Title Poor Unfortunate Soul
Two-Sentence Summary As Regina watches the Queens of Darkness and Rumplestiltskin attempt to get information out of August, Hook also tries to get information out of Ursula by giving her the happy ending she lost as a girl because of his selfish pursuit of revenge. As more information about the Author becomes clear, it’s revealed that Rumplestiltskin’s plan involves more than just him (or her): It all hinges on turning Emma dark, so she’ll act as the savior for the villains.
Emma: Wait—if you’re afraid of losing your happy ending, that means you’ve found it. What is it?
Hook: Don’t you know, Emma? It’s you.
My Thoughts “Poor Unfortunate Soul” was an extremely well-balanced episode of Once Upon a Time. It moved the plot forward in important ways, but it also connected that forward plot momentum to intensely emotional moments. And all of that development—for both the characters and the plot—was centered around one common theme: happy endings. “Poor Unfortunate Soul” was a thematically cohesive episode, with each moment dealing with the overarching idea of happy endings in some way: how we define happy endings and how that definition can change as we change; the means we take to find and protect our happiness; and what all of those things say about heroism and villainy.
Everything about this episode—and it seems everything about this half-season—was summed up in its final moments. August revealed that he’d kept an important truth from Rumplestiltskin and the Queens of Darkness that he was willing to reveal to Emma, Regina, and Henry: The Author is trapped in the storybook. This powerful person that almost every character on the show seems to be searching for has been right under their noses the whole time, literally in their hands. This was an amazing twist and also a symbolic one. The key to a happy ending is often closer than you think it is; it’s often right under your nose, but sometimes you need help to see that. And people will only help you see it and find it if you act in a way that shows you’re deserving of it. The villains keep trying to get closer to their happy endings via force, but if August’s ability to keep information from them even in the face of torture showed us anything, it’s that force isn’t going to work. Happiness can’t be achieved through dark methods; kindness is the key to happiness.
The difference between the dark approach to getting what you want and the hero’s approach was shown so clearly in Rumplestiltskin’s attempt to get information out of August versus Hook’s attempt to get information out of Ursula. While there were some entertaining moments in the scenes involving August’s interrogation (I’m thinking primarily of Cruella appreciating his scruff.), it was mainly just sad to watch Rumplestiltskin fall into his old patterns of using magic to torment and torture people to do his bidding once again. Robert Carlyle is so good at playing this side of Rumplestiltskin, though. For as sad as it made me to see him almost gleefully holding August to the fire (How great was the nose-growing stuff, by the way?!), I have to admit that I was completely captivated by Carlyle’s performance—from his biggest moments of darkness to the smallest details, such as him straightening his tie after he was done interrogating him.
This was another episode that made me seriously doubt if Rumplestiltskin can ever come back from this darkness. In an episode filled with talk of happy endings and reminders that they’re about love, I was struck by the fact that Rumplestiltskin had the happy ending these characters are all searching for and chose to see power as his ultimate happy ending instead. Darkness makes you prioritize yourself over others, and this episode showed that a happy ending based in selfish desires instead of love is an empty one. But Rumplestiltskin still hasn’t learned that. Instead, he’s still hurting the woman who loved him in his quest to get the power he’s always seen as his happy ending. (Did anyone else want to hug Belle in this episode when she talked about being betrayed by Rumplestiltskin again? My heart broke for her.)
While Rumplestiltskin’s priorities and methods are still as dark as ever, this episode presented us with other characters who were able to change for the better. Regina’s dream was very interesting. Seeing the Evil Queen show up to protect Robin made me wonder if she’s worried that she’ll go dark in an attempt to protect her happiness. The dream seemed slightly forced into this episode as a way to give both Emma and Regina a new plot in the coming weeks, but I’m okay with it for a couple of reasons. First, I liked that it showed Regina trusting Emma’s skills at finding people. Also, it reminded me that Regina’s definition of a happy ending has changed so much. Her happy ending when she cast the Dark Curse was for Snow White to be miserable; her happy ending was selfish vengeance. Now, she sees her happy ending as being loved by someone who sees her for everything she is and chooses to believe in her best self. Her happy ending is no longer based in power or causing others misery; it’s based in love.
This episode also allowed us to reflect on how far Hook has come—from a man who once equated happiness with vengeance to a man who now believes his happy ending is love. I adored this episode’s flashbacks for many reasons, but one of the most enlightening things about them was the way they painted Hook as a man who still had a sense of honor and kindness even at the darkest time in his life—until you took away his chance at what he believed to be his happy ending. Colin O’Donoghue exuded real warmth in his scenes with young Tiffany Boone (who did a wonderful job channeling the mannerisms and speech patters of Merrin Dungey), reminding me that he is one of the show’s best at interacting with younger cast members (Dylan Schmid, Jared Gilmore, etc.). I genuinely believed that Hook was moved by young Ursula’s voice because it was a voice filled with love for her mother, and even at his worst, Hook still understood and was driven by love. And I was happy to know that I wasn’t mistaken to think that he sincerely wanted to help her.
