Once Upon A Time season 3 episode 17 review: The Jolly Roger

Review Kylie Peters 14 Apr 2014 - 07:06

Pirates! In an adventure with the Little Mermaid in this week's Once Upon A Time. Here's Kylie's review...

This review contains spoilers.

3.17 The Jolly Roger

The Jolly Roger makes for a real crowd-pleaser on two fronts: lots of Hook, and almost no Zelena. Though it falls prey to the cheesiness and plot holes that have become par for the course in Once, the episode is undeniably entertaining. It’s hard not to like a story about pirates, and Colin O’Donoghue provides a layered performance that lessens the triteness of the old true love and brokenheartedness plotlines.

In flashbacks, Hook and Ariel go after Blackbeard, who doesn’t actually have much of a beard but his hair is pretty impressive. He’s taken over the Jolly Roger and has Prince Eric trapped on a deserted island. Hook defeats Blackbeard using the power of his love for the Jolly Roger/Emma. (Yes, he’s replaced Emma with a boat.) Hook then decides to kill Blackbeard and take the Jolly Roger back, at the cost of their never finding out where Prince Eric is being kept. Ariel is pissed and swims away to find him.

In present Storybrooke, Hook is again enlisted to help Ariel find Eric. He is ashamed of his actions, and doesn’t tell her what happened in the Enchanted Forest until the end, when she gets him to swear on the name of his love for Emma Swan that he is sorry. Then, she reveals that the Present Storybrooke version of Ariel has really been Zelena in disguise all along. Hook’s oath allowed her to curse him so that the next time he kisses Emma, she will lose her magic. Zelena says if he doesn’t kiss her, she will kill everyone Emma loves.

This seems like a pretty roundabout way for Zelena to get at Emma, but it isn’t out of character for Once to invent new magical rules designed to ramp up interpersonal drama. It would be a good idea now for Hook to tell everyone what happened so they can find some way around it together, but obviously he’s not going to do that because it’s too sensible.

Despite the frequent ridiculousness of his material, O’Donoghue really shines this week. He has always been good in this role, but this may be the first time his acting skill has really jumped out at me. He finds a nice balance between swagger and vulnerability. The conflict between his selfish piratey self and his newfound good self comes through with emotional force.

Ariel (or Zelena-as-Ariel, who is pretty much the same as real Ariel) was less appealing in this episode. She keeps putting on a tough front and making demands, then failing to follow through with any kind of strong action. She spends the episode going on about how people need to help her because true love. Also, those were the two weakest slaps I have ever seen. I wish women on TV would either stop slapping guys or start just punching them in the face instead.

Snow and Charming are also fairly dumb this week, particularly when Charming tries to teach twelve-year-old Henry to drive, but at least it was pretty funny. The idea that Henry likes Hook better than them because they are boring is completely believable, and adds a nice bit of realistic humour to the episode.

Regina begins teaching Emma magic, using questionable methods. Emma has the potential to be a lot more powerful than Regina, and it’s surprising that Regina doesn’t seem at all threatened or jealous.

Next week, we’re dipping into the horror genre again when Regina and friends try to contact Cora in the afterlife for help in the fight against Zelena. In other news, Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas were married this past weekend. Congrats to them! 

Read Kylie's review of the previous episode, It's Not Easy Being Green, here.

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