Season 3, Episode 17 (The Jolly Roger)
While I took a lot of convincing, I am now convinced that the romance between Captain Hook and Emma Swan has the potential to work itself out. Both are highly compatible with each other. Likewise, I think the Regina/Robin Hood pairing is both romantic and satisfying. I am glad with how the writers have progressed the romantic relationships – last year, both of these pairings seemed contrived. Despite being sudden, Robin and Regina seem to fit naturally together, while Hook and Emma have evolved over the course of the season to get to a point where both of them might be ready to go on a date.
This week`s episode did ultimately build on the main story arc of this half of the season, but primarily consisted of a sideplot that served as a character study for Captain Hook and brought back Ariel for an encore.
Unfortunately, while the story was exciting and Captain Hook is a wonderful character (as is Ariel), the slowing of the main plot to focus on him for nearly an entire episode seemed to be a diversion of some kind. In of itself, this was a great episode with a tight plot, fantastic acting, and a mini-mystery with a happy ending. In the grand scheme of this season, all we as an audience really needed was the last few scenes. Earlier in the year, this type of episode would not be problematic, but we are at the halfway point of this 11-episode arc. After last week’s episode that built up lots of momentum with the backstory of the Wicked Witch and her declaration that she was going to erase her little sister out of existence, finding out what Captain Hook was up to in his missing year was an odd choice for a follow-up chapter. Hence the twist at the end of the episode did not surprise me – there was little way to make the two episodes fit together. Cursing Hook to not be able to kiss Emma without removing her powers was a brilliant move on Zelena’s part.
Aside from the strange storytelling, this episode was mostly light and humourous. Ariel was spot-on as part ditzy brat, part adventure princess. Captain Hook was his usual sarcastic self, even in his dark moments wherein he tried to forget Emma and return to being a ruthless pirate. Smee – grateful that the new curses have returned him to human form – was a welcome returning character. Regina teaching Emma how to harness her magic? Hilarious – if a bit troubling, since Regina really is not that good of a teacher. They both get effort points.
Finally, it was a relief to see the Charmings not being perfect and getting upset about that fact. David decided to take Henry driving, despite him being only twelve, and naturally this does not go well. I have been on Regina’s side since long ago when it comes to how annoyingly cute the Charmings are. It is nice to see such iconic characters with flaws that anyone can have. That is really the appeal of this show in general.
In sum, Captain Hook gets taken through the wringer: he cannot forget Emma and return to piracy; he breaks a promise to Ariel; he gets rejected by Emma initially; he tries to make amends with Ariel only to end up cursed for it; and he does not feel that he can share this news with anyone. He flips from hero to villain and back multiple times, not necessarily by choice. By the end, he is off brooding again, sad that Emma seems the closest just when she is the farthest out of reach.
All the while, Henry is rather confused – but hey, he got to drive a truck!