I'm cryinnnngggg! Okay, maybe not at this moment. But when I was watching this episode, I actually got a bit choked up. That's pretty rare, I'm a tough costumer when it comes to this sort of thing. But Hook... baby... ahhh! Let's just talk about what happens.
We finally get to learn part of what happened in the missing year! Hook, who is not part of the curse and thus remembers everything, is forced to confront part of what went down. Apparently, he reconnected with Smee and some of his other men. They don't have the Jolly Roger anymore, but Hook and his men are able to keep up their pirating ways on land. One night, at a tavern, the guys try to buy Hook a prostitute. Hook pays the girl but lets her go. Clearly, his heart still pines for another. At this point, a very angry Ariel appears, accusing Hook of kidnapping Prince Eric.
Hook has done no such thing, of course, but he quickly learns from Ariel that the Jolly Roger is involved - whoever is currently crewing that ship, they're the people who took Eric. Hook realizes, based on the dagger that Ariel has, that the man is Blackbeard himself. Hook and his men, with Ariel tagging along, decide to go get the Jolly Roger back. Everyone is very afraid of Blackbeard, but Hook insists that getting his ship back is the only way to get him back to the way he was before. When they arrive at the ship, Hook and Blackbeard fight. Hook initially wins, but Ariel stops Hook from killing him right away: they need him alive to tell them where Eric is! Blackbeard refuses to talk. He says that if Hook surrenders the Jolly Roger, then Blackbeard will tell them where Eric is. Hook makes the wrong choice - he sends Blackbeard off the plank, thus leaving Ariel with no way to find her prince.
In Storybrooke, Emma decides that she needs to learn to control her magic. If Regina can help her, then the two of them together might be able to defeat Zelena. When David and Mary Margaret offer to watch Henry while Emma and Regina get to work, Emma apologetically admits that Henry finds them... boring. Instead, Emma asks Hook to watch Henry again.
We see an interesting conversation between Hook and Smee, wherein Smee wonders why they aren't getting back to their pirating ways, and Hook tells him that he has his reasons for staying. Cue... Emma arriving to talk to him about watching Henry. Hook is happy that Emma is embracing her magic, but Emma insists it's only a means to an end. Once Zelena is taken care of, she's taking Henry back to their life in New York.
While working with Regina, Emma displays incredible power, and Regina is angry that Emma has been wasting all this potential for so long. Mary Margaret and David, annoyed at being considered "uncool" by Henry, decide to do something fun. They let Henry drive, with somewhat chaotic but ultimately harmless results. Henry has a great time with his grandparents, even if he doesn't know that's who they are.
Meanwhile, Ariel washes up on the beach in Storybrooke, looking for Eric. She goes to ask Hook for help, because she figures he might remember something. Ariel, of course, does not remember anything because of Zelena's curse. Hook pretends he doesn't know anything about Eric. In Gold's shop, Belle helps them find a cloak that belonged to Eric and put a locator spell on it. It should then return to its owner. However, the cloak simply floats to the water and goes underneath, thus signifying that Eric must be dead. Ariel is distraught, but she thanks Hook for his kindness in helping her out. Hook's conscience finally gets the better of him, and he tells Ariel the truth about what happened. Ariel asks him to swear on the woman he loves that he's truly remorseful. Hook does so, on Emma's name.
And then... we find out that Ariel has been Zelena all along! She places a curse on Hook, so that the next time he kisses Emma, it will take all of her powers away. Hook insists that he won't kiss her, but Zelena says that she'll make him - see, it turns out that Zelena can't hurt Emma while she has her powers, for some reason... but she can still hurt all the people Emma loves, including Henry. Hook goes to Mary Margaret and David's apartment, in time to watch Emma use her magic to check up on Ariel and Eric. Turns out, as Zelena tells Hook, that Ariel really did find him, and they've been living happily together ever since. As everyone goes out to eat at the diner, Emma asks Hook to come along, but he sadly declines. Emma and Hook discuss the fact that they're tired of living in the past, and they must look forward.
Yikes. This show always takes me a long time to recap, because everything that happens is so freakin' important. Honestly, was there anything I didn't like about this one?
Okay, well, I'm not thrilled about the dorky grandparents Mary Margaret and David. It got a little silly when they were basically trying to compete with Hook over who could be more fun with Henry. Also, is Henry seriously not getting weirded out by all of this? If I were him, I'd be insisting to go home and get back to my regular life!
This is more of a nitpick... does it seem like Zelena's plan is just getting more and more convoluted? Cursing Hook's lips seems like a strange thing to do. After all, it's not like Hook and Emma have been making out all over the place. Hook would have to make a special effort to get close enough to Emma to kiss her again, and now that he knows what would happen, obviously he's not going to! At the same time, of course, he's worried about Zelena hurting Henry and the others. But here's the rub... if Emma has her powers, she can defeat Zelena, and then Emma's family won't be in danger anymore. I somehow think Zelena's plan has a few flaws...
But let's not waste our time on the few problems I had. Mostly, this episode was just... heartbreaking. In a good way. First of all, I love the fact that Emma is learning magic from Regina. The scene with the two of them on the bridge was fantastic. Regina looked a little panicked for a moment that she had accidentally killed Emma, which was actually sort of funny.
Hook, in the Enchanted Forest, trying to be a pirate without a ship... the whole routine with the fake army reminded me of something Robin Hood would have done. I'd sort of like to see those two interact. After all, they're both thieves! It surprised me when Hook's men bought him a bar maid... that was bit blatant, wasn't it? This show is supposed to be family friendly, theoretically. But I still thought it was an interesting look at Hook's character. He's willing to steal, but he's not willing to have mindless sex. Emma is still in his head, in a big way.
The best part of the episode was Hook's confession to "Ariel" at the end. He was so tearful, so sincere... I started suspecting Ariel the minute she said that he had to swear by the woman he loved. It was a really odd request, and I knew something was fishy. (Haha. Fishy. Mermaid. I'm hilarious.) But Hook's face as he says he still believes in love... that he still loves Emma... ouch. What I love most about this whole thing is that they're doing a very good job of avoiding the "friend zone" trope. We're not supposed to be mad at Emma for not wanting to be with Hook. It's her decision. Hook respects that and we, as the viewers, respect it too. At the same time, we know that Hook is hurting. He's pining, and we feel his pain right along with him.
With Zelena's convoluted plan getting farther and farther along, I'm excited and nervous to see what our beloved characters will have to put up with next time!