TV Time: Once Upon a Time 5.10

Just as it felt wrong earlier this season to still call Killian “Hook,” it now feels wrong to call Killian while under the influence of the darkness “Killian.” Therefore, for most of this post (from the moment he said he was playing Emma on), I’ll be referring to him as “Dark Hook” as opposed to “Killian Jones.”

OUAT 510


Title Broken Heart

Two-Sentence Summary After Hook becomes a Dark One, his centuries-old feud with Rumplestiltskin rears its head once again. However, there appears to be much more to his motivations than simply vengeance, as his ultimate plan seems to be the release of all the former Dark Ones from the Underworld, and nothing—not even Emma’s love—is enough to deter him from that plan.

Favorite Line “There’s never been a moment where I didn’t believe in you, where I didn’t trust you. But you clearly don’t believe in me anymore, so how am I supposed to fight this?” (Killian)

My Thoughts “Broken Heart” was so much more than an episode title. It was a mission statement. By the end of the hour, there were broken hearts all over the place: Killian’s, Emma’s, Rumplestiltskin’s, Merlin’s, and everyone watching. It seemed the goal of this episode was to break everyone, and to that I will say: Mission accomplished.

Once Upon a Time has always had its dark moments, but it’s also done a nice job of having hopeful moments amid the darkness to keep dramatic stories from turning into bleak ones. But “Broken Heart” was about as bleak as this show gets. In fact, it’s tough to find things to feel hopeful about after that episode that don’t sound like the ranting of a desperate fangirl grasping at straws. But until this show gives me a reason to stop grasping for those straws of hope, I’ll keep doing so. Because otherwise, why bother watching? There are plenty of other shows on TV to watch if you want bleak, hopeless storytelling. I’m still going to believe Once Upon a Time isn’t one of those shows, but I can understand why “Broken Heart” might make some doubt that belief.

There’s a fine line between angst that’s believable and moves the characters and story forward and angst that just exists to twist the knife in further. While “Birth” was a wonderful example of the former, parts of “Broken Heart” felt like the latter. Some of the dialogue (especially Dark Hook taunting Rumplestiltskin about Milah—even more than anything he said to Emma) felt a bit too callously mean, even for a Dark One. I know the whole point was to make viewers uncomfortable, and it worked. And to include Belle walking away from Rumplestiltskin in an already devastating hour of television felt like overkill—even if I was proud of her for standing up for herself. I know this is what penultimate episodes are all about; they’re the “darkest before the dawn” episodes. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a bit overwhelmed by the darkness.

Ultimately, this isn’t an episode we’re supposed to like. We’re supposed to respect it, find meaning it, and appreciate the performances in it. However, we’re not supposed to think this was a particularly likable or enjoyable hour of television. It was supposed to leave us feeling devastated, confused, and heartbroken. It said so in the title!

But that’s the way it goes in most fairytales, right? There’s always that moment when hope seems lost—Henry “dies” after eating the turnover, Emma and Henry lose their memories and their family, or Charming and Snow realize they can’t break his sleeping curse while they’re in different realms. Those moments are needed in order to make the hero’s triumph feel like it’s a triumph over something big and important. And what bigger triumph is there than a victory over the darkest force to ever exist? The stakes had to be raised in this episode because—let’s be honest—Dark Swan isn’t really the best representation of a Dark One at their worst. (That’s what happens when the darkness is in the same body as the lightest Savior magic ever created.) Dark Hook, however, is a different story. He had to be even worse than we could have imagined in order to make us long for the destruction of the darkness like we’ve never longed for it before. And to that, again, I’ll say: Mission accomplished.

While there were plenty of reasons to never want to watch “Broken Heart” again, Colin O’Donoghue’s performance (especially coupled with Jennifer Morrison’s) might be the one reason to give this hour another look. I’ve loved the way Morrison and O’Donoghue have created their own unique takes on their characters as Dark Ones. They’re so different from Robert Carlyle’s take on the character, and they’re also so different from each other’s take on it. While Morrison played Emma’s early struggle against the darkness with increasing exhaustion, O’Donoghue took a more manic approach to Killian’s inner struggle to fight the voices in his head. And it was just as affecting. His mannerisms were jerky, his speech patterns quicker, and his body language looked like a snake ready to strike from the first moment he saw Rumplestiltskin in his head. This painted a tragic picture of man desperately fighting what he believes is a losing battle. He’s felt the pull of the darkness before, and the idea of being so close to it again begins to drive him mad from the first moment we see him the in the vault—reliving all the pain the Dark One has inflicted on him for centuries. (Was this just supposed to be a reminder for the audience of why Killian Jones hates the Dark One, or do all Dark Ones relive the most painful moments of their life when they enter the vault? I think it’s the former, and it’s meant to remind us what his real enemy is.)

However, there is one thing that is able to calm the newly created beast and bring Killian Jones back to the surface, and that’s Emma. I really appreciated the moment where Emma giving him hope for their future allowed him to let go of the dark voices in his head. It was a lovely parallel to what he was able to do for her once before. Hope, belief, and love are the ingredients needed to destroy the darkness, and that moment was a beautiful reminder that these characters can still give each other all those things. They still have it in them to destroy the darkness, but the very fact that their love can stop the darkness makes the darkness work all the more forcefully to corrupt and destroy that love, which is easier to do now that both parties are Dark Ones.

While Emma and Killian do still love each other, Dark Ones don’t know how to love in a healthy way. For Emma, that means wanting so desperately to hold on to Killian that she does terrible things to keep him—from turning him into a Dark One in the first place to lying about having Excalibur so she could control him. Emma Swan fears losing love and happiness once she’s found it, and the darkness has taken that fear and magnified it in an incredibly painful way. It made her take from Killian the one thing she’s always wanted for herself and the one thing he always gave her: agency. And she didn’t just do it once. She did it multiple times.

Emma said it best when she told Regina that sometimes she needs someone to tell her when she’s being stupid. And while Regina often does that with plenty of sass, it’s Killian who is often the one to show Emma when she’s not being her best self in a way that actually gets her to listen. He often does that by being gentle but honest with her. But sometimes gentle doesn’t work, and Dark Ones don’t do gentle (just look at their kisses in this episode for proof of that). So when it came time for Killian to call Emma out, he pulled no punches. And that turned out to be exactly what Emma needed—and exactly the emotional release we as an audience needed after the last episode.

My favorite scene in “Broken Heart” was the fight Killian and Emma had in the woods in the Enchanted Forest. It was honest in a way that both characters needed to be after what Emma did to bring Killian back in “Birth.” And it reflected what I’ve always seen as the most important theme of Once Upon a Time: Belief is everything. Killian was angry with Emma for not believing in him, and Emma wondered how could she if he didn’t believe in himself. Belief matters, especially in terms of fighting the darkness. Emma took on the darkness believing she could fight it and believing she would have help fighting it. But Killian had it forced upon him after telling Emma he didn’t believe he could fight it. That made him more susceptible to its seduction. That also made it easier for the darkness to convince Emma that he needed to be controlled.

Belief is everything. And sometimes we need to know someone else believes in us in order for us to find the strength to believe in ourselves. And that’s okay. At the end of the day, your ability to believe in yourself is what matters most, but there’s nothing wrong with having that belief encouraged by someone who loves you. And, at first, it seemed as if the darkness was able to destroy that beautiful part of Emma and Killian’s dynamic. However, Emma eventually found the strength to fight those darker impulses telling her he needed to be controlled so she wouldn’t lose him. She gave him Excalibur, a sign that she believed in him the way he’d always believed in her. She followed that gesture with an open admission of love—not as a goodbye but as a show of strength. This was Emma fighting through the darkness to love without fear, and it seemed to have a profound impact on Killian, which led to a ridiculously romantic kiss in their field of Middlemist flowers. (Although it’s important to note the symbolism of the field being cloaked in darkness this time, much like the two people kissing in it.)

That scene in the Middlemist flowers seems tragic in retrospect, with Killian later revealing to Emma that he’d played her to get control of Excalibur, manipulating her love and belief for his own dark purpose. However, there’s a part of me that refuses to believe that’s the case. Yes, there’s something tragically poetic about belief not being rewarded this time and love actually being a weakness for Emma instead of a strength for them both. But no matter how dark this episode was, I still don’t think this is that kind of show. Maybe I’m wrong, but “Having faith in a loved one will burn you in the end” doesn’t seem like a message this show likes to send. But if it really is the theme of that moment, then I can understand it, too. The darkness ruins everything it touches, so it very well could turn the belief that made Killian and Emma’s love so strong into something used to get what it wants.

Throughout the episode, I kept having moments like that—moments in which I questioned whether what I was watching was really just an examination of what the darkness can do to a person and to the love that could defeat it or if there was more to it than meets the eye. For weeks, we all knew—thanks to interviews and the fact that Emma is the show’s hero—that Dark Swan had a plan that deeper than what we saw on the surface. However, we don’t have the luxury of knowing for sure that there’s more to Dark Hook than what we’re seeing. It makes it difficult to analyze his actions because there could be more to the story or there might not be. And while that makes things more surprising for viewers, it also makes things harder for those of us who like to analyze character arcs and motivations.

One of the biggest wild cards in terms of figuring out if there was more to what happened in “Broken Heart” than meets the eye is Merlin. One of the broken hearts in this episode was mine after watching him die. I loved the character and the actor, and I found his death a little anticlimactic. He’s supposed to be the most powerful sorcerer of all time! In fact, the circumstances surrounding his death are the chief reasons why I’m all but certain we’re going to discover there are more forces at work here than just Dark Hook’s need for vengeance and the darkness as a whole’s desire to be unleashed. For instance, why did Merlin leave that “voicemail” instead of just running out of Granny’s to tell everyone the same thing? Why did he have a Dark Curse brewing in a pot? Why would Nimue be the person to find to destroy the darkness when she is the darkness?

Watching Dark Hook crush Merlin’s heart to satisfy Nimue and to get back to Storybrooke to enact his revenge on Rumplestiltskin was so painful because it was a direct parallel to Killian being able to talk Emma out of crushing Merida’s heart—but with a much more tragic ending this time. It was horrible to hear Dark Hook call Killian Jones a lovesick puppy, but it also reminded me that Dark Hook and Killian Jones are not the same person, just like Emma and Dark Swan are not the same. The darkness wants to snuff out the light, and their love has always been a light in the darkness for both of them. The darkness sees love as weakness, so it’s going to see Killian Jones as a lovesick puppy who is better off with darkness in his heart instead of love. It’s the same as Emma saying she was better and stronger with the darkness when she clearly wasn’t. The darkness wants its host to hate who they were in order to embrace who they could be with nothing but darkness in their heart, and this was a perfect example of that.

But even the darkest forces can still love. We saw that with Nimue knowing Merlin was still who she loved most. And we saw that with Dark Hook never once entertaining the thought of crushing Emma’s heart, despite knowing she was who he loved most. We even saw that in Storybrooke, with Dark Hook listing Rumplestiltskin filling Emma with darkness as a crime punishable by beheading. Even when he claims to despise Emma, it’s clear he still loves her. But as Emma said when talking about Nimue and Merlin, it’s a love that’s twisted up inside.

And Killian isn’t the only one whose love became twisted under the influence of darkness. Once Emma saw him crush Merlin’s heart, it became clear to her that he was right: Killian Jones died that day in the field of Middlemist flowers; she saved him only to lose him again. And the only way she saw to fix that was to make him—and everyone else—forget he’d ever been a Dark One. This elaborate lie may have been conducted for the right reasons, but it was an action born of darkness. And it was an action born of Emma’s need to isolate herself when things get difficult—her need to run away from people instead of toward them. Emma is so afraid of losing the people she loves that the darkness convinced her to lie to them about the choices she made—choices that affected them all—because she was afraid they’d all abandon her after learning what she did.

I know it’s not the proudest thing for me to admit, but I related to Emma so much in that moment. It’s not healthy to think you should fix all your mistakes on your own. It’s a way of punishing yourself that only ends up hurting you and others in the end. But it’s something a lot of people do on a much smaller scale—myself included. So I got very emotional when she stood in the middle of her unconscious family and friends, prepared to shoulder this burden on her own, even though that’s the worst way to shoulder any burden. And then my heart broke into even more pieces when she tenderly kissed and held Killian, promising him that, when he woke up, he’d be who he once was again and promising herself that the man who loved her would return to her. Everything about what Emma was doing to fix things was tainted by the darkness, but that moment—with her showing more vulnerability than ever before as she gently rested her cheek on his forehead—was filled with nothing but love. Morrison made that moment resonate with painful sincerity, and it created such a tragically beautiful image—perhaps the lasting image of this whole episode.

Dark Swan’s decision to shoulder her burden on her own and keep her loved ones in the dark for fear of losing them played heavily into the Storybrooke side of this episode. From the start, she was given example after example of why she should have reached out to her loved ones for help: She put them all in danger by keeping them in the dark, she lost their trust, and she made it impossible for them to find Emma underneath the Dark One because she acted out of a place of fear and self-loathing—a place of darkness—when she took their memories. It was devastating to see her so defeated and broken. Morrison used every tool in her arsenal—from her eyes to her body language—to make us feel Emma’s sense of helplessness and her isolation. Gone was the Dark Swan with a burden but a purpose, and in her place was a Dark Swan with only a burden.

That burden came charging back into her home when Dark Hook confronted her about what she’d done to him. That scene—with Dark Hook calling her an orphan with biting cruelty—was incredibly hard to watch. It made my hands shake and my stomach turn to see the darkness tear at this relationship like a feral dog. But every cruel word he aimed at her had a basis in fact: Emma does push people away because she’s so afraid of losing them. She does isolate herself. What made those words hurt was their truth. It was like watching someone who knows exactly how to hurt their loved one go for the lowest blow possible. It was a dark moment—pure and simple. But it was also a dark moment that led to something better.

Dark Hook’s words eventually drove Emma to realize that she couldn’t do this on her own, so she reached out to Henry for help. In an episode devoid of hopeful moments, seeing the two of them begin Operation Cobra Part 2 was a rare bright spot. And it was a reminder that forgiveness is possible and love can still be found even after darkness attempts to destroy a relationship. Henry is Emma’s True Love, and that means he has true belief in her. Once he saw that she was trying to do the right thing, that belief returned. The darkness can’t destroy True Love. It can sow seeds of doubt and mistrust, but love is stronger; Henry and Emma proved that.

As Henry and Emma worked to get the dream catchers back, Dark Hook had his own agenda to follow, and it involved his old foe. It was—dare I say it?—fun to watch Dark Hook mimic Rumplestiltskin’s Dark One theatrics as he challenged him to a duel. That scene showed me just how much fun O’Donoghue was having playing this new aspect of his character. But their duel left me wondering once again if there’s more to Dark Hook’s plan than we know of right now. If he really wanted to kill Rumplestiltskin, he could have done so easily. And if he wanted to get Rumplestiltskin’s blood, he didn’t have to leave Excalibur with him in order to do so. Why leave the one weapon that could destroy him in the hands of his greatest enemy, who would probably go to the heroes and Emma with the sword?

As the end of the episode came and we saw that Dark Hook’s grand plan involved using Rumplestiltskin’s blood to open a portal to the Underworld from which the Dark Ones could return to the land of living, I was left wondering why. Why turn the man who spent centuries trying to defeat the darkness into a willing pawn by which the darkness could have its final victory? That would make a terrible fairytale.

There are many possible ways this story can play out: Dark Hook could really just be the epitome of all darkness, and Emma will have to kill him to keep him from killing everyone else. Or he could be filled with darkness now but will face a turning point after which he decides to destroy the darkness in himself to save Emma and everyone else. Or he could be playing a long-con similar to Dark Swan’s, in which he wants to get his vengeance on his actual enemy—not Rumplestiltskin but the Dark One.

While I’m honestly not sure if any of these predictions are correct, I have my reasons for thinking the last one could be likely. For most of the episode, I felt that Dark Hook’s words were a bit over the top, almost too cruel. And while I’m sure those words came from the darkness acting on his justifiable anger, his sense of betrayal, and his frustrations about Emma not letting people in, I have to wonder if he wasn’t purposely laying it on thicker than he needed to in order to get her to a place where she could either destroy him herself or be okay letting him die as he sacrifices himself to get rid of the darkness once and for all.

