Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Once Upon A Time Recap: “Poor Unfortunate Soul” [4x16]

     Happy Tuesday, dear readers, and welcome back to another weekly recap of ABC’s Sunday evening fantasy drama Once Upon A Time.

     Last week provided us with an interesting mix of events that didn’t so much create any major plot twists as prepare us for major plot twists: this week promises (let us hope) a bit more action and information on the ever-looming Author, so let us dive in with only the proper spoiler warning before we begin.

     Last week, we saw Regina go undercover and join ranks with the three queens of darkness: not quite convincing them of her loyalty, but doing enough mischief to put them at ease so that they could reveal their secret weapon: the Dark One himself, back from exile!

Oh, admit it: this is totally what he does...
     The aformentioned Rumpelstiltskin played Belle like a fiddle yet again and stole the dagger from her. Then, to aid his search for information about the Book and the Author, he used the dagger to transform the kidnapped Pinocchio back into a much more torture-able August!

     And speaking of the Book and the Author, Henry is way overdue for some headway on his dedicated research. He’s been going over every page (particularly an illustration of an ornate door) with a magnifying glass: surely something has to come up! He’s the Truest Believer; he deserves it!

     Emma admitted that her superpower of lie-detection seemed to be going off during almost every conversation she had with anybody: an ominous foreshadowing to the moment when she’ll find out that nearly everybody, including her own parents, have been lying to her! And speaking of her parents, we learned next to nothing in the way of exactly how the Charmings were responsible for the loss of Maleficent’s unborn child… and frankly, the trailer for this latest episode didn’t promise us any more information on the subject.

     However, this week’s trailer did promise us two things: information on the shady past of Hook and Ursula… and the potential return of Robin Hood!

     Back when Hook was still serving Pan and hunting down ways to get revenge on Rumpelstiltskin in the Enchanted Realm, his ship came within range of an eerie gentle voice.

     The voice charms the ears off every man onboard and draws them slowly towards an eerie mist that couldn't possibly be dangerous to sail into at all

     But do Hook or Smee or any of the other scalliwags think to plug up their ears or tie themselves to the mast a-la-Odysseus?

     Fortunately, just before the Jolly Roger is about to run aground on a set of rocks, the music stops: Hook's head clears and he steers the ship quickly and avoids the danger!

     Within the mist, the source of the music is in fact a young mermaid named Ursula: no tentacles are on this little lady, though. Apparently she was under the orders of her father, King Triton, to lure sailors to their deaths with her voice. But rather than desiring to avenge her mother who was killed by sailors, Ursula opposes her father and his thirst for vengeance.

     This story is almost like The Little Mermaid all over again... but instead of being Triton's exiled sister (it was a fascinating plot addition in a deleted scene: look it up!) she's now his rebellious musical daughter who decides to leave the ocean rather than live under her father's rules.

     Meanwhile in the present, Ursula spends her free time enjoying opera radio. When she isn't, you know, helping to torture any kidnapped puppets.

     And said torture is not getting anybody anywhere. August isn't hurt yet, but his answers aren't helping Team Villain just yet.

     However, when Regina threatens to use fire instead of a knife on him (after all, he used to be made of wood), August does admit that he learned everything he knew about the author from his time in Hong Kong. He got all of his information from the mystic called The Dragon (remember waaaay back when outsiders were trying to penetrate Storybrooke and steal magic? He was the head of those shady operations). However, the Dragon is now dead but August brought all of his research to Storybrooke. (That means Henry has it! Dun dun dun!)

     Mr. Gold decides to go to August's trailer to find the materials. Regina offers to join him, but he refuses. After all, she hasn't proven herself yet: her threats on August don't amount to actual villainous activity.

     Once he's gone, Regina lurks by the fireplace and sends plumes of magic smoke up the flue when none of her evil peers are watching.

     The smoke appears to the Charming Softball Team and their Pirate mascot in the forest; they've been tracking Cruella's car all night and Emma's been frustrated that losing the car was her fault. They freeze as the magic possesses Snow White and causes her to speak with Regina's voice: Regina sends the message that August has been restored and Gold is back in town. Things are getting bad.

