Sealing the Casket

castleseason8CASTLE
Season 8, Episodes 21 & 22 (Hell to Pay)(Crossfire)

With these last two episodes, seven years and eight seasons of Castle unceremoniously come to an end. Since the ending was a saving throw and not a planned ending – and certainly not a farewell season overall – the last two episodes really do not do the series justice.

Or do they?

CASTLE - "Hell to Pay" - When an axe-wielding, escaped psychiatric inmate drops dead in Castle's P.I. office, Castle and Beckett's investigation leads Castle to suspect the victim's death could be the work of the Antichrist, on "Castle," MONDAY, MAY 9 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Scott Everett White) STANA KATIC, MOLLY QUINNBoth episodes are nods to what the series has always been. They each embody one of the two veins of the show: Hell to Pay is the whimsical comedy; Crossfire is the romantic drama. The writers manage to cap off the story well without dragging things out…almost.

Hell to Pay is a nod to the supernatural and is a classic is-it-real-or-not episode that does not take itself too seriously. Nearly all of the characters are part of the investigation and for one rare moment, everyone is working together – including Hayley and Alexis. The plot is silly – Castle is convinced that the latest victim was killed to facilitate the rise of the Antichrist, and his theories are backed up by, of all things, a cultish shrine bricked into the walls of his private-investigator’s office. While nearly the whole cast is at least someone intrigued by his theories, Beckett is unusually callous and flippant. Poor Castle is terrified that he is “marked for death” and she intentionally spooks him for her own giggles – repeatedly! This is jerkish behaviour at the best of times, not at all respectful or loving, but it is compounded by the fact that Castle and Beckett have an extraordinary relationship history. They have been in many horrible situations together and their lives have been in danger many times. Beckett may not believe in the occult, but she knows what it is like to be in mortal danger.

8-21bHer rudeness stood out for me in what was otherwise a fun episode that really ended the “fun” element of the series, sort of like having a party to celebrate the end of the semester the weekend before final exams and everyone disperses. There were shenanigans, camaraderie, and one last good mystery. All in all, it was fun, with only some awkwardness thrown in. Cheers! Pass the nachos.

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Crossfire, on the other hand, was the anticipated final exams: necessary, dramatic, intense, and soon over, with nothing left but to pack up to go home.

8-22bAll the right notes were struck: Castle and Beckett’s relationship was at the forefront, they were a team united against a common enemy (even when they spent half the episode apart), they defended their love for each other, and everything else faded into the background. Ryan and Esposito were heroes, although they were earliest assisted by Vikram and Hayley; Lanie made an appearance; Martha and Alexis got to have one last kitchen conversation with Castle. But the focus was all on Castle and Beckett, as it should have been.

Since the writers were intending for this to be the end of the partnership even if they show had not been cancelled, the episode worked well as a summary of Castle and Beckett’s relationship and the show itself. It was actually a very well-written episode that served its purpose well, except for the last scene.

8-22cSPOILER ALERT

Honestly, viewers did not need a will-they-make-it-or-not fake-out knowing that the series was ending. It only served as a cliffhanger hook that was immediately negated by the epilogue scene. Yes, one could argue that killing them both would have been a good ending – indeed, it might have been. But the comedic nature of the show precluded that being the ending – tragedies end in death, comedies end in marriage. Dramedys tend to follow the latter pattern.

So I was entirely satisfied with the epilogue, in which we see them happily married with three small children. This is what many fans had wanted to see, but I am glad that they only tacked it on like a cherry. At its core, Castle was a police procedural show that would not have lent itself well to a pregnant Beckett, let alone either she or Castle (more likely Castle) staying home with an infant while the other solved the crime of the week. Thankfully, the show did not devolve into constant pregnancy and baby jokes. The time-skip at the end, while over too quickly, allowed for us to get a glimpse of a happier future with cute kids without having to watch them have said kids.

It is fairly easy to fill in the blanks – after their near-death experience and after finally realising how seriously deep in over their heads they were, Castle and Beckett decided to tone everything down and embrace domesticity while they still could. Castle returned his focus to his writing so that he could be home more. Beckett embraced the administrative side of her work, or perhaps changed career-paths altogether. After all, if Castle’s books still stayed successful, she might not have had to keep her job at all. They had one child, then a set of twins – makes sense, considering their ages. Whatever other adventures they had, we didn’t need to see them. We can imagine.

The show remained a police procedural to the end, thankfully.

