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Sheila / November 30th, 2015

By Amy Ratcliffe Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

“Birth” answered several questions about Emma’s motivations but not all of them. “Broken Heart” filled in the gaps and showed Emma didn’t embrace darkness. Not really. She stumbled into it because of her decision to protect Hook. Love and fear pushed her into a corner, and she made a snap decision. It’s hard to blame her. If anything was going to push her over the edge, the loss of a loved one would be it (points to Snow for understanding Emma’s choice). On the other hand, Hook being the reason behind the curse and death of Merlin undermines Emma. She hasn’t been the Dark One to her core, just superficially, and it feels like a waste.

Hook’s fall has me conflicted, too. It’s a delight to see Colin O’Donoghue as an even more evil version of his former self. The way he plays the villain is right up there with Rebecca Mader’s Zelena — man, those two characters need to team up more. However, his actions happened too quickly and too drastically. Emma grounded him, but then the second he found out she lied about Excalibur, he lost it. What? Sure, his background is different than Emma’s; he’s been a villain before and is probably more susceptible to the Darkness’s influence. It was still rushed.

It’s not like Hook committed some small crime. He killed Merlin and crushed the oldest heart of them all. We needed at least another episode of him struggling before getting to such a high level of badness. It was too much too fast. His desire for revenge is strong, and his love for Emma was the only reason it was under control — I get it. No matter how I try to rationalize it, I can’t make it add up.

Hook’s rash actions did lead to the most interesting cliffhanger of the season. All the Dark Ones have arrived to Storybrooke. The herd of Dark Ones (a group of Dark Ones probably has a cooler label than “herd’) is arguably one of the most serious threats our characters have faced. No pressure, but the battle and resolution have a lot to live up to.

The return of vengeful Hook also brought a fight between him and Rumplestiltskin. After saving Belle from Merida, Rumple’s mettle was tested here and he surprised me. He stayed true to his now heroic nature and opted to duel without magic to make it fair. He took only himself to face Hook, and it was a brave move. It was hilarious and fitting that the only way Rumple won was because another version of himself distracted Hook; his victory wouldn’t have made sense without some sort of outside help.

His triumph led to the most satisfying scene of the episode. Rumple is finally a man who deserves Belle’s love, but she said no. Belle has been lied to by this man repeatedly to the point where it was emotionally abusive. Not anymore though. She stood up for herself and her heart, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. It’s a position all too many of us can relate to, and it had to be a hard decision to make. She took such a forward leap.

Regina inched forward, too. She’s still cautious with her sister, but she saw another path and she’s being the bigger person. Let’s hope motherhood isn’t all that changes the Wicked Witch. Zelena wins for best quote of the episode with “Once you go green, you’ll never go queen.”

The Verdict

This week’s Once won the day in the small moments. Years of fleshing out characters and their relationships paid off in scenes like the one with Henry and Emma reconciling and Regina bringing Zelena over for a visit with her daughter. We got to see Belle stand up for herself, and we saw the biggest threat of them all introduced. But as far as Emma and Hook are concerned, the story fell short. Hook’s fall was too rushed and sort of undermined Emma’s turn to the dark side.

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Sheila / November 16th, 2015

There’s nothing like two hours of Once Upon A Time to end your weekend the right way. I mean, this show literally has everything. There’s magic, swordplay, warriors, werewolves, pretty much every Disney character, and even more than that. Once really has it all, and there was a lot of it on display in this week’s double serving. Good thing there’s something for everyone, right?

This week on Once Upon A Time: Emma’s plan starts to take shape. Hook finds out everything that happened in Camelot. Emma’s spell expedites the growth of Zelena’s baby, causing it to be born. In Camelot, Emma works to save her loved ones from Zelena and Arthur. Merida, along with her allies Ruby and Mulan, seek the helmet her father wore in his final battle.

