Is true love stronger than amnesia?
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, and Robert Carlyle.
Once shines the spotlight on one of its more popular pairings this week, by exploring Gold and Belle’s developing relationship now that she has lost her Enchanted Forest memories. While any moment they share on screen is absolutely delightful, the twists that the writers include, as interesting as they may be, ultimately seem designed to create fresh conflict in preparation for the season finale, and I cannot see them being overly-long lasting.
In contrast to its usual habit of showing us a fairytale flashback that is an almost-perfect mirror for what is happening in the present day, this episode does the complete opposite. Instead, it shows us the way that Belle in the past reacted with Rumple, compared to the way that her cursed counterpart, Lacey, does. In the past storyline, we can see how Belle brings out the best parts of Rumple, seeking to look past his beastly appearance and see the goodness that lies underneath it. Lacey’s effect on Gold, however, is entirely the opposite.
Back in the Enchanted Forest, Belle stands up to her captor, Rumple, by letting go his prisoner for the crime of trying to steal a magic wand. Rumple doesn’t want people to believe that they can get away with stealing from him, so believes that the thief should be an example to others who consider it. When Rumple discovers that the thief stole the wand from him upon being set free, he takes Belle with him on a journey to hunt the thief down, while Belle insists that there must be a reason why the thief needed the wand.
Their journey takes them to Sherwood Forest, where they encounter the Sheriff of Nottingham, who helpfully informs them that the thief is none other than Robin Hood. When they finally catch up to Robin, however, it is revealed that he stole the wand so that he could heal his pregnant and ill lover Marian. Belle tells Rumple that he’s not the sort of man who would leave a child fatherless, but Rumple lets loose an arrow regardless, though he “misses”. Belle notices the good within him, despite his protestations that his intention had been to kill Robin Hood.
In the present, Gold is gauged by Regina to believe that he will never be accepted into the Charmings’ family, even if he is Henry’s grandfather and Neal’s father, because he is unable to reform and be good. This leads Gold to return to Belle, convinced that she is the key to unlocking the goodness within him. He hopes to return her memories of who she was before her accident, but Regina manages to get there first and restores her cursed memories and the new identity of “Lacey”, who is decidedly more edgy than Belle was. Gold becomes intent upon forging a relationship with this new version of Belle, in the hopes that forging true love will break her curse and reawaken her Enchanted Forest self.
After Charming’s advice to “be himself” in order to win back Belle, Gold successfully manages to get Lacey on a date. He is given hope when she says something identical to something that Belle told him in the Enchanted Forest, that you cannot truly know someone’s heart until you know the person. In his excitement, however, he spills wine on her dress, and she excuses herself. When Gold follows her, he finds her out the back of Granny’s canoodling with Keith, who was the Sheriff of Nottingham in the Enchanted Forest. Lacey is frustrated at Gold, because she went on a date with him to be nice, but he really wants Belle. Gold, enraged, removes Keith’s tongue and starts to attack him with his cane. He is discovered by Lacey, who says, “You really are as dark as people say,” to which Gold replies, “Darker dearie, much darker,” which echoes a conversation they had in the Enchanted Forest, only with the opposite meaning.
Elsewhere, Emma is finally informed of the plan to return to the Enchanted Forest, when Snow and Charming show her the crop of beans that Anton has been growing. She becomes conflicted, viewing Earth as her home (I can hardly blame her. Who would want to move to a land with no electricity or adequate showering facilities? You’d miss out on so much! Like new films and TV shows. Nope. Not on board. But then also you could get famous for inventing things that were definitely already invented on Earth. I digress). Unfortunately, Emma also hints to Regina the fact that, unless she starts to get closer to Henry, she could lose him “forever” which makes Regina more than a little suspicious, leading to her discovering the crop of beans for herself.
Meanwhile, Greg and Tamara continue their scheming, and Tamara brings a trailer to Storybrooke, in which she has a tied and trussed Captain Hook.
- In the Enchanted Forest, Belle brings out the best in Rumplestiltskin.
- In Storybrooke, Regina gives Belle her cursed memories, turning her into Lacey.
- Lacey and Gold go on a date and she encourages him to unleash his dark side.
- Emma is finally told about the plan to grow beans to return to the Enchanted Forest.
- Regina discovers the beans.
- I can understand why they didn’t tell Emma before now. Literally the first thing that she does upon finding out about the beans is let slip to Regina who is now probably going to destroy them all. Come on, Emma. Why do people tell you things?
- The idea of Neal carrying home an “exhausted” Henry, who apparently just fell completely asleep is ridiculous. The kid is 11 for Christ’s sake! Too old to be carried to bed like a baby. Get a grip, guys.
- I can’t believe that it’s taken Regina this long to find out that Neal is Henry’s father. It’s also slightly hilarious that nobody thought to clue her in on this crucial piece of information.
- Hook is finally back! Considering he’s been regular for quite a few episodes, it’s strange that he’s actually had less to do than when he was just recurring in Enchanted Forest. Here’s hoping that he gets more to do now that Tamara and Greg have brought him in to help with their scheme.
- Gold’s dream where he smashes Henry with his cane is just delightful. The effects of Henry as a porcelain doll were stunning, and I’d be intrigued to see what everybody’s reactions would be if Henry actually were smashed. I can see no downsides, frankly. If only it hadn’t been a dream.
- I get what the writers are trying to do with the Lacey plot, which is to put Rumple back on his evilest form possible so that he’s particularly unpredictable, while Greg and Tamara are at large. It gives our heroes multiple people to fight against really, as they now have Gold and Regina, as well as Greg and Tamara. I just don’t buy Lacey as a character. The other cursed personas were at least vaguely similar to their Enchanted Forest counterparts, but I cannot see the similarity with Lacey. She’s literally as far away from Belle as you could get, unless we’re willing to suggest that Belle had a secret longing for darkness internally, but I don’t really like that narrative. Hopefully the Lacey vs. Belle storyline is fixed before too long, and Gold finds a way to restore her proper memories.
- Having said that, Emilie looks absolutely gorgeous as Lacey.
- I find it weird that Sherwood Forest is in the Enchanted Forest universe considering it’s a real world location. Seeing the Sheriff of Nottingham in a fairytale situation is a bit weird. Nottingham is a real world place, guys. And it’s not that nice, either. I also like to think that Robin Hood was a real person, so I find it doubly strange.
A divisive episode, for sure, great character development is sacrificed for the sake of creating extra tension for the finale.
You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.