Title Good Form
Two-Sentence Summary As Hook and Charming go off on a journey that ultimately saves the prince’s life (with one very big caveat), flashbacks show Hook before he took on his more colorful moniker, when he was simply Lieutenant Killian Jones, who lost his brother after a quest to Neverland and then began his life as a pirate, finding more honor among thieves than in working for a corrupt king. With Charming safe (for now) and Henry aware of her presence in Neverland, Emma allows herself one moment to give in to the feelings that have always existed between herself and Hook, but Peter Pan throws a wrench into any romantic developments by telling Hook that Neal is not only alive—he’s in Neverland.
Pan: Please…You think that kiss actually meant something?
Hook: I do. I think it means she’s finally starting to see me for the man I am.
Pan: What? A one-handed pirate with a drinking problem? I’m no grownup, but I’m pretty sure that’s less than appealing.
Hook: A man of honor.
My Thoughts There’s no sense in burying the lead here; if Once Upon a Time titled its episodes in the style of Friends, “Good Form” would be called “The One with the Kiss.” Yes, other things happened in this episode: Charming was cured of his Dreamshade poisoning (with consequences, of course); Regina ripped out a Lost Boy’s heart to talk to Henry (and Emma let her); and Henry continued to fall deeper under the spell of Peter Pan. But when all was said and done, this was an episode about a kiss and everything it meant for a lost girl and a pirate with a sense of honor to rival even the most charming princes.
It makes sense that an episode centered around a pirate who’s more antihero than villain would be one steeped in moral ambiguity, and that’s how I like my Once Upon a Time episodes. “Good Form” was a great exercise in showing all of the layers and complexities in this group of characters, allowing them to surprise us and—perhaps more importantly—surprise each other.
Let’s start with the Truest Believer, shall we? Even Henry wasn’t exempt from darkness in this episode. Watching Pan continue to manipulate this boy who didn’t have many friends growing up is like a creepy PSA for avoiding peer pressure—and I love it. It was cool to see Henry’s belief manifest itself in actual magic, and then I gasped when he used the sword he conjured to hurt the boy he was fighting. In typical Henry fashion, he immediately apologized, but the damage is being done—Henry is falling for the allure of the Lost Boys, and I’m starting to see why. Remember, Henry was a loner. He grew up around kids who never aged; he never had any real friends. It’s going to be interesting to see jut how deep Pan’s claws are in him by the time his family rescues him (especially since I feel like he was less excited than I was expecting him to be when he saw them in the mirror).
That rescue effort took an important step this week with the women of Operation Henry figuring out a way to let him know they’re in Neverland. When Regina suggested ripping out the Lost Boy’s heart to control it, I found myself hoping Emma would agree to it—because it’s completely right for her character. In the season premiere, Emma didn’t define herself as a hero or a villain (or a pirate); she defined herself as a mother. So it made sense for her to want to do whatever it took to get to Henry; for Emma, the ends justified the means. Emma is one of the best characters on Once Upon a Time because she’s always been a real person in the middle of a fairytale; she’s not perfect, and that makes her all the more interesting. She’s not Regina—gleefully rolling up her sleeves before ripping the heart out—but she’s not her mother, either. Snow was devastated by that action, but Emma knew it needed to be done, so she held her mother and did the only thing she could do—apologize. The heartbreakingly quiet way Jennifer Morrison delivered that apology is still haunting me because it was such a human moment, such a real moment. And that’s what this actress has always given to this show—a grounding force of human emotion in a world of fairytales and magic.
Another grounding force of reason in this episode was Regina, and I would love for her to stay this pragmatic and snarky forever. When she told Snow that she was playing her part in the group by ripping out the Lost Boy’s heart, it showed the kind of self-awareness that we first saw in “Quite a Common Fairy” and I hope never goes away. I love Lana Parrilla’s dramatic acting like I love very few other things on this show, but this side of Regina is one that she seems to really find delight in portraying, and it’s made for some of the best lines of not just this episode but the whole season.
