Review: Once Upon a Time 5.06

Summary: The heroes discover the truth about Arthur (again), Merida seeks Belle’s help with saving her brothers, and Rumple emerges as a true hero.

Best Scene: Belle and Rumple reunite in the library, with Rumple revealing that Belle’s voice was what kept him alive in his comatose state.

Best Line: “If I had to do it all again, I would make sure I was the man you deserved from the very start. I would change everything for you.”

My Review: O.k., so as someone who is decidedly not a Rumbelle fan (I’m still holding a grudge over the way he manipulated her last season), I enjoyed this episode much more than I thought I would. I also feel like they needed an episode like this to remind the fans of how great this couple can be, which definitely worked on me.

A few moments that stood out: 1. Rumple breaking the cup. I was surprised he destroyed something that has such huge significance in their relationship, but I love that a symbol of them allowed for his first act of bravery. 2. Their whole scene in the library, which was lovely (that line about hearing her voice!) and very well-acted by Emilie de Ravin and Robert Carlyle. You can always tell they take special care with the Rumbelle scenes because of how important that relationship is to their characters, and that  definitely showed here. 3. Belle being the one to convince Rumple that he could be a hero, largely through her own heroic actions in this episode. His willingness to sacrifice himself for her (even though, importantly, she never asked him to), also revealed how much Rumple continues to love her.

So as you probably figured out, I liked their relationship much more here than I have in recent memory, I think because the majority of my past issues with their relationship have stemmed from Rumple’s desire for power and the sometimes pretty rotten way he treats Belle in his pursuit of that. With that aspect of his personality absent in this episode, all that was left was a Rumple who adores Belle, who felt terrible about everything he put her through in the past, who said (through his tears) that he would change everything for her. I really liked that Rumple. In fact, watching Emma this season has done a lot to increase my sympathy for what he experienced as the Dark One, and how much that desire for power may have been out of his control.

However, I also know that there are some traits that don’t really go away (see Regina’s occasionally cruel words to people she now considers friends; that edge that made her the Evil Queen is still intact.) But Regina has also reconciled that aspect of her personality with the woman that she is today, something that I could see Rumple doing as well. He seemed to indicate that there are still traces of darkness in him in his last scene with Emma. His “none of them are me” line was not unlike something Mr. Gold would have said; there was a desire for revenge behind those words that he didn’t show at any other point in the episode. However, his revenge is now coming from a place of wanting to protect himself and Belle, which I can’t fault him for. This season already has us in uncharted territory with Emma as the Dark One, and I absolutely love that we now have another role reversal in the mix: Rumple the hero.

Mixed as my feelings are about her dating choices, I’ve always loved Belle, and I’m excited that this episode also gave her a chance to shine outside of her relationship with Rumple, mostly through her interactions with new pal Merida. Belle is quite frequently shown to be one of the most compassionate characters on the show (which is largely why her relationship with Rumple has been mostly successful; she rarely judges him for his mistakes). However, I think the show sometimes forgets that she’s also smart, savvy, and fearless, traits that she shares with Merida.

Their interactions made a lot of sense for that reason. Merida gave Belle an opportunity to show the traits she’s always had but isn’t always able to show in the crowded hero’s world that is Storybrooke. Similarly, Belle helped Merida realize her true strength and confidence in herself (not unlike what she did for Rumple in Storybrooke). Their newfound friendship also highlighted one of my favorite things about this show, which is its ability to pair characters that I never even realized has similar histories. Case in point: Belle sympathizing with Merida over losing a parent in the Ogre Wars. And at just the right time, since it showed Merida that someone had her back before going to rescue her brothers.

During that rescue, I was a little surprised by how quickly her brothers’ captors were willing to accept Merida as their queen (they obviously were pretty against the idea at one point, since they were willing to kidnap to stop it), but the way she shattered those arrows midair was pretty impressive. Her reunion with her brothers afterwards also showed why she fits in so well with our Storybrooke characters; that commitment to family is something that they all share.

Elsewhere in the episode, I was pleasantly surprised that the heroes realized that Arthur was lying to them (again), but would he really have been dumb enough to not make sure that the toadstool burned? Though he really hasn’t shown himself to be that competent of a villain yet, so I guess it kind of jives…I was glad that Merlin reminded Emma of their previous encounter, and I’m curious to see what drives her to ignore his instructions so vehemently. I’m also interested to learn more about Nimue (I have a sneaking suspicion that she’s the masked Dark One from last week’s episode, and I’m curious to see how she and Merlin came to know each other). And can we talk about Regina in that last scene? Her compassion towards Henry, as well as her voicemail line were my favorite parts of that aspect of the hour.

This episode also reminded me how much I love Zelena in small doses. I was intrigued by Emma’s deal, but I loved the hilarious little touches to that scene even more (reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting, jonesing for onion rings, etc.) Rebecca Mader’s gleeful delivery of her lines is always a treat, and her work here was no exception.

What are your thought on this episode? Let me know in the comment section!

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