A Seat at the Table

The third episode of Once Upon a Time’s season 5 was put up on Netflix last night. I had read the live tweets and seen a couple of preview clips courtesy of the official twitter account. One of those clips I thought was for next weeks episode, so I was very pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be the ending of this one – and wow what an ending!

This is a show which I believe encourages speculation about where plot lines are going. However, it seems every time I come up with a theory the writers take a totally unexpected turn. The turn might be unexpected but it also makes perfect sense, it’s just a plot twist that never occurred to me. It keeps the show surprising and makes me count down the days to the next episode.

Right, usual disclaimer though surely I could dispense with that by now? Spoilers under the cut …

Rumple woke up!
Yeah the ending of that episode. Other stuff happened and I’ll get to that later but the most important part (for me) was that Rumple woke up! All but one of the petals had fallen off the rose, he was doing badly. Belle had found a healing spell but she needed something he had touched when he was still a man, before he was the dark one. I’m guessing that Bae’s shawl had got eaten by the second curse, as that would have been a fairly obvious option.

Anyway, Emma took the sword from Hook, that he’d threatened Rumple with those years ago when he took Milah. Wow that scene, I will come back to that later. The sword worked as the object and Emma kidnapped Rumple and woke him up. Why? Why? Because he’s neither light nor dark now and she’s going to make him into a hero!

You can see probably why I’m so excited about this development. Rumple was surprisingly coherent and ‘with it’ for someone who’d just had an extended two month (ish) nap. He immediately asked what Emma wanted, that she was the dark one now and not him. Robert Carlyle really did put layers in that performance. He was performing two roles in that scene, himself and the manifestation of the dark one. As himself he looked like he was scared but trying to mask it behind his usual clever words.

My theories from last week are now shredded. I said that I didn’t think he would wake up for the whole Camelot arc, or that he would wake up and have to adjust to life without magic and how vulnerable that would make him.

Now of course he might not have magic, they didn’t confirm it one way or another in last nights episode. However, when I envisaged him waking powerless it was in the shop, with Belle, and having to confront his relationship with her and (hopefully) working things out with her, and trying to adjust to a very different life. The dark one clearly had a huge impact on him, perhaps more than he realized, so he would need to work out who he was. He wouldn’t be the same terrified spinner he had once been, he’d seen and done, experienced, far too much for that. However, without the dark one whispering in his mind, how much of his old Rumple personality was him and how much was the dark one?

I don’t want Rumple to change too much, I love his character and I don’t have a problem with it. I like how clever he is with words, that he isn’t reckless and has motives and hidden agendas. However, characters do have to change and evolve, they need development. I suppose a nice middle ground would be for him not to change too much, but perhaps be a little more open and communicative with Belle. Maybe for the others of the town to realize that they misjudged him. After all Rumple kept the dark one contained for three centuries, Emma has been the dark one for all of two months and already become overwhelmed. They are excusing her behavior as she’s the dark one, whereas they blamed and damned him for everything.

Anyway, back to Rumple being a hero. I think it’s fairly obvious (though I could be wrong again) that Emma needs ‘a hero’ to pull Excalibur from the stone. She wants Rumple to be that hero and it just reminds me of Rumple’s first origin episode – Desperate Souls.

“Can you imagine me with those powers? I could get to redeem myself. I could turn it towards good. I’ll save all the children of the Frontlands.”

Rumple didn’t become the dark one because he wanted to be the ‘Dark One’, he did it to save his son. Yes, he also wanted power, he wanted not to be helpless anymore. He wanted people to stop viewing him as a coward. Yes he went to war and crippled himself so he got sent home, he did it because he believed that he would die otherwise and his boy would grow up without a father. He wanted to be someone. At that time. “All I’ve got is my boy. Without him, I’ll truly be dust.” but he didn’t want to be the Dark One – he wanted to be a hero.

That would be one hell of a character arc, transforming Rumple perhaps into something akin to the ‘light one’ from the authors alternate universe. Perhaps my theory that Rumple will become the dark one again isn’t entirely wrong. Maybe like he did with Pan, where he sacrificed himself for the town, perhaps he’ll do that again. He’ll take on the curse of the dark one, to save Emma. Darkness can’t be destroyed, there always has to be a dark one and he knows it’s tricks, he could take one for the team, take on the curse again and once more for good reasons.

