Review: Once Upon a Time 1.12: Skin Deep

By Heather S. Vina

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Written by: Jane Espenson

[spoilers ahead]

Recap: Fairytale Land

In the Enchanted Forest in an unnamed village, Sir Maurice (Eric Keenleyside), his daughter Belle (Emile de Ravin), her fiancé Gaston (Sage Brocklebank), and several military people are looking over a map of the area. Sir Maurice is bemoaning the fact that they are losing in the Ogre War. Gaston speaks about how, if only “he” had come, they would have been okay. As Belle is comforting her father, there’s an ominous sound at the door. Sir Maurice says that it can’t be “him” and he couldn’t have gotten in, but it turns out he did, and “he” is Rumpelstiltskin. Seems they called on him to try to make a deal with him to help save them in the War. Rump agrees, but his price isn’t gold. He wants Belle to come with him and be his caretaker for his castle. Her father and Gaston object, but Belle agrees, determined to save her home and her father. She promises to stay with Rump forever.


A flower shop owner, Moe, of Game of Thones (Sir Maurice) is unloading flowers from his delivery van, when Gold and a henchman approach him. Gold points out that his loan is due and Moe tells him that he will have it next week, but that’s not good enough. The terms of the loan were specific. So, Gold has his henchman take away the van, despite Moe’s protests. Gold walks off and runs into Regina, who was watching the whole thing. She wants to talk to him, but Gold tells her that it will have to wait. Regina starts to insist, but the moment he tells her it will have to wait, “please,” she stops talking – much to her surprise – and lets him pass.

At Granny’s Café, David and Mary Margaret are talking to each other across two separate tables, about a book that Mary recommended to him. I think it’s Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, which is an interesting choice, considering it talks about how an affair destroys a woman.

Anyway, when Ruby suggests that they sit together, the two object that they aren’t together. Emma arrives and breaks up the awkward tension. She sits with Mary. Mary informs her that Henry is doing well and is his normal self. Seems Regina is still keeping the two apart. Mary reassures Emma that Henry misses her.

Ashley arrives with her baby girl and talks about how it’s been difficult getting to spend time with Sean, who is working double shifts at the Cannery. Even on Valentine’s Day. Ruby tells her that she should go out with her and have a date night. She invites Mary and Emma along. Emma encourages a reluctant Mary to go, but bows out, as she has to work, then takes off on a call.

The call turns out to be for Gold’s house. Seems Gold’s house was broken into and he was robbed. As Gold tells Emma sarcastically, he’s a hard man to love.

Fairytale Land

At Rump’s castle, Rump shows Belle to her “room”, which turns out to be in the dungeon. As he explains to her what her duties will be (basically, being his maid, cook, butler, servant), she serves him tea and accidentally drops a cup, chipping it. She apologises to him, but he tells her it’s just a cup.


Gold tells Emma that she doesn’t need to stick around and investigate the robbery: He knows who it was and what, exactly, was taken. She insists he tells her what he knows, so he tells her it was Moe French, the florist. She tells him that she will pick Moe up and Gold hints that he will go after Moe, first. When she asks him if he’s threatening Moe, he coolly tells her that “bad things tend to happen to bad people.”

Fairytale Land

Belle is trying to pull aside the long curtains in Rump’s spinning room, while he sits at the loom, spinning straw into gold. When she asks him why he spins so much straw into gold, since he’s made more than he will ever need, he tells her that spinning helps him forget. When she asks him what he is trying to forget, he looks up in surprise and tells her it worked, because he’s forgotten. He leaves his loom and asks her what she’s doing with the curtains. She tells him it’s almost spring and she thought they could use some light. She yanks on a curtain and it pulls off the wall, knocking her off the ladder and into Rump’s arms when he catches her. They share a moment and she thanks him for catching her. He tells her that she doesn’t need to fix the curtain, he’ll get used to it, then walks off, a puzzled look on his face.


