Once Upon A Time 6×09 Review: Power Over Love

“Sometimes you have to choose power over love,” Rumplestiltskin’s mother says in this episode (yes, HIS MOTHER), proving that a) the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and b) Belle made the right choice by giving up her son, possibly forever.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s hard not to. So much happened in this episode. We were actually surprised, for once. (Did you see the Black Fairy = Mother thing coming?) We were glad to see Hook and Emma working together, confiding in each other. And yes, we were glad to see Belle take a stand. Put her son first.

Even if, this time, Rumple wasn’t all that guilty. But hey, what was it that the song said? Oh, yes. Cry me a river, Rumple. Cry me a river.

So, let’s get into the good, the bad and the Captain Swan of “Changelings”:

MOTHERS

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Belle makes the ultimate sacrifice in this episode – she gives up her son, and echoes Snow’s words when she says she’s doing it to give him “his best chance.” It might sound ridiculous to us, in the real world, but Belle isn’t really doing it because she doesn’t want the baby, doesn’t love it, or can’t take care of it. She’s doing it because, as hard as being without your parents is, that’s better than the alternative.

In this particular moment, Belle feels like the victim of abuse who’s finally seeing things clearly, looking at her abuser in the face and saying, you can do what you will to me, but you are never, ever getting your hands on my son. And though we know from experience that the perspective from the other side (ask Emma) is that growing up alone sucks, knowing Rumple as we do it’s hard not to see where Belle is coming from.

Her choice is meant to be contrasted with the Black Fairy’s choice (Rumple’s mother), who, apparently, gave up her son because sometimes you have to choose power. Which, I’m guessing is not the whole story, but it’s all we get today. It’s enough for a contrast.

Sometimes growing up alone is a bad thing – Rumple certainly didn’t fare too well in the parents department. But then again, he’s not the only person who’s ever had shitty parents. Your childhood has a great impact in your life, yes, but the choices are still yours. And, in this case, Belle (and the baby, in a way) has decided that her son is better off without Rumple, even if that means he’s also without her.

We don’t have to agree, but it’s certainly hard not to understand. This has, after all, been six years in the making.




BONDS OF SISTERHOOD

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The Evil Queen has done plenty of despicable things in her time, but choosing Rumple over her sister is near the top of the list. Mostly because the show has gone to great lengths to imply that it’s not as easy as separating yourself from your “evil” side, and it would make sense that if Regina still has some evil in her, then the EQ would have some goodness. Except …she doesn’t. Or she doesn’t seem to.

And that’s a mistake, in my opinion. The Evil Queen can’t continue to run around Storybrooke making enemies and being so one-dimensional. Regina as the Evil Queen never was, and I get the idea of separating both of them, but the message of all of us having both sides doesn’t come true if Regina is the only guinea pig.

While we’re on it, the Regina/Zelena thing needs to be dealt with, like yesterday. Regina clearly cares about Zelena, and she clearly feels like the fact that she cares about Zelena cost her Robin, so she’s lashing out. All of that’s understandable, she’s hurt, she’s in pain, she hasn’t really dealt with Robin’s death. But it’s not like the show is actually dealing with it.

No, all we get is Regina lashing out every once in a while, Zelena responding angrily and no resolution in the horizon. And that’s boring. The best thing about this show are the nuances, the little glimpses of things we didn’t expect to see from characters we thought we knew/relationships we thought we had figured out. It’s time to give Regina and Zelena some of that.

Wait, no, it was time to do that like nine episodes ago. But it’s still not too late. Please.

PARTNERS

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Emma and Killian have been many things in the course of this show, but they have hardly ever been afforded the chance to be what they are in this episode – partners, in every sense of the word. They go investigate together, they console Belle together, heck, and they even try to trick Gold together. It’s …well, it’s been a long time coming, and it’s really, really good to see.

Particularly because we don’t get a rehash of old issues, with Emma keeping things from Killian. No, been there, gotten over that. Emma still doesn’t have any answers, she knows Killian doesn’t have any either, but at least she trusts him to share the burden of uncertainty with her. Because that’s what you do with the people you love. You trust them to help, even when neither of you has any answers.

The journey of Captain Swan, not just this season, but from Season 2 on has been one of the most satisfying TV has given us in a long time, and the best thing for people who love this couple as much as I do is that this journey isn’t even close to being done. We still have a lot of milestones to go, and I’m thinking we’re going to get AT LEAST an engagement this season, if not more.

Slow? At times. Believable? Yes. Heart-warming? You bet.

Here’s to much, much more.

THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE SENSE, A LIST

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One day, I won’t be able to make this list. That day is not today.

  • Squid Ink. It lasts whatever the show needs it to last.
  • Rumple walking into Belle’s room after she had the baby. How did he even get in? Am I just supposed to suspend disbelief?
  • Emma being surprised that the sword is at Gold’s. EVERYTHING’S AT GOLD’S.

OTHER THINGS TO NOTE

  1. The haircut severely undercuts the creep factor as far as Rumple is concerned. Robert Carlyle looks way more handsome with short hair.
  2. Manual on Defeating the Dark One? REALLY? That didn’t seem fishy to you, Belle?
  3. The Bechdel test might not be the be all and end all, but can we think of any other show that passes that test as consistently as Once Upon A Time does?
  4. Oh, the Genie’s not there? SURPRISE SURPRISE. Except, it shouldn’t be. You all watched Aladdin, didn’t you?
  5. Which, Aladdin ….dumb move. DUMB MOVE.
  6. Blue is the most useless fairy ever. She’s also shady. I’ve been saying this for six seasons. I don’t trust her.
  7. The good thing about Rumple and the Evil Queen being on the outs? NO MORE MAKEOUT SCENES. Thank the Lord.
  8. Also, thank you Belle for not naming your kid after someone else on this show. Even if you only did it so he’d be harder to find. THANK YOU.

NEXT, ON ONCE UPON A TIME

Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.

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