Wow. Did that episode bring the unexpected feels or what?
I mean, yes, we were promised Hook backstory. We weren’t promised tears, a family reunion, a Captain Cobra adventure, honesty and a realistic look at what a relationship between a kid and man who is a father-figure to him.
But we still got all of that.
We also weren’t promised an Evil Queen/Rumple hookup, but that also happened. Fitting for an episode that aired the day before Halloween – because I was mesmerized. And a little creeped out. And I absolutely could not look away.
So, let’s delve into the good, the feels and the ew of “Dark Waters.”
FATHERS AND SONS
Captain Nemo and Liam, Killian and Henry, this episode was all about the familial relationship between people who aren’t really family. And, in a way, that’s one of the main themes of Once Upon A Time. Family is what you choose. Families are comprised of the people you love. Blood is not the only thing that makes you family.
Liam wanting revenge on Killian was nothing unexpected – we’ve known it was coming for a while, in fact, ever since Killian killed his father, I’d expected little brother would one day show up, seeking revenge. However, it was nice to see that there’s hope for little brother yet – hope of being a better man. It was also nice to see that, although he lost one father (a loss you can never recover from), Liam found someone he could look up to and care for.
It was also nice to see Nemo trying to help people, reaffirming the notion that revenge, as tempting as it is, leaves you empty. What you need is to love again – to live again. That’s the only way to honor those who are gone.
Which leads me to …
Is Liam really over his loss? Can he ever forgive Killian? Does Killian deserve to be forgiven, to have a chance at a relationship with his brother? Those are questions I hope Once Upon A Time has time to explore, because they go to the root of what redemption is, and that’s exactly what this season is supposed to be about.
Once could say Killian’s redemption arc is complete – he’s certainly not going to choose darkness for himself, not again. He has something to live for now, as he told his brother. He only succumbed to the darkness out of pain, anyway. But is redemption a closed storyline? Or does a previously-evil character have to keep fighting to be better every day? I’d say the answer to that is – the story never ends. For heroes, villains, or anyone in between. Every day is a struggle. There are right choices, and wrong choices, there are mistakes and there are triumphs. That’s life. We can’t be certain we’ll get everything right.
We just have to keep trying. Every day. Like Killian is doing.
The main theme of the episode, of course, is fathers and sons, though really, it should be more like sons and father-like-figures. Killian is a father figure to Henry, even if, as Henry re-affirmed early in the episode, he’s not Henry’s father.
Losing a father is a thing that no one who hasn’t lost one can understand, and even though Henry had precious little time with his, that doesn’t mean Hook – or anyone, for that matter, can ever take his father’s place. But that’s okay; families are not fixed things made up of biological mother-biological father-kid. Henry, of all people, understands this. He does have two mothers.
Fact of the matter is – Henry cares for Hook. If he didn’t – if he didn’t consider him part of the family – he wouldn’t have taken his “betrayal” to heart. He would have just shrugged the way you do when someone you don’t really care for does something you don’t like, and told Emma. He didn’t do that. He stormed off and he went all sulky teenager on Killian, which is proof that Killian is more than just the guy dating his mom.
And Killian cares about Henry. I don’t know that he sees himself as someone worthy of being Henry’s father figure – not yet, but he cares for him separate from Emma. He cares enough that he was willing to sacrifice his life to make sure Henry would be safe. He understands that Emma and Henry are a package deal – a family, and he wants to be part of that family, yes, but he knows he has to earn it.
Disappointing Henry, disappointing Emma – that’s the last thing Killian wanted to do. But in his mind, he was putting Emma’s welfare above everything else, even his own relationship with the woman he loves. He knew that she might react badly, that he might lose her, lose the family he was only just beginning to understand he might be a part of – and he was willing to do that, if it meant she would live.
Misguided? Maybe? The basis of their relationship has always been that Killian has been willing to respect Emma’s choices, time and time again. Understandable? Hell yes. Had I been in his place I would have done the exact same thing. You probably would have too. Nothing is more important than protecting the people you love. Nothing.
Ultimately, this episode brings Henry and Killian closer together – because, though they’d had adventures before, and Henry knew, intellectually, that Killian loved his mom and cared about him, Henry now has proof of this. In the same way, Killian now has proof that Henry, as hard as that might be for him and as bumpy as the ride might be, considers him part of his family.
There’s nowhere to go from here but up.
The significance of the Captain Swan moment at the end, as short as it is, cannot be understated. Yes, Henry pushes Killian to tell the truth, but I don’t for a moment believe Killian was going to keep this a secret from Emma any longer. And that’s what we need for Captain Swan to move forward, no secrets. Mature, adult relationships are built of two adults who chose to face life as a team – an entity.
Captain Swan can be that. They’re on their way already. Without being perfect they’re already setting the standard for TV couples. (It’s a low standard. Like, really, really low. If you don’t lie or cheat, it’s like you’re home free. And that needs to change).
Now, all we need is the little moments. The things we got to see with Snowing. There doesn’t need to be a huge crisis to push the relationship forward every day. They’ve handled enough internal strife. Let them face the dangers coming to Storybrooke together.
As a family.
