Column: Dark Matter: Review: Once Upon A Time 2.22: And Straight On ’til Morning

 

[spoilers ahead]

Written by: Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz

Recap: Neverland of the Past: Hook is looking at a drawing of Mila, mourning her loss, when Smee comes over and tries to comfort him by telling his boss that Hook will eventually avenge her. Hook changes the subject by asking about the boy they saved – Baelfire. Smee tells him that Baelfire will be fine, but that he’s worried that “he” will be looking for him. If he is, then he will be coming after them and he knows Neverland much better than they do. But Hook thinks that they can use Baelfire. He goes to see the boy.

Baelfire is unhappy at being captured by a pirate and not very cooperative with Hook. But when he resentfully says that a pirate killed his mother and tore away his family, that his dad abandoned him for being a coward, Hook starts to realize who he is. He demands Bae tell him what his name is and Bae eventually does. Both Hook and Smee recognize Bae as being Mila’s son Hook changes towards the boy, handing him another blanket and telling him that the pirate’s life is now for him.

Storybrooke: Henry is at the park, swinging, with a crossbow-carrying Granny watching over him. From a distance, Gold watches him. As he does, he starts to make the rope holding Henry unravel, putting him over a dangerously pointed rock if he should fall. Before the rope can unravel all of the way, David, Snow and Emma arrive. Emma goes off to tell Henry about Neal “dying” while David and Snow break the news to Gold. A devastated Gold blames himself. When David and Snow tell him about the trigger to blow up the town, Gold doesn’t care. He believes this is the price for the magic, the death of his son that he caused by bringing in magic, and he’s prepared to pay for it all with his life. He refuses to help and walks away.

Tamara, Greg and Hook are in the mines, with Tamara and Greg explaining to Hook about the trigger and the gem. Their plans are to destroy Storybrooke, reverting everything back to the way it was before the curse entered the world. Hook is a little taken aback by their fanaticism and their plans to destroy everyone, but, when Greg tells him that they are prepared to die for their cause and asks if he is, Hook says he is. Greg uses a pickaxe and sets off the gem. In town, vines attack the clocktower, while the black smoke of magic starts to rise.

David, Emma and Snow bring Henry back to the apartment where Regina is, and he has a semi-happy reunion with his adopted mom. But when the town shakes, they realize that the trigger has been activated. When Henry says that they are all going to die, Regina tells him that he was born in this world, so he will be okay. But that means he will lose all of his family, leaving him alone. Emma is determined to stop it, but Regina says there is nothing they can do. All she can do is delay it. Hook arrives, offering his services, but David punches him in the face. Emma points out that Regina told them that he was working with Tamara and Greg. He admits it was true, but he decided his revenge isn’t worth his life.

David comes up with a plan to find Tamara and Greg, get back the beans, and take everyone back to the Enchanted Forest before the town explodes. He and Hook head off after Tamara and Greg, while Snow and Henry go to round up the townspeople, and Emma and Regina go to slow down the bomb. Before they separate, Regina tells Henry she loves him and that she promises that she won’t let him be alone. Hook remarks, “The things we do for our children,” before they all leave.

Neverland of the Past: The Lost Boys approach Hook’s ship. Before they arrive, Smee urges Hook to turn Bae over to them, worried that it will cost them their lives. But Hook is determined to use Bae to get his revenge against Rump. When the Lost Boys arrive, Hook lies that he has no boy on his ship, just men, and agrees to let them search the vessel.

While the boys are looking through Hook’s cabin, the lead Lost Boy tells Hook that going against “him” is never a good idea. That “he” will rip his shadow from Hook’s body. The boys miss Bae, who is hiding in the ceiling of the holding underneath Hook’s cabin, and take off, but not before warning Hook that Baelfire belongs to them. When Hook checks on Bae, Bae is smiling and tells him that he thought that pirates only cared about themselves. He believes Hook helped him out of the goodness of his heart. Hook tells him that he has a lot to learn about pirates.

