“Let’s see what kind of man you really are.”Peter Pan
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Colin O’Donoghue, Michael Raymond-James, and Jared S. Gilmore.
Finally, the moment the audience have been waiting for. Yes, at long last, after a whole season in the show, we get a glimpse into Hook’s backstory: something woefully overdue. Hook has always been one of the more complex and interesting characters in the show. The phrase “lovable rogue” was practically invented for his portrayal, in no short part due to Colin O’Donoghue’s masterful performance. He more than demonstrates here that he is capable of holding the audience’s attention for an entire episode, so hopefully there are more Hook-centric instalments to come.
Hook’s backstory helps to explain at least part of how Killian Jones made the transition from a man of honour to a pirate who takes what he wants. It doesn’t go the full way, as Hook’s more villainous turn was definitely already explained by Rumple’s murder of his lover, Milah, but it’s nice to have a hint that the caring and selfless sides of Hook that he has been demonstrating this season aren’t some sort of devious ruse, but a valid side to his personality. It is the betrayal of his king, by manipulating and tricking Killian, who is a Lieutenant for the King, and his older brother, Liam, a Captain, into acquiring a deadly plant to be used in order to incite war under the pretence of retrieving a medicine. This subterfuge ultimately leads to Liam’s death, putting Killian on the path to becoming a pirate purely as an act of grief-stricken defiance at the King’s poor form. It’s further interesting that Hook’s code as a pirate, from the beginning, was based upon living honourably by his own rules. Indeed, even when Hook took Milah and pretending to Rumple that she was to be used as the ship’s prostitute, the audience know that it was really because Hook loved her, so, ignoring the acts done to try and gain revenge on Rumple, as well as Hook’s close, supportive bond with Bae, it helps to demonstrate that Hook is nowhere near as villainous as he has been made to seem.
Hook’s virtues are further demonstrated in the present storyline, as he tricks Charming into being cured of his Dreamshade poisoning. Pretending that they are climbing Dead Man’s Peak in order to retrieve a sextant that will help them navigate home, Hook instead produces the magical waters there and proffers them to Charming, but first warns Charming that he will never be able to leave Neverland. The scenes with Charming and Hook were also a joy to watch, and the development by the end of having gained Charming’s trust was a lovely next step. Moreover, the sparks between Emma and Hook finally caught flame as they engaged in the most sexually charged kiss perhaps witnessed on network television, with the exception of HBO.
The concept of “good form” was also explored within this episode, in regards to the lengths that Emma is willing to go to to bring Henry home. By holding Snow back while Regina removed the heart of a Lost Boy so that they could pass a message onto their son, Emma was part of what Snow considered to be an evil act, and is worried about the changes in Emma during this journey. Emma, meanwhile, contends that the ends justify the means if that entails Henry being saved. Personally, the heroes always seem much more interesting when they are behaving in a morally grey way. Humans never fall neatly into “villainous” and “heroic” categories, yet this show continues to push this idea that heroes must always behave in a supremely virtuous way. Snow’s entire character is based upon her being entirely pure. Her one dalliance with darkness, with killing Cora, resulted in her crying and running back to the side of good with her tail between her legs. The show continues to pretend that there is redemption for the villains within the cast, yet also condemns and forbids the heroes of the story to show negative traits, such as violence or manipulation. Emma embracing a little bit of darkness and scheming is precisely what the heroes sometimes have to do to beat villains. By behaving heroically they often fall right into the traps that are being set for them.
However, Emma and Regina’s efforts may ultimately be for nothing, as it appears that Henry is becoming more of a Lost Boy by the day, regardless of the message that they managed to send to him. He managed to conjure a sword using the power of imagination (though I’m not entirely convinced that that was Henry, and not just some trickery from Pan) and injured another boy with a slash across the face.
The episode also provides more mysteries to be uncovered, such as who is in the other prisoner’s box being hung next to Neal’s? Pan’s meddling also result in a rather tricky dilemma for Hook, and a time for demonstrating his reformed character to those around him, as Pan reveals that Neal is still alive, and telling Emma would put a dent in their blossoming romance. With Charming already harbouring a rather massive secret from Snow, Hook should certainly take the more unexpected and admirable route of telling Emma, as keeping the information from her would certainly be used as a point of manipulation by Pan later on – it’s what he does!
- In the past, Killian Jones and his brother voyage to Neverland to collect a medicine for their king.
- As it transpires, the “medicine” is in fact the poisonous Dreamshade, which Killian’s brother succumbs to.
- Though Killian gives him water from Neverland that will restore him, he dies once he leaves Neverland. Killian turns the king’s ship into a pirate ship and vows to live by pirate rules as a result of the king’s bad form.
- Hook takes David to Dead Man’s Peak, supposedly to search for a sextant, but instead heals David of his Dreamshade poisoning, though warns that Charming will be unable to leave Neverland afterwards.
- Regina steals a Lost Boy’s heart so that she, Emma and Snow can communicate with Henry, to stop him from losing hope.
- Another brilliant episode for #ReginaSnark, as she quips “What I wouldn’t give for another sleeping curse” when Charming and Snow passionately embrace upon his return from Dead Man’s Peak.
- Regina’s dismissal of toasting Hook with “I don’t do rum” was also wonderfully brusque. I love Regina interacting with the heroes without trying to kill them, or indeed them trying to kill her.
- Snow was on peak irritating form this week, as not only did she judge Regina and Emma’s actions as if they are not currently at war, but she then also squeezed her way into the corner of the magic mirror to say “I’m here too, Henry!”. Yeah, alright, calm down, get a life. I’m really not fond of what they’re doing with Snow’s character this season. Before, she used to be independent and a leader. This season she has turned into a complete codependent nag. She is entirely obsessed with fostering a parental relationship with Emma, which actually is only serving to push her away. They were much, much closer when she wasn’t pushing this concept quite so much. She needs to back off and realise that a long time has passed, and she needs to grieve and mourn that lost period for a little bit, and then readjust her conception of what her relationship will look like with her daughter now. Mostly, that will involve being more like “sisters” than parents, because you cannot hope to advise and guide a “child” who is your own age in the same way that you can an actual infant. It’s too late, Snow, and you need to realise that.
A thoroughly engaging episode, with a character-developing flashback and a compelling reason to tune in for the next instalment.
You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.