"The Jolly Roger" is the 61st episode of Once Upon a Time.
Ariel returns to Storybrooke and pleads with Hook to help her find Prince Eric, who never returned to the town when the new curse was invoked. Emma agrees to let Regina teach her how to use magic so that she can help defeat Zelena, and Mary Margaret and David try to prove that they can be just as much fun as Hook is with Henry, who thinks they are boring. Meanwhile, during the past year, an angry Ariel confronts Hook over her missing lover, who she presumes was kidnapped and possibly killed by the swarthy pirate. But when Hook confesses that the Jolly Roger has been stolen and Eric is most likely the thief's prisoner, Ariel unknowingly provides him with a clue as to who the culprit is, and they go off in search of his ship.
The thief summons his "army".
It's nighttime in the Enchanted Forest, during the missing year, a wealthy carriage is seen riding down a road, being pulled by four horses, each ridden by a knight. They soon come to a stop when they see a man in armor and a helmet, carrying a shield, standing in the middle of the road; he draws his sword. The lead guard asks this man who he is, and the armored mystery says he's the man who's going to relieve them of all the gold they're transporting. The other knight laughs, and the first goes on to question, "You and what army?" "Well, I'm glad you asked," replies the man in the road, before raising his sword as a signal. With this, flaming arrows begin to light from within the woods, meaning the carriage is in fact surrounded by archers. He tells the knights that it's their choice, for they can either save their lives or the gold, and the lead guard orders a retreat. The horses turn around, heading the opposite way down the road, thus leaving the carriage where it is, and the thief places his sword back into the sheath of his shield.
Hook is happy with his haul.
Once he does so, he removes his helmet to reveal the face of Captain Hook, who then calls out for Mr. Smee, his right-hand man. Smee approaches, wondering what's the matter, and his captain replies that the arrows took a lot longer to light than discussed. A close shot then reveals the flaming arrows are being held by prop men, made up of sacks and sticks, and Smee tells Hook that it was difficult to light them all themselves, adding that it would be easier if they had an actual army. Two other pirates have now come out of hiding and the four of them look to the horses, which are still riding away, and walk up to the carriage of gold they left behind. As Smee unlocks it, he comments how nice it is to be at Hook's side again - not as a rat - and the captain says it's a nice side effect of the curse breaking. Smee admits to enjoying the mobility, but being a human is good too, and as he talks, the two other men remove a treasure chest from the carriage, placing it down on the floor and breaking its lock. It's opened to reveal mounds of gold and treasure, and Hook recalls, "What did I tell you, mates? You don't need a ship to be a pirate!"
Hook's men chip in for a treat.
Hook and his small pirate crew are then seen at a tavern, gambling. When the captain wins a game involving coins, he raises his tankard of beer and makes a toast: "To the most dastardly band of pirates ever to set sail-" he and Smee laugh "-stride on the open roads!" Smee then raises a toast of his own, to Captain Hook, and everyone in the bar raises their glass and cheers, before drinking. Hook's right-hand man then approaches him and reveals that he and the boys chipped in and got a little something for their captain, gesturing to the wench standing by the bar, clearly a prostitute. She approaches with a smile on her face and takes Hook by the hand, leading him gracefully out of the tavern whilst his men wish for him to enjoy. "To Captain Hook!" Smee cries again as he leaves with the wench, and everyone inside cheers once more.
Ariel introduces herself.
Outside, Hook smiles at the wench but simply hands her a bagful of coins, something which she doesn't understand, having already been paid for by his men. He says that, tomorrow, she is to tell them she had a grand time, before bidding her goodnight. She walks away, and Hook sighs with sadness, proceeding to simply walk lonesomely down the alley. As he does so, however, he's suddenly hit around the head with a blunt object and falls to the ground. The woman responsible then gets atop him and places a knife to his neck, threatening to slit his throat should he move; his blurred vision stops us from seeing her face. He tells her that that wouldn't be a good plan for her, assuming she doesn't know who he is, but she reveals she knows exactly who he is, referring to him as Captain Hook. He smiles, pointing out that he's at a disadvantage, and just as her familiar face comes into view, she introduces herself as Ariel, going on to say that he's going to pay for what he's done.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Nine Months Later
Within Mary Margaret's loft, David is looking at instructions as to how one assembles a crib, commenting that he's seen enemy battle plans that were easier to decode than this. Emma tells him to hand it to her, and he does so, allowing us to see all the components of the crib they're trying to build in a heap on the floor. "Alright, it says take screws E with washers D through bar C, using wrench F, which is... not provided," she reads, angered. Mary Margaret asks why they don't just call Marco, who's really good at this sort of thing, but they don't allow it, assuring her that they're fine. She asks if they should even be doing this, pointing out that, ever since the showdown between the Wicked Witch and Regina, they haven't seen Zelena or Gold at all, wondering if they shouldn't be focusing on their next move. Emma says that they are, but that they can't stop living, and David adds that this crib is a statement, assuring his wife that they're not going to lose another baby. "And, thanks to me, you won't," states Regina as she walks in, placing magical ingredients down on the table and telling them that she's finished.
Regina agrees to train Emma in magic.
Charming stands up, asking the Mayor if she was able to successfully put up a new protection spell, and she answers positively, saying that this one can't be undone by blood magic, which means Zelena won't be able to get her hands on Snow's baby. Mary Margaret smiles, but asks if her stepmother has any idea as to why Zelena would want to steal her baby, and Regina informs the pregnant princess that the number of spells involving baby parts would surprise her, commenting that "that greenie" is clearly one twisted witch, but as long as they stay inside, they should stay safe. Emma says that that's useless, thinking they should stop playing defense and start bringing the fight to her, and Regina asks the blonde if she didn't see how she barely outwitted her half-sister the previous day, reminding her that Zelena has magic; powerful magic. "I have magic, you've seen me use it," Emma points out, "I just can't always control it. But if we team up, if you taught me..." The Mayor sarcastically asks why this sounds so familiar, having tried to teach magic to Emma once before (see "Ariel"), but the blonde says she's ready this time. Regina agrees, but adds that, if they do this, they're going to do it her way, for this isn't drinking stale coffee at a stakeout or whatever Emma did as a bail bondsperson. She then puts her hand on the chest containing her magical ingredients and states that this is a way of life, and one has to fully commit to it.