Whatever happens, I refuse to believe this arc will end without hope. Killian and Emma have been a beacon of light and hope on Once Upon a Time for multiple seasons now, and this isn’t the kind of show that takes hope and crushes it. It’s a show that has always preached that love is strength, belief is power, and hope can be found even when all seems lost. If there was ever a time when hope seems lost, it’s now. So I have to believe that’s when it will have its most decisive victory ever over the darkness.

While I do have hope, that doesn’t mean I think everything will immediately become perfect and romantic again for our leading lady and her pirate. If Belle and Rumplestiltskin’s story in this episode taught us anything, it’s that the darkness can still affect relationships after it’s gone. I was so proud of Belle for taking a step back and realizing she can’t keep running back to someone who hurt her so many times—even if he has changed. And I’m so interested to see where this twist will take Rumplestiltskin now that he’s discovered that acting like a hero doesn’t mean automatically getting a happy ending.

I’d be lying if I said that moment at the well didn’t move me more than anything I was expecting. It was a reminder that actions—even those done under the influence of the darkness—have consequences, and, as such, it reminded me that Killian and Emma will have a lot of things to work through once the darkness is defeated (because we all know it will be, or else this show has been lying to us for years about what it wants to be).

“Broken Heart” was that moment in a great fairytale where everything looks bleak before the hero steps in to save the day and love conquers all. And I still believe both of those things will happen (although who the hero will be is still up for debate). This is a show about hope, happy endings, and true love. That’s what has always made it special, and that’s what will keep me counting down the hours until Sunday’s winter finale.

Extra Thoughts:
• I loved the complexity of the Regina/Robin/Zelena scene in the loft. While I’m not sure if I want to see a reformed Zelena, I do love the theme that the bond between a parent and child is a powerful force to be reckoned with. And that baby is too cute.
• Why didn’t Dark Hook get himself a new hand? That would have been my first order of business if I were him.
• I was happy to see Snow acknowledge that she did something extreme to save Charming’s life, just as Emma did something extreme to save the man she loved. While Snow’s actions might not have created another Dark One, she did do something very risky to save the love of her life. I also loved that she encouraged Charming to believe that Emma could save Killian. It was the right moment for a “hope speech.” I’d missed those.

48 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 5.10

  1. Hi Katie that was a very painful ep to watch – I said at the start of S5 that I wanted angst but I’ll be very glad when this is over! Emma looked truly broken hearted twice in this ep, 1) in Camelot when she was cradling him as the curse swirled around them (just like Snow held Charming before the 1st curse), and 2) in Storybrooke when he told her her instinct of pushing people away means she’ll aways be alone. That 2nd scene in particular was very brutal, it was hard to hear Killian speak so harshly to Emma – and from Emma’s reaction you could see he really hit a nerve.

    I’m also in the “hope” camp that thinks a lot of what Killian did in this ep was to make Emma (& everyone) believe he’s truly dark but that really he’s trying to destroy the darkness and so save Emma. Merlin said Emma would have to pay the steepest price to destroy the darkness and Killian dying will be that price, and I think Killian knows the only way Emma will let him die is if she either thinks he’s fully embraced the Dark One powers, or if him dying is the only way she can save everyone else. The good thing is we’ll get the answer next week!

    Considering how angry Henry was with Emma at the start of the ep, I was very happy he forgave her so quickly, and helped her find the dreamcatchers. My heart kind of broke for Emma again this wk, I know she wanted to fix everything herself and that’s why she pushed everyone away as the Dark Swan, but she seemed so lost especially in Storybrooke. The good thing is by the end of this ep she finally realised that she can’t fix this on her own and that she needs her family to help. I expect in the finale we’ll see Emma fully supported by her parents and friends as she faces off against Killian and the Dark Ones, coz God knows she’s going to need their support when this is all over!
    The finale next wk is going to be great – Jen and Colin continue to be amazing, and you just know the culmination of this arc is going to be both amazing & heartbreaking – all I can say is I can’t wait!

    • Hi Joan! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. I love how many of us were in the “bring on the angst!” camp at the start of this season and are now screaming at the TV “Not that much angst!” Be careful what you wish for, I suppose. 😉

  2. For those of you still reeling, I did bring the virtual chocolate. Don’t worry – plenty to go around. There’s hot chocolate, too.

    So . . . . ummm . ..I enjoyed this one. All the angsty goodness. ALL THE ANGSTY GOODNESS!

    Yeah, I know. This one should have hurt worse than Dreamcatcher. So, why didn’t it?

    “Broken Heart” was that moment in a great fairytale where everything looks bleak before the hero steps in to save the day and love conquers all.

    Ok, that pretty much sums up why I enjoyed this. I know the day is going to be saved. I really don’t have any theories or ideas beyond what Katie’s posted. This is why I brought the virtual chocolate . . . I don’t really have anything more substantial than a gut feeling, so I felt I should help provide some form of solace.

    So, onto the episode . . .

    Can we call this episode Operation Truth Bomb? I think that’s why I enjoyed this one as much as I did. We had characters laying down truth left, right, and center. Henry obviously gets MVP. Trust is something that must be earned, and I loved how Henry made that point to Emma. Henry is the truest believer, but it’s nice to see that after Neverland he’s become a smart believer. He won’t blindly believe Emma – especially when she’s given him very good reasons not to.

    Likewise, he doesn’t hold onto distrust when she gives him reasons to trust her again.
    I must admit to being mildly annoyed that the writers have Dark Hook do all the evil heavy lifting. However, it does make a certain amount of sense. Emma did choose to be a Dark One, but she did it out of sacrifice. I like to think that’s part of what has helped her. Hook didn’t choose it. He didn’t want it. It’s the thing he’s hated most for years. What is especially telling is that in both Camelot and Storybrook, he only goes full throttle dark after he feels betrayed by Emma.

    Honestly, this is what I’ve been wanting for a long time. We’ve seen Killian be endlessly patient with Emma. We’ve seen him fight for her in numerous ways. She didn’t make it easy, but he stuck to it. I really want to see Emma do the same for him. Loving him is not easy now. He knows just how to hurt her, and he wants her to hurt. (I think Henry and Hook are the only ones who have the capacity to hurt her that deeply.) I want to see her push past all his barriers and his pain. I want to see more of Emma fighting for him like we saw in Camelot.

    Emma’s come so far in terms of letting people help her, it’s heart-breaking to see how she’s isolated herself in trying to fix this. As Emma’s pointed out, it’s her default mechanism. (And for those of us who have a similar default setting, this all makes perfect sense. You work hard; you make progress, but something bad happens and WHAM! Walls up! Crawl in shell.) I did love Emma’s acknowledgment that isolating herself meant she had no one to offer her hope and/or call her on her stupidity.

    I also loved Colin O’Donoghue’s DarkHook. The little echoes of Rumple. The anger. The manic drive. I am really curious to see what’s going on with his Dark One. That line about being used has to be a clue. . .

    Random(er) thoughts:

    –Yep, that is one cute baby. I wonder if Zelena realizes just how much work those wee ones are? It’s not just all love and cuddles. (I also got cracked up at “Baby Hood.”) Is it wrong that I want them to name the girl Marian because it would annoy Zelena?

    — I am busy coming up with scenarios of how Merlin survived. I am very good at denial.

    — LANCELOT!! Finally . . . aaaaaand then he goes to see Mom. *sigh*

    — Ditto on loving Snow’s acknowledgement that this family goes to extremes to save the people they care about.

    — And to answer my own question from last week, Colin definitely has the sexy dialed up to eleven.

    • I am so amused at your glee over this pain!! I will trade some of my heartbreak for your chocolate!

      Merlin’s not dead, only sleeping 🙂 Speaking of which, I saw a gif of that moment Hook crushes Merlin’s heart, and the acting between Colin and Jen is just A+++++++. I mean, really the whole episode, but there is something about that moment in particular that really stands out. His glee, her panic. Damn Colin for being so good at being evil.

    • We can be in denial over Merlin together. Beauty like that should not be lost to the world.

