Killian has been saved from Hades, going home with Emma. He’s pretty badly beat up leading to this very very true exchange:
Killian: Hades knocked the handsome out of me
Emma: No-one’s that powerful
I agree Emma, no-one has that power, nope nope nope. Thankfully Emma does have the shiny power to patch him up (I don’t know why but I really like to see her using her magic – it seems like such a progression for her character after what she’s been through over 5 seasons)
Of course she can’t magically cure his self-hate and guilt. Especially since Emma has set a high bar to compare himself against: she became the Dark One and fought it or weeks. Killian became the Dark One and succumbed almost instantly.. yes he’s not feeling good about himself, and doesn’t think he deserves saving from the Underworld
Killian, you just got saved – everyone risked their life to save you. You don’t get to unsave yourself now, it’s a rule.
They also run into Liam – Killian’s beloved and saintly big brother. Killian is horrified because he’s put Liam on such a high pedestal he can’t imagine him ever having done anything bad to have unfinished business (they seem to mix up “has unfinished business” with “being bad” here. After all, no-one can call Regina’s father bad). Killian decides that Hades has rigged the game and they absolutely must kill Hades to free everyone. Liam also isn’t a fan of Emma – he self-righteously points out Emma’s choice to keep Killian alive and make him a Dark One continually tempted him to darkness when she should have known better. He’s not entirely wrong, but he’s also a lot of a git about it (which, when Emma talks this through with Regina, she’s happy to point out because Regina and Emma are awesome), super judgemental and not recognising any of the nuance of the situation
It is a nice subversion of the trope to have a protective older brother worry about the woman his little brother is dating. This kind of protectiveness so often carries a huge chunk of policing female sexuality with it which makes it so very different and new when it’s the little brother being protected.
Anyway, a weakness for Hades? The gang gathers and decides they need the Underworld equivalent of a The Storybook since it has everyone’s stories – and, therefore, their weaknesses. Which means they need a stash of magical artefact which Henry knows about (more on that later).
Plan made, it’s time to poke some holes in Liam’s shiny façade. Killian thinks the sun shines out of his brother’s arse because his brother was always there for him, even after their father sold them both into indentured servitude and even after Killian screwed up several times. Through incredible bravery and noble heroics and constant honesty he even managed to save them both from a terrible captain and a terrible storm and get them both a place in the King’s navy.
Well… except the version Killian knows misses out the part where Liam sold the souls of a ship load of men to Hades in exchange for a gem that let him buy that naval commission (which, by the way, I think Liam really short changed them on, but still)… and it’s that information Hades holds over Liam’s head when he demands Liam destroy the pages of the Storybook that pertain to him – which Liam promptly does.
Emma, not being a fool (and not liking the guy), suspects Liam when the book turns up nothing, but Killian can’t believe anything wrong of his precious brother… which is when all those sailors Liam doomed to die show up to gets some revenge, dragging the Jones’s brother to the fiery lake of Hell which is when Hades intervenes: Liam gets to live since he fulfilled the bargain while Killian gets all burned up for daring to escape
That’s the plan. It’s derailed when Liam moves to save his little brother and gets almost thrown into the lake of fire himself, caught by Killian so they can have a heartfelt brother moment. Killian is horrified by all the lies but Liam says he just wanted to set a perfect example for his brother and we get this awesome line:
“You raised the bar so high I couldn’t help but fail.”
And this, coupled with Killian comparing himself to Emma, is the awesome point of this episode which is so excellently done. Here’s Kilian beating himself up for not being as good as other people, often because he doesn’t realise the story behind what they’ve done or what they went through: he has all this guilt and self-hate because he continually compares himself to others and potentially impossible standards. An excellent lesson and an excellent character development moment.
Liam owns up to everything while dangling over the lava but decides he cannot forgive himself – he needs to atone by dropping into the fiery pit… and lo Liam has just resolved his unfinished business which means he gets a ticket out of there: as does all of his crew. While Killian has taken the lesson to heart and finds Emma – he wants to go home with her, to have the future he and his brother dreamed he could have
Hades is not amused.
There are a couple of other storylines here that need chasing down – one is David who is due an encounter with his brother soon since he’s been confronted by the fact their mother gave up James, not him and James has a whole lot of angst about it (and now so does David).
While Henry is looking for his awesomely powerful Author Pen – with extra insight from the Apprentice who is in the Underworld pending Henry deciding what to do with his power. Henry goes after and finds the pen because he is frustrated about always being the look out, always being rescued and never really being the hero – he’s always on the sidelines and he wants to help and be a prime actor
However, after talking things other with David he decides he can help with his pen – but not by rewriting the stories: instead he’s going to write the stories they’ve lost about Hades (he is the Author after all)
Which means they will find out about Hade’s apparent secret association with Zelena…