Sunday night’s ‘Once Upon A Time’ delivered its best episode of the second season with an action-packed, illuminating and immensely captivating hour of television. “The Crocodile” truly lived up to the hype and Oncers have found a new and well-deserved fan favorite in Colin O’Donoghue’s cool and charming Captain Hook.
This week’s introduction to Killian Jones delivers an origin story for Captain Hook (as expected), but we also got a deeper look into what drove Rumple to become The Dark One. Ironically, both villains were born out of love for the same selfish woman, Milah. Meanwhile in Storybrooke, Gold strives not to make the same mistake twice. When Belle is kidnapped, he realizes that he must change his cowardly ways in order to keep the woman he truly loves.
Fairytale Land: “A man unwilling to fight for what he wants deserves what he gets.”
In the fairytale past, Rumple’s wife, Milah has strayed off again. Rumple and his son, Baelfire, go searching for her. As the sneak peek clips revealed, Rumpy finds Milah kicking back shots with a boisterous group of pirates, including the pre-hook, Killian Jones. When Rumple timidly asks for his wife to come home, she responds by shredding every ounce of Rumpy’s manhood. She cruelly chastises him for fearfully running away from his duties by not fighting in the Ogre War. Milah refuses to leave until Bae pops into the tavern and she reluctantly returns home with her family.
After Bae has gone to bed, Rumple sincerely asks if Milah would’ve preferred for him to have died in the war, so she could consider herself an honorable widow instead of being a coward’s wife. Milah simply wishes that Rumple had fought in the war. She desperately wants to move away from their village and start fresh, so that they are no longer being looked down upon for Rumple’s actions. Moving is not an option and Rumple asks his wife to try to make the best of their situation for Bae’s sake.
The next day a neighbor knocks on Rumple’s door and tells him that Milah has been captured by pirates. Rumple rushes to the docks and cautiously confronts Killian. When Rumple recognizes him from the bar, Killian confidently quips that he is glad to have “made an impression.” Rumpy then proceeds to grovel for his wife’s release. Killian challenges Rumple urging him to change his cowardly ways by dueling for his wife. When Rumple hesitates, Killian coldly says, “Tell your son his father’s a coward.” Killian abandons Rumple on the docks without his wife or his dignity.
In the next flashback, Smee meets with The Dark One in a tavern and wants to make a deal. Smee will trade his magic beans, which enable you to travel to far-away lands, in exchange for eternal life. If he doesn’t get the beans, Rumple promises to turn Smee into dust. Smee understands and goes to get the beans to complete their deal. Meanwhile, Rumple spots Killian and his crew as they enter the bar.
Later that night, a cloaked Dark One “accidentally” bumps into Killian on the docks. He scolds Rumple for having bad manners then mocks him by comparing the Dark One to a rat, or better yet, a crocodile. Killian takes a closer look and recognizes Rumple, which prompts the always clever one to spit Killian’s words back in face. With a mischievous smile, Rumple says with a giggle, “It’s always nice to make an impression.” He then asks about Milah. Killian plays dumb until Rumple threatens how digging out that memory can get “messy” so Killian produces an answer: Milah is dead. Rumple wants to resolve their unfinished business and accepts Killian’s challenge for a duel. The next day at noon they shall meet and if the pirates run, Rumple will find Killian and gut his crew “like a fish.”
The next day, Rumple is eager to joust with Killian and destroy him for Milah’s honor. Rumple instructs Killian to pick up the sword, declaring, “Go on, I’m ready for the sword.” Killian does not want to die and tries to reason with Rumple. However, the Dark One has a different point to make. He reaches into Killian’s chest and squeezes his heart, wanting him to know how it felt to have his heart ripped out. Suddenly, Milah appears and stops Rumple. He wants to hear the truth from her lips. He taunts her to quickly spit it out with a sarcastic, “Tick-tock.” Milah finally admits that she fell in love with Killian the moment she met him and heard his stories of adventure in the bar. Rumple is surprised by the power of their “twoo love.” Milah tells Rumple that she has the magic beans and will give them to him in exchange for their lives.
Rumple follows Milah and Killian to their ship. He looks upon the pirates and calls them the “family” she could never have with him. As Killian hold’s Smee’s magic beans, Milah makes sure that they have deal. She asks for Rumpy’s forgiveness, but that is not part of the deal. Milah admits she acted selfishly. She fell in love and yearned for adventure, so she just left. Once again, Rumple mocks her being “twooly in love” with Killian. “Twoo Love” aside, he still does not understand how she could leave Bae. Milah says she was miserable at home because she never loved Rumple. With those spiteful words, the exponentially heartbroken Rumpy punches his golden fist into Milah’s chest and rips out her heart (surprisingly it isn’t made of stone) and he crushes it into ashes right before Killian’s eyes.
Killian jumps forward to Milah’s side, knocking a hook to the ground as he reaches over to cradle her in his arms. Milah tells Killian she loves him and dies. Killian rises to strike back at Rumple, expecting another duel to the death. Rumpy doesn’t want to kill Killian. He swiftly slices off Killian’s hand. He wants Killian to suffer from the pain of a broken heart now that Milah has been taken from him. As Killian clutches his severed wrist, Rumple vanishes into smoke.
Later, Rumple opens Killian’s hand to discover that he sliced off the wrong one. Over on his ship, Captain Hook holds a magic bean in his hand and strikes up a new deal with Smee. In exchange for the bean, Smee will get to keep his life and serve on Hook’s crew. As for eternal life, Hook tells Smee that they are traveling to a faraway land where they will have eternal youth while Hook plots his revenge against Rumple. Hook tosses the bean into the ocean and it opens a whirlpool portal to Neverland.
Storybrooke: “I am a coward. I have been my entire life.”
Since the curse broke, Belle has been staging an intervention in Gold’s life. She does not want Rumple to practice magic for fear of what the power-craze does to him. The episode begins with one of Belle’s nightmares. She thanks Rumple for changing his ways, then when Grumpy enters threatening him, Gold uses magic to strangle Grumpy. Belle awakes in a fearful sweat. She searches for Rumpy and finds him spinning magic gold thread and creating potions in the basement.
The next morning, she confronts him on using magic. She says, “You don’t need power Rumple. You need courage to let me in.” Unfortunately for Rumple, he finds courage in magic. Struggling to get through to him, Belle leaves Rumple’s mansion to think things through.
Meanwhile, David has been working the mines alongside the dwarves in hopes of discovering fairy dust, so they can find a way to break the borderline curse. After laboring all morning, David heads to the police station to resume his duties as Sheriff. As the day goes on, Rumple realizes the Belle has disappeared, so he starts investigating her whereabouts.
It turns out that Rumple has kept Belle from finding her father ever since the curse broke. He asks Maurice if he has seen her. Maurice claims he has not, so Rumple warns him to stay out of their lives and continues searching. While Rumple worries about Belle, she is sipping iced tea over at Granny’s Diner. Ruby and Belle officially meet and quickly become friends when Belle tells Red about her relationship troubles. Belle just wants to make a life for herself in Storybrooke and Ruby offers her a place to stay at Granny’s. She also learns that Belle loves books, so Red directs her to the town library to see if Belle could find a job there. As Belle peers through the library windows, Smee tentatively sneaks up from behind and abducts her.
Rumple turns to Sheriff Charming to officially report Belle missing. David doesn’t understand why Rumple can’t just use a tracking spell to find her, but he explains that he doesn’t have anything of hers to track her with. Rumple earnestly says, “You are in the unique position to understand what I’m going through.” So Charming agrees to help find Belle. While they start searching, we discover who the true culprit is.
Smee explains to Belle that he procures hard to find objects for people. In this case, he was hired by Maurice to find Belle. Maurice wants Belle to promise that she doesn’t love Rumple anymore. When she refuses to, Maurice bids her goodbye and tells her that he loves her. He then sends her away with Smee.
Elsewhere, Rumple continues to confide in Charming. As the clip teased, he asks the prince about his relationship with Snow and wants to know how they make it work. Charming admits that a successful relationship takes hard work and requires real “honesty of the heart.” After their chat, they arrive at the diner and ask Ruby about Belle. Red coyly responds, “Doesn’t ring a bell.” Then Charming assures her that it is safe to tell the truth, he has Belle’s best interest at heart and won’t let anything bad happen to her. Ruby hands over Belle’s sweater and says she was going to the library. She also admits that her wolf-sense started tingling again after the curse broke, so she can help track her down.
Ruby follows a scent trail that leads to Maurice’s shop, Game of Thorns. Rumple fills them in on Maurice’s intentions and they realize that he is going to send Belle over the border so that she forgets about loving Rumple. They have watch-guards on the borderline to make sure nobody accidentally crosses, so they think Maurice will send Belle there through the mines.
Smee cuffs Belle to a cart, tosses in a key and propels her toward the border. Belle reaches for the key and suddenly the cart starts moving backwards. Rumpy uses magic to wheel her back to safety. Belle steps out of the cart and looks at her father and Rumple, two men who have done nothing but try to control her life. She thanks Rumpy for saving her, but she is still hurt by his cowardly inability to trust her. She also is disgusted by her father’s actions, so she says, “I don’t want to see either of you” and walks away.
Later, Belle tries pancakes for the first time when Ruby gives her breakfast. We learn that Belle is now staying at Granny’s and someone has left her a key to the library. Belle hurries to the library and opens the door to discover Rumpy waiting inside. He tells her that the library also has an apartment for the caretaker, so she won’t have to stay at Granny’s. Rumple then pours his heart out Belle.
