Monday, February 13, 2012

Once Upon a Time: "Skin Deep"

In this week’s wonderful episode, “Skin Deep,” we get the long-awaited appearance of Emilie de Ravin, still curiously using her Australian accent (but considering the vast number of accents in the fairytale world, perhaps it’s appropriate she should bring a new one to the mix). In case you’re thinking she can’t actually do an American accent, check out Roswell, where she played the annoying Tess, who spoke with a perfect American accent, if I recall correctly.

Written by Jane Espenson, “Skin Deep” was a very well-wrought retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Originally a French fairytale, in the original a young girl lives with her father and two wicked sisters, and the father loses his wealth to bad debts, until he hears that one of his ships has returned and he might still have some assets on it. He travels to find the ship, and his two older daughters tell him they want lavish gifts, but Belle, his youngest, only wants a single rose. The ship isn’t what he thought it was, and he stays at a castle on the way home and picks a rose from a garden that belongs to the Beast. The Beast says he can give the rose to Belle, but he must return as the Beast’s servant. The man goes home, and his daughter decides to go to the castle in his place. She loves the Beast as a friend, but dreams at night of a handsome prince. Eventually the Beast lets her go home to her family to visit them but when she returns, he’s lying near death from grief over losing her, and as she cries over him, her tears fall on him and he’s transformed into the handsome prince. In the Disney version many of us are familiar with, the story is altered to remove the sisters and add a jealous suitor, Gaston, who tries to kill the Beast.

This version pays homage to the others. The father’s name is originally Maurice. In this one, in Storybrooke, he’s Moe French (Moe being short for Maurice, and French alluding to the language it was originally written in). He sells roses, which is what got him into trouble in the first place (just as it gets him into trouble here), and Gaston is turned into a rose when he dares to challenge Rumpelstiltskin.

Claire Bear Belle delivers a wonderful speech about how she sacrificed herself because it’s so rare in the fairytale world that any woman is given the opportunity to be the hero (which is the case), where Mr. Gold tells Emma that bad things happen to bad people, also something that’s common in fairytales but more ambiguous in Storybrooke.

In this episode we get the revelation many of us have suspected since Mr Gold first walked into the mayor’s apple orchard – that he knows exactly who he is, and like the mayor, remembers the fairytale world. Where he’s wrong is in thinking he’s the one with all the power, for once again, despite him being the man who can find a price for everything, she is the one who knows everything, and is keeping Belle captive in Storybrooke when he thinks she’s actually dead.

Robert Carlyle put in a brilliant performance, both as the grieving Mr Gold who shows up the mayor, beats the local florist, deals out of anguish, and then finally reveals himself to get back his one token to remember Belle; and as Rumpelstiltskin, who starts off as his gleefully mischievous and evil self and begins to fall under the thrall of the lovely Belle, finding love where he didn’t expect to, and then going mad with fury when he thinks she’s betrayed him. The scene where she defiantly tells him that all he’ll end up with is an empty heart and a chipped cup (which is actually the case now) is beautifully done, both by de Ravin and Carlyle. This is the second episode where the writers have humanized Rumpelstiltskin, and both have been highlights of the season.

Highlight: Belle: “Why do you spin so much?”
Rumpel: “I like to watch the wheel. Helps me forget.”
Belle: “Forget what?”
Rumpel: “Guess it worked.”

