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ONCE UPON A TIME “Changelings” Recap

By on November 28, 2016

(ABC/Jack Rowand) EMILIE DE RAVIN

By Meredith Loftus

ONCE Brings the Mother of Fairytale Twists in “Changelings”

Time to update that family tree because it just got bigger! After a two-week break, Once Upon A Time returned with an emotional and revealing episode that shook up the dynamics of Storybrooke. The hour saw the Evil Queen manipulate Belle’s pregnancy, forcing her into an early labor. Once her child was born, Belle was forced to give her son up in order to keep him from Rumple’s control.

Meanwhile, Regina saved Zelena’s life from the Evil Queen only to tell Zelena that she would never forgive her for her involvement in Robin’s death.

Jasmine tried to summon a genie to help her find Agrabah, but after discovering an empty lamp, Aladdin put the shackles on himself and became a genie.

And Emma got one step closer to discovering who’s under the hood in her visions after finding the sword that stabs her in Gold’s shop. And to top it off, the Black Fairy is Rumple’s mother. Yeah, things have gotten pretty crazy.

 

Difficult and Unlovable

One of the primary themes of this fantastic series is the impact of parental love. Parents can be the greatest source of love or pain in a person’s life. From the moment of birth, parents, or lack of them, begin to create our perceptions of the world. Throughout the various seasons, various parents, particularly mothers, made decisions for their infant children that would set a trajectory for their story arc. For instance, Snow decided to give her daughter her best chance by sending Emma through a portal to escape the Evil Queen’s curse after giving birth to her. This, among other various things, set Emma up to becoming the Savior. Cora also sent her newborn daughter to a new realm; instead of Snow, she sent Zelena away in order to give herself her best chance, not her daughter. From there, Zelena grew up seeking love and affection but later turned to a more wicked way of life. The list goes on to Emma, Regina, Zelena, and now the Black Fairy and Belle. These initial moments have impact.

Rumpelstiltskin, the Dark One, the master manipulator and dealmaker, was affected by his parents’ decisions. Prior to this episode, we knew that Rumple had a complicated relationship with his father, Malcolm, aka Peter Pan. It was bad enough that Malcolm was a gambler that made Rumple’s upbringing unstable, but then he traded his own son for eternal youth in Neverland becoming Peter Pan. Rumple had to be raised by the elder spinsters who taught him to spin straw. The audience knew this abandonment ran deep in Rumple. However it went deeper still. Rumple was abandoned by his mother, who instead of giving her son a name, chose to make a name for herself as the Black Fairy, stealing children in the night. When he finally confronted his mother for an explanation, she told him that power was more valuable than love. For his whole life, Rumple has been searching for love and acceptance because the two people he wanted it most from failed him. Both of his parents were seduced by magic and the power it brings. It seems inevitable for Rumple to fall for the same vice.

Not only did Rumple grasp magic for himself, he became the Dark One two different times. Magic has a price, and it transformed him into an addict consumed by the power dark magic brought him. In his attempts to find that love he was denied by his parents, he drove others away because of his love of power. He lost his first son, Baelfire, after failing to give up magic for him. It cost Rumple a healthy, stable marriage with Belle, a woman who could see past the magic to the good man he is capable of being. Now, he lost his second son after pushing Belle over the edge to drastic measures. All of these instances have reinforced his self-image of being unlovable. Love does not just come from another person; you have to give it to yourself. Rumple needs to shed this jaded view of himself and be reminded of the man that Baelfire and Belle have seen and believe he can be.

His motives and views of self-worth do not in any way justify the horrible actions he has done over the series. However, this does create a new lens with which we view his character and how much harder he has to try to be a better man. He is one for the long game, and his story of redemption may not be over just yet.

 

Giving Them Their Best Chance

As stated at the beginning of this review, there is an impact of parental love and decisions made with/without that love. Rumple’s mother, the Black Fairy, abandoned and gave up her claim as his mother by giving herself her best chance. Another mother, Belle French, was left to make a decision about the welfare of her son. During this season, she has fought to protect her unborn son’s fate from Rumple, who has planned to cut and alter with the shears of destiny. Besides the rest of the heroes, the only other ally Belle had was time as she continued to search for solutions. Unfortunately, the Evil Queen made a power play against Rumple by slipping an aging curse in Belle’s tea. Her time was running out; during childbirth, she has a dream with her son where he guides her to make the hard decision and give her son up.

Though she has traveled realms, lost Rumple multiple times to death or his lust for power, and tamed many beasts, handing her newborn son over to Blue for protection is the hardest thing Belle French has ever done. She can only claim just a brief moment before charging Blue with his protection. Belle gives her love, confidence, and favorite book to her handsome hero she believes she will see again once the battle with his father is over. What makes this moment more significant is that Emma Swan is standing by her as a witness to this selfless act; this is a woman who was given up by her mother in order to be given her best chance as well as doing this later for Henry. With tears, Belle joins the ranks with Emma and the other mothers in the series who demonstrate real strength through sacrifice. This is an act of true love.

Love involves sacrifice, but it’s also strength. It’s what Belle needs now as she squares off with her estranged husband. Though he did not directly force her into this decision, Rumple had been forcing her hand and harming the welfare of their son’s right to free will. For now, he is past the point of no return. The ledger of deception and selfishness against him is too long. Belle still cares for him deep down, but she is putting her child’s needs above anything Rumple could offer her. The only way real reconciliation can happen is an honest act of sacrifice on Rumple’s part. Is he capable of such an act? Yes. Will he ever do it? We can only wait and see.

 

Worth Mentioning

  • Ever since Aladdin was found in Storybrooke, he has been reluctant to take action unless it was for his own personal gain. In this episode, he acted as the savior Jasmine always believed he was and sacrificed his personal freedom for the sake of finding Agrabah. This diamond in the rough proved to be a hero once more. Plus, it helps that he had a good friend in the genie to show him what a great one he could be. Too bad he’s now more susceptible to manipulation from a certain evil queen…
  • Regina saved Zelena from the Evil Queen by stepping up as a hero and squeezing her own heart. When it came for a sister-forgiving moment, Regina made it clear to Zelena that there is no room in her heart to forgive. Regina has grown and redeemed herself, but she’s too hurt to allow Zelena that same chance. Regina keeps pushing Zelena away, and if she isn’t careful, she could push her over the edge. Sister of the year!
  • After watching Belle give up her son, Emma was reminded why she continues to fight as the Savior even when she’d rather run. She wants to protect her friends, family, and the man she loves. It has taken them a while to be consistently open, vulnerable, and honest with each other; but with time, their trust in each other is fortified. Now, Killian remains at Emma’s side as he supports her in figuring out who is the hooded figure in her visions, and more importantly, protecting his swan and defeating anyone who threatens to harm their happiness.
  • Question: is Blue’s magic strong enough to use outside of Storybrooke? We’ve seen Emma, Regina, and Rumple struggle several times to harness their magic. Let’s hope it comes easy to her; otherwise, I smell a spinoff series of her working and raising her godson in the big city.
  • Emma Swan likes Harry Potter. Did anyone else think for just a second that the sword in her vision was the sword of Gryffindor? Just me? Great.
  • In the promo for the winter finale, we will get a glimpse into what would have happened if Emma was never the Savior. While ultimately she will discover why it was meant to be, it is going to be entertaining seeing this alternative universe. Who do you think will pop up in this episode? How will Killian and Emma meet this time? Is it going to be weird seeing an older Snow and Charming? We will find out all of this and more next week in the winter finale!

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