Seriously, Blackbeard didn’t have a beard! He had stubble! What the hell man! Also, why are we introducing a real world historical figure into fairy tale world!? Why! As people we have enough trouble separating fantasy from reality, do we really need to blur the lines further? Come on ABC, get with the program.
In fairy tale land, we join our favorite pirate as he steals a chest of gold from some random guards, using a tactic that probably came out of Robin Hoods playbook. Whatever the origin of the scam, it works. Captain and a now de-ratted Mr. Smee (along with his crew of nameless extras who are in no way important) drink the night away at the bar. The festivities are spoiled when none other than Ariel shows up, and holds a knife to this throat (must be some weird mermaid form of greeting) demanding that he return Prince Eric. Turns out he was nabbed by the captain of the Jolly Roger, who is not Hook at the moment. Hook discovers that it Blackbeard has stolen his ship and using it for his own piratey ways. Determined to reclaim his ship, (which he has a rather unhealthy relationship with from the looks of it) Hook sets off with Ariel and Smee to reclaim it. They find the ship, and Hook duels it out with Blackbeard, using his knowledge of the ship to beat Blackbeard. Before he can deliver the final blow, Blackbeard claims that if Hook kills him, they will never find Eric. Ariel pleads with Hook to spare the beardless Blackbeard, but Blackbeard throws some taunts at Hook, mostly centered on how he is no longer a real pirate and has gone soft. With his piratehood in question, Hook has no choice but to make Blackbeard walk the plank, despite Ariel’s pleas for him to stop. Even with the only person who knows where Eric is currently being devoured by piranha’s, Ariel is still determined to find her missing love and goes off in search of him.
This was a rather interesting story to watch unfold because we got to see how Hook’s development over the past seasons has changed him. He is far less of the villain that he once was, his time with Emma, actually having a chance to play the hero for awhile, has had a much deeper impact on him that previously believed. Hook is becoming a good man, and this terrifies him. This was really nice to watch, my only problem was that we didn’t get much of this. I can clearly understand just why these changes would scare Hook, but I would have liked to see more of this internal struggle as he tries to fight against this new found sense of good inside of him. Would have made for a fantastic viewing. Granted, we did get a bit of that in the Storybrooke parts, and I will touch on that a bit further down. My one problem with this, and honestly its a big one, can be viewed in the rant above, Blackbeard. The entire thing with the Enchanted Forest is that it is full of the fictional and fairy tale characters, that is there world, or at least one of them, so the fact that a real life person from history was made a character their rather annoys me. I get that Blackbeard was a famous pirate, and in a Hook heavy episode introducing some rival pirate does make sense, it wouldn’t have been to hard to come up with a new one, some rival of Hook’s that they could tie into his backstory. Honestly, putting Blackbeard here takes away some the magic from this show. This was just a huge misstep for the writers, I can only imagine that the writers are just lazy, or they honestly think Blackbeard is a fictional character due to his vast amount of appearances in various media over the years. Also, he was kind of a waste of a villain, wasn’t much of a threat to Hook, all he really did was throw some less than great insults at old One Hand and that was it. Huge misstep, frikkin huge.
