This week’s episode of Once Upon a Time sailed equally between the rough waters of Fairytale Land’s past and the slightly choppy seas of Storybrooke’s present. Although Emma, Snow and Regina were completely absent for the entire 47 minutes, viewers were rewarded with an in-depth look into Rumpelstiltskin’s past and were hooked on the mystery surrounding the most famous pirate in all the land. So batten down the hatches, grab your sword, and some hot guy-liner because we’re about to walk the plank into everything you missed in “The Crocodile.”
Fairytale Land Foes: It’s time for another pre-magic Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) flashback! Fun-fact: Did you know that Rumple was married? We are quickly introduced to Milah, a total guys-girl who is currently evading her motherly responsibilities with booze and does not seem to think too highly of Rumple. “Oh, it’s no one. Just my husband,” she sneers at her hubby to a bar filled with men. After coaxing his drunken wife to return home with him, Rumple learns that Milah wishes that her husband had died “like a man” in the ogre wars, instead of returning home to his family as a coward. Come on girl, that’s way harsh.
It turns out the men that Milah was flirting with are not the nicest fellas—they’re pirates and they’ve taken her captive as their ship wench. In an attempt to get her back, Rumple hobbles aboard the ship and comes face-to-face with the most famous pirate of all time Jack Sparrow Killian Jones (Colin O'Donoghue). Jones agrees to give up his plank-skank if Rumple can win her fair-and-square in a duel, but “the coward” refused to even pick up the sword. Jones taunts, “A man not wiling to fight for what he wants, deserves what he gets,” and Rumple is forced to return home to raise his son Bae without a mother.
Fast-forward and we see Rumple wheeling and dealing in a bar as “The Dark One” clearly enjoying the fear his magic causes in those around him. One smarmy man with a red knit cap approaches Rumple promising to give him a magical bean that has the power to jump between worlds in exchange for eternal youth. Rumple who is very keen on the idea of escaping to a different land, agrees to the deal, but just as he was about to leave the bar his old nemesis Captain Jones waltzes into the pub. Rumple purposely brushes by Jones in hopes of getting a rise out of the hotheaded pirate. It works. “Even gutter rats have more manners than you,” Jones jeers to the man who bumped into him, but once the sea traveler gets a closer look at Rumple’s scaly skin, he quickly changes his insult: “I was wrong, not a rat at all. More like...a crocodile!” Rumple then reveals his face and instantly Jones recognizes him as both The Dark One and the man whose wife he stole many many years ago. Whoops! But it turns out “She’s dead. Died a long time ago,” Jones regretfully admits after Rumple demands to know the fate of Miss Milah.
Rumple decides that it’s time that he and Jones finally have their duel, so the next morning at dawn The Dark One sets to battle the beyond-handsome pirate. Jones quickly realizes that he is nowhere skilled enough to defeat all that dark magic and bows down, awaiting the blow from the sword. “No!” Rumple snarls, “Do you know what it’s like to have your wife stolen from you? To feel powerless to stop it? It feels like having your heart ripped from your chest.” And just as Rumple is about to snatch the pirate’s heart, a woman emerges from the shadows screaming for him to stop. Holy crap, Milah is back from the dead!
Okay, not really. As it turns out Milah fell in love with Jones way-back-when that night in the bar and actually chose to leave with him so that she could live a life with an adventurous man. Milah (like a true pirate) says that she captured the man with the red hat and will trade the magic bean for their freedom. Unfortunately, The Dark One does not like it when he’s not in control and once Milah added insult to injury (“I never loved you!”) Rumple ripped out his wife’s heart and crushed it to dust. The magic-crazed man tells Jones, “I want you alive because I want you to suffer like I did,” and then quickly slices off the pirate's hand clutching the bean.
Apparently Jones is as clever as he is cute. The pirate tricked Rumple, and, with a small slight-of-hand, he managed to keep the bean. (Too bad it cost him a limb to be able to pull off this beginner’s magic trick.) We soon learn that the man with the red hat is named Smee and he agrees to join Jones’ pirate crew once he learns of their next destination—a place where no one ages: Neverland. Jones throws the bean into the ocean and as the ship prepares to travel into the swirling vortex to their new land, the captain decides that a large silver hook would look quite nice where his hand once was.