      It made me smile to see how excited this episode made you. Your enthusiasm actually made me feel a little better because, to be honest, enthusiasm was the last thing I felt after the hour was done. If you’d come to me with an offer of chocolate Sunday night, I would have eaten it all. Although that doesn’t mean I still won’t eat all of it now. 😉

      I’m so happy you talked more about Henry and Emma in this comment than I got a chance to in my post. I love that Henry isn’t doing anything blindly anymore. He’s growing up, and part of growing up means being smart about who you place your belief in. And Henry’s ability to believe has always been deeply connected to Emma, so I think her hurting him through Violet hurt so much worse than anyone else hurting him—because it was the one person he always believed in breaking his heart. But, as you said, it was also wonderful to see him easily trust her again once she showed him she could be trusted. Henry doesn’t hold grudges; it’s one of the most beautiful things about him.

      And I really appreciated what you said about Emma falling back into hold habits and putting old walls back up when things got tough. It’s such a human thing to do. We can think we’ve made all the progress in the world, but when tragedy strikes or our world gets thrown off its axis in some way, those defense mechanisms, old wounds, and destructive behavior patterns or thoughts often come back. But it’s up to us—just like it was up to Emma—to remember who we’ve become and not who we were at our worst. And that’s an important theme for Killian right now, too.

  3. I know this was a tough one…for all of us. I was warned by many that this was going to a very dark and bleak episode but I thought…meh, it’s Once…how dark could it be really? There’s always hope…but then, there wasn’t. At all.

    I was really happy that they got some sweet Captain Swan moments…well, maybe not sweet, but definitely hot. And I enjoyed Dark Hook and how he related to Rumple. My daughter actually cheered those scenes, out loud! But seeing him be harsh with Emma was hard. Not that what he said was unforgivable…especially by Emma who has a lot of reasons to need forgiveness too.

    I DO think they will have a lot to work through on their way to finding their happy ending. I just hope that in 5B, they are working together and not with the influence of the Darkness distorting their feelings and actions. There is no way they can work it out if one or both of them is still a Dark One. But with DH transforming and actually believing he is the HERO that everyone else has seen in him, and Emma back to being her Savior self, I’m not sure there is anything that could stop them.

    I will watch this show again at some point this week. But not now. I’ve lost sleep and it’s been a wasted day for me today trying to gather my thoughts while reading other opinions. Thanks for helping me work through it.

    • We’re always here to help you work through your feelings! You were not alone in losing sleep over this one.

      I’m with you on wanting Emma and Killian to be able to face whatever’s happening in 5B without the influence of the darkness. Whatever happens with the darkness, I just hope it’s out of both of them by the end of 5.11. I’d love a scene to end this half-season with both of them as themselves again, even if it’s the brief moment before the Underworld plot kicks in.

  4. Yeah, I think you may be right about Killian playing some kind of long con with the intention of pushing Emma and the others into destroying the darkness inside him at the expense of his own life. I find it very odd that he would bring the one weapon that could kill a Dark One into a duel with Rumple and let Rumple keep that weapon.

    I am truly rooting for hope at the end of this dark tunnel for Killian and Emma.

  5. Ouch my poor poor heart. I had to put off watching this episode until I got home from work today, because if there is anything bleaker than this episode, its knowing you have to be back to work at 6am after a 4-day weekend, and I could only handle one of those things last night.

    As someone who really started getting invested in this show because of Killian Jones, its really hard to see him revert back to his old self. While Emma has been allowed to make new mistakes, here we just have Hook making the old ones. Its all backslide, and thats the point. But I also think there is a level of detachment here. I didnt really see much of Killian Jones in this episode. Maybe a flash here and there in Camelot, definitely not in Storybrooke. It makes everything harder and easier at the same time, if that makes any sense at all.

    For me, the quote that destroyed me actually came from Charming: “I just hope her faith in Hook is justified”. It kills me because Emma’s faith in Hook was completely justified, the problem was, she actually didnt have faith in him. He really should have been asking “I just hope her faith in Hook is strong enough”. But because Emma let the darkness in when she saved Hook, she also let in the doubt. The snowball effect here was just so heartbreaking. Emma made that one huge bad call, and then it was just mistake after mistake as she tried to fix things. Merlin told Emma when Killian was dying that “acceptance is a form of strength”, and Emma just went on a tear of nonacceptance.

    “True love isn’t easy but it must be fought for because once you find it, it can never be replaced.” I cant believe I am going to actually say this, but Captain Swan has actually had a fairly easy run so far as far as conflict is concerned (the internal variety at least). Then they show us the ultimate high, and then they dump us with this mother of all conflicts. I mean, seriously, how do you get a bigger test than this one? Its pretty much impossible. I guess we cant expect to have epic love without the epic challenge to go with it. I think it will take a little bit of time to get them back to a good place, but thats what makes it real. Relationships hit rough patches, and so too can our relationship with our ships! This is definitely a rough patch. The downside of having more seasons: the longer you can draw out the pain (and payoff).

    I definitely think that Hook knows his enemy is the Dark One, not Rumple. We already had Killian admitting to Emma early this season that pre-dark one Rumple was not the villain. All of his pain was caused by the Dark One, which he now is. I mean, talk about being your own worst enemy. Sheesh. The cleverness of this storyline is to be commended, I just hate seeing one of my favorite relationships in the crossfire. I also think that Hook being completely overcome by the darkness and also playing everyone aren’t necessarily two different things. We have talked a lot about doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, but what about doing the right thing for the wrong reasons? Hook could want the darkness destroyed, but he could want it for revenge, not love. I dont think it has to be either/or here.

    I know that sounds kind of bleak, but I do think there are plenty of ways they can wrap this up even if Hook’s intentions arent honorable. The next episode is called “Swan Song”, which obviously implies a sacrifice before death. I think we have two likely scenarios, Emma sacrificing herself, or Killian sacrificing himself for Emma. I actually think it could be a combination of both. Emma sacrificing herself, and Killian offering up his soul in exchange. I actually quite like that scenario, especially over one of them having to kill the other, but I am keeping an open mind about it. Bonus points if somehow the threat of Henry being an orphan comes into play (I just REALLY want Henry involved ok?).

    And finally, its good to see Emma acting the hero again and working with the others. Villains work alone, heroes work together. Her pushing everyone away really was a stupid plan now that we know what happened, but again, I think it was very in character for her. I have to admit I really thought that the team failed her in Camelot and they were all worthy of Emma’s shunning, but I like that I was wrong on this point. I think they have done a great job developing Emma through this Dark Swan plot, just crossing my fingers it wasnt at the cost of my other fav!

    Other Random Thoughts:

    – Remember the spell of Shattered Sight? Turning everyone into their “worst selves”. Everyone forgave that pretty easily. I am trying to think how the dark one curse on Killian is any different at this point?

    – I am still so confused over this timeline. Six weeks just seems like an incredibly long time for them to have been in Camelot when it felt more like a week on screen. Six weeks, WHY?! Why do you torment me like this for no reason show?!

    -Regina has really grown on me this season. I think watching Emma make these mistakes has helped me empathize with Regina a bit more. Regina’s reassuring “He needs time Emma” when Henry storms off was probably the best show of friendship I think I have witnessed from Regina towards Emma. There was no gloating, no making it about her. In that moment, I did truly feel like Regina knew what Emma was going through and wanted to make her feel better. It was one of my favorite parts of the episode.

    – Why do I get a feeling we wont be seeing Belle again for awhile? I think Belle made the right call here. All I kept thinking was Rumple ditching everyone to face his certain death was a real dick move and not considerate of Belle’s feelings at all. He kept calling it “heroic” but havent we learned that doing anything on your own is the very opposite of heroic?

    – When clippy Rumple tells Hook “Why kill me of course!” Does it mean Rumple, or does it mean the darkness? This is the main plot point I am most confused about. Is the darkness aware of the fact that Hook is its greatest enemy? It just kinda makes my head hurt at this point.

    – While completely irrelevant to the story, the stone in the middle of the round table WAS the stone they pulled Excalibur from!

    – Lancelot and the lady of the lake. Merida. Arthur and Gwen. Dark Ones. Baby Killian backstory. This is going to be one jam packed finale!! Please can we at least have Lancelot and Gwen
    getting a happy ending???

