1. Gold showed true courage in his quest to save Belle and finally became a hero before he pulled Excalibur from the stone. He also made it clear to the Dark Swan that he intends to bring her down. What is next for the former Dark One?
Ashley: I'm eager to see the true man Rumple could have been without his father's or the darkness's influence. Rumple has the advantage; he knows how a Dark One thinks. I wonder if he won't be tested and tempted with the potential to possess magic again.
Laurie: I was very impressed (as usual) with Robert Carlyle’s acting in this episode. He got the opportunity to play a lot of dimensions of Rumple, all in one episode. I think we are going to see Rumple move forward with strength and commitment to doing what is right (finally) and to help everyone achieve more happy endings, including Emma. He knows, as no one else can, that the only way to help Emma is to bring her down. Rumple has unique perspective here and I am very interested in how that is going to come about. By no means is he the only person who wants to help Emma, so he will have to work alongside the Charmings, Regina, Hook, Robin and the rest. Definitely major character development for the former Dark One!
Sam: Can a Hero seek revenge? It's one thing for a Hero to stand up and protect those he loves and the "community". But, it feels like it may be easy for Rumple to slide into the realm of revenge while trying to stop Emma.
Joanne: I'm hoping that Gold has learned from his past mistakes and become a team player. With his experience, Belle's book smarts, and the other combined talents of the heroes, all should come up with a way to defeat or stop Emma.
2. Belle once again showed equal bravery in the flashback story with Merida, illustrating that the bookworm has teeth. She also teamed up with her husband for the first time in forever, and they worked together to save themselves. What did you think of this development and what do you hope will happen with Rumbelle in the future?
Laurie: Can we just pause a moment and relish in the unbridled Rumbelle that was in this episode? It was so incredible how the writers achieved this without forcing Belle to put aside her individuality and spirit in order to do what Rumple wanted. I loved seeing Emilie de Ravin take on this challenge. Belle was not going to give up on Rumple, nor was she going to let him dictate the terms for their being together (by leaving town). I loved the view of her walking away from him down the road. Very symbolic of her strength of character and her growth as a woman. When he told her “You saved me,” my heart just exploded with joy. Exactly, Rumple. I also loved her backstory with Merida and the glimpse into her life with her family. She was not raised or encouraged to be strong or brave; that was an innate part of her which she had to believe in all by herself for awhile, until she could finally begin to demonstrate it when she chose to go with Rumple.
Joanne: I liked seeing Belle in action. So often, she has been a passive character. Now she is showing some gumption. I liked that she stood up to the Charmings when it became apparent that they weren't interested in helping Gold. It was great to have Gold acknowledge that he should have listened to her in the past and not argue with her. I'm hoping good developments are in store for Rumbelle, and a reconciliation.
Sam: It was great to see this spunky Belle back again, even if she did have to get kidnapped AGAIN! I liked that Belle and Rumple did not "kiss and make-up" right away in the midst of all the mayhem. I hope that they have time for Belle to really decide what she wants and let her and Rumple have some time to bring their relationship back together.
Ashley: I liked seeing Belle saving Rumple's butt, as well as Belle and Merida working together. The latter pair is a lot of fun to watch and it's nice to see the former have a few moments to themselves where Rumple isn't sneaking around or Belle isn't banishing him from town.
3. Merlin's fate has yet to be revealed, but it seems that Emma did something to him. However, nothing is as it seems this season, and it's unclear what has happened. What do you think has become of the Sorcerer?
Laurie: I think Emma definitely did something to him, and it probably had to do with her casting the curse in Camelot to return everyone to Storybrooke. However, the usual pattern of casting curses involves taking the heart of the person you love the most. So I don’t think Merlin was destroyed, but somehow he was involved in the curse in a way that was unexpected. Emma is NEW to this Dark One business and she’s trying to figure things out on her own. It seems that a large part of being the Dark One involves mistrusting others. Rumple mistrusted Bae when he wanted to provide a way out for both of them, and Emma is mistrusting basically everyone who tries to help her. She is probably in denial about the strength of the darkness within her. I don’t think we’ve seen enough of Merlin to make any sort of judgment about what happened.
