Once Upon a Time
Episode 11: The Outsider
By: Carlos Uribe
Once Upon a Time is a show about fairy tale characters who got sent to our reality, which has magic now.
Fairy Tale Story:
The fairy tale story begins in a bar where a group of adventurers is looking for people to join them on a hunt to kill a dangerous monster. Which is basically how most dungeon & dragons adventures begin. It doesn't come as a surprise that this fairy tale world would have a lot of similar quests. Belle happens to hear the call and is persuaded by her friend, Grumpy, to join them. It doesn't make much sense but Belle agrees. Only the adventurers don't take her seriously because of gender politics (which make sense considering how medieval the world is) but they do listen to her read from a book that tells them where the monster is. Only Belle tells them the wrong location: to go to the lake. They kick her from the group and she goes to the real place: a mountain cave. She easily finds this cave because there's apparently only one of them in the entire fairy tale world. With books, she was able to track down a monster that Mulan has been hunting for weeks. Belle might be good at getting information from books but she's not a careful hunter. She accidentally wakes up the monster and it flees. This does introduce her to Mulan and the two are traveling together within a few short scenes. Primarily because Mulan doesn't want to track the monster for weeks and would like to use Belle's magical trick of finding out stuff from books. Like, she's able to figure out which village the monster is going to attack next from the book. Go reading!
Only Mulan's leg had gotten hurt from protecting Belle in an earlier scene. This means that Belle has to kill the monster by herself. How is she to do this? Mulan gives a great speech about how if you have a strong will to fight then you will be able to overcome any obstacle. This convinces Belle to come up with a clever plan to lead the monster into a trap of water. This weakens the monster into spelling out Chinese letters asking for help. Belle decides she'll do this by using her magic fairy dust and breaking the spell. The monster is actually Prince Philip! He had been cursed as a monster. He's a bit injured so Belle leads him back to Mulan. She decides that she'll leave the two injured ones behind and travel back to the beast because she realizes that she has the will to fight and make him a better man. Only she gets captured by Regina. This was a plot about two characters: it allows Mulan to reveal what makes her such an effective female warrior and it's about Belle finding that she can do anything if her desire is strong enough. It's a good lesson that Belle is able to apply in the Storybrooke plot and for that reason it manages to work well within the episode.
Storybrooke had a strong plot this week with Belle and Mr. Gold. Belle had taken her lesson from the fairy tale world and is fighting to ensure that Gold becomes the good man that she believes he can be. This is complicated by Hook's presence. Hook attacks Belle in order to steal an object that will allow Gold to cross the town line without forgetting his memories. Never mind that this makes little sense: there was no explanation given on how Hook knows that this object was necessary for the spell. Belle decides that she'll do her best to find the invisible ship in order to get the object back. She largely succeeds but Hook catches her and puts her in danger. This is when Gold shows up and he threatens to beat Hook to death. The only reason that Hook lives is because Belle manages to hold him back by telling him that he's a good person and to think of his son. Gold allows Hook to live which turns out to be a mistake. When Gold crosses the town line, Hook shoots Belle into accidentally crossing the line. She forgets her memories and has a dangerous gun shot wound. Oh, and then a normal Earth person enters Storybrook and accidentally hits Hook in a pretty great cliff-hanger. This is a plot that works because it's concentrated on the character of Belle and Gold. There are some stupid mistakes that Belle makes (leaving the gun where the villain can get it and not getting the gun when Hook is knocked out among them) but they're forgivable since they all lead to some pretty great character moments for Belle and Mr. Gold. Belle's will to fight the love of her life and her understanding that he used to be a terrible person give her the burning strength she needs to ensure he doesn't murder Hook. In other words, she was on the road to making him a better person but how can she do that now when she doesn't remember him? This complicates not only their love story but also Mr. Gold's entire redemption arc. He needs her in order to not be a total villain and he might have just lost her.
In other news, Henry is a character who really annoyed me this week. He's grieving Archie's death, which is understandable, until he gets Pongo. As soon as he gets the dog, Henry seems to get over the passing of someone whose supposed to be very close to him. It's kind of like the kid has emotional ADD where he can only pay attention to one event in his life. Friend died? Sad. Have a new dog? Happy. It's understandable that he would be happy to get Pongo but not to the point where he completely feels better. This made him seem like a terrible kid but it's really what happened at the end of the episode that makes him feel deceptive. He's making blueprints for the loft if Snow and Charming decide to move out and he's including an armory so they could have weapons to protect themselves from Regina. When Archie walks through the door and basically announces that this was all Cora's fault, Henry lets out an “I knew it!” Oh, really? You knew a witch from the fairy tale world had shapeshifted into your evil adopted mother and killed your best friend? If so, then how come you wanted to create an armory to protect yourself from this mother? Henry isn't a character that usually gets on my nerves but there was some pretty terrible writing for him this week. I don't think we can completely blame Jared Gilmore this time around.
Once Upon a Time delivers an episode that delivers some pretty good character scenes for Belle, Gold, and Mulan. It's true that it involves a lot of stupid decisions made by the characters but it's okay because the core of the episode is strong. That core being Belle gaining the confidence needed to fight for what she believes in. As much great character work went into those three, it's a pity that Henry's character was written so poorly. It was almost like he was an afterthought in the script or maybe it was an old draft. Whatever the case, this could have been a pretty great episode overall but it was held back by stupid decisions and Henry. Thanks a lot Henry.
The whole plot about Mary Margaret and David wanting to move out leads to a conversation where they find out they want different things. Mary Maragret wants to stay in Storybrooke where there's electricity, medicine, and modern civilization. David wants to go back to fairy tale world along with a large portion of the Storybrooke people. These conflicting interests should lead to good conflict in the future.
Why the hell did Hook carry around a rope from his book? It quite literally makes no sense that Belle would have found a rope tied in such a knot that tells her that he came in his ship.