TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.04

COLIN O'DONOGHUE, JENNIFER MORRISON

Title The Apprentice

Two-Sentence Summary Hook uses his knowledge of the truth about the dagger to get his severed hand back from Rumplestiltskin before his big date with Emma, but that proves to have disastrous consequences when his hand appears to still possess the darkness he’s learned to let go of. As part of a deal to get Rumplestiltskin to take back the hand, Hook is forced to help him capture the sorcerer’s apprentice, whom we’re first introduced to in flashbacks, as Anna learns about the danger of making deals with the Dark One.

Favorite Lines
Emma: I don’t pillage and plunder on the first date, just so you know.
Hook: Well that’s because you haven’t been out with me yet.

My Thoughts There are two ways you could view “The Apprentice.” You could worry about what this episode means for certain characters and their arcs and relationships, letting yourself get caught up in the potential negatives. Or you could choose to believe that the storylines introduced in this episode will actually lead to really good things and focus on the many positive parts of this episode.

I’m choosing the second option. I’m choosing to hope. I’m choosing to be happy. I was reminded recently of the importance of choosing positivity and optimism when it’s easy to believe the worst, so I’m going to apply that little real-life lesson to fandom. And I hope that any of you who feel disappointed or discouraged after this episode can walk away from reading this feeling a little bit better.

Was “The Apprentice” perfect? No. It had its moments of contrived drama and angst. However, this was a “setup episode” if there ever was one, and the potential for character development in the stories it set up is phenomenal.

At its heart, “The Apprentice” was an episode about Rumplestiltskin, and it was so much fun to see my two favorite sides of this character come out to play: the impish, evil glee of the Dark One in flashbacks and the controlled malice of Mr. Gold in the present-day storyline. Of course I enjoy watching him be romantic with Belle (or at least I did before he was constantly lying to her) and trying to be a better man, but I like my Rumplestiltskin best when he’s working in the darker shades of gray. It’s when he’s at his most compelling as a character, and it’s when Robert Carlyle is at his most compelling as an actor. He makes me furious as I’m watching him, but I can never look away.

I never knew how much I needed to see Anna and Rumplestiltskin interact until it was happening, and now I want so much more from this dynamic. It was more fascinating to me than it had any right to be. First of all, kudos to Elizabeth Lail for once again making me feel as if I was watching this animated character come to life. Her mannerisms and facial expressions are perfect, and every time she’s onscreen I just keep thinking, Can we please keep her on the show after this half-season is over?

Anna’s strength comes from her belief in the goodness of others, but in this episode, we saw that it also comes from a belief in her own goodness. She knows who she is, and she knows she ultimately could never give into darkness. And Rumplestiltskin knows that, too. It’s why he knew he could use her to give the dagger the powers it needed to activate the sorcerer’s hat. (Side note: How great was that Mickey Mouse reference with the apprentice being turned into a mouse?) “The Apprentice” highlighted the way Rumplestiltskin can read people and use their emotions to get his way. It made for an interesting parallel that he used Anna’s inability to give into darkness to get his way in the past and Hook’s fear of his own darkness to get his way in the present.

Rumplestiltskin has a great gift for making people believe whatever he wants them to believe. And while Anna was able to gain control over the dagger for a moment, Rumplestiltskin was still able to get into her head and under her skin with his statement that her parents came to him for a way to get rid of Elsa’s magic. Was he telling the truth? Who knows at this point. (I think he was, but I’d love to be proven wrong.) The important thing is Anna believed him, and that’s going to eat away at her until she tells Elsa the truth—and probably even after that. While I was thrilled to see Anna and Kristoff (and Sven!) reunite, I couldn’t help but fear what’s to come, especially knowing that she’s still missing. What’s going to happen with the hat, and will it have some impact on Elsa and the Snow Queen? And now that we know Anna made it back home, what happened to her?

The most important thing about the flashbacks was Rumplestiltskin’s line about love being a weapon if you know how to wield it. That one line provided such insight into his character. His manipulations are always rooted in using another person’s love to suit his purposes. He used Snow and Charming’s love to create the “savior clause” in his curse. He used Anna’s love for her sister to get the tear he needed to make the hat work. He used Regina’s grief over losing the man she loved to turn her into his “monster” in order to cast his curse. And, in this episode, he used Hook’s love for Emma to turn the tables and help him regain control over the one situation where he seemingly had no power.

“The Apprentice” provided a really fascinating contrast between Rumplestiltskin, Regina, and Hook in terms of what motivates them and how they see themselves. While Regina and Hook have become more selfless through love, Rumplestiltskin is still using love as a weapon. In addition to what he did to Hook in this episode, he’s also using Belle’s trust and love to keep his power and his wife without having to give up either.

Regina’s story in this episode, while brief, was important. First and foremost, it led to the great moment at the end with Henry going undercover, using his grandfather’s talent for manipulation against him. (I liked this side of Henry, even if it worries me more than a little bit.) But it also highlighted both how much Regina has changed and how far she still has to go. Regina’s conflict over being happy that Robin still loves her was perfect because it showed her growth; she can no longer find joy in someone suffering so she can get her happy ending. However, she still thinks that making the author of the book give her a happy ending is the answer, while I’m still convinced the answer is earning her happy ending by being a good person. I’m not sure I loved Henry echoing her “make them” threat from last week, and I definitely didn’t understand the “Rumplestiltskin got his happy ending” thing when he just lost his son. However, this story was less about what Henry thought and more about what Regina is going through. She’s lost and scared that happiness isn’t hers to have because of who she was, and I’m just happy she isn’t going through that alone—that she let Henry in.

Speaking of people who are lost and scared that they aren’t worthy of happiness because of who they were, I am completely in love with the direction Hook’s story is heading in after this episode. This character needed this arc, however contrived its inception might have seemed. For as romantic as the “I want to use both hands to hold Emma” reasoning was, it was a surprisingly dumb move for such a cunning character. However, it wasn’t unbelievable. Hook wanted his hand not just to hold Emma but to show her that he’s making a fresh start with her as much as she is with him. I think part of him associates the hook with being a broken man, and he wanted to be whole for Emma now that he knows how much she cares for him, too. However, he underestimated Emma’s feelings; she was far more impressed with his new wardrobe than his hand. Both Emma and Hook have been broken by things they’ve gone through in life, and Hook should have known that Emma didn’t need him to be whole or new; she only needed him to be himself, because that’s who she fell for in the first place. His insecurities were believable, and I understood why he would want his hand back. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t shaking my head at him for doing something so risky when we all knew Emma couldn’t care less about the hook or the hand.

Hook’s story in this episode was about so much more than just a hand (and a date); it was a way to tie his character arc into the season’s two biggest themes: choosing to believe you can be more than who you fear you’re fated to be, and never giving up on yourself or the people you love. And while parts of it were hard to watch, the points of light in his dark story gave me so much hope for where it’s heading.

Ultimately, the biggest thing to remember when looking back on Hook’s story in “The Apprentice” is that it was meant to show both how little Rumplestiltskin has changed and how much Hook has changed. I’ll admit to getting caught up in trying to decipher the ambiguity surrounding Hook’s hand: Was it cursed? Was it just allowing him to give into his darkness? What does that mean for him? However, what mattered wasn’t so much what the hand was doing but Hook’s reaction to it. He was shocked and disgusted with himself, to the point where he was willing to lose it again if it meant not hurting anyone else. Colin O’Donoghue played Hook’s sense of torment and self-loathing so well in this episode; it broke my heart. He made me believe that Hook was truly terrified of succumbing to his inner darkness again—not just because he could hurt Emma but because he didn’t like himself when that side of him came out again.

Self-loathing has always been a part of Hook’s character, and Rumplestiltskin knew him well enough to prey on that. While Anna was able to turn away from darkness easily because she has a strong sense of self, Hook is struggling with his sense of self, which made him an easy target for Rumplestiltskin. It would be easy for him to simply believe what Rumplestiltskin said about who he really is and who he is always fated to be. But Killian Jones is a man who fights for what he wants—that’s who he really is. And that’s why it hurt to watch him follow the broomstick (another excellent Fantasia nod) and hold down the apprentice as Rumplestiltskin captured him in the hat. O’Donoghue made us see that Hook was lost and desperate, and we all know Rumplestiltskin knows how to recognize (and use) a desperate soul.

In the end, I don’t think I’ve ever been more upset with Rumplestiltskin than I was when he altered the security tape and threatened Emma, using love as a weapon once again. By making a deal to let go his hand again and the dark part of himself it represented, Hook showed his desire to be a better man. But Rumplestiltskin showed in return how little he values believing you can be more than who you were. But he’s wrong, and we know it. Just because he can’t find it in his heart to truly change, that doesn’t mean Hook is fated to always be the dark pirate he once was. And I’m ready to see Hook learn that this season; he can be tempted with darkness, but he doesn’t automatically have to give in to it. And if that means more incredibly meaty and tense scenes between O’Donoghue and Carlyle before all is said and done, then I will be a happy girl. Those two actors bring something truly special out of each other, and I am riveted whenever they share a scene.

I think the key to Hook working to become his best self despite feeling fated to fail at that endeavor is the same thing that’s going to help Regina and has already helped Emma: love. Rumplestiltskin may have used Hook’s love for Emma against him, but I think—even after all these years—he still underestimates what can happen when love is used to heal and support and not manipulate and hurt. In this episode, we saw Emma and Hook’s relationship being exploited for dark purposes, but we also saw just how light and good it can be. It was important to put their date in the middle of all of the stuff going on with Hook and Rumplestiltskin. Not only did it inject some much-needed happiness into a heavy episode; it gave viewers hope for exactly what will save Hook from Rumplestiltskin’s clutches and from his own fears of who he might still be at his core.

I absolutely loved the way Emma and Hook’s dynamic was written in this episode. There was an openness to it that’s never been there before—flirtatious and warm and filled with sexual tension. It was a direct reflection of the vulnerability, safety, and confidence they both felt at the end of “Rocky Road.” And it showed itself in everything from their banter when she first asked him out to Emma’s soft pink dress (a direct reflection of her softer and more vulnerable emotional state).

There was a sense of innocence to Emma and Hook’s date that perfectly contrasted the way Rumplestiltskin used Hook’s love for dark purposes as the episode went on. This date was a source of simple, beautiful joy in the middle of darkness and chaos. And what I loved most of all was that it was a source of joy not just for Emma and Hook but for Snow and Charming, too.

Snow putting Neal down to focus on Emma was hugely symbolic; it’s the first time we’ve seen her put him down, and it was to take a picture of her daughter. For Snow and Charming, this date was the ball they never got to get Emma ready for, and, for Emma (despite her weak protestations to the contrary), this was also a way to reclaim some of the joy she lost in her youth by letting her parents fuss over her and rolling her eyes at them like she never got to do as a teenager. Everything from Charming offering to drive to Snow eagerly wanting all the details (and Charming wanting none) afterward was perfect. It highlighted the fact that love should spread happiness, and Snow and Charming—the epitome of True Love—could appreciate that this happiness had finally found their princess.

That’s what struck me the most about Emma on this date—she was so happy, so warm and bright. And when Hook was able to lose himself in her, he was the same way. I loved Hook’s little shake of his head when he first saw Emma, like he couldn’t believe he was worthy of the woman he was looking at (which was sweet at the time but heartbreaking looking back after the episode ended). O’Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison have such natural, easy chemistry, and it was put to great use in this episode. This was a moment for Emma to finally let herself be happy and feel appreciated as a woman and not the savior, and it was lovely to see her decide to choose happiness and not chase Will. This was one of those good, quiet moments she had been denying herself for so long, and I found it interesting that it was Emma who was able to let go and Hook having something weighing on him now. It was a nice way to lay the groundwork for what’s to come for this relationship.

