“Lost Girl” thankfully made up for what was lacking in last Sunday’s season three premiere. This heart-felt episode favored character development over CGI action sequences, which gives viewers a much greater pay-off. ‘Once Upon A Time’s’ second installment artfully parallels two stories of self-discovery. In the Fairytale past, Charming helps Snow White find the inner-strength she needs to lead her kingdom. In Neverland’s present, Emma must confront the abandoned little girl she has been suppressing for over twenty years and embrace her true identity. Meanwhile, Rumple turns to a friend for emotional support.
Fairytale Land: “Stop denying who you are…”
This week’s fairytale flashback takes us back to the moment when Charming’s True Love’s Kiss breaks Snow White’s sleeping spell. The second she wakes up, the Magic Mirror warns Regina of what has happened and she immediately sets a new plan into motion. While Snow tries rallying the villagers to fight Regina, the Evil Queen appears with a proposition. Snow White can give up her kingdom and go off to live in exile with Charming and the Dwarves. Regina tauntingly tells Snow, “Stop denying who you are.” Snow should resign to the fact that she is simply a princess and will never be a queen. Ouch! To make matters worse, Regina promises to kill a villager for each day Snow chooses not to live in exile. After Regina magically vanishes, Snow tells Charming & Co. that she wants to take Regina up on her offer. What’s wrong with living a simple life with the people she loves? Um, a lot is wrong with that when it gives Regina full reign over the kingdom. So Charming takes matters into his own hands.
Charming pays Rumple a visit and wants to make a deal. I just love seeing flashbacks of snickering Rumple, Robert Carlyle is magical and I can’t get enough of him on this show. Anyway, Charming thinks another potion can help Snow White remember her true identity, but Rumpy explains that it doesn’t work that way this time around. Magic does not make one believe. Rumple says, “Belief comes from within.” Rumple then tells Charming a story about a legendary magical weapon used to reclaim a kingdom a.k.a The Sword in the Stone!
So Charming takes Snow on a mini adventure in hopes of helping her find her true identity. They climb up a hill and find the sword in the stone. Charming tries to pull it out, but can’t. He looks to Snow and says only the kingdom’s true ruler can pull the sword from the stone. Snow takes a stab at it and out it pops. This gives Snow the ego boost she needed to fight for her kingdom.
Regina returns to the village expecting Snow to retreat into exile and is shocked when the princess boldly confronts her. Snow White cannot leave her people in Regina’s corrupt hands, so she has chosen to fight for what is rightfully hers. Being the Evil Queen, Regina plays dirty and starts magically choking poor Grumpy, so Charming urges Snow to use the legendary sword to fight off Regina. Snow lunges towards Regina, cutting her cheek and drawing the Evil Queen’s blood. The scratch comes with a warning from fierce Snow: this is her kingdom and she will fight for it. There will be hell to pay on the battlefield next time these ladies meet. Now that Snow has let Regina know she won’t go down without a fight, she takes on the kingdom’s other resident baddie: Rumplestiltskin.
Snow arranges a meeting with Rumple in order to pay off the debt Charming owes him for Excalibur. Rumple grimaces, “How nauseatingly romantic” and then he serves up a surprise. Snow does not have the real Sword in the Stone. Excalibur is in Camelot, so her sword is a fake. However, Rumple still wants to be paid for his wasted time and snatches Snow’s necklace, which belonged to her mother. Not cool Rumple. Now Snow goes off to give the prince a piece of her mind.
Just when the Dwarves start warming up to Charming, Snow pulls him aside for a tête-à-tête. Why did Charming trick her? Well the answer is simple: he wanted Snow to realize that she is meant to be the ruler of this kingdom and she just needed a little nudge to get there. Yes, the sword is a fake, but, Snow’s moxie is real. Snow White stood up to the Evil Queen on her own and that is what really matters.
Prince Charming helped Snow White realize her true identity, so who will give Emma the nudge she needs to acknowledge who she really is?
Neverland: “Stop denying who you really are.”
