The hero they deserve

6.13 Ill-Boding Patterns is going to be up there in the hall of fame of top episodes. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed an episode quite as much as this since season two. It was amazing. Finally Rumple in all his glory being shown on screen. Anyway, usual drill, spoilers under the cut as I go on a lot about everything that happened.

Baelfire Edition: The father of the year award goes to…
I don’t know how coherent I’m going to be because I just found this entire episode amazing. Rumplestiltskin has always been a father first and foremost and that really shined here. Both in flashbacks and present day Rumple was shown to do what was best for his sons, no matter the personal cost. This entire episode was a big ‘screw you’ to those that have said his true love is his power, because it was shown in his every action that family is what matters most to him – just like I always knew was the case.

We’ve known for a long time that Rumple did as he promised, ending the ogres war and bringing home the children but tonight we got to see it, and to see how he went from that to everything going wrong. The darkness didn’t immediately take him over, I’m sure that it was slow and insidious in twisting things, but really it wasn’t the magic that was ultimately to blame – it was other people.

When they toasted him – “To Rumplestiltskin, hero of the ogres war” – he looked so happy, that was everything he ever wanted. Then Beowulf was jealous, or perhaps afraid of the power Rumplestiltskin wielded and lashed out, reminding not just Rumple but everybody of Rumple’s past. How Rumple had hobbled himself to escape the war and Rumple hugging Bae and saying “I had something worth fighting for” is accurate on so many levels. Bae was why Rumple took the power of the Dark One and ended the war in the first place, but Bae is also the reason why Rumple branded himself a coward and escaped the war. With both actions Rumple was fighting for his son.

“I told you this dagger would change our lives. Now nobody else has to die.” – that’s all he wanted wasn’t it? They just wouldn’t let him. Honestly this breaks my heart like nothing else. I don’t know if Rumple could have fought the darkness back long-term, everything could have turned awful anyway, but nobody ever came him a chance. No wonder he doesn’t trust people, nobody has ever given him a reason, even when he does good it doesn’t make a difference – “intentions are meaningless” and here is another example of why that is true and not just in the obvious way.

Rumple wanted to be a hero – to “save all the children of the Frontlands” and he did that, he did that for Bae. Then he promised not to use the magic for Bae, when people looking for help he turned them down because he didn’t need to ‘be a hero’ all he wanted was to be a good father. It didn’t matter what Rumple wanted, how much he probably ached for their approval, to redeem himself for once having been the town coward, there was nothing he wouldn’t endure for Bae.

You know Bae’s journey in this episode was heartbreaking. He started off naive, thinking that it was possible to change the way people felt about Rumple. However, people will always fear those more powerful, and also fear that which they don’t understand and magic falls under both categories. Rumple knew it was pointless but did it anyway because there is nothing he wouldn’t do for his son – nothing he wouldn’t try if Bae asked.

I’m not surprised Rumple gave Bae the dagger. I think Rumple has always been a little afraid of himself, afraid of failing and Bae was always his strength and his reason. Rumple did the same in giving Belle the dagger (I know he took it back, but we’re on the theme of intentions right now) and besides Rumple wasn’t wrong was he? Bae using the dagger against him, and Belle did the same in 4.06 Family Business. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t real, Belle thought it was real and she commanded him to do something against his will.

You know Beowulf’s twisted reasoning about ‘being a hero’ is quite similar to the stuff Gideon is spouting. The ends justify the means and not in a good way. I think in Beowulf’s mind the death of those townspeople was on Rumple, because he only had to do that in order to lure Rumple out, and also to get people to see Rumple for ‘the evil’ that Beowulf thinks he is. It’s very twisted logic, doing what is necessary in order to dispatch the greater evil – to become the hero.

Rumple was right. ‘Ogres are not men’ and he saved Beowulf’s life from one ogre and there was an entire army of them. No matter what Beowulf wanted or believed, Rumple was right and victory wasn’t possible. That war had been raging for at least fifteen years, if it could have been won by men or a magic sword then that would have happened long ago. To be honest it’s the same in the present really. If Gideon was actually going to kill Emma, then magic sword or not, he would have done it already.

Anyway, I’m getting off topic slightly because honestly my heart is in pieces and I need to write fix-it fic immediately. “Your boy will see you as a monster” – and Rumple immediately stops even though he knows the danger that Beowulf represents. Rumple then volunteers to do the right thing – to take him to face justice and tell the truth but Beowulf is again right nobody will believe it. This is what Rumple has been facing his whole life and Bae finally saw the truth and wow, my notes contained a lot of swearing at this point.

