Once Upon A Time 6×13 “Ill-Boding Patterns” Recap

Spoilers Ahead


Episode Summary: In flashbacks, we learn that Beowulf actually existed during the Ogre Wars and Rumplestilskin killed him. Oh, but he didn’t do it out of a free will, Baelfire commanded him to. (The kid who presumably hated magic.) Robin teams up with Zelena in order to leave Storybrooke, and Regina comes to the realization that she should’ve never split herself from the Evil Queen. Rumple darkens his soul for Gideon. Emma finds the ring, and Killian pops the question with a giant secret hanging over their head.

Review | Analysis: Every once in a while it’s safe to expect that we’ll come across an episode in our favorite show that’ll make us angry cry. And “Ill-Boding Patterns” was that episode for me — if I weren’t reviewing the show, I might’ve skipped it to save myself from witnessing the hottest mess in Once Upon A Time history. Perhaps, the most unfortunate aspect is the fact that the episode was set up to tell a riveting story, and it could have succeeded if it chose to respect its characters a little bit. It could’ve succeeded if the easy route wasn’t taken. Now while “Ill-Boding Patterns” is probably my least favorite episode to date, it wasn’t without great moments and it finally addressed something I’d been hoping for.

The series has often done a remarkable job with father/son relationships, but the character assassination that took place with Bae was an unpleasant blow. Neal may not have been a favorite character, but Bae’s courage as a boy fervently against magic is something I’ve always appreciated. And to state that he changed his mind after everything they’ve been through made very little sense. I suppose it’s possible for him to momentarily want it due to the way Beowulf mocked Rumple, but because this isn’t the first time it’s happened, it doesn’t add up.

Now although the flashbacks took me off course for a bit, I surprisingly appreciated Rumple’s screen time with Gideon. And Giles Matthey broke my heart when he spoke of how much he regretted standing back as the Black Fairy tortured another soul in front of him as a means of turning his heart evil. There is so much of Belle in him that I desperately wish she was standing by him at that moment, too. There’s so much of Belle in him that there’s hope he could make the right choice. Rumple has fallen to temptation too many times to have hope at this point, but because we can be certain he’ll do everything in his power to make sure another son’s life isn’t tarnished by darkness, this storyline’s becoming something I’m fascinated by. I want him to succeed in order to once and for all prove that he could change, but I also really enjoy the work Robert Carlyle does as a villain. Do you see my struggle?

“Ill-Broding Patterns” could’ve taken a different route to show us how characters learn from their pasts, but instead it did the exact opposite with Killian. And that’s essentially the part that’s frustrating me because I’m tired of having to watch the same dramatic plot over and over again. I genuinely do wonder if writers are under the impression that fans will somehow stop watching if heavens forbid things are calm for a moment. Is that a thing that goes on in a writer’s room? Do they think we’ll abandon ship if they don’t give us thrilling drama every second? Because it’s the exact opposite, and a proposal of all moments, deserved peace. This isn’t Pirates of the Caribbean at World’s End, okay? (That actually made more sense and I loved that proposal to bits.) But the former is especially true for two people who’ve been through more than any human deserves in their lives.

To be honest my dear readers, it’s not easy writing about this because, for the first time in a long time, I’m disappointed in the show in a way I’ve never been. Generally, I could look at the positive side of things, but this isn’t an instance where I can do that. Unfortunately, I’m not Chris Traeger. And right now, I literally feel like my heart was ripped out of my chest and stomped on. I’m also easily impressed. And that’s kind of the thing that’s upsetting me. When it comes to proposals, I’m always a WRECK. I even cried during Ellie and Awesome’s proposal in Chuck and we don’t even hear any dialogue. That’s how easily you can tug on my heartstrings with a proposal.

