Dark Swan Falls

This will be my 8th post about 5A, the first half of Once Upon a Time’s Season Five. It’s been a roller-coaster ride, with each episode twisting in ways I didn’t expect, blowing theories out of the water and generating new ones.

The journey is now over, the arc for 5B has been set. We know where we are going, or at least the main destination. The next new episode won’t air until March 6th, it’s going to be a long hiatus as despite the arc being wrapped up there are still many questions, some of which I rate as quite important. We all have our favourites and this mid-season finale made for a lot of uncertainty, and a fair bit of doubt, regarding the happy ending of my favourite character.

I will go along with the writers on most things because I don’t mind angst, I don’t mind the journey, so long as it ends up making everything right in the end. Now obviously I don’t know how long this show will go on for, if there are several more seasons (I can only hope) then if the journey is a long one then I can accept that. However, sometimes some things can not be undone, people can cross the line and go too far and then they can’t come back. So long as there’s hope I’ll go along with it, but if there is no hope that things will end how I want then I won’t be happy.

However, for now I’m willing to see where the writers are going to take this. I have some hopes and I have some suspicions, see under the cut for the Swan Song.

Rumplestiltskin and Belle
I always try and avoid spoilers unless they are under the cut, hence my vague statements above. My favourite character is Rumplestiltskin and it’s his happy ending that is uncertain. I didn’t blog about the episode – Broken Heart – last week because I was ill on the Thursday and then didn’t get round to it. However, I didn’t make time because I wasn’t sure what to say.

That well scene, where Belle said to Rumple that “she wasn’t sure she wanted to make it work” was certainly heart breaking. He didn’t understand and I didn’t understand, at least not at first. He was no longer the dark one, he’d turned into a hero enough for Excalibur (which I will come back to) and he was trying hard to be honest, to be the man she had always seen inside him. Right so he’s finally trying to be worthy of her and she’s walking away. How does that make sense? She stuck with him when he was the dark one. Now he’s doing better she wants to walk away forever?

When I first saw Skin Deep I was blown away. Usually romances shown in a single episode feel rushed and I don’t believe in the emotional commitment. However, Skin Deep worked so well, I was completely sold. Then season two happened and Belle used emotional blackmail on Rumple not once but twice. It was very much a “do as I want or I will leave you” kind of deal. I blogged about it and how I thought that was wrong. Is it any wonder that he constantly tries to hide everything from her? When he’s less than perfect she doesn’t talk about it, she just leaves which will only fuel his fear of everyone he ever loves leaving him.

Anyway, there was the whole memory loss and Lacey arc which was tragic. They never showed us on screen the conversation that they should have had, but perhaps didn’t have time for given that a hot minute after she was Belle again Rumple was off to Neverland. They hadn’t been back from Neverland two minutes when Rumple sacrificed himself to defeat Pan. Then back in the Enchanted Forest there was that conversation with Neal “I love your father, even the dark parts” and I’ve blogged here again and said I’m not sure that’s true. I rewatched Skin Deep and saw it with new eyes, “I could love him but something evil has taken root inside him” and the first thing she did was try and ‘cure’ him without even asking if it was something he wanted.

Rumple was a prisoner of Zelena for over a year, I’m quite she tortured him even though they didn’t explicitly show that as it’s a family program. He was controlled by the dagger, forced to do things he didn’t want, constantly afraid that she would order him to do something terrible like the first order she gave him when he was resurrected – kill Belle. Then rather than give him his freedom back the ‘heroes’ gave the dagger to Belle. Now, quite rightfully she gave it to Rumple and said she didn’t want that power and here’s where I think things got really screwed up. He didn’t know what to do, he knew that the ‘heroes’ would never trust him unless he was controlled.

Although seriously I have never quite understood this. Rumple helped Snow and Charming a lot and he never asked for very much in return. Yet, they said he was a scourge of the realms and locked him up. Why? Either he was evil and they should never deal with him, which they did, or he’s useful and they should leave him alone. I’ve blogged about this too, please forgive me for repeating myself but I do have a point.

Regina I know was emotionally manipulated into becoming the Evil Queen, by her mother, by Rumple, pushed in a direction she didn’t want to go. However, she still made a choice and she did terrible things. Now, I’m not getting at Regina because she is my second favourite but she’s powerful, and she’s been a villain, no-one is demanding that she hand over a method of controlling her. Why is it ok to treat Rumple like a power source? Go to him to fix their problems and treat him like dirt the rest of the time.

