The one thing Henry Mills has wanted, more than friends, more than family, more than parents who loved him. The one thing he’s had a burning desire for since that first moment he stepped onto a bus headed to Boston and pulled out that book. Was to be a hero. Henry wants to save the day, not be saved. It’s driven every action he’s made–even the monumentally contrived one.

And the only reason his absolute stupidity in this episode works is because he’s an 11-year-old boy desperate to be the hero of the story and desperate to trust someone.

At the end of the episode his parents all stand opposite him and beg him to listen, and Pan notes that all three have lied in some fashion. Neal lied before Henry was even born. Emma lied about Neal. Regina lied about who she was. He’s lived a life of half-truths and Peter Pan, while clearly the worst, and dragging his dumb butt to a place made out of skulls, is at least offering truths. He’s handing out what Henry has often fought tooth and nail to have. Honesty.

So Henry goes against his own distrustful nature and laps it up because he’s so damn desperate and then he rips his own heart out just to be the hero and teach his parents by example instead of lecture.

This is, of course, a terrible idea.

This is, of course, a terrible idea.

Pan’s manipulation of Henry, and the exploration of a little kid’s own messed up wants and needs, has been one of the best parts of a plodding half season and the confrontation at the end of this episode, as goofy as the blocking and script were, was the apex of that. Pan played Henry like a fiddle and then flew off into the sunset to celebrate.

The other half of the episode was given over to the show’s continued mishandling of one of its best actors. Rumpel’s backstory is told through jilted flashbacks with a tiny Scottish boy and then things repeatedly cut back to Robert Carlyle looking sad because memories. Carlyle is allowed to cut loose in his final scene and it is pretty solid work. Especially as an example of why you must have the best actors when you’re doing fantasy and science fiction. The guys from mainstream dramas get some heavy stuff to act, but it’s often relatable to some degree. Carlyle and Robbie Kay have to do a LOT of acting leg work to get us to relate to the story of a son abandoned by his father and separated by hundreds of years of life experience (and puberty). AND they have to work with a not so great script and blocking that appears to be done by some teenagers putting a show on in a barn.

That’s not easy and really, we should all be clapping because neither of them broke into tearful laughter while doing that scene.

Calculon would call this "ACTING."

Calculon would call this “ACTING.”

The flashbacks, originally about Rumpel’s past, shift into becoming the story of Peter’s past, and I wanted to kick myself when it was revealed that Peter Pan and Rumpel’s dad are the same person. It makes entirely too much sense. Anyone in a relationship with a flaky guy will, at some point, mumble about how he needs to “grow up” or how he has a Peter Pan complex. The show takes it to the next step turning Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, into a man who willingly becomes a child to avoid responsibility. That‘s the kind of modernization of stories that Once Upon A Time can do well when it wants to.

Its diminished by the supremely goofy notion that he’s Rumpel’s father though. A this point Henry’s family tree (both the regular and biological versions) are so gnarled up, extensive and littered with famous names that new characters have a 75% chance of appearing on it at some point. I eagerly look forward to the plot point of Regina being Hook’s great niece. Or Emma learning that that ill-advised post-prison threesome she had was with the Darling Brothers.

How did you all find the Peter Pan reveal? Was it too goofy for words or so perfect you cried?


  • I wound up channeling Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost every single time Henry was on screen. Like, Henry you are in a giant skull surrounded by more skulls and I’m pretty sure the sand in the hourglass is also made of skulls WHY WOULD YOU THINK THIS WAS A SMART IDEA?!


  • Marilyn Manson as the shadow. I forgot he was cast and then he started talking and I paused for laughter.
  • Regina and Emma moved the moon together. Which is often associated with women. And lesbians. AND they took a romantic boat ride together.
Hot moms with moon magic get shit done.

Hot moms with moon magic get shit done. Even if one of them is as confused as hell.

  • Regina was on fire with the snarky looks and Emma was the perfect counterpoint with her constant bewildered looks. Except for when they found Henry. Then Regina was intimate and kind and Emma was supremely empathetic. That was also perfect.
  • Wendy came back to Neverland for Neal. Can Wendy grow up now and declare her intention to woo Neal? Because I would be about that.
  • Rumpel’s two caregivers? Fairies? Gods? Fates? They certainly weren’t just regular old ladies.
  • Henry ripped his own heart out. While that is bold and awesome and dark, it is also stupid. I’m sorry Henry, you do not get to be the episode’s BAMF.
  • That award goes to your great-grandfather, who lured you there to make himself immortal and then flew away cackling when you helped him and sort of killed yourself. You’re terrible and I hope you die in a fire and I will miss you Pan!
  • Snow continues to be the worst. She’s abandoning her daughter to be with David. Ladies and gentlemen we have our new Pan.
  • Everyone worries about David and then Rumpel says he can save him. That was…extremely anticlimactic.
  • In Two Weeks: Regina goes full evil angry badass perfect mom and hopefully teaches Pan not to underestimate evil queens.

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