Me tooooo, but they’re my favorite thing, as well. I was thinking about how Eliot changed and it didn’t really seem like he did, much. He’s still angry, he still thinks the same, he’s still fighty. His character doesn’t change. But what does, is his emotional state.
It’s so under stated, too. Like, you have to look for it, in little lines he says and does.
Like, this is season 1, episode 7:
This is in s3, e16:
Despite all the yelling and threats of violence and “Damn it, Hardison!”, Eliot still looks at Hardison this way:
Or when he thought Hardison was about to die?
The way he puts up with happy pill Parker hugs with a smile:
How bout the fact that he prefers Parker and Hardison to crutches when he’s been shot twice saving them (and the world):
But like, who Eliot was before?
“You have no idea who I was before all this started. That guy — kid — he had God in his heart, and he had a flag on his shoulder… Clean hands. And I ain’t seen him in the mirror in over 10 years. And believe me, I get up every morning looking for him. So you can trust me when I tell you, you pull that trigger, and two men die — the guy you kill… and the guy you used to be.”
“Want to know why I know these things?…Because I can’t forget. So there’s nothing you can do, no punishment you can hand out that’s worse than what I live with every day. So to answer your question, no, I never counted. I don’t need to.”
“I did things that I didn’t want to do because they counted on me — bad things for good reasons. And you know what I learned? Bad choices are bad choices. Doesn’t matter why you made them. And they tear you apart from the inside out. And you don’t even notice.”
“You think you know what I’ve done? The worst thing I ever did in my entire life I did for Damien Moreau. And I … I’ll never be clean of that.”
Sophie: Look, you told me that it’s about control, about knowing that you’re never gonna be the victim. And that’s what keeps you going, right?
Eliot: You think I’m upset ‘cause I got to let this guy kick my ass? I learned a long time ago, you can’t control the violence. I can take the punishment. That’s what I do. What I need to control is not out there. (touches his chest) It’s here. Always.
He says this to Nate in s5 e04:
“I met Toby. We were reconning this restaurant in Belgium. And I should have closed him out. I should have been in and out in under 90 seconds. But I ended up talking to him for three hours. He showed me that I could use my knife to create instead of destroy. I stuck around for a couple of months. He taught me everything there was about the art of food, and I… He’s one of the guys that kept me from falling all the way down. So now, I’m asking the other guy to understand why I’m gonna help him.”
Nate says to Eliot in the series finale, “You know, Eliot. I’d say call if you need anything, but you never…never need anything.”
And Eliot says, “Yeah, I did.” Looks at Hardison and Parker, then back to Nate, says, “And thanks to you…I don’t have to search anymore.”
Then Sophie says to Eliot, re: Parker and Hardison “Promise me you’ll keep them safe.”
"Til my dying day.”
I JUST. Okay, Eliot has come so, so far emotionally speaking. He found a family. Nate showed him a family, primarily in Parker and Hardison. And he would do anything to protect them. Anything to keep them safe. And anything to keep them near him.
In the season 1 finale, he says, “As annoying as you people are, I quit this crew when *I* quit this crew. Nobody makes me leave.”
In The Big Bang Job (3.15) when he says the worst thing he did, he did for Damien Moreau, Parker asks what he did. He says:
“Don’t ask me that, Parker. Because if you ask me, I’m gonna tell you. So please don’t ask me.”
Because he will, he really will tell her if she really wants to know, but he knows that she’ll never look at him the same way again, probably none of them would. And he couldn’t handle that, because they mean too much to him.
So yeah, Eliot’s character growth isn’t a change in his character, he’s already smart and strong and already understands the world around him. He doesn’t overcome substance abuse, like Nate, or learn to function in the world, because he knows that already, too.
What Eliot needs in the beginning of the show is a family. He needs to move on from his old life, stop being a retrieval expert, stop being a goon for hire. He needed purpose and direction and family. He needed to heal and be a man proud of who he is and proud of the people he stands beside.
From 5x09, The Rundown Job
[Eliot walks in, Riley sees him]
Riley: A lot of guys, this is the last thing they ever see.
Eliot: I already told you I ain’t in the game anymore. But I can’t let this go down, so I’m gonna need to see that file.
Riley: Why’d you quit, anyway?
Eliot: Started running with some different people… Like a hacker. And a thief.
Then, later, when the job they’re about to pull is too big and too overwhelming:
Eliot: You scared?
Hardison: You’re damn right.
Eliot: I’m not. I got the best thief and the smartest guy I know chasing this guy. Hey, listen to me. You’re smartest man I’ve ever known, Hardison. I need that brain to get me to him.
So yeah. YEAH. Eliot Heals. That’s my choice in character growth. And now you, too, can be overburdened with an abundance of Eliot feels, just like me.
I don’t believe anything, don’t trust anyone but me But I believe you when you say we’re never gonna fall Hand behind my neck, arm around my waist
Never let me hit the ground, you’ll never let me crash
So I think this is gonna
become a habit. It’s easier and more comprehensive than trying to address a
thousand different things at once, and more enjoyable for me than sifting
through negativity and knee-jerk reactions immediately post-episode. I actually
enjoyed this one quite a bit, silliness notwithstanding, and there is lots to
discuss. With no further ado, let’s get to it.
