Snow, Emma and Regina do not appear in this week's episode, "The Crocodile," but fear not dearies -- there is still plenty o' pretty. Colin O'Donoghue plays Killian Jones who will, as the title teases, become Captain Hook. And guess who his reptilian nemesis is? I can't decide if I love the fact that Rumpy is the Dark One, Belle's beast and now Hook's crocodile, or if this is going to get old quick. Wait… maybe it's both. It is fun that he's the antagonist in so many backstories, but I hope the show doesn't overuse this device. I guess I shouldn't borrow trouble on this front. To date, the writers and Robert Carlyle have crafted a character that manages to attract, even as he repels.
O'Donoghue is careful not to ape either Johnny's Depp's Jack Sparrow or the Disney version of Captain Hook, but he still brings plenty of sexy swagger to his swashbuckling. Written by David H. Goodman and Robert Hull, my first impression is that the "The Crocodile" might not be up to Once Upon A Time's usual standards where dialogue and emotional resonance are concerned. To be fair, it starts out handicapped on the latter, because Snow and Emma are absent (and Henry is only in one scene), so I'll have to think more on that when writing the full recap. Not every episode can or should be a tearjerker and we were certainly blessed with an overabundance of pain in last week's outing.
While "The Crocodile" doesn't pluck my heartstrings the way so many episodes have, it is a fun, if campy outing -- and one that hits the characterization bullseye. Up until now, Belle hasn't been much more than a cipher who paled beside Disney's smart, resourceful heroine. Thanks to Hull and Goodman, Belle has finally become a character who just might matter in her own right. Similarly, "The Crocodile" further enriches Rumpy's already overflowing treasure chest in both the Enchanted Past and the Storybrooke present. The only character who doesn't work that well for me is his wife, Milah, whose reasons for abandoning her own son never materialize into something resembling understandable. If we ever see her again, I hope that changes and that we get some insight into why she married Rumpy, if indeed -- as she claims -- she never loved him.
Enchanted Past. Long ago and far away, before Rumpy becomes the Dark One, he is simply the Coward of the County, which bothers no one more than his wife, Milah (Rachel Shelley). She can't bear to be in the same shack with him and her wanderlust makes matters worse, so she spends her time at the local pub, carousing with pirates and only coming home when Rumpy brings a young Baelfire (Sebastian Wilkinson) with him, to retrieve her. Eventually Rumpy gets word from a neighbor that Milah has been captured by the pirates who are about to set sail. Rumpy musters the intestinal fortitude to hobble down to the harbor and confront Captain Jones, but when Jones challenges the cuckold to a duel, our poor sad sack is fortitude-free.
A few years later, after Bae uses a magic bean to leave for a world without magic, Rumpy meets with William Smee (played by Eureka's Chris Gauthier) who promises to procure a magic bean in exchange for eternal life. Now the mostly eternal Dark One, Rumpy scoffs at the idea of anyone else having eternal life, but says he can return the man to his childhood. If, however, Smee fails to procure the bean, Rumpy will fast-forward his life until he is but dust.
Captain Jones returns to port and recognizes Rumpy in his Dark One visage. No longer afraid for his physical form, Rumpy and Jones make a date to duel at dawn, but with magic on the imp's side the sexy sailor is easily outmatched. Rather than slay Jones with his own sword though, Rumpy thrusts his hand in the pirate's chest and squeezes his heart. Milah appears and tries to reason with Rumpy. She was in love with Jones and didn't know how to admit the truth. She knows her ex is looking for a magic bean and will give it to him, provided he leaves her and Jones alone.
Rumpy has other ideas. Once aboard Jones' ship, he pulls out Milah's heart (which must be where Cora learned the trick) and crumbles it to dust. Since Jones was holding the bean at the time, Rumpy cuts off the captain's hand and takes it -- giving us the true Hollywood story of how Hook got his hook. When Rumpy returns home, he opens the still clenched fingers of the severed hand only to find it empty. Back on ship, Smee signs on with Jones' crew, and Jones tosses the bean into the sea. A whirlpool portal forms in the water and Hook and his men set sail for Neverland.
In present-day Storybrooke, Belle spies Rumpy practicing magic. When she asks him why, he does not have the courage to come clean with her, so Belle takes off for Granny's diner where she drowns her sorrows in iced tea and talks to Red, who suggests that Belle rent a room in their home and see about getting a job in the still closed library.
