Subtext Recap: Once Upon a Time 3.5 – Good Form

– OR –

The One Where Hook Outs Himself as a Creeper
and Still Gets the Stamp of Parental Approval

Mike Birbiglia has this classic joke. He talks about moving into a new apartment and having his bed loaded on the elevator when a woman gets on with him. The woman is relieved at seeing his nice bed, and she says to Mike, “At least I know you’re not a rapist, because a rapist wouldn’t have a bed like that.”

When telling the joke, Mike then says, “What I should have said… was nothing. What I said was… ‘You’d be surprised’.”

That joke kind of sums up this episode of Once Upon a Time for me.

It all begins when our troupe, who is still exploring the same cave in which they spent two-thirds of the last episode, discover the marks Neal made to count his days on the island. We can pause for a moment of zen here, because when Emma announces that Neal didn’t make his last mark because he got off the island, but because he lost hope, and Regina snarks out on her, there is a lovely little moment between them.

First, Emma confesses that she knows that’s what happened because that’s what she did every time she went to a new foster home. Then, she looks at Regina, and, as has become her way, Regina stares silently back, not wanting to hurt Emma further.


It’s a nice subtle moment, and such a contrast to the moment when Hook stops Emma on her way from the cave.

“I uh…” Hook begins in his meek schoolboy way. “I just have to act as if I have had intense feelings for you for some time, even though when we were in the Enchanted Forest together it was really nothing more than silly banter and the last thing you did there was punch me, and I was only in Storybrooke for a short time, during which I was intent on killing Rumple, then on the side of the quote-unquote ‘villains’ for the majority of the time. But the fact that I didn’t go through with my double-cross of you clearly proves I am in love with you, which I must demonstrate now, so that our highly-pimped kiss doesn’t look completely forced and based on nothing but sex and ratings.”

“I know what this is…” Emma ain’t frontin’. “You trying to… bond with me.” She knows his game, and how sleazy said game is. “So, save your breath. I’m not in the mood. Don’t worry, though. I will be later for no explicable reason.”

Daddy Charming also hates Hook’s gross in the moment, and warns him off his daughter. Don’t pout though, Hook. You know Pappy’s just playing hard to get.

That done, it’s time to delve into Hook’s backstory, in which we see what a fucking saint he was. Because there are no decent men in fairytale world, only great men.

Back to Neverland present, Hook stares at Emma longingly as they sit next to the fire, and Daddy Charming lures Hook away, while Snow looks at Emma like ‘I see you flirting with a penis-wielder and being all ABC instead of Showtime. That’s my good girl.”

Meanwhile, out of ear- and eyeshot of the ladies, Hook convinces Charming to let him get a look at his abs, which even I have to admit look pretty damn good. Where are all the midriff shirts for dudes? I mean, costume designers have no problems with putting the ladies in revealing clothing. It’s time to go all gay-disco on the male wardrobe department, and get those tight tummies on display for my personal objectification.

Of course, the point of the peepshow is so everyone knows Charming is like three-fourths dead. Which he always looks when he is alone with Hook, but not when he’s where the girls can see him. I want to see those cut scenes where he sponges the sweat from his sick body with leaves and moss.

Objectify, Charming!

Upon the discovery of how near death Charming is, Hook concocts a plan and lassoes Prince David Nolan Charming in by telling him they are going after a sextant to save Henry, when really he is commencing Operation Get in Emma’s Pants.

At that very moment, Emma’s pants are busy trying get a message to Henry via Lost Boy. When sweet talk about family and the cocolicious smell of a candy bar oh-so-surprisingly fail to earn them the lost boy’s favor, though, it’s time to get real. Henry is turning into a little demon, cutting up people’s faces, and they gotta keep him from becoming a real headache by the time he’s a teenager.

*Pause for some seriously kinky slash*

Pan tries to tempt Hook into taking Emma and absconding, a deal that he can make by knocking off Charming. Score! No more daddy figure to protect his same-age daughter.

Pan’s phrase of choice for this directive?

“I want to see your Hook inside his body.”

And Hook’s hook is, well, his hand.



Back in Lady-Land, Regina wants to rip out the Lost Boy’s heart so he’ll do exactly as they please, and she tosses the brat her best Mommie-Dearest, ‘You really should have just cleaned your room’ smile. Snow, of course, being as wholesome and pure as Baby Jesus (I was told to add “shitting rainbows” to this description), is adamantly against this, convinced there must be another way.

“And what do you think, Emma?” Regina insinuates herself all up in them, and Snow needs clocked to wipe that righteous certainty that her daughter will do the “right” thing off her face.

“I think we need to talk to our son,” Emma states, and –

Gentle ah-ah-ahs. The subtext angels rise up in chorus, as the wise soloist of the group sings, “This shit ain’t even su-u-u-u-u-b-text no more.”

