Once Upon a Time "The Outsider" Review: For Whom the Belle Tolls

Once Upon a Time S02E11: "The Outsider"

Once Upon a Time razzled and dazzled me this week because things HAPPENED. So many things happened! Regina’s name was cleared when Archie came back from the dead (good job escaping Cora, I suspect she was busy starching her parasol, and hot-rolling her updo; her look seems to require a LOT of maintenance), Hook got his pleather-clad butt handed to him, and Belle got SHOT (I think) before a car ran straight into her (busy day). But first, can we say hello to the two new actors? Right Bosom and Left Bosom, that is!

YOWZA! If you want to go on a serious hike but think you might have to do a little pros-tah-tution during your adventure, go with this getup. Belle was heaving around FTL dressed like Lara Croft, and weirdly the townspeople were not having it, with two guys in floppy hats giving her a swirly and Mulan tripping her in the forest. And damn if Mulan and Belle didn’t have the most undeniable sexual chemistry of any two characters on this show—seriously, let the Tumblring begin! Sorry, #Bed fans, but I might have to pull up my anchor and set sail on a #Bulan ship because unbearable sensual tension ahoy!

In our real world, Mary Margaret pointed out that Henry raising new dog Pongo on the bed—the one that she and her recently reunited husband would later make passionate love on—was kind of gnarly. She suggested they find a house with several bedrooms, bedrooms with walls and doors around the beds and “privacy” as it is sometimes called, so that she wouldn’t wake to the sound of Emma dismantling a toaster again or singing “Freebird” at the top of her lungs, as Emma is wont. Emma was immediately against the idea, because obviously they could all just live in the car and shower under gutter pipes after it rains.

Charming was against the idea of putting down roots/mortgaging a colonial-style bungalow in this world because Fairy Tale Land still exists, and it is their home dammit. “I don’t want to die here,” he said bitterly from the cozy diner of his picturesque Maine town. No, I like this conflict a lot because it opens up the coming seasons in a cool way, and why go vs. why stay is sort of a thought-provoking debate, at least relative to the usual heavy-handed “can people change?” moral question/foregone conclusion this show continues to flog like a dead horse.

Meanwhile, Belle was chased about by Hook, which was a feint so he could go in and steal Bae’s precious potato sack or whatever from Rumple, and then he threatened Belle with a gun so tiny it was probably made by Mattel, and then Rumple (who weighs 90 pounds soaking wet and is probably 20 years Hook’s senior) beat Hook like a piñata on the deck of Hook's own ship—the ultimate insult to a pirate—until Belle begged him not to. It did make me laugh out loud when Hook taunted Rumple again and Rumple dove on top of him after sighing, “He HAS to die, Belle!” But Belle believes in the good in him, despite learning that he had killed the mother of his child after she cuckolded him.

It’s another one of those ugly facts OUAT dances around like a pole at a go-go club. Rumple killed his own wife after she left him for another man—which, by civilized standards, she should have been within her rights as a human being to do. He killed her to punish her and spite her new partner, and that is unforgivably wicked. WE forgive him because we know this is all make believe and hey, Robert Carlyle. But Belle is basically that one crazy chick who married the Menendez brother, you know?

When the Beastliness was a metaphor for physical deformity, Belle’s love was noble and pure. When the Beastliness becomes a metaphor for abuse and cruelty, Belle’s love becomes delusional and unhealthy. It happens in real life all the time, and the belief OUAT keeps holding up as the ultimate message here, that people can change, is one that leaves actual bodies in its wake here in the real world. I don’t know how the show can endorse that message with a clean conscience; it’s dangerous to encourage people to think there’s good in everyone, because sometimes there’s not. There are sadistic predators or there are weird relationship dynamics that couples with histories of abusive parents can fall into and before you know it Rihanna is dating Chris Brown again and we all look the other way. Just saying.

And sure enough, by continually involving herself with a villain, Belle managed to get shot and left to die an amnesiac. Grim!

In happier times, Belle faced off against a horrifying beast made of pure CGI in FT China. She doused him in water and magic and he became Aurora’s Prince, a man we knew would one day have his soul literally sucked out of his face by a wraith. Sucks to be you, Aurora’s Prince!

As snarky as I’m being here, I deeply appreciated how fast and furious the developments happened in this episode. Archie is back, Belle is in peril, a new conflict has literally careened into town. It’s all gotten a little nutsy and campy, but that doesn’t bother me. Hell, I encourage it. Maybe a couple episodes down the road Emma, Snow, Regina, Cora, and Henry can all have a sit-down with Dr. Phil. Let’s let the freak flags fly, OUAT.


1. What’s the significance of the car crashing into town?

2. Why does Smee continue to wear that super red cap?

3. Did Cora plan for Archie to escape?

4. Belle: How long will she be an amnesiac?

5. What would Dr. Phil’s advice be to the Charmings?

6. Is it irresponsible to tell people that someone who hurt or killed their first partner can be won over by a truer love?

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