I have to tell you Oncers, I’m starting to worry about our magical show. We spend yet another episode in Neverland and seem to get very little accomplished once again toward the goal of rescuing Henry (who doesn’t even appear in “Ariel” though that might be an improvement really). We do however get confirmation yet again that Regina is the best character (and actress) on Once and that Rumple hasn’t completely lost his ability to put together a deal or a plan. Oh and of course, there’s Ariel, whose flashback story is really somewhat pointless until the plot at then end calls for her.
So we start in the old Enchanted Forest where Snow White is running away from Regina’s guards. She skids to a halt at a cliff overlooking the ocean but then takes a daring leap into the waters where she is recued by a red-headed mermaid, Ariel.
In Neverland, Regina is pushing Emma to concentrate to use her magic. Ms. Savior doesn’t want to use her anger as a trigger, which makes sense since she was about to use love every other time but she apparently doesn’t remember that. See, Rumple, this is why they need you. The Queen is disgusted with Emma’s reluctance, saying, “You’re such a pathetic waste of ability.” This fires up Emma’s temper and the campfire she was trying to magic.
Regina is pleased while Emma’s parents are trying not to be too mortified. They get a nice bit of distraction from Hook who, in a show of surprising honesty, tells them about Neal. While the men agree that not telling Emma until they’re sure about Neal’s alive or dead state, Snow feels uncomfortable lying to her daughter. Personally, I think she should embrace this opportunity to make up for missed chances to lie to her kid about things like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
Back in the Enchanted Forest, Ariel and Snow gab about boys. Seems the mermaid fell in love at first sight with land-Prince Eric when she saved him from a shipwreck a year ago. She also reveals that she’s got plans for a night on two legs by lifts her fins onto the land where they transform. Apparently, the sea witch Ursula grants mermaids the ability to have legs for 12 hours every high tide and this one coincides with Ursula’s Ball, which Eric will attend.
Neverland. The Charmings and Hook are trying to make a getaway from the camp but their poor planning makes Emma suspicious. So Snow just blurts it out: Neal’s alive.
After commercial, we get some quality time with Rumple, who is struggling to see into future. Then Pan pops up to offer him some breakfast and inform the dealmaker that he can’t see the future in a place where time stands still. Duh. He tells Rumple to just leave the island because even if he saved Neal and Henry no one will forgive him for all the evil he’s done. Go back to Belle and make a new start, Pan advises.
While Rumple contemplates his cowardice, the company is arguing about looking for Neal. Regina, once again speaking for the audience, says, “This is a waste of time.” Snow tells Emma that she owes it to Henry and herself to find out if Neal’s alive but the Queen is fed up with making no progress on finding their son. She goes off on her own while everyone else heads off to find Neal. They better hurry too because as Pan and Felix watch them from afar, it’s decided to move the captive Neal to the Echo Cave.
Enchanted Forest. Ariel and Snow show up to a ball in ill-fitting dresses and spend a little time reviewing their etiquette lessons. Ariel delightfully calls a salad fork a salad trident before spotting Eric, who immediately notices her too. She trips over herself on the way to meet him but he asks her to dance anyway. He says he remembers her face from his dreams about the shipwreck and from a vision Ursula showed him of his future. In the quickest proposal in fairytale history, he asks her to come with him to explore the world when he leaves tomorrow morning.
In her castle, Regina uses her mirror and one in Eric’s ballroom to watch Snow and the mermaid at the party. After killing one of her guards for failing to capture that pesky princess, the Queen hatches a new plan. Commercial.
Rumple is all pensive with his childhood doll in hand and Vision Belle at his side. She tells him to come home and start a family with her. Though he shrugs her off as a figment of his imagination, she places a hand on his cheek and asks him to take her hand to come home. Just as he’s about to fall for it, Regina pops up to use her force choke on Belle. While Rumple protests and Belle collapses, Regina proves to be right as the beauty turns into the Shadow. Rumple is horrified and rightly so. He almost kissed that thing a few episodes ago.
On the path to find Neal, Emma confesses to her mom about her epic lip lock with Hook. Snow is sweetly shocked, like a mother hearing her daughter say she made out with the school bad boy. She assures Emma that Neal will understand and says that she wants her daughter to have a happily ever after. This can apparently only happen with Neal and not Hook.
Enchanted Forest. Snow is encouraging Ariel to run off with Eric because love and hope and blah blah blah. Ariel, looking for some legitimate advice, goes down to the sea to speak with Ursula …who says nothing. Because she doesn’t exist. That is, until tentacles appear and Regina/Ursula greets Arie-el.
