When the curse was broken, and half of Storybrooke remembered the wrongs that Regina and Rumple had brought upon them, both characters immediately hit a turning point. Regina and Rumple had to either make a change, or turn back down the road they came. Since the first season built up their villainy so heavily, and the flashbacks mostly focused on each of their journeys towards these dark places, there wasn’t any other direction to go but up. Regina made the decision to do what’s best for Henry, we saw that much when she let him go, and Rumple decided to do what’s best for Belle, but is there any truth to his sacrifice?
For all of the character growth made here, it’s hard to really see if Rumple will actually change. Back when he was a coward, he was too afraid to stand up for himself. He let his wife be shipped off (apparently) unwillingly, and lied about her fate to his son. Even when he was imbued with all that power, he still hid behind it, using his quest for Bae as a cover for petty vengeance, even killing the woman he claimed to have once loved. He came clean to Belle about his real intentions behind bringing magic back to Storybrooke, letting her go so she could find herself, but moments later returned to his snakey vindictive ways. It’s difficult to latch on to a character that isn’t really making strides, but moving back and forth between two moral extremes.
It wasn’t just Rumple that acted selfishly, here. Rumple’s wife, Milah, who was every bit as cowardly as her husband, left her son a without a mother and forced him to grow up thinking he had lost her. Only a selfish wench would do that to their child, regardless of how they feel about their other half. Even Moe resorted to some pretty dirty tactics to stop his daughter from going back to Rumple. Amongst all this decrepit behavior, it was Belle who really grounded things, emotionally.
It’s hard to see what she sees in Rumple sometimes; his moments of sensitivity are few and far between, but I guess love is subjective sometimes. I really liked watching Belle find her own place in Storybrooke. So far she’s been an augmentation of Rumple’s character beats, but here was saw her strike out on her own, and come to realize when she wants from life, and where she’d like to be. It’s also incredibly important that her separation from Rumple continues, not just for his sake, but for her own; there’s nothing inspirational about someone who subjects himself/herself to an emotionally charring relationship.
Despite all of the jarring character decrepitude, The Crocodile was an entirely necessary episode. It made sense for the show to break up its bigger narrative with Snow and Emma, and give Storybrooke a chance to develop a bit more. Sure, it’s a little disappointing that we never got to catch up with who are arguably the show’s most important characters, but it would be even worse if the show had forgone it’s past storylines in favor of the flashier stuff. It does get me wondering if the writers might have been overly ambitious in establishing such a large scope this season; do they have what it takes to bring it full circle?
3 out of 5 magic beans
This is the first time either Ginnifer Goodwin or Jennifer Morrison have been absent for an episode. I’ve no idea how the producers managed to escape out of the usual contractual obligations. Lana Parilla was also absent.
Ruby’s wolf senses have been returning. I really like her; hopefully we’ll get a chance to catch up with how she’s been coping post purple haze.
Moe’s flower shop was called “Game of Thornes”...Laugh Out Loud.
He Said, She Said
Rumple: “Magic has become a crutch that I can’t walk without.”
Milah: “I let my misery cloud my judgement.”
Rumple: “Why were you so miserable?”
Milah: “Because I never loved you.”
Previously posted at PandaTV.
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