My favorite part of the date was the end of it because it gave me so much hope for the way this relationship will weather the storm coming its way. I loved the little detail of Emma wearing Hook’s jacket because it spoke to another new level of intimacy between them. That scene outside the loft was full of really delicious desire (Emma really needs to get her own place), but what struck me even more than how much these two wanted each other was how happy they made each other. Emma’s playful, soft smile was complimented perfectly by the biggest, most genuine smile we’ve ever seen on Hook, which was no small thing given what he was going through in this episode.

Standing by the door to the loft, we saw an important role reversal start to take shape: Emma supporting and comforting Hook. When he apologized for what he did to Will, I loved that she gently grabbed his hands and locked her fingers through his while telling him it was okay. Hook may have said it was his turn to ask her out, but it’s her turn to be the rock in this relationship while he finds himself. Without even knowing the details, she was able to steady him for a moment and make him smile again. And when they finally kissed, it was beautiful because it was a kiss filled with hope—for more dates and kisses in the future, but also for a love that makes both of them feel happy and supported when they feel lost and unsure of themselves.

Emma is Hook’s light, it couldn’t have been made clearer as the door closed and his face was completely hidden by shadows. And I just want him to look back at that kiss and the supportive way she held his hands before that moment and see that he doesn’t have to struggle alone. Regina has Henry, Emma has Hook, and now I want Hook to realize he can tell Emma the truth and lean on her for support. Emma’s moment of vulnerability in “Rocky Road” was so important because it allowed her to get to the emotional place she needed to reach to be there for Hook once he tells her truth.

And I do think he’s going to tell her. It would be a repeat of Zelena’s lip curse if he didn’t, and character growth should be shown here. It might not be in the next episode (if it really is focused on Emma and Regina), but I think he’s going to come clean on his own or open up if she calls him out for not acting like himself. Either way, these two characters are going to fight for their happy ending; it’s one of the themes of this season. Emma is part of a family that never gives up on the people they love, and I’m excited to see her do what Hook has done for her in the past—supporting him as he struggles with believing he’s not worthy of happiness. I want to see her fight for him and for this love that she’s found, because now that she’s accepted it, she’s not going to let it go without a fight. And as much as I love seeing Hook fight for Emma, I cannot wait to see her use her love as her own kind of weapon for good.

Yes, there is a Snow Queen to find (interesting that she didn’t come over in either curse—another point towards the “foster mother” theory) and Will Scarlet to deal with (My heart broke at the picture of Anastasia.) and a magical hat set to wreak havoc. But I’m most excited to see Emma and Hook grow as characters through the struggles coming their way. There might be rough waters ahead, but this show’s main point has always been that love is worth fighting for.

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95 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.04

  1. Everything here. Love this! And I love where I think (hope!) the show is going after this set up. My heart broke for Hook when he made that deal with Gold, because for as far as he’s come, it was a powerful reminder of how broken he is/has been, and how much he needs Emma’s love (just as much as she needs his & his belief in her). They complement each other SO well and I love how the writers have brought their relationship to this point.

    Re: Rumple…I haven’t been this mad at him since probably sometime in S1. I was boiling by the end of the hour, but Carlyle is such a presence on-screen no matter how painful things got I was still riveted.

    Really looking forward to how Will’s arc plays out here…the picture of the Red Queen in his pocket BROKE MY FRIGGIN’ HEART. I really hope ABC will hurry up and release Wonderland on DVD…I know I could get it digitally but as I don’t have a laptop watching in that format is a little inconvenient, you know?

    • Thank you! I love how we’re all united in our anger towards Rumplestiltskin after this episode but we’re also all united in our obsession over the talents of Robert Carlyle.

      And I agree with you about needing Wonderland on DVD! I missed some episodes, and I want to be able to fill in the gaps about Will. I did watch enough, though, to have my heart be absolutely broken by the picture of Anastasia. I need answers!

      • I’ve seen it for over 3 seasons now, and I still cannot get over how awesome he is playing both the imp Rumple and the straight man Mr. Gold. It’s incredible.

  2. Great review as always. I’m glad you brought up the parallels of Hook/Regina/Rumple and their redemption arcs. Rumple still hasn’t learned anything even after the loss of his son. Rumple’s reason for casting the dark curse was to reunite with Neal, now that Neal is gone, Rumple is still all about power and accumulating magic. I do see parallels in Regina and Hook’s story, but Regina still has a long way to go imo. The big difference to me is that Hook is struggling every day to be better, to be more than he was and to prove he changed. Is it easy? No, but we watch him struggle. Regina has changed as well, but since it didn’t immediately get her a happy ending she has decided that she needs to force someone else to write it for her. Regina still lacks self-awareness and the ability to acknowledge that she made choices that led her to where she is at. She ignores her bad choices while Hook struggles to live with them. Rather than continuing to fight for her happy ending she’s decided to just make someone give it to her – and I really think in the end it will backfire on her.

    I’ve seen a lot of comments about when will Hook tell Emma – well I think he will in the next few episodes, but I also think we can’t forget that Emma can read Hook – maybe not as well as he reads her. But she knew something was bothering him in 3×18 and she knew something was wrong after the incident with Will and she grabbed his hand. I think she will figure out something was going on and I’d like to see her confront him the same way he has confronted her when she was trying to run and hide.

    I think Hook and Emma will make it through this and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was something in 4B that tested them even more.

    In the meantime I look forward to the day Rumple pays for his manipulations – because you know at some point this is all going to backfire on him.

    • Also I still don’t know if now was the appropriate time to bring Will Scarlett on – but it was heartbreaking that he broke into the library just for a copy of Alice in Wonderland and a picture of Anastasia – and I didn’t even watch the spinoff.

    • Thank you! I love the comparisons you drew between Regina and Hook. I think Regina did some very good things in the last season or so, but she thinks that automatically makes her worthy of a happy ending. On the other hand, Hook still doubts that he’s worthy of one, but he’s willing to fight to become worthy of Emma’s love. I think ultimately Regina will also see that fighting for a happy ending is the only way to get one; you can’t take a shortcut or the easy way out. And as for Rumple, I’m not sure he’ll ever let go of his darkness, especially after this episode. And that just makes me sad for Belle and ready for him to get his comeuppance.

      I also very much agree with your take on Emma, Hook, and his secret. I think there’s a very good chance that the beginning of the “Emma fighting for Hook” stuff will be her not letting him run away from her because of what he did, much like he called her out when she wasn’t being her best self or letting herself be happy. I feel like her superpower could come into play here, too, since he’s been someone she’s been shown to effectively use it on.

      • I think Regina will eventually see that she can’t just demand a rewrite to get a happy ending – but it may take her until the end of the season and even then I wonder if it isn’t until after she gets her way that she realizes she screwed up. I also enjoyed Regina’s arc in Season 3, but I think she needs her own version of the Hook/Ariel storyline for her to realize where she is at and what she wants to be. To me Regina is that person who says she’s sorry, but she is sorry that she got caught, not because of what she did.
        I think the biggest difference though is like you said Regina thinks she should get her happy ending as a reward for being good for the past year. One of the things about Hook’s arc is that while he wants to be his best self for Emma, he also wants to be his best self for himself. He found out during the missing year that he couldn’t go back to being who he was even without Emma in his life. Regina is still using Henry and Robin as her reason for behaving, because if she is good then she gets to keep them in her life. Its one thing for Henry to support her and inspire its another thing entirely when she is only changing because Henry/Robin/a happy ending are her rewards.
        That is one thing both Regina/Rumple have in common – they see their good behavior (or seemingly good behavior) as needing to be rewarded by external factors or individuals.

        • I said this in another comment a couple of weeks back and I think over the course of the season it will play out with regards to the book author and Regina/Henry’s mission. History is written by the winners and rarely does that history tell the whole story. That is where I think we are headed in this story and quest for happy endings. Regina’s story isn’t simply that of a villain. Just as there are consequences for her actions, there is context for those decisions – whether we agree with them or not.

          I also think we have clearly established independent of her actions and pivot that Regina doesn’t regret the choices she’s made. So I don’t think it is about saying sorry vs. sorry for being caught. For her it is about motive. Just like Emma’s changing the book by bringing Marian back has consequences. It doesn’t matter that Emma’s intentions were good or that she didn’t think about what could happen. She was told not to change the events taking place and she did and there are consequences for those actions. Good, bad, well intended, evil all exist on a spectrum of motivation. Actions are what deal out consequence, not motivation. That for me is what we learn from this episode.

          • Regina may not regret her actions but has she learned from them? I’ve said before this story reminds me of the dark curse and I really think it’ll end with Regina facing a choice.

            I also would like to see Regina grow as a person for herself not because it means she’ll have Henry or Robin or a happy ending. Especially since we don’t know what Regina considers a happy ending.

  3. The moral of this episode is to never, ever trust Rumplestiltskin.

    Unlike Regina and Hook, who are really trying to become better people and put their pasts behind them, it feels like Rumplestiltskin hasn’t changed at all. Or at least, he’s taking one step forward but two steps back. I too was annoyed with him throughout the episode, how easily he manipulates people without a second thought. It was sad watching Anna break down and cry like that, she’s always so happy and bright and optimistic. I really hope Belle gives him hell when she finds out what he’s been up to.

    Hook probably should have seen the trouble coming from a mile away. You don’t blackmail the Dark One and get away with it for very long. He looked so desperate the entire time he was helping Rumplestiltskin. He clearly looked like he didn’t want to do it, but he felt like he had no choice. It made me a little uneasy when I was watching it, because there’s so many ways this can go wrong, but after reading your thoughts I hope it’ll all work out in the end. But in order for everything to work out well, he HAS to tell Emma himself. Nothing good will come out of this if Rumplestiltskin or Will get to her first.

    Speaking of Will, what happened to Anastasia? By now we know this takes place after OUaTiW, because he showed so much sadness in that cell. I wonder if the second half of this season will focus on that?

    I loved the date too, it countered the angst of the episode nicely. Emma was so happy, like a teenager going on her first date. The dart board scene was my favorite, along with his surprised look. I can’t wait for them to go on more dates! I vaguely remember Henry talking about find an apartment last season? I think that was before he got his memories back.

    Henry also has a lot of his father and grandfather in him, tricking Rumplestiltskin into letting him work undercover. It’s a bit ironic, because now Rumplestiltskin is having love used against him – his love for Neal and his grandson. He’ll never hurt Henry, but I don’t think the same can be said for Regina if he finds out that she’s involved in this plan as well.

    • I read a theory on tumblr (fount of all wisdom, ha! ;)) that when Emma and Hook went back in time at the end of S2, somehow that messed up Will’s story with Anastasia, so the theory is that he has to fight for his happy ending all over again. I HOPE it’s something along those lines, b/c after watching Wonderland I def. don’t want her to have died already or something!!

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

      I totally agree that if Emma finds out from someone else before Hook, it’s going to be tough to watch. I think the most likely person to talk is Will, so I’ll be watching his scenes nervously for a little while. And I also hope that we find out what happened to him soon because I just want to know why he’s here all alone and seemingly miserable.

      I like the point you made about Henry using love to get what he wants from his grandfather, but I’m a little nervous about Rumple’s intentions, too, after calling Henry his apprentice. Somehow I don’t think Emma is going to be all that keen to send her son to work with him.

        • He does need to steal more magic, and that makes me nervous for all of my favorite magical ladies—Emma, Regina, and Elsa. (Even though I know everything will ultimately turn out okay for them, I’m sure.)

