Tonight’s episode of Once Upon a Time was a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it was great seeing Rumplestiltskin shine and develop more of his character, but it kinda sucks that the show is straying so damn far from the “let’s save Hook from the Underworld” storyline. Now, to be fair, it’s not like the season could’ve SOLELY revolved around that mission, but I expected it to be front-and-center, ya know? It looks like Hook’s rescue mission has been severely underplayed in favor of putting Rumplestiltskin’s role at center stage. (spoilers ahead!)
Thankfully, this episode didn’t go off on too many tangents, so it was easier to keep track of what was going on. As mentioned already, this hour was dedicated mostly to Rumplestiltskin, but that doesn’t mean our other heroes (and non-heroes) didn’t get to shine as well.
The gang realizes they’ll need to get to Hades’s main lair in order to rescue Hook, and the only way they can do that is with a dead person’s aura. Rumplestiltskin finds his ex-wife Milah, now a crossing guard in “Underbrooke”, and recruits her for the mission. It was a bit awkward when Milah and Emma met since the latter has slept with the former’s ex-lover AND son. I’ve mentioned before how the Once Upon a Time relationship and family tree scenario is all screwed up. This just throws another wrench in the works. I wonder if Emma will go for the hat trick and try to knock boots with Rumplestiltskin in the future? Ugh, actually, I do not want to see that. Rumple is way too creepy.
Anyway, Milah eventually sympathizes with Emma after she reveals that she’s seen Neal and that he’s moved on to a better place. The two become quick friends and allies, which obviously strikes a negative chord with Rumple. I keep trying to see the hero in Rumplestiltskin, but why does he make it so hard? It’s like he takes one step towards becoming a good guy, and then takes two steps back to becoming a villain once more. It may be frustrating for the viewer who wants to see the casual “fairy tale happy ending”, but I gotta admit that it’s great characterization. You never really know if you should root for Rumple or if you should pawn him off as another seedy little prick. This episode only further emphasizes that notion.
In the flashbacks, we see pre-Dark One Rumplestiltskin being berated by Milah for being too cowardly and irresponsible. This point is driven home when an unsupervised Baelfire is bitten by a poisonous snake. Rumple and Milah go to Fendrake the Healer to get a cure, but he tells them that it’ll cost 100 gold coins, which is way out of their price range. I’m not a fan of Fendrake. He seems like such a stock character, and it’s strange how he ends up playing such a huge part in Rumple’s background that I’m surprised they couldn’t find a more prominent character. From what I recall, Fendrake isn’t really a part of any fairy tale or legend, so why did they go with such an odd, random person? I figured they would’ve found a way to incorporate a well-known magician or something. It seemed very odd.
Milah convinces Rumple to sneak into the healer’s home and kill him so that he can steal the potion. While he’s off on his mission, Milah meets a charming Captain Hook. So it looks like these two had a tiny bit of a history together before they actually hooked up (no pun intendeD). I’m not that surprised. It looks like the show wanted to characterize Hook as more than just a random pirate who picked up Milah at a bar; he was actually a brave gentleman who saved Milah from a belligerent drunk. I personally preferred the first scenario, but I guess since Hook is now a big hero in Once Upon a Time, the show had to make it seem like he was always a good guy. It’s the “Greedo shot first” scenario all over again…
Rumple goes to the healer’s house, but he’s hesitant when it comes to killing him. Fendrake, seeing what lengths Rumple will go to save his son, decides to make a deal. When Rumplestiltskin goes back to Milah, he explains that he got the potion in exchange for their second-born child. This blew my mind. I know Rumple’s intention was good, but this is a new low. He pretty much barred Milah from ever having a second child with him. Granted, Milah doesn’t seem like she’d WANT to have another kid with her cowardly husband, but how could Rumple pull such a selfish maneuver? Am I supposed to sympathize with him? I honestly can’t. It seemed like a low blow, even for him.
Back in the present, Rumple, Milah, and Emma arrive at Hades’s lair via the River of Lost Souls. Emma rescues Hook after crossing a perilous bridge, and the two are finally reunited at long last. Remember how I said the rescue mission for Hook was underplayed? Yeah, this is what I meant. All Emma had to do was cross a bridge. I expected her to do much, much more.
While Emma is on her side-mission, Hades encounters Rumple (and freezes Milah in the process). The lord of the Underworld tells him that he’d like to make a deal with him (and we know that Rumple is all about the deals nowadays). The first step – Rumple has to destroy the boat, which is the only way for the Storybrooke heroes to return home. You’d think “Oh, he won’t make this deal. He’ll overcome the challenges and save the day!” LOL NOPE! Rumple blasts the boat AND Milah into the River of Lost Souls, and then tells Hook and Emma that Hades did it. Yeah, I can’t sympathize with him anymore. I think he’s an evil coward, and I personally wouldn’t mind if the show ends with his demise. I feel like he’s beyond redemption at this point.
The episode closes out with Rumple going back to Hades and learning that his deal comes with yet another price. The long-dead Fendrake appears, and it seems that just because the healer is dead doesn’t mean that the contract for the second-born child is nullified. But does that mean Milah is pregnant? Nope. BELLE IS PREGNANT! Curveball! It was only a matter of time for Belle and Rumple to have a kid, but this still caught me off-guard. I won’t lie: I’m pretty worried about how this pregnancy will turn out.
Hey, at least Hook’s been saved, right? So will the rest of the season now revolve around Rumplestiltskin? Will he become the new lord of the Underworld? Or is he going to come out on top and end up a hero once more? At this point, we’re not exactly sure where the show is heading.
Final Grade: B –
+ Great performance from Robert Carlyle.
+ I enjoyed learning more about the background of Rumplestiltskin and Milah’s relationship.
+ I loved the “Belle is pregnant” plot twist.
– I wasn’t a fan of Fendrake the Healer.
– The flashbacks felt a little dull.
– I feel like the “rescue Hook” storyline is totally being glossed over and underplayed this half of the season.
– How awkward is it that Emma’s has had relations with Milah’s ex-lover AND her son? Bruh…
How are things looking in “Underbrooke” this half of the season? Are you worried about our heroes being trapped in the underworld forever? Tell us your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter!