This week’s episode is all over the place. Henry trying to figure out which fairy tale character the serial killer thinks they are is juxtaposed against Tilly’s first day of work and Margot fighting with her mother. None of these plots are bad, exactly, but they shouldn’t be in the same episode right next to each other like that. This episode doesn’t have a cohesive theme, which works against it.
The Flashback Plot
Let’s get this of the way. This flashback plot sucks. Henry is sad because he wants to propose to Cinderella, but he doesn’t feel he has anything to offer her which is patently ridiculous. Not only is he literal royalty, but he also travels between worlds and can probably bring things like penicillin and the printing press to the medieval kingdom.
There is one other small detail the writers might have forgotten about. It’s just a little thing; hardly worth mentioning, really. He has a magic pen that can record any event with perfect accuracy in real time. That same pen can also rewrite reality to suit his whims whensoever he chooses.
But, you know, he hasn’t slain a dragon, so he’s basically worthless.
Hook agrees to help him out and in true Hook fashion, makes exactly the wrong decision, ending up almost getting everyone involved killed. It took me a while, but I’ve come to rather enjoy this recurring theme in every story with Hook. I think it’s really funny that everything he does goes well until it goes to shit at the last moment. The writers probably don’t intend it to be funny, but at this point, it’s practically a running gag.
Sometime off-screen, Hook and Blackbeard buried the hatchet well enough that they can do an elaborate kidnapping treasure hunt role play together. I would have liked to see how they stopped being mortal enemies, but given how well the writers have been doing this season, maybe it’s better that we never do.
They dredge up Davy Jones’s Locker, a treasure chest full of shiny things, and then they are set upon by a magical storm. Henry learns a valuable lesson about how he doesn’t need to be a legend to have a good life and throws the super gaudy ring he was going to propose with into the sea. This appeases the storm and everybody lives.
This screen time would have been better served elsewhere. I think they wanted to button up that whole “I left to find my own story” thing that the season started out on, but it wasn’t really necessary. It was pretty much assumed that him “finding his own story” was him and Cinderella having adventures together, getting married, and having a kid. We didn’t need the pirate roleplay life lesson thing.
Like everything else in this episode, it doesn’t even fit with the other plotlines it shares an episode with. The lesson Henry learns doesn’t have anything to do with the decisions he makes in the present day plotlines. This episode should have focused on his friendship with Hansel/Jack, but instead, we’re shown this irrelevant rehash of Henry’s character arc from earlier seasons.
Margot and Tilly
Given the rest of the episode, these two feel really out of place.I’m not against these two just in general. I like Tilly a lot, actually. Margot/Robin less so, but that’s more of a writing issue than a character issue. Robin could be a fascinating character if the writers knew what they wanted to do with her.
The last time we saw Margot, she was giving sage advice about how you can’t run away from your problems. Now she’s planning on leaving again because her mom’s not telling her why she changed jobs and broke it off with her fiancé. If the writers are trying to get me to sympathize with Margot here, they failed. Her concerns are reasonable, but you can’t demand that someone tell you their life story while they’re at work. Margot comes off as entirely unreasonable. There were still customers in the bar. That conversation probably could have waited until they were in private.
Margot storms out when Zelena is unable to answer, making me feel almost sympathetic towards Zelena. Working in a customer facing job is difficult enough without being forced to talk about your personal life. Then, I remembered that Zelena is the worst.
For Tilly’s side, it’s her first day working at the food truck that Jacinda and Sabine own together. She keeps making misshapen beignets, so Sabine sticks her on free sample duty. While she’s passing out samples, she and Margot have a sweet heart to heart.
Margot decides to go home and apologize. She also finds a box of chocolates addressed to her mother on the doorstep. Apparently Margot missed the memo about the serial killer because she is not at all worried about it.
It seems like the plot is a little out of order. The conflict -and even Margot’s outburst in front of the customers- would have seemed a lot more reasonable if Margot asked why her mother was targeted by a serial killer especially since him exclusively targeting members of a “cult” is apparently common knowledge. Changing the order of these events would have made this plotline a little more palatable.
So the main thrust of the plot is a little busy. Henry gets a job interview in New York. He has to get on a plane and come back to Seattle for a long time if he gets the job. Jacinda is sad because she would like to have a relationship with him, but she also doesn’t want him to forgo his career for her sake. That conflict would be able to carry the episode on its own, but it has to compete with Henry also playing detective and figuring out who the serial killer is.
The way he figures it out is ridiculous as well. Weaver finds a copy of that book he wrote at the crime scene. Instead of investigating it himself -because he’s a cop and that’s his literal job- he has Henry do it for him. You know, Henry, the Legally Distinct Lyft driver.
Henry reads through the killer’s margin notes and deduces from the ones that stop just short of saying, “Hi. My name is Hansel, and I like doing murders” that the killer believes he is Hansel from Hansel and Gretel. This wasn’t some insight that only Henry could have provided. That’s just basic detective work. Weaver could have read it with his eyeballs and reached the same conclusion. He would have been in an even better position to do so because he’s aware of the curse.
But maybe I’m being too hard on this show. Maybe Weaver just wanted to spend a little quality time with his grandson after totally ignoring him for these past few months. I’m sure if this particular plot thread had some room to breathe, there would have been critical insight only Henry could have provided, but there wasn’t time for that when we needed to see Margot’s petty argument with her mom.
Once Henry read a book and got all the clues Weaver needed, he decides to catch his flight. It’s revealed that Jacinda did not call Henry despite Sabine’s best efforts. Henry decides to bail on the job interview anyways when he finds that his tire was slashed by what seems to be a shard from a glass slipper. He changes his mind just in time to catch a ride home with Hansel.
On the way home, Henry discusses what he learned at the station with Nick. He notices that Hansel has burn scars on his arms. Hansel decides to kidnap Henry after he notices. Nick drugs him with a syringe that he apparently just keeps handy at all times, and Henry wakes up in Nick’s surprisingly cozy and well-decorated lair.
Hansel doesn’t want to murder Henry outright because they’re friends and Henry’s not magic. Well, he is, but Hansel might not know that. Henry tries to talk him down, but Nick brushes him off with the fact that if he turned himself in, he wouldn’t be able to commit any more murders.
I have a lot of respect for the villains in this show who simply enjoy being villains. This show has a problem with giving its villains overwrought backstories to justify why they’re so evil all the time. The most fun ones are the villains like Hansel or Cruella who just like killing.
Between this episode and the last, it feels a little like they had to rearrange a lot of storylines at the last minute. Honestly, I feel like this show worked better when they were doing half season-long story arcs as opposed to season-long arcs like this.
They got too ambitious with this episode and packed it with too many plot threads. This leaves the episode feeling like a jumbled mess. It would have been better for them to either have one particular thread at the forefront or to have all of the plotlines follow a similar theme.
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