There are times when “Once Upon a Time” does try to do too much, just as there are also times when the show doesn’t really accomplish anything at all. This is a show that struggles to find that happy medium, and focus on both the long-term and the short-term at the same time.
This is where “The Jolly Roger” surprised us, and may just be one of our favorite episodes of the entire season. It focused almost entirely on the Captain Hook character, and we saw more of his past and present than we have since “Good Form” in the fall. It also introduced an element of tragedy into the mix, as Zelena took advantage of the guilt he felt over abandoning Prince Eric and taking over the Jolly Roger to manipulate him into getting close to “Ariel” (or her manipulation of her) and trying himself to Emma Swan.
The situation he’s now in is that if he kisses, her takes away all her magic; however, if he doesn’t kiss her, Zelena plans to use the Dark One to kill everyone that Emma loves. It’s not exactly an easy choice, but then, we don’t quite understand why everyone on this show continues to lie and lie all the time and expects this to work out. We get that Hook is afraid for Emma’s life, but isn’t there always another way?
Still, when that’s the biggest complaint of the night, you’re doing something right. We didn’t even mind the random Charming – Snow story as they tried to prove they weren’t boring by allowing Henry to go on a joyride. We feel like this was almost a direct response to fans (us included) who feel like the characters are generally too one-note.
In between Blackbeard, swordfights, great chemistry between Hook and multiple characters, and Colin O’Donoghue giving his best performance of the series, “The Jolly Roger” will go down as a personal favorite. We watch TV to be entertained first and foremost, and that is what this episode was from start to finish. Grade: A-.
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