TV Time: Once Upon a Time 6.12



Title Murder Most Foul

Two-Sentence Summary When Charming enlists Killian’s help in discovering the truth about who killed his father, Killian sees an opportunity to earn Charming’s respect before asking for Emma’s hand in marriage—until a terrible truth is revealed. Meanwhile, Regina struggles with the complications of bringing Wish-Realm Robin to Storybrooke.

Favorite Line “Someday, may we all be reunited with our sons.” (Rumplestiltskin)

My Thoughts What does it mean to be enough, to have enough, to do enough? When you spend your whole life chasing the idea of being “enough” (respected enough, powerful enough, good enough), what happens when you discover that sometimes “enough” isn’t enough? Bad things can still happen even when you try your best to be good enough. You can still lose those you love even when you try to be powerful enough. Your past can still come back to haunt you even when you try to be respected enough.

A discovery like that can break you, or it can open your eyes to the idea that you don’t have to chase anything; you’re enough exactly as you are.

With its central theme avoiding the temptation to give in to darkness, it made sense for “Murder Most Foul” to deal heavily with Killian and Regina. However, I loved that it actually focused most closely on Charming. He’s a character we don’t get to explore with great depth that often, but when we do, we are shown a picture of a man who is often tempted to give in to darkness when he feels he isn’t doing enough to protect his family. And in this case, he felt he wasn’t doing enough to avenge the one member of his family we knew the least about until this episode: his father.

So much of who Charming is came from a desire to be different from his father. He thought his father was a careless alcoholic who left his family without a provider, so he was determined to be a man who was defined by his sense of duty and responsibility, always putting his family first. But it turned out that Charming’s father was far from the cautionary tale he’d always believed; he was a flawed, imperfect man, but he ultimately died doing exactly what Charming would have done—trying to do the right thing for his family.

It’s nice to know that after six seasons, Once Upon a Time can still make me care about flashbacks and backstories. I loved seeing this new chapter of Charming’s story unfold (and not just because the kid who played young David was so cute I could barely handle it). I should have known Jane Espenson had a hand in writing this episode (along with Jerome Schwartz), because she has the best sense of the show’s fairytale elements and how to continue to weave them into something exciting and magical after being on the air for so long. For example, the way this episode blended aspects of Charming’s original origin story with the classic Rumplestiltskin tale and a strong dash of Pinocchio was masterful. I actually clapped when the Pleasure Island reveal happened because I couldn’t believe we’d gone so long without using that location and the show managed to use it in the just the right story.

Pleasure Island is a place of temptation, and “Murder Most Foul” was about characters giving in to and turning away from temptations in their quest to be good enough. Charming’s father struggled with the temptation to drink and, because of that (and because he was the one who made the choice to give up James), he always felt as if he wasn’t good enough for his son. But he ultimately chose not to give in to temptation in the end. He chose the hero’s path instead. And although he was still defined by his past for many years after his death, the truth eventually came out, and his son learned that his father was more than who he was at his worst; he died a hero.

The quest to be defined by more than your past is something many characters on this show are still working through, especially Regina. This episode forced her to confront once again who she was at her worst when she took Robin to her vault. But she’s not the same person she was when she committed the dark deeds that filled that vault with hearts. Not only is she no longer a killer herself; she’s working to help this new version of Robin fight the temptation to kill his former enemies.

However, there is still a part of Regina that can’t resist the temptation to take a shortcut toward happiness. Of course I wanted to think that she and Robin might have been able to have a second chance, but I liked the realism of showing that things can’t be that easy. (I also liked Snow being the voice of reason; she can be hopeful, but she can also be practical, which is why she’s still my favorite.) As I said last week, all magic comes with a price, and it seems the price of bringing this Robin to Storybrooke is that he’s not the man Regina fell in love with. He’s much darker and colder, and he doesn’t care about her. (Stealing from her vault clearly proves that.) Seeing this version of Robin actually made me wonder if we’re going to see a little dalliance between him and the Evil Queen if she ever reappears. (Though at this point, I’m hoping she just remains a snake forever.)