  4. I liked this episode, and loved your recap. I liked the balance of the lightness (the date, specifically) with the very dark elements we see with Rumple and Hook and Rumple and Anna. I’m also happy that we got some answers about the hat, and I agree that the little nods to Fantasia/The Sorcerer’s Apprentice were lovely. I am so amazed at my own capacity to have polar opposite feelings about basically the same person; Robert Carlyle was so incredible in this episode and I loved his performance, but I wanted to reach into the TV and strangle Rumple. I was especially irritated by Rumple’s “justification” for binding Hook to his service because Hook threatened his marriage, given that what Hook was going to do was TELL BELLE THE TRUTH. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted someone to get their comeuppance so much as I want Rumple to get called out on the dagger nonsense. For a show that really celebrates the ideals of love, hope, and working beyond your own weaknesses in the pursuit of those things, Rumple’s regression to (or lack of progression beyond?) his darker self has been really hard to watch.

    As much as it pained me to see Hook so tormented by his own self-doubt, Colin is such an amazing actor that I kind of relish watching him play with the darker aspects of Hook’s character. I loved your observation about the moment of darkness in the hallway when Emma leaves; I found it to be really beautiful aesthetic choice in the filming but appreciate the symbolism so much more now.

    I also really loved the banter between the Charmings and Emma both pre- and post-date and was so overjoyed to see them interacting more as a family unit. I did find David’s statement regarding Hook (“I guess he really has changed” – really? All of the other stuff wasn’t convincing enough?) to be a little ominous given the events of the rest of the episode. I’m concerned that David will pull a 180 on his opinion at the first hint that Hook is no longer on the up and up (even if it isn’t his choice) and I could see that causing some major family conflict.

    So many problems in TV seem to center around characters not communicating, and I really hope that Hook doesn’t revert to his S3 behavior re: Zelena’s curse and just TALKS to Emma for once. They’ve had so much wonderful growth, and Emma has really made an effort to open up to him, and I just think it would be such a slap in her face if Hook kept everything that’s happening with Rumple to himself.

    My final thoughts are a bit of concern for Henry. We’ve seen that Henry is very intelligent and willing to work doggedly to achieve a goal, so I’m just a little worried that with an excess of Grandpa Dark One’s influence, those natural tendencies toward problem solving could be corrupted. Especially given that Henry is starting to enter puberty, a time when kids are already dealing with a certain level of angst, I could see the writers exploring the possibility of Henry being corrupted by darker forces and going maybe a little too far to get what he wants.

    • Thank you! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. 🙂

      You bring up a great point about Rumplestiltskin getting angry because Hook threatened his marriage when all Hook was going to do was tell Belle the truth about the deception her marriage was based on. Rumplestiltskin was the one who threatened his own marriage by using Belle’s love and trust for his own selfish gain. It’s such a stark contrast to Hook, who got into this trouble because he didn’t want to do anything that would threaten his relationship with Emma; hence why he wanted to get rid of the hand.

      I am in 100% agreement with you on the way TV shows like to create drama by having people keep secrets from each other when everything could be easily fixed by talking. I’ve watched too many of my favorite shows stumble under the weight of unrealistic lack of communication, and I really hope this storyline is going to show how much Hook and his relationship with Emma have grown since the mess with Zelena.

      I’m also concerned for Henry, but I think this could be a good way of incorporating him into the story in a way that fits Jared Gilmore’s age. It’s time he got a little bit of inner conflict to work with.

  5. You’re right about having to look at this episode from two different ways. I loved the date and all the light that was given, in Killian being really upset about what was going on with his hand and Emma being just totally focused in the date and not running after Will. I am so excited for Hook’s arc this season and about how he and Emma are going to get past all the angst that has brought his partership with Rumplestiltskin.

    Also just wanted to say i absolutely love the way you write these recaps. They make me relive the whole episode again and notice some things and symbols I wasn’t able to see when I first watched it.

  6. Great summary as usual. You always pick up on so many nuances like the mouse, the music and Snow putting down the baby. And you are a good positive fan unlike so many more vocal followers on different sights who fixate only on one character. And you support Captain Swan. So please keeping up!

  7. Disclaimer: apparently I getting sick, and my head is kinda stuffy, so if none of this makes sense I apologize in advance.

    I am going to start by saying that despite the pain and its flaws, this was my favorite episode so far this season. I say that because for the first time this season I was fully engaged in all aspects of the story. Everything was making me feel emotions, and I think you and I agree that is the sign of a successful episode, regardless of how tight the plot might have been.

    Oh Rumple. Rumple Rumple Rumple. I love you and I hate you and I think I know exactly where Zelena got her “Im gonna corrupt your love” play. Ugh. Just another reminder that Rumple is the ultimate villain. He pretty much single handedly created all the other villains on the show simply to serve his own selfish purposes. The line about love being a weapon, and his unabashed pride of being able to wield it, was one of the most chilling and terrifying lines I think I have ever heard on the show.

    What I took from this episode is that Rumple’s plan is to channel enough magic in the hat to be able to break his bonds from the dagger, while also becoming an all powerful magical being. Once again he wants to be in control of his own destiny, yet he still wants to have the power to control and manipulate others. Thats not how it works. At least I hope thats not how it works, or the villians have won.

    After watching I was having trouble deciding if the hand was indeed cursed or not. I am going with the logic that if it was really cursed and Rumple was lying to Hook they would have made that clear to the audience, so I am going to assume its “No”. And because of that I am having a real hard time wrapping my brain around Hook’s actions with Will outside the library. I totally understand him getting overheated at dinner, I totally get that Hook’s own insecurities are getting in his head, but he had absolutely no reason to go all crazy violent on Will later in the evening. Sure Hook was a selfish and ruthless pirate for many years, but even at his worst I felt like his wrath always seemed to have a clear focus. It was a means to an end if you will. This was just straight up random violence that seemed really out of character, and its the only part thats really nagging on me. The kickboxer in me is telling me “maybe its muscle memory!” but I am probably just thinking about this too hard. I would love to hear if anyone had any thoughts on this beyond what I am seeing at the surface.

    Its both fun and excruciating to see just how much Rumple and Hook bring out the worst in each other. I think its interesting that in a way, Hook was preying on Rumple’s love of Belle to get what he wanted from him, just as Rumple did with Hook. But there is one major glaring difference. Hook was blackmailing Rumple with something crappy that he actually did. What I found so incredibly infuriating is the fact that not only did Rumple prey on Hook’s insecurities, he is blackmailing him with something Hook didn’t even actually do. Ugh, I need Belle to see the real Rumple and I need it fast. Up until this point, Rumple keeps losing Belle to outside forces (Regina keeping her locked up, Hook shooting her) but I need him to lose her over is own obsession with power. Yes, you never give up on the people you love, but you have to love yourself too, and I dont understand how Belle could have any shred of love for herself and stay with Rumple after she learns the truth. I am all here for Rumple realizing his loss and finally changing for the better to win her back, but I need to see Belle stand up for herself and I need to see Rumple suffer for his selfishness.

    I loved that you highlighted “the contrast between Rumplestiltskin, Regina, and Hook in terms of what motivates them and how they see themselves”. All three were introduced as villains, but I think this episode further went to show just how low Hook is on the villain scale. Rumple is completely unapologetic about his actions at this point, Regina is still blaming others for her misfortunes, yet Hook only blames himself. Throughout this whole episode I didn’t see Hook hating Rumple more (unlike me) I just saw him hating himself more. And thats what really killed me. And once again, when Hook does something stupid and selfish, he gets punished immediately. Rumple and Regina usually get to bask in their success for a few episodes, but Hook’s such a horrible villain he doesnt even get that.

    My last main angsty thought regarding Hook once again being faced with the dilemma of coming clean with Emma. There are only 3 possible scenarios for putting a character in the same exact situation twice. 1. Bad writing. 2. To show how a character hasn’t changed (the whole point of the Rumple/Anna and Rumple/Hook combo) or 3. To show how a character has changed. Like you, I am going to hope for 3. And because if there is any more abandonment of Emma at this point I will never emotionally recover.

    On to lighter/happier things:

    -slightly bitter/petty/sick me wants to say, Regina, what is up with your hair?

    -I loved the opening. Great to see Zoso’s face again (I was having terrifying Luthur Lee Boggs flashbacks from The X-Files the whole time) and we got another piece of the overall show mythology.

    -At this point I would sell the name of my first born to Rumple to get a dang scene between Hook and Regina. Really I want scenes between Hook and everyone, but Regina is at the top, still.

    -The whole loft scene with Hook picking up Emma for her date was so casual and comfortable and normal and perfect. I couldn’t have been happier for each one of them. For that group of people to pull off “normal” is a truly astonishing feat.

    -Every woman should have a guy look at her the way Hook looked at Emma when she opened the door. The whole “mutually awestruck by the sight of each other in formalwear” is one of my favorite romantic tropes and this did not disappoint.

    -I loved that Emma completely didnt notice Hook’s hand. And I love even more that she delt with her feelings about it with a bad joke.

    -I love that Emma didnt chase after Will when they were at dinner, and the way that she reassured him at the end of the date when he apologized.

    -Colin seriously broke my heart with the way he looked at his hand at the restaurant after overreacting to Will spilling the drink. His insecurities were written all over his face, and Emma grabbing it and bringing him back into the date was perfect.

    -The way Emma had to compose herself on the other side of the door. She DEFINITELY needs her own place.

    • Great thoughts! I just wanted to say that Hook’s response to Will, given his headspace, didn’t seem out of character to me. It was hard to watch, yes…but if we go w/ the theory that the hand wasn’t actually cursed, that Rumple was playing mind games with Hook, I think his moments of “lashing out” speaks to his self-loathing. He’s struggled so long to trust others, and now he has to learn to trust himself a little bit, if that makes sense? I think the lashing out was a physical response to him emotionally spiralling inside. Would love to hear other thoughts!!

      • I also thought of his actions in the context of what we know about Hook – he has some issues about holding a grudge (he chased after Rumple for 300 YEARS) and he is hyper protective of Emma. Combine that with an overwhelming feeling of guilt and self-loathing, I think it’s easy to see how he could lash out inappropriately, especially at Will, who had already disrupted his date and “injured” Emma (or at least her lovely dress).

    • Minor extra point/question: I take it Anna’s deal while she possessed the dagger means Rumple cant hurt/capture Elsa into the hat, but I wonder what this means for our other magical Storybrooke inhabitants…Regina, Emma, SnowQueen?

      • I don’t know what Rumple plans for the hat, but I don’t think he will be able to handle it in the end. In Fantasia, Mickey found himself unable to handle it and I think Rumple will have the same problem. The apprentice even told Rumple he’d never be able to use it. What I’d like to know is who will be able to handle the hat in the end? Emma? Or someone else?

        I also think they are using this story of Hook being in trouble to show not only how far he has come, but also to show how far Emma has come. Last time Hook didn’t tell her the truth and Emma claimed she couldn’t trust him as a knee jerk reaction because she was looking to run. This time I think Hook will tell her and Emma will stick with him. It’s about both of them growing and trusting one another.

        As for Hook’s hand being cursed I don’t know. I wouldn’t put it past Rumple, then again the last thing the hand witnessed was Milah’s murder so it could be reflexive of that. Then again we may never know because Rumple would lie just to spite Hook. But it would be interesting to discuss if Hook ever had the chance to get his hand back again.

        Finally, while I knew Hook asking for his hand back was going to come back to bite him I also understand why he was doing it. Plus Hook is a pirate and he had leverage against Rumple. (I loved when Hook pulled out the pirate side last week.)The problem is Rumple out maneuvered him and now I need Hook and Emma to out maneuver Rumple. Rumple claimed love is weakness – I think that is going to come back to haunt him as well.

