The action on Once Upon a Time flicks between the present-day "real world" and flash-backs to the characters' lives in the "Enchanted Forest". These flash-backs usually serve to illustrate how two characters know each other, or how their relationship evolved, or to show how much they have changed between "then" and "now". This is sometimes helped by the introduction of a guest character we haven't seen in the "real world", and this time it's Robin Hood!
In episode 2.19 "Lacey", we have Mr Gold trying to help amnesiac Belle remember their past life together (she used to be Belle, but crossed the town line and forgot her "real" self and now has only "curse" memories Regina implanted in her and thus thinks she's Lacey, a bar-fly). He's counting on her because she always brought out the best in him and he needs that support to continue growing as a person, to fight his wicked tendencies (and stop him from maybe killing his own grandson since a prophecy stated "the boy will be your undoing").
The flash-back shows us the beginning of Belle and Rumple's story (well, after she surrenders herself to the "beast" that is) and starts with Belle sobbing in a dungeon. Rumplestiltskin shows up to complain about the noise:
"Rumple: When you so eagerly agreed to come and work for me, I assumed you wouldn't miss your family quite so much.Belle: I made my sacrifice for them, of course I miss them you beast!Rumple: Yes, yes, but the crying must stop! Night after night. It's making it very difficult for me to spin! You know I do my best thinking then!"
The sound of broken glass takes us to an elegant room in the castle (possibly a study), where a hooded figure carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows is about to make away with a wand. He shoots at Rumple with "an arrow shot from this bow always finds its target" and hits him. Unfortunately Rumple is "the Dark One" and cannot be killed! He simply pulls the arrow from his chest and we get treated to the #1 rule in Once Upon a Time:
"But don't you know? All magic comes with a price! And in your case, that's me."
So the poor archer is locked away to be skinned alive by Rumple, 'cause apparently that's what he does to people who steal (or try to) from him. He has his reputation as the "Dark One" to maintain after all! Belle is shocked by it all (the screams she hears through the walls don't help) and when Rumple leaves the castle she heads down to help the archer and sets him free. What she doesn't know is he made a detour on his way out to steal the wand. When Rumple shows her this it shakes her because she "saw good in him" and thought he just wanted to escape with his life. She is still sure there must be an explanation why he took it, but Rumple just cares that the thief stole from him "He just took the wand because he wanted magic! People who want magic never have good intentions!" (and he should know). Rumple drags Belle away to watch him shoot an arrow through the thief's heart with his own bow so she can see the consequences of her actions.
Belle believes that because Rumple didn't kill her when she set the archer free that he's not as evil as everyone thinks and deep down there's love in his heart for something more than power (he says it was because good help is hard to come by). This belief is furthered by their encounter with the Sheriff in the woods who demands a night with Rumple's wench (Belle) as part of a deal in which he tells Rumple how to find his thief, deal which Rumple refuses and instead pulls out the Sheriff's tongue and only gives it back to him in exchange for the required information.
"Sheriff: The thief that you are after, I've been chasing him for years. He ruined me! He stole the woman I love and made me the laughingstock of all of Nottingham.
Rumple: Where can I find him?
Sheriff: Last I heard he was hiding out in Sherwood Forest.
Rumple: And his name?
Sheriff: Robin Hood. He goes by Robin Hood."
And voilà! We have confirmation of that which we suspected from the moment the hooded archer who never misses a shot appeared on screen! ;o)
When Rumple and Belle find Robin, he's meeting up with a wagon carrying a dying woman (Marian) and watch as he heals her with the wand. He thus proves Belle point, that she was right about his reason for stealing the wand. He did it to heal the woman he loves.
But Rumple says he's still a thief and now he gets to die instead of her and she can tell all of Sherwood Forest what happens when you cross Rumplestiltskin. Belle says he doesn't have to do it, that she was right about the thief and she's right about Rumple, there's good in him. But Rumple doesn't hesitate to take the shot... until he sees that the woman is pregnant and Belle tells him he's not the kind of man to leave a child fatherless (we know from previous flashbacks how true that is). Rumple shoots... and the arrow shot from the bow that never misses... misses! Proving Belle right about Rumple (except he says he missed) and then she shocks him by hugging him! Back home Rumple shows Belle his fabulous library, the Beast's walls are starting to crack.
In this episode the flash-back serves to contrast innocent Belle trying to find the good in Rumplestiltskin in the past, with Mr Gold trying to remind slutty Lacey what a good person she was as Belle, and hoping that will help him find the good in himself again. Roles reversed. But turns out Lacey is much more interested in a dark Gold instead of the kind man he was trying to be (which we witness when he beats the Sheriff to a pulp in the "real world" for having been kissing Lacey earlier).
More Fun Quotes:
Rumple (raging upon learning Belle has set Robin free):
"You think he's a hero! Stealing from me for some noble cause... you read too many books dearie!"
"David: Not bad Don Juan! (congratulating Gold on getting a date with Lacey)
Gold: Don Juan was nothing before he made his deal with me."
- Robin Hood and Marian, in love.
- Sheriff of Nottingham
- Sherwood Forest
- The fact that Robin never misses a shot (although here it's because of a magical bow).
- The idea that Robin steals for some noble cause.