Season 3, Episode 4 (Nasty Habits)
This episode told a further chapter in the tale of Rumplestiltskin and features brilliant performances by the actors. Rumpelstiltskin’s very human fears are demonstrated: can he change? Will he be able to hold on to his family? Will he prove himself? Will his son trust him? Can he trust himself?
This episode also is the first of the season to feature all eight of the main cast. Rumpelstiltskin tries to save Henry with Neal’s help (and vice versa) and wrestles with his conscience as represented by Belle. Meanwhile, the other five heroes continue their trek through the jungle, searching for clues to help escape Neverland so as to prove to Tinker Bell (and themselves) that they have an exit plan. Having been to Neverland before, Hook takes the lead on their search. Charming has arrived at the bargaining stage of grief, trying to determine if there is a way for him to be saved from death by poison, while he still cannot admit to Snow White that he is dying. Emma faces up to her grief about the loss of Neal – she is at the “anger” stage, which only makes Snow White feel more despairing that she cannot help her daughter. However, at least the two of them feel useful in the search for Henry – Regina seems to feel useless entirely except for making sarcastic comments. She can’t use magic and she isn’t particularly skilled, especially when it comes to teamwork. All of them seem to be working together, however, which is a pleasant development.
The main theme of the episode is trust and belief. Rumpelstiltskin struggles to believe that he can change. Baelfire (and later Neal) struggles to trust and believe in his father. The other five struggle to believe in themselves and each other and whether or not they can actually get out of Neverland.
Most importantly, however, Peter Pan wants Henry to believe that a lost boy himself. For Pan, Henry is a puzzle and a game. Clearly, Pan has a history with Rumpelstiltskin and Baelfire, and whatever that history was, it has led him to have a curious interest in Henry. Unlike the others, Henry believes. Not just because he is a child, but because he has genuine faith.
Surprisingly, Pan has trouble winning Henry over. Henry has never had friends his own age, but he has never really longed for them before. He has always had faith in his family: first in his adoptive mother (first that she was wonderful, like all mothers, and then that she was the Evil Queen), then in his biological mother, then in his grandparents, and finally in his father and grandfather. Like most precocious children, his friends were adults, and he had faith in them as well because they took care of him and knew more than he did. By contrast, Peter Pan is wild, bullying, and manipulative.
Unluckily for Henry, Pan figures out the key to Henry’s faith. He also figures out the key to poking holes in it. He reminds him that his father is dead, his family cannot outwit Pan, and that most importantly, Henry really has always been alone. Doesn’t he want to belong?
Yes, yes, he does.
Thus, despite all of the adult characters coming to terms with their own faith and trust issues, the question remains of how much Henry will believe in them when they do manage to save him. Will they really be saving him? They have taken Henry for granted, carrying him about like a child, treating him like a helpless toddler when he is a pre-teen boy. Will his family let him grow up – even if his evil grandfather doesn’t kill him?
Season 6, Episode 5 (Time Will Tell)
For a different type of belief, this week’s Castle revisits the concept of time-travel. As always, Castle is the believer while Beckett is the sceptic, but instead of Castle’s theory being zanily shut down, the suspect confirms it. Evidence mounts that could point to either the truth or falsehood of the claim that the killer is a time-traveller. The episode is told in such a manner that either could be true, with some heavy hints one way or another. Still, the show remains a police procedural and has yet to veer into true science fiction territory. After all, one could always explain away coincidences with “they were starting to see things” or “but of course you would think that.”
The story is such that a woman is killed, seemingly at random, but the suspect fleeing the scene is adamant that he needs to stop the murderer in order to prevent billions of deaths in future wars. Soon, another person is murdered – a theoretical physicist whose work apparently sets up the foundation for the technology that saves lives during the so-called “Energy Wars” while also making time-travel possible, according to Beckett’s murder suspect.
The day is saved – the future also, perhaps – through Castle and Beckett both working to pursue the murderer from their respective standpoints. Castle wants to believe in the time-travel story, while Beckett really does not (at least not while the case is still open). Yet they work together as both colleagues and spouses should. Ultimately, belief and scepticism go together, or we would have no conflict for our story. After all, therein lies the comedy.
Season 7, Episode 4 (The Return of Sherlock)
Continuing the theme of belief, Detective Murdoch is once again faced with collaborating in his investigation with a private detective who is convinced that he is Sherlock Holmes. I have to admit that even if the man is not Sherlock Holmes, that does not bar him from opening a private investigating business and solving crimes in the character of Sherlock Holmes. If anything, such a thing would be copyright infringement, not fraud. Contrary to popular belief, people in the past were not stupid. They knew what a fictional character was. Mr. Not-Holmes also successfully solves his clients’ cases, so he is genuine. Understandably, he would be annoying to the police department.
Over the course of the episode, Holmes and Murdoch manage to solve the crime – Holmes in a roundabout manner, while Murdoch in a scientific manner. Both manage to think beyond the obvious “missing nanny killed wealthy man with the help of her lowlife boyfriend” theory that Brackenreid and the rest of the police were largely convinced of. This potentially saves the lives of the nanny and the young boy in her care. It is always fun to have Murdoch be able to work with someone who both admires him and challenges him. As Sherlock is a consultant and not a constable, he cannot be ordered around and is thus free to question Murdoch’s ideas. This is a refreshing change in pace.
Ultimately, does it matter that this man believes that he is Sherlock Holmes in order to keep sane? He performs a service and is not intending harm. Furthermore, if he is genuinely incapable of understanding that he is not Holmes, he is not committing fraud or any other crime. He is also fully capable of solving crimes and thus is helpful to the police. He is someone to keep an eye on, but really harmless and quite useful. Belief, after all, is a powerful thing.
Season 5, Episode 4 (Gun for Hire)
On a different note entirely about belief, the theme is most evident in this episode in relation to the romance arcs. The main plot is a high-stakes case wherein the Doyles find themselves in the middle of trying to stop a terrorist plot while dealing with Rose’s dumb-criminal ex-husband. This man is inept and so convinced that he is the victim that he is pitiable, much to the Doyles’ chagrin. They want to help him, or at least stop him from making things worse.
However, the romantic subplots caught my attention. I sympathise with Leslie in her confusion regarding Jake. On one hand, he is sexy, lucky, honest, and driven. He makes her laugh, he loves her, and he is a good lover. On the other hand, he doesn’t respect her individuality, her needs, or her as a partner. He is still treating her like a squeeze and not a mate. All he seems to want to do is…well, try to get her pregnant, to put it bluntly. Evidently from this episode, that is not what Leslie wants.
You have to believe in a relationship for it to work. Both people have to be willing to compromise. Both need to put the needs of others before their own. Leslie has lost faith in her relationship with Jake – and just in time for another man to enter the picture.
In other words, while it initially appears that it is Leslie who is afraid of commitment, it is really that she is afraid of being shackled. Furthermore, the new man is actually from her past, and it seems that her belief in a future with Jake is shattered. Perhaps this is for the better…
In other relationship subplots, the Doyles were much better off. Despite Rose’s ex-husband reappearing, she and Mal believe in each other and have faith that things will work out, even if Mal does have some doubt. Further, Tinny realises that her current boyfriend is not right for her and breaks up with him. She is even a bit happy and relieved about that. Des is even happier, since his faith in a potential relationship with Tinny is restored. Both Des and Tinny seem to be finally on the same page romantically and at a similar point in life. Their future together is a lot more believable than Jake and Leslie, at least at the moment. Hopefully the writers keep up with their storyline over the season.