hearing a single thought, reading a single word, we know how Belle is feeling, unequivocally.

Using the Dark Castle to physically communicate what Belle is experiencing worked beyond my wildest expectations for a mere television show. This is so creative. Normally, all we get is what the actors can give us. This is no slight to actors, at all, but facial expressions and body language are never equivalent to thoughts and feelings. How can they be? But this? This is a whole new way to get into Belle’s inner landscape, to experience another person as we cannot in real life.

Oh, and I love the dust motes. They are hyper-present in this scene and a beautiful call back. “The place is looking dusty, Rumple. You should get a new girl.”

Bravo, Once, this is some very fine work.

I would not want to shortchange Rumple in this scene because the emotional work he does here is just as worthy of mention.

We’ll begin again with his entry into his great hall. After having reviewed this from Belle’s perspective I am more convinced that Rumple is playing to Belle’s memories and expectations of how he was back then. He puts on the Imp so as not to jar her too much.

For Rumple, this is a chance to go back and do what he wishes he had back then, to be the man he wants to be. The man who eases Belle’s fears, who comforts her, who respects her (see above). Rumple has an opportunity to show Belle what is in his heart, truly.

He may being wearing the Imp, but only because he is not immune to the effects of her dream. He would likely have taken a different tack if she had been aware.

Look at the light shining on his face when he catches the cup, prevents it from being damaged. Close to Belle as he is, he shines in her light. The dream, I theorize, is reacting to him too, because, after all, he is in it now. The ownership is still clearly hers, but he is dreaming too.

I can’t ignore the fact that Rumple introduces himself to Belle in this scene on his knees, looking up at her. Him entering at the doorway still seems to be her perspective to me, but his catching the cup? That’s all him. Rumple is trying to apologize and beg forgiveness.

And he is suiting words to actions, or rather feelings to actions. He changes what he can to make it better for her. Originally, he dismissed her feelings over the broken cup and enjoyed intimidating her. Now he will go out of his way for her comfort and care.

If the best apology is a change in behavior, Rumple is trying.

One more note about the cup: it has been symbolic for their relationship from the very start. Most recently, Rumple broke the cup to escape captivity and their relationship is currently in pretty bad shape. The cup is whole in this scene. Their relationship can only be whole as long as both of their hands are holding it together. Very nice symbolism.

That said, I am not certain if he intended to hold her hands here or not. His feelings are very much on the surface and he can only play along so far without them showing more than he intends. So it seems. He is making this up as he goes.

Rumple takes a chance in starting music Belle might recognize. We can see him check her reaction as she turns away to look at the gramophone. Though he does not want her to see it, obviously, he has a lot on the line and he does not want to blow this one chance he has to save his wife and child.

And just like he used to, he uses theatrics to mask his true feelings. And then Belle confronts him with the reality of her (dream/past) situation: she is his captive, she has no choices. That tiny and brief expression on Rumple’s face at her comment looks like guilt and pain to me but it takes him only a second to try again to be the man he wants to be, the one that takes her feelings into account.

And I thought the moment Belle accepts his request was tender from her perspective! Rumple watches her hand in his like he can’t believe it’s real, like he’s been drowning without her, like he just got everything he ever wanted. But. We can also feel his pain here, see his mouth drop open a little and his face falls a little as he looks up at her. Uncertainty? Fear?

And then Belle scrutinizes him, trying to figure him out, but willing to play along for the moment.

When he pulls her into his arms, that poor man looks like he could fall apart at any moment. He is daring to hope and still so terrified of failure. He can’t believe he’s about to be dancing with his wife again. We can all but hear him thinking, “This has to work or she is lost forever. I am lost forever.”

And he has missed her, missed this.

For a moment Rumple loses himself in dancing with his wife. Look at the intensity of that eye contact. I can’t even imagine being under that gaze. I wonder if he even noticed the change in the room at first.

He clearly notices eventually though as he backs away from Belle in order to give her the ballgown.

