Stay on target
Last night’s Once Upon a Time was the rare episode where the flashbacks were more interesting than what was going on in Storybrooke. We went back to the First Ogre War and saw the exact event that led to Rumple’s first son, Baelfire hating him. Man, this show loves reopening old wounds, doesn’t it? It may not have moved the main story along much, but it did give us some insight into why Gold is so desperate to stop Gideon from killing Emma.
The episode began with knights fighting giant CGI ogres. The special effects look a little video game-y, but it’s a fun battle scene anyway. Just as one warrior, revealed to be Beowulf carrying the sword that Emma carries in the present, is about to be crushed by an ogre, he’s saved by Rumplestiltskin. Rumple makes all the ogres disappear and ends the war. And for once, it’s not because he wants a favor from somebody. He just wanted the war to end so the world would be a safer place for him and his son. Aww. Beowulf isn’t happy about being denied his chance at martyrdom. He interrupts Rumple’s celebration to remind him that he’s a coward. Baelfire asks his father to give up the Dark One’s power, but Rumple refuses.
Things escalate when Baelfire returns home one day with his face made to look like a monster. So he’d look more like his father. Rumplestiltskin goes out to deal with his son’s bullies but learns that Beowulf has gone off to fight a monster called Grendel. He and Baelfire head off to investigate, but it turns out there is no Grendel. Beowulf slaughtered the villagers himself and intended to blame Rumple for it. He grabs the Dark One’s knife and commands him to stand over the bodies while Beowulf runs to get the villagers.
Torstein Bjørklund as Beowulf. (Photo: ABC/Eike Schroter)
Baelfire follows him, gets the knife back and summons his father. He orders his father to kill Beowulf. Rumplestiltskin begs his son not to make him murder, but he does it anyway. After that, Baelfire is suddenly fine with keeping the Dark One’s powers around. Not wanting to see his son succumb to the same darkness he has, Rumplestiltskin erases his memory. When Baelfire sees that Beowulf is dead, Rumple takes the blame, and Baelfire hates him again. Presumably, this is where he runs off to find Hook, but who knows? Continuity is hard sometimes.
The flashbacks were the best part of the episode. The story they told was by far the most interesting thing that happened in this week’s episode. Not only that, it gave us some new information about Rumplestiltskin that helped us understand what’s going on in his head in the present day. Speaking of which, what happened in Storybrooke? Not a whole lot. Most of the episode was spent with Rumple/Gold trying to convince his son not to kill Emma. He ties Gideon up in a tower, trying to figure out why he’s convinced he needs to kill Emma. He even tries the same memory wipe he used on Baelfire, but it doesn’t work this time. Gideon was raised by the Black Fairy. He knows how to avoid a memory spell. He takes the Dark One dagger and orders his father not to hinder him.
Gideon finds the Blue Fairy and asks for her help in killing Emma. When the Fairy refuses, Gideon decides he’ll take her magic. Gold shows up, again not wanting his son to commit an evil act like that. He decides to take the darkness bullet himself and takes her magic. With the savior-killing sword reformed, Gideon hands the dagger back to Gold and rides off. Gold explains what happened to Belle, who is impressed that he wouldn’t let their son darken his heart. It looks like Belle and Rumplestiltskin are going to be a thing again. Gross.
Giles Matthey as Gideon and Keegan Connor Tracy as Blue Fairy. (Photo: Screenshot via ABC)
The rest of the show had Regina chasing Robin around and Robin trying to leave Storybrooke. That’s what he stole that box from Regina for. He brings it to Zelena and the two hatch a plan to escape Storybrooke for New York. Regina catches up with them at the town border and reveals the spell they’ve cooked up won’t work. The barrier is still there, and nothing at this point can lift it. Regina promises to make things up to this new Robin by finding him a way out of Storybrooke.
While the Storybrooke characters didn’t really do much of anything this episode, it did end with a couple of big moments. Hook, at Cricket’s urging, has decided to tell Emma the truth: That he murdered her grandfather. Just before he does, she reveals that she found the ring in his pocket and thinks that’s all that has been bothering him. She tells him just to ask. He gets down on one knee and, you know where this is going. She says yes. D’awww.
They’re not the only ones having a sweet reunion. Regina apologizes for all she’s put Zelina through and admits she might always have a little bit of evil in her. The peace doesn’t last long, as the sisters find that the Evil Queen snake has escaped her cage. Worse yet, she’s found, Robin. After biting his wrist to get a bit of spilled magic potion, she returns to human form. The Evil Queen is back, and she’s eyeing Robin. That should make things interesting.
Lana Parilla as the Evil Queen and Sean Maguire as Robin Hood. (Photo: Screenshot via ABC)
While the Storybrooke segments went nowhere, the tight, focused nature of the flashbacks mostly made up for that this week. It was cool to see a new side of Rumple that had only been hinted at in the past, and Beowulf made for a great one-off villain. I just wish all that hadn’t come at the expense of the main story. Nothing really happened in Storybrooke. Until the final moments of the episode, it was just a bunch of characters standing around in different locations, talking. None of their conversations drove the story forward in any meaningful way. But hey, at least it ended on a promising note. The season’s better villain is back, and I can’t wait to see what she and not-Robin will do together.