Belle is soon kidnapped by Smee, who brings her back to her father, Moe (Eric Keenleyside). While she is delighted to see her dad again, Belle is no more inclined to let him control her than she is to deal with Rumpy's deception. Afraid she will return to Rumpy, Moe gives Smee the go-ahead to take Belle to the town line and wipe her memory. While it will pain him to lose his connection to his daughter, at least she will be free of Rumpy. I don't have time to rant about Moe's control issues, but trust me, I'm steaming.
Belle is rescued by Red (and her lupine ability to track a scent), Charming and Rumpy, who find her handcuffed to a cart in the mines headed toward the border. While she's grateful for the rescue, she tells both Rumpy and her father that she never wants to see either of them ever again. Good choice, Belle.
Later, at Granny's, Red gives Belle a gift box that was left for her. Inside is a key to the library. Belle finds Rumpy waiting for her there. He comes clean with her about losing Bae, creating the Dark Curse in order to travel to his son and explains that he brought magic to town, because he is still, at heart, a coward who needs that crutch. He seems to imply that the town-limits amnesia is likely a consequence of bringing magic to this world, so he's hoisted on his own petard. If he leaves town to find Bae, he will lose all memory of the son he so desperately seeks. Touched by his honesty, Belle, who is infatuated with modern American fare, proposes they get together for a hamburger sometime.
Back home, Rumpy has Smee tied up in his cellar. He found the sailor's trademark red hat when he rescued Belle from the mines. He wants to know where Hook is. Smee says that it seems the curse did not bring everyone to Storybrooke. I wonder how Smee got separated from Captain Hook.
Enchanted Present. Hook meets Cora on the beach that leads to Neverland. She shows him the ashes from the enchanted wardrobe and says they're that much closer to finding a way to Regina and Rumpy and I don't think the reunion they're planning is all that festive. Dun dun dun!
I'll be back with the whole story, in the full recap. In the meantime, please grade the episode at the top of the page and then come on over to the forum, where we're eagerly polishing our swords and buckling our swash.
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Storybrooke. We open in Gold's shop, where Rumpy presents Belle with a serious diamond necklace. As he places it around her neck, she asks what the occasion is. Rumpy says they are the occasion. They haven't gotten out much since Storybrooke awoke, and he wants them to see the town, together. Belle wraps her arms around him, kisses him and thanks him. Rumpy cracks that she shouldn't get her hopes up. Storybrooke nightlife is pretty limited. You think? It seems like the only places in town are Granny's and The Rabbit Hole -- that club Ruby, Mary and Ashley were at last Valentine's Day. Hey, what do you want? It's Maine. There are more trees there than people. Anyone who's ever driven I-95 to Canada will back me up here.
The tender mood is broken when Grumpy storms into the shop, and this is my worst nightmare. Okay, that's a ridiculous exaggeration (I'd never tell you all my worst nightmare), but I do dread having Grumpy and Rumpy in the same scene. It took me forever to add Rumpy to my spell check (because I was afraid I might not notice if I called Grumpy Rumpy by mistake), and now I wish I hadn't. I only call Robert Carlyle's character Rumpy, because Rumpelstiltskin is too long and easy to misspell, as the show itself can testify (witness his Dark One dagger, upon which Rumplestiltskin is engraved). A lot of people call him Rumple, but I don't like to because it reminds me of the misspelling, yet Rumpel doesn't feel right, because it overlooks the show's misspelling. It's a conundrum, is what. Can we flashback a year or so, and let me again? No. Oh, right. We're out of fairy dust. Speaking of which...
Grumpy barges in and demands that Rumpy return his axe. Rumpy pours on the fake charm and says, "I'm sorry, but we're closed." When Grumpy protests, Rumpy says they're "still closed." Grumpy: "Just because you possess something don't (sic) mean it's yours. Nothing in this shop belongs to you." Grumpy then turns toward Belle whom, you'll recall, he met long ago and far away. "And you. How can you be with such a monster? Or maybe you're just another possession, too." Rumpy freaks, pushes Grumpy across the shop and tells him he can have his axe -- buried in his chest. Belle cries out for him to stop, but instead, Rumpy throttles Grumpy. As our beloved Dwarf chokes, Belle says, "This isn't you, anymore." Rumpy turns to her. His skin is now flecked with Gold, his voice a fey chirrup. "Oh, it's me, dearie. Always has been. Always will be." Belle gasps and...