Well, color me surprised. And excited.
I didn’t have high hopes for this hour. Not because I have anything against Ruby, Mulan or Dorothy in particular, but because after a few episodes of a whole lot of Rumbelle, Zelena and Hades, I kind of wanted to focus on the getting out of the Underworld business again and I didn’t think that was in the cards for “Ruby Slippers”.
And okay, it wasn’t, but all things considered, I didn’t even care. It was easy to fall in love with Ruby and Dorothy, painless to root for steadfast and loyal Mulan, and incredibly heartwarming to see the Charmings and immediate family attempt to work together for another reason than to defeat of Hades.
Once Upon A Time is always at its best when it focuses on the characters at its core and the relationships these characters have cultivated, when it sends a message of hope and love conquering all things. This episode did all that and more. And after a few episodes that seemed to have lost the message somewhat, that’s not just a great thing, it’s a welcome thing.
All along the producers said that the idea behind introducing their first LGBT ship was to have it feel organic, to not make a big deal out of it. And, I have to say, kudos to them. They succeeded. Was there chemistry? Yes. Did it feel like any other couple in the show? Yes and no. (And trust me, this is the right answer) Ruby and Dorothy had their own interaction, and we haven’t explored much of it yet, but what I saw was enough to get me intrigued.
Maybe it’s because Ruby’s fears resonated with me. Maybe because I can totally understand why Dorothy reacted like she did. Or perhaps because everyone, from Mulan to Snow, to the rest of the Charmings, treated Ruby’s love for Dorothy like the thing it is: something completely natural and beautiful. Love is love, and if we ever get to a point where we don’t have to put qualifiers on it, we’ll all the better for it.
Was it quick? Yes, but this is Once Upon A Time. Emma and Killian are basically the only couple that has been given a long courtship, the only one that, in a way, still feels unfinished. Snowing, Rumbelle and Outlaw Queen were all blink and you missed it fast. Does it take away from what happened? No. If they really meant to treat this ship like they’ve treated all the others, that means we’ll get the development after the TLK, not before. This is pretty much the standard in Once Upon A Time. Let’s give Ruby and Dorothy the benefit of the doubt.
I’m going to go right ahead and say it, Hades is creepy. His way of showing “love” is creepy. In fact, it’s possible that he might be even creepier now that he’s trying for the romance angle. But, one thing I will say for him is that he doesn’t seem to be letting love distract him from creating havoc. No, he seems to have it all under control.
Which is why I want to think that Zelena is playing him in the end. It doesn’t look like it, but one can hope, right? It’s either that or Hades is playing himself into thinking he loves Zelena, and when he finds out that her “love” can’t really get him what he wants, then he will turn on her like he’s turned on everyone. And, as fun as that would be, I just want the little creeper to pay more than I want Zelena to. Or, maybe not more, but in a more immediate way?
THE PATH OF TRUE LOVE
…never did run smooth. Or isn’t that what the saying says? It feels like that’s what it should say, especially considering what David and Snow have had to endure in the past five seasons. And yet, here we are. Here they are. And they’ve never been more sure. When Snow says “What you get back when you love someone far outweighs the risks” she’s giving Ruby advice, yes, but she’s basically summoning up the message of this show, the foundation of her relationship with her husband. And that’s why she can bear to let him go, that’s why she can accept when he turns the tables on her.
It’s not about not wanting to be the one to go, not for David. It’s not about sexism, not about thinking Snow isn’t strong enough, no. It’s about empathy, and love, about putting someone else’s needs over your own. David loves his child, and he wants to be with him, but he loves Snow too, loves her so much that he wants to give HER the thing they both missed with Emma. And that’s why he chooses to stay behind.
That’s also why Snow goes. They love each other, but most importantly, they’ve always understood each other. A sacrifice like that is a gift, and when you get it, you just take it and do the best you can. That’s how love works.
BETTER ASLEEP THAN WITH YOU?
Just when I thought I was all done with Rumbelle, the writers pulled a fast one on me by making Belle go to Zelena. On the surface, the choice seemed like a strange one, but if you look closely, it’s easy to see why Belle thought Zelena might help. And I don’t just mean because Belle is perpetually naïve and would like to think that everyone can change, although there’s that, but because she saw Zelena demonstrate something resembling real feelings for her daughter, and she thought she might be able to capitalize on that.
I’m not quite sure if they joke’s on her or Rumple, because Zelena’s “solution” is about as bad as her actual evil plans. A sleeping curse? One that she thinks her father is going to wake her from? The same father who was basically willing to trade her to the most convenient suitor? That father? There’s having hope, and there’s being stupid, Belle, and it’s been a while since you’ve fallen on the right side of that distinction.
Now, of course, this leaves Rumple in the position of having to make a choice, once again. Is he really willing to give up the darkness for his wife and child? Can he finally make the right choice? My money’s on no. I think the writers are just masochists, at this point. Maybe they take bets on how many different scenarios they can come up with that will translate in basically the same storyline for Rumple and Belle.
But, if we’ve learned something about all the other times, is that Rumple might make the right choice, but his good intentions last approximately 3.2 seconds. Don’t expect this time to be different. There’s a man there, yes, but mostly, there’s a beast. And it’s about time we all stop pretending this is like the movie, where in the end, beast turns into man. No, this is a metaphorical beast. And those stay the same, no matter how much we want to believe otherwise.
A TINY CAPTAIN SWAN CAVEAT
I couldn’t fit this anywhere in my review, but I think it needs to be said: Captain Swan is fine. Even IF they don’t get a TLK kiss this season (and I don’t think this necessarily rules out the possibility of another one), they’re just fine. They’re better than fine. They’re on a journey. This is not the end. Every other couple on this show has had TLK confirmation. Why not CS, you say? What’s wrong with them? Nothing’s wrong. You’re not asking the right question. What you should be asking is: why not yet? And the answer is simple – because it’s not the end. Because they still have adventures to go through, lessons to learn, growing to do.
The writers have held on for this long, and though some people are upset and/or concerned, I’m not. I’m happy. Captain Swan is in no danger of wrapping up their storyline and being relegated to the sidelines, no. They’re the main attraction. They’re the show. And when you have something as exciting and popular as this relationship is, you know what you do? You milk it for all it’s worth. That’s what Once Upon A Time is doing.
And we should be enjoying it.
Other things to note:
- “I darkened my soul just to save you” is a pretty bad omen for a relationship.
- Snow and Ruby’s friendship is one of my favorite things in this show.
- “Go take care of the rest of our family” is a nice sentiment and all, but I’m still a little baffled at how no one thought of sending Henry with them.
- The conversation between Hook and Charming was especially poignant because, well, these two have no one else to be friends with, really. And, honestly, they’re way past friendship at this point, they’re family, and this is what family does – confides in each other.
- “People in love hurt each other all the time” is the most self-aware this show has ever been.
NEXT, ON ONCE UPON A TIME
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.