Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Once Upon a Time: Season 2, Episode 4: The Crocodile

 In the fairyland of the past, we see more of Rumplestiltskin’s past, before he became the Dark One, when he was ridiculed for being a coward and deserting from the army during the Ogre Wars. He returns home to fine his son, Bael, alone – his wife, Mila hasn’t returned yet. He goes looking for her and finds her in the Inn drinking with sailors who all mock him for his cowardice and weakness. When Bael comes in, Mila agrees to return home. At home we learn how miserable Mila is, how she is tired of being known as the wife of a coward and how it would have been better if he had fought – though he points out that he is still alive which is more than many of those that fought. She wants to leave the area, go somewhere they aren’t known.

Later, Rumplestiltskin receives word that he has to go to the docks, that the sailors –pirates – his wife had been drinking with had kidnapped Mila. He hurries to the dock and meets captain Killian Jones. Rumple begs, he has a son who needs his mother, he needs his wife, please release Mila. Killian claims his crew need “companionship” but offers to duel Rumple for his wife. Rumple begs further and Killian tells him to go home and tell his son that his father is a coward – and that a man who won’t fight for what he wants deserves what he gets

We move forwards in time, to when Rumplestiltskin becomes the Dark One but, in the process, has lost his son. He is in a bar meeting a Procuror, a man known for his skill at acquiring  strange objects. He is trying to interest Rumplestiltskin in a magic bean that will help him reach other worlds – he knows Rumplestiltskin’s story and knows he is looking for his son who fell through the portal. Rumpestiltskin agrees to buy the bean in exchange for the Procuror’s restored youth.

The Procuror leaves and Captain Killian enters. Rumplestiltskin decides to hang around.

When Killian leaves he bumps into Rumple disguised as a beggar and, when Cillian harases him, he takes great pleasure in revealing who he is. Killian remembers him as the man he was which allows Rumple to introduce himself as the Dark One – causing the pirates to take a hurried step backwards. He asks after Mila, Killian pretends not to know who he means. Rumple offers to drag the memory out of his brain – an unpleasant process. Memory suddenly restored, Killians tells Rumple that she died, a long time ago. Rumple decides it’s time to continue their duel he rand from so long ago – at dawn and adds that there is really no point of running.

The duel between Rumple and Killian – Rumple stealing Killian’s sword in the first few seconds, is a joyous display of Rumple’s power as he toys with the captain and easily defeats him. At the end he tells the captain that being unable to free his wife was like having his heart ripped out – something he starts to do to Killian, until Mila calls on him to stop. Yes, she’s alive and in love with Killian and was never kidnapped at all. She gets a brief moment to explain this (“tick tock dearie!”) and settle son a deal to save their lives – Rumple gets the magic bean, they get their lives.

To the pirate ship, where the procurer has been kidnapped and imprisoned. They show Rumple the bean and ask for a deal – but it’s not that easy. Doting father Rumple cannot understand how Mila could have left their son, Bael. He’s enraged at Mila as she tries to tell him why and how it hurt her – he won’t listen even as she describes her misery until she says she never loved him – and Rumple pulls out her heart. Killian grabs the bean and tells Rumple he’ll only get it over his dead body – Rumple wants him to live and suffer so just cuts off the man’s hand, with the bean clutched in his fits. In desperation, Killian tries to stab Rumplestiltskin with the first thing that comes to hand – a hook. Naturally, it does nothing against the Dark One.

But when he returns to his home, he pries open the fingers of the hand and finds… nothing. Killian had tricked him.

In Storybrooke Belle and Rumplestiltskin/Gold are having a sweet, happy time together, him giving her a necklace, planning to go out on the town. She’s so happy that he’s changing, becoming softer, gentler – when in walks Grumpy. He’s furious and wants his axe, he claims that just because Rumplestiltskin possesses something doesn’t mean it’s his – that none of the things in his shop are his – seeing Belle with him he accuses her of being with a monster and being another possession. Rumplestiltskin loses his temper and forces Grumpy back against the wall, strangling him, threatening to bury his axe in his skull. Belle begs him to stop – says it isn’t him any more – but he turns and says it always will be – “dearie”, his voice changing to match the Rumplestiltskin of fairyland and his skin gleaming golden.

Which is when Belle wakes up from the dream and goes looking for him. She finds him looking through the basement window and sees Rumplestiltskin spinning straw into gold (yes I love that he does that) – and working on a glowing, purple potion. He’s using magic again.

Belle confronts him and asks why he needs magic, why is he messing with it. Rumple tells her that magic is power but she questions why does he need power? He is using power as a substitute for courage and he hasn’t changed.