Regina is learning the hard way that sometimes you can do the right things and it still isn’t enough to prevent suffering. Life isn’t easy for heroes; they struggle and suffer and are often tempted with dark paths that promise to make them feel more powerful and happier. But what makes a hero a hero is their ability to resist that temptation—and also their ability to admit to the times in their life when they failed to do the right thing and gave in to their worst impulses.

August is a great example of this. Despite his beginnings as a lying piece of wood (I was actually quite impressed with the CGI used to bring him to life.), he admitted in this episode to the fact that he spent time on Pleasure Island giving in to the temptations that land laid out before him. That honesty helped Charming and Killian learn the truth about what happened to Charming’s father. August is far from perfect and he has much in his past that he isn’t proud of, but he’s learning to stop hiding his mistakes (which he tried to do by ripping the pages out of Henry’s book) and instead used his experiences to help others, which can only happen when you’re honest about who you are and what you’ve done.

Although Regina, Robin, and August had important roles in this episode, this was really an episode about two men and their quest to live up to their idea of “good enough”: Charming and Killian. Both men are haunted by their pasts—Charming is literally haunted by his father’s ghost, while Killian is haunted by the idea that people will never stop seeing him as the man he once was. And for part of this episode, it seemed Killian’s fears had a basis in fact. We know Charming doesn’t see Killian as a dastardly pirate the way he did back in Seasons Two and Three, but he did appeal to Killian’s worst self when asking him to help him steal potions from and lie to Emma.

However, Killian fought against those temptations to help Charming on his path to exacting revenge on King George, doing instead what Charming’s father did—putting his family first. Charming has become Killian’s family, and when you’re family, you fight for each other. And Killian fought for Charming by reminding him of the hard, painful lesson he spent 200 years learning: Revenge isn’t worth it. Killing someone out of vengeance won’t bring loved ones back, won’t heal old wounds, and won’t make you feel stronger. All it will do is drag you into a world of darkness that could take centuries to crawl out of. Killian used his struggle to help Charming avoid making the same mistakes he did; he was a hero in that moment not just because he saved George’s life, but also because he saved Charming from giving in to the temptation to kill.

That scene between Killian and Charming in George’s cell was one of the best moments of the entire sixth season so far, and it was because both actors brought so much to it. Colin O’Donoghue and Josh Dallas attacked that scene fearlessly, showing a kind of vulnerability and emotional honesty that two male characters are rarely allowed to display so openly. Their intensity was something wonderful to behold throughout the episode—the growing desperation in Dallas’s eyes and the heightened tension in O’Donoghue’s body language—but watching it boil over in this scene reminded me that when this show goes for the gut, it can break me like little else on television.

Charming’s fears were so real: His father tried to do the right thing, but he still died. What does that mean for him? What if he’ll never be able to do enough to keep his family whole and safe? What’s the point in trying to be good if it’s not enough to prevent senseless suffering? The panic in Dallas’s delivery broke my heart, because it was so clear that being without Snow has left Charming without hope, and he’s reeling.

However, Charming may be without one partner, but he has another who is willing to help him out of the darkness of self-doubt. Killian was there for him when he was at his lowest, reminding him that his father died a hero because he resisted temptation and did the right thing and helping Charming find the strength to do the same. The image of Killian kneeling down to comfort Charming as Charming leaned on him was so powerful. It was a reminder that this show has always been about the power of love to give you strength when you can’t stand on your own anymore—the power of finding a support system and being brave enough to lean on them when things are hard. Charming finally allowed someone to take care of him and help him after being everyone else’s rock for years, and I thought it was beautiful that the character who got to be that rock was Killian.

In the end, “Murder Most Foul” could be summed up in Rumplestiltskin’s quote in the flashbacks, “Someday, may we all be reunited with our sons.” I found that quote incredibly powerful because it showed not just a rare moment of vulnerability for the Dark One but also reinforced the importance of the father/son dynamic within this show’s universe. So many acts of both beauty and brutality have happened on this show because of the impact fathers and sons have had on each other, and that extended into this episode.

