TV RECAP: ONCE’S “Poor Unfortunate Soul” Gives Us a Happy Ending
By Meredith Loftus
Poor Unfortunate Soul gave audiences the backstory to the aquatic Queen of Darkness, Ursula, in addition to wrapping up her storyline and granting her a happy ending. This episode was packed with the return of familiar faces, such as August and Ariel, as well as action and good storytelling. This show never ceases to amaze me and this episode was a prime example as to why.
Trading to Tentacles
In a flashback, we are introduced to Ursula, the beloved mermaid daughter of Poseidon, the sea god. Her angelic singing voice is so deadly it can lure sailors to their deaths. As it turns out, One of the pirate ships to cross paths with her is The Jolly Roger. Captain Hook and his crew are about to sail to their deaths until Ursula saves their lives by ceasing to sing. Poseidon hates pirates (one killed his wife) and is adamant they should all suffer and die, but Ursula no longer wants to use her voice as a weapon so she runs away from home. Hook and Ursula cross paths in a pub where Ursula sings to earn enough money so she can travel to another land. Ursula’s singing is her only connection to her late mother and she wants to use her voice to bring others joy. Hook confesses to her that her singing gave him a moment of peace in his quest to avenge Milah’s death. Because she spared his ship, Hook offers Ursula free passage to travel anywhere she wishes. Poseidon later finds Hook and demands that he refuse passage to his daughter. In exchange for squid ink to defeat Rumple, Hook is to remove Ursula’s singing voice by trapping it in a shell.
The next morning, Hook tells Ursula about her father’s request and shows her the shell. Hook refuses to betray her but instead asks her to steal squid ink from Poseidon. This way, both of them can get what they want. Ursula successfully retrieves the squid ink, but Poseidon returns to The Jolly Roger, taking the ink from Hook and tossing it into the ocean. Enraged, Hook takes away Ursula’s singing voice with the shell. Ursula feels betrayed and swims away. Hook holds on to the shell to keep Poseidon from using her singing from sinking pirate ships. Ursula then confronts Poseidon and trades her tail for tentacles to become the feared sea witch.
Now that Pinocchio is adult August, Rumple, Regina, and the Queens of Darkness begin questioning him on the whereabouts of the Author. After threatening him with fire, August reveals that everything he knows about the Author comes from the Dragon, a magical being he met during his time in Hong Kong. He brought all of the Dragon’s clues and pages about the Author to Storybrooke. Satisfied, Rumple leaves to go look for the pages in August’s old trailer. While he’s gone, Regina is able to send a message to Snow, Charming, Emma, and Hook. She informs them that Rumple is back and that he has more planned than just finding the Author of the storybook. The hero team updates Belle on Rumple’s whereabouts and discovers that he impersonated Hook to take back the dagger. Poor Belle can’t catch a break with Rumple’s constant deceptions! While Emma, Snow, and Charming search Rumple’s cabin to find August, Rumple gives August a potion to return his wooden features, then holds him against the fire as he begins questioning him again. Only this time when he lies, that famous Pinocchio’s nose grows closer to the fire. August confesses that the Sorcerer has trapped the Author behind a door. This door is found on a storybook page that Henry has in his possession, and the door is somewhere in Storybrooke. Rumple leaves Cruella to watch August as Rumple, Regina, and Maleficent go to search the Sorcerer’s mansion for the mysterious door.
The Pirate & the Sea Witch
Hook uses a conch to summon Ursula and try to make a deal with her. Aboard The Jolly Roger, Hook has the shell that contains her singing voice; if he gives it back to her, she will tell him what Rumple’s true motives are. Ursula retrieves The Jolly Roger from Arendelle, only to find it shrunk in a bottle. Hook seeks help from Will Scarlett. Because of Will’s history in Wonderland, he has his own supply of mushrooms that allow objects to grow. With this, Ursula and Hook are able to return the ship to its proper size. Hook gives the shell back to Ursula. However, the shell does not give her back her singing voice. Angry, Ursula breaks the deal, but Hook is unwilling to back down as he pulls out a gun to try and stop her. Ursula then knocks him out with one of her tentacles and throws him overboard.