Gold and Emma are at the Sheriff’s office, where she presents to him the items that she recovered from Moe’s place. She hasn’t found Moe, yet, but she assures Gold that she will. But Gold is less interested in what she has recovered than in what she hasn’t. She tells him she will get it back from Moe when she finds him, but Gold tells her he will find him first.

Fairytale Land

It’s been a few months since Belle arrived, and she’s comfortable enough to sit with Rump and ask him why he wanted her to come. He tells her he needed someone to clean the place, but she muses that she thinks he was lonely. She cautiously asks him about some children’s clothing she found in a room and he admits to her that he had a son, but he lost him and his mother. Belle expresses her condolences.

A knock at the door interrupts the two, and Rump goes to see who it is. It’s Gaston, who starts a speech demanding Belle back, but Rump smirks and snaps his fingers, turning Gaston into a rose. He gives the rose to Belle and asks her why she came with him. She explains to him that there aren’t many chances for women to be heroes, or to see the world, and she’s always wanted to be a hero. When Rump made his demand, she saw her chance to do something brave. Rump asks her how the whole thing is working out for her. She smiles and tells him that she hasn’t seen the world, but she saved her village. He gently prods her about Gaston and Belle admits it was an arranged marriage. She didn’t love Gaston. She could never love someone that superficial. She believes love is a mystery, waiting to unfold. The two share another moment, when Belle breaks it. She asks him again about his son and he tells her he will make her a deal: He will tell her his story when she returns from bringing him some more straw from town. Belle is shocked that he trusts her to go town. She asks him if he thinks she will return. He tells her he’s counting on her not doing so.


Mary, Ruby, and Ashley are all dressed up in a nice restaurant/bar, drinking. Should Ashley really be drinking? Wouldn’t she be nursing her newborn? Anyway, Ruby encourages Ashley to check out some guys at the bar, but Ashley tells her that she’s still with Sean. Ruby takes off for the guys and Ashley bemoans to Mary that Sean is always working, that she thought love would be easier. Mary commiserates. She thought love would be easier, too.

At the local drug store – Sneezy AKA Mr. Clark’s place – David is picking out some Valentine’s Day cards, when Gold remarks on the fact that he has picked out two. David says he just couldn’t decide which one to pick, but Gold isn’t fooled. He tells David that love is a delicate flame. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. As he’s saying that, he’s purchasing some rope and some duct tape, two things that concern David a little. Gold wishes David luck and then leaves.

Later that night, Gold is driving Moe’s repossessed van, with Moe tied up and duct-taped in the back. Seems Gold wasn’t lying about getting to him, first! He brings Moe to a cabin and makes him go inside, holding his gun on him the whole time. He tells Moe that he doesn’t normally let people “get away.” And I have a feeling he isn’t going to this time, either!

Fairytale Land

Belle is walking down the road when the Evil Queen’s carriage “happens” upon her. The Queen gets out, and genially tells Belle that she needs to stretch her legs and goes to walk with her. She remarks that Belle is traveling light. She asks whom she is running away from, master or lover? Belle doesn’t answer and the Queen realises it’s “both”. Belle tries to get the Queen to go on ahead without her, but the Queen ignores her and urges Belle along. She gets Belle to admit that she could love her “master”, but there’s something evil in him that makes Belle wary. The Queen tells her it sounds like a curse to her and all curses can be broken: “A kiss born of true love will do it.” She laughs that off and then tells Belle she would never suggest to a young woman to kiss a man like that. Besides, if the man loved her, he would let her go, and if he doesn’t love her, then the kiss won’t work. Belle tells her that he did let her go, but the Queen says he didn’t kiss her. Belle asks her if a kiss is enough; he would be a man again? The Queen tells her true love’s kiss will break any curse.

