Saturday, October 28, 2017
In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (7x4)
I've been thinking a lot about the season one episode "Skin Deep" this week. It remains my all time favorite episode of OUAT and is really the reason why I jumped headlong into this show. Over the years, the writers have tested those fans who fell in love with their version of Beauty and the Beast. Belle became nothing more than a decorative object with a side of a Google search engine and Rumple went back and forth between good, evil, and gray, so many times that I feared there was nothing left to the cowardly but brave father and desperate soul that I once loved. By the end of Once proper, I wasn't even sure I wanted Rumbelle together at all. "Skin Deep" always felt like part one of a movie and while I suppose one could argue that the rest of the series has been interludes in that movie, this week's episode is its true finale. It's the one that makes the most sense--the re-orientates the two characters back to their best selves--because there have been plenty of moments with Rumple and Belle that flat out do not make sense except for the writers needing to create drama because, in their mind, Morally Ambiguous and Magically Addicted Rumple (copyright pending) was more interesting than mortal and trying for humanity Rumple. More is their loss given the overwhelming emotional heft behind this week's episode. What OUAT managed to squeeze into a few flashbacks could have been a several season arc of Rumple learning to be human again with Belle and his family guiding him. That's Rumple's story, in a nutshell. A man who crosses the line over into inhumanity for the love of his child and because of his own selfish desires only to find his way back, step by heartbreaking step, through the love of his family and their belief in him. I don't want to spend too much time harping on how very disappointing it is that the writers didn't go this route years ago, because if Skin Deep was part one of a two part movie, this week's episode does such a great job bookending it, complete with opening a curtain. For a long time Rumple's happy ending came in two parts: Belle and their growing family and, second, the dagger and the magic it grants. Rumple couldn't see a future without that dagger and went so far as to liken it to the true love he felt for Belle. The biggest issue there is that his love of the dagger was at odds with his love for Belle; magic or love which would Rumple choose is his most consistent throughline over six years. Surely there could be no happily ever after for Rumple (and consequently Belle and the rest of the GoldStiltskin clan) if Rumple clung to that power he so craved. Turns out, the writers realized this and decided to show us what Rumple's life was like without his dependency on that dagger.
--Okay, there's actually a lot of random plot spaghetti I guess I have to talk about somewhere so here it is! Alice is Roger's daughter. I have a lot of negative feelings about that reveal because first, it was clumsily done, and second, I think Alice being Rumple and Belle's daughter would be a much richer narrative given Rumple's past experiences with his children.
--Alice is gay! I wonder who her love interest will be, though. She mentioned having an ex who worked for Victoria Belfry, so my money is on Ivy.
--Speaking of: Ivy is a much more rewarding and interesting character than previously established. Her vulnerable side was refreshing after being nothing but snarky.
--"All I want is a life with you, Rumple...."
--“I took the dagger for one son; I won’t give it over to another.”
--I hate random prophecies inserted into narratives because the writers have written themselves into a corner. But I do like the name “The Edge of Realms.” Feels very fairy tale. Likewise, I'm going to ignore whatever plot noodle this "guardian" is until it becomes more relevant.
--Lucy's costume actually consists of a paper bag over her head.
--Of course Roni makes a cocktail called "Poisoned Apple."