Although the Grammy’s reigned supreme last night, this week’s “Skin Deep” impressively drew in fairytale fans with a just over 8 million viewers tuning in to watch a tale as old as time. As predicted, they were not disappointed with another engaging rendition of a Disney classic.
Fairytale Land: “All you’ll have is an empty heart and a chipped cup.”
Sir Maurice and his kingdom are losing the Ogre War, since so many lives are at stake they decide to strike a deal with Rumpelstiltskin to ensure everyone’s safety. Rumple makes a grand and humorous entrance in the palace to solidify their contract, but he changes the terms. The man makes his own gold, so he doesn’t need more from Maurice; what he could use is a lady to take care of his estate. His new deal is the kingdom’s safety in exchange for keeping Belle all to himself – forever. Gaston shields Belle like a buffoon, while Maurice denies Rumpy’s offer. Rumple clarifies that he is not looking for love and merely wants a personal caretaker, so Belle fearlessly steps forward and agrees to Rumpy’s terms as long as he promises that all of her friends and family will survive. With the deal sealed, Belle is whisked off to Rumple’s castle.
Belle gradually gets the hang of being Rumpy’s housekeeper as we discover in a few poignant scenes, which can’t help but make you smile and hope for a happy ending. Their relationship begins with little moments: Belle chips a tea cup and it soon becomes Rumpy’s favorite, she falls into his arms while opening the drapes he nailed down and he jestingly quips about how can get used to it, and most importantly, she genuinely wants to know more about him. Belle asks why he spins so much and when he vaguely replies that it helps him forget, she does not pressure him to reveal his secrets. Instead, she patiently waits for a couple of months after slowly uncovering evidence from his past and she begins to understand him better.
In one of the best scenes, Belle sweetly speaks to Rumpy, kindly confronting him on his loneliness and is curious about the son and wife he lost back when he was an “ordinary man.” Rumple lives in isolated darkness because he feels like an ugly monster, but she doesn’t see him as one. Their heart-to-heart is interrupted by a knock at the door, where Gaston dim-wittedly stands with sword in hand only to be vaporized into a red rose, which Rumple then gives to Belle. While she places the rose in a vase, he inquires about her relationship with Gaston and why she agreed to their deal. Belle admits she wanted to be a hero and sacrifice herself for the greater good; as for Gaston, it was an arranged marriage and she never loved him. She explains, “Love is layered. It is a mystery to be uncovered.” With those words, Rumple takes a chance on love by sending Belle into town and expecting never to see her again.
While walking through the woods, the Evil Queen confronts Belle about her relationship with Rumpy, teasing her about the master/lover conundrum she is in. EQ advises that True Love’s Kiss can break any curse, if Belle kisses Rumple and both of them love each other, then he will be an ordinary man again.
Belle surprises Rumpy upon her return, she cozies up next to him and as they kiss his gold speckled face starts returning to its natural state, so he angrily pulls back. He erupts and accuses Belle of conspiring against him with the Evil Queen; he lashes out at the mirror telling EQ that she just wants to strip him of his power, but Belle tries to persuade him that her love is true and she knows he feels it too or else the kiss wouldn’t have started breaking the curse. He doesn’t believe her, screaming in her face, “No one can ever love me!”
After keeping Belle locked up for a while, Rumple returns to release her and she still gives him one last chance to redeem himself. She calls him a coward for being too afraid to believe that she could really love him and admit that he loves her back. He coldly replies that he simply chose keeping his power over her, prompting the last thing she will ever say to him, “All you will have is an empty heart and chipped cup.”
Time passes and the Evil Queen comes to chat with Rumple about making a deal with some mermaid, but he still holds a grudge and reminds EQ that she will never beat him. However, she still manages to shatter his heart with news of Belle’s death.
When Belle returned home, Gaston was missing and no one else wanted her after living with a beast for months, so her father shunned her and locked her up, until the sad day when Belle threw herself from the tower and died. Knowing the conniving Queen, that last part surely can’t be true, but we will know for sure if or when Belle appears in Storybrooke.
