Once Upon a Time: S06E12 – Murder Most Foul
Once Upon a Time came back with its second episode since the return from the hiatus and this one was much stronger than the premiere. The episode “Murder Most Foul” dealt with Captain Charming (aka Killian Jones and Charming) going on an adventure to find out what truly happened with David’s father. It was an episode full of mystery, laughs and of course an unforgettable performance by Josh Dallas. The episode was almost perfect, if it wasn’t for that final scene it would have been a perfect episode, but we’ll get to that later.
I’ve always been a big fan of Josh Dallas and since the start, Charming has been my favorite male character. Ever since the pilot, Charming was a character that was immediately endeared to me and he’s just gotten better and better as the season’s pass. That is mostly thanks to Josh Dallas’ phenomenal acting. It’s sad that we don’t have a lot of Charming-centric episodes but those we have are always top notch. “Murder Most Foul” was written by Jane Espenson and Jerome Schwartz. Those two have a wonderful way with words and an ability to actually let the characters interact instead of just being action scene after action scene. Don’t get me wrong action scenes are great but character development scenes are even better, and we got a lot in this episode.
Like father, like daughter
One of the things I love about this show is the relationship that Jennifer Morrison and Josh Dallas have created with Emma and Charming. I don’t know if it’s the writing or if it’s the actors but they have this way of having the same mannerisms and the same worries that make it clear these two are father and daughter. Sometimes nature is stronger than nurture and in this episode, we saw Charming face many of the same fears that we’ve seen Emma face. Not to mention they react the same way in certain situations. They are both people who act first and ask questions later and they bought carry trauma from their childhoods. Charming understood why Emma was reluctant to get close to them because of the issues he’d faced with his own father, he knew what it was like to feel like you were unwanted like you weren’t enough for a parent. Then there’s the fact that they both had to give up a child they loved to give them their best chance.
This episode starts out with Charming making a toast to Emma’s triumph over Gideon. You can tell how much he loves her just by the way he looks at her. He tells the group that as long as they have hope they can truly achieve anything. We know this to be true after 6 seasons with these characters. It’s important that we got this scene here because this episode dealt a lot with that a parent would do for their child, the lengths they would go to and the desperation that comes with feeling like you’ve failed them.
In the flashbacks, we get to see the first time Rumplestiltskin visits Robert, Ruth, and their two twin boys, David and James. The babies needed medicine because they had weak lungs and their parents couldn’t afford it. Rumple gave them a deal he’d give them the medicine and he’d take one child in exchange. It was pure luck of the draw that had Ruth and Robert keep David with his parents as Robert flipped a coin to see which twin Rumple would take. Fast-forward a few years, Robert is a drunk, something we heard from Charming back in season 4’s “White Out”, and spends time in the tavern instead of at home. He finds out that James is missing and thinks if he can find him and bring him home then everything will be okay.
He tells Ruth that by fixing this broken family he will be able to fix himself. He encounters 5-year-old David and promises that when he gets back things will be better. David gives his dad his lucky coin, aka the same coin Rumple used to choose a kid, and so Robert sets off. He goes to Rumplestiltskin and that leads to Pleasure Island, where has an encounter with a wooden Pinocchio and finds James. He tells James he’s going to go home with him and you see his son’s face light up. That is of course until George shows up and everything goes to hell.
Robert wasn’t able to protect James from George and he wasn’t able to keep his promise to David. Instead, David remembers him as his deadbeat drunk of a father who broke his promise and all that was a part of David becoming who he is. Then he finds out that not only was his father murdered but he was also sober when he died. He was trying to get home to his family and something inside David breaks as George taunts him with this knowledge. It’s one thing to think that your father abandoned you it’s another to realize that he tried his hardest to make it back to you but it wasn’t enough.
And isn’t that the root of everything? We’ve seen that not being enough is Emma’s biggest fear, but it’s also her father’s biggest fear. Charming is a man that sees protecting his family as the most important aspect of his life. His family comes first, even before himself (as we saw by him refusing to sleep even though he was basically passing out). It’s been a recurring theme for Charming’s character all the way back to season 3’s Neverland arc when his tagline was “Believe a prince will always save his family” maybe even further considering one of the first (and best) scenes in the series is Charming fighting the Queen’s guards with baby Emma in his arms. His devotion to his family is unquestionable and I believe part of that came from the idea that he didn’t want to be like his father. And then you have a revelation like this and it changes you. We see it all catch up to him and it gives us one of the best Charming scenes in the series.
“He fought with everything he had. He did the right thing. And it wasn’t enough. What if Gideon comes back stronger and kills Emma? What if I can’t be with Snow ever again? What if being Prince Charming isn’t enough? And I start losing and it keeps going and I lose everything that matters to me?”
If I could I would give Josh Dallas an Emmy for this scene alone. We see the lack of sleep, the revelations, Gideon, the curse, everything catches up to him and it gives us one of the rawest scenes we’ve seen from Josh Dallas. Dallas is beyond words in this scene and it’s a reminder that this show needs to give him more scenes (and episodes) like this one because he kicks them out of the park. We see Charming breaking down in front of Killian when the latter tells mentions Robert and how he wanted to look David in the eye, he asks if he’d be able to look back. We see Dallas’ face change from frustration and anger to just sadness as he falls to the floor and starts bawling. The fear of never being able to see his Snow or protect his family finally getting to him. It’s as emotional and poignant as Emma’s “I’m not nothing” scene back in “Nimue“.
Then we see Charming at the docks, tears in his eyes and holding the coin in his hand. Robert appears next to him as David throws the coin into the water and then disappears. Charming finally has closure and it’s beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s a thing that has defined him for so long and now it seems to be over. Or at least that’s what we think.
You’ve got a friend in me
Like we previously mentioned this episode focused on the relationship between Charming and Killian Jones and their quest to find who killed Charming’s father. It all starts with Killian going to Archie and talking about wanting to take the next step with Emma. He has an engagement ring and plans to propose to her but he wants her father’s approval first. He doesn’t think that David feels like he is good enough for Emma, so Archie tells him just to ask David.
It’s when Killian goes to see David that everything falls into place. He’s not able to say a thing because he’s pulled into seeing Charming’s murder wall. It’s so fun to see these two go on another adventure together, I think the last time was the aforementioned “White Out”. I’ve been a fan of this relationship since season 3’s “Good Form”, which was the first time they teamed up. They’ve come a long way since then and that development is almost as beautiful as Captain Swan’s development. For one thing, both of them need a friend and they understand each other better than either one thinks they do. Sure like all the relationships in this show, they’ve had setbacks (and it seems like the biggest one is still up ahead) but both of them have grown a lot since they first met.
This episode saw Charming picking Killian because he thought he could get away with more since the latter used to be a villain. While yes it’s not the nicest decision and you could tell Killian was hurt by it, in the end, it worked out for the best. Because as the episode went on and Charming was hit by more and more revelations, Killian was there to stop him when things got tough. Throughout the episode whenever there was something questionable Killian told David to think about what he was doing. He told David he was trying to change, be a better man and though it seemed at the moment that David had blown him off you could see it struck a chord with him. It wasn’t all angst though there were some hilarious scenes in between.
We get Killian being the lookout while David goes into the shed to find the potion they need and Emma appears. We get a very cute scene between Emma and Killian, plus confirmation that Killian’s kisses sometimes leave Emma’s mind blank which is extremely endearing and adorable. He tells her a few half lies and then the coast is clear and tells David he wasn’t a fan of lying to Emma. Then, of course, that leads to the most hilarious scene in the episode. Killian and Charming are working on a potion in the loft and you get a scene of the two of them turning counterclockwise, like two kids doing a science experiment. Especially the moment when they both go to smell it and it apparently ranks.
