Deal with the Devil

I didn’t blog about Once Upon a Time last week. The episode was ok, Regina had some good lines but aside from that it wasn’t noteworthy in any fashion. Regina’s role was small and there was no Rumplestiltskin at all. The episode was Snow White centric and while I don’t dislike her, it holds no particular fascination for me. It was a filler episode and I guess that’s because they were saving all the awesome for this week.

This weeks episode was Rumple centric but Regina had some good development too. With my two favourites taking center stage, it was on to a winner even before we get to what actually happened. Was it actually a winner though? I don’t know, we all have our headcanon and then sometimes it’s hard to tell whether the tone of things has changed, my perspective has changed or if I’m trying to force my beliefs onto something.

Spoilers under the cut.

So you’ve been with my former lover and my son
That line might win all the awards for awesomeness. It’s an issue that everyone ignores most of the time and I’m so glad that the writers just went for it, rather than pretending it’s something that it isn’t. Plus they mentioned Neal again, I’ll come back to that in a bit. First I want to talk about Milah.

I said above about headcanon. I watched the episode tonight and I was split because Rumple in flashback, didn’t match the Rumple from the early season one flashbacks. The first time we saw him pre-dark one was in ‘Desperate Souls’. That sort of formed the basis for my opinion of his character I suppose. Later flashback episodes like ‘The Crocodile’ just confirmed it. I have never thought Rumple a coward, or useless and in tonight’s episode he truly was both.

The impression I had before tonight’s episode was that Rumple did pretty much all the work, provided the income as a spinner, looked after Baelfire etc. He always seemed like a solid father and above all willing to do what it took. He went into a burning building, he stole the dagger, he killed Zoso with the dagger, all for Bae. Tonight, Bae’s life was in immediate danger and he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Now that’s interesting for lots of reasons and I’m going to come back to that.

I’m supposed to be talking about Milah. My impression of her before tonight’s episode was that she was selfish. That maybe she had been a good woman once but she had grown bitter. She certainly seemed to support Rumple in ‘Manhattan’ in the flashbacks to when he was called up to the ogres war. However, afterwards I guess small village = small mindedness, Rumple was considered the village coward, she would be tainted by association. She was trapped in a life she hated, a life that she never really wanted. She found a way out and took it, abandoning her son. I suppose she didn’t want to take him on a pirate ship and figured Rumple would take care of him. However, ultimately she left him and didn’t even say goodbye.

Although I do have to say when Bae came in to the bar, Milah immediately stopped drinking and left. Rumple had left Bae outside so that he didn’t see Milah there with the pirates, drinking and gambling. He came in and Milah stopped, she looked a little ashamed too. So maybe that was an indication that she did care about Bae a little. It’s hard to tell as she’s only been in three episodes. ‘The Crocodile’ and ‘Manhattan’ in season two, and then last night’s ‘Devils Due’ episode.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say and not really succeeding, is that in tonight’s episode Milah didn’t come across as selfish. She succeeded in making me sympathetic towards her. It appeared at the beginning like she was picking up Rumple’s slack with work, then she really seemed to care about Bae when he was bitten. She came up with the plan to get the cure. Quite why she insisted Rumple had to go and kill the healer I don’t know. I could be cruel and wonder if maybe she was hoping he would fail and that Bae would die. Without Bae, there would be nothing binding her and she could leave and seek a new better life elsewhere.

However, I don’t think that was her motive. She genuinely seemed relieved when Rumple came back with the cure. Although it was far more telling that she was upset that he had sold his second-born child. If she truly was contemplating an escape, or if she loathed Rumple, she wouldn’t see more children in their future. The obvious loophole in that deal for her, is that any second child of hers, wouldn’t have Rumple as a father. Maybe that was what pushed her to consider Hook again, consider maybe she could have a better life and start again elsewhere.

Although in unhappy marriages some people see children as like the one bright spot, they might hate their partner, but they have kids and they put all their energy into them. Perhaps removing the ability to have more children together, is what removed her hope that her marriage was worth fighting for. Her disdain for Rumple was still clear in this episode, she still thought (and voiced) how useless she thought he was, that’s not kind but maybe that was as far as it went until the fateful deal. Perhaps the second born child deal is what pushed her over the edge. These lines sort of suggests it …

“Because you sold them! You sold our future. Our family. Rumple…”
“Bae can be all the future we need.”
“Well… thank you very much… for deciding the rest of my narrow, little life for me. I’m going to the tavern, Rumple.”

