Well. That was unexpected. Not sure how I feel about the ‘gotcha’ moment
at the end, though. I know they probably
needed a bit of drama to drag the current CS storyline out, but…huh. Maybe it’s best to reserve judgement until I
see where A&E plan to go with this new development.
I have a lot of love for this episode, mostly because it feels like the Once Upon A Time I love and haven’t seen in a while, and I’m going to attribute that to Jane Espenson’s writing, because her episodes have always been the best on this show. It’s good to see that whilst the show continues to go downhill with each passing episode, there are the occasional bright moments, such as this episode, when the writing actually gets some things right. Of course, I didn’t like where all of the storylines went throughout this episode, but that’s on the overall direction of plot for this show, rather than the individual writing of the episode. And this episode gave so much that was good that I don’t want to overly criticise the smaller bad parts within it.
Most of all, as much as I adored all of the CS moments and acknowledgment of the upcoming engagement, this episode flourished because it allowed Josh Dallas to shine as David, when he is rarely given the opportunity to do so. More often than not these days, characters such as Snow and David are marginalised in favour of more secondary characters that last for an episode, or even more frustratingly, so that Regina is given even more screentime. And yet, this episode allowed Dallas to explore the depths of David in his love for his family, and even the darkness he would consider to avenge them. In this way, his friendship with Hook and reliance on him throughout the episode was a well considered choice.
I’ll start with what annoyed me the most throughout the episode so that this review can end on a high note, which hasn’t happened much lately with my OUAT reviews. I am beyond done with these Regina and Robin moments because they are just so trite and honestly boring. I cannot get past how Regina seems to think that everything is about her, including this other version of Robin, and falls apart on realising that they are two different people. I mean, of course they are and everyone else saw this coming! I must admit though that I am happy that this show isn’t just making the new Robin a carbon copy of the old, especially in that we get to see him emphasise Regina’s hypocrisy when telling others what to do. Because it’s not just about what she did in t, he past, but how she continues to act. Sure, Robin hasn’t seen her like us, he isn’t aware of how little she has clearly changed, but what he does see is that she continues to keep the hearts of her ‘enemies’. I’m sorry, but at what stage is Regina going to attempt to give people their hearts back? With all of those hearts there, and given that most people from the Enchanted Forest are in Storybrooke, surely many of those hearts belong to people in the town?
On the other hand, I am also frustrated that Snow’s few moments in this episode revolved around Regina and giving her advice and comfort about Robin. When will the writers on this show allow Snow to actually speak to her own daughter, because I am honestly tired of their relationship getting shoved to the side so that most of Snow’s scenes can be about forgiving Regina and even blaming herself in some parts for the things that Regina did to her family. I will be truly happy when this show ends and the abuse narrative dies with it, because I am over Regina’s victims bending over backwards for her to fit in and be forgiven. Even in the beginning of this episode she is part of the family celebration for Emma defeating Gideon. Give me Belle having to wrestle with her loyalties to her friends and love for her child over this any day.
I enjoyed the flashbacks, which were certainly a lot better than the countless Regina flashbacks, and I really loved how we got to see the story of David’s father, and his attempt to be better for his family, even if David is only just learning this. I always enjoy a wicked King George scene, and I will never be over Rumple’s dealings and how he somehow manages to have a finger in every pie. There have been multiple instances of terrible fathers on this show, probably more bad fathers than good, but it was nice to see that in this episode with a theme on changing for the better, that we actually saw David’s father make large strides to be better, even though he never really got much of a chance to live it. It’s bittersweet of course that David is learning this now, but it must also be a relief to know that his father tried, that he didn’t give up on him. Yet again I loved seeing that Rumple is playing the long game, interfering and manipulating where he desires in order to create the situation which will allow Emma to be born so that he can enact the Dark Curse, at least that’s what I got from it.
There’s a reason that August gives Hook the pages from Henry’s story at the end of the episode, because he isn’t going to be the one to tell David the truth. That’s something that Hook now needs to do, now that he knows it was him. I’ve seen criticisms from people that hate Hook, suggesting that he has been lying this whole time, but clearly they were not paying attention. Hook was evidently shocked to realise that he murdered David’s father. Just because we see the flashbacks and how the story pieces together does not mean that Hook knew the context of his actions, he obviously didn’t. And now he has to pay the price yet again for his past actions, as we have seen him fight his former darkness over and over. What frustrates me is that in the same breath the writers state that Regina is redeemed (without actually showing any actions worthy of redemption), Hook is saddled with more and more opportunities to feel guilt for his actions, which inevitably will cause problems with his new family. Regina is forgiven for the countless atrocities she commits, whilst Hook is suddenly given some new drama to deal with, to feel the guilt all over again.