My one issue is that they ought to have extended the epilogue to include the secondary characters – perhaps a barbecue in the Hamptons – rather than including the “cliffhanger” scene. From reading other reviews, a lot of other viewers agree.

But overall, it was a good ending. They passed the exams. Castle is over and still fun to watch in syndication. Eight seasons of great stories, comedy, romance, and reminding us of the kind of people we want our police to be.

Pass the champagne!

And then, more beer and nachos.

8-22

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Death & the Underworld

season5titleONCE UPON A TIME
Season 5, Episodes 20 & 21 (Firebird)(Last Rites)

5-20There is a lot that could be said about these two episodes, seeing as they conclude the Underworld arc and touch on life, love, death, sacrifice, and acceptance. The writers manage to stifle some plot threads while opening up new ones. Our supporting characters largely get dealt with in order to maximize focus on the lead characters.

What struck me as most compelling were the three romantic relationships most explored. Hook and Emma make a daring attempt to both return to the land of the living. Robin and Regina try to hold onto their family and each other. Hades and Zelena each have a separate dream of peace and security together. A happy marriage such as the Charmings is reliable but not exciting; a failed marriage such as Rumplestiltskin and Belle is no longer worth watching. Like Belle’s father, we just want it to be over.

But Hook & Emma, Robin & Regina, and Hades & Zelena are dynamic and each have great potential. Except for those who insist that their own ideas for who should end up with whom are better than the writers’, the audience would like to see these characters happy and their relationships flourish. We have been conditioned to believe that a happy ending is a happy romantic relationship.

It is thus with a lot of anguish that we watch these relationships die. Or, at least, appear to.

ONCE UPON A TIME - "Last Rites" - Emma, David, Regina, Robin and Henry are finally back home in Storybrooke and reunited with Snow, but, unfortunately, they still have to contend with Hades, who continues to deceive Zelena as he lays out his plan to use the all-powerful Olympian Crystal to take over the town. The heroes desperately search for a way to defeat Hades while Hook does the same in the Underworld, looking for those missing storybook pages. Regina and Robin take a more direct approach, which culminates in an epic showdown that will leave our heroes forever changed, on "Once Upon a Time," SUNDAY, MAY 8 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EST), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Jack Rowand) SEAN MAGUIRE, LANA PARRILLABy the end of Last Rites, all three of those romantic relationships are over with finality, only one of which having survived only with extreme divine intervention. As in any war, very few survive, and those who are lucky enough to have their loved one survive feel both joyous and guilty at once.

Emma and Hook spent Firebird on a futile quest inspired by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice (minus the Can-Can music) while time was running short for the main characters not actually dead to return to the land of the living. While we knew already that Emma was willing to do whatever it took to save Hook, this was the first indication that she (and us) got that he would also do the same. Considering that Hook is centuries old – ancient, compared to real-time-aging Emma – and that he has spent most of that time a selfish, grumpy pirate, it is refreshing to see that he really has decided to move on to think of Emma first. Emma did not spend that long perfecting her armour, so it is hardly surprising that she dropped it more easily. Hook selflessly made the decision to save Emma over himself and do whatever it would take to help her. While there are many viewers who dislike his character, his change of motivation is truly worthy of redemption.

Meanwhile, it is unsurprising that Hades and Zelena do not ride off into the sunset together! Hades is just a season-long villain who did not seem fully capable of redemption, albeit not for lack of trying on Zelena’s part. Their relationship demonstrates well that love is not often enough, particularly when it is only one-sided. Hades may have had some noble intentions, but like Rumplestiltskin, his desire for power, control, and security overwhelmed any hope at love and redemption he had. He really only cared about how Zelena fit into his image and could serve him. He wanted to make her happy because then she would love him and make him happy. He needed someone who would believe in him and defend him. While it was undoubtedly heartwrenching, Zelena had no choice but to destroy Hades. Romantic love is not the be-all and end-all. And true love is not what Hades could offer her.

True love is what Robin and Hook both had – irrational as it may be. Hook had more time to consider the ramifications of his sacrificial actions than Robin did, but both men ultimately chose their loved ones over themselves. Robin did not even hesitate to save Regina (and his daughter, for that matter), despite having been told the dire consequences of the weapon Hades wielded. Yes, his children are orphaned, but they are at least alive. Regina may have lost another true love, but she realises now that she is worth being saved. (How she deals with that is one of the main drives of the season finale.) And both Zelena and Regina have been brought closer together.5-21bTime and again, Once Upon A Time has taken the concepts of true love, romance, and soulmates and turned them upside down. The real happy ending is not simply finding a romantic love. It isn’t even always romance. It isn’t about becoming one half of a pair. Some couples, like the Charmings, have that, but they still work for their so-called happy ending every day. However, being part of a family – blood-related or not – and having strong friendships are ultimately more intrinsic to earning a happy ending. Real love is more than romance.

