You chose your power over mine.Rumple
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, Rebecca Mader, and Robert Carlyle.
Episode 19: The Black Fairy
“The Black Fairy” is essentially a massive info-dump of an episode, but still manages to be enjoyable. It adds many layers to the previously nondescript character of the Black Fairy herself, as well as choosing to focus primarily on her relationship with her son, Rumple, which is appropriate considering Once’s massive focus upon familial relationships.
It’s considerable, actually, how much the audience does feel for Fiona at the end of the episode. Her backstory is clearly rushed, but also easily identifiable for the audience. The decision to make Rumple the Saviour, and that the reason behind Fiona’s decline was an interesting one, especially as Rumple is not somebody who you would expect to hold the Saviour mantle. It’s understandable that Rumple takes a lot of umbrage at discovering that Fiona took it from him.
However, Fiona’s quest to keep Rumple safe from the mantle of the Saviour, and using everything within her power to stop it is hugely identifiable. All of the audience know the lengths that we would go to for those that we love, so Fiona’s attempts to stop Rumple from being killed make her much more sympathetic. The fact that she turns into the great evil that threatens her son is marvellously ironic, and highlighted the lengths that she was willing to go to herself.
This episode also helped to expand the Enchanted Forest universe as we know it, as we finally learn the reason behind the Dark Curse in the first place. It’s so strange that, though it was used to further Regina’s agenda, it was really used by Rumple to reunite with his son and before that it was part of Fiona’s plan to protect Rumple from the great evil that threatened him. It also added to what we already know about the Saviours and their ultimate fates.
Having said that, some of those concepts were a bit muddied. Ultimately, Emma’s role as the Saviour in the first season seemed to have been foretold through something entirely different, and appeared to be specific to Regina’s Dark Curse as a result of her being the product of true love. However, this prophecy about the Saviour being threatened by a great evil is curious as, considering that Fiona rewrote Rumple’s destiny using the shears, there should actually be nothing that links Fiona and Emma at all, as they were separate prophecies.
That’s where the episode falls down. While the audience understands that Fiona is acting out of her love for Rumple, it doesn’t fully explain everything about herself. The fact that she chose her power over Rumple, for example, definitely helps to draw parallels between mother and son. It’s something that Rumple has battled with his entire life, the competing forces of power and love. It doesn’t exactly make sense in the context of the flashback, though, as Fiona never seemed to be particularly taken with power, but was merely trying to protect Rumple. Without his destiny, there was no need to protect him at all, so these elements definitely would have benefited from a bit more expansion.
Something that is also confusing is why the Black Fairy then chose to abduct children and use them to mine black fairy dust for her. Was this all in the name of increasing her power to allow her to return to Rumple? And what exactly does she hope to gain by defeating Emma? She says that she just wants her family to be together and happy, but I’m honestly confused as to what she expects here. Does she think that murder is a solid foundation upon which to build a family? Does she realise that making amends might just be a bit more effective? Honestly, it just seems as if she’s enacting the Final Battle purely because it’s been prophesised that there will be one, but as to what shape that actually takes, it’s anybody’s guess.
As for Rumple’s allegiances, I think it’s fairly safe to say that he is playing the Black Fairy here. The show likes to tease us as to which side he is going to ally himself with, but, regardless of Fiona’s justifications, Rumple only went along with it to get Gideon’s heart. There’s no way that he’s going to take the fact that she altered his fate and accept it – which is heavily ironic, considering this is what he was going to do with Gideon until Belle stopped him, but that’s neither here nor there. Rumple’s behaviour is all fun and games until somebody behaves that way towards him. However, with Emma not even knowing that she’s got anything to fight against, that’s bound to give the pair an advantage. Whatever this Final Battle even looks like and consists of.
There were a couple of small moments in this episode that I was quite fond of. Firstly, Belle’s response when Rumple asked if she trusted him, and she could only respond that she trusted his intentions to do the right thing is very telling. While we haven’t had much of Belle and Rumple’s relationship since we gave birth, it’s nice for the writers to acknowledge that they’re not fully there yet, and they are not back together. However, Belle waxing lyrical after discovering that Rumple was a “Saviour” was ridiculous, as I thought we had long gone past the whole “good man behind the beast” narrative to understand that Rumple was in fact just a terrible person.
Another moment of levity this week was Zelena adjusting to a life without magic. Nobody likes putting up flatpack furniture, and the Wicked Witch is absolutely no exception. She also took to driving suspiciously well, and the moment when she came careening out of nowhere to knock the Black Fairy flying was simply iconic. A brilliant moment between her and Regina also highlighted the small steps that they are now taking, further cementing my idea that Zelena getting rid of her magic was a massive deal in the context of their sororal relationship. Regina asking Zelena to take Henry to New York should the Final Battle go sideways was touching in its simplicity. Zelena also not balking at the idea that Henry would be raising her was also notable. While their witty banter in the name of sibling rivalry is still entertaining, it’s satisfying not to see the pair at loggerheads, especially when Zelena’s connections in town are few and far between.
“The Black Fairy” propels us closer to the finale as the battle lines are drawn. However, with our heroes woefully ignorant of the fact that the Black Fairy is even still a threat, it looks like Hook and Emma’s musical wedding next week may lead them directly to ruin. With only three episodes left of this story, here’s hoping we actually figure out what the Black Fairy’s plan is, and what precisely the Final Battle is, before it’s upon us.
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.