The Charmings are shocked to hear that they're boring.
"Not a problem," Emma assures her, and Regina tells her new student to meet her in her vault in one hour, before taking her things and leaving with them. Once she does so, Emma tells her parents not to complain, arguing that learning magic is the only way to defeat the Wicked Witch, assuring them that she will be careful. Mary Margaret says that they know and David tells her not to worry, offering to watch Henry when he gets back from the store. However, Emma tells them that that might not be the best idea, and they wonder why, leading her to make up the excuse that they're tired and need to rest. Mary Margaret points out that she's pregnant, not sick with the flu, and Emma says she knows; "It's just... um... well, it's... cradle cap! Last time you guys had him, you overwhelmed him with baby tips. He's twelve, he doesn't want to talk about pregnancies, it's not fun." Mary Margaret argues that they are fun, but Emma tells them that Henry disagrees, shocking them. Their daughter assures them that he'll get there, reminding her parents that Henry doesn't know who they are, and David asks, "Well, if we're not fun, who is?" Emma looks guilty.
Smee wants to go.
We then cut to Hook, who's standing at the docks looking out at the open sea, and Mr. Smee soon approaches, being told by his captain that it's about time, for he should knows how much he abhors waiting. He then asks his right-hand man what it is that's so urgent, and Smee explains that he and the men were talking about how they haven't seen much of their captain since they all ended up back in Storybrooke, leading Hook to smile and ask if there's a point to that rather odd observation. Smee asks what's keeping them from crewing up again, hitting the high seas and getting back to pirating, but Hook points out that there's no safe passage out of this town, reminding his inferior that those who try to leave are attacked and turned into flying monkeys; "You've already been a rodent, Mr. Smee, does life as a simian interest you as well?" Smee argues that they could outrun the monkeys, but Hook doubts it, what with that torso of his red-hatted friend, and Smee goes on to say that they could if they had a fast enough ship, the Jolly Roger for instance, as Hook still hasn't said whether he found it or not during the time that none of them can remember. Hook says that what happened during that time isn't important, but Smee tells him that that's because he remembers, whereas none of the rest of them do. He asks if their ship's okay, wanting to know what happened to it, but Hook states that it's his ship and all Smee needs to know is that it's not in Storybrooke, so there will be no outrunning of anything.
Smee looks out at the docks, spotting all the ships, and says they could take any one of them, but Hook tells his right-hand man that he's tried letting him down easy and so now he'll try being more direct: he has no intention of leaving this town. Smee agrees that Storybrooke has its bright spots, adding that he hasn't tried anything quite like frozen yogurt before, but the Wicked Witch is there and, with that sort of danger, what possible reason could his master have to stay? Emma and Henry begin approaching, and Hook tells his inferior that his reasons are his own and they are to be questioned at his peril. Smee understands and walks away whilst Emma tells her son to wait where he is, approaching Hook by herself. She sees Smee leaving and asks if he used to be a rat, which the pirate confirms, adding that, in many ways, he still is. He then asks to what he owes the pleasure of her company and she wonders if he would be okay with watching Henry again. He jokingly says that she just has to ask if she wants to get close to him and doesn't have to use the lad as an excuse, and she asks why she isn't surprised he's making this about him, explaining that she needs his help because Regina needs to train her in magic, for she thinks, together, they might be able to defeat Zelena.
Emma reveals her plan to leave.
Hook tells her that that's the first reasonable plan he's heard since this whole thing began, assuring Emma that magic is a part of her and reminding her that he was there when Cora tried to take her heart (see "Queen of Hearts"), thus he saw the power inside of her; it's about time she embraced it, for that's what makes her the savior. She argues that she's not embracing anything, explaining that she needs to learn magic to defeat Zelena and make sure everyone in town is safe, but after that, she's done. "Done with what, exactly?" the pirate wonders, and Emma looks towards Henry, who's playing on his handheld games console. She says that he doesn't belong in Storybrooke, not anymore; he belongs in the real world, in New York, in a life that he remembers. It was good, and it didn't involve vile villains. Hook then asks about the life she remembers, saying that she can't just pretend like this never happened because he's spent the last year trying to do just that - go back to the person that he used to be - but it doesn't work. She wonders why, wanting to know what happened over the last year that he's not telling her, but he says it matters not, just wanting her to take from him, just this once, that no matter how much she wants to go back to her old life, she can't. They are left standing there.
Ariel washes ashore.
David and Mary Margaret are strolling along the beach of Storybrooke together, protected by the former's umbrella as he says that they can't just sit back and do nothing. Snow tells him he's right, saying that they can be as much fun as any pirate captain, and David agrees, adding that Henry obviously did a lot of growing up over the past year but they just have to adjust accordingly. Mary Margaret then notices a large crowd gathered around something on the beach and wonders what going on, hearing one man say that someone just washed up on shore. "Who did? Who's here?" she wants to know, and when they finally get through the crowd, they see Ariel sitting at the center of it. She's in her mermaid outfit, but with a warm coat wrapped around her, and Snow utters her friend's name. Ariel simply smiles back, awkwardly.
Old friends catch up.