Did You Notice:
• The homage to Game of Thrones? Not only does the episode open with the camera panning over maps of the kingdom and music that’s very similar to GoT’s opening theme, but it immediately cuts to Storybrooke, where the florist is called Game of Thorns. Haha!
• David is reading Anna Karenina, which [spoiler alert] not only plays into his own situation – Anna is torn between two men and eventually one of them convinces him to leave her husband and run away with him, a twist on what’s happening with David and Mary Margaret – but it also plays into the story the Queen tells Rumpel at the end, since when Anna runs away with the Count she is shunned by society (the way the queen says Belle’s father shunned her), and she kills herself, just as the queen says Belle did.
• At the beginning when Belle’s father was scared of the ogre, was anyone expecting Shrek to be standing on the other side of the door? No? Just me?
• Just as Rumpelstiltskin takes Belle (which means beauty) away from her father in the fairytale world, he takes away Mr French’s beautiful things (his roses) in Storybrooke.
• Geppetto’s parents hang in Rumpelstiltskin’s dining room.
• I couldn’t help but wonder if Mr French’s roses were the offspring of Gaston.
• I also can’t help looking around scenes like where Ruby, Mary, and Ashley go to the bar and wonder who the fairytale creatures are around them.
• Sneezy is running the convenience store. We last saw him busting Henry when Hansel and Gretel set him up.
• The queen’s umbrella is divine. Seriously, I want to know the Goth clothing and accessories website she uses. It was like a creepy spiderweb.
• The rectangular windows in the jail were like the ones in the castle.
• The queen refers to “a certain mermaid,” hinting at an Ariel story to come.
• I loved the title of this episode, and the play on words it created.


Shan said...

Hey Nikki, did you notice something "familiar" in Rumpel's castle? Check it out:

Sure, it needs a paint job, but I enjoyed the Easter Egg from yet another great show!

Gillian Whitfield said...

Emilie looks great as a brunette. It suits her well. I wasn't sure at first if it would look good on her, since she's always a blonde, but it's great.

Anyway . . . I was expecting something a bit more . . . happy at the episode's conclusion. But the evil Queen was lying when she said that Belle killed herself. I refuse to believe it.

I loved the look on Rumple's face when Maurice calls him a beast. I picture the emoticon :O to look like that.

I love Beauty and the Beast. It's my favourite Disney movie. So when I found out that Once Upon a Time, my favourite show on at the moment (House is up there, too) was doing an episode on it, I knew that I would love it. I admit, I was a bit sceptical about Rumplestiltskin being the Beast, but it fits so well.

So . . . is Regina hiding just Belle or is Rumplestiltskin's son down in the locked area, too?

We never saw if Emma brought an ice cream cone back for Mr. Gold! :P

As usual, I can't wait for next week's episode, although it looks like it does not bode well for David/Mary Margaret's relationship.

Michelle said...

Anyone notice the wizard's cap in Rumpel's dining room? At first I thought it was the sorting hat, but it was the hat Mickey Mouse wore in Fantasia.

I loved this episode!

Colleen/redeem147 said...

My favourite episode so far. But look at Belle's dress - they aren't even trying to hide the Disney, are they?

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Great catch, Shan. I couldn't see your image so I lightened it up.


Verification word 'pawless' - what OUAT's Beast is.

Sagacious Penguin said...

I'm thrilled to have just caught up with this show, and I agree my favorite episodes are when they humanize Rumpel.

I do have to wonder why he didn't just ask Regina for his cup back -- please -- but maybe he's had enough hiding and now that Emma's set the town back in motion is ready to freely clear the air.

Also it's crazy to think who and what all Regina might have locked in her insanity asylum. You'd think if she were truly serious about this evil queen thing, she would have locked Charming up down there long ago...

Sagacious Penguin said...

Also, I somehow avoided ever forming a crush on Emilie through all her years on Lost, yet fell instantly, madly, and completely in love with her during this episode. Well played, OUAT.

Austin Gorton said...

Definitely a highlight of the season so far. Nice job by Emilie de Ravin, whom I adore as a brunette (Goth Claire was always way hotter than regular Claire) and Carlyle, as usual. Nice to get a little forward momentum on the overarching story, as well.

Jane Espenson live-tweeted the episode, and a few things I learned from her:

The allusions to Disney's Beauty and the Beast (the dresses, Gaston, Chip) were all intentional on her part; because this is an ABC/Disney show, it's easier for them to reference the Disney material more overtly, and since those are the versions most people are familiar with, the writers do whenever they can.

It's been several centuries between Rumpel killing the Dark One and imprisoning Belle; apparently Rumpel fought in the first Ogres War, and there's been several.