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Edging Close to the Finish Line

castleseason8CASTLE
Season 8, Episodes 18, 19 & 20 (Backstabber)(Dead Again)(Much Ado About Murder)

8-18I confess, I quite like the character of Hayley. I do not have a problem with her taking on a more active role in the plot or with having her backstory explored. She is a new face and has a complicated past that is interesting to learn about. After milking Beckett’s (and even Castle’s) past to death, someone new is a welcome change – for one episode only, mind you.

Backstabber aired at an unfortunate time. Overall, it was a well-written episode and the acting was superb. Did it stretch the bounds of credibility? Yes, but so have all Castle episodes. Would it have been better to spend more time on an existing regular character? Perhaps, but after a season, Hayley is a regular character, like it or not. This episode allows to her to catch up to the others in terms of characterization. She is no Kate Beckett, but she really isn’t trying to be – and the writers aren’t trying to make her into that, either.

What I like most about the character of Hayley is that she is not being presented as a romantic interest. As I have said in previous posts, her relationship with Castle is more like being his bratty little sister than a lover. She also brings out the playful but capable side of Alexis. I can’t decide whether the writers are trying to suggest that Hayley has a romantic interest in either Castle or Alexis, or whether she is simply supposed to be platonic and familial with them. She certainly comes across as the latter. I like that her character is not a love interest, romantic foil, or eye-candy. While I enjoyed watching the unresolved-and-then-resolved sexual tension between Castle and Beckett throughout the series, it was also annoying in hindsight. Castle was especially annoying – he has mellowed out and matured nicely now and is no longer pursuing the person he is working with. We can go back to solving cases with romance on the side.

8-19Dead Again is an episode that I would like to forget. In it, Castle acts like an idiot and the rest of the characters spend most of the show rolling their eyes at him. It seems more like a self-parody than an actual legitimate episode. There was no chemistry between Castle and Beckett, either – despite them working closely together. I was as aggravated by Castle’s behaviour as the victim of the week was! I couldn’t wait for the hour to end. Of all of the years that this show has been on, this was the first week that I had really felt like I had wasted an hour. Oh well, it had to happen eventually! Over 150 enjoyable episodes isn’t a bad record.

CASTLE - "Dead Again" - When a mild mannered safety inspector for the city (guest star Jonathan Silverman) miraculously survives a poisoning, it might be luck; but when he survives another, it's a mystery Castle and Beckett will have to solve, on "Castle," MONDAY, APRIL 25 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Tyler Golden) MARIN HINKLE, NATHAN FILLION, STANA KATIC

8-20In contrast, Much Ado About Murder once again felt like a classic Castle story. Our lead characters were collaborating (and seeming to have a fun time while doing so), the mystery was about writing and telling a story, the supporting cast got the chance to have a sentimental subplot*, and the viewers could play along to try to solve the murder. After many seasons, Castle-the-writer got to wax poetic about his love for Shakespeare. There was romance, intrigue, crime, action, and suspense. It is a great standalone episode with a high re-watchability factor.

8-20cHowever, there is still a lot of tension in this episode compared to past seasons. Both Castle and Beckett seem desperate to prove how much they love each other. Jokes are not as funny because they are not as secure in their relationship as they once were. It is wonderful to see them reconnect and rebuild trust, but perhaps the real world knowledge that it is almost over clouded my judgement too much.

It is these types of episodes – fun, romantic, a little quirky, and heartfelt – that I will miss.

8-20b*I also have to point out how wonderfully the writers have woven Det. Ryan’s relationship with his now-wife Jenny into the main story of the series. Since meeting her in the second season, she has appeared about once per year – sometimes just for a cameo, sometimes for an extended appearance throughout an episode. This week, Jenny got two scenes: one along with Det. Ryan, the other with their children. It was nice to see how much they have changed, but also how normal and constant their relationship and marriage has been over the show. Hence why they don’t appear much, I suppose. It isn’t as exciting to watch as Castle and Beckett’s tumultuous relationship. But the Ryans are a great treat once in awhile – and this episode was a heartwarming send-off!