However, Hook’s genuine desire to help Ursula lost out to his twisted sense of hope that he could defeat the Dark One and secure what he thought would be his happy ending. And when that hope got taken away, he became vindictive, hurting Ursula in an attempt to her hurt father. Pinning your hopes on the wrong happy ending can turn you into a monster—we saw it with Regina, and it was true for Hook, too. It broke my heart to see this beautiful, strong young woman lose her voice because it became a pawn that two men tried to control in order to get what they thought were their happy endings. I thought it was a brilliant twist to have Ursula’s backstory be derived from Ariel’s in The Little Mermaid, even if it did break my heart in the end. (It also makes so much sense now to think of Ursula being obsessed with capturing Ariel’s voice.) I felt sad for everything Ursula lost by losing her voice—her connection to her mother, the feeling of joy she got when she sang, and the ability to make others happy.
Without her voice, Ursula lost hope, and that’s a dangerous thing in this universe. She wanted her father to fear her, so she chose to take matters into her own hands and become someone to be feared. While it’s never a good thing to watch a villain become a villain, it was strangely empowering to watch Ursula choose to take back some sense of agency in her life, even if the choices she made were dark ones. At the beginning of this episode, she chose to turn away from being used as a weapon for destruction. But at the end, she had been broken enough to turn herself into an even more powerful destructive force. I’m always amazed at the depth Once Upon a Time can give to the origin stories of its villains. In just one episode, I felt so much for Ursula—both the younger version and her present self—that I found myself sad to say goodbye to her after only knowing her for a few episodes.
I loved that Hook took a page out of Emma’s playbook and wanted to give Ursula her happy ending in the present storyline. His way of getting information out of her was to offer her hope and happiness, which was so different from Rumplestiltskin’s use of torture with August. Hook isn’t perfect—he still gets caught up in his anger at Rumplestiltskin, and there will always be darkness around his edges, especially when he’s desperate. Him turning the gun on Ursula after she refused to help him was a stark reminder of the fact that one choice can take you back down a dark path. Thankfully, Hook got some sense squeezed into him by Ursula and slapped into him by Ariel. He’s better than that, and he knows it. And while it may scare him to know that his inner darkness will always be there, it’s a fact of life everyone has to deal with. What’s important is choosing not to let that darkness consume you again.
Ariel helped Hook see that villains don’t get happy endings not because they’re labeled as villains, but because they act like villains. Happy endings come to those who work for them, and that often means helping others be happy, too. The difference between someone like Emma and someone like Rumplestiltskin is that Rumplestiltskin only cares about his happy ending, while Emma’s idea of happiness is helping everyone around her be happy, too. And Hook was able to channel that beautiful part of Emma into giving Ursula what she wanted—not just her voice, but also a second chance at a healthy relationship with her father.
I loved that Ursula’s happy ending was about her family and her sense of self. Romance is great, but not everyone’s happy ending needs to be with a romantic partner. For Ursula, true happiness was finding her voice and finding a relationship with her father built on love for exactly who she is. Her story was incredibly inspiring because it was a story of finding your voice after it had been stolen from you and, with it, finding the best part of yourself again.
Watching Hook work to reunite father and daughter reminded me of the little, personal ways Emma helped bring back happy endings even before the curse broke at the end of Season One. However, it was also heartbreaking to see that Hook didn’t think it was enough. The reason Hook isn’t looking for the Author like the rest of the villains (and reformed villains) was an underlying theme in this episode. And I think a big part of the reason is because he’s one of the few characters with a villainous past who feels an immense amount of guilt over who he was and what he did at his worst. He still doesn’t know if he deserves his happy ending, and it was heartbreaking to see O’Donoghue play Hook’s reaction to reuniting Ursula and her father with a sense that he feels he can never do enough to atone for who he was.
But we all know happy endings always start with hope, so Hook needs to find a sense of hope that he isn’t destined to darkness and loss because of who he was at his worst. Luckily for him, he has a woman in his life who brought hope back into his world after three lifetimes spent without it and seems more devoted than ever to making sure he doesn’t give up on himself.
Happy endings on Once Upon a Time generally involve finding someone who loves you for who you are. It’s what Snow and Charming have with each other, it’s what Regina found in Robin, and it’s what Rumplestiltskin turned his back on with Belle. It’s also what Emma and Hook have found with each other. Emma lived up to her promise in “Unforgiven” to see the best in Hook in “Poor Unfortunate Soul.” Even when her parents doubted him, she defended him with just the right amount of passion from Jennifer Morrison—because Emma understands Hook on a level that I don’t think she understands anyone else. She knows what it’s like to be angry and to have a past that “heroes” might not approve of, and I loved seeing her fight for her parents to believe the best in Hook the way she does.
Emma continued to believe in Hook’s best self once she saw him reunite Ursula and her father. Her look of pride was a thing of beauty, and that kind of pride is what Hook needs to feel in order to start believing in himself. Because he’s still afraid of his own darkness, as he revealed so emotionally when he told Emma that he almost gave in to his worst self. But his lingering sense of self-loathing was met every step of the way by Emma’s desire for him to have the kind of faith in his inner goodness that she has. (I love the way Morrison plays Emma’s sweet stubbornness in moments like this one.) She’s not giving up on him—not because she feels a need to save him because she’s the savior, but because you don’t give up on the people you love.
Emma’s support of Hook’s best self allowed him to be open and vulnerable with her in a way we’ve never seen before. And it all culminated in him telling Emma he’s scared to lose his happy ending because of who he once was. While Emma—bless her heart—seemed surprised that he’d found his happy ending, Hook told her in no uncertain terms, “It’s you.”