FTL is polytheistic; someone mentioned "the gods" and Espenson confirmed that was intentional.

@Sagacious Penguin: I do have to wonder why he didn't just ask Regina for his cup back -- please --

Hello old friend! I also wondered that, or why he didn't use his "please" power to subvert her question in some other way.

yourblindspot said...

Couldn't we have worked in a squirrel baby somewhere, really?

Nikki Stafford said...

Belle was feeding a squirrel baby through the dungeon window, but unfortunately those scenes were edited out of the final cut.

Totally true fact. *cough*

JS said...

Thanks for providing the background on the real story. I am probably one of the only people who hasn't seen the disney movies, probably because I haven't lived with small children in...a while.

I did love this episode - Regina gets creepier, Rumpel gets more sympathetic - and this was chock full of easter eggs from favorites - BtVS, GoT, and LOST (was there a LOST allusion? I kind of see LOST everywhere....)

Dusk said...

Best episode yet. The Mary/David story seemed dull in comparision to Gold, Belle and Regina.

I was totally thrown by Belle being in a mental ward, I thought EQ had killed her in FTW.

Why did she give that nurse the rose though? that threw me off.

My guess is if Gold says "Please" too much then Regina will start to fight it, whenever he says it she looks glazed while she does what he asks then surprised when it's done, like it puts her in a trance or something.

Biggest LOL was what happened to Gaston.
I think having David be in a coma from his FTW wounds but still be so close to Snow what have been the crueler punishment for them in Regina's eyes rather thn putting him in the ward. It also raises the question if Belle remembers or not.

Good guys have 2 so far, Hansel & Gretel and Cinderella , but Regina is keeping Henry and way from Emma, has set her up to trust Sydney, is preparing againist Gold, and it looks like MM and David are her next target. Dun Dun Dun!

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I do have to wonder why he didn't just ask Regina for his cup back -- please -- but maybe he's had enough hiding and now that Emma's set the town back in motion is ready to freely clear the air.

Oops. *smash* Sorry, it just slipped through my fingers.

Mike_D said...

I loved the "chip" cup reference (, the Sorcerer's Apprentice hat and I loved the Scythe reference--never noticed it until you guys pointed it out!!!

And "Stealthy?" Really?

But my main question is: Who's in the other cells? Other fairy-tale political prisons? Why is there an old-fashioned nurse down there (I don't think nurses wear hats like that anymore, at least for 30+ years)?

Austin Gorton said...

@Colleen/Redeem147: Oops. *smash* Sorry, it just slipped through my fingers.

I dunno, I get the feeling she doesn't have that much freedom to interpret his requests.

Though I suppose, if he asked her to please give him back his cup, she could smash it, give him the pieces, and still have met his request, because he never said "please give it back to me in one piece".

Jessica said...

I was just able to catch up on my DVR (after a day long Walking Dead marathon on Sunday) and I can't believe even my dear Nikki didn't mention my immediate thought when Belle is revealed to be Regina's captive.... oooh, Jungle Hair Claire is Baaaacccckkkk!!!!

Nikki Stafford said...

Jessica: LOL!! You know, I was hoping to use that EXACT phrasing until her hair actually looked just fine at the end. Drat!! I was hoping she'd look completely crazytown, because then I'd be able to say that, but unfortunately (depending on your perspective) she actually looked pretty together, and her hair wasn't crazy. Sigh.

Jessica said...

I suppose my immediate reaction might have been skewed seeing as I can't find any screen snaps showing her hair as messed up as I immediately thought.

Oh well! I'm glad to know we were at least in sync with our expectations! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Although he clearly beat the Father because he believed not just that he had stolen the cup, but that he had killed Belle...I don't think he wanted the cup back because it's a token reminder of Belle...Remember, she specifically asked him why he didn't just throw it away earlier in the show...and he alluded to it holding memories. I believe the chipped cup represents his son.

kluu said...

I was going to post something about that also.

I can't think of what else it could have been an homage to.