Once Upon A Time – Season 3, Episode 17 Recap: My Love Is An Anchor Tied To You

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Yes, I titled this recap with an old school song reference. But it’s an awesome song so listen to it after you read.

This evening we begin on a quiet road in the Enchanted Forest, where a coach clatters along. Suddenly, a helmeted knight appears! No, that’s not a euphemism!

The coachmen asks who the man is and he replies (in a very deep voice) that he’s there to rob them, and even with the helmet obscuring his face and hidden by a suit of armor, there’s just no mistaking that crisp, Shakespearean elocution. Hello Hook! And don’t you look dashing in armor!

It turns out that Hook and his crew have turned to banditry in lieu of a ship, and they head off to celebrate their latest haul at a local tavern. The men have chipped in and bought Hook some female companionship for the evening (as if they’d have to pay any woman – please!) and he heads off with the tasty morsel, only to pay her off twice over with her promise that she won’t tell the men he was sending her on her way disappointed.

Awwww. A faithful pirate. My heart.

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And the reward he gets for his undying devotion is a club to the back of the head and a knife to his throat, courtesy of one really, really pissed-off mermaid.

Forward to Storybrooke now, and Emma and David are hilariously trying to put together an Ikea crib as Snow frets in the corner about Zelena’s plans for her baby. Regina has put up an impermeable protection spell, and when Snow asks her why Zelena would want her baby, she replies dryly:

“The number of spells involving baby parts would surprise you.”

Yeeeuuugh.

Emma suggests that she and Regina team up, hoping that Regina can teach her how to harness her magic. Regina agrees, but only if Emma does it her way. Snow and David, meantime,  volunteer to keep an eye on Henry and Emma sheepishly confesses that Henry’s finding the grandparents…kinda boring and not a lot of fun.

“Well, if we’re not fun, who is?” David asks.

And that sends us across town to Hook, who’s talking to Smee on the dock at Storybrooke. (Heh. I mis-typed “dock” when I first wrote that. Freudian slip.)

Smee is tired of hanging around town and wants to know where the ship is. He and the crew want to get aboard and sail the hell out of here, but Hook comes down on him hard, reasserting (in a ringing voice that makes me squirm in a very delicious way) that he’s the captain, and he makes the decisions. The Jolly Roger is gone and that’s that.

Emma shows up and asks him to hang with Henry while she learns magic. Hook approves of that plan wholeheartedly. He thinks it’s about time she embraced her power. Emma tells him that once she gets rid of the witch, she’s taking Henry to New York and forgetting all about Storybrooke.

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Hook gives her a piece of advice: no matter how much you want to forget about your old life, you can’t.

And now we go to David and Snow walking on the beach, feeling like a couple of wilted old fuddy-duddies. David’s going to find a way to out-cool that dashing pirate if it’s the last thing he does. Suddenly, they see a commotion on the beach and in the middle of the crowd is Ariel, who’s just washed up on shore.

She’s been looking for her prince Eric ever since the second curse (and like the others, she’s lost her memory). She’s had no luck, though. David suggests that she ask Hook – since he didn’t lose his memory, he may have heard something that can help her.

Flashback again to the Enchanted Forest, and Ariel holding that knife to Hook’s throat.

“Would you mind catching me up on your particular grievance?” he asks. He is a pirate, after all. She should probably take a number and wait her turn. Anyway, she accuses him of kidnapping Prince Eric. Hook tells her she’s got the wrong pirate, then he gets the drop on her once she tells him that Eric was seen aboard The Jolly Roger.

He demands to know who’s captaining his ship and discovers that it’s the infamous pirate, Blackbeard. This frightens Mr. Smee – Blackbeard is apparently a nasty piece of business – and he suggests that they forget about the ship and stick to banditry. Hook furiously shoots that down, explaining that it’s more than just a ship (read: it’s a way to get back to Emma) and he hasn’t been the same and it’s “because I don’t have her.” Even Smee thinks he’s personifying his ship a bit too much (he ain’t talkin’ about the ship, Smee…) but he reluctantly agrees to go along.

