Don’t make deals. Don’t ever make deals. Don’t make deals with Rumplestiltskin. Don’t make deals with Hades. Don’t make deals with Cruella. Just don’t make deals okay?
Episode Summary: When a rare snake in flashbacks threatens Bae’s life, Milah and Rumple seek a man who can magically help him, but they cannot afford his asking price. Milah asks Rumple to kill him in order to steal the elixir, but instead, his naiveté inspires another decision instead: their second-born child will be given away. We also see Milah and Killian’s first meeting after he defended her from a drunken man at the tavern. In Underbrooke, Regina is given the opportunity to see that Daniel has moved on to a better place. Rumple seeks Milah’s help in order to get him and Emma into Hades’ lair where Killian’s held. Milah and Rumple discuss how her unfinished business in Bae, but instead of giving her the opportunity to reunite and move forward with their son, Rumple takes a deal with Hades, sends her into “the river of lost souls”, burns their ride home, and lies to the heroes. Killian and Emma reunite, but because Killian would not choose souls to stay behind, Hades took matters into his own hand trapping Emma, Regina, and Snow. In the end, it turns out Belle is pregnant and when the child is born Rumple must give him/her to the man he once killed in order to get out of the contract.
Review | Analysis: Once Upon A Time at its core is a series about redemption and this arc especially is focused on the importance of doing good, honorable deeds in order to help others. “Devil’s Due” was perhaps one of the darkest episodes Once Upon A Time has done because it focused primarily on just how far man is willing to go in order to seek what he desires. Surely we weren’t the only ones hoping the episode would have ended with Milah being given the opportunity to move on, but something tells us this isn’t the end of her story. What this episode has fundamentally done is revealed the truth behind a villain’s agenda — it’s never black and white. It is complicated, it is messy, it is heartbreaking, and it is disgusting. However, it has once again reminded us of what clearly distinguishes heroes and villains. While tonight’s episode did not leave us hopeful as the past two have done, it has beautifully revealed that teamwork is truly the key to success.
Milah is a complex woman. She always has been. And to say we have agreed with her decision to leave Bae because of how much she detested Rumple would be a lie. The truth is, it has made it incredibly difficult to care for her as we are both women who cannot wait to have children someday. It is not something that we can imagine and thereby, it makes it difficult to emphasize with her. However, we understand. She is the depiction of a real woman, and this stuff happens in real life, and though it is not okay in any way, she is undoubtedly deserving of forgiveness.
She is deserving of redemption. And most importantly, she deserves to move forward. She deserves happiness. It is never fun to feel trapped, and as human beings, we can experience the feeling in a multitude of ways: at our jobs, homes, cities, marriages, friendships, etc. And understandably, in order to free ourselves, sometimes we take drastic measures. Back at the Enchanted Forest, before Rumple was the Dark One, he was a coward, but the reality is, that does not make him a bad person. If there is one thing Rumple loves more than anything else in the world, it is Bae.
Baelfire was the gift to him he probably never imagined he would be blessed with, and in the ways, he felt best, he tried being there for him. It may have been cowardly to injure his own foot in order to stay home from the Ogre Wars, but it was done with the intention of staying with his family. He was afraid to die, and the fact of the matter is, some people simply are not brave enough for such tasks. It’s normal. And what’s important to take into consideration is the fact that he comes from a broken, incredibly messed up family. It never felt right to us that he was pushed towards deeds that clearly made him uncomfortable. Ultimately what this means is that Milah and Rumple were never meant to marry — she wanted adventure, she was meant for it, while he was okay with being comfortable. And perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is that they had a child before they could properly figure things out. Plus, if that’s how it worked, where’d the drama go? Their house was severely lacking in teamwork because they were not able to properly understand or love one another. They weren’t meant to.
We’re completely fine with Rumple being the show’s primary villain because he’s best this way. It’s far more entertaining this way. And the fact that there are real, heartfelt moments of sincerity where the noblest part of him shine through, makes him even more complex. The reality is there is just too much darkness in him at the moment for him to be anything else, and that is perfectly fine for us.
Once Upon A Time consistently addresses the vitality of teamwork — the notion that asking for help requires immense strength, the choice to lend a hand showcases nobility, and the result of teamwork ends in great success. The choice to team up may have been entirely selfish on Rumple’s end, but with Emma and Milah it was the complete opposite. And despite Rumple’s attempts to pin the ladies against one another, in the end, Emma’s kindness inspired Milah. In the end, it was all about honorable teamwork. It was delightful to see two women who would’ve otherwise been rivals on another series team up with a common goal and a raw tenderness in their communications as they showcased their gratitude for one another. Milah may have been reserved and confused in the beginning as to how twisted this whole story actually is to someone on the outside, but Emma’s choice to tell her about the conversation with Bae changed everything.
Rachel Shelley is at her strongest when she exhibits Milah’s anguish, regrets, and adoration for Bae. And when she was thanking Emma for telling her that Neal is in a happier, much better place, Shelley wore so much palpable relief in her expression. Additionally, Jennifer Morrison’s choice in hand placement and the absolute sincerity in her smile while revealing the vision helped lighten the environment with grace, all while allowing viewers to feel just how organic Emma’s kindness truly is.
In flashbacks, we learn that in order to save Bae, Rumple promised their second child believing that it’d be okay because they wouldn’t have another child. And while it’s awful that he’s made the decision without Milah’s consent first, the reality is, his intentions weren’t in a bad place, but the act is horrible. Bae’s all they have right now, and he’s all that matters. To Rumple, he was enough. Desperate times call for awfully desperate measures, but at that moment, saving Bae was all that mattered — insuring his future is all that mattered. It’s an incredibly complicated, awful situation, but both sides had a valid point. Later as they take the boat to where Killian’s hung,
Milah chooses to stay behind with Rumple in order to make sure he does not attempt to steal it. And this choice is what honorably reveals that she truly has no hard feelings toward Emma. While on the boat together, Rumple and Milah share what may be their most sincere conversation to date — their love for Bae, his happiness, and the regrets she must live with. The regrets they both must live with. As human beings, we are prone to making mistakes, some bigger than others sure, but coming forward and admitting that we have been wrong is the first, honorable step toward redemption. Milah is stuck in the underworld because she is not able to forgive herself for letting her hatred toward Rumple influence her place in Bae’s life. She misses her son, and she needs to apologize in order to move forward. It was nice of Rumple to tell Milah that he betrayed Bae, too, but in spite of everything, as a grown man, Neal was able to forgive him. When you truly love someone, you forgive them. When their apology is authentic, you feel it, and when it comes down to Rumple’s love for Bae, physically, spiritually, and emotionally, it’s the strongest emotion he feels.
Rachel Shelley and Robert Carlyle were excellent scene partners at that moment playing off each other’s vulnerability with innate sincerity and raw emotions. For two people who’ve always been in the same room disagreeing, it was lovely to get a moment where they were on the same page. For the first time, they were a team.
It is a scene like this that makes Rumple’s choice to take the deal with Hades that much more tragic. And while we all know he loves Belle, we also know he loves power more — the choice to keep his dark one status a secret from her reveals that in the most painfully evident way. Rumple is a villain — plain and simple. He is the worst of the worst in this series, and while we love to hate him, it is moments like this where we absolutely loathe him. The only way we see redemption in his future is through a real, sacrificial death which will probably occur in the series finale. It is the only thematic conclusion that makes sense for his character. The series starts off with his memories coming back into play when Emma decides to stay in Storybrooke, but his separation from darkness can only come through death — his permanent departure from Storybrooke. Once again, Rumple stands alone because believing in a man like Hades in order to be on the right side of a team to be freed only backfired and thus, showcased that selfish decisions never end well.
We truly hope we get to see Milah once more before this arc ends giving her the proper, and just closure she deserves not just with Bae, but with Killian as well. They both deserve to be at peace with what’s happened and with the proper goodbye, it’ll bring things around beautifully. She deserves it. And we also hope Belle doesn’t lose the baby, but we’ll discuss this area more in the future.
On another note, Once Upon A Time is also a series that reminds us of the fact that first love is not always true love, but despite the fact that it does not end with forever; it does not mean it is of lesser value than true love. First love plays such a profound role in our lives — it shapes us in ways we never expect, and it allows us to grow into better people. The heartbreaks reveal what we’re deserving of, but in the midst of it, they allow us to find parts of ourselves we never otherwise would have. People don’t come into our lives by accident, they are there to leave footprints in our hearts that will eventually guide us toward what’s meant for us. And first love ultimately teaches a great, irreplaceable abundance about ourselves.
Almost everyone in this series has had a first love and in “Devil’s Due,” Regina was able to see that Daniel owes nothing to anyone. In an episode that was about paying for debts and mistakes, Daniel is free. He’s in a better place — happy, free from pain, heartache, and all sorts of terrible things. It was lovely to see Regina finally get the closure she deserved, placing a hand on his tombstone and telling him that he’ll always have a place in her heart made for a poignantly gorgeous scene.
On a series and arc that emphasizes the importance of forgiveness, it was perfect to have Snow accompany Regina to Daniel’s grave revealing the fact that Regina’s truly come so far from being overly (unfairly) angry because a 10-year-old couldn’t keep a secret. And kudos to Stephen Jackson along with director Alrick Riley, for giving viewers the chance to feel the magnitude of how serenely liberating and healing this moment was for Regina. The camera panning out to reveal the gorgeous landscape surrounding her along with the light colors in the sky created an extraordinarily calming essence.