I was moved to real tears by the emotional honesty and raw vulnerability in that scene from both Morrison and O’Donoghue. Hook’s little head shake as he questioned how Emma couldn’t know and the hitch in his breathing after telling her she’s his happy ending were such powerful details. And Morrison’s wide, tear-filled eyes said more than any lines she could have spoken in that moment. Both actors sold the importance of that moment with total sincerity and openness, and it made for one of the most emotional love scenes Once Upon a Time has ever had.
Hook once saw his happy ending as blood, death, and vengeance. But now he sees it as light, hope, and love. He’s found a happy ending worth fighting for, and it’s a happy ending that won’t lead him to darkness in search of it; it actually led him out of darkness. And Emma spent so much of her life thinking she was never enough to make the people she loved happy. But in this moment, someone told her that she was enough to make him happy for the rest of his life. She didn’t bring Hook his happy ending by being the savior; she became his happy ending by being herself—broken pieces, imperfections, and all. As Morrison showed Emma’s expression change from disbelief to overwhelming joy (Her single tear during the kiss killed me.), I felt like I was watching a “true love’s kiss” in the making. And while there may not have been any curses to break with that kiss, it was as full of true love as it gets on this show—because it was full of hope.
Both Emma and Hook are going to need that hope now that Rumplestiltskin’s big plan has been revealed. Hook learned from Ursula that Rumplestiltskin is planning to turn Emma’s heart dark because villains can never get a happy ending as long as she’s still working for the heroes as the savior. Once again, Rumplestiltskin wants to get his happy ending through manipulation, but it’s my hope that we’re going to see Hook fight for his happy ending, which means fighting for Emma to stay true to her best self. He’s not going to be frightened by her potential for darkness any more than she is by his, and his ability to turn away from darkness with her help is going to allow him be there when darkness calls to her and her parents don’t know what to do (because they still don’t understand how people can have both light and dark in them). It’s going to be incredibly emotional to watch all of this unfold, and I can’t wait.
• The Jolly Roger is back! Was anyone else giddy with excitement at seeing her again? I wonder if Hook will move out of Granny’s now.
• Speaking of the Jolly Roger, who else thought it was weird that Elsa suddenly acquired the power to shrink things?
• I loved Snow hitting Cruella on the back of the head with a frying pan. Tangled references are the best.
• I enjoyed the glimpses of Emma and August’s big brother/little sister relationship we got in this episode. It felt warm and loving but never romantic, which isn’t an easy feat to pull off.
• I’m hoping Ursula’s departure means that we’re going to see all the Queens of Darkness get their happy endings without the Author, until all that’s left is Rumplestiltskin against the world, which would make for an excellent season finale.
I got all the feels all over again reading your recap! This episode was FANTASTIC…one of the strongest of the season IMO (a personal favorite at any rate). That moment when Emma and Hook touched foreheads and just breathed each other in before the kiss…that moment was everything.
Also, loved Ursula’s story. I was SO impressed with the writing for this episode. So much depth, so much emotion, and so tightly written. Well done!!
I’m so happy to share the feels with you!
I have a theory about why Regina was seeing double in her dream based on some spoilers I saw on Tumblr…very curious how that plays out!
As disappointed as I was with last week’s episode, I was that much more impressed with this week’s ep. The acting, the script, the tiny little details and lines (Will’s jab about the size of Hook’s ship and Pan sending Hook on cake runs to other realms) – everything came together marvelously.
I’m so excited to see the Jolly Roger back and what, or how, that will be brought back into Hook’s life. Each and every scene on it was fantastic and I found myself missing the days of season two and three when we saw it all the time. There is a magic about it. It was great to have Smee back as well!
The scene with Snowing and Emma – once again – irked me. Their moral high horse they’ve allowed themselves to be on in appearances just twists me up when we (the viewers) know they’re lying their pants off. It’s ignorant of them and hard to swallow about how much worse that’s going to effect Emma (as the promo eludes to) when they’re being so hypocritical. I LOVE Snowing and I definitely enjoy seeing their character’s development into something we haven’t seen before – so it isn’t necessarily the writing – because it’s making me feel things strongly and that’s the whole point of it, I imagine.
The struggle with Hook’s inner darkness is fascinating to me and heart wrenching to watch. His mannerisms and jaw clenches and everything in between – marvelous acting on Colin’s part – had me so sad for him. When he decided to take’s Ursula’s voice, I found myself angered with him but at the same time, I understood where he was coming from and I think that’s why I’m having such issues with accepting Rumple’s fall. I don’t understand where he is coming from other than this blind obsession with power.
I am hoping that the finale is a show down between Rumple and the heroes. It’s about damn time. The last scene between Killian and Emma absolutely killed me – ripped my heart out, threw it on the floor, and stomped on it with all the Captain Swan feels – it was the tear that did it for me as well. Jen did an excellent job of showing that Emma has never in her life (felt)/been as wanted as she is with him and her surprise at that and the acceptance of it — and then to lean in for a kiss instead of running?! THEFEELS. I am so excited to see where this is going, how they’re going to take their relationship.
It was the best episode of 4b thus far and has renewed my excitement about how things are going in this show. Not every happy ending is about love in a romantic way and with Ursula, I am so so very glad they went that direction with it.
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us!
I agree that it was wonderful seeing the Jolly Roger again. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl whose always had a soft spot for fictional pirates, but there’s something really special about the bond between a captain and his ship. I hope we see more scenes on the ship now, and I’m interested to see if Emma winds up there after finding out about her parents’ lies (since she’s not going to want to stay under their roof).
As far as Snow and Charming go, I think their desperation is getting the best of them. It’s turning into paranoia, and every time Emma voices a thought that’s less than 100% good (which whose thoughts are, anyway?), they start to panic that she’s turning into her worst self. It makes me sad that they have such little faith in their daughter’s goodness and such limited understanding of the moral complexity inside all of us. If nothing else, I’m hoping this half-season shakes them out of their black-and-white worldview because that’s a dangerous worldview to hold, especially for parents, because no child will ever be all good all the time. It’s too much for Emma to have to live up to.
And I think Rumple’s obsession with power is really all there is to know about his motivation at this point. He’s an addict who will do anything to acquire the object of his addiction (in this case power). And he wants to manipulate people into being their worst selves so he’s not alone in the darkness. At least that’s how I’ve always understood him at his worst.
Great review….as always Katie!! Thank you!
Thank you! 🙂
Once again your review is spot on! I much preferred this episode to last weeks.
I was impressed that August was able to keep information from Rumple and co – in the past August has been a selfish character (such as when he took the money meant for Emma and ran away to Phuket) so I was very pleased to see him use his smarts to keep the author’s location from Rumple. I have no idea how this author storyline will play out but it’s suddenly got a lot more interesting after this episode.
I really don’t know how Rumple’s story is going to end – after all his actions in S4 I don’t see how he can get back together with Belle, and I don’t think he can be redeemed – unlike Regina I don’t think Rumple has any real desire to change especially now that Bae has died. The great thing about Bae was that he was never afraid to call out Rumple on all his crap, Bae proved that he’d leave Rumple if he didn’t change, which is why Rumple really tried to change in S3, now that Bae is gone he’s lost that motivation and I just don’t think Belle is motivation enough for him – so I wouldn’t be surprised if they kill him off (permanently this time) at the end of this season.
Loved all the Emma/Killian action this week – the scene where Killian told Emma she was his happy ending was amazing – as an Emma fan since the pilot I love it that she finally has someone in her life who will always put her first – 2 parts in particular killed me – how nervous Emma was when she asked Killian what his happy ending was – I think she was afraid he’d say the Jolly Roger, and of course the single tear that slipped down her face during the kiss. If next weeks promo is any indication it looks like Emma is going to need Killian’s support more than ever as Rumple and the remaining QoDs ramp up their plans to turn Emma to the dark side -although it does look like Snow and Charming will be more responsible than anyone else for blackening Emma’s heart.
Once Upon a Time without Rumple?
have you seen the ratings? If they kill him, it’s over.
awesome episode, awesome review as always.
Loved that badass Snow was back for a second, although I’m not loving anything else about her and Charming lately. I’m not looking forward to that shit hitting the fan – I just want it to be done with so I can get back to loving them.
I loved young Ursula. That was a good Once back story. I assumed from that that we’d see the stories of Cruella and (the rest of) Maleficent’s story as the heroes do their thing and help people find what will really make them happy. God only knows where they can go with Rumple from here but he’s such a great character that I’m sure they’ll find some way to bring him back from the brink of completely unredeemable.
I also found Ariel’s rushed explanation of everything that had happened to the Jolly to be a little random. I don’t know if they’ll come back to any of that in the future or if they just had to get all that out of the way so they could move on. But yay, the Jolly is back!
“Poor Unfortunate Souls” is a perfect example of an episode that isn’t perfect, but the emotional character beats payoff so well that I am willing to cut the show a lot of slack. A lot of plot details seemed a bit easy here, but the writers allowed the characters some agency, and that’s all I really ask.
One of the main things I loved was while this was clearly Killian’s episode to shine, we got great little character moments from almost all of our main characters. We got Belle discovering Rumple’s betrayal, again. We got Will helping Killian out for Belle. We got Emma sticking up for Killian to her parents. We got Regina reaching out to Emma for help. We got August using a clever half truth to avoid giving Rumple too much info, and getting a touching reunion with Emma. We got Ariel slapping some sense back into Killian. And we had our first QoD redeemed. I honestly loved it all. While pretty much none of the events that ended in Killian getting his ship back made a whole lot of logical sense, and Ursula’s sudden turn from jaded daughter to villain of the sea seemed a tad drastic, I really didn’t care between all the other great stuff we got.
But of course the best part of this episode was the focus we got on Killian Jones. I love Killian, and it’s been a rough ride since 3B when it comes to Killian being used and manipulated and threatened and blackmailed. I have been constantly frustrated that Killian’s agency is always being compromised, so this episode was everything I have been waiting to see. I loved the moment with young Ursula where he admitted her voice made him forget the pain, if only for a second. You got to see that even back at the height of his villainy, there was a longing for peace. In those days Killian thought peace was only going to be in death after he fulfilled his mission. That is of course until Emma came along. Emma, who was able to give Killian that same hope and peace that he felt from Ursula’s voice, only this time it wasn’t just for a few seconds. I loved the little moment at the end when Ursula was going to leave and she grabs Killian’s arm as a way of saying thank you. Hook might have wronged her, but Ursula also knew Hook’s past pain, and I like to think she was actually happy for both of them in the end.
