*-Contains spoilers for Once Upon A Time. Read at your own risk if you are catching up on previous episodes.
The story of Beauty and The Beast is a familiar one. A woman agrees to take her father’s place at a beast’s castle when her father steals a rose, the only gift his daughter asked for.
While much of commentary is focused on the female lead, I would like to focus tonight on the male lead. The Beast is a tortured soul. Depending on which adaption one is reading or watching, the beast is either directly punished for his wicked, selfish ways or indirectly punished for others’s mistakes. His punishment is the loss of his humanity. While he retains his fine home, a kitchen full of food and fancy clothes, his cursed exterior reflects his inner turmoil.
On Once Upon A Time, Rumplestilkin (Robert Carlyle) is known the Dark One. Make a deal with the dark one and he will want something in return for his services. But underneath the scaly green skin and the magic is a man whose scars run deep and long. Loosing his parents to death and abandonment at a young age, he was branded a coward. His marriage to his first wife, Milah was rocky, even after the birth of their son, Bae. When Milah abandoned her husband and son for Captain Hook, the mortal Rumplestilkin was replaced with the immortal dark one.
In Skin Deep, Sir Maurice will do anything to end the Ogre Wars. Rumplestilkin is happy but help. But in return for his services, he wants Belle, the king’s only daughter as a serving girl. As time passes, Rumplestilskin begins to see Belle in a new light. But their first kiss reveals his deep un-healed scars.
What strikes me about this scene is that I understood him at that moment, when he is yelling at himself in the mirror. I understood his pain, his turmoil and his fear.
Sometimes, when we look in the mirror, that is all we see.