     For information on Gold, the Charmings immediately go to Belle. They warn her that Rumpelstiltskin is back, and she's the only person who can control him as long as she uses the dagger. But does she honor her "pirate vow" that she just made last night and keep the relocation of the dagger a secret?

     Of course not (granted, it's perhaps a justified situation). But when she says that Hook has the dagger, he looks just as surprised as everyone else. It takes no little time to figure out that Gold fooled Belle and stole the dagger in disguise: everyone is livid. Hook even growls that exile was too good for Rumpelstiltskin, and that even at the cost of becoming the Dark One he would stop at nothing to drive the dagger into Gold's heart.

     But without the dagger at their disposal, they need a different game plan. Hook decides to seek out Ursula to find out what Gold is up to. He explains that he's going to get the information by trying to do what Emma always does: restore a happy ending.

     Out in Gold's cabin, Regina pulls out the page of her almost-not-quite happy ending with Robin Hood. August chuckles because he knows what Robin meant to her; he remembers being Pinocchio, even if not vise versa. Regina explains that the page portrays something that didn't actually happen, and she thinks he knows more than he's saying.

     Before any more torture starts, Ursula leaves the cabin for some so-called fresh-air... though it's really to respond to a summons: Hook has called her by blowing a conch shell.

     Though she's ready to destroy him for "what he did to her," he assures her that she doesn't need the Author to get what she wants: he knows where to get it. In fact, he's willing to give it… in exchange for information on Gold's plans.

     And we then return to the Enchanted Forest via flashback to find out what Hook did to do Ursula in the first place. Having left the ocean (and somehow able to walk in a really funky-looking skirt), Ursula has joined the land-dwellers to pursue her dream of making people happy with her voice… in a sleazy tavern.

     After her show, a glowering Captain Hook apprehends her; he recognized her voice as the same one that nearly doomed his ship… but since she had stopped singing in time for him to escape, he owes her his life. The two of them sit and Ursula shows him the bracelet that gave her legs, which she stole from her father's vault. She explains that her father is bent against humankind because her mother was murdered at the hands of a pirate (ooh, was it Hook himself!? Or perhaps Blackbeard?)…

     But Ursula prefers to sing because her mother taught her how, and music is all that she has left of her mother now. Her voice can soothe the most haunted of souls. Hook ends up being quite genuine with her: he explains he recognized her singing because he's been haunted by revenge for the past century, and only her song has ever given him peace. In fact, upon learning her plan to earn money and travel to Glowerhaven, he offers her passage for free; it's rather sweet, really.

     Back in the present, Hook takes Ursula to the docks. The 'treasure' they seek isn't buried, though: it's on the Jolly Roger. Unfortunately, said ship is not in Storybrooke (as you may or may not recall, Hook sold the vessel to Blackbeard in order to travel to New York via portal and warn Emma of the returning curse. You reeeally have to pay attention to timelines in this show).

     Using a piece of the rigging that Hook always carries (for sentimental piratey reasons), Ursula can create a portal in the ocean and summon the ship to Storybrooke. And even though she hasn't dipped a toe in the ocean since she was banished to our world (which was when, exactly!?), the magic works... except that the Jolly Roger seems to have shrunk. Dramatically.

Oh, geez, did Blackbeard do this? This is like Pirates of the Caribbean 4 all over again...

     Fortunately, Captain Hook knows an expert on growth and shrinkage: Will Scarlet, who spent so much time in Wonderland that he may have just the thing to return the Jolly Roger to its normal size!

     In the Enchanted Forest of Flashbacks, Hook is suddenly kidnapped by two strangely-dressed soldiers and taken to his own ship to meet Triton. Triton wants Hook to change Ursula's mind about leaving the ocean, and he can do so with an enchanted seashell that will take away her singing voice.