For starters, I’m very glad that Captain Hook had plenty to do this week. For the last few seasons, he’s provided a lot of witty comments and smoldering looks, but the story has been focused elsewhere. To have him and Emma reconcile their dark pasts and just get together would be WAY too easy, so I’m really glad that they have to earn it. Hook’s “dark side” hasn’t come out for a few seasons now, so I’m hoping it will get to stay for awhile. Colin O’Donoghue does a great job with the role, and I’m excited to see it expand.

Did Dark Emma seem a little different to anyone else this week? She seemed a little more affected and intentional in her dialogue. Perhaps it’s just something I haven’t noticed previously. But “Dark Emma” from Storybrooke and “Emma” from Camelot really seemed like two different people in this episode. Just an observation. Might’ve been a subtle nod at the shift in perspective that came with the reveal about Hook, but I’m still not entirely sure I didn’t imagine it.

Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed seeing Ruby and Mulan (and Dr. Whale in his iZombie hair) back again, but I’m not sure that their reintroduction was totally organic. It felt pretty forced. However, I’m willing to extend my suspension of disbelief if it means we get to see more of these incredibly talented actresses. Ruby, Mulan, and Merida are all rich characters with lots of story possibilities. Perhaps we will get to see a female band of Merry Men-like characters? That would be a fun way to continue using them. I thought the story reached a little bit to include them, but as they say on the internet, I ain’t even mad.

Overall, I’m really liking the story and where it’s going. Dark Emma and now Dark Hook battling against Zelena and heroic Rumpelstiltskin and King Arthur. It SOUNDS overcrowded, but it doesn’t feel that way at all. It’s actually quite exciting and feels fresh, but still true to the show. If you have been following the news about Once Upon A Time, it sounds like they are casting for Hercules characters including Hades. Now, here’s my insane fan theory: Hook (or Emma) dies, and Season 5B is about saving him/her from the underworld. Thoughts?

“Birth” and “The Bear King” were a solid couple of episodes that brought the excitement to a season-high level. I’m so pumped to see where the series goes from here.

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Sheila / November 16th, 2015

By Amy Ratcliffe Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

Tonight’s Once Upon a Time was a two-hour special, but since the episodes are only connected by a thread, we’re reviewing them separately [You can find our review of the second half, “The Bear King” by clicking here]. The first hour, “Birth,” took place in Storybrooke and Camelot and tackled the all-important subject of why Emma became Dark Swan. After all this time waiting without any hints, so much happened so quickly that it felt rushed. Still, they took what could have been a mundane motivation and made it more impactful.

The unsurprising part of the equation is Hook was involved. After we saw what happened with Merlin and Nimue, it was the obvious guess a threat to Hook would somehow be involved in making Emma decide to embrace darkness. And he was part of her transformation. They decided to closely parallel the Nimue plot by turning Hook into another Dark One, and since we didn’t know that was technically possible, it was a shock. It’s cruel to turn Hook into the thing he has fought against for decades, first with Rumplestiltskin and then with Emma. This brings all sorts of potential to the table for Hook’s development and if they stick with it, gives Colin O’Donoghue the opportunity to stretch his legs as a different kind of villain.

O’Donoghue gave a strong display of some of his acting chops tonight. He was compelling and sort of scary as angry Hook and also incredibly adorable in scenes with Emma (pre-Dark Swan Emma, obviously). Their relationship is believable, and given how Emma has affected his path, it’s easy to see why Hook would want things to work out between them and want to help her. After he went on about his own past at length and promised forgiveness for anything Emma had done, he not only turned his back on Emma but made a move to team up with Zelena against her. Huh?

Sure, Emma turned Hook into something he hates. How did he not know he was a Dark One? Erasing his memory shouldn’t have erased the darkness inside him. Weren’t other Dark Ones trying to talk to Hook in the same way they were talking to Emma? Hopefully we’ll learn more about those details in the future. Logistics aside, Hook overreacted to what Emma did. Yes, her decision to save him by making him the Dark One wasn’t ideal, but how can he not recognize he’d do the same if he were in her shoes? It didn’t ring true.

