I have to admit, aside from a few hiccups, I really enjoyed this week’s episode of Once Upon a Time. Most of my initial fears for the season were assuaged. There was solid character development, and some neat storylines were set up. Still no sign of Henry’s father (yes, I will be mentioning this in every review). Some parts felt a little rushed at the time, but in retrospect they would have felt dragged out if they were spaced out over multiple episodes. Fans of Cora will be left wanting as she makes no appearances in this episode. However, she is in the previews for next week, so there is hope! Hook features heavily, as does Rumplestilskin, so fans of them like me will be happy. There’s a lot of Belle, including flashbacks to the Enchanted Forest of yesteryear, as well; but, to be honest, I am not entirely sure if I actually like her character if I just think Australian accents are neat.
In Our World, Rumple is at the town line with a bound William Smee. Smee begs him not to push over as he will lose all memory of the Enchanted Forest. Rumple pours a potion on Smee’s hat and pushes him over the line. Turns out Rumple has created a potion that when poured on one’s most precious possession allows you to cross the town line and still retain all of your memories. Back at his shop, Rumple tells Belle he has discovered this, and shows her a shawl that belonged to his lost son Baelfire, which he intends to use to cross the town line and go in search of Baelfire.
On his ship, Hook continues to interrogate Archie about Rumple’s weaknesses in Our World. After establishing Archie doesn’t know about the dagger that we learn about in season one episodes, that grants the Dark One his powers, and can be used to either kill or control Rumple, Hook threatens to dissect him if he doesn’t tell him another weakness. Archie relents and presumably tells Hook about Belle.
In flashbacks, we see Belle in the Enchanted Forest. After some prompting from the dwarf Dreamy, she decides to go on a hunt for a dangerous beast in another land with a group of adventurers. She is ultimately abandoned by her companions after she gives them a piece of information on where to find this beast from a book she is reading. It turns out she has purposefully given them the wrong information, and she tracks the beat to its lair in the mountains. After accidently waking the beast, she is confront by Mulan, who chides her for startling the beast and warns her to stay out of Mulan’s way.
In Our World, Belle is attacked by Hook in the library. She hides in the same elevator Emma used to fight dragon Maleficent in the season 1 finale. She calls Rumple for help, and he rescues her, but Hook is nowhere to be seen when Rumple arrives. Belle demands to know why Hook is after Rumple, as she also remembers Hook breaking into her cell in the Queen’s palace to try to figure out how to kill the Dark One. Rumple answers evasively, giving Belle as a little information as possible: Hook stole away his wife, Rumple took his hand, and he tells her simply that his wife Milah died. They return to his shop and discover the attack on Belle was a distraction to get Rumple out of his shop so Hook could steal Baelfire’s shawl, without which Rumple cannot leave the town and search for his son. On a roof across the street, Smee gives Hook the shawl as Hook observes the shop through a spyglass. Belle tries to elicit a promise from Rumple that he will only get the shawl back, not go on a rampage for revenge, Rumple withholds this promise, simply telling Belle to go back to the library and lock herself in there. He gives her a gun with which to defend herself if Hook returns.
When Belle does so, she discovers a knotted rope left behind by Hook. After looking up the type of knot, she realizes that Hook has come here in his ship and heads to the docks to find it. She eventually realizes the ship is invisible and heads aboard to find the shawl. She discovers Archie and releases him, telling him to find Gold and tell him she is on the ship and to come quickly. She is then confronted by Hook, who taunts her with the shawl, telling her that Milah actually loved him and that Rumple ripped out her heart and crushed in front of Hook. She eventually knocks him down and attempts to escape. Rumple appears and proceeds to beat the hell out of Hook with his cane, sans magic (it is a really awesome scene). Belle begs him to spare Hook, to prove that he is a good man. He relents, telling Hook to sail his ship to the end of the world that he never wants to see Hook ever again.
In the Enchanted Forest flashbacks, Belle is accosted by the men she sent on a wild goose chase. She is rescued by Mulan, who has decided to enlist Belle’s help in tracking the beast as Belle tracked it in a matter of hours whereas Mulan has been following it for weeks. Eventually Belle is forced to try to kill the beast alone, only to discover that the beast is actually a cursed Prince Phillip, enchanted and exiled by Maleficent. She introduces Phillip and Mulan, and apparently the two set off to quest together (video game nerds agree that this always start a beautiful friendship). Belle declines to go with them, as she intends to go back and try to free Rumplestilskin from his own curse.
However, as she starts to leave, she is captured by Regina and the men she sent off to capture the beast in the wrong place. Regina claims that Rumplestilskin cannot be saved and locks Belle up in her tower.
At the town line in Our World, Rumple seen off by Belle, is preparing to cross over and search for his son. When he successfully crosses the line, Hook appears and shoots Belle in the shoulder, causing her to fall over the line and lose her memory. Rumple prepares to throw a fireball at Hook but is interrupted by a car that speeds into town, hitting Hook and crashing. This brings up some points from earlier in the episode. Many of the townspeople, including Charming ultimately, express a desire to return to the Enchanted Forest. They are concerned that people from the outside world might be able to come to Storybrooke and what their reaction to seeing magic might be.
Archie shows up at Emma/Snow/David/Henry’s loft. He tells Emma Henry that Cora kidnapped him and framed Regina. Henry is ecstatic that Regina is innocent, and tells Emma they have to let Regina know. Emma agrees, but fears that Regina won’t forgive them so easily.
So, a really enjoyable episode. I was grateful to learn my fear of Cora slinking around in the shadows blaming things on Regina for the rest of the season was unfounded. The possibility of a return of bad ass revengeful Regina really excites me. I am interested in seeing the repercussions of the driver that careened into town. And a possible final showdown between Hook and Rumplestilkin!