Oh, Once Upon A Time. When I don’t give you credit, you surprise me. When I give you credit, you let me down.
The secret storyline wasn’t your best work – but I was almost ready to forgive you. It seemed like there was a plan at store here, lessons to be learned. And there were. There are. They’re just not the lessons I expected.
Because yes, Killian had some lessons to learn. Jasmine had some lessons to learn. But – so did Emma Swan. And yet, she didn’t get a chance to learn them, because a gimmicky solution was better than having a person in a committed relationship – better than having a bunch of people who’ve spent years with Killian Jones, people who’ve come to consider him family, wonder, for just one second, if the official story could have some holes.
Someone – be it Charming, Snow, Henry, heck – even Regina, should have wondered about Killian leaving. Emma should have, at least, doubted that the official story that she heard from Leroy, of all people, could be true. She should have known better.
Yes, she has issues. And those issues are valid, and they prevented her from seeing the truth. And yes, it’s even understandable that she couldn’t get there – because abandonment issues are crippling and sometimes you can never truly rid yourself of the feeling of not being enough.
But – if that was going to be the case, why even go into this story-line? Why tell this story if not to give both sides of our main couple the chance to learn an important lesson? Just from drama’s sake? To keep them apart for a few episodes longer?
I really wanted to believe the answer was no, Once Upon A Time. I really, really wanted to.
So, let’s talk about the Jaladdin, the failed lesson, and the drunk Snow of “A Wondrous Place”:
THE HEART OF A HERO
Jasmine found not just her happy ending in this episode (though one could argue she’d found that before, she’d just been unable to reach for it), but the hero that she’d been looking for all along, the hero that would help her save Agrabah. It just so happens that this hero wasn’t Ariel, Eric, Aladdin or even Hook, it was herself.
Sometimes the hardest thing you can do is believe in yourself. Jasmine felt so guilty about the destruction of Agrabah that she’d convinced herself that a) she could never be a hero and b) she wasn’t worthy of Aladdin’s love. And when you think you can’t be a hero …you don’t behave like a hero.
Plus, when you think you don’t deserve love …you don’t reach for it, even if it’s right there, waiting for you.
The contrast with Hook helped Jasmine in this episode, as did the constant belief of Ariel, Aladdin and Hook. Because they saw a hero, she allowed herself to think that she might be one. I once heard Neil Gaiman say that, to do something, you should pretend that you’re the kind of person who can do it – not pretend to do it, but pretend you are the kind of person who can do it.
And that’s what Jasmine did. She was always a hero; she just had to stop looking for the savior of her people outside of herself. Princess Jasmine could always save the day, she just believe that she could do it.
That, and finally give the boy the kiss she’d been wanting to give him for ages. True love is, after all, the most powerful magic of all. It is known.
EMMA’S ABANDONMENT ISSUES
Yes, Emma should have figured it out. I thought that’s where this story-line was taking us. Moreover, that’s where the story-line should have been taking us. But the fact that she didn’t should be considered a writing flaw – not a character flaw.
How can I separate, you ask? This is stunted character growth! This is Emma acting OOC! This is character assassination! Except, it isn’t. It’s just one of those sad instances of writers putting plot over characterization.
Last episode we saw Hook’s fears lead him to the wrong choice – he was ready to destroy his memories. He was reverting to the part of himself that felt so ashamed of his past that he could never see a way Emma would love him for who he is. He let his fear get in the way of things, and by doing so, he hurt Emma.
And yet, we forgave him. Emma would have forgiven him too, if he’d made his way back to her. We understood that it was his issues talking, and that sometimes, breaking away from your issues is not just hard, it’s damn near impossible. He almost left Emma and we forgave him because, at the last possible moment, he decided to turn back.
This week, Emma was put in the same situation – and we wanted her to come to the conclusion that Hook wouldn’t have left by herself. And yet, Hook didn’t come to that conclusion by himself either, he had Snow saying the right words, reinforcing the fact that the EQ got a happy ending, so he could get one too. He had a push, and he managed to overcome his issues.
Emma had no push. Instead, she had people reinforcing her conclusion, people who should rightly know better. Why? Because the writers were going for that final confrontation with Gideon. The plot was leading that way, so characterization had to suffer because of it.
Would Emma have gotten there with a little push? Probably. Her issues run deep, and she, like Hook, reverts to believing the worst in bad times – in this case, that she’s not worthy of love, that no one would stay for her, that everyone who she loves will one day leave her, but she has changed in the past few seasons, we’ve seen her change. We know she wants to believe Hook.