I’m kinda getting off topic a bit. I’m just trying to understand why he gave the dagger to Belle, I think it was a desperate attempt for acceptance. After all Henry is his grandson, the only link to his beloved son left and without some trust, the Charming family hypocrisy, would never let Rumple near him. However, his fear of being controlled led him to hold onto it and just pretend with a fake and then he saw the hat.

He hoped, he believed, the darkness tricked and he thought he could have his freedom and at what cost? The fairies who had stripped his son away from him in the first place? The apprentice who could have opened him a doorway to the land without magic and didn’t? Emma, well he was very careful to make it her choice and he didn’t try it a second time so I think he was probably quite relieved not to use the mother of his grandson that way.

Then Belle used the gauntlet, found the real dagger and believed that the thing he loved most was his power. I’m fairly certain I’ve blogged about this too. The person’s greatest weakness isn’t always what they love the most, the dagger controls him, like a puppet on a string and in his own words Belle makes him stronger. She didn’t listen, she could have used the dagger to demand honesty but she just pushed him away. Could she really blame him for not trusting her with the real dagger? Because even she used it against him. He didn’t want to go to the Snow Queen’s cave and she used the dagger to make him. Yes he was just playing along but she believed it was real. How can controlling another person like that ever be right?

Back to season five. Rumple was kidnapped by Emma and I cheered when Belle called the heroes on their hypocrisy. She used the argument that as a former dark one Rumple could be useful but they just didn’t care. They hand out second chances to people they claim as their own, but when it comes to Rumple they have never thought of him as a person, with feelings. That just proves once and for all that they are only heroes when it comes to people they care about, everyone else can just go rot.

I hoped and hoped when it came to the well scene that it was really Hook controlling Belle, that he had her heart like Regina did in season four and was making her say those things. However, it’s never been conclusively proved how much was Regina and how much was Belle at that last well meeting and this one – apparently – was all Belle.

I did the recap of their relationship over the seasons to demonstrate a point and it’s something I’ve said before. I don’t know how they are true love. How can you have true love without true acceptance? I don’t think Belle ever loved Rumple, she just loved the man she thought she saw and thought he could be. It’s like that age old cliche, women love bad boys because they can reform them. I’d always hoped that wasn’t true but I’m not so sure anymore. Once he became a better man, there was no more darkness, I’m thinking he lost his appeal. There was no more beast, there was no more need to be the hero.

I really hope that I’m wrong about that. I mean Belle has a history of walking out on Rumple, needing her space, so it’s nothing new. However, it’s the finality with which she spoke at the well which I couldn’t fathom. She said that she wasn’t sure she wanted to make it work, it wasn’t a “I need time” speech so much as it’s a “I’m breaking up with you and it’s over” speech. I don’t know if that was the intent, it could have possibly been bad writing I don’t know.

However, in last nights episode Rumple saw her again. He told her goodbye, to go have the adventures she’d always wanted and she left. She came back because Henry called her and here is something else that doesn’t make sense. Belle talked about trust about how he kept lying to her, he did it again by not telling her what was going on and just saying she should leave town. However, this lie she doesn’t mind? How does that make sense? He lied and she came back and jumped him. Yeah I don’t get that.

It’s a confusing mess and it’s made worse because Rumple thought he would never see her again. He had nothing left to live for, aside from perhaps his grandson and he was powerless, useless and afraid. He’d lived with magic for centuries, to be without it and to be without anything to hold onto, what did he have to lose? He didn’t want to die, he found a loophole and he once again became the dark one.

Can I just say I called it? Because I did. Way back on an earlier post I laid out my theory that Rumple would become the dark one again, sort of like a reset on the story arc. Now, this was disproved by the creators interview in which they said Rumple wouldn’t have magic again. However, clearly they lied or they changed their mind. Either way he’s the dark one once more.

What is Belle’s reaction going to be when she finds out? She’s going to find out. I mean I’ve been a bit hard on Belle so far this post, however I’m a bit sick of people not treating her like a person and instead just using her as leverage. I thought Emma liked Belle, but when Emma finds out Rumple is the dark one she doesn’t think to tell Belle, doesn’t think she might like to know. Instead she blackmails Rumple. “I’ll tell Belle unless you do what I want.” Is that anyway to treat a friend?

Emile de Ravin who plays Belle is pregnant and the creators have teased that maybe they will include that on screen. Given the ‘reconciliation’ that’s certainly possible, that maybe when they return from the underworld Rumple will have a surprise waiting for him. That certainly would provide a fair bit of drama as they would be tied together by the child. I certainly hope that Belle wouldn’t dare try and cut him out of the kids life, not when she knows what Rumple went through with Bae/Neal and how important being a father was to him.

I can understand Rumple finding a way to get the magic back and I mean there are even good reasons for it. I read some fanfics which suggested different theories. For example he was trying to save Emma’s life so Henry didn’t lose his mother, or he wanted the power because then he could save Henry from being dragged to the underworld. Sure it could have been entirely selfish, Rumple didn’t want to die and he saw a way he could have power back and not be vulnerable anymore.

However, I hope it was more than that because I don’t think Belle will understand that. She’s never really understood Rumple, life has always been too easy and too black and white for her. That might be harsh and please don’t get me wrong because I’m rooting for them to work it out. I might doubt Belle but that is only because of the mess the writers have made of her, I honestly don’t think they know what to do with her beyond “stand next to others in the background” half the time. Rumple loves her and he needs her and that is more than enough reason for me to want them together.

Onto the second most important part
Regina! She’s not really got the screen time, or been such a badass this season but she has had her moments. This whole story arc with Robin, the baby and Zelena has potential and to be honest I think it’s a function of limited episode time. There is too much story to be contained to 40 minutes an episode, they can’t show everything they need to show.

With Zelena I finally kinda get the whole “love to hate” thing that people talk about. I certainly don’t like Zelena but I can’t deny she has style, and cool lines. I think she’s actually stolen all of Regina’s normally awesome dialogue. I was kinda with Hook “no Captain Guyliner? No one-hand wonder?” Where’s the snark gone?

Anyway, Regina banished Zelena back to Oz which solves the problem of Zelena running off with the baby. Honestly I couldn’t quite believe when they met up in the Charming’s apartment. Oh and seriously what is it with that? Doesn’t Regina have a home of her own? That’s the second time Robin was there, he was there in the premiere and I’m like “are you living there now?” Anyway, he handed Zelena the baby to hold and I was seriously thinking “what is to stop her from teleporting away with it you fool?” but obviously she didn’t but still crazy people.

Plus I don’t to be mean or anything but Zelena basically raped Robin. She pretended to be Marion, he didn’t know he was sleeping with her, it’s wrong on so many levels and really she has no claim to the baby. They keep saying that the baby will think of Zelena as it’s mother and I’m like “it only will if you tell it that” because seriously, sure they shouldn’t lie to the child but it’s easily handled. Regina and Robin raise her as their own, then when she gets older they tell her a sanitized version of the truth, and then she can have the full story when she’s old enough to handle it. Honestly, if they tell the truth then the kid is not going to think of Zelena as a mother because genetics don’t make parents. She might be curious, she might want to meet her but again a healthy dose of honesty and it’s not going to be a problem.

I’m torn between wanting Zelena to return, which the creators pretty much guaranteed with a recent interview, and hoping that she doesn’t. I want Zelena to come back because she’s awesome, even if she’s a despicable character. However, I don’t want her to come back because I really despise this whole story arc. I want the old Regina to come back, I get that she wants to be good now but good doesn’t equal stupid. I want pragmatic villain, doing what’s right but not being a reckless heroic idiot, Regina back. When Hook grabbed her with a magic chokehold I was like “fireball to the face” but she did nothing. I mean sure he’s the dark one and probably more powerful, but she’s trained and he isn’t. Rumple pointed that out, that all Hook had done was parlour tricks, she could have done something or at least said something. Where’s the backbone?

I suppose there was more stuff
Alright it was the main story arc really wasn’t it? Which is perhaps the problem, this got so much time that my favourites didn’t get the time they needed to sort everything out properly. Now I don’t mind because I don’t dislike Hook and Emma, or the Charmings even if I do bash them on occasion. Anyway, Hook brought all the dark ones to Storybrooke, he fulfilled the wishes of all dark ones and got his revenge. They marked Rumple, to swap with him and send him to the underworld and they also went after Emma’s family, so revenge on her for turning him into a dark one. Emma got what she paid for in a sense, Hook did tell her not to do it.

