I think that my favorite example of Once’s execution just completely missing the landing with their intended theme/metaphor/plot point was Belle just saying, very seriously, in a very intense conversation about the future of her relationship with the man she loves:
“You didn’t cut your hair for me. You cut it for you!”
I’m sorry that is the fucking most asinine line maybe ever on the show? (Definitely top five). On its face it’s so absurd for a human to say that at that moment. or maybe ever.
but you can SEE so painfully and so clearly how they are TRYING to communicate that Rumple cut his hair out of some self-loathing or need for purgation and then that Belle KNOWS that’s what happened
and that is actually a pretty profound psychological feature of the story. And Emilie and Robert knock that scene out of the park regardless
but the line itself is so clearly there for no other reason than to make this point that apparently they…couldn’t make any other way? That was the best they could do, apparently. Because tough psychological realities and depth are not what this show actually handles well at all.
So what we get as a result is Rumple and Belle talking about darkness and protection and Rumple’s growth as someone who embraces love and the almost death of their child/Belle and then Belle suddenly goes, “AND YOU DIDN’T EVEN CUT YOUR HAIR BECAUSE YOU THOUGHT I’D LIKE IT YOU PIECE OF SHIT!!!”
and it’s fucking hilarious.
Graceful writing on this show is so rare but that’s a particularly wonderful mishap I gotta say.