In an honest monologue Rumple explains, “You’re right about me. I am a coward. I have been my entire life…I tried to make up for it by collecting power.” Once Rumple realized the power that came from magic, he couldn’t let it go. He dedicated himself to finding Bae and waited for the curse to break so he could find his son. Now he feels hopeless again because the border prevents him from finding and knowing Bae. He admits he was using magic and trying to find a way to get to his son again. Rumple reveals, “Magic has become a crutch that I can’t walk without.” Now he is paying the price by not being able to leave Storybrooke. He doesn’t expect Belle to easily forgive him. He just didn’t want to lose Belle without telling her the whole truth. Since Rumple showed great progress by trusting Belle with this knowledge, she gives him hope by saying they should go out for burgers sometime.
As the episode winds down, we see that Rumple has not completely reformed, despite his sweet words. He is holding Smee captive and wants to know what happened to Hook. Smee swears the curse didn’t take Hook to Storybrooke. So where could Hook be?
Post-Curse Fairytale Land: “Storybrooke. What a curious name.”
Cora approaches Hook with news of hope. She shows him the “sparkly dust” from Emma’s wardrobe and says it will help them get to Storybroke- where Cora will be with Regina and Captain Hook can “skin [himself] a crocodile.”
What did you think Oncers? Did you love this episode? Did you hope to see more? Were you surprised that there was no sight of Snow White or Emma in the episode? What were your favorite moments? Share your thoughts below!
- Superb acting: This has been one of the best acted episodes of the series. Robert Carlyle shined as always. He demonstrated his vast skill-set playing every incarnation of Rumple throughout the episode. He is a gem and you can tell that he brings the best out of those who work with him. Colin O’Donoghue is a brilliant addition as Hook. He brings that same quality to villainy that Carlyle has. You know you are supposed to be against them, but you can’t help but be drawn to Hook and Rumple. They compliment each other perfectly. They are sarcastic, clever, captivating and driven to revenge by heartbreak. Hook and Rumple’s scenes together were magical because they captured the necessary hate-filled tension and maintained just the right amount of salacious humor that made their confrontations painful and playful. Emilie de Ravin has been a wonderful addition to the cast. Hate to say, but it is a good thing her pilot fell through, so she could stay on as Belle because she provides a delightful combination of sweetness and strength, which is what Rumpy needs to challenge and soften him. Chris Gauthier was an ideal match for William Smee. We all know Smee isn’t a bad person deep down, but he does bad things and Gauthier is great at playing the conflicted bad guy. Rachel Shelley also nailed it as Milah. You hated her for leaving her son and husband behind like that. She was so cruel to Rumple in front of everyone and it helps explain why Rumple can be so mean to people now.
- Surprising lack of Snow White and Emma: Apparently there is a pattern to this season. Since there are so many worlds and storylines to juggle, it looks like we might completely miss out on what is happening with Snow and Emma in some episodes. It seemed likely that this episode might end with a cliffhanging glimpse of Emma and Snow White, but we got hook and Cora instead, which sets us up nicely for the sixth episode, in which Emma & Co. find Hook and encounter the Giant. Also no sight of Regina at all, which just felt weird, didn’t it?
- Rumple the monster: Another pattern has surfaced in ‘Once Upon A Time.’ It seems like many fairytale twists will simply turn Rumple into the monster of the story. He was Belle’s “beast” and Hook’s “crocodile,” so what will he be next?
- Casting suggestion: Now that NBC’s ‘Animal Practice’ has been cancelled, can ‘Once’ please sign JoAnna Garcia Swisher on as Ariel the Little Mermaid and add her to the series regular roster? She would be so perfect on this show and she can bring a bubbly feistiness to Ariel that will smoothly fit in with the other princesses in Storybrooke. Speaking of princesses, Mulan and Sleeping Beauty have been really annoying so far. Hate to say it, but Jamie Chung’s work as Mulan is not up to par with the rest of this extremely talented cast and Sarah Bolger hasn’t brought anything extra special to Aurora either. Does anyone else agree these two have been a bit lackluster?
- Excellent writing and directing: “The Crocodile” was written by David H. Goodman & Robert Hull and directed by David Solomon. The dialogue was full of so many amusing lines. Hook and Rumple’s banter was fun to watch. The directing was very artful, containing foreshadowing nods to the hook. Seriously, talk about a lasting introduction:
Killian Jones/Captain Hook: Where are my manners? We haven’t been formally introduced, Killian Jones. Now, what are you doing aboard my ship?
Rumpelstiltskin: You have my wife.
Jones: Well, I’ve had many a man’s wife.
Rumpelstiltskin: No, we have a son, and he needs his mother.
Jones: I have a ship full of men who need companionship.
Rumpelstiltskin: I’m begging you. Please let her go.
Jones: I’m not one for bartering. That said, I do consider myself an honorable man; a man with a code. So, if you do want your wife back all you have to do is take her.[throws sword on the ground]Never been in a duel before, I take it? It’s quite simple really. The point goes in the other guy. Go on, pick it up. A man willing to fight for what he wants, deserves what he gets.
Rumpelstiltskin: Please, Sir. What am I going to tell my boy?
Jones: Try the truth: his father’s a coward.
Next week’s “The Doctor” teases Dr. Whale as Dr. Frankenstein. Looks like ‘Once’ is tapping into a variety of fantasy stories.