In an incredibly surprising turn of events, there is once again forward momentum on Once Upon a Time! Henry’s family even finds the kid and we get a nice bit of background for my beloved Rumplestiltskin. Sadly, “Think Lovely Thoughts” is also so packed with contrivances it dulls the otherwise tasty plot developments.
Everything from Pan’s origin story (especially the source of his name) to Henry’s inexplicable stupidity made me cringe, dear Oncers. But still we carry on, so let’s begin with a flashback, shall we?
A card hustler gets beaten up and robbed after swindling one too many customers. His son tries to intervene with the help of his adorable eyes and precious Scottish accent but it’s no use. Dad is a deadbeat for poor baby Rumple.
In Neverland, Pan reminds Henry that saving magic will save Wendy and everyone else. Henry, clearly being driven by hormones and a childish fantasy to be the hero like in his fairytale book, says he’s ready to do his duty.
Thankfully two members of his family still have some sense. Regina and Rumple make their way toward Pan’s camp. The Queen pays her master a compliment, saying, “You know despite our differences I can always count on you to get things done. Which is more than I can say for them.” She means the Charmings of course and dang is she right. Ten minutes with Rumple and they had an artifact to take down Pan.
Seven weeks (for us) with the Charmings and all they got was a very convoluted plan. But back to their conversation. Regina brings up Neal, which Rumple doesn’t want to talk about. Good choice really because once she finds out you rescued her son and then let him get recaptured, your little alliance will be fireballed to hell.
We flashback again to see Rumple’s dad dropping him off with two spinner ladies. The boy doesn’t want to leave his Papa so to cheer him up, Dad gives him the going-to-be-important later-on wicker doll. Then Papa runs out of the cottage before he son’s even given the doll a name.
Neverland. Charmings and Co head towards Pan’s camp and Snow confesses to Emma that she’ll stay on the island with her hubby. Emma is skeptical about how easily Mom gave up on finding a solution to this problem. She fails to mention or even think that her newfound magic powers could be helpful but Emma says she’s giving up. But that’s what we have Regina and Rumple for and luckily the duo stumble upon everyone else.
Neal ruins this happy reunion by spilling the beans about the prophecy. Everyone takes a dramatic step back from Rumple and draws their weapons. The Dark One looks exasperated while different members of his complicated family accuse him of trying to kill the kid. Everyone including Hook is ready to defend Henry. Rumple (and I) rolls his eyes at their stupidity. Commercial.
Baby Rumple is learning to spin and his talent astounds his keepers. They say he could apprentice with anyone in the land, one day spinning for kings and queens. Rumple’s still hung up on his worthless father, even when the women give him a magic bean to start a new life. In words even more prophetic than the ones from that pesky Seer, the women say, “Your father will always be your burden Rumplestiltskin.” Preach it sisters!
Coming back to Rumple being threatened by his family, the Dark One smartly points out that he’s the most powerful of them all. They need him. Neal, in yet another boneheaded move, requires Pandora’s Box as a gesture of trust and a safety net: if Rumple tries to use any magic, Neal will put him in the box. So, really what is the point of bringing him along at all? His power is his magic, right? Let’s take a vote on who will actually end up in Pandora’s Box? I vote for the Charmings.
Baby Rumple’s powers are all tied to his cuteness. He finds his father card hustling once more, not looking for a legit job like he said. Still he offers Daddy the magic bean so they can start over together somewhere else. Dad tells his son about a land he used to dream about: Neverland. They toss the bean and jump into the portal hoping against hope that this land exists.
The Company is still en route to Henry and Emma pulls Hook aside for a chat. “We need to talk,” she says. Hook replies, “I’ve found when a woman says that, I’m rarely in for a pleasant conversation.” Heh. She wants to know about how the Dreamshade cure works but Rumple butts in to offers his help by creating an elixir for the poison. Emma wants to know what the price is but Neal doesn’t care; he orders his father to save Charming once they return to Storybrooke and do it with joy in his heart. Dad agrees a little too easily.
Reminding us that she still exists, Tink reports that they’ve reached Pan’s camp. Rumple draws Hook’s cutlass and this epic exchange occurs:
Gold: You mind if I, uh, borrow this? You said no magic, I agreed. But I’m not walking in there with nothing but my good looks.
Hook: Now, I, on the other hand…
David: (giving him another sword) Here, in case your good looks fail you.
Regina magicks the camp to sleep but, in a show of Tink’s inattention to detail, Henry and Pan are nowhere to be found. Wendy is though. Her and Neal reunite and she tells him she came to Neverland because she was worried about him.
Itty-bitty Rumple and Dad land on Neverland’s shores. Dad tells his son that in this land, anything is possible if they believe it. Apparently he’s a Josh Groban fan. Imagine cake and it appears. Think you can fly and you can! Except not. Dad lands flat on his face and Rumple smartly figures out it’s because he’s not a boy anymore. They take off in search of pixie dust while The Shadow follows them.
Neal asks Wendy about Henry and the girl demurs that she has no clue about the boy. Rumple sees through her lies and with Regina’s help convinces her to tell them where the boy is. She says that Pan needs Henry’s heart to make him immortal. When Pan lives, Henry will die. Yep, and they’re nearly there. Pan and the Truest Believer land on Skull Rock, where Pan casts a protection spell before they head up the stone steps. Commercial.
With yet another plan in place, the Company splits up: Snow and Charming will get some water from Dead Man’s Peak so Rumple can use it for an elixir and everyone else will head to Skull Rock. Oh and Tink (still there!) will go with Hook back to the Jolly Roger because reasons. Also that boat to Skull Rock is only big enough to carry Henry’s three parents and grandfather. No almost-step-grandfathers allowed!
Baby Rumple and Dad must scale the tallest trees to get the pixie dust but the lad is scared. He doesn’t even want to fly. His selfish father does though so Rumple stays below while his dad scales the tree. He finds the dust quickly enough but it doesn’t make him fly. The Shadow swoops up to tell him his lack of belief is holding him back.
Grown up Rumple, Emma, Neal and Regina land on Skull Rock. The protection spell is keeping them all out except Rumple because he’s the only one without a shadow. The spell is meant to draw Rumple into battle with Pan. Neal uses what little brains he has to realize that his dad has been telling the truth the whole time. Welcome to reality Neal. Since they have no choice, the three agree to let Rumple go alone but not before Regina swears to destroy him in the most painful way possible if he hurts Henry at all. “A simple ‘good luck’ would’ve sufficed,” he replies. Commercial.
Regina paces restlessly and looks ready to kill Neal when he suggests she cut off her shadow too. If she knew how to do it, she would’ve already done it, idiot. Emma suggests they try blocking the moon to get rid of their shadows. Regina has the Savior help her with the magic and the moon begins to disappear. Meanwhile, Henry and Pan arrive at a giant, Aladdin-esq hourglass that measures Neverland’s magic. It’s nearly run out. Perhaps sensing the disappearing moon or the approaching Rumple, Pan sits Henry down out of the way and goes to check on something.
Tiny Rumple cries into his doll because he thinks his Papa died but no, dad’s still alive and well. Also, he’s still a complete jerk. He’s decided that Rumple is what’s holding him back so he’s made a deal with The Shadow: he gives him Rumple and in return, he gets to be young again. Yes, that’s right Oncers. Rumple’s father is…Peter Pan!
Father and son reunite at the hourglass. Peter wants Rumple to let go of the past and stay with him. Peter points out their similarities: abandoning their sons, penchant for magic, thirst for power, general evilness. Rumple hisses that he’s nothing like his father and glides his hand over Pandora’s Box to activate it. Except Daddy dear has swapped it with a fake. He holds the real one and uses it to trap his son. My gosh, the therapy bills for these people would be through the roof. Commercial.
In our last flashback, Rumple returns to the spinner women who gladly take him in once more. He tells them he lost Peter Pan, meaning his doll. Later his father, Peter Pan, will try to use this name to convince his son that he never stopped missing him but neither Rumple nor Once audiences will buy it. But for now, the newly youngified Rumple’s dad flies to Skull Rock. There The Shadow tells him he’s breaking the rules by staying in Neverland. Peter’s response is to decide to break more rules to find a way to stay young even after the hourglass of Neverland’s magic runs out. Ah the old “two wrongs make a right.”
In our episode’s conclusion, Pan tells Henry the price for giving up his heart will be staying on the island forever. He enchants Henry’s hand so the kid can rip out his own heart. Gnarly. The boy does it just as his family arrives on the scene and desperately tries to convince him that Pan is a lying little bastard. Pan says it’s them, those blasted adults, who are lying because they don’t want Henry to be a hero. The gullible boy takes the bait, slamming his heart into Pan’s chest. A burst of magic emanates from Skull Rock over the whole island and Pan rises into the air, victorious.
Do we think the spinner ladies are just good-natured people or are they something sinister in disguise?
Rumple needs a sword because his good looks aren’t enough while Hook says he himself will be fine. Really the one I’m worried about is Charming. All he has are his good looks.
Regina’s face when Rumple asks her if she remembers the sleeping spell is hilariously pissy.
Are we going to have a super awkward love triangle (or quadrilateral) because Wendy harbors secret feelings for Neal? If so, ew. Also, they’re hug just felt creepy for some reason. Anyone else get that vibe?
Now we get to add Pan to Henry’s crazy family tree. Does Tink end up being his step-aunt or something?
Where exactly was Henry during his grandfather and great-grandfather’s stand off? Wasn’t he just around the corner?
The Shadow isn’t Pan’s shadow after all, just an inhabitant of Neverland. But Pan still doesn’t have a shadow so where is it?
Since we know Pan is really a middle-aged man trapped in a kid’s body, his fascination with young boys and kidnapping in general is even creepier.
Anyone else seeing Star Wars references all over the “Pan is Rumple’s Dad” storyline? 1. Rumple tells Neal that Peter Pan destroyed his father, much like Obi-Wan tells Luke the same about Darth Vader killing Anakin. 2. Then it turns out the big baddie is his father. 3. Evil father tries to recruit his son to rule the galaxy/Neverland with him. 4. Son refuses. He’ll never join him! 5. So dad leaves him for dead/traps him in Pandora’s Box.