Ariel is coming, too. She cites the pirate code, demanding that Hook take her along in compensation for the information she just gave him.

Forward to Granny’s, where Hook is teaching Henry how to play a game of dice when David shows up with Ariel. He makes an introduction. Hook, to our surprise, treats her like a stranger and tells her he’s never heard of Prince Eric.

Meanwhile, in Regina’s vault, Emma mentions that Henry is with Hook. Regina questions that decision and Emma firmly states that she trusts Hook. He brought her back to Storybrooke. Regina brings up the yearning looks and doe-y eyes and Emma replies flatly, “I don’t yearn.”

Regina smiles knowingly and says “Maybe….but he does.”

She pulls out the famed spellbook, and Emma balks, prompting a great snark:

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Emma wants a shortcut (not wanting to take time to learn elvish) and Regina poofs them both to the famed Storybrooke gorge, where Emma stands poised on a rickety rope bridge while she’s safe on the sidelines. Regina taunts Emma to use her magic to stop her as she slowly starts destroying the bridge.

Over at Granny’s, Hook is adamant that he knows nothing about Prince Eric, and then Snow suggests they try Gold’s shop, since all their things came back with the second curse (including the creepy puppets!) and they may be able to use a locator spell if they find something of Eric’s. She also suggests that Hook accompany Ariel, since he’s the only one in town who has a full memory of their year in the Enchanted Forest – he may be able to fill in some blanks. She and David will watch Henry in the meantime.

Flashback to the Enchanted Forest and Hook, Smee and Ariel are trudging off through the woods. Hook reminds her that Eric might not have survived – Blackbeard is a dastardly pirate and it’s likely he’s killed her prince already. Pirates aren’t known for mercy, after all. Ariel challenges that, pointing out that Hook seems to have turned over a new leaf since Neverland (all said within hearing distance of Smee). Hook bristles at being thought of as a milktoast – but Ariel reminds him that being good is nothing to be ashamed of.

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“I’m a pirate,” he assures her through clenched teeth. “And I always will be.”

Forward to Storybrooke, and Ariel and Belle have a warm reunion. They begin searching the shop, and Hook finds the cloak that Ariel was wearing when he met her – a cloak that belonged to Eric. Belle throws the locator spell on it. The cloak takes off, and Ariel and Hook follow.

Back with Regina at the gorge, and Emma freaking out (it’s a looong CGI way down).  Regina’s ripping boards up from the bridge and Emma starts to fall. She’s hanging by her arms and screaming at Regina, who tells her to grow a pair and save herself. The rope snaps, Emma falls, and a moment later we see her riding the pile of broken boards back up as her magic kicks in and saves her.

Back to the Enchanted Forest again, where Hook is looking at his ship and crooning, “Don’t worry my dear, you’ll soon be back in my loving arms…”

“You realize you’re talking to a boat,” Ariel says. And I said out loud, “You realize hes not talking about a boat.”

Smee points out that Blackbeard’s crew outnumbers them, but Hook knows his adversary. He strolls onto the boat, cocky as you please, and tells everyone to get the hell off.  He challenges Blackbeard, and soundly defeats him after a wonderful, swashbuckling swordfight complete with flying into the riggings and dramatic shadows behind a sail.

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Hook holds a cutlass to his throat, ready to slice him open, but Ariel begs Hook not to kill him before he tells her where Eric is – he’s not aboard the ship.  Blackbeard laughs in Hook’s face over the fact that he’s helping a lovestruck woman.

“They’re right about you, Hook,” he goads, “you have gone soft.”

He confesses that he has Prince Eric stashed on an island – only he knows where – and if Hook agrees to give him the ship, he’ll tell them. Otherwise, Eric will die not long after he does.

Forward to Storybrooke, where Hook and Ariel follow the cloak to the dock, where it promptly drops in the water and submerges, indicating that Eric is dead. Ariel is heartbroken, turning her face into that manly, leather-clad chest and crying.

