Have you recovered from Sunday night’s “Nasty Habits”? This episode was very illuminating, heartbreaking and upsetting in many ways. Rumple had an