Once Upon A Time season 2 episode 11 review: The Outsider

Review Kylie Peters 14 Jan 2013 - 07:35

This week's Once Upon A Time is pacey, well-written and packed with satisfying action. Here's Kylie's review...

This review contains spoilers.

2.11 The Outsider

Reading saves the day! It’s a Belle-centric episode of OUaT and finally, finally she gets to stop playing hero-bait long enough to do a little butt-kicking of her own. 

This was a fabulous episode. The balance of action, character development, and plot movement kept it going at a brisk pace. If every episode of OUaT were like this, I could just write “ZOMG awesome” a few times every week and slash my review-writing time to nothing. 

Okay, so that’s an exaggeration. It was a little disappointing that there was no Bae this week, and the ending was sort of a buzz-kill after all that “I am Belle, hear me roar.” But I am willing to forgive all ills. The writing was clean and fresh, and it was such a relief that Belle finally showed some mettle. It never sat right that in a show full of badass women she was constantly getting locked in basements, put in mine carts and shoved over the town line, forced into servitude by creepy shiny men, and other such plot-convenient damsel-in-distress nonsense. 

The ever-popular Rumplestiltskin/Belle couple takes center stage as Hook comes for his revenge against Rumple. Hook dashes our hopes of seeing Bae this episode by stealing the enchanted shawl that will get Rumple safely over the town line. Belle uses the Power of Reading to figure out that Hook came in his ship, and she ignores Rumple’s order to stay in the library and goes to get it back. While there, she learns that it was Rumple who killed his wife, but is surprisingly forgiving about this. 

Regina makes only one brief appearance in this episode, but the theme of redemption thrives without her. Rumple relapses into his old violent ways when faced by Hook, and Belle must once again regale him with insistences that he is a good man. This speech always came off a little bit like an indicator of weakness in the past, but paired with Belle’s exploits this episode, it takes on a new meaning. Belle proves that she is strong, so her calls for mercy and redemption also some off as things of strength.  

OUaT has always offered female characters who are powerful not because they are masculinized, but because they demonstrate the strength in femininity. This episode is a good example of that, and it’s something other shows on the air would do well to imitate. 

The Enchanted Forest thread doesn’t do much for the plot, but it injects some extra excitement into the story and gives Belle more chances to show her moxie, so it’s engaging enough. Belle dons her best push-up bra and goes off to hunt a yaoguai, a Chinese demon. (If you’re an anime fan, you know them as yōkai.) She heads off to not-China and uses her skills reading not-Chinese to pwn some n00b adventurers and discover that the yaoguai is actually Phillip under a curse. (He also knows not-Chinese. Everyone is just full of hidden talents this week.) She takes him to Mulan and then conveniently skedaddles, condemning us to a future of horrible love triangles.  

In the end, Rumple makes it over the town line, but it looks like Hook has foiled us again in the search for Bae by shooting Belle over the line and making her lose her memories. This puts her back in a victim position, a disappointing end to Belle’s power stint.  On the bright side, it will probably make for good watching for the legions of Rumbelle fans, and maybe for everyone else, too. 

In other news, Archie returns home, proving to Emma and Henry that Regina did not kill him. Emma drops an ominous hint, thought, that it may be too late to keep Regina from returning to the dark side. Also, certain Storybrooke residents are ready to return to the Enchanted Forest, and the issue sends Snow and Charming into a (gasp) almost-fight. Marital troubles for the blissful couple? Inconceivable! 

Oh, and Hook got run over by a car. 

Next week, a guy from the dark realm of Pennsylvania wreaks havoc on the insulated lives of the people of Storybrooke; Cora and Regina reunite; Victor Frankenstein returns (ugh); and part of the episode is in black-and-white. I am concerned, very concerned. But that’s an adventure for next week. Until then, let’s bask in the glow of an episode that reminds us why we watch Once Upon a Time.

Read Kylie's review of the previous episode, The Cricket Game, here.

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