Once Upon a Time “Desperate Souls” Review

A lot of questions about the back story of Rumplestiltskin were answered in “Desperate Souls,” this week’s Once Upon a Time, in particular the source of his magical abilities, as well as his affinity for children. We were also treated to another Emma and Regina show down which seemed to end in a victory for Emma, but really might have been the worst thing to happen to her since she arrived in Storybrooke.

The theme of the week was desperation, the lengths to which people will go in order to protect whatever happens to be most precious to them. In Fairytale Land, Rumple is a simple peasant, trying to protect his son from being drafted into a ruling duke’s war by taking his boy and running away. When presented with the opportunity to slay the duke’s magician, he jumps at the chance, only to find out that killing the magician means that the man’s powers have been transferred to him. And while this might seem like a blessing…he’s able to kill the men who are trying to take his son…it’s really more of a curse as seeing his father slaughter with glee rightfully terrifies the boy.

Is this where Rumple’s baby bargaining began? Is he constantly trying to recapture the love of his son by buying and selling other people’s children? Or am I reading too much into that? Not sure. We’ve barely scratched the surface of this enigmatic character.

In Storybrooke, Emma is posed to take over Sheriff Graham’s badge after his death, but Regina steps in at the last moment and fires her. She wants to appoint Mr. Glass (Mirror, mirror on the wall…), but Mr. Gold informs Emma of a loophole in the town charter that allows for her to run against Mr. Glass for the position. Rumple is the master of contracts, after all.

Unfortunately, he’s also the master of manipulation, and after setting fire to the town hall in order to force Emma to save Regina’s life, thereby making her a hero, Emma has to decide if she will play his dirty game and win, or tell the truth and lose to Regina. She makes the right decision…the one that puts a smile on Henry’s face…and the town ends up voting her in based on the fact that she stood up to Mr. Gold.

But…he claims that’s what he wanted all along, and I tend to believe him. Mr. Gold and Regina are the only people in Storybrooke who remember their true identities from Fairytale Land. Their battle for power over the town has, up until now, been a cold war. With the addition of an element of chaos like Emma, the war is heating up. The fact that Emma is in debt to Mr. Gold and is now in a position of responsibility does not bode well for the future. She and Mr. Gold are not allies against Regina; Mr. Gold’s on his own side, working an angle that we don’t fully understand yet.

Honestly, I prefer it that way. There’s still so much to learn about these characters and the events that led up to the curse. I like that Emma has a bit of power now, though, as well as the fact that she has the trust of a majority of the town. That’s gotta help when it comes time for her to accept her destiny and do something about this curse. But she’s not there yet. To her, Henry is still a young boy with an active imagination, the son she bore while in jail for an unknown crime. I hope that starts to change soon, however. If nothing else is believable, the fact that Regina is really an evil queen shouldn’t be all that shocking to the new Sheriff Swan.

What did you think of the episode? Let me know below!