I wasn’t expecting a grand, romantic proposal in the Jolly Roger lit up with candles and a nice dinner set up under the moon. (That would’ve been adorable though.) I wasn’t expecting anything. The only thing I was hoping for is that at this moment when two lost souls finally choose to embark on a gorgeous journey towards forever, as Emma states, there’d be no secrets, no walls, no lies — just them. That’s literally it. I didn’t sign up for our hero to drunkenly proposes while keeping an enormous secret concerning his future wife’s father. If I just stare at “gifs” of them without knowing Killian’s secret, I’d be a sobbing wreck because MY FAVORITE TV COUPLE IS ENGAGED! But I can’t do that because I know what’s overshadowing that moment. And the only way I can see myself resorting to a puddle of happy tears that leads to pages of happy analysis is through a second proposal after the truth’s revealed.

Colin O’Donoghue and Jennifer Morrison are too good as scene partners not to give them gorgeous material and sincere words to work with. They’d even tell the most beautiful story in silence. They’ve got such an innate, immaculate grasp on these characters that they’d be able to showcase immense adoration in the smallest, briefest of moments. And they did that, but the secret, plainly, simply ruined it. It’s even more upsetting because Killian discussed it with Archie which proved just how much he’s changed. It’s unfair to the character. It’s unfair to the couple. To bring the episode full circle, he should’ve told the truth before proposing. I understand that TV shows are meant to keep us engaged until the next episode, but they could do so without such cliffhangers. After a while, they become more cliché than happy endings.

What caught me by surprise this week and ended up being my favorite moment in the entire episode was Regina declaring that she and the Evil Queen are one. I’ve been waiting for that moment since the split at the end of season five, and I’m thrilled beyond words that she finally understands they’re one. Contrary to what the Evil Queen believes, they aren’t doppelgangers, they’re one. And with Regina accepting that, I’m excited to see the final battle with the Evil Queen next week. I’m also excited to see what’ll happen to Robin because I love the way Regina’s handling things so far.

Worth Mentioning:

  • Zelena’s hair and makeup are always on point!
  • I was so impressed with Giles Matthey this week and I’m looking forward to seeing him do a lot more as the season progresses and he learns how to defeat the Black Fairy without harming Emma, himself, or anyone else.
  • It broke my heart to see Regina’s scenes with Robin this week, but I was so glad to see that they weren’t handled with anger or frustration but rather with patience and kindness.
  • The scene with the Evil Queen attacking Robin as a snake made me cringe so hard because they’re the scariest animals to me.
  • Jennifer Morrison’s performance as Emma tried to help Killian say what he wanted to say was such an adorable display of how far Emma’s come in her journey. There truly are no walls for her, but pure elation even in the face of the darkest moments in her life.
  • I don’t remember Beowulf being such an arrogant prick in the novels, but then again, I was more of a Hamlet girl so that story is a huge blur.
  • Sean Maguire is doing an excellent job with this version of Robin, and I’m loving it so much.

One comment

  1. Sorry, this is a bit late, but I wasn’t planning on commenting. (Again, very long; I won’t make a habit of it!) But this review was just So Sad. Usually I find positivity, but there is little to be found here this time. And actually, aside from the slow pacing, I mostly appreciated this episode.

    So perhaps a different perspective?

