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Once Upon a Time: The Crocodile

“You don’t need power, Rumple. You need courage, to let me in.”

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 snaky 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

Plus

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 Parrilla 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.

24 comments:

  1. Also, apologies for the formatting this week. My laptop is in computer hospital and I'm stuck using the house PC =(

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  2. Okay episode, great review. Like you, I am getting more and more concerned that the writers of OUAT are trying to do too much too quickly. At least this week had plenty of crazy sexy pirate smoulder. I love that Rumple ended up being the crocodile. The way the writers connect stories is really creative.

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  3. Rumple is the crocodile?! Never saw it coming! Brilliant!
    Ruby is the wolf...
    I guess no fairy tale animals on this show? :p

    I really enjoyed this one! But knock points off because of a lack of Snow and Emma.

    I guess in a way this episode answered some of my questions about ageing... Rumple as The Dark One must be quite a bit older than the others since he taught Cora then Regina and those Ogre Wars seemed like ancient history... Hook manages to be the same age because he spent all the time in Neverneverland! I wonder... will they give us Peter Pan next? :p

    Also glad to see Belle striking out on her own! Nice of Rumple to give her the key...

    In a way, he has been consistent throughout: the ONE thing that motivates him is finding Bae. I don't think he and Belle stand a chance (because of the magic thing) until he solves that.

    Still no further mention of that mystery character in the season opener who received that message "broken"...

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  4. I JUST got it with the crocodile (smacks her head with palm of hand)...so Rumple is both the crocodile and the beast.
    I am glad they have broken up Rumple and Belle - even it it is temporary - that pairing just doesn't sit with me.
    No sympathy for Milah at all.

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  5. Finally caught up on the last three weeks! Yea! Agreed on the break-up of Rumple and Belle. The hubby and I were rooting for her to cross the line and lose her memory, just to hopefully nip that pairing in the bud. It doesn't work for us. I was disappointed when she made her hamburger overture to Gold as he was leaving. Ugh. At least he's still up to no good. He wouldn't be nearly as entertaining if he completely turned over a new leaf!

    I'm really digging the way they are building the mythology this season and weaving the different story worlds together. Some of the "crocodile" references this week were a bit too on the nose (did Rumple really have to say "tick tock"?), but I liked the general origin story they built for Hook and Smee. And I'm intrigued by the pairing of Hook and Cora (thus linking the Neverland and Wonderland worlds to a certain extent). I'm looking forward to seeing how things continue to come together.

    Other things to love this week: Ruby with the lighter Red makeup (she looks SO much prettier when she's not painted up like a street walker), and Chris Gauthier as Smee (although I was a bit disappointed in him when I realized it was my beloved Vincent (Eureka) abducting Belle!).

    Biggest hope for the season: Please, please, please don't let Charming ever cross that town line. I just couldn't bear the return of "weak and confused" David. Ack!

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  6. After weeks and weeks of waiting for the debut of Hook, I was really happy with this episode. Maybe because I've loved Colin O'Donoghue since he was on The Tudors, but I am so glad that he's been upgraded to regular already.

    "Sparkly dirt. Wonderful..." had to be one of my favourite lines in the whole episode.

    Not a fan of Rumbelle in the slightest. So I was meh about the whole SB section of the episode. I did like Hook and Milha though, and I want to see Hook and Rumple duke it out in Storybrooke.

    Could the promos for next week have given away Dr. Whale's identity any louder?

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  8. Maybe I'm an alien, but I think Rumbelle makes perfect sense. This is exactly what the first Belle is about: Stockholm Syndrome. Although I would argue that he never abused her. He's always been gentle to her. If you think about it, her father is the harmful figure in her life.

    "It’s difficult to latch on to a character that isn’t really making strides, but moving back and forth between two moral extremes."

    He's still getting the hang of the "I'm not the dark one anymore" thing. He spent so much time just being violent and exacting vengeance that it's become instinctive. He needs someone next to him to make him realize it's wrong. He's like a stray dog you adopt.

    It was also my favorite episode so far this season. And I'm really enjoying this season. Really.

    And it's telling that, although I disagreed with almost every word in this review, I still enjoyed reading it. That takes skill, Panda.

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  9. So, this is probably a strange thing to gripe about when discussing a show that takes so many liberties with the original stories, but it bugs me that they named pre-Hook "Killian Jones". Why not "James Jones", since Captain Hook's name was James?

    Otherwise, I really enjoyed this episode, probably since Rumplestiltskin is my favorite character by far. Also, I like him and Belle together! I kind of love him, so I can see why she would.

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  10. OHMYGOD! Anon, THANK YOU! The whole Killian Jones thing was driving me NUTS. James Hook. Look it up! Killian Jones? wtf?

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  11. I actually prefer Killian Jones to James Hook. Maybe it's just because I like the way Colin says "Killian"... who knows?

    In the sneak peek for this coming week's episode, I think he explains the whole Killian/Hook thing. Can't be too sure though.

    It's weird, but while watching the Jones/Milha interactions, I kept getting the impression that they had married?

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  12. My guess is the changed it because the show already has a main character called James.

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  13. Great review, Panda. I am also beginning to wonder if there are too many stories being told this year. Truth be told, none of them have overly excited me.

    I would watch Robert Carlyle read the phone book, so I tend to love the Rumple episodes, but this one felt as though the writers are struggling to define his character.