Granny hands Ariel a cup of coffee on the beach whilst Mary Margaret asks the mermaid where she's been, saying that they thought she'd been turned into a monkey. This confuses her and she reminds them that she's a girl who turns into a fish, not a monkey, and David assures her that they know, but asks what happened to her. Ariel explains that she's been under the sea, searching, now having traveled to every known realm looking for Prince Eric. David wonders how long he's been missing and Ariel tells him that, after Pan failed (see "Going Home"), she woke up in Storybrooke like everybody else and Eric was gone; she didn't know what had happened until she overheard people saying that they had all gone back to the Enchanted Forest and been there for a year without knowing it. "So you still don't know what happened to him?" David inquires further, and Ariel says that that's why she returned, thinking she may have overlooked something or that he'd be in town, but, obviously, they haven't seen him. Mary Margaret apologizes, telling her old friend that they've been trying to piece together what happened and all they know is that they're up against Regina's sister, the Wicked Witch. Ariel wonders if she might be responsible for Prince Eric's disappearance, but Snow says that it's impossible to know everything without their memories. "Maybe for us, but what about Hook?" Charming suggests, and Ariel realizes that they're speaking of the famed pirate captain. Mary Margaret explains that he wasn't part of the witch's curse and has his memories, so maybe he can shed some light on what happened to Eric. Ariel asks if they think he'd help her and Mary Margaret doesn't see why not, for Hook previously aided them in rescuing Henry from Neverland. Ariel looks slightly more hopeful.
Events turn around.
In the fairytale land that was over the past year, Ariel is still on top of Hook, holding a knife to his throat. With fear of adding insult to injury, he requests that she catch him up on her particular grievance, and she accuses him of kidnapping Prince Eric, ordering that he be returned to her. She gets to her feet, keeping the knife firmly aimed, and demands that he stand up. As he does so, he comments that kidnapping a prince does sound like something he would do, but he's afraid she's got the wrong pirate; "Or should I say the wrong pirate has you," he adds as he grabs the knife from her hand and positions himself behind her, holding the weapon up to her own throat. She tells him to go ahead and kill her but that she still knows he's lying because one of Eric's men escaped and said the ship that took him was Hook's: the Jolly Roger. Hook repeats his ship's name longingly and asks the mermaid if she's certain, turning her around and angrily demanding that she answer him. "You really didn't take him..." she comes to realize as tears well up in her eyes; the knife is still pressed against her neck. Hook asks what else Ariel knows about who's captaining his ship, wondering if the man who escaped told her anything else, and she reveals that he was able to escape using a weapon he stole from the armory - the very dagger that's currently against her throat. Hook moves it away, allowing the poor girl to breathe, in order to inspect it. He soon notices the initials "B. B." engraved on the handle and smiles, knowing whose symbol this is. He then runs off back into the tavern as Ariel watches, still worried for her prince.
Hook decides to pursue Black Beard.
Inside, Smee is snoring as he sleeps in his chair, but Hook soon bursts in, telling the "rats" to rise and shine and offering no offense to his right-hand man. Mr. Smee assures him that no offense was taken as he slowly wakes up, revealing that he keeps dreaming of cheese. He then asks his captain what news he has and Hook informs his inferior that he knows who has the Jolly Roger, and they're going to take "her" back. Smee asks whose funeral they shall be attending and Hook slams the dagger into the table, stating, "Black Beard." Smee repeats the name with fear, knowing this to be the most cutthroat pirate ever to hoist a sail ("after you, of course"), but Hook simply says that that will make it all the more satisfying when he takes his ship back and makes Black Beard walk her lovely plank. Smee begs his captain not to be hasty, pointing out that they've been having fun and getting rich from robbing carriages, so maybe they don't need the Jolly Roger; as Hook said, one doesn't need a ship to be a pirate.
Ariel tags along.
Hook argues that she's more than just a ship, despite Smee's claims, and states that she's more than that. "I haven't been myself since we've returned," he admits after a lull, "I should have realized the reason why. It's because I don't have her." Smee repeats "her", telling Hook that he talks about his vessel as though it were a woman, but the captain says that women come and go whereas a pirate's life is forever. Still, Smee doubts they'd even be able to find Black Beard, but Hook orders him not to be a coward, saying that he could have his ship again in less than a day's trek. Ariel then approaches, saying that she will have her prince by then too, but Hook turns to the mermaid and informs her that few people have held a dagger to his throat and lived to tell the tale, so she should leave before he changes his mind. She refuses, explaining that she's crossed paths with enough pirates to know their code: any information a pirate captain obtains shall be compensated in equal favor. "I think she's right," Smee chimes in, leading Hook to give him an angry glare. "So," says Ariel, "When do we leave?" Hook simply considers the mermaid.
Hook tells a lie.
Over at Granny's Diner, Hook rolls a pair of dice and wins whatever game he's been playing with Henry, thus taking a fry from the young man's plate and adding it to his own. The pirate babysitter asks the boy if he knows what the secret to winning is, and Henry asks, "Practice?" However, Hook answers negatively, revealing that he has a pair of trick dice. Henry tells him that that's cheating but Hook argues that it's only cheating if you get caught. The young man thinks different, saying that it's cheating either way, but Hook tells him that the point is: you win. He notices David enter the diner and hands Henry the dice, telling him to practice whilst he goes off to talk to the prince, whose accompanied by Mary Margaret and Ariel. David introduces the latter and explains that she's looking for someone who didn't return to Storybrooke with the rest of them, and Ariel herself explains that the missing person is from a maritime kingdom and loved to sail, so perhaps the pirate came across him whilst sailing the high seas; she then reveals his name to be Prince Eric. "Sorry, lass, I wish I could help, but I've never heard of him," Hook lies completely, and Ariel appears saddened by this news.
Class is in session.
Over at the Mills family mausoleum, Regina is seen being followed by Emma beneath her father's tomb and down the secret stairway which leads to the former's vault. Regina tells her new student not to touch anything, but Emma wonders how she's supposed to learn magic if she can't; Regina says that she will learn the same way she herself learned with Rumple, by creating a solid foundation first and then building her skills from the ground up. She then turns around and sees that Emma has picked up some sort of petrified claw and, angrily, she snatches it out of the blonde's hand, reminding her not to touch anything. As the Queen opens up a chest, she wonders who's looking after Henry, presuming it to be the Charmings, but Emma reveals that Hook is. This surprises Regina, who points out how much time her former adoptive son has been spending with the pirate recently, but Emma assures Henry's other mother that Hook's good with Henry and Henry likes him. "He's prone to violence, impulsive and has a hook for a hand. What about him would a twelve-year-old boy not like?" says Regina, continuing to rummage. Emma tells her new teacher that she trusts Hook because he brought her back to Storybrooke when he didn't have to (see "New York City Serenade"), but the Queen says that of course he brought her back. Emma wonders what that's supposed to mean and Regina asks if the blonde's going to pretend that everyone doesn't see the yearning looks and doe eyes.