Storybrooke: Gold returns to his shop to find the Dwarves rooting around, looking for Sneezy’s stein. Grumpy explains to Gold that because of August’s return to Pinocchio, the Blue Fairy was finally able to come up with a potion to cure the memory loss. They plan on giving it to Sneezy, who still thinks that he is his cursed self, Clark, so that he can return to himself and spend time with his family before they all die. Gold lets them go, though doubtful about their plans. Before the Dwarves leave, Grumpy hands him another vial of potion. He tells him it’s for Belle. She once helped remind him of who he was and he’s just returning the favor. He urges Gold to use it for her, telling him that she deserves to die as herself, not as Lacey.

Neverland of the Past: Hook and Baelfire do a bit of bonding, as Hook teaches Bae how to steer the ship. Hook asks about Bae’s father, but Bae tells him that it’s a long story. Hook commiserates with him, telling Bae about how his father abandoned him when he was a boy. Bae starts to trust Hook and admits to him that his dad became the Dark One. He tells Hook how Rump was drafted into the Ogre War, so, to protect him, his father went searching for the Dark One and got his dagger, taking on the Dark One’s power and saving Bae from the War. But he became obsessed with the power and abandoned his son. Hook keys in on the dagger part of the story and Bae admits that it’s the only thing that can kill Rump. He tells Hook that his dad abandoned him, too. Bae, obviously starting to trust Hook, smiles and goes back to steering the ship, while Hook looks stunned that he now knows how to kill his enemy. And maybe a bit stricken by Bae’s story, as well.

ep222_pic1-w622-h350

Storybrooke: Hook and David have tracked down Tamara and Greg to the docks. While heading for the duo, David asks Hook what changed his mind. Why he is now helping? David is fighting for his family. What is Hook fighting for? Hook tells him that he is fighting for himself.

The two men confront Greg and David demands the beans, but Tamara comes up behind them and shoots at David. While Hook and Greg struggle over the beans, David chases down Tamara. Just as David has captured Tamara, Greg comes up behind him and attacks him. The duo almost get David. When Hook arrives, Tamara and Greg take off. David wants to go after them, but Hook shows David that he has a bean and one bean is enough.

Regina and Emma find the diamond trigger in the mines. It’s getting larger. Regina says that she can contain it, but it will take all of her strength. Emma realizes that Regina plans on sacrificing herself to delay the explosion. Regina admits that Emma was right. This is all her fault. She created this, so it’s only fitting that it takes her life. When Emma protests, citing Henry, Regina tells her that everyone believes she’s the Evil Queen, including Henry. She wants to die just as Regina. She asks Emma to tell Henry that it wasn’t too late for that Regina. Regina starts to use her power to try and contain the bomb.

In town, the forest is attacking buildings, taking over everything. At Gold’s shop, Gold is having a drink with Lacey when Lacey spills her drink and starts to use Bae’s scarf to clean it up. Gold protests and stops her. He pulls out Belle’s teacup and puts it back together via magic, telling Lacey that it was something from their past. He pours the potion in the teacup and some in a cup for himself. Then they toast. But while Lacey takes a drink, Gold does not. After a moment, the spell takes hold. Belle is herself and has a tearful reunion kiss with Gold. He cries, apologizing to her for waking her up just to die, but he needs her. She tells him she’s sorry for Bae’s death and hugs him, letting him cry about Bae’s loss.

Everyone else is at Granny’s when David and Hook come in with the bean. They are about to head off when Henry asks about Regina. Emma admits that holding off the explosion will kill Regina, but that she wants Henry safe and Emma promised her. But Henry protests leaving her behind, saying that they never leave family behind. They saved Regina from the wraith before, so they should be able to save her again.

Snow theorizes about sending the trigger through the portal, instead of the people. Emma wonders if everyone will go along with it, but Archie says that they will. They have always followed David and Snow. They will now, too. Emma isn’t so sure and takes some convincing. Snow brings up having killed Cora, saying that she regrets it. It was the “easy” path to take and she wishes she had taken the “hard” path, instead. She wants Emma to take the hard path now, telling her that if they don’t do this, they will be building a future on Regina’s blood.

Emma agrees, but Hook takes a bit of convincing. Emma urges him to choose to do this with them, or he can go it alone like always. Hook hands over the pouch with the bean, but, when everyone rushes out, Hook asks Emma why she is really doing this. She tells him that Henry just lost his father. She doesn’t want him to lose Regina, too. Hook asks who Henry’s father was. She tells him it was Neal. Hook looks shocked and asks, “Baelfire?” Emma confirms it then leaves a stunned Hook behind.

Neverland of the Past: Hook is still thinking about everything with Baelfire when Smee comes up and goes on about how they need to turn Bae over to the Lost Boys or the Lost Boys will come and take Bae and kill Hook. But Hook seems determined to keep Bae. He yells that he is the Captain and anyone who has any problems with it can walk the plank. However, Bae, having found the drawing of his mother and attacks Hook with a sword, screaming at him that Hook killed his mom. Hook disarms him and tells him that he and Mila fell in love, that they ran off together. He didn’t kill her, Rump did. He tells Bae how Rump tore out Mila’s heart and crushed it in front of him. He’s spent every moment since then wanting revenge.

A shocked Bae realizes that his mother abandoned him, but Hook tells him that there wasn’t a day that she didn’t think of him. They talked about coming back for Bae when he was old enough, but that never happened. He points out that maybe this is fate, bringing them together to carry out Mila’s wishes and live together as a family, but Bae will have none of it. He screams at Hook that it’s his fault. Hook ripped apart Bae’s family as surely as if he ripped out Mila’s heart himself. Crying, he demands that Hook take him back to his real family, the Darlings back in London. But Hook tells him that he can’t. It’s not possible to leave Neverland. But he can stay with Hook, under his protection, Hook offers. Bae tells him that he would rather fend for himself. He wants off the ship. He walks away.

Storybrooke: Emma, David Henry and Snow go to the mines, where Regina is shocked to see them. Henry bleats about her being a hero, so now they are going to be heroes. They explain that they are going to send the trigger through a portal. Regina worries that it won’t work, but Snow says they are going to try. However, when Emma goes to open the pouch that has the bean, she finds it empty. Hook took the bean before he handed the pouch over and he has it as he is sailing the Jolly Roger out of town.

Neverland of the Past: It’s nighttime. Hook appears to be trying once more with Baelfire, offering the ship as Bae’s new home and the crew as Bae’s new family. But Bae just wants to be dropped off somewhere so that he can go out on his own. Hook tells him that he can change, for Baelfire. Bae says Hook will never change because all he cares about is himself.

Hook changes moods. He thanks Bae for reminding him of who he is and that what he wants most is his revenge on Rump. As he is speaking, the Lost Boys board the ship and grab Baelfire. Bae yells at Hook that Hook has never realized something. As much as he hates Rump, he is just like him. Hook asks the lead Lost Boy that now that “he” has Bae, will “he” be pleased? The Lost Boy ignores him. As the boys leave, Hook takes one last look at Baelfire, before he has the hood placed over his head. Hook turns away and scratches out the directions he had carved near the steering wheel, to help Baelfire when he was teaching him how to steer the ship.

ep222_pic3-w622-h350

Storybrooke: Standing on his bridge with the bean in his hand, Hook sees the scratched-out directions and closes a fist over the bean.

The forest is popping up all over town, destroying buildings. In the mines, Regina tells the Charmings that she won’t be able to contain the trigger much longer. Everyone has a tearful goodbye and starts hugging each other when Emma realizes that maybe if she combines her powers with Regina, they can stop it together. The two women do and manage to stop the trigger. The forest starts to recede from the town and the gem dies. The Charmings and Regina have a happy little moment before they realize that Henry is missing.

Tamara and Greg are leading a bound Henry out to the docks. Henry tells them that they just tried to kill everyone he loves and the duo tell him that was never the point. Greg explains to him that they came there to destroy magic, but they found something more important: Henry.

Emma, Regina, Snow, and David track the duo and Henry down to the docks, just in time to see Tamara open up a portal. Greg and Tamara pull Henry in with them. Emma struggles to go after them, screaming that they have to follow, but David stops her from diving into the water. Gold and Belle come up just in time to hear them say that Henry has gone. David demands that Gold help them, but a willing Gold tells them that there is no way without a portal. He spent years trying to cross worlds to find his own son, but they have to have a portal. While everyone is standing there, stunned, Belle sees the Jolly Roger sail back to town.