Shocked at Emma’s response, Snow fights the good fight. You know, because she is just so damn good.

“We can’t do this,” she argues. “It’s brutal.”

Then, comes the line that, for me, is straight-up dialogue porn.

“We can’t, but she can,” Emma says while restraining her mother. She then calls out “Do it, Regina,” but that’s really just the subtexty message on an already super-sweet cake. Because with “We can’t, but she can,” Emma takes what everyone else thinks is the ultimate flaw in Regina and turns it into a strength.

So, Emma holds Snow in a mommy-lock and Regina rolls up her sleeve and goes wrist-deep in a Lost Boy.

Now that they have said Lost Boy under their control, he does their bidding and takes the message to Henry, along with a compact for a little video-conferencing Neverland style. When Henry picks up (yuk yuk), Regina slides on over next to Emma, and Snow really needs to make herself scarce. I mean, even Emma and Regina’s hair wants to make out.

So, they have some face-time, then Henry has to skedaddle. Regina calls out “We love you,” as one does when standing next to a mortal enemy with whom she doesn’t want to share her child. It’s a sweet, wonderful moment with potent intimacy.

Aaaannnd back to Operation Get in Emma’s Pants.

Which is right at the stage where Hook saves Charming’s life for one reason and one reason only. I’m not just being an asshole. He freely admits it.

“Why risk your life for me when there wasn’t anything for you in return?” Charming asks.

“I didn’t do it for you, Mate,” Hook says. Then, he winks. He actually fucking winks. And, for some reason, we’re supposed to pretend it isn’t totally skeevy.

Back at Camp Operation Henry Cobra Rescue Get in Emma’s Pants, the ladies are returning from a hard day of communication-by-compact, and Snow questions if Henry is okay.

“He’s fine,” Emma declares.

“You know this how?” Regina reasonably asks, as anyone would question her girlfriend’s stupid assumptions.

“Because he’s our son,” Emma states. “And he’s a survivor. And now he has something to survive for. He knows we’re coming, and we’re not going to let him down.”

There is a lot of emphasis on that “our”. Now, it could mean “He’s the son of one badass and one crazy-ass, so he’ll tear some shit up if he has to,” or it could mean “Babe, our domestic magic is fuckin’ legendary. We powered down an entire town on the brink of annihilation. I think we can get back our own kid.”

“I’m sorry I doubted you,” Snow just has to talk again. “I’m just… I know how easy it is to give into the darkness. I didn’t want you to…”

“She didn’t,” Regina interrupts. “I did. That’s what I’m here for. One happy family.”

Holy Mary Margaret of God. That is a lot of something. First, that is Regina taking the blame on Emma’s behalf. Second, that is Regina accepting her continued walk in darkness on Emma’s behalf. Third… awww, they’re a happy family. Okay, maybe not yet. But Emma and Regina are going to look so beautiful at their wedding. Snow White, I trust, will wear black.

At this point, Charming and Hook return, and, apparently now a happy participant in Operation Get in Emma’s Pants, Charming goes into this big spiel about what a great man Hook is. You know, so parental approval is in play.

“I thought he deserved a little credit,” Charming says.

Of course, he does. Why wouldn’t he? Remember, last season, when Regina was going to save all y’alls asses and her “prize” was going to be her own death instead of Emma’s sweet ass?

Oh, of course you don’t.

So, in regards to toasting hook, I’m with Regina. I don’t do rum.

Next, Emma and Hook are left alone, because Charming is no longer Hook’s enemy, but his accomplice *wink*. And Emma is very impressed with Hook saving David’s life.

She says, “Thank you.”

Hook says, “Perhaps gratitude is in order now.” And actually rubs his fucking lip.

“That’s what the thank you was for,” Emma returns.

“Is that all your father’s life is worth to you?” Hook says.

Then, it gets even worse as they try suggestive banter.

“You couldn’t handle it.”

“Perhaps you’re the one who couldn’t handle it.”

So – to prove him wrong? – Emma gives Hook a big, drawn-out kiss, and the Internets blow up with awe and wonder at how perfect they are together, and how hot their kiss was.

Now, had this exact same scene played out with say, Regina, in Hook’s place, I can only imagine the number of times I would have read by now what “predators” lesbians are and how there was no basis for this and it’s “just about sex”.

All in all, this was a subtext heavy, SwanQueen-promoting episode with forced hetero romance to allay any fears that Emma and Regina’s interactions might have instilled in those terrified of a homo happily ever after.

And it came complete with two important lessons.

The first one, we all know well –

Don’t take candy from strangers.

The addendum, however is –

If you don’t take the candy from strangers, they may rip your heart out.

The second lesson is thus –

In life, some people will only provide help with expectations. When this happens, it is charming, not creepy, and you should give them what they want because they earned it.

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