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Once Upon a Time – Her Handsome Hero – Review

This was a slower episode for me, though what I’m really loving are the family dynamics that were explored. Obviously the focus was on Rumple and Belle, though there were great moments between sisters Zelena and Regina, as well as Emma and her mother, Snow. We are seeing those quieter, character driven moments more and more, which are welcome breathers to the main action and plot of Once Upon a Time. Seeing Rumple and Belle be upfront and forthcoming with each other without huge dramatics was the best part of this episode. Their willingness to work with each other, even though they continued to butt heads, has freshened up this relationship. There will always be conflict given their opposing natures, but Belle and Rumple seemed to have moved on to a new level in their lives together. The flashbacks in "Her Handsome Hero" weren’t very gripping, mostly I think because this late in the series most of the big revelations in our heroes’ pasts have been shown, leaving the only smaller less important moments to fill in the blanks and move along the present day story.

Seeing the Ogre War’s beginning was a bit interesting, but ultimately a story that wasn’t wholly necessary. I did like the implication that Belle’s optimism and actions may have resulted in the war. In fact, throughout the episode we see Belle stick to her guns and strive to do the right thing in her mind, while also exploring Rumple’s way of seeing things. The Dark One was right, that light and dark are all a matter of point of view, and seeing Rumple sass Belle a bit for her request that he use magic for her at the animal shelter was a welcome scene. Belle is one of the more pacifistic heroes on Once Upon a Time, and some may argue one of the only truly “good” heroes. This episode was an opportunity for the writers to explore how her good intentions may not always have the results she wants, but it’s the fact that she has those intentions that's truly important because Rumple began his journey with similar thoughts in mind.

I’m torn between finding Gaston an interesting addition or a bit one note. He was wonderfully portrayed, showing the audience both his sincere and sinister sides at the drop of a hat. I think what made me enjoy him the most was his outburst in the pawn shop. It was splendidly played. Gaston basically pointed out several of the faults in Rumple and Belle’s relationship, things the audience may have problems with. And yet again, we see Belle striving for optimism. She doesn’t dismiss who Rumple is and what he does. This may signify the end of the cycle we’ve seen Belle and Rumple in, where Rumple will do something evil, hide it from Belle, she’ll get upset and back away, only to forgive him in the end. What we see in “Her Handsome Hero” is the the Dark One and the librarian working together finally. It says a lot that Rumple tried Belle’s way by researching a solution in book. In the end, he did revert to his old ways, but Belle was ready for her husband’s methods. This episode has breathed new life in Belle and Rumple’s relationship and I’m more confident in their new baby storyline now than I was before this episode.

Hades wasn’t featured much this week, only lurking about for the most part. I wonder if the flowers springing up in the Underworld aren’t so much a result of our heroes bringing hope into his domain, but of Hades himself feeling hope now that Zelena is back in his life. I’m very glad to see the blooming romantic storyline between the Wicked Witch and the Lord of the Underworld hasn’t neutered the latter. Hades' encounter with Belle in the animal shelter was chilling and uncomfortable, a truly evil moment. There is something about the low and slow way his lines are delivered that cause you to lean forward so as not to miss a word while sending a shiver down our spine.

And speaking of Zelena, how nice was it to see her and Regina sit down and have a sisterly talk for once? As much as I love their sass, the fact that the sisters were rather straightforward with each other was a nice change. It adds depth to their relationship and opens the doors for more development for each character. While I’m not sure I want to see a complete redemption for Zelena, this cautious alliance that’s been forged thanks to the baby is what I’ve hoped for these characters since that pregnancy was introduced. I’m interested in seeing what comes next for Zelena as she receives Hades’ withered token of affection. It’s very “them” that the flower was decaying, but will their uniting set Zelena back or will her new found love for her baby cause her to try and show Hades another path?

Emma’s dream plot was not the most interesting part of this episode, though there were a few good nuggets in it. We’ve seen many dream sequences on Once Upon a Time before but this is the first that directly affected the plot, as opposed to dreams that just give us insight to a character’s anxiety. I’d bet this is a result of Emma taking on the Dark One powers and perhaps leeching some of that seer power Rumple obtained back in season two. Emma’s guilt definitely humanizes the idea of gallant heroism. We see her worrying about the consequences of going off on a grand quest and fighting the villain of the season. I do hope that her speech about worrying someone will die isn’t foreshadowing. Too many television shows lately have been dumping huge character deaths on their audiences, as opposed to giving the characters lasting conflicts to deal with. It’s more interesting to see a group of characters reacting and working through a lasting change.

All in all “Her Handsome Hero” was a decent episode, if not terribly exciting. However, showing Rumple and Belle as more of a team than ever was definitely the highlight. “Her Handsome Hero” was one of those Once Upon a Time episodes that just sets things up for the action to follow. And I have to say, this one certainly did that well with the reveal that Ruby had made her way to the Underworld. Not only am I glad to see the character back, but mystified as to why she came down to the Underworld in the first place. We'll have to wait and see.

Tune in next week for “Ruby Slippers”!

About the Author – Ashley B
Ashley is as serious as a sleeping curse when she says television is her life. Professional event planner, avid movie viewer, convention enthusiast, and resident sass master, Ashley writes reviews for ABC's Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and Galavant, as well as Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. She looks forward each week to the weird and wonderful world her favorite television programs provide.
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