Once Upon A Time 4×15 “Poor Unfortunate Soul”

Spoilers Ahead

“Poor Unfortunate Soul” served as yet another reminder that our conscious choices are what have the greatest effect on our happy endings.

Enchanted Forest Flashbacks: While searching for ways to get his revenge on Rumple, Hook and his crew hear a mermaid’s gorgeously haunting voice while sailing away from massive rocks and learn that she has no intentions of harming them. However, while having drinks with his crew, Killian sees the same mermaid singing and recognizes her voice. The two share drinks and confide in one another and he plans to help her leave from father. Poseidon finds Killian and tells him that if he takes Ursula’s voice instead, he’d give him squid ink that’ll paralyze Rumple. Wanting to keep to his code, Killian asks Ursula to steal the squid ink but an argument with Poseidon forces him to make the wrong choice by stealing Ursula’s voice. Filled with hatred towards humans and anger, Ursula turns herself into the legendary goddess and leaves her father’s home for good.

Present-Day Storybrooke: While attempting to find out where Regina and the villains took Pinocchio, Regina takes over Snow’s body and tells them their location along with the fact that Rumplestilskin is back. And when the Charmings visit Belle to summon him with the dagger they learn that he had disguised himself as Killian to take it from her. After he fails to give Ursula her voice back and she throws him overboard the Jolly Roger, Killian’s saved by Ariel and the two of them bring Poseidon back in order for him to remove the shell’s enchantment. Ursula chooses to keep her promise, and therefore, before she leaves with her father, she tells Killian that Rumple’s agenda is to fill Emma’s heart with darkness.

Tonight’s episode is without a doubt our favorite since “Shattered Sight,” and if there’s anything we love more than a beautiful backstory, it’s a fantastically driven plot that’s bound to make the rest of the season incredible.

We’re not at all pleased with the fact that Merrin Dungey will no longer be on the show as often because her rendition as Ursula was unimpeachable. Apart from the fierce sass she brought to the character week after week, the hauntingly emotional soullessness she exuded was heartbreakingly eerie. Just yesterday, we were questioning what other twist Once Upon A Time can bring us after they’ve made us love Hook and dislike Pan, but to say that we imagined there’d be a twist this subtly lovely is a lie.

Of course, if you’re familiar with Disney’s animated film The Little Mermaid then you’re familiar with the gorgeous song that Ariel sings — and to see Ursula as the musical numbers singer was a pleasant twist indeed. There are quite a few great father/daughter relationships in this series, and Ursula and Poseidon’s landed a role on the list as well. While in the beginning, the mistreatment of his daughter was selfish and ghastly, the reasoning behind his desire to keep his little girl locked away was understandable – wrong but fathomable.

Ernie Hudson and Merrin Dungey did a great job of exhibiting genuine remorse over what had happened between them. It was clear that Ursula missed her father and it was clear that King Poseidon was truly sorry for letting his heartbreak and anger fuel him. And our favorite part is the fact that when Ursula got her voice back, she was so quick to look into her heart and do what was wise. She forgave her father for the years that’d been taken away from her and she forgave Killian for his selfish choices as well.

Thus far, the villains that have gotten their happy endings have done a remarkable job of showcasing the importance of forgiveness. It’s pivotal to acknowledge that while resorting to a life of villainy is caused by unbearable hardships in life, the choices that were made could’ve always been different. It’s vital that she chose to forgive Killian and her father because it meant that she was no longer holding bitterness and rage in her heart. It meant that she chose to accept that people could be wrong and taking the high road leads to a happier ending than the choice to induce fear into everyone’s lives. Additionally, Ursula’s choice to keep her end of the bargain and tell Killian about Rumple’s plans was the icing on top of a marvelous redemption arc. She’d gotten everything she’d wanted and therefore, she could’ve chosen not to risk her own life by keeping quiet. She knows what the Queens of Darkness and Rumplestilskin are capable of, but she understands that the road to a truly happy ending is the choice to selflessly do good things.

Before we conclude our thoughts on the fabulous eight-armed goddess, we must once again acknowledge the fact that when it comes to their casting department, Once Upon A Time is always on point. Tiffany Boone was so good as young Ursula for she not only had similar features to Dungey, but her mannerisms accurately matched Dungey’s.

We say this often but since it’s continuously being proven most eloquently, it’s necessary too — Killian Jones has the best redemption arc in this series. And of all the villains in the series, he’s the one who’s most haunted by the mistakes he’s made in the past no matter how many times he fully makes amends for them. After learning that Rumplestilskin has used his new friendship with Belle to take advantage of her, he chooses to make things right with Ursula knowing how badly he’s hurt her, and that there’s a chance she may not accept his desire to make things right.