Then we get that signature Rumple giggle. I doubt Rumple (not Carlyle, Rumple) had to do much acting with that giggle because I think his time spent in Storybrooke has been more a suppression of that emotive part of him than the loss of it. The way he taps his hands together in glee? I think Rumple misses at least that part of the Imp’s freedom of expression.

And Rumple glows at Belle before he gives us the line of the night: Maybe I’m tired of being a Beast.

Here, in this dreamland, Rumple feels he can be safely honest with Belle. Rumple has been nothing if not goal oriented his entire life since he became the Dark One centuries ago. Rumple wants now what he wanted then, to have his family safe and with him. In this moment, Rumple wants to lay down the burden of the darkness and be with his wife. That’s the truth. Regardless of what Morpheus says later.

Rumple’s love for Belle and his child is no lie.

Belle warms up to him here, and her body language becomes expansive, like his as he twirls her and smiles. Rumple is as much remembering how he fell in love with her as he is falling in love all over again.

Full disclosure, I fell in love with their story all over again in this moment too.

Where do I even start on the performances in this scene? Carlyle and de Ravin seem to be effortless scene partners. Did this scene take them back in time as it did us, and Rumple and Belle? These two have been through so much together through their characters and passion still suffuses everything they do. If I don’t miss my guess, I think they both enjoyed this scene, perhaps as a welcome respite from the angst we’ve all been subject to for several seasons now.

Any excuse in the world to see Carlyle as the Imp/Dark One I will relish because he sells it beyond any measure. How can a character so far out of this world feel so real? So immediate? But Rumple does. It must be magic.

And what a happy choice of Emilie de Ravin to play opposite him. She keeps pace with him, balances his larger than life character, tempers the scene and keeps us grounded. She makes Rumple’s character accessible to us in a way we would not otherwise have.

I don’t pretend to be able to see into the minds of the actors, but it looks to me like there is a magnificent trust there which allows them both a safe space for performance. I am thinking of Rumple’s giggle and of Belle’s fluidity in their dance. Carlyle and de Ravin both brought their expertise to the scene and shared it with us.

Because both of the scenes on my favorites list were partnered scenes, I will award performance of the night to a pair. I’m quite certain you already know who blew me away.

Thank you Mr. Carlyle and Ms. de Ravin for this fantastic work.

I don’t think I succeeded in writing any less, or spending any less time on this review, which was the goal. But I have to say, writing it made me happy. I tell you it is amazing to take a deep dive into the art work and look, moment for moment and the emotion and film craft on display. It is easy to passively consume a TV show, and that’s what is expected. But the rewards for analysis? I hope I could communicate to you how I was feeling as I did it.

I don’t claim to be an authority when it comes to mind reading. Every emotion I describe seeing above is just that, an emotion I saw. If you saw something else, more power to you! Go write about it and tell me where so I can read it. For me, I just spent several hours with Belle and Rumple feeling what they felt in that scene and I assure you, it was time well spent. Time beautifully spent.

Back to The Savior Episode Overview

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!


Once Season 6 Episode Reviews

As happens to the best of us, real life has limited the amount of time I can spend reviewing my favorite TV episodes, so this season I find myself needing to revise the format. Or at least try something new. The plan is write less overall in favor of what matters most as opposed to writing for each and every scene. I am quite sorry I could not review all of 5B. If I suddenly have a dearth of projects, I may go back and do an abbreviated run through for the remainder of season 5.

In theory, this new format will entail a plot overview in the first section and an in-depth review of select scenes in a subsequent section. Two articles for each episode. What could go wrong there?

We’ll give it a shot and try to hit just the highlights. The review will assume full knowledge of the episode in question and will include theories and analysis of plot, ongoing arcs, motivations, et-cetera. The scene review will take a close look at a few scenes which caught my attention either for being outstanding or because they – well, less so. This will include film craft notes like scene motion, blocking, cinematography, lighting, performances, in depth character arcing, et cetera.

Hang in there with me while I try this on for size. I may end up combining these two if it seems impractical or cumbersome.

