Oh, Regina. You were such a fruit loop in Pre-Curse Enchanted Forest! Oh, woe is me! Why don’t people love me? I don’t understand it! Why is everyone calling me evil? I’m not evil; I only just ordered the full-scale massacre of an entire village just because Snow White happened to make a pit stop there; no biggie. Lady, do you even hear the words coming out your mouth? Same goes for the present day, when she plans to kill everyone in Storybrooke with her curse-reset-button, just so she can have Henry all to herself. The fact that you even considered this is only proving David/Charming and Mary Margret/Snow made the right decision in wanting to leave you out of their plans of returning to Storybrooke with Anton’s new magic bean crop. Have you really so soon forgotten the fact that you had been helping your nutjob of a mother try to take control of the Dark One AND then plotted to kill Mary Margret? Ever stop to think that THAT’S the reason why they’ve been keeping Henry away from you? It wasn’t that long ago, was it? Also, what is this crap about how Henry loved you once? Was I watching a different show up until this point? The impression I got during all of season one was that Henry was miserable with you, which was why he sought out Emma. Was this just Regina’s warped logic kicking in again? It’s a really chilling thing to process when Rumpelstiltskin, the posterchild for twisted, warped maniacs, is filling the role of the voice of reason. Interesting twist however, to see how Regina clearly was seeing the error of her ways during her time under the glamor spell, particularly during her time with Snow White and hearing how Snow would be willing to give her another chance. But when Snow sees the remains of the village that Evil Queen Regina had ordered to be destroyed, it all comes crashing down. This is such a vicious cycle.
Poor Emma just wasn’t getting any support at all in this episode. She figures out that Tamara can’t be trusted after their run-in at Granny’s Diner, but no one really takes her seriously. First we get Mary Margret/Snow talking about how her lie-detecting superpower is unreliable. (Since when? Unless I’m mistaken, every time Emma mentions her superpower is kicking in, she always seems to guess right. The only time it seemed to be iffy was when she was interviewing Greg Mendel after the accident at the town line, and that might not even count, as he might not have necessarily been lying.) And then when Neal hears of Emma’s suspicion, he just gets all condescending. While I can totally get why he’s reluctant to think poorly of the person he’s dating (I was guilty of the same exact thing during my high school years), was it really necessary to virtually accuse Emma of just being a jealous ex-girlfriend? Yeah, Neal, that’s it. You’re such a stud that Emma decided to accuse your fiancée of underhanded workings just to split you two up. Okay, I’m sorry. I can’t hold it back anymore. I really do not like Neal. At all. Don’t get me wrong; I did like Boy Baelfire. He was a good character. One I rooted for and sympathized with. But Adult Neal is a blithering idiot. First it was him not even cottoning on to how Henry gave him the slip in ‘Welcome to Storybrooke’ until Emma came up and was all ‘HELLO!’ and then him not seeing anything wrong with inviting his girlfriend into Storybrooke without checking with anyone first. (I’m guessing Emma was the brains of the operation during their Bonnie and Clyde years.) Now we get this nonsense! He even tries to tell Emma he never believed in her superpower. You know, the thing that she virtually stated was the ONE THING she actually liked about herself in the pilot episode? You’re trying to make her think that she didn’t even have that, Neal? What is wrong with you? It really makes you wonder why Henry seems so eager to see them get back together. Granted he’s an idealistic little boy, and he’s displaying the same sort of attitude you’d expect to see from any child whose parents have split-up/divorced. But surely he can see how unsupportive Neal is being to Emma, right? After all, it’s been established he’s a smart, observant boy. That said, he deserves merit for being the one person who actually believes Emma’s suspicions about Tamara.
Really great character development for Hook in this episode. We actually see him questioning the point of revenge. For someone who has spent 300 years seeking revenge himself? That revelation is just HUGE. I think it’s important to note that, up until Greg and Tamara showed him that Gold/Rumpelstiltskin was still alive, he’d spent all that time since ‘The Queen is Dead’ believing that he’d succeeded in killing his enemy. Thus, he’s spent an amount of time thinking he’d finally gotten his revenge and coming to terms with how he felt now that it was all over. The fact that he’s now questioning the point of revenge seems to indicate he wasn’t as satisfied as he thought he’d be. And then he sees Gold survived after all. Not only that, he sees him accompanied by ‘Lacey.’ An actual line from him in this episode is ‘I'll have nothing to look forward to. My life will be empty.’ It might just be me, but I think I hear a subtle undertone to that statement, and he’s actually contemplating the fact that, even if he does manage to kill Rumpelstiltskin for good, there might not be anyone there for him after his quest is complete, unlike Gold/Rumple.
Hook also proves he’s cleverer than people might think. Like with how he managed to cut Belle off on the Jolly Roger back in ‘The Outsider,’ he manages to find his way out of the underground cavern and beats Regina back into the library. Both times, he never really reveals how he managed to do so. All we get is a basic ‘because I’m awesome’ explanation.
In addition, one might point to this episode as an example of how Hook’s loyalty is never certain, as he seems to alternate between helping Regina to aligning himself with Greg and Tamara, only deciding to be fully loyal to Greg and Tamara after Regina double-crossed him. However, I think Hook made his choice before Regina’s betrayal. Notice how Hook only casually showed Cora’s wrist cuff, which is later revealed to have been altered to nullify magic, to Regina AFTER she revealed her goal was to destroy all of Storybrooke, knowing she would take it from him. Tamara and Greg, on the other hand, only claimed to be targeting magical beings. Do you remember how he seemed to be angry about how Cora massacred the entire village of Enchanted Forest refugees? While Hook still claims to want to see Rumpelstiltskin dead, he seems to prefer avoiding full-scale slaughter, and thus goes with the plan that he believes will have the fewest number of people caught in the crossfire. I think this speaks volumes about what kind of man he is.
Speaking of the wrist cuff, this episode confirms that Hook has held on to it, the same way Emma had held on to the scarf he’d used to bandage her hand. Clearly, their adventure atop the beanstalk has resonated with the both of them. I might be biased, but I think we’re getting more than enough reason to think something is brewing there. Not to mention the obvious parallel with how they’ve now both battled Maleficent in the same underground cavern. (Although, how did Hook know about her?) The only difference is that Emma fought Maleficent’s dragon form, while Hook was facing her mummified corpse. There was a part of me that internally cringed when Regina pushed him into the pit. Have his cracked ribs fully healed from his run-in with Greg’s car yet? WebMD states that fractured ribs need at least six weeks to heal. Unless that much time has passed in OUAT’s timeline, which is very doubtful, he’s in no condition to actually fight anyone, especially when he’s only armed with his hook. The fact that he’s clearly limping and even clutches his middle at one point does seem to indicate he hasn’t completely bounced back yet. And yes, I am aware that the limp was the result of actor Colin O’Donoghue’s real-life injury (he apparently broke his leg in a skiing accident while season 2 was still being filmed), which is also why Hook was absent from the last few episodes. But the point still stands.