TV Review – Once Upon a Time S06E11 – Tougher than the Rest

After a very long hiatus Once Upon a Time is now back.

“Tougher than the Rest” was something myself and I know a lot of fans were dreading. As we’ve stated the finale was badly received (and was an all around horrible episode) and that’s never a good thing for a show’s winter finale. Especially one that has a three month hiatus. It was also screened a month ago and the reactions were not the best.

So easy to say expectations going in were very low. The episode as a whole was not as bad as I pictured but it wasn’t good either. It had some glaring potholes and some not-so-hilarious jokes but it also had good thematic moments. It won’t be an episode worth rewatching but it’s not a completely failure, which is always good.

Rosemary’s Baby

One of the plot points of this episode was that Gideon, you know that cute little baby Belle was forced to give up a few episodes ago, is now aged up and wants to kill the savior. So yes the person beneath the hood that Emma was so scared of facing, was the same kid she helped deliver. How’s that for irony?

He was apparently stolen by the Dark Fairy, aka Rumple’s mother and Gideon’s grandmother, and raised in some kind of hell dimension. For those of you that watched Angel the Series you’re feeling a bit of deja vu aren’t you? If there was ever a storyline you never wanted to see again it was this one. I mean a baby stolen and raised in a hell-dimension? No thank you. I sincerely hope that when all this mess is resolved he’ll go back to being a baby and Belle can raise him the right way.

ONCE UPON A TIME – “Tougher Than the Rest” – With Snow still asleep in Storybrooke, David and Hook race to stop Gideon before he can confront Emma. Gideon makes a startling confession to Belle and Gold about his whereabouts while he was missing. Meanwhile, Regina struggles with the realization that everyone, perhaps even Robin, is better off in the alternate world where the Evil Queen was defeated. And when Emma inspires a familiar face to help her and Regina return home she discovers the power to change her fate, on “Once Upon a Time,” SUNDAY, MARCH 5 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC) COLIN O’DONOGHUE

Back to aged up Gideon, apparently he wants to kill the savior to get her powers. So he wants to become the savior by murdering the savior, but don’t worry mom he’s totally not evil! Because apparently plotting to kill someone who has done nothing to you is not evil. It must be those Rumplestilskin genes. What is it about that family that just makes them unable to accept the consequences of their actions?

I’m not even going to try to understand the logic that goes into his crazy plan because I don’t think the show does either. Sometimes they come up with stuff that completely disregards any previous canon so trying to follow along with it is harder than following along with the A Song of Ice and Fire series. All I have to say about this plotline is that while I am intrigued about the Dark Fairy, I’m hoping against hope that they won’t have Belle go back to her abuser.

After an episode of Belle worrying about her son and Rumple trying to help his son kill the savior we finally get to the fight. I’m not sure if this is the predicted fight or if there will be another in the future but it ended as Emma was about to defeat Gideon. She is stopped by Rumple going “please he’s my son.” and I have to commend Robert Carlyle because that was a great moment. Before Emma can react Gideon gets away but we know he’s gonna be back. Especially since he destroys the clock part of the clocktower. Honestly as things are looking only semi positive ending I could see for this would be Rumple sacrificing himself for his son.

The names Swan, Emma Swan

How long have we waited to hear about how Emma Swan got her name? Six (very long) years. This episode finally gave us our answer with some adorable Emma flashbacks. First of all I have to say McKenna Grace is amazing as a young Emma, she’s so young and yet so good at picking up on Jennifer Morrison’s mannerisms.

I’m not a big fan of the fact that they connected August to the story but I still thought the story was very heartwarming. It added a meaningful connection to the name Swan. We had always thought Swan was the name of that first family but this makes the name better. And it’s very fitting that this is how she got her name because Emma’s story has always been about transformation, in a way.

Tougher Than the Rest Once Upon a Time
ABC/Jack Rowand

This episode clearly gives us the theme for this second half of the season, “If we believe in something strongly enough we all have the power to change our fate.” That’s a very strong statement, not just for the show but for our lives. We all hold the power in our hands to change our lives, if we don’t like them we can change it. Which is what I think Emma is going to learn this half of the season, just because she’s fated to die doesn’t mean she actually will.

Jennifer Morrison did a wonderful job in the fairytale scenes despite the slightly lackluster plot. While I know Pinocchio isn’t the same August that hurt Emma it still feels weird. I did enjoy their scenes but there was a nagging in the back of my head that it didn’t matter if this was an AU version of August. It’s still weird to have to see Emma give a pep talk to one of the men that conspired to send her to jail. And as always that’s what this boils down to.

It was revealed that August kept tabs on Emma and maybe it was intended to seem nice but I just felt it made him worse. He abandoned her as a child, then found her again and left her with the cops which led to more unhappiness for Emma. Maybe we can’t completely fault teenage August because maybe he didn’t have the means to support her but we can fault the older version. He claimed that she didn’t belong in the streets and even so conspired to see send an innocent teenager to prison for a crime she didn’t commit?

So no it doesn’t matter that he gave her “advice that changed her life”. Because he also conspired with her baby daddy/ex boyfriend to send her to prison for “her own good”. Prison definitely changed Emma’s life and not exactly for the better. August then came back into her life, not because he wanted to help her fulfill her destiny, but because he was turning into wood. So as good as any scenes between them are now, I can’t forget that.

About the author

Maii Trueba

Maii is a 27 year old writer, who can get emotional and protective over certain characters and their stories, also pandas. And don't get her started on A Song of Ice and Fire because you'll never hear the end of it. She graduated in film and has a certificate in Art History so the nerdiness comes out from time to time.

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