6X01 The Savior- Plot Overview

6X01 The Savior- Scene Review

6X01 The Savior Overview

Note: this review assumes knowledge of Once Upon A Time through Season 6, episode one, The Savior. Trying a new review format for this season, please bear with me!

Once Upon A Time’s Season 5 finale racked up quite a bar tab in hot and cold running promises. The Savior began paying it off in earnest, almost like the writers were trying to avoid paying interest on a credit card bill. This is not a complaint.

A lot happened.

Really, a lot of plot got done in one tiny episode. This is such a departure from what we have become accustomed to. Usually, the premiere is more an extension of the finale which deepens whatever the writers set up previously. Not typically many answers to be had in a premiere.

But not so this time!

I have divided the plot review from the in depth film-craft review this season. For your convenience, there will be a link at the bottom to the scene review as well as one right here.

Opening Image:

The introduction flashback took us to meet Jafar and Aladdin as well as, it turns out, the Oracle. This opening action shot of a running horse is a bit reminiscent of the series opening image: Charming racing on horseback toward his True Love. Except our rider dies before the end of the scene. I’ll be interested to see how this plays in to the rest of what’s currently happening in Storybrooke.

A Storyline:

I, for one, expected Hyde to run amok for several episodes creating chaos before the heroes “solved” this issue and threw him in jail or killed him. Nope. Emma, tremor not withstanding, bagged him and tossed him in Belle’s ex-cell tout-suite. Speaking of Emma, nothing like a little vision of your own mortality to make you start telling lies to your sweetie and everyone else. Anyone think (hope) this Oracle might not be all she says she is?

Regina’s roommate situation lasts about two seconds. Friction between the sisters delighted me. I got this tingle of hope that the writers would do the hard thing and address the rape of Robin Hood when Regina said, “I blame you.”

But those hopes were quickly dashed. This is an ongoing critique: the R word needs paid. It’s right there on the tab in bold print and it’s not going away. Regina’s friendship with Snow White and that beautiful scene between them on the bench? Give me more of that. I have missed Snow White so much and I did not even know it because Mary Margaret clouded my memories of her. I cannot say I had too much love for Mary Margaret and I am glad to see courage from Snow White again. This is definitely a step in the write direction.

I loved the dirigible by the way! And Archie!!! Can we have more Archie??? Please?

Hyde’s comment about nothing being more dangerous than an untold story bodes well for forcing our friends to deal with uncomfortable situations for the rest of the season. And that’s where I want them, uncomfortable. Stories about kittens and flowers are nice, for about two seconds or less. Feed me angst or go home.

Speaking of angst, poor Emma is at it again, trying to deal with her problems alone. She really does need Archie.

But I hope she isn’t Archie’s only customer.

On to the B Story:

The last great pay off to discuss genuinely surprised me. They woke Belle in the premiere. How are we going to recognize this show as Once if Rumple and Belle are not separated or asleep? Ok, so Rumple did not follow Belle through the portal, he stood there like a lost puppy, but no force in the universe keeps Rumplestiltskin from his children forever, so I anticipate he will follow her with haste. And he can because he, last one to arrive at the portal jumping party, has the Apprentice’s wand. I mean wrinkled old knob. (I still haven’t gotten over that line.)

While we are on the subject of Rumbelle, did I hallucinate or was Once’s opening volley a Rumbelle story? We have not seen Rumbelle as the season focal story… ever? Love stories are almost always the B Story in fiction primarily because they need so much background to back them up and make them feel real. None of this is to say love stories are any less important than A Storylines, in fact sometimes they are the most important thing, but they are a serious amount of work to write and require careful scaffolding.

Could Rumbelle be our B Story for the season? Help me on this, they have typically had a couple of centric episodes a year. What about the other couples? Snowing had all of Season 1, more or less. Season 2 saw a smattering of everyone, which I liked. Season 3, likewise. Season 4 same-ish. Fair enough. For three seasons, we got focal episodes for our cannon pairings. Then Season 5 rolls around and it is very focused on CaptainSwan. Unless I have grossly misremembered, which is always possible. I won’t go count screen time to see exactly how everyone stacks up, minute for minute. Someone more obsessed than me can do that and I’ll go read their article. Of note, the other major cannon pairings are half-dead: SwanFire and OutlawQueen, so that leaves us with our three major cannon pairings: Snowing, Rumbelle and CaptainSwan. And of them Rumbelle is the only one yet to have been B Story for a season.