Back in Storybrooke we see a similar plot playing out with Hook. Ariel has come to town, desperate to find Eric who has been missing since the curse. Since Hook is the only with memories of the missing year Ariel goes to him for help. He agrees, albeit reluctantly due to his guilt from the last time, and the two set off for Gold’s shop hoping to find something of Eric’s for use in a locator spell. After a rather touching reunion between Ariel and Belle, Eric’s cloak is found and the spell is caste. The duo chases after the enchanted garment and it leads them to the pier, where it promptly sinks into the ocean. Belle is devastated, believing that Eric is dead. With sad resignation she admits their story is over, thanks Hook for his help, and departs. However, Hook becomes overcome with his guilt over his past meeting with Ariel and catches up to her, admitting everything that happened in the Enchanted Forest. Ariel is enraged at this news, and rightly so, and starts screaming at the pirate. Hook begs forgiveness for his past mistakes. Ariel refuses to believe him, claiming that she can’t trust someone that has no belief in love, saying she will only forgive him if he swears an oath on the name of the person he loves. He does, swearing on his love for Emma, only to discover that (cue dramatic music here) Ariel was really Zelena in disguise the whole time! That’s right, our favorite Little Mermaid never returned to Storybrooke, she actually was able to find Eric and the two are living happy together in the Enchanted Forest. Mean and green uses Hook’s oath to slap a curse on him, when he kisses Emma it will drain away her magic powers. Hook refuses, saying that he will tell Emma what has happened, Zelena retorts with saying that if he does she will send Gold to kill her. Showing a surprising amount of insight, Hook calls her bluff, realizing that she needs Emma’s powers and can’t just kill her outright. So, in a bit of decent villainy, Zelena says she will kill Emma’s family if Hook doesn’t slap a cursed kiss on our blonde hero. In a move that is not surprising at all, Hook doesn’t. He tells Emma and the gang that he helped Ariel find Eric and the two are happy, Colin O’Donoghue actually playing this scene very well, his devastation over his current situation clearly evident. He turns down an invitation to join the whole family for dinner, and our final shot is of him staring at Emma through his spy glass.
Like the Enchanted Forest story, this one was solid. The two different stories blended together well and gave us some new insight into Hook. He is a villain that is trying to adjust to becoming a hero, and at times is actively fighting against it because it is so opposed to what he thinks his true nature is. In the end, his growing sense of right and wrong and developing nobility won out, causing him to confess his crime and beg forgiveness from the victim of his past deeds. This, combined with his actions to protect Emma, are showing some massive steps forward for his character. I hope this is something we see play out more, Hook working in the shadows to protect Emma and her family from both the machinations (ooh, fancy word) of Zelena and the curse she slapped on him. Of course I highly doubt this will happen, the writers don’t seem to be that smart, instead we’ll probably get a couple episodes of awkward moments between the pirate and the savior that culminate in Emma kissing him, losing her growing magic, and getting angry at Hook’s “betrayal” and lying. But who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised.
To break up the Hook stories, we are treated to some filler in the form of Regina teaching Emma how to use her magic, and David and Snow trying to reconnect with Henry. Both these stories were briefly used, and for the most part uninteresting. Regina’s whole tactic of teaching Emma revolved around one thing, throw her off a bridge. While this did work, it was definitely a wasted opportunity. Regina and Emma’s magic comes from different places, Regina learned hers from Rumpelstiltskin and without it doubt, she dabbles in some pretty dark stuff, whereas Emma’s is the opposite side of coin, her magic coming from her being the product of True Love. I feel we should have gotten more of time with this, see Emma struggle in her training to master her magic, which could have led to some solid bonding between Regina and Emma, which seems to be happening mostly off screen. However, it is still pretty early in her training, and maybe we will get some more of that in the future. Our other time filler was much less interesting. David and Snow are upset that Henry isn’t really interested in spending time with them, so David does something insanely stupid, teaches Henry to drive on crowded city streets. While I am all for on screen time between these three, this scenes weren’t anything overly great, or really entertaining at all. They were basically filler, nothing more.
This was a really good episode and had some really great parts to it. The opening scene of Emma and David struggling to put together a crib was worthy of some laughs, and its always nice to see some lightheartedness in the show. The other great part was the ease of which Regina just walked into the apartment after beefing up the wards around place. This really shows just how well the relationship is developing between these people. Its obvious that Snow and David have moved on from Regina’s past sins and are starting to accept her, Regina even cracking a few jokes at their expense and joining them for dinner at the end. While I would love to see some more on screen relationship development between the characters, its nice to know that its happening.
Overall this was a strong episode for the back half of the season, while there were some stumbles here and there, (Blackbeard and some boring filler) we got some great moments with Hook and it was nice to see Ariel again. Emma finally learning to use her magic was great too, as that is long past due. And we are seeing a bit more of Zelena’s plan unfold, she needs Emma’s magic for something, probably to power her time travel spell. (she is still a pretty crappy villain though)