Well Oncers, this was an episode with a lot of things I cannot stand (Snow and Charming’s gushy optimism) but also some things that I absolutely adore (Rumbelle and Hook’s everything). Read on and let me know what you thought.
We start with Rumple building himself a cozy campfire using his magic. Then he makes quick work of hacking off his shadow using his Dark One dagger. Once his shadow is loose, he gives it his dagger to hide from everyone including himself but mostly Pan.
While Rumple continues on his own, the Storybrooke 5 are tromping through the brush. Regina again establishes her place as the most objective and snarkiest of the lot. “You know, I could’ve just poofed us up here in an instant.” So true Evil Queen, but Hook insists it is safer to travel on foot. Safe from the poisoned thorns that Charming really wants to cut through? Guess they can just take the long way ‘round.
Emma and Snow have an awkward talk about the fact that Emma still calls her mom “Mary Margaret.” Snow suggests “Mom,” Once audiences suggest “Snow,” but Emma thinks the former should be saved for life or death situations and the former for never. So Mary Margaret it is then?
We again hear about Peter Pan’s wickedness from Hook, who says he’s the most treacherous villain. The company comes to a cliff (maybe the same one as Henry from last episode) and stare at the Dark Forest below. Time to make camp and head for the forest tomorrow.
Now we get our first Fairytale flashback in season three. Charming has just kissed Snow awake from her poisoned slumber and the Queen is peeved. Snow tries to drum up an army among villagers with little success, especially after Regina comes along to threaten everyone. She also offers a deal: Snow gives up the throne and the land and she can go with Charming (and the Dwarves) back to the faux prince’s farm. “You may have been a princess but you will never be a Queen,” Regina says.
Back in the Neverland camp, Emma is tossing and turning because the woods are full of wailing/chirping/crying. Everyone else snoozes on peacefully even when Pan himself interrupts Emma’s surveillance. She immediately puts a knife to his throat. Pan is unfazed and assures her that Henry is safe. He even gives Emma a map that will lead her straight to Henry once she figures out how to use it. For now, the map is blank.
Returning from commercial Emma is studying the not-yet-a-map map. “Once I stop denying who I am, we’ll be able to read this thing,” she says in reference to Pan’s instructions. This seems like a good ploy on Pan’s part because Emma is pro at denial. Regina wisely points out that the longer they spend talking about the map the longer it takes them to find Henry but no one seems to care.
Hook wins some points with Charming for siding with the prince who insists on letting Emma do her thing. “I’m winning you over,” Hook says. “I can feel it.”
Snow gives her daughter a little pep talk that transitions into another flashback. Here Charming is urging Snow to fight Regina but the princess is set on leaving to live happily ever after. She scurries off while her fiance gets a talking to from the dwarves. They aren’t convinced he has their princess’ best interests at heart. “That chiseled chin ain’t foolin us,” says Grumpy. “We’ve got our eye on you.”
The path of honest communication failing, Charming decides to take a different route and visits Rumplestiltskin for some help (i.e. trickery). The gleeful Dark One tells the prince about a mythical weapon that could help Snow White but offers little other help. “Belief must come from within,” Rumple says.
In the present, Rumple is in need of some help himself. He hears a rustling in the woods and he snags the hooded figure darting away from his camp. He whips back to the hood to find: it’s Belle.
She questions Rumple’s Dark One attire and just as they’re going to kiss, he snaps to. How did she get here, he wonders, and how does he know this isn’t a trick? She says he conjured a vision of her. “The question is: why?” she asks. Indeed, Belle.
Meanwhile, Emma is telling the map her life story starting with Boston and Storybrooke and then going into her fairytale backstory. Why she isn’t at least trying, “I solemnly swear I am up to no good” is unclear. But wait, she finally says she’s the Savior and the music swells as everyone moves closer for a look…at the still blank map. An exasperated Regina snatches it and does a spell to turn it into a homing device to lead them to Pan.
