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IN THE FAIRYTALE LAND THAT WAS…. | A restless Belle decides to apply her book-smart learning to the cause of wrangling a beast called the Yaoguai. But no sooner had she fed her not-so-gentlemanly companions a (false) tip about the creature’s location did they pitch her to the side of the road. Belle then made tracks for the Yaoguai’s true hiding a place, a cave atop a mountain. When the oversized fiery canine-type thing (a “hot dog”?) came out a-roaring, Belle’s bacon was saved by an arrow from the warrior Mulan. Ultimately, the ladies agreed to work together, but when Mulan fell ill from a battle wound, it was up to Belle — in, um, “interesting” battle attire — to take on the Yaoguai. After dousing the beast’s trademark flames, Belle found a whimpering pooch who begged for help. By sprinkling it with fairy dust (gifted to her earlier by Dreamy), Belle lifted the curse/beastly entrapment that had been placed on… Prince Phillip! After introducing the prince to her friend Mulan, Belle said, “I have another beast to find” as she went off to reunite with Rumplestiltskin. Alas, she was immediately captured by the Evil Queen, who sought to (among other things) spare the beauty “a lifetime of misery” with Rumple. Belle, though, insisted, “I will never stop fighting for him!”
IN STORYBROOKE…. | Using Smee as a test subject, Mr. Gold confirmed a way to cross the town line without losing one’s memory — by “enchanting” a keepsake belonging to the person. Alas, since he only has enough potion for one more application, Belle cannot come with him to seek out his son Bae. Meanwhile, as Mary Margaret, Henry and others mourn Archie at his funeral, Hook visits the shrink in his ship’s hold and picks his brain about Mr. Gold’s weakness. Later at the library, Belle runs into Hook, whom she recognizes from Regina’s fairytale land cell. “You want to kill Rumplestiltskin!” she realizes. He responds, “Right now, I’ll settle for you,” but Belle escapes into the elevator chamber. Gold retrieves her, then explains his vendetta with Hook — save for a tiiiiiny detail or two about how Milah came to meet her maker. The duo then discover that Gold’s ship has been ransacked, his enchanted shawl stolen. (As Hook sneers elsewhere, “Now he’s trapped!”)
Gold begs Belle not to get involved in his vendetta, but after gleaning that Hook arrived by ship, she tracks down the pirate’s cloaked vessel and boards it, finding and freeing Archie. But then she is cornered by Hook, who divulges the more sordid details of Milah’s death and Rumple’s role in it: “He ripped out her heart and crushed it in front of me! He’ll do anything to hold onto power.” Belle is distraught by the reveal yet defends her man and his “true” heart. She gets the drop on Hook and makes a run for it, just as Gold boards the ship and begins to whale on his enemy. Rumple is tempted and taunted to rip out Hook’s heart, but Belle pleads, “No, there’s still good in you! Show me I’m not wrong!” Gold lets his prey free, urging him to go and sail his ship “off the edge of the world.”
(We now break for a Charming update: Henry’s in a serious funk after Archie’s “death,” which Emma remedies in part by assigning the lad custody of Pongo. When Mary Margaret muses that things will get crowded in the apartment, a discussion ensues about the family’s future. David puts forth the idea of going back to fairytale land, but Mary Margaret explains that it is not the place it once was, with the ogres and Cora now roaming about. “What if we don’t belong here?” he asks. “What if we fight for what we really want?” To which Mary Margaret frets, “Unless we don’t want the same thing…?” Also: When Archie resurfaces alive and to not a single gasp, Emma and Henry realize they need to go apologize to Regina. Enjoy the crow, kids!)
The hour ends with Gold and Belle at the town line, both excited by the prospect of him leaving to seek out Bae. “You’ll find him — and I’ll be here waiting for you,” Belle smiles as they kiss goodbye. But just as Gold successfully takes a step out of Storybrooke, Hook shows up and shoots Belle, who then tumbles across the town line, alive but sapped of her memory. “Now you know how it feels,” the pirate growls. Just as Gold is poised to open a fiery can of magical whoop-ass on the buccaneer, a car comes careening down the road, mowing down Hook and then skidding off into a tree. Gold makes note of the out-of-town plates: An outsider has broached Storybrooke!
What did you think of “The Outsider”? Do we believe that Belle can never truly get her memories back? Or might there be a loophole since, unlike most everyone else, she never assumed a new identity upon being transported to Storybrooke?