While an important subplot revolves around Regina (Lana Parrilla) beginning to properly teach Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) about magic, the majority of the storylines (both current and in flashbacks) of “The Jolly Roger” center around Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) and his interactions with the returning Ariel (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) once again in search of her missing Prince Eric.
In flashbacks to the missing year we witness Hook’s first meeting with the mermaid and the information which she provides which allows the pirate to reclaim the Jolly Roger from Black Beard (Charles Mesure), albeit at a cost of loosing Ariel’s prince. Unaware of their previous meeting, or anything that happened in the missing year, Ariel returns to Storybrooke enlisting the help of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), Hook, and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) to find Eric.
Playing on the struggles of Hook in the Enchanted Forest trying to reclaim his role as a pirate and now in Storybrooke in equal amounts of turmoil trying to fit into the role of a good man, “The Jolly Roger” offers a late twist courtesy of the Wicked Witch of the West (Rebecca Mader) who uses Hook’s guilt to curse the pirate. Should Hook ever kiss Emma again the kiss will strip her of the Savior’s magic allowing Zelena to finally do her harm.
Hook’s storylines weave together well, and even dovetail in the lesson he tries to impart to Emma about never being able to return to a former life when she mentions returning Henry to New York. We don’t get as much of Emma and Regina as I expected, but what we do see certainly shows why Zelena has reason to worry about the Savior and want to take her out of play as soon as possible. The subplot of the Charmings attempting to be cool for Henry (Jared Gilmore) is little more than filler, but it does continue to build on the relationship between the boy and the fairy tale icons he doesn’t realize are his grandparents.