I also loved the moment on the Jolly Rodger where, when Killian’s plan fell through, he reverted back to his default villainy. As you mentioned, villain’s take things by force, and Killian resorted back to force in that moment of weakness (both in the past and present). But one of the things I also love about Hook’s character (and find endlessly amusing) is the fact that he always seems to be subject to instant karma. Hook’s default back to trying to take what he wanted by force ended in him being knocked unconscious (do we have a running count going yet?) and thrown overboard. Thankfully Ariel doesn’t hold grudges.
I loved Ariel’s “truth bomb”, and I have to say thank you to the writers for not bashing us over the head with dialogue here like they tend to do sometimes. Ariel basically told Hook “You’re doing it wrong” and we got to see Hook learn his lesson and act on it.
And then that final moment between Emma and Killian at the end. So perfect. While I have enjoyed all the progression this season, its been awhile since I got this emotional over the two of them. “…in this moment, someone told her that she was enough to make him happy for the rest of his life. She didn’t bring Hook his happy ending by being the savior; she became his happy ending by being herself—broken pieces, imperfections, and all.” That one perfect sentiment is what has made me a devout CSer since he turned his ship around in the Season 2 finale [Maybe I just needed reminding that I could]. I love Hook as a character in no small part because of the way he loves and appreciates Emma for who she is, label free.
I loved the twist of the door being the physical page of the storybook. Very clever.
I am so excited that Killian has the Jolly back and the two of them can finally have some privacy. But like you, I have a feeling Emma staying with Killian on the Jolly isn’t going to be under happy circumstances.
I love the contrast between last season’s gut wrenching Killian centric ep where he was given credit for Ariel’s reunion with Eric undeservingly. This time he reunited lost souls and earned that adoring look from Emma.
I am glad Ursula is happily reunited with her voice and her father, but I am sad she has left Cruella.
Also loved the message via body possession.
And to close, I have to admit, hearing “Fathoms Below” was by far my favorite movie nod in the entire series. I am just a complete sucker for Disney songs, and unfortunately it’s the one thing we don’t really get on OUAT. So yes, give me all the singing!
I totally agree with you about the overdone dialogue – I was also glad that it was short and sweet and more importantly – to the point.
I also second your thoughts on the instant karma Killian has. He really can’t catch a break, ha.
Great review as always. I loved what this episode showed that even at his worst Hook still has a code and still had compassion. That it was the lose of hope that led to him to make villainous choices. But my favorite thing is it showed how far Hook has come and how his view on happy endings has changed. In 2×20 Hook told Regina that once his happy ending – Rumple’s death – was achieved that he’d have nothing to look forward to. Hook knew that Rumple’s death was very much an ending for him as well. But in 4×15 his happy ending with Emma is anything but an ending. It is a beginning, it is something to look forward to and he is worried that his happy ending will actually end. It’s a total shift from viewing a happy ending as a finite ending (Rumple’s death) to infinite possibilities (a lifetime with Emma).
Also I love that Hook was able to help Ursula achieve what Rumple couldn’t. Rumple approached Ursula in NYC with the chance to get her happy ending. But it was Hook who actually came through and got her that chance. And considering how Rumple has used Hook, it’s always nice to see Hook come out ahead of Rumple and mess with his plans. I also really appreciate the fact that Hook didn’t give Ursula her happy ending, but merely helped facilitate it. Hook may have reunited Ursula with her father and her voice, but it was Ursula choosing to reconcile with her father that got her the happy ending she was searching for. And considering how many villains we’ve seen unable to move past their anger and pain to try and start over it was refreshing to see that Ursula was able to break the pattern.
I’m sorry to see Ursula go, but I like that she is leaving on fairly good terms with Hook. It leaves things open for a possible return. And if they ever get into more of Hook’s past then it would be a great chance to tie the death of Ursula’s mother to a pirate that Hook crossed paths with at some point. I refuse to believe in coincidences and a common enemy would make for a great return visit for Ursula.
This was honestly one of my favorite episodes of the show. Such a great, tightly-written back-story–filling in the blanks of a story of The Little Mermaid, while fantastic, never gave us ANY back-story on Ursula, how she once lived in the palace, and why she turned evil–and I ate up every single scene. The casting people continue to bring out the most gorgeous actors, character after character, and they did, indeed, match young Ursula to her present-day self.
Loved this whole recap, and the best line “because they still don’t understand how people can have both light and dark in them” just killed me, because I think that is such a metaphor for real live, not just fairy tales.
Part of me was slightly disappointed that *all* Hook did was stole Ursula’s voice. Granted, it was her hopes and dreams and memories tied up in the voice, but to me, he wronged Ariel even worse by presumably killing her true love. I expected worse from his previous guilt-ridden scenes in this arc. The show has proven it can go as dark as we’ve ever imagined (Hansel and Gretel, Regina and Graham), so I wasn’t going to be shocked if Hook somehow ruined Ursula even more than he did. From what we’ve heard/seen of Old Hook, I really thought he was darker than what was shown in this episode. But so many heartbreaking scenes of both Ursulas. When Ursula was standing outside the cabin, listening to music on the radio, I really felt her pain. And I felt her joy when she got her voice back.
I thought Emma toed the flirting line just a bit with August, and not in a bad way. I’ve missed him on my screen. And I never want Cruella to leave. She’s hilarious. “The scruff is so much more attractive than the timber.”