I loved the symmetry of Charming finally letting go of his father’s ghost—making peace with that part of his past—and gaining a son in Killian. When Killian asked Charming for his blessing, I absolutely melted. O’Donoghue and Dallas once again perfectly captured the vulnerability of an emotionally charged moment—this time, giving it just the right amount of quiet joy and radiant warmth. I’ll never stop being impressed with the way this show manages to have to actors around the same age play such different relationships, and this one is especially complicated because Killian clearly sees Charming as a father figure, despite being hundreds of years older than him and looking the same age. There was such a gentle affection between the two characters in this moment, and it was everything I could have asked for when dreaming up a scenario where Killian asks Charming for his blessing to marry Emma.

But, of course, nothing can ever stay happy for long in Storybrooke. This is a TV drama, after all, and that means it should have come as a surprise to no one that the actual killer of Charming’s father was Killian during his darkest years as Captain Hook. It was clichéd and telegraphed from about 12,000 miles away, but I actually find myself not as frustrated by the contrived nature of it as I thought I might be. Yes, I’m a little tired of the “Will Killain reveal his dark secret?” cliffhangers, but this one is actually thematically relevant.

Killian spent most of this episode worried that Charming thought he wasn’t good enough for Emma—even going to Archie to talk about it. (I could talk all day about how happy I am that we’re getting to see these characters go to therapy to deal with everything they’ve been through—mental and emotional heath matters, kids!) So naturally, after he finally got the acceptance he craved, he was shown something that threatened to destroy all of it. This put a new temptation in front of him to hide this part of his past that he’s not proud of. However, we saw that Charming was able to separate the person his father once was from the person his father became in the end, and I’d like to believe the same will be done for Killian—as long as he’s honest about what he did. Charming, Snow, and Emma are forgiving people (Look at their friendship with Regina if you need proof.), and they know Killian is a better man than he was at his worst. So I actually have no doubt that—after a little drama, because that’s the whole point of a twist like this—Charming will accept that who Killian was when he killed his father is not who he is now. He’s grown and changed, and who he was in his past shouldn’t determine his future happiness with Emma and her family. He’s more than enough to make her happy just as he is.

Extra Thoughts
• Speaking of Emma and Killian, their small moments in this episode were absolutely adorable. I loved seeing Emma so happy, and I also loved seeing Killian once again deliver a speech to her that knocked me off my feet. Give O’Donoghue a sincere soliloquy about how much Killian loves Emma, and I’m a goner.
• I think the ring Killian picked for Emma is perfect. It’s classic and beautiful without going over the top—just like her.
• Archie’s joy over the ring mirrored my own pretty accurately.
• I will say it every week until it happens: Can we please end the Snow/Charming sleeping curse NOW?
• My heart broke for young James, who didn’t want to grow up to kill anyone and was so close to being reunited with his true family, especially knowing who he eventually became because he was raised by King George.
• The next scene I want to see is Killian talking to Henry about asking Emma to marry him or a moment where we find out Henry helped him pick out the ring.
• Did anyone else laugh ridiculously hard at Charming and Killian turning counterclockwise, or was that just me? More funny moments, please!
• What do you think is in the box Robin stole from Regina?

16 thoughts on “TV Time: Once Upon a Time 6.12

  1. Just wanted to say thank you for your always positive reviews/recaps. It’s nice to come here and see that there is someone else out there that enjoys that show as much as I do, and sees the positive side more than the negative. I come here every Monday to see what you have to say about the episodes. So thanks again!

    And in agreement that both Josh and Colin knocked it out of the park. a bromance that was well worth the wait.

