Last night’s fantastic episode kept fans on the edge of their seats. Once again, we learn that appearances can be deceiving. The episode title, “The Outsider,” suggests that Ethan Embry’s “Mysterious Stranger” would make his debut this week. He does, sort of, at the very last second when he crashes over the Storybrooke borderline (which we predicted would be the case). So then, what was the primary focus of “The Outsider”? Hook’s vengeance, Rumple’s quest for Baelfire, and Belle’s unyielding and fearless faith in the man she loves.
Fairytale Land: “When you find something worth fighting for, you never give up.”
Sunday’s fairytale flashback begins with a call-back to season one’s “Dreamy,” in which a pre-scorned “Grumpy” encourages Belle to join a hunting party that will soon set off on a search for a fearsome fire-breathing beast called Yaoguai. Although Belle is hesitant at first, she decides that Dreamy is right and it may be time for an adventure. As a parting gift, Dreamy gives Belle a little pouch of fairy dust. Belle has seen what dark magic does, so she doesn’t want it, but he explains that good magic works differently and she may need it on her journey.
Moments later we see an eager-to-please Belle trying to fit in with the uninviting boy’s club. She sits on the back of their wagon and closely reads the clues in her book on the murderous Yaguai. Once she informs them of the beast’s resting place, they jerk the wagon hard enough to bump Belle off the back and they ride away, leaving her in their dusty wake. Fear not, clever Belle gave them the wrong information and she heads into the woods to track the Yaoguai all by herself.
Belle tentatively approaches the dragon-lion’s cage. As she inches closer, she steps on a twig and the sound of it snapping wakes the creature. As the fiery beast charges towards her, Mulan appears in the distance and scares it away with her soaring arrows. After Mulan makes sure Belle is unharmed, she chastises the pretty bookworm for interfering with her hunt. Mulan has been tracking the Yaoguai for a long time and Belle has delayed her efforts. After going their separate ways, Mulan stumbles upon Belle in small village.
The warrior princess saves her yet again when she stops the misinformed hunting party from dropping Belle into the well. An injured Mulan explains that she has gotten used to proving herself to men. She has overcome many obstacles in her struggle to become a skilled warrior and it has all been worth it because there is always something worth fighting for. Given her weak condition, Mulan reconsiders Belle’s assets. She realizes that Belle is a gifted tracker and suggests they team-up: Belle can track the beast and Mulan will kill it.
During their search, Mulan explains that the Yaoguai has been destroying villages in her kingdom, so she must annihilate the heartless predator. However, Belle believes there might be more to the beast, especially when she notices the fiery pattern it has created in the newest village that has been attacked. Mulan is too hurt to fight, so Belle comes up with a smart plan to tame the Yaoguai and assess its threat level.
Belle captures the Yaoguai’s attention and lures it into the village. She uses her sword to cut open the water tower, quenching the beast’s fiery mane. The Yaoguai helplessly lies in pool of water and begins writing a message is the damp soil. It writes, “Save me” and looks at Belle with pleading eyes. Belle sprinkles Dreamy’s fairy dust on the Yaoguai and, in a shocking twist, the creature transforms into Prince Phillip.
Prince Phillip thanks Belle for breaking the curse. Maleficent turned Prince Phillip into the Yaoguai and banished him to Mulan’s kingdom. The poor prince tried to warn the villagers, but nobody could understand him. He asks how he can return the favor and Belle enlists his help in taking Mulan back home. This leads to Prince Phillip and Mulan’s official meeting and it explains why she has felt so indebted to him (it’s probably part of the reason why she fell in love with him too.) With Mulan safe in Prince Phillip’s hands, a newly empowered Belle figures that if she could cure Phil of his curse, then she should be able to help her beloved Rumpy as well.
As Belle sets off to rescue her misguided golden guy, she is immediately stopped by the Evil Queen. Regina scoffs at Belle’s whimsical plan, claiming that a man like Rumple can never change. However, Belle believes that he is worth fighting for and she will never give up on him. With that declaration of undying love, Regina locks Belle up in cage-wagon and informs the young beauty of her new place of residence, trapped in the castle tower.
Storybrooke: “He has to die, Belle.”
Now for the mind-blowing portion of last night’s amazing episode…right off the bat, ‘Once Upon A Time’ opens with an unsuspecting Smee about to be shoved across the Storybrooke borderline by Rumple. (Who guessed Smee was going to be Rumple’s guineas pig? Bonus points for you clever Oncers.) Rumpy drops a bit of his newly concocted potion on Smee’s red beanie, an item he holds dear to his heart because his granny knit it for him (aww, so sweet.) Thankfully, the test works and Smee remembers everything. Rumple releases Smee, clarifying that he is lucky to still be alive and warning him not to test the Rump’s generosity.
Later in Gold’s shop, Rumple shares the exciting news with Belle. If the potion is put on the object you treasure the most and you keep it on you when you cross over the line, then your memory will be protected by the spell. So, what is Rumple’s most valuable possession? Baelfire’s cloak, the only thing he has left of his dear son. An ecstatic Belle is anxious to join Rumple on his quest, but, sadly, he only has enough potion for one person. Belle understands and only wants what is best for Rumple and Bae. She heads back to library and allows Rumple to prepare for his journey into the new world.
Meanwhile on Hook’s ship, the cavalier captain threateningly questions Dr. Hopper about Rumple’s weaknesses and eventually learns that Belle is the key. When Belle enters the library, she discovers an unwelcome visitor from her past and finds Hook lingering in the shadows. Having learned in the flashback that Belle is no pushover, we see her valiantly fight off Hook. With no options left, she locks herself in the elevator and calls Rumple. We quickly realize that even in a land with magic, you still can’t get decent cell-phone reception (Hey, Rumple! Can you hear me now?!) We also hold our breath, hoping that Belle won’t be forced to travel down into the dragon’s lair. We finally relax for a moment when Rumpy comes to her rescue.
As they walk back to Mr. Gold’s shop, Belle asks why Hook wants revenge and pleads for Rumple to be honest. He confesses their history, to an extent, conveniently leaving out the part about killing his unfaithful wife. When they reach his shop, they discover that Hook has stolen Bae’s cloak and Belle blames herself for putting Rumple in this position. She wants to help him get it back, but Rumple begs her to stay safe. He gives her a gun and asks her to stay barricaded in the library while he takes care of Hook.
Rumple asks Smee for Hook’s whereabouts, but the guilty guinea pig honestly has no clue. Hook met him on the rooftop across from Gold’s shop and he snuck in to get Bae’s cloak, he swears that is all he knows. Of course, Smee must pay for his crimes the old-fashioned way. Without hesitation, Rumple turns Smee into the rat that he is and walks away to seek his vengeance. Meanwhile, Belle puts her tracking skills to use in Storybrooke.
In the rumble of books left in Hook’s wake, Belle discovers a uniquely knotted bit of rope. She looks it up and sees that it is some kind of sailor’s knot. She realizes that the pirate came to Storybrooke on his ship and she heads to harbor. She stands on the docks and can’t see anything, until she takes a closer look. The next part just looked so cool, very well-done visuals. Belle looks up and spots a seagull perched on an invisible mast. With a conveniently located box of sand posted on the dock, Belle takes a handful of sand and sprinkles it around to reveal a set of stairs. She carefully climbs aboard the ship and finds her way to the cabin below.
As Belle looks around, she hears Dr. Hopper calling for help. While setting Archie free, she tells him about their predicament and asks him to quickly tell Rumple about the ship. After Hopper takes off, Belle sets down her gun and starts searching for Bae’s cloak. Suddenly, Hook appears and aims the gun at Belle’s head. She stays strong, claiming she is not afraid of him and demanding that he return the cloak. Hook wonders why Belle would love a man like Rumple and proceeds to tell her the whole story about how Milah died. Belle does no believe him and argues that there is still good in Rumple, unlike Hook. In another awesome moment, Belle rams an overhead pipe into Hook’s face, snatches the cloak from Hook’s hand and makes a run for it.
As Belle frantically tries to escape on the deck, Hook pops up out of the corner. After all, he knows the ship like the back of his…well, you know. As their struggle ensues, Rumple appears to save the day. He starts mercilessly bashing Hook’s face with his cane. After doing some significant damage, smearing his guy-liner and bloodying his beard, Belle implores Rumple not to kill heartless Hook. Naturally, Hook takes this as his cue.