        • Mary, i am so glad you brought this up, because the more I think about it I want to take back my 3 options for why they would put Hook in the same exact situation, and that is that it actually has nothing to do with Hook’s character development and it has everything to do with Emma’s. I have been grappling with the thought that I think its totally in character for Hook to keep this from her if he thinks he’s protecting her and/or not worthy of her even after what happened with Zelena. I didn’t bring it up because it makes me sad and its not what I want to see happen, at all, but I almost feel like its the most likely senario, especially if you compare this with the original Snow Queen fairytale. Maybe a portion of Rumple making Hook come with him to trap the apprentice was strictly for intimidation (see what I can do to Emma!). I have a feeling we are in for some serious drawn out angst, but I still know its going to be awesome when we get the resolution.

          Ugh, seeing hook hate himself kills me, and I think we are probably in for at least 3 episodes of it…why?!

          • I think this story will parallel with what happened in 3B. I think if there is any Hook/Emma interaction in 4×5 it will be Emma picking up on something going on like she did in 3×18. Hook showing up at the Sheriff station after Rumple was a throw back to him showing up at the loft in 3×17 imo.

            I do think this story is going to be Hook trusting Emma with his mistakes while Emma trusts that Hook is trying to be his best self. It just might take a few episodes of Hook feeling awful and Emma trying to figure out what is wrong. I do not want to see Hook pull away from Emma though and I don’t want Emma to jump to conclusions. I think it is going to be growth for both.

            I think Hook is just like Charming in that he will do what he thinks he needs to do to protect his loved ones. And then Emma and Snow find out and get made for them not telling them what is going on because they are a team.

      • My immediate feeling after learning what the hat does was fear for Emma and Regina because I don’t think he’s be above capturing either of them in the hat for his selfish desires (not that I think it will actually happen, but I think he might try it). I feel like my Harry Potter nerd is coming out to play here, but this reminds me of the Elder Wand in that I don’t think anyone should be in possession of something so powerful. I would like to see it destroyed at some point because all magic comes with a price, so I can’t imagine the price for trying to use something with so much magic. (Although at this point I’d like to see Rumple have to pay it. Sorry, that’s me being grumpy and bitter about a fictional character.)

        • I love this Harry Potter parallel with every fiber of my soul. I don’t think that Emma or Regina are a threat to Rumple and therefore don’t feel they are threat to go into the hat. Snow Queen however has definitely possibilities.

          I think the price of magic and the power of the hat will trump like the Elder Wand and my wonder is if the consequence that will reset Rumple will be Henry getting caught in the crossfire as the ‘apprentice’ to Rumple.

    • Hi, first of all- I hope you feel better
      Regarding whether the hand was cursed or not, I believe it was for a few reasons:
      1) Hook is right-handed, all the punches and aggression we saw in this ep was done by his left hand, the cursed one. even stabbing Rumple with the hook was done by his left hand (after he takes the hands off you can see the left was the first), to someone who is right-handed and hadn’t use his left hand for 300 years I believe the instinct of a punch will be with his dominant hand yet it was with the left hand
      2) if you look on the way the actors were positioned against each other, the punch/stab from the right was more accessible than from the left (in punching Will and stabbing Rumple) yet it was done by the left hand.
      3) Hook’s reactions to the aggressive aspect of the hand, he looked absolutely scared and out of control after each of them, Colin was so good in showing the exact moment he’s realization hit on what the hand did, the exact moment when the aggression became him being horrified (my heart broke for him)
      4) Rumple lies and tricks to get what he wants, in the conversation between them in the end he tried one tactic, didn’t stick than transfer to another one and go on..

    • First of all, I hope you feel better soon!

      I just want to echo what you said about just how disturbing Rumple’s line about using love as a weapon was. To me, that line more than anything else highlights just how evil he was (and really still is, since he’s still using love to manipulate, control, and hurt).

      Regarding your questions about Will and Hook, I think—assuming the hand wasn’t cursed—Hook acted the way he did because he channeled all of his anger into hurting Will. He was able to ignore Rumple’s words about the hand until Will crashed his date, and then it tainted everything else about a moment that was supposed to be nothing but happy. I think Will was someone he could blame in that moment for allowing darkness to creep into his happy evening with Emma, and I think all of his anger with himself for getting his “cursed” hand back manifested itself in punching Will.

      I said this in response to another comment, but I totally agree with your anger over Rumple blackmailing Hook with something he didn’t actually do of his own free will while Hook was blackmailing Rumple over something he chose to do and chose to continue doing. That’s why I really, REALLY need him to tell Emma ASAP. I hope he trusts her trust in him enough to know that she’ll believe him over Rumple. I feel like both Hook and Emma are such a different place now than they were with the Zelena story, and I hope this story reflects those changes to their dynamic. I actually really want to see Emma notice that something’s wrong and get him to open up, reminding him that she trusts him to show how different this is from the last time. I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but I really do think we’ll see a moment of honesty between them by the end of 4×06.

      And finally, one big YES to this statement: “Every woman should have a guy look at her the way Hook looked at Emma when she opened the door.” I will never get over how he looked at her. It was everything I wanted for Emma in that moment.

    • “He pretty much single handedly created all the other villains on the show simply to serve his own selfish purposes.”

      Except for Pan….Pan created Rumple, both biologically and mentally!

      • I think Pan was actually the first villain Rumple created, albeit completely unintentionally. Malcolm became Pan due to his disgust at being a father and having responsibilities. But you are right, Malcolm was definitely the start of villain Rumple.

        • OK, I don’t think Pan was the start of Rumple the villain. I think Malcolm’s rejection of his son was the thing that broke Rumple and turned him into a weak man. A desire to be more than his father is what led him to become the Dark One in attempts to be worthy of Bae.

          Bad plan, no doubt, but I don’t think he sought that power to be evil, he sought it out of desperation.

    • I am just going to co-sign onto all your lighter and happy things. Because I think they are just terrific.

      Will — Like Katie mentioned about getting his hand back to begin with, I think the scene with Will is an extension of a weak plot device to set a key character on a very specific trajectory. I think the scene in front of the library is his pivot away from the very aspects and conduct that make him a pirate. That is the reason I believe it is there.

      You wrote: “What I took from this episode is that Rumple’s plan is to channel enough magic in the hat to be able to break his bonds from the dagger, while also becoming an all powerful magical being. Once again he wants to be in control of his own destiny, yet he still wants to have the power to control and manipulate others. Thats not how it works. At least I hope thats not how it works, or the villians have won.”

      I don’t know that he wants the power to control others so much as it is a means to an end to getting to that place where he is not controlled by the dagger – again doesn’t make it right, but I think having power and free will is his end game. The manipulation of others his method towards that goal that I think it is safe to assume will have consequences by the time it is all said and done.

      I don’t think Rumple is the ultimate villain. He is the master of the manipulation for sure. The reason is because unlike Regina and Hook, Rumple’s roots to contain love. Every other character we’ve come to know in Storybrooke has had love in their foundation, regardless of what has transpired since. That is not true for Rumple. Again, doesn’t justify the actions but it does explain his investment in retaining the powers her received as the Dark One.

      That’s the other thing. Part of me as I read peoples reactions and thought of my own response is that I have always seen Rumple as separate to the Dark One. They are not the same thing. One is in possession of the other. It doesn’t give Rumple or his actions a pass, but it does in fact explain them as being rooted in something besides evil.

      Hook for me is not a victim in this episode because he set in motion the what happened. He got outplayed, just like Rumple got outplayed by Anna in the parallel story. As I read and wrote I kept thinking in the back of my head that pop culture line “don’t hate the player, hate the game”. It feels applicable here. Rumple is controlled to some degree by the The Dark One. The magic and motivation for free will I believe is driven by the power, not Rumple himself. It is why this pursuit of the hat will ultimately end badly for him.

      • Maybe we will get lucky and the hat will be able to break Rumple’s ties to the dagger and destroy the hat and its powers in the process!

        After going back and watching the premiere, I think you are right in the fact that Rumple’s motivations are more to be in control of his own destiny, and the magical power is more of a side effect than his ultimate goal. After swearing on Bae’s grave that he promised to be better and swapping the real dagger back, he seemed completely content and ready to move on before he found the hat. But having the opportunity to take away the threat of someone else taking control of him was too tempting to resist. Maybe the hat is like “The Ring”. The ring always corrupted the wearer no matter their intentions of wearing it, and I wonder if the power of the hat will slowly corrupt Rumple into more and more of his dark one self.

  8. I was so overwhelmed by the good stuff that I mentally skimmed over the bad stuff. Not that I didn’t notice it – some of it was infuriating. But I guess I was so blissfully happy for Emma that I wasn’t worrying about it. (Even though I realize I should be worried about Killian telling her what’s going on, but I agree with Shauna that if this thing is written properly, he will tell her).

    A few little things I appreciate you pointing out – I would have completely missed the significance of the mouse, the shadows after Emma leaves Killian in the hallway, and Snow putting Neal down – I saw it but I didn’t really see the significance of it until you pointed it out.

    I need to go back and rewatch the whole thing because there was SO MUCH! But I especially loved all the smiling – Killian’s smiles at both ends of the date were my everything. I can’t think of any time we’ve seen such genuine happiness on his face (maybe just at the ball in the EF, but even that was not as complete as the smiles he had for Emma this week). And Emma was so happy and relaxed after she got past the asking. I need to watch the scene where Emma is pulling up to Granny’s to ask Killian out again – Emma obviously had a good discussion with Henry about Hook and I love that! especially that he wasn’t exactly thrilled, because he is a teenage boy after all. Emma being stunned by Killian’s look but barely reacting at all to his hand being reattached was perfect and so well done – it’s never been a big deal to the show that she doesn’t care about his hook/hand – it’s there over and over, but never called out. I was glad that the date was a success in Emma’s eyes at least – if Leroy had come bursting in with “the sky is falling” I might have murdered someone. But we got a whole date and the family reactions (! love love love ! I could gush for pages about mama snow and papa charming seeing their beautiful girl going on a date, as I imagine you could too) and Emma collecting herself inside the door and yeah, she really needs her own place – maybe soon? Henry was looking for a place not so long ago.

    Just like everyone else I enjoy watching Rumple manipulate and deceive even though I hate it. I’m looking forward to seeing how Rumple and Regina’s story lines are going to play out. Especially now that Henry is so involved. I am sure everything will work out well eventually. And I’m sure I’ll enjoy the ups and downs along the way!

    • Can we please just talk about smiles all day? 😉 Of course there was drama and angst and things that made me furious, but there were also SO MANY SMILES. As someone who has openly stated that from the pilot I shipped “Emma/happiness” above anything else (even my beloved Snow/Charming), seeing her so relaxed, open, and blissfully happy was everything my heart desired for this character. It’s also why I think this secret of Hook’s is going to end up much better than his Zelena secret. Emma is in a better place now, and I think we’ve finally stopped the one step forward, two steps back dance with her. And having this secret tear them apart would just take Emma back to a place where her walls go up again after we spent so long watching her let them down.

      Also, Emma’s desire to get her own place makes me think Henry’s potential apartment by the water will be mentioned again within the next few episodes. It’s that final step for Emma to claim Storybrooke as her own, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it happen—not just for potential romantic moments but also for what it means for Emma as a character.

      • YES! I’m pretty sure she said that she needed her own place at least 3 times – hopefully it works like Beetlejuice. I hadn’t thought about it in quite that way, but Emma definitely needs her own home now that she is home in Storybrooke. It’s time!

  9. I love your posts about OUAT every week. After I watch it I always come to see what you and your readers have to say – it’s the best part of the fandom, imo.

    I feel similarly to you about this episode. It would be easy to get really negative and worried about how it’s going to go, but I think these arcs are necessary for all of our favorites. I do think Killian will tell Emma what is going on – and soon. As I was watching the scenes between Rumple and Killian, I remember thinking that he was not counting on the fact that Killian wouldn’t rely on lying to his love like Rumple does to keep the peace- that he would involve her as a source of cunning and strength instead of someone simply needing to be protected. I hope that that is the case and that is where the writers are going with this.

