Once Upon A Time takes a break from the ongoing story-line to focus back on the emnity between Rumpelstiltskin and The Evil Queen. As such there’s only a little time spent on the other theme of the episode, Valentine’s Day. They do manage to squeeze in some Cinderella time, however and even a little of the problematic relationship between Mary Margaret and her Prince Charming, but the focus again is firmly set on Robert Carlyle who gets to add some range and dynamism to so far rather sedate Mr. Gold character (scroogelike in scenes, viscious and consumed with rage in others all the while displaying his character’s deep vulnerability – no mean feat there.) And we get some heavy doses of the freakish and squealing Rumpelstiltskin of The Magic Kingdom infamy. All in all a good treat, even if they decide to use the Law of Character Conservation to present him as The Beast of this narrative’s Beauty and the Beast play.
The opening scene brings the concept of the Ogre Wars with a group of ren faire characters complaining over a map that they’ve lost the war, even though they pleaded with a certain someone for help. Mr. R. makes his usual freaky appearance, demanding the services of the pretty yet betrothed Belle to serve as a caretaker for his “rather large estate.” While the men are rather put out by this, she readily agrees, probably to avoid being bossed around by the stuffy Gaston. As for Gaston, he’ll show up later but isn’t really a match for Mr. R. Belle, on the other hand, despite the weird and freaky goldspinner’s rather mean behaviour, takes a shine to him. And the feeling is ultimately mutual. However, their happiness is ruined by The Evil Queen’s machinations. Yeah, we get a Beauty and the Beast short form here, but the actors (the always reliable Carlyle and fetching as Belle). The references are a little unsublte, but they work in general. It does strain credulity that Mr. R believes everything that The Evil Queen tells him about Belle’s ultimate fate. I mean really, they are pretty active rivals, and anyone who knows Regina, would know that practically everything she says is a lie.
But that’s a minor quibble in an otherwise well spun tale that ends with the sad, sad line:
“…and all you’ll have is an empty heart, and a chipped cup.”
Back in the real world, Mr. Gold has called in a loan from Belle’s dad, who is a florist in Storybrooke. Said florist is then advised by The Mayor to rob Mr. Gold’s house, and provide her the prize of the collection, that oh so meaningful chipped cup. Emma is rather on the outside here, but she does revel in getting the chance to put the hated Mr. Gold in jail (for however briefly.) What we do get to enjoy is seeing Carlyle turn kidnapper and wail on Mr. French about his supposed abuse of Belle.
And this weeks revelations? Apparently Mr. Gold, like Regina, has all his memories of being Rumpelstiltskin. And, apparently Regina has a secret psycho ward in the hospital that holds all her prisoners. And this includes Storybrooke’s version of Belle, held in solitary confinement.
As for Ruby’s planned girls night out, unhappy Cinderella gets a surprise from her beau, while Mary Margaret gets another sign that her Prince Charming is a bit of a douche. Oh well, at least Emma gets a half hour with Henry.
Rating: 4 out of 5