Love & Trust

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

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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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