I want to write so bad but I’m terrified that I’ll write out of character? I’m sitting here thinking up plots and AUs and ficlets and stuff that I’m so excited about, and I just can’t put words on paper (or a word document, heh).
What would ______ character do in this situation? I don’t know, I’m not them.
I’m not going to lie, that was painful af, and I’m glad I spoiled myself, because that would have been ROUGH to sit through if I didn’t know what was coming (even though, as I said many times beforehand and tried to warn everyone about, I WAS EXPECTING THE ABSOLUTE WORST FROM THIS EPISODE and for things to look really horrible). To that end, it was actually…. not quite as bad as I was braced for, to be honest. Bad. Definitely bad. But if you were actually going to write an episode where you randomly destroyed your main character, your main romantic lead and your main romantic relationship after three years of careful building, this is exactly how you would NOT do it.
Let’s take this piece by piece.
First off, and most obviously: Dark Hook. There are two ways this is going to play out, and I honestly think either is just as likely at this point, because there is canon evidence for both. We’ll find out for sure next week, but the options are pretty simple.
1) Hook is playing a long con on the darkness, has decided to do exactly the same thing as Emma, and is carefully manipulating everyone to get to the point of destroying the DOs for good. He’s hurt and angry and acting out, but essentially still himself and aware of who he is and what is at stake.
2) Hook has genuinely given into the darkness and is working with it for its purposes. But at the eleventh hour next week, we will see him come up for air, resist it, and choose to die to save Emma and destroy the darkness for good, earning himself the right to be rescued as a hero from the underworld.
For option 1, you have PLENTY of actions of Hook’s that do not fit with his stated desire (to kill Rumple and have his revenge on HIM). You have him emphasizing multiple times to Rumple that Excalibur can kill him, you have him completely throwing the swordfight (I’m sorry, there is NO WAY that the most powerful Dark One yet, armed with magic and Excalibur, on his own ship where he’s fought for hundreds of years, let powerless Rumple win and then leave with Excalibur, the one weapon that could kill him and which he made sure to explain that it could, to be handed over to the heroes!) you have him making it blindingly easy for everyone to find the dreamcatchers (lbr, he also knew the squid ink was left over and left it behind to be used) and hence get back their memories, you have him following up Merlin’s voicemail tip (remember, EMMA STILL HAS NOT HEARD THAT NIMUE IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE ONE TO DEFEAT THE DARKNESS!) and bringing the DOs to Storybrooke, and you have him once more being a lot of bark, hitting Emma where she and he both know it hurts with verbal assaults, but very little bite. He makes no attempt to harm her. He just knocks out Merida. He doesn’t even TRY to kill Rumple. And he says, “You’re only a pawn if you don’t know you’re being used.” Really. Tell me that Killian Jones, after three hundred years, doesn’t know exactly how the Dark One operates.
If Dark Hook thought the others were his enemies, he would have done a lot worse than that. Instead we have a montage of him reliving the worst moments of his life that the DO was responsible for, as he became it. He wants revenge, yes. But he wants it ON THE DARKNESS. We heard over and over how much he hates it and how much it’s the one thing he knows he has always fought. IT IS HIS ENEMY. THE OTHERS ARE NOT.
Next, Killian is turned into a DO something like… three weeks into their Camelot stay. They come back six weeks later. He’s just out there that whole time, and Merlin has a Dark Curse brewed and ready to go when he gets back. Kind of like he wants it to be used. Honestly, I don’t know how you explain this other than that Merlin knows this is going to happen, and wants to make sure it does. As I said in my earlier posts, we see baby Killian next week. The season opened with Merlin appearing to baby Emma and telling her something shady and cryptic. I am willing to bet a lot of money that Merlin has appeared to baby Killian and done likewise, and that Merlin/his plan to defeat the darkness is connected to the reason Killian was abandoned by his father. Elliot Knight has hinted at a further connection with Merlin and Hook. Merlin has been acting weird around Hook this entire time. Watching him, reacting differently to him, so forth. There is more to this story. That is just a fact. We do not know everything yet.
Ergo, as I mentioned: this entire thing reeks of “Snape kills Dumbledore.” Killian and Snape are not the same character, nor are Merlin and Dumbledore. I have written before, however, about the parallels between Emma and Harry. And what you had with Snape was a situation where he performed the ultimate act to make the darkness trust him, because he had planned it out and was working in concert with Dumbledore all along, and Dumbledore ordered him to do it to ensure the darkness was defeated at the proper time. The action that made Harry hate him and believe he was a Death Eater, that he couldn’t be redeemed, that he wasn’t a hero. And yet, it was because Snape ultimately sacrificed himself for love, a love that he never once doubted, gave up on, or turned away from, no matter anything else, died as a hero, and helped save everyone from Voldemort because of it. (And I was just writing some Snape metas the other day. How interesting.)