    • Thank you so much Kate! It means a lot to me that you appreciate the tone I bring to these posts. Sometimes I feel like those of us here at NGN are on the last little island of positivity in the OUAT fandom, but I could not imagine a better group to share that island with. I have so much more fun writing about things I love than things i want to complain about, and it’s so nice to find others who feel the same. Who knows how much longer this show is going to be on? I want to enjoy it while I can. 🙂

  2. I have SO much to say in what was probably my favorite episode since the Season 3 finale, but I absolutely loved LOVED the darkest secret reveal. For years, my biggest complaint is that the writer have appeared to whitewash Hook’s past. We hear all about how “bad” Hook was, but we see things such as being mean to the Sea Witch, or having the ladies’ eye, or making an evil pirate walk the plank, but nothing potentially unforgivable. Finally! This is a cold blooded murder of an innocent family man that he personally ran through with a sword after he pled for mercy. It doesn’t get a lot darker than that, even for a pirate (or at least as dark as Disney is going to go for their male lead). Finally an act of Hook’s past with actual consequences; I find that cold hard murderous darkness from which he came such a more interesting contrast to Hook’s love for Emma and Charming than anything the show has shown to date. I loved LOVED the scene with Hook and Charming; I loved how they lean on each other, and I love how the scene was just the two men; it did make for a powerful scene rarely seen between two male leads.

    I made a comment about the return of Judgy Mary Margaret because of course she wants to be right, but she wasn’t wrong; what is up with Evil Robin Hood?

    And the delivery of “the hearts of my enemies” might be my favorite line on the show.

    • I was going to comment on the ‘hearts of my enemies” line but forgot! Lana’s line reading there was perfection.

      Its interesting to hear your thoughts on Hook’s past being whitewashed. Up until Killian’s story about his rings in Camelot I think a part of me was convinced he never killed frivolously, but the past two seasons have been pretty clear that is far from the truth. Perhaps the writers felt that once they firmly established Killian’s reformed nature in the present they could take more risks with his past without completely assassinating the character.

    • I’m so happy you brought up the “hearts of my enemies” line because I definitely wanted to talk about how perfect it was! Lana aced that line reading—absolute gold.

  3. Lets get the end part over with first. With each scene where we had Killian doing the perfect thing in the present, I knew this was coming. There was no way this show was going to give us a Killian focused episode free of pain. The plot doesn’t bother me, I just get annoyed with the show’s love of dramatic cliffhangers. But, this show has always been this way, and we know this will all get resolved, this is just one of those annoying things I have to put up with loving this show. I know I don’t need a cliffhanger to bring me back next week, but maybe some do? It seems the show is pretty much going for one final all-or-nothing this is the worst possible thing left you could have done in your past scenario. Time for Killian to forgive himself once and for all.

    Now that is out of the way, Josh Dallas KILLED it this week. Its been a long time since hes been given some meaty storyline to work with, and he knocked it out of the park. But I was in no way surprised since his sincerity in Season 1 is what drew me into the show to start with. The material he is given could so easily come off as cheesy and heavy handed in the wrong actor’s hand, but Dallas makes you feel and believe everything David is feeling. The way he breaks down and falls to his knees with Killian meeting him on the floor was one of my favorite scenes this show has ever done. How often are we given scenes where men are allowed to be this vulnerable, and not only that, but be comforted in such a physical way by another man? It was fabulous. I have always loved how this show has supported the idea that vulnerability doesn’t make you weak in its female characters, but its great to see it in the male leads as well.

    And speaking of breaking down stereotypes, Killian going to see Archie was all kinds of perfect. I mean we are talking about captain hook here, the pillar of masculinity and swagger not being one bit apprehensive about talking about his fears with Archie. They have come a long way from when Killian tied him up on his ship that’s for sure. And just the sheer joy on Archie’s face when he saw that ring. I just get a kick out of this man sitting there while Emma and Killian keep coming into his office separately freaking out that the other deserves better when its obvious that the two of them love and have more faith in each other than they sometimes have for themselves.
    I kinda just want to gush about everything that happened in this episode. Emma’s smiles? Memory loss via kiss (the good kind for once)? Killian’s “I cant wait to give this to Emma!”? All A+ perfect moments.

    Other items:
    -I definitely yelled out ‘Doctoberfest!’ when I saw those beer steins on Pleasure Island.