Heck, she believed a sea shell. She obviously wanted to hang on to something, anything, that could provide an alternate explanation. The writers didn’t allow her that. And that’s not a flaw of characterization – it’s a flaw of writing. They might seem like one and the same, but if you look at it with clear eyes, they really, really aren’t.
Ultimately, both Killian and Emma are flawed people, and though this Once Upon A Time journey will one day end for us viewers, people don’t just get over their issues 100% and get better instantly. There are setbacks and fears and moments where you need constant reassurance. The important part is that Killian will be there for Emma when she needs it and vice versa.
They’re a team – and they don’t have to be perfect and they don’t have to “deserve” each other. They just have to love and choose each other. That’s it.
HOOK’S JOURNEY BACK
What was it that Emma said about home? That it was the place that, when you’re gone, you just miss it?
Hook misses Storybrooke. He misses his family. Most importantly, he misses Emma.
Before, home for him used to be the sea. It used to calm him. Now, home is Emma, and there’s no calm to be had while he’s away from her, even if he’s trying to live every second that he’s apart from her as the honorable man he’s always wished to become.
Yes, he’s desperate to get back, and yes, he’s grasping at straws – but Hook is also, in a way that’s so important to his journey, still the hero he wants to be, even when he’s in a position where, years before, he would have turned villain. He’s not just a good guy when he’s around Emma, or where she can see him or hear about he’s exploits, he’s now a good guy all around. He’s found the hero within and he’s not going to lose that.
He’s going to help Jasmine, he’s going to give love advice, even when he’s frustrated, and he’s not going to give up on Emma. He’ll find a way back home. That’s what heroes do.
THINGS THAT DO NOT MAKE SENSE, A LIST
- Why didn’t anyone tell Jasmine about the protection spell? And by anyone I mean her father. Communication, people. Communication. It could solve so many issues.
- Snow was a Princess. She’s certainly had a drink or two before. She can’t be such a lightweight.
- How much does Granny charge to take care of Baby Charming?
- I know this was plot dictated – but the fact that no one questioned Killian leaving was absurd. All of these people should know better – even Regina!
- But, especially Snow I-see-the-best-in-everyone White and Henry. Plot over characterization. It hurts.
OTHER THINGS TO NOTE
- And here we were worried about Charming’s reaction – dude looked legit more upset about Hook skipping town than about his father’s murder.
- But, I’m really glad that, one way or another, Emma told him right away.
- I would have liked if he’d said something – anything – about how that didn’t really sound like Hook.
- Dear God, Leroy, you need to stay out of other people’s businesses. You really do.
- Liam 2.0 calling his brother by his given name gave me feels, okay?
- Love makes you do crazy things. Case in point: Killian I can and will do anything to get back to Emma
- Though, if you can, get thee a man who’d go against a kraken for you.
- Aladdin’s hunger made him more relatable than he’s ever been.
- How many times she almost gonna kiss you? As many as it takes for her to make up her damn mind.
- Capital of Agrabah, Many years ago is code for We don’t care anymore so whatever.
- Everyone was really pleased to see Hook this episode – as they should be.
- I half expected Jack Sparrow to pop put from somewhere.
- How long has Hook been gone? Inquiring minds wants to know.
- Regina’s attempts to be a friend are adorable. Also, the curls? Love them.
- Jasmine and Ariel legit accomplished nothing together, and yet I was still very happy to see them meet up.
- “For two people in love, you’ve got terrible communication.” – The pot calling the kettle black, Killian.
- “Goodbye brother. Till we meet again.” – FEELS. Also, am I the only one who thinks they will?
- Drunk Snow is hilarious. Ginnifer Goodwin should do more comedy.
- That being said, how does Regina always end up seeming like she cares more about Emma than Snow?
- The show hooked me back in S1 with the Emma/Snow relationship, and that’s something they’ve completely forgotten about in the last 3 seasons or so.
- I wanted Emma’s mother to be the one comforting her.
- Yes, corkscrews are important. I concur, Killian.
- Knowing that Eric and Ariel live together on creepy island sorta makes the island less creepy.
- Because hey, HAPPY ENDING! Someone got a happy ending! Or beginning. Or whatever.
- Everyone wants to be a mixologist now.
- Also, why did this guy have to be Gideon? I wanted to keep him. He was fine.
- I think every story should start with the reminder that true love’s kiss is the most powerful magic of all. Think of all the pain you could have avoided, Jasmine, if you’d only kissed the guy before!
- “I’m trying to get home to you, and I will never stop until I do.”
- Shell phone message. SHELL PHONE MESSAGE.
- I mean – on principle, I’d say let’s not listen to Gideon, but …eh …do we care about the Black Fairy?
NEXT, ON ONCE UPON A TIME
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.