Isn't he a little old to be an Apprentice?
OpinionTelevision & Film

ONCE UPON A TIME Treachery Was Afoot



Episode 404 “The Apprentice”

[Photos: Jack Rowand/ABC]

Catching up on our Once recaps! In this episode, we have a reattached hand, an eventful date, and more Fantasia references than you can shake a stick at!


It would seem that Rumpelstiltskin is only the latest in a line of Dark Ones. In the back story, a previous Dark One, with the same warped dagger and bad skin condition, made an appearance. It would be interesting to see more Dark Ones brought into the mix in later episodes. But for now, just knowing there is a long line is enough. Nonetheless, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice was guarding the box that Mr. Gold was able to use in a previous episode. But supposedly, anyone who has given in to the darkness of his heart cannot open it. Seems weird that an apprentice is needed to protect a box that just sends unworthy people flying. But I guess they needed a reason to include the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Of course, Rumpelstiltskin was as devious as ever. Knowing his visitor’s name was Anna of Arendelle, and not Joan like she claimed, he sent her to slip a potion into the Apprentice’s tea. This is the kind of situation where we see the Dark One at his best and most evil. She stopped at the last second only to find out that it was actually an antidote. Not taking it turned the apprentice into a mouse. (In Fantasia, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice was Mickey Mouse.) And then when Anna stopped herself from killing Rumpel since he wouldn’t tear up their contract (she didn’t read the terms and conditions), she was worthy of opening the magic box. So Rumpel put one of her tears on his dagger so he could have that ability. He opened the box and found the purple hat.

No need to read the terms and conditions. Just click 'OK'.
No need to read the terms and conditions. Just click ‘OK’.

Then comes one of the best turnabouts. Anna got hold of Rumpel’s dagger.  She told him to hand her the box, send her and the box back to Arendelle, never harm her or her sister, and turn the Apprentice back into a man. Rumpel did so, but was very unhappy about it. The glaring issue is that she said nothing about never harming Kristoff or Arendelle. Future plot point, perhaps?

In Storybrooke, Emma asked Hook for a date. So Hook got Mr. Gold (the old Crocodile) to reattach his hand. Apparently Gold kept it. In a jar. As a souvenir.

The writers were clearly stretching on this one. He attached Hoo– er, Killian’s hand and warned him that the hand was from when he was a pirate and a scoundrel and there might be problems. Killian then had events where he got aggressive with Will Scarlet for knocking wine onto Emma on their date (where there was a great Lady and the Tramp reference), beating Will up outside the library, and roughing up the Apprentice for Mr. Gold (which a Fantasia-style walking broom led them to). Then the worst part of this particular episode was when Killian had Gold replace his hook. Gold then told him that there was no magic in the hand. It simply allowed him to bring out his true self that has been repressed. Bad form! The trying-to-be-good-but-still-evil schtick works well for Regina and Gold, but not for Captain Hook. He’s much better as a hero, albeit an often unwilling and conniving hero.

And this prop came from Doctor Who.
And this prop came from Doctor Who.

Speaking of Will Scarlet, Belle called Emma when she found him sleeping on the floor in the library.  He was holding a copy of Alice In Wonderland and had the wounds of the beating at the hands of Killian. When Emma talks to him in his jail cell asking if the book had any relevance. He said there’s not. Let’s hope it stays that way. OUAT in Wonderland was a disaster. Perhaps there might be something to do with Cora the “Red Queen”?

One of the true highlights of the episode was when Emma went on the date with Killian. David and Snow were the cliché parents with their daughter getting ready to go out. They were stunned (along with Elsa) at the dress Emma was wearing. And of course they were staying up late waiting for her return. Snow was eager to hear the details and David…not so much. Well done, writers.

As for the Snow Queen, the plot thickened. After Emma’s car sliding on ice on a warm, sunny day and she was unable to catch SQ, they find that her assumed name, Sarah Fisher (not the race car driver/team owner), did not appear in the town census. She didn’t show up with the curse like everyone else. I’m looking forward to the motive.

Remember your curfew. If you come back late, bad, magical things will happen.
Remember your curfew. If you come back late, bad, magical things will happen.

And finally Henry has an integral role. He figured that with a seemingly happy ending for Mr. Gold means he must have figured out what Regina was looking for, access to the author of the book. So he goes to work for Mr. Gold in his shop in the hopes of finding out what he knows. It’s good too see him becoming part of the season’s arc. Up until then, he seemed more like dead weight for the current story. Though he’s not exactly one I would think of for doing undercover work.

Altogether a fun episode. Not just for the general story lines, but also for the little nods to various Disney properties.

[Show web site at ABC]     [Previous Recap: “Rocky Road”]


Daniel C. Handley

Dan Handley was raised a Trekkie, fell in love with "Star Wars" at an early age, and became obsessed with comic book superheroes. He spent his youth dreaming of how to get real superpowers, starships, and so on.

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