Over on the other side of town, David is determined to have some fun with Henry and Snow seems a little wary – with good cause. David has decided to teach Henry how to drive. Snow reminds David that it’s dangerous and illegal and David reminds her that he’s a sheriff and he can disregard the law. Nice.

He jumps in the passenger seat and off they go. Henry promptly careens into town, nearly sideswiping one car and nearly-missing a head-on collision before taking out a mailbox. Way to go, gramps.

Back with Hook and Ariel and now it’s close to sunset. I’m only mentioning this because Hook and Ariel just ran to the dock and the sun was facing them at mid-point in the sky as they looked out over the water – in other words, the sun was in the east. Now it’s sunset and I guess Ariel was snuggled into Hook’s chest for several hours. Not that I blame her.

Anyhoooo.

She tells him that at least now she knows, because she would have never stopped looking for him. She thanks Hook for his help, and tells him he has a true heart before sadly walking away.

Flashback to the Jolly Roger, and Hook is walking Blackbeard out to the plank at the point of a cutlass. Ariel is begging him not to do this – she knows he’s a good man and he can still help Eric.

“Isn’t true love more important than a few planks and a sail?” she asks.

“She might just be a few planks and a sail, but she’s mine,” he replies. “She’s all I need.” [to get me to Emma…]

He shoves Blackbeard off the plank, takes back his ship and the new crew rallies behind him. Ariel gives him a smack to the choppers, calls him selfish and heartless and dives over the side, determined to find her man.

Forward to the Storybrooke dock, where Hook chases after Ariel. Guess she was walking reeeeaaaally slow because it’s full dark now.. He confesses that he did know Eric and he’s met her before, and his self-loathing is evident as he recounts the story of his selfishness, and how it cost her a prince.

She smacks him again as he apologizes, swearing he’d give anything to take it back and make things right.

“How am I supposed to trust a man who no longer believes in love?” she asks.

“I still do,” he answers in a tortured whisper, and we all lean forward, our faces frozen in hopeful longing.

She asks him to swear on the name of his love, and he does it! He swears on the name of Emma Swan.

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She thanks him with a creepy smile and suddenly his lips turn the color of lime jello before she puffs out and becomes Zelena. Ariel has never been here – she’s with her prince who was on an island outside the force of the curse. Zelena’s spies (sidenote: Smee? After all, he was the only other one around. Never trust a rat) have given her the whole story, and she’s used it to force his admission that he acted selfishly for his love, thereby allowing her to curse his lips. The next time his lips touch Emma’s, he’ll rob her of all her magical power.

Hook refuses to do it and threatens to tell her. Zelena threatens to kill Henry and her family, and Hook realizes she’s spiked his guns nicely.

He shows up at Emma’s door, expecting to see David and Snow and he tells her and Regina that he was helping Ariel. Regina thinks it’s high time to try Emma out on some mirror magic, so she has Emma poof up a picture of Ariel and Eric, cavorting on a beach. Thank God they’re clothed. I would imagine the mirror thing can get a little dicey, just spying on people like that. And don’t they have to have a mirror at the other end? Continuity, people.

Emma is warmed that Hook helped bring about a happy ending, but not so thrilled when David, Snow and Henry come in bubbling over about their hazardous road outing. They all decide to celebrate Ariel’s happy ending at Granny’s, and Hook, looking decidedly uncomfortable, takes that as his cue to exit.

Emma stops him at the door, telling him that whatever he’s hiding – she doesn’t care anymore. She’s tired of living in the past.

“I know how you feel,” he says morosely.

And we end with the gang laughing over burgers and fries at Granny’s as a sad and woeful Hook watches from afar through his spyglass.

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Oh, the feels.

Oh, Good Lord. Five big, tearful hooks out of five on this one.

Great backstory on Hook’s year, a swashbuckling swordfight, David getting all bro-hurt and Killian finally admits his love. Ahhhhhh. So good. So very good.

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