Once Upon a Time, Season 4 Episode 4 Review: “The Apprentice”

(Beware, spoilers below!)

I’m enjoying this season of Once Upon a Time immensely. I was a bit unsure of the direction in general last season, and it wavered in moments, but this season we’ve gone back to Storybrooke and stuck right into the characters. It’s delved into their relationships, their adjustments and most importantly, back to what makes them just like us.

When it comes to relationships, this show is full of them, Rumbelle, Snowing, Captain Swan… and I’m sure Captain Swan fans were pleased with one of the Storylines this episode: Hook and Emma’s date.  Emma checking with Henry one more time before she asks out Hook was a great moment. However, in his efforts to impress Emma, Hook requests Rumplestlitskin gives him his hand back, though he warns this could bring potential consequences given the hand was part of his past self. It’s not Hook’s fault he doesn’t believe Mr Gold, but we see the consequences play out, and this leads to far greater and sinister consequences than I expected. It was a pleasant surprise, and moved the story far further than I thought it would. If there’s anything we’ve learnt, it ain’t over ’til the Dark One says it’s over.

Meanwhile, back in the Enchanted Forest, we follow Anna as she meets the Dark One. He offers her information if she’ll spike the drink of ‘a child eater’. It turns out he’s a kindly apprentice that’s faced off against more than one Dark One in the past (we’re treated to a great cameo from Zoso at the beginning too). However, Anna’s a tough cookie, and whilst I don’t want to spoil it anymore, I’m glad OUAT is adding not only to their roster of strong female characters, but also continuing with Ana’s tough personality that made her so endearing Frozen. Yet in our world, Elsa’s still looking for her sister with the help of the Charming’s. This leads to the question – just why wasn’t Anna in what can only be assumed is some form of the Arendelle palace we saw in the first episode this season, and where’s Kristoff. More questions!

By the end of the episode, I’m reminded of the Rumplestiltskin in the earlier Seasons, with half the main characters under his thumb or under some kind of threat through deals and tricks. It’s impressive, but I fear for his relationship with Belle. He’s meant to be a changed man, and it feels a little like he’s yo-yoing back all too quickly. I hope he’s not really retreating back to the darkness and that his character progression isn’t entirely wiped out. He’s a complex guy, and of course some habits are hard to change. Perhaps it’s a far greater motive we can’t yet see.

Speaking of old villans, the Regina/Henry storyline is working out a treat. It’s great to see them working together. Over the past few seasons Henry’s become close to Emma, but Regina is still the woman that brought Henry up. It’s heart warming to see how much he believes in her, but also that Regina hasn’t regressed back to her bad side. Seeing Henry shuffle it between both Gold and Regina will be interesting to see, and not just to anticipate Gold’s reaction if/when he finds out Henry’s ulterior motive. Will his love for Baelfire stop him from acting out?

This episode has pushed the story forward leaps and bounds, and I’m itching to see the next episode. How sinister is that hat? How far will the Hook/Rumplestiltskin rivalry go? Will Hook really become a dastardly pirate once more? Just HOW does the Snow Queen know Emma? And will I ever stop getting excited with the Sorcerer’s Apprentice parallels? Til next week, folks.

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