Emma doesn't know what the alphabet looks like.
The latter insists that she doesn't yearn, and Regina agrees, but says that Hook does. She then takes a spell book from her chest and opens it, suggesting that they start with roots for incantations. Emma takes the book and asks her teacher if she's kidding, wondering what language the pages are written in, thinking maybe it's Spanish. "We're not making tapas, we're making magic," Regina reminds her, "It's Elvish. Well, Half-Elvish." Emma says that she's never going to get this, asking if this is how Rumple taught Regina and requesting that she think back to her training, wanting to know what other methods the Dark One used. Regina reveals that Rumple was a bully who didn't suffer fools and certainly didn't coddle his students; if he tried to teach you how to swim and you couldn't learn, you drowned. She then shuts the spell book back into her chest before turning to a surprised Emma with a smile and saying, "That's it." The blonde looks further confused before Regina lifts her arms and teleports the two of them out of there in a flurry of purple smoke.
The two of them end up at a large gorge on the outskirts of Storybrooke; Emma is standing in the center of a rope bridge whereas Regina is standing at the end of it, safely on the land. The former demands to know what the hell her teacher is doing, and Regina replies, "Teaching you to swim." The shot then pans to reveal just how deep the gorge is.
Hook is assigned a task.
Back in Granny's Diner, David tells Hook to think hard and asks is he's sure he can't remember anything that could be useful in finding Prince Eric, but Hook replies that he'd definitely remember if he ran into a prince during his adventures. A saddened Ariel says that she doesn't understand, not knowing how her true love could have vanished without a trace, but Mary Margaret suggests that maybe he didn't. David wonders what she means, and Snow reminds her husband that, when the curse brought them back to Storybrooke, it brought their possessions too, and Gold's shop is filled with them. Charming realizes that, if they find one of Eric's possessions, they could use a locator spell to track him, and a now hopeful Ariel says that they should get going. Hook comments that it sounds like a plan, wishing them the best of luck, but when he tries to walk away, Mary Margaret tells the pirate that he should come with them because he might remember something that they won't, or, can't; he'd be far more helpful than them. Hook points out that someone has to keep an eye on Henry, but David offers up his and Mary Margaret's services, saying that they could take over. The pirate then asks for a moment in private with David and the two of them head to a secluded area of the diner where Hook asks his mate if he's sure this is such a good idea because there's an obvious explanation as to why the little mermaid can't find her prince: he's dead, and there's no reason to supply her with false hope. David says that, in his experience, there's no such thing, and one simply has to believe, before telling Hook to go and wishing him good luck. Hook reluctantly prepares to leave with Ariel.
Ariel's cloak is ruined.
Hook, followed by Ariel, followed by Smee, is seen trekking through a forest in the fairytale land that was over the past year. "Trudge, trudge, trudge," Ariel says with every step she takes, commenting that there's nothing more boring than land travel and she'd much rather be dipping her tail in the ocean any day. Hook says that that's one thing they can agree on - minus the tail, of course - but assures her that they won't be bored for much longer because their destination's just beyond a nearby rise. Ariel realizes this means it won't be long until Eric and she are reunited, but her excitement falters when she gets her cloak caught in some bushes. Hook offers his assistance, using his namesake hook to tear the cloak away from the plants, but Ariel expresses heavy annoyance when she sees that he's ripped the fabric. He remarks that it's just a cloak, but she reveals that it's Eric's cloak which he's had since before they met; he left it with her whilst he was away to keep him close and now Hook has ruined it. "If mending a cloak is our biggest obstacle, we're in fine shape," the pirate points out, going on to say that Ariel may not even find her prince, or survive.
Hook denies being a hero.
She insists that she will and Hook asks if she didn't see the fear Black Beard's name struck into his crew, explaining to the little mermaid that one doesn't become a pirate captain through mercy and, if he were her, he would prepare himself for the worst. Ariel asks if this means Hook would kill Eric if he had him and he asks in turn if she doesn't believe he would. She says that, honestly, she was a little surprised to hear that he might be responsible for Eric's kidnapping, after the stories she's heard, and Hook wonders what stories they would be. She replies that some people say he's a hero, having helped reunite Snow White and her family in Neverland, but an angry Hook pulls her by the cloak and out of the earshot of Mr. Smee, telling her not to believe every story she hears. He then nods for Smee to keep walking, and the former rat obliges, carrying on whilst Ariel tells the pirate captain that being good is nothing to be ashamed of. "People change," she continues, "Look at me: I have legs and fell in love with a human. I don't think anyone saw that coming." "You may have changed, but I haven't. I'm a pirate and I always will be," he angrily assures her, before trekking onward. She follows on.
A clue is found...
