Once Upon A Time 4×04 “The Apprentice” Recap

Spoilers Ahead

For an episode that reminded us of the emotional roller coasters Once Upon A Time is able to take us through, the Disney gems throughout the episode were exceptional additions — starting from the couple reenacting Lady and the Tramp to Mickey Mouse being the Apprentice, and the broom from Fantasia guiding Rumple and Hook to their destination.

Enchanted Forest Flashbacks: Determined to learn the truth about why her parents voyaged to the Enchanted Forest, Anna makes a deal with Rumple unlike any of the ones he’s made before. In order for him to uncover the power inside the box which holds the Sorcerer’s hat, Rumple must be someone who’s turned away from the darkness within himself. However, because Rumple is unable to turn away from power and only seeks more of it, he must use Anna’s compassionate spirit to do the work for him. When she first refuses, he uses her love for Elsa to compel her into wanting to kill him, but when she realizes what she’s doing and stops, the apprentice in mouse form (hello, Mickey Mouse) bites Rumple forcing him to let go of his dagger.

In possession of his dagger, Anna understands that he wants what’s inside the box in order for it to be unstoppable, but commands him to send her home with it instead. She’s then reunited with Kristoff, and the two discuss what they’ll do about the truth Anna’s learned regarding her parents and their fear of Elsa’s magic.

Present-Day Storybrooke: Wanting everything to go perfectly during the date with Emma, Killian asks Rumplestilskin to reattach his hand, but things don’t go as planned when it begins turning him into a quick-tempered pirate. And when Killian later wants the hook reattached, Rumple forces him to do his dirty work before he gives him what he wants. The Charmings and Elsa continue to search Storybrooke’s records for Anna while Emma attempts to locate the Snow Queen in order to find out what she wants from her. Regina and Henry are still on the hunt to find out who wrote the book. And a reckless Knave continues to cause trouble around Storybrooke.

Rumplestiltskin’s hunger for power truthfully gets more and more frustrating as the episodes progress, but we’re not here to bash the storyline, for this week especially was quite intriguing. Our concerns aren’t with the fact that he clearly hasn’t left his villainous ways behind, but that he continues to be a different man when Belle isn’t around. In order for them to be the beautiful couple we know they’re capable of being, Rumple must stop lying. It isn’t fun to constantly address that after every episode, but it’s what we feel plays a vast role in making their relationship a healthy one. Since he’s now in possession of the Apprentice, he’s essentially in a sense unstoppable. Whether or not Belle has the real dagger no longer matters because if things have gone according to his plan, he’s no longer controlled by it. However, if he is willing to truly be the same light in Belle’s eyes as she is in his, he must let go of searching for power. In order for us to say more without rambling, we’d much rather wait until we see what he wants to do with the hat in the first place, but judging solely by this moment, it seems he’s digging himself further into the web of lies he’s created while dragging Killian down with him.

At the end of the day, Rumple and Killian are both fueled with a similar form of defense. They’re both men whose love for their women means more to them than anything else; however, they aren’t handling it the way they’re supposed to, and Rumple more so than Killian. Although we hate the fact that he killed Zelena, it’s more understandable than anything he’s done so far because he did it to avenge Neal’s death. Now we’re not saying what he’s done is in any way excusable because we actually really wish Zelena was still alive, but no matter how wrong, it’s understandable.

Killian Jones is an innocent bystander, guilty to an extent but as he states, everything that’s done is for Emma. Although they’re both men who’d do anything for the women they love, Killian’s continual efforts to pursue the good in him is what separates him from Rumple who seems to fall back on old bad habits. Yes, he’s still a pirate, but he isn’t the man we met in “The Crocodile.” Most of who we saw then was a man riled up by the unfortunate turn his life had taken. He and Rumple are both familiar with fathers abandoning them, and now, Rumple knows what it’s like to lose another family member in the hands of someone else just as Killian lost Liam. What clearly sets them apart, however, is that Killian’s a man who’d give the world for love. Rumple has that in him, for we know very well that he’d do anything it takes to protect Belle, but at the moment, it doesn’t seem it’s enough for him. Whereas with Killian, everything he does is to make sure the woman who’s been broken more often than not feels loved.

