Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ABC's OUAT: Skin Deep and Beauty and the Beast

Before I start berating it, this was my favorite scene this week. The power of a name is always interesting and I am curious as to what the writers plan to do with all of this name power. When we find out in season 5.


Okay, folks. It's been way too quiet around here in the comments. And I am craving discussion of this past weeks OUAT on ABC, the much anticipated (and sometimes dreaded) Beauty and the Beast episode, "Skin Deep."

What did you think of it? I feared the worst, so I wasn't nearly as disappointed. I have more quibbles than I can discuss here, but I want to leave room for you to agree or disagree anyway.

But I admit to cringing at Chip the Teacup becoming the talisman of Rumpelstiltskin's lost love in Belle. Chip? The Teacup? Why? And, no, a chipped teacup wouldn't have bothered me as much if I hadn't know it was CHIP, an animated child character. Am I overreacting? Of course. But I am still annoyed. The Disney animated references were more intrusive than simple winks at the audience for me. It was almost parody more than anything else.

The image comes from's review which hit many points for me, so go there for better criticism than I can produce right now. I am not a good tv critic. I laughed and nodded my head while I read it, so that's a good thing. Most of the online discussion has been positive actually. I feel like a grinch, but perhaps I just hate the meandering storytelling. We'll probably see Belle again in, oh, season 3.

Either way, Rumpelstiltskin is certainly much more interesting as a character and villain than Regina since he has an emotional history we can relate to in some way. Regina is just silly. I find her character less and less believable as a villain. She comes across more as a spoiled child whose father should have put her in time out more often, nevermind she may have killed him earlier than she did if he had. She's a rather ineffective psychopath.

And, yes, I am going to keep watching. Because I am entertained on some levels. But now I know why I really hate these long, drawn out series in which nothing really happens. We watch for one or two clues a week, perhaps for years. Sigh..... My personality doesn't mesh with this kind of storytelling.

Okay, one final note: This version of B&B leaned into the interpretations that make so many people hate B&B. The girl is trying to reform and save the beast who hasn't shown any redeeming qualities. This "love" was more like Stockholm Syndrome. He didn't beat her when she chipped a cup so he must be a good person. Huh. The writers relied on us implying love from the fairy tale tropes, not actually showing us a reason for it to actually exist here. In contrast, we, as viewers, see him doing some pretty nasty stuff when she's offscreen so we should believe in it even less. I worry....


  1. I didn't know what to make of this episode, bringing Ashley back just really came across as 'oh crap we totally forgot about this character, quick rush her into a five minute scene so we can pretend we have plans for her', David and Mary Margaret's relationship is becoming less tragic and romantic and more creepy and confusing- why doesn't he leave his wife?!

    I didn't like Belle, just didn't think the actress was her, I'm too used to the Disney one and ultimately this is clearly meant to be a live action version of the Disney one rather than just a new Beauty, which is annoying given that have offered us a new version of Snow.

    I think the episode added depth to Rumpel though and I'm liking his character more and more but his and Belle's relationship was most definitely stockholm syndrome to me, and my boyfriend.

    Overall I still love this show but it's becoming more and more like Lost were nothing happens and nothing is revealed, I just want the plot to move on, and for characters other than David, Mary, Rumpel and the Queen to get more than just one episode and background scenes. Ashley and Sean really deserve more scenes and development and when are they going to something with Ruby/Red?

    Also, why does no one mention Graham anymore? It's like he disappeared rather than died... Pity, I thought there was potential there for Snow's Huntsman being the Huntsman who rescued Red, perhaps that could have happened before the Queen took his heart in fairyland?

  2. And what was the point of Gaston? He seemed to serve no purpose at all to me, other than throwing me out of the story. I have been increasingly disappointed with Once and I'm thinking of waiting to watch it when the entire show is over so I can watch episodes in succession without weeks, months, or years break in between.

    I worry too.

  3. Surely we will find out why Regina hates Snow soon.

    I do like that Belle left to become a hero. I thought that was a nice little jab at the Disney franchise--a girl can only be a hero by agreeing to be a prisoner.

    I'm just assuming that any plot that references a Disney fairy-tale film will be too Disney for my taste. The more interesting ones have been the ones where they didn't have to sell Disney princesses in the process (thank god Snow White is such an old film compared to the others).

  4. I am surprised because I experienced the episode totally different from you, and after I felt the previous one had big flaws (in terms of character development for Regina) I found this episode one of the strongest so far.