    And, I am not a Rumbelle supporter at all. It just feels, for lack of a better word, icky.

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  14. Sunnybunny- Thank YOU! James Hook! No one else on the whole wide internet seems to mind/notice/be as obsessive about Peter Pan as I am. I glad they will be explaining it, although the only explanation I will accept is that Killian Jones was an alias.

    Mark Grieg, you may have a point there about the other James. Is that Charming? Isn't he also David? How many names does that guy need?

    --M

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  15. Given that I'm terrible with character names, I might be the wrong person to jump in with this, but do we know that Charming's fairy-tale name is David? Many others have different names.

    My big point of confusion is over how much time has passed in the Enchanted Forest since Snow, etc. were moved to Storybrooke. Because for them, it was 28 years of no time at all. But time must pass somehow in the Enchanted Forest, so has it been a few years? Months? A week?

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  16. Josie I've been worrying about the time thing myself... I think it's clear the pre-Dark Lord Rumple stories were A LONG TIME AGO, and he's still around 'cause as the Dark Lord he doesn't age. And Hook is still around 'cause he went to Nevernverland where no one ages.

    As for the residents of the Enchanted Forest... Didn't Mulan and Prince Philip tell something to Aurora about being trapped in time or something and had only just been freed to go searching for her (in the season opener)? Perhaps it's connected to Emma's arrival in Storybrook...

    Otherwise it has to be a Narnia thing. Time goes by at a different rate in the two worlds.

    For that matter, nobody in Storybrook aged at all for 28 years!!! Except for Henry???

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  17. M - You're more than welcome. It was driving me nuts too. I'm a long time Peter Pan fan. :)

    Josie - In the meet cute episode (Snow Falls, I think) Charming tells Snow his name is James. BUT he is the twin of the original Prince James. Were both twins named James? Did Charming just take on the name of James when he impersonated his brother? If so, what was his name before? You know, when I type all this out, the show really sounds insane.

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  18. Ah, yes. I think James is the dead prince, and Charming introduced himself to Snow that way because he was impersonating his brother. It makes sense that his name was David, although I don't know if that was ever implicitly stated.

    CrazyCris- if Rumple has been around an insanely long time, Hook must have been, too, since he was a contemporary of Rumple's wife.

    And, yeah, who was that guy with the "Broken" message? I think I am going to need to re-watch these episodes!

    -M


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  19. I have a feeling that trying to make sense of the way time is supposed to work on this show is only going to get more and more complicated as it goes on. But, on the season opener, Phillip and Mulan explained that the characters that are in the Enchanted Forest (and not in Storybrook) were frozen for 28 years as well, and only started "living" again when Emma arrived in Storybrook and the clock moved.

    Then again, we've seen Regina reach to some specific time and place back in the Enchanted Forest through Jefferson's hat in order to get the poisoned apple. Considering that the concept of other worlds is also part of the show - we saw Wonderland, now we've learned that Neverland is there as well, and if the producers are to believed Oz might happen, too - we're probably just going to have to deal with the fact that time and space are going to be hard to figure out (but hey, I could never figure out Captain Harkness timeline, and I still love him).

    As for Rumple, I rather like the way they're handling him, keeping him in this sort of gray area where we don't know which side he's going to fall to. He's clearly very old, and has years and years of resentment behind him. He might love Belle, but one does wonder if that is enough. I think it's enough to make him open up, which is cool, but perhaps not enough to make him change his way. In any case, I think it's very clear that his driving point is finding his son, which I find grounds the character and his motivations - past and future - very well.

    I have to say too that I would love to see the character of Belle blossom without a relationship, if only because independance has always been the difining point of this character for me. I'm glad they gave her the library as well, since it was very defining for her in the movie, and it makes my inner ten year old feel better about liking books better than boys.

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  20. Bea, I agree with every single thing you just wrote.

    -M

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  21. I think someone said on Tumblr that Rumplestiltskin and Hook are both meant to be around 300 years old.

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  22. I was going to post this long ago, but ended up changing my mind.
    I think the guy in the season opener is Bae. I also believe Pinocchio (August) may be the one to send him the postcard. It would really explain how August knew so much about Rumple. I thought about this "crazy" theory while I was watching We Are Both, and it's now stuck in my brain (as in "every time I watch a new episode I get more and more convinced I'm right").
    I think I haven't posted this before because I think it may be crazy or may be a spoiler if it's true, but at the same time, I'd really like ro know if it makes sense to others, so I'm posting it now.

    Great review, Panda! I liked Hook, but I thought he was going to be a love interest for Emma. Now he's with Cora? I'm also SUPER curious to see how the writers will put it together, but I'm confident they will be able to pull it off. Just one final thought - how many characters can Rumple be? So far he's Rumple, Beast and Crocodile!
    Lica

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  23. Oh, I hope that is Bae! Makes complete sense. I wonder why he has stayed away from Storybrook, if he knows his father is there?

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  24. Very nice to see Belle finding her own way and be friends with Ruby. She needs some time to herself and maybe sessions with Archie to make sense of things. Is he still around?
    Hook was hot but I don't see him getting with Emma..he'll have to get in line behind her other potential love interests..
    I'm starting to wonder if Rumple really is redemanble after killing Milah...Maybe he can sacrifice his life for Bae or Belle..but not for a very long while..I like Carlyle too much for that to be now.
    Anna

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