Ariel and Hook are seen walking past a sign which reads Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer in Storybrooke, before walking inside. The former calls out for Belle, who's standing behind the counter, very happy to see Ariel. She wonders where she's been, saying she thought she'd never see her again, whilst she steps out and hugs her, and Ariel explains that she's been looking for Eric because he's been missing since they all returned. This saddens Belle, who is then told by Hook that they were hoping to find something of the prince's within the shop, and she realizes that this is to see whether or not he's in Storybrooke. Ariel asks her friend if she's seen anything of his, but Belle says that she's only just started sorting through things, telling the mermaid not to despair and to start looking. As the girls begin looking through the objects in the counter, Hook wanders into the back room where he finds his old telescope propped up on a cabinet. He smiles, saying that he's been wondering where that went, before grabbing and extending it, holding it up to his eye. He begins using to to look around the shop, making sure it still works, but he is shocked to see Prince Eric's cloak (the same one Ariel was seen wearing in flashbacks) amongst the items. He begins approaching it, inspecting the Ursula emblem on the clasp, and Ariel soon exclaims, "That's Eric's!" as she walks into the back room with Belle. She asks Hook how he knew that was his and the pirate simply says he wasn't sure, explaining that he saw the sea-creature clasp and remembered that the prince was from a maritime kingdom. Ariel confirms this, and takes the cloak's presence to mean that now he's in Storybrooke, much to her and Belle's delight. The former mermaid hugs Hook, thankful for his discovery, but he merely looks guilty.
"Are you out of your mind?!" Emma exclaims as she continues to stand in the center of a rickety suspension bridge which stretches over a deep gorge. Regina, who's still standing safely at the end of the bridge, replies that each time Emma's used her powers, they've been spurred by her instincts, so today, they're going to push those instincts until she masters them. Emma says that reading doesn't sound so bad now, but Regina assures the blonde that she can stop her. Emma wonders what she's going to stop her from doing exactly, and Regina says, "This," as she outstretches a hand and begins magically pulling planks of wood off of the rope bridge, allowing them to fall into the stream far down below. Emma, who's frightened and soon standing on the only two planks left, asks what the hell her teacher is doing, and the Queen nonchalantly answers that she's making the bridge collapse, telling her student that she can either stop it or die. Emma is now standing only on the bottom line of ropes which used to support the planks, clutching to the top line with her hands, for there is no wood left at all now, but the ropes supporting her feet soon fall, leaving Emma dangling by her arms from what remains of the bridge. She begs Regina to stop this, but she refuses, telling Emma that she herself has to stop it; "No more hand-holding, you have to do this! Reach into your gut. You know you can do this. It's inside you, Emma!"
Emma saves herself with magic.
The savior looks fearful as she notices the ropes she's hanging from are beginning to fray, meaning they'll soon snap, but Regina assures her student that she's able to save the bridge and herself. However, the ropes soon break and Emma begins falling into the chasm she was suspended over. The Queen looks frightened for a moment, thinking that Emma might be dead, but sure enough, the blonde is seen magically levitating herself atop a combination of broken bridge components. Amazed with herself, she ascends and hovers over to Regina, a long trail of wreckage spouting from the initial piece of wood she's standing on. She asks if she really just did that and her teacher confirms it, adding that all she wanted was for her student to retie the rope. "It's like you said... instinct," says Emma as she looks down at the mashed together bits of debris, before asking Regina why she's angry, pointing out that she did it and it shouldn't matter how. Regina reveals that she's not mad because Emma didn't listen to her, she's mad because she has all this potential inside of her which she's been letting go to waste. The blonde simply continues to marvel in what she's accomplished.
The spell works.
Inside Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer, Belle is seen to be pouring a potion over Prince Eric's cloak whilst Hook and Ariel watch. The beauty explains that the potion is a locator spell, so any object it's poured on becomes enchanted and returns itself to its owner. Ariel thanks her friend, telling her that she knows she's been busy trying to find a way to free Mr. Gold from the Wicked Witch's control and didn't have to do this, but Belle says that she did, hopefully suggesting that perhaps a little good news in Storybrooke will be contagious. Ariel smiles, nodding, and the three of them watch as the cloak magically rises into the air, flying towards the door of the shop. "Let's go!" the mermaid exclaims, in a hurry.
The Jolly Roger is located.
Back in time, Black Beard's pirate crew is seen getting the Jolly Roger ready to set sail, still being tied up at the docks, from where Hook, Ariel and Smee are watching from behind barrels. Hook comments that his ship is even more beautiful than he imagined, assuring it from afar that it will soon be back in his arms, and Ariel asks the pirate if he realizes he's talking to a boat. "You have your love, I have mine," he argues, and Smee proceeds to wonder how they're going to get on board, pointing out that Black Beard's crew outnumbers them. Hook simply winks at his right-hand man, telling him that he'll show him, before standing up and simply walking aboard the ship. He whistles behind one of the pirates, catching their attention, but when the pirate turns to face Hook, he receives a punch in the face and falls to the floor. Hook then draws his sword and whistles more loudly, alerting the rest of the pirates of his presence, and tells them that the rightful captain of the Jolly Roger is now boarding. He requests that the coward who tried stealing it show his face so that he may be given the punishment he deserves, and a man emerges from beneath the deck, saying, "Gladly." Black Beard has his own sword drawn, and assures Hook that it's not him who'll be punished.
Meet Black Beard.
He kicks a barrel out of the way and begins moving around the deck, telling the Jolly Roger's former captain that, if he wants his ship back, he's going to have to take it. The tips of the two captains swords touch whilst Ariel casually sneaks aboard and makes her way up to the helm, where most of the crew have already congregated, presumably beginning to search for her lost love. The pirates' swords continue to clash, now more frequently and aggressively, and Black Beard's crew cheer their captain on, especially when he manages to floor Hook, giving him time to draw a second sword. Hook is back on his feet in no time and the battle continues. After more swashbuckling, Hook tries to slash Black Beard's neck and fails, instead receiving an elbow in his face. Black Beard then tries to do the same to Hook who dodges also, before being jumped at and forced against the mast by his adversary's weapon, which he defends using his hook, pushing against the sword with all his might. Black Beard expresses surprise that Hook even showed up, for word has it on the water ways that he'd gone soft, but Hook argues that the only soft thing around there will be Black Beard's guts spilling on the deck when their fight is over.
The sword fight is won by Hook.