Fast-forward once again to present-day Fairytale Land and we see that Captain Hook has become quite chummy with Cora. The mother-of-all-evil shows the pirate her vile filled with magical ashes and says it’s the start they need to travel to a “curious” place known as Storybrooke. “Excellent.” Hook smiles darkly, “You’ll be able to see your daughter, and I can skin myself a crocodile.”
Storybrooke Secrets: The episode opens on a rather sweet note for our modern day beauty and the beast. Rumple is giving Belle (Emilie de Ravin) a gorgeous diamond-encrusted necklace in celebration for being together in an “honest” relationship. Belle coos, “Thank you for what you are doing and how you are changing.” But before the happy couple can have their night out on the (sleepy) town, Grumpy bursts into the shop all grumpy-like demanding his ax be returned to him and then calls Belle out on what we were all just thinking, “How can you be with such a monster?” Her boyfriend lunges at the dwarf and just as Belle yells at him to stop, Rumple’s appearance twists into his former “Dark One” look: complete with scales, glitter and a snarl. Turns out it was all just a bad dream, but when Belle goes off searching for her beloved in the middle of the night, she is shocked and confused to see Rumple up to his old magical ways spinning straw into gold. The next morning Belle confronts Rumple about his new midnight hobby, but he evades the truth and retells her that magic is power. Belle snaps back, “You don’t need power Rumple. You need courage to let me in.” Burn.
Down in the mines, the dwarves—only six of them this time—are swinging away in hopes of finding the much needed fairy dust. And just who is right next to them lending a helping hand? Charming (Josh Dallas) of course! We then get a much appreciated glance at Charming’s bulging biceps and perfectly chiseled chest and can all agree that Snow is definitely one lucky lady. Henry (Jared Gilmore) is in the mine too, but he’s just awkwardly standing there, eating a muffin and not helping at all. Rumple discovers that Belle is missing and even though she is completely fine and having some well-deserved girl bonding time with Red (Meghan Ory) at Grannies, he is still in a panic. He immediately heads over to confront Belle’s father, who coincidently has been desperately searching for his daughter since the curse was lifted. Upon reaching a dead-end with Belle’s befuddled papa, Rumple decides to beg Acting Sheriff Charming to help him find her. What Rumple doesn’t know is Belle’s dad has hired the smarmy man we know to be Smee to kidnap his own daughter for him.
After getting over the shock of being snatched off the street, Belle is delighted to see her father. She explains that ever since the curse had been lifted she was willingly staying with Rumple. “He wasn’t holding me captive, I chose to be with him.” Her father is not pleased with this news and demands that she stay away from “The Dark One.” Naturally being a grown woman, Belle does not appreciated being told what she can and cannot do and she turns to storm out. Unfortunately, the book-loving babe is then re-kidnapped when her father orders Smee to take her away darkly telling him, “Do it.”
Using Red’s newly re-discovered scent-tracking abilities (“I guess it’s because of the wolf thing.”) Charming and Rumple confront Belle’s father. They quickly realize that the man’s over-protectiveness has caused him to take drastic measures against his daughter. He tells Rumple with a super intense look in his eyes, “I have to make her forget about you no matter the cost. Even if it means she forgets me too.” The crazed father has ordered Smee to use the mine’s tunnels to push Belle past the Storybrooke boundaries, thus erasing all of her memories. Just as the mining cart was about to whirl towards the edge of town, Rumple used his recently perfected magic to pull her out of harm's way. Her memory is still intact but Belle is all kinds of pissed at the two men in her life, and she turns to her newfound friend Red for comfort and pancakes. While enjoying her breakfast, Belle receives very special gift—the key to the closed library.
As it turns out, Rumple pulled some (purse)strings and the building full of books is now Belle’s. He also takes an opportunity to tell his lady the truth as to why he brought magic back to Storybrooke: to find his son Bae. “After he left, I dedicated myself to finding him, I went down many many paths until I found a curse that could take me to the land where he’d escaped. Now I find myself in this little town.” Rumple says he is determined to break the new curse so that he may be able to leave Storybrooke and find Bae. Remember the random man from the very beginning of the season two premiere? Ding ding ding! I think we’ve found ourselves a winner!
What do you think of “The Crocodile”? Intrigued to see what happens with Rumple and his long-lost son? Bummed that we didn’t see Emma and Snow? Cast your spell in the comments below!
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[Photo Credit: ABC]