Belle returns to the castle with the straw, to Rump’s surprise (though he doesn’t show it to her). She makes him put away his spinning so that he can tell her his story. He tells her that he lost his son; there’s nothing much more to tell. She remarks that, since then, he has loved no one and no one has loved him. He asks her why she returned and she tells him she wasn’t going to. But something made her change her mind. She moves in to kiss him and he lets her. And right after she does, she sees that something starts happening to him and his skin starts to change to normal. He wonders what is happening to him and she says that the curse is breaking. That remark sends Rump into a rage. He demands to know who told her that the curse could be broken. Belle stammers “she” and Rump realises who it was. He rushes over to one of the mirrors he has covered up and tears off the covering. He starts ranting to the Queen in the mirror, demanding to know how she turned Belle against him and how she is trying to destroy him. He turns to Belle and demands to know when the Queen turned her against him, but she doesn’t know what he’s talking about. She keeps telling him that this means the curse is breaking, but he tells her to shut up, because no one could ever love him, so therefore, the curse can’t end. He drags Belle back down to the dungeons and throws her in.


Gold is interrogating Moe and using his cane to do it. He tells Moe that he’s going to tell him where “it” is and then who told him to take it. But Moe is more concerned with the van and how he needed it. Gold goes off on him and starts hitting him with his cane. Moe cries that it wasn’t his fault and that sends Gold off more. He starts ranting about how Moe had “her” love and how he shut her out. She’s gone forever and it’s Moe’s fault, not his. Moe was her father and it’s his fault. Gold keeps hitting Moe with his cane, remembering whatever happened to Belle and blaming her father for it. Emma arrives and stops Gold.

Fairytale Land

Back at Rump’s castle, Rump is going crazy, breaking things. He shatters the china cups, but when he gets to the one that Belle chipped, he can’t break it.


Back at the bar, Ashley is admitting to Mary that it’s been hard for her, lately: She’s always home alone with the baby, while Sean is off working. She asks Mary, what’s the point of being together if they’re not really together, which resonates with Mary and her situation with David. The two are interrupted by Sean’s arrival. He’s on his break from the cannery and he brought her roses. He gets down on one knee and asks her to marry him. She cries and says yes, and they go off to spend the rest of his break together.

Mary leaves the bar, too, and watches the two get into their truck, when David finds her. He gives her her Valentine’s Day card, only, it ends up being the one that he meant to give to Kathryn. Mary’s upset and realises that, if this is their way of being together, then it’s not a good way. She tells David to go back to Kathryn and he tells her that they will find a way to be together.

And I say, “How about you break up with your wife and then pick Mary Margaret, if you love her so much?” Jeez, these two act like some huge, wide obstacle is keeping them apart, when really, it’s just David’s complete inability to be a man, and choose which woman he wants to be with and stick to it. These two are so unappealing to me right now.

Back at the cabin, Emma asks Gold what Moe really did, but Gold doesn’t answer. Emma ends up arresting him for what he did to Moe.

Fairytale Land

Rump goes to release Belle, telling her that he doesn’t want her there, anymore. She starts to leave, but then turns back and tells him that he was freeing himself, but he couldn’t believe that someone could really love him for himself. Rump tells her it’s a lie, but she counters that, no matter how thick he makes his skin, he’s still a coward. Rump tells her he’s not a coward. It’s simple: His power means more to him than she does. Belle tells him that that’s not true; he just doesn’t think that she can really love him. But he will come to regret it when all he has is an empty heart and a chipped cup.


Gold is sitting in jail, while Emma brings up the favour that she owes him. Gold hasn’t forgotten it, but he’s not going to use it on half a sandwich or on getting out of jail. Just then, Regina arrives with Henry and tells Emma that she can have half an hour with Henry, while Regina talks to Gold alone. Emma is reluctant, but Gold gives his blessing and she takes off with Henry.

Gold and Regina fence words as Gold talks to her about making a deal. They both have something the other wants. Regina admits that she put Moe up to the entire thing. She says that she will give him what he wants, if he answers one question for her honestly. What is his name?

