There are reasons that I have stayed an ardent fan of Once Upon a Time. At times, these reasons can be easy to forget: a bad greenscreen, a CGI-ed broom angrily sauntering across the screen, the bad fan fiction that was the entire Frozen subplot. They can blind even the most devoted followers and leave you feeling duped. Tonight’s winter finale (side note: Can we just admit that we are shortening TV seasons? Can we just call it that?) removed the cursed mirror from our own eyes (lol, see what I did there?) and reminded us of why the show earned our love and trust to begin with when our journey with these characters first began.
Proving her usefulness, Anna revealed (as she leapt through time and space back home to get her nuptial swag on) that Gold had known about her and her sister from the beginning. This was enough to send Emma and her familia running to stop Gold and the plot he was, doubtlessly, brewing. It was reassuring to see Emma saving Killian; I am in staunch support of Emma saving any and every dude that there is. But the bigger surprise (and I am not talking about the size of Mary Margaret’s coat) of the episode was Belle. I know. I’m scared too. These are strange days indeed when the short-skirted book-loving ditz has been made into a hero.
Can we acknowledge that bitch totally brought it this week? I can’t even! You know who I thought was a lost cause? Belle. Using the parlance of AA, she’s a classic enabler. She’s refused to leave the unrepentant Gold time and time again even though she knows better. But this week, being faced with proof that not even she can keep his lust for life power (haaaa Trainspotting joke) at bay, Belle was all “I CHOOSE ME, GIRL POWER, LET IT GO, ETC” and, using the REAL dagger, banished Gold from Storybrooke. I could harp on the fact that we saw none of this coming from Belle, but I’ll be frank, I liked it too much to really complain out the outcome and its lack of slow boil.
Gold’s banishment and subsequent villain-team-building including Maleficent, Ursula, and…inexplicably, Cruella DeVille, might have seemed lame and rote if it weren’t for the splendid and juicy little scene he shared with Regina in the car prior to leaving town forever. Nobody revels in their wickedness quite like Robert Carlyle, and his earnest belief that even villains can get their happy endings without being repentant presented viewers with his fish-white hubris so perfectly, that Gold’s ensuing insistence that he get his home back feels of high stakes importance. Watch out Belle — you in danger, girl!