By Meredith Loftus
“Her Handsome Hero” lays out the story of Gaston, from his past in the Enchanted Forest with Belle to his tragic fall in the River of Souls. Hades manages to outmaneuver two of the cleverest characters on the show and diminish some of the hope that has threatened to run rampant in his domain.
This episode also featured some sister bonding between the Mills sisters, Regina and Zelena, as well as teamwork between Rumple and Belle, for the sake of saving their unborn child.
Meanwhile, Emma’s nightmare leads the heroes to finding their good friend, Red, in the Underworld. With her help, they might get the advantage they need over Hades to defeat him once and for all.
Fingers crossed our favorite she-wolf is not a dearly-departed soul!
Brains and Killer Beauty
Belle French is a champion of compassion, knowledge, and heroism. She represents light and optimism. However, she did not always seek to discover the whole story on a person/creature. It took the seemingly vain hunter named Gaston to teach her that books can’t be judged by their covers. Before she met Rumple, Belle was starting to warm up to Gaston until she stood between him and an ogre he tortured. He believed heroism is found only in brute strength. However, that physical asset can only last for so long. Real heroism is found in a strength that endures much longer because it’s rooted in character: compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and love. These are attributes that Belle exceeds in and extends to others around her, including her dark husband.
Once again, Belle stands between her former fiancé and her husband in the Underworld and stands her ground. She responds to Rumple’s “this is who I am” speech from last week’s episode by telling him that she has always known who he is as man and beast, and she loves him for it. However, she knows who she really is and will not stand idly by and let Rumple uses his dark magic to hurt Gaston. What does she do? She uses the dagger and commands him to back off. Unfortunately, Gaston’s desire for vengeance is stronger than his ability to forgive and move on. While lunging towards Rumple, Belle stands in the way and Gaston falls back into the River of Souls. Though it was an accident, the weight of guilt has now been placed on her shoulders and she has lost some of her hope in the process.
At one point in the episode, Belle says that her optimism has clouded her judgment. Believing the best in circumstances and people around is a powerful thing that I don’t believe is blinding. In fact, Hades has made it a point to try and kill optimism because it weakens his power. Hope is what will defeat the darkness. If Belle and the heroes have any shot of going home to Storybrooke, it’s by giving into the belief that things will get better and good will conquer evil.
- I’ve been waiting for some more references to the animated classic, Hercules. In “Her Handsome Hero,” there were two subtle ones. The first was when Regina asked Zelena about Hades’ weakness. In the movie, Hades commissioned Meg to find out Hercules’ weakness and it was her. On the show, Zelena is Hades’ weakness. The second was a line from Hades. He told Belle that love makes you do crazy things. Did anyone else think of Hercules and Meg telling each other that people do crazy things when they’re in love? Even if I was the only one who caught those, I greatly appreciated them.
- Aside from Killian Jones, our male heroes had the night off in this episode. Did Charming and Henry spend the evening playing cards and discussing horses? Has Robin found a tent he and Baby Hood can sleep in? These are things we will never know.
- Hades is slowly winning me over to the belief that his affections for Zelena are genuine. He may be sadistic but sending Zelena a flower was pretty sweet, even though it was a dead flower.
- However you may feel about Rumple and Belle as a couple, you can’t deny how comedic their banter was in this episode.
- In the mid-season premiere, Emma had a dream where she and Neal talked about her journey to the Underworld. In this episode, she had a dream that led her to finding Red. Are dreams the key to defeating Hades and getting back home to Storybrooke?
- Both in the animated adaptation and the OUAT-version, Gaston’s demise is losing his balance during his attempt to kill the Beast. Some things never change.