    – For now, I am blaming all of my heartache on Colin. Mr, “I wanted to stay dead!”, Mr “I miss old Hook who was all flirty with Cora!”. You know A&E couldn’t resist making their golden boy happy. Keep your mouth shut Colin! You are only allowed to request happy things from now on! The end.

    – There is still a dark curse that needs breaking, yes?

    • I’m going to jump on your random train . . .

      — The Spell of Shattered Sight — I remember being slightly annoyed with how easily everything was dismissed with “we were cursed.” (Yes, there needed to be forgiveness, but shouldn’t some of the issues have been addressed?) I’m with you in hoping everyone cuts Killian some slack.

      It kills me because Emma’s faith in Hook was completely justified, the problem was, she actually didn’t have faith in him. I loved this point. Do you think that was an Emma thing or doubt created by the Dark One? Hook’s “I didn’t abandon you” was pretty gutting. It’s hard watching the darkness twist their love.

      — It’s always interesting to compare Belle’s heroism to everyone else’s. She takes the hard, non-flashy road. I’m torn on whether or not Rumple was being truly heroic or stupid or somewhere in between, but whatever he is, he’s going for the flashy heroism. An epic battle between ancient foes. He expects that one act to redeem him with Belle. You could see the shock when he realized she wasn’t going to hang around. I’m with you in thinking she did the right thing. Now that Rumple’s got his heart free and clear, let’s see what he does with it . . . over the long haul. Let him put in the work.

      — Yes, your point about harder and easier made sense. However, my mind words in odd ways. 🙂

      — I love the reminders that we shouldn’t fall into the either/or fallacy with what’s going on . . .

      — These pesky jobs can be seriously annoying . . . shouldn’t someone pay us just to hang out and discuss?

      • “Do you think that was an Emma thing or doubt created by the Dark One?” I think it was a mixture of guilt that Emma felt acting against his wishes in combination with Killian’s lack of faith in himself which lead to Emma wanting to control the situation to be safe. Katie touched on that quite nicely:

        “But Killian had it forced upon him after telling Emma he didn’t believe he could fight it. That made him more susceptible to its seduction. That also made it easier for the darkness to convince Emma that he needed to be controlled.”

    • “I also think that Hook being completely overcome by the darkness and also playing everyone aren’t necessarily two different things. We have talked a lot about doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, but what about doing the right thing for the wrong reasons? Hook could want the darkness destroyed, but he could want it for revenge, not love. I dont think it has to be either/or here.”


  6. I watched this episode again today(and it was still just as rough to watch it the second time).. and and from the first Hook is out for vengeance, because that’s what he goes after when he took Emma’s memories and her magic and when seeking out Rumple. When they meet on the ship, Dark Hook is definitely not wearing the Darkness well. He looks tired and just plain worn out. As Merlin said, it’s a weight on the soul. The Darkness is just amplifying what he was before, but to the Nth degree. Merlin said this to Emma in the episode, ‘Nimue’ ” It’s easier to live the with the Darkness if you dress it up as vengeance.” He meant that about Nimue, but I think that holds true for Killian. He doesn’t want to be a Dark One, but living with it is made easier if he’s just goes for his vengeance and is painfully blunt and hurtful with Emma about everything. Whether he’s actually in league with Nimue and the other Dark Ones, or he has some other plan remains to be seen, but I have to keep something else in mind that Merlin said to Emma. “Someday, perhaps, there will be a person who’s worthy to hold that much power and not let it burn through to darken their soul.” Is that Emma or Killian, or both? He said he’s not strong enough, but I have to believe his love for Emma is stronger than any Dark Magic that is built on vengeance. After all Love is Strength

  7. I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but your honesty and fearlessness in writing is inspiring. This entire review is wonderful! Truly, friend you did a fantastic job of walking us through not only your feelings as a viewer, but providing a great analysis on TV. It’s natural to feel uneasy but you made sure to weave in hope every chance you got and I think it’s important to remember that this is what this show does for us. It gives us hope. And even though it’s gone as dark as it could possibly could, that glimmer of light isn’t lost. I also need to commend you on this: “I know it’s not the proudest thing for me to admit, but I related to Emma so much in that moment. It’s not healthy to think you should fix all your mistakes on your own. It’s a way of punishing yourself that only ends up hurting you and others in the end. But it’s something a lot of people do on a much smaller scale—myself included. So I got very emotional when she stood in the middle of her unconscious family and friends, prepared to shoulder this burden on her own, even though that’s the worst way to shoulder any burden.” BECAUSE YES. Yes to all of this. Thank you for opening up about this because it’s not easy asking for help especially when we feel we have to make everything right alone no matter how small the mistake may be. It’s exactly how I feel and have felt often times until I realized that it’s okay to ask for help. It was so sad watching her because I couldn’t figure out why that scene of her circling them broke my heart, but now I get it. You worded that entire paragraph (of course the entire review) beautifully and you should be proud of this piece.

  8. I’m with the theory that Killian is conning everyone into believing he’s truly gone dark to destroy the darkness forever by sacrificing himself. I think this was his plan all along from the moment Emma hid Excalibur from him; he knew he had to destroy the darkness or we would never have the “true” Emma back. After all, the Dark One lies; the Dark One tricks.

    Point 1: When he received his memories back in “Birth,” Killian’s attitude totally changed. It’s like a light switch was turned on, and he remembered his plan. He needs Emma to believe he’s gone completely dark, so that when the time is right, she’ll sacrifice him to destroy that darkness.

    Point 2: Killian tells Rumple he’s going to take his head as vengeance for putting the darkness in Emma. This shows that he still cares about Emma and he would have never been in this predicament if Emma hadn’t become the Dark One. He wants vengeance for her as well, not just himself. But not against Rumple, the Dark One itself. He’s just using Rumple symbolically. Killian is also quite flamboyant in this scene too, almost like he’s trying too hard if that makes sense. He’s putting on an act, if you will.

    Point 3: Killian’s face is so telling. The way he looks at Emma before they kiss each time in this episode, how he can’t get enough of her (he moaned, right?) before she breaks it off in the forest. Damn, now that’s a man in love. How could he ever not want to be with her or save her?

    Point 4: I do believe the “duel” was somewhat of a ruse to make Rumple more of a hero; although, we know he needed Rumple’s blood later, but then why heal Rumple’s limp beforehand? The Dark One would have used that weakness to its advantage, right? To kill Rumple faster and obtain some of his blood faster? Only a pirate/soldier who believes in a fair fight would have wanted them both on equal footing, right? I think Killian as a true Dark One would have killed Rumple and not let him best him in the end. I think Killian also knew that bringing Excalibur to the duel would give Rumple a chance to decide whether he’s still a villain or a hero. Rumple would have the choice whether to kill Killian once and for all or be the hero we know he can be and show mercy. And as Emma said in “Birth” about taking Zelena’s baby out of her first, Killian doesn’t want to sacrifice someone else to accomplish his goal.

    Point 5: When Killian goes back to Emma and knocks out Merida, the look on his face when he says he still has feelings for her seems genuine. But then it’s like he just switches off that emotion and lists the negative feelings he has instead. Killian knows Emma best, right? Like what has been said before, he lists all her insecurities and tries his best to hurt her. Emma knows he’s right, too, about everything. I think he’s trying to turn her against him, so she’ll feel better about killing him in the end, which is what he needs her to do. It’s almost like he’s trying to convince her that, “I’m no longer your Killian, that man is dead.” I think he did say that, right? Back in Camelot? Something about a “lovesick puppy?” It also has to be eating away at him inside to say these painful, though truthful, things to her. How could she ever forgive him? We see just how much he is hurting by his deteriorating appearance throughout the rest of the episode. He has to be in anguish. He has to go to his darkest place to defeat the darkness, how poetic yet tragic is that notion.

    Point 6: Killian reveals that he can’t trust Emma and crushes Merlin’s heart in front of her to convince her that he’s truly gone dark. And to convince Nimue and the other Dark Ones in his head. I think Merlin knew his death was imminent and had a curse or whatever brewing in the cauldron to try to prevent it or reverse it, maybe? I thought it was just to “record” the message for later, but maybe it’s something else. He is a powerful wizard, so I’m sure we’ll see him again.