Once again: Killian and Snape are not the same people. But in terms of the narrative roles they’re fulfilling, if it’s Door #1 and Killian IS conning the darkness, this is what just happened. You cannot tell me Merlin didn’t know this was coming and prepared (AGAIN, KETTLE OF READY-TO-GO DARK CURSE!) for it. If the darkness could have been destroyed in Camelot, it would have been. But Killian AND Emma are both bound to it, and right now, it kills them both. Killian point-blank refused to kill Emma when the darkness suggested he use her heart for the curse. DING DING DING. Her life is the one thing he’s not going to pay. He has to get her free of this somehow before it’s time.
(Again: Snape kills Dumbledore. “You’re keeping him alive so he can die at the proper moment?”)
Next, I can’t even believe that I seriously have to defend the fact that Killian loves Emma as much as she loves him, and that what he said as the DO was not him. I don’t like Rumple, but I recognize that the writers want me to look at him differently as the Dark One, and as himself. That that is the magnitude of this evil which warps and distorts people past anything they would do or be themselves. We have never known Rumple as not-the Dark One, except for some very brief flashbacks, in five seasons of the show. Hence we have nothing to compare him with. We have known Emma and Killian as NOT THE DARK ONES. WE CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE. Of course Killian doesn’t think Milah was “soiled.” Of course he doesn’t think Emma is a “pretty blonde distraction” and “will always be an orphan.” THIS IS THE MAN WHO FOUGHT THREE HUNDRED YEARS TO AVENGE MILAH, AND HAS GIVEN UP EVERYTHING FOR EMMA. I DON’T CARE WHAT HE SAID. HE IS LASHING OUT AT HER AND TRYING TO PUSH HER AWAY, JUST LIKE SHE HAS SO OFTEN DONE TO HIM. IT DOES NOT MEAN HE DOESN’T STILL LOVE HER.
When I heard all that from Killian, when he finally gave it to Emma raw about how her treatment of him has hurt him, it made me ever more convinced we are about to get the ultimate fulfillment of him as a character, AND NOT JUST EMMA’S “LOVESICK PUPPYDOG.” Over and over, he has been patient and understanding with her and let her put up those walls and push away himself and everyone else. He knows why she does it, but that doesn’t make it all right. We were all frustrated as HELL with Emma and her behavior in 3B, her apparently deliberate attempts to hurt and isolate him even when we knew she had feelings for him, AND SO WAS KILLIAN. But he NEVER SAID IT. AND BY GOD, THE MAN NEEDS TO SAY IT. HE NEEDS TO EXPRESS THAT HE IS WOUNDED TO THE CORE BY HER NOT TRUSTING HIM TO CONTROL HIMSELF, LYING TO HIM ABOUT EXCALIBUR, AND SO FORTH. DID SHE HAVE A GOOD REASON? OF COURSE. BUT IT HAS HURT HIM AND WITH THE DARKNESS IN HIM, HE’S NOW FINALLY GOING TO SAY IT. HE NEEDS TO STAND UP FOR HIMSELF AND I’M GLAD HE DID.
Honestly, as much as it hurt, I almost cheered when he gave Emma the speech about her destroying her own happiness over and over. Because this is the ultimate challenge for her not to do it anymore, when his life and his soul is at stake. Because she absolutely cannot pull back or turn away or try to do it alone (as she still wanted to do, as late as talking to Gold in the shop pre-him leaving for his duel on the Jolly). As the Dark One, Emma has made terrible mistakes and is acting selfishly and continuing to undercut him and them and everything she has become and could be. SHE IS ACTING LIKE OLD EMMA SWAN AND HE JUST TOLD HER STRAIGHT THAT SHE CANNOT DO THAT ANYMORE.
So…. you know… he’s still HIM. It’s the worst version of himself, lashing out at her and using her weak points, but he’s doing what he’s always done, to refuse to let Emma hide behind her walls and insecurities and isolate herself. HE IS FORCING HER TO DO IT WITH EVERYONE – AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW, EVERYONE COMES TO THE UNDERWORLD TO RESCUE HIM.
(Psst. We know Hook was right to tell her this because Henry, EMMA’S OTHER TRUE LOVE, told her the same thing. He called her out to her face for her selfish behavior and said he wasn’t going to trust her if she was just going to try to do it on her own again. Henry is hurt and upset with her, but he comes around to her, and they work together to defeat the darkness’ plan. WHAT DOES THIS REMIND ME OF. THREE GUESSES, FIRST TWO DO NOT COUNT.)
That’s why, while I still wish Snowing and Regina had been a bit more accommodating when the whole situation came out, I do not think they were wrong to react to Dark Emma the way they have. I think there is some backslide in their writing, yes (THOUGH CAN WE GIVE A GIANT AMEN TO SNOW STANDING UP FOR EMMA CHOOSING HOOK!), but the point remains the same. Emma has been pushing them away and lying to them and misleading them and stopping them from helping fix the situation she created. I don’t care how much you love Emma (and I ADORE HER possibly more than ever) that is not good or healthy or admirable behavior that she should be reinforced in. This is not about “Snowing and Regina are so mean to her omg.” THE POINT IS THAT SHE PUT HERSELF IN THE SITUATION WHERE THEY HAVE TO SAY IT NOW WHEN EVERYTHING IS LITERALLY GOING TO HELL! THAT IS OLD EMMA’S WORST BESETTING FLAW AND IT’S WHY HER PLAN AS DARK SWAN WAS NEVER GOING TO WORK! How could they help her save Hook and fight for her happy ending WHEN SHE NEVER GAVE THEM THE CHANCE? She didn’t trust Hook and she didn’t trust them. It may be because of the darkness, but that’s exactly why SHE can’t be trusted.