Emma asks Hook why he is back when he only cares about himself. He says he just needed reminding that he could care. He hands over the bean. He is surprised when he finds out they aren’t using it to save the town, but to go after Henry. He offers his ship and his services.

Gold tells the group that he can track Henry. They all pile on board the ship, with David, Belle, and Gold trailing behind. Gold tells Belle that he needs her to stay behind, because the town is in danger. He points out to David that Tamara and Greg weren’t working alone. Someone could follow them to the town. David doesn’t want to leave the town unprotected, but Gold hands Belle a scroll and tells her that it’s a cloaking spell. If she follows the directions, it will make the town invisible and impossible to find. David takes that as a reasonable solution and heads onto the ship, leaving the two to say goodbye.

Gold tells Belle that while Henry might be his undoing, he is also his grandson and he has to save him, to honor Baelfire. He tearfully tells Belle that he didn’t even get to say goodbye to his son. Belle tells him that she knows the future isn’t always what it seems and she will see him again. They cry and kiss goodbye. As she walks away, she tells him that Baelfire would be very proud of him.

Fairytale Land of the Present: Mulan, Prince Phillip and Aurora find Neal washed up on the beach in Fairytale Land. Aurora declares that he’s alive, but barely, and the trio gather Neal up to save him.

Storybrooke: Once on board the Jolly Roger, Gold asks Hook if he’s done trying to kill him. Hook says yes and Gold tells him good – he can live. Gold conjures up a device, using his own blood to track down Henry. When Regina asks where they took him, Hook and Gold share a look as Hook says, “Neverland.”

Hook throws the bean into the ocean and the portal opens up as everyone grabs a hold of something. They ask Gold whom they are up against. Gold tells them that Tamara and Greg are just pawns, manipulated by forces far greater than them. He tells them that this someone they all should fear.

Neverland of the Past: The Lost Boys bring Baelfire to a beach and take off his hood. The leader asks another masked boy if Bae is the one that “he” is looking for, but the boy looks at the drawing in his hand and shakes his head no. The leader turns to Bae and tells him it’s his lucky day – he gets to live. They drag Bae off to put him with “the others.” The two boys are left to discuss if they will ever find the right boy. The lead boy tells the other that they will; Peter Pan never fails. As he looks at the drawing, we see that the boy on it is Henry.

ep222_pic5-w622-h350

Review: Well, this episode was hit-and-miss. It was going along pretty well until Snow’s speech about “hard” paths and “easy” paths, and bringing up Cora’s death. The show really needs to drop that because it just makes Snow look like a coward and an idiot. The “hard” path was doing what she did, taking on the hit and doing what needed to be done to protect innocent people. The easy path was letting her conscience be clean, letting Cora get away and hurt more people because Snow was too weak to do what needed to be done. I’m really tired of the show acting as if continually letting evil people go and do evil is somehow noble, and stopping them is the truly evil thing. Because it’s not. Real heroes do what needs to be done to protect and save people. They don’t take the easy path to save their own conscience. That’s not heroic; that’s just cowardly.

I’m also disturbed by the fact that no one suggested that sending the trigger to another world might destroy that world. For a show that keeps touting how heroic these characters are supposed to be, they sure are showing them to be paper-thin heroes. They know that there are other worlds and other peoples through the portals. How do they know the trigger won’t explode and kill them? If it will kill everyone who isn’t born in this world, then if they send it through to the Enchanted Forest, won’t it kill everyone there? Are those people just disposable because they aren’t “family”? That was really badly written. And not very heroic. Not at all.

Color me intrigued by the Hook and Baelfire relationship. It’s difficult to get a handle on whether or not Hook really felt something for young Baelfire. The acting makes it seem like it. I think Colin O’Donoghue did a very good job of portraying Hook’s conflict over meeting his lost love’s son, who is also his greatest enemy’s son, but the writing makes it seem like Hook actually sold Baelfire out to the Lost Boys. This would seem to negate his last offer to Bae for a family and a home with him. It did seem like the news of Neal/Baelfire’s “death” really shook Hook up, and being reminded of Bae on the ship is what caused Hook to turn around and do the right thing. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing more of that. This is the first Hook-related relationship that I have found myself interested in. And this is the first time I have ever seen any glimpse of anything deeper in Hook.

That being said, I do have to cry foul on Mila and Hook’s plans to come back for Baelfire. I could see them having talked about it, and maybe she did miss Bae everyday, but she was still a horrible mother. She never did come back for her son and when she finally did get back to town, Bae was already long gone into another world. That means, at the very least, the boy was 14-15 when she returned, which was by far old enough for her to have come back into his life. And she didn’t seem to care enough to even ask her ex-husband about him. Rump had to bring up Baelfire to her. So, still not buying Mila as this caring and devoted mother. You don’t abandon your child for fun, adventure and sexy times with a pirate, if you are really that caring of your child.

I’m having difficulties caring that much about Henry these days, which is sad because I did used to like the boy. I think this season kind of tainted both him, and David and Snow, for me, with this ridiculous and overdone devotion to doing the “right” thing, which often seems like the weak and cowardly thing to me, and this whole notion that they have to sacrifice over and over to save Regina, while it’s perfectly okay for her to try to kill everyone else, over and over. So, this story that he is the boy that Peter Pan wants makes me roll my eyes instead of care that much.

That being said, I do think that there is an interesting setup for next season. I find the story in Neverland intriguing. I liked the flashbacks to the Neverland story and am interested in finding out more of what happened to both Hook and Bae there. Did the two ever meet up again? And I am intrigued by the idea of the Lost Boys and Peter Pan being some kind of villainous characters. Is Peter Pan the character who is behind Tamara and Greg, and their organization? Wouldn’t it be ironic that they thought they were destroying magic and they were really working for it all along?

I like the idea of the Charmings, Emma, Regina, Hook, and Gold working together. I’m very open to their putting aside all of the animosities and working as a team. Since they aren’t going to get rid of Regina, then fine, keep her, but let’s end the whole stupid drama between her and the Charmings. That just makes me fed up with all of them. Stop trying to redeem/keep Regina around by making Snow and David look like pathetic saps.

At least Emma came out of the episode a little bit better than her parents, by showing that it wasn’t so much her buying into her mother’s speech about “easy” and “hard” paths as her not wanting Henry to lose another parent that day. But this season left me with a bad taste in my mouth towards the Charming parents, especially Snow White. And the season finale speech of Snow’s didn’t help redeem them for me.

As someone who has become very fond of the Neal character, I’m glad to see that he is okay. I like seeing Aurora, Phillip and Mulan back, though I am not sure if those actors will return next season, especially since Sarah Bolger (Aurora), at least, has a new show next season (Mixology).

Regardless, I am kind of disappointed that he isn’t with the others, off to save Henry. I’m hoping that he can get into the mix again early next season. Considering the show has made Michael Raymond-James a regular next season, hopefully, he will. I imagine he will be of some use in saving Henry, considering he was once captured by the Lost Boys himself. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t get any stupid, melodramatic love triangle between Neal, Hook and Emma. But we’ll see on that one, too.

I’m intrigued by the setup for next season, but the only drawback for me is the split focus. Belle is back in town with the rest of the characters, trying to save Storybrooke. Neal is off in Fairytale land with the Enchanted Forest trio. And the rest of the regulars are off trying to save Henry in Neverland. That seems like an awful lot to focus on. The show’s producers have assured that Storybrooke won’t be forgotten next season, so we will still be getting that world and story. Neal is a regular character now.

ep222_pic6-w622-h350

So, somehow the show is going to need to tie all of these stories together in a way that will work cohesively or risk splitting too much focus and losing too much steam. I’m hoping that at the very least, they manage to bring Neal back in line with the other characters relatively fast. I’d prefer him back with his family in Neverland, but I could see him ending up back in Storybrooke, as well, helping Belle protect the town. We’ll see. I think the show would have an easier time juggling two present day settings/stories – as well as their flashbacks – than three.

All that being said, this season has been hit-and-miss for me. I liked the early stuff in Fairytale Land, with Snow and Emma being trapped there, working with Mulan and Aurora to get back home. I liked Neal and the reveal of him being Baelfire, and his stuff with his father, though there wasn’t enough of it. I liked quite a few of the flashback stories and am very intrigued by the Neverland story.

However, there was an awful lot of stupid writing that soured the season for me.

I thought that while Barbara Hershey did a great job as Cora, the whole Regina/Cora storyline was a frustrating dud. I didn’t like how it was used to derail a thirty-minute, at best, attempt at redemption for Regina. The writing for Regina, all around, was bad. I’m not into whiny, self-pitying villains who do horrible things to everyone and then go on and on about how everyone is so mean to them. And that’s pretty much what they continually highlighted Regina for this season.

Unfortunately, the writing for Snow White was just as bad, albeit in a different way. We got a lot of posturing about being a hero, and good and pure from her, which mainly resulted in her desire to keep her hands as clean as humanely possible, meaning that everyone else could suffer and go to hell as long as she could tell herself that she was a “good” person and did the “right” thing. Considering her idea of “good” and “right” usually ended up being the complete opposite of what I think is “good” and “right,” Snow ended up being one of the worst characters coming out of the second season.

Henry ended up being about on par of his grandmother and adopted mother, with his condemnations of Emma for lying about his birth father, and his being the spokesperson for Snow’s version of morality and Regina’s version of herself. I quickly became very tired of his ignoring the many murder attempts Regina made against his birth family and condemning everyone else’s attempts to protect themselves against her. Both Henry and Snow ended up being victims of the show’s attempts to say that real heroes let the villains walk all over them and get away with everything. Which was a shame because I had liked both characters before this.

The writing for Emma was hit-and-miss, but, for the most part, keeping her character more pragmatic worked for me. The major thing that was really bad with her was this late-season return to her supposed ability to tell if someone was lying, which just looked silly considering how many times she has been successfully lied to over the season.

I enjoyed the Gold/Rump stories until late this season. Once they turned Belle into Lacey, the writing for Gold seemed to become less about any depth of the character and more about trying to turn him into some paper-thin caricature like Regina. It really made no sense to me that he would so easily turn bad when Belle was “lost” and turned into Lacey. Not since he finally had his son back in his life. The goal he has worked towards for decades, his beloved son back in his life and right in front of him, and he turns into a bully over the loss of Belle? No. That was way too weak for Gold, who would have come up with some way to save Belle, rather than revert to a bully and sacrifice the chance at redeeming his relationship with his son. That was just shoddy writing.

But hey, at least Lacey is gone! Yay for that!

I enjoyed Neal’s addition to the show. I liked his trying to be a father to Henry, and the stuff with him and his father. There was too little of the latter, though. I would have enjoyed a bit more of his reaction to his own past, his hatred of magic for having destroyed his family, and definitely more with him and his father.

Hook was a bad addition for me, until this episode. It felt like there was too much of Hook just because the actor is pretty. If the writing isn’t there for the character, then it won’t matter how attractive the actor might be. It’s not going to work for me. I didn’t buy his deep love for Mila, or his attraction to Emma. The only time I’ve seen anything deeper for Hook has been in his interaction with young Baelfire. Which, since it just happened in this episode, kind of made Hook a “miss” character for me.

All in all, this season had some good turns in the beginning, but I think its desire to drag out the storyline – especially the idea of Regina as a villain, and the conflict between her and Snow White – really dragged down the show and made parts of the season very frustrating and irritating. I think the setup is there for next season to get rid of these parts. I’m really hoping that they do. We’ll see.

ep222_pic7-w622-h350

Next episode: The show returns for a third season in Fall 2013!

You can watch “And Straight On Til Morning” on Amazon Instant Video here.

About Heather S. Vina

Heather's been a fan of science fiction since she was five years old and developed a crush on Captain Kirk, while watching reruns of Star Trek: The Original Series. A huge Anglophile, she loves reading and watching (and mocking!) TV, but hasn't figured out a way to make a living doing either, yet. But she lives in hope!

Heather S. VinaColumn: Dark Matter: Review: Once Upon A Time 2.22: And Straight On ’til Morning