Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 6 – TV Review
Only one episode after I praised her for being tolerable, Belle is back in the spotlight and ready to bore.
Goddammit, Once Upon a Time.
TL;DR Belle does manage to motivate Gold to become enough of a hero to pull Excalibur from the stone, though; Merida gets her heart back; Regina and the gang get an ominous message from Merlin; flashback Belle helps Merida save her brothers and take control of her people.
Is it still girl power if it’s on the back of kidnapping?
We’ll start with Storybrooke, where Gold manages to slip Merida’s not-so-watchful eye. Emma sets Merida on a course to murder Belle, with the expectation that Gold will step up to the hero plate to save her. Gold’s pre-Dark One cowardice has returned, though, and Belle nearly gets eviscerated by a bear-form Merida (there’s a transformation potion involved). But Gold finds his courage at just the right moment, saving Belle, pulling Excalibur from the stone for Emma, and bargaining Merida her heart back. Meanwhile, Regina figures out how to use that magic mushroom to contact Merlin, but only one chosen by Merlin can do it. Arthur answers the call to action, but secretly sabotages the experiment and claims it merely failed. The gang eventually sees through this, and then use Henry (as the Author, he technically qualifies). And in Camelot flashback, Merlin and the gang free Lancelot and Merida from Arthur’s dungeon. Merida then kidnaps Belle so Belle can read a spellbook and make her a potion to help defeat the rogue clansmen who are trying to overthrow Merida/execute her brothers. But it turns out Merida had what it takes all along, saves her brothers, embarrasses her enemies, and wins the trust of her people.
But if she hasn’t got a true love to swoon over, what was the point of it all? Come on, Disney. Stay on message.
So yeah, not only is it a Belle episode, but it’s also a Merida episode.
Why I hate this episode:
Well, it turns out our older Merida is just as haughty, self-centred, and irresponsible as her Brave iteration. She fucking abducts one of her rescuers, bashes them over the head to knock them out, and then forces them to accompany her into likely deadly battle. And, just like in Brave, Merida is only rewarded for her recklessness, and Belle shows the true extent of her lack of dignity by actually being glad it all happened at the end. Yay feminism?
Merida only learns her little “I could do it all along” lesson because Belle takes the real magic potion away from her. See, she didn’t need to turn into a hulking bear to defeat the boys’ club. She just needed to have her crucial weapon and strategy ripped out from under her and be forced to wing it with a single shot to deflect three deadly arrows flying at her family. Yay destiny?
And of course, a dumb mob who were ready to watch the boys’ club execute three young men by firing squad are instantly won over by a single display of archery from the woman they were prepared to overthrow. Yay democracy?
If Belle didn’t have an Australian accent, her focus episodes would be unbearable. That one thing is the only reason why I put up with them.
Much like Merida, Gold only defeats bear-form Merida (Bearida, if you will) by randomly throwing a bag into her open mouth. He even admits to Belle that it was sheer luck. Heroism: throwing whatever nearby object you can reach into the mouth of your opponent.
Gold doesn’t seem much more heroic than any of the other career heroes in Storybrooke. David would have made a better case for pulling Excalibur from its stone, no? Or Henry, even.
Where are Maleficent and Lily?
Arthur didn’t even make sure the mushroom burned up? The only reason Regina and the gang catch onto his lies is because magic mushrooms apparently don’t burn. So Arthur just chucked it into the fire and immediately congratulated himself on a job well done? Dumbass.
Oh, and Zelena gets a bizarre sequence where Emma whisks her out of her cell to give her junk food as lubrication for a deal she wants to make. Emma wants Zelena, as the only person shown to be capable of using the Apprentice’s wand, to teach her the ways of Merlin’s magical stylings, and in exchange, Emma will free Zelena. Zelena strangely turns it down, and that’s that. Are we just fulfilling a contractual obligation to Rebecca Mader?
But it’s not all bad:
Zelena does get a chuckle out of the story she heard of Emma tearing out Violet’s heart in order to crush Henry’s. As did we all.
The CGI for Bearida isn’t that bad.
With Excalibur successfully pulled from its stone, we can stop with all that “make Gold a hero” rubbish. In fact, Gold now considers himself a hero, and threatens Emma that he will now put his powers of heroism to work in thwarting her. Will hero Gold be as fun as villain Gold?
Gold breaks the teacup so he can use a jagged shard to cut his bonds and escape Merida near the start of the episode. Aww.
I’ll give Arthur points for somehow convincing Regina and the gang to let him be alone while he enacts the mushroom communication spell. I’ll bet he must have thought to himself “This’ll never work,” and was surprised when it did. I know I was.
When they get Henry to properly initiate the spell, they view a recording of Merlin frantically telling whoever’s watching that they’ll need a woman named Nimue to defeat the Dark One. Maybe that’s Merlin’s old lost love/former Dark One?
Oh, and Paul Telfer, of Hotel Babylon and a couple of episodes of The Vampire Diaries, plays Merida’s major antagonist in the flashbacks. He’s all shirtless and chest hairy. I’ll allow it.