    -Considering Hook also killed his own father, killing David’s father just gives them one more thing in common! Ok, yeah that’s messed up.

    -Man this Regina/Robin story-line is pretty brutal, but I wasn’t really expecting them to ride off into the sunset. I do hope this will somehow bring some proper closure to the story.

    -I definitely called my alarm a demon box this morning thanks to good ole Daylight Savings.

    -“I know I sound like a hypocrite…” I might have made some snarky comment to myself about her not just “sounding” like one. But that was the cranky part of me that already knew Killian was going to get whacked with the evil past stick again.

    -As a chemist by day, David and Killian hovering over a Bunsen burner trying to concoct that spell was all kinds of amusing. Still curious what turning counter-clockwise was supposed to accomplish though? Maybe I should add that to one of my SOPs just for fun, lol. I am kinda sad I am not a high school chemistry teacher cause that would be a great way to mess with students.

    -As I said before, I have no doubt this Killian’s past drama will be resolved, but since they cant seem to help themselves, a wedding seems like an event joyous enough to be really dangerous for our heroes.

    -fabulous choice on favorite quote. Rumple can be such a butthead but he is always a fascinatingly complex character, and that beat from maniacal glee to sincere longing was fabulous.

    -I am with you, I am not missing the Evil Queen one bit. I do think that resolving that whole thing will be good for Regina’s character, but the EQ can stay gone until they are ready to tie that up, and hopefully as soon as possible. Still bitter over my eyes being assaulted by that Rumple/EQ thing that apparently had no point.

    • Also, I’m on team love the ring. I was all about him giving her one of his own rings until we learned most of them were murder trophies, so yeah, a nice simple traditional diamond having nothing to do with Killians past that seems to never die seems like the way to go.

    • So yep — all of this. (Why does WordPress not have a “Preach, sister” button?)

      Past evil-ness: Sign me up for annoyed at Killian having to deal with something like this AGAIN. I really hope they don’t drag this out with too much drama.

      I will gush with you on ALL the scenes. ALL OF THEM.

      I may have snarked in a similar manner . . . You know I’m also on board with the Doctoberfest mug.

      I’m on Team Ring? Do we get t-shirts? (Or maybe we should have something about the “hearts of my enemies” on them . . . )

  4. Lovely job on this, Katie. I’m sure no one is surprised at how much I loved this one: Captain Charming and an exploration of family? Yes, please.

    I loved the opening toast to family — which included both Killian and Regina.

    Like you, Katie, I continue to adore the relationship between Snow and Regina. (It says something about the calibre of actors on this show that we could enjoy an hour of watching them talk to each other.) You nailed Snow with the “hope and practicality” description. I loved the look on her face when she told Regina she didn’t want to be right. The vulnerability that both women can show — they can be open and honest with each other. Regina can admit her fears, her mistakes, her hopes knowing Snow will be understanding and honest. Snow can admit her concerns and hopes for Regina, knowing that Regina will listen. Women being supportive! BRING IT! (Ok, sorry. Got a little excited there.)

    CAPTAIN CHARMING!!! Revenge does bring out the worst in us . . . David is willing to lie to and steal from Emma. He’s more than willing to make Killian complicit in this. (I did love that David realized at the end what that had cost Hook.) The ending scene in the jail? Sorry, I seem to have lost ALL my words and the ability to arrange them meaningfully.

    “He did the right thing and it wasn’t enough.” Yep. One of those hard facts of life. We can’t guarantee the outcome of doing the right thing. It doesn’t always work out.

    Regina has struggled for a long time with doing “the right thing and it wasn’t enough.” (In previous seasons, she seemed to think that since she was trying to do good she would never have to suffer the consequences of her earlier, evil actions — that they would just all go away.) Doing the right thing is hard and you don’t get a guaranteed good outcome. (Otherwise more people would do good.)

    There comes a point, though, where it’s more about being able to live with yourself rather than living with the outcome. Killian knew that stopping David might not have the desired outcome (of the respect and acknowledgement he wanted), but Killian wouldn’t be able to live with himself — or look Emma in the eye — if he didn’t try.