Gold goes back and forth with her over it, telling her his name has been ‘Gold’ ever since he’s been on this earth. She asks him what his name was in other places. He finally tells her his name was ‘Rumpelstiltskin’. She looks a little shocked. She hands him the cup, though not without some “pulling away” games and remarks on the little sentimental trinket. He calls her “her majesty” to let her know he knows who she is, as well. He tells her that she shouldn’t let the bars fool her. He will get out and nothing between them will change; he still has the power. She tells him that they will see, and leaves.

Fairytale Land

The Queen arrives at Rump’s castle wanting to make a deal over a mermaid (Ariel, maybe?), but Rump isn’t in the mood. She brings up Belle and Rump tells her that she didn’t win. She will never be more powerful than him, no matter what she tries. The Queen denies having anything to do with that “tragedy”. When Rump asks her what she means, she tells him Belle’s story. Belle went back home, but Gaston was missing and, because of her time with Rump, her father shunned her. He locked her in a tower and sent clerics to “cleanse her soul,” which basically involved torturing her. She eventually threw herself off the tower and killed herself. Rump is devastated, much to the Queen’s delight, and sends her away. She leaves, but not before remarking that the castle is dusty and Rump should “get a new girl.”

Man, she is one vicious piece of work!

Once the Queen is gone, Rump pulls out the chipped teacup and puts it on a pedestal where a gold chalice once was, crying over Belle’s loss.


Regina arrives at a hospital, where she uses a special code to enter a locked ward in the basement. She gives the nurse on duty a rose and asks if anyone has been to see “her”. The nurse tells her no, not today, not ever. Regina smirks and goes down the hall, where she peeks through this little window into this dark and pretty-horrible-looking room, where a disheveled Belle sits, wearing a hospital dress. Belle looks up and glares at Regina. If looks could kill, Regina would be dead on the spot!

Review: I wasn’t sure about this episode, with the changes they were making to the “Beauty and the Beast” story by putting Rumpelstiltskin in as the Beast. But it turned out to be really good. Emilie de Ravin isn’t the best actress in the world, but I quite liked Belle. I think, next to Snow White, she might be my favourite of the heroines so far. She was strong, smart, loving. I love that she wanted to be a hero and see the world, and when she had her chance to save her people, she took it. And yet, she still made a bad situation good for herself. I forgive her for getting fooled by the Queen because she had no idea that she was evil, nor did she know who she was, period. I like that she approached her situation with the “Beast” with humour and made the best out of it.

Speaking of the Beast, I liked that they brought up Rump’s loneliness and longing to be loved. I get the feeling his son abandoned him like his wife did. And I believed his love for Belle. He’s clearly still feeling it in the real world as Gold, since he obviously went after Moe, not for a debt or for anything like that, but for what he believed Moe had done to his own daughter.

Speaking of, I think that whole story of the Queen’s was a pack of lies. I doubt if Belle ever made it back home, period (and even if she had, her father did not appear to be the type of man to blame his daughter for her sacrificing herself for her village). I’m sure the Queen grabbed her as soon as she left the castle, just in case she could use her against Rump later on. Once again, the Queen/Regina is just an utterly evil person, with no redeeming qualities to her, whatsoever. Belle being locked up in that dreary, dingy hospital ward was horrible. Emilie de Ravin has said that she will be back and I hope that she is, because I need to see Belle freed from that place.

And I can’t decide if Belle remembers or not? My first instinct would be no, since no one does. But that was a really hate-filled look Belle shot Regina at the end. I mean, it could be just because Regina comes there and smirks at her every once in a while. That would create a lot of hate in any sane person wrongfully locked up in a mental ward by an evil witch. But, on the other hand, I’d like to think that maybe she does remember.

Speaking of remembering: we finally got our big scene between Rump and the Queen, AKA Gold and Regina. But I have to admit, I was left feeling a little let down by it, if only because I wanted Regina quaking in her boots. Except for one moment of looking a bit scared and shocked, most of Regina’s reaction was her typical smirking and smugness. Maybe because she knows that she has an Ace up her sleeve with having Belle locked away, but still, I am so dang sick of it, and I really wanted the Rump/Gold reveal to take some of the wind out of her sails. At this point, I am doubting that anything will. The show seems determined to have Regina continue to win again and again, and it’s beyond tiring.