Yes, there have been other consequential pairings (and as many as the fans can imagine which  is WONDERFUL), but they are beyond the scope of this article. SwanQueen is one fanon example- which I truly enjoy. There are many great things to say about all of Once’s love stories, but this one little review article is about The Savior and won’t delve into them.

Getting back to the point, could we be seeing the birth of a Rumbelle-centric season???

The indications are very strong so far. When we are talking about paying off storyline debts, the Rumbelle tab is a long one. The writers just made a serious inroad into having Rumbelle deal with their issues out loud and in public, meaning in front of us fans. In addition to this, Beauty and the Beast is HUGE right now, with the new live action film coming up and new teasers emerging frequently. It would be very smart to capitalize on this opportunity.

Beauty and the Beast has been in the hearts and minds of the public for a very long time. We have not forgotten about it and it sings to us. There is SO much potential ahead for the Rumbelle story I can’t hardly sit still.

There are a few plot specific details of this episode I do want to bring up.

At first, when we met Morpheus in Belle’s dream I frowned a little thinking that they had used the “guide” device as a literary short cut to do some exposition about Belle’s dream world. I thought Morpheus to be rather inconsequential at this moment in the story, not that I didn’t expect to see him again, but I did not see his true purpose coming. And they did use Morpheus as an expository tool, but then… Then I got over my distaste for this shortcut because what they did I felt was excellent.

With Rumple unable to wake Belle with True Love’s Kiss, just kissing her again in the veil of a dream where she is unaware would be a cop out. And, as Morpheus pointed out, a pretty awful deceit-after a fashion, but we’ll come back to that. With all the candidates for waking Belle out of the equation and Belle not being consciously aware enough to make her own choice in the dream, options for actually waking her this episode seemed very slim indeed.

Using Rumbelle’s unborn child to do the deed, I think, was brilliant. I am not sure I buy how a fetus is conscious and aware in the dream world with an adult set of faculties and seemingly future, or at least present, knowledge of how things sit between Rumple and Belle, but that there was another source of True Love available, I do like. Very much.

The writers will have to pay off that strange adult version of Belle’s child somehow, but for now I will suspend my disbelief on account of cleverness. And I theorize that Morpheus might have had something to do with facilitating interaction between Rumbelle and their still tiny ball of unaware cells. Makes me think we could still be in for some surprises about Rumbelle’s baby.

Back to deception. Rumple was right about one thing, he truly loves Belle and asleep or not, her feelings are real and present. But Morpheus was most assuredly correct to say that taking advantage of her lack of awareness is a deceit. It would have taken away Belle’s choice.

Speaking of true feelings, it appeared to me that when Belle kissed Rumple, he was allowing his curse to break, right then and there. This may not be the case though, because what we saw might just have been how Belle became aware in the dream even if she did not kiss him long enough to wake herself up entirely. But it does prove something very important to the audience: Rumbelle remain True Love.

That leads me to what I think I love most about this episode. If this were a fairytale, Belle would have become aware, listened to what Rumple said about their marriage and their child, and then  kissed him again to break both of their curses. But Once is not a fairytale. That’s the whole point of this show. Once uses fairytales as a substrate for story telling, but brings them into our real world.

Think about that for a moment: what happened between Belle and Rumple after their kiss is the entire premise of the show. The promise of the premise fulfilled. What would happen if the fairytale collided with the real world? In real life, love is not always all it takes to make a relationship viable. In the real world, broken trust can be difficult if not impossible to mend. Smart girls like Belle don’t put up with their partner’s lies and deceits, not to mention casual murders. They leave. Even if they do truly love them.

