Once Upon A Time 2.11 “The Outsider” TV REVIEW
Writers: Andrew Chambliss, Ian Goldberg
Director: David Solomon
THE ONE WHERE In the past: Belle goes on a quest to kill a fiery beast that's been ravaging the countryside, teaming up with Mulan in the process. The beast turns out to be Prince Phillip under a curse cast by Maleficent. In Storybrooke: Rumplestiltskin finds a way to cross the town's limits without losing his memory, so he can go and find his son. Before he can do so, Hook launches a shocking attack on Belle...
VERDICT If there's one thing that's a given in any episode of Once Upon A Time , it's that whenever Belle and Rumplestiltskin have a scene together, the screen lights up. Their relationship is one of the show's highlights – a touching example of the “love conquers all” theme that lies at the heart of so many fairy tales, and always played so delicately by Emilie De Ravin and Robert Carlyle. Which is why this episode's final scene is so devastating. Hook not only shoots Belle in the back as she's saying a loving goodbye to her reformed Beast, she also falls over the town's boundary and loses her memory for good . Of all the things Hook (and the writers, naturally) could have done to Rumplestiltskin to drive him crazy, this is the most effective – what will the Dark One do now? We wouldn't like to be in Hook's shoes, assuming he survived the car hitting him...
And oh yes, that car. Who could possibly be driving into Storybrooke from the outside world? Has this even happened since Emma arrived? If they're an innocent traveller, did they happen to see the fireball Gold was about to toss at Hook? What will they think? Questions, questions!
Epic cliffhanger aside, the rest of “The Outsider” is jolly good fun, with past-Belle on a quest to kill a Yaoguai and delighting us in the process. From double-crossing the mercenaries who accompany her to figuring out the Yaoguai's secret at the end, this is an enjoyable sub-plot that also brings Mulan into the story without being surgically attached to Aurora's side for once. (Wouldn't it be nice to also see Mulan's back-story some day? Oh well.) The beast itself is also pretty cool, and it's great that fairy tales from other cultures are seeping into the show; a Yaoguai is a Chinese demon. There's even a little cameo from the Evil Queen at the end to explain how Belle ended up locked in her cells the week before – marvelous continuity!
CANNOT MATH TODAY Dr Hopper's gravestone looks a little bare without his date of birth and date of death, doesn't it? Perhaps it was too confusing to do all the maths for that one, what with him being born in another realm in another time... And incidentally, Marco (Tony Amendola) weeping for his lost cricket friend is very moving. It's a shame that we watch the funeral scene fully aware that Hopper is still alive: wouldn't it have been a killer if we'd really thought he was gone at this point? Hankies all round!
OH, REALLY? Hook threatens Hopper with the words, “I've always wanted to dissect a cricket.” Hook, if you want to be a real bad guy, you should probably aim a bit higher than that.
MIRROR IMAGE Belle's book about the Yaoguai features a drawing of the kind of lair the creature likes to live in. The scene then morphs into a shot of his actual lair – and it's absolutely identical. Either that's one hell of a coincidence or all these beasts live in the same lair, which sounds a little crowded to us...
NICE TRIP? It seems that every week on this show a female character is chased through the forest, trips over something and lies there looking helpless. Please, writers, find another way to slow them down and increase peril, okay? It's getting very old now.
EARTHLY PERKS There's much discussion in this episode about whether the fairy tale characters should leave Storybrooke and go back home to the Enchanted Forest. Amid all the squabbling, Leroy brings up a very good point: Storybrooke has things like penicillin. Yet again, Once Upon A Time contrasts the reality of our world with the unreality of fairy tales – who'd have ever thought that one of the seven dwarfs would be fond of prescription antibiotics? Nice touch.
THIN AIR You have to love the fact that Belle deduces there’s a ship moored in the marina because she spots seagulls perched on its invisible masts. But we have to wonder how the seagulls knew they’d have somewhere to land…?
THIS WEEK'S OPENING CREDITS IMAGE The fiery Yaoguai. Rawwwr!
Mercenary (reacting to when Mulan's helmet falls off): “Wait, you're a...”
Mulan: [Punches him]: “Yeah, I know.”
New episodes of Once Upon A Time air in the UK on Channel 5, Sundays, 8pm