Enter the Mouse: Once Upon a Time, “The Apprentice”

True Love! Magic with a price, if almost never an actual price tag attached to it that would let you know whether it’s a bargain or not! Bad puns! Extremely convoluted family relationships! A sexy pirate and the savior who gives him a cell phone! And now, a reindeer! Yes, it’s another fantastic episode of ABC-Disney’s Once Upon a Time.



Disclaimer: The author of this post just happens to be a Disney Annual Passholder who owns not one, not two, not three, but four Mickey Mouse hats (including an oversized Mickey’s Sorcerer Hat currently sitting on top of some novels by Charles Dickens, for, er, reasons) which is totally cool whatever you might be thinking) who just this weekend went out for dinner with Walt Disney World employees cast members. She may therefore definitely therefore has Certain Thoughts about Mickey Mouse.

Previously on Once Upon a Time: Over in Fairy Tale Land, Anna went on a quest to find something to help her sister, and a trusting Elsa made friends with the Evil Dairy Queen, and no, I’m not talking about that place down the road that keeps tempting you to abandon healthy eating on a regular basis.

(Since this has come up, however, if you are going to abandon that healthy eating, Coldstone Creamery all the way, everyone, if you have one nearby. This has been your regular public service announcement from me, and may not reflect the viewpoints of everyone else at Tor.com, although it totally should.)

Over in Storybrooke, about half the town’s residents—that is, those on regular contracts, not guest star contracts—worked out that Elsa was not, in fact, responsible for throwing up the ice walls that are this season’s Reason Why No One Can Leave Storybrooke and Go on a Nice Cruise. The real villain: Dairy Queen, now the owner of a small ice cream shop. Her motives were unclear at best, but were perhaps related to fears that, now that the curse is gone and all that, the residents of Storybrooke are going to rush over to the nearest Coldstone Creamery or Ben & Jerry’s, totally putting her out of work. Or, maybe, Dairy Queen was trying to show Elsa that everyone is evil, which is why we should eat more ice cream. You decide. The rest of the residents—that is, those on guest star contracts—continued to uselessly chase after the wrong person, which may be a meta statement on their careers, or may not.

Meanwhile, Snow took over as mayor of the town; Emma and Hook totally made out again; and Robin Hood used Significant Looks to tell us—and Regina—that he was totally in love with her, something that might have gone over much better if they had not been standing right next to the freezing body of his wife, Maid Marian, at the time.

Cold, Robin Hood. Very cold.

And now, to Sunday’s Fantasia themed episode.

Over in Fairy Tale Land, back in the distant, distant past, an Evil Dude who looked just like a Sith Lord but apparently was just a Dark One had a face off with someone who looked just like Merlin but turned out to be just a Sorcerer’s Apprentice, despite totally rocking the Gandalf/Dumbledore look. After some surprisingly sensible arguments regarding the wisdom of leaving Valuable Ancient Objects under the care of a mere apprentice, the scene hurried forward to its main purpose: to assure us that for thousands and thousands of years, the various Dark Ones have had one, and only one, chief goal: Steal Mickey Mouse’s Hat.

Once Upon a Time The Apprentice

I am genuinely not making this up, though to be fair, the Mickey Mouse Hat on the show seems to be slightly more powerful than the ones Disney sells at the theme parks. Oddly enough, the Apprentice assures us that no evil one has ever succeeded in stealing the hat. The Apprentice has not been to Walt Disney World on certain nights, is all I’m saying.

A few thousand years later, Anna arrives at Rumple’s castle. Because apparently going from a cartoon to a live action role caused her to drop several levels of intelligence, she signed a contract with Rumple, agreeing to poison a perfectly harmless old man who occasionally ate children, at least according to Rumple. As it turned out, this was actually less Rumple’s attempt to poison the man, and more his attempt to:

1. Transform the man, who to the surprise of no one turned out to be The Apprentice, into—wait for it—a mouse. (Not The Mouse, at least, not yet, you understand. Just A Mouse.)

2. Obtain a single tear from someone who had faced her Inner Darkness and turned away. Hi, Anna! In general you seem too happy and cheerful to have any Inner Darkness but I’m sure if we tempt you to kill someone—ah, there’s the Darkness!

3. Free himself from the influence of the evil dagger while keeping all of his power.

I just want to stop here and point out that it is now canon that a Once Upon a Time character has accused Mickey Mouse of eating children. Let us move on.

Once Upon a Time The Apprentice

Anna, finally remembering that she had once been intelligent, forced Rumple to send her home, where she enjoyed some cute moments with Kristoff and Sven. Well. That was all useful, Anna.