As the women of Operation Henry struggled with their own questions of morality, Charming and Hook began a quest that forced both of them to confront their ideas of what makes a man honorable. Their relationship has always been strained, but this episode saw it at perhaps it most antagonistic yet, which I attribute to two things: Charming’s growing understanding of Hook’s feelings for his daughter and the worsening effects of the Dreamshade. It broke my heart to see Charming so repulsed by the idea of Hook caring for Emma, but it made for great TV drama to watch him slowly change his mind as they journeyed together and Charming got to see what makes this pirate tick—because it’s not that different from what makes him tick.
Colin O’Donoghue and Josh Dallas have a fantastic onscreen rapport. From trading insults to a new kind of mutual respect, I believed every interaction they had in this episode. I liked the parallel of Charming and Hook’s brother Liam, but the parallel I liked most was the one between Charming and young Killian Jones. Both are idealists, both believe in honor and duty, and both always want to do the right thing. While Hook may have told Charming he saw a lot of his “stubborn arse” brother in the prince, I think he also saw a lot of the honorable man he once was and is trying to become once again.
This was a great episode for Dallas in terms of the little details he adds to his scenes to make them feel authentic. He’s especially wonderful at playing scenes with such subtlety that their emotional power sneaks up on you. That was certainly true of his goodbyes to his family. His hug with Emma was beautiful, but what really got to me was him wanting Henry to know that his grandpa loves him. The restrained emotion in Dallas’s voice as Charming talked about the boy he helped raise last season got to me like nothing else in this episode. And then there was his goodbye to Snow, which was filled with so much earnest love, tenderness, and barely-concealed sadness that I don’t think words could do it justice. It was rivaled only by his enthusiastic kiss upon coming back to her (How cute was it that he picked her up? Answer: SO CUTE.) and Emma and Regina’s perfect reactions.
The real star of this episode, though, was O’Donoghue. The way he so convincingly played every nuance in his character’s journey from lieutenant to pirate to a man recovering his lost sense of honor was brilliant. It was almost as if this episode was designed to disprove all of the arguments for why Hook isn’t good enough for Emma—both the ones the characters voice and the ones some parts of the audience have been voicing. Killian Jones became a pirate not because he liked being corrupt but because he wanted to fight against the corrupt king whose desire to slaughter his enemies cost Killian his beloved brother. Killian Jones was a man of honor, and this flashback made me believe that honorable heart was just waiting to be reawakened. He had once been a noble man; he just needed reminding that he could be that man again.
And who was his reminder? A beautiful, strong savior who is just as broken as he is. “Good Form” showed us Hook coming to the realization that he is, in fact, in love with Emma Swan. It began with their scene in the cave, when Hook tried to tell Emma he understood what it was like to lose hope. The way his eyes lit up when he looked at her as he said the word “hope” was breathtaking. O’Donoghue played that moment to perfection; Hook found in Emma a reason to hope again after 300 years without it, and he needed her to know that. But Emma’s walls came up once again in the face of such disarming sincerity, and she pulled away. Morrison is so good at showing the exact moment when Emma’s walls come back up around people, and it was so painfully evident in that scene.
The rest of the episode was one scene after another of Hook proving just how much he cares for, understands, and respects Emma. I loved the way he refused to get more rope when Charming told him to but acquiesced as soon as Emma demanded it (or maybe I just loved hearing him call her a lady in that gorgeous accent of his). I loved the fact that he told Charming Emma was a grown woman who could make up her mind about him for herself, especially since so many people have tried to make decisions for Emma throughout her life. I loved that Charming confirmed what we knew to be true: Hook came to Neverland for Emma; he risked his life, gave up his quest for revenge, and journeyed back to the place that killed his brother for Emma. And he also told Charming that he saved him because of Emma—that little moment (the wink!) probably serving as my second-favorite moment in the episode. (I think you can all guess the first.) It took me by surprise with its honesty in the best possible way.
