Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Once Upon a Time, Season 4, Episode 16: Poor Unfortunate Soul

Flashback scene, back when Killian was Captain Hook and having to placate the evil Pan to allow their presence in Neverland. They hear a beautiful siren song that draws them in – towards rocks, as siren songs are wont to. They do manage to avoid the mermaid’s wrath which Killian terms the most dangerous creature in the seas

Cut to the mermaid, a young Ursula, arguing with her dad, King of the sea because she’d rather not kill people with her beautiful voice and her mother wouldn’t have approved. That mother doesn’t have a chance to make her own opinions clear because she’s been murdered and daddy is on a full vengeance kick against all things human. Daddy hits back with a twist on the age old parental rule “so long as you live in my ocean, you live by my rules.”

So she breaks into his vault and steals a bracelet that lets her walk on land so she can sing in taverns and explain all this to Killian over a drink. After bonding over history and her voice he agrees to give her a lift to where she wants to go

To try and stop this, the Sea King enchants a sea shell to take away Ursula’s singing voice, removing her motive for leaving and gives it to Hook to use on her – something Killian agrees to do in exchange for squid ink which is powerful enough even to paralyse the Dark One.
Killian adamantly refuses to do that to Ursula – but does ask her to break into her dad’s vault to steal squid ink which works – until the Sea King hears about it and magically vanishes it. And, no, a pirate isn’t really the match of a water deity. Unable to strike him, in petty spite and revenge, Killian steals Ursula’s voice.

Bitterly furious, Ursula recognises she lost her voice because her father was determined to “protect her” and keep her as his helpless daughter – so she transforms herself into Ursula the Sea witch, a being so powerful she never needs to be protected – only to be feared.

To the present and Ursula still has her love of operatic voices before the villains get to torturing August- or avoiding torturing because Regina knows what August fears the most so can get him to talk without all the messy agonising pain and stains on the upholstery. August refers to the Mystic called Terrible Asian Stereotype The Dragon in Hong Kong who was also interested in the Author (you may not remember this as it was before the terribleness that was Neverneveragain Land and the Let-Frozen-Go-Fanfic. In fact everyone go out and treat yourselves right now with Regina and Maleficent’s wardrobes for surviving this long and sticking with it) and August has all his research (because actually seeing the Dragon may involve an actual Asian character). Rumple and the villains go ahead with the rest of the plan – which makes it clear that Regina still isn’t fully trusted.

Regina does use magic to possess Mary Margaret to give a quick update to the Charmings and their pirate mascot (thereby making Mary Margaret 1000 times more awesome in 10 seconds). Including that Rumple is back

To Belle for the dagger! Except she doesn’t have it because she gave it to Fake!Killian because she’s oddly foolish for such a smart woman. Thankfully Emma is here to point out the bleeding obvious. Hilariously Belle laments that she didn’t think Rumple could deceive her any more. Well it’s not like she made it all that hard. Perhaps if she’s worried about being deceived she shouldn’t hand out powerful magic items to pirates.

Killian decides they’ll find out the master plan by him convincing Ursula – by returning her “happy ending” since he was the one who took it in the first place.

He uses a conch shell to call her and she leaves to meet him – though still isn’t his biggest fan. He offers to return whatever shiny thing he has of her’s in exchange for Rumple’s plans. It’s on his ship – which is in the Enchanted Forest. Of course, mermaids can open portals underwater (we’ve seen Ariel do it before) and we get more poking of Killian being the one who changed Ursula. She does still have the power and brings the Jolly Roger to Storybrooke – as a tiny ship in a bottle.

To Rumple’s shop where Belle finally question’s Killian’s identity (and is duly and deservedly snarked at for being so late in doing so) and Killian and Will do their fun back and forth. They need something that can make things bigger or smaller – of course Will, from all his time in Wonderland, has just what they need.

Having used magic mushrooms, Killian gives Ursula her singing voice back – but it doesn’t work. Ursula puts it down to villains not getting their happy endings. She refuses to go forward with their deal and Killian attacks her – and ends up dumped in the sea, unconscious, to be rescued by apassing Ariel. It seems Ariel was trapped in the bottle with the Jolly Roger after an attempt to curse the Jolly Roger went wrong.

Back to the villains and Rumple decides the best way to ensure August is telling the truth is to turn him back into wood, briefly anyway. It’s not just for funsies – it makes his nose grow when he lies, in classic Pinocchio fashion. Under this coercion, he tells them that the Sorcerer trapped the Author behind a door. A picture of that door, made by the Author, was in his things which Gepetto gave to Regina and she gave to Henry

Alas worse things are approaching – the Charmings! Who are being soppy and trying to foreshadow Emma turning to the dark side very very badly. They rescue August since the villains only left a conveniently smackable Cruella behind (though Cruella is right, the scruff is nicer than the timber). Alas this is when Ursula comes in and takes Mary Margaret hostage with her tentacles.

But Killian arrives, inspired by Ariel (the reasons why villains never get their happy endings is because they go about it the wrong way), he has sought out how to return Ursula’s voice – but having the one whose enchantment stole it return it. Her father who Ariel brought back via portal (she clearly has Sea King GPS). He apologises to her and returns her voice and she and her father reconcile.

While everything is getting mushy, Cruella escapes. Everyone leaves except Killian and Emma because Killian is angsting about how close he came to going dark side. And Killian has realised all this talk of villains not getting their happy endings doesn’t just apply to the bad guys and Regina – it applies to him as well – losing his happy ending with Emma.

Before she goes Ursula goes through with the deal and reveals the full plan – because Emma is the Saviour, the Author cannot give the villains their happy ending without her. Rumple plans to turn her dark side.

Emma and Regina talk about a dream Regina have about her reconciling with Robin – and Evil Her appearing to protect her. She asks Emma to use her tracking skills to get some way to contact Robin. And August reveals that the door on the page Henry has is the door behind which the Author is trapped – he’s trapped in the book.

I like a lot about Ursula’s story. I love what a perfect challenge it is to the ridiculous, sexist “I need to control you for your own good meme.” I love how it created Ursula with a backstory of seeking power for her own self-protection and freedom because both her father and Killian had taught her that she couldn’t trust other people to provide or respect either. I like how her losing her singing voice in turn relates so well to the Little Mermaid tale itself and why she would find taking a voice so meaningful. I like the meaning of the voice to her, not the power of it, the beauty of it, the danger of it or the attraction of it – but because of the link it represents to her lost, beloved mother. And I liked her reconciling with her father and that family being restored and strong. I also really like that what I feared between Killian and Ursula (a failed love affair which would also have Killian choosing blonde Emma over her) didn’t happen. I also like that the Sea King was Black, powerful, loving if very much in the wrong (which he worked to correct) and not killed

The down side is we STILL haven’t seen this all powerful sea witch show any power beyond having tentacles. C’mon, when you can turn into a dragon or throw fireballs, calamare legs are not in the same league! I also very much fear that just as Ursula has been developed, she is now being removed from the show – which will have her join the rest of the suddenly vanishing and/or briefly appearing POC this show has had: Sidney Glass, Rapunzel, Mulan, Lancelot. It seems very few POC can gain anything like regular parts on this show

I do love Emma and Regina leaning on each other more, they are awesome together

I also love the shout outs to the past season – the writers recognise they have 4 seasons of history and they’re willing to draw on that; from Will Scarlett having Neverland goodies, to Squid Ink, to the Dragon to the Jolly Roger’s history with Ariel – the show isn’t pretending the past didn’t happen.