After Charming breaks down in front of Killian and throws the coin in the water you see a change happen. The fact that he let himself be that vulnerable in front of Killian is extremely meaningful. Because Charming isn’t one to just fall apart in front of just anyone. Of course, the culmination of their adventure is in their final scene. Killian finds him at the docks and asks if he is okay, Charming says he is and we see he believes that. Then we get Charming apologizing to Killian for the way he acted during the episode and for making him lie to Emma. Killian finally gets to ask the question he’s been dying to ask and asks Charming if he thinks he is good enough for Emma. And hasn’t that just been the theme for this episode? We see both Killian and Charming go through it. Charming admits that Killian has changed and how that is the hardest thing a person can do and yet Killian has done it.
It’s a pretty big thing considering Charming doesn’t trust easily, especially when it comes to his daughter and her happiness. David thanks him for stopping him from doing something he would regret and says he doesn’t know how to repay him. But Killian already has an idea about that. He tells David that a way for him not to lose his family is to let it grow and then asks for Emma’s hand in marriage. There are a few moments of silence and you can see Killian is regretting everything when David starts smiling. The relief on Killian’s face when he realizes David was just making him sweat it out a little bit is amazing. Charming tells him that of course, it’s up to Emma but that he definitely has his blessing. Then makes fun of him for being old-fashioned which is hilarious if you recall the scene from “White Out” where David asks for Killian’s intentions and it’s the latter that’s calling the former old-fashioned.
They walk away joking together and David promises not to tell Snow until it’s time, because we all know how Snow is with secrets.
Jane Espenson episodes are a rare gem, they’re normally great from start to finish, this episode is the exception. That final scene came out of nowhere and soured a perfectly wonderful episode. Can’t I even find a logical reason for it? We knew Captain Hook had done a lot of horrible things, mostly because the writers keep reminding us by bringing old foes back every few eps. David had gotten closure on his father’s death and as I mentioned before, that scene was he throws the coin in the water was especially poignant. So why was it necessary to have Killian be the one to kill Charming’s father? George had motive and the means to kill Robert and frankly, it made sense. Of course, he’d want to kill him considering he knew the truth about James.
By having Hook be the one that dealt the final blow you take away all the motivations and reasons behind the death. It will reopen a wound that Charming had finally closed, and I’m afraid for how the show will handle it. And I am a bit miffed that they brought Killian into this. I mean in the same episode we see that Regina still has her victims’ hearts and isn’t the least bit sorry about it so I’m not a fan of double standards. I’m not worried about Captain Swan or even about Captain Charming because I know they’ll get through this, but the thing is, they shouldn’t have to.
Charming: It says turn counterclockwise, do you think they mean the beaker or do we have to turn
Killian Jones; It’s better to be safe
Emma Swan: Now why was I here? Lifejackets right
Charming: You’ve done the hardest thing anyone can do…you’ve changed
Charming: Emma I’m so proud of you for what you did tonight, defeating Gideon reminds us that with a little bit of hope nothing can tear this family apart
David: He fought with everything he had. He did the right thing. And it wasn’t enough. What if Gideon comes back stronger and kills Emma? What if I can’t be with Snow ever again? What if being Prince Charming isn’t enough? And I start losing and it keeps going and I lose everything that matters to me?
Killian: All right. I’ll step aside. You can kill this man if you think it’ll make you feel stronger. But think about your father. He wanted to look you in the eye. Do you want to be able to look back?
*Archie trying to remain calm and collected when Killian showed him the ring was basically the fans reaction. Although he did a much better job at it than we did.
*Another hilarious parallel between Emma and Charming is that both have a tendency to handcuff Killian Jones to benches or other things.
*Robert Carlyle did an impeccable job as the Dark One in this episode, some of his best acting in a while.
*I love that Henry and Emma were going on a canoeing trip and that apparently Killian is always going on about boat safety.
*Slightly more intrigued by this Robin then I was by the previous one, at least this one didn’t cheat on his dying wife with her murderer.
*Why is it when Snow is awake she only coddles Regina? You know your daughter did escape from death once again so maybe check in with her once in a while?
*Emma eats popcorn with melted chocolate which is something I do as well so I loved that.