They had flashback scenes where Regina got to play Evil Queen again – yay – and they showed some Hook backstory which I’m really struggling for the relevance here. Regina kept trying to bring it up but what was the lesson? Hook killed his father, he faced the question of “will I do this to get my revenge?” and the answer was yes. Now it would have been a good lesson if he had said no, because Regina would have been right in pointing out that he’d chosen that there were limits before. I don’t quite understand the point of it all unless it was because of what they didn’t explain. Hook might have killed his father but what did he do with the mans new son?

Anyway, in the end Hook changed his mind and he sucked all the darkness into himself and then Emma killed him with Excalibur. He was dead, the darkness was gone for good – except it wasn’t because Rumple stole it all – and Emma was dressed as the savior once more. Seriously, magic is quite cool with the wardrobe changes.

That was a great moment for Hook, he got to die as a hero. Although I do feel the need to point out that they had marked the dwarves too, and possibly others as there were a lot of dark ones (not sure on the exact number). Why didn’t they get teleported to the lakeside for transport to the underworld?

Right and then the end with Emma saying I’m giving in to love, and saying that they would go the underworld, rescue Hook by killing him and then splitting Emma’s heart. I’m guessing she doesn’t doubt that they are true love then. That’s awesome for CaptainSwan fans but I have my doubts. I mean, don’t get me wrong I support CaptainSwan. I didn’t see it at first but by the time season three finale rolled round, I could completely see it and I thought Hook was good for her. I just had to ignore the fact that Hook had basically replaced his dead love – who he spent a couple of centuries trying to avenge – with what amounted to his step-daughter-in-law.

A word about heroes and Excalibur
The movie Thor comes to mind right. “Whoever is worthy to lift this hammer, shall have the power of Thor” was the enchantment Odin laid down. Now, Thor wasn’t worthy at the beginning. However, I struggle to see how he had changed by the end. He had never had a problem being in a fight, he had never had a problem with risking his own life. However, he ‘sacrificed’ himself and that made him a worthy king? I really think he would have done that anyway, I didn’t see how the events of the film had a profound impact on his personality. I mean for one it had only been a few days, how can anyone change that much in so little time?

The same is true for Rumple. One event, one decision, one single moment doesn’t make a hero. He was going to run, he went back and saved Belle, he told Merida as a bear to kill him, he ‘sacrificed’ himself and proved worthy of Excalibur. I’m sorry but seriously? It’s not the first time he’s sacrificed himself, he did it with Pan, he’s made choices both right and wrong over the years. I get that Emma alluded to the fact that he had a pure white heart now, and maybe that had some sort of magical implication. However, Rumple wasn’t suddenly magically a hero, not after one moment.

I had a real problem with that at the time, despite Rumple’s really cool comment about “you made me a hero and you’ll regret that” which he never lived up to! I wanted him to go all badass and he didn’t. You know he was still the same guy and maybe that’s what the writers have concluded, because he made the choice to be the dark one again.

A single moment doesn’t make someone a hero, it might be a heroic action but that’s all. In truth I’ve never really been sold on the labels of ‘heroes and villains’ anyway. People make choices, stuff happens and everyone has to live with the consequences.

Wrapping this up
I’ve written a fair bit and there’s still more to say. For instance why are they letting Henry go to the underworld? He’s a child, shouldn’t they be protecting him and not dragging him along on dangerous missions? Both Regina and Robin, and Snow and Charming, were along for the ride too. Now, excuse me but they are parents. Emma is an adult, baby Neal is a baby so surely one parent should stay in case they don’t make it back. Not to mention, who’s babysitting? The same with Regina and Robin, he’s running out on Roland and on the newborn daughter. Plus, you know I’m sorry for Emma and all and I hope she can save Hook, but it’s her fight.

In my opinion Henry, Snow and Robin should have stayed behind. Charming can go to support his daughter, Regina can go because she’s a friend and she has power. Rumple is going because they need him to get there and I’m hoping because he’s going to do something good and awesome on the other side. That’s a team of four, that’s enough without risking children or parents.