In one of the best scenes ever on ‘Once,’ Hook taunts Rumple, just like Milah did years ago. Is he still a coward or will he finish the job he set out to do? Hook begs Rumple to take his heart, so that he can reunite with his beloved Milah in the afterlife. With that said, Rumpy turns to Belle and quips, “He has to die, Belle!” Absolutely genius delivery from Robert Carlyle, his brilliance has no bounds and that moment made this scene even more memorable. Despite his deepest desire, Rumple is trying to prove that he has changed, so he lets Hook live. Instead of death, Hook gets a severe warning to leave Storybrooke and never come back. Rumple and Belle walk away and turn their focus back to Bae.
During the chaos with Hook, the Charming family has been struggling with their own dilemmas. Young Henry has been deeply grieving over Dr. Hopper’s loss, even calling Archie’s office just to hear his voice on the answering machine. In order to cheer him up, Emma chats with Marco and they agree to give custody of Pongo to Henry, so that he can maintain a connection with his departed friend and confidant. The dwarves are also longing to get back something they have lost, their home.
When Grumpy suggests they return home to Fairytale Land, Emma and Snow are eager to keep out of the wasteland that was once so majestic. However, it seems that Charming sides with the dwarves. As Snow excitedly searches for a larger house to live in, David sights flaws with all of their options. The loving couple is at odds. Charming wants to go back and fight for their kingdom and Snow wants to start a new life in Storybrooke. We’ll just have to hang in there to see if they ever journey back to the war-torn Fairytale Land, but one thing is certain, there is a bit of trouble in paradise.
As the Charmings’ storyline concludes, a knock on their door sets everyone at ease…to an extent. Hopper has returned! He is alive and has some troubling news: Regina has been wrongly accused and there is a new nemesis in town. Tune in next week to see what happens when Regina and Cora reunite…now, back to the jaw-dropping final moments of “The Outsider.”
Rumple and Belle are at the Storybrooke borderline. Rumple dumps all of the potion on Bae’s cloak and Belle places it around his neck. He takes a step backwards over the line and we see the magic set in. Rumple still remembers Belle, along with everything else. He is now ready to begin his search for Bae and he is sorry Belle can’t join his adventure. Belle, carefully watching her step, tells Rumpy that she will be happily waiting for him when he returns with his son. At that moment, Hook surprisingly appears out of the woods and shockingly shoots Belle. The force of the bullet thrusts her over the borderline into Rumple’s arms. Hook celebrates his vengeful victory in vanquishing Belle’s memory and robbing Rumple of her love. Just like Milah’s death, Belle’s amnesia cannot be undone. Now Rumple can finally feel Hook’s pain.
As Hook gloats in the street, Rumple magically conjures a fire-ball to throw at him. Suddenly, a car screeches over the line. It side-swipes into Hook, knocking him unconscious and then crashes into the embankment. As the episode closes, a close-up on the license plate reveals that “the outsider” is from Pennsylvania.
What an amazing and epic episode! What did you think, Oncers? Were you shocked? What were your favorite moments? Were there any disappointments? Do you think Rumple should have killed Hook? Voice your opinions below!
- RumBelle and Hook: Robert Carlyle, Emilie de Ravin, and Colin O’Donoghue are flawless in this episode. Their scenes are a joy to watch. They feed off of each other perfectly and their joint chemistry shines during their high-stakes confrontations. It is the perfect blend of playful intensity. Hook and Rumple’s threats are so serious, but the execution comes off with a bit of jesting. You have to love their twisted, feud-filled, combative relationship with Belle at the center, trying to prevent matter from getting worse.
- The Outsider: After seeing this week’s sneak peeks, it was a safe bet that we weren’t really going to meet the stranger in this episode. It was more-so a fear of what would happen to Storybrookers if a stranger entered their magical town. Red, the dwarves and others all have a right to be worried. Next Sunday’s episode poses a big dilemma: how far are Storybrookers willing to go to keep their town a secret?
- Dr. Hopper: Archie was set-free sooner than expected. It is nice to see that ‘Once’ isn’t dragging everything out. Like Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis promised, things are moving along quickly and the stakes are frantically rising for the people of Storybrooke. Plus, it is heartbreaking to Henry mourn Hopper’s loss, so thank goodness he got his friend back sooner than later.
‘Once Upon A Time’ airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.