The reason he wants his hand back isn’t for his own selfish needs, but because he sadly feels that in order to hold Emma, he must be whole with both hands. His innermost longings at this point are to live a life where he’s worthy enough of being Emma Swan’s person, and through persistence, he’s gotten to a place where he’s indeed a man deserving of such a woman. And the most gorgeous part of him getting his hand back isn’t the fact that he’s now “whole,” but it’s that Emma didn’t even notice it until it was pointed out, thus signifying that she’s never seen him as anything but whole. Verbally acknowledging that he doesn’t need two hands to be whole isn’t something that is necessary because the fact that she didn’t even notice says more than enough. She’s too busy noticing the new wardrobe that means just like her, he’s now a permanent Storybrooke resident.

We’d be lying if we said our favorite part of this week’s episode wasn’t Emma and Killian’s date – and the Charmings’ perfect reactions. From Snow’s lively and awestruck reaction to seeing Emma in her gorgeous dress, to Charming’s realization that his daughter isn’t a little girl but a grown woman, followed by Elsa’s confusion with modern-day fashion, the scene provided much more than entertainment. At this point it’s surely no surprise that the Charmings are our favorite characters — we can’t help but adore the optimistic and compassionate family as though they were our own. Each of their reactions is beautiful and significant in their own unique way, it’s far too amusing to watch the family that was separated for so long live their lives the way they’ve each been taught to do by someone in their past. Although Storybrooke is nowhere near peaceful, it’s incomparable to watch as they embrace the good moments in the midst of the bad ones.

Of all the people in that room, Snow technically knows Emma the most. Although at one point it seemed as though she didn’t exactly understand her daughter, deep down, it’s evident that she wants nothing more but to see Emma happy. She wants to be a great mother to her, and she wants to see the walls that have kept away pain tumble down because of love. Goodwin’s natural motherly emotions play an impeccable role in her performances because the smile she wears on her face as she snaps Emma’s picture with a polaroid camera is plainly, simply inexpressible. Also, it’s impossible not to hear the absolute delight in her voice as she tells baby Charming about his sister’s very big date. 

While Ginnifer Goodwin brought pure motherly excitement to the table, Josh Dallas delivered his speechlessness with a full range of heartbreaking emotions. In the briefest instant, he manages to manifest the kind of heartbreak presumably every father feels when he realizes his daughter’s going on her first date. While Emma’s a grown woman with a kid, since they’ve been aware of their identities, Charming’s witnessed nothing but heartbreak for his daughter – no man has been a potential threat yet.

As grown women, we too are aware of the fact that our fathers will always see us as their little girls. A woman grows up to be her mother’s best friend, but she everlastingly remains her father’s little girl. Although they tragically haven’t known one another for long, from the moment he learned she’s the little girl he put into the magical wardrobe, Charming perceived her as the most delicate one to grace the earth — something that can be understood from the fact that Dallas has made the conscious choice to have Charming always cradles Emma’s head when he hugs her. And for the first time, it hits him that his daughter’s a grown woman; with a simple poignant expression, Dallas conveys just how deep a father’s love runs — the beautifully heartbreaking realization that he’s no longer the only man in her life. Thankfully, there wasn’t some elaborate speech delivered this week or else we’d be drowning in our own tears. Could you imagine the wreckage that’ll erupt from viewers once daddy Charming gives his daughter away? We can’t be the only ones who saw the marriage foreshadowing this week — from a light-colored dress to proposal talks. It couldn’t be more obvious if it were written in the sky with fireworks.

Elsa’s perplexity with modern-day fashion was a tasteful touch and we love how effortlessly she fits in with the Charmings. Additionally, we love how everyone’s completely on board with Emma having a day off.  Just as we hear the doorbell, Charming drops the papers in his hand with such frustration – precisely the moment viewers realize he’s probably rehearsed some kind of a protective dad speech to give Killian. “Okay, David. We rehearsed this. You may think he’s a great mate, but it’s time to grill him. Look tough.” We’re still laughing at the “are you sure you don’t want me to drive?” line. A+ parenting, Charming!