Sometimes the brain really loves a scene, but can’t exactly pick up why then friends come in and help. Shoutout to Amanda and Caitlin for giving me the words I had no idea I needed: it was lovely to see Regina gain her powers by helping a fallen horse — the animals she loved more than anything when she was younger. The animals that made her inexpressibly happy while bringing light into her life. After a scene as lovely as the one by Daniel’s grave, regaining her powers by healing a horse was simply perfect.
Once Upon A Time is a series about heroes and villains, and the choices they make that determine where they stand. From the very beginning, Killian Jones and Rumplestilskin were two sides of the same coin — the hero and the villain. And in “Devil’s Due” it was once again revealed that despite the mistakes Killian made, he is the hero of the series, serving as the prime paradigm of what redemption acutely means. A hero isn’t someone who doesn’t make mistakes, a hero is a person who rises after they fall taking responsibility for their actions, and perpetrating the fact that selflessness is what’s mostly just in the world. Rumple chose to betray his friends once more whereas Killian chose to forgive his foe as he stood by the friends his heart broke for.
Killian’s not the kind of man that does things for attention but rather because they’re the right, difficult choice to make. He didn’t sacrifice himself because he wanted to die, he sacrificed himself because it was the only way to free this world from the curse of the dark one for good. It was the only way to atone for everything he’s ever done. You can break, bruise, torture, and hurt a hero as much as you’d like as long as you don’t hurt the ones they love. And that’s the kind of man Killian Jones is — the one who’d rather take it upon himself than watch others suffer. The sad reality is, to this day, Killian still believes he’s a villain — there’s a part of deep inside that doesn’t believe he’s worthy of saving. And it’s this very concept that we’re certain will play a vast role in next week’s episode.
It’s not that Killian doesn’t love Emma more than anything in the world, but he truly doesn’t believe he’s worth saving. And on the other side of the coin, we have Rumple whose choices are yet to be honorable, and yet he is so determined to go back home. He isn’t holding anything back. It’s heartbreaking really that Rumple’s choice to lie, cheat, and step on those who’ve continuously forgiven him is what makes him such a dastardly villain. If anyone deserves to stay in the underworld, it’s Rumple, but he’s the one who wants to get back home because he doesn’t know selflessness. On another note, the series once again chose to showcase just how fervently Killian respects a woman’s agency (his first meeting with Milah) while Rumple has absolutely no regard for it.
Once Upon A Time knows how to do epic reunions — each of them uniquely superlative in their own way and always managing to leave us covered in chills with tears streaming down our faces. Killian and Emma’s reunion quickly climbed its way onto our list of favorites leaving us in complete awe.
Colin O’Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison fortified once more what brilliant scene partners they are by allowing the audience to feel every dose of their characters’ emotions and physical aches as they were back into each other’s arms. The most beautiful part of the reunion was their quick conversation with one another — his choice to reveal he wants no one’s life in danger because of him followed by her claim of never listening, resulting in the beautiful notion that the very reason he loves her so much is because she’s impossible.
Additionally, Emma holding onto him as hard as she possibly could without causing any more physical pain, and his head leaning against her for a moment was immaculate. There’s no feeling quite as indescribably serene as being in the arms of the one you love most — far, far away from home, but safe and sound with the kindred spirit whose heart perpetually beats for you. And at that moment when they embraced in their seated positions, Morrison’s expressiveness quickly revealed remarkable elation. You saw light make its way back into Emma’s eyes as hope grew even stronger within her.
Emma is impossible — she’s stubborn, brave, resilient, and limitlessly loving, and Killian is just as impossible. If the roles were reversed, if she had made the sacrifice, he’d be by her side as quickly as she was by his. It’s why they’re able to love one another so deeply, they’re alike in countless ways, but in areas where they need to grow, the other can challenge them honorably. When you love someone, when you truly love someone with every fiber of your being, you cannot let him go. There are a number of amazing couples who are kindred spirits, but Killian and Emma are the epitome of it.
They’d fight through hell and high water for each other no questions asked because it’s impossible to be apart. Killian and Emma have both loved others dearly before: but they have not loved with such fervent and profound adoration, unwavering faith in their person, and an all-consuming love that has effortlessly awakened parts of them that life had attempted to cease. When you open yourself to love with no boundaries and no restraints, there’s magic — an indescribable, infinite power that lightens even the darkest corridors of your being. And that light serves as an eternal compass towards happiness anchoring the idea that together and because of each other, they are irrepressible, better, braver, and always at home. It’s that exact light that they cannot live without, and when need be, they’d choose each other — always. They are a team. Supporting, encouraging, loving, and choosing one another above all is how a team needs to be. And if there’s no noble teamwork with the right intentions, there’s no success. Thankfully, they can serve as an example alongside Henry, the Charmings, and Regina/Robin.
