The Apprentice Review | Once Upon a Time Season 4, Episode 4

I’ll do whatever it takes to help my sister.


Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, Michael Socha, and Robert Carlyle.

Season 4
Episode 4: The Apprentice

Let’s start with the massive positive of this episode: Hook and Emma’s date. It definitely feels earned, after a season of flirty banter and almosts, it’s a wonderful next step. It’s also quite a sweet moment, with Emma all dressed up and her parents getting excited for her. A lovely first moment for the whole family, really. It was also nice for Emma to properly commit herself to the date, and not to chase after Will because she was trying to just be focussed upon the evening.

Hook’s character takes an interesting journey this episode. His desire to have his hand back is certainly understandable, but quite why he would actually trust Rumple is anybody’s guess. We have seen Hook’s character change and grow since his introduction in Season 2 and a lot of that is due to his feelings for Emma. In contrast, we have Rumple, who finds himself unable to alter who he is despite his love for Belle. The mindgame that he plays upon Hook is interesting, therefore, as it’s almost setting Hook up for failure so that Rumple can have company in a way. It’s intriguing that the power of suggestion about Hook’s hand is enough to drag him back to his previous, pirate ways, but the actions that he is now a party to are certain to drive a wedge between him and Emma.

Obviously, this storyline could be remedied fairly swiftly if Hook just immediately came clean to Emma. He has taken this route before, and it would certainly be the more admirable route to take. Furthermore, I think everybody would trust Hook over Rumple if given the opportunity. Rumple does have the advantage of Belle thinking that she holds the dagger, so the “Dark One I order you to…” might have everybody else fooled. Still, it’s nice to give a decent storyline to Colin O’Donoghue, but frustrating that it comes at the same time as a moment of pure happiness for Emma and Hook.

Rumple’s storyline this season is definitely leaning him heavily back towards the side of evil. Hook’s observation is spot on: Rumple hasn’t changed at all. While in the past he has been motivated to reunite with Bae at all costs, it’s telling that when Rumple is freed of that, he reverts back to his lust and addiction for power, even at the expense of his relationship with Belle. The only people that Rumple shows kindness to these days are Belle and Henry. Having Henry now part of Rumple’s shop is also rife for future drama, and I hope that Henry manages to expose all that Rumple has been up to and lets Belle know.

Having said that, what Henry observes is also true: Rumple has achieved a happy ending. He has found true love, and he’s married to Belle. However, since that happiness is built upon a foundation of lies, it’s not built to last in any way. It is definitely transient, as there’s no way that Belle will forgive him after all of his secrets and lies. Hopefully, when Belle does find out, Rumple is either forced to mend his ways for good or, more satisfyingly, she will break things off with him and he will have to live with the consequences of his actions.

I have to give credit to the effects team this episode. The effects for the Sorcerer’s Hat are absolutely gorgeous. The stars and the constellations that play on its surface make it look like the most brilliantly magical object introduced within the show. Rumple’s plan to gain access to the Sorcerer’s Hat was decidedly convoluted, but I’m intrigued to see what his ultimate plans are with it.

The flashback this episode was diverting and entertaining, but for once it also seemed overly convenient. What are the chances that Rumple happens upon the Sorcerer’s box at the same time that Elsa arrives in Storybrooke, when the reason why Rumple can access the box in the first place is because of a visit Elsa’s sister paid to him untold ages before in the Enchanted Forest? That just seems one coincidence too many.

One plusside of the Enchanted Forest storyline was getting to spend some more time with Anna, who continues to be delightfully achieved. Her positive energy and spirit is still very much on display, even when single-handedly facing down Rumple, which is no mean feat if past experiences are anything to go by. Her standing up to him and outsmarting him were impressive, even if his warning fills me with dread for what might happen in present-day Storybrooke. I was temporarily convinced that Anna might have been consigned to Rumple’s vault for betraying him, and that might be why Rumple is being so cagey about his knowledge of the Arendelle sisters, but apparently not. There’s still plenty to unpack on that front.

A fairly entertaining episode. It’s commendable that Once are trying to juggle more than one story arc at once. I’m not entirely convinced if Rumple’s Sorcerer Hat will factor into the Frozen story, or whether it will stand on its own. With that and the quest to find the storybook’s author also in play, it’s quite nice to have multiple things to focus upon, instead of getting bored with just the one storyline. Having said that, the writers also did a good job at including hints towards the Frozen story arc by continuing to tease us about the Snow Queen’s connection to Emma, as well as Elsa’s hunting through the census records for any trace of Anna.

You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Serena says:

    I too am unconvinced that Hook’s character is being written consistently with what we know about him. Especially since Gold’s logic doesn’t hold up — Hook was far more villainous after he lost his hand, so it makes no sense that his old hand would turn him into a villain again (Hook also had both hands when he was an honourable Lieutenant, so why wouldn’t that win out?). Hook has been shown to be smarter than this, but it seems like the writers are ignoring established characterization in order to force Hook into a particular pre-determined plot.

    It seems to me the writers are lacking in both craft and imagination here. First of all, good stories require both highs and lows: quiet interludes that balance the action sequences; joy and delight to balance the sadness and despair. The audience will fatigue quickly if it is always one battle after another, or one contrived nasty twist after another. Seriously, just let the audience enjoy this well-earned date without another secret forcing itself between Hook and Emma in the very same episode!

    Secondly, Hook’s hand being returned is a big deal, and could have made an excellent extended plot arc. All of the doubts and psychological implications would have been fascinating to watch as the new couple navigates them together. Instead, it is introduced and “resolved” in one episode, and we are left instead with the tired “blackmail secret” trope instead. It’s as if the writers don’t know what to do with a good idea when they accidentally stumble upon one.

    I do hope the writers at the very least have Hook confess everything to Emma in the next episode, as he has been shown before to take the honourable route. The whole town especially needs to know that Belle doesn’t possess the real dagger — Belle most of all!


    1. Mark Goodwin says:

      Especially with further flashbacks, we learn that Hook was actually pretty honourable once upon a time, and he certainly did far more worse deeds after losing Milah, but clearly they wanted some excuse for Hook and Rumple to be in cahoots.

      I agree; the first date should have just been a happy moment. The writers have never really been too comfortable with just letting characters sit and be happy, though. There’s always something going on at all times.

      This section of the story, where Rumple is wilfully deceiving Belle will always be massively frustrating for me, especially since it never really gets treated with the severity it should have been.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s