I also like Hook highlighting how very gullible and naive Belle is. I mean, seriously, I’ve given the girl the benefit of the doubt so many times, and she slightly redeemed herself in the mid-season arc after banishing Rumpelstiltskin, but c’mon. “Oh, NOW you decide to question my identity” made me laugh out loud. Belle. (Facepalm)
The show is funnier this season. “I’m good at surviving. Or you’re bad at killing.”
And after the show gave Regina–and the viewers–one big tease with Robin Hood, it delivered pay dirt on Captain Swan. That scene was so unexpected, so sweet, and so perfect, I yelled out loud. Of course Emma is Hook’s happy ending. Every single time PastHook talks about his lost love and his bleak future, and everything he did in the past that he is so very ashamed of, and admitting that Emma is his happy ending…just perfect. The feels indeed.
And I loved the twist in the book. August is a liar, and he’s the best. He somehow told enough of the truth for his nose to stop growing, but not enough to lead the villains to the paper door in the book. What Henry was looking for all along was literally right there in front of him.
And count me intrigued at Regina’s dream. I really want to know from what the Evil Queen is protecting Robin. And kudos to her for finally using Emma’s real-life job skills as an asset.
Can’t wait for next week!
I also thought that Hook’s actions in the past were a little mild for all the hype. If they wanted to go real dark they could have made him the person that killed Ursala’s mother. But, Killian is clearly supposed to be the romantic hero here, so I dont think they wanted us to be that conflicted about it. Even though it would have been interesting to see such huge collateral damage from his quest for revenge. But, killing Ursala’s mother probably wouldn’t have been out of any intentional vengeance, while stealing Ursala’s voice was.
I think the reason Hook was so haunted by this one is the fact that he broke his code out of frustration in the end. He made a promise to Ursula and didnt follow though out of anger. He was getting what he wanted out of working together with Ursula (something a hero does) and when it didnt work he resorted back to his selfish ways. It might not have been the most convincing story, but it needed to be that way in order to parallel with the story in the present.
Ooooh…that’s good. Hook killing Ursula’s mother would have been pretty deliciously dark, but it might be the point of past redemption. Regina is the only one allowed to commit atrocities and still come out on the side of good 😉 Which is actually a pretty awesome writing job, if you ask me. We’ve seen Regina at her very darkest, and the show didn’t pull any punches with her enslaving and murder of Graham, murder of a whole village, and casting a curse, and we’re STILL rooting for her happy ending.
I think you’re exactly right about the pirate code. That’s what haunts him; that he went against his own word, which was the only thing that kept him a “good man”. I bet after that incident, he was a whole lot darker until he found Emma.
You missed one point.
Rumple is cursed. He’s not free to do what he wants, he’s under the Dark One curse and as long as he is cursed, he can’t be good because that Darkness is stronger than anything else. I had to say it, sorry, because it’s very important.
He does still have some control though, we saw that in season 3 when he chose to be a hero and not do villainous things. While you can attribute some things to his curse and some things to the loss of Bae, some of his actions are simply him being him.
I’m with you on wondering if Rumple can ever come back from this. They seem to really be hammering home that he’s really lost it, and if this was any other show, I’d say they were either setting him up to be the true Big Bad of this season and maybe even this series, but they make such a big deal out of redemption for villains on this show that I don’t know they’d take away his happy ending. But I think it would be immensely symbolic if they did for a lot of reasons.
Rumple is the one that truly started this all, and it wasn’t just his curse that I’m talking about. Nine times out of ten, if something bad has happened to a character on this show, it can be traced back to Rumple – either it was something he did directly something he manipulated someone else into or something that wouldn’t have happened if Rumple hadn’t done X thing previously. He has caused such an immense amount of suffering for entirely selfish reasons, and in the end all of that suffering was for nothing because he still couldn’t get his son back. And more importantly, it’s always been clear that he does not care about how much he’s hurt people. He cares if it’s someone he loves, but even then the caring only extends to apologizing sometimes, not actually changing. Despite all he’s been through, Rumple is still the same person he always was; in fact, he may even be worse. If this storyline ended with Rumple not getting a happy ending because he’s thrown away too many chances and because there actually are things you can’t come back from, I would actually think it’s an interesting arc – the villain who wanted his happy ending but refused to give up power and control and who, despite all the power a this disposal, ended up losing everything.
Regina, meanwhile, continues to prove that she’s taken to heart all the lessons Rumple ignores. I think one of the things they’re going for this season is the idea that if you ruin someone else’s happy ending to get yours, you don’t deserve that happy ending. I think that may end up applying to Snowing and whatever they did with Mal. Even if what you do “only” hurts a bad guy. Regina ruined everyone else’s happy ending to get hers by enacting the curse, but she’s realized that that wasn’t fair, and that any happy ending that involves the suffering of others isn’t truly a happy ending. Happy endings are supposed to be about you living a life that includes love and family and all of that good stuff, not you getting what you want while everyone around you suffers.
Regina has always been someone who desperately wants to be loved, and after all the wrong things done to her and the wrong things she did and how she’s trying to hard to fix everything, she’s someone who really deserves that happy ending. I think maybe they’re going to have her discover in the end that she’s always had the power to give herself a happy ending, and in fact she’s actually been slowly giving it to herself all along – it started with Henry, and her letting go of her need to control him so that they could finally love each other as they really were, and now she’s forgiven Snow and become an honorary member of Snow’s family, and she’s truly becoming friends with Emma and they’re leaning on each other more and more for support. The only thing missing is Robin, but even if she never gets him, I think she’s going to realize that her happy ending is something she’s already earned by opening herself up to Clan Charming and Henry, and she didn’t even realize she was doing it.
