Monday, April 13, 2015

Once Upon A Time 4x17 "Heart of Gold" (Healing Hearts...ish) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

This episode is called “Heart of Gold” and ugh, you guys, it has so much Rumple in it and I just do not have the patience for this character anymore. I used to really like him as an interesting character with thought-provoking motivations and a complex past, but… well, remember back when I wrote a review about how all these characters have good and evil in them? Rumple's evil has fully overtaken his good, and nothing makes a character more boring than turning them one-dimensional. Who even does that, anyway? Characters are supposed to grow as time goes on, not devolve. Rumple’s gone from being a compelling character whose romance and redemption I rooted for to a mustache-twirling villain who monologues way too much and never seems to understand how being evil does not lead to good things.

Anyway, this episode does also look at what's been going on with Robin and his family after leaving Storybrooke to save Marian's life. It’s unfortunately not a huge part of the episode and only really serves to weave in a reveal that most of the fandom apparently already saw coming, but we do get some good backstory on Robin/Marian and how they used to live back in the Enchanted Forest (Or is it the Sherwood Forest? Nottingham? Loxley? Does it matter?)

Here’s the setup for the main timeline plot:

Robin, Marian, and their son move into the New York apartment that belonged to Neal. They expect to be confused by the new world they’ve found themselves in, and they expect to never see any of the people from Storybrooke ever again. They really don't expect Rumple of all people to show up shortly after them and question what they’re doing in his son’s old home. They should know better. I'm pretty sure that's like, the only apartment Storybrooke people have access to in the real world so of course everyone's going to show up there. By the way - who's paying for that thing? Whose name is on the lease? Does anyone in Neal's life as a normal non-magical person know he's dead? I have so many questions, and I'm asking most of them just to avoid talking about the amount of time wasted in this episode on Rumple's story and motivations.

Rumple's Story and Motivations

Gosh darn it.

So, it turns out Rumplestiltskin met up with Robin back before Robin was Robin Hood and got him to steal something for him. The thing was called the Elixir of the Wounded Heart, and Robin had travel to Oz to get it because the elixir was owned by the Wicked Witch, AKA Zelena, AKA I Thought We Finished That Storyline Ages Ago. The elixir does exactly what it says it does: it heals hearts.

The reason why we get an Enchanted Forest introduction to the Elixir of the Wounded Heart is because we’re revisiting it in New York. Rumple has a heart attack while confronting Robin in Neal's old apartment and Robin, being the honorable man that he is, figures out how to either call an ambulance or get Rumple to a hospital in time instead of letting him die in his living room. Because nothing on this show seems to ever hurt anyone in a normal, non-magical way, it's determined that Rumple's heart attack was caused by EVIL and Rumple needs Robin to go fetch the old elixir he'd stolen a long time ago from a Wizard of Oz, whose residence is conveniently located in New York now. Robin does as he’s asked because he feels obligated to help people in need, even if people in need include Rumplestiltskin.

The problem is that the elixir doesn’t work on Rumple – because it’s not the elixir. The real elixir is in Zelena’s possession because, as it turns out, Zelena never died! She just turned into “life force,” followed Emma into that episode where she and Hook danced in a ballroom and looked pretty, and then took over Marian's appearance in order to sneak back into Storybrooke. Marian was never even alive – she's been Zelena this whole time and the Robin/Regina conflict was just a devious plan executed by Zelena in order to ruin Regina's happiness and… stuff?

Since Zelena has the elixir that would cure Rumple’s case of Evil in the Heart, she has the leverage necessary to get him to do what she wants, and she wants him to get the Author to write her a happy ending. Come on, Zelena – that’s the motivation for pretty much everyone these days. Be more original!

This explains Rumple’s weird sketchiness since the beginning of this half of season 4, but if this is supposed to keep him open for redemption because “Zelena’s making him do it,” it’s not going to work. Rumple didn’t suddenly start being unlikeable because Zelena forced him into it; he’s been steadily working towards being irritatingly evil for the last season. Giving him motivation for this bout of villainy doesn’t explain why he did the things that made Belle banish him in the first place, and it does nothing to add any layers to his character or save him as a character. His little speech toward the end doesn’t do much to endear me to him again either because Rumple knowing what he did wrong doesn’t solve the problem of him repeatedly doing similar wrong things again and again.

Robin Hood

This episode also reveals the origin of Robin Hood, though it’s overshadowed by the Rumple plot – not in time, exactly, but in significance. Viewers aren’t meant to remember the details of Robin’s flashback because it’s just there to set up two things: the elixir he has to steal twice and a final line from past-Marian that, when recalled, convinces Robin to stay by Fake-Marian’s side instead of returning to Regina.

I can only assume that they gave us Robin’s story as the antithesis of Rumple/Gold’s motivations. Robin steals for the sake of others and wants to do good, while Rumple is strictly self-serving. Rumple even says at the beginning of the episode that he doesn’t want Regina to find her happiness “at [his] expense.” This is a contrast to Robin, who uprooted his own happiness with Regina in order to keep Marian alive and safe.

Throughout the New York timeline, Robin is struggling with his new life with Marian and leaving Regina behind. He almost calls Regina a couple times and the fact that Regina is on his phone causes Fake-Marian to confront him about his feelings for the woman he left behind. But Robin remembers what Marian said in the Enchanted Forest and decides he wants to stay by her side, and Regina's number is deleted from his phone.

The episode ends with Regina from the present timeline finding out about Robin and Zelena/Marian and realizing that she's trapped into helping Rumple not only with the Author, but also with turning Emma to the side of darkness. With both of them working on turning Regina, I’m sure we’ll see that development pretty soon - which should be interesting!

Other stuff:
  • Will Scarlet was also in this episode. He keeps ending up as a brief mention in the footnotes of my reviews, doesn't he?
  • This plot was a convolution of convenience. Really think about all the things that had to happen in order for Zelena’s plan to unfold how she wanted it to unfold. Then realize that the writers do not want viewers to think that much about continuity, because it makes it so much harder to retcon.
  • I still wonder why they never tried just dipping Marian past the Storybrooke barrier and then pulling her back in. I’m sure the writers would have found a way around that working, but it just seems like a logical thing to try before sending the ‘of Loxley’ family out into an unknown world.
  • “I want you to break into the vault and steal the Elixir of the Wounded Heart.” “That’s a ridiculously self-explanatory name.” It’s great when the show calls itself out for its cheesiness.
  • "She'd never be with you." "I can speak for myself... I'd never be with you." Marian before Zelena stole her face was great!
  • "You made me a monster, but I won't let you do the same to Emma." I'm here for Regina & Emma: Magical BFFs.
  • I don't understand how Zelena avoided mirrors and reflective surfaces her entire time as Marian.
  • Regina wasn't in the episode much, but she was great in what screen time she got and the ending was particularly heartbreaking.
Many thanks to Deb for covering Once Upon A Time for me this week in my absence! Hit up the comments below and let us know what you thought of the episode. Until then, folks! :)


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