     Hook refuses since he owes Ursula his life, but Triton offers squid ink (which can paralyze Rumpelstiltskin and his magic) as an exchange for Ursula's voice. All Hook has to do... is show Ursula how awful humans really can be.

     Back in the present, Regina wanders the misty woods with her Robin Page and no explanation as to why she's there. Is this really happening? Ten quid says…

     She hears Robin's voice calling to her, and he appears out of the fog. She runs to him, but suddenly finds herself facing the Evil Queen (her old self) casting a fireball in a fit of rage!

     Then she wakes up, of course. And now that the writers have sufficiently teased their audience, Mr. Gold returns to the cabin. As it turns out, he didn't even look in August's trailer for the information on the Author: instead, he just visited the fairies' supply of magic, and he has returned with a vial of potion that will turn August back into wood. Without hesitation or warning, Rumpelstiltskin grabs August and forces the potion down his throat!

     But does Regina so much as flinch?

     She keeps up her cover and watches August turn from skin to bark, contorting in agony and yet somehow remaining alive.

     Out in the woods, Emma is rightfully upset at herself and at Regina and at Gold. After all, Gold might not torture a child but he will torture August, and who knows if Regina will step in before any real damage occurs? Emma's temper is flaring more and more (as a nice build-up to the moment when she'll probably succumb to darkness in a future episode, I'm sure).

     Back in the cabin, the wood slowly turns back into flesh and August shudders. Gold warns him that the potion still remains in his body, though, as an automatic lie detector that (can you guess what?) makes his nose grow!

     And now that he knows it works, Gold forces August in front of the fire and begins questioning him!

     August tries to claim that he doesn't know anything, but…

     Then he claims not to know where the author is, but…

     Finally August gives in: he explains that the Sorcerer trapped the Author behind a door: the Door, wood-carved and gold-gilt, in fact, that's on the main page Henry has been examining! August knows that his father gave all of the pages to Regina: she agrees, but also admits that she already gave the pages to Henry. August explains that while the door is in Storybrooke, he doesn't know where it is. Gold decides to start the search at the Sorcerer's mansion… and he recruits Regina to come along. At last she's earning his trust… but she's also leaving August in potential danger.

     Out on the docks, Hook and Ursula have a drop of magic mushroom extract to return the Jolly Roger to its normal size. Ursula sets the drop on the bottle instead of the ship for some bizarre reason… but does the bottle grow instead of the ship as logic would generally dictate?

     In their past after Hook received the offer from Triton, he meets Ursula onboard his ship and shows her the magic shell. He promises not to use it, because he knows her voice is valuable and he owes her his life. However, he did give up the squid ink to keep his promise… and chances are, if she stole that bracelet from her father's vault, then she can steal the ink, too. She agrees to do so, and the two of them seem to become even faster friends than ever.

     On the present Jolly Roger, Hook enters his cabin and removes his hook from his hand: the other side of the appendage is a key, which he uses to open his personal safe and retrieve the shell. He hands it over, and Ursula's voice surges towards her throat in a wave of magic! Is she finally going to get her happy ending!?

     The spell hits her throat, but then retreats as if it didn't work. Why? It's hard to say. Ursula blames the Author for stopping her happy ending, but Hook blames her shoddy magic and insists that he held up his end of the deal. The two of them turn on each other and Ursula knocks him out with little trouble (after all, she does have seven more limbs than him) and dumps him overboard. But does she keep watch to be sure he actually sinks and dies?

     Of course not… which is fortunate for Hook. It's also fortunate that Ariel appears and drags him to safety. (Remember, she was out looking for her Prince… but it's hard to remember if she's done anything else since then because this show has multiple flashbacks of multiple eras and every character has about multiple backstories. There is only so much an audience can take before they lose track!)

     Once she gets him back onboard, Ariel explains that Blackbeard had been using the Jolly Roger to wreak havoc across the seas. He was only stopped when the queen of Arendelle trapped the ship in the bottle (Huzzah! Though I suppose we'll have to wait to see that another day) and Ariel was trapped with it by accident. She assures him that Villains can have happy endings, but they rarely get them because they try to go about things the wrong way.