    Point 7 (I have many, sorry): I also love Killian’s last line in the episode when he says to Nimue, “Welcome to Storybrooke, love.” He almost says it menacingly, like he’s got something up his sleeve planned for her and the other Dark Ones. I have to hold onto hope!

    Anyway, I hope this post makes sense. I’ve been known to ramble and counterpoint myself sometimes. I hope Killian is trying to be a hero here. We know he’s battled darkness for centuries and if there’s someone who knows how to beat the darkness, it has to be him. How great is his love for Emma and her family that he would lay down his life to save them. My instincts are telling me that he truly is trying to do good here. He’s found someone, many someones, who are worth dying for and he’s finally ready to make that sacrifice. Why would he give Emma that whole speech about his past through showing her his rings if he hasn’t made a permanent, irreversible change? I have to believe that you can’t go dark with the drop of a hat as he appears to have done. That’s just not rational.

    As Katie said, “Why turn the man who spent centuries trying to defeat the darkness into a willing pawn by which the darkness could have its final victory? That would make a terrible fairytale.” It would be TERRIBLE! Killian is better than that and deserves better! Emma took away his choice to become a Dark One, but I think he’s taking that back and making another choice, a choice that he would’ve never had if Emma hadn’t saved him in the first place. Here’s his chance to be the hero we all know he is and has worked so hard to be. Please Adam and Eddy, let it be true!!!

    (Side note: Anyone think that it was Killian disguised as Belle toward the end when she told Rumple she needed some space? Some part of me thought it might be, but maybe I’m wrong. Part of Killian’s grand plan, maybe? My theories hardly even pan out, though. LOL)

    • Adding to Point 5: When Killian tells Emma he wants to hurt her, his voice quivers as if he is forcing the words out. Then he half smiles and leaves, holding up his finger as if he’s trying so hard not to take it back.

    • Also, Rumple tells Killian he can enact a dark curse by crushing the heart of the one he loves most. He uses the loophole by crushing Merlin’s heart instead. He needs her to be alive!

    • And I love that some of you commented on Killian not restoring his hand and the fact the he left Excalibur with Rumple. I think this was either his biggest mistake if he went dark or the most telling sign that he is going to sacrifice himself. It’s all part of his plan!

  9. What a wonderful read! Thank you very much for writing it. And for being so honest about how watching the episode made you feel.
    I agree very much with many of your conclusions. I just can’t believe that the same writers who knew from episode one of S5 that Killian was already a dark one (by the end of that episode in Storybrooke) and who had him – and no one else – be the person who can quiet the demons in Emma’s head, who believes in her more than her own mother (as when he convinced Snow that it had to be Emma’s decision nor to crush Merida’s heart) and who very much functioned as Emma’s guidung light in her battle against darkness, that those same writers would have him fall into darkness so completely and so quickly without there being a bigger picture that we can’t see yet. I know that Killian said that he wouldn’t be able to fight the darkness because he’s not as strong as Emma but I just can’t find it in my heart to believe that the man we’ve come to know and trust over several seasons would give in to darkness so completely and so quickly. There were many moments that felt like they could support this idea – the ones you mentioned in your review. Why not kill Rumple if that’s what he was really after. I found it incredibly hard to believe that Rumple – who just learned to handle a sword and has been relying on his magic for so long – could so easily best Killian – a fierce pirate captain who’s been in countless sword fights. And why on earth would he leave the one weapon that can kill him with his arch enemy when he poofed away. Just doesn’t make any sense. Killian never ever ran from a fight and now he just poofed away Excalibur-less? It just seems iffy. As does the fact that Merlin had already prepared a dark curse. Something’s going on. At least I hope so. I hope that we will get an explanation for all those seeming inconsistencies that makes sense and is also true to the Killian Jones we’ve come to know and trust and love.
    I do have faith in Killian and hope that the writers know exactly what they’re doing. I cannot see any scenario where it makes sense for all this amazing character development of Killian Jones and the most brilliant and epic love story telling on the show to have been for neigh.
    Maybe the explanation we will get in the winter finale will also explain why Killian only became dark once he remembered he was a dark one and not before – long after Emma tethered his soul to Excalibur.
    I’m absolutely okay with the darkness both Emma and Killian have carried in them to have repercussions on their relationship. I am sure that their kind of love is able to handle the challenge and come out even stronger. I’m just hopeful that we’ll get an explanation for what we saw in “Broken Heart” that is true to the character of Killian Jones and to the show that has been preaching noting as loudly as the message of hope and love always prevailing.

  10. So many feelings! Thanks so much for your amazing review.

    I, too, belong to the “long con” camp. Otherwise, why wouldn’t Dark Hook magically re-attach his hand? To be more scary? I think he kept his Hook to remind himself that he, deep down, is still Killian Jones, reformed pirate. He suffers setbacks, but somehow always manages to turn back towards the light, and Emma, and carry on his hero’s path to redemption.

    Bring the angst, bring the underworld!

  11. Additional random thought on the power of names:

    Katie’s articulated her conscious decision about how to refer to certain characters because of how it reflects their identity. Names are important. (I could crash the blog discussing this.) They create and reflect identities as well as relationships. Snow’s creation of “Charming” for David. Regina’s (and Rumple’s) “Miss Swan.” Hook’s use of “Crocodile.” Henry’s willingness to start claiming relative names for his family. (I still love Belle’s “let’s just go with Belle” when Henry calls her grandma.) Is it Rumple now? Or Mr. Gold? I’m not really sure. Plus there’s the whole issue of the savior label . . .

    I’ve never been able to really discern a pattern to Emma’s usage of Killian’s name. She seems to float equally between Hook and Killian. (Did I miss something? Please tell me if you’ve seen something I missed. I’ll start to see a pattern, and then it falls apart.) So, I thought it was interesting that you could see her making a deliberate choice to call him Killian . . . as if she’s trying to ground him in that identity. She wants him to remember that man. Unfortunately, (Dark) Hook’s idea of Killian Jones is a whipped puppy.

    • I like your thought on names. I actually love how Emma has flipped back and forth between “Killian” and “Hook” ever since Henry got his memories back. I think it goes back to her not even noticing he had his hand back instead of a hook at first. He isn’t two people (as a lot of people seem to think, with “Hook” being bad and “Killian” being good–Killian was still a pirate for years after Liam’s death), he’s one guy with a ton of baggage in his past. She accepts that he was (and still is in some ways) a pirate, that he has a hook for a hand. She accepts all of him and using both names shows that. Because until Emma, no one had loved him since he became Captain Hook…

    • Glad you brought this up! I do think that there have been times when Emma uses “Killian” intentionally, usually when comforting him about his hero insecurities, but in most other cases I think she uses them interchangeably without it really having much meaning. I am trying to think who else calls him Killian…I think it may just be Belle.

      I did love the moment in this episode where she actually corrects herself. Trying to get through to the good man she knows he can be.

  12. This episode is the epitome of the “darkest before the dawn” story telling. It’s that moment in “Two Towers” when they know they are defeated and will all likely die but won’t stop fighting… before the sun rises and everything changes.

    Regarding this:
    “(Was this just supposed to be a reminder for the audience of why Killian Jones hates the Dark One, or do all Dark Ones relive the most painful moments of their life when they enter the vault? I think it’s the former, and it’s meant to remind us what his real enemy is.)”

    I would say it is most definitely the former. Why? Because it only showed Killian’s painful moments that dealt with a Dark One and left one of the most painful moments out: Liam’s death (which had no affiliation with the Dark One but was the catalyst that turned him from the man of good form to darkness/piracy).

    The scene in the Middlemist field felt a lot like a good-bye to me. I don’t think he was playing Emma at all (look at the man’s face in that scene), but realizing what he’d have to do.

    Dark Hook’s cruelest moments feel steeped in manipulation. Yes, he’s the darkness, but he’s also the man most known for subterfuge and hidden plots other than Rumple (saying Milah is dead, hiding the bean, Aurora’s heart, throwing the sword fight with Emma, teaming up with Regina only he was helping Tamara and Greg, saving David from dreamshade). It’s the same man who ranted how (when heart-broken in the “Jolly Roger”) ranted about how love brings nothing but years of endless torment. And he knows that because of what Emma did, one of them will have the pay the price, and he’d much rather it be him.