The episode opens with Rumple painfully cutting off his own shadow with the Dark One’s dagger. He gives the dagger to his shadow and says to hide it where no one can find it, not even Rumple. Once again: Neverland shadows are creepy! (Check out thoughts and questions on the shadows in the afterthoughts below.) Surely, this will come into play later this season. In the meantime we can focus on the team’s task at hand: saving Henry.
Hook guides Emma, Mary Margaret, David and Regina through Neverland since he knows this realm the best out of all of them. David still doesn’t trust Hook, so he’s skeptical of his every move and he lets Hook know it. Don’t worry, by the episode and most likely this season’s end, Hook will have grown on Charming. Until then, we will get our fair share of bickering between these powerful heroes and rehabilitating villains. Regina is still griping about why she can’t simply “pouf” everyone to their desired destination, but Hook argues that it is too dangerous. As they venture towards the Dark Jungle they come upon one of those dangers: thorns that ooze a poison called dreamshade. It is the same poison Hook used on Rumple last season, so we are all aware of just how deadly it can be. They decide to make camp overnight before entering the dangerous Dark Jungle.
While everyone is asleep, Emma hears children crying and gets up to look around. Peter Pan appears before Emma, saying that it is strange how only they can hear the crying children. He gives Emma a map that will lead her to Henry’s location, but there is a catch. The map will appear on the parchment once Emma stops denying who she truly is. Pan has found a formidable foe in Emma and he looks forward to toying with her.
The next day, Emma works on trying to figure out the map. Hook tells her that Pan may look like a child, but he is a “bloody demon” who enjoys his games. The whole island is that brat’s little trap and he knows just how to play to each person’s weaknesses. Regina wants to use magic, but Hook says that would be breaking Pan’s rules and it would make matters worse for them. Mary Margaret offers Emma some hope: if this is all just game, then they can win. So Emma sits down and tries to identify herself.
Emma goes through all the obvious characteristics: bail-bonds woman, the savior, the product of True Love, Henry’s mother, but none of it works. Regina has had enough and casts a locator spell on the map, which leads them through the Dark Jungle to Peter Pan. As they grow closer, Regina can feel Pan’s “smugness” and the boy finally appears. Naturally, Pan is upset that they broke the rules. He expected more from Emma and tells her that cheaters never win. Suddenly, Team Save Henry is surrounded by armed Lost Boys. Hook warns them that the boys’ arrows are laced with dreamshade poison, so they must be careful. In the midst of the fight, Emma pins a boy down on the ground. She aggressively questions the boy, but once his eyes meet hers, she backs off. Pan calls off the attack and gives Emma another chance to crack the map.
Later, Mary Margaret asks Emma why she stopped fighting the boy. In one of ‘OUAT’s’ most moving scenes to date, Emma unleashes two decades worth of heart-ache. When Emma looked at the boy’s face she saw herself. She saw the lost little girl full of despair who cried herself to sleep every night wondering why her parents abandoned her. Emma finally admits she has felt like an orphan her entire life and the map finally appears on the parchment. Emma apologizes for being harsh, but MM understands. With tears in her eyes, she tenderly says, “You were an orphan. It’s my job to change that.” This truly is such a beautifully acted scene between Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin who deliver very powerful performances loaded with emotion. Well done!
Emma and Mary Margaret return to the group with the complete map, but they still don’t say exactly what the revelation was. After a bit of jesting, Hook earnestly asks Emma: “Who are you, Swan?” He’ll just have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, Rumple has been having an interesting adventure of his own. Belle appears to Rumple and snatches the doll out of his hands. She asks about his wardrobe change and he says that becoming the Dark One is the only way he can save his grandson. He then asks her how everything is in Storybrooke. She’s says all is well. Then Rumpy gets suspicious, wondering if Pan has sent him this vision to catch him off guard. Nope. Rumple conjured Belle himself because he needs someone to talk to; someone who understands him and gives him strength. So Rumple confesses all of his fears to Belle.
Poor Rumpy fears he is a coward just like his father. He has been wrestling with Pan’s deal to give up Henry, but he doesn’t want to abandon Henry the same way he abandoned Bae. Belle says she can see the good in Rumple and she urges him to start looking for it too. She then asks about the doll. The doll was the last thing Rumple’s father gave him before he left. Belle tells Rumple he needs to let go of the past in order to help Henry. They drop the doll over a cliff into the waters far down below.
After Belle’s vision has faded and Rumple starts walking back into the jungle, the doll drops from the sky. Rumple burns it, but it pops up again and again. Clearly Pan is taunting Rumple, so he puts the doll in his pocket. We quickly realize that Peter Pan really likes using people’s abandonment issues against them.
Pan appears to Emma again after she has solved the first challenge is this wretched mind-game. Pan calls her a “lost girl” and says this was a test. He knows Emma still hasn’t forgiven her parents for abandoning her. Then he cruelly adds salt to her wounds by saying that Henry hasn’t forgiven her either. Low blow Pan! He menacingly warns her that when they’re finished, she’ll be an orphan…for real.
The last scene teases Pan’s malicious warning as we see that Charming has been pierced by a poisoned arrow during their fight with the Lost Boys. Will the others catch on and save Charming in time? Will everyone be able make it out of Neverland alive or should we brace ourselves for worst case scenarios?
- Abandonment issues: Emma is taking her sweet time warming up to her parents. Although they are the same age, Emma is kind of acting like the rebellious teenager in this dynamic. The more they try to reach out to Emma, the harder she tries to push them away. Until this episode’s major break-through moment. Emma felt like an orphan. Her parents let her go, thinking it was for the best. Then Emma did the same thing to Henry for similar reasons. Neverland provides the Charming Family with a very rude awakening. It is interesting how abandonment causes a chain reaction. The Charmings sent Emma away and Emma gave up Henry. Similarly, Rumple’s father cowardly left him and then Rumple abandoned Bae by choosing magic over his own son. Henry offers redemption to both sides of his family. He is the key to bringing everyone together and breaking this vicious cycle. Side-note: the sound of crying children was also creepy. Was that supposed to mean that only those who have been abandoned can hear the crying of other abandoned children?
- Shadows: Seriously, what is up with the dismembered shadow shtick? The shadows are mean and creepy. Are they a representation of all the darkness a person possesses? Does the shadow just re-attach to Rumple when his job is done? I hope we get some history on how the whole shadow thing started and how they work.
- The return of the Dark One: So based on what Rumple has told Belle, the Dark One is back! It is kind of a risky move, especially if somebody finds his dagger and takes the Dark One’s power from him. Could you imagine what Peter Pan could do with all of that power?! I really hope Rumple knows what he is doing. I can see why he’d want to use all of the Dark One’s extra powerful mojo to help save Henry. I just hope his plan doesn’t back-fire.
- Charming is in danger: This is really bad, Oncers. David played it off cool with Mary Margaret, but he won’t be able to hide his scratch forever. Someone will notice when he starts acting weird from the poison. Let’s just hope they can figure it out soon enough to save his life.
- Neverland: The more we see of Neverland, the more this show starts feeling like Survivor: Fairytale Edition. Mind-games, challenges, serious injuries, unknown territories…this place is crazy dangerous.
- Captain Hook: The line about the wax mustache and perm is hilarious. Having Hook on full-time has done wonders for this show. He has become one of my favorites and I really enjoy his scenes. He offers a lot of charm and comedic relief in the midst of chaos. His relationship with each character is so fun to watch. He cheekily teases Charming, he stands up to Regina, and he shamelessly flirts with Emma, yet seems to sincerely care for her too. Colin O’Donoghue is just nailing this role.
What did you think of “Lost Girl”? Did it live up to your expectations? Were you surprised by Emma’s ultimate revelation? Do you think Charming will survive? Is Rumple’s shadow now roaming around Neverland and watching out for Peter Pan?
Share your thoughts below and stay tuned for more news!
‘Once upon A Time’ airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC.