My apologies for once again being a day late with this review... I had a commitment as soon as the show ended and couldn't get it up last evening. However I took notes while watching, so all of my initial reactions were at my finger-tips to edit this into a coherant review!
First of all, a question for you. Who is the titular "Outsider"? Is it Hook? Is it Belle? I think cases could be made for either.
Overall this is, imho, one of the strongest written episodes of the season thus far. It had a lot of beautiful moments, poignant dialogue, and character growth, and yet the episode didn't seem too busy, at least to me.
We got to see the really dark side of Hook in this episode without Cora to overshadow him, and it was downright frightening. But more on that in the end.
I really, really loved getting to see more on Belle in this episode. Emilie de Ravin is a fantastic episode and there was a lot for her to do here, from her confrontation with Hook, to her exhortions to Rumple. Still, the best part was getting to see Belle's intellectual side shine, not just knowing what books say, but showing that she can put the dots together and act on the facts. It was brilliant to see a heroine win the day not by brawn, but by her brain. I hope we get to see her carry this out further over the course of the season.
Also fantastic were the several nods to the Disney movie, with the teasing of her book reading and the subsequent tossing of the book into the mud being the most obvious. (Some awesome gif sets setting up the parallels are on tumblr). Another parallel that made me squeal was Mulan's reference to "something worth fighting for."
Speaking of which, it was delightful to see a younger, more innocent Mulan appearing to befriend and assist Belle. Plus the introduction of Phillip. Exactly what I wish we'd gotten about six episodes earlier!
I also appreciated that they finally recognized the danger posed by the modern world around them, and the fact that some (or all?) of them would like to get back to the Enchanted Forest. Surprisingly, (or not so much?) Snow isn't at all keen on this, and we get an outright fight between her and David. But, ah well, we've gotten so many sweet scenes between them that it was high time they had a little fuss.
Just about no Regina in this episode, but instead we were able to focus on Henry's side of the dilemma, which was good. Also bringing Pongo over to be Henry's dog. I think that was a great choice. I wonder if they will ever talk about Pongo's history, or if it's just going to continue to be a subtle tribute?
It's really almost a shame that all of these fantastic elements were overshadowed by the insanely intense ending. I certainly understand why they wrote it in, but oh man, talk about fan torture! Especially for those of us on the Rumbelle ship. Oy vey!
What do you think will be happening next? Who is the mysterious stranger in the car? What was the importance of that Pennsylvanian license plate?
Next week we get Frankenstein and more Cora...