Once Upon a Time Reviews

The Crocodile Review | Once Upon a Time Season 2, Episode 4

Rumple’s complicated backstory continues to unravel, including a fateful encounter with Captain Killian Jones.


Starring Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Jared S. Gilmore, Meghan Ory, and Robert Carlyle



Season 2
Episode 4: The Crocodile


The Past

Rumplestiltskin tracks down his errant wife, Milah, at the pub, when she leaves Bae at home alone one night. Milah is cavorting with a group of pirates, but returns home when she spots Rumple has brought Bae with him. At home, Milah confesses that she is unhappy in her marriage with Rumple, as he fled the ogre war and she views him as a coward. The next day, Rumple discovers that Milah has been abducted by the pirates, so goes to the ship to confront Killian Jones. Killian agrees that he will give Milah over, provided that Rumple duels him for it, but Rumple is too afraid to fight Killian.

Years later, and now the Dark One, is at a tavern when a black market trader offers him a magic bean that can transport somebody between worlds. When Rumple spots Killian in the tavern, he decides that he will confront him again. Masquerading as an old beggar, Killian names him ‘Crocodile’ as a result of his appearance. When Rumple reveals himself and demands to know the whereabouts of Milah, Killian tells him that Milah died years ago, so the two have a sword fight. When Rumple wins, he is about to rip out Killian’s heart but Milah appears and reveals that she was living with the pirates as Killian’s lover. She tries to exchange the bean for their lives. Rumple is aghast that Milah abandoned Bae, but Milah replies that her hatred of Rumple made thinking about Bae impossible. Rumple decides that he wants to make them pay and kills Milah by ripping out her heart, and then slices off Killian’s left hand, believing it to contain the magic bean. Rumple wants Killian to suffer in the same way that Rumple had to, and leaves with Killian’s hand while he vows to find a way to kill Rumple. When Rumple looks inside the hand, it transpires that Killian had tricked him, and still held the bean in his other hand.

Killian invites the black market trader aboard the ship to ascertain the effectiveness of the bean, and it transpires that the trader is called William Smee, who joins the crew. Killian attaches a hook to his arm stump and throws the bean into the ocean, opening a portal. As they sail into the portal, Hook announces they will enter a place where they will not age, in order for Hook to discover how to get revenge on Rumple.


Storybrooke

Belle awakens from a nightmare about Gold still harbouring Rumple’s murderous tendencies to discover him spinning gold and mixing potions in the basement, seemingly confirming her dark fears. When Gold refuses to explain the reason for him doing this, Belle leaves him. She turns up at Granny’s diner, where she encounters Ruby, who suggests that Belle get a job in the newly reopened library as their librarian. On her way there, however, Belle is kidnapped by Smee. Gold, who has enlisted the help of David and Ruby, ultimately locate Belle in the mines, where her father, Maurice, and Smee planned to send her underneath the town limits in order for her to forget all about Gold, as Maurice is concerned about Belle’s love for him. Gold manages to rescue Belle just in time, but Belle is still angry with both her father and Gold, and informs them both that she is disinterested in speaking to either of them again.

Later that day, Ruby gives Belle a gift that had been given to her. Belle discovers the keys to the library inside and, when arriving there, finds Gold, who reveals that he gave her the keys. He apologises to her, and explains that he created the curse so that he could find Bae and hoped that when the curse was broken he would be able to go and find him. However, now that nobody can leave town without forgetting their old selves, he is now searching for a way around that curse using his magic. As Gold leaves, Belle invites him for a hamburger. However, it later transpires that Gold is holding Smee captive for information, though Smee reveals that Killian Jones is not in Storybrooke.


The Enchanted Forest

Jones himself, now referred to as Hook, looks across the water at the survivors’ refuge. Cora arrives with the ashes of the wardrobe, and reveals that they will make it work so that the pair can go to Storybrooke to pursue Regina and Rumplestiltskin.


In Short

  • Rumple’s wife, Milah, left him to be with Captain Hook.
  • Rumple killed Milah and cut off Hook’s left hand.
  • Belle leaves Gold when he isn’t honest with her, but gets kidnapped.
  • Gold saves Belle from having her memories erased.
  • Gold reveals that he is trying to break the curse that prevents Storybrooke’s inhabitants from leaving so that he can find Bae.
  • Cora and Hook in the Enchanted Forest reveal that they want to get to Storybrooke to locate Regina and Gold.

Review

I must confess, a Gold/Rumple-centric episode is always a little bit of a snooze-fest for me. Personally, I feel like the intention behind this episode was perhaps an attempt at redemption for Rumple, in a similar vein that We Are Both made some moves to start indicating Regina is moving in a positive direction character development-wise. However, just because Rumple is motivated to find Bae does not actually redeem his character, in my view. Sure, Gold expresses to Belle that he wants to change, and that he’s willing to put these things aside for her, but he clearly isn’t. Each time he makes moves in that positive direction, there is always something to undercut it. Okay, maybe every time is a bit of an exaggeration, since it’s only been four episodes, and he’s only meaningfully been featured in two of those, but let’s recap shall we? Belle tells him not to get revenge on Regina and kill her. What does Gold do? Give her the mark of the wraith as a technicality. Belle asks him not to use magic. Gold does use magic anyway. He then apologises to Belle and explains his reasons, but conveniently forgets to tell her about the man who he’s holding captive in order to secure information about yet another one of his enemies. The problem with Rumple is, and will always be, is that he is made by the man who he used to be. While I am sure this is meant to make me sympathetic, it just doesn’t. Rumple is either a pathetic cowardly lump, who spends his time snivelling and whimpering about how deeply unfair and frightening the world is, or he’s some sort of supernatural psychopath who goes around murdering people as is his wont. I sympathise that maybe Rumple didn’t want to die in the ogre war, and I’m not going to suggest that he should have done, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is generally just a bit of a wet lettuce other than that. The guy is even too afraid to leave his own town like his wife wants. Is it any wonder that she leaves? Really, I don’t think that Rumple blames her for leaving him. I think that he’s more pressed with the fact that she left Bae, and that’s why he reacts so strongly to her when discovering that she is alive and wilfully left the both of them. When she was kidnapped and used as a prostitute (which is a little kinky for Once Upon a Time, I feel, but I’m not sure if I’d mind being used by Colin O’Donoghue on a nightly basis, if we’re being crass), this was excusable because it was entirely out of control and, in fact, Rumple could turn his hatred inwards because it was only his reticence to fight Hook that prevented her from being freed. Even though Rumple wouldn’t have won. But anyway, the fact that Rumple then went after Hook out of revenge over Milah doesn’t actually tell us much in the present, other than the fact that he is, in fact, worse than we thought he was. While we see him now getting close to Belle and deep down I do want them to work well together, that is marred by the fact that he literally murdered his ex-wife, as well as being unable and unresponsive in the needs that he couldn’t meet with her. While Rumple has clearly come a long way then, and exudes much more power now, that doesn’t erase the fact that he is quite blinkered. It also doesn’t erase that the only person in his mind is his son, and yet the only reason why he lost his son were because he was too focused upon himself and his power. I’d be intrigued to know how much Rumple actually has changed, because I think the reason why he clings onto this magic and the grip that he has upon the town is because, if you take that all away and return him to the place that he had started, he would turn into exactly the same person he was before. He hasn’t changed fundamentally internally, but rather he has built himself up on the outside, almost like a wall or a barrier of protection. Anyway, as much as Emilie de Ravin and Robert Carlyle have positively bombastic chemistry, and I really root for them as a couple, Rumple’s development just isn’t present. In fact, every time that Belle leaves him and goes back, it only makes it worse, because he is playing her for a fool and I hope it doesn’t continue for that long.

So let’s move onto the more positive aspects of the episode. For one, I loved how much Belle was included here. I was initially worried that they would be at somewhat of a loss at how to use Belle when she wasn’t in episodes 2 and 3, but she gets a lot of screen time in this episode. It’s brilliant to see Belle being independent and standing up to the important men in her life who seek to control her, principally being Gold and her own father. It’s somewhat of a shame that Belle requires “saving”. I’m not being funny, but that runaway mine cart did not look that difficult to derail if she’d needed to, but it’s also entirely bizarre and messed up that her own father would essentially rather lobotomise her than have her involved with Gold. It’s ludicrous. She is an adult, and she can make her own decisions, even if they are dangerous, and she was definitely in the right when she told him to get lost. It also makes sense that Belle went back to Gold after he fully explained himself. His honesty and truthfulness were nice, though they were also a little bit late. I’m unsure why Gold wouldn’t have explained this in the first place, and it seems a little of the “better to ask forgiveness than permission”. Except Gold’s reasoning behind using the magic is logical and reasonable, yet concealing it makes it appear otherwise. Furthermore, the impact of Belle standing up for herself and leaving Gold has more impact the less frequently that she does it. She’s appeared in two episodes of season 2 so far and has broken things off with Gold both of those times. Both times in circumstances where she was justified doing so, but ultimately went running back to him. Additionally, the fact that Gold is actively lying and concealing things from her makes her look ridiculous and stupid, of which she is neither. So I hope that I see more of Belle standing up for herself and reconstructing her relationship with Gold in a more positive and healthy way, instead of settling for this circular narrative in which Gold does something wrong, Belle leaves, he apologises and she comes back just because she loves him. Sure, love is important – and their’s may be true love – but that doesn’t mean that he can treat her however he likes and get away with it. He can’t. End of.

The addition of Hook in the Once Upon a Time lore was welcome here. He is incredibly charismatic and well realised, and even though you get the sense that he’s a “villain” because, well, he’s a pirate and he stole Rumple’s wife, we haven’t truly seen anything villainous from him yet. He also is already lended greater depth than many other antagonists in only his first episode, by being the product of tragedy. Much like Regina losing her true love, Hook is now motivated from a place of pain and loss, and against Rumple. This makes him quite an interesting destructive force. While he is allying himself with Cora, I’m uncertain to what extent he may be dangerous to most of the other characters, though his presence in Storybrooke would spell bad things, probably, for Belle, considering her predilection for getting captured, apparently. I liked the changes that they made to the traditional Hook storyline, as well, by intertwining him with Rumple in this way, and it is nice for Rumple specifically to have an enemy, as most of the enemies we have seen so far have been enemies to Snow or Charming, or people trying to get revenge against Regina. I also liked the updating of Hook’s look away from the red velvet jacket and ridiculous wig and towards something a little bit more sleek and refined, with his edgy eyeliner and leather. I am highly intrigued to see what they do with Hook moving forwards in the story.

Other thoughts

  • I gasped at the scene with Charming, in a wife beater, where he winked at Henry. Oh boy. I mean, this gif is not the exact moment, but it gives you somewhat of a clue as to my mental state.
  • This is the first Once Upon a Time episode so far that doesn’t feature Regina, Emma or Snow, which is notable because most of the storylines of the show so far have revolved around the three of them. It’s a shame that the only way that we can focus upon the lesser main characters with them literally not being present in the episode at all, but there we go.
  • I did find that we spent perhaps a little too long in flashbacks in this episode for my own taste, as flashbacks rarely do very much at pushing a plot forwards. I understand the function here, and while I don’t think it actually lends much in the way of rounding Rumple out much as an actual character, apart from telling us he’s even more of a dick than we thought he was before, it was a good introduction to Hook’s character, so hopefully he is utilised enough in future instalments to warrant this deeper look into his character’s backstory.

Verdict

A great episode for showcasing some lesser-viewed characters, and introducing us to the wonderfully charming and devious Captain Hook, but Rumple’s character grows increasingly frustrating in his duplicitousness.

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