It’s been a rocky year for Captain Swan what with Emma (Jennifer Morrison) becoming the Dark One, then Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) almost dying, then Emma turning Hook into a Dark One, then Hook opening the portal to the Underworld and bringing back all the previous Dark Ones, you know typical couple problems. But everything came to a dramatic albeit tragic climax in this week’s episodes, let’s take a look at the midseason finale:
This is the first week this season that we did not have flashbacks to Camelot, seeing as we completed all those missing pieces (except how Merida ended up in Storybrooke) last week. But I must say without Merlin (Elliot Knight), Camelot sure has lost it’s appeal for me. Instead we got significant flashbacks pertaining to Hook.
Once Upon A Time has given us snippets into Hook’s backstory before, such as his history with Rumplestiltskin and the death of his brother, but this week we got to learn about his relationship with his father and why he might have similar abandonment issues as Emma.
First things first, Once is really good at casting adorable child actors, and the one who played little Killian (Oliver Bell) had the characterization so spot on, that it would be easy to just mistake him for a young Colin O’Donoghue. In the flashback, baby Killian is sleeping on a ship in a bunk with his brother, when he wakes up because of a storm and his father, Brendan (Adam Croasdell) comforts him, telling him that he has to choose the man he wants to be, and Killian chooses to be brave like his father. But just like things usually are in Once, parents aren’t as great as we thought they are, and we discover that Brendan was a wanted man and the authorities were waiting for him at the next port, so he traded his sons in order to get safe passage away. Great upstanding citizen, Brendan was! Right up there with Rumple and Peter Pan.
Zelena (Rebecca Mader) is still having an awkward custody arrangement with Robin (Sean Maguire) and Regina (Lana Parrilla) when she tells them that she thinks she should get full custody of the baby seeing as they will be dead soon. There is a moment where we see Robin and Regina look puzzled before the Dark Ones close in on them, and we see the Dark Ones going to other townsfolk (except Emma) before Rumple (Robert Carlyle) shows them a branding that each of them have on their arms which means that the Dark Ones will trade places with those branded so that they can stay on Earth while those branded will take their places in Underworld. Kind of bleak way of saying that everyone with the mark will die. Apparently there is nothing more they can do to prevent this, except enjoy the time they have left.
We get another flashback, back to Enchanted Wood Hook, and Regina is still in her Evil Queen glory as she commissions Hook to kill her mother, the Queen of Hearts, Cora. As part of the test to see him Hook is worthy of carrying on the auspicious dead of murder, Regina takes him to a pub and orders him to kill the barmen, who just so happens to be Killian’s good ole dad, Brendan. Once the pub has cleared out, Killian reveals himself to his father, and Brendan claims that he is a changed man now, apparently he was arrested and then put under a sleeping curse, but in an odd way, he fell in love with his nurse who he could hear while asleep and she fell in love with him, and he was saved by true love’s kiss. But sadly, the nurse died not long after from the plague. Hook feels sympathy for him, and tells him all about the plan to kill him, he intends to get him far away so that he can be saved. But then Brendan asks that he could have passage for two people, him and his son.
Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin), Charming (Josh Dallas), Henry (Jared Gilmore) and some of the other branded folks have accepted that they are going to die soon, so they plan a big celebratory dinner at Granny’s to end off their time on Earth. [Sidenote: They do establish in the narrative that Baby Neal (who has been a baby forever now) and Baby Robin Hood won’t die, so at least there’s that]. Emma however is not one for giving up, and starts drastic measures to save her loved ones, like turning to Regina and telling her that she intends to emulate all the Dark Ones inside of her and then kill herself as a sacrifice to save her friends and family. Regina agrees to help her and they go to Rumple to get Excalibur, and he just hands it over like it’s an old newspaper or something – although he does warn her that Excalibur chooses how it wants to wield its’ magic.
The Terrific Twosome (Emma and Regina) part to take care of their various loose ends, and for Regina that’s her nefarious sister, Zelena. Robin and Regina corner the Green Witch in the mayor’s office, having enough of her snarky quips, Regina pulls out Merlin’s wand, and because she believes in herself now she’s able to wield it, and she uses it to make a portal to send Zelena back to Oz. So it seems we’ve seen the last of the Wicked Witch – at least for now.
Emma, however, heads back home where Hook tells her that she can’t get in the way of him and his revenge. She refuses to give him Excalibur and she tells him that the Hook that she knew was not like this and he responds that this is what he was always like but she just distracted him from it. When all else fails, he uses her biggest weakness against her – Henry. He transforms into Henry to pry Excalibur away from her before vanishing, taking away Emma’s only hope to save her family.
The entire crew meet up at the lake (the one where the portal to the Underworld is underneath) where it’s the Dark Ones versus the Storybrooke residents. Regina calls out to Hook and refers to the rest of the flashback we saw earlier (apparently the two of them agreed never to discuss this again). Apparently when Hook saw his father tuck in his new son, whose name is creepily Liam as well, it brings about an anger in him about how quickly his father could replace them (seriously though even if it was centuries late, Brendan could have at least tried to find out what happened to his sons) and he chooses to kill his father instead. Regina tells him to make the right choice this time, to be a better man.
Emma then tries appeals to Hook once more, but Nimue (Caroline Ford) ain’t having any more interruptions from the peanut gallery, so she starts choking Emma to shut her up, noting that Emma can’t die so this is just to torture her a bit. But seeing Emma in pain, does strange things to Hook and he stops Nimue, choosing instead to put all the darkness in himself and sacrificing himself so that Emma can remember him as the man he wants to be – a hero. He has Emma drive Excalibur into him (*cue tears*) and they both go back to normal – Hook’s neck wound and all, and he dies in Emma’s arms. I must note at this point that in this scene, Jennifer Morrison gave her best performance of the season, throughout all of the death scenes so far, I felt this one the hardest and that was largely due to Morrison and the way she portrayed her emotions. So *a round of applause* to JenMor!
Perhaps in one of the shocking moments of the episode, paramedics take away Hook’s body. Paramedics. Storybrooke only has one doctor but they have a whole team of paramedics. Anyway, back to the point, Emma hears weird whispering sounds and follows it to Rumple’s store. She tells him that she thinks the dagger is calling her and he all casually pulls out the Dark One dagger and it says his name on it again. How though? Well, Rumple wastes no time explaining his evil plan to Emma, like he’s a villain in an animated TV series. He tells her that when Emma came for Excalibur he used the magic that he had to make sure that when it is driven into the one with all the dark power, the dark power is transferred (he just couldn’t let all that dark power go to waste). That means yes, Hook sacrificed himself for nothing and Rumple bested him again. Also in the midst of all of this, Belle (Emilie de Ravin) returned to Rumple saying that she believed he changed and now that he’s not dying she wants to be with him, I wonder what will happen when she learns about what truly transpired.
Fed up with Rumple’s shenanigans, Emma decides that she’s going to get the love of her life back. So she blackmails Rumple to get him to help her get to the Underworld, by telling him if he doesn’t she will tell Belle everything (Belle still deserves to know though), and she convinces her family and friends that this is what she needs to do for love.
So ends Season 5A, and the Camelot chapter of our story, next Season we’ll be moving on to the Underworld and with Jonathan Whitesell cast as Hercules, Kacey Rohl as Meg and Greg Germann as ‘The Distinguished Gentleman’ who we guess is Hades, we’re in for a fun ride. Plus there will be many familiar faces returning once we reach the Underworld.
Once Upon A Time returns with 5B on March 6th, 2016 on ABC.
Episode Rating: 8/10
Some lingering questions: