One the main themes Once Upon A Time has fun exploring (ad nauseum, some might say) is the whole good-versus-evil dynamic. Which is what’s making this journey into Neverland so intriguing, as the benevolent Pater Pan from our childhoods is turned into a mischievous demon. Captain Hook, instead of a straight-up villain with ruffles and a perm, is instead a tortured anti-hero, and in this episode, we get to see why.
Colin O’Donoghue does a commendable job of showing the procession from Killian Jones to Captain (almost) Hook: Betrayed by his king to retrieve a poison that kills his brother instead of a life-altering medicine, the rule-following Killian quickly transforms from a naval man into a rules-avoiding pirate. I get that the tossing of the rum into the water was the embracing of order, and throwing the coat into the water symbolized the absence of order, but man was slow-mo a cheesy way to pull that off.
But now, Hook seems to be coming back around to his good side, as he is the only person who can save Charming (No! Wait! Stop!). In an unsurprising twist, Hook leads Charming to a magical spring that will save him from the poisonous dreamshade, but tie him to the island forever, because… say it with me… magic always has a price. Is Hook actually becoming a hero, or is he solely propelled by his feelings for Emma to become a “man of honor”? But if he loves her, isn’t that a pure force? Not much pure about that kiss though; that was some startling chemistry between O’Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison.
As the ladies are left behind, we get another good vs. evil dynamic, in the battle that will rage on, forever and ever, amen: Snow (good) versus Regina (bad). After weeks with no progression on their search for Henry, they finally catch a Lost Boy (which was Snow’s idea, actually). No doubt viewers rolled their eyes to the high heavens when Snow White AGAIN did not want to harm the boy to make him help them, whereas Regina, quite rightly, wanted to rip his heart out and force him to do their bidding. Emma has to practically tackle Snow to make this happen. Snow is afraid that the line between what Regina and what Emma will do is becoming blurred: Emma thinks the end justifies the means if they get Henry back, but will it really?
Because Henry, the goodest of the good, is now in danger of turning to the Dark Side and becoming a Lost Boy. At least we find out what his power is: If he believes something (like he’s holding a sword instead of a stick), it will happen. (Could come in handy: I believe this Diet Coke can is a gold brick!) It seems like the progression may have already come to pass: That mini-magic mirror smashed pretty quickly, seemingly ending the brief communication between Henry and his many maternal relatives.
Good/bad: we’re all capable of more than we could imagine. Snow White has actually killed someone, after all. OUAT seems to be playing the middle ground, but have you noticed that it’s always the bad characters who know what’s up? And the good characters always make the horribly wrong decisions? Hook’s brother idiotically scrapes himself with dreamshade after Pan warns him that it is deadly poison, and Hook has to actually trick Charming into saving his own life. Regina’s methodology with the plastic hearts isn’t pretty, but it’s the only progression this team has made yet. And of course, very few can outsmart Rumplestiltskin. Why are the “good” characters so clueless?
Our more complex characters are on the rise at the end, with an actually decent love triangle (Is Hook a good enough man to tell Emma that Neal is alive?) and an okay cliffhanger—Pan hangs Neal up in his Gilligan’s Island cage—next to a similar one—who could be in the other box? David Blaine? Well, as our list of castaways is small, my money’s on Rumplestiltskin. I’m actually looking forward to seeing how this plays out next week, as even a show on a bad streak can take a good turn.
- Lots of fun with Regina this week, and not just because she’s the only one who actually made some progress on the search for Henry. She refuses to toast to Hook (“I don’t do rum”), and I love her grimace over Snow and Charming’s reunion makeout: “What I wouldn’t give for another Sleeping Curse.”
- If you are a sailor on a ship that suddenly flies, using a sail made from “the remaining feathers of the great creature Pegasus,” would you exclaim “Whoo hoo?” or would you more likely yell, “What in the what?”
- “I’m here too, Henry!” God, Grandma Snow, who cares? I feel the need to point out here that I like Ginnifer Goodwin, a lot, enough so that I have even seen her in really horrible romantic comedies with people like Kate Hudson. Maybe that’s why her character bugs here so much, because she isn’t given much more to do than “be good” and kiss Charming. Even when she visited her dark side briefly, she ran screaming back to the goodness straight away. Wish she would have gotten a chance to explore that some more.
- Have they all been surviving on the island by eating Regina’s magic candy? Just when I thought they were actually going to trap and eat a boar.
- Although I am still enjoying Robbie Kay’s performance, how many times is Pan going to say, “You should have taken my deal”? Clearly, people are on to you, Pan, and no one wants to take your deals. Also, watch the eyebrows.
- Next week: Ariel finally arrives! And Snow’s fright wig makes another appearance. Maybe if we all took up a collection or something…