Monday, April 14, 2014

In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (3x17)

Yo ho yo ho, a pirate's life for Hook. 

Can you go back to the past? Can you live the life you once had, even if you've (maybe) fundamentally changed? Such are the questions Captain Hook is asking himself in this week's episode, "The Jolly Roger." This episode tries to tie some threads together concerning Hook and the lost year, but sadly not the right threads. Why would I suspect that Hook and Ariel had interactions during that year? Shouldn't we be focused more on the message Hook received and how he got to New York City? Thus, after two weeks of angst and drama and death, a filler episode that tries to lighten the mood; of course the major problem is that this tangent into feeling lighter comes crashing down at the end with an overly contrived forced curse (number 4520, for those keeping track). Captain Hook no longer wants to be a pirate, but once a pirate, always a pirate. 


Here's a confession: I've been shipping Hook and Ariel long before our favorite red head ever flopped on to the show. The idea of a pirate and a mermaid was so utterly romantic and fairy tale that I really thought the writers would take a bold leap forward and break up a canonical Disney couple (Ariel and Eric) and give a fresh perspective. Of course, I'm slowly learning that the writers are nowhere near that clever. After seeing them interact this week, I'm shaking my fists and yelling "curse you!" because Hook and Ariel really were good together, just like I suspected. It might shock some to learn that I enjoyed this episode, for the most part. It was fun and thrilling with some humor tossed in for good measure. After Captain Hook took a horse and rode away from the Charming family, he found everything a pirate needs: a loyal band of rag tag men of questionable morals, drink, free license to pillar and plunder. He found everything he needs, except the one thing he truly wanted: his ship, the Jolly Roger. The Jolly Roger has gone missing and what's a pirate to do? Why turn to land pirating of course! Hook is still a pirate in all the ways that count--he steals from men for his own wealth, he drinks, he's loud and boisterous. Hook's exactly what Captain Hook should be--with one notable exception. Hook is now above sleeping with tavern wenches apparently. How utterly ludicrous. A year ago, he told Neal he was backing off Emma for "the sake of Henry" and then went to solicit drunken sex from Tinkerbell, while Emma was downstairs! But now, for some inexplicable reason, believing that he will never see Emma ever again and knowing that her memories are wiped, he is above sleeping with a wench?? Why? Because he is just so deeply in love with Emma Swan of course!

Whatever. It's not like Emma is Milah 2.0 (except Hook thinks she is. Look at the way he's treating his "loss" of her). So what is Ariel doing here? Our poor little mermaid has lost her true love, Eric. When the whole gang was POOFed back to the Enchanted Forest, Ariel lost track of her prince; she has only recently learned that Eric was kidnapped by the captain of the Jolly Roger--Hook's ship. Since then, Ariel has been trying to track down Hook, following him, waiting for the chance to confront Hook and demand to know where her love is. When the moment comes, Hook convinces Ariel that he has no knowledge of Eric's whereabouts; he is no longer the captain of the Jolly Roger. However, Ariel has a handy clue (plot device #45231) to assist the two in figuring out who does have the precious ship. It's the most bloodthirsty pirate ever--Blackbeard! A few issues: Blackbeard, was a real person. He has an actual historical record--meaning he shouldn't be appearing in Fairy Tale Land. Thus far, ONCE has been walking a fine line between historical people and pseudo-legendary peoples. Robin Hood and Mulan, for instance, are both considered mythic folk heroes of their respective lands who are believed to be real because of popularity but without any direct evidence to support their historicity. Blackbeard, though, was very real. Now, it's possible that they pulled him in to the story because, in J.M. Barrie's work, Hook was once the boatswain to Blackbeard, but still it's bothersome to have a historical person suddenly appear in a land of fairy tales.
Hook and his loyal companion Smee want to take back their ship and Ariel wants to come along! After all, according to pirate code, because she gave Hook the information, she is entitled to the spoils--Eric in this case. Hook is less interested in saving Eric than he is in finding his ship. After all "she's more than that (a boat)!" Oh, I see what's happening here. Hook is talking about EMMA. Isn't that clever? (hint: no). Emma Swan literally just became an object to Hook; he is substituting another object (his ship) for the true object of his desire (Emma). There are some points I could make here about sexual innuendos in the form of ship-as-penis, but I won't. Maybe I'm too much of a feminist, but this *really* bothers me. The idea that he's associating an inanimate object with a woman would indicate that to him, Emma is something else to possess and hold---she's just a thing. Without his ship (read: Emma) Hook is nothing--which I suppose is the sort of cockamamie drivel spewed out in fanfiction but unless the writers are taking cues from online reading, they should know better. Well Hook yearning for Emma sad and all, but it's also a bit unrealistic. Emma has never given Hook any sort of indication that she wants something more from him. When he brings up their kiss in Neverland, Emma states again and again, "it was just a kiss." When Hook said he'd think about her everyday while in then Enchanted Forest, her response was "good?" Emma has never given him any sort of "wait for me!" feelings, so his pining is borderline obsessive and creepy.