    I do not see the flashbacks as a character assassination of Baelfire. It is a bit of a retcon, but so much on this show is. But itt looks like this flashback takes place Before all other tween Baelfire episodes, which does make a difference. One of the troubling aspects of Neal’s character was his hypocrisy, namely in regards to magic. He hated it and yet had no problems using magic whenever it suited him. After falling through the Magic Bean portal to the Enchanted Forest, he immediately heads to his father’s castle to use the magic there. He then uses Rumple’s walking stick to initiate Blood Magic, uses a magic crystal to locate Emma and Henry, then uses Pan’s Shadow (a Dark Magic creature, I assume) to carry him to Neverland. In Neverland, he uses squid ink – seemingly magical – to paralyze Pan, captures the Shadow in “magic coconut”, then gets on a ship powered by that Shadow to cross into Storybrooke. Then the 3A curse hits and once again he heads for his father’s castle so he can resurrect Rumple using Dark Magic with the intention of using his father’s Dark Magic to return to Storybrooke. Then he sends a memory potion to Hook so that eventually Emma will drink it and have her memories restored. Magically. Now, I’m not saying any of this is evil or wrong; it’s all understandable. However, for someone who “hated magic” and went so far as to try and destroy it, he used it (and even sought it out) without qualms or hesitation. But with the new information from this episode, his actions can be put into a different light. He could use magic so easily because he had done so as a kid, when he had almost fallen under the lure of the Dagger. So his hatred of magic may not stem solely from what it did to Rumple, or because of its price, but also because on some level Neal felt drawn to it too. His used this hatred as a defense mechanism against this subconscious pull. This changes much of his (adult) behavior from intolerant, hypocritical, and self-righteous to the outward manifestations of an inner struggle. This is an understandable, human failing that gives Neal a depth and complexity, even sympathy, he didn’t have before. In truth, it makes me like and appreciate his character more, not less.

    As for that proposal? Well, I’m sure you’re aware, but you are not alone. On the one hand, Emma was so happy, practically begging Killian to ask her, that how in that moment could he disappoint her and break her heart? He couldn’t. But then it’s bitter because of the secret. Conflicting emotions is putting it mildly, for both him and us. (A second proposal would be perfect- from Emma this time!)

    While I am not a fan of the Hook Murdered Robert story, my main objection, as I stated before, is Timing. It’s all off. The story itself doesn’t belong here; it should have been in an earlier season; 5B would have been ideal. Hook was already feeling unworthy, Robert had unfinished business, both James and David were in the underworld, and the Charmings would have to had to come to terms with the fact that they were risking themselves to bring back a man who murdered one of their own. That would have been an interesting conflict. It also would have made it even more emotional (hard to believe!) when they couldn’t save him, because they would have found a way to forgive him.

    As for the writing room, you’re probably right about the “created drama”. It feels lazy, inconsistent, and unnecessary for a story that developed naturally and linearly to suddenly backslide into well-worn territory.

    But here’s the flip side. I’m going to step back to try to be positive and give some credit for a moment.

    With the latest developments for Rumple and Regina, it seems like (too easy) redemption and/or forgiveness may be on the horizon for all. (Don’t get me wrong; I don’t object to their being redeemed – especially Regina. But that doesn’t change the fact that it would feel too quick and easy.) So for Killian, the writers are trying to address everything this season, because there are still naysayers.

    “Hook has never really apologized to Belle” – dealt with and then some
    “Hook orphaned his brother” – also dealt with
    “The Charmings have ‘forgiven’ Hook because it’s never been personal.” – now being dealt with.

    The writers appear to be dotting all the Is and crossing all the Ts when it comes to Killian’s redemption. It’s perhaps why so much of Hook (and Emma’s) story feels pigeonholed in; there’s a lot to wrap up before the end. But by the end, his redemption will be as close to complete as it can be because once he’s forgiven for Robert’s murder, he can be “forgiven for anything”. And here’s the thing: of the main redemption arcs on the show, Hook’s the only one that’s truly earned it. It’s been long and a struggle, it’s been hard and painful, both for him and us.

    That Is How It Should Be.

    Redemption is not just about grand gestures, about protecting only those you care about, or about doing good now after have done evil in the past. It is also about taking responsibility, about feeling true remorse, not for how it affected you but others, and about making amends. It is a road, not a destination; not something that can conclude, but is forever ongoing. And the only one doing it right, the only one who’s been trying to do it right all along is Killian Jones.

    The repetitiveness of his arc is frustrating largely because he is the least of the three (just check their hearts) and yet is the one forced to endure the most. But when all is done, the one who will have truly earned his redemptive, heroic status is still Killian Jones.

    It may be cold comfort; it may not be fair. It may not even (is not) written as well as it should be.

    But it’s what we’ve been given.

    And it isn‘t all bad.

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