New Show Recap: Once Upon a Time 4×16, “Poor Unfortunate Soul”

Guess what, all? We’re on episode 16 of Once Upon a Time, and things are just going to get even worse for our heroes and better for our villains. Or will things look up?

Flashback to Fairytale Land (FTL). Hook’s ship is caught in a fog at sea, and they hear singing from far away. They follow the sound of the voice to a rocky coastline and very nearly avoid hitting the rocks. The singer was a mermaid, a dangerous creature who uses her song to lure ships to their doom. We see young Ursula who is being scolded by her father, Winston Zeddemore, er, King Poseidon (Ernie Hudson), for stopping singing. Ursula’s mother was killed by humans, and Ursula, at her father’s behest, is supposed to use her voice to lead ships to their doom. Ursula doesn’t want to do this, since her voice and the songs she sings keep the memories of her mother alive, but Poseidon insists that if she wants to live in his ocean, she’ll follow his rules. She seeks to use her voice to help people, and breaks into her father’s vault to steal a bracelet that allows her to take a human form so she can travel on land. Hook recognizes Ursula’s voice as he hears her singing in a tavern, and she tells him about how a pirate killed her mother, and how her father is using her voice to seek his revenge. Hook tells her about his quest to avenge the death of his love at the hands of Rumpelstiltskin, and he offers her passage to Glowerhaven, where her mother loved to sing. As he leaves the tavern, Hook is abducted by Poseidon’s men. Poseidon coerces Hook to prevent Ursula from leaving, and he has concocted a snail pendant that will steal Ursula’s singing voice so that she will be forced to return to the sea. Hook will not betray Ursula, but Rumpel offers him magic to get his revenge against Rumpel: squid ink that can paralyze anyone, even Rumpelstiltskin. Hook, like the pirate that he is, makes a deal with Ursula, in which she will steal the squid ink from her father’s vault and he will take her wherever she wishes to go. Poseidon finds them before Ursula can give the ink to Hook. Hook sees that both he and Poseidon are consumed by vengeance. When Poseidon takes the ink from him, he uses the snail pendant to take Ursula’s voice from her. Ursula is in shock, for Hook more or less betrayed her, but Hook points out that the deal became null and void when Poseidon arrived on the scene. Ursula dives into the ocean, hurt. Poseidon tries to apologize to Ursula, but she won’t accept it. She takes her father’s trident and transforms herself into the likeness of the sea goddess Ursula, after whom she was named, and she becomes more powerful than even her father, and the sea will be at her mercy.

We see Ursula listening to opera before the four witches and Rumpel begin to threaten August. August breaks before the witches can torture him and tells them that while he was in Hong Kong to seek help from a mystic known as the Dragon, he had stolen the mystic’s research, and that it might point them in the direction of the author. Rumpel goes to search August’s old trailer for the research. It looks as there is more to the plan as well, but Rumpel isn’t going to tell Regina any time soon. Regina uses a spell to pass this information on to Emma, Hook, Snow, and Charming. They go to Belle to see if she has the dagger, but Belle insists that she gave it to Hook. The gang figures out that Rumpel, in disguise as Hook, took the blade from Belle, robbing the heroes of their power to render him helpless. Hook believes that he might be able to negotiate with Ursula so that she would help them. He has her happy ending, and he may be able to return it to her in exchange for her help in rescuing August.

Regina takes an opportunity to speak with August and shows him the page with the picture of her and Robin Hood on it. He insists he doesn’t know where the door is. Before August can answer her question, Ursula leaves to meet with Hook. He tries to make a deal with Ursula, in which he will return her happy ending to her in exchange for knowledge of what Rumpel is doing. Her happy ending is held aboard the Jolly Roger, but the ship was left back in FTL. Ursula uses her magic to bring the ship back to this world, but instead of a full-sized ship, the Jolly Roger has somehow been shrunk and put into a bottle. Ursula will be able to use her magic to restore the Jolly Roger to its full size. Hook returns the pendant to Ursula, but she is unable to use her magic to regain her voice because villains don’t get happy endings. Ursula is angry, and even though Hook holds her at gunpoint and demands that she tell him what she knows, she uses her tentacles to disarm him, knock him unconscious, and throw him overboard. But guess who so conveniently shows up to rescue Hook before he drowns. That’s right, Ariel is back! She takes him back to the ship, and it looks like she had been stuck in the bottle along with the ship. Blackbeard used the ship to terrorize a lot of people, and the queen of Arendelle trapped the ship in the bottle.

Regina has a dream that she and Robin meet again, but Old Evil Queen Regina arrives and separates them. She awakens just before Rumpel returns to the cabin from the mine underneath the town. Rumpel has used the fairy magic in the mine to craft a spell so that August will be more forthcoming about who the author of the fairy tales is. Each time August tells a lie, his nose grows, just as Pinocchio’s did. Under torture, August tells them that the sorcerer kept the author imprisoned behind a door, and that Regina knew about it. The door is somewhere in Storybrooke, and now they have to find it. Rumpel deduces that the door would most likely be at the sorcerer’s mansion. Regina is to help them look for it since she knows what the door looks like.

Emma, Snow, and Charming have found the location of Rumpel’s cabin. Snow and Charming question Hook’s loyalty and Emma’s relationship with him, because it seems like he has a lot of secrets. Emma basically tells them to butt out and that she’s sure he has his reasons for keeping things from her. Snow incapacitates Cruella, who has been left behind to guard August, once they reach the cabin. Emma releases August and they are ready to leave, but Ursula intercepts them and holds Snow hostage. Hook arrives just in time to tell Ursula that only the person who enchanted the pendant can release Ursula’s voice. Enter Winston Zeddemore, er, Poseidon, whom Ariel brought to our world, because mermaids can travel through different realms. Poseidon returns her voice to her, so that he can hear it one last time. The two reconcile, and it seems that Ursula can get her happy ending. Emma and Hook speak quietly about what just occurred, and he realizes how close he came to acting like the man he used to be. He is scared of losing his happy ending, as Regina did. Emma tells him that if he is so frightened of losing his happy ending, then he has found it. Hook tells Emma that she is his happy ending, and they kiss.

Rumpel, Regina, and Maleficent were unable to find the door, and Cruella races to tell them that August was rescued. She suspects that Ursula, and not Regina, was the mole and betrayed them.

Ursula tells Hook that Rumpel is after Emma and that he plans to fill her heart with darkness forever, since the author ensured that Emma’s status as savior would keep the villains from getting happy endings.

Regina comes to Emma and thinks she knows what her dream meant, that she was frightened of her old Evil Queen status. She seeks Emma’s help in tracking down Robin. When August regains consciousness, he reveals to Regina that the door was with Henry all the time, and that the author was trapped inside the book.

And that’s it for this week’s episode of Once Upon a Time. I like how they wrapped up Ursula’s story, though I’m sure she’s still going to stick around.

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