Belle leads Rumple to yet another Neverland cliff. They adorably bicker and she gets him to finally admit that he feels like he’s a coward, like his father. She reminds him of the good she sees in him and he reveals that Pan offered him a deal: let go of Henry and Rumple can live. Rumple is afraid he’ll ultimately take the deal. He clutches the wicker doll from last episode and we learn it’s the last thing his father gave him before he abandoned him. Rumple heeds Belle’s advice to let go of the past and drops the doll off the cliff.
Not too long after, Rumple again hears something in the brush but it’s just his wicker doll being thrown back to him from the sky. He burns and crushes the doll but it comes back yet again. So he pockets it. Curiouser and curiouser.
Regina is feeling pretty confident in her spell but everyone else is skeptical. Including me. Snow’s unfailing optimism is ticking off Emma as much as every single viewer. It’s almost a relief when they come upon a camp and find a very disappointed Pan. He unleashes his seemingly never-ending supply of Lost Boys. Felix and the Captain clash hook and club and we get this gem from Hook: “Remember what I did to Rufio? Well, it’s a far worse fate for you!”
Charming takes a arrow graze for Snow (but he’s totally fine because he’s a macho man) and Emma pins a Lost Boy but lets him go when he starts to cry. With a whistle Pan calls his soldiers back to him and reminds Emma that she has the power, to reveal the map that is.
In Fairyback, Charming and Snow enjoy some time alone together searching for, you guessed it, Excalibur. Oh please. Coming upon the sword in the stone he says, “Only the kingdom’s true ruler possesses the strength to reveal the blade.” She pulls out the blade with ease. Again I say, oh please.
Snow and Co. meet the Queen so Snow can reject her offer. Regina force chokes Grumpy in retaliation and the princess cuts her stepmother’s cheek with Excalibur. This moment serves as a reminder: Snow in the Enchanted Forest is a warrior. Too bad Snow in Neverland is whiny, annoying nuisance who is currently helping Emma figure out who she is. Emma tearfully admits that she’s a “lost girl” who cried herself to sleep as a child because she wanted her parents. Even now with mom and dad at her side, Emma still feels like an orphan. With that, the map comes to life.
Fairyback. Snow wanders through the forest with Excalibur and calls for Rumple. They discuss the terms of Charming’s deal and Rumple crushes Snow’s hopes by revealing that her sword is a fake. Charming is in sooo much trouble. Snow confronts him but softens when Charming tells her that he did it to help her realize that she has the strength to lead/rule. Sidebar: In my original notes this said, “he did it to help her realize that she has the blah blah blah to blah blah.” Same thing basically.
Equipped with a now functioning map, Hook tells the group that they have a rough road ahead. Regina still isn’t on board with letting Emma take charge but consents to stick around. Before they leave, Emma has a last private chat with Pan. He’s dressed in the more traditional Peter Pan garb and it’s fantastic. He points out that Emma hasn’t forgiven her parents and pleasantly reports that this will help her understand Henry when she finds him. Because Henry hasn’t forgiven Emma for putting him up for adoption. In fact, by the time she finds him, Pan says Henry won’t want to leave the island.
The news only gets worse for Emma. “When we’re finished you won’t just feel like an orphan,” Pan hisses. “You’ll be one.” Maybe sooner than she thinks. Charming inspects his just-a-flesh-wound from before and finds the scratch is definitely infected with poison.
-So the poison on the thorns in Neverland is what Hook put on his hook and used to nearly kill Rumple. Nice callback Once.
-Charming decides to pay Rumple a visit and returns, presumably, the same day. Does the Dark Castle just move closer to anyone who wants to come a-knocking?
-Rumple, in response to Snow refusing to let Charming be in the Dark One’s debt: “How nauseatingly romantic.”
-Line that made me giggle with glee? Pan to Hook: “Bad form.”
-Another fantastic Captain Swan exchange when Hook tells Emma everything she knows about Pan isn’t true.
Hook: “In these stories, what was I like? Other than a villain. Handsome, I gather.”
Emma: “If waxed mustaches and perms are your thing.”
Hook: “I take it from your tone perms are bad.”
-Some Oncers are theorizing that Pan wants Henry because magic is dying in Neverland. Anyone care to comment?