With that, he grabs onto one of the sail's ropes and uses it to swing to the other side of the ship, bringing the sail down in the process and blocking the crew's view of the duel, much to their dismay. He grabs the sword which he was disarmed of earlier and states that he'll never give up the Jolly Roger without a fight. The swashbuckling continues and the crew can see the captains' shadows through the sail as the sword fight goes on. Eventually, they come to a point where their blades are being pressed against one another's, equally matched by each other's strength. Hook asks Black Beard if he thinks he knows this ship, and Black Beard replies positively, however, Hook tells him that, if that were the case; "You'd know not to step there!" With a whack from Hook's sword, the floorboard Black Beard is standing on caves in, jamming Black Beard's foot in the resultant gap, making him unable to move from the spot he's in. He cries out in pain as he tries to release it, now with his back leaning against the ship's edge, and Hook comments that he's been meaning to fix that as he aims his sword at Black Beard's throat. "Finish it!" Black Beard orders, and Hook asks his adversary if he fancies a shave, saying that he'd be happy to oblige.
However, just as he goes to slit the man's throat, Ariel emerges and tells him to wait, having searched the ship and revealing that Eric's not on board. She says that Hook has to get Black Beard to tell them where he is, and so the Jolly Roger's rightful captain asks his usurper the whereabouts of Prince Eric. Black Beard smiles, realizing that this entire occurrence was a rescue mission for some wench, before telling Hook that people are right about him: he has gone soft. Hook, who's still holding a sword to his enemy's throat, tells him that he can either make this painful or quite painful, ordering him to answer his earlier question, and Black Beard reveals that he has Eric stashed safe and sound on a deserted island, only he knows where, for he was planning to ransom him when the time was right. Ariel tells the notorious pirate that she'll pay whatever price he names, but Black Beard says that he's no longer after money, what he wants is the satisfaction of knowing that Captain Hook is no longer a pirate. Hook wonders how his adversary plans to prove that, and Black Beard offers him a choice: he can either surrender the Jolly Roger to him, and he'll reveal where he's holding Prince Eric, or refuse, and Eric will die along with him. Frightened, Ariel looks towards Hook as he contemplates the offer, deeply annoyed.
Eric's cloak continues to hover through Storybrooke whilst Hook and Ariel follow, intent on finding the missing prince. Ariel says that they must be getting close, suggesting that maybe her true love is on one of the boats at the town docks, but Hook remains silent, simply continuing to follow the enchanted item of clothing, which soon speeds up. Hook and Ariel watch as it lands on the surface of the water and the latter figures that it must be searching, however, the cloak is soon pulled down to the depths, out of sight, much to the little mermaid's dismay. "If the spell worked, and... it's taken us to Eric, then... he's gone!" she exclaims, realizing that her prince must have drowned. She hugs Hook for comfort as tears begin streaming from her eyes, and he simply places a hand on her shoulder, offering his condolences.
David tries teaching Henry to drive. It does not go well.
Mary Margaret and David are walking through Main Street when the former asks if what they're about to do is a good idea, but her husband reminds her that she wanted to take action, so they are. They approach David's jeep and Mary Margaret appears uneasy, leading Charming to point out that their grandson would rather spend time with a pirate than them, but not after today. She says that it's dangerous, not to mention illegal, but he assures her that it couldn't be safer and, as far as legality, he's the sheriff. The prince gives his worried wife a kiss on the cheek before entering the passenger side of his jeep, with Henry already sitting behind the steering wheel, happily anticipating what's to come. He asks David if he's sure this is okay and he replies that, if Killian can teach him how to steal a boat, he can teach him how to drive. "Technically, we borrowed it," Henry says, in reference to the boat, but David gets the engine going and asks to see how the young man handles a land vessel. Henry excitedly puts his hand on the wheel and moves forward quickly, however, he hits the brakes immediately, with David encouraging him to go steady. He does just that, slowly moving out of the driveway of Granny's Diner and onto the road, where David continues to tell him to go steady. Henry assures him that he's got it, but soon skids inadvertently, much to an onlooking Mary Margaret's shock. He nearly collides with another car, which honks its horn, at which point David grabs the wheel and tells his grandson to watch out, managing to steer them back into the correct lane. However, Henry accidentally drives up on the sidewalk, knocking down a mailbox; the jeep continues to speed down the road. Another skid is heard up ahead, and Mary Margaret covers her face with her hands in fright.
Ariel mourns the loss of Eric.
Ariel, still at the town docks, continues to look out at the calm waters, knowing that her true love is dead. She tells Hook, who's standing nearby, that she saved Eric from the sea once before (see "Ariel"), but she never thought she would lose him to it in the end. The pirate assures her that a sailor couldn't hope for a better resting place, and after a brief moment of silence, the mermaid turns to Hook and thanks him. He insists that he didn't do anything, but she recalls that he found Eric's cloak, and if he hadn't, she'd have never stopped looking for him; at least now she knows that their story's over, but she just wishes she knew how it ended. Hook remains silent, clearly feeling guilty, and Ariel turns to him again and assures him that he's more than just a pirate: he has a true heart, and she'll always be grateful that he tried to help her. She walks away from him, presumably heading home for the night, and the shot moves in on Hook's guilty expression as he turns to see the mermaid leaving.
Black Beard walks the plank.
"You can't do this!" Ariel is heard yelling, in flashback, whilst Hook forces Black Beard, whose hands are tied behind his back, to walk the plank of the Jolly Roger. The mermaid, currently being restrained by Smee, goes on to remind him that they had an agreement; he promised to help her find Eric. She continues to beg, saying that she knows he was a good man and that that good man is still in there somewhere; it's not too late to do the right thing. She asks if true love isn't more important than a few planks and a sail, but Hook says, where the Jolly Roger might be a few planks and a sail, "she's" his and "she's" all he needs. He states that love causes nothing but wasted years and endless torment, thus assuring Ariel that he's doing her a favor. He then slashes Black Beard's arm with his sword, explaining that that's a little something to raise the appetite of their razor-toothed "friends" below, before pushing him from the plank and into the ocean. Ariel yells out in protest, but it's too late, for Black Beard is already being feasted upon by sharks.
The little mermaid swims away.