Ursula’s story was oddly fascinating, because we’ve seen a lot of people become villains on this show and a lot of them had similarly tragic backstories, but there’s something that gets me about a young woman getting screwed over by the men who surround her and her deciding to take back her own life however she could. I see shades of Regina in Ursula, actually – they both turned to villainy in order to escape pain and to feel safe and like they had power after feeling powerless for a long time, and as motivations go, it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen.
Hook’s road to redemption definitely hasn’t been totally smooth, and I think his fear of losing his happy ending because he’s messed up a lot is perfectly understandable. I think the lesson Hook is going to have to learn in the end is that until he can truly let go of his hatred of Rumple, however justified it is, the darkness inside of him is always going to be just one step away. If Rumple’s downfall is his need to control everyone and always be more powerful than them, then Hook’s is the obsession he’s had with making Rumple pay for Milah’s death. The part of him that wants Rumple to suffer so badly can undo every good thing he’s done and it’s happened several times now.
(I wonder if he feels like letting go of his vendetta is a disservice to Milah, like if he gives up trying to get revenge, it’s a betrayal of their love. I always thought he felt a great deal of guilt over how she died and felt like it was his fault because the Dark One came after him and maybe if he hadn’t been so mean to pre-Dark One Rumple it wouldn’t have happened, and I think that guilt is tied up with all kinds of other negative emotions that make it hard for him to just let go of his need to make Rumple pay.)
I agree with your thoughts on Hook not believing he deserves a happy ending. And I think it’s very telling that Rumple doesn’t even question that he, himself, definitely deserves one, but both Hook and Regina are truly scared that they don’t. They have both accepted that doing harm to others, no matter the reason, is a thing that’s very hard to make up for. Just apologizing doesn’t magically fix everything, you have to put the effort in to make things right.
I loved Emma and Hook’s relationship in this too because we’ve seen Hook believe in Emma for a long time now. He truly thinks that she’s capable of anything she sets her mind to and that she’s a truly amazing person, and seeing Emma over and over tell Hook that she sees the best parts of him and accepts the worst parts is so, so important to someone like Hook, who is terrified that he’ll never be good enough for her. Hook needs Emma to believe in him just as much as Emma needs Hook to believe in her. That’s always been one of my favorite aspects of their relationship – no matter what happens, they accept each other for all that they are, good and bad.
Beautiful review Katie and I agree with everything u wrote 🙂
I love this episode so much, best episode of s4 in my book! there were a few things that felt rushed like Hook turning on Ursula and why but I will let it slide
I’ve been thinking on why we were told that what Hook did to Ursula was so bad when in fact I was surprised it wasn’t worse (and I know more felt that way) because I expected it to be worse after all the Hype we got and I think it’s a matter of ‘the eye of the beholder’. Canon wise it was Hook who claimed that what he did was so ugly, from all the things he has done he feels the betrayal of Ursula tops it because of where he is now in his life, now he gets it. if before his Happy ending was a destructive thought, now when his Happy ending is full of light and hope he gets the meaning of loosing it, that’s why in his eyes what he did to Ursula is so bad, because knowing he took it from her and that had lead her to a path similar to him dark past. it says so much about how far he has come since he turned his ship around in 2×22
The sad thing is that even when he does heroic acts he feels he doesn’t deserve to be happy, he feels like his Happy Ending with Emma is on borrowed time. Colin said in one of the interviews before this episode that we’ll see why Hook isn’t deep in the Author search, and I wondered about it, and it’s clear now – He is scared that if the heroes change the book his Happy Ending will be taken from him cos he doesn’t deserve it, unlike Regina who thinks she deserves to be happy, I think he doesn’t and that’s duo to the fact that out of all the X-Villains he is the most self conscious to his bad deeds, When Regina was a villain she felt that she is the ‘victim of her story’ and that her acts were right, Hook never felt that, he knew his actions were driven by vengeance and were wrong but the dark over came the light, his past with Ursula shows it so clearly – before Poseidon took his hope of revenge he truly wanted to help her, that was genuine but when push come to shove he choose the wrong way. the thing is that after he helped get back Ursula’s Happy Ending they all should have realised that the Author had nothing to do with it and was their actions, I guess he feels the good he does now doesn’t overcome the bad he did in the past.
After S3 I wanted so much to have Emma reassure Hook, have her help him with this demons and insecurities and I am so excited we finally see that, that we finally see him open up about his fears and Emma there to help. I loved her in this episode! from knowing how Rumple coming back effects him, understanding it, trusting him and his goodness, protecting him with her parents, her looks of pride and all in between.
And their final scene, OMG! that was beautiful! before coming to this episode I hoped we get ‘I love you’ from CS but this was much better! Jen and Colin sold that scene! we all knew that Emma is his happy Ending but to see Emma realizing it was beautiful! when she asked him what was his happy ending you could hear the fear in her voice it will be something like The Jolly(yay it’s back! love that ship), and to see the ‘lost little girl who didn’t matter and never thought she would’ realize that she is HIS EVERYTHING was all I wanted for them! her overwhelming look, the kiss, the tear…my heart exploded with joy
loved Rumple v August, was clever from both sides and i’m very intrigued about the Author being inside the book, also that because Emma brought back the Happy Endings in this world only she can take them away and I want to see both Emma and Hook fight to keep her light, will be beautiful 🙂
Great recap as always. (Got behind on viewing because of out-of-town conferences. Pesky work interfering with my OUAT and NG-blog time.)