Bae finally understood Rumple, he saw the truth and the reality of their situation, and he snapped – trademark Gold impatience right there. Without thinking Bae ordered Rumple to kill him, just as Henry has done so many things without thinking – like father, like son. Seriously all the awards for Robert Carlyle here, how his expression pleaded with Bae, how he said “Oh Bae” – those two words contained such a wealth of feeling. It was also telling how Rumple killed Beowulf, quickly and painlessly and without any mess. He didn’t want to expose Bae to anything more than necessary.

I do wonder if the dagger influences those that wield it, or if Bae just had a taste of power – for the first time in his life, much like Rumple, and it overwhelmed him. Power can be intoxicating and it’s a slippery slope, once it’s use is justified once then it can be justified again and for smaller and smaller things – like the bakers son. Bae was right that the power was the “only way to protect them” because what do they have without it? Everybody hates them, they were practically starving and able to be conscripted like cattle before, slaves to those they owed fealty for living in that village.

What hurts the most though is that Bae/Neal died without ever knowing the sacrifices that his father made for him. Rumple gave him the memory potion, he accepted all the hatred, all the judgement, he became someone to be vilified all to protect Bae. “I won’t let you follow me into the darkness. One of us has to be strong” – it would have been so much easier to leave it. They could have been happy because Bae understood him, but Rumple knew that wasn’t right. Rumple wanted better for Bae, even if it cost him everything.

Gideon Edition: The father of the year award goes to…
The present contrasted perfectly with the struggles of the past. Rumple is in a different place but he’s still clearly the same man – someone who would do anything to protect his children. “I’ve already lost one son, I won’t lose another.” – and I think he’s starting to realize there’s more than one way to lose somebody. Bae/Neal died, but if Gideon goes down a path they can’t bring him back from, then he’s lost just the same.

Before I get into the serious questions I have a couple of more lighthearted comments. Like why are they searching a forest on foot? If Gideon is moving around, he’ll go into the places they’ve searched and it’ll just be neverending. Why not use something like blood magic to find him? Also, Gideon you are the son of the best dressed couple in Storybrooke, that cape is not a good look.

Right serious question – Who are Gideon’s people? Who else is in the black fairies realm? I suppose this is going back to the ‘Black fairy steals children’ plot point, but why does she do that? Seriously, I need the black fairy episode asap because I have a real need to know all these things. How can I do proper speculation and theorizing without at least some facts to hand.

Anyway, I found it sad that father and son have matching trust issues. Gideon’s tale from when he was a kid was heartbreaking but he’s taking entirely the wrong message from it. He wasn’t a coward for doing nothing because deep down he knew that making an attempt would just get him hurt as well. It wouldn’t save anyone. Why is being reckless and stupid meant to be brave? I think it took far more bravery to sit there and listen, biding his time and not playing her game.

Rumple shouldn’t have repeated the memory potion. Yes that saved Bae from his darkness but it’s a cheap and easy solution, wiping away trauma rather than dealing with it but then Rumple has always reached for magic. I loved hearing Rumple use Belle’s arguments – “There’s good in you Gideon. Don’t snuff out the light in your heart” – but that didn’t quite make up for the fact that I wish Belle had been making them herself. Belle seriously needs more screentime. This episode was amazing and I don’t begrudge one second of Rumple being shown to be the incredible father he is, but Belle should get a chance to be a mother as well.


“I watched one son darken his heart. I won’t do the same with you.”“I won’t let you touch the darkness” – meaning I will do all the bad things so you don’t have to. Plus Rumple found the loophole. He would make any sacrifice for his son, but given that Gideon had commanded him not to stop him, all Rumple could do was take the fall for him. I’m so glad Rumple got the dagger back at the end, because it means he’s free to do whatever is necessary without restriction. I think if Gideon hadn’t commanded Rumple, then Rumple would have stopped Gideon from reforging that sword. Basically Rumple did the best thing he could under the circumstances.

Then Belle let Rumple explain and she understood and they hugged. Belle’s words were a bit of a backhanded compliment, saying “for once” Rumple put their son first but then I can’t blame Belle for that. She’s been on one hell of a rollercoaster ride and it’s still up for debate how much she actually knows about everything that’s happened. The fact that Belle let him explain, and trusted him, is more than enough for me. Their hug spoke volumes as well for so many reasons.

