Episode 2.04 “The Crocodile”
Well, well, well… a nice play on the history of Captain Hook.
Arr, Mateys! Thar be Spoilery Booty Ahead!
Last week, no Mr. Gold. This week, no Regina. Which is fine because it would have interrupted a pretty tightly woven narrative about Rumplestiltskin and Captain Hook. And what a narrative it is. Scribes David Goodman and Robert Hull deliver a script that very cleverly places the Dark One in the midst of Hook’s back story, taking everything you know from the pirate’s history and giving it a little Once Upon a Time twist.
Let’s dive in.
As the story unfolds, Rumplestiltskin the Coward gets humiliated in front of Hook’s crew, and he has to slump away instead of confront his wife, who’s left the home for a little fun and adventure. It’s Bae who convinces her to come home, and she’s miserable because of her marriage to the town coward. So she runs off with Hook, and Rumplestiltskin isn’t even brave enough to fight for his wife.
That cowardice follows through to Storybrooke, where Gold is still afraid to open up to Belle. See, he loves her, but he’s afraid to tell her that he’s really scared to commit. Magic has always been his way to escape things. Magic brings power, and he figured that having magic would solve all his problems.
Except it hasn’t.
For instance, the problem of finding a way over to the land where Bae went. Rumplestiltskin has a conversation with a certain man about a certain magic bean. First, kudos for the misdirection. I spent quite a while thinking this was Jack (of the Beanstalk fame), only to find it was Mr. Smee — played by Eureka alum Chris Gauthier. The bean, Rumple figures, may transport him to a different land. Only he’s interrupted by the appearance of Hook’s pirates.
Now that he’s the Dark One, he can stand up to Hook, and he learns that not only is his wife still alive, but she’s also thrown in with the pirates for a life of adventure. Excitement. What happens when we crave these things? Remember what Yoda said.
Some clever writing gives us the “crocodile skin” comment and a heartbeat. So we basically get the version of Hook’s history that has Rumplestiltskin as the crocodile that took his hand — because it was holding the magic bean. Only it wasn’t, and Rumplestiltskin not only loses an opportunity to cross over, but he also ends up killing his own wife in a fit of rage.
Over in Storybrooke, Belle is trying to find herself. Trying to find a place in town for herself after leaving Gold because he’s not been honest with her. Enter Smee, who grabs her and takes her to Dad. They have a plan to use the mine car to take Belle past the “no more memory” line that keeps everyone in. Dad figures it’s the only way to get Belle out of the clutches of the vile villain Rumplestiltskin.
Only in this episode, he’s not quite the villain of the piece. At least, not entirely. He’s definitely out of his element, actually asking Charming for help — even asking his advice on how to make a relationship work.
It’s interesting that the show is taking both Rumplestiltskin and Regina — the two villains — and putting them on a path to redemption (more or less). At the very least, we’re getting a view of them that’s somewhat sympathetic. Is this to get the audience to root for them as they make their way out of the Dark Side? Is this a setup for an even darker set of villains in Cora and Hook? Or will this be the prelude to an even more evil Regina and Rumplestiltskin as the season progresses and they’re confronted with their pasts?
Because you know someone’s going to find a way to cross over, one way or the other.
Fun bits: Ruby opening up to her wolf side in Storybrooke, using her enhanced senses to trail Belle. One wonders if her cloak made it into Gold’s shop… And of course, the Beauty and the Beast reference as Rumplestiltskin gives Belle the key to the library.