The color pink is known to represent compassion, love, openness, and understanding. The Once Upon A Time costume department couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate color for Emma’s first, real date with someone she’s grown to care immensely for. It was an interesting choice for Emma to wear the swan/keychain necklace Neal had given her as a reminder to her not to trust. And personally, for us, it was even more fascinating of Emma, a meticulous choice by Morrison herself to wear Graham’s shoelace around her wrist considering he was the first man Emma was willing to give a chance to since she arrived in Storybrooke. However, on her date with Killian, both pieces of jewelry are absent from her wardrobe. It is now a time for Emma to finally let go of the past — the heartbreaks and even the gorgeous reminder that it’s okay to open your heart to love.

Women shouldn’t have their persona judged by their clothes, and when it comes to Emma Swan especially, whether she’s wearing her noted leather jacket or high heels and a bright pink dress (Pilot), she’s capable of being both a woman wonderstruck over her date and a badass who’ll take on whoever it is she needs to. Additionally, even with false memories that were meant to bring her happiness, because of the heartbreak she’s endured from her relationship with Neal, Emma was still guarded during her date with Walsh — black is a color that’s primarily associated with power and mystery, add leather to that equation and you have a dress that’s meant to armor her. The fluid elegance in Emma’s light pink dress illustrates a picture of a woman who no longer needs armor around her. A woman who’s coming to terms with the fact that it’s safe to open her heart. She doesn’t need to protect herself from Killian. She’s finally accepted that she’s an open book to him because the profoundly rare understanding they’ve shared since their first adventure is what continuously fortifies their relationship — the unwavering adoration he always bare inspires her to embrace all that make her special.

Because of the stunning way Morrison plays Emma in a brief scene with Mary Margaret during “The Thing You Love Mostwe’ve had a theory that a young Emma Swan has always dreamt of being a princess. The moment Mary Margaret reveals that Henry thinks she’s Snow White, the expressiveness Morrison exhibits in Emma’s curiously happy reaction allows us to believe that for a moment, the possibility of this woman being her mother amazes her. Thus, we can’t help but wonder if this is Emma Swan playing dress up — feeling safe enough to wear something that’s princess-like.

We feel that in terms of romance, it was impeccable for Emma to remain without a jacket the entire night and then wear Killian’s black leather one after they come home from the date. Emma Swan is without a doubt a woman who could attain whatever it is she wants to on her own, but she now has armor unlike any of the ones she’s had before. Love is strength and we’ve learned that the immeasurable amount Emma has within her is incomparable to anyone else’s — but she also has someone who’d go above and beyond to make her life easier. Partners are each other’s armors — Killian and Emma, like Snow and Charming have shown to perpetually be the other’s shield when they’re in need. The strongest people aren’t invincible, they are the ones who push through the heartaches in order to live, they are the ones who aren’t afraid of needing help, and they are the ones who wear whatever they please because strength isn’t measured by trivial artifacts such a gun and a leather jacket.

While Emma’s choice of wearing a dress to their date authenticates the comfort, grace, and vulnerability she’s able to embrace in Killian’s presence, Killian’s new outfit signifies that he feels happy enough to settle down somewhere. Pirates never settle — their greatest treasures aren’t just silver and gold, but the wanderlust fulfillment they experience when traveling through the seas –immensity fuels them like nothing else in the world. Killian Jones’ first love is no longer the sea, but a woman whose heart is greater than anywhere he’s traveled before — she’s more than enough to inspire him to settle down. She’s home.

Who would’ve ever imagined that a 300-year-old pirate from a different land would know how to plan such a romantic date? Fancy Italian restaurant, pulling up a chair before he takes his seat, and making sure to walk her to her doorstep as she wears his jacket in order not to get cold. Take note, gentlemen.

Unsurprisingly though, because this is a TV show and we can’t always get nice things without interruption, the Knave’s need to run away from Emma backfires forcing him to actually spill water on her and provoke Killian to defend his lady’s honor. Rumple had told him that the hand was cursed, but later reveals that it isn’t the hand but the man who he was back then. At the end of the day, as stated above, the pirate we met before he became Captain Hook was indeed at times ruthless, but from what we’ve seen from his interactions with Milah, she’s someone he’d never hurt.