1) Emma. This was honestly a
great episode for her. What strikes me the most is that even as she is acting
at her “darkest,” it is still out of a complete and total instinct to be a
good person – she’s mad at her parents but flips out when Lily threatens them,
gets angry at the local apartment schmo for badmouthing her friend, refuses to
let Lily destroy her second chance with her family, thinks she’s a murderer because she killed Cruella, etc. (Can we talk about her
Fast and Furious stunt driving? I want more.) And that is NOT because of
Snowing’s shady spell, but because that is who Emma is. There are a lot of
Anakin Skywalker parallels happening here, which is not a coincidence because
of what well-known Star Wars fanboys A&E are, but it’s the same basic
principle: the darkness getting a foothold in the hero/Chosen One out of anger, pain, feeling betrayed
by mentors/trusted parental figures, and fear of losing loved ones. Where it
will be different is that Anakin ultimately chose the darkness with eyes wide
open, whereas it will be forced on Emma via the dark magic of the dagger after
she’s made a heroic sacrifice. Visually, she even looks/acts right now like
Anakin did when he was going dark (reddened eyes, pale face, off the handle
behaviors, etc). I love Dark Emma because she’s still so Emma, because she is so
deeply motivated by love and protection and care and goodness; it’s just that
she no longer knows who and where and how to deal with it, and is evaluating
everything about her tragic past in a new light. Emma’s line about there being
no heroes and villains, this is the real world and people have to make choices,
was another highlight of the episode, and perfectly demonstrates the way it has
tried to complicate its morality and twist its characters and push them out of comfort
zones and small narrative boxes. OUAT needs to do this more often, imho: pit
its characters and their fairytale lives against the real world and get them
out of the protective bubble of Storybrooke. Which brings me to:
2) Emma and Regina. Their relationship and
dynamic was at the center of this episode, and it was wonderful. It was an
obvious parallel to 4x05, when we first met Lily and Emma and Regina
went on an adventure together to find the Snow Queen. But while Regina spent
all that episode lashing out at Emma and tearing her down, she spent this entire
episode supporting Emma, trying to build her up, positively reinforce her, and
prevent her from giving in to her underlying darkness. It was lovely to show
her character growth and their increasing trust in each other. Regina had to be
the one to do this aside from plot reasons (she also needed to leave
Storybrooke and find someone, so she had to be the one to go with Emma) and
because as has been pointed out many times, she is the one who knows exactly
what it’s like to have Rumple manipulating that rage and darkness out of you so
you make bad choices and then get even worse. Regina is not coming at this from
a place of “holier than thou”; far from it. It’s because she recognizes exactly what’s happening, has enough
self-awareness to see that it’s exactly what she did, and doesn’t want Emma to
make her same mistakes. This is HUGE for someone who has had trouble taking
accountability for her actions in the way Regina has. Now at last, not only
does she have that awareness, she’s fighting tooth and nail to stop Emma from
making HER own mistakes, because she knows just how bad they are. But it wasn’t
only one way. When Regina found Robin and Zelena!Marian, the Evil Queen in her
was definitely coming out as she tried to protect someone she loved, and how
she reacted to losing her leverage over Gold. The parallels between Emma and
Regina were obvious and compelling, and showed how these two women have been
drawn as foils evolving ever more into allies since season 1. Speaking of
3) Emma and Lily. Emma
realizing in the sheriff’s station that the one friend she had in childhood
wasn’t her friend by choice was heartbreaking. And her guilt at realizing that
she (or rather, her parents/the Author/the Apprentice) were responsible for
Lily’s misery growing up is what will drive her to give Lily a second chance,
bring her back to Storybrooke and reunite her with Mal, and then ultimately
catalyze the plot of the finale. As far as I understand it, when Lily was
around Emma, her life became normal because Emma was literally the other half
of what she was supposed to be – hence, she had equal probability of making good
or bad choices, just like the rest of us. When Emma wasn’t around, however, she
lacked that balancing force, and things just backfired left and right. Emma
doesn’t need Lily in the same way because as Lily noted, what’s the point of a
savior without an anti-savior? Emma still has control of her actions in a way
that Lily doesn’t, as Lily is quite literally a character foil and shadow half
of her because she has been bound to/cursed by Emma by the Charmings’ choice, whereas
Emma hasn’t been. (The appearance of the Apprentice aka Creepy Old Guy on the
Greyhound to explain everything was convenient as hell, but whatever.) The name
“Lilith” was definitely no accident either, recalling Lilith the demon, who in
some noncanon biblical apocrypha is Adam’s first wife before Eve (familiar if
you’ve read the Narnia series, for example). And as seen in the preview for
next week, Emma’s decision to let Lily in again is going to be very costly, and
one of the main reasons, likely, that she ends up making the choices that she
does and becoming Darth Emma. But before that happens, there is still:
4) Captain Swan. It
