“A Pirate’s Life” has a lot on its plate for just being the second episode. It has to continue the ongoing story in the new setting with the new cast, and most importaly, bid a fond farewell to one of Once Upon A Time’s main characters. There are some problems with the pacing of the episode, but the charming moments make up for the slow burn it takes.
The events in the Enchanted Forest mostly serve to install the convenient contrivance as to why Captain Hook is cursed and Emma Swann, Henry’s mother, is nowhere to be seen. I was worried they would pointlessly kill her off, but thankfully, the showrunners care about their characters and audience. Henry, on the run from Lady Tremaine, uses a magic bottle to summon Killian Jones, Regina, and Emma to help him. At first, only the first two show up. Killian goes looking for information on the whereabouts of Cinderella, only to run into his older, drunken counterpart from the Wish Realm introduced in the sixth season.
The older Hook asks Lady Tremaine to make him look young like Killian so he can replace him and find happiness with Emma. This backfires when Emma shows up and reveals to Henry that she is pregnant! The older Hook runs into Killian and takes a knife to the belly for his troubles, breaking down and admits that he has been looking for love anywhere in order to make up for the loss of his daughter. Killian takes pity on his counterpart and asks Emma to save him. When Emma’s magic doesn’t work in the new fairy tale land, she instead uses him to use his own belief in her to heal his wound. Surprise, surprise, it works.
Emma and Killian return via portal to Storybrooke, saying goodbye to Henry and Regina, with the second Hook remaining by their side to offer advice and hopefully some pirating quips. It was a little sad saying farewell to Jennifer Morrison, who has played Emma since the pilot, but her story has come to an end for now. The emotional weight of Emma’s responsibility and growth have been a highlight of Once through the first six seasons, and I’m sure, like me, many will miss her terribly. We are also saying goodbye to Killian as well, but I suppose we at least have his counterpart for company. So, in other words, the Captain Hook who is cursed in Hyperion Heights is not the original, but the Wish Realm version.
Over in Seattle, Henry wishes to make amends for rejecting his daughter Lucy and her mum Jacinda (Cinderella), but she is giving him the cold shoulder. Jacinda finds herself in more trouble when Victoria (Tremaine) prevents her from going to see Lucy’s ballet recital by hiking up the entry fee. Snooty cow! By chance, a catering position is open at the event, which Jacinda and her roommate Sabine (Tiana) snatch up. It turns out Henry is also helping out as a bartender, and helped Jacinda get the job.
Victoria plots to remove Henry from Hyperion Heights, even though he is technically still living in his apartment elsewhere in Seattle. She calls upon the cops Weaver and Rogers (Rumple and the new Hook) to basically find any dirt on Henry to get him arrested. The partnership between the two cops is hilarious, but there is still that sense of unease between them, even if this Hook is different. Weaver wants Rogers to prove what kind of man he is, and plots to set up Henry as a thief by having Rogers sneak Victoria’s bracelet into Henry’s pocket.
At the event, where Lucy feels a bit like a background extra, Weaver tries to frame Henry, only to find the bracelet is missing and Rogers instead planted a swan keychain he took from Henry’s flat. While Victoria reacts like someone just stamped on her cat, Weaver turns out to be thrilled, having hoped that Rogers was a good bad and not corrupt. I do like this new dynamic between Hook and Rumplestiltskin even if the former isn’t the same character. And, no offence to Robert Carlyle, but his Cockney accent feels strangely forced.
Rogers, who has taken an interest in Emma’s presence in Henry’s storybook, explains that she reminds him of a woman who saved his life after he was shot. She inspired him to do what is right and be a good cop. Even when she has departed the series, Emma leaves behind a lasting impact on characters. While the rather silly plot development to keep Hook in the show felt forced, Jennifer Morrison’s departure was well-handled and beautifully performed, and her absence will likely be felt in the episodes to come.
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