"Lacey" was so weird, even for Once Upon a Time, which is arguably the weirdest TV show any network has every risked its time on, and I say that as the highest of compliments. It was just a kooky, questionable, off-beat episode that reaffirmed OUAT’s dedication to its fans, in the sense that any first-time viewer would have collapsed from an aneurysm three minutes in. It also showed us that OUAT has picked up a trick from Revenge: cooking up intriguing promo footage that is later revealed to be moments from dream sequences. (Prayer circle that Regina-with-electrodes is just a bad nightmare.)
ABC's publicity department put out those scenes of Henry’s birthday party like it was the centerpiece of the episode, because they know how to eff with us and they love to. It's a real shame that was only a dream, because it gave me so many things I’d been craving: all the Charmings and Golds in one room, blue frosting, a life-size porcelain figure of a confused child, and Henry getting smashed to itty, bitty pieces. If you didn’t cheer when Mr. Gold smashed figurine Henry, then I don’t know what show you’re watching. It was cathartic.
But phew! It was just Gold dreaming, as we all do, of killing a child actor. Gold was alarmed that he was returning to his dark side, and there was only one person to snap him out of all that: a highly drugged amnesiac who thought he was dead.
I’m glad he finally cleared things up with Belle that he hadn’t died. She looked sort of relieved? Maybe it was the lithium talking, but Belle seemed to have a positive feeling about this relative stranger who was completely obsessed with her, so she was cool with him checking her out of the hospital and taking her to presumably a house, but also maybe, like, a drainage ditch in the woods.
However, Regina, because she is the best character ever, decided to implant a fake memory of being a white-wine-guzzling bar skank into Belle’s head, turning her into Lacey, a woman who wears SLEEVELESS DRESSES like a total hoyden and spends TIME IN BARS like a raving addict. (For a primetime family channel, Lacey was racy! Ya dig?!)
Instead of getting down on his knees and thanking the Lord for the spice injected into his woman’s style, Gold had the nerve to complain to Regina, who, apparently, is still Mayor?
The people of Storybrooke must've been like, “Look, we know you wiped all our memories and banished us to an alternate universe where we lived suspended in a period of existential numbness that slowly crushed our souls. But also, you run a well-organized town with some great yearly events and reasonable tax rates. Please continue.”
Still, it was dead wrong for Regina to zzzzzzzzzzz. Hahaha, JK, Regina can do no wrong. I don’t care if Regina breaks into Mr. Gold’s house, pours bleach on his jeans, and then burns his car to ashes. I’m Team Regina, period, if only because she reliably has the sassiest snaps in Storybrooke and is apparently the only person with anything resembling a sense of humor. No wonder she got so antsy in Fairy Tale Land. People couldn’t keep up!
It was also nice to finally see the bench scene between Emma and Regina, although the show broke hearts all over Tumblr by refusing to frame them in a two-shot. Although they were bantering like a long-term couple, the way Regina was all, “I know you’re hiding something from me… that’s not it. You’re keeping a secret from me,” and Emma called her out for constantly scheming against everyone, which was sort of a rose-colored-glasses way to describe how Regina actively tries to destroy people’s lives. It was sort of a Sam-and-Diane moment—they ‘hate’ each other so much they know each other better than anyone else. As woefully short of both actresses in one frame as the bench scene was, it was nice they finally touched base after 12 episodes or so apart.
Although I think Regina should have raked Emma over hot coals a little more for her taste in guys. The character Bae is sort of the worst, something that was evident immediately from his taste in accessories. Although Emma is standing in a glass house on that one, anyway. WTF was this hat?
Like, a cloche hat? And Snow had a MATCHING one?! They were both Snow’s, weren’t they? Snow was like, “You’re going to catch cold without a hat. It’s slightly drizzling out. Let’s keep those extensions fresh.” And then forced that hat on Emma, right? Like, in what world would Emma buy something like this?
Snow and Charming brought Emma out to a field of some seriously tiny little beanstalks. I was sort of imagining they would climb the stalks into the sky, but much more reasonably, they intend to just chuck the beans into the sea (sucks to be you, fishing ships in the Maine area) or maybe top hats or whatever (sucks to be you, Abraham Lincoln impersonators in the Maine area). I figured that out immediately, but 15 minutes into a conversation, after actually handling the beans, it FINALLY occurred to Emma that WAIT… wait a minute… you want to go HOME?! Hold on… hold on… these magic beans are to go BACK?!!?" Sigh, yes, Emma, yes, thank you for needing a team of people to explain to you a concept Regina sussed out in thirty seconds by tracking a car back to a cloaked field of invisible beanstalks.
Like… Team Cobra’s
next mission should be analyzing that white paint on the inside of Snow’s
exposed-brick apartment and determining whether it's made up of pure lead.
Fashion critiques aside, the point of last night’s episode was to show Mr. Gold’s only real reason to stay good (a.k.a., not kill Henry) was to win back the good opinion of Belle (a point re-enforced by a trip back to Belle’s early days of captivity, when she was still putting on a damn ballgown and hot-curling her updo to scrub floors.)
Belle talked Rumplestiltskin out of skinning Robin Hood alive, a pretty horrible thing to insinuate on a family show, and even more disturbing since he was putting on an apron to do the butchering himself when the episode featured him cutting the tongue out of a man’s throat twice by magic. So the fact that he was all into skinning some guy the old-fashioned way was sort of gross.
And he gave Belle a pillow to muffle her sobs because they were DISTURBING HIS SPINNING. And he SANK her halfway in the ground so she’d watch Robin Hood be killed without interfering. This whole relationship is Stockholm Syndrome, I’m sorry. I appreciate that Belle is a loving person who saw the good in him, but perhaps she’d also see good in a person who is decent and caring 365 days a year, without brief periods of being a man-skinning psychopath?
Anyway, thanks to Regina’s dose of female empowerment tinged with sadomasochism, now Belle is so altered that she gets turned on by seeing a guy get brutally beaten in an alleyway—the same guy who had his tongue down her throat moments before, right next to the dumpsters. (I’m sorry but making out with a guy while on a date with a different one, by the dumpsters, is my favorite thing a Disney Princess has ever done.) Also she NO LONGER LIKES BURGERS!!!! Sinister.
Initially I was a little concerned that Lacey was going to be vaguely trampy and trashy and that would be the heartbreak for Mr. Gold, but it was actually quite sincerely sinister to watch Lacey do an “O” face and be really into seeing some guy get whacked repeatedly with a cane. Mr. Gold’s goal is to get Belle to fall in love with him, and her new turn-on is cruelty and violence. That’s a pretty edgy dynamic to bring into the show, and I appreciate the potential for good story it could create. Of course, with that said, how many times have we seen potential storylines ignored or left to float into space? Are Mulan and Aurora still alive? No one knows.
Speaking of good storylines, here’s a bad one: magic-chasing Ethan Embry and Tamara were really patting themselves on the back for a package they were bringing into Storybrooke, and was it “stable,” and a bunch of other cheap dialogue tricks to avoid using a male pronoun. But no, they didn’t have a magic-sucking MacGuffin: With only a few episodes left, it seems these real-world baddies’ only job in this season’s arc is to be a Hook delivery service, which I don’t mind. Get Hook into this sauce! Let’s throw some beans in the sea and get on a ship, we all know it’s coming. I’m on board!
… Lacey: like or dislike, and will we see her next episode, or will they bury her in their Good Character Graveyard beside Aurora, Mulan, Graham and Adult August?
… Did you smile when Mr. Gold killed Henry on his birthday in the cold open?
… Robin Hood: cheap promo gimmick or fun reference?
… What will Regina do to those damn beans?
… How in any way shape or form could David “Player” Charming help anyone, let alone help someone pick up chicks?!