However, before we get into his journey this week and in the past, we need to take a moment to acknowledge how much Belle broke us. Emilie de Ravin has been bringing such heartrending susceptibility to Belle during this arc and when she realizes that Gold managed to fool her once more, De Ravin was her strongest. We cannot imagine the guilt and torment she must feel knowing that she was once again fooled by Rumple. And to think that this was the man she married believing his love for her was more than enough to surpass his desires to be powerful is unbearable. It’s not going to be easy to root for the two of them after everything he’s done. At the end of the day, if Rumplestilskin wants to redeem himself, he’s going to have to do a lot more than just make everything right. There has to be some sort of an ultimate sacrifice to prove that he has indeed changed enough to desire love more than power.

References are always nice and it was swell to have Killian ask Will for help considering the amount of time he’s spent in Wonderland. And it was also awesome of Ariel to mention that Elsa’s the one who trapped Blackbeard and his crew in the bottle.

It’s never not going to be exciting to watch Colin O’Donoghue in his pirate gear as the viciously dedicated Captain Hook because selfishly, we’ve just got a thing for cool pirates. However, that isn’t the only reason it’s fascinating for us to watch — O’Donoghue is incomparable in his craft. The effortless transformation from a ruthless pirate to a man of honor can be done solely through the expressiveness he wears, and if that doesn’t scream talent then nothing would. It was heartbreaking to hear that in the years of turmoil he’s endured, Ursula’s voice was the first time he’d felt a bit of happiness. What we’ve learned from Killian Jones is that when he loves, he loves deeply and when he loses love, he loses himself. And we’ve also come to learn that the one person who’s truly inspired his effortless journey to heroism is Emma Swan. Because he wanted to be worthy of her, he did everything in his power to do good. And when he lost her, he fell from his graces into a life of piracy because it’s the only other thing he knew.

A little mermaid named Ariel returns this week and what she does stays true to the episode’s theme of honorable choices prevailing. Nevertheless, she doesn’t fail to lay down the truth for all villains in an epic response to Killian’s “villains don’t get their happy endings” by validating that villains go about getting them in the wrong ways. Can we get an “amen” for the truth bomb?

Here’s the thing, while we’re very intrigued with the storyline of who the author can be, we still believe that the outcome of these characters’ lives is the result of their own choices. Perhaps the author indeed has some sort of control, but at the end of the day, we don’t believe that they should depend entirely on what he or she writes. Because if August’s right and the author is trapped inside the book, then was that written by him/her, or was it a choice made that landed them there? Until the mysterious truth is revealed, we’re going to hold onto the belief that everyone’s destiny is in their own hands. And that’s precisely what we feel will occur with Emma’s ‘dark heart’ storyline. While the child born out of the truest form of love is destined for both greatness and darkness, thus far, Emma’s choices have been the result of her good heart. As we’ve always said, she has as much tragic backstory as any villain but she’s continuously risen above them by living a generous life. Essentially, what Ariel validates is that the Queens of Darkness, Rumple, and Regina’s choice to convince the author to change their happy ending isn’t right. At the very moment, Ursula is living proof that you don’t need an author’s approval to attain a happy ending – you simply need to be open to forgiveness and be surrounded by people you love who love you back. You need to choose to do good.

Again, we’d apologize for always saying it, but considering it’s something we’re always in awe of, we’ll always remind our readers as well. Emma Swan’s heart is rare — this week she continued to validate how deeply invested she is in protecting and saving people. At the very moment, Emma has it all — a family, a devoted man, and loyal friends, but in the past when she chose to become a Bail Bonds Person, she had nothing. And even when she had nothing, she gave everything to others. A heart like hers can only be darkened so much before it resorts back to its good self, and we cannot wait to see how it’s all played out. That said, Jennifer Morrison was as astonishing as ever this week – whether she was adorably in awe of her mother’s bandit skills, aggressively defending Killian’s character, or realizing she’s a man’s entire world, Morrison played Emma with an admirable amount of passion. At this point, it’s no surprise that she’s the most evocative actress, but it is surprising that after all this time, we’ve still got a great number of things to say about her even when we’re at a loss for words.

First things first, there are a few necessities for love to be true other than unwavering adoration and sincerity — love is growing old with someone in more ways than just physically. At any given point in their relationships, lovers learn from one another, they fight, they laugh, they cry, and they’re always at a better place than where they began. From the moment they met, Killian and Emma have effortlessly inspired one another to grow as happier, more admirable individuals. And true love doesn’t merely inspire one to be good only to their partner, but to the rest of the world. When the heart is filled with the unparalleled bliss only love can bring, it’s a natural desire to be good to the world for it exudes out of someone as light shines off the sun. It was lovely to see that Emma’s natural need to do good has inspired Killian to fight for someone else’s happy ending as well. And it was even more lovely of him to acknowledge that he’s gotten it from her, for it’s always vital to let people know of their strengths.