    He’s cruel (and lies) about Milah to Rumple when Rumple is down. He needs Rumple to fight back. It is a much darker version of what he did with all of his sword jabbing comments to Emma at Lake Nostos. Goading is something he’s very good at. And yes, he could have beaten Rumple at any time, but he didn’t, and he left the sword that can kill him.

    Hook, in any form, has never been stupid, quite the opposite.

    And his harshest words and actions to Emma are when she talks about love, or how she did it for him (made him the Dark One, took their memories) or mentions their future. Because he’s the Dark One because of those things and knows there won’t be a future. I think he had an epiphany in that Middlemist field, when she gave him the sword and said “I love you” without immediate separate or pressure or anything forcing her too. Not only are his words intentional to drive them apart (at Regina’s) and wreak of a way to have her be able to let him go, but are a way to resign himself (much in the “Jolly Roger”) that his happy ending is unattainable. And he does this as he always has in way: with the truth. His harsh words to Emma are that blend of truth and cruelty. She was his anchor (but in a good way). And she runs and pushes people away.

    I mean, Emma showed up twice when his “life” was in the line in “Birth.” Coincidence that he shows up when Merida is ready to shoot her in the knee (and Emma can’t heal herself b/c magical cuff?)? That he removes her guard. That his first words are remarking on why she’s alone and not researching with her family? That he specifically targets being an orphan and pushing people away, which yes hurt the most, but are also her biggest obstacle right now? A conversation that pushes her back to Henry and her working as a team again (because he knows what’s coming and knows that Emma will need help to defeat the Darkness?).

    Whether it’s because he’s truly dark or for his hidden reasons, in that moment, Dark Hook is still doing what he’s always done: pushing Emma to deal with the walls that separate her from her family and love. Because (even as DarkSwan) he’s always been able to read her.

    And boy, does it hurt.

    I think the finale will be very enlightening (illuminating) about what has been truly going on, as well as see everyone finally team together and fight back.

    But the fallout is going to hurt more… (sigh).

    • “I mean, Emma showed up twice when his “life” was in the line in “Birth.” Coincidence that he shows up when Merida is ready to shoot her in the knee (and Emma can’t heal herself b/c magical cuff?)? That he removes her guard. That his first words are remarking on why she’s alone and not researching with her family? That he specifically targets being an orphan and pushing people away, which yes hurt the most, but are also her biggest obstacle right now? A conversation that pushes her back to Henry and her working as a team again (because he knows what’s coming and knows that Emma will need help to defeat the Darkness?).”

      —Yes! Good catch! I love finding all these little clues!

  13. I forgot to add: I honestly think Dark Hook’s darkest/weakest moment, was when Rumple held Excalibur on him on his ship and he told Rumple, “Well get on with it, Crocodile.” No matter what plans, motivations, or schemes Dark Hook had, I think in that moment, he honestly wanted Rumple to kill him so he wouldn’t have to fight anymore.

  14. Am I the only one who thought at the end that Killian wanted to get Milah back from the dead?? I thought my heart was about to explode because that would have been a very cruel way to hurt Emma even more and a very complex love triangle.

  15. Hi Katie,

    Thank you once again for another fantastic review of Once; I loved reading it and look forward to reading all the comments (which I am currently avoiding so as not to muddle my thoughts!) My head is still all over the place after watching the episode, so I apologise now if what I write doesn’t make any sense!!

    Firstly, I just want to give a mention to Colin & Jen’s acting; whilst they have been amazing throughout this season, it was outstanding in this episode. How they are able to express every tiny bit of emotion their characters are feeling through body language, facial expressions etc. never fails to amaze me; to take you from pure joy to excruciating heartbreak in a split second with just a look leaves me speechless.

    I can’t quite put into words how I feel about Colin’s menacing maniac of a Dark One – part of me actually quite liked watching him (because let’s face it on a purely superficial level, he looked hot!); but only to a point. His truthful words to Emma cut through me like a knife – I really should stop watching the episodes before heading to work on a Monday morning!! But I get that he HAD to say those things to her in order to get her to the end goal which will become all too apparent in Sunday’s episode. However, in saying that, I do believe Killian/Dark Hook still loves Emma and that he is running some kind of con; I mean why else would he not crush her heart in Camelot (I know that ‘technically’ it was meant to be Nimue crushing Merlin’s heart, but still), use the fact Rumplestiltskin made Emma dark when taunting Gold and ‘saving’ Emma from Merida; these aren’t the actions of someone who truly wants to hurt the person they love.

    “Why did Merlin leave that “voicemail” instead of just running out of Granny’s to tell everyone the same thing? Why did he have a Dark Curse brewing in a pot? Why would Nimue be the person to find to destroy the darkness when she is the darkness?” – these were my questions too and I am hoping that we get the answers to some (if not all) in the next episode. And who knew that creating a dark curse could also allow you to leave a voicemail?! I do feel though that Merlin creating a dark curse is a little bit too convenient, though I kind of get why the writers did it as the Apprentice’s wand seems to have done a vanishing act since they arrived in Camelot (or have I missed what happened to it?)

    Emma’s self doubt resonates with me as I too have very little belief in myself and I will isolate myself to try and sort a problem out on my own rather than asking for help (though I am finding as I get older that in certain things, asking for help is easier than going it alone).

    I do like how the writers are able to draw parallels with Emma & Hook’s relationship with various other characters situations in previous seasons – Emma holding an unconscious Hook whilst a curse swirls round them paralleling Snow holding an unconscious Charming as a curse swirls round them is a particular favourite. I look forward to seeing more of these.

    Final thoughts:

    ~ In the Belle/Rumple scene at the well – anyone else think that for a split second, Belle was really Hook in disguise?

    ~ Also I think Hook was being a little bit hypocritical when complaining that Emma used the sword to summon him – didn’t he (try to) do the exact same thing with the DO dagger at the beginning of the season? Don’t get me wrong, he has every right to be angry at her for using Excalibur to control him (despite her ‘reasons’ for doing so), but it would be interesting to see what he would have done, had Emma appeared when he tried summoning her back in Storybrooke at the beginning; would he have tried to control her (even though he did stop everyone else from using it to control her with it in Camelot)?

    Right, well that’s it for my second ever reply to a posting!! I’m off to read all the other comments that have been posted and look forward to reading your review after next week’s Finale!! Until then, I am taking a leaf out of Snow White/Mary Margaret’s book and will be holding onto the hope that Hook/Killian and Emma find their way back to their happy ending with each other very soon, as isn’t that what the show is primarily about? Hope!!

    • I really enjoyed reading your comment! You are so right about Jen and Colin’s acting. I think they are a perfect “gif” couple, as in, their acting is just so nuanced and perfect that watching gifs of them over and over only makes you appreciate them more. I will never be over the “good” moment between them in the 3B finale. Those little smiles kill me EVERY SINGLE TIME. In this episode its definitely the moment where Hook crushes Merlin’s heart. Its so painful, but I cant stop staring at it because their faces are just so perfect. The way he stares right at her as he does it. Gah!

      As far as Hook being hyprocritical about using the sword to summon him, I dont think it was the summoning itself that upset him, it was the fact that she lied about Excalibur because she didnt trust him. And then he storms away angry and she doesnt trust him again and summons him to her.

      Interesting thought about Belle (I believe another commenter mentioned that as well, so you arent alone!). I thought that scene just kind of made sense logistically at face value. Emile is pregnant, so it gives her a valid excuse not to be in much of 5B, AND it means that Rumple doesnt really have anything tying him down in Storybrooke, so he can fit “journey to the underworld” on his calendar. I think the underworld arc is actually going to have a lot to do with Rumple coming to terms with his past deeds. Nobody was really buying that whole “Im a hero now!” crap he’s been preaching as of late (I loved Emma’s eye roll, haha). He has to earn respect, not just be given a free pass. There are a lot of things he has done that Belle (and the audience) havent truly forgiven him for, and it makes sense that the underworld would be a good place to explore that (I am hoping Regina is in on this amends party too).