Anyway, Milah’s interaction with both Emma and Rumple in the Underworld was all shades of awesome. I’m sorry that she didn’t get to interact with Hook, although that would have been difficult. Hook loved Milah, he loved her enough he dedicated the next 200 years (or thereabouts) to finding a way to avenge her death. That is a really long time. It wasn’t like he just fell into a rut, no all those 200 years later he was still willing to do whatever was necessary. It was Hook’s motivation when he first came to Storybrooke back in season two.

Now, Hook is in love with Emma and fair enough people move on, Milah had died a very long time ago, it’s not unreasonable. However, coming face to face with Milah, a love that strong, I don’t blame the writers for avoiding it. To be honest I don’t know how that would have gone down. It wasn’t like Milah left him, or he left her, they loved one another when she died. So Hook probably still loves her, he’s just found room to love again.

Plus another tick in the ‘Milah deserves some sympathy’ box, is that she feels guilty about abandoning Bae. She made a decision, it’s one she has to live with (or rather died with) and it’s a regret, something she can’t change. Although a tick in the alternate box of ‘Milah is selfish’ is that she didn’t ask about Henry once. I know Rumple didn’t exactly break the news tactfully, calling it a “torrid affair which resulted in a scandalous teenage pregnancy – in prison” but Henry is still her blood. It was her son’s son and I would have thought she would have had some questions.

I can do better .. I can change
Oh Rumple, I think that about says it all. My impression of you this evening, aside from the fact that Robert Carlyle has really put on weight filled out (don’t be rude, google says he’s given up smoking) was that maybe you were more useless than I thought you were. I have never really considered Rumple a coward. I thought him pragmatic sure, I thought him cautious, I thought him sensible, because only heroes recklessly risk their lives for no real reason. However, I always thought that when the shit hit the fan, he would do what it took. All evidence in the past, showed that he would do what was necessary.

Well tonight he failed.

He wasn’t helpful with the work, instead spending time with Bae, which is important but Milah shouldn’t have to pick up the slack. As a side note HOW THICK IS BAE???? I mean I know he was only little, but holding out a hand to a snake? It did not look friendly, I mean seriously? No wonder the guy is dead, self-preservation instincts are precisely zero.

Anyway, he then wasn’t keen with Milah’s plan to steal the cure. He argued that the healer would “kill him for sure”. Milah then told him to kill the healer first, he again wasn’t happy but he shy’s away from even picking up the dagger. I get hesitating, taking someones life shouldn’t be easy, but Milah was right, he just looked scared. Milah kissing him seemed to galvanize him a little, which by the way just looked so wrong. It was probably because Milah didn’t actually want to kiss him, she just thought that would help, or was hoping it would. Then when he’s standing over the healer he “can’t, just can’t”.

Why couldn’t he do it? Was it because the healer had been sleeping, was laying down and seemingly defenseless? I mean the first guy Rumple killed was probably Zoso, and he certainly looked more threatening. Therefore I guess you could argue it was easier to kill Zoso because of self defense. However, Bae’s life was on the line. Rumple said later …

“I thought if I kill to save my son, then my son grows up with a murderer, a monster as a father. Well, I couldn’t do that.”

Which is somewhat ironic given that Rumple became the dark one, and almost certainly killed quite a few people. I don’t think Rumple went on any killing sprees or anything, I don’t think there was bloodlust. However, we have seen on screen him killing people that irritated him. Plus I think there was a difference in what he did over the years. Early on my headcanon is that he killed more than later. It certainly seemed that he didn’t kill as much in later years, perhaps because he had more control.

However, aside from the irony, there’s the fact that I don’t really believe it. When Rumple explained it didn’t come across as the truth, it came across as an excuse that he thought up afterwards so that his actions would be ok. He couldn’t do it and I’m really starting to think that the real reason is because he was scared. I think he thought that if he tried, the healer would defend himself and then he would lose. It is possible he was telling the truth, dark one Rumple later says “I was a mortal man then, and a moral one.” indicating maybe he really just thought killing was wrong. However, I would counter that with – but it was for your son. It’s that, which I find the sticking point. Rumple always did anything for Bae, what made this a step too far?