Hook is left for dead, until Ariel appears and saves him. It turns out Blackbeard used The Jolly Roger to cause destruction in the Enchanted Forest and Arendelle. When Elsa returned to Arendelle from Storybrooke, she arrested Blackbeard and shrunk the ship in a bottle; Ariel was swept up by the magic and placed in the bottle until Hook and Ursula returned The Jolly Roger to its proper form. With a reconciled relationship, Hook asks for Ariel’s help to bring Poseidon to Storybrooke; since he cast the spell on the shell originally, Poseidon is the only one to can remove it.
Emma, Snow, and Charming find the cabin, knock out Cruella, and release August. Unfortunately they are stopped by Ursula, who threatens to kill Snow if Emma tries to use her magic against her. Hook shows up in time with Poseidon, who apologizes to Ursula for how he treated her gift as a weapon when he should have been cherishing her singing that reminded him of the love he had for his wife. He returns her voice to her, and father and daughter reconcile their relationship. Ursula, true to her word, tells Hook later at the docks about Rumple’s true motives. Villains can’t get their happy endings from the Author because Emma is the Savior and she is the one who brings happy endings in this realm. In order to for the villains to get their way, Rumple needs to corrupt Emma with darkness. Ursula wishes Hook luck and leaves Storybrooke with her father to return home. A villain gets her happy ending and we say goodbye to one of our Queens of Darkness. Farewell Ursula! You will be missed!
Although Hook’s actions were heroic, he confesses to Emma how easy it was for him to almost slip to his darker self, letting anger cloud his original task. She reassures him that his actions were noble and meant to be acknowledged. He finally voices the concern he has held on to ever since Emma became a part of Operation Mongoose. He may be a villain-turned-hero, but he fears the day when he loses his own happy ending. Emma picks up on the fact that he has found his happy ending and proceeds to ask him what it is. Then, with just raw emotion, Hook tells Emma that she is his happy ending. The Savior’s original goal is to bring back the happy endings; she never thought that she would be a happy ending for someone, since so many in her life have left or failed her in some way. So when Hook confesses this to her, words cannot convey the love and gratitude she has for him; she replies by kissing him with the same love and adoration he just expressed to her. Emma and Hook are continuing to fall deeply in love with each other, and it has truly been a beautiful process.
Rumple, Regina, and Maleficent are unable to find the door at the Sorcerer’s mansion. Cruella finds them and tells them about August’s rescue; she believes that Ursula was the mole in their group. With Regina’s cover still intact, she goes to the Charming loft to find August resting after a long day of torture. Emma, Regina, and Henry question August about the door. He confides in them that the Author is trapped behind the door on the storybook page. The Author is literally trapped in his own work! Now the task of finding out how to release the Author and keeping it a secret from Rumple, Cruella, and Maleficent is the next challenge our Storybrooke heroes will face. Let the search for the Author and happy endings continue and intensify.
- I was delighted to see August, but I was thrilled to see Ariel back on my screen again! Joanna Garcia-Swisher’s portrayal of the adventurous and optimistic mermaid further proves Once Upon A Time’s excellent track record in casting. Can we please keep Ariel around permanently?
- One of the best moments of the episode had to be when Snow knocked Cruella in the head with a frying pan, which was a reference to Tangled. FRYING PANS! Who knew?!
- Thank you for giving us an update on Elsa and our Arendelle friends from 4A! It was a great way to tie them into this new arc, while acknowledging their importance of the first arc of Season 4.
- Not sure if many of you noticed this but Ursula was singing “Fathoms Below,” which is the opening song in The Little Mermaid.
- Something I wish I could have spent time to discuss was Regina’s dream of her reuniting with Robin Hood. 1) It was great to see them together again, even if it was in a dream! 2) With the Evil Queen also in her dream, is her subconscious trying to warn her about something? 3) Because of this dream, Regina finally asks Emma to use her bails bondsperson skills to start locating Robin Hood. Let the countdown to their reunion begin!