(Sorry for the caps but THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT AND I’M NOT GOING TO LET ANYONE GET AWAY WITH IT.)
Now, as I said, it’s still also possible that Killian has genuinely given into the darkness and is still (at this moment) planning to help them snuff out the light. (Although after watching this episode, I think it’s somewhat less likely than I did before going in.) In which case, he is still going to give up the darkness and die to save her. She goes after him with Excalibur in the promo; he just poofs away. He has dark one magic. So does she. They are equally matched. Short of slapping the cuff on him and tying him up and whatever else, SHE CANNOT FORCE HIM TO SACRIFICE HIMSELF (AND AFTER HAVING NOT GIVEN HIM THE CHOICE BEFORE, SHE’S NOT GOING TO MAKE THAT MISTAKE AGAIN). SO WHEN HE DIES, IT IS BECAUSE HE HAS MADE THE DECISION TO DO SO.
Plus, the promo just… tells you what happens? That he’s evil and Emma kills him? With no twist? In the biggiest, twistiest, angstiest arc the show has done to date? In his flashback episode, where we see him both as a child (where once again, I am expecting to see Merlin pop up and say something cryptic and unhelpful and ominous) and as an adult with his father? Where we learn what made that good man, Killian Jones, become Captain Hook, the darkness he ultimately put aside for the sake of true love?
Honestly, I think Killian may well kill his own dad in the flashback. Rumple killed his dad in his midseason finale sacrifice episode. The parallels with these two were turned up to mad level today. They are not the same character, but they are foils. Their behavior reflects on the other. And if that happens, I think it is because Brennan Jones’ abandonment of his sons has to do with dark magic, with Merlin’s manipulations, with everything that led Killian to that point. And it will contrast with him, in the present, making the choice to die HIMSELF. That he cannot defeat the darkness (as I think Merlin’s going to have something to say about; why stay SO COMMITTED FOR THREE HUNDRED YEARS?) by killing his father or Rumple or whatever. But that HE, KILLIAN JONES, HAS TO DIE AS A HERO TO DO IT. AND HE WILL. THE CULMINATION OF HIS ENTIRE DESTINY.
Plus as I keep saying. The family is going to the underworld to get him, IMMEDIATELY, after not trusting him and thinking he could destroy everything in this episode. Why does that happen if nothing changes? If he dies as a villain (and once again, for the people in the back, EMMA CANNOT FORCE HIM TO DIE! SHE CANNOT FORCE HIM TO DO THE ONE THING THAT IS AT THE CAUSE OF ALL THEIR STRIFE RIGHT NOW: NOT GIVING HIM A CHOICE!) why do they do that? Why do they risk everything if it’s terrible to lose him but what had to happen?
Answer: They don’t.
This is still Once Upon a Time. This is still Captain Swan. One dark episode where Killian and Emma are literally conduits for the most terrible evil of all time and acting as their worst selves does not change that. If you think otherwise, I honestly have no idea what to tell you.
I said, again, several times, that this was the “darkest before the dawn” moment. I tried to warn everyone it was going to be bad. I was right. And once again, I’ve been pretty consistently right throughout this entire arc. So there’s that to think of when I say I am utterly, absolutely, completely convinced that it plays out in either Door #1 (Killian conning the darkness, deciding to do what has to be done, dying as a hero) or Door #2 (Killian working with the darkness, changes his mind, fights it when everything’s at stake, dying as a hero). Because that is where this entire thing is LEADING.
Like. I get needing a hug after that. And I am your fandom grandmother, who is here to do that for you. It was rough to sit through and to hear Dark!Killian say some of the things he did. But at the same time, that is the entire point. You’re not supposed to go, “Oh yeah, this is totally how Killian would react to Emma and what he’d say to her and how he actually feels for her and Milah and everyone.” YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO REALIZE HOW GROTESQUELY NOT HIM THE DARK ONE IS.
DARK ONE LIES.
DARK ONE TRICKS.
And there is no way in cotton picking, roller-skating, Jesus Christ on toast that this arc ends with Captain Swan’s true love not being strong enough to destroy the ultimate darkness.
It just doesn’t.
Chin up, shipmates. There be clearer waters ahead.
I found out recently that the cheap California insurance plan I’m on was not accepted by my doctor because there was a mix up. When I applied my doctor was listed as accepting the insurance. Then they called me to tell me they were cancelling my birth control prescription.