Of course, this always happens once he has started to feel content with the new person that he is now, how far he has come and reformed from the pirate he once was. My concerns with this storyline stem from the choice of the writers to include this storyline, simply in order to create drama between Hook and David after asking to marry Emma, and to make Hook feel even more guilty now that he has come to accept that he is a better man now. In an episode whose them is changing for the better, I’m disappointed in the narrative choice in this instance. It’s literally drama for the sake of drama, and that never makes good writing.
Emma almost dying unlocks something in Hook, he realises how much he wants to be with her forever, to truly become a part of her family-he wants to marry her. It’s beautiful to see just how vulnerable Hook is in these scenes, particularly over how David will react to the news, worried that he will never see Hook for the man he is today, only the man he used to be. Throughout this episode, when David makes vague remarks about Hook being a pirate and willing to do things that Emma and Snow would not, Hook realises that perhaps David still sees him as the dishonest, thieving pirate, and not as someone deserving of his daughter. It’s this concern that leads him to Archie in an attempt to find answers and a solution to the problem. Archie’s absolute joy in realising that Hook wants to propose to Emma is infectious, and it’s so great to see such a genuinely happy response to the news. If anything, this proves how much Hook has changed in people’s eyes, not only because Archie is a psychologist and hence can follow this change accurately, but also because when Hook first came to Storybrooke he was in charge of interrogating Archie for information. Archie’s reaction is proof enough of how much Hook has changed.
There is very little of Emma in this episode, but her scene with Hook was beautiful. Not only do we see how much they love each other, but also how comfortable and vulnerable they can be with each other. Emma’s superpower is not dismissed by Hook as it was by Neal, and he provides her with enough of the truth in order to keep David’s secret, even though it means he is inevitably a little vulnerable with her in discussing his feelings. This episode has a lot of such moments, it’s honestly quite a healthy episode for this family with the number of secrets that everyone keeps from each other. Mostly we saw how perfect Emma and Hook are together, how in tune and in love they are, which just lays a solid foundation for the upcoming proposal.
Vengeance and Nobility
However, easily the best aspects of this episode come from David confronting his demons with the help of his mate, Hook. Unfortunately, Josh Dallas rarely has the opportunity to really make something out of David these days with the way he is often cast aside, so this episode was important to see the struggles that David has. Even as a king of high moral standing, as the husband of Snow White, David is not perfect and has faults like every other character. Dallas portrayed David’s rage and desire for vengeance against his father’s murderer absolutely perfectly in multiple scenes with superb acting. But this high point of his acting must come to his face-off with King George, who at the time is presumed to be his father’s murderer. When Hook interferes, David is enraged, but more than that, he is at a loss with how to protect his family moving forward. This is not just about avenging his father’s murder, it’s about protection. David is heartbroken about what he has lost, yes, but most of all he feels incapable of protecting his family. He feels weak, and he needs to feel strong, and maybe vengeance will provide some short term relief. But Hook knows better. David is terrified that he will lose Emma to Gideon in the future, that he won’t be able to wake Snow up, and that he’ll keep on losing. ‘What if being Prince Charming isn’t enough and I start losing and it keeps going and I lose everything that matters to me?!’ In this moment, Dallas is perfection, combining David’s rage, loss and fear all into one scene that burns so bright. Because we barely get to see much of David, this scene is even more powerful in its strength.
Throughout this episode, David appears to see Hook as the pirate he always was, which clearly hurts Hook a lot. But this is not intentional. Hook continues to try to convince David that vengeance is not the answer to what he is feeling, that it won’t change anything. If anyone knows this, it’s Hook, who spent so much of his long life attempting to avenge Milah. But he changed, he became a better person, and part of that is trying to ensure that no-one repeats his mistakes, least of all his mate/father of his soon to be fiancee. Hook stops David from killing King George not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because he couldn’t bear for David to do this, especially knowing that the guilt would eat him up inside afterwards. He fights so that David will not stray from his morals and make such a terrible mistake. It’s something that David himself is truly grateful for, and later acknowledges how much Hook has done a hard thing in changing for the better. The moments between David and Hook throughout this episode are beautiful, as Hook tries to steer David onto the straight and narrow unsuccessfully at first, whilst at the same time struggling to come to grips with the idea that David thinks he doesn’t deserve Emma. Hook never gives up on David, and whilst I loved laughing at the two of them as they made their potion, I enjoyed the intensity of the later scenes so much more.
It’s amazing to see just how far these two men have come, from enemies to allies to friends and now to family. Because not only does David acknowledge how much Hook has changed, after scaring Hook with a lack of response, he appears overjoyed at Hook asking for his blessing to marry Emma. These two men have traveled together as far as you possibly can with another, the amount of trust and respect between them after this ordeal is staggering. Of course there will now be tough times ahead given the reveal, I just hope that Hook confesses soon and that these two men find a way to work through this new mess because I don’t think I could stand much hostility between them after how far they have come.