was brief but it was oh so sweet, and
one of their best moments yet. It’s not a coincidence that they had Emma’s
focused-on conversation with the members of her family before she left be with
Killian, and that he still won’t name himself as part of said family (her
telling him that he is something she lives for was absolutely squee-worthy). Captain
Swan remains the most stable couple on the show; Snowing is dealing with the
fallout from their lie, Rumbelle is… well, we’ll get there in a minute, and
Outlaw Queen has a serious green problem. I think this is a big part of the
reason they wanted a villain/ex-villain as Emma’s true love, because they were
always planning to go down this road with Emma and explore her as the ultimate
good (the savior) the ultimate bad (the Dark One, not by her choice) and the
power of the ultimate love to help her redeem herself. As I’ve said before, I
appreciate that Emma isn’t just the savior because she needed to be, but
because there is eventually a terrible price to pay for it. So you need to have
Killian for her because as I also noted earlier, his character arc before
meeting Emma was trying to kill the Dark One because he murdered his love. Now
he will have to save the Dark One because she is his love. That, my friends, is one poetic parallel. As for the
current Dark One:
5) Rumple/Rumple and
Belle/Scarlet Beauty. Oh, Rumple. Even when you do something
non-dickish to Belle for the first time in 84 years, you’re still a dick. He
literally and openly stated that the reason he stopped hurting/deceiving her is
because if he does, there will be no hope for him and his almost fatally
blackened heart. It wasn’t because he changed his mind and turned away
from his path; he is ultimately committed to destroying Emma for his own
selfish ends. He just stopped hurting Belle to buy himself a little time, and
at this point is fully aware that it’s over and he’s destroyed it. Giving Belle
her heart back was nice of him, sure, but it served the dual purpose of a)
depriving Regina of her security against him killing Robin, and b) saving his
own skin so he can live long enough to pull off this business with darkening
Emma and rewriting his own ending. He is utterly, irredeemably, black-hole
selfish until the end, and he actually admitted that out loud and explicitly,
so I’m not sure how it can possibly be argued otherwise at this point. This
looked an awful lot like closure for Rumbelle before Rumple’s death/vanishment/etc,
and Rumple admitting that Will is the one that Belle has a future with. As for
Belle turning after him briefly – remember, this is the first time she actually
learned that he’s going to die, because Regina told her to forget last time.
She didn’t go after him, though. As of now, Rumbelle is still set up to be a
tragedy, as I have said it should be all along, and Rumple doing one good thing
for Belle (again, out of totally selfish reasons) and admitting he was/is the
worst does not entitle him to forgiveness or the restart of their relationship.
As I said, there are an awful lot of this-is-the-end vibes happening here.
Belle’s first instinct on seeing Rumple was to hide behind Will. Rumple knows Will is a better choice for her and
said so. Q.E.fucking.D. But as for “love triangles” that aren’t going as well:
6) Outlaw Queen/Green
Green/That Ending. Okay, let me state the obvious: Zelena isn’t actually pregnant. She
had advance warning that Regina knew about her and she could guess that Regina
was coming. So what can she do that will bind Robin to her/make him not want to
leave/even if he does find out her identity, still want to protect her? Easy,
she tells him she’s pregnant. Robin is never going to hurt the mother of his
child, and even if he knew it was actually her, he still wouldn’t do it,
because he’s honorable. Yes, this ranked right up there with the end of 2x18
and “zomgs Tamara is cheating on Neal with Greg” as far as soapy-cliché,
eye-roll-worthy, trying-too-hard-to-shock endings, but it is entirely in character
with Zelena (who probably would knock
herself up if necessary to deny Regina her happy ending). But no, there will
not be a Wicked Hood baby, and remember that Emma is along and has that lie
detector thing. Plus, she is not any happier to see Zelena than Regina is, since
Zelena has now hurt/nearly killed/tricked/taken away Killian and Robin, their
respective hubbies. Either the baby will get written out of existence in the
finale (though as I said, I really don’t think Zelena is preggers) or as I
said, lie lie lie. Oh Robin. You got 99 problems, and a (w)itch is pretty much
all of them.
7) Next Week – “Mother.” It’s
going to focus on three mother/daughter relationships: Mal/Lily, Cora/Regina,
and Snow/Emma. We can see that Lily and Mal are reunited, that Lily has not at
all given up on the idea of (rather justified) revenge on Snowing, that Snow is
in danger as a result, and Cora will be around doing something terrible in
flashback. Maleficent has been revealed, like Ursula, to be a villain whose
anger stemmed more from heartbreak and being wronged, and as soon as Regina and
Emma go off to find Lily, is willing to work with Regina and guard Belle’s
heart and totally abandon Rumple and his dumbass plan of darkening Emma. I
think that’s why they set up their friendship in the otherwise
unremarkable/boring 4x14, and why Mal still has some affection for Regina
buried quite deep down. She doesn’t even seem to blame Emma much, as she knows
it wasn’t Emma’s choice either. But she is genuinely and justifiably angry at
the Charmings, and next week is when we’ll see everything hit the fan in preparation
for the finale.