As the new Dark One, Hook puts his master plan into place... with some help from Rumple.
Credit: ABC/Eike Schroter

We’ve got one more week until the winter finale of Once Upon a Time, and we’re finally getting some answers to what happened in Camelot all those weeks ago. Namely: We have memories! Finally! Which is good because those memories are definitely going to come in handy with what currently is threatening Storybrooke…

When we last left our heroes, Emma had taken desperate measures to save Hook’s life, turning him into the Dark One. And so we begin with the origin story of Dark One Hook, which begins the same way Emma’s did: in a coil of darkness much like The X-Files’ black oil, with Hook rising from what I’m assuming is some kind of Dark One portal, looking very scruffy and rugged. Oh, and he’s also re-lived all of his worst dark memories in preparation for his new role. And naturally, good ol’ Rumple is waiting for him with a jolly greeting of “hi!” Hook is less than enthused to see his old enemy (“bloody crocodile”), but Rumple has a tantalizing offer: He can get him the revenge he’s always wanted, which includes finally killing Rumple for good.

Back in Storybrooke’s present day, Hook, having been “reborn” with the re-emergence of his darkness, wipes Emma’s memory with her dreamcatcher right before the group storms Emma’s house. After finding her pretty much incapacitated (thanks to the magic-zapping cuff Zelena gifted Emma with before taking off), they congregate and find out exactly what happened with Hook. Regina’s not entirely happy Emma made him the Dark One, but Emma has a very good rebuttal for her “mistake” — “I didn’t think any of this would happen!” She thought she was doing everyone a favor by isolating herself and not getting everyone involved, but as it turned out, that was the wrong decision because it left Emma alone, without any support. Snow asks her to give them back their memories because if they know what happened, they can help defeat Hook, but David appears and tells them that all the dreamcatchers — and their memories — are gone.

Hook has made his way to Rumple and Belle, and I guess there’s no secret now about who exactly the Dark One is. Then again, Dark Ones never seem to go about their work quietly. He wants to get the revenge that he was promised and bring it back to where it all started: by staging a duel to the death on his ship. But he gets to fight with Excalibur (which can kill him), while Rumple gets to fight with the regular sword. Rumple immediately goes to Regina and Co. and brings up Merlin’s message/Nimue, which Emma recognizes. She wants them to take off the cuff because she can still protect them, but everyone is wary of trusting her and for good reason. The nail in this coffin is when Henry wanders in and refuses to aid in Emma’s request. Not only is he still hurt by what Emma did to him and his crush, but he’s pissed off that she isolated herself so much she couldn’t even ask for Henry’s help. They were a team! Operation Mongoose! You can’t just FORGET Operation Mongoose. Much like Regina’s time as a Dark One, Emma’s soft spot is her son, and you can almost see her resolve breaking. (I know Emma’s upset no one trusts her, but I mean, she did it to herself.)

WANT MORE? Keep up with all the latest from last night’s television by subscribing to our newsletter. Head here for more details.

In Camelot, Merlin and the others are trying to figure out where Emma and Hook have gone. Snow suggests going to the Lady of the Lake for help and then defends Emma’s decision to save Hook because, hey, she’s their daughter! And sometimes, you have to lead with your heart rather than your head. I mean, that’s why they work so well, right? Hook, meanwhile, has got some attitude, some nice leather clothes, and some angst because everyone gets a wardrobe change of some sort when they become a Dark One (it’s a good thing that apparently we’ve progressed since the days of Nimue and Rumple. Black gowns and leather are SO much more attractive nowadays). Emma finds him and starts trying to talk sense into him the same way that he once did when she first became the Dark One. Emma’s got a bit of a leg up on the situation because she knows that Hook is being seduced by Bad Angel!Rumple and manages, through love, to bring him out of his spiral, at least temporarily. She’s still determined to get the darkness out of both of them for good. I’m not sure how the whole “Hook is the Dark One” thing is working since for Rumple and Emma, the one thing that remained in both of them, even in their days of darkness, was true love. But maybe Hook is just born to be a hater.

NEXT: You know, black is this year’s pink

Turns out Rumple has got some new leaves to be turning over. He tells Belle that he’s decided he’s not going to run from the battle because he’s spent his entire life running. Belle says he has nothing to prove anymore; he disagrees — he doesn’t think he’s a hero. He wants to do better by her, by the way of honesty and courage. “Let me be the man you deserve,” he pleads, before asking her to meet him at the well. If she shows up, he’ll know how she feels. It’s quite a tall order, and I feel like with any other couple it would be a little cheesy. But Rumple and Belle are one of the most interesting relationships on the show, with real stakes and a real complicated history, and stuff like this just makes me more invested.

Emma stays at the house while the rest of the group goes to find information at the library, with a testy and unhappy Merida watching over her and ready to shoot. Hook arrives, and while Emma thinks it’s because he still has feelings for her (because, remember, even when Emma was dark, she DID still have feelings for him), Hook tells her it’s the opposite. Now that he’s the Dark One, all he realizes is how much she’s anchored him and dragged him down. He’s a free man now and no longer wants to be distracted by her. (Look how it feels, Emma. Look how it feels when you realize you’ve destroyed your own happiness.) Hook wants to hurt her “like you hurt me,” and then we flash back to Camelot where Emma and Hook are sharing a reinvigorated, passionate kiss. They separate, and Hook gets distracted by Rumple, who drops a small but important piece of information: Emma is lying about not knowing where Excalibur is; she has it because Hook can hear the sound of the dagger. When Emma returns, he calls her out for lying, and Emma admits she kept the sword because she knew he was afraid of his dark powers. But then Hook yells at her more for turning him into the Dark One even when she knew he asked her not to do it in the first place. When Emma was the Dark One, Hook used pure love and trust in order to try to save her because he believed in her. But Emma went straight for dark magic and never believed in him. Talk about relationship drama. When Emma summons him using the dagger (transporting him to The Place Where Hook Died), she argues that the reason she saved Hook is because she’s been abandoned all her life and couldn’t bear to lose her love as well. She gives him the sword back in an attempt to prove that she trusts him and promises she’ll never try to control him again. Before the two kiss again, Emma also promises they’re going to do this darkness thing together, like they’re supposed to.

