Monday, December 15, 2014

Love is an Open Door

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time 4.11 "Heroes and Villains - Spoilers!

I'm coming to you live from the floor tonight. Because - THAT EPISODE!

Rise Above the Truth and the Lies

First of all - we've got to talk about Belle. I had some thoughts about her this week leading up to the episode and this needs to be talked about (by which I mean it NEEDS to be talked about).

All through this Frozen arc, Belle has been incommunicado. She had that one episode where she met Anna and that was great. But while I've been screaming my anger and frustration at Rumplestiltskin, one HUGE question remained: Where in the ever-lovin' hell was Belle in all of this??? Yes, I get it - she was probably still in the newlywed haze (realistically, it's been maybe a month since they got married. If that?) But - c'mon! Your hubby is slinking around behind your back, meddling in the worst kinds of magic, killing people, controlling Hook, plotting with the Snow Queen - do you have anything you'd like to say about that???

PLEASE DO! (gif source)
This week, kind of on a whim, I rewatched "The Crocodile." Not simply because it marks the beginning of the Hook-Rumple rivalry (though I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a factor) - but because Belle takes a stand against Rumple's shenanigans and she sticks up for herself. She calls, not only Rumple, but her father out for trying to control her life and taking decisions away from her. Belle is a not a pushover, even if there hasn't been much cause for her to show that side of her lately. All through Season 3, she was an accessory to Rumple. Well... okay - Team Storybrooke was allied against some pretty tough villains and everyone had to band together to beat them. But - I just felt like Belle was underused and the Rumbelle ship was kind of... I just didn't really get it.

Back in July during the Once panel at San Diego Comic Con, Robert Carlyle commented that Rumplestiltskin is basically a power-addict. And if you know anything about addiction it's that addicts have to hit rock-bottom if they're ever going to change. At the end of Season 3, I thought Rumple had sufficiently changed and made all kinds of progress. All the "villains" had - Regina and Hook had been on these tremendous character journeys and I loved how this was all coming together. But the key here is - is the change actually going to stick? At first, I thought Rumple's had. I mean, he promised on his son's grave - the son that Rumple moved heaven and earth to see again after he lost him - that he would be a better man, a good husband to Belle. And at the first opportunity, what does the guy do? Tosses that promise out like so much garbage. All because - like Belle said - he loves power more than anything else. He did it to Milah, he did it to Baelfire, now he's done it to Belle. And Belle finally said to hell with that - take your miserable cowardly self and get out of here. He may make puppy-dog eyes at Belle and claim that he loves her, but he'll turn around and sneer at anyone else trying to get their own happy ending (he did it to Killian, he did it to Regina - you sensing a pattern here?)

Belle had to be the one to stop Rumple. Sure, Emma could have come in with Savior magic blazing and "NOT MY BOYFRIEND YOU RAT BASTARD!" but where would that have left Rumple? Slinking back to his den of darkness, probably muttering about "meddling kids" or some such. He'd have come back with something even more sinister and Belle would still have been blissfully ignorant and I would still be screaming whyyyyy?? But because Belle learned for herself what Rumple was doing and because she was the one to put a stop to it - it means more in Rumple's character arc. And it means so much for Belle's character arc as well. She's been so inextricably linked to Rumple - understandable, you can't have Beauty without the Beast - but I feel like Once Upon a Time could give her more of her own storyline. It's obviously something that has to happen - all the True Love Couples have their own stories apart from their significant others (or, at least, we've been promised we'll get those stories). I'm eager to see what she does outside of Rumple's shadow.

So - yes - as much as it hurts and as painful as it was to watch - this was so very needed in the Rumbelle storyline. If Rumple's going to have a remote chance of ever being a better man and if this relationship is going to amount to anything, he needs to realize that if he wants Belle to love him, he's got to knock this shit off. Then again - if his definition of a "happy ending" changes to one without Belle - well, that just means that Belle's free to do her own thing. And the heroes in Storybrooke don't have to feel bad for telling Rumple to pound sand if/when he comes back.

You May Be Miserable, But So is Gold

Next in the saga of the True Love Armada - the good ship Outlaw Queen. Well... that resolved itself - and then it didn't (which I think could be the tagline for Robin and Regina, honestly). However - the conversation Rumple and Regina had about seizing your destiny and taking what you want - I think that was a key moment for Regina. Rumple was her teacher and mentor (and a rather abusive one, when you think about it). They haven't drawn those conclusions, but Rumple's opinion does have an affect on Regina - at least, it used to. But her rejection of his advice shows just how much Regina's reformation has taken hold on her. And those choices are going to pay off immeasurably in Season 4B. I mean - why send Robin Hood and Rumple out into the Big Wide World - unless Robin Hood catches wind of Rumple's shady shenanigans and Robin determines he's going to get back to Regina to warn her of what's going on? It's a working theory (like anything Outlaw Queen-related), but it's good enough to get me to March 1.

(And Regina and Emma are going to start in on Operation Mongoose in earnest - so it's not like all hope is lost. You can't say that little brOTP scene at the end wasn't great. Especially since Emma just said goodbye to Elsa and she really needs a best female friend that isn't her mother).

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

I adore Killian Jones to the moon and back. He is my sun and stars and my absolute everything. He is the reason I kept watching this show and why I am writing about it now. I ship Captain Swan like you wouldn't believe (well... maybe you would - if you've been following my recaps long enough).

