Once Upon A Time 6×13 Review: What Makes A Hero

For an Rumple-heavy episode with flashbacks to Fairy Tale Land and the appearance of my least favorite character ever, Baelfire (though in supposedly less douchy kid-form), this was …well, surprising. Not the best Once Upon A Time has done, but also, not the worst. And considering how low my expectations were, that’s saying something.

Or maybe I’m just biased because – PROPOSAL! Even if the proposal came before the reveal, which is just going to come back to bite Hook in the ass. But hey, what could the guy do, really? There was the love of his life, saying yes before he’d even asked the question. I can’t exactly blame him for getting swept up in the moment.

And I don’t for a moment believe that we saw in “Ill-Boding Patterns” is the end of it. Hook will need to come clean. There’ll be fallout. But, for now, let’s all focus on Emma Swan’s happy face as Killian kneeled in front of her and just …enjoy the wedding bells of Captain Swan endgame. What beautiful music they make.

Let’s go into it!

HEROES

Source: Tumblr

In a funny and not at all surprising way, this episode was meant to parallel Rumple and his former sworn enemy, Captain Hook. Though, at this point, I’m ready to drop the Captain Hook moniker forever. I’m pretty sure Killian wouldn’t mind – he’d say there are good pirates or something of the sort, but I like to think of it as the line that divides the villain from the fully-realized hero.

But, you say – he didn’t confess to Emma! He’s not a fully realized hero. And a part of you’d be somewhat right. He didn’t confess. But he will. Because, as that conversation with Archive proved, he’s not just the type of man who can take this secret to his grave, not anymore.

In his bitterness that his past just keeps coming back to bite him in the proverbial ass, Killian refers to himself as broken. But he’s not broken – he just grew a conscience. Or he finally started listening to his. Strangely enough, this episode also sees the first true acceptance that all the Evil Queen did was actually done by her – Regina, that we’ve ever seen from one of our other semi-reformed-villains, and it sees Rumple make the pretty heroic choice of taking on the darkness to save his son’s soul.

Pretty damned impressive for three people who, at one point, seemed irredeemable.

Killian’s path is clearer – easier. He won’t keep this a secret from Emma. He was blindsided and he let himself be ruled by his emotions, but that doesn’t mean he’s suddenly become the kind of man who can live with this burden. He was very clear before – he can’t. And that’s what takes him that final step, that’s what makes him the one among our semi-reformed-villains who can actually say he’s crossed over into hero.

He’s acknowledged his wrongs, he’s taken responsibility for them, he isn’t trying to hide them and he’s reached the point where making the right decision isn’t a struggle as much as it’s an obvious decision. You want to talk redemption? That, right there, is redemption.

Does that mean its smooth sailing from here on out? Of course not. Does that mean he won’t struggle ever again with his past? Certainly not. But that means that he’s now fighting the good fight from the side of the heroes. And that’s a pretty remarkable thing to say from the man formerly known as Captain Hook.

Regina is another matter – but the frank admission that it was her, Regina, that she and the Evil Queen are one and the same, that she did all those evil things, that it’s her responsibility, was the biggest step she’s taken in years. For so long her struggle has been that she didn’t truly understand that redemption wasn’t a matter of magic, that you couldn’t just take the bad parts of yourself away – that you had to fight to be a hero. Now that she’s taken that step, however, now, perhaps, she can finally accept herself, warts and all, and in the process, forgive herself, as everyone else has forgiven her.

Only then will Regina finally find peace. Because peace is not an external thing, it doesn’t matter what others say – peace is an internal thing. This is Regina fighting her inner demons, and if she ever wants to be happy, she has to win this struggle. And she has to do it alone.

Finally, we have Rumple, who I would have told you was as far from redemption as any character has ever been in Once Upon A Time. And yet, this little bit of revisionist history that Once Upon A Time does in this episode paints him in a different light – not because we can or should forget the cruelty he’s capable of, but because we’re reminded that, despite all the bad things he’s done, despite the fact that he’s never been able to turn a new leaf for himself, or even for Belle, Rumple is always at his best when it comes to his sons.

Many years ago, he sacrificed a part of his soul for Baelfire, and he does it again for Gideon in this episode. The important thing about is that he doesn’t do it for accolades – he doesn’t do it to gain Belle’s approval, or even Gideon’s, he does it because it’s the right thing, because he loves his son too much to let him be the one to kill Blue.

Does this decision make Rumple a hero? No. But it makes him less of a clear-cut villain than he was before. And it also signals his possible/likely future in this show is to sacrifice himself for Gideon. How else could he fulfill his promise? How else can he come full circle?

If his story is not one of redemption through romantic love – it has to be one about fatherhood, and about what you’re willing to do for your kids. Rumple has already proven that he’s willing to go farther for his sons than he’s gone for anyone. If needed be, he’d sacrifice himself for Gideon, as he once did for Neal. And knowing Once Upon A Time, there’s probably going to be a need.

And – if that’s to be the end of Rumplestiltskin, I’m going to go on the record as saying that, maybe, just maybe, that was a story worth telling.

A TWISTED TAKE ON OUTLAW QUEEN

 once upon a time ouat regina mills robin hood evil queen GIF

Did I think this is where Once Upon A Time was going with the Robin revival? No? Do I like it? Eh …no? In general, I feel such a sense of dissatisfaction for everything that’s happening with this storyline. There were much better ways to get Regina to learn her lessons, and not, you know, basically spit on the face of everyone who ever liked this couple. But that was not the path the show chose in this case, nope.

