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Once Upon a Time Episode 1-12: Skin Deep

I love Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time (along with Monster’s, Inc. and Up). So I’ve been looking forward to seeing how Once Upon a Time would tackle the familiar tale ever since I learned that that had cast Lost‘s Emilie de Ravin in the part. I was not disappointed.

Not only that, but this episode featured the return of another couple characters and a huge revelation I had suspected all along. Plus psych‘s Sage Brocklebank (recurring character Buzz McNab over there) also guest starred as Gaston.

While this episode felt jammed packed, I also felt it was fairly simple in some regards. And I think the story is best told as they told it – alternating between Storybrooke and Fairy Tale.

Before we get to the main story, let’s cover the sub-plot. Valentine’s Day is approaching, and Ruby, Mary Margaret, and Ashleigh decide to have a girl’s night. Who is Ashleigh, you might ask? Well, if you dig back to one of the early episodes, she’s Cinderella. She’s given birth to her baby and is living with Sean (her prince charming in Fairy Tale), but they aren’t married yet. The three women go out drinking, and while Ruby is trying to find a guy, but the other two are moping over their respective men. Finally, Sean surprises Ashleigh and proposes. They go off together, and Mary Margaret leaves, at which point she runs into David. He gives her a Valentine’s card, only it’s the one he intended for his wife. Upset, Mary Margaret tells him their relationship is too hard and walks off.

Our main story begins in Fairy Tale in fact as a kingdom tensely waits for the person they hope will help them win the war. When he arrives, we learn it is Rumplestiltskin. He is asked to defeat their enemies, the Ogres, and he agrees – for a price. He wants Belle to come be the caretaker for his estate. Her father, Maurice, and fiancee, Gaston, refuse, but Belle agrees. As we learn later, she feels this is a chance for her to show she can be brave and go out and see the world. Rumplestiltskin accepts, and the two leave for his estate.

Before we go any further, I have to comment on how much I love the way the crew behind this show mirrors the Disney versions of movies. While they completely change the stories around, the character names are straight out of the movie, and Belle’s two costumes were both directly from there as well. Yes, I know this is an ABC studios production, which is owned by Disney. But those little nods are so much fun for this Disnerd.

Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, Mr. Gold is repossessing a delivery truck, Mr. French’s delivery truck. (That would be Maurice, Belle’s father.) Seems Mr. French has a debt to Mr. Gold and is late paying it. He pleads for more time, especially since he has lots of Valentine’s flowers to deliver, but Mr. Gold is heartless.

A little later, Emma gets a police call. Mr. Gold has been robbed. He knows what’s been taken and even knows that Mr. French is behind it. Emma promises to get him and get Mr. Gold’s stuff back, but Mr. Gold threatens to head out on his own for vengeance.

Sure enough, Emma is true to her word and finds the stuff. She doesn’t have Mr. French in custody yet, however. But when Mr. Gold sees the items that Emma has recovered, he says that not everything is there and goes off on his own.

Back in Fairy Tale, Belle starts her first day by serving tea to Rumplestiltskin. While he is outlining her duties, he makes a joke about skinning children, which startles and upsets her so much she drops the tea cup, resulting in a chip. She apologizes all over herself, but he makes little of it, saying, “It’s just a cup.”

Slowly, the two begin to fall in love. Gaston shows up at one point, but Rumplestiltskin quickly turns him into a rose without Belle even finding out. They did a good job of making it seem real that Belle was actually falling for her version of the Beast, and I could see he was falling for her, too.

Finally, Rumplestiltskin sends Belle into the village to get him more straw to turn into gold, and tells her to only come back if she feels like it. She later admits she had no intention of returning, but she runs into Regina while on the path into town. Regina quickly figures out that Belle loves her “master,” (something tells me she knew who Belle was all along) and tells Belle that a kiss will break the spell that Rumplestiltskin is under.

So Belle goes back to the estate with the straw. Rumplestiltskin is surprised to see her. They talk for a minute, and then she leans in for a kiss. It is obviously returned until he feels the changes beginning to take effect. He quickly pulls away, and when Belle tells him what happened on the road, he gets angry and locks her in the dungeon. He is so upset by what has happened that he starts smashing stuff until he comes to that chipped cup. Then he stops and orders Belle out of his estate forever. She tells him that he is afraid of hoping that someone, anyone, could ever love him. When he doesn’t respond, she leaves.

Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, Mr. Gold has found Mr. French and taken him to a remote cabin. Mr. Gold threatens him, telling him to reveal where “it” is and who told him to take “it.” When Mr. French starts to make excuses for not paying his bill, Mr. Gold starts beating him with his cane, demanding to know “What did you do to her?”

That’s when Emma steps in. Mr. French is off to the hospital while Emma arrests Mr. Gold.

Our final scene in Fairy Tale finds Regina showing up at Rumplestiltskin’s estate wanting to make a deal about “that mermaid.” He is obviously mourning the loss of Belle, although he accuses Regina of trying to use Belle to get the upper hand in their relationship. Regina fills him in on Belle’s fate. With Gaston missing and having lived with Rumplestiltskin, her father locked her up in a tower and beat her until she killed herself. A broken Rumplestiltskin orders Regina out, puts the chipped cup on display, and breaks down crying.

Which brings us to the big revelations in Storybrooke. Regina arrives at the jail and tells Emma she can have 30 minutes with Henry right then. Emma’s reluctant to leave Regina with the prisoner, but she agrees.

Then Regina offers Mr. Gold a deal – tell her what she wants to know in exchange for what he wants most. Mr. Gold agrees, and Regina asks him who he really is. While he answers Mr. Gold at first, she eventually gets him to confess that he is Rumplestiltskin.

And I’m sure you hear me shout, “I knew it!” at that point. I’ve suspected all along that he also knew who he really was and about the spell. Just little things he said made me think that he hadn’t forgotten, which makes since because it’s been strongly hinted that he created the spell that Regina cast or at least knows a lot about it. (I’m a bit fuzzy on those details at the moment.)

Anyway, Regina gives Mr. Gold the chipped cup as promised. Mr. Gold and Regina basically threaten each other before she walks out. Mr. Gold even claims to have the power in town despite his current position.

And in the final scene, Regina walks into a locked wing of the hospital. She greets a nurse, who says that “No one has come to see her.” As Regina walks down the hall, you know what is coming. Sure enough, there sits Belle locked up in a cell.

Okay, so maybe there was more to this episode than I first thought. I certainly know I was glued to my seat the entire time I was watching. I loved seeing Ashleigh and Sean again. I hope they find ways to bring them back a bit more. Maybe they can even use Sean to develop David’s character. He’s the character I feel is most lacking at the moment.

As with most Fairy Tale stories here, this one is filled with tragedy, but I still loved it. The performances from Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin and Emilie de Ravin were wonderful. So much subtlety, which is just what their scenes called for. I can’t wait to see where they go with this part of Mr. Gold’s character. I feel he’s human in a way that Regina isn’t. Not that I like him, but he’s a more rounded villain.

And what is it with the villains on this show always having the best scenes? While I love all the cast, any time Robert Carlyle or Lana Parrilla are on screen, the tension rises and everyone rises to their level. That scene between the two of them in the jail was amazing.

We’ve got another new episode next week, and I already can’t wait to watch it. What did you think of this one?

By the way, Target has an exclusive DVD release of the first 5 episodes of the show, so if you need to catch up or want to re-watch them, that’s the perfect way to do it.