'Once Upon a Time' Recap: The Jolly Roger

The episode opens with an Enchanted Forest highway robbery by none other than Hook, Smee, and two others. Hook quips, “You don’t have to have a ship to be a pirate!” Afterwards, they head to the local tavern to celebrate. There, Smee tells Hook that he and the “boys” chipped in to get him something. Simultaneously, around the corner pops a tart. Hook puts on a showy departure with the wench, but as soon as they are outside he pays her double to leave and just say they had a good time. As he walks away, SMACK! He’s hit in the back of the head and is held down with a blade to his throat by Ariel, who exclaims that he will “pay” for what he’s done.

In the Charming’s apartment, Charming, Emma, and Snow are arguing about what their focus should be, the new baby or Zelena’s next move. As the argument climaxes, Charming declares, “We will not lose another baby!” In walks Regina with the comment, “And thanks to me, you won’t.” She put a protection spell around the apartment that is not based on blood magic, which is good since Zelena has the same blood as Regina.

Emma, frustrated as always, decides that instead of waiting for Zelena to come fight, they should take the fight to her. She convinces Regina to teach her how to control and use her magic. If they team up, then maybe they can defeat Zelena together. Snow and Charming offer to watch Henry, only to find out that Henry doesn’t think they’re fun! Charming asks, “Well, if we’re not fun, then who is?”

Cutting to the harbor, we hear Smee hailing “Captain Hook,” forming the obvious answer to Charming’s question. Smee finds Hook and attempts to convince him to leave Storybrooke, but Hook isn’t budging. Smee finally asks him, with the wicked witch and her monkeys flying around, what could possibly make him want to stay. As Emma and Henry approach, Smee departs. Emma steps aside to speak with Hook privately. She asks him to watch Henry so she can learn magic from Regina. Hook is unsurprisingly flirtatious, but gives his approval of Emma accepting that part of herself. Emma has an ulterior motive. She wants to get rid of Zelena so she can return to New York, to the life that she keeps referring to as “really good.”

Whilst Emma and Hook are conversing, Snow and Charming are walking along the beach sulking about not being fun. They hear some commotion only to find that Ariel has washed up onto the shore. Like everyone else in Storybrooke, she doesn’t remember the last year. All she knows is her Prince Eric is missing and she’s trying to find him.

Outside the tavern in the Enchanted Forest, Ariel accuses Hook of kidnapping Prince Eric. Hook manages to pull a switcheroo so that it is he who is holding Ariel by knife point. Through their banter, they figure out that Hook is not the pirate who kidnapped Prince Eric, and Ariel’s dagger was stolen from the Jolly Roger. Upon a closer look, Hook sees the initials B.B. engraved on the handle of the dagger. Hook runs off laughing maniacally. He finds Smee and tells him that they are going after Black Beard to get the Jolly Roger back! Ariel shows up and announces she’s going with them.

In present day Storybrooke, Hook and Henry are hanging out at Granny’s when Snow, Charming, and Ariel (who just washed up on shore), come to ask Hook if he remembers anything about Eric from the “missing” year. Hook’s a pretty good liar; he denies having ever heard of Prince Eric. Snow has a revelation. Their things were brought to Storybrooke with them. If they can find something of Prince Eric’s, then they can find him by using a location spell on it. Snow and Charming send Hook off with Ariel to look for something that belongs to Eric, which they find in Mr. Gold’s shop. They use the location spell and follow it as it flies through the air to find its owner. It ends up landing in the ocean by the docks, and sinking. This seems to indicate that he is dead.

Meanwhile, Snow and Charming are determined to prove to Henry that they are fun, and Charming takes it a step too far when he decides to teach Henry how to drive. Fortunately, the only thing hurt was a mailbox.

Emma and Regina are in Regina’s vault, where Regina decides to begin Emma’s training with a book of incantations. Emma takes one look at the book and blurts out, “What is this, Spanish...?” Regina’s reply is just as campy, “We’re not making tapas. We’re making magic.” I think there’s a “duh” implied there somewhere. When Emma declares that she can’t learn from a book like that, Regina whooshes them to a rickety rope bridge spanning a ravine. As Emma is trying to keep her balance in the middle of the bridge, Regina is standing on the cliff’s edge explaining that every time Emma’s used her powers it has been driven by instinct. Regina begins to tear the bridge apart one plank at a time. “You can either stop it (the bridge collapsing), or die,” Regina states. The ropes snap and Emma falls into the ravine. Regina is completely distraught as she hears the sound of crushing timber. She walks to the precipice only to see Emma rising up on the planks of the bridge that somehow came back together.

In a flashback to the previous year, Hook boards the Jolly Roger and faces off with Black Beard in a duel complete with rope swinging, and sail dropping acrobatics. Hook finally traps Black Beard and is about to kill him when Ariel rushes up to inform Hook that Prince Eric is not on board and that they need to get Black Beard to tell them where he is. This makes Black Beard want to prove that Hook is no longer a pirate by giving him a choice. He can give up the Jolly Roger and Black Beard will tell him where Prince Eric is, or he can reclaim his ship by killing him, thus sentencing Prince Eric to death as well. With a brief interruption of current events, the audience is left wondering how Hook is going to deal with Black Beard. Come to find out, he chooses his ship over helping Ariel and has Black Beard walk the plank. Ariel gives Hook a piece of her mind and then jumps in the water, turns into a mermaid and swims away to look for Eric on her own.

We next see her walking along the docks of Storybrooke by night. Captain Hook comes racing up a ramp behind her calling for her to wait. He confesses that he’s not been truthful, and tells her about the events of the past year. She is so angry she gets him to swear his apology on the woman he loves. As soon as he says “Emma Swan,” she opens her palm and blows green dust into his mouth, then turns into Zelena. Zelena admits that Ariel was never really there, it was her all along. She needed him to say the name of the person he loved in a selfish attempt at redemption, for her to be able to curse Hook’s kiss. Next time he kisses Emma, she will lose all her magic. Hook lets Zelena know that he won’t kiss Emma, he’ll tell her instead so that she can defeat Zelena. Zelena threatens to have the dark one kill her before Hook has a chance to tell her about his cursed lips. He doesn’t believe her, because if she wanted to kill Emma, she would have done it already. Zelena lets him know that he’s out of his “depth,” and presents him with another difficult choice: kiss Emma to remove her powers, or everyone she loves dies.

In the end, Hook goes to find Emma, but is interrupted by the homecoming of Henry and the Charmings. We find out the real Ariel is living happily with her prince, and everyone decides to go to Granny’s to celebrate. All but Hook, that is. He strolls down the street to a corner, stops, pulls out his telescope, and watches Emma from afar.

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