So much love between the two of them in this scene.
So much love between the two of them in this scene.
"I need you."
What I really want is you.
I have seen a couple of posts with excellent observations about yesterday’s interaction between Neal and Hook, and the question that comes to my mind is: is it intentional? What are the writers trying to say? Are we supposed to expect a major gamechanger when laser-guided karma finally bites Hook in his devilishly handsome ass, or is Neal really meant to be some sort of misplaced Candide, whose super optimism reaches the point of absurdity? What is the lesson here? ‘Be good at heart, and you will eventually triumph’, or ‘Be smart and charming, and all else will be forgiven?’
Meet Neal Cassidy
An accurate depiction of Neal Cassidy dealing with painful plot twists (Olaf gifs taken from this post)
Because, here is the thing. What surprises me about Neal is that he truly has a heart of gold, to the point of being gullible. The one and only grudge he seemed to have was towards Rumple, but even so, he did not turn into some sort of maniac and assassinated an entire village to get the upper hand. He did not burn any bridges behind him. He gave his father a hard time, but honestly - no matter how hard he tried to pretend he didn’t care, the truth is that he was looking just as forward to a reconciliation as Rumple was. Neal, at the end of the day, is full of love - and his resilience in the face of loss is actually impressive.
Other than Emma, I think he is the one who had most crap thrown at him, and yet… He seems to have developed a coping mechanism that is almost the opposite of Emma’s: while she refuses to trust, he refuses not to trust. He wants to believe things will eventually work out for him - to the point of becoming blind and deaf to some rather obvious betrayals *cough*Tamara*cough*. And amazingly enough, the one time in which he did not believe things would work out - when he learnt Emma was about to break the curse - he committed one of the worst mistakes of his life by taking the easy way out and not looking for her.
Still, the interaction between him and Hook last night reminds me that even though he’s seen what people are capable of: lying, abandoning, killing, betraying… for some reason, he still finds it in him to try and see the best in people. And I’m saying all of this because, at some point, I do believe Bae looked up to Hook to some extent, and lately, I have realized that in many ways grown-up Neal still holds some of that respect for the Captain of the Jolly Roger.
And then there is Hook.
That being said, I go back to the question I raised at the beginning of this post. How much of this is intentional? Hook is literally undermining Neal’s confidence when it comes to Emma, and in a very subtle and cruel way. His comment about the ‘dalliance’ in the cave, and his latest tease at Granny’s were heartless, to say the least. In a way, it shows Hook’s true colors: a man who’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants - even if that means hurting someone he once cared for. But it also shows how much of Hook’s bullshit Neal is internalizing - notice that after Hook plays “nice”, Neal always makes a bad move. First, it was a fight over a lighter. Now, calling Emma for a “chat” that turned into a “date” when it was obvious she was not ready for it yet.
Two strikes out.
In the meantime, Hook is getting wasted and bidding his time - pretty much all he has to do to get Emma, since Neal is actually the one who keeps “screwing up”. All he needs to do is to keep feeding Neal the eventual threat, “I’m in it for the long haul”, “We shared a kiss” while, at the same time, emotionally manipulating Neal into being grateful for his “good form”: “I’m backing off”, “Thanks for being so understanding” and blah blah blah.
And Neal is totally falling for it, to the point of THANKING Hook for the ‘chance’ he is being given with Emma.
There is a level of manipulation here that I’m not sure the writers want us to see. And if we are supposed to see it, I don’t know whether we are supposed to overlook it or if we should be taking notes because sooner or later this will be relevant to how the LT plays out.
Either way, it is obvious that the “game” is on. It actually began the moment Hook overheard Neal and Emma’s conversation after the Echo Cave. At that point, he must have realized that he was dealt a losing hand - he heard Emma saying she wanted to change the way she felt but couldn’t; he heard Neal say he would fight for her and obviously he knows they both love each other. The advantage was, and is, with Neal. He is the one with the straight flush, whereas Hook barely got himself an ace by helping the crowd get to Henry.
And so, we have been shown two moves that are very strategic - the talk in the cave and the one at Granny’s. I call them strategic because I don’t think they qualify as “cheating”, at least not according to Hook’s “code of honor” - whatever that might be. However, one thing is clear: he’s the one pulling the strings. Neal seems oblivious to it. Emma, too charmed by the captain’s “good form” and too overwhelmed and wary of Neal to see past Hook’s puppy eyes. The result of this sounds obvious to me.
At some point, Hook will get what he wants.
Now, what the price of that will be… is what I’m curious about.
Will he be celebrated when he and Emma finally ‘hook up’, and his morally debatable methods swept under the rug for the sake of a few hot kisses and a redemption arc?
Will the writers do justice to the past he shared with Bae, and make him realize that finding happiness by ruining Neal’s is not that much a good deal?
Will things eventually blow up on his face when he realizes love is not a game, and that what Neal and Emma have runs way too deep for it to simply disappear overtime?
I don’t really know, so go ahead, writers.