I really can’t wait to see how they are going to play this. Plus I feel so sorry for poor Belle. She’s been watching Rumple die slowly, the rose losing petals, then she realizes he’s waking up and suddenly he’s gone. Her comatose husband has disappeared! She looked so puzzled and I just hope she doesn’t think he left of his own accord. I really want them to patch things up and there’s hope actually that they might.

Emile de Ravin who plays Belle is pregnant. The producers haven’t decided yet how they will handle that. Sometimes they just make people stand behind things and try and get clever with camera angles. However, at NYCC they teased that they were considering a RumBelle baby! That would definitely indicate reconciliation, plus it would be a great new start for the both of them and for Rumple. He lost his son, another child could never replace Bae but it could maybe give him purpose once more, purpose beyond Belle and Henry that is, as they are his family.

The mystery of Arthur
Arthur and Charming went off on a quest. Arthur then offered Charming a seat at the round table. So far, so good, right? Well, from Charming’s perspective that has to feel good, as I think he’s fairly conflicted about who he is and his place in life. He said at one point that he didn’t “just want to be remembered for kissing a princess awake thirty years ago”. In Storybrooke he articulated his frustration, that as Emma’s father he hadn’t saved her and presumably he felt that in Camelot too.

Then at the end Arthur suddenly seemed less of a good guy. We’d had a hint of that last week when he said he needed the dark one’s dagger to complete Excalibur. However, this week they cranked it up to eleven. Charming and Arthur quested for an object, some sort of communication toadstool. After retrieving it Charming was attacked by defenses and he thought the toadstool lost – but it wasn’t. Arthur had taken it for reasons unknown, and it showed up in Storybrooke seemingly unused.

After the quest was over Arthur offered Charming a seat at the round table but not just any seat, Lancelot’s old seat – the Siege Perilous. It was the only seat bigger than than the others, meant for the knight of the purest heart who would undertake the most dangerous quests. It had been left empty for years. Charming thought he would get Percival’s seat (the knight he’d killed the previous episode) but Arthur gave him the special seat.

This set off alarm bells for me. After all, Arthur has only known Charming and the gang all of five minutes. He said that he “finally found someone he trusted enough” to fill that seat but how could he trust Charming that much? He’s clearly playing some sort of game, maybe in relation to one of Merlin’s prophecies, perhaps he’s just trying to keep the gang close and make them trust him. I suspect it’s the latter as he pulled a similar manipulation in Storybrooke, to make the gang trust him – or did he?

In Storybrooke Arthur goes to David and says his magical treasures have been stolen, including a realm jumping magical bean. David pulls a really awesome trick pretending he has a magical artifact that will sniff out the thief, he doesn’t but the thief ran and they caught him. They recovered everything bar the magical bean which the thief (who happened to be Arthur’s squire) swore wasn’t there, even though it should have been.

Cut to the Sheriff’s station later, the squire is behind bars and Arthur walks in. It turns out Arthur was behind the whole thing, there was never any bean, he just wanted people to believe there was. He says that there is no way back to Camelot so they have to build a new kingdom here. Arthur said that no-one could ever know of the deception, that the heroes trusted him now, and he gave his squire venom to drink “to die in service of Camelot”.

Now we’d seen that particular venom work before, it was what killed King Leopold, and his skin sort of went black and dry. The effect was similar to that of the obelisk off Agents of Shield actually. However, the squire just collapsed choking onto the ground and then … disappeared in a swirl of green smoke. Green smoke!

Who uses green smoke? That would be Zelena. I don’t think we’ve seen her since returning to Storybrooke but she must be there because Robin has a new sonogram of the baby. Therefore I’m wondering if maybe she is pulling the same scam Cora did back in the Enchanted Forest. She pretended to be locked up in the cell, but she actually walked the surface as Lancelot. Could Zelena really be Arthur?

Back in Camelot, Charming has just taken Lancelot’s seat at the round table when the man himself appears. Everyone believed Lancelot was dead, Cora had killed him and taken his place, but there he is in Camelot warning that Arthur is a villain and Camelot is not what it seems. Now, clearly Arthur is playing games at this point, and Zelena is still under control. However, who’s to say that there isn’t two versions of Zelena knocking about?

Think about it. Rumple tried to kill Zelena when she was in the cell at the Sheriff’s station. However, she was separated from her magic which was in the pendant. Therefore as I understand it, the magic kinda respawned her, as presumably to kill her completely you’d need to do it with her magic and life together. A bit like how the heart can be removed, and then certain curses (like the Snow Queen’s frozen thing) won’t kill the person, so long as the curse doesn’t reach the heart.