First Belle initiated it, which she always does, as I don’t think Rumple dares because he’s never sure of his welcome. Then Rumple hugs her desperately, like he always does, because it could always be for the last time and he needs it more than air. However, this time Rumple was relishing the hug, and living in the moment, and Belle was staring unseeing over his shoulder no doubt thinking of all the problems they still have. Usually that is the other way round.

Still the hug, and the talking, and the listening to one another, is such a massive step in the right direction. Now we just need Belle to have more screentime so we can see them work together a little bit more.

Random comments about the Rumple-centric
I think Rumple is right that the sword won’t make Gideon a hero, that it never worked, but I do think that the sword was enchanted with something. The Blue Fairy is something of a cockroach, in that nothing seems to kill her, and Beowulf was the only surviving member of his unit so I’d say the sword was enchanted with survival magic. Which would mean whomever held it had an easier time winning the fight, but it still doesn’t give any guarantee. Also isn’t that the sword that can kill split!people? You know that does give more fodder to the speculation that the Blue Fairy is actually split from the Black Fairy.

Rumple’s timing was awesome and I loved how he said “I killed all of them” and then gave his trademark giggle. He was very much more man than imp in this episode – again all the awards to Robert Carlyle – but there were bits of the imp coming through.

Question, out of all the people Belle could have enlisted to help search the words why ask the Blue Fairy? Given Rumple’s hatred of her, and the fact that he’s currently more angry than usual due to Blue losing Gideon, it’s very much like oil and water. It would be like asking Hook to help. I mean surely Granny would be more use in the woods because she could use her wolf sense of smell or something.

I see they fixed the clocktower. I wonder why Rumple took Gideon there? I know that it was probably just a convenient set as they don’t have easy access (or any access) to the cabin or the salmon Victorian. However, I do like to try and find some logic within the show. I suppose the shop had too many magical objects and maybe it was Rumple trying to make amends. After all it was the clocktower where he lost everything trying to use the hat, so trying to save their son from the darkness in the place where he lost everything after giving into it – that has meaning.

Regina and facing your inner darkness
I’ve said before and I’ll say it again that I think Regina has had the best, most consistent and thorough, redemption arc out of everyone. Now, I did think that this whole split!queen business was going nowhere, was just retreading old ground, but actually I think it’s having a positive effect.

At the start of season six Regina was talking about the Evil Queen as a separate person, like that hadn’t been her, but now she’s admitting that it wasn’t “what she did” it was “what I did” and that is huge. In season three Regina said that she didn’t regret anything that she’d done because it had led her to Henry, but I don’t think that’s true and I think once her conscience awakened, living with her past was too much to bear. That was why she split from the Evil Queen, and now she’s realizing that she has to take responsibility – that actions have consequences.

That’s the theme with wish!Robin as well. I confess I do like this version of him, but then I’ve always had a weakness for grey/amoral characters and his acceptance of being a thief, it’s quite refreshing to have somebody just shrug and say ‘this is me’. To be honest that’s what I miss from Zelena these days, somebody just embracing being wicked and not apologizing for being a villain. Not that wish!Robin is a villain but he doesn’t care to be a hero and that’s a refreshing change.

Anyway I’m getting off topic. “Regina I can’t live up to the legacy of the man who died for you” – wish!Robin has a point and what’s important is that Regina recognizes that. Regina let go of Daniel, when she vanished him in the stables, she learned to let go of Henry because she knew that if she loved him, then she couldn’t trap him – he had to want to be there with her. All through her journey Regina has learned that she can’t hold onto people, not just stop them from leaving her, but that they need to find their own happiness and that might not be with her.

When Regina asked wish!Robin to come to Storybrooke I think she had a bit of denial going on. She wanted him to be her Robin so badly, he looks and sounds the same, and she thought maybe they could be what each other needed. It’s like when Regina dedicated everything to save Marian. It would have been so much easier to let Marian die but she didn’t. She did what was right, not what was easy.

To be honest I think Emma needs to learn this same lesson, that holding onto people too tightly isn’t a good thing. Emma lost too much, and she clings to Hook, she went to the underworld and dragged everybody along because she couldn’t bear to lose anyone else. Now I’m not saying that it’s good that Regina has accepted loss, because obviously it’s heartbreaking, but it’s also healthy that she can accept it and move on. I really hope Regina stops losing everyone and finds her happiness because she deserves it. Emma deserves it as well and I’m going to come back to that in a minute.