I’m being quite hard on Rumple tonight, which is really not like me at all. Maybe it means my opinion is a little more objective than I thought it was. I’m not automatically viewing everything he does as good, I’m not twisting it to show him in the best light. Tonight, he didn’t step up and I acknowledge that.

Rumple does have some good points in tonight’s episode. My heart absolutely broke for him when Emma spoke to Milah about her vision of Neal. I actually screamed at the TV “Don’t you think Rumple would have liked to know that about his son?” because really why didn’t Emma tell him? She had the compassion enough to tell Milah, however awkward the triangle between her, Milah and Hook is, plus Emma’s former relationship with Neal to complicate it further. Emma had the compassion enough to do that but couldn’t spare a minute to talk to Rumple.

Then when Rumple talks to Milah. Things between them were never easy. Milah blamed him, their marriage wasn’t good, Milah then ran off with Hook abandoning both Rumple and Bae etc. Rumple then killed her in a blinding moment of rage, to be honest my headcanon is that he always regretted that. It was an impulse move. I mean at one point he must have loved her, but he was in a lot of pain and lashed out. Anyway, Rumple tells Milah that Bae forgave him, so he’ll forgive Milah for abandoning him. Rumple didn’t have to tell her that, he could have been cruel but instead he was kind. It was a bittersweet kind of conversation.

The one who takes what he needs
Rumple has long been an ‘ends justifies the means’ kind of guy. To be honest that’s part of what I like about him. I’ve said a few times that I think villains make the best heroes, because they are willing to do whatever is necessary to get the job done. Therefore Rumple making a deal with Hades, I don’t find that morally objectionable.

To be honest I don’t even find it objectionable that Rumple was planning on leaving everyone else behind. The only issue I have is with Henry, that’s his grandson and really if Rumple is who I think he is, then he should care about that connection more. I’m surprised Rumple didn’t object to Henry accompanying them to the Underworld in the first place. I can’t really believe that Rumple would leave him behind. He might think his mothers were stupid to bring him in the first place, but I don’t think he’d hold that against Henry.

Anyway, I’ve got off point. What I was trying to say is Rumple leaving the others behind, is perfectly understandable in a way. Why should he have any loyalty to them? Whenever Rumple is in trouble or needs help, they just shrug and say it’s not their problem, he’s the dark one, he was the dark one. Plus it’s the unintentional cruelties which are sometimes the worst. Back in season one, the episode ‘Fruit of the Poisonous Tree’ Leopold is making a speech for Snow’s birthday. He says …

“Every day I look upon your face, and I am reminded of your dearly departed mother. Who, like you, truly was the fairest in all the land.”

It wasn’t just what he said, it was the whole scene. His new wife, utterly ignored at the back of the room. No-one noticed when she left. She’s part of the family, brought in to be a mother to Snow White and yet she’s invisible. Perhaps the king will always love his first wife, perhaps he can never love Regina but he doesn’t have to rub her face in that. It’s like public humiliation.

The ‘heroes’ do that to Rumple. Case in point what I said earlier, about Emma not bothering to speak to Rumple about Neal. They never ask him for help, they just demand it and use what he cares for (or who he cares for) against him.

Rumple never wanted to go to the underworld. I think perhaps he hoped that Bae would be there. I think maybe that is why he did that scrying orb, he was hoping to find Bae and maybe find a way to bring him back. Why should Hook get another chance but not Neal right? However, with no hope for his son, he just wants his life back. Realising that Belle is pregnant, he has a lot of reasons to be in Storybrooke and dwindling reasons to be in the underworld. Hades crack about “Mrs Dark One” was funny, the sort of wit that Regina often shows. I like Hades, I really do have a soft spot for the villains, they have the best lines.

Therefore screwing over the heroes, well do it to them before they can do it to him. It’s easily justified. What he did to Milah? I don’t think he wanted to do it, I don’t think he got any pleasure from it. I think he certainly regretted the necessity but Milah was his past, Belle is his future and plus Milah is dead. The River of Lost Souls could be permanent ‘abandon all hope ye who enter’ after all, but maybe there’s a way out, a way for her to one day move on and see Bae again. Either way it came down to a choice, the woman who belittled him, had an affair and left him and their son? or his true love who is carrying his child? Rumple might not have had a backbone in the flashbacks, but he’s got one in the present.