So present day Zelena was back in the past. She joined up with Emma and Hook right at the end of their adventures, killing Marian and taking her place to return to Storybrooke. What else did she do during that time? Perhaps she could have gone to see the past version of herself, warned her what happened and they could have hatched a plan. I mean there were two versions of Hook in the past Enchanted Forest, we saw him.

Oh the possibilities.

My friend wonders if maybe Guinevere is a mastermind, we haven’t seen enough of her to tell but it’s possible. Clearly Camelot has history and there’s still Merlin to consider. He somehow got to the land without magic to talk to Emma at that movie theater. I highly doubt he’s in that tree so he could be pulling strings somewhere. To what end? I have no idea, perhaps something to do with the dark one.

The sinking of CaptainSwan
I have to say honestly that I thought Hook would handle Emma being the dark one differently. He loved her but now she’s the dark one he’s all but walking away. I thought he would want to be with her no matter what, and try and change her or influence her from a position of strength. He was a villain after all, he knows how the game is played, he’s no stranger to doing whatever is necessary to get the job done.

I get that he wants to be a better person now. However, Emma is cursed and I just feel like he’s giving up. He’s gone soft.

However, I’ve been rewatching season one and the last episode I saw was -Skin Deep. This was Belle and Rumple’s initial origin story and something really struck me. “I could love him but something evil has taken root in him” is what Belle tells Regina on the road. Belle once told Neal that she loved Rumple, all of him, even the dark parts but I don’t know if that was true. Belle said in their wedding vows that “the beast was gone” and it just makes me think that she never understood the curse of the dark one. She loved who Rumple might be, who he could be, but she didn’t really love him. Which is odd because they are true love, how can they be true love without true acceptance? without loving every aspect of the person?

So perhaps this attitude towards the dark one is nothing new on the show. The dark one is evil, is unlovable and in the end everyone leaves them. It doesn’t matter why they took on the curse, it doesn’t matter whether they fight it or whether it overwhelms them. Emma initially managed to fight it, the curse didn’t transfer normally and it took a while to get it’s claws in. Plus, I think something happened that completed the transformation, something we haven’t seen yet. They went to Camelot to get the darkness out of Emma, they failed, and now they don’t seem to be doing anything. She’s the dark one now and that is that.

There is the matter of the new curse. At NYCC they said that Emma did crush someones heart. Doing something like that could have completed her transformation into the dark one but who’s heart did she crush? In order to cast the curse, the heart of the thing the person loves most needs to be sacrificed. If Emma cast the curse, then who’s heart could she have taken?

This made me wonder why Hook was so sure that he and Emma were true love, and therefore true loves kiss might work to break the dark ones curse. After all true love is magical, it’s beyond normal love and not everybody has true love. When Snow cast the second curse she used Charming’s heart, and then Regina cut Snow’s heart in two, as they were true love and so they both still live. Perhaps Emma did the same with her own heart and Hook’s? It’s certainly possible.

It’s also possible that Emma wasn’t the one that cast the curse. The town line turning people into trees – like Merlin is reputed to be – suggested that perhaps maybe Merlin had a hand in the curse. The question then is whether Emma still has her memories of Camelot, what exactly happened and why were the memories of everyone else wiped? Although I do wonder if perhaps Arthur also remembers. He is more involved in this than is readily apparent.

I can’t half ramble on about this show. It’s just too damn awesome! I discovered something really disturbing the other day, the shows mid-season break is three whole months! I may have a problem with that, though at least they wrap up the arc so hopefully there won’t be too much of a cliffhanger.

They said at NYCC that 5B was teased as -hell. I don’t know what that could be in reference to, as I’m really not very familiar with what material the show could actually draw from. I’ve still never seen Frozen, and I’ve not seen Brave, though we haven’t seen Merida again since the premiere. Could hell be something new? Or could it be something old that I just can’t think of right now?

My previous theory was that 5B would be centered on Aladdin. As far as I can make out it’s the only old school fairy take animated film, that hasn’t really been brought into the show yet. They have referenced it a few times, like with the genie and those vipers, but they haven’t brought in the main characters of Aladdin or Jasmine etc. I suppose the desert could be hot like hell, and wasn’t there a burning curse on the treasure cave that Aladdin stole from? I could still be right or it could be something else entirely.

I can’t wait till next week! Rumple as a hero, how freaking awesome!