But a pirate needs his ship, so off we trudge to find the vessel. And then in a moment of surrealism, Hook fights the cartoon version of himself. I have no doubt that this was intentional, make Hook basically fight the more ruthless version of himself, but it was just odd, to be frank. They dressed Blackbeard exactly how Captain Hook of Disney's Peter Pan dressed. Red coat, curly wig, tricorn hat---THIS is Captain Hook. This is who our Hook was supposed to be. So while, I'm sure, it's an artistic statement about Hook literally fighting against his nature by bringing on a a recognizable incarnation of himself, it made me raise my eyebrows. Also, Blackbeard is supposed to set his beard on fire--it was his trademark. Which again raises the question of why bring in a historical person if you aren't actually making them the historical person? This could have been any old pirate! Blackbeard refuses to give up the ship; it is his by right of conquest, and thus, pirate dual! I'll admit, this part was fun. It was what I'd expect from two pirates who engage in shenanigans (also: nice call back to Peter Pan with the dueling behind the sail).

 Ariel stops Hook before he slices and dices Blackbeard because Eric is not on board and their deal was to find both the ship and Eric. Blackbeard, seeing that Hook has turned "soft," offers up this bit of information: Eric is on an island and if Hook kills Blackbeard, he'll take the secret of Eric to his grave. OR Hook can let Blackbeard take the Jolly Roger and in exchange, Blackbeard will tell them the whereabouts of Eric. Of course, you know how this plays out. Hook the Hero (which was one of the driving narrative arcs of the first half of this season) would hand over his ship  But apparently not? If you thought that Hook would hand over his ship for Ariel's love, you're wrong. Don't worry. I didn't think he'd kill Blackbeard either. While I may not like Hook that much, I do admit that he has begun to walk Redemption Road, so for him to suddenly kill a man by feeling him to sharks was really unexpected. I really thought he'd hear Ariel's pleas and change his mind. But apparently love only gets you years of heartache and misery and he is doing Ariel a FAVOR. Again, there is a lack of sense here. Hook has only known Emma for a few months by this point (Season 2 taking place, at most, over the course of 2 or 3 months) during which time, he and Emma have flirted and he's pursued but she's never given him reason to. Hook's declaration of pain over lost love falls on deaf ears for me when he and Emma have never been a couple! If this were about Milah, it would make more sense as Hook spent 300 years obsessively trying to avenge her death after loosing his first true love. I still think Hook has taken his left over feelings for Milah and transferred them to Emma; he sees her as Milah 2.0: a mother who has a spirit of adventure and can climb beanstalks and fight giants. But where Milah and Emma differ are in their life choices and expectations: Emma doesn't want the next adventure around the river bend; she wants stability and comfort. Ariel, disgusted with this pirate, decides she'll find Eric on her own, without his help. And now Hook has his ship.

Oh What Fresh Hell Is This?

Back in Storybrooke, in the present, Emma is once again using Hook as a babysitter. Henry has taken a shine to the man in leather and finds him fun. Bit of a complaint here, but Hook--stop flirting. I get it, it's part of your character but Neal JUST died and was buried yesterday. You cannot be hitting on Emma like this; it's common decency and courtesy. Implying that Emma is using her son as a means to spend alone time with you rather nauseating. And once again, Hook does a nice song and dance about the past year and being super vague about what actually happened to him. Emma pesters him, and Hook deflects and gives her the woobie Hook eyes and some speech about how you can never go back to the past life you had. Sidenote, but where is the Jolly Roger? Hook got it back from Blackbeard, but it's not in Storybrooke. There is another story we aren't being told yet, which is annoying as it means I'm going to have to sit through another hour of the Hook show. While I suspect he traded it for a way to get back to Emma, waiting this long is getting tiresome. I get that it's romantic buildup for the two, but just get it over with because my level of interest is zilch. Of course, there's a giant curve ball here at the end with these two, but we'll get to that. 

