The Snow Queen is gone, Elsa, Anna and Kristoff are headed back to Arendelle and all seems well in Storybrooke. But every good story needs a villain, so we are introduced to the next three troublemakers to enter the scene: Maleficent, the sorceress who tormented Sleeping Beauty, Ursula the Little Mermaidâ€™s sea hag and Cruella Deville, the fashion-focused aunt from 101 Dalmatians. The three women want happy endings of their own and are willing to use Rumplestiltskin to get them. Rumple has just returned from his quest to get a magic gauntlet from the land of Camelot and as it turns out this item is in high demand. The gauntlet allows the wearer to find the enemyâ€™s weakness and as Rumple points out, the weakness is often the thing one loves most. Maleficent and her posse kidnap Belle as a way to get the gauntlet away from Rumple. Belle assumes sheâ€™s seeing the good man behind the beast when Rumple trades the gauntlet for her, but when Henry stumbles across it in the Storybrooke shop, she realizes that Rumple craves power above all else, even her.
Itâ€™s still a disappointment to me that Emma doesnâ€™t clue in to the fact that Hook has no heart. If she and Hook share the same kind of True Love that Snow White and Charming have, shouldnâ€™t she know that something is wrong? During his Rumple-controlled speech about finding the portal to Arendelle she senses something is off, but even when he grabs her arm she doesnâ€™t do anything to help him. Hook should be offended that Emmaâ€™s savior role doesnâ€™t extend to him.
Regina is once again given a dangling thread of hope when Marian offers to release Robin from his marriage vow if he should choose to be with Regina. But clearly fate has other plans, as Marian is once again affected by the icy curse that kept her captive all season. The only cure is to send her to the real world where there is no magic. She would be lost in the strange world if left alone, so of course Robin must go along. Perhaps in time he will fall in love with his wife again and reset the Robin Hood story back to its original parameters…or perhaps we havenâ€™t seen the last of Robin?
Regina is feeling the loss of Robin quite deeply and Rumple comes to pay his respects. He is still planning to leave with Belle, knowing full well they wonâ€™t be able to come back. He tells Regina that he plans to TAKE his happy ending and let fate be damned. This is an interesting thread to follow â€“ does â€œThe Authorâ€ control their fate, or does he simply write down the events? Are the characters predestined to fail or succeed or are they victims of their own choices? The second picture showing Regina meeting Robin at the pub all those years ago indicates that there are multiple outcomes to every action. At what point is the picture made permanent in the book? This is a big topic and an interesting one to tackle; I canâ€™t wait to see the outcome.
As we suspected, Goldâ€™s plan to free himself from the dagger doesnâ€™t go as smoothly as he hopes. He should know by now that any plan requiring a specific time of day for success is more likely to be thwarted by nosy goody-goody hero types. If he were smart, he would have erected a magical shield around the clock tower before trying it, but I suppose that wouldnâ€™t have been as much fun to watch. He is about to crush Hook and gain his heartâ€™s desire but instead he learns the true meaning of â€œa woman scorned.â€ Belle has found the gauntlet, used it to find out what Gold loves most and realizes it isnâ€™t her, itâ€™s his power. She takes the dagger, puts the kibosh on his plans to free himself and instead exiles him from Storybrooke and, we assume, his magic. Itâ€™s the first time that Rumplestiltskin is truly and completely humbled and itâ€™s a sight to see! Particularly since it is brought about by someone as normal and naive as Belle. She has no magic, no great skills, nothing but her knowledge and the love she shares freely. Still, she is the one to vanquish the Dark One. Beautiful.
Henry has found the library filled with blank storybooks. The house belonged to the same sorcerer who once owned the hat, although we still donâ€™t know what happened to him. His apprentice may know about the storybooks, but that knowledge is lost as long as he remains trapped in the hat. It looks like Regina still has a long way to go to win her happy ending. Perhaps she will find a way to write the story herself?
The season ends with Gold seeking out Ursula in New York, with the idea that the three women who once blackmailed him into parting with the gauntlet will be willing and able to help him regain his former glory. There is no explanation how Ursula got to be in New York, although we could guess that Rumplestiltskin sent the three to this world as punishment for their trick. We will have to wait and see how they will find the other two and get back into Storybrooke with the magical barrier in place.
Thereâ€™s a nice long break to think about the questions that arise. Will Maleficent be the original Disney villain with the ability to become a dragon and smite her enemies, or will she be Angelinaâ€™s kinder, gentler, â€œIâ€™m not really evil, Iâ€™m just drawn that wayâ€ sprite from the new version of the tale? Does the arrival of Ursula mean we will see more of Ariel? Archie Hopper has lived with Pongo the Dalmatian since the first season; will we finally see Perdita on the show? And the most burning question of all: what sort of parent calls their child Cruel Devil? I look forward to learning more about the history of these three women and what events drove them to their villainy.
Moment of Goodness: A pure heart
When Belle forces Rumple out of town, she is making a strong choice. He offers her the rewards that his power can bring, but she tells him that she tried to be everything to him but it wasnâ€™t enough. This is the defining measure on which fairy tale heroes are weighed. Is love enough? Can the hero give up gold, power, kingdoms, prestige, whatever their temptation, for love? In every great tale the answer is yes. Belle has just proven herself a true hero in her own right, and itâ€™s a thing of beauty.
Once Upon a Time returns Sunday, March 1st at 8/7c on ABC.
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