Poor Unfortunate Soul

March 30, 2015

rumplebumpledI wasn’t sure I was going to write about last week’s episode from Once Upon a Time. But, here I am, with coffee and too many notes next to me, ready to finally pay attention to Poor Unfortunate Soul. Yes, there will be spoilers, I’m still not trying to avoid them when it comes to this series.

Everyone recognizes the title as a part of a well-known song from The Little Mermaid. I was actually looking forward to seeing this, the episode where we learn more (even if not enough) about Ursula’s story. Did it meet my expectations? Well… no, but we’ll get there in a moment. As I was saying, if you want to gather the plot in a few short lines, it looks like this: now that August is back to his former self, the… villains seem to be one step closer to finding the Author; the other part of the tale revolves around the sea-witch. If you are a fan of Hook, I’m quite sure you’ll love the episode, he’s in it a lot. The thing is, this doesn’t change the fact that Ursula’s background is left with many question marks. And it’s partly built on elements from Ariel’s story (the one we know from 1989).

Young Ursula (Tiffany Boone, who is simply adorable in this role) is a mermaid who wishes to honour her mother’s memory. How? By not using her voice as a weapon against humans, as her father demanded of her. Who is her father? Poseidon. As a side note, even if he claims to be a deity, he does not act like one. Ignoring the fact that there was something fake in the way Ernie Hudson delivered the lines, they truly had no depth. An example: “As long as you live in my ocean, you will live by my rules”. Really? You bring a god in the show and have him say that? Or “Give me the shell!”… you’re a powerful being, if you want to get your daughter’s singing voice back, how will a man (or even the entire crew) stop you?

I don’t even know where to begin and where to stop with Ursula. She’s young, naive and wants to bring happiness to people. As it happens when one trusts the wrong people, she is betrayed by her father and by Hook. Still mourning his lost love and wanting revenge on the “evil man” who killed her, he promises two things: to take her to Glowerhaven and to follow his code (since her voice is all she has left from her mother, Hook claims that he will not obey Poseidon’s demand and won’t take away her singing voice). Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for the mermaid to realize that the pirate isn’t exactly trustworthy. You’ll discover the outcome yourselves. I’ll stop at one thing I didn’t understand: how exactly was Ursula evil, what am I missing? That “you should fear me” line and the fact that she’s called a monster are a little more than empty words. Fear what, exactly? Put next to Hook or Regina, she seems almost innocent, more frightened than frightening. And she gets her happy ending, something which felt a bit rushed, but here they are: two major themes, love and forgiveness.

Let me tell you what I did love immensely: the torture scene or – to be more precise – the acting of Lana Parrilla, Robert Carlyle and Eion Bailey. I’m guessing I wasn’t supposed to laugh, but I couldn’t help myself. Considering the fact that terrible things could have poor unfortunate souls eliterehappened to him, August is more confident and smug than you’d expect from someone in his position. You’ll learn more about that towards the end of the episode. Regina, for all her tough façade, is uncomfortable around the Dark One and his team; Lana captures this perfectly. As for Rumplestiltskin… in this particular scene, it’s obvious that the only thing on his mind is getting answers. If we take into account other episodes, we’ll see that he’s not as violent as he could be. He is certain that nothing can stop him, that there’s no way August could have possibly lied to him (careful, that confidence might cost you). The – more or less subtle – details are the ones which captivated me: a brief smile promising great pain, a meaningful look missed by all but one person, Rumple pointing to himself when speaking of the winning side.

I wonder… how far does his plan go? What is his plan? I mean, Ursula told Hook what she believes to be his intentions: find the Author, turn Emma to darkness, get those pesky happy endings. But is that it? I believe that the only one who knows the plan, with all its bad choices and ramifications, is the man who brought it to light. I’m curious to see what role this Author will really play. Exactly how much power does he have over the lives and happy endings of the characters? Is he truly responsible for their fate? For how long has he been trapped in that book and why? Are we really talking about a “he”?

Moving on. I can’t stress enough how happy I was once again that Rumplestiltskin got his dagger back. Once the heroes learn that he’s back in town, they do an extremely unheroic act: they run to Belle to get the only thing that can control him. Because, you know, he’s a demon and all that. Speaking of Belle… for a brief moment, we see just how conflicted she is. She’s taken aback by the news, but you get the feeling that she doesn’t know what emotion to let shine through the shock: happiness or worry. That could have morphed into anger, but it slips into disappointment the moment she realizes who was the one to whom she gave the blade. On that note, we get a final glimpse where she shuts down and then we no longer see her. I don’t care what the intent of the writers was, it that was a poor decision.

The moment Emma, her parents and Hook get their answer, they literally turn their backs on her. Killian’s ranting about wanting to kill Rumplestiltskin and we are unable to see Belle. How is that alright? Why wasn’t she allowed on screen, for Emilie de Ravin to make use of that time? She could have shown passion, anger, sadness… anything that could contribute to the character’s development. Instead, sometime later we see her with Will in the shop (short note: he doesn’t belong there and it’s an… inelegant decision coming from both of them, really), when Hook and Ursula interrupt what might have been a hug. So they could show this, but not a proper reaction earlier, when it was actually needed? Was the joke about the size of a pirate’s ship more important?