Furthermore, with their scenes this week, what stood out most broke our hearts the most.

It’s unfortunate and painfully heartbreaking that there’s still a fair amount of doubt in Emma Swan. After everything they’ve been through, it’s saddening that she doesn’t already know she’s Killian’s happy ending. Prior to the three little words verbally being exchanged, their feeling has now been conveyed through actions far more evidently than they would through verbal affirmation. That’s not to say that when they are exchanged it won’t be special, but there’s a great deal of beauty in the way it’s showcased so subtly right now.

The issue with Emma’s lack of understanding comes from the betrayals in her past. And there’s no betrayal more haunting than being abandoned by choice. Emma Swan’s come a long way since the woman we met in the Pilot, but that doesn’t alter the fact that deep down, there are still demons that don’t allow her to fully see just how valued she is. While it’s beautifully clear that she’s happy and trusts Killian completely, it’s saddening there were still uncertainties about what his happy ending was. 

Morrison is unbelievably masterful at conveying vulnerability, and it’s always done in an inexpressible form which allows viewers to see that no matter how old she is. There’s a lost little girl in her, and her eyes are able to manifest childlike fears and wonder remarkably. The poignant expression in Emma’s eyes is the true rationale of the fear that resides in her heart. And most gorgeously, it’s the understanding that to the man who stands before her, she’s his absolute source of happiness — his greatest treasure. And the tear streaming down her face as she kisses him authenticates how deeply she admires him. Of all their kisses, this may have been the most painful to watch and we thought that was impossible after their goodbye in “Fall”. While their goodbye was filled with agonizing pain and desires to continue holding on, tonight’s slow, intimate kiss was full of fears unlike any other. As viewers, you can see the riveting magnitude of adoration fuelled with the haunting aspiration to showcase how intensely the other is treasured. Just as Killian promised her she’d never lose him in “Rocky Road”, this was Emma’s way of assuring she was not going anywhere. The only difference is, this time there are uncertainties about a book’s power and we cannot wait until it’s proven through them.

That very beautiful and intimate scene aside, we loved how much the episode focused on Emma fighting for Killian’s honor. She knows what he’s capable of and who he is, and defending him as often as she did this week showcased just how far the two of them have come. He’d do it for her in a heartbeat and she’s finally confident enough in another person’s character that she can do it too. Speaking of, how sweet was the look of pride Emma kept smiling at Killian with as Ursula and her father reunited?

Before we conclude this review and while we’re already certain a Performance Review is coming up for Colin O’Donoghue, it’s obligatory to (pre) commend his performances. O’Donoghue has a superlative knack for manifesting a variety of emotions, but there’s nothing compared to the vulnerability he’s able to convey. There were actual tears throughout their scenes together, and it all began with the desperation in his voice as he professed that Emma is his happy ending. Through O’Donoghue’s impeccable way of showcasing desperation, fear, and adoration viewers could truly grasp how deep Killian’s love for Emma is.

Emma Swan is his entire world which means he perceives her as the greatest most incomparable person he knows. While he’s fully aware of the fears that haunt her, the despondency in his voice authenticates his intense desire to validate that in every way possible, she’s immaculate – to him and to everybody else. At that very moment through O’Donoghue’s exhibition of torment viewers could see that Emma’s fears, pain, and happiness, are all Killian’s as well. She is his everything – whatever she feels, he endures and if there were a way, he’d bear all the pain she’s ever felt for her. And now that he knows what the Queens of Darkness and Rumple plan to do with her, he’ll stop at nothing to make sure her unique heart stays the way it is.

Heavier things aside, it was so nice to see August and Emma reunite as their older selves. It was effortlessly gorgeous to see them easily delve into their friendship and we’re so glad Eion Bailey is back. Morrison and Bailey did a wonderful job of demonstrating just how much the characters had missed one another. And beyond that, there was this sense of newfound strength in their friendship this time around. A solid level of maturity where like brother and sister, they’ll always be in each other’s lives — protecting one another as the two kids who never got to grow up with their families.

And lastly, Regina believes that when she saw herself as the evil queen in her dream, she (the evil queen) was there to protect Robin. We really have no potential theories as to why this could be the way it is, but we’re interested to see what she meant by it and whether or not it’ll be continuing a dream she’ll perhaps learn from.

Next week looks frighteningly intense and we’re so excited about it. What are your thoughts on this week’s episode?

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