Once Upon a Time: Desperate Souls

"Never underestimate someone who's acting for their child."

When you introduce a villain, especially one with the potential to continue on for a while, it’s important to ensure that his/her motives feel like they’re coming from the right place, so to speak. With Rumpelstiltskin, I feel like the writers hit the right amount of sympathy for someone who’s proven himself to be one of the most formidable of Emma’s opponents.

After the predictable but all too devastating ending to the previous episode, the after-shock of Sheriff Graham’s death is all over Storybrooke. It was in Emma’s desire to do right by taking his honourable position, it was in Henry’s sudden lack of faith in his plan to save his friends, and it was even written all over Regina’s cold, harsh exterior. Like I said last week, the ‘shock’ of his death was almost non-existent, but the event itself held all the power it needed to.

Rumpelstiltskin’s history continues the show’s newfound quest into deeper and darker territory with the lives of these colourful and appealing characters. One of Joss Whedon’s golden rules is to never make your villain a cold, hard machine. Take the Mayor who spent most of his season obsessing over his hygiene and playing house with Faith. It’s moments like that that make the more menacing ones all too real and severe. Robert Carlyle is obviously having the time of his life in his role here, taking the time to really savour every moment of over-zealous creepiness, but it’s his more subtle moments of weakness that create such a layered and believable character underneath all that craziness.

Like Regina in "The Thing You Love Most," Rumpie’s motives for becoming the town exploiter come from his original desire to break his fellow constituents’ perception of him; a pathetic coward. The story here was one that was strange, but worked at the same time. There’s no way to escape the deep and emotionally scarring story of a father only trying to do right by his only son, only to ruin it all in the end.

The ‘real world’ antics were just as appealing this week. The Sheriff election boasted the trademark rivalry between Emma and Regina, and along with a few familiar faces, brought Sidney Glass into the picture. Regina’s clear disdain towards Emma’s win was a true root for the hero moment. It’s fine to go dark and have the odds stacked against you, but I always appreciate some good winning out stories. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

There’s still so much potential for a grand scale fantasy that isn’t being realized just yet, but given that it’s early days, I’m not going to hold it against the show just yet; fun stuff.

Plus

Henry gave Emma her walkie talkie. Operation Cobra is officially on.

He Said, She Said

Baelfire: “It feels wrong to run away.”
Rumpelstiltskin: “It feels worse to die, son.”

Mr. Gold: “Never underestimate someone who’s acting for their child.”
Regina: “He’s not her child, not legally.”
Mr. Gold: “Now who’s trifling with technicalities?”

4 out of 5 special engraved, controlling knives.

Previously posted at PandaTV.

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