REVIEW: Once Upon a Time, S6 Ep9 – Changelings

Another child born, another child sent away from his parents for his “better chance.” The Once Upon a Time tradition continues. The latest episode sees the birth of the Rumbelle baby, only for him to disappear with the Blue Fairy in order to get away from Rumplestiltskin. It’s history repeating itself, reinforced by the flashback in the Enchanted Forest that reveals a key part of Rumple’s backstory. 

Once Upon a Time, S6 Ep9 – ChangelingsThe episode progresses at a frenetic pace, not just because of the magic sand that speeds up pregnancies. Rumple threatens Belle, she tries to find a way to escape him, she has visions of their son in the dream world, she confronts Rumple, and he decides not to be completely terrible. But the Evil Queen must have her way so she poisons Belle’s tea and accelerates the pregnancy.

She gives birth to a healthy baby boy but, in true Once Upon a Time fashion, she tearfully sends the child away to safety, or anywhere away from Rumple. Another child will not know his parents, and Rumple loses another son.

As much as I appreciate the parallels drawn between Rumple’s current familial situation and his own broken childhood, I felt that a reveal as major as the identity of Rumple’s mother was too rushed in this episode. Hopefully, this won’t be the last we see of the Black Fairy, but the reveal still felt too hasty and it could have been handled way better.

Once Upon a Time, S6 Ep9 – ChangelingsAnd it seemed too on-the-nose that Rumple was abandoned by both parents because of their desire for power. But the revelation that Peter Pan was really Rumple’s father had more build-up and development, and considering Pan’s role as a villain in Season 3A, it was more interesting to invest in him and his problematic relationship with Rumple. We need to see more of the Black Fairy, even if we’ve already seen more than our fair share of terrible parents on Once Upon a Time (Cora, anyone?)

The concept of changelings, human children stolen by fairies, was also glossed over. There were some tenuous links to the original Rumpelstiltskin myth but again, there could have been more done there. What this episode did finally establish was the origin of Rumple’s hatred and distrust towards all fairies. After all this time, he can never forgive them because of what his mother has become, even if he followed an even darker path for the sake of power.

Rumple continues to be a compelling character and a tragic figure. But the trauma of his past will never excuse his present actions and I doubt Belle will be willing to give him more chances to change. A happy ending for them seems unlikely at this point, but this is Once Upon a Time, so there may still be hope.

Once Upon a Time, S6 Ep9 – ChangelingsMeanwhile, the Evil Queen is thwarted from killing Zelena by Regina’s timely arrival. But even after this, reconciliation isn’t about to happen between the two because apparently, Regina still nurses some deep resentment towards her sister and blames Zelena for Robin’s death. So, there’s some work to be done there still.

As Hook and Emma try to find ways to protect Belle from Rumple’s control and manipulation, Emma gets another vision of her impending doom. This time, she sees the hilt of the sword that slays her and after returning to the shop, she and Hook find this mystical sword. Hopefully, more will be revealed in the Once Upon a Time winter finale next week.

There were short but pivotal scenes with Jasmine and Aladdin, who I really wish we’d seen more of this half-season. In order to help Jasmine find Agrabah again, Aladdin chooses to shackle himself to a magic lamp and to take the place of the genie. This decision will surely have lasting consequences and, judging by the preview for next week’s episode, will impact everyone in Storybrooke: