Good golly has an episode title ever been more appropriate? Except honestly, my heart wasn't just "broken" it was completely shattered. I had to go get some pie after this one. That's how emotionally draining it was. I'm not sure the last time this show made me feel all of these feelings but I gladly welcome it. Whipping my emotions into a frenzy, good or bad, is one of my favorite side effects of investing in a tv show. So, well done Once. You nearly killed me.
We open the episode with Hook sneering at the lady love who turned him into the thing he hates most, a Dark One. He takes Dark Emma's memories of their time in Camelot and allows Zelena to place the magic-prohibiting cuff upon her wrist. Dark Emma tries to tell him that none of this is truly him but he isn't buying it. He says that he feels "reborn" and then scurries away to do Dark One shenanigans.
We get to see Hook's "rebirth"as a Dark One. All of his worst memories plague him as he rises out of the Dark One goop. Unfortunately for Hook, his new darkness also comes with the added benefit of his own inner Rumple! He is rightfully pissed. He tries to tune him out but inner Rumple makes him an offer he cannot refuse. Revenge. Specifically, revenge on the real life Rumplestiltskin. The man who took everything from him like a millennia ago, but bae just can't let it go. I suppose it is a tempting offer.
Back in present day Storybrooke, Dark Emma comes clean to the others about what she did to Hook in Camelot. Regina is angry. Charming is befuddled. Snow seems understanding. You go, Snow. Emma was only trying to save her true love (that's still pending but probably accurate) which all of them have done at some point. Emma knows that she isolated herself during this time so she didn't benefit from someone telling her to not give up hope or calling her out on her stupidity. Dark Emma wants to fix everything by using her plethora of dreamcatchers to give everyone back their memories. Too bad they are missing.
Meanwhile, Dark Hook is looking downright gleeful as he confronts Rumple and Belle in their pawn shop. He challenges Rumple to a duel on his ship, the place where Rumple took everything from him many many years before. Dark Hook explains that he will get his revenge by taking Rumple's hand for himself, his heart for Milah and his head for filling Emma with the darkness in the first place. Dark Hook is a strange mix of scary, hilarious and hot. I'm not going to take that last one back. My conscience is clear, y'all.
Dark Hook is immortal now but can still be vanquished with Excalibur. He challenges Rumple to take the sword from him and kill him. He then disappears to await the duel.
Rumple immediately holds a small council with the rest of the gang to tell them Hook's plan. Dark Emma believes that there is more to the plan because Hook wouldn't just announce it right after taking her memories. Someone causally remembers Merlin's message about needing Nimue and the group breaks to figure out their next step. Dark Emma tries to offer Rumple protection but he doesn't trust her enough to take off the cuff. None of them do. Even Henry.
Henry wants little to do with the woman who ripped out the heart of his potential girlfriend. He says that he forgave Regina and Rumple because they showed him that they could change. Dark Emma just pushed everyone away when things got tough and tried to do everything on her own. Henry can't trust her if she doesn't let him in. I think he's just super pressed about the whole Violet thing but nice cover, kid.
Back in Camelot, Merlin and company are too late to intercept Dark Hook at the Dark One re-spawn spot. Charming is upset that Emma would forgo her one opportunity to rid herself of the darkness. Snow knows that that option would mean Hook dying and she understands why Emma did what she did. Snow reminds Charming that she and him share one heart. They've all done crazy things for the people they love. That's kind of their whole deal. Emma's actions are no different.
In another part of the forest, Dark Hook changes out of his monk robes and into his old leather pirate getup. It's weird to see Hook use magic. I don't really like it. He doesn't either. His inner Rumple tells him he has to cast a curse to get back to Storybrooke so he can get his revenge. To enact the curse he has to kill the thing he loves most but Dark Hook refuses to kill Emma. YAY. Maybe Dark Hook isn't a lost cause!
Dark Emma finds Hook in the forest and the latter is surprised she can still see inner Rumple. Well, she IS a Dark One, Hook. They all share the lovely benefit of housing former Dark Ones within their sub conscience.
Look, Emma and Hook have quite a few yelling matches and heart to hearts this episodes. It's great and horrible at the same time. In Camelot, Emma tells Hook that she wants their future together. She's ready for it and she wants him to trust that she can rid them of their darkness so that they can begin that future. He believes her.