    That doesn't mean I don't get a lot of your points. Like the love that Belle developed for Rumple came a little bit to fast. Within the 40 minutes of the episode I had the feeling the writer didn't have time to flesh out the growing love of Belle for Rumple. This would have worked much better as a two-parter.

    And I for myself (who normally doesn't like the Disney references in the show) LOVED the Beauty and the Beast reverences here, especially since they did it so differently from the Disney version. I loved that Belle first wear her dancing dress as a princess and later, in the "Beasts" castle, her blue dress. I loved that Gaston became the rose. Because this might give the writers the ability to come back to that and make a complete new episode for Gaston out of it. But this is - probably unlike you - love long running tv shows. So far I don't fear they'll do the same mistakes as in LOST and I hope they have planned a lot of things far ahead. I for myself wouldn't have a problem to wait until Season 5 to learn certain things.

    And, oh my gosh, what an ending. Totally loved that!

    My biggest concern with OUAT so far is how they portrait Regina. During the first few episodes I really hoped that she'd be a victim herself and that Snow did something REALLY horrible which made her "snap", but I fear, they'll come up with a lousy explanation.

  5. I hadn't seen the show before this episode, and I liked enough to go catch up. So, my two cents...

    I think some of the review's issues were a little unfair, in terms of the storytelling. The David/ MM plotline seems reasonable to me-- we only want him to rush out and dump his wife because we *know* he's actually meant for Snow. If we were watching this without the backstory, we'd think he was a jerk for wanting to leave his wife without giving her a shot. His confusion is understandable. Hopefully they'll get past all this soon though, and back to the real story.

    As for Rumple/ Gold-- it seems to me that they're setting him up for a (possibly tragic) redemption arc. Tragic backstory? Check. Evil only because he was corrupted by the One Ring (er, Dagger)? Check. Tortured romance? Check. The review complains that the whole thing was rushed, and that depends on whether the review is also right about them bringing Belle back. There's plenty of time for more flashbacks with them in future episodes, which we know they'll have after a hook like that ending.

    As for the romance itself-- I think they were trying too hard in some ways. They needed to be in love, and yet not end HEA for the plot to work. He had to be evil but still loveable, she had to fall in love and yet not be ok with his actions, etc-- it was a lot to manage, and they tripped up with the writing in her scene with the Queen in particular. I HATED that she said she only came back to change him-- but she also specifically said that she left because of the "evil growing in him", which is what she wanted to fix. Since we didn't see exactly what she was talking about, I suspect that'll come up in flashback. (That anti-abuse shout-out by the Queen was awful, btw.)

    As you point out, he does reprehensible stuff that we have to overlook to buy into Belle loving him-- but other than giving her a dungeon room, we don't see him mistreat her at all, and they still gave him the classic "I let her go" moment. (Which should have been a lot more filled out, to my mind.) Again, they're trying to balance making him the monster we've seen up until now, and still making this storyline work. I don't think they did it very gracefully-- the actors and the fact that we the audience are predisposed to root for Beauty + Beast did most of the work for them. (Or in spite of them.) But I give them a pass pending future developments, which will either fulfill the promise they seem to be building for the character-- or fail it.

    And yes, the Chip thing was totally jarring.

    Final thoughts about the ending-- chilling, effective, loved it. Did the Queen pick her up the second she left and keep her? Or pick her up after the (alleged) torture? Is she mad (possibly because of the torture)? Or sane? Or, twist-- is she considered mad because she remembers her previous life? If she does remember it (or when she eventually does later in the show...) what does/ will she feel for Rumpel after everything?

    Questions, questions... sorry I went so long!


  6. I'm rooting hard for OUAT- if only for Mr. Gold and Mary Margaret. Obviously Sunday's show proved all of our suspicions that Rumpel has some majorly redeeming qualities. The continued plot with Snow and Charming, however, is just silly. I don't know how the writers are going to dig him out of this hole.

    My fear is that OUAT is going to adopt less of the mystery and suspense of LOST and more of the nonsense of HEROES.

    An earlier commenter mentioned taking a break and waiting until all the episodes could be watched together-- I'm inclined to follow that advice.

