TV Review: Open-Ended Deals, Revenge, and an ‘Apprentice’ for Rumple on ‘Once Upon a Time’

Caution: This review contains spoilers.

In an earlier post, I was intrigued when Rumple (Robert Carlyle) conjured up the Sorcerer’s Hat from the round box. Last night, we found out a little more about his intentions with the prized item, something that previous Dark Ones have been seeking for year. In Fairy Tale Land (FTL), Zoso tried and failed against the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. (Do the subsequent Dark Ones receive memories from their predecessors, in addition to the powers?) Rumple is good at solving puzzles and uses a deal with Anna (Elizabeth Lail) to get what he needs.

Mr. Gold's Pawn Shop, Steveston, BC. Taken by Pat Cuadros on 9/22/14.
Mr. Gold’s Pawn Shop, Steveston, BC. Taken by Pat Cuadros on location, 9/22/14.

Also in Storybrooke, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) asks Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) out on a date. Eager to impress, Hook goes to the pawn shop, threatening Rumple with blackmail again for another deal. Hook wants his hand restored, which is an easy fix that carries a heavy problem: does the hand represent the “old” version of Hook, the devious pirate, or can Hook be a new man for Emma? The possibility that the hand could carry your old personality trait is interesting. It’s almost reminiscent of the difficulties that occur in the old “Frankenstein” films, with reused flesh being evil or corrupt. On the other hand (no pun intended), it might be a bit of a stretch.

Emma manages to forget about the Snow Queen (for a short period of time, but she’s still troubled by Will Scarlett’s (Michael Socha) antics around town and the curious water puddle under her car (and nowhere else). She’s also determined to find her own place, as the Charming apartment seems to be too crowded and lacking privacy. We also uncover through the census records that the Snow Queen (Elizabeth Mitchell) was not brought over by a curse. Who gave her passage to Storybrooke? Was it Rumple?

Avoid the Open-Ended Deal

It’s pretty clear by the end of the episode that you never want to make a deal that you don’t understand. Never say the words, “I’ll do whatever it takes” to Rumplestiltskin. Anna is very clever at getting out of it and we find that she was the first person to exercise control over Rumple with the Dagger. Viewers may have marveled at the complexity of her deal: she believes Rumple’s vial contained poison for the old apprentice, when it was actually an antidote. Rather, Rumple wanted Anna to be tempted by darkness and then turn away. It’s such a complex deal that focuses on motive and intent instead of a simple physical result.

As a newcomer to the Enchanted Forest, Anna has an excuse for launching headfirst into a deal. Hook, on the other hand, is quite familiar with Rumple’s reputation. He makes two deals that endanger his relationship with Emma and now he’s become a henchman for Rumple. Obviously, he didn’t learn his lesson in season two when he threatened Belle the first time. Secondly, never try to blackmail the Dark One: Rumple is quite proficient in changing those security tapes.

Even a Dark Sorcerer Needs an Apprentice

Season four delivers yet another amazing episode. There are a lot of threads to keep track of here. The end of this chapter mirrors the very beginning seamlessly with the apprentices at their sweeping chores. Henry (Jared Gilmore) is determined to help Regina (Lana Parrilla) find her happy ending by going undercover at Mr. Gold’s shop. I speculated earlier on Henry’s role and it’s great to see him as the new apprentice. Will Henry learn how to use magic? We’ll be sure to get more tidbits from “Fantasia,” I would wager.

Rumple aims to absorb magic to charge his pointy hat. (Will we find out what the inside of the Sorcerer’s Hat looks like?) He already used it with Hook to exact his revenge on old man, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. After that, he’ll try to rewrite the curse on his Dagger: retaining the powers, but shedding the “control” feature. One would imagine that he’s more determined on that course, given the difficult time Zelena gave him in season three. Will Rumple eventually target Elsa and Emma, as their magic seems pretty expansive? Even though Hook seems to be under his control, Rumple faces a few challenges in his mission. Elsa, Emma, and Henry may all prove to be obstacles. The main one is undoubtedly his single “light in the darkness,” Belle. The last time he lied and conjured something with a Dagger (the Wraith), Belle left him.

Catch Those Classic Moments and What’s Next?

“The Apprentice” was rife with moments that pulled directly from “Fantasia,” a beloved Disney classic. The sequences run from the walking broomstick, the Sorceror’s Hat, and the sweeping chores.  It’s been done before, but I think “Once Upon a Time” has been one of the most successful renditions; you may finish the episode eager to view “Fantasia” again and refresh your memory in a good way with the original. (Let’s define failure in that you go back to the original because the new version totally got it wrong!)

Let’s not forget the other lines and visuals from other Disney movies. You can have bonus points if you caught the “Lady and the Tramp” reference last night. Next week’s teases another favorite, “Do you want to build a snowman?” Leave it to the Snow Queen to make that pastime into an ominous one!

“Once Upon a Time” airs Sunday evenings at 8|7c on ABC.


Author: Pat Cuadros

TV & Film Blogger @blogcritics

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