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Messing With Darkness

season5titleONCE UPON A TIME
Season 5, Episodes 18 & 19 (Ruby Slippers)(Sisters)

5-18While still driving the plot forward, Ruby Slippers took a bit of a detour. Recurring/guest characters took the spotlight, as Ruby (Red Riding Hood) tracked Zelena to the Underworld in order to save Dorothy. It was a lovely story, even if it felt a bit disruptive overall.

The problem with guest-character arcs for one episode is that we as an audience get very little time to get invested in these characters and/or their stories. In 45 minutes, the writers have to introduce (or reintroduce) the characters, give us a reason to care about them, have them do something or have something happen to them, and then have the plot resolved to the point that the audience is satisfied with not seeing them again for a long time – or if ever. That is a tall order!

Ruby, Dorothy, and Mulan are interesting in their own right, but trying to convince viewers that there was romance between Ruby and Dorothy with only one awkward dialogue scene between them was stretching credulity. I could not get invested in their relationship and I just decided to take the writers’ word for it. It made sense, but it was unsatisfying. Sadly, I don’t think that a heterosexual relationship would have been scrutinized for not being convincing quite to the point that this one was. How many so-called love stories have insisted that two characters are in love after only one scene? Many, and most are simply believed.

It was not that it was a relationship between two women; it was that there was no enough reason for the audience to care. For sure, we want Ruby to be happy. Also, her interactions with the main cast in the Underworld do keep the primary storyline progressing forward. But why did we need to have such an awkward romance shoehorned in? While the writers get many points for trying their best to portray a homosexual pairing respectfully and no differently than a heterosexual one, they also lose some for making it a bit too obviously awkward.

As for Ruby herself, I am glad that she is moving forward with her life. I was really please with how the story was resolved neatly. It was a nice guest-character episode. I think it was the best that could be done considering the circumstances of the show. Time will tell if they revisit these characters. If not, I hope that they go off happily into the sunset together.

5-19Sisters was a family-centred episode focused on Regina, Zelena, and Cora. Finally, each of them got some closure to the outstanding issues that they had with one another, especially Zelena and Cora, who barely even met. For the first time, Zelena gets her mother’s love. Cora gets to apologise for abandoning her. Zelena realises that Regina was as much a victim as she was. Truly, the episode was heartwarming and cathartic. It also changes the dynamics between the two sisters, much to the chagrin of everyone else.

I admit that sibling rivalries have always seemed pointless to me. In this show, Zelena’s constant anger at and resentment of Regina was childish and spiteful, as well as completely misguided. What she was truly envious of was that Regina seemed to have Cora’s love, while Zelena never seemed worthy of it. Hence Zelena was angry at Cora, but she could not bring herself to hate her mother because then she would never get the maternal love that she felt was rightfully hers. Thus, she convinced herself that Regina was the problem. If only Zelena could eliminate her sister from the equation, she could get the love form her mother, so she reasoned. She could prove that she was a worthy successor to Cora – a powerful witch even moreso than her mother – while Regina was a pale and weak imitation. Zelena could not bring herself to really believe that Cora was never going to love her the same way as she did Regina because Cora only cared about herself and what her daughters could do for her. Nothing Zelena could have done would have changed that. Regina was Cora’s ticket to power. Only Cora’s repentance could fix the problem.

An improved sisterly bond between Zelena and Regina sets the stage for a shift in the fight to defeat Hades and escape the Underworld. For the first time, Zelena wants to genuinely help the heroes – even if it means falling in love with the God of Death. She is willing to work with them if it means she could have her daughter back.

The other heroes, however? Their reactions to the “newly-trustworthy” Zelena remain to be scene.

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Why Didn’t We See These In November?

castleseason8CASTLE
Season 8, Episodes 15, 16 & 17 (Fidelis Ad Mortem)(Heartbreaker)(Death Wish)

8-15Well, there is a lot of angry viewers of this show at the moment, but I can’t say that I am really one of them. Disappointed? Not even that. Just tired.

Fidelis Ad Mortem finally brings to a close the “Castle and Beckett are pretending to be separated but secretly still seeing each other” story arc – only about ten episodes too late. That is truly the best thing that I can say about this episode. The writers really misjudged their audience and timing. The story arc was interesting, but it was too long. It was painful to watch the characters go about pretending to still be separated when they were secretly together, even moreso than when they were apart. Plus, the mood of the entire series darkened considerably over the course of this past season. It was still entertaining, but there was constant tension and unease. Thankfully, it is over after this episode. Things are back to normal, sort of.