I can see why some feel Hook’s past with Ursula didn’t live up to the hype . . . however, 1) HE TOOK HER MUSIC. That definitely falls under soul-crushing. You do not mess with the music, folks :-). 2) He knew what her voice meant to her — taking her voice was worse than killing her mother. He took her last connection to her mother. The fact that he was originally willing to help her made it worse, to my way of thinking. He gave her hope and then took it away. He crushed her for his own revenge.
Killian’s got his ship back. You could see that this is his other love as he walked through the ship.
I was so glad to see Ariel back. Can she stay for a bit and help Belle out? I love those two together. I also enjoyed seeing Smee again. I’ve imagined him taking over Ingrid’s store given his love of frozen yogurt.
The author is in the book? That is brilliant. Absolutely BRILLIANT.
I hesitate to comment on the Killian/Emma moments because all the clever people here have made such great points. (All the FEELZ.) I’ll just add that I love how Killian always fights for Emma . . . so it makes my little heart happy to see Emma doing the same for him.
Great points about the nature of Ursula’s happy ending. One of the things I love about this show is the that happy endings aren’t always about romantic love. I’m curious, though, about the nature of Cruella’s happy ending. I assume Malificent’s is tied to her child, but what does a happy ending look like for Cruella? Bathtubs of gin?
Bathtubs of Gin! Yes! I too am really curious what Creulla really needs to be happy. I am still holding on to the hope that she makes Rumple her manservant. “Another martini short one! Get those little legs moving!”
Yes! That is just brilliant — and very Cruella. A I cannot tell you how much I love this idea — and how much fun I’m having imagining it.
– The author being trapped inside the book is an awesome twist that I really didn’t see coming. It does make me wonder why he was trapped, how they’re gonna get him out and IF they should even get him out. Assuming the sorcerer trapped him and the sorcerer hasn’t been said to be evil yet, maybe he was trapped for a good reason…or maybe not. I can’t wait to see how that plays out.
– Hook got his ship back! ^_^
– Hook telling Emma she was his happy ending was all types of cute and fluffy.
– I both loved and felt slightly disappointed with Ursula’s story. I loved the storyline with her voice and Hook etc, I loved that she got her happy ending and I love that she turned good. However, I felt the same way I did with Ingrid’s ending, it was good but felt resolved almost too easily in a way. Also, based on promo and the way Hook was hiding his history with Ursula, I really thought his secret would’ve been darker (even though what he did was horrible).
– For someone who is supposed to be the all powerful “God of the Sea”, Poseidon was pretty useless. I mean if he really wanted the ships wrecked, why not just sink them himself, summon a wave, a whale or the kraken. Again with Hook, when Hook took the shell, he couldn’t be bothered to freeze him and take it back or hold his ship hostage, I mean the sea is meant to be his domain, act like you actually have power.
– The Emma and August reunion was sweet. I really do like having him back.
– Regina possessing Snow’s body was creepily awesome.
– I found myself wondering what Rumple is gonna do to Regina after Cruella and Maleficent get their happy endings (assuming they do) and ditch his mission (assuming they will) and it is revealed that Regina was never really on team villain. Maybe he will be one of the ppl the EQ needs to protect Robin from because I can’t imagine he’d let her deceiving him (assuming she is) go that easily, especially if it ends in this plans being messed up and him not getting what he wants.
– Last semi season before the shattered sight curse hit, Robin was trying to stay with Regina during the shattered sight curse and telling her he’s not afraid of her EQ self and she told him he should be. Now in her dream, the EQ isn’t out to hurt Robin but is instead protecting him. She suppresses the EQ so much and is terrified of her and slipping back into being her, it’s like her own personal Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde. I think part of her storyline is gonna be about genuinely accepting and embracing all sides of herself and realizing that all these different facets of herself make her who she is, that she has more control than she thinks, and that her internal darkness can be used just in a more healthy way to protect others as opposed to hurting them.
– I’m curious as to what Cruella’s happy ending is. Excited for her centric episode.
– Poor Belle. I also really wonder how and if Rumple can come back from this. While I love Rumbelle, right now it’s so unhealthy that unless he makes some MAJOR changes, I don’t want them back together because it’s not fair to her.
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I love how the promos and interviews made out what Hook did to be worse than it actually was. And we saw Hook return Ursula’s happy ending in the same episode where Hook reacted to Poseidon by taking Ursula’s happy ending, even though he initially agreed to help Ursula.
And Hook’s confession to Emma that she is his happy ending, omg was a very beautiful moment. For Emma, she’s never been someone’s happy ending. She never felt that she was ever enough for anyone and yes, she knows that Killian truly loves her and she truly loves him, but sometimes, especially in Emma’s case, she needs to hear those words to further confirm that for Killian, she is it for him. Emma’s not his second choice for a happy ending, she’s it. And she isn’t his happy ending later, as you said, but now. She makes him happy now and he makes her happy now that neither of them need anything else.