Rumple makes a sacrifice for his son while wish-realm Robin Hood tries to leave Storybrooke on this episode of Once Upon a Time.
Fighting against the darkness is an all-too common theme on Once Upon a Time but it is explored time and time again with the main cast of characters, especially the villains who are on the path to redemption. We’ve seen Regina and Rumple struggle with the darkness all their lives and somehow manage to triumph (more for Regina than Rumple). In this episode, we were once again taken back to the Enchanted Forest during the first Ogres’ war, a major event in Once Upon a Time history, especially for Rumpelstiltskin.
In the tradition of the show’s adding more and more literary characters to its mythos (and then conveniently dispatching them), Beowulf was thrown into the mix this time. There are already too many characters on Once Upon a Time and not enough screen time shared among them to develop them properly. It was such a waste to have such a significant figure from British literature play such a small role on the show.
Beowulf was introduced as a brave warrior who couldn’t defeat the darkness, and who resented Rumple’s use of his powers as the Dark One to kill all the ogres. Baelfire (re-cast because the original actor is probably all grown up now) had to struggle not to give in to the darkness, to his hatred of Beowulf, who turned out to be pretty monstrous.
Meanwhile back in Storybrooke, Rumple tried to talk some sense into his other son, Gideon, who still remained determined to kill Emma and become the Savior. He shared some horrifying stories about his time with the Black Fairy, highlighting the pain and terror he had felt under her care. He manipulates his father by using the dagger on him and Rumple is forced to comply.
The writers weren’t trying to even be subtle with the parallels this time, mirroring the situation in the Enchanted Forest almost exactly with that of Storybrooke. In his anger, Baelfire commanded his father to kill Beowulf and Rumple was forced to commit this crime. But the concerned father then makes his son drink a memory potion so that he never remembers this moment of weakness. Well, it isn’t Once Upon a Time if someone doesn’t lose their memory somehow!
Rumple in Storybrooke is then forced to spill the blood of the Blue Fairy so that Gideon could re-forge his sword. All this time Rumple looks genuinely distressed and concerned about his son, and for the first time in a while I don’t think he has anything evil up his sleeve. He is open and honest to Belle about his plans and there is some sign of a reconciliation, at least, between them. I still wonder why he didn’t involve Belle more in trying to reform their son. Gideon would have listened more to his mother, I think.
There was a weird subplot with wish-Robin asking for Zelena’s help to escape Storybrooke. Regina thwarts them, of course, but promises to help Robin figure a way out. Regina and Zelena shared a small moment together and it’s good to see their relationship on the mend. But Regina can never catch a break on this show, and her evil alter ego found a way to come back, and she’s teaming up with this nasty Robin Hood too. Sigh.
Hook shared some of his anxiety with Dr. Hopper, which I found really sweet. It’s great to see Archie still have some scenes on the show, even if he’s basically everyone’s emotional crutch. But it looks like Hook really is a changed man and he was ready to tell the truth about his past. Too bad, Emma surprised him by guessing his intentions and the two found themselves engaged. Good luck with that.