    Killian goes to see Archie. All kinds of awesome. Yes, strong people ask for help. Strong people have support systems. And how great is Archie? This is someone who really listens to people and is genuinely happy for their happiness and progress.

    Loved Captain Charming scene asking for David’s blessing. Dallas maintained “Dad face” just long enough to make Killian nervous. And yes, O’Donoghue played the increasing panic beautifully.


    — Doctoberfest! (Yes, I shouted this, too.)

    — Speaking of shouting . . . did anyone else complete David’s “You killed my father!” with “Prepare to die!” in your best Inigo Montoya accent?

    — Yep. Demon box. Absolutely a demon box.

    — Turning counter-clockwise. It shouldn’t be that funny. But it was.

    • “He did the right thing and it wasn’t enough.” Ugh that line gutted me. Makes the fact that Hook came by and delivered the final blow all the more painful, since he had every opportunity to spare him.

      The timeline makes my brain hurt, but I am pretty sure this would have happened before Hook killed his own father? Killian’s past seems to be the one with the most grey and confusing timeline (dang those hundreds of years!) but I wish it was easier to see his full progression from naval officer to when he first meets Emma in the EF. Pre-Milah pirate Killian definitely didnt seem to be as ruthless as post-Milah Hook. But then we have seen “Good Form” “I have a code” Neverland Hook who seemed to be a bit more open to deals and mercy (as long as you didnt lash out at him). His past characterization has kinda been all over the place, but thats expected for someone who has lived so long and experienced so much, I just wish there was an easier way to see the linear progression.

      • I keep waiting for some enterprising fan to splice together the flashbacks in chronological order and upload it to YouTube.

  5. I’m not going to think too hard on the timeline or my brain will surely explode…

    That episode was essentially the David-Killian variety hour for me (even though I know there was a lot more to the episode than their adventures). The turning counter-clockwise joke was utterly ridiculous, but they did it with such seriousness and deliberate attention… and why would KILLIAN need to turn counter-clockwise too? even if we assume that the unclear instructions were aimed at the potion brewer instead of the potion itself. (Someone should use this in a class about the importance of writing clear and explicit directions). You know those two had to have had a blast filming this episode.

    I enjoyed the episode a lot. Watching Josh and Colin being given so much good stuff to work with and doing such a good job with it was a pleasure.

    I have no idea where the rest of the show is going with anything. I have no clue what’s in the box or what Robin is up to or even who he is.

  6. I was hoping A&E wouldn’t go the “Killian killed Charming’s dad” route. I was convinced for a long time during the hiatus that it was King George because he is just duchy enough to do it. But sadly, it was Hook — and by the way — this is supposed to be when David/James are 7, and I thought during this time period that Hook was in Neverland. What the hell is he doing back in the Enchanted Forest?

    Timeline issues aside, I know how this works. Hook does something bad in the past and Killian somehow fixes it in the present, and I have no doubt that Killian will try his hardest to make amends for what he did to Charming’s father. He won’t be able to bring Robert back but he’s going to do something that will somehow make it up to his bro/future father-in-law.

    This was such a powerful episode overall, and I look forward to seeing more Captain Charming moments between these two in the future. Bravo to Jane and Jerome for writing this. Thank you, Katie, for once again writing this review.

    (I shudder to think of The Evil Queen and Wish Realm Robin getting comfy with each other. Seeing her be like that with Rumple was hard enough).

    • ‘poor unfortunate soul’ established that Hook was pans “errand boy” for a time and he traveled around, but I assumed it was only to lands outside of the Enchanted Forest, because why try so hard to find magic to get out of Neverland and back to the Enchanted Forest if he was doing supply runs there on a regular basis? Did they specifically show that they were back in the Enchanted Forest or are we assuming because King George was there? Could it have been a different island stop on the way? (I’m reaching, but this is my theory)

  7. Pingback: TV Time: Once Upon a Time 6.13 | Nerdy Girl Notes

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