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ONCE UPON A TIME Recap: ‘Poor Unfortunate Soul’

The tale of the siren.

Episode 16, “Poor Unfortunate Soul,” kicks off with Hook on board the Jolly Roger. Still under Pan’s command, Killian and his crew are out to sea when they’re distracted by a siren song from none other than a young Ursula (Tiffany Boone). Luckily for the pirate and his mates, the teenage sea maiden stops the tune just in the nick of time, the ship nearly missing some rocks. Ursula’s decision to save the crew garners a good scolding from her father Poseidon (Ernie Hudson) –who we find out forces his daughter to use her voice to make ships crash.

Fast forward to present time and we’re back in Rumpelstiltskin’s cabin where Regina, Maleficent, Cruella and Ursula are interrogating August (adult Pinocchio) who was brought back at the end of the last episode in attempt to find out what he knows about the so-called Author everybody is looking for. August reveals that the information he’s gathered about the dealer of happy endings came from a mysterious person who was also looking for the Author called “the dragon.” After the Dragon’s demise, August snatched his research and stored it somewhere in Storybrooke–where according to him, it still resides.

Regina then hops into Snow’s body to relay the information that Pinocchio (August) is safe, Rumpel has returned, and that the Dark One and his mistresses of evil have something huge planned to Hook, Emma and David. After hearing the news, the band of heroes decide that summoning the dark one with his dagger is the best course of action. This leads them to Belle, who informs them that she handed it over to Hook to hide. Since of course this isn’t true, the group realizes that Rumpel disguised himself to get his dagger back and now has complete power. It’s interesting that the little pact he made (when he was disguised as Hook) with Belle to never talk about the dagger plan last episode had no effect. It would have been easy for Rumpel to use some sort of memory charm, wiping the occurrence from his ex-lover’s mind. But alas, I guess we needed that aha! moment to keep things rolling.

Hook then reveals that he is the one that took Ursula’s happy ending and that now would be a good time to take advantage of that fact. After whipping out a conch shell, Hook summons the sea to their location to propose his plan. The deal he lays down for her consideration–after she’s done constricting him with her tentacles upon arrival–is that he will trade what she most desires for Intel on Rumpel and his plan.


Jumping to a flashback, we find Hook sitting in a pub listening to Ursula sing. When he recognizes her voice from that terrible night out at sea, he buys her a drink. She reveals to him that because of what she did that day, her father kicked her out of the kingdom. In retaliation she steals an object that allows her to walk on land. Sound familiar? In an odd move for a series that has been pretty creative with character origin stories, Ursula has been more or less given Ariel’s life. They’ve basically altered a few things from Disney’s The Little Mermaid and replaced Arial with Ursula, substituted Poseidon for Triton, and altered a couple of details for it to make sense. It is also revealed that the reason Poseidon is so set on sinking ships is because it was a pirate who killed his wife (Ursula’s mom).

When Hook informs her that her singing voice was the only thing that has been successful taking his pain away–you know, from when Rumpel (the crocodile) killed the love of his life–she shares her desire to sing in another town, which Hook agrees to take her to. Little did she know, her father Poseidon tries to get our favorite swashbuckler to steal his daughter’s happiness by handing him a shell that will take her singing voice away in exchange for some squid ink that will help him defeat the dark one. Again, a page ripped straight out of The Little Mermaid.

Back in Storybooke, the sea witch asks Hook where her “treasure” is buried, and he informs her that it’s still on his ship, the Jolly Roger which is somewhere back in the enchanted forest. With her happy ending close at hand, Ursula opens up a portal to bring the shop through. But, uh oh. The ship has been shrunk and placed in a bottle. This leads the group to seek the assistance of Will Scarlett who apparently can restore the ship to its full size. This is a nice throwback to his time in Wonderland.

Later on in another neck of the woods, Regina is having a nightmare about fighting the evil queen she was in the enchanted forest for the attention of Robin Hood. Rumpel then shows up to say that August apparently lied about “the dragon” which leads to him making the liar down a potion that will temporarily transform him into wood, lie detector nose and all. So, from now on every time he tells a fib while being questioned, his nose will grow. To get him to talk, Rumpel holds him to the fire–which probably would make anyone talk even if they weren’t made of wood. Under pressure, August reveals that the Sorcerer trapped the author behind a door, somewhere in Storybooke. Apparently it was on one of the pages from the book that Regina is familiar with.


Meanwhile Hook, Will and Ursula are able to restore the Jolly Roger but unfortunately the shell does not restore the former siren’s voice. Because the magic doesn’t work, Ursula states that they don’t have a deal anymore and throws Hook overboard. This is bad news for the Pirate who for some reason can’t swim, go figure. Just when you think he’s a goner, Ariel comes to his rescue.

Apparently, she was on the ship when it got miniaturized by Queen Elsa–who apparently has more than just ice related powers. She reveals that Blackbeard was using the ship to do what Pirates do best: terrorize people and stir up trouble. This apparently fed up the Queen of Arendelle, who proceeded to trap the ship in a bottle. Before you think the Frozen queen has a vendetta against Ariel, she was apparently trapped by accident.

Back to the flashback, we see Ursula hearing news of her father’s plot with Hook from the Pirate himself. He refuses to break the new bond with Ursula but of course still desperately wants the squid ink. So, in exchange for him not betraying Ursula, he asks her to steal the ink from her father. When she gets caught in the act by Poseidon, the king refuses to give Hook the ink. In anger, hook decides to use the shell to take Ursula’s voice anyways, leading her to completely lose it later on and use her father’s trident to transform her into a tentacled sea witch, making her stronger than her own father.

Back in Storybooke, Emma and the Charming’s show up to Rumpel’s hideout, knocking out Cruella on arrival. When Ursula starts using her tentacles to strangle Snow, Hook reveals that the reason he couldn’t use the shell to get her voice back was because only Poseidon, the one who enchanted it, can reverse the spell. Ariel brings Poseidon out of nowhere through a portal. After apologizing to her he removes the enchantment and gives her her voice back. With her happy ending finally obtained, Ursula leaves with her father, reducing the three Queens of Darkness to only two.


His anger towards Ursula at the beginning of the story worries Hook that no matter how hard he tries, he was written as a villain. And, like the other villains, he is destined to lose his happy ending. When Emma asks if he knows what his happy ending is, he admits that it is being with her. Cue the tears and a passionate kiss.

Meanwhile, down a baddie, Cruella, Maleficent, Rumpel and Regina meet up and Cruella accuses Ursula of being the mole that lead the heroes to the cabin. Phew. Regina’s cover is still in tact.

Before Hook leaves, Ursula tells him that the villains won’t be able to have their happy endings as long as the savior (Emma) is still around. So, Rumpel’s  plan is to fill Miss Swan’s heart with darkness, instead of merely getting rid of her. In the last few minutes of the episode, Regina asks Emma to help her find Robin. The group then questions August on the whereabouts of the door where the author is located. He explains that the door isn’t just a picture of a door. It is THE door he is trapped behind. That means the Author is actually trapped in the book.

What do you think this episode means for Emma and Killian? Leave your theory in the comments below.

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