     Onboard the Jolly Roger in the distant past, Ursula is just about to give Hook the squid ink when Triton comes aboard and magicks it away! He prevents Hook from fighting by force, and with his last chance to get the ink gone, Hook exacts his revenge on Triton by stealing Ursula's voice with the enchanted shell! She realizes what monsters he and her father are, so she swims away. Triton realizes that his idea of stealing her singing voice was in bad taste…

     …but Hook won't give him the satisfaction of returning it. He threatens to destroy the shell completely if Triton doesn't leave. But does he think to exchange it for the ink he wanted in the first place?

     Back in the present, Emma breaks into Gold's cabin. Cruella has a gun to stop her surprise-attack in its tracks… but Snow White snuck through the back kitchen and knocks DeVille out with a frying pan.

     Emma frees August with magic and the two of them share a brief-but-tender moment of reunion. However, that ends when Ursula storms in to gloat about Hook's death. Before they can prepare to fight her, she grabs Snow in a choke-hold and they come to a stalemate.

     In the final flashback, we see that Ursula has returned home to Triton but is even more miserable than before. As the two of them argue, she finally reaches over and snatches up his trident before he can stop her! Unwilling to take his side, she decides to make herself even more powerful than him!

     She gives herself tentacles to resemble the ancient sea goddess (who, it turns out, she apparently is not [which explains why she didn't resemble the talking statue of Ursula that Regina countered waaay back when we were still learning Ariel's own tale of woe.])

     Back in the present, Emma warns Ursula that she doesn't need to kill to get her happy ending. Ursula insists that she needs the Author to get what she wants, but then Hook appears (very much alive) with a surprise announcement:

     The magic in the shell didn't work simply because the spell-caster had to be the one to revoke the spell: and so guess who shows up at the cabin but King Triton himself!

     Ariel brought him through a portal, and he came to apologize to his daughter. Her singing really was a piece of his wife that he had overlooked, and he requests to hear it one last time… and returns her voice to her. Redeemed at last, Ursula decides not to make her father leave Storybrooke alone: she's going to go with him and break up the trio of queens!

     Emma looks around and realizes with sudden horror that Cruella is gone! But does Ursula even stick around to help with that new development?

     As everyone leaves the cabin, Emma finds Hook still feeling guilty about his hand (no pun intended) in Ursula's original corruption and malice. She reminds him that he fixed everything, but he warns her that he was once a Villain, too. If Regina lost her happy ending, then he may as well. Emma's surprised; if he's afraid of losing his happy ending, that means he found it. Of course, he explains to her: she is his happy ending. He cries, she cries, they kiss, and it's beautiful.

     Meanwhile, Regina and Gold and Maleficent leave the Sorcerer's mansion after a fruitless search for the Door. Suddenly Cruella pulls up in a cowardly panic, causing Gold to give her a perfectly justified look that had me rolling on the floor.

     Cruella explains that the Charmings rescued August, thanks to a mole in their group. Regina tenses up…

     …but Cruella says that it was Ursula, who was trying to get her happy ending and has now skipped town on them! Without August to give more information, Gold orders Regina to steal the page with the Door from Henry as soon as possible.

     Out on the docks, Ursula says her farewell to Hook. But, in keeping with their bargain, she gives him the information on Gold's secret weapon: Emma. It's not the Author who gives happy endings: it's actually her, the 'savior,' and if Gold can corrupt her and fill her heart with darkness forever then the tables will finally turn. Because have any of the villains thought to just, you know, ask Emma for a happy ending?

     In the Charmings' apartment, Regina explains her dream to Emma. She says it's as if the evil queen in the dream was present not to fight over Robin, but to protect him from something — though it's not clear what.

     Since Emma used to track people down, Regina hesitantly asks for some way to call Robin and check on his family to make sure they're okay.

