I liked this one for the most part, though I do have a couple of plot quibbles.
The Milah/Rumple/Hook flashbacks were great; they gave Rumple an interesting dilemma in the present and connected a few dots in the past, namely how Milah ended up with Captain Hook.
I’ve never felt passionately about Milah’s character one way or another, but this episode did a lot to flesh her out and make me understand her actions. Though I still don’t think she should have abandoned Baelfire for Killian, I did appreciate that she turned him down first (no easy task, with his promise of showing her the world and, let’s be honest, gorgeous face). I also understood what eventually led her back to the pub, with Rumple not only promising the healer their next child, but also acting like it wasn’t a big deal.
That also tied in nicely to the present-day scenes, with Rumple assuring Milah that Bae would forgive her (Neal really got the short end of the stick when it comes to parents). Rumple telling her about Emma’s romantic history was hilarious, but I absolutely loved that it wasn’t a sticking point between the two women. The two of them so quickly forming an alliance against Rumple was wonderful (if sadly short-lived), and it was really sweet that Emma knew that sharing her meeting with Neal would bring Milah so much comfort.
Of course, even their alliance wasn’t enough to stop Rumple from being Rumple, and it speaks to the strength of Robert Carlyle’s performance that I’m somehow still surprised when Rumple does the unspeakable, even though I know he’s irredeemable at this point. It was exceedingly cruel of him to send Milah to the river of lost souls, especially knowing how much she longed to see their son and ask for his forgiveness. That was my biggest issue with the episode, not that Rumple did that, but that he gave into Hades so quickly. I simply didn’t buy that he would be naive enough to trust that Hades would send him back to Storybrooke if he destroyed the boat. I get that he was desperate to get back to Belle, but I don’t know if it was enough for him to put his trust in such a questionable man.
The big reason he wants to get back was a cool twist, though it probably wasn’t quite as good for anyone who follows the cast’s personal lives I had a feeling that the deal Rumple made with the healer would come back to bite him (and how ironic was his declaration that he “didn’t know much about deals”?), but I was surprised that Hades took control of it. As much as Rumple didn’t want the healer to have his child, I imagine he doesn’t want Hades to have him even more. There’s a lot of potential in him working for Hades, especially with whether the others will be understanding or just livid that he allowed himself to be blackmailed.
Elsewhere, Emma and Hook had a perfect, perfect reunion, one that didn’t feel as climatic as I thought it would, but that I actually ended up preferring as more understated. I liked that it was just the two of them, and their back and forth was sweet, banter-y, and romantic, just what I’d expect from them. Hook telling her that she shouldn’t have come but being so pleased to see her, as well as Emma’s big smile when she told him that he loved her because she was impossible were especially good moments. One of my other qualms with the episode is that Hook’s escape felt way too easy, but the more I thought about it, the more I figured that Hades wanted Hook to escape for some reason, a reason that will probably become clearer in next week’s episode. I also predicted that Emma splitting her heart with Hook wouldn’t be as easy as she thought it would be, but it was interesting that she couldn’t because Hades had engraved her name on a stone. I also get why he picked Regina (as he said, she’s not as good at sending souls down under as she used to be, and they’ll have a hard time getting home without her magic), but Snow seems like a random choice. What’s Hades got against the ladies, anyway?
Regina also looked for Daniel’s grave, using an oddly helpful Cruella to explain the cemetery’s gravestone system. I liked this beat because it would be strange for her not to look for his grave, it gave her a bit of closure in that relationship, and it led to a sweet moment with Snow that dovetailed nicely from their scene in last week’s episode. Establishing the rules in the cemetery was also a setup of sorts; I could definitely see other characters checking on loved ones in the coming weeks.
I’m a little nervous after seeing the promo with Liam. I find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t love Emma (how could he not?), so I’m curious to see if he truly feels that way or if someone else is affecting him (cough, Rumple, cough).
What are your thoughts on this episode? Agree with any of my plot issues? Hit up the comments and let me know!