Regina, however, acted in character in regards to her response to Emma. She took a tough love approach that fits right in with what we know about her and continued on her heroic path by saving Zelena despite the fact she probably didn’t truly want to. Bonus: Regina got to crack the best joke by asking Dr. Whale about his dye job.

Emma’s needs with Zelena were a switch, too. She happily didn’t want the baby, and it was a nice balance for her to use dark magic to save an innocent life. As far as what she wanted to do with Zelena, you have to admit it was at least well thought out. How awful would her plan be, really? Zelena does nothing but try to cause pain and harm others, and while it’s not Emma’s job to be judge and jury, you can certainly see where she’s coming from — which is an interesting angle to explore.

The Verdict

The first installment of tonight’s two-part yet separate Once Upon a Time episodes addressed nearly all the questions about the whys and hows of Emma’s decision. Hook was an obvious choice, but the part about him also becoming a Dark One was an unexpected move and a smart way to twist the story. It was weird to follow the big reveal with a barely related adventure starring Merida though.

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Sheila / October 24th, 2015

Spotlight on The Dust Storm movie & interview with co-director Ryan Lacen + actress Kristen Gutoskie

Last Thursday, I got to hang out with the filmmakers of The Dust Storm, Ryan Lacen and Anthony Baldino and chat about their film. The intimate romance drama is set in Nashville, starring ABC’s Once Upon A Time‘s Colin O’Donoghue and The CW’s Containment‘s Kristen Gutoskie. Both Anthony & Ryan are so friendly and fun to be around, two of the nicest people one would’ve had the privilege to hang out with! We went to Cooper’s Irish Pub across the street from Showplace ICON Theater, which is the kind of pub I’m sure the lead actor Colin, an Irishman, would surely love!

Twin Cities Film Fest film review
Romantic films are tricky because it’s SO easy to get into corny and mushy territory when it’s not handled well (*cough* Nicholas Sparks *cough*). But the smaller, more intimate romance dramas like the Before Sunrise trilogy, John Carney’s Once, can be truly moving and heartfelt.

The Dust Storm follows that similar formula, focusing more on the characters and how the sudden presence in each other’s life irrefutably change them. I also love the premise of lost love, the idea that there’s a history between the characters and how tough it can be for someone to let go.

I’m not going to go into the story as it’s best that you discover Brennan and Nora when you see it for yourself. I do want to comment on the performances and the wonderful chemistry of the two actors. I’ve only seen Colin in a few episodes of Once Upon A Time where he plays this swashbuckling, sexy pirate, so it’s interesting to see him display his vulnerable side. Brennan wears his heart on his sleeve so much he may seem rather weak or even clingy, but you can’t help but sympathize with him. It’s apparent that he was hurt deeply in the past and the more I spend time with the two characters, it’s easy to see why. Nora is this beautiful, carefree and confident woman who’s effortlessly dominant in a relationship. I have to admit I don’t always like either characters, but yet I still find myself drawn into their whirlwind time together.

One thing I noticed is there’s a TON of drinking in this movie, I guess as I don’t like alcohol it’s hard to relate to that but in a way it explains to the state of mind of the characters. Some drink for fun, and some drink to escape and I think in the case for Brennan & Nora, it’s the latter. The film certainly works largely thanks to the wonderful casting of Colin and Kristen, and Jim O’Heir also provide a great supporting turn as Brennan’s colleague. He’s definitely the comic relief here.

I think Colin’s fans would love seeing him here, given that he’s pretty much on every scene and he also gets to sing & play guitar. He’s clean cut in most of the film, but don’t worry, there are scenes of him w/ some scruff as well 😉 Both he and Kristen have such a lovely voice and the musical aspect is used well in the film. Nashville itself is pretty much a character in itself too, taking advantage of the city’s vibrant music scene in the way Dublin was in Once. The title is definitely perfect to describe how something or someone in this case can come into your life unexpectedly and you can’t control the effect it has in your life. Brennan is definitely engulfed, if you will, in the emotion he has for Nora. The story is definitely relatable as who hasn’t dealt with a broken heart in their life.