     Over on the couch, Henry calls them because August is waking up. He's uneasy at the sight of Regina, but they assure him that she was undercover the whole time and that she's only present so as to 'steal' the page from Henry because the Door wasn't in the Sorcerer's house. August explains that it was never in the Sorcerer's house: the page of the Door… is the door. The Author is trapped in his own Book!

     Tune in next week to finally find out the Truth!

     We're finally going to see what heinous act the Charmings performed in an attempt to protect their child's future, which caused Maleficent to lose her child! Yensid will be returning, too!

Current Questions:
A. As I mentioned last week, has Gold not realized that everyone's current problems are centered around him? All this time he could have restored August with the dagger and gone to find the Author alongside the heroes, but his lust for power caused him to try and cleave himself of the dagger's bondage instead and led to his exile.

B. I'm still wondering how the queens got to the modern world!! When is this show ever going to make sense in that regard!?

C. Maybe I missed this in the convoluted mess of flashbacks that is Once Upon A Time (it might not be a bad idea for someone to go back through and create a chronological timeline) but why is Roland only four years old or so? His parents were separated during the rule of the evil queen, during the same week that Snow and Charming met. So Roland could only have been born over nine months before Emma.

     He and his father did stay in the Enchanted Forest during the Curse, but time didn't stand still there; Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) woke up and found out she'd been asleep for about thirty years, and Anna and Kristoff were frozen in their own castle for the same amount of time. So the years passed normally. This isn't Narnia, where the two worlds run on different clocks, so how is Roland only four when he's technically older than Emma?

D. Who. Is. The. Father. Of. Maleficent's. Child. Will we find out next week, perhaps!?

Current Theories:
A. The Author is stuck within his own stories? Gee, that sounds an awful lot like Yensid/Mickey, who is still trapped in the sorcerer's hat!

     1. Unless the Author has somehow forgotten his own identity: then I could see either Henry, Baby Neil, or maybe even Emma (seeing as she does tend to dish out out happy endings) being his I guess it would be called a 'reincarnation'?

B. You know, with Frozen 2 announced and in the works, I can't help wondering how much it is going to affect (or be affected by) its use in Once Upon A Time.

     1. What if the movie touches on the backstory of Ingrid and her sisters? What if it's partially about the backstory of Ingrid and her sisters? Or the Spell of Shattered Sight that OUAT used from the original fairy tale?

     2. Or what if the movie leads to a new chapter in the Frozen chronicles in Once Upon A Time? (Is it ridiculous how much I want to see Hans involved in more plots? We really need more non-magical genius manipulative villains in this show!)

C. I get the feeling that if/when Belle and Will's relationship hits rough waters, there will be two scenarios: Will will either step up and grow into more of a gentleman to protect her from Rumpelstiltskin... or else he'll cave under all the pressure of being involved with one of the town's main Heroes (let's face it; Storybrooke Heroes lead pretty rocky lives). In that case, he'll bow out... which is basically polite language for, "he'll dump her."

It would be awful, yes, but it would just fit. (Will is still a slight scoundrel: let's be honest)

     1. The only other scenario I can imagine is Belle simply breaking it off because she's coming to her senses (after all, she's not only endangering Will by association: she's also trying to put a band-aid on a metaphorical bullet-wound in her heart and it's not a substantial fix. She's smart enough to figure that out… then again, I also thought she was smart enough to handle being single for a few months).

D. My sister, who got to join me for the viewing after we spent several months in separate locations, formed a profound theory of her own about the next episode. Maleficent's child may be guaranteed evil, so what if the Charmings kidnap and exchange her baby (perhaps with the Sorcerer?) in order to magically ensure that their child will be good?

     (Granted, this kind of negates their earlier spiel about doing only good to ensure the goodness of their child despite any risk but it's still an interesting idea.)

E. Also my sister's theory: what if the father of Maleficent's child… is Prince Phillip?

1 comment:

  1. I really love your recaps! I read them after I watch each episode! I just watched this one yesterday. I was so happy when Ursula got her singing voice back! It was my favorite part!