Once Upon A Time S05E10 “Broken Heart” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Netflix, new episodes every Wednesday
Writers: Dana Horgan & Tze Chun
Director: Romeo Tirone
Essential Plot Points:
- Hook is reborn as Dark Hook and he’s pissed with Emma.
- Emma may have control of him through Excalibur but he’s the one who emotionally manipulates her; he uses his wiles to get his hook on Excalibur, kill Merlin and instigate a curse that will return him to Storybrooke where he can wreak revenge on Gold…
- …But his Dark One predecessors have bigger plans in mind.
- So Emma hijacks the curse, robbing everyone of their memories of their time in Camelot, so that no one knows Hook is a Dark One.
- Hook challenges Gold to a duel. Amazingly Gold wins but doesn’t kill Hook.
- Hook only needed some of Gold’s blood, though, so he could open a portal to the underworld and allow a boat load of Dark Ones to invade Storybrooke.
- Nobody trusts Emma. Then she asks Henry for help in a quest that will return everybody’s memories. Hurrah! She’s no longer acting alone. Everybody trusts Emma.
- Regina uses access to Hood and Zelena’s baby daughter as emotional blackmail to try to make Zelena a better woman.
What every story needs is a good hook, but Once Upon A Time benefits from a bad Hook. While Emma/Killian ’shippers might have issues with this latest obstacle to their relationship, everyone else can enjoy Colin O’Donoghue having a whale of a time as Hook is let off the leash. While Dark Swan may have been a bit a damp squib, in one episode Dark Hook makes up for all that, with some deliciously casual evil, pithy insults and general bad-assery. Sure he’s been evil before, but this feels like a new kind of evil as he channels both the Hook of yore and the Dark Ones.
Emma’s left reeling in his wake, looking like a labrador that’s not being allowed any leftovers from Christmas dinner. She does have some sweet moments of rebonding with Henry, though; while this little subplot suffers from the usual Once Upon A Time affliction of “redemption is only ever one nice act away” it is great to see the old Emma emerging from behind the Jean Paul Gaultier Hell’s Angel costume; and Jennifer Morrison is managing the transformation with a pleasing subtlety.
It’s a strong episode for Gold too. You have to cheer him on when he refuses Emma’s offer of squid ink to cheat in his due with Hook and announces that he wants to fight with honour. The actual fight is a bit of a letdown – too short, too unimpressive, rubbish resolution with the pirate standing in just the right spot to be hit on the head by a convenient prop – but that’s nothing compared to what follows: Belle dumps Gold. Where the hell did that come from? Unless it transpires she was being controlled by someone (a pissed-off Hook, perhaps?) this must rate as the either the most unconvincing reason to split up ever, to the most selfish.
As for Regina using Zelena’s own baby as a weapon in a war for her salvation… well, you can’t fault the sentiments behind it, but once again, the show tries to convince us that someone can have such a complete change of heart in the space of one brief scene. Fiction has to use dramatic contraction, sure; writers have been using major events to hurry up emotional development since Shakespeare’s time. But sometimes Once Upon A Time dumps too much work on too few scenes and the results can be a little trite. Luckily Lana Parilla is a decent enough actress to (almost) pull it off and somehow makes the scene more about Regina than Zelena.
Then again, less time spent on the redemption of a character you don’t really care whether they’re redeemed or not (Zelena) means there’s more screen time for Dark Hook. Hurrah! And the episode ends with a great cliffhanger that has you checking that this isn’t the mid-season finale… it isn’t, so you have to worry about there being worse to come next week!
- Hook’s impression of Rumple.
- Hook generally having far more fun as a Dark One than Emma did.
- Loads more Dark Ones!
- Distinct lack of Arthur – always a good thing.
- “Why must Dark Ones dress like mugs?” And head-Rumple’s consequent appreciation of the leather look.
- “You’re here because you still have feelings for me.” “Oh Swan, of course I still have feelings for you. Anger. Hatred. Disappointment.”
- “Careful dearie. That’s the oldest heart in all the realms. Let’s cut it open and count the rings.”
- Belle dumping Rumple– a lousy reason, lousy timing, and simply made Belle come across as selfish. Some fans have suggested, Belle was actually under Hook’s control and he made her leave Rumple to hurt him, but that seems pretty low-rent, petty stuff for a Dark One. If this were the case, you’d have thought Belle would have been more cruel and more hurtful. Instead this odd little scene just feels weird.
- Dark Swan in the Camelot section is insufferably gullible and wet.
- Henry doesn’t seem to need much convincing to go from “I don’t trust you” to “Here’s your magic back.”
- Similarly, Regina’s emotional blackmail to try to make a decent woman out of Zelena – while a sweet one in theory – felt like it needed more than one scene to give it some emotional weight.
- The Gold/Hook sword fight is a bit dull.
- The details about how the curse is supposed to work before Emma hijacks it are worryingly vague.
And The Random:
- This week’s title card features Hook’s ship. The same title card was used for season two’s “The Crocodile” and the season three’s “Good Form”.
- And one day she’ll grow to adulthood (sorry, couldn’t resist).
- In the US this episode has the lowest overnight viewing figures ever for the series.
Review by Dave Golder
• Read our other Once Upon A Time Season Five reviews
• Once Upon a Time panel with Victoria Smurfit and Merrin Dungey at MCM Birmingham Comic Con
• INTERVIEW Once Upon A Time’s Merrin Dungey and Victoria Smurfit MCM Birmingham