Back from commercial, Regina and Rumple try to make a pact to work together but the Dark One isn’t interested. Why would Regina want to partner with him anyway? “I care because I’ve been camping with the Charmings for a week and getting nowhere.” She should be lucky it’s only been a week; we’ve been suffering through this for a month. When Rumple asks what she’s got to bring to this team-up she points out, “Well for starters, it seems I’m saving your ass.” And this show.
But seriously, Rumple is scared because saving Henry means killing Pan and himself in the process and dammit he doesn’t want to die. Though she rolls her eyes and promises that the only way Rumple will die is by her own hand, Regina sympathizes enough to suggest thinking of a plan that doesn’t include killing the little twerp. The two most powerful sorcerers put their brains together and Rumple says he’s got just what they need to capture Pan. Only problem is, it’s in his shop in Storybrooke and cross realm traveling isn’t as easy as Apparating.
Back with “Ursula” and Ariel, the sea witch promises that the mermaid the use of her legs forever. Ariel scurries back to Snow to share Ursula’s gift: a bracelet that gives Snow Ariel’s fins so that Ariel can keep her legs. The princess is mortified and tries to explain that Ursula isn’t real but Regina strides up to make the explanation even easier. Ariel’s sweet, naïve face looks troubled. I launch into a rendition of “Poor Unfortunate Soul.”
In Neverland, the Charming company find the unguarded Echo Cave, which Hook knows from his past experience on the island. You must reveal your deepest secrets in the cave to make it through. Once they do this however, Pan will know their secrets and the revelations may tear apart the group as well.
Flashing back again, Regina gloats over Snow’s fins while Ariel tries to decide between helping her friend and getting her prince. With Snow’s blessing Ariel leaves, only to return in time to save her from Regina’s force choke of evil. She stabs the Queen with the salad trident and she and Snow swim away while Regina fumes. Commercial.
Inside the Echo Cave, the company finds Neal in his cage trapped on a pillar 300 feet into the center of the room. They have to reveal their secrets to create a bridge and, in another surprise of the night, Hook starts. He kissed Emma, which only Charming finds shocking, but his secret is that he’s in love with Emma. Snow follows that with a long tale about not feeling like a mother to Emma and basically wanting to start over with another baby. Charming says that can’t happen with him because he had to find a cure for his Dreamshade poisoning and that a cure will keep him stuck on Neverland.
Combined these secrets give Emma a stone bridge to get to Neal and she starts hacking away at the cage to no effect. So she reveals her secret: she wasn’t happy to find out Neal was alive because even though she loves him she doesn’t want to deal with the pain of potentially losing him again. The cage dissolves and they embrace.
Coming out of the cave, Hook despondently asks Neal if he can get them off the island. He can, as soon as they get Henry. As they head off to find Tinker Belle, who is important for a reason I can’t remember, Neal comforts Emma. He understands her feelings but says he’s never going to stop fighting for her. A crushed Hook overhears.
Enchanted Forest. Safe away from Regina, Snow says Ariel must go tell Eric the truth. The mermaid arrives before he takes off but her cries go unnoticed by the prince. Regina has stolen her voice to keep her from her true love. The only thing worse than telling him her secret, is never being able to tell him, Regina says. Damn that’s cold.
In her castle the real Ursula who warns Regina against ever impersonating her again.
Neverland. Rumple and Regina return to the water where Neal summoned the squid. But Regina summons Ariel instead and offers her permanent legs if she helps them. Mermaids can travel between realms, you see, and they need an object from Mr. Gold’s Pawn Shop. Also, Eric lives in Storybrooke. So Ariel’s pretty much game.
I know we’re going for continuity with Snow’s Enchanted Forest outfit, but the whole She-RA thing is getting a little old. Give the girl something else to wear!
Speaking of, why is Ginnifer Goodwin’s hair so short in Neverland. Josh Dallas has longer hair than her!
Can we just take a moment to acknowledge that the hand that grabs Snow underwater to save her is definitely a man’s hand and not a dainty mermaid hand?
While I enjoyed Ariel’s collection of random human artifacts cute, it was far too forced. She carries a little purse around with her all the time with these things? Then again, it did come in handy when she needed her trusty salad trident.
Regina, on why she’s ditching the group: “I’m tired of waiting around.” Us too Regina.
Snow tells Ariel, “Maybe you’re the dream,” in response to the mermaid saying Eric dreamt of a future that included her. My watching companion’s response: “I’m going to stab myself in the eye…with the salad trident.”
The reason Regina couldn’t “Ursula” her way after Snow and Ariel is…?
Colin O’Donoghue deserves extra props for making Hook even more swoon worthy this week via emotional honesty. His confession about Emma was bittersweet and his clear devastation at both telling the Charmings about Neal as well as successfully rescuing the guy was heart wrenching. Emma needs to reconsider this pirate.
Finally, let’s all rejoice at the return of the real Belle next week. This show desperately needs some Storybrooke and some more Emilie de Ravine.