8-16Heartbreaker is entirely devoted to Detective Esposito and his former love life. Apparently, once upon a time about ten years past, ladies’ man Esposito was engaged to and ready to settle down with a woman who turned out to be a criminal. While their relationship ended after he arrested her and she went to jail, he clearly never fully got over her. When she reappears as an important witness in a case, he turns into a lovesick puppy all over again. (That is understandable, since he never got any resolution to the relationship.) Luckily, Detective Ryan comes to his rescue and they solve the case. Furthermore, Esposito gets the resolution that he lacked before, and he parts with his wayward ex-fiancée on civil (dare I say, friendly?) terms this time.

Some reviewers disliked this new character development for Esposito, but I thought that it made a lot of sense. He was very nervous about getting serious with Lanie earlier in the series. He was often looking for a steady romantic relationship and to be a father figure. He played the field and acted like a ladies’ man because it was safer than getting his heart broken again. He was avoiding getting too vulnerable and close, even as much as he really did want to find someone to have a lasting relationship with. Having to break off an engagement, even for criminal reasons, is not easy. When a relationship is strong enough to reach engagement, there has usually been a lot of emotional investment made. It may be the right choice, but it is still extremely painful. It makes it harder to trust other romantic partners in the future. One is reluctant to make such a commitment again. Far better to invest emotionally elsewhere – in friends, family, colleagues, and community – until one finds the strength to make the same emotional investment again. From this perspective, the characterization of Esposito is right on.

That said, from an overall storytelling perspective, the writers just got our main characters fully back together, and suddenly, we get an episode entirely devoted to Esposito? Could they not have put this a few weeks ago, saving us the agony of watching Castle and Beckett pretend to be separated? Great episode, lousy timing. But then, that’s the nature of television.

8-17Finally, Death Wish returns the series to a classic Castle formula. It is whimsical and fun, and for the most part, Castle and Beckett are working together again to solve the case. The mystery centres on an artefact that may or may not be magical. Castle acts overly goofy at this prospect, but still manages to be entertaining and useful. They solve the case together and seem to have a lot of their old dynamic back.

Otherwise, the episode is ordinary. It is a classic caper with enough intrigue to make the viewers forget how implausible (or even ludicrous) the whole scenario is. The character that Castle is convinced is actually a genie is very annoying, but also enticing enough that we are willing to suspend our disbelief and wonder if she really is. All in all, it is a throwback to earlier seasons. It was a fun way to spend an hour on a Monday evening. It even ended with Det. Ryan and his wife Jenny safely having a baby boy to go with their daughter. Mysterious, funny, and sweetly sentimental!

Sadly, it doesn’t seem like it is going to last.

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Family Stories – A Meta-History

I first became interested in genealogy when I was a teenager – far younger than most genealogy enthusiasts.  My family history did not fit the usual mold for my region: while I was a European-Canadian, my ancestors had come to Canada long before 1900. Thus associating “family trees” with “immigration”, “the family farm”, and “Multicultural Day” was always embarrassing and annoying. I can only begin to imagine what it must be like for adoptees, children in the foster care system, or children who have painful family histories.

With a lot of help from my relatives, especially my grandmother, and after many long hours searching online (circa the year 2000), I discovered that a) I could indeed trace my ancestry out of Canada, albeit a lot longer than three or four generations; and b) I had lots of family farms to choose from, and a lot of varied immigration stories, none of which involved a train. I also learned that I had a very multicultural background, albeit still of the rather white European variety.

I had long been told that my relatives were United Empire Loyalists and Irish economic refugees, but through my research, I discovered that they were a mix of English, French, Dutch, German, Irish, and Scottish immigrants. (Countries not being quite the same as they are today, many of them would have identified themselves differently.) Some had come to the future United States in the 1600s and early 1700s, mostly settling into what is now the environs of New York City. Others came directly to what is now the province of New Brunswick – a mixture of economic refugees, disbanded soldiers, and colonizing enterprises.

Since first discovering this family history, I have continued to pursue further. I was always more interested in finding out how far back I could go than making everything neat and tidy. Furthermore, the more removed one is from the individuals in question, the more everything really just feels like a list of names and dates.

More recently, I have begun to wonder about the stories. There are little snippets throughout the records, but for the most part, there is nothing concrete beyond the mid-1800s, and family oral history only goes back so far. For every new piece of information, for every new name on a chart, there are more mysteries.

Here is where genealogy – and history, for that matter – is not science. It is often impossible to know for certain even what year a person was born (a hard fact), let alone what they ate for breakfast, and even less likely to know what they actually liked to eat for breakfast.