Sam: It's true there is so much that isn't what it seems this season. I continue to wonder why Emma had to wipe everyone's memories. All I expect is some craziness happened with Merlin. I am holding out hope that Emma went this Dark as a way to really save everyone in the end, which is what she did at the end of last season when she took the Dagger.
Joanne: He's chillin' in his mansion? I think Emma has him captive somewhere or she ripped his heart out.
Ashley: I don't even know. He could have faked the message, Emma could have destroyed him because he's a baddie, or he could be hiding in plain sight. All I know is that Merlin is shady like the tree he used to be, so for me anything is possible with this one.
4. Merida is proving herself to be an arse-kicking member of the Storybrooke Squad, in both the present-day and flashback storylines. What do you think of the Brave One's progression from deposed leader to Queen of DunBroch?
Sam: I'm enjoying Merida and her interaction with the rest of Storybrooke, but I really care more about our regular characters and what happens to them.
Joanne: I really like Merida and her storyline. Amy Manson's characterization is fantastic. I'm glad that her storyline is not overpowering the core storyline of Dark Swan.
Ashley: I can't believe how much I'm enjoying Merida. I was resistant and frankly unimpressed when it was revealed at SDCC, but the character has grown on me so much in how she is acted and written. Just give her some new clothes. I get that her dress is iconic, but imagine how much arse she could kick in a pair of blue jeans!
Laurie: I thought that scene was incredible. I guessed what was going to happen, but it was still so visually thrilling when it finally took place on screen. I don’t really think it was much of a progression for her, because she believed in herself and believed she could rule, and that was her destiny. I think her character has been consistent throughout the time we have seen her. However, the path she took to make that a reality was great to watch, especially the interactions with Belle along the way.
5. Favorite Moments:
Joanne: Anything with Robert Carlyle. I particularly enjoyed when Gold told Belle that if he had it to do all over again, he would make sure that he was the man she deserved. Awwwwww!
Ashley: Zelena and Emma's little tete-a-tete. I loved every moment of it and it was the highlight of the episode for me. I enjoy how Zelena can go from humor to horror in a few beats.
Laurie: All the Rumbelle. Every moment was special to me. But I will have to say Rumple’s face in the scene where he says “I would change everything for you.”
Sam: I did enjoy watching Emma bribe Zelena with onion rings.
6. Favorite Quotes:
Ashley: "Merlin's voicemail" made me laugh out loud mostly because I muttered the same thing as Regina did right before her. Also the rather cruel quip the Dark Swan said to Belle about sweeping up Rumple's ashes because, after all, she used to be his maid.
Laurie: “Actually I think you saved me."~Rumple
Sam: "He's not my sweetheart!" This statement from Belle can be read two ways. Does she mean he's more or less than her sweetheart?
Joanne: "This town is full of heroes and they haven't stopped me yet."~ Emma. "They're not me." ~Gold:
7. Anything Else?
Ashley: While the episode was not my favorite, I feel like this was an amazing episode for Rumplestiltskin.
Laurie: Full of love and hope for this season. I was pretty discouraged after 4B and I love the new direction with more time spent with the core cast (so far) this year. Obviously not everyone is going to get “special moments” in every episode, but I like the way the time has been allotted. I’m hoping to see more Regina as we move forward - she has gotten some great lines this season, but it seems that they are saving the plot line of Regina-Robin-Zelena for another time. There’s so much going on right now (as usual) and it’s just impossible to get to everything all at once.
Sam: Total belly laugh when Belle was kidnapped once again! She must be a very forgiving person.
Joanne: I loved the effects of Merida turning into a bear and knocking Gold for a loop. The CGI bear was scary to me. I enjoyed that Gold has finally acknowledged what Belle really means to him. I'm excited to see how different Hero Rumple can be, and I hope that he has finally learned to face his fears rather than run from them.