Unanswered mysteries: Why is Anna believing one word of what Rumple says about her parents, given that he’s spent their entire acquaintance lying to her? Does Sven ever leave that stall?

Over in Storybrooke, Emma and Hook finally decided that sometimes, makeout sessions just ain’t enough, and agreed to go on a date already, a decision so shocking it actually trended on Twitter for a bit. This in turn made Hook decide to blackmail Rumple into giving him his hand back, which in turn led Rumple to reveal that quite apart from everything else, he’s also the sort of guy who keeps the severed hands of his enemies in nice glass jars. Probably for Christmas decorations. Since Rumple, unlike Hook, has actually watched Angel a few too many times, he managed to give a rather convincing speech about the Issues of Evil Hands. Hook, who either had never taken anyone up on that Netflix offer to catch up on genre shows, or who desperately wanted to be just half as evil and Lindsey, demands the hand back anyway. EVIL HAND, HOOK, EVIL HAND.

Once Upon a Time The Apprentice

Fortunately for Captain Swan fans, not even the evil hand was powerful enough to stop this date, or something even more shocking, more meaningful for the show, and by that I mean, of course, that Hook CHANGED HIS CLOTHES. I know. (For the record, in the new outfit? He looks even more like a vampire.) If you are doubting that any of this happened, and I, for one, can’t blame you, Snow took Polaroids. No, really, she did. In fairness, she could hardly be blamed for wanting proof of this.

Anyway, by what some might call coincidence, and others might call plot contrivance, Emma and Hook showed up at an Italian restaurant just as a lady and a tramp realized that they were eating the same strands of pasta. All together now, say AWWWW. A panicked Hook suddenly realized that quite apart from the Evil Hand problem, he had quite a lot to live up to.

Fortunately for the rest of the evening, Hook has slightly better luck than a certain archer over on another network who also went with Italian: Hook only has to deal with an Evil Hand and Will Scarlett, not a rocket launcher. Probably why, despite Evil Hand issues, he was still able to escort Emma home to hear her deliver one of the lines of the episode: “Do you wanna come in for coffee with my parents, a newborn, and a magic ice maker?” I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t just Hook’s newly evil side saying no to this offer. Or to the resulting makeout session, which I am reliably informed caused several viewers to NEED OXYGEN, STAT.

Alas, all this making out also set off Ominous Music and the Evil Hand, both of which totally got to Hook, who headed back to get Rumple to take off his hand again, which Rumple was totally willing to do as long as Hook helped him out with a certain broom issue. And by broom issue, I mean, the sudden appearance of one of the brooms from Fantasia who decided to march across Storybrooke as, I guess, brooms do, if that is, they march, which most of them don’t, but anyway, this particular broom marched happily across town, followed by Hook and Rumple, and in the best part, no one noticed.

Seriously, I mean, this show: Hook and Rumple follow a marching broom through the town, and nothing.

The broom, I must note, refused to stop and pick up any buckets of water. I guess even brooms have their limits. Anyway, this all ended up in the home of the Apprentice, where the broom collapses and Rumple shoved the Apprentice into Mickey’s Hat, in a scene that involved a lot of CGI and agonized looks and pain and danger and might, or might not, have been intended to conjure up a sense of how Disney treats some of its employees. Or people who get sucked into the pin trading store located right underneath Mickey’s Sorcerer Hat at Hollywood Studios. It’s kinda disturbing in either interpretation.

Once Upon a Time The Apprentice

After this Hook and Rumple engaged in some mutual unfriendly blackmail and Hook got his hook back but not his original pirate suit and if Rumple is to believed, which no, he isn’t, since he spent the entire episode lying to everyone, Hook is still totes evil. But sexy. That’s the important part. Sexy. And ready to make as many makeout gifs as Tumblr needs.

Elsewhere in Storybrooke, Will Scarlett popped up to remind you that he was recently totally on another, spinoff show, now available on Blu-Ray and DVD from many fine retail outfits; David absolutely refused to hear any details about his daughter’s date; poor Elsa spent yet another episode in the same uncomfortable blue dress, and at that, had a better episode than Dairy Queen, who spent the episode just leaving ice trails everywhere and not appearing on screen; Rip van Winkle begged the town to play some classical music to wake him up; Regina continued to search for a cure for Maid Marian, without success; and Henry, still questing for the author of the book, became Rumple’s apprentice. Rumple, smiling somewhat wistfully, handed his new apprentice the broom. Yes. That broom. Forcing the show to end on its hands down worst revelation yet:

Henry is actually Mickey Mouse.

No, show.


Mari Ness had to go look at her little Mickey Mouse hats to help her recover from that last scene. She lives in central Florida, visiting Disney World probably more frequently than she really should.


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