In Storybrooke, Emma comes to Rumple to ask for his help in getting everyone’s memories back, and she wants him to occupy Hook in battle long enough for her to be able to steal the dreamcatcher by using the squid ink that Zelena used to immobilize her. Rumple’s not interested in using magic to win this battle, though, perfectly content with his suicide mission, which leads Emma to find Henry in the library. Henry offers to make her a locator spell to help find the dreamcatchers, calling it “Operation Cobra: Part II” of course. Emma’s teamwork is what Henry needs to believe his mother can be trusted, and so he removes the cuff, which allows Emma to get the dreamcatchers back.

Zelena goes to visit her baby (did I mention that I love how everyone who turns evil just gets wardrobe changes?) only to find that Regina has taken care of that already. She brings Zelena to where Robin is taking care of the child in hopes of convincing her that having a child will help turn the darkness around. After all, it was Henry’s love that saved Regina and made her a good person. Even though they’ll never be a real family, Robin is going to permit Zelena to visit the child as long as he and Regina are there. We’re not sure where this is going yet with Zelena, and maybe she’ll prove to be too hard to break. But if Regina can overcome her darkness, anyone can. (I love how Regina threatens people with her own darkness. It proves that she’s still got a bit of fire in her, even if she’s not the person she was in season 1.)

NEXT: Crickety-crockety crickety-crook, the croc is after Captain Hook!

Rumple meets Hook on the ship, where he’s forced to abandon his cane and fight dirty. Or, you know, for the people he loves. Hook wounds him, but somehow Rumple gets the upper hand, though he elects not to kill Hook — despite having him at his mercy with Excalibur. He wants him to live forever with the knowledge he was bested, which is the honorable thing to do, I guess. Reinvigorated by his success, he returns to the well, where Belle meets him — though this isn’t a happy reunion. See, Belle loves Rumple, she really does, but she’s also gotten her heart broken too many times to feel comfortable with this relationship. Like Emma, like Hook, there’s the issue of trust when it comes to them. She tells a distraught Rumple she doesn’t know if she wants to make it work, but even if she does, she needs time to herself to figure it out.

Back in Camelot, Emma finally returns to her friends along with Hook, claiming he can be trusted, despite their wariness. Hook enters Granny’s, where Merlin is recording his fateful cauldron message about Nimue that we heard a few episodes ago, and we see the reason he got interrupted is because Hook’s entered. See, to get his revenge on Rumple, Hook needs to get back to Storybrooke. But to get back at all, the spell involves crushing the heart of “the thing they love most.” Hook steals Merlin’s heart, and then Nimue appears. Since she is the Dark One To End All Dark Ones (that is, she is “in all Dark Ones”), if Hook crushes Merlin’s heart, it will be just like his lover did it. How is that for coincidence? Despite Emma showing up, upset that Hook has played her when she believed he was being honest, Hook crushes the heart and kills Merlin because “no one will control me!” Ah, good wizard. We hardly new ye. (Seriously, kind of sucks to be stuck in a tree forever and then get brought back only to die.) He uses the remains of Merlin’s heart to create the relocation spell, but Emma knocks him out and then steals all of Hook’s memories in hopes of trying to make him the man he was before the darkness got hold of him. Rumple appears, reminding her that she’ll need to do better than that in order for the secret to actually stay secret, which is why Emma summoned all of her friends to Granny’s and erased their memories as well, leaving them unconscious on the floor, as we found them at the beginning of the season.

In present day, everyone is gathered at Regina’s house as Emma prepares to give them back their memories — including her own. And once she does, she realizes she knows exactly what Hook is doing. We see Hook and Dark One!Rumple at a lake, which holds the portal to the Underworld. How do you open it? With a drop of Rumple’s blood. It’s okay that Rumple’s not really dead because it’ll seem like he is. Hook has blood from where he hurt Rumple during the duel, and opens the portal, allowing a shadowy figure on a boat to enter. Is it Hades? No, it’s Nimue — and the rest of the Dark One Army. They’re assembling in the flesh so they can help Hook do the one thing he’s set on accomplishing: snuffing out the light.

Welcome to Storybrooke?

Stray Odds & Ends:

  • “Baby Hood” = How To Get Away With Not Having A Name For Your Child In Storybrooke
  • I like Dark Hook. He’s snazzy. And sassy. And snarky. And he wears leather. (Sue me, I’m easy to please.)
  • In a rare turn of events, the quote of the night belongs to Zelena (a.k.a. not Regina) for “once you go green, you’ll never go queen.”
  • I’m not too happy about the Belle/Rumple break-up (though with this show, I’m sure there’s a chance it could be resolved in the next episode), but I hope the show doesn’t go back down the Rumple Gets Revenge And Backpedals On His Progress path AGAIN just because of what happened. The character’s come too far for that.

Episode Recaps

Once Upon a Time

Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.

  • TV Show
  • 7
stream service