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Once Upon A Time: 7×07 “Eloise Gardener”

As much as I am enjoying this fresh new season of Once Upon A Time, it isn’t without its flaws. The story is deliberately harkening back to the first season, but relies a little to much on exposition. We know that Drizella hates her mother, Lady Tremaine, but we’ve never actually see what her home life is like. This stems from her childhood where her sister Anastasia was favoured instead of her, but we’ve never seen this in the flashbacks so far beyond the occasional moment. With Regina, we have seen the hellhole she lived in under the foot of her mother Cora, but there isn’t the same nuance here. Don’t get me wrong, I like Drizella and Lady Tremaine as characters, but we need some more context to their relationship.

Anyway, episode seven, “Eloise Gardener”, focuses on Captain Hook. The alternate version. Yeah, the whole thing is a little complicated. There are two versions of the character: The original Killian Jones who sailed off into the sunset with Emma Swann, and his replacement from the Wish Realm. Wish!Hook has apparently gone through Jones’ character development, and changed his ways due to having an unseen, missing daughter. In Hyperion Heights, Hook is a cop named Rogers, searching for a missing girl named Eloise Gardener, who I assumed would be his daughter. This episode resolves the arc, but puts another surprise twist on it.

The Wish Realm was created in the sixth season by the Evil Queen using Aladdin’s genie powers (long story), placing Emma in a world where she wasn’t the Saviour. Hook and his crew are doing some pirating when the Evil Queen saunters up, demanding passage to another land to escape Snow White and Prince Charming. Hook is more interested in killing Rumplestiltskin, so the Evil Queen suggests he travels to faraway land to a tower, where a witch is said to have the power to slay immortals. Hook is immediately onboard and travels to the tower with Mr. Smee (played once again by Christopher Gauthier).

Hook scales the tower and finds no witch, but the imprisoned Rapunzel (Meegan Warner). We did meet another version of Rapunzel back in the third season, but she was a one-off character and not very interesting. This Rapunzel isn’t really like her Disney counterpart either, but more of a trickster and charismatic. She wants to escape the tower, and instructs Hook to go to the absent witch’s secret garden and retrieve a magic flower, which has the power to free her and help him out too.

Our intrepid pirates go to the garden, where they are attacked by, get this, a giant killer garden gnome! God, I love this show! Hook and Smee run around trying to avoid getting trampled on, and can only find the flower by singing. Hook tries doing a sea shanty, but this fails, so instead he does a more pleasant lullaby. This lets him find the flower and defeat the garden gnome. Smee rather pointlessly asks why the captain knows a lullaby. Hook could’ve easily said that his mother sang it to him, but goes on a full blown explanation of his backstory, that we have already explored in past seasons. Hook sends Smee back to the Jolly Roger, whilst he goes to free Rapunzel.

At the tower, Hook presents the flower so Rapunzel can escape. However, instead of just jumping out the window to freedom, Rapunzel instead starts putting the moves on Hook and they end up getting it on. The next day, Hook has played shiver me timbers with Rapunzel and ready to leave with her, only for a baby to appear out of thin air. Rapunzel then drops the bombshell that the only way she can truly flee the tower is if a person of her blood replaces her. Oh, and isn’t Rapunzel at all, but actually Mother Gothel in disguise, imprisoned in her own tower long ago.

Holy hell! This is a surprisingly dark turn for Once, and this is from the show that strives to always give its character happy endings or humane reasons for doing what they do. Gothel pretty much just sexually assaulted Hook, somehow made a baby with getting pregnant, and is willing to leave it to fend for itself so she can escape the tower. What a cow! Gothel makes her getaway, leaving Hook to care for their daughter. However, we then see Hook has gone all the way back to the Enchanted Forest, hands the role of captain to Smee, and then returns to the tower to care for his newfound daughter

Wait, wait, Gothel said that her replacement cannot leave the tower. So, did Hook just leave the infant alone in the tower whilst he travelled presumably miles for a minor task? Nevertheless, Hook decides to abandon his revenge on the Dark One, and stay in the tower to look after his daughter, who he names after his mother: Alice.

And I had dismissed the idea that Alice was Hook’s daughter. I was betting on some twist that Hook had some fling with Lady Tremaine and was Drizella’s dad. Now there are just many pieces of the puzzle left to fill, since Alice somehow got out of the tower.

Over in Hyperion Heights, the episode focuses mostly on Rogers’ obsession with finding out what happened to Eloise. The one bloke connected to her case has turned up dead, and Rogers is convinced that Weaver is trying to undermine his investigation. This turns out to be true, since Victoria Belfry wants Rogers to stop. Weaver warns Rogers that Eloise isn’t who he thinks she is, but Rogers distrusts and ignores his partner.

Rogers teams up with Henry to look for answers. Seriously, what has Henry been doing during this time? Is he still working as a cab driver? They turn to Tilly for help in getting information on what happened to Eloise. However, Tilly returns later on and delivers the grave news that Eloise is dead. Despite being devastated, Rogers feels that things are not quite right. Another confrontation with Weaver reveals that he and Tilly are lying to him. This only makes it worse when we find out that Tilly is Rogers’ daughter.

Meanwhile, Victoria puts two-and-two together and realises that Drizella is both awake and has been speaking with the imprisoned Gothel. She threatens to punish Gothel, taking her to some random warehouse. Rogers, however, shows up, handcuffs Victoria, and rescues Gothel, who he assumes is Eloise Gardener. Gothel just seems to go along with it, though it is possible she always was the missing girl in the Dark Curse’s design. If so, that is one twisted act of evil – making Rogers obsessed with a woman who had a one night stand with him and then abandoned him and their child.

The cops show up, and Victoria is sent to jail. Huzzah! Drizella shows up, pretending to be upset that her mother is about to get sent to the big house, but mocks her in private. However, Victoria scolds her daughter for her stupidity, warning her that Gothel is not a suitable mother figure. Tilly shows up to apologise to Rogers, who is disappointed in her actions. Now that’s heartbreaking. Gothel is now on the loose and likely has some sinister plans in mind.

You probably have noticed we haven’t discussed Regina yet. Last episode, Drizella woke Regina up from the curse to basically laugh in her face and warned her to keep Henry and Jacinda from getting together. Breaking the curse will result in something bad happening to Henry, which is death. But, Regina’s attempts to keep Henry and Jacinda apart are rather minor and actually make sense. Jacinda hopes to get custody of Lucy once again, but Regina worries that the child services may not approve of her dating Henry, since she is financially unstable. This hits Jacinda like a falling anvil, and she immediately fobs off Henry on their date.

In a final scene, Jacinda learns that Victoria has been arrested and custody falls back to her. Just as she and Lucy are about to celebrate, the child services conveniently show up, declare she is an unsuitable mum, and take Lucy away to live in the foster system. What is it with this family and the foster system? And parental abandonment? I guess it just runs in the family.

This episode was pretty good, with the focus on Hook/Rogers being well-developed and becomes a dark mirroring when the full context of the plot comes together. There are a lot of questions left unanswered, like how come Hook isn’t getting a visit from social services for leaving a baby alone in a tower? Regina being placed into a difficult, unfair position doesn’t really go anywhere though. But, with Mother Gothel now out and about, things should now start playing out very different with Victoria temporarily out of the picture.

What did you make of “Eloise Gardener”? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!

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Mark Russell

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