After 2×11 I said that the only reason I didn’t cry was because I was so shocked by the outcome of the episode. However, as the week progressed and the facts of what had happened sank in, the shock also went away… making space for the tears. So by Sunday, I was literally an emotional wreck.

Yes, when I watch TV I invest very much, emotional-wise. That’s who and how I am. So I went to a birthday brunch of a friend on Sunday morning and everything was fine; but from the moment I was on my way back home, I felt like crying. The whole time. I had tears in my eyes, getting their on their own, and I didn’t have a chance to do anything against it (You know how you usually can stop your tears? Didn’t work then). The last time I felt like this was after the Tenth Doctor’s death/regeneration four years ago. I was emotionally exhausted – surely because I haven’t had an actual free day since the new year started (because my boss is calling me late in the evening, on weekends, and I then I got news in the morning that I have to work on Sunday evening…), but also mostly – like the infamous drop that causes the overflow – because I had thought so much about Rumbelle and how incredibly painful this whole situation has to be for Rumple, who, as I wrote last week, relies on her, who needs her to be his humanity, that I probably got into it too much.
Therefore, the new episode couldn’t come quick enough… and I did something I have never done before: I went to bed three hours earlier than usual and got up just as early in the morning, got myself the episode and watched it before work. Lucky for me, I work at home (with fixed start times, though), so that was no problem. It did wonders to my emotional health, I must say, even though the episode didn’t bring that much of a relief, or consolation, when it comes to Rumbelle.
 
So here we go with episode twelve of season two – and to keep things just as unusual, I start with Rumbelle this time.
It is also partly with what the episode starts. We see what was already hinted at in promo pics as well as the promo vid – Belle panics, is scared, doesn’t know what is going on. And reacts just like that to Rumple. He really does his best to calm her down… but makes the mistake of healing her gunshot wound with magic. Which literally freaks her out, and understandably so.
So this is me wondering again – what do we know of the town line’s effect? It erases memories, that much is clear; the memories of our characters’ real lives, their lives in FTL. But there are two questions.
First – what remains? Is it what was there right after the Curse was enacted by Regina, or is it the last thing before the Curse broke? Or even something entirely else, because Regina had some influence on it? The first would mean that Belle shouldn’t have much of a memory of anything; I’m pretty sure that Regina brought her from the tower straight to the asylum. She would know next to nothing, unless Regina planted something there, but I somehow doubt that, seeing how Belle was in the asylum and when she came out. The latter, on the other hand, would mean that Belle should know Rumple – Mr. Gold – as Jefferson sent her to him. And Jefferson also told her that Mr. Gold would protect her, so since she wasn’t that extremely scared when she went to him the first time, it would make no sense to be it now. Even with the magic and all the other circumstances (having been shot etc.). Of course, it can always be something in between. We definitely need an answer to that one soon; but I guess we’ll only get it when someone manages to regain their memories after having “lost” it at the town line.
Second – are the memories really lost forever? I can’t imagine that. I mean – no, by no means they are. Think about it – that would make Belle an almost useless character. Even though her sheer presence seems to be enough to keep Rumple in check, it is only to a limited degree, and it won’t last forever, because something tells me that the longer this situation goes on, the longer she remains in that condition, the more frustrated he’ll become. And desperate – trying everything in his powers to find a cure.
Which effectively will bring him back to magic, and maybe even the darker kind that could then also harm innocents, whereas now he at least resorted to only using it on those who deserved it… kinda (Smee, for example). Henry, on the other hand, he healed when he was burned in his dream; he reattached Whale’s arm (not so much good-will, but at least a good deed), and he of course also healed Belle. Oh, yes, and he saved her in 2×04. Even the potion he created doesn’t have ill effects. All proof that he indeed does try to change, and most likely he does it because of Belle.
When it comes to lost memories and what remains, the hospital scene – the first one – is also very interesting. Rumple stands at a sleeping Belle’s bedside, watching her. After a while he steps closer, leans down, and kisses her. She wakes up, sees him – and screams in horror. And yes, that was horror. So what we know right away is that the kiss, or healing her with TLK, doesn’t work. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that TLK in general doesn’t work as a cure when the town line’s effect is concerned.
I suspect another problem here (apart from the one that there are no Wikipedia articles on how and when the TLK works). Before Rumple kisses Belle, you can practically see the doubts in his face. You can see the hesitation in his whole body language. And it’s a painful sight in itself. He still doesn’t believe in their love, even though he knows what he feels and at least rationally also knows what she feels. Yet he still sees himself as a monster, like he told her in 2×01 (and more or less also in 2×11 in the car); I think despite everything she’s said and done, there hasn’t changed much for him. He doesn’t let himself believe in her love.
The first time she kissed him and almost changed him back to a normal man, chased away the Dark One, he yelled at her that no one can ever love him. Effectively shutting her love, his love, and both their effect on him off, destroying every little bit of re-transformation, of release from the Dark One. I guess that these doubts come from Rumple himself, and not the one who sees himself as a monster; but first and foremost the one who was more or less an outsider before he became the Dark One because he was considered to be a coward, and he was disregarded for it.
In general is he of course not at peace with himself. How could he. He hasn’t found Bae yet, and he’s done so much harm to others, so much he probably regrets that it will be hard for him to ever find peace. On the other hand he still has this Dark One, or its powers at least, in him, and he uses it because, as he told Belle, he relies on it too much. He can’t go without it anymore; like an addict who needs the drugs, or “a crutch he can’t walk without”.
I think next to my last week’s theory about the Dark One suppressing the majority of Rumple’s True Love for Belle, weakening it, this is another reason why Rumple, while we know that he loves Belle and that it is indeed TL, can’t help Belle right now. He doesn’t believe he can be loved. He doesn’t deserve to be loved; so he lets no one, least of all Belle, the only one who can be seen as “danger”, as she’s living proof that he’s wrong. Although she truly and deeply loves him, and never stopped despite everything he’s done. Or is it because? Someone once said that you need to love yourself first before you can be loved. As long as Rumple considers himself a monster, and more or less even hates himself, hates what he is and that he can’t let go of it at the same time, because he’s too dependent on it, he’ll never will be able to accept that he can be loved. That he is loved.
The scene, as terrible as it is, still also gives me hope. Because there is this little thing, the little moment, easy to miss, but still there: Belle smiles. When Rumple kisses her, she smiles. Now here’s the problem again that we don’t know which memories she has, but as there is theoretically nothing left of her FTL identity, and since we can assume she never got a SB identity (pretty sure Regina just locked her away without any further ado, and without any concern about giving Belle a SB identity. After all, she never wanted to let her out; not as long as it wasn’t to her advantage.), there is no explanation as to why she smiles.
Seriously, if I feel someone kissing me while I’m asleep or half asleep, I get confused when I’m sure there shouldn’t be anyone kissing me like this. Forehead, cheek, okay. But lips? Uh, no. So if Belle didn’t happen to just have the sweetest dream about a prince kissing her in the same moment as Rumple did… I rather go with: Her subconscious remembers. Buried deep in the recesses of her mind, she still knows who she is, who Rumple is, that they are in love etc. But it is hidden, locked away, and now they have to find a way to free it. Free Belle, really. Half asleep, her subconscious mind may just allow her a glimpse at her real life, and her love, and she associates the kiss with it. That’s why she smiles. The moment she opens her eyes, however, her consciousness suppresses these faint memories and she panics, seeing Rumple so close. She screams – he flees.
Rumple’s desperation, his willingness to restore her memories, his need for her to remember, goes so far that what he does next could indeed be considered as some kind of harassment. He brings Belle the Chipped Cup, hoping that seeing it, holding it, will bring her memories back. He has even charmed it. It is interesting to see how extremely refusing Belle is then. She seems to think that he is a total nutcase, with his talk about magic, about his castle and so on. And then she says something which once again makes me think that “lost memories” isn’t the proper description for what happened to her: “Stop talking about magic.”
It’s more like she’s been reduced to an essential Belle; one that only has her instincts left. I’d go even as far as to say that she is a bit like Frankenstein’s brother after Victor has brought him back to life. She has basic instincts and reactions, but they are uniquely her – like that she resents magic. She shows a very strong reaction to his magic, even his talk about it – and in my opinion, this can only be explained by remnants of her personality – the one of Belle who was sent away by her True Love because he was/is possessed by magic (see also last week’s review about Belle’s initial reaction to fairy dust). Without her knowledge of the details, her memories, she can’t differentiate, and of course she can’t recognize magic at all, let alone the good and the bad kind.
The thing that makes me most sad – apart from the whole Rumbelle part of course – is that Belle went through a great development and evolution, showed to be a self-confident and strong young woman. And now this is lost, at least for the time being… whatever that may be. I really enjoyed seeing her fighting for her love; for Rumple and his humanity. He was starting to change, for her, and she was as well, accepting his magic while still being critical about it, letting him handle things because she trusted him to do the right thing; learning to accept him as he is, all the while she gently interfered now and then, reminding him that he is a good man beneath that layer of the Dark One’s power.
The moment I saw Rumple had the cup and was giving it to Belle (forcing it on her even), I knew this would end badly for Chip; that she would break it. It was still a shock, but then, it also wasn’t somehow. With the state she is in, it seemed like a natural reaction. She’s terrified of him and his talk about magic. Let’s face it – she’s a young woman and he not exactly the handsome knight in shining armor (a matter of perspective ;)), but a man in his fifties with wrinkles and a good number of grey hairs who is obviously crazy – possessed by the idea that there’s magic. For all she knows, he’s a pervert stalker, so she reacts accordingly.
@once_fan on Twitter wanted to know what had happened in the ep because she couldn’t watch it as soon as I was able to. So I told her. While doing so, I had this idea that breaking the cup might not be such a bad thing after all. Maybe the cup is part of their old life; the time when she was supposed to be his prisoner, his maid, and nothing else. So their past includes them falling in love with each other; but their love then was doomed to fail. Maybe holding on to all these old things is what keeps them from moving on together. Right now, and because I need positive thoughts to survive the three weeks hiatus, I like to think that breaking the cup, as shocking as it may ever have been to both us and Rumple, is a chance, an opportunity.
The pessimist in me I really try to keep quiet says: Maybe Chip, a symbol of the relationship, their love even, being broken also means that their connection is broken now. Their love. But I see no reason why that should be. Why should they do that? A person/character only is important when they show all facets of a personality, good and bad. Black and white and every possible shade of grey in between. Rumple without Belle is a monster indeed. Rumple without Belle is just the Dark One; a dark magical being without humanity, with only remnants of his pre-DO persona clinging to the good in him that is slowly dissolving if he has no one to protect and nurture it.
Hook’s words nail it.

Emma: You hurt Belle.
Hook: I hurt his heart. Belle is just where he keeps it.

Belle is the one holding and treasuring Rumple’s heart. And his humanity. Without her, he will lose that part of him, and he will suddenly be less interesting. Not even Bae could replace Belle here, because his relationship with Bae will most probably influenced by guilt. Besides, the love between a parent and a child is a lot different. Emma may have broken the Curse with her True Love for Henry, but Emma and Henry also don’t share the emotional baggage that comes with the years. A child you love unconditionally, from the moment you know it exists – no matter what – but also with less passion (which is good I guess *lol*). True (Romantic) Love, however, as we have them with Snow/Charming or Rumbelle, comes from falling in love with someone despite getting to know him or her with all mistakes. It comes from seeing the core of someone beneath all the layers of bad attitudes, angry moments, even hurting words. And Belle is the one to see beyond the Dark One everyone else sees in Rumple – even though she never knew him before he became the DO. She’s the one who believes in his humanity, his pure and kind human soul, and she fights for it. Without that, Rumple will never be able to get away from the dark magic and everything else; and consequently, he will never evolve, or be freed from the Dark One in the end. Which would be pretty disappointing, if you ask me.
As it seems that Belle has to fall in love with him anew, things from a past, a magical past, may not be as helpful. In general won’t magic be helpful, judging by Belle’s reaction to it. In the end she is now like everyone else who could come into town by chance (or accident… bad pun, sorry) – someone who has never seen magic. And think about it – if someone would suddenly use real magic (meaning, not the one on stage with light effects and lots of blankets to cover up the literal secret doors), everyone of us most likely would freak out, because with all our love for Disney & Co., we are still like Jefferson once said: “Everyone wants a magical solution to their problems, but no one is willing to believe in magic.”
With Chip, the symbol of their (magical) past, gone, this could be the turning point. When Rumple understands that magic is what keeps Belle from him, then maybe he will finally find the strength to lay it off, now that he has to because she neither understands nor accepts it like she did before with her memories intact. Regina did, out of love for Henry; why not Rumple as well? Plus, he has Bae as another reason (even though we don’t yet know how this will play out; Bae has grown older, after all).
This episode gives us, after a longer time, again a Rumple that isn’t directly influenced by Belle. Not by her words and actions, by her being right next to him in person, at least. She has, however, still a huge influence on him; and what he does and says – and doesn’t do! – made it clear that Rumple still loves Belle; that he hasn’t given up on her. Quite the contrary.
Of course, there are his attempts to help her – with TLK, with magic/Chip. That aside, there are events indirectly concerning Belle. Like his attack on Hook in the beginning of the episode – and his refraining from killing the man after Emma and Charming talk to him and tell him that he doesn’t want Belle to see that. As if Belle herself has spoken, this has an effect; it stops him.
His desire to “heal” her goes even as far as to ask Cora if she knows some spell or anything that brings back memories. Here I wondered – is he really that desperate to ask her, knowing that she, as his former student (as it was indicated several times now), can’t know much more – or anything more at all – or does he suspect/know her having other sources of magic? Maybe after she learned from him, she went on to find other ways to learn more, gather more knowledge. And powers. In 2×08, when Regina and Rumple talked at Granny’s, it sounded very much like even though Rumple “won in the end”, as he said, he had a hard time defeating her. Or whatever he was doing. So Cora is powerful, very powerful, and since I doubt that Rumple would have taught her enough for her to become like this – what with controlling powers in the land and him remaining the most powerful – she has to have gotten it somewhere, somehow else.
And while we’re at it: The Cora/Rumple kiss. Uh, yeah. Something tells me there’s a whole encyclopedia of history behind that (there better be…). Something also lets me suspect that these two also have a deeper connection than we thought until now. Or in other words: Were they lovers once? Not as in True Love, like with Belle. But I guess, from Cora calling him master, that she was his student, just like Regina later became one as well. Only that with Cora, there was another component. Emotionally? Maybe. Sexually? Pretty sure. If it is true, it could have been some passionate affair (although that would be rather un-fairytale-like… mhh…).
I assume that when Rumple met Cora, she was a carefree girl, but poor; living a simple life (there is this title of the episode about Cora’s history that gives much away, in my opinion). Still, she could already have been hungry for more – power, riches, whatever. Drawn to power and magic, unlike Regina who refused it even when she became his student (for a while, at least), she could have seduced Rumple. It is even possible that this is one reason why Rumple doubts that he can be loved – not only is he a coward and was left by Milah, but maybe also Cora didn’t want him for the person he is, and never loved him, only used him. I think in that respect, when it comes to love and sexuality and relationships, Rumple isn’t very experienced.
What irritated me about the kiss… apart from the kiss *ahem*… are Rumple’s reactions before and after it. When Cora suggest to “seal [the truce] like we used to”, he slightly cocks his head, as if he’s confused and/or surprised. He also doesn’t move towards her, doesn’t bow down or anything. His only reaction is moving his lips to what looks like a very… chaste kiss. And, well, he closes his eyes. And afterwards, he looks even more confused, and a bit like something happened during that kiss that he didn’t like, or he didn’t expect; magic or anything. I can’t really explain it, but there’s something off, apart from the whole kissing thing itself. It’s almost as if he’s expecting the kiss to have some special effect.