The episode ended with Hades telling Rumple that he basically owned him. Rumple would work for him now, or his unborn child would be forfeit. I really hope Hades knows who he’s dealing with because Rumple is cunning, and he will only work under those conditions for so long before he finds a way to turn the tables. Well, that is my hope anyway. I’ve been disappointed more than once by the writers setting Rumple up for some awesome, and then dropping the ball on it.

Rumple, Belle and Baby
I’ve sort of talked a bit about this before. Once it became known that Emile de Ravin was pregnant, there was the possibility of them writing it in on the show. Rumple at his core is a father, that’s what he cares most about and it’s what he’s arguably best at. Yes, he made mistakes but there can be no doubt that he loved Bae with everything he had. The most important person to Rumple was always his son, he spent a couple of hundred years doing whatever was necessary to find him, just to say he was sorry. Keeping Rumple away from the child would be cruelty beyond measure.

However, it’s really starting to look like my vain hope that Rumple told Belle the truth about being the dark one again, yeah that’s not happened. How will she react to the news? Not well I’m guessing. There’s an upcoming episode called ‘Her Handsome Hero’ and it guest stars Gaston (not the same actor as in Skin Deep unfortunately). The flashbacks tend to mirror present day, therefore it sounds like it’s going to be a big Belle episode, merlin only knows she needs one. I just have a horrible sinking feeling that Gaston is going to be the ‘hero’ and that maybe Belle will decide to leave Rumple.

Keeping with the dark one theme, the creators were asked whether Rumple regretted taking back the power of the dark one given Belle, the baby etc. They said actually it was the opposite and while their interview answers have to be taken with a pinch of salt (they said Rumple wouldn’t get magic back pre-season five), it does hint that maybe his powers will have a pivotal role. My hope was always that he took it back for a reason beyond just – moar powah – and maybe he proves it. Maybe he does something good with them, perhaps it’s his powers which enable him to deal with Hades and re-negotiate the ‘second born child’ deal. Quite how one can deal with a god on their home turf is debatable, Hades should be all powerful, but the ‘heroes’ are going to have to win somehow.

I want Rumple to be Belle’s hero but I don’t think the writers are going to go there. It’s going to be a rocky road and I think perhaps the best I can hope, is that Belle will let him co-parent and maybe they’ll eventually reconcile. I don’t think Rumple is a bad person, he’s just made some choices which in hindsight (and isn’t hindsight everything) were mistakes. I do believe despite everything, that no matter what he does, his heart is in the right place. I don’t think his evil because he enjoys it, I think it’s just the way he gets things done.

You will always live on in my heart
That was what Regina said to Daniel’s grave but it could apply to Hook with Milah, or Milah with Rumple to a certain extent, or really quite a few combinations in this episode. These are my random thoughts about other aspects, because there was more to the episode than just Rumple.

Hook saying “I hear you took away my sacrifice. Everything I did to save my friends all went to give you back your power.” was a bit rich. The writers really do want Hook to be seen as a hero, which is a shame because people who are grey, and more complex, are far more interesting and compelling. Hook came within an inch of the darkness reigning supreme, entirely because he reverted back to just wanting revenge. I suppose they are trying to justify why bringing back Hook should be ok, why him and no-one else.

He says to Emma “I told you to let me go. You shouldn’t be here. Nobody should.” after he marked her and her entire family to go to the underworld just a couple of days ago. Yes, he was the dark one then but even as the dark one, Rumple still cared about people. I suppose on the surface it’s a nice thought that he wants to protect her. However, they’ve all made a big sacrifice to try and save him, a little bit of gratitude would not go amiss.

Plus I have a problem with this whole “save Hook by splitting Emma’s heart” idea. Hook’s body is in Storybrooke, it’s been dead a couple of days and not wanting to be disgusting, it’s decomposing. Whatever Hook is in the underworld, that’s not his body. It’s a manifestation of his spirit or soul perhaps. How can they implant a heart, not into a body, to bring back life? If they did and somehow the ‘bringing back life’ made him ‘a real boy’ with a new body. Does that mean his dead body is still in Storybrooke and he could go look at his own corpse? That’s just weird.

Oh, Regina, Regina. I love, love, love that she found Daniel’s grave. I really love that they didn’t forget that. It was sweet that she asked Snow to go with her. Although, quite why Regina trusted Cruella to explain how the graves worked I don’t know. Then there was the scene with the horse, Regina’s horse she rode with Daniel perhaps? Why is it in the underworld? Unless it was the horse who’s heart she ripped out for the dark curse, which wasn’t enough which is why she then used her fathers.

I’m not surprised Regina needed something to kickstart the magic flow. She had trouble when magic first came to Storybrooke and needed the spell book. I suppose when she saw the horse, she wasn’t overthinking, she just reacted and she cast a spell. Then having cast a spell successfully, it unlocked her conscious ability.

Then there is the healer himself. He didn’t age a day in between spinner Rumple, and the Dark One Rumple visits. Hades said that Rumple as the dark one, went to the healer during his relationship with Cora, which was at least 100 years after he became the dark one. I know he’s got magic, he gave Rumple a magic cure for Bae. However, immortality is as Rumple said in ‘The Crocodile’ “only the dark one has life eternal”. Therefore is the healer not aging important? or is it just an oversight by the writers? They wanted it to be clear who dark one Rumple was visiting, so they left it as the same guy.

There is the possibility of course that the healer is some kind of god himself, maybe even Hades taking a turn on the surface. He asked for payment in gold coins. There’s that tale, in order to pay the ferryman to the underworld you need gold coins. Maybe the healer wasn’t a god, or Hades but perhaps Hades owned him, he was frozen in time until he repaid his debt. I am likely just overthinking this but people who don’t age, it always seems like there should be a reason, it’s unnatural and that feels important.

Oh, last thing – those grave stones. Emma, Regina and Snow are all now bound to stay in the underworld. Hook refused to pick so Hades did it for him. I wonder actually if it was being bound to the underworld that made Regina’s magic start working again. Perhaps by being part of the world around them, it unblocked something. Although having said that Emma teleported them last week, so her magic worked pre-being bound to underworld. That could be because of the lingering dark one taint, her magic is still white with dark swirls (grey, both savior and darkness) and that could be important too.

I loved how Rumple said “I got the pirate out in a day. But you lot managed to find a whole new way to fail. I’ll be in the shop.” because despite his deal with Hades and the mess he’s in owing Hades that debt, he’s not wrong, he did take care of business. I wonder how the ‘heroes’ will get out of this mess. You know, if they would just secure an exit strategy before leaping into these rescue missions, it would be so much more sensible. They didn’t have a way out when they went to Neverland either. That time Rumple thought he wouldn’t make it back, so he didn’t care. However, this time, Rumple you idiot why did you go down there without a plan? That’s not the cautious, cunning Rumple we know and love.

Next week the episode focuses on Hook and his brother Liam. I don’t know how that will affect screentime for anyone else. I suppose in terms of the actual cast regulars. Belle I feel most sorry for as she’s not really in it. Then Zelena next because she’s not in it either, she’s just had more screentime in the past so that’s like consolation. Then Robin and Charming because they just stand in the background, they’ve barely had more than a couple of lines each. You know I say this most posts, but really the show should make the episodes 3x longer, that way they could fit everything in and give people the screentime that they deserve.

I’m tried and I’m rambling. I might have more to say but I’m not sure what. I think with over 3k on Rumple, Milah and the RumBelle Baby, that is probably enough.

Ultimately this episode was good because of all the Rumple development! I want to see more of Belle on screen. I want to see more of Belle and Rumple together on screen. Something occurred to me the other day. I don’t think Belle ever wanted Rumple to be perfect, she just wanted him to be honest.

Trust is the ultimate expression of love and Belle wanted Rumple to let her in, so that they could work on their problems together. Instead he tries to be perfect for her, and fix all their problems on his own. Which leads to him keeping secrets, and then Belle gets mad and leaves. They need to learn to communicate and they also need to work together. However, they are never going to work together if they are always artificially kept apart. Belle never goes with Rumple on these quests, I mean she so definitely should have gone to Neverland.

However, they are apart again. Rumple is in the underworld and Belle is sat once more in Storybrooke. Perhaps something should be contrived that gets Belle to the underworld so that they can work together to save their child. I don’t blame Rumple for making the deal, Bae was his priority, not some mythical future child and his easy solution was not to have another kid. He had Bae and that was enough, he didn’t see the future, he couldn’t know that it would hold 200 years of the dark one and then finding true love.

I’m closing in on 5k now and it’s midnight so signing off. I can’t wait to see what next week holds. What Hades will order Rumple to do and how it will all unfold. Exciting!