Family Business Review | Once Upon a Time Season 4, Episode 6

A hero always helps strangers.


Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, and Robert Carlyle.

Season 4
Episode 6: Family Business

Prepare yourselves, I am about to sound ungrateful. Partially. I am generally of the opinion that Belle is not used enough within the show. Most of her storylines revolve around her and Rumple, and generally the focus is upon Rumple and not her. When I sought for her to be included within the main storylines and have plots of her own, I didn’t mean like this! While it was a good episode for furthering the Snow Queen’s story and understanding her motivations, Belle’s story here was wholly frustrating.

Belle spent the vast majority of this episode behaving out of character. In the flashback, Belle wished to restore her lost memories of her mother by travelling to Arendelle to speak to the rock trolls. On the way she, of course, bumps into Anna and ends up involved in the Frozen story. When she is faced with a choice either between saving Anna, who is clinging onto a rock face for her dear life, or rescuing an inanimate object that is in no danger of falling unless it is knocked, Belle chooses the stone to restore her own memories, which she doesn’t even successfully grab.

While you could argue that this event in Belle’s past was formative in creating the hero that we know in the present day, there just wasn’t enough of a contrast created between Belle’s demeanour in the past and in the present. Instead, it just seems like flimsy justification for Belle to make increasingly erratic and confusing decisions in the present in the interest of keeping the audience in puzzlement over the full story.

Belle in the present is equally frustrating. For some reason, she now suddenly becomes cagey around Elsa, which fortunately she can get away with because Belle is rarely actually in the same room as most of the other characters in the show. She continually lies to Elsa about her knowledge of her sister, jumping entirely to an illogical reasoning that she is responsible for Anna’s disappearance when she doesn’t even know that she was. If she had just been honest from the beginning about her role in Anna’s life then it might have saved a little time, and it didn’t even reveal that much that we didn’t already know. Though, if all of the citizens of Storybrooke had been aware that Elsa had a villainous Snow Queen-shaped aunt roaming around, perhaps they could have been better prepared.

Not only is Belle lying out of sorts, but her using the dagger on Rumple is also such a massive leap in logic. Ultimately, what Belle did was a very small action. It was bad, for sure, but when she’s faced with the Dark One who literally intentionally destroyed people’s lives in the past, I think this is a safe space to share. All Belle needed to do was to tell Rumple that she believed the Snow Queen had an object that could absorb magical powers and that they could use it against her. If she’d just started with that, at least Rumple would have had an opportunity to say “Oh that’s what this is!” and reveal the hat from where he has been concealing it.

This is also further irritating when Belle finally actually tells Rumple what she wants to do when they get to the cave and he still doesn’t come clean about having the hat. It’s not even as if having it is that big of an issue. It could have just been another oddity that materialised strangely in his shop. He doesn’t have to be honest about the fact that he absorbed the apprentice into it, because let’s face it, how is Belle going to know that? Instead, he lets her go into the Snow Queen’s den when he knows it’s wholly unnecessary.

Ultimately, what the evil mirror says about Belle is true, which is the most infuriating aspect of it. When Belle is being told that she’s pathetic and weak, not very many of the audience are in direct opposition. That is how Belle has been presented for the past while, and this episode does very little to disprove that. Furthermore, the mirror’s words about the dagger being fake are easily checked and Belle gets so close to realising that Rumple has been lying to her, before she then apologises to him.

She hadn’t even done anything! Sure, using the dagger was wrong, but the way that he lets her apologise and shrink back and make it seem as if she was in the wrong and crazy is unjustifiable. It’s genuinely a stomach-churning sequence, the way that her mind has been twisted to believe that she has wronged him despite his constant actions against her. He allows her to beat herself up, because it means that he still isn’t detected, and that’s deplorable.

In terms of positive story movement, however, we do at least learn that the Snow Queen wants to cast what’s known as the Spell of Shattered Sight, which will turn all of the inhabitants of Storybrooke against each other, until it’s only Elsa, Emma and Ingrid left. Ingrid really just wants a family that loves her for herself, and she believes that only people with magic are truly able to do that. Plus there’s a magical prophecy that says that it’s Emma specifically? That seems overly convenient, but there we have it!

While having Emilie de Ravin actually doing stuff is brilliant, this episode entirely butchered her character. All of the grit and the independence and bravery was replaced with snivelling and insecurity. While I’m not here to condemn or judge people who are that way, I do think it wholly goes against everything else we have seen from this character, and hopefully she manages to pull out of this slump, take a more active role in the quest to bring down the Snow Queen and realises Rumple’s lies sooner rather than later.

You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Serena says:

    The writers assigned to Belle should be fired. As you clearly demonstrated, the same plot points could have been achieved without assassinating her character. I ended up having to fast-forward through most of this episode, so I can’t even give a proper review.

    The other scenes of the group figuring out how to tackle the Snow Queen problem progressed at a good clip, duties were divided up logically, and Regina had some amusing snark while still acting as an ally (she was no longer blaming Emma, just struggling with unpleasant emotions). Again, though, Emma shows very little reciprocal interest in Hook’s childhood (in spite of the revealing line “Wounds that are made when we are young tend to linger”), while he has been very supportive of learning about hers. Perhaps if she actually asked Hook how he was feeling, he might have the chance to tell her the truth about Gold. But instead, the “blackmail” trope is dragged on for another episode, and Belle is played for a fool again.

    I often rewatch series that I enjoy, and I will be happy to do so for almost all of seasons 1–3. But this episode will certainly end up on the “skip” list.

    Liked by 1 person

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