The most telling scene concerning Hook’s relationship with Emma was his first confrontation with Pan in the episode. Pan already knew Emma was Hook’s weakness, but Hook never took the bait; he never took the easy way out. He knew Emma would never leave without Henry. Emma’s strength as a mother is part of the fighting spirit that drew him to her right away, so it was wonderful to see him do the right thing for Emma rather than the thing that would make him happiest. Emma’s happiness matters more to him than his own, and that’s the sign of a truly honorable man.
Because Emma’s happiness matters more than his, Hook was willing to forgo any glory or gratitude from Emma and keep her father’s secret even after he saved him. He saved Charming not for any selfish idea that Emma would thank him or feel indebted to him but from a real belief that she shouldn’t have to lose anyone else; that’s what he meant when he said he didn’t do it for Charming. But then Charming told a half-truth about Hook saving his life, and this man who was once reviled as a pirate got his recognition as a hero. O’Donoghue played Hook’s reaction to Charming’s praise perfectly; the living embodiment of honor thanked Hook for being an honorable man, and the bashful half-smile on his face said everything about how much that must have meant to Hook, especially after all we learned about his past.
And then the Charmings and Regina walked away from the toast, leaving only Emma and Hook behind. I’ll admit it; I watched the kiss scene sneak peek more than my fair share of times before this episode aired, but it still managed to take my breath away. There were just so many wonderful things happening in that scene: Hook surprising Emma with his sincerity once again (putting special emphasis on the fact that it was her father he couldn’t let die); Emma surprising him right back with her sincere “Thank you;” Hook playfully tapping his lips to ask for a kiss he never imagined getting; Emma smiling for the first time in ages as she realized just how much he wants her to kiss him; Emma playing along with his flirting and throwing Hook completely off-guard; the two of them challenging each other; and then the actual kiss. I may love Snow and Charming the most out of any Once Upon a Time couple, but there was no denying this was the show’s best kiss—the show’s hottest kiss. And it was all Emma’s choice, something she has been denied so many times in her life. Hook let her know he wanted to kiss her, but he let her make that decision on her own. She had all the power in that moment, and she seemed to relish the power he was giving her.
And there’s no way that was a one-time thing. Both Emma and Hook were fundamentally affected by that moment—just look at his face when they stop kissing and her trance-like walk after she leaves him. But once again, Hook will wait until she’s ready because he wants to be her choice—he’s a gentleman of honor. Until then, he’ll follow her orders and watch her walk away with an “As you wish” on his lips, making Emma smile once again (two smiles in one scene—it’s an Emma fan’s dream!) and making us all wonder if Hook could be the Westley to Emma’s Buttercup.
The most telling moment in that scene though, comes when the camera focuses on Hook after Emma leaves. Standing there, with his fingers tracing the path her lips made on his, we know there’s no going back for him. And he knows it, too. For the first time in 300 years, Hook has fallen in love—not lust, but love. For the first time in 300 years, he has a reason to hope. Emma kissed him—she kissed him—and nothing will ever be the same for him; it’s written all over his face. O’Donoghue made that small moment resonate with a fierce vulnerability; never have I wanted happiness for this character more.
But of course, happiness is never without obstacles on Once Upon a Time. It broke my heart to see Pan preying on Hook’s insecurities (it is what Neverland is all about, after all), but I really loved Hook standing up to him and believing that Emma kissed him because she could see his honorable heart, which I think is true. However, Pan had to go and ruin the beautiful moment of hope by telling Hook that Neal is alive and in Neverland. Will Hook tell Emma? My gut says yes because this whole season has been building towards Hook growing as a character, and we know he cares for Neal, too. But no matter what happens, I think we can all agree on this: Peter Pan is a little shit, but we all love him for it.
So what will Hook do? Who’s in the other box next to Neal? How will Charming get out of Neverland? Are Emma and Hook a couple you’re rooting for? How many times have you re-watched the kiss? Leave a comment and let’s start discussing!