      • To tag along on this idea . . . While it might seem odd for Belle to leave Rumple now that he’s rid of both the darkness and cowardice (or at least it appears that he is), I think this is why she feels free to leave him for a bit. He’s always depended on her to be his moral compass. Even now, he frames this as wanting to the be man she deserves — that he’ll do this for her. Fighting for Belle put on him the road to heroism, but I think he needs to find reasons beyond that to be good. Otherwise that’s just too much pressure on Belle. He needs to still want to be good even if Belle isn’t around.

        And really, Belle just needs some quality time in a library: good books, cushy chairs, and coffee. 🙂

        I also really like the idea of the amends party.

      • Wow, thank you for replying to my comment. I honestly didn’t think anybody would read it, let alone reply

        I love watching gifs of these two too and if I could, I would spend pretty much all day watching them!! They have such amazing chemistry, it just makes them a joy to watch.

        I agree that Hook is mad with Emma for using the sword to control him etc, because she doesn’t trust him, but I still think he was still upset that she summoned him at all. But I appreciate your view on it all so thank you.

        I got the reasoning behind the Belle/Rumple scene due to Emilie being pregnant so allowing a valid reason as to why she isn’t seen so much in the rest of the series and it was for just a split second that I thought it as Hook disguised as Belle – but what a twist that would have been (or even if it was revealed that Hook had Belle’s heart and was controlling her?!) And I’m liking your idea of an amends party going on in the underworld!!

  16. Once this is over, I do not want Killian to quickly forgive Emma. I just do not think she deserves a quick wipe of the slate over what she did to him … someone she loves. I was horrified by her actions. Not because she is supposed to be the Savior. I am horrified that anyone could do something like that to a loved one and try to make excuses.

    • I think so too. These two are going to need lots of counseling (hello, Dr. Hopper)! Some part of me still believes that what Killian is doing to Emma right now is worse. Sure, she made him a Dark One against his wishes, but his words to her in the last episode are inexcusable (though somewhat truthful) even if he might be trying to make it easier for her to sacrifice his life in the end. Words can be sharper than daggers. I’m hoping it’s Henry that helps them most along this journey back to themselves.

  17. I was thinking on the way to work this morning that when Emma got her memories back at the end of the episode that she might know what Killian’s TRUE endgame is. I wasn’t sure whether she only knew about the Dark Ones coming back or if she knew that Killian was planning to sacrifice himself. When I got to work, I looked up the preview for Sunday’s episode and she clearly doesn’t know the latter since she says she’ll protect her family even if that means killing him to do it. I’m starting to doubt my theory that Killian is conning everyone…but I don’t doubt Killian’s character! I’m sure it will shine through in the end. I still have hope! That’s what this show is about, right?

  18. Hey, Katie! You did it! You wrote an awesome review for a really difficult episode.
    I have to say that I kind of enjoyed the episode when I watched it. I mean, it was awful. But it was well done. Or at least, I think it was. Assuming A&E haven’t suddenly lost their minds and changed what kind of show they are making. I’m pretty sure they haven’t, so I’m going to trust that they know what they’re doing. So don’t give up hope.
    This storyline has felt rushed and the timeline is crazy and Merlin dying was all kinds of weird. And when I was watching Belle I wasn’t even sure if that was her… because this show makes me not trust that anyone is really who they appear to be or that anyone is really dead. (With later reflection I decided Belle probably was herself and she just felt a little off because she was finally standing up for herself and her own wellbeing).
    I loved the bit where Emma told Snow that she was supposed to be there to give her messages of hope and that Regina was supposed to tell her when she was being stupid. Working together. Yes, that’s good. All the Henry stuff was good.
    I have no f-ing idea what our lovely Dark Hook is up to, but I’m sure enjoying watching him. I tend to believe there’s more going on, that there’s a twist or a long con or whatever. But you know, in the end, I just trust the showrunners will tell us a damn good story. And I trust that it will be about love and hope and all that good stuff. So I’m not worried.

  19. If Captain Swan breaks up, I’m going to be devastated. I agree with what everyone has said about Hook needing time to forgive Emma, but I truly hope that in the second half of this season they work on finding their way back to each other. I don’t think Emma will have to kill Killian in the winter finale, especially since the Once writers have teased that we’ll learn more about his past in the spring so that implies he’ll still be around.

    Mainly I have a question for everyone – yes, Emma erased Hook’s memories, but he still had the darkness inside him. So why didn’t that come through until he regained his memory? Why was the change so sudden if he was a Dark One all along? You’d think we’d have seen evidence of that even when he didn’t remember. Is it just me or is that a major plot hole?

  20. So here is my question: where was Hook when Emma summoned him? His eyes were red. I bet he was plotting with Merlin and it is the long con everyone is talking about to make Emma believe he went completely dark. And that is why as soon as he gets his memories back, he snaps into darkness mode.

  21. {“Some part of me still believes that what Killian is doing to Emma right now is worse. Sure, she made him a Dark One against his wishes, but his words to her in the last episode are inexcusable (though somewhat truthful) even if he might be trying to make it easier for her to sacrifice his life in the end. Words can be sharper than daggers.”}

    How can some nasty words be worse than what Emma had done? Forcing Hook to become the Dark One against his wishes . . . and his will? She might as well have committed psychic rape. His words are nothing in compare to what she had done.

  22. (Was this just supposed to be a reminder for the audience of why Killian Jones hates the Dark One, or do all Dark Ones relive the most painful moments of their life when they enter the vault? I think it’s the former, and it’s meant to remind us what his real enemy is.)

    I think it’s both. Seeing what happens inside the vault as someone is reborn as the Dark One, I have to wonder what Emma saw when she was in there? And the experience is probably tailored for different people. I imagine since Killian experienced reliving the moments he lost his first love (Milah) and Emma to darkness, I think the same would true for Emma as well.

    I can see Emma reliving watching Neal die, the times she almost lost Killian and Henry.

    Like you said, the darkness preys on the light and enhances insecurities/fears that are already there but I wholly believe that Dark Hook is playing the darkness, the same way Emma was through much of this arc.

    I think there were a few clues that Killian is still in there. Before his duel with Rumple even started, first thing Dark Hook did was heal his foe’s broken leg. If he wanted Rumple to die, I don’t think he would have done that. Plus, this is something he’s doing to help his arch nemesis and Killian never does anything to willingly help him.

    There were also times when he was talking with Emma at her house, where I saw him break that this was all an act. In the last moment of the episode too, when he saw that boat full of Dark Ones, I think he had an “Oh shit!” moment but continued the ruse because he needed to. He needs the darkness to believe that he’s on their side.

    So, I’m going to believe that Killian is still in there somewhere and the light and true love will prevail in the end. I think Killian’s ultimate goal is to still save Emma and destroy the darkness forever and he’s doing what Emma did, he’s isolating himself.

    I still believe there is hope.

    I’m also very proud of Belle for stepping back and realizing, she really needs time to herself. Rumple did a lot of damage to his relationship with Belle when he was the Dark One. He lied, manipulated and hurt her and just because he has a soul now or whatever, does not erase that pain. It’s still very real for Belle because he did all those things to her in his pursuit of more power, so I think it was a very realistic reaction from her.

    It’s been said that Rumple’s an addict and the power he had the Dark One, he was never going to give that up willingly. It had to be forcefully taken from him and it was but just because his fix is gone, doesn’t mean he wins the girl. There’s still a lot he needs to atone for, to Belle and everyone else he hurt. Only then, I think, can he be considered a true hero. I mean, we’ve seen Killian and Regina atone for their past actions and I truly appreciate Adam and Eddy for saying Rumple has to walk the same path.

    I loved seeing Henry and Emma team up together and Henry slowly forgives her for hurting him. It gives me hope that Killian will ultimately forgive Emma too and remember what he said to her Birth, before he remembered, “All sins can be forgiven when someone loves you.” But it’s not just Killian forgiving Emma, but Emma forgiving herself too. They’re both going to have to terms with things they did to stop the darkness, which is the kind of angst and drama that I love to watch.

    I still have hope!

    Great episode and bravo to Colin for playing Dark Hook in Storybrooke. This man is so talented, there are different layers he adds to the character when we see these different versions of him. Can someone give him an Emmy already?! Give him all Emmy’s! He deserves it.

  23. Pingback: The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (11/29 – 12/6) | Nerdy Girl Notes

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