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Once Upon a Time: Desperate Souls

"Looks like you made a deal you didn't understand. I don't think you're gonna do that again.”

I‘d never say we’d see Rumpie’s origin so soon. I expected to see a tale of greed gone too far, not of a loving father. The character that began the story and the one we know and love are so different that they seem to be unconnected, yet every step of the process felt true. That’s truly good writing.

But before we talk more about our star of the week, holy cow, Graham really died! I always try to be spoiler-free from shows I watch, so I was still hoping he’d make it. That’s a pity, I was just starting to like him. Hopefully, we’ll see the Huntsman in the fairy flashbacks (fairy-backs? fairy-flashes? flash-tales? A virtual donut for the best name for those).

Okay, back to this week’s story, Rumpie acquired power in order to free his son from a senseless war. I can’t blame him. The first time I saw this episode I didn’t consider him a coward, like everybody from the village (including his son), because he risked his life to save his son’s. Since then, I lost my father, and that feeling got even stronger. My father did any and everything for my family; Rumpie is no different. It’s a pity he couldn’t get what he wanted, and paid the price.

On our world, we had sheriff elections. The results and twists were fairly predictable, but at least it moved the story forward. Related to it, on the comments on my last review, percysowner suggested something very interesting: that the Mirror “edited” what the Queen saw. This implies that the Mirror, and probably also Sidney Glass, is more in control of things than he appears to. He may be the man behind the curtain, our ultimate Big Bad. It would make an interesting twist, and an even more interesting commentary on the power of the Press. This would also explain why they cast such a terrific actor to play such a small role.

Bits and pieces

- Robert Carlyle’s character count: 3.

- Rumpie was a spinner. As a magical being, he spun straw into gold (as I vaguely remember; Rumpelstiltskin is not a popular tale around here).

- What a fragile, unprotected castle.

- The Dark One’s real name was something like “Zoso”, which is what some fans call the Led Zeppelin IV album. Since it’s a legendarily mysterious name, it was appropriate and fun.

- The Dark One/the Beggar was played by Brad Dourif, who I liked very much in Deadwood. He can be dark and sympathetic at the same time. Great casting. I also like those “I’m immortal and I want to die” stories.

- I won’t mention Iraq and other senseless wars because I think the relation is clear enough.

- David and Mary bla bla bla nothing new.

- The sour face on Regina when she handed Emma the sheriff star was delightful.


Mr Gold: “No, please. They... They grow up so fast. (…) You enjoy these with your boy. Your time together is precious, you know? That's the thing about children-- before you know it... You lose them.”
No way he’d say that if he didn’t remember his past self. I think it’s well established he does.

Regina: “Oh, I'm sorry. You didn't want people to know you cut his cord with a shiv?”

Rumpie: “The law doesn't want you to fight, son. The law wants you to die. That's not battle. That's… That's a sacrifice, son.”

Mr Gold: “Now that you're sheriff, I'm sure we'll find some way for you to pay back what you owe me.”

Rumpie’s story was a four; the election was a two. Let’s average it to three out of four kissed boots.

I'd like to dedicate this review to the memory of my father.


  1. I was wondering what had happened to you, Gus. Really sorry to hear about your father. My condolences.

  2. So sorry about your father, Gus.

  3. Glad to have you back, Gus.

    Brad Dourif was indeed wonderful on Deadwood, and has played some incredibly memorable roles on some of my favorite series (especially, Babylon 5 and The X-Files). Plus he was Oscar-nominated for one of his earliest film roles, as Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

    I enjoyed getting to see Rumpie in his pre-whackadoo phase, and agree that his comments to Emma about spending time with her son cemented my belief that he knows exactly what's going on. I'm really fascinated by his efforts to undermine Regina. Looks like she, too, made a deal she didn't understand. I wonder what happens to "Mr. Gold" if Emma is successful in breaking the curse and restores the happily-ever-afters. What does that mean for him? Just back to being the Dark One? Or does he get something more? In other words, is he undermining Regina simply because he enjoys screwing people over, or because there's something else in it for him?

  4. Welcome back, Gus! I think I was waiting for you, because OuaT is stacked up on my DVR and I still haven't seen this one. :)

  5. Thanks, everybody!

    Jess, I had never connected Dourif to the guy in One Flew over the Cockoo's Nest. I love the movie, but the age difference fooled me completely.

    I ask myself, too, if Rumpie is running an incredibly long con, like the Man in Black, or if he' just an agent of chaos, like the latest Joker. I hope it's the first. He was very glad to be imprisoned by Cinderella, so he must have an ulterior motive. Maybe he wants to go back to being human to reunite with his son. I don't know.

  6. I'm sorry to hear about your father Gus.

    My thought on Rumpie is that his game is to get rid of the power and die like Beggar Man. And Emma is his target.

    Probably way off!!

    Didn't Regina seem to be more affected by the fire/slight injury than made realistic sense? Could fire be her weakness?

    I'm not sure how to set up an account so call me turnipseed!

  7. Gus, I am so sorry to hear about your father. Thanks for the great review as always.

  8. I wonder, if Zoso showed up in this episode can Bytor and the Snow Dog be far behind?

  9. I finally saw this one last night, and Robert Carlyle just rocks. When he was turned into the Dark One and showed up at his house to tell his son he was safe, he gave that entire speech with his hair completely covering his eyes.

  10. Sorry about your father. But wonderful episode review. Also a wonderful episode, Carlyle does such a great job with all his roles. I love the theory about the Mirror being the big bad.

  11. tricksterson, any Rush appearance would please me a lot, since it's my favorite band.

    Billie, I forgot to praise Robert Carlyle again in the review. He really rocks.

  12. "Good loses. Good always loses, because good has to play fair. Evil doesn't"

    I'll just start by saying that Jane Espenson can really, really write. She is brilliant at injecting her villains with qualities that make them almost sympathetic. Team her words with Robert Carlyle's acting and you've got TV gold.

    Thank you for clearing up "Zoso." I knew it must mean something, but I was at a loss. Surprisingly, as that album is one I still listen to all the time.

  13. Didn't even realize that Zoso was Brad Dourif through all the make-up. Dourif also played Grima Wormtongue in the Jackson LOTR movies.


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