The next day, Rumple/Gold finds that Belle is missing. He starts to search the town but absolutely no-one wants to help the guy who terrorised them for so long – in Storybrooke and fairy land. He even checks with her father in the florist’s – who didn’t even know she was still alive and was still desperately looking for her. He assumed Rumple was holding her prisoner and still thinks he’s a monster

At Granny’s Belle runs into Ruby (is it just me, or would Ruby be a ten times more awesome sheriff/princess/queen than anyone else up for the role?) Ruby notices something’s wrong by Belle’s troubled demeanour and the copious amount of ice tea she’s drinking. She hasn’t seen Belle around and they talk – with Ruby finding out Belle was a kept woman and she thinks she’s heading towards a bad breakup. Ruby offers to ask Granny about getting Belle a room there (see? Ruby is awesome and knows just what people need). Belle talks about needing a job and Ruby asks what she loves – naturally, Belle says books. Ruby points her towards the public library, it’s been shut down so long but now everything’s changing.

Belle heads to the library – and a homeless person, the Procurer from Fairy Land, asks her for change and, when he gets close enough, grabs her and kidnaps her. And delivers her to her father – he is a Procurer after all. They have a reuinion which starts out sweet but quickly devolves as it’s clear that her father has his views on who Belle should and should not love and be with and refuses to accept she loved Rumple and was with him by choice. Her refusal to move on this matter leaves him with one choice in his eyes – and he has the Procurer take her away.

Meanwhile at the mines, Grumpy and his fellow dwarfs are still mining for fairy dust and Prince Charming is now the acting sheriff. At the sheriff’s office, Rumple approaches him to report Belle missing and ask for help. Charming’s less than amused considering the amount of mess they have to clean up with Rumplestiltskin bringing magic back, but Rumple appeals to him as someone who has also lost people he loved. Unfortunately, Charmings finds people are not thrilled to help Rumplestiltskin (including a butcher whose father Rumple once turned into a pig – something Rumple doesn’t even remember) while Rumple wants relationship advice, to the shock of all. He wants to know how David and Mary Margaret made things work – he claims honesty (which is a bit of a stretch all things considered).

They arrive at Granny’s and Ruby’s unwilling to answer questions since she thinks Belle wants to get away from Rumple – but she takes Charming’s guarantee he’ll look after her (I really wish I knew why this whole town has so much faith in Charming) and tells them about the library. She also offers to use her wolfy senses to track Belle down by smell. Following the trail leads her to Belle’s father’s florist shop where they learn what he plans to do – to save Belle from Rumple they will force her across town lines and make her forget who she is.

Charming can’t see how they can since they have patrols to prevent accidental crossing – but he notices the dust on the florist’s hands – some of the tunnels under Storybrooke leave the town boundaries. To the mines! Where Belle has been handcuffed to a mine cart that is hurtling it’s way to the edge of town – until it is stopped by Rumple’s magic and slowly pulled back to them (much to Ruby’s awe). With a wave of his hand, the handcuff is removed, Belle is free, memory intact.

But, just because she has been rescued doesn’t mean she is happy with her father or Rumple (which I’m glad to see, there’s too much “oh you saved me – so we are now ideal couples!” in fairy tales and fiction in general) she storms off and doesn’t want to see either of them.

She decamps to Granny’s where Ruby serves her breakfast which is a novelty to Belle (remembering that Belle has either been in Fairy Tale land or in a prison and has no idea about the Real World) where Granny is also letting Belle stay. But she is left a key – to the library.

Going there she goes in, sees it’s full of books and Rumplestiltskin who is arranging it to be re-opened. But not as a condition to get back together, just because. He admits everything she said – that he sought power to make up for his cowardice and continued collecting power ever since and refused to let it go. He used it as a replacement for courage. His original task was to come to Storybrooke to find his son, Bael, but even when the curse broke, his first action was to bring back magic – his crutch, his shield. And now he finds himself cursed, unable to leave the town – if he does he wouldn’t be able to find his son because he wouldn’t remember him. Which is what he was doing in the basement, trying to find a way to break the new curse.

Belle, in the face of his honesty, suggests that maybe they get a burger some time.

And the aftermath:

Back in Fairy Tale land, in the past, Captain Killian fixes the hook to his severed hand. He asks the Procuror his name and he says it’s William Smee. He wants something for his bean – Killian offers him a place on his crew because they’re going somewhere where they won’t age and will have a long time to plot their revenge on Rumplestiltskin – Neverland.

In Storybrooke, in the present, Rumplestiltskin/Gold asks Smee about Captain Hook – but Smee says he never got pulled through to Storybrooke, gold asks Smee about hook where is he

And in Fairlyland in the present, Captain Killian/Hook is meeting with Cora, Regina’s mother. She shows him the bottle of wardrobe ash she got from the last episode – it’s not enough, but it’s a start for them to get to Storybrooke, so Cora can find her daughter and Hook can find Rumplestiltskin.

I’m not sure who it was that decided that all pirates must wear eye-liner but I approve. Yes yes I do. Keep your parrots and peg-legs. I also like this twist on Captain Hook and why he went to Neverland and the Crocodile he’s afraid of.

I’m impressed also how it manages to merge together the three plot lines – Fairy land past, fairy land present and Storybrooke.

But I think there’s a hole in the backstory which I hope we will see more of – Prince James/Charming/David. He’s respected and accepted as a leader but I’m not sure he has done enough to justify being cast as this great, respected, honoured leader.

 (5 for the eyeliner)