What an intriguing episode of Once Upon A Time this week! In “Skin Deep” we meet Belle, whose kingdom is in trouble due to ogres. She and her father (a King) have reached out to the only person who can help them – Rumpelstiltskin. In his creepy and cavalier way he tells the King he can help them if the King is willing to give up his daughter to be Rumpel’s caretaker/slave for life. Oh Disney. Belle boldly accepts Rumpel’s offer much to the dismay of her father and fiancée, Gaston.
In Storybrooke, Mr. Gold confronts a florist (Belle’s father) who his late on his payment and promptly repossesses his work van while Regina looks on suspiciously. Mary Margaret and David sit in separate booths at the coffee shop, struggling to be together but be apart at the same time. Emma joins Mary who reveals that Henry is doing well but misses Emma who is struggling with her separation from Henry. Emma is called away on official business and after a stand off with guns at the ready, Mr. Gold tells Emma he has been robbed by the florist – but doesn’t need her help. Never one to back down, Emma says she will find him and return Mr. Gold’s items.
Later that day Emma returns what she think is everything to Mr. Gold but hasn’t yet found the florist on the run. Mr. Gold is scornful, Emma hasn’t found the one item he was actually looking for – but won’t say what it is. Emma continues her search for the florist not knowing it’s too late; Mr. Gold has him bound and gagged in the back of his van.
At the coffee shop Ruby, Ashley and a reluctant Mary Margaret decide to have a girl’s night for Valentines Day while David buys two Valentine’s Day cards, one for his wife and one for his mistress. Mr. Gold muses over David’s two purchases while he himself buys himself a rope and duct tape, never a good sign, commenting that he is a ‘difficult man to love.’
In Fairytale at the home of Rumpelstiltskin, Belle’s room is a dungeon but she seems to take it in stride as she cleans about the castle in a rather pleasant mood given the sacrifices and hardships she’s faced. She chats pleasantly to Rumpel as he spins his gold and doesn’t seem put off by his demeanor or his appearance. He reveals he used to have a wife and son but lost both, although we <em>still</em> don’t know what became of Rumpel’s son since we last saw him. I can’t wait to find out! Belle reassures Rumpel he is not a monster and does not need to cover all the mirrors in his home. Shortly after, Gaston shows up at Rumpel’s door but before he can get many words in Rumpel promptly turns him into a rose, which he gives to a smiling and unsuspecting Belle.
During another Belle/Rumpel heart to heart Rumpel questions her decision to work for him forever and her engagement to Gaston. She admits the marriage to Gaston was arranged and she didn’t love him but that she also wanted to be brave and be the hero for her friends and family, which so many women in her kingdom seldom get to be (go Belle!) After a particularly close moment Rumpel tells her to go to town and collect more straw, admitting that he doesn’t expect her to return into his custody.
On the road to town who should Belle happen to meet but the Evil Queen! The Queen decides to walk with her and after a short conversation tricks Belle into admitting she has feelings for her ‘master’ but that something ‘evil has taken root in him.’ The Queen gleefully provides Belle with the solution “true loves kiss would break any curse” the Queen says wisely – and if this is true, why wasn’t the Storybrooke curse lifted when Mary Margaret and David kissed? Aren’t they supposed to be a representation of true love as well?
Belle returns to Rumpel with this in mind and eventually they kiss, we see his face start to get ‘cured’ and he looks as Mr. Gold does now. When she comments that its “working ” Rumpel becomes enraged and wants to know who told her about lifting the curse. A shocked and confused Belle stumbles, admitting she doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He strides across the room, uncovers a mirror and starts yelling at it furiously – apparently the Queen is accessible through all mirrors? Or just this one? We’re not sure. Then he rounds on Belle accusing of being aligned with the Queen or wanting to defeat ‘the monster’ herself. He locks her up in the dungeon again.
Mr. Gold takes the captured florist to the cabin where we once saw the rainy romantic David and Mary Margaret exchange. He starts beating on the florist with his cane wanting to know where his missing item is and who told him to take it. The florist seems dumbfounded about these questions and as Mr. Gold grows more angry he starts saying “she’s gone, you were her father,” which made me wonder if Mr. Gold remembers Fairy Tale life as I’ve previously suspected. Emma comes in eventually and breaks up the scene, arresting Mr. Gold.
At ‘girls night’ Ashley’s workaholic boyfriend and father of her child shows up and proposes on his break from work. She happily accepts despite her complaints that they never have time for one another – I’m not sure how marrying him will change that, but never the less. Mary Margaret looks on in angst, feeling that her current version of love isn’t what she bargained for. She leaves and runs into David who gives her the Valentines card meant for Kathryn that said I ‘woof ‘ you, yuck. She tells him to go home to his wife and he says he’ll find a way for them to be together. Is it just me? Why can’t he just leave his wife? Why is that so hard? Eventually he gives Mary the right card before heading off. Anyone else dying to know what it says? I hope we get to see it!
In Fairy Tale, Mr. Gold lets Belle go free. She calls him a coward no matter how thick his skin. He says he loves his power more than her and she says he will regret it and all he’ll have left is the chipped teacup she accidentally chipped earlier.
In his jail cell at the Sheriff’s office, Emma offers half of her sandwich as her ‘favour’ owed to Mr. Gold. He responds snidely he hasn’t forgotten and will ask for much more when the time comes. Regina comes in with Henry and asks for 30 minutes alone with Mr. Gold in exchange, Emma can have 30 minutes alone with Henry. Emma considers but then flees with her son, which I could NOT believe – she’s the Sheriff for goodness sake! Completely unacceptable behavior if you ask me, but I can let it go because what happened next was awesome!
Regina tells Mr. Gold she has what he wants, she convinced the florist to steal it from him, for her if he’ll answer only one question – what is his name. Mr. Gold plays it coy at first, pretending not to know what she’s asking before he says the word I was hoping to hear – Rumpelstiltskin! I knew he knew! Upon hearing this, Regina returns the same chipped teacup that Belle chipped in Fairy Tale, calling Regina ‘your majesty’ and assures her that she will not be more powerful than him, but she seems less than convinced. Of course that’s what has come between them! I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before! The battle for power, I can’t wait to see it in action! But does Regina hold the upper hand?
In Fairy Tale the Queen pays Rumpelstiltskin a visit and reveals that once released Belle went home only to be shunned by her father for her involvement with Rumpel. After being tortured she eventually, allegedly – jumped to her death, somehow I didn’t believe it.
We close in Storybrooke where Regina brings a rose to what looks like a mental hospital. In the depths of it Regina visits a nurse who reveals the patient has had no visitors now, or ever. Inside, of course is poor Belle. Twist! Alive! Is she crazy? Is she hurt? We don’t know.
What will happen when/if Mr. Gold finds out? Where is the stranger? Why haven’t we seen more of him? Who else is ready to see the battle for ultimate power?