One final point before I finish this. I don’t know how many of you caught it, but the Dark One’s curse is brought into discussion. Now that is a good idea, because it falls into the background too often. As viewers, we should remember what the curse did to Zoso, the warning repeated by Rumplestiltskin: “all magic comes with a price“. No one truly understands what taking that curse means. Hook claims that having his name on the dagger would be “a small price to pay”. Really? If we add “you have no idea how easy it is to fall back into the darkness” (but he was talking about himself), we see that he’s unable to understand what has happened to the one who was once nothing but a desperate father. There is so much to say on this topic and not enough room, not right now. I’m curious to see if the writers will explore this issue, how much the darkness brought by the curse can influence a human’s behaviour. As for Emma, she understands even less than Hook. “We defeated him before”… no, dear saviour, that was Belle. I remember Regina having a drink with Emma after Rumplestiltskin was banished, but did anyone actually bother to check on Mrs Gold? Or is she important only when they need something poor unfortunate soulsfrom her?

Bottom line, I did not see this as a particularly good episode, but I’m sure other viewers will disagree. It depends on what you are hoping to find here. Will Ursula return? I rather doubt it, especially if the writers will follow the pattern I’m thinking about. And, to be honest, the fandom is more interesting and more terrifying than the show right now. So why do I keep watching Once Upon a Time? For the same reason I started: for everything that’s happening right now, for everything that will happen, I will always support Rumplestiltskin and Belle. Obviously, I want to know how come August knows so much and what will happen to Storybrooke (will the characters return to the Enchanted Forest eventually?), but also… how will this couple get their happy ending? I no longer trust the writers, but maybe, just maybe they’ll take proper care of the show again. Until next time, my lovelies!

Image source: first – rumplebumpled

by Elena Atudosiei

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5 Responses to Poor Unfortunate Soul

  1. Best Laid Plans | eLitere on April 11, 2015 at 8:55 am

    […] Poor Unfortunate Soul March 30, 2015 […]

    • Nathalia on August 11, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      I agree that Tamara is most probably Ursula It’s been mentioned that Ariel will appear next season. Wendy in the first half of the season finale stated there are Mermaids in Neverland. We know that young Bae’s Story isn’t through yet. We also know that present day Bae was sucked through a magic bean porthole made by Tamara where would it go? um Neverland maybe? (where she’s from) Who has magic and knows about different lands and how beans work and would possibly know how the fail safe gem would work on the curse? Why, someone who knows that particular kind of magic Tamara’s boss Grandma Yellow Fairy seeing how Bae first ended up in a land where he didn’t age she could have spelled herself against a magical attack, and instead of dying, ended up in the present our world a bit earlier than the cursed Storybrooke, causing her to age normally among us while Emma grew up. She would be a grandmotherly age now if say she were thirty years old when Rumple zapped her. Her death wouldn’t be the first time that Mr. Gold’s assumption was wrong. But we shall all see, won’t we??? I LOVE THIS SHOW!!!

      • Elena Atudosiei on August 12, 2015 at 11:03 am

        I don’t think that Tamara’s Ursula (it is an interesting thought, though), but the writers should focus more on Bae’s story. Enjoy the show! PS. your message was also in the spam folder… I don’t know why.

  2. Danika on August 11, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    after do your worst , then he jumps in front of the car. Hook could have easily klleid her many times during the episode and yet he didn’t.. (Reminder that Rumple Murdered Milah first change he got)..and i don’t get how Belle could be all it’s okay honey I love you after basically seeing Rumple beat Hook almost to death, and then finding out how Milah died..It was like really? And Hook is the one with the rotten heart?Of course he could have fought back but he felt like he deserved the beating, because thanks to him Milah is dead.. He obviously blames himself for Milah dying.. btw they aren’t killing hook, they’re not setting up the entire thing with Emma for nothing (they have 32 parallels with Snowing) Hook has A LOT of fans, lots of people love him (including the writers, media,fans) check tumblr (and the captain swan tag) to see what I mean =) I feel like everyone just takes Poor Rumples side and i’m like the guy has murdered a lot of people in cold blood, manipulated everyone, turning people into rats, treated belle like a child, basically brought the curse, he is still completely evil (hello next episode he even threatens henry) and basically everything is forgiven in the name of Rumbelle and yet Hook is the bad guy?

    • Elena Atudosiei on August 11, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      This comment was in the spam folder (probably because of your email address), so I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I still don’t… does it actually have anything to do with the article I wrote, because I didn’t see the connection? Let me see if I got a point or two. You like Hook, right? I don’t, I found no reason to enjoy his presence on screen. Look, don’t try to bring whatever conflict is on tumblr here, I honestly don’t care about that. What I had to say about this episode, I said it already. I think I’ll write about other Once episodes in time, but not now. For me, the show turned out to be a huge waste of potential on too many levels.

      We watch (watched, I have no interest in coming back for season 5) the series with different expectations, from different perspectives and with different memories. I hate Milah, I see Rumple as a complex character with good and bad parts (all worth uncovering) and I don’t care about Hook. I do love Emma and Belle, if it interests you. You’ll forgive me if I don’t got into further details here, I don’t feel like writing a review in the comment section.

      Thank you for taking the time to write to me, though… I guess. I’d say that you weren’t too pleased with what I wrote, but c’est la vie. I won’t apologize for what I like or dislike. All the best!

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