Initially, when I saw that before the episode (promo or sneak peek, I don’t remember), I assumed that this was a way to get some of Cora’s magic that would then allow Rumple to help Belle. Well, since that obviously wasn’t the case, the question remains what all this is about.
I think this scene between Rumple and Cora was meant to foreshadow what we’ll yet get to see in the upcoming episodes; first and foremost 2×16. Those two go back a long time, that much is sure, and, as said above, he was her master, like she calls him in the episode again (bit disturbing that, I admit). Also don’t I believe in that truce; usually when you see two characters you know simply have to be at war agreeing on a truce, it’s only the prelude to something very awful. And seeing that this is a TV show that involves magic… let’s just say I’m happy that I don’t live anywhere near Maine.
Cora is the one knowing of Bae; knowing that he is looking for him, that he’s in our world. And what he needs to find him. Another piece of evidence that these two have more than just a professional history; I don’t see Rumple walking around and telling people about Bae and what happened to him. So whatever fall-out there was, it followed a closer relationship. After all, he didn’t even tell Belle the details of what has happened to Bae when they grew closer during her time at his castle, only that he lost him – while Cora seems to know that Bae is alive (presumably) and in another world.
The box Cora gives Rumple looks like August’s at first; but I don’t think it’s the one, because first, his was smaller, and second, we saw that there was a typewriter inside. Also, where should August have gotten that globe? At the moment I’m not even sure where August could have gotten the drawing of Rumple’s dagger. After all, he came with nothing into our world; and this stuff doesn’t lie around just like this. So Cora most probably brought the globe with her when she came with Hook to SB. Also seems to be a lot more reasonable; otherwise Cora must have found and gotten to August first, and we know that he is no longer in SB, but somewhere, anywhere, and that Cora never left SB. Very unlikely that she’s even met him.

“I want you to find the one person in this universe who might still love you.”

That’s what Cora gives as a reason for bringing the globe to Rumple. Wonder why she didn’t just stabbed a knife into his back. It’s not like she does anything different with her words, really. It’s almost psychological torture under the disguise of helpfulness, when she more or less tells him that the (only) other person who loves him is history.
Cora, by the way, was the first one to really name the child, so to speak. She was to first to say out loud that Rumple used Regina for his Curse. So maybe she’s also the only one to know it, next to Rumple (and Regina, more or less), but it was interesting to hear it being said by someone. And now that Rumple doesn’t need Regina anymore, she wants her daughter back. And… well. Suddenly there were all sorts of theories.
One being that Regina is nothing more than a skilled student for magic – dark magic that is – and Rumple and Cora are just fighting over her. In other words: Cora isn’t Regina’s real mother. I don’t know where this comes from, but for some reason, I can see that being true. Wherever the child came from – and being associated with Rumple who makes deals for first-borns, it shouldn’t have been too hard to get one – she may only have raised it. Part of this theory I think I had before – that Cora maybe was unable to conceive and asked Rumple for help. And since we know that Rumple held Regina when she was a baby, and there are all sorts of reasons why he did…
Another one is: Rumple is Regina’s father. Okay, this is a very… risky theory. Somehow Rumple fathering Cora’s child is not really a road my thoughts want to go down, but still, and especially after the kiss (and the affair theory) I can’t help but at least take it into consideration. This would also make for one hell of a family tree, because if Bae really is Henry’s father, then Regina, as Rumple’s daughter, would be his aunt… yeah. Also is the question of the how… and if Rumple, as Dark One, is biologically capable of fathering a child, or if it was only done by magic. I think children are considered to be something pure and thoroughly good; so can a Dark One, the personified bad (kinda like the devil maybe), have an own child? Then he wouldn’t have needed to make deals for children. Unless, of course, his morality is still so intact to not rape a woman, because for all we know there was no woman around who would have gotten close to Rumple voluntarily – except for Belle.