  7. First, this was my favorite episode of the series so far and I loved it!
    I agree we needed more time for Belle and Rum but with only forty mins I think the writers did good. They had to rely on the audience love of B&B while filling in the rest. And this was why Carlyle is so great here, the expressions, the body language. He's a man falling in love, wanting to forget deep down he's a coward, lonely, and hurt over the loss of his family and while transformed Rum has always until this episode been shown in control and confident, we see it's only a show. The real Rum is still holding to what humanity he can, ever spinning at his wheel not to make the gold itself but to hold to the human life he's lost, to absently forget in the monotony and yet to never forget. Also, Rum of the fairy tale world is not evil, with the exception here and there. Overall he never forces anyone to do anything. He tells them straight up, it's all on you. Be careful what you wish for, every choice has a price (which he of all people KNOWS first hand) and you have to be ready to live with that choice whatever good or ill is the fallout of it. And Jiminy, Ashley, and the lot do usually choose badly, emotionally, not wisely. But unlike Regina, he's not malicious, he's the veritable trickster incarnate, neither good nor bad, but what you make of him and his "help".
    Now human Rum/Mr. Gold another story, with his power stripped, he had to contend not only with being an ordinary man again but he's cursed in a sense that while forgetting would have made him happier, he remembers exactly what kind of man he is at the end of the day. He's a sometimes cruel man, still afraid what he wants will be taken from him and he'll have no power to stop it, and while everyone else is slowly making a new life, starting a clean slate, nothing has really changed for Gold. He doesn't know about Belle so he has no princess to fight for, no son, nothing but revenge and bitterness and loss in his heart and emptiness that he doesn't know how to fill. He's incredily human, flawed, and all this comes violently to the forefront by the episode's end. "It's your fault, not mine!" And yet, we know it's not Belle's father he really blames, it's really himself he's punishing and truly afraid to face in the mirror. He can't escape himself at the end of the day. For me, that also makes the redemtion motif all the better. I don't want my Beast to be perfect, I like how wonderfully flawed he is. He can be wicked, funny, tender, dangerous, and he's no dummy. Like Belle said, nothing superficial.
    I didn't mind the reference to Chip. I actually tend to like objects becoming symbols like this. Rum never has to say, "I'm sorry, I'm a monster, I loved you, I'm lost, I'd change my choice" outloud after he thinks from Regina she's dead. Instead, him placing the teacup (the memory of the first moment I think when he saw Belle for the first time not as a stranger, but someone interacting in a human moment with him) on the pedestal tells us this without words. Remember he replaced a perfect, beautiful, probably expensive chalice (a symbol of his magic and wealth gained) for a chipped teacup, an imperfect and in itself immaterial object ("it's just a cup"). And in Storybrooke, while Mr. Gold may own the town, he has no valuables of personal worth of his own (remember we have the unicorn baby mobile in his shop and all kinds of important and forgotten little objects from the past lives, but nothing else of Rum's). And I like to think the teacup is the Storybrooke equivalent of the spinning wheel. The spinning wheel reminded Rum of his life as a poor weaver and spinner, a human life. In Storybrooke, his teacup serves the same function. His one grounding that someone still saw him as a human being and for a time, he began to cease to live as a "monster" but as a man.


  8. Although I enjoy the fantasy/storybook elements of OUAT the constant Disney references (as opposed to the European originals)and icky adulterous affair of David and Mary Margaret really turn me off. Yeh- lets have our Happy Ever After at someone else's expense- THAT'S charming!
    Mr.Gold/Rumplestiltskin is really the thing that redeems it for me. Without Mr. Carlisle's performance I think the name of the show would have to be changed to "BEYOND Grimm" hehe.
    And Emma is so frowny, unfeminine and smart alecky that I get irritated watching her. And where is her sheriff's uniform? ARRRRRRRGH! Now I feel better.

  9. I agree with those who commented the episode could not be long enough to properly develop this story. As is the case with many situations (Sitcoms, plays, movies, even storytelling performances) the story itself has to be compromised in the interest of time, which is unfair. I cringed a bit at the disney references because all of us who read this blog know that there is a rich amount of story from which to pull. However these references are useful hooks for a largely philistine audience, which I will argue accounts for much of America today. Just thinking about the group of girls I knew in college, the majority would be squealing "OH! IT'S CHIP!!!!!!! AND LOOK! THE DRESS IS LIKE THE DRESS IN THE MOVIE! AND GASTON! HOORAY!!!" while the rest of us are saying "really? you picked Disney?"
    I have often thought how lucky it is these writers were picked up by a disney owned company so that they may make as many blatant references to the animated movies as they please (Seriously? The seven dwarfs actually named Happy Sleepy Sneezy Bashful Grumpy Dopey Doc? And that 'Stealthy' guy...that was dumb.) But anyway, I still enjoy it and want to see where it is going, even if it travels at snail's pace.

  10. Did anyone else get that the Dark One's name on the magic dagger was "ZOSO"?! The Led Zeppelin allusion there left me sniggering- or does it just mean that I'm an Old One if I get the joke?