    That said, I am so frustrated with the Rumple/Belle storyline. Someone on reddit mentioned Emilie wearing yellow and I realized I didn’t even notice her in this episode – was she in it? Belle is such a great character and I feel like I keep waiting for them to really show what she’s made of. I hope they do something with her soon and finally, finally make Rumple own up to his terrible actions. How long can they play that relationship being so lovely without some consequences for what he has done?

    • Also, I keep thinking back to the fact that Emma said at least three times this episode that she needs to get her own place. I see this happening – SOON. Maybe I’ve read too much fic, but the idea of her putting down roots and getting a little apartment or house for her and Henry and eventually Killian is KILLING me. I can’t wait. That was some strong foreshadowing IMO.

      • I’ve been wondering where Emma would end up living ever since Belle talked about being able to see the sea from all sides of the house she and Rumple honeymooned in. Granted its probably too large for Emma, but it totally reminded me of Henry looking for a place with a view.

      • I have been wondering if Belle finds out the truth in 4×6 which is her centric episode. If Hook tells Emma the truth by then would Emma tell Belle? I don’t see Hook telling Belle for some reason. And how would Rumple react if Belle left him? I think he has to lose his magic before he will ever truly reform. As long as he has magic Rumple will think he can get Belle back since magic is his main concern. But if Belle did leave him I can also see him blaming Hook and Emma. Rumple is self-serving so it can go either way.

    • Thank you very much for the compliment! My readers and commenters are the best, and I’m so happy you joined in the discussion!

      I’m in the same boat as you regarding all things Rumple/Belle. It’s getting tough to watch. As someone who has always loved Beauty and the Beast, my heart breaks to see Belle being written as so naive and to see this marriage being built on lies and manipulations. As Mary and Shauna said below, I really hope Belle finds out the truth in 4×06, since it’s a Belle-centric episode. It would be a great time to have her show some of the backbone that made me look up to this character as a little girl.

  10. Finally got to watch and will organize my thoughts in a real comment tomorrow, but had to say that “Love is a weapon, dearie. Always has been. It’s just that so few people know how to wield it.” is one of the greatest and most terrifying lines on TV ever. I love your recaps each week; it’s fantastic to have a place to talk about the show!

    • Thank you! I definitely agree that Rumple’s line was exceptionally chilling. I can’t wait to read all of your thoughts whenever you have time to post them!

  11. This was another strong episode for me. I know I’m being a bit of a broken record but once again I loved all the Emma/Hook, and Charming family feels. It always makes me smile to see Emma revert to being a teenager around her parents and this episode was no exception – I like how Emma indulged her parents before the date, but she definitely was embarrassed when a) David offered to drive and b) when she realised they were both up waiting for her to come home! Now that Emma and Hook are officially dating I don’t think it will take too long for her and Henry to move out – she really had to tear herself away from Hook at the door. I wish they’d shown us the scene where Emma talked to Henry about dating Hook, and I do think it’s interesting that he’s 100% on board with Regina dating Robin Hood but he’s not sure about Emma dating Captain Hook. I always thought he’d have a bigger issue with Regina dating as she was his mom for a lot longer and he never had to share her before, but obviously I was wrong.

    The flash back scenes were great – Rumple seemed to really enjoy corrupting (or at least trying to corrupt) Anna and I loved that she managed to best him and get away with the box. Anna was obviously able to hide the box before Rumple could find her again as we saw in the first episode that the box was in that mansion. However good Rumples plans were before they got to the mansion it all changed after he found that box, and the temptation to become all powerful was just too much for him to ignore. Rumple is so determined that no-one (not even Belle) will have control over him again that right now he’s willing to do anything to ensure that will never happen again, I just wonder how dark the show is willing to go with Rumple (& Hook) this season.

    Besides Hook, Regina is probably the only other person who really understands Rumple’s dark side and I think if she wasn’t so wrapped up in sorting out her own problems, she’d know he’s up to something. I can’t quite believe Henry pulled the Neal card in order to persuade Gold to let him work in the shop, but I just know that Henry will find or see something in the shop that will blow Rumple’s plans apart – and I have to say I’m already looking forward to it!

    I’ve been waiting to find out more about Emma’s childhood so I’m very excited about the next episode

    • Thank you for the comment, Joan!

      Like you, I would really like to see Regina and Rumple interact again soon. Selfishly, I’m just a huge fan of both actors, and I think they make for one of the show’s strongest dynamics. But I would also love to see if Regina can read Rumple like Hook can, which I think she might be able to. No matter what, things are going to get even more complicated now that Henry is in the mix, and I can’t wait to see how that all plays out.

      I also can’t wait to see more Emma flashbacks. I can’t wait to see them in the next episode!

  12. Yes yes yes! I am so glad the date went the way it did, although I wouldn’t have minded for her to keep the jacket 😉 while I miss Colin’s guyliner, his acting makes up for it! He really needs to tell her though, ASAP. And Emma really needs to get her own place!

  13. OK, I feel like I have to now write the tomb entitled “The Defense of Rumplestilskin” (especially because I accidentally deleted my first draft of this response). I am going to refrain from the absolute adorable date and the surrounding fun that ensued by in particular the Charmings and zero in on what this episode was about with was Rumple and Hook.

    I realize that Rumple is the master puppeteer of the stories and in how he wields magic. He never strikes a deal that doesn’t have a benefit add for him. I kept thinking Hook should know that by now (as should everyone who goes to strike a deal with Gold) Even if Rumple was changing in earnest, it doesn’t change the rules of the game as the Dark One. Tapping into the Dark One’s power means it comes at a price. There is no free magic. That’s not a Rumple thing, that’s a rule of the game of power.

    I was struck by how terrific the flashback with Anna was, both for establishing some much needed context to the sorcerer’s hat as well as why it is coveted by those who are in possession of the dagger. I also loved the parallel it created for Killian. Clearly it is Anna’s self belief that enables her to win the moment. She believes in herself as much as she believes in people’s inherent goodness. It is that goodness that Rumple counts on to ensure the Apprentice is turned into a mouse and what he relies on to bypass the enchantment of Pandora’s box. Anna’s belief in who she is carries her in a way that I thought was powerful because independent of good or evil the characters we have grown to care about are all impacted by a fear and/or lack of faith in who they are. We’ve seen that cadence over and over again in Charming, Snow, Emma, Regina, Rumple and now Hook. Anna’s steadfastness not only allows her to overcome the desire to kill Rumple and gain possession of the dagger, it is the guiding principle that makes her a survivor. She is not reliant on what people think of her. She cares and chooses to see the best in people (not dissimilar to Belle as a matter of fact). That ability is what makes her powerful in that moment and enables her to break free of Rumple’s manipulations. He’s outplayed. And that moment made me wonder if Rumple’s decisions in Storybrooke weren’t influenced by his miscalculation of Anna. Anna is powerful because she believes in herself, neither Hook nor Rumple can say the same.

    Now all this leads me to the showdown between Rumple and Hook which is at the heart of this episode. Yes, Killian’s self doubt allows Rumple to play him into a corner that levels the field of having something to hold over his head. However, this is a game Hook started. Hook walks into Gold’s shop and uses his knowledge about the dagger to threaten Gold and get what he wants. So in actuality, before Killian ever gets his hand back, the Hook of old has reared his head and tried to manipulate the situation to his benefit. That his desire to do so is for Emma doesn’t erase the methods he used to get there (not dissimilar to the discussion of how Regina has been using her power this season). Motivation vs. Method matters. Much has been made of Rumple’s declaration that ‘love is a weapon if you know how to wield it’. And I think you are right that Rumple absolutely uses Hook’s love and fear of disappointing Emma to his advantage. However, isn’t that precisely what Hook did when he strikes the deal for his hand? He uses Rumple’s love for Belle (regardless of what we think about his current secrets, we know Rumple loves Belle). He uses that love to get what he wants. THAT is the decision that sends Killian down the path towards his old self. That is what makes Carlyle’s work in that scene so critical. You see Gold realize the hypocrisy of the moment and therefore the opening to how he can take advantage of it to regain his footing. Hook gives him the opening by making a threat that gets him personal gain (his hand), as opposed to when he first called out Rumple about knowing he still possessed the dagger. Then all Rumple does is plant the seed of doubt. I don’t believe the hand was cursed. I think Rumple is telling the truth in the Gold’s shop in both scenes. And we clearly see that in the flashbacks when compared to what happens in Gold’s shop. Believing in right vs. doing what’s right are two different things. Anna does right because she believes in herself. Killian wants to be a better man for Emma, not himself. And historically throughout the show his actions have followed suit. When he attempts to save David in Neverland, it is for Emma, not because it is right. When they are returned to the Enchanted Forest, he leaves. Killian’s pursuit is one of love, but not love of self. The same can be said of Rumple. He has claimed to want to be a better man to honor Bae, not necessarily be worthy of Belle’s love. He believes Belle’s love is what will help him do so. Neither is driven to be better because it is what/who they want to be.

    The difference in this episode between Hook and Rumple is that while Hook believes the hand is enchanted, he does course correct his choice. He realizes (a little too late) that what drove him to want possession of his hand isn’t what mattered. Being the better person is about playing out the role. The fact is Gold doesn’t need Hook to trap the apprentice, he takes him to ensure his leverage over him through Emma. Gold does to Hook, what Hook tried to do to him. Only difference is Hook has begun to change in earnest, so he has second thoughts. Gold does not. That is the power of being the Dark One.

    Rumple’s entire story is wrapped up in that reality. He is weak and feeble until he becomes the Dark One and he does it to try and make Baelfire proud. His quest over the first 3 seasons was to find and reunite with his son. To regain his son’s love. He finds that moment and makes the truest of sacrifices for love when he kills Pan along with himself with the dagger. It is why I am not convinced the man who has returned isn’t more driven by the power of the Dark One then the free will and purpose of Rumple.

    This is why the sorcerer’s hat becomes so critical. I was fascinated to learn that the hat is a quest that has been made by everyone who has embodied the Dark One and now I understand why. Because with what lies in the sorcerer’s possession is the ability to control one’s fate. To rewrite the story of the Dark One. My question remains is Rumple’s quest to unlock the key to the sorcerer’s hat now driven by a desire to be the better person he wants for Bae or is it the true quest of the Dark One to be free of the the control of the dagger but remain powerful?

    • I’m going to start this off by saying how much I absolutely loved and was surprisingly moved by your take on Anna. I feel like this character has benefitted so much from the way OUAT brings out strengths in Disney princesses that people may not have noticed before or simply didn’t exist before. What they’re doing with Anna is really powerful and lovely and, in my opinion, it speaks to one of my favorite things about this show and what drew me to it in Season One—the layers it adds to female characters I already loved.

      I think you are 100% right in saying that Hook used Rumple’s love for Belle to get what he wanted, and I do think that was the start of Hook’s struggle with his own inner darkness and sense of who he wants to be versus who he really is. However, I’m having trouble taking both men’s motivations out of the situation. When Rumple blackmails Hook at the end of this episode, he is using Hook’s love for Emma not to protect Belle but to protect himself. But when Hook first blackmails Rumple (in “Rocky Road”) it was to help Emma and Elsa. But it gets murky after that because one can argue that asking for his hand back was about his own feelings and someone else could argue that it was about being a person he thinks Emma deserves. You’re right, though—motivations aside, blackmail and using another person’s love against them are not good things to do under any circumstances, and both men will pay for it in the end.

      I think you bring up an interesting point about Hook doing everything for Emma because that’s a very common argument against his character. And it’s an argument that I actually think we’re starting to see refuted in the scenes in this episode where we saw him reacting to his hand. I also don’t think it was cursed, but I think the fact that he wanted it gone even before Rumple mentioned hurting Emma with it means something significant. When he held Will down at the restaurant, I think he was genuinely disgusted with himself not because it would affect how Emma saw him but because he didn’t like the part of himself that reared its head in that moment. And throughout the episode, I think we saw him wanting to be better than what he’d gotten himself into not because of Emma but because it felt wrong. Yes, Emma’s love is always going to be a motivating factor for him, but I think this storyline might end up showing that he wants to be a better man not just for Emma but because he likes that person a whole lot better than his darker self. There’s a level of self-loathing I see in Hook whenever he goes down a dark path that I don’t see with Rumple, which makes them a really interesting pair. Like you said, Hook has second thoughts while Rumple doesn’t, and that all comes back to the power of being the Dark One.

      I want to believe the best when it comes to Rumple and the hat, but I can’t shake the feeling that he’s just trying to find a way to get rid of the dagger and still keep his power. But I hope that a wake-up call of some sort (please let it be Belle finding out and calling him out) is coming his way soon that helps remind him of the man he was when he let himself die. I know this show wouldn’t be anywhere near as good without Rumple, but I almost wish his story could have ended with that sacrifice. Then again, we wouldn’t get to watch him go through all of this struggle and hopefully work for his redemption again. (Although right now I’m not sure redemption is something possible for him—or even something he wants.)

      • I am with Katie on a part of me wishing his sacrifice at the end of 3B was the end of his character. It was just so perfect. I guess I just have to hope that his new ending will be even better and enjoy the fact that we still have Carlyle on our screens.

        I was going to go on the Hook defensive about how him wanting to be a better man goes beyond Emma at this point, but Katie did a perfect job at that, so I will just agree with her, and put my sick self back to bed.

        • I did say yesterday, you guys always have me defending the villains. 😉 First Regina, now Rumple.

          First off, while I love having Carlyle, I am with you that a part of me wishes he had not actually come back after that sacrifice in 3B. Perhaps it is why I so firmly hold to my theory that what Neal and Belle resurrected wasn’t really the whole of Rumple. Or maybe it will be Henry who eventually leads Rumple to that redemption and becomes the ultimate savior having guided Emma to her destiny, guiding Regina towards knowing she is more than a villain.

          Katie wrote: “And throughout the episode, I think we saw him wanting to be better than what he’d gotten himself into not because of Emma but because it felt wrong.”

          I think that’s right and I talked more about it in my first draft but wasn’t as clear here. I think this episode was pivotal in Hook stepping out beyond himself and finding a purpose besides Emma to want to be a better man. He is a lot like Regina in that sense. Killian wasn’t always a pirate. His roots are good. There has always been goodness in him and that darkness comes from the loss he’s experienced – first with his brother and then with Mila. I think finding the capacity to love through Emma is the portal that opened up his capacity to be the better man he once was before his pirating days. His act was selfish, his motives vain and his conduct fed off of it. And to your point with Will Scarlet – he pulls up realizing this isn’t who he wants to be anymore. It’s why the second confrontation with Will is important, because it shows us the man he wants to be in the absence (literally) of Emma. It’s an important moment for his character and I agree with Katie the start of what will be an interesting journey I hope. Especially because those actions will have lingering consequences to the events of Sunday night.

          As for Rumple. I don’t think we should believe the best when it comes to Rumple and the hat, because we know the hat has been the quest of every Dark One that came before him. He is no different (and it continues to feed my theory, so perhaps that is why I want it to be so). AND if the motivations for accessing the hat’s power to simply free him of the daggers hold and maintain his powers to use as he saw fit, why not tell Belle? In theory, Rumple gaining free will over his magic would allow him to wield it however he chose (much like Regina did at the close of last season). It is what lends credibility to his motives being about more than they appear because he keeps it from her.

          However, while I think the events and responsibility of the episode rest squarely on Hook, he gave Rumple the opening, I don’t think the men are the same. I think Hook better parallels to Regina. Rumple is an entirely different ballgame. Because Rumple was never loved by his father and abandoned as a result. I think you simply can’t discredit why Rumple is tied to the idea that love can be wielded as a weapon. His entire history is based on that premise. His love of his papa is what took them to Neverland, where he was betrayed by his father. He then grew to be a weak coward of a man, self loathing and never worthy of love. It’s why Mila leaves him and why he was never loved by her. Bae is literally the only person who ever loved Rumple. He becomes the Dark One in an attempt to be worthy of his son’s love and to make him proud – to disastrous results. It’s why the 3B episode was the perfect end and why the monologue at Neal’s grave in the premiere was so powerful. The only time that love has been pure for Rumple is Bae. It is why he can so easily lie to Belle. The Dark One is intrinsic to who he is now. So the question becomes what will the magic of the hat provide?

    • I should have read this before hitting the “Post Comment” button…
      From now on I’m not going to write long replies to Katie’s posts, I’m just going to wait for yours and then post “^This” ;-P

  14. I forgot to touch on what you wrote about Regina’s story.

    You wrote: “she can no longer find joy in someone suffering so she can get her happy ending.”
    This was perfection – just needed to share that gem that could get lost in the goodness that was your overall analysis of an episode that had a ridiculous amount of stuff going on.

    I am not as concerned about the ‘make them’ threat as you are with regards to the book’s author, but that’s because I think it is a) going to be way more complicated than that and b) because I think she just wants a fuller story told ultimately that allows her a path towards a happy ending that even as she has changed continues to be denied (in her eyes). I think part of that discovery is going to be about the fact that most of us live in the grey of good and bad. Most of us aren’t Anna (not even Snow). That doing good needs to count just as much as being good does.

    As for Henry’s statement of “Rumplestiltskin got his happy ending” I think that Henry’s point was that in spite of the great loss that Rumple suffered, he has found a pathway to happiness with Belle.

    OK, now I am done.

    • Re: Regina & the book – I completely agree. I suspect (hope) that as she uncovers the author of the book and its purpose/intent that she will more fully embrace the changes she’s made thus far and realize her responsibility in determining her own future.

    • You know, I don’t think Regina ever really ‘found joy in someone suffering so she can get her happy ending’. I’m thinking of “Welcome to Storybrooke” and how she got bored very fast of seeing Snow suffering, and actually became bitter and unhappy herself. I just think she lost the ability of finding her own happiness, and has been trying to find other ways in all the wrong places.

      • I think the only real joy we saw her have was when she burned Snow at the stake in the finale, but that was short lived, and I am sure had that timeline continued she would have ended up in the same place.

        I am looking forward to when Regina does finally find happiness in the right place!

        • I keep wondering what went wrong after Regina got Henry, because she seemed so very happy when baby-Henry stopped crying in that scene last season… That should have been her right place.
          I don’t know if Henry and Regina were happy until he got the Story Book, or if it started to go downhill before that, what caused it? Was it the “void in the heart” Maleficent warned Regina about? Was it something about the memory spell Regina cast on herself to forget about Emma that somehow hindered her happiness at having found Henry?

          • I think what went wrong between Regina and Henry was she looked to someone else to fill the void in her heart. Casting the dark curse was suppose to be her happy ending – and it wasn’t. Adopting Henry made her happy but it didn’t last and I think it didn’t last because Regina was looking to outside sources for internal happiness. As Henry got older he started to recognize that something wasn’t right in SB. I honestly wonder if Regina ever thought about the repercussions of adopting a child who wasn’t subjected to the curse and bringing him to a town where no one aged or changed or did she just decide she wanted a baby one day and went to Gold? So while Regina loved Henry as he got older he recognized that something wasn’t right in SB and Regina was so desperate to hold on to what she had she started to lose Henry. And that is why I am wondering how this story will go – we still don’t know what Regina considers her happy ending. And we don’t even know is she knows what her happy ending is.

  15. Lovely read, as usual. Your attention to detail is fantastic and it’s a joy to read your reviews and watch again the episode again afterwards, because you make it richer with all the things I might have missed.
    I do tend to have different views though, as you know, and since I’ve finally found the time to actually watch the show and read your post and comments… here I go! I do apologise in advance because most of the comments I’ve seen are, in a way, siding with Hook, and I hope nobody sees this as an attack to him. I am not anti-Hook or any other nonsense, I just don’t think the writers are doing a good job with his characterisation. I am also a bit raw these days because of some events in my personal life but hopefully it won’t affect the way I’m expressing myself and the respect I have for every opinion stated here.

    I think OUaT has shown/is showing us the way to redemption of two characters: Regina and Rumplestiltskin. In the case of Hook, the problem I find is that he doesn’t seem developed enough as a character on his own, as an individual; he’s always associated with Emma. He’s gone from being a secondary villain to a secondary sort-of-good-guy, but take Emma away from the equation and there’s no real story to tell. At least, so far. PR is ‘selling’ him as one of the main characters but the writers don’t do him justice; he needs a lot more development and a lot more depth, IMO.

    Take Regina. The fact that she was able to perform white magic is certainly a not-so-subtle hint that her path to redemption is going well, but what I think is more important is that she is trying to become better not only for Henry, but for herself too. She was ready to sacrifice herself for her son, and incidentally for a town who hates her, when trying to stop the failsafe device. She gave up her happy ending for Henry and Emma when Pan’s curse hit Storybrooke, and other than that brief suicidal phase, she helped and saved others in different occasions, including Snow and Charming. She tried to reach to Zelena once she was defeated, she was on her way to opening up to Robin Hood. And she hasn’t set anyone on fire yet after Emma brought back Marian! 😉 I’m not saying she’s an angel now, and she’s definitely had several opportunities to get her way (be it actively doing evil things or just by not helping) but in the end she’s chosen to do the right thing even if it meant not getting what she wanted. And now she’s chosen to trust her son, the person who means the world to her and who could turn away from her, again, with her plan for getting a happy ending. Is it a good plan? That remains to be seen. The only ‘casualty’ so far has been Sidney Glass, and we don’t know everything about that yet. I guess we’ll see.

    Now take Hook. He stole the only certain means for salvation for an entire town (including Emma and her son) and fled in his ship; he came back, granted, but only because Emma and Regina had saved the day did he have anything to come back to. He saved David’s life not for him, not because it was the right thing to do, but because of Emma (he said so himself). The second Emma was out of the picture, he left and went back to his pirate ways. He gave up his ship for Emma, true, but that very same ship was more important to him than helping Ariel, so again, everything “good” he’s done is for Emma. Now he’s been attached to Emma’s hip since he brought her back to Storybrooke, has ignored her wishes on several occasions and has withheld very important information from her, again several times, and mostly for selfish reasons. I’m not saying he hasn’t changed, I’m just saying it’s not been for the right reasons, and it doesn’t seem a permanent change unless Emma is in the picture. Imagine they do break up; it happens to couples every day. Can you honestly imagine Hook hanging around Storybrooke, being a good citizen and building a life there without Emma?
    What’s worse, though, is that Hook doesn’t trust Emma. Even if it comes disguised as ‘he loves her so much he only wants to protect her at all cost, even against her wishes’. It keeps happening and that’s not love, that’s borderline obsession (and coming from a man who held a grudge for over 300 years that’s a bit alarming, I would think). This lack of trust has also been made glaringly obvious by the show itself if we compare their relationship with Anna’s and Kristoff’s. Kristoff loves and trusts Anna so much that he understands her desire and need to go in her journey even if it means postponing their wedding, and even if it means letting her go alone. Hook can’t even do what Emma asks –“for once”, as Emma herself says– and goes to the woods putting Elsa and himself in danger to top it all.

    Finally, take Rumple. He had a complete redemption arc. It doesn’t get any more redeeming than dying for the ones you love.
    BUT.
    But he was ‘resurrected’, and immediately after, ripped off of his agency by Zelena being in possession of the Dark One’s dagger. Following this, months of mental torture and the loss of the son he spent centuries trying to find and died for. I know what he did in the last episode, and what he’s doing to Belle, is reason enough for all the comments this post and others have generated but I think we are forgetting that this is not the same Rumple from the last three seasons; it’s the season 3B Rumple who is beginning to feel like himself again and is taking steps to never have to go through losing himself that way.
    I have the same issue with Rumple that I have with Hook, though; he doesn’t trust Belle, and that’s a very dangerous kind of love to share with someone.
    Also, let’s not forget that Rumple didn’t go to Hook, it was the other way around. He certainly took the opportunity to manipulate things for his own agenda, but as well as he claims to know him, Hook should have known that you don’t mess with the Dark One (or magic) without consequences. To be honest I still don’t really understand what Hook was thinking, with no regard for Belle’s feelings, for Emma’s more than likely thoughts about withholding such dangerous information from Belle, herself and the whole town…

    • Welcome back Red.

      I think its easy to get caught up in “who’s the worst villain!” “whos the most worthy of redemption” argument. I am totally guilty of this in my post, and I am kicking myself about it now, but it reality, I am pulling for all of them. I really want to see Regina, Rumple, and Hook all be better people and earn their happy ending. And Regina and Rumple both have a good season and a half on Hook from a story perspective, so its understandable their stories feel more fleshed out, because they are. What I love is that all three of them all have different demons, and they all have moments of backsliding, and I am frustrated with each one of them at the moment, but that just means their journeys arent over yet and we still have a show to watch. I think we all just get a little antsy when it comes to seeing our favorite characters happy.

      • What I love about this show is that it doesn’t make the villains evil just because. They all have backstories and ‘reasons’ for being the way they are.
        As for this trio, I love that they can be villains and good persons at their core, even if it’s very well hidden at some points; it’s not mutually exclusive. Being a villain doesn’t mean being a bad person, just a person who’s made bad choices.

        • That’s precisely what I relate to in this show. In particular when looked at through the prism of parenthood. It is what I loved most about Regina’s arc last year. When she tapped into light magic she inherently understood that it doesn’t make her all good, but someone with as much capacity for goodness as she has had when tapping into dark magic.

    • Interesting comments! I do feel as though Hook’s character isn’t as in depth as I’d like it to be. I have a hard time believing Hook is a villain though – I think I am a bit biased in my opinion of him as I am a pretty big Captain Swan shipper – but a previous commenter made an excellent point: even with all of Killian’s hardships, prior to loosing his brother, he still was a good man. Good form and all that. After his brother, he became a pirate – yes – but there was always a purpose behind what he was doing.

      The turmoil he saw after what happened with Ariel I think speaks to his character alone. As selfish as his actions were, he truly regretted what he had done and how he had ruined things for Ariel.

      It will be interesting to see how he acts in the episodes going forward. I agree with another previous commenter about how everything Killian was doing that was aggressive during the episode was with his left hand, and since he is right hand dominant, it’s interesting. I think the hand was cursed – personally. And I don’t think it’s the last of the hand we will see.

      I also don’t think he is going to tell Emma, unfortunately, as much as I’d like him to. I think he will remain in angst for a bit and quite possibly have to lose himself completely in order to be fought for and saved by Emma. (I say this knowing the premise of the Snow Queen fairy tale). I do think it speaks more about Emma’s character than Killian’s as well at this point in time, especially that she didn’t even notice his hand being there but noticed his facial expressions and demeanor changing instantly.

      It’s going to be a great season and I can’t wait to read more of your posts, Katie!

      • “even with all of Killian’s hardships, prior to loosing his brother, he still was a good man. Good form and all that. After his brother, he became a pirate – yes – but there was always a purpose behind what he was doing.”

        I can’t really agree with that, mostly because we don’t have that information. As far as we know, he became a pirate because of what happened with his brother, but when we were first introduced to him and his story with Rumple, he didn’t really seem like a nice guy with noble intentions. What we have seen of him is that he was a pirate who was ok with a woman abandoning his son and husband, who ridiculed said husband when he didn’t really have a reason to do so. Good form, right? Hitting women, betraying ’employers’ and allies when it suited him, shooting innocent people as a way to get revenge… Hook’s good form is quite selective. He doesn’t seem like an honourable man to me, but that is not to say that he wasn’t, or even isn’t now a good man. As I said in a comment before, I don’t believe villains are necessarily bad people, just people who make bad choices.

        I really wish they gave us more on him though, because he’s such an enigma. We need more backstory, what happened between him delivering his speech to the ships crew and becoming a pirate, and him being the, at the very least, not so nice man we were introduced to at first. He needs more depth and although watching love stories on screen is nice, I hope they focus on this instead because the characterisation is lacking and he needs to be on a level closer to Emma’s if they want it to have a chance at making sense and lasting.

    • Welcome back, Red! It’s nice to see you around these parts again. 🙂

      I think Shauna echoed most of what I want to say in reply to your thoughts on Rumple, Hook, and Regina. I’ll admit to getting caught up myself in comparing them, but the great thing about this show is that they’re so different, so their “redemption arcs” are all going to look different.

      I think ultimately we’ll just have to agree to disagree about a few opinions concerning Hook as a character and his relationship with Emma. And it’s all a matter of opinion, so it’s good to see a different take on Hook because I’m sure there are plenty of people who read NGN who feel the way you do.

      And as far as Hook’s depth as an individual character goes, I think this episode was the start of showing character development very overtly. I hope it helps give him the depth I know you and many others would like to see in his character. His struggle with self-definition is one we’ve seen all of our main characters go through (even if it did take until this season to see my beloved Charming go through it in the flashbacks), and it’s a way to directly address the question of who he is independent of his relationship with Emma. We already got glimpses of it in his desire to remove the hand because he didn’t like the side of him it brought out, and I’m ready to watch him struggle to be a better person just like I’ve watched Regina, Rumple, and really every main character struggle over the course of this show’s run so far.

      • That comparison to Charming’s growth as a character is fantastic, because that’s just what I wish they’d do with Hook. We know that Charming wasn’t supposed to be a main character of the show, but he became one, and the writers changed whatever they needed to change to treat him as such, they adapted. I firmly believe that Hook wasn’t intended to be a main character either, but it worked out this way. I just don’t feel they’re doing him justice so far, treating him as a means to help develop other characters or storylines. He needs his own place, and I really hope the writers are headed in that direction if they intend to keep him as one of the main characters.

        • Red, I agree with you that the expanse of Hook’s character is sporadic. I think we’ve been given glimpses through the battle with Rumple, his relationship with Bae/Neal. But it has for the most part been in service to the overarching story and/or other characters. I agree with Katie though that this episode was the start to shading the details within Hook’s character. The Charming character comparison is spot on. I remember thinking throughout the better portion of the first two seasons that the only reason Charming was vaguely intriguing to me was because of Josh Dallas giving him more than what was on the page. I think the same can be said for Hook and that both characters were not slated for long runs.

          Assuming that is true, my hope (and expectation) is that we will get a lot of that background and depth this season. I also think this is a flaw of the creators. They create wide spaced universes with a multitude of intriguing characters and some suffer from the priorities of plot movement and other characters. It happened in LOST and it happens at times here. I feel like we’ve gotten so little of Snow this season and the addition of the Frozen characters is taking away time from some of our original core. It’s the push pull of only having 43 minutes to tell a story, but I do think that is what makes progressions move slower than we all would like.

  16. There was a lot I loved about this episode so I’m going to start there before I move on to more arc-related things.

    Snow and Charming were my favorite thing about this episode. I want more excited and proud Mama Snow taking pictures of her daughter and waiting up to hear all about how her date went. I want conversations between her and Emma with Emma confiding in her and I want to see more of Snow smiling because her daughter is happy. And I want more of Daddy Charming being overprotective of his little girl, because that’s what Emma will always be to him and I want her to tell him not to worry because she’s happy and knows what she’s doing and can take care of herself. I would take a little less of David’s surprise over Hook changing but given what’s coming, I don’t know that I see that happening soon.

    Then there is Emma, who looked so lovely in her dress with that high ponytail. There was a lot to love about her in this episode (like the scene of her asking Hook out) but I’m just gonna focus on the moment that made me the most proud. Emma’s instinct is to chase after criminals who are running away from her. She’d be a terrible sheriff and bail bond person without these instincts and they’ve been well-developed over the years. But she chooses to let Will go, recognizing that this isn’t her last chance to catch him, and consciously chooses happiness instead. She chose to enjoy her evening with Hook and end the date with that smile on her face back at the loft. And yes, she does need her own place. Though, I have to say I commend her on her willpower because Colin looked really good in this episode 😉

    Like Emma, much of Hook’s journey has been about redefining himself. Just as Emma has had to learn what it means to be something other than a lost girl, Hook has to learn what it means to be something other than a pirate out for revenge. We saw shades of that in The Jolly Rodger last season as he found that being a pirate didn’t quite sit right with him any more and he gave up his ship to get back to Emma but those have largely been about physical (though symbolic) actions. Now it’s time for him to undertake the process of learning who he is and who he wants to be without that. It’s time for him to look at those impulses (like blackmailing Rumple for information) that aren’t consistent with the man he wants to become and find new solutions. It’s time for the more painful and vulnerable portion of self-discovery. I expect there will be moments where he isn’t particularly fun to watch. Figuring out who you are/want to be and fighting for that person is messy and it
    makes you put your guard up and cling to what you know that much more or just disappear into self-loathing but I think it’s a process he’s willing to undertake. And it’s one I think Emma is willing to help him with, if he’ll let her.

    • I wish I could frame this comment and hang it up on my wall. ❤

      I am completely in love with how Snow was written in this episode. It was the perfect balance between proud, slightly awkward mom and the friend Emma found in Mary Margaret. It brought me so much joy to see Snow beaming in response to her daughter's happiness. Snow more than anyone—because of her friendship with Emma before they knew their true relationship—knows how huge this is for Emma to actually be going on a date and looking so happy with someone who so clearly loves her. I want a thousand more moments like this one and a thousand more protective daddy Charming scenes, too, because those are always perfect.

      I am so happy you pointed out Emma making the conscious choice to be happy and appreciate a quiet moment with Hook after Will got away. After denying herself happiness for so long, it was a really beautiful moment of growth and everything I've ever wanted for her.

      Finally, I loved what you said about the process of self-discovery and growth being messy. We're not supposed to like watching Hook right now because it's hard to watch someone struggle. It reminds me of how annoyed we all got with Emma and her "go back to NY" talk last season. It was tough to watch, but it was necessary for her to go through that little bit of regression in order to take huge leaps forward. The same is going to happen for Hook; I can feel it.

    • THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for succinctly talking about all the things I loved about Charming and Snow in this episode. I focused in on Rumple because otherwise it would have been a rambling manifest. But I adored every aspect of these two in that moment. Especially them sitting there waiting when she returned home. I think Ginny Goodwin deserves so much credit for maximizing the nuance of her character and the moments she’s been given thus far. I hope that she becomes incorporated into the story more as we move through the season. Especially because the changes of being a parent to a baby, especially given the loss of that ability with Emma is ripe for the picking as we watch characters rewrite their stories or expand on what their stories and happy endings mean.

  17. (deep breath) I finally had the chance to watch this episode last night and it brought out a wide range of emotions. I’m shocked at the layers upon layers that were packed into a 43 minute timeslot. There were at least five different story lines all competing for attention, completemeting each other, and setting the table for what is going to be an epic season 4. For me, these story lines are as, if not more, compelling than even Season 1 and I love it.