Then another question. “I want you to teach me how to use magic to bring back the dead.” “Magic can do much but not that. Dead is dead.” They are going to the underworld to raise the dead! Can I just point out that there are some problems with that. Like, surely if they can do that to bring back Hook, why can’t Rumple do that to bring back Bae/Neal? That was one of the most tragic deaths on TV, it was so wrong that Neal died and I would love them to bring him back.

Naturally Neal isn’t the only dead person down there who would either want to come back, or who the heroes might want to come back. Regina might be happy with Robin, but what if she came face to face with Daniel in the underworld? What if Milah is down there? Not that Rumple would want her back, but Hook might. We know from trailers that Cora and Peter Pan are there, both of whom were killed by Rumple (even if Cora was by proxy) and who would want revenge, and to live again.

Can I point out something fairly obvious. They are alive and going to the underworld. The dark ones came up using a hall pass, and marked them all for trade to make their visitation pass permanent. Well, what’s to stop Cora or Pan or anyone else, from locking up the living in the underworld, and using their ticket to get back to the land of the living? They are kinda walking in to the lions den and they have no plan – again!

They did this when they went to Neverland. It was a one way trip, no exit strategy. They have no idea what they are walking into and how does this make sense?

Also I want to know what Rumple said to Belle. I seriously hope that he didn’t just leave her sleeping and then run off with Emma and the others. I hope at least said where he was going and why, even if he didn’t tell her about being the dark one again.

Oh and back to my doubts that Emma can save Hook by splitting her heart to satisfy the ‘life for a life’ criteria. I’m wondering if maybe the answer is Rumple with all the dark ones, or the power of the dark ones inside him. Perhaps if he lets some of them out, back in the underworld, that would satisfy the criteria and they could swap a whole bunch of people. Hopefully not any villains like Cora or Pan, because we’ve already defeated them and rehashing old fights isn’t always as fun as it sounds.

I just really want Rumple to do something. I don’t care if he’s a villain because that’s more interesting but he needs to do something so that Belle doesn’t leave him again. I just want him to be happy, he really deserves it. He’s made bad choices but he’s not a bad man. Mind you Rumple started off so strong in Neverland, I thought he was going to be awesome, and then it fell flat. It was so disappointing, I really thought he would have a star turn but maybe second time around it could be better. The trailer showed Rumple confronting Pan in Gold’s shop in the underworld, and Regina confronting Cora in the mayor’s office. Maybe my two favourites will get the spotlight for a while, that would be awesome.

There’s three months to wait until the next episode, until the Underworld arc begins. I know what I’m hoping. I’m hoping that the arc will end with:

  • Hook alive
  • Bae/Neal alive (or at least a good reason as to why they can’t bring him back)
  • Rumple having redeemed himself (he can still have magic, or still be the dark one but we’re back to season two/3A in terms of where he is on the villain scale)
  • Rumple and Belle having properly reconciled (maybe with a baby but I don’t mind either way)
  • Regina recapturing some of her badass backbone
  • Henry remembering Rumple is his grandfather and having some bonding time (especially if they don’t manage to bring Neal back)
  • Some decent screentime for Belle (I am really sick of her just standing next to people)
  • the Charming’s being held to account for child neglect/abandonment (just kidding)

I very much doubt I’ll get what I want. I’m fairly certain that they will save Hook, but whether anything else will happen, is fairly dependent on what the writers decide to do with Rumple. I’m almost positive that Belle will continue to be poorly used. I’m pretty certain that Rumple and Henry are unlikely to be on screen together except as a group, I don’t think they will ever acknowledge their blood link in the show how I’d like.

I’m also fairly sure that Regina has lost her badass mojo now she’s a ‘hero’ and she’ll continue to be unsure, ineffective and weak like all the heroes are. I hope that I’m wrong but I’m also fairly sure that the writers have decided Rumple is a villain through and through, and there will be no redemption. Where that will leave his character, as I can’t imagine the show without him, I don’t know. The thing with villains is they are usually defeated but they found a way to keep Zelena around, so maybe they’ll be able to pull the same trick with Rumple.

It’s going to be a long three months waiting to see what directions the writers go in. They surprised me a lot in 5A, I expect they will do the same in 5B. Whether the surprises are good or bad, only time will tell.