It is with this in mind - and knowing that you have to recognize the bad as well as the good, even in your favorites - when I say, homeboy screwed up. Not on Rumplestiltskin-level of screwing up - but there were a few choices Killian made that would have avoided a lot of pain and heartache had he chosen differently. And in this six-week gap between 4A and 4B, I imagine that there is going to be a bit of a conversation between Killian and Emma (or several conversations). Nothing that would indicate that this relationship is going to end - oh, hell no! But something more like - this relationship is still very, very new and both of them are still figuring each other out (and themselves - especially in Emma's case. I would be very surprised if a month has transpired from the time they came back from time-traveling to what's going on now). They haven't had very much time to themselves to really work on this thing between them - sure, there's been drama and angst brought on by snow queens and magic and stupidly evil wizards. And they really need a chance to define this - hopefully without getting anymore hearts ripped out.

One thing that I have loved about Once is that - while it is about fairy tales and happy endings - the story doesn't end when the main couple kisses and that's true love and they ride off happily into the sunset and yay! that's it. These characters, while they may have fantastical origins, are still human beings who make mistakes and have to own up to them. Yes, the consequences of owning up to those mistakes are more dire than in reality - but so are the benefits. Maybe Captain Swan didn't move as far as I would have like it to this episode, but compared to last mid-season finale with the Missing Year and the not-True-Love-Kiss - I'll take Killian not dying and Emma putting his heart back over that mess any day.

(you have to admit - that scene was pretty funny)

What I anticipate in 4B for Killian - especially as it pertains to the whole "Heroes and Villains" arc is that he is going to struggle with his identity as one of the heroes. He was introduced as the villainous Captain Hook, out for vengeance and not much else. Yes, we've gotten so much more to his character and that's what I love about him - but he's also got to deal with his mistakes and his past. Much like we got in 4A with Emma's life in the foster system (which, again, a backstory that was sorely needed for her), I have a feeling we're going to more about Killian's beginnings. Clear back in Season 2, they dropped a hint that his father abandoned him as a child and that's never been mentioned since - I want to see that. Why bring it up if you're never going to do anything with it?

I don't see Killian sliding back into full-on vengeful pirate mode - but he doesn't have to go that far. We've already seen him think he can pull a fast one over the Dark One and look where that landed him. Also - remember how bright and shiny and red his heart was when Rumple first ripped it out? And now, there are patches of darkness in it again. My theory on that is that in the time he was under the Dark One's control, Killian's sense of self-loathing came back with a vengeance. And he is not going to be unaffected by that. Yes, they had that intensely powerful moment at the end of this episode, but as time goes on and Killian has a chance to really come to terms with what happened to him and what he did, he may start to pull away from Emma. She is going to have to prove to him - much like he proved to her in Season 3 - that he is worth loving in spite of his screw-ups. That's what I think 4B is going to take Captain Swan. Emma's got to keep Killian away from the darkness and self-doubt in himself - and now, she is in the perfect position to do that.

(Also - I'm sure we'll see more of that "Hook as a survivor" thing come into play. Why else end with that line?)

We'll Make The Sun Shine Bright

The Frozen arc was everything I hoped it would be and more. I wanted more exploration of Elsa's character, I got it. I wanted backstory for Anna and Elsa and their family, I got it. I wanted awesome snow magic, I got it (freaking Marshmallow!) I didn't know I wanted The Snow Queen, but I got it and I loved it. The final little scene between Elsa and Anna before the wedding was wonderful (they recreated the "Chocolate!" bit and that just made me so happy). It was so, so, SO perfect for Once Upon a Time in this season - the parallels were outstanding and the characters fit beautifully in the world and the mythos. I often forgot that the Frozen cast weren't part of the regular cast because they were so perfect. If I ever get to meet Georgina Haig or Elizabeth Lail or Scott Michael Foster at a convention or something - man, that's going to be a top priority. I harbor a tiny little hope that they'll make a future cameo appearance or something.

For now, I'm going to sit here and be sad that they're gone.

Other Things I Liked/Noticed:
- Where in the ever-loving hell is Colin O'Donoghue's Emmy?? That scene where he's playing Hook while he's under control of Rumple who is pretending to be Hook - freaking amazing. Critics more knowledgeable about acting than I can get into the nuance and detail and stuff like that. All I'm going to say is that the people who give out awards need a freaking memo that Game of Thrones (or whatever other pretentious, unimaginative crap is in vogue these days) isn't the only show that the cast can win stuff.

- The Queens of Darkness. Love them already. I'm partial to Cruella, only because she brought a dalmatian puppy (and she's already sassed Dark-One!Rumple. That takes cajones)

- Henry and Belle having a moment in the shop. Give me more of this!

- We actually got a promo for next time! It's 2 1/2 months away - but who cares? HA!

(At least it's March 1st and not March 31st).

(And Robin Hood's in the promo. See, I Told You So!)

When all is said and done, this was merely a mid-season finale. There is so much more story to tell and so much more to go through before this is over. You can't blow everything when you have another 11 episodes to go. They've given us just enough to keep us guessing and speculating until March when it looks like it's a full-blown shootout between good and evil (including the good and evil waging battles within). If it lives up to anything near as good as what the Wicked Witch and Frozen arcs have been - we are in for some pretty intense stuff. All I can say is - give it to me, precious!

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