While Emma is off practicing magic (something very cool about this episode but also something that received less screen time than it should) Ariel washes up on shore. When questioned, Ariel says that she has been looking for Eric because she can't find him in Storybrooke. Despite traveling to every realm, Ariel remains prince-less and like everyone else, memory-less. Enter Hook, the only person who does remember the missing year. When the Charmings bring Ariel to Hook, he just flat out lies: I've never heard of Prince Eric, I've never met Ariel, I have no idea what is happening. And then he tries to get out of helping Ariel find her prince because he has babysitting duty. Of course, the reason why he's lying is due to how guilty he feels about what happened in the past year with Ariel, but still, so much lying going on. Hook reluctantly agrees to help Ariel and the two go off to Gold's shop to see if Belle can provide some much needed magical assistance. Hook finds Eric's cloak which somehow ended up in the shop (don't question it!).

Using a tracking spell, Ariel and Hook go in search of Eric, following the magical cloak! The cloak, however, plunges into the icy depths of Storybrooke harbor and Ariel assumes the worst: Eric is dead. In a touching moment that clutched my Hookriel heart, Ariel thanks Hook for helping her today. She claims he has a good heart and is more than a pirate. Of course the irony here is that Hook remembers everything and knows that if Eric is dead, he's responsible. He chose his ship over Ariel's love so while she is touting him as a knight in shining armor, Hook knows that underneath it all, it's a false narrative and he's still a pirate. In a moment of conscience, Hook goes after Ariel and tells her the whole truth: I am responsible for Eric's death. Ariel, horrified, slaps Hook and makes him confess on the name of the woman he loves (Emma Swan) that he still believes in love. This is all so contrived at this point; why does Ariel gives two shakes of a lambs tail what Hook believes or doesn't? Oh right. She's not Ariel.

Congratulations, Hook! You've been Zelena'd. So this whole time, in present day Storybrooke, Ariel has been Zelena. The real Ariel found Eric and is living happily ever after with him on an island (and we'll never see him them ever again. The writers just copped out on that story). So what does Zelena want? To corrupt Hook's love. Okay, what? She flicks some magic green shiny lip balm at Hook and how his kiss is tainted. If Hook kisses Emma now, the Savior will loose all her magical abilities and Zelena will be able to kill her. If Hook doesn't kiss Emma and rob her of her powers, Zelena will kill everyone Emma loves: her parents, her friends, her son. I have to say this: they killed Neal for CaptainSwan. This episode basically proves this. The writers could not come up with a way to put Hook and Emma together (because it was never their intention) without killing Neal; and now, instead of letting Hook and Emma grow organically, they've once again engineered a situation for a kiss. Last time, David was dying of dreamshade poison and Emma was grateful. This time, Hook must kiss Emma or everyone dies!!! Oh good grief. Seriously? If you want me to believe that CaptainSwan is more than just fanservice at this point, then don't come up with magical handwaving excuses to put them together. Let it grow by itself if that's what is supposed to happen. So now it's the kiss of death for Emma; unless she breaks it with True Love, right? True Love is supposed to override all curses so if Emma and Hook do kiss and it's true love then it should break both curses--the one that erased everyone's memories and the one on Hook's lips. But if it doesn't work, then doesn't that mean that they don't have true love? Who knows. It's so overly contrived at this point that I can't even really figure out what Zelena's end game with Emma is. Does she want Emma's powerless or does she want Emma's powers for herself?

Back at the apartment, Hook lies lies lies  to Emma's face and Emma eats it up. So much for your superpower, Emma Swan. That man isn't even doing a good job of trying to lie and you still can't tell. What is happening to Emma Swan? She has always been a strong independent woman who didn't suffer fools lightly--who killed a dragon with sword because she's the Savior. Now she has become some tittering school girl who swoons at the idea that Hook is being modest and heroic. And in a moment of absolutely cruelty, Emma says that she no longer wants to live in the past, so it doesn't matter what Hook did in the past year; he can keep it all to himself. Are you serious? Who is this girl?! Neal just died and already she's ready to move on? They just buried him yesterday in Storybrooke time. This isn't not an accurate depiction of how humans grieve. Instead of taking time and letting Emma heal, they've jumped right into another relationship. It doesn't matter if Emma and Neal were never going to be together ever again, she did LOVE him. And this line about being tired of living in the past is so cold and callous that I'm shocked the writers even put it in. Emma's deserves an honest love and so far this developing relationship between the Savior and the Pirate is built solely on lies because Hook now has free license to keep on lying because Emma no longer cares about the lying. And now Hook is sad and in pain and takes the opportunity to spy on Emma, looking longingly at what he wants but can't have. Oh cry me a river. I don't care about Killian's man pain. Just tell the family what Zelena did! Regina and Emma will figure it out probably using some heretofore unmentioned plot device and everything will be right as rain. But that would totally disrupt all the lying going on, now wouldn't it?