Belle has a huge responsibility growing inside. Rumple has proven to her over and over again that he will do what he thinks is expedient regardless of her wishes. She knows, believes, he loves her, that is not the question. His darkness is. Does she think he is a fit parent? I would not parent with Rumple, or someone like him, and I ADORE is character. Does Belle know that Rumple will do anything to protect his children? Yes, she knows that, but that is not enough.

The problem is the example he sets and the lengths he is willing to go to without being mediated by, or even bothering with consultation of, her values and morality. Rumple has his own code, but it does not match Belle’s and he does not always seem to put much stock in her views. No one would feel an equal partner in a situation like that. I am not saying that Rumple is purposefully discarding her point of view as a way to control or hurt her, he’s not, but his choices reflect his lack of compromises in this area.

To be clear, I am not judging Rumple as a bad person or an unfit father. I think that this baby has the potential to help Rumple reevaluate his choices from a brand new perspective. I have tremendous amounts of hope for Rumple because he just put his money where his mouth was. Literally. Would he have allowed his curse to break right then and there before Belle pulled away from him? I am uncertain. But he began changing as Belle became aware and when she pulled away, his imp form snapped back into place. To me this implies that he meant what he said about being the best man he could be for her. He demonstrated change. (I am so proud of him!)

But what I think doesn’t matter. Belle just told him she doesn’t consider him fit. That’s her choice.

Remember what Rumple said to her in response to her thinking she did not have choices there, with him in the Dark Castle? He said, “You do.”

And he let her kiss him rather than pushing her. No, he did not recognize her non-cognizance as a major flaw in his plan, because as he said, his feelings are true, but he did not go about it intending to abrogate her free will. Belle puts a premium on honesty, she needs to be able to rely on him, to trust him at his word. Rumple sees this in a more fluid light. See above about values conflict.

And this is why I am a Once fan, in spite of whatever missteps have happened and I’m certain will continue to happen as the show progresses. This scene demonstrated the rational, real life choice that many would make faced with this situation: the fairytale in the broth of real life.

Belle and Rumple have True Love, but that is not all it takes.


I hope for Rumbelle, vigorously. As I mentioned, having a Rumbelle-centric season opener bodes well for our getting to spend some time with them, as does the current Beauty and the Beast craze. There is a lot of work to be done between them and choosing to put that in the season opener demonstrates some level of commitment toward that end. I don’t need Rumbelle’s story to be smooth and sweet, but I do need it to be told. I need to see this struggle, to see if Rumple can change enough to earn Belle’s trust again AND to see if Belle can/wants to accept Rumple for the man he is.

Aside from my earlier complaint about not addressing the R word, my only other real gripe, and it’s a small one is pacing. I always seem to want more time with each scene. Yes I just got through praising how much got done in one episode, but there’s a cost to that and that’s feeling rushed. I could have happily spent an entire episode in Belle’s dream world and an entire episode in Storybrooke with our other heroes. At least.

All in all, I felt this episode was solid: 8/10 for the two reasons mentioned above.

I have high hopes for this season because right off the bat, the writers have given us something different from what they have in the past. And they have made us a lot of promises. Regina wants a new story. Emma is going to die. Rumple does not want to be a beast anymore. And we know the land of untold stories is going to wreak havoc. I can’t wait.

Post Script: If you have noticed my passion and enthusiasm over Rumbelle, how it tends to make me write a lot and go on at length, I hope I am bringing my joy into your life. I am very aware of fandom dynamics and I want this to be understood: I love Once Upon A Time. It means a hell of a lot to me. Rumbelle is very special for some very specific reasons which I will eventually share here in future articles. But loving one pairing does not exclude me from enjoying the others. I don’t like to think of myself as “anti” any character or any “ship” as they are called. If you continue to read on this blog, you will read my candid opinions about all kinds of things. I am not here to yuck on anyone else’s yum, even if it looks like I hold opinions contrary to yours. My opinions are just that, my opinions. I invite and encourage you to comment and tell me when you disagree with me. By all means, go write your own articles and tell me about them so I can go and read them. I believe in being respectful and will do my best to that end, always.

Up Next: In depth scene review for The Savior

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!