It’s heartbreaking to see that even in a moment when he’s kissing the woman who’s brought his walls down and made him believe in love again, he’s afraid of hurting her. It’s even more heartbreaking that we’re aware of the fact that the only reason he wanted his hand back was so that Emma could be held by all of him. And we love that at that moment, even though the occurrence of him losing control had happened once, he didn’t want to take the risk and harm Emma in any way. Knowing that her last date ended with the man wanting to kill her, the mere fact that he wants to do everything in order to give her a more memorable experience is what exemplifies just how worthy he is of being with Emma Swan. Additionally, we’re confident that because of the honesty he’s shown in the past, Killian will certainly tell Emma about his deals with Rumple.

The best part of their date however takes place at the end. It’s lovely to watch them fall for each other like teenagers — from Emma’s parents waiting up until she gets home, to the couple’s timidly longing smiles, lacing of the fingers, and passionate kiss. Morrison and O’Donoghue manage to bring a whole new level of sincerity and innocence to their characters. It’s always adorable to watch O’Donoghue benevolently channel the scoundrel side of Killian while Morrison plays Emma with a confidence that’s complimented by the sincerity she’s receiving — Emma’s allowing herself to be enchanted.

Since they’re both aware of the loss, it’s remarkable to see them use every opportunity they get to reassure the other of their worth in some way — the level of intimacy they exhibit grows stunningly by the episode. The moment he starts doubting whether or not their date was ruined, Emma chooses to step closer and lace their fingers together once more in order to both verbally and physically tell him that “it’s okay,” — making it known that at the end of the day, a picture-perfect date doesn’t matter as much as the person it’s with. By taking it one step further and choosing to invite him in with the family she knows he too adores, Emma solidifies just how close she feels to him — she showcases that Killian’s place in her life is much greater than dinner and a kiss goodnight.

He is family and his presence is always desired. Emma’s choice to accept his offer on a second date with a kiss is what again illuminates the feelings that are deep within — the ones words could never do justice. And this kiss especially painted an even bigger, more heartrending story for Killian. Although his choice to initiate a kiss for the first time last week was to reassure her that she’d never lose him, in order for things to go in favor of Emma’s happiness, he authenticates the fact that he’s a man of his word simply by doing just as he told Rumple. It’s key to remember that words are empty without actions thus, by waiting until Emma physically acknowledges that she won’t be opposed to being held by him, for the first time in 300 years, he gave a part of himself he never thought he’d be able to.

Even though the hand that was used seemingly belongs to a brutal pirate, the direction of the scene spectacles the very fact that at this moment, nothing except the woman he loves feeling his adoration and security matters. The tragedy of this situation is that Killian is so afraid of hurting Emma, he must snap himself out of a moment of complete bliss in order to make sure he doesn’t in any way harm her.

We love that as far as performances go, O’Donoghue once again signifies the show, don’t tell conception. Killian’s struggle with the hand and the choice to want it removed because of the kind of man it makes him substantiates the very fact that he’s someone who’s turned away from the darkness that’s tempted him. Like Anna, when someone he loves is threatened, it’s easiest to lose control. The sheer vulnerability O’Donoghue’s able to masterfully exhibit when Killian feels indescribably remorseful and frightened for Emma’s safety allows us to see that he is indeed a man who’s changed — the man fueled with love isn’t a facade but the reality of a being who’s found a purpose to allow the good within to take over.

Furthermore, it’s nothing short of exquisite to watch Morrison play a softer, more open side of Emma. The noteworthy performances showcase not only Killian’s importance in her life but just how much he’s able to make her happy. We’re able to see the contentment she feels around her parents — the understanding that she no longer needs to defend herself from the world; she can fearlessly ask her parents what they think of her date look, and she can bravely kiss a man believing that all of her is welcomed by him. From openly flirting in front of her parents to smiling whenever she feels the need to, the heartbreakingly protective demeanor  Morrison used to play Emma with has been replaced with more profound liveliness, compassion, and vulnerability.

Regrettably, our least favorite storyline so far this season has been Regina’s. It’s essentially due to the fact that we’re tired of watching her blame the world for the mistakes she’s made. The only interesting part of this storyline is that we too are incredibly curious as to who wrote the book, but we’re almost that they’ll tell Regina exactly what we’re assuming — if there is an author of course and the book isn’t just some magical object that documents as stories progress. Villains aren’t cursed. As Henry somewhat mentioned, if they were, Rumpelstiltskin and Belle wouldn’t have gotten married. There shouldn’t be a secret to creating the book. Being a villain and being happy are choices we make. Happiness doesn’t come from having everything we desire.

Emma Swan spent 28 years believing she was an unloved orphan while Regina allowed an entire town to live their lives without the knowledge of who they actually are. She’s grown a lot during the years, but at the moment, she, just like Rumple is taking a few steps back. It’s difficult to write about her sometimes because as you all know, if we’re displeased with something,  we rather not voice it, therefore at the end of the day, we’re hoping she comes to the realization that the outcome of her life is no one’s fault but her own. The years of being wrongfully manipulated by Cora understandably have taken a vast toll on her, but right now, she’s the only person who can control her destiny.

If Snow, Charming, and Emma suffered for 28 years because a manipulated innocent child spilled a secret she thought would benefit Regina then Regina needs to consider whether or not what’s occurring to her is actually fair. Again, we love the relationship between her and Robin, we’re rooting for them while hoping Marian doesn’t have to die for them to reunite, but for the time being, Regina needs a bit more character development in order to be worthy of the kind of happy ending everyone else is getting. Now that Henry’s Rumplestilskin apprentice, we can’t wait to see how that story turns around because even though we’re confident Rumple would never harm Henry, perhaps what Henry will uncover will change him in ways he never expected.

Kristoff and Anna finally reunite in a scene so lovable, our hearts couldn’t be happier with Lail and Foster’s chemistry. Asides from Sven’s Oscar-worthy performance, Lail and Foster are just as charismatic as their animated counterparts. The Once Upon A Time Frozen cast couldn’t be more perfect if they tried. Kristoff’s “I took a bath this morning I swear” and “not now Sven” was comedic gold while the not as much as I missed youFoster noted with the complete amount of sincerity and heart showcases to viewers just how much love binds the two. And Anna finishing Kristoff’s sentence about the truth being “horrible, terrible, the worst news you’ve ever heard and the world might as well end right now” delivered by Lail in the most perfect Anna-ish way easily made us love her even more than we already did. And in that very moment where she snaps from her broken, spritely spirit to a completely torn one, Lail’s tearful delivery brings to life the aches within her from the understanding that she truly is the only one who isn’t afraid of Elsa. It’s the very despair where there’s absolutely nothing that can be said or done to make the situation better and Lail shows the audience her anguish heartbreakingly well — the graceful shift in her expressions and energy reminded us of not only how empathetic Anna is but that Elsa’s happiness plays a vast role in her happiness as well.

When the Knave is arrested for breaking into the library, Emma visits him at the Sheriff’s station to interrogate him. As it turns out, he was found holding an Alice in Wonderland book with a page revolving around Anastasia, the Red Queen found in his pocket.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Once Upon A Time in Wonderland series, Ana was the love of Will’s life until Cora exploited her into leaving him behind in order to become the queen — heartbroken and furious he let Cora literally takes his heart. We’re not entirely positive but judging by the timeline of events, it’s safe to assume that this is the Will who’s yet to go back to Wonderland. When later asked about his black eye, a distressed Will who remembers Killian’s threat tells Emma that the black eye is a mystery to him. What we’re hoping for is that even though Will crashed their date, there will come a time when Killian states he didn’t exactly mean to harm Will the way that he did. Furthermore, the expression on Will’s face as his sober self saw the book and “picture” of Ana was astonishing — the anguish on his face alone is easily heart-crushing when viewers are aware of how deeply he’s in love with Ana.

Emma’s still on the hunt for the Snow Queen who’s luring her in ways unlike any other villain so far. After they conclude their search Charming comes to the insight that Sarah Fisher (the Snow Queen’s alias in Storybrooke) has never appeared in their records meaning she has indeed come from elsewhere, and probably for Emma. Our bets are on the fact that she’s probably an adoptive mother, and this is the storyline we cannot wait to see uncovered.

Who do you guys think the Snow Queen is? What was your favorite part of this week’s episode?

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