Against what I was hoping last week, Rumple indeed leaves while Belle is still without her memories. But then I guess I was a bit too optimistic with my assumption that they’d give her back her real self in a matter of two episodes. Added to that, after his failed attempts to help her, he has to be very frustrated, depressed even, and while before he postponed his departure in favor of Belle, he now decides that he helps no one if he stays longer. So he plans to go and search for his son – with Emma, whom he had a deal with for a favor he now asks for.
Before he leaves, he has something to do though. Because when it comes to desperate measures and Belle, the ending with Rumple at the Charmings’ was also very telling. I couldn’t help myself but smirk at that, to be honest.

“We have a long history, so know this, and know it to be true. If any harm comes to Belle while I’m gone, I’m killing all of you.”

Interestingly enough, I think he even looked/pointed at Henry. More or less saying – if you kill my family and what I hold dear, I will do the same to you, without any exception. And I was asking myself what Rumple defines as harm. Physical harm only? Or does he consider it harm when the Charmings should go and try to get Belle on their side, away from him? Tell her that Rumple is a bad person?
In general, the episode showed moments I would never have expected to see: Rumple’s concern for Belle exceeding his desire to go and find Bae. Surely he doesn’t have a way of finding out where Bae is before Cora gives him this globe, but at least he has a way to leave town.
I mean, that man had a whole world (or even several) put under a massive Curse just to in the end be able to find his son. Everything he did, as it is slowly revealed, built up to this, most probably from the very moment Rumple realized that he’d lost his last chance of following Bae when the Bean wasn’t in Hook’s hand. After that, from what we’ve seen, he plotted and planned; he influenced and moved peasants and kings (and queens), he played this whole intricate game to finally come to the point where he is now. But he sits in his shop and tenderly holds Chip with a heartbroken expression on his face, he behaves like a husband worried sick when they arrive at the ER, he stays in SB and tries to find ways to help Belle where he could have long since left, he even asks Cora for help. All he does speaks of his incredibly deep love and his need to protect Belle, and it speaks of how much the importance of Belle differs from this of Bae to him.
Snow and Charming are not the ones to influence Belle and pull her onto their side, so she’ll stand with them against Rumple. It would be very out of character for them to a) not recognize the True Love between Rumbelle, and b) work against it. Nevertheless they now theoretically have the chance to do something, anything. And part of me hopes seeing them help Rumbelle. Belle obviously trusts Snow; why shouldn’t she go and talk to Belle then, tell her what this is all about, or at the very least – to leave out the magic part – that Rumple is a good person; that they were/are in love. If Snow restores at least Belle’s trust in Rumple so that he has the chance to help her regain her memories, in whatever way, he may be the one indebted to the Charmings; which is just another way to shift the balance of power when Rumple is suddenly, and if only temporarily, on the Good Ones’ side. Who knows what effect it will have against Cora and Regina when Rumple and Blue combine their powers? As Rumple can do good and bad with his magic, and can maybe strengthen Blue’s, this could be the ultimate power boost for her as well.
 
And speaking of the Charmings and the rest if the Good Ones gang. This must also have been the very first episode that made clear how much the others are aware of Belle’s and Rumple’s relationship; that they are in love and all. Just as they seem to know that Belle wants Rumple to change, or that he’s trying to do that for her.

Emma: You don’t want her to see that.
Rumple: “I’m a stranger to her!”
Emma: “Murder is a bad first impression.”
David: “What would Belle want you to do?”

And then he stops. Even though only seconds later the ambulance comes down the street, which makes them all look up anyways, there is this fraction of a moment in which Rumple just stops in his movements, resignation shows up on his face, and where it becomes obvious that even those words, while not being spoken by Belle, still reach him. Now, so far we haven’t seen much of Belle in the others’ company, so we don’t know how close they’ve grown, and how much she may have told them. Did she defend herself and her relationship with Rumple? How long did people thing she was just a brain-washed slave, a victim, and how long did it take them to accept that her feelings are true and Rumple never did anything to have an influence on her in that regard (quite the contrary, actually)?
