Belle's pretty awesome, did you know that?
“The Outsider” opens with the funeral of Archie and a close up of sad Pongo. Snow gives the eulogy at the grave side, setting them all on the path to thinking grim thoughts and re-evaluating their lives, just like every writer believes a funeral should. Man, are they going to be happy when they find out he's not dead.
Cut to Hook interrogating/making out with Archie. He's trying to find out Gold's weakness, which of course is his nascent quest to search for his son, Baelfire. Another quick cut (Really? This is already pretty choppy.) to the store, where Gold tells Belle about his successful experiment: he has found a potion that will allow someone to cross the town line while retaining their memories. Simply pour the potion over an emotionally significant talisman, and you're good to go – in R-stilts' case it's his son's cape. We also learn he only has enough potion to enchant one talisman, so Belle can't go with him to look for his son.
Belle obeys R-stilts command to stay behind and returns to her library, where Hook is waiting to attack her. She takes shelter from him in the elevator and calls R-stilts, but of course the metal elevator has shit reception so it's not exactly a useful phone call. The lesson here is that technology will not save us when the pirates come. R-stilts finds Belle in the elevator a short while later, but Hook has gone.
R-stilts is still not being completely honest with Belle, even when she's begging for the truth. All he will say about Hook is that Mila ran off with him, and that she died. To be fair, I wouldn't want to admit to killing my ex-wife either. It doesn't exactly help mend fences with your current ex. When they enter Gold's store, they find that it has been ransacked. Attacking Belle was a diversion, giving Hook time to search Gold's shop and steal his potential talisman: Baelfire's cape. He sends Belle back to her library and gives her a gun to defend herself.
The writers finally capitalize on Belle's chief skill, her brains, by giving her a clue in the library. She finds a knot in the scattered books, and from that figures out that Hook came to Storybrooke on his boat. R-stilts has a different method of getting information – by forcefully interrogating Mr. Smee and then turning him into a rat. Because that was effective. Belle goes in search of the boat, which is still invisible thanks to Cora's spell. She throws dust in the general direction of the water and finds the stairs that lead to the deck, stepping inside of the spell. See! There is room for a Hermione-like character on this show, even if she's not as unintentionally funny. If the characters are using their heads, you can bet the writers are too.
Belle finds Archie in the hold and frees him. They hear the creaking on the deck above that announces someone else is on the boat, but Belle is undeterred and continues her search for Bael's cape. Unfortunately, Hook finds her first. They struggle for her gun and Hook wins it, threatening Belle instead of just killing her. Yeah, they're going to kill one of the most recognizable faces on this show. Unless Emilie de Ravin is getting her own J.J. Abrams' show, I doubt it. (Miss you, Giancarlo Esposito!)
Belle explains that R-stilts needs the cape to find his son, but Hook is not interested in what R-stilts wants beyond preventing him from getting it, thanks to the fact he murdered Mila. Of course Hook has to tell the true story very close to Belle's face; he's really dying for a make out session from someone, anyone is what I'm getting from this episode. Belle manages to trick him into a position where she can bonk him on the head with a conveniently hanging oar, knocking him into the hold while she steals the cape. Hook recovers his wits and beats Belle to the deck, but R-stilts is waiting for them. He attacks Hook, exactly like the pirate wants, and comes very close to killing him right there. After Belle's repeated urging, however, the Dark One shows mercy to the pirate. Of course Hook is not going to leave well enough alone, but for the moment Belle is right and R-stilts is on his path to goodness.
At the city limits, we learn that Belle will probably never give up on R-stilts because she loves him. (Or is she one of those women who just loves a project?) As I thought, Hook shows up and shoots her, shoving her over the town line and wiping her memory. What I did NOT expect was for a car with Pennsylvania plates to shoot across the town line and run over Hook. That was pretty awesome.
The B-plot this week was Belle hunting for a yaoguai, a magical beast terrorizing the fairy tale equivalent of China. She meets Grumpy at the pub where the hunters gather, and he gives her some fairy dust for her journey. Perhaps the other hunters are distracted by her cleavage, because they kick her off their wagon pretty quickly once they're on the road. Or maybe they don't agree with a woman having book-learnin' because it interferes with their lady parts functionin' or something. She gets them back by telling them the beast-whose-name-can't-be-spelled will be found by a lake, but really it's a mountain-dweller. Of course she finds one immediately and is powerless to fight it. She's saved by Mulan, the only non-white person left on this show. Mulan, however, is a big old bitch to her and rejects Belle's help to track the monster down again.
Perhaps Mulan shouldn't have been so quick on the draw, because it doesn't take long for the misogynistic hunters to figure out that Belle lied to them. Naturally the best solution is to dangle her over a well until she tells them where to actually find the yaoguai. If they dropped her that would seriously damage the town's water supply, just sayin'. Mulan shows up to save her and ask for her help in tracking down the yaoguai, because she realizes how lame she was earlier. Lame is really the only word for it, well that or just “convenient-for-the-writers”, which is more of a concept than an adjective. Anyway, Belle agrees to help, because how else would the story progress if she didn't do something so incredibly stupid?
Unfortunately Mulan hurt her leg fighting, so she can't kill the beast herself. She gives Belle a pep talk and convinces the untrained princess that she should go fight a dangerous monster. Sure, it's exactly the same as cross-dressing and joining the army. Belle, surprisingly, listens to this half-cocked advice and goes after the beast. She traps the beast in a town square and douses it with water. When the beast writes a message in the mud, “Save me”, she uses some fairy dust on it. The beast is revealed to be Prince Phillip. (YES. SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW. Phillip is my favorite Disney prince.) Belle escorts him back to camp and introduces him to Mulan. Belle leaves them to it and starts her journey back to R-stilts, but she's kidnapped by Regina, who plans to lock her up... and we all know the story from there.
They're going to have to go back to the fairy tale land soon, like the dwarves want, because they're running out of back stories to do.
Fun fact of the episode: Emilie de Ravin's accent did not piss me off for once. No idea what to make of that.
Next week: Looks like I'm in store for a whole lot of “I don't care” moments.