Stars: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle, Lana Parrilla, Jared Gilmore, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Meghan Ory
Writer:
 David H. Goodman and Robert Hall
Director:
 David Solomon
Network:
 ABC, Sunday nights, 8 p.m.
Original Telecast:
October 21, 2012

I have often complained about the relentless plundering of the Disney canon in ONCE UPON A TIME. While I haven’t flat out said so, I strongly suspect said plundering is the result of the producers’ contract with ABC (which is owned by Disney, the company that made an art form out of synergy). Every now and then, I get the feeling, that the producers grow weary of kissing Mouse backside and decide to turn the Disney canon a bit inside out. There’s nothing specific in “The Crocodile” that would suggest it, but the turns are a lot of fun and very cleverly done. It’s almost as if the producers decided that if they had to use Captain Hook, they were going to make it work for them.

This is one of those very focused episodes – we don’t even see most of the cast – and that makes it all the better.

The episode starts with Belle (Emilie de Raven) having a very bad dream, which starts with Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) giving her a beautiful necklace, then tearing Grumpy’s (Lee Arenberg) heart out magically. Well, Belle isn’t entirely dreaming – she catches Gold doing magic in the basement.

From there we flash way back to when Rumpelstiltskin (aka Mr. Gold) wasn’t evil, but was the village coward, and it turns out his wife Milah (Rachel Shelley) is less than thrilled with his lack of intestinal fortitude. In fact, he finds her hanging out at the local tavern with Killian Jones (Colin O’Donoghue), an apparent pirate taking eye make up lessons from Jack Sparrow (yet another Disney property).

Rumpel heads to the ship to get Milah back, but Killian pretty much humiliates him, offering to duel for Milah. Rumpel, being pretty weak at this point, just can’t do it and leaves in shame.

Back in Storybrooke, Belle confronts Gold – she thought he was changing. He tries to blow it off as just a couple spell, but Belle isn’t buying it, telling him that he doesn’t need power, he needs the courage to let her in.

Meanwhile, David (Josh Dallas) and the dwarves are mining away under Storybrooke in the hopes of finding fairy dust, which will either help get them back to the Enchanted Forest or maybe let them leave Storybrooke without forgetting themselves. Mr. Gold realizes that Belle has taken off and confronts Belle’s father, now Moe the florist (Eric Keenleyside) and his shop, Game of Thorns. Moe doesn’t know where Belle is and isn’t interested in helping Gold find her.

Back in the past, we’ve moved a bit forward, Rumpelstiltskin has gotten his magic knife and has become the monster we all know and love. A young man in a red cap (Christopher Gaultier) – we later find out his name is William – makes a really bad deal with Rumpel, basically, William wants endless life and will give Rumpel a magic bean that will take him to another world. Only Killian Jones shows up and it turns out, he has the bean.

Back in Storybrooke, Ruby (Meghan Ory) is serving Belle breakfast and offers her a room and suggests that she take over as librarian in town. But while Belle is checking out the library, William appears as a local bum and captures Belle. Gold figures out that something nefarious is afoot and asks David, who is subbing as sheriff until Emma (Jennifer Morrison) returns, for help finding Belle. Problem is, no one quite trusts Gold, so they’re not terribly eager to help him.

In the flashback, evil Rumpel challenges Killian to a duel. Killian is pretty confident, calling Rumpel, “The Crocodile,” but given Rumpel’s ability to appear and disappear, things don’t go so well. Rumpel wins and starts to rip Killian’s heart out, but Milah stops him.

William brings Belle to Moe, who gets the shock of his life when Belle lets him know in no uncertain terms that she chose to be with Mr. Gold and that her father has no right to kidnap her, which doesn’t stop Moe from taking her and tying her up. David is on the hunt with Mr. Gold, and that’s not going so well, either. As usual, Mr. Gold has been hiding behind the literal truth, and David calls him on it – there’s a difference between the literal truth and the truth of the heart.

David enlists Ruby’s help, promising that he won’t let Gold hurt her, and Ruby, who has the wolf thing going on, sniffs Belle out to Moe’s shop. Obviously, Moe won’t cooperate, but David figures out that Moe has been in the mines. Turns out he’s going to send Belle beyond the city limits so that she will forget who she is. Gold pulls the cart back with magic, but Belle is still pretty testy with both him and Moe. Surprise, surprise, she’s not liking it when they start making decisions for her.

Back on board the pirate ship, Milah confesses she has the magic bean, which she will exchange for Killian and William’s lives. It’s bad enough that she confesses her love for Killian, she presses Rumpel on having lost their son Baelfire. Pushing Rumpel is not usually a good thing, and he grabs Milah’s heart out of her chest and crumples it. Turns out Killian has the magic bean in his hand, which Rumpel cuts off and takes.

In Storybrooke, Ruby gives Belle the key to the library, and, yep, Gold gave Ruby the key. However, he confesses to Belle, that he has always been a coward and that magic has become the crutch he cannot walk without. But rather than hurt her by it, he says goodbye, and Belle invites him to have a burger with her. And we don’t get the response, so…

In any case, Rumpel pries open Killian’s hand and there’s no bean. Killian, now wearing the hook that will name him, still has the bean. And William’s name is finally revealed – he’s William Smee, and thanks to the bean creating a waterspout, they will now go to a place where no one ever ages – Neverland.

Gold, who has captured the Storybrooke Smee, wants any information he has about the Captain, but the Curse that sent everyone to Storybrooke in the first place didn’t take Hook, for some reason.

Well, maybe we know. Back to the modern, post-curse Enchanted Forest, it turns out that Hook has been hanging with Regina’s evil mom Cora (Barbara Hershey), who just happens to have the ashes of a magic wardrobe that will enable them to get to Storybrooke. Cue spooky music and fade to black.

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