That would be very interesting to see; however, since they don’t seem to do post-Curse SB flashbacks (understandably, guess that would be too confusing), I’m afraid we won’t get to know more about this, unless it is told somehow. I can imagine that she at least told Ruby something, and maybe Ruby then told the others, so everyone would accept it as it is. Whatever it is, it helps Emma and Charming to save Hook’s life, because I’m pretty sure that if Rumple had wanted to (and he did, oh yes, he did) and no one would have come up with the Belle factor, Hook would be history by now.
Speaking of the pirate in question – he’s got it pretty bad, with cracked ribs and generally his injuries from the car crash and Rumple’s beating session shortly before., as well as the one blow Rumple managed to deliver before he was stopped by Emma and Charming.
But at least he’s not severely hurt and therefore also isn’t his life in danger (which proves my theory from last week that he’s the one Whale wants to let die wrong… damn *g*). He is, however, now in Emma’s hands – or handcuffs, for that matter. And unless he knows how to get out of them and the hospital (they would be wise to watch him 24/7), especially in his condition, I’m sure that for now he remains SB’s prisoner. Which also means that he will be under constant influence of Emma and the Charmings and… well, the rest of the Good ones. Now that’s gonna be fun to see with how many quips and remarks he can still come up…
I think Hook just doesn’t know better. All the “flirting” he does, the innuendo-heavy talking, is proof of a deeply hurt soul that has a whole arsenal up for defense. Emma is not that much different here, even though she shows it differently. There’s a lot we don’t know yet about Hook and his history; of course we know what the original story says, but as it is always with OUAT, I’m pretty sure Ed&Adam will come up with an a bit more detailed biography that will also surely tell us why he became the way he is now. Of course is he, as a pirate, the best candidate for suggestive talking, but overtly displayed sexuality and self-confidence is still also a sign of a fragile and soft core.
Thus, for all Hook has done, I can’t hate him. In his very own way, he is just as cursed as Rumple and Regina (and Cora) are with their magic. And he needs someone to break this curse before he can become a good and decent man I’m sure is somewhere in there. That is why I also still ship Captain Swan, and believe that those two would be good for each other. What concerns me is the question if he still believes in love. For all we know – since he has repeated several times – he loved Milah. Truly loved her. Was it True Love? Good question. But in any way did he love her, and her loss, her death, hit him very hard. Arguably there may be part vengeance for hurt pride in it, but as we saw in 2×06 – Hook even has Milah’s name tattooed on his arm. So he’s a pirate and most of them rather see women as possessions than as equally valuable beings. Milah even wore sort-of pirate’s clothing, which speaks for her being treated as an equal, and would then support the true love (not True Love though) theory.
Now, falling in love again with Emma could be hard for him, and not only because of their pre-story. But I nevertheless think that the capability to change is there, and that he needs a new love to help him with that. Emma is the best candidate here, since she knows his background (FTL etc.) and isn’t intimidated by him, but can very well stand up to him. She would be an equal; maybe even more than Milah. And I think this is also what Hook recognizes, even if at this point, his flirting is more to test the grounds or try and distract her. He doesn’t really know how to start this, plus they can still be seen as enemies of sorts, but I can imagine that at least partly his interest is real. This will make for a thrilling shipper plot line…
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Stopping here because since I have a terrible workload (when life interferes with fandom…) I didn’t get around to write it yet and may not for another while, so I will post part two a bit later. But since I think Rumbelle is the most important part anyways… 😀

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Tags: Belle, Cora, Dr. Whale/Frankenstein, Emma Swan, Gerhardt Frankenstein, Greg Mendell, Hook/Killian Jones, Milah, Once Upon A Time, OUAT, Red Riding Hood/Ruby
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