When Belle was first introduced, I figured she’d remain this fundamental piece of Rumple’s journey, only a footnote in Once Upon a Time’s history, but once the second season started I saw how hard the writers were trying to paint her as a great character in her own right. 'The Crocodile' saw her step out on her own for the first time and find her identity in Storybrooke, but in 'The Outsider', we saw not only the great person she was becoming, but the altruistic woman she was once before, and ended up becoming again.
If 'The Cricket Game' was all about that one missing piece involved in recovery, 'The Outsider' brought it into focus again. Regina was trying so hard to change, but even Henry, her only supporter, was easily swayed when last week’s news came to light. Belle, on the other hand, has full belief in Rumple. She sees through the anger, the deception, and the power hungry facade; she knows who he really is, deep down. It’s that kindness and easy ability to read people that makes her the perfect match for Rumple.
We even saw that clarity play right into her hands back in the Enchanted Forest, when she cleverly plotted her way to the Yaoguai’s hideout and found her own way of stopping it, which was just as well seeing as how it wasn’t a vicious beast at all, but none other than Prince Philip, Aurora’s soul-captured lover. While we’re on the topic of forgotten characters, I loved Mulan’s inclusion here. It was a nice way of continuing her involvement in the series, not ignoring the more interesting plots that are going on right now, but still promising to delve into her past further on.
It wasn’t just the Yaoguai’s hideout Belle found either; Hook’s hidden ship may not have been as easily disguised as he thought. I’m surprised that Archie was found so soon after his kidnapping last week, though. I figured it could have been dragged out a little more, even if it’s just in the interest of exploring the effect the whole situation has had on Henry. It did have the desired effect, and I think the damage has already been done with regards to Regina’s already hostile relationship with Storybrooke, and the stage is definitely set for her the big mother daughter reunion.
Regina and Cora’s meeting may not be happening ‘till next week, but Hook and Rumple’s reunion finally took place here. Belle managing to stop Rumple from killing Hook felt like a major turning point for him. For the first time I actually believed he could change...then the whole shooting thing happened. I figured it was where the episode was going anyway, but it still stung to see it play out. Rumple had just begun to pull things together, and now he’s lost the one person who means the most to him. No doubt Belle’s memories will come back eventually, but the effect it will have on Rumple won’t be great for the rest of the town.
On top of all that, the Storybrooke residents have also got to deal with this newcomer. Is he just passing through, or was the town his final destination? I’m surprised at how much the show burned through this week, with this visitor, the loss of Archie, Belle’s history, and Hook’s revenge, but I’m glad to see the pace holding up. Hopefully this strong writing will translate over into next week’s black and white themed episode, which could end up spelling disaster if things don’t go right.
4 out of 5 red hats
People are finally starting to realize how much they miss their home. Will the fight to reclaim the Enchanted Forest happen before the season is out?
Regina Fashion Watch: That Hat! Dear God, I loved that hat.
He Said, She Said
Hook: “My Dear Belle, you should have stayed with your books. Real life can get so... messy.”
Rumple: “He has to die, Belle.”
Belle: “No, he doesn’t. There’s still good in you, I see it. I’ve always seen it.”
Previously posted at PandaTV.
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