This week on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, it was a pirate’s strife for Captain Hook as in flashback he sought to reclaim the Jolly Roger, while in Storybrooke he wound up pucker-punched after ‘fessing his feelings.
IN FAIRYTALE LAND OF NINE MONTHS AGO…. | Whilst searching for the Jolly Roger, Captain Hook is still making bank, looting carriages and such with the help of Mr. Smee. One night, after politely turning down a gratis trick with a tart, Hook is not-politely confronted by Ariel, who accuses him of kidnapping her Prince Eric. When Hook realizes that the nefarious Blackbeard is responsible for the damsel’s distress, he sets out to battle with the famed buccaneer and reclaim his vessel. One nifty swordfight later, Hook is set to go in for the kill when Blackbeard offers a trade: the Jolly Roger for the 20 on Eric — else, the prince will perish. Rather than let his peers believe he’s gone soft, as rumored, Hook turns Blackbeard into chum, and gets a fierce slap from Ariel in return. The Little Mermaid then leaps into the drink (um, sharks?!) to find Eric herself.
IN STORYBROOKE…. | After some “Fairy Tale Characters: They’re Just Like Us!” antics involving crib assembly, Regina arrives at the Charmings’ to report that she has cast a protection spell on their home, lest Zelena do something to the baby (if she hasn’t already….). When Emma says they should bring the fight to Greenie, Regina reminds how she barely survived Round 1. After being iffy on the subject in Neverland, Emma implores Regina to help her with her magic — “I’m ready this time” — so that together they might whale on Wicked. “This is a way of life,” Regina tells her pretty padawan. “You have to fully commit.” Because Henry finds the Charmings boring, Emma drops the lad off with Hook, who supports her honing of magical skills. Emma says that if she can help rid the town of Zelena, she and Henry can resume a proper life in NYC — though Hook warns that trying to be who you once were doesn’t work. When Emma’s magic lessons get off to a bumpy start (the elvish spells are Greek, er, Spanish, to her), Regina gets the idea to play upon Emma’s instincts, by forcing her protegé to save herself from a collapsing rope bridge. Emma just barely does, and in a messier way than Regina had hoped, but still — win!
Over at the beach, Ariel has washed ashore, having come up empty in her bid to find Prince Eric after this latest curse. The Charmings suggests that Hook, whose memories of the past year are intact, could help, but the pirate is tentative (knowing exactly what went down with Blackbeard). Still, he inadvertently helps Ariel find Eric’s cloak in Gold’s shop, and upon being charmed by Belle the garment leads them to… the water, suggesting Eric’s a goner. “At least our story is over,” Ariel sighs. “I just wish I knew how it ended.” After the mermaid commends Hook for having a “true heart,” he ‘fesses up about how he doomed Eric in order to reclaim his ship. After some yada yada about how he did it to make up for lost love, Ariel says she’ll forgive him if he swears upon the name of his OTL. When Hook does so, evoking Emma’s name, “Ariel” purrs, “That’s just what I needed to hear”… and then transforms into Zelena. The Wicked Witch reports that Hook’s lips are now cursed, and that the next time he kisses Emma — and oh yes, he had better pucker up soon, or others will get hurt! — it will rob blondie of her blossoming magic skills.
At the Charmings’, Hook fibs some about his day’s adventure with “Ariel,” leading Emma to try out mirror magic to check in on the Little Mermaid and her prince — and sure ’nuff, they’re frolicking on a beach, just as Zelena had told Hook. Emma is moved by Hook’s seeming role as Cupid, but he keeps her at arm’s length, even when Emma declares that she is tired of living in the past (presumably including the recent past, as in the few days ago Neal died). Hook defers joining the gang for dinner at Granny’s (My god, is there a second eatery in town?! Surely even the Rabbit Hole has good appys!), and instead spies Emma longingly through his telescope, as the hour closes.
IN REVIEW…. | Like some folks here, I feared this episode would be too much filler, but the magic lessons and the final 10 minutes or so served up enough story movement and twists. Harp on the CGI as those of you will, but I thought the rope bridge sequence was pretty damn magical in a Harry Potter sort of way; Hook’s cursed lips are sure to have people talking/combatting in the comments below; and as for the flashbacks, at least they shed some light on why Hook’s been remiss to reflect on the past year (though we still need to see how he crossed realms and what fate befell his ship. Did he have to give it up anew in the name of finding Emma?)
NOTABLE QUOTABLES | “I have never tried anything quite like frozen yogurt before”…. “I keep dreaming of cheese”…. “A monkey? No, I’m a girl that turns into a fish”…. “He’s prone to violence, impulsive and has a hook for a hand. What about him would a 12-year-old not like?”…. “Trudge, trudge, trudge…. If you ask me, there’s nothing more boring than land travel.” (That last one was very cute.)