Interview with Kristen Gutoskie

What’s it like working with Colin O’Donoghue, who has a music background being that he was in a band? Did you have a lot of rehearsal together prior to (or during) filming?
Colin is one of the most generous actors. He is a leader on set and very humble. It was wonderful working with him. As for music rehearsal, we didn’t rehearse much at all. Sang the songs a few times, and recorded them and that was it. We did jam a lot on set, which was a blast, there was always a guitar or ukulele on stand by and we would make up songs between takes. For scene work, Colin and I ran lines the night before and rehearsed quite a bit on set.

Lastly, what’s your favorite moments filming The Dust Storm? Please share a tidbit (or two) from the set that you find memorable.
Hard to narrow that one down. The whole experience was an absolute blast. An amazing team of people to work with. But if I haaave to I would say lip syncing and dancing to “Hows it Gonna Be” by Third Eye Blind (performed by I believe Red Wine Hangover?? Confirm with Ryan), singing a ukulele duet with Colin, and screaming our lungs out on top of the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge during an argument scene and scaring random people walking by haha!

Interview with Ryan Lacen

In terms of casting how did you come to cast Colin and Kristen? Did they audition for the roles?
Colin O’Donoghue we had known for his work in The Rite (starring opposite Anthony Hopkins) and Once Upon a Time. Jessica Sherman arranged for us to meet him at a coffee shop in LA to discuss the project. He had such strong convictions about where he saw the character of Brennan, a lot of it was a tad bit darker and more brooding that we had originally envisioned, but Colin sold us on his take of where this musician was, this guy who had been “rocked” by this girl years previously.

The next step was to put him and Kristen in a room to see how their chemistry would be together. The first introduction in the room was polite and rather quiet between the pair but the second we called “action” they jump started our heart-beat and this chemistry was ignited. By the time the scene was done, we knew – we had a movie!

Did you specifically want actors that could sing?
Colin spent years touring with the band The Enemies so we were familiar with his guitar work – which is incredible – but we hadn’t had the opportunity to hear him sing. Jessica sent us a couple raw samples to give us an idea, but it was when he sat down to play one of the songs that our music supervisor Kat Meoz wrote for the film that we were hooked! His voice was soft but also complicated and a bit tortured.

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Naomi / October 16th, 2015

There’s a new bromance in Storybrooke!
As fans saw in the final moments of last week’s Once Upon a Time, a desperate Captain Hook turned to fellow lovelorn Robin Hood to help him discover just what Emma is hiding behind that locked door in her house—and the team-up comes to the absolute delight of one half of Hobin (Rook? This ship name might need some work.), Sean Maguire. The erstwhile Merry Men leader tells E! News that he’s looking forward to many, many more adventures with Colin O’Donoghue’s Hook.

“All I can say is I hope we see a lot more of it because Colin’s one of my best friends and I love him to death and I think he’s a terrific actor,” Sean tells us. “So it’s a double pleasure to film scenes with him because we just get along so well.”
Robin and Hook joining forces is just one example of showrunners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz’s desire to put together characters we haven’t often seen work as duos in seasons past, much like Hook’s team-up with Henry (Jared Gilmore) in the season premiere. With that in mind, who else might Maguire want his character to team up with next?

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Naomi / September 27th, 2015

We did hear recently this week that Hook and Henry are going to be teaming up to save Emma, so I was curious what we can expect to see with those two as they build a stepfather/stepson relationship.

Kitsis: I think they got it going last year during Operation Mongoose part 1 and 2. I think Hook, he saw that Henry was a capable young hero on the rise, and I think we’re going to see that this year. I think this is a year where we’re going to see Henry go from being a kid to being a young man. I think he’s really grown up and the stories that we’re telling about him this year reflect that.

