Belle Goes Finally Goes Full Bad Ass In Once Upon A Time
By Alex Cranz
Oh you unmitigated bastards. I should have seen it coming. Belle finally gets developed as more than the slightly addle brained love interest of Rumple and you have to go and mind wipe her (permanently) and basically kill her off.
So yes, you’re unmitigated bastards.
On the bright side–if there is one–Belle was revealed to be the best character on the show before Hook shot her memories straight out of her with Rumple’s gun.
Belle, at least the Disney incarnation, is basically every young lonely woman ever. She’s our yearning for adventure. Our expression of the desire to be released from the shackles of expectation. I don’t know a single woman that hasn’t felt at least a little kinship with her, and until last night the Belle of Once Upon A Time was nothing more than a fragile imitation. A bit of crystal propped up to look like Belle without really being her. Rather than being defined by her personal desires she was defined by Rumple’s love for her.
Then she put on some leather, gave her décolletage a little oomph, and hopped a ride to fairytale China. After that I had mad difficulty deciding what I liked best about Belle. Was it her most excellent condescension towards idiot dudes? Or smashing choice of clothing? Her ability to track a nearly untrackable beast with nothing but a book written in a language she learned on the trip? Or maybe just how she was Disney’s Belle run through the Xena machine.
At one point, after she and Mulan had decided that they needed to be best friends because they were done with all the sexist bullshit in their lives, I nodded sagely at the television and said “I could watch the Adventures of Belle and Mulan” forever. Just imagine their daring exploits! With Belle’s penchant for taking no guff from sexist dudes and Mulan’s penchant for boloing people in the face and their shared love of well fitted leather they could be a new generation’s Warrior Princess and Friend. They’d spend their time rescuing princes and dismantling Fairy Tale Land’s patriarchy and in the fourth season they’d join up with Sleeping Beauty, oh she of the magnificent drapery, and Mulan would fall madly in love with her while Belle realized she needed to be with Prince Philip cause dude isn’t going to save himself and the four would ride off into sunsets together.
And Rumple would periodically show up to be the tortured villain.
Because look, I love Rumple. As a tortured anti-hero goes he is the top. I like that he’s got to battle his demons every damn day and that his former cowardice weighs heavy on his soul. I like that his love for Bae and Belle pushes him to be a better man but that he fails often because he is human. I even like his twisted relationship with Regina!
But guys, if you like Belle than you know Belle can do better than spend her days hoping Rumple will “change” and forgiving him for murdering his wife. Like, chica, that is just an abusive relationship. That isn’t even an allegory for an abusive relationship like Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. That is straight up abuse. Guy murdered his wife and then lied to you about it. That is not someone you trust with vulva touching okay? That is someone who gets cranky that you spend too much time with Red and then murders you or her and fails to tell the whole story to the next optimistic young woman who wants to be heroic by saving his soul.
What makes Rumple endearing is he actually gets how awful he is for Belle and because he’s Rumple and a little evil he doesn’t really try to dissuade her from her feelings. What continued to make Belle less than endearing is how she recognized how bad Rumple was for her and continued on loving him anyways. For a woman as smart as Belle it was forty kinds of stupid.
Which makes all of her memories getting shot out of her kind of serendipitous (unless you are her shoulder). Now she has a completely fresh start where he’s not quite so immediately monstrous in visage and she’s not bound to him to protect her family.
Though this also means “The Adventures of Belle and Mulan” are on hiatus for the forseeable future. It is probably for the best. Most of the cast is stuck in a post-apocalyptic land and Mulan’s got bigger problems to worry about–like her hair post-curse.
- I totally forgot that Belle and Grumpy were friends when she went through her barfly phase. I need a Belle the Barfly sitcom like I need The Adventures of Belle and Mulan.
- The B-plot this week was devoted to the Charming family all sitting around being insufferable. I usually like these folks but man, they were the worst.
- Though Snow broke from the pack when she declared she wanted to stay in Maine and not spend her entire existence in an eternal battle between good and evil.
- Who else was expecting the Charmings to just take Regina’s mansion when they started talking about moving?
- Give Henry some drafting paper and crayons and he churns out blueprints any architect would be proud of, but because they need to periodically remind us that he’s a kid his apartment redesign includes an ARMORY.
- The less said about the awful Henry/Regina/Emma triangle the better. Suffice it to say that kid is behaving like no kid ever in his reaction to recent events and I’m still annoyed that Emma insists on being a law woman but essentially kidnapped her son because she saw some voodoo in a dreamcatcher.
- Regina’s one appearance was in the past. She was sassy and had a lovely hat.
- Hopefully not RIP Belle. She was so smart this week! She hid from Hook in a smart fashion, and then found his ship in a smart fashion, and then took out Hook in a smart fashion and all while VERY fashionable in some heels. Also in the past with the defeating of giant CGI fire dogs. That was smart too.
- Mulan needs to be a regular. I like that she swoops in to save ladies in a dashing fashion, and also that she REALLY likes punching shit. No one else enjoys violence as much as Mulan.
- Philip and Belle have better chemistry than he had with Mulan or Aurora. There I said it. Let the boning commence.
- Archie is definitely alive. Emma was all “mah bad.” Emma you pissed off the most powerful Evil Queen in Maine. An oopsy will not suffice.
- There is an article I could probably write about how Belle is often portrayed as the most modern fairytale heroine in her various incarnations despite being the one most deeply effected by sexism–what with her entire existence being a parable about how women should put up with their horrible husbands.
- Next Week: ETHAN EMBRY smashed Hook with his car this week and abruptly ended a stand off. So next week he gets to stay in the hospital while covered in sexy wounds. Is he Bae? A genuine stranger? Peter Pan? Frankenstein’s brother? Just some dude who took the wrong off ramp? WAIT AND SEE. (Also Cora appears to fuck with Regina’s head and Regina is back in her house and unarrested–don’t get me started.