Hook turns around and states that the Jolly Roger is his and any man willing to swear an oath to him shall be given quarter, whereas those who don't are welcome to follow their former captain. The entire crew simply cheer his name, now sworn to his allegiance, and Hook sheathes his sword, telling Mr. Smee that he may now release the restrained Ariel. Smee does so, allowing the mermaid to move, but the first thing she does is give Hook and slap across the face. "I was wrong about you, 'captain'," she says, "You're selfish, and you're heartless, and that is what will bring you wasted years and endless torment! I feel sorry for you; you'll never be happy." With that, she walks the plank herself, and Hook asks her where she thinks she's going. She reminds him that Eric's still out there and, whatever it takes, she will find him, before removing the magical bracelet that grants her legs and diving into the sea. The crew look overboard to see a green fishtail splashing in the water, and the little mermaid swims away to find her prince.
A confession is made.
In the present, a depressed Ariel is seen walking along the seafront of Storybrooke at nighttime, but she's soon approached by Hook, who comes running through the docks, telling her to wait. She does so, turning to him curiously, and asks what he wants. He says that he has a confession and that he hasn't be entirely truthful with her, or himself: the two of them have met before, their paths having crossed during the missing year, but this seems to confuse Ariel. Hook explains further that Eric had been kidnapped by Black Beard, a notorious pirate, and she asked him to find him. Ariel tells him that she doesn't understand, wondering why Hook didn't say anything, and he admits to being too ashamed, having sacrificed saving her prince for his ship. He apologizes, beginning to choke up, but a teary-eyed Ariel gives him a hard slap across the face, calling him a coward and a monster, appalled that he let a man die for his ship and asking what kind of person does that. "The kind who's empty," he replies, "Who believes that a ship can fill a void left by a broken heart." "And that makes it okay?!" she exclaims, but he assures her it does not, saying that he would give anything to take it back and make things right.
Hook has his kiss cursed.
She asks how she's supposed to trust a man who no longer believes in love, but he reveals that he still does, and so Ariel tells him to swear to her on it, asking if he still loves the woman who broke his heart. He answers positively, and so she requests that he swear to her on this woman's name. "I swear on Emma Swan," he declares, but this makes Ariel smile wickedly, telling the pirate that that's exactly what she needed to hear. Suddenly, she holds out her hand and Hook's lips glow green, before "Ariel" disappears in a flurry of green smoke and Zelena takes her place, this entire thing having been a ploy. Shocked, Hook draws his sword, demanding to know where the real Ariel is, but the Wicked Witch simply throws his weapon into the water with her magic. She tells him to relax, for the mermaid was never really there, and explains that, after he betrayed her on his beloved ship, Ariel actually found where Black Beard had been keeping her prince.
"Don't you just love a good twist?"
Hook asks Zelena how she would know that and she informs him that her spies are always circling, in every realm, before further explaining that Ariel found Eric on Hangman's Island, which was outside the curse's proximity, and they've been living happily ever after ever since. "Don't you just love a good twist?" she asks, but Hook says that he doesn't understand, asking the witch why she would pretend to be Ariel. Zelena tells him that she wanted to corrupt his love because, as she said, she's known about his dirty little secret for quite some time; seen the guilt on his face since the decision he made that day; she knew it haunted him, and she knew she could use it. He wonders what exactly she used it for, and she tells him that, when he invoked the name of his love in a selfish plea for attention, she was able to curse his kiss, so the next time his lips touch Emma Swan's, all of her magic will be taken; everything that makes her special, that makes her powerful, that makes her a threat... will be gone.
Hook has a decision to make.
Hook simply promises not to do it, saying that he'll tell her and then she'll defeat Zelena, but Zelena thinks otherwise, saying that she'd send the Dark One to kill Emma before he can do so. Hook realizes she's bluffing, putting together that the witch would have killed Emma by now if she could, but she needs her power removed first, and that's why she didn't kill her when she came to town and that's why she had a monkey look after her in New York, instead of killing her; for some reason, she can't. "It no longer matters," states Zelena, "Because you're going to remove her powers. I may not be able to hurt Emma, but I can hurt those around her. Her parents, her friends, her child..." Hook orders her not to go near Henry, and she realizes that he's become quite fond of the boy, saying that she will enjoy turning him into a monkey's breakfast. He assures her that he'll stop her, but again, she thinks otherwise, saying that his pointy little hook may be able to scratch a mere mortal, but not her, telling the pirate that he's out of his depth; the choice is his: kiss Emma and remove her powers, or everyone she loves will die. With that, Zelena disappears in another flurry of green smoke, leaving Hook with a truly big decision to contemplate.
Hook pops by for a visit.
Hook uses his namesake hook to knock on the door to Mary Margaret's loft, which is soon answered by Emma. He admits that he didn't expect to see her there and she wonders what he means, asking where Henry is and wanting to know whether everything's alright. Hook assures the blonde that her son is fine, explaining that he left the boy with his grandparents and thought they might be back at the apartment by now, but Emma says that she hasn't seen them, wondering what the pirate's been doing all day if he hasn't been watching Henry. Being let in, he informs her that he was enlisted to help Ariel find her lost prince, and Regina, who's also inside, expresses surprise that "that fish" is in Storybrooke. "She was, yes," Hook confirms, going on to say that they found a clue in Gold's shop which led them to discover that Eric had been shipwrecked on Hangman's Island, just off the coast of the Enchanted Forest, and Emma realizes that Zelena's curse must not have reached that far. Hook tells them that Ariel is on her way there now, adding that she wanted him to say "goodbye" to Mary Margaret for her, and Regina comments that, at the rate mermaid's swim, she's probably already there.
Ariel's happy ending comes into view.