Then, inner Rumple pressures Hook to ask about Excalibur, which Emma previously claimed was missing. Too bad Dark Hook can hear its tiny whispers calling out to him.
Dark Emma confesses that she is still in possession of Excalibur and Hook is immediately on the defense. The darkness within him tells him that Emma will use the sword to manipulate and control him. Dark Emma tries to claim that she is holding it to protect him from himself. This is the wrong thing to say.
Dark Hook starts to spill some truth tea at this point. He tells her that he has always believed in her ability to use her magic, both light and dark, on her own. He always gave her space to make her own decisions and trusted that she could fight for herself. He isn't wrong. He's consistently been a vocal Emma supporter and a quiet but sturdy presence in the background when she's facing incredible challenges. Now, when he requires the same from her, she is failing to trust him even with himself.
If she doesn't believe in him, how can she expect him to believe in himself and overcome the darkness? The darkness he explicitly asked her not to give to him in the first place? A LOT of trust issues here. And insecurities. Oh, the drama.
After Hook wanders away from the argument, Emma uses Excalibur to call him to her. It's her only way of getting his attention but the action ends up breaking what little trust they had left. He wanted the right to have a choice to speak with her. He hates being controlled and since she has the means to do so, he is livid.
Emma proceeds to give one last speech in hopes that she can mend their relationship. She says that she does trust him to control his own fate. She gives him Excalibur as assurance. She promises to never try to control him again and tells him that she loves him. Dark Hook is clearly taken aback and notes that he is usually the first to have to say that. All seems well, except in present day Storybrooke Dark Hook is SUPER angry at Emma so WTF?
In Storybrooke, Merida is guarding Dark Emma in the Mayor's office when Dark Hook shows up and renders the Scottish Queen unconscious. Emma thinks he's there because he still has feelings for her. He agrees except those feelings are anger, hatred and disappointment. Ouch.
He keeps kicking her while she's down by telling her that she was only ever a pretty, blonde distraction. Also, that Emma destroys her own happiness by pushing people away. Dark Hook tells her that she will always be an orphan in that regard. I'm choosing to believe that this is purely the darkness speaking through Hook in order to manipulate Emma's insecurities and cause her pain. NO WAY IN INFINITY MILLION YEARS WOULD KILLIAN JONES EVER DO THIS. And if somehow the show tries to tell me that precious Killian would ever play the orphan card on Emma, I call BS and then I quit.
Dark Emma is able to leave the Mayor's office and forces Henry into a corner at the library. She pleads for help with a locator spell because they have to find the dream catchers. Henry views this ask for help as a sign that Dark Emma is trying to do the right thing. He agrees to help and is able to take off her magic cuff and find the missing dream catchers.
In the final flashback to Camelot, the two Dark Ones walk hand in hand to Granny's Diner. Both are ready to rid themselves of the darkness. They need Merlin's assistance and Dark Hook volunteers to retrieve him from inside of the Diner. This is probably a horrible idea but these characters have never been the brightest crayons in the crayon box.
Merlin is in the process of leaving the message that our gang saw a few episodes back. Turns out, the person who cut the message short was Dark Hook and he has clearly been playing Emma and ALL OF OUR HEARTS.
Dark Hook rips out Merlin's heart. He needs it to cast the curse to get back to Storybrooke. Here's the loophole. Nimue, being the first ever Dark One, somehow exists within all subsequent Dark Ones. Merlin is still the thing that Nimue loves most. So, if Hook crushes Merlin's heart it is the same as Nimue crushing it, thus allowing the creation of the dark curse.
I don't get it but as long as Dark Hook doesn't have to kill Emma, I guess I'm okay with it. I'm slightly conflicted because Merlin is ridiculously cute but my superficial love for him does not outweigh my deep deep love for all forms of Killian Jones, Captain Hook, Dark Hook or whoever he is at whatever point in this show. You know you love a character too much, and probably in a problematic way, when you're okay with them straight up murdering one of the only purely good characters on the show. I'm not sorry.
Dark Emma bursts through the door and tries to get Hook to not crush Merlin's heart. She even pleads with the inner Nimue that's there egging Hook on. But the dark wants what it wants Emma and Dark Ones LIVE to snuff out all of the light. Emma, being inherently good and the product of true love, seems to have the capacity to not go full dark. Hook is not cut from the same cloth and even Emma's declaration that SHE is his happy ending doesn't keep him from crushing Merlin's heart. RIP BOO.
Dark Hook enacts the curse and Dark Emma instantly knocks him out and takes his memories. She wants to make sure he doesn't remember ever becoming a Dark One when they return to Storybrooke. She has to take the memories of everyone else who knows and that's how we end up with memory-less people back in Storybrooke at the beginning of the season.
The problem is, Dark Hook now has his memories and is currently waiting to duel Rumple aboard the Jolly Roger. Rumple wants to fight with honor and proceeds to give it a good go. Dark Hook clearly has the upper hand (err hook...ha) with the whole not being able to die thing. He manages to cut Rumple down with his hook. He then makes the fatal mistake that every villain has made in the history of villainy- he gives a final monologue. While talking unnecessarily, inner Rumple pops in and distracts Dark Hook long enough for Rumple to steal Excalibur and gain the upper hand.
Rumple "wins" the duel but let's Dark Hook live because he's good now, I guess. He wants Hook to remember that he bested him though. That'll go over well. Rumple sets off for the well where he and Belle were married. He previously asked her to meet him there in case he won the duel so they could rekindle their love, this time with him being the man she deserves.
Belle meets him but turns him down. It's awesome. Belle is tired of trying to mend his heart and wants to focus on protecting hers. She puts herself first and asks for time to figure out if this is a relationship that she truly wants. Don't forget deserves. Let's be real girl, you deserve so much better.
In the Mayor’s office, the gang is hesitant but slightly more trusting of Dark Emma again as they look at their dream catchers and regain their lost memories. As Emma gets hers back she realizes what Dark Hook is really planning.
We get to see this plan as Dark Hook and inner Rumple stand at the edge of the pond where earlier in the season a Fury tried to drag Robin Hood to Hades. HADES. YAAAS. Hook uses some of Rumple's blood from their fight, because Rumple is a man that has formerly been to hell and back or something, to open a portal in the water.
A boat emerges and on it is Nimue. In the flesh. Behind her on the boat is every Dark One to have ever existed. Nimue says they are there to snuff out all of the light. Dark Hook gladly welcomes them to Storybrooke. Everyone is screwed.
I hope there is a satisfying payoff with this Dark Hook plot line. The writers wouldn’t have spent the last three seasons putting the character on a path to redemption just to null it completely. I am enjoying this different side to Hook though. He is deliciously evil but it’s too much too soon. The show didn't earn this sudden turn to darkness. It was such a quick flip of emotions and his attitude towards Emma just doesn’t add up like it should if they truly want me to buy Hook as a Dark One. Maybe I’m just projecting what I want to happen onto the show, which I hate when people do that, but I think there’s something suspicious going on here.
I’m just going with my head canon of Hook being so ridiculously susceptible to the Darkness because most of his life was spent consumed with his own brand of it. So, these invasive Dark One powers basically feed off of his insecurities, his deeply ingrained self-loathing and his residual hatred for Rumplestiltskin.
But honestly, if I’m having to make up reasons for why I think Hook's actions make sense, then the show probably isn’t doing a great job of explaining it or making is plausible.
Maybe it will wrap up nicely during the mid season finale and leave us with an amazing cliffhanger. Maybe Dark Hook is doing all of this to get every Dark One in one place so they can vanquish them all at once, ridding the story of that craziness for forever. Or maybe they’ll just retcon Hook’s entire character arc and I’ll pretend like I’m okay with it.
For all of its many faults, there is one thing this show always does well and that is hit home the idea of hope. It stresses finding hope in your family. Finding hope in love. Finding hope in darkness. And HAVING hope that happily ever afters are real and are available to you, just sometimes you have to fight for them. If this show’s underlying theme is finding your happily every after, because IT IS about fairytales so duh, then everything HAS to point to this kind of ending. We just have to have hope that the characters will get there.