Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Sunday’s episode of Once Upon a Time. Read at your own risk!
Once Upon a Time finally revealed the shocking truth behind the death of David’s father — and a familiar face is to blame.
After a visit from the ghost of his father, David (Josh Dallas) was determined to find out what really happened to him. In short: With no money to feed both his sons, David’s drunkard of a father, Robert, made a deal with Rumple (Robert Carlyle) to basically sell his son to King George (Alan Dale). But young James ran away from the castle, ending up on Pleasure Island — a.k.a where little boys become donkeys in Pinocchio.
Regretting his decision, Robert sobered up and saved James, but King George’s men arrive to take the child back. Before they can kill Robert, however, Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) ambushes them. Oh yay, an ally! Oh wait, nope. Hook decidedly kills Robert, as he witnessed the pirate slaughtering King George’s men in order to steal the reward money. That’s right, Hook actually killed David’s father!
“I know, the bastard!” Dallas jokes to EW. In all seriousness, the actor thought the twist was brilliant because “Hook and David, over the past last season and coming into this season, they’ve grown closer, and they have a mutual respect for each other. David has really taken a liking to Hook.”
O’Donoghue concurs: “I thought it was an interesting thing to happen because they’re beginning to be friends and they’re beginning to develop a mutual respect. They like being around each other, and this throws everything for a curve ball, especially because Hook and Emma’s relationship is really developing into something special. Also, I was delighted that I was going to get to do more scenes like that with Josh.”
Robert’s murder serves as a reminder to viewers that Hook hasn’t always been a good guy. “It’s one of those ones where it’s like he could let him go,” O’Donoghue says. “David’s father sees him kill the king’s guards and so he’s like, ‘I can’t let you go because you’ve seen my face,’ and he kills him. It’s a pure villain moment, and much in the way that Regina, who is now redeemed, has actively ripped out people’s hearts and just crushed them in front of villagers. So it’s a similar type of thing where you get to see just how far Hook has come to get to be the man that he is now.”
For the moment, however, David is unaware that Hook is the true killer — believing King George is to blame, but being talked off the ledge from getting vengeance by Hook — which certainly makes things even more difficult for Hook in keeping this secret from both his friend and from the woman he hopes to marry. “It affects him deeply,” O’Donoghue says. “He has to struggle with the idea of whether or not to tell Emma, whether or not to tell David. Nobody else knows at all, so he could just let it go, but I think the Hook he is now feels that he has to, in some way, own it, but he’s also scared to do that. I mean, he’s lived hundreds of years as a pirate and somebody who keeps their cards very close to their chest, so he has to figure out how he’s going to do that. Whether or not he wants to tell is a big, big, big issue in a couple of the episodes.”
That’s because actually revealing that he killed Emma’s grandfather could spell doom for their relationship — the timing, naturally, isn’t ideal. Hook revealed to town therapist Archie that he’s already bought an engagement ring! “Should he tell her? Should he not tell her? How will she react if he does tell her? Is that going to be it? Is he prepared for that?” O’Donoghue ponders. “You see him struggle with all that and eventually it will come to a head where he makes a decision.”
“Hook is a changed man,” O’Donoghue stresses. “Obviously, he’s flawed and he’s done some really heinous things that he’s not proud of, but he’s definitely trying to be the best version of himself that he can be for Emma, because he really wants to change for her, make it work, try and be a hero and try to redeem himself in whatever way he can. This coming back up is a thing that really, I think, affects him and affects how he sees the ability to proceed with their relationship.”
The silver lining, however, is that David learning part of the truth behind his father’s fate provides a sense of closure. “Whether or not he was completely sober is up for debate,” Dallas says of Robert, “but he was trying his best, and I think the point of that whole thing, and what Once Upon a Time encapsulates with all these characters, is that we’re neither all good or all bad. We’re all just trying to do the best that we can. The more that he finds out about his father, that he realizes that he was a man who was just trying to do his best with what he had, and whether he had the tools to help them fix that or not at the moment isn’t really the point; the point is that he tried to make things better, and that’s admirable.”
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.