THERE MIGHT BE A CHANCE
If Aladdin had come with a Genie and I’d gotten three wishes for this show, one of them would have been for Belle’s story to continue just like it did this episode.
Yes, she’s done with Rumple. No, she doesn’t want to be involved with him romantically anymore, not after everything that’s happened. She doesn’t have hope, or at least, she doesn’t know if she can allow herself to hope, which is about as low as it gets for Belle. But, despite that, she doesn’t want to keep her kid from Rumple. She might not have hope for their romantic relationship, but she wants the best for her kid.
And the best for him would be to have a father. Especially when the only thing Belle knows for sure is that Rumple would love the baby. Granted, he sometimes makes questionable decisions in the name of the people he loves, and this is all going to be way more complicated when there actually IS a baby, but just the notion that she doesn’t want to take the kid and hide it away from Rumple is kind of …refreshing.
Happy ever afters can be many things. I’ve always thought Rumple’s happily ever after had more to do with Baelfire than Belle, and when he lost Bae, I thought maybe Rumple would never be complete. Now, a new baby is in no way a replacement – the loss never goes away, and neither does the love, but if Rumple can love his kid so much that he’d create an entire curse to bring him to another world and train Regina to make sure she’d enact it – well, he at least deserves a chance to get to know this kid, I’d say.
Sure, he might screw it all up. But in this regard, how can we judge him without giving him a chance?
It’s Halloween time, and this almost felt like I was trapped in an horror film. It was creepy, and I just could not stop watching. I swear, I was mesmerized. I didn’t even turn away. My eyes were glued to the screen.
Now, with a little perspective, I have to wonder, what’s Rumple playing at? He’s not usually good at doing favors for people unless it benefits him, even if the Evil Queen did get him the shears. So what’s his endgame here? Why would he help her? Will he, really?
With that out of the way, though, and with the Evil Queen’s pathetic attempts to destabilize the Charming/Swan/Jones/Mills family (which only managed to reinforce their bonds) seemingly at an end, we can finally go back to …
BACK TO THE BASICS
Snow White’s heart, yes. I sorta forgot that’s what you wanted the most, Evil Queen, what with all the time you spent making eyes at Rumple, taunting Regina and generally trying to wreak havoc just for the sake of it. It’s only taken us seven episodes to go back to that, but fine, I’m going to go with that’s what you wanted the most. Whatever.
If anything, though, this presents a nice opportunity to revisit what this show is about, and, hopefully confront Regina with the same realization Hook has probably come to after this episode – redemption is a never-ending story. The past always catches up to you. You want to be a hero? You have to make that choice once, and then make it again, and again, and again, every day of your life.
That’s why it’s hard. And that’s why it matters. So, if this is where you’re going, Once Upon A Time, I’ll happily go on this ride with you.
THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE SENSE, A LIST
I wanted this to be the episode I had nothing to add to this list. Alas, that didn’t happen.
- The Evil Queen knowing where Hook hid the shears. How does she know everything? And if she does, how does she ever lose? Is she stalking Hook or something? What gives?
- Rumple being the original owner of the shears. Not every magical object in the universe has to have ties to Rumple, Once Upon A Time. It’s okay if there’s one thing that doesn’t. The world won’t end.
- I’m all for grand entrances, but how did Henry get back? Did he just hide there, magically unlocked all doors and just happened to run into Killian and Liam at the right time?
- Wasn’t everyone frozen during the Dark Curse? NO, SERIOUSLY, WASN’T EVERYONE FROZEN DURING THE DARK CURSE?
OTHER THINGS TO NOTE
- The time of the Dark Curse? Well, at least that way OUAT can avoid mistakes with dates. Not with logic, but with dates, at least.
- Look, Regina, if you knew your sister was harboring the Evil Queen, it would have probably been a good idea to show up BEFORE they kidnapped Archie.
- Jasmine, girl, take a deep breath and realize that you’re basically telling Aladdin that Agrabah is the only thing that matters.
- Killian’s idea of a good breakfast is a tad concerning. You got to train him better, Henry. If you play this one right he’ll be on your side.
- Would a Captain Swan bedroom scene be too much to ask?
- WHY IS HENRY LIVING WITH EMMA NOW? What’s the custody situation like? Does he sleep wherever he wants? Does his other mother know where he is? Did they sign a paper to this effect? I’m a lawyer, I can’t let this go.
- I would pay for an actual scene of Killian and Henry playing video games. Or, Henry playing, Killian attempting to.
- Henry, you need to make him sit down and watch Star Wars. This is an urgent matter.
- “He’s not my father”/”Just a matter of time.” – You said it, Evil Queen. Not me.
- Emma Swan should open a school for saviors. She’s good at the advice thing.
- Self-involved much? Your brother can’t be the only Liam in the world who lost his father at young age, Killian.
- Can we keep Nemo forever and ever?
- Thank you, OUAT, for not doing the typical soap-operaish thing of having Belle look into the shop and see Rumple and the EQ kissing. Her problems with Rumple have nothing to do with the EQ and her overture about her kid has nothing to do with her, either. It’s refreshing to see a show NOT go the drama for the sake of drama way.
NEXT, ON ONCE UPON A TIME
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.