Storybrooke: “My name is Rumpelstiltskin.”
Mr. Gold has come to collect his dues from Moe French (aka Maurice) and impounds his flower truck as collateral. As he quickly rushes down the street, Regina tries to pull him aside for a chat, but he blows her off and leaves it for another time. Meanwhile at Granny’s Diner, Mary Margaret and David enjoy not so subtle “solo” meals at neighboring tables.
Emma joins M.M., wanting to hear how Henry has been coping with Regina’s ban on their mother-son bonding time. After a little consoling, Ashley (aka Cinderella) arrives with baby in tow and she is desperate for a night off. She takes a seat, blocking MM and David’s puppy-dog eye-line, and continues rambling about how her high hopes for a romantic Valentine’s Day have sunken since her boyfriend has to work. Ruby interjects, saying that they should have a girls’ night out instead and all agree just before Emma gets a phone call and runs off on official police business.
Mr. Gold’s home has been robbed; Mr. French has snatched his most treasured possession and Gold hopes to get to him before Emma can. Emma wins the first leg of the race and reveals her findings to Gold, but something important is still missing, so he sets out to find Mr. French himself.
While the ladies of Storybrooke down their cosmos, David bumps into Mr. Gold at Sneezy’s convenient store. Gold is non-suspiciously buying rope and duct-tape, whereas David is holding two Valentine’s cards – one says “I Woof You” and the other depicts a fairytale romance- ironically, the guy buying cards gets grief over his purchase items. Gold warns David to be careful because once a love is lost, it is gone forever. The next Storybrooke sequence juxtaposes love at its best and its worst.
Mr. Gold has tied Mr. French down in his cabin and he begins wailing on the old man with his cane. With each bludgeoning beat, Gold lashes out at him: “It’s your fault. You shut her out. She’s gone forever because of you!” Suddenly Emma walks in on the impaling and saves Mr. French before Gold beats him to death.
Back at the bar, Ashley confides in Mary, saying that being in love is not what she expected and how it is hard to love someone when you have to be apart. Just then, Sean shows up with a bouquet of red roses; he stopped by on his break to propose and apologize for spoiling their Valentine’s Day. At least one couple got a happy ending; hopefully another one will be able to find a way to theirs.
Mary Margaret bumps into David, but it is not by accident. He wanted to wish her a Happy V-Day in person and give her a card. Unfortunately he hands her Kathryn’s “I Woof You” card, which makes MM question what they are doing. No matter how difficult it is, David promises they will find a way to make it work because their love is true. Hopefully, that will happen sooner than later.
As the romance dims down, we get back to the case at hand. Emma arrests Mr. Gold and the next day Regina pays him a visit. She gives Emma half an hour with Henry and finally has a chance to talk to Mr. Gold. She promises to give back what was stolen if he answers one question – what is his real name- the one from before this world. She taunts him with the chipped tea cup and he confesses, “My name is Rumpelstiltskin.” She hands him the cup and he coyly quips, “Thank you, your majesty.” Now we know for sure, Regina and Gold have equal knowledge of their fairytale past.
Like every episode, this one leaves us wanting more as Regina enters a secure section of the hospital and pays a visit to Belle’s Storybrooke counterpart. Needless to say, we have not seen the last of Belle; we do not know when or how she will return, but we will certainly see Emilie de Ravin again on ‘Once Upon A Time.’
- Robert Carlyle is hilarious; hopefully we will get to see more of Rumpy’s snarky sense of humor.
- De Ravin gave such a compelling performance as Belle. You clearly saw how she grew to love him and how heartbroken she was by his rejection.
- Gaston’s appearance was much smaller than expected, Brocklebank’s role could have used a little more than what it was given.
- Love the references to the Disney cartoon including Chip and the rose.
- Rumple has officially said his name once, so what happens if he says it twice more?
What did you think of “Skin Deep”? Did “Once” do this tale justice? Were you disappointed by it at all? Share your thoughts below!