Miscellaneous Notes on The Jolly Roger

--Snow and Charming are officially idiots. Really? You let the 13 yr old drive?! To prove that you're not boring??? Why is everyone acting so OOC!

--Of course Snowing teaching Henry to drive isn't as bad as Hook teaching the boy to cheat while instilling that all important moral that it's more important to win than play fair.

--Smee made this episode. More Smee!

--I love that Regina is putting up protection spells to protect Snow and Charming. THAT's character development.

--Regina and Emma learning magic was really great. I wish that had more focus in this episode. Emma has so much potential and magic inside of her; it needs to be explored now. Of course when Hook kisses her, all that will be lost.

--The family scene at the end was really heartwarming. Too bad it was in conjuncture to Hook spying on Emma like a creep.


  1. -Vague 'background of missing year' story Hook is irritating.
    -Are we finally learning where this magic book came from? Or was the half-elvish comment supposed to mean something I have missed entirely?
    -*hopes to see Ursula since she appears on Eric's cloak*
    *Is massively disappointed*
    -And now Belle does magic at the drop of a cloak? Why is Emma struggling so much and Belle can just whip something up?
    -Ariel does not know how to slap, those were pathetic attempts.
    -What happened to the writers trying to redeem Hook, even if it was an expressway so that he could be a "good guy?" They just sent him like 9 steps backwards.
    -How did Emma break Hook's heart? I completely agree; in a moment of stressed weakness she kissed him…one time. Nothing happened. No rainbow wave of curse breaking magic. No magical babies shot out of Emma's vagina…Nothing. Happened. I get that Hook fancies Emma, totally get it and see it. But this pining long-lost love bit is contrived and stupid and pulling away from the plot. This entire episode was about Hook and it should have focused on Emma and Regina. If Emma expects to stand a chance against Zelena, shouldn't she be practicing non-stop. Congrats, you made the bridge turn into a weird disheveled giraffe creature. How about some fireballs or beams of white light?
    -Why would Hook bother telling Zelena how he plans to not be a pawn in her scheme? Why not just say, "Damn! Blasted she-witch!" *runs away* Then he can run to Emma and tell her everything.
    -Speaking of which….WHY DIDN'T HE?!?!? Zelena didn't even bind his words like I fully expected. Hook, of his own freewill, decided not to warn Emma that her family is in danger and that he has glowly lip balm that will sap all her magic.
    -And another glorious point you made about Emma not being concerned with the past…are you freaking kidding me??? You said earlier how you want to go back to the way things were in the past with Henry. You want to go back to New York. You would never forgive Hook for what he did and is continuing to do.
    -And Regina seemed super skeptical of Hook and I don't know why she didn't say anything.
    -This episode did nothing for me except hope that missing year comes back soon and that Hook leaves the show. Nothing against the actor who plays him, but the writers have fucked up with the character beyond repair.

    1. 1) The Elvish is probably just a nod to the Lord of the Rings and how nerdy the writers are.

      2) Belle can do magic because PLOT

      3) Murder is technically 10 steps backwards

      4) I 100% agree on what the focus of this episode should have been. I have ZERO idea as to how Emma broke Hook's heart

      5) Hook doesn't do this because PLOT

      6) Hook didn't tell because it' lie??? I honestly have no idea

      7) At the turn of a dime, Emma Swan has totally reverted into another human being.

      8) So not even some CS loving from you for this episode, eh?

  2. The plot holes are bothering me more and more. Are they now just appealing to the mass numbers of their viewers who are not nearly as devoted as me, let alone your caste?
    I am now resenting CaptainSwan. In the beginning, I saw them together as a sexy fling or even love. Maybe not true love, maybe it would have been over time. Who knows? But the level of obsession Hook now has for Emma is unnerving and Emma's drastic character change is irritating. At this point, I think I'd rather her be with Regina. It would be a loveless and sexless union, but at least then everyone would be sane and authentic.