They chose the bring back fan-favorite actor path instead of the respect-the-characters path.

I’m not saying I don’t get it, I do. Specific actors bring ratings with them and hype and all of that sounds good, but it should never dictate a storyline the way it has with Outlaw Queen. The ending this storyline got was rushed and bad, but it was much better than what we’ll get now with this mimicry of Robin running around.

See, that’s the point we’ve gotten to – I’m now looking fondly back at the horrible ending this couple had and hoping they’d left it at that.

And that’s why all I can ask of next episode is an end to this torture. I want to remember Robin and Regina as they were in Season 3. Please, Once Upon A Time. Don’t ruin the memories for me. Put an end to this horrible storyline. Let me grieve in peace.

CAPTAIN SWAN

Source: Tumblr

Okay, I’ve got a few million things to say about Captain Swan – but first of all, let me start with: They’re engaged! My babies are engaged! Emma Swan, the notoriously closed-off commitment-phobe wanted to get married to this man so bad that she wouldn’t even let him get a word in-edgewise, she just bombarded him with the yes.

Now, of course, he made the wrong decision. He should have confessed beforehand. We all agree on that. But it’s hard to blame him when the love of his life is there, offering everything he ever wanted. He’s gonna come clean, because he can’t live with that secret, but this is not what we should be focused on right now. That’s the drama for the sake of drama, that’s the tropey part of this that, apparently, not even Once Upon A Time can avoid.

But that’s not what at the heart of the matter – at the heart of the matter is two people who’ve come such a long way and found themselves in the same place – wanting to spending the rest of their lives together. A woman who was abandoned, who felt like a lost girl, who found family, re-built her own sense of self and finally let herself admit what she wanted and reach for it with both hands, and a man who lived for revenge for so many years that he’d forgotten how to feel anything but anger till he saw in Emma Swan a possibility of understanding, even redemption.

Would they be here, and by here I mean in a position where they can both reach for their happiness, without each other? It’s impossible to know – but in the context of the story the show has been telling us, the only answer that fits is this: Doubtful. Emma’s soul mate was always Killian, the kindred spirit who understood her before she even revealed a part of herself. It was never Neal, the man who abandoned her, or Regina, the woman who shared a son with her. And the reason why it could never be anyone but Killian is simply this – choice.

Emma’s journey hasn’t been an easy one. It’s taken her so long to open up, so long to accept affection, even longer to be comfortable with her feelings, to decide that she can grasp her future with both hands and never let go. And though the journey has been hers, and hers alone, like every person’s journey has to be to be meaningful, Killian Jones has always been there, walking side by side with her, not propping her up, but ready to offer a hand in support if she ever needed it.

Some people might misconstrue that as weakness – it isn’t. It’s strength. Understanding that there are people you can rely on, that life is not something you have to get through alone, even when you can, is a powerful message. Emma Swan chose Killian Jones as her partner in life, she choose him not necessarily because he was worth it, or because he’d done anything to deserve her, but because she wanted him, because she believed in him, because she saw in him a worthy partner in this journey called life.

And this is what an OTP is all about – it’s what real life romance is all about. Finding a partner to walk through life with you. Not someone you have to carry, not someone who’ll carry you – but an equal. Someone who will tell you the harsh truths, someone who’ll be with you in good times or bad times, someone who will forgive you when you mess up and who will believe you can better. Always.

That’s what Emma and Killian have found in each other. That’s the real meaning of true love. And that’s what we should be celebrating today. Not just the ring, not just the engagement, but the happily ever after that we know will come, obstacles or not. Because that’s what true love is all about.

THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE SENSE, A LIST

  1. Am I just supposed to accept that Rumple tied Gideon, who has magic, and he couldn’t get out?
  2. Did Regina put a tracker on Robin or what? Or one on Zelena? Wait …she should put one on Zelena.
  3. Why didn’t anyone put some sort of spell on SnakeRegina so she wouldn’t be SO EASY TO STEAL?

OTHER THINGS TO NOTE

  • Why start with boring flashbacks? Why?
  • Every time I watch a war movie I wonder if there’s any speech that would make me go into battle and certain death.
  • I doubt it.
  • Never tell a beast you can’t see: Do your worst! They might.
  • Rumple’s red number is reminiscent of the Pope. I kid you not, Google Pope Red Cloak and then laugh with me.
  • Yes, David DID practically call you son, Killian. WE NOTICED TOO.
  • I used to have sympathy for young Bae. Those were the days.
  • Rumple centric episodes that focus on his love for his kids instead of his love for Belle are something I can live with.
  • Zelena’s motivations are nonexistent. So is her storyline. I love Bex, but why is Zelena even around?
  • No Regina, you don’t owe FakeRobin ANYTHING. He’s FAKE.
  • Also, did you steal those clothes from Maleficent or did you borrow them?
  • Blue is “dead” and I still think she’s shady. I bet she’s gonna reveal she was the Black Fairy all along!
  • I’m pretty convinced the writers are either very tone-deaf or they really don’t want us to like Nealfire at all.
  • I flailed all over during the proposal scene and had to rewatch it three time to actually get the words.

NEXT, ON ONCE UPON A TIME

Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.

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