"In fact, let's find out..." she adds, standing up from her seat at the table and approaching the large dress mirror in the corner of the room. Emma recalls her new magic teacher telling her that she couldn't use mirror magic to look between worlds, and Regina agrees that she herself can't, telling her student that, after seeing the raw power she, Emma, possesses, she thinks maybe she can. Emma looks at herself in the mirror whilst an uncomfortable Hook tells the blonde that there's no need, for he's sure Ariel is fine and it's bad form to spy on such a private affair. "How do I do it?" Emma asks, clearly ignoring the pirate, and Regina recounts that her student has focused and let emotions fuel her power, but now she has to look inward. Emma closes her eyes, trying to do so, and before long - much to Regina's happiness and Hook's dismay - the magic works and an image appears in the mirror. Through it, we see Ariel and Eric alone together on a beach; the prince lifts his true love into the air and twirls her around, before they share a passionate kiss.
You let him what?!
Emma turns to Hook, shocked that he's the one that made this happen and brought them together, but Hook denies it, giving all the credit to Ariel and her endless belief. She notes his modesty, commenting that the air is full of surprises that day, and as she does so, the image on the mirror vanishes, turning into a normal reflection once more, and Mary Margaret, David and Henry arrive home together, laughing. Emma asks them where they've been and Henry tells his mother that they've been having the best day ever, saying that David let him drive his truck. "You let him what?!" Regina exclaims, worried for Henry's safety, but she soon realizes that this is a strange show of concern because, as far as Henry knows, she's not his mother. She then adds that, as Mayor, she can't let an unlicensed, underage driver on the streets of Storybrooke. Emma looked shocked and embarrassed for what David let Henry do. David then tells Regina that, as Mayor, she may want to throw a little money at road repair, and Henry smirks, leading Regina to ask him what he means. "Nothing..." David says, and Regina tells the prince that this was a terrible mistake. Emma agrees, pointing out that someone could have gotten seriously hurt, but Mary Margaret tells her, "Only if you're a mailbox." Which made Emma confused.
Henry says that it was so much fun, which leads David to make clear that he has a reckless, care-free, fun side, and Emma smiles. Mary Margaret then asks Killian where their friend is, clearly referring to Ariel, and Hook explains that her missing husband was back home. Emma clarifies this, adding that they just checked up with her on "Skype" (Henry doesn't know about the existence of magic), and Hook adds further that she sends her regards, for she was too excited to wait. Mary Margaret seems happy that her friend got such a happy ending, commenting that maybe their luck's about to change, before suggesting dinner at Granny's Diner. "Can I drive?" Henry asks, but every adult in the apartment simultaneously tells him, "No!" Hook prepares to leave, saying he guesses he'll leave them to it, and Emma is surprised that he's not coming. As he walks out the door, he suggests another time, and she says that, if he changes his mind, he knows where to find them. "And Killian," she adds in the hall, once everyone else is out of earshot, "Whatever happened this past year, whatever you're not telling me... I don't care. I'm tired of living in the past." Hook tells her that he knows how she feels, before descending the stairs which lead to the building's exit. Emma watches him as he goes with a sad expression on her face.
Hook yearns for his true love.
Soon, Emma, Henry, Regina, David and Mary Margaret are seen having dinner together in Granny's Diner, all of them laughing and having a good time, conversing happily with one another.
Out on the streets, we see Hook walking down a sidewalk, carrying the telescope he earlier found in Gold's shop. He soon comes to a stop around the corner, having looked across the street a lot as he made his way there, before extending the telescope and holding it to his eye. Through it, he sees the joyous face of Emma Swan as she dines with her family. He stares at this view for a while, and when the telescope is removed, he continues to look longingly at his true love.
- The title card of this episode features David's jeep, being driven recklessly by Henry.
- Although credited, Michael Raymond-James (Neal Cassidy/Baelfire) and Robert Carlyle (Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin) are absent from this episode.
- The title of this episode was revealed by executive producer/co-creator Adam Horowitz, via his Twitter account, on January 27, 2014.
- This episode marks David H. Goodman's eleventh writing credit with the series, and third solo credit, as well as Ernest Dickerson's first directing credit.
The episode posted a 2.0 among adults 18-49 with a total of 6.5 million viewers and won its timeslot. Overall, a majority of Sunday night programs were also down that evening besides this one.
The episode was met with positive reviews:
- Hillary Busis of Entertainment Weekly gave it a great review: ""The Jolly Roger" was an appropriately exciting hour of television -- complete with the sort of confounding, frustrating final twist that Once should consider having trademarked. All that, plus the return of JoAnna Garcia Swisher's delightfully daffy Ariel?"
- Christine Orlado of TV Fanatic gave the episode 4.4 out of 5 stars.
- Amy Ratcliffe of IGN gave it a 8.5, saying that "This week's Once focused on Hook, and things got awfully exciting - in a good way."
- Gwen Ihnat of The A.V Club gave the episode a "B", noting that, "Hook has been one of the more delightful character reinventions on Once Upon A Time. Turning the classic permed villain into a swaggery anti-hero, now a tortured romantic, is one of the most successful character transformations this show has taken on. The episode title “The Jolly Roger” refers to Hook’s efforts to get his boat back, his true love, but really the vessel is just a stand-in for his actual true love, Emma, who—due to yet another unfortunate curse!—seems farther away from him than ever by the end of the episode."
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- ↑ Adam Horowitz tweet.
- ↑ "TV Ratings Sunday: 'Resurrection' & 'Cosmos' Hit Lows, 'Once Upon A Time' Down, 'Revenge' Steady, 'Crisis' Up" from TV By The Numbers/Zap2It (April 14, 2014)
- ↑ "'Once Upon a Time' recap: Boat Show" by Hilary Busis, Entertainment Weekly (April 13, 2014)
- ↑ Once Upon a Time Review: A Tortured Hero, by Christine Orlado, TV Fanatic (April 13, 2014)
- ↑ ONCE UPON A TIME: "ONCE A PIRATE...", by Amy Ratcliffe, IGN (April 14, 2014)
- ↑ ONCE UPON A TIME: "The Jolly Roger", by Gwen Ihnat, The A.V Club (April 13, 2014)