Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Once Upon a Time, Season 5, Episode 17: Her Handsome Hero

This episode is all about Belle and Rumple – and where Rumple’s moral path will lead him

She’s not giving up on him, not least of because if she needs someone to protect her new baby then an angry Dark One is a great person to have on side. She clings to what Merlin said – that maybe there will be a Dark One who will use the dagger for light magic

Rumple disagrees – he thinks he can be the Dark One who uses dark magic for good. This all gets sticky as Belle insists that is wrong while Rumple counters that a) light magic is pretty ineffective and b) it’s all a matter of perspective anyway, especially when it comes to “ends justify the means”. Something he points out while performing petty magical thefts at Belle’s insistence.

This all becomes part of a very knotty moral conundrum as we bring in Belle’s past and her dad selling her off to Gaston to get a big enough army to face off the ogres (Belle’s father’s only tactic in the face of crisis seems to be to find a monster to sell his daughter to) – a war that may have been caused by Gaston’s abuse and torture of an ogre adolescent.

In the present Hades exploits this by setting Gaston against Rumple (especially since Rumple apparently killed Gaston along with so many others) with an arrow that will instantly send someone to be forever tormented in the river Styx – something that can worse-than-kill the Dark One. He also has a deal for Belle – she let Gaston and Rumple fight it out and one push the other into the river then he’ll take the mark off her baby

Of course, Rumple hears this and pretty much decides it’s time for Gaston to go swimming – 1 bow vs the dark one is not a fair fight. Belle (who has gone to the Snow White School of planning) vetoes this idea as she wants Gaston to move on. It’s not entirely based on fluffy niceness, she also has figured out that more people moving on hurts Hades

This turns out to be true as Hades complains about the new flowers in his realm pointing out that people are getting messy hope all over things.

Belle tries to find a peaceful way to resolve the Gaston vs Rumple fight – and takes Rumple’s dagger to force him not to kill Gaston… who then tries to shoot Rumple. To stop him, Belle pushes Gaston into the river.

Ooopsie. Hades points out this doesn’t fulfil their deal as Rumple was supposed to do it. This also withers some hope flowers which he gifts to Zelena who seems quite happy by this.

This all ended… unhappily, but I think I like that. There’s a huge moral morass here – about what magic is dark or light, what is good or bad, when it’s ok to use dark magic for a good end and when sticking to good-all-the-time might be just a tad naïve. And we can’t forget that Belle’s attempt at a moral solution to their problems involved her taking Rumple’s dagger and his free will and still ended awfully – which leads us to another complexity: can you insist on a moral, non-violent solution in the face of an adversary who is determined to do violence on you?

I’m glad it didn’t end simply because this isn’t simple. This isn’t something that can easily be resolved with fairy tale endings

Over to the rest of the cast, we have Regina checking in with Zelena and learning about Hades loving her – and that Zelena has terrible low self-worth

And Emma has a dream that involves Snow White being killed

Damn you Once Upon a Time for teasing me like that. She lives and it turns out to be a metaphor for Emma’s issues and Red returning – yes Red Riding Hood

Ooooh, does this mean Mulan and Merida may also be arriving?

I’m getting increasingly more disappointed with Regina. Every time she shows up she’s awesome. She appears, she drops some awesome sense, she gives excellent advice, she snarks. She’s excellent and everyone should listen to her

But that’s pretty much all she is at the moment and has been for many episodes. I mean, yay I love that she’s solidly on team goodguy now – but that doesn’t mean she should be reduced to a face at the back of the crowd. She can actually have more involvement in the show than “is she turning evil again” – because at the moment the show’s acting like that question being solidly answered means she doesn’t have any further role to play.