I loved the rounding out of Rump’s character. Unlike Regina, he is an interesting villain and let’s face it, with Regina around, she puts anyone else’s villainy to shame. I really felt for him, torn between his power and his potential for a happy life with love. Part of me is glad that he didn’t take the chance that Belle offered him, because I really think that he’s the only one who can take Regina down. I think whatever he set in motion with the curse, he did it all with the goal of taking her down and destroying her. Just like his whole “please” deal with her, where he made himself an out, I think he did something in the curse that allowed him to sow the seeds of Regina’s destruction.

I just wish said destruction would come a bit quicker!

I also quite enjoyed the little “Beauty and the Beast” cup moment to connect this story with the movie version. Very sweet, indeed! And the little shout-out to the show, Game of Thrones, was funny, as well.

As to the other parts of the story: The Mary/David/Kathryn triangle continues to sour me on the characters of David and Mary. It’s amazing to me that their real counterparts, Snow White and Prince Charming, are such honourable and compassionate people, and yet, their real-world counterparts are such…well…weasels. There’s nothing keeping them apart except for David’s weakness and cowardice in making a decision and sticking with it. There’s not even a stereotypical melodramatic reason for David to stay with Kathryn. No serious physical illness or mental illness of Kathryn’s to worry about. No pregnancy. No forced marriage. No nothing. The only thing keeping him with her is that he wants two women in his life because he’s weak and spineless. And it’s really disappointing that Mary continues to let herself be the Other Woman. David’s not worth it; no man is, really. This whole storyline just makes both characters look bad and cheapens any love between them.

I don’t care about Ashley and Sean, but I guess it was nice to see them get engaged. Still, Ashley’s complaints always seem fairly shallow to me. Um, he’s working a lot so that you can stay home with the baby and not have to work like a maid, and you guys can have a nice life. I don’t understand why they continue to write Cinderella/Ashley in such a shallow manner. There are ways to write her and her situation that don’t involve making her look bad.

This show really does need to balance better between the writing for the Fairytale Land stories and the writing for the real-world ones. Because, while the stories in the Fairytale Land are interesting and compelling, with characters that you can root for, the characters and the stories in the real world are not. The only real-world stories I am interested in are Gold, Emma and Henry, and the Stranger (who didn’t make an appearance this week). Otherwise, the rest of the characters are by turns annoying, disappointing, or just plain boring. I know that they want to keep the story going on, and they need to do that by stalling anything really happening in the real world, but I think that they need to find a better way of doing it. Episode by episode, the real-world stuff is becoming less and less compelling, and borderline annoying.

Next Week: It’s time for Prince Charming to shine in his own adventure story, while David and Mary Margaret’s affair comes to light.

This week’s Fairy Tale Characters Who Make Appearances In Both Worlds Are:

Rumpelstiltskin, AKA Mr. Gold

Belle, AKA Belle (?)

Evil Queen, AKA the Mayor Regina

Sir Maurice, AKA Moe French

Snow White, AKA Mary Margaret (only appeared in real world)

Prince Charming, AKA David (only appeared in real world)

Red Riding Hood, AKA Ruby (only appeared in real world)

Granny, AKA Granny (only appeared in real world)

Sneezy, AKA Mr. Clark (only appeared in real world)

Still Missing In Storybrooke World:

Gaston (Dead?)

You can watch episodes of Once Upon a Time on its official site and own it in HD on

About Heather S. Vina

Heather's been a fan of science fiction since she was five years old and developed a crush on Captain Kirk, while watching reruns of Star Trek: The Original Series. A huge Anglophile, she loves reading and watching (and mocking!) TV, but hasn't figured out a way to make a living doing either, yet. But she lives in hope!

Heather S. VinaReview: Once Upon a Time 1.12: Skin Deep