Welcome back to Storybrooke, lasses. Have you come here hoping to leave your real world cares behind? Are you so burnt out on, say, election season — this weekend the GOP held two nationally televised debates within ten hours of each other, after all — that you just want to lose yourself in a fairy tale? Too bad! This week’s episode is about … an election! Of course, that’s not all it’s about. Jane Espenson helmed this one, so it’s also about love vs. loss, good vs. evil, choosing what is right vs. choosing what is easy. It’s Rumpelstiltskin’s backstory, and it’s the most enchanting one yet.
This week’s Stroybrooke tale is all Emma and Regina. They banter with each other, they bait each other, they bully each other. It’s all furrowed brows and backhanded compliments and, “Oh, go die in a fire! No, wait! Don’t die in a fire!” If lovely ladies are a thing you love, then love away, my darlings:
Still, though, there’s noting explicitly queer about Once Upon a Time. With all of these fairy tales getting turned on their heads, wouldn’t it be so correct to give one of them a Sapphic twist? Yes. Yes, it would.
FEELINGS, FEELINGS, FEELINGS
My main feeling this week is gratitude for good writing. OUAT isn’t exactly subtle. “On the nose” is its modus operandi. But “Desperate Souls” managed to tell two self-contained stories in different universes with enough shared themes to make you go, “Ohhh.” You know, like Rumpelstiltskin claiming to do good by grabbing for power, and Emma Swan claiming to do good by relinquishing power. And Rumpelstiltskin running away from the fire (Ogre Wars) while Emma was running into the fire (literally).
And both sets of stories had their own sets of feelings. Who expected to feel pity for ol’ Rumpelstiltskin? Not me! But his evil ways are a product of the hopelessness he felt when his son was about to be dragged away for cannon fodder. Who wouldn’t go full-on Voldemort to prevent such a thing?
In Storybrooke, no one seems to be mourning too hard for Graham. (Maybe because he’s contracted for 19 of the show’s 22 episods? Thanks, IMDB!) Henry’s feeling bummed because of how good doesn’t always triumph against evil, Emma’s feeling bummed because for someone reason Regina thinks a newspaper reporter would make a better sheriff than a bail bondsman, and Regina is just feeling flat-out annoyed that Emma won’t hit the road in her VW bug already. But she’s also feeling pretty smug by the end of the day, because even though Emma wins the sheriff’s election, she’s lands herself a formidable archenemy in the cantankerous Mr. Gold.
Unlike the Evil Queen’s backstory, which is pretty darn cartoonish, there’s something intriguing about what we now know about Rumpelstiltskin. He became the Dark One by slaying the Dark One by stealing the Dark One’s dagger so he could free his son from army commission. He’s a coward by nature, an Ogre War deserter, and power makes him shimmer like gold and worship before his very own id. So we know how he transformed from beggar to brute, but what has happened to his son? Does that dagger still exist somewhere? Could someone confiscate it and control him? Why was he so eager to create an alternate universe with the Evil Queen? And is Mr. Gold really more powerful than Regina? That’s the kind of stuff we should be wondering about all of these characters!
I AM THE SWAN QUEEN
These two. Good Lord. One minute they’re scowling at each other like everything. The next minute they’re making eyes at each other like six seconds before sex. Then next minute they’re trapped in a burning building. And the next minute they’re sharing a hot fudge sundae at the diner. Lana Parrilla and Jennifer Morrison have unbearably delicious chemistry.
Just makeout already.
What did you think of “Desperate Souls”?