But it is possible indeed to speculate!

There are many questions that I know I will never have the answer to. How did the 35-year-old Prussian end up married to a 16-year-old Irishwoman? Why does the same woman seem to have four first names across several sources? How come I cannot find my great-great-great-grandmother on any census? What was it like to be an early immigrant to what would eventually be Canada? How many ways was the same name spelled?

Some of these questions can be answered with a lot of digging, but ultimately, most of them are educated guesses. Nonetheless, I can still tell my family stories. They might not be 100% accurate, but they will give back some life to the names & dates.

Ireland 054

In between television, book, and film posts, as well as rants, musings, and fiction, I will post more family stories.

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Love & Trust

season5titleONCE UPON A TIME
Season 5, Episodes 16 & 17 (Our Decay)(Her Handsome Hero)

5-16

Love is responsible for many stupid decisions. Even the most intelligent and savvy people can turn into a puddle of soup over love. It is not a rational emotion – thankfully, or else the human race would not survive very long.

In both of these episodes, we get glimpses of relationships that are far from “happily ever after”. It isn’t that they are aren’t love, or even potentially true love, but that these relationships are handicapped by a lack of faith or trust.

In Our Decay, we learn what happened in the past between Hades and Zelena – namely, that Hades fell in love with Zelena and while she was dazzled and flattered, she was not really in love with him in return. As viewers, it is not clear whether Hades is indeed serious or manipulating her, so it is hardly surprising that Zelena doesn’t trust him! Zelena has spent her whole life feeling unwanted – her mother’s abandonment of her has defined her life. Even her stepmother’s love for her was not enough to sway her from her self-loathing and desire for revenge. Understandably, she is dubious that anyone could love her, even such a kindred spirit as Hades. In fact, because he is such a kindred spirit, she does not trust him because she would not trust herself in his situation. After all, he is a powerful immortal and Ruler of the Underworld. Her powers are no match for his, particularly in the present storyline, in which they are now in his own realm. Even as Hades tries to woo Zelena with promises of being his queen, she is still not entirely convinced that he isn’t just after her baby daughter. Also, what life would that leave for her daughter?

Hades does have a point – they are both flawed and despicable people and all that he has to offer her is a world of decay and things that are never quite right. But if she accepts him, they can share it together and have the potential for happiness. Zelena does not outright refuse him, but merely admits that she still cannot trust him and also that she needs to work on herself first. Hades, being immortal, seems to be content to wait for now. Like Zelena, the audience still can’t trust him yet.

But it is true that no relationship is perfect. Some things will never be quite right. Sometimes, the future seems overwhelmingly bleak, whether because of finances, health, or other circumstances. Love can alleviate that bleakness and help overcome hardships, but there must be trust. Zelena has neither faith nor trust in Hades – at least, not yet. If the Lord of the Underworld is serious about her, then they may indeed find happiness in the future. That could prove to be an interesting storyline indeed.

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In contrast, Her Handsome Hero focuses on Belle and her marriage to Rumplestiltskin – which has deteriorated because of a lack of trust entirely. Belle no longer trusts her husband, even as she does not want to see him killed. She still loves him, but she has realised that she will never be able to have a happy marriage with him. Her eyes have been opened. Her husband won’t change and she really does not want him to do so, because the man that she fell in love with is also addicted to power. She did not fall in love with the frightened coward. She wants to secure her child’s future and knows that Rumplestiltskin will help her (even as she does not like his methods), but whether they collaborate further beyond that remains to be seen. For now, they are functioning as cordial co-parents.

Like Hades, Rumplestiltskin would be happy to have both Belle and his power. Unfortunately, he treats her like a delicate object. Belle is a smart woman who is frequently rendered helpless and powerless by the men in her life. Her father, her ex-fiancé, and her husband all want her to simply do their bidding and treat her intelligence like a cute hobby. Reading is something that she is supposed to do when they are busy, or to help her find things that can help them – but only on their terms.

Belle is a very tragic character in this show. She is attracted to the darkness in Rumplestiltskin, but also the frightened little boy that needs to be nurtured – which is who Rumplestiltskin still is, behind all of the power and bravado. She cannot bring herself to leave him, even as he does nothing for her. He loves her, but only as an object – only what she can provide him. The only thing that he can provide is the dark magic and the deal-making ability to save their child from Hades. After she gets that, there are no guarantees on their marriage.

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*Note – The other characters have had some interesting adventures in these episodes as well, albeit sideplots. More on them in later weeks.

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