This episode was really Belle’s time to shine. In the Enchanted Forest flashback, we see her volunteering to help stop a creature called a Yaguai, with some encouragement from Grumpy, back when he was still Dreamy and preparing to run away with Nova. It was a nice little nod to the events in the ‘Dreamy’ flashback where we saw Belle encouraging him to follow his heart. It was great to see him returning the favor by coming back and encouraging Belle. It’s just a shame that we know Dreamy/Grumpy is about to get his dreams crushed after the two part again (stupid meddlesome Blue Fairy). As for Belle, because this takes place in an old-world style dimension where people have this whole ‘what does a woman know’ and ‘books are for nerds’ mindset, the men who are hunting the Yaguai ditch Belle rather quickly. Although, I did get a huge grin at the fact that Belle anticipated this and deliberately sent them on off in the wrong direction. Belle’s quest to find the Yaguai ends up with her path crossing with Mulan, who clearly woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning. While I understand that she’s frustrated on missing her shot, she was unnecessarily dismissive of Belle. I mean, Belle had just told Mulan that her book helped her find the Yaguai in less than a day, but Mulan brushes off her offer to help locate the beast again by stating she’d only be in the way. Mulan, what part of ‘I found the beast without any effort’ did you not understand? To her credit, she figures this out rather quickly and comes back to accept Belle’s help. In the end, it is Belle’s gift of knowledge that helps her defeat the Yaguai, who it turns out was Prince Phillip under a curse the whole time. So, now we know how Phillip and Mulan met in the first place. And we finally find out how Belle was captured by Evil Queen Regina.
In the present time, Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin plans to use a potion on Baelfire’s old shawl to protect his memories when crossing the town line in order to finally locate his long-lost son. But when Hook manages to steel the shawl from Gold’s shop, Belle’s knowledge of books comes in handy once again, and she manages to locate the cloaked Jolly Roger where it’s docked at Storybrooke’s pier. This results in her not only finding out Archie is still alive but also to her confrontation with Hook. This confrontation is definitely a must-watch. It’s also one of the few moments I have to raise an eyebrow at Belle’s reaction to things. On the one hand, I understand how she feels loyalty to Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin due to the whole True Love thing. But when she witnesses the confrontation between Hook and Gold on the deck of the Jolly Roger, she practically gets the confirmation that what Hook told her about Milah’s death was true. And yet, we never see her confronting Gold about that later. So, no concern about the detail about how he killed his first wife, then? That didn’t raise any alarm bells for you? Okay, more power to you, girl. In the end, Gold gets the shawl back and is all set to cross the town line. But Hook, deciding to use a different tactic at avenging Milah, interferes and forces Belle across the town line. As such, she loses her memories. Before the two old enemies can have what would be their final face-off, a car appears out of nowhere, hitting Hook pretty hard before crashing into the ditch. The episode closes with the camera focusing on the car’s license plates, revealing the driver is not a local. As the old saying goes, there goes the neighborhood.
I’m rather impressed that Baelfire’s shawl survived all these years. I don’t claim to be an expert on the preservation of historic articles of clothing, but I imagine after 300 years, fabric would start to disintegrate or something. I don’t think it would be so intact. Unless Dark One Rumpelstiltskin put some sort of spell on it in order to preserve it, which wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. Speaking of the shawl, how did Hook know about it? Yeah, I get that his old buddy, Smee, most likely filled him in on how Mr. Gold/Rumplestilskin performed that experiment at the town line in order to test his memory-protecting potion, but Gold only told Belle about the shawl. Unless Hook was spying on them when they were discussing the shawl?
It’s in this episode where we start to see what’s hidden under the surface of Hook’s harsh attitude. First, when we see how quiet he gets when commenting on how Milah was the one who made Baelfire’s shawl. After all this time, he clearly still loves the woman. But what really makes it so heartbreaking is the moment when he starts taunting Gold/Rumpelstiltskin, challenging him to finish the job and kill him. While this could be partially to force Belle to see the sinister side of Gold, it also shows that Hook has no attachment to his life. He WANTS to die, just so he can be reunited with the woman he loved. We did see a hint of it back in ‘Queen of Hearts,’ when he challenged Cora to try and kill him, but here, it’s really evident. That knowledge alone is enough to make you want to hug the poor guy.
It’s also rather interesting that Hook could tell Archie wasn’t lying when he stated he knew nothing about the Dark One’s dagger. We’ve established that Emma’s ‘superpower’ grants her the ability to tell when someone is lying to her. Does Hook have his own internal lie-detector as well? It’s never something that’s confirmed in the show, but it is fun to speculate. Also, Hook threatening Archie’s life in this episode does seem to mirror how Emma threatened to feed him to the ogres back in the Enchanted Forest. Especially how in both situations, the one doing the threatening was trying to get someone to talk. As I’ve said before, these two do seem to be cut from the same cloth.
This is also where we start getting an ongoing subplot that continues on for a few more episodes. Now that everyone in town knows the Enchanted Forest still exists, many of the townspeople voice an interest in going back, including David/Charming, who has doubts that he wants to stay in Storybrooke for the rest of his life. This leads to a brief conflict with Mary Margret/Snow, when she starts considering looking for a bigger house in Storybrooke. There’s also the moment when Leroy/Grumpy brings up an interesting point- now that the curse is broken, it’s entirely possible that outsiders will stumble across the town. If that happens, they could have a whole E.T./King Kong problem on their hands. This prediction comes true in the episode’s last few seconds. My question is what exactly was keeping people from not finding it earlier. I know the curse was probably the reason, but how exactly was it doing that? What would happen if someone was simply driving down the road that led to Storybrooke? Would they instantly teleport to the other side of town? Is there a protective spell over the town like there is in the Harry Potter universe? Like, if anyone gets too close to the town line, they’ll suddenly remember a pressing appointment and turn around? I don’t think it’s simply a case of Storybrooke not appearing on any map, because just being an uncharted town doesn’t always keep people out. (If you haven’t seen the musical Brigadoon yet, I highly urge you to do so. It can be a bit cheesy, but it’s still a sweet story).
On a final note, Henry seems to be a bit inconsistent in this episode. At the end, when they find out Archie’s alive, he claimed he knew Regina hadn’t been responsible for his supposed death. But mere seconds earlier, he was talking about how Regina had hurt Archie, and how they might need weapons to protect them from her. Not once in this episode did we ever see Henry doubting that Regina had killed Archie, but the moment they find out she really didn’t, he’s suddenly saying that he knew it all along. You’d think the people who proof-read the script would have caught this.