Fed up with Rumplestiltskin’s insistence on practicing magic in secret and refusing to open up to her, Belle (Emilie de Ravin) takes off on her own. Her father (Eric Keenleyside) and Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) both look for her, but with competing agendas.
Rumplestiltskin enlists Prince Charming’s (Josh Dallas) help, and they discover that Belle’s dear old dad is planning to send her outside the town limits against her will so she will forget loving The Dark One. They save her in the nick of time.
Trying to do what’s right for others for a change, Rumplestiltskin sets Belle up as the town librarian. He admits that magic has become a crutch he can’t live without. He also tells her that he created the curse to find his son, but that he’s trapped in Storybrooke unable to go search for Baelfire.
In the Enchanted Forest, a cowardly pre-evil Rumplestiltskin loses his wife to a band of marauding pirates. Their captain, Killian Jones (Colin O’Donoghue), humiliates him when Rumple can’t bring himself to stand up for his family.
Years later, in his new life as The Dark One, Rumplestiltskin bumps into Jones again. Sadly, Rumple discovers that his wife actually had run off with Capt. Jones, so he kills her. Of course. He also slices off Jones’ hand, leaving the dread pirate to vow revenge for his lover’s death.
It’s a revenge that he may be able to get now that he’s allied with Regina’s evil mother, Cora, in the present.
David and Mr. Gold made for a pair of strange, but interesting, bedfellows. Their uneasy partnership, along with Red’s company, gave all three a chance to shine.
In fact, the character of David has been benefitting quite a bit from the absence of Emma and Mary Margaret. He’s spent much of the series so far in the shadow of the ladies, but he’s turning out to be more enjoyable to watch on his own.
Rumplestiltskin’s modern-day attempt at honesty and a relationship with Belle was lovely to watch. It contrasted nicely with the tragic history of cowardice his early flashbacks continued to play out.
The look the series has decided to go for with Killian is a fun departure for such a famously villainous villain. It’s brazenly non-traditional for Disney’s Capt. Hook. But he needs to lay off the eyeliner.
Belle finally took some initiative to figure out and pursue what was best for her. Go girl! Now, she just needs to keep it up, which hasn’t been her strong suit so far in the show.
Capt. Hook and Cora, working together on a nefarious plan to come to Storybrooke. Who wouldn’t be worried about that pairing?
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Once again, the downfall of some fairy-tale scenes was the digital backgrounds. The duel between Killian and Rumplestiltskin would have worked a lot better if the fake set weren’t so distracting. Really, Disney, how much could an actual set of fake stone and wood barrels have cost?
The mine car sequence was just … cheesy. It looked like a Disney park ride in the making. What was wrong with just driving to the town limit and tossing her over the line like the dwarves did? The mine tunnel plan was more worthy of a James Bond villain than the town florist.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
“The Crocodile” was directed by David Solomon and was written by David H. Goodman and Robert Hull.
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.