Everything else
Zelena’s line about “grand theft sorcery” was cool. Honestly she does have good lines when she’s given a chance to embrace her more wicked side. I feel bad for the actress really because she’s a regular but she isn’t even on the sidelines like Belle, it’s like she’s just nowhere in the plot. Zelena really was at her best as a villain. Anyway, I find the teamup (temporary though it was) of wish!Robin and Zelena to be a little disturbing. I know that isn’t really Robin but with their history, seeing them on screen together just always feels so wrong.

I laughed when Zelena called the snake “Practically family” – but seriously Zelena a dank sewer? Cruel and unusual. “Baby Robyn needs her mommy very much alive” – why does Zelena always use that as a defense? Especially because Regina isn’t going to kill her, Regina wouldn’t kill her when Zelena attempted to do her time portal spell; Regina didn’t kill her after she discovered Zelena masquerading as Marian. So really Zelena doesn’t need to throw the baby in Regina’s face.

Plus I would disagree anyway. I think baby Robyn needs someone who cares about her, which yeah could be Zelena, she seems to at least take decent care of her. However, with Zelena’s temperament, I would worry about what that would do to the child as she gets older. I don’t think Zelena would take independent thought very well because she’s so desperate for Robyn to love her. What happens if Robyn doesn’t follow in her mothers footsteps?

Anyway, moving on, I laughed at Robin’s quip about “seven of you” – as that seemed to be a reference to the seven dwarfs. I’m really pleased the Evil Queen is back, she was wasted as a snake and I’m really crossing my fingers for a Black Fairy and Evil Queen teamup. Robin looked a little revolted at the Evil Queen but then she can come across as a little insane, she’s sort of like Regina without any restraint.

Where is Henry? I’m guessing the actor is perhaps either using his contracted hours for other episodes, or maybe filming a bit less because of school. Isn’t he getting to the age of exams now? Anyway, in universe hopefully Henry himself is at school where he belongs, or maybe he’s stuck on permanent babysitting duty because somebody has to look after baby!Neal.

Then there’s the Hook subplot. I was disappointed in Archie because “asking for permission” really? What if David had said no? It was hardly going to stop anything and I really disagree with the entire practice. I mean yes David’s approval/disapproval matters when it comes to family harmony, but at the end of the day it’s what Emma thinks that matters. Anyway, sidestepping that disaster, I was again surprised because I thought Archie was supposed to be a conscience.

However, perhaps Archie was just trying to provoke the response he got from Hook, which was Hook saying that he wanted to tell Emma even though he didn’t have to – which is a big step for Hook. I have to agree with Archie, it’s a sign that Hook is at least trying to be a better man and then Archie did urge him in the end to tell the truth and Hook was going to do so but didn’t.

You know usually I say that the makeup/acting choices for Emma make her look unhealthy or miserable, like she’s trapped but in the proposal scene I have to say she looked genuinely happy. I did wince at Emma asking “Are you mad at me?” – because while I suppose snooping is wrong, it did come across as far too submissive for Emma. I outright snorted at the “no secrets” line because their relationship is basically founded on secrets.

Hook should have said something, he clearly regrets that he didn’t. Plus he’s only putting off the inevitable, he’s going to tell her eventually. I was hopeful last week this was going to showcase character growth but now I’m not so certain. We’ll see what happens.

Brilliant episode, which should have been twice as long. Seriously Belle needed more screentime! Also, there was no David or Snow. I know last week was David’s centric but Snow was barely in that. They need to break that sleeping curse yesterday, it’s seriously going on for far too long.

You know the future of Once and all the characters is up in the air right now. If it gets cancelled and this is the last season, then I think they are going to go out strong, the last few episodes have been much better than they have for a while. Alternately if it gets renewed then, again off the strength of the last few episodes, I think they’ve restored a tiny bit of my faith.

It wasn’t so long ago that watching felt like I’d slipped into an alternate reality where nothing made sense. These last few episodes have been like a breath of fresh air. If it ends here, or if the Rumbelle storyline ends with this, then there are worse things. If the rest of season six continues in this vein then like I said, if it’s ending then it’s going to end strong and to be honest that’s what I hope for any show.

Anyway, I have a strong need to write fix-it fic where Bae/Neal learns what Rumple did for him, and also Rumple reflects on how that changed things and wonders whether he did the right thing – very much road not traveled. My writing mojo has been non-existent lately so we’ll have see whether I actually write it or not but I think someone should.