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In which we're introduced to Belle's cursed self: a sultry pool hustler known as Lacey

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April 30, 2015 at 08:46 PM EDT

Welcome back, Onceaholics! We’ve officially begun the sprint to season 2’s dramatic conclusion — though tonight’s installment favored character development (and unnecessary new character introductions) over plot propulsion. Rumpbelle fans were undoubtedly fine with that; others may have felt a bit let down by “Lacey,” especially since it aired after three long Once-less weeks. Next week’s Regina-centric ep should get things back on track —  and in the meantime, let’s all thank Kitsis and Horowitz for helping to fill in Belle and Rumpelstiltskin’s backstory, which was awfully (albeit necessarily) skimmed over in season 1’s “Skin Deep.”

That episode, which introduced both the francostralian princess and her romance with Rump, revealed that the mismatched pair fell for each other a few months after Beauty became the beast’s live-in-help-slash-captive. Tonight’s episode, in turn, reveals the event that catalyzed that process.

Once upon a time, when a newly imprisoned Belle was still sleeping in Rump’s dungeon, sobbing her heart out every night, and wearing her iconic yellow ballgown every day, a handsome thief broke into the Dark One’s fortress and attempted to steal a magic wand. Though he boasts a bow that always finds its target — and, presumably, the senses and reflexes of a fox — Rump captures the guy anyway, hauling him down to the dungeon for some good, old-fashioned torture. (Could the thief being chained to a wall and threatened with skinning have been a conscious nod to this season of Game of Thrones?)

Belle, being Belle, takes pity on the poor archer and manages to set him free. When he discovers what she’s done, Rump is furious — but he doesn’t retaliate by killing Belle, a fact that doesn’t go unnoticed by the princess (or daughter of a lord, or whatever her title technically is). He does, however, drag her into the woods with him, determined to catch the thief — who has, in fact, made off with one of Rumpelstiltskin’s prized wands. (11 and a half inches, dragon heartstring, surprisingly pliant.)

You know how Past Rump apparently wouldn’t let Belle change out of her formalwear? Well, her present-day self is in even worse shape — though her memory-loss accident happened weeks ago, she’s still being held in the hospital for some reason. Guess oversights like this are common when your doctor’s more interested in corpse reanimation than patient care. All that’s about to change, though, thanks to Rumpelstiltskin, who visits his amnesiac love and tells her that he’ll help her remember her past if she, in turn, will help him be his best self — a necessity if he ever wants to win back Baelfire’s trust. Ladies, who wouldn’t want a fixer-upper like him?

NEXT: Down the Rabbit Hole

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Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.
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