This week’s Once Upon A Time episode, 'The Outsider', was a Belle-centric episode. The title refers partially to Belle (Emilie de Ravin) and partially to a new visitor that enters Storybrooke at the end of the episode. Think August's (Eion Bailey) arrival in 'True North' in season 1 and you'll get the idea. It's a recycled theme.
So this story starts out in Storybrooke where Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) tests out his new potion on his unwilling guinea pig, Smee (Chris Gauthier). He needs to cross the borders of Storybrooke to search for his long lost son, Baelfire and lucky for him, the potion works. He can now cross the border with his memory in tact. Awesome!
Of course there’s a wrinkle in this tale. Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) has interrogated Archie (Raphael Sbarge) and he knows that Rumple’s only other weakness besides the dagger is Belle. So he attacks her at the library but Belle gets away and hides in the elevator. She uses her cellphone to call Rumple and he rescues her but Hook is nowhere to be found. A nervous Rumple spills the beans about why he and Hook have a feud but he omits the details about how he killed his own wife, Mila. He then goes after Hook alone thinking that Belle will be in the way and that he can’t bear to lose her too. But Belle being her ever resourceful self, finds a nautical tie that Hook dropped in her library and uses her books to ferret him out. She heads to the docks and notices that the birds are perched in mid-air and she enters the invisible ship. Once there she finds Archie alive and she sends him off to tell Rumple where she is. She then looks for Baelfire’s shawl which Smee stole from Rumple’s shop at Hook's behest. It was the only way Rumple could cross the border and find Bae. Hook walks in on her search and they tussle. Belle bests him and escapes to the upper deck of the ship. Hook takes a short cut and cuts her off before she can reach the exit but Rumple comes to the rescue. He beats Hook senseless with his cane and here is the funniest part of the entire episode. As Belle is trying to coax Rumple to be the better man and stop, Hook taunts Rumple with his wife’s death. At which point, Rumple drops his cane which you can literally hear hit the ground in defiance and says, “he has to die, Belle,” and then lunges with both hands to choke Hook to death (see video). Carlyle’s reaction was priceless! Despite this, Rumple listens to Belle and lets Hook go.
They reach the town line and say their goodbyes as Rumple crosses over. Just as they are about to kiss, Hook shoots Belle. The force of the bullet causes her to cross the town line and lose her memory. Rumple is furious and readies a fireball, which Belle sees, but before he can hurl it, a car veers in his direction. He moves himself and Belle out of harms way but the car careens out of control trying not hit him and hits Hook instead. The car spins to a stop revealing a Pennslyvania license plate. The previews later on show that this is a unknown man from the exterior world, an outsider.
The only other interesting part was that Emma (Jennifer Morrison) found out Archie was alive when he came to her apartment looking for his dog Pongo, which she had given to Henry. It’s amazing that she didn’t pass out considering that they buried him that morning. She now knows that Regina is innocent and Cora framed her.
In Fairytale Land, Belle has just left evil Rumple and is drinking her sorrows away in a pub. She overhears a hunting party organizing a hunt for a fire-wreathed beast called the Yaoguai. Dreamy, which is Grumpy (Lee Arenberg) at happier times, walks up to her and thanks her for help with his girlfriend Astrid. He also convinces a clearly scared Belle to go on the hunt with the party since she wants to anyway. So she does and they treat her like an outsider because she’s a woman and they pick on the fact that she’s reading books. A clever Belle informs them that her books help her track the beast. It’s written in a foreign language that she can understand so one of the huntsman asks her where the beast is now and Belle tells them by the lake. The huntsman literally kicks Belle out of the trailer and then heads towards the lake. They don’t know that she lied and she heads to the mountains instead. Once there she finds the Yaoguai and is nearly killed when it charges her but Mulan (Jamie Chung) comes out of nowhere and saves the day. She shoots the beast with an arrow and it runs off. However, she is dismissive of Belle as well and Belle heads back to town alone.
The men who Belle led astray earlier meet her there and dunk her in well repeatedly as punishment. Mulan comes to the rescue again. She’s had a change of heart and decides that Belle is useful. She tracked the Yaogaui in one day whereas it took Mulan weeks. So they go on a hunt together searching for the beast. Once there, Mulan tells Belle to fight the beast alone because she has suffered a leg injury from the first battle and cannot continue on. So Belle finds the beast and lures him to a pipeline. She slashes the pipeline and water douses the flames from the Yaoguai’s fire-wreathed mane. The animal writhes on the ground defenseless. Just as Belle is about to kill it, she notices it is writing something in the dirt. It’s asking for help. So she takes the fairydust that Dreamy gave her and pours it on the beast. It transforms the beast into Prince Phillip (Julian Morris). All is well that ends well.
Phillip replaces Belle on the journey and then she heads off alone to return to Rumple. Before she can Regina (Lana Parrilla) captures her.
This episode was good but it wasn’t one of those episodes that stays with you long afterwards. For that reason alone, it gets a 3 ½ out of 5 stars. Last week’s episode was a little better so scores must be adjusted accordingly. I guess that’s the price you pay when some episodes are absolutely incredible while others are ok. Ah, the price of perfection! Oh well.
1. Hook must not be that good of swordsman if Belle and Emma who are both inexperienced swordsman beat him and Rumple was able to beat him using only his cane. Couldn’t he have defended himself with his sword? It just doesn’t match up to the master swordsman who we were introduced to in 'The Crocodile'.
2. Where was Cora when all of this was going on in the ship? Sure’s she out for herself and doesn’t want to interfere but she enjoys inflicting pain. This was a perfect opportunity for her.
3. Didn’t Emilie de Ravin look stunning with that chestnut hair, red lipstick and garnett outfit in Fairytale Land? She lived up to her character’s name this week.
4. Is it just me or does Hook still seem less evil than Rumple? His heart doesn’t seem black like Belle said. Rumple’s heart looks like tar at this point with a speck of good that only Belle can see.
5. This Stranger/Outsider theme is the second recycled theme in two weeks. First, a Regina is framed for murder like Mary Margaret was last season and now there’s a stranger in town like August was last season.
6. Wouldn't Red be a better companion for Phillip since they are both beasts? It seems like that's the kind of common ground that could create a connection.
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