I’m glad you mentioned that, because since its premiere, Once has been known for breaking stereotypes with its depiction of female heroines from Snow White to Mulan (PS by the way, very excited that Jamie Chung is coming back), and last week Entertainment Weekly announced that you’ll be continuing to break the mold with what is essentially the first mainstream LGBT fairy tale character. This is obviously a major change for pop culture, it’s going to allow people from teens to grandparents to see themselves reflected in this genre for the first time. Given the significance of this, I have to ask if this story is going to play out in a way that’s more than lip service.

Horowitz: I don’t know what you mean by ‘lip service’ but what I can say is that we want the story to be awesome and well-done and a surprise.

Kitsis: I would say this: we’re going to tell you a love story that happens to be not between a man and a woman. We are going to tell it no different than [how] we told Snow and Charming, Regina and Robin Hood, or Emma and Captain Hook, because love is very important on our show, and that’s what the show is about. And as far as ‘lip service,’ I’m not sure what that means, but what I can tell you is that we’re going to set it up in the first half of the season, and the story’s going to play out in the second half of the season, and we are treating it no different than any other love story. Even though, as you say, this may be the first time for this and that, for us, we’ve always respected love, and that’s how we’re dealing with it.

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Naomi / September 25th, 2015

Turning to Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), what’s Emma’s reaction to him trying to save her? Could he be the one thing that helps her hold onto hope?
Yeah. It’s interesting because, so far, what you’ll see is that Henry (Jared Gilmore) is Emma’s kryptonite as Dark Swan, because that love is so pure and so strong and similar to how Baelfire (Michael Raymond-James) was kryptonite to Rumple’s Darkness. There was something about that bond that makes it hard to completely lean into the Darkness, and so I would say Henry has the most powerful effect on keeping her from wanting to lean into the Darkness. And then Hook is the next most powerful force after that in the sense that she does truly love him, and she doesn’t stop loving him just because she’s now the Dark One, similar to how Rumple continued to love Belle (Emilie de Ravin) even though he was the Dark One. She does still have genuine love for him, but that’s mixed in with her new capacity for manipulation and for selfishness.

It’s always a complicated thing between Dark Swan and Hook because it’s a mixture of her true feelings with her new capacity for these darker deeds. It’s a complicated dance whenever Emma’s dealing as the Dark Swan with Hook because her feelings are true, but her decision making is based in a bad place now. That clearly affects them, and it clearly affects whether or not he can trust her decision making, and he knows that because he has been dark, and he was a villain at some point. He knows better than anyone what it’s like to struggle with that. I don’t think that there’s any concern about them loving each other. I know that he’s going to fight with all it takes to try to save her, and he’s not going to be put off by the fact that she’s dark. He knows what she did and why she did it, and he knows what they’re all up against, and I think he’s going to really lead the struggle to do all that everyone can to redeem her and bring her back from the Darkness.

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Naomi / April 10th, 2015

Are Once Upon a Time‘s Emma and Killian/Hook listed anywhere on TVLine’s May Sweeps Scorecard? –Bridget
Bound as I am by the strict rules of May Sweeps Scorecard Intel Gathering, I can only tell you this: Once has an entry in four, possibly five, of the categories.

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Who Is Colin?

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Colin O’Donoghue is an Irish actor/musician. He was born in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland on January 26th, 1981. He is best known for his role as Captain Hook in Once Upon a Time and his role as Michael Kovak in the Rite.

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Current Projects
Once Upon A Time
Colin as Hook/Killian Jones
Status: Season 7
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'Once Upon a Time' tells the story of a new world, one in which fairy tales and modern-day life collide.

What Still Remains
Colin as Peter
Status: Post-production
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After the loss of her family, a young woman struggles to survive in a world long-since destroyed by disease; but when a lonely traveler offers her a place in his community, she must decide if the promise of a better life is worth the risk of trusting him.
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Convention Schedule


Creation Entertainment Vancouver – March 16-18, 2018
Creation Entertainment Chicago – April 20-22, 2018
Creation Entertainment Orlando – June 1-3, 2018
 

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