Hades is insane, but Greg Germann is superb in the role. Literally how sadistic is he? Also, have we established who the worst villain is yet? Is there a limit? And we cannot wait to see how the heroes attempt to escape now that he’s trapped three of them.
- Cruella is the mayor. Okay cool. That’s totally cool. Keep the puppies away from her.
- Snow’s concern for Killian was a gorgeous sight to see. She’s the only one who hasn’t exactly established a personal relationship with him, but to see her motherly instincts and love turn on so quickly at the sight of his bruised and bloody body was lovely.
- Milah’s probably the only person in the underworld whose job directly featured atoning for her mistakes. Choosing to help kids (how awful is it that there are kids there?) cross the streets safely was an interesting touch to her afterlife.
- Splitting her heart with Killian’s may not have worked for Emma now, but we’re certain they’ll still find a way to properly bring him home.
- Did anyone else notice Emma’s nursery at her house in the underworld? We’re not sure if there’s any significance to it at the moment, but knowing this show, there may be. Thoughts?
- Colin O’Donoghue is phenomenal when it comes to conveying torturous physical pain that looks organic — it’s so incredibly easy to overdue moments like this, but the nuances in O’Donoghue’s performances make for incredibly palpable scenes. The physical and emotional turmoil his time at the underworld is causing is boldly evident not only through O’Donoghue’s heartrending expressions but the exhaustion he’s showcasing through his physicality.
What a beautiful review, Giss! You said such lovely things about the importance of teamwork and the value of first love. And I thought you did a great job analyzing Milah’s character and why her marriage with Rumple was doomed: They wanted completely different things from life; she wanted a life of adventure, while he longed for the safety and stability of a quiet life. And that didn’t make either of them bad people, it just made them a bad fit. And it explains why Milah grew so resentful as the years went on.
And to your question about the significance of Emma’s nursery being in her house, I saw it as her unfinished business. I think Emma’s unfinished business is still dealing with the fact that she never got to have the childhood she was supposed to have. More than any other thing in her life, I think the traumas she experienced in her childhood—and the knowledge that it all could have been different—haunt her. I’m not sure there’s a way to make up for 28 lost years and an innocence that was stolen from you before you were even born, so I see the nursery as a symbol of what still haunts Emma’s soul.
Sorry it took a while to respond to this, I needed to step away from wordpress and the fandom for a bit to clear my head, but of all the reviews, thank you so much for saying what you did about this one. It was tough to write because there’s this misconception on the internet that just because you disagree with someone (particularly a woman as unfairly treated as Milah) then it must mean you automatically hate her. I really wanted to make sure I got across the fact that she is admirable because she’s admitted to making the mistake she has. It takes a lot of courage to admit you were wrong. You have regrets. And those regrets have stayed with you for a long time. I also wanted to point out the fact that at the time they were married, it was always wrong just because they were two different people. So I’m glad you liked this a lot.
And oh my God! I didn’t even think of Emma possibly having unfinished business here at the underworld because well, she’s not dead (though she’s trapped now). So I may or may not be crying all over again because I’m thinking of just how much this still hurts Emma even though she’s happier, braver, and surrounded by so many great loved ones. It’s heartbreaking and I can’t wait to see how it’s dealt with.
OMG what superb writing. I absolutely love your words on our most wonderful hero Killian. He is the truest of heroes, I love that he isn’t perfect he does make mistakes but that he takes responsibility, the fact that despite everything Rumple has done to him, he still took responsibility for the mistakes he made with the whole Rumple/Millah/Hook triangle when in 5A he told Emma he was the villain in that triangle that rumple was a good man trying to protect his family. You perfectly summed up the difference between Killian & Rumple.
Aw that reunion was truly epic just like their whole romance is so epic, I am so glad that Emma doesn’t listen! They are such kindred spirits and your description of their true love is perfect – kudos to you. I totally agree with everything you said, the way they fight for each other is amazing, there fight for each other, their faith in each other is amazing. I adore how much they changed each other, broke down each others walls they way they bring out the best in each other. There are lots of great couples but for me there is none as perfect as Emma & Killian, I never thought I could become so effected by a tv couple but their love is just so exquisite & has touched my heart.
You are so right about Colin & Jennifer – we are so lucky to have such wonderful actors.
I can’t wait to Ep 15, I’m have a feeling we may have some epic CS moments, I’m not concerned about the promo bc if death couldn’t stop true love nothing will. I look forward to your review of the ep.
Thank you so much, Elly! Yes, that’s the thing, I love most about Killian — he owns up to his mistakes. It’s natural to make them. We’re humans. And the fact that he owns up to them is what makes his character so admirable.
Yes, same. We aren’t worried either. As you said, if death couldn’t stop truth love, nothing can!