    I have a feeling that this will wind up being an iconic episode in the series of Once Upon a Time, especially in the timeline and history of what I hope is the endgame of Captain Hook and Emma Swan. As is evident from my other posts discussing nothing but Emma and Hook’s relationship, I’m the first mate aboard the Captain Swan, and I can certainly see why there were mixed emotions about Hook’s storyline. I think it can be summed up thusly: If you are looking for Fanfic between these two characters, you needed a spinoff from when Emma and Hook stared at each other at the door, end scene, cut to Emma’s own place where the pair are decidedly *not* having coffee, cue the happily-ever-after music and so on and so forth. But because this wasn’t the series finale, and I assume that we all hope this show stays on the air for many, many more seasons, including many more Disney storylines, they actually have the time and the episodes to flesh out this relationship for real.

    Since I have so much more to say, I’ll leave it with this: Hook never looked better than he did at Emma’s door. That was a take-your-breath away moment for the audince through Emma’s fairytale, and it delivered the maximum punch. That pirate, looking like he did at the door, already having promised her future pillage and plundering shenaigans; well, I bet no one has ever wished for a place to be alone more than Emma. The date, the outfits, the looks, the parent bantering, it all worked, and it was all awesome. Note the look that Hook throws over his shoulder to Charming as he leaves the house. It’s priceless. And the return kiss? It was all there, just a shade off of Emma and Hook fanfic, and it was perfect. And you know why? Because it wasn’t all happily ever after from the first date. It gave us a promise of more from those two.

    While Hook’s actions in the episode and at Gold’s shop may have seemed very deus ex machina, the writers aren’t far off. The only reason–and I mean the very only reason–that Hook should have blackmailed The Dark One was to save Emma’s life on the spot. Anything else is for self-serving interests, and the above posters above nailed Rumplestiltkin’s motivations to a T. Did the good in him die with his son? Does he really love Belle as much as he loves Neal, as suggested by that one phone call in Season 2, or has it all been a master manipulation job from the start? Can he change? Does he want to? And does he believe Hook can? And it was a nice nod to the audience, many of whom have been concerned that all Hook does is chase Emma around, by giving him a story line that doesn’t involve simply winning the fair lady.

    There certainly was more to the hand exchange than a simple request to hold Emma with both hands. Someone else suggested that it’s because Hook wants to be whole again, before he was corrupted, and I think that’s exactly it. Hook has given in to his dark side–selfishness, instant gratification, lying, cheating, all manner of debachery–for the 300 years and it’s unrealistic to assume that he can put that all behind him in an instant…even for true love. And that’s what Rumplestiltkin brilliantly exploited. It doesn’t matter if the hand was cursed or not; Hook believed that it was, while also knowing that the inner darkness he’d lived with so long is never far from the surface. Of course he should come clean with Emma; and not just with the truth of his current actions, but some of his past ones as well. For if he opened up to her about his pirate’s life, his regrets, his fears, his real self, she would see the whole man, and he would truly be whole.

    Because the truth of all of it is that Emma didn’t fall in love with Prince Charming, nor would she ever have. She fell in love with a one-handed pirate with a drinking problem; the biting insult that Pan once leveled against Hook. There’s a reason that no one can relate to the Snow White of the Disney vault, why Regina really hated her perception of Snow, and why the writers have to work so hard on the characters of both Mary Margaret and Anna: Becauase no one wants perfect. Real life, real characters, real people, real relationships are flawed through and through and a character, a life, without any moral ambiguity is unrelatable. Emma Swan is in love with a pirate, and she loves Hook and all of the baggage that comes with his past, just as Hook loves her, and it’s in stark contrast to the relationship with Rumple and Belle, and I think intentionally so.

    The entire theme of OUAT is that love is a weapon; love is weakness, but at the very same time, to the very same characters, it’s also incredible strength. Rumple is not wrong that love can be used as the most powerful weapon in the world, but at the same time, he sells Belle’s love–and also Hook and Emma’s love–far short. He doesn’t think Belle could ever truly understand and love his real self, and he projects that onto Hook and Emma. But he’s wrong. Emma already loves Hook, even after she’s seen him at arguably his very worst–this is the man who dueled her with an actual sword and made extremely cutting comments to her during his own struggles between light and darkness–and there isn’t anything he could confess to her that she couldn’t get past. But Hook has to open up, and that’s 100% on him now, and not Rumplestiltkin. Blackmail is only effective if it’s held up by its web of secrecy. True love can overcome darkness, and that’s a lesson that Emma, Hook, Regina, Henry, and hopefully Anna and Elsa have all learned along the way, and one that is possible that Rumple never will.

    Loved Anna besting The Dark One with good and not evil–no matter how justified she would have been; a nice little callback to everyone absolving Snow of killing Cora; I loved the Ice Queen mystery, loved the Knave of Hearts tearing up at his love, even though I haven’t seen a second of that show, and loved Henry getting something real to do.

    • This comment was so lovely, Christy, and I’m so happy you’ve decided to share your incredibly articulate analysis with us. I have so little to say in response because you said it all so well.

      TV isn’t fan fiction, no matter how much we may want it to be sometimes. 😉 And Once Upon a Time was built around the idea that “happily ever after” isn’t real; there are always going to be struggles both internal and external—even for a couple as strong and stable as Snow and Charming.

      I absolutely adored what you said about Emma knowing exactly who she fell in love with. She met Hook at his worst—driven by vengeance, consumed with darkness, lost enough to shoot a woman in the back and ready to die for his revenge. But even in the middle of all that darkness, she saw the broken, lost, desperate soul—and not just the villain he’d become. I always say that Emma’s empathy is such a huge part of who she is, and that empathy went into overdrive with Hook. That’s why I want him to open up to her, because he should know that if anyone is going to understand him and work through this with him, it’s Emma.

      As you said, True Love can overcome darkness, but only if we choose to let it. Rumplestiltskin couldn’t do that when Belle first kissed him, and it looks like he’s again choosing darkness over love. My hope is that this story allows us to see Hook make the choice Rumple still struggles to make—the choice to believe in love even when you fear you’re not worthy of it.

  18. I completely agree with your analysis and you put.into words much of what I was thinking as well. I just noticed something when looking at the date pic: Emma isn’t wearing Graham’s shoelace. That’s the first time I think since he died. She even wore it during her year in New York.

    ThAnks for.the excellent analysis and.write up 🙂

    Dez

    • Thank you, Dez!

      I think it’s very telling that Emma took off Graham’s shoelace for this date. It’s a big sign of her trying to move on from the fear she felt of losing anyone else after she lost him.

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  20. Thank you for this wonderfully written piece. I have been thinking about this episode way too much and feeling stressed about Hook’s future. You reminded me of the positives and to always have hope! Thanks for the reminder!

    • Thank you for the kind words! And I can understand the initial reaction of being stressed about Hook, but I am happy to help people remember to have hope. This storyline might get frustrating at times, but it’s going to do such great things for these characters in the long run. And remember, in the words of Charming, “True love isn’t easy, but it must be fought for.” I see lots of fighting for true love in our future. 😉

  21. Intense episode! One of the darkest in a while.

    My interpretation of the Hook storyline is he began to slip even before Rumple before the hand on. Although chasing the Snow Queen was important, could there have been another way than pulling on Rumple’s tail by telling him he knows about the dagger? And even after that, asking for the hand back was not necessary to give Emma a great date. Emma has already more than accepted Hook with its hook and pirate past and fallen for him anyways. But Hook was too ashamed of himself. And the hate he built up for Rumplestiltskin for centuries was never truly wiped away. Getting Rumple to put his hand back on was a way for Hook to “win”. Now with a hand and a woman, he has what he was going to get pre-Rumple. That he chased after this victory was Hook’s first selfish move in a long time and he’s paid the price for it. However as you noted, the remorse and shamed about what he’s done is an important step that separates him from Rumplestiltskin. Now an important test for Hook will be how he deals with his newly tapped into anger for Rumplestiltskin. Being more obsessed with getting revenge on Rumple than making Emma happy is the selfish move for Hook, but now he’s tested. It’s clear that Hook needs some work to be comfortable as a new man instead of snapping back into old form.

    I enjoyed seeing how Emma took on a new role in the date, getting to escape from a moment from the life she’s so used to. But just for a moment, with Will bringing her sheriff and “saving” duties back, Hook revealing he’s not any more perfect than her and of course, going home to a mom and dad the same age as you (Snow and Charming were great this episode, lol at the expression on Snow’s face when asking how it went). Will and Emma is actually an interesting pairing because Will is clearly one of the biggest lone rangers she’s come across and clearly, can’t find a home for himself emotionally in the world.

    Rumple has truly lost himself right now… Rumple stabbing Zelena was really one of the most significant moments of the show, it was crossing a line in so many ways snapping into dark, and was motivated by nothing but hatred. When he’s already crossed the line like that, there’s a “why not make one more minor mistake” aspect to his decision making that snowballs. This episode helped revealed that manipulation is Rumple’s darkest magic of all and it’s why I’m not sure he’s ever been scarier on the show.

    Anna interests me because one of the ways I interpret her character (on Once and Frozen) is she wasn’t a born hero, she had to commit to it. After being cooped up for so long, Anna wants to get out there and DO SOMETHING, to make an impact on the world. Yet heroism is not as easy as believing in everyone and also taking the leap, because sometimes, that is the wrong decision. Anna hadn’t seen a real monster like the Dark One yet – Hans and Bo Peep don’t really compare. Anna didn’t really know people could act like Rumple did in this episode, or how someone could be as isolated as him. Rumple believes Elsa’s parents wanted to take her power because of fear of her and not wanting her, because that reminds him of his own life and the ones who’ve abandoned him. It doesn’t occur to him that they may have wanted to take her power out of love. And Anna believes Elsa’s parents wanted to take her power for the wrong reasons to, in fact she may have known it before Rumple told her. Anna asks questions like “What would it do to him?” to Rumple when it’s beyond obvious it’s poison and she goes with Rumple to try and turn the mouse back, when deep down she knows of course that Rumple is the one who poisoned him. I suspect the reasons she does is Anna wants to believe in goodness so much at this point and that nobody could be this dark, that she gives it every chance to be proven wrong, to the point of denial. And she also may have been somewhat in denial about how close she came to poisoning the apprentice, by going as far as lifting the lids off before changing her mind. Rumple needed someone who was tempted by darkness but turned away, which in itself helps show that Anna is not a perfect character, may have more anger in her than she lets on about aspects of her life and her parents and even about things like Hans betraying her. Someone tempted by darkness but turned away is rare because either those are too tempted by it to turn away, or too pure to be tempted by it. Another few things about Anna, I thought it was interesting how she couldn’t quite “believe” that it would work out ok if telling Elsa the news about her parents. And also, now she has power too. How does she react to it? Will the temptation side of her come out more? Yes it’d be quite the move to show a darker side of Anna with how great even the “believes in everyone” character is on its own, but Once has long shown, nobody is perfect.

    The Regina and Henry scenes felt a little filler-y especially in light of the intensity of everything else, though I do like them together. Regina is guilty a little bit of shutting Henry out about her feelings about Robin Hood, hiding under the guise of you wouldn’t understand when it’s clear Henry understands everything. She’ll need some time to fully trust Henry, but they’re on the right path. The shot of Henry sweeping was great.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us about this incredibly intense episode!

      Your analysis of all things Rumple and Hook was articulated so well. And I really loved your take on Anna. She wants to experience life after being stuck in the palace for so long, but I think both Frozen and OUAT have shown Anna discovering that the freedom of life outside the palace gates sometimes means encountering the worst in the world and not just the best. The trick is to hold on to your sense of self when faced with the worst the world has to offer, and I love that we’re seeing Anna do exactly that.

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