Welcome back to Storybrooke, where everyone is either evil or dumb right now. This show certainly does love its status quo, and after pushing characters briefly outside their comfort zones with solid results this season, “Lacey” backtracks on a lot of those developments to create some conflict before the finale. Rumpelstiltskin’s relationship with Belle is at the forefront of this episode, taking the “Something There” musical number from Beauty And The Beast and putting a OUAT twist on the monster’s clumsy attempts to attract the fair maiden. Just as Belle begins to trust Rumpelstiltskin after losing her memory, Regina gets in the way and makes her remember her curse self: the hard-drinking, morally questionable Lacey. Rumpelstiltskin thinks he can break the curse with true love’s kiss, but he needs to make Lacey fall in love with him first.
Prince Charming takes on the role of all the talking furniture in Beauty And The Beast, as he gives Rumpelstiltskin a pick-up lesson, and he’s able to score a date with Lacey at that most romantic of Storybrooke spots: Granny’s. His courting in the present is contrasted with a story from early in his relationship with Belle, wherein we see the Dark One show mercy because this pretty blonde girl was nice to him. When Robin Hood breaks into Rumpelstiltskin’s castle to steal a wand that will heal his pregnant lady, the imp tortures the thief until Belle decides to set him free. When he chases Robin down, Rumpelstiltskin has the opportunity to kill the man for robbing him, but he lets him go when he realizes that mercy is what Belle finds appealing. That’s not the case with Lacey.
On their date, Lacey pours herself a glass of white wine up to the rim and orders chicken parmesan like the decadent princess she is. Rumpelstiltskin is awkward as hell, fumbling his menu and spilling iced tea when Lacey repeats something Belle used to say. “You can’t tell what’s in a person’s heart until you truly know them” is the Belle and Rumpelstiltskin equivalent of Snow and Charming’s “You will always find me, and I will always find you,” a phrase that boils down their entire relationship. Rumpelstiltskin takes this to be a sign that the date is going well, and that’s when Lacey gets up and sneaks out through the bathroom so that she can make out with the barfly who is also the fairyback Sheriff of Nottingham.
In the past, Belle wanted Rumpelstiltskin to show mercy because she believed that there was still a man underneath his hideous exterior, but Lacey sees the man, and she doesn’t much care for him. She’s heard about Rumpelstiltskin’s ruthless reputation, and she wants to see him live up to it, so she purposefully pushes his buttons by ditching their date to make out with some random drunk dude. And it totally works. With no more reason to be a good guy, Rumpelstiltskin rips out the man’s tongue, then beats him with his cane, presumably to death. The Dark One is back, and hopefully, he just decides to go after Henry.
Emma is always a mess, but she’s the character that has her shit most together in this episode, shockingly serving as the voice of reason as everyone around her acts wackier and wackier. Her parents have Anton and the rest of the dwarves secretly harvesting magic beans so that they can create a portal back to the Enchanted Forest, but Emma is not going to leave her real life behind for a fairy tale one. Her dad says this might be the opportunity to have the happily ever after she always wanted, but Emma was just in the Enchanted Forest, and it looked pretty rough. Emma doesn’t want to live in a world of magic. Ideally, she’ll be with her son and his father in a quaint New England town and live a completely normal life, although that will never happen with the rest of the Storybrooke people around.
Evil Regina is a boring Regina because she just uses magic to get whatever she wants, but her plot to use Rumpelstiltskin’s curse to screw him over with his girlfriend is a pretty smart move. He can be mad at her, but not that mad because he does have some responsibility in all this. When Regina starts getting in Emma’s face about keeping Henry’s ancestry from her, Emma gives her the absolute best advice possible and tells her that she needs to stop worrying about other people and start focusing on herself to make positive changes before she loses Henry for good. That last bit sounds too much like a threat to Regina, though, and she immediately suspects that something is up. Luckily for her, everyone involved in the secret magic bean project is really bad at clandestine operations, openly joking about farming beans at Granny’s and travelling to and from the cloaked farm site in a conspicuous pick-up truck full of dwarves. Because magic offers a simple solution to everything, Regina just has to touch the ground, and suddenly, a bright yellow path leads her to the magic beans.
While Regina are Rumpelstiltskin are engaged in family drama and Charming and Snow focus on the magic bean farm, Storybrooke is vulnerable to whatever Ian and Tamara have planned. These two melodramatic villains are trying to steal magic from the town, and they’re spending a lot of time making out until that happens. The episode ends with Tamara showing up with a tied up Captain Hook, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Robin Hood shows up in Storybrooke by the time this season is over. Hood and Hook can have a hairy chest-off while Prince Charming sits in the corner, shouting at his bare pectorals.
- It’s official. ABC is moving forward with Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, which will take place in a pre-curse world and retell the story of Alice (Sophie Lowe) with ties to OUAT mythology. I’m not sure if this show’s CGI budget would be able to handle an entire Wonderland series, but casting Paul Reubens as the White Rabbit is a promising move. A four-scene presentation was filmed at the start of April, so the ball is in ABC’s court now.
- The opening of this episode where Rumpelstiltskin turns Henry into porcelain and smashes him into pieces is a cruel, cruel tease.
- “Of course I miss them, you beast!” A subtle reminder from Kitsis and Horowitz.
- “I’m sorry, do I look like a one-handed pirate with a pistol?”
- “Well I’m certainly not here for the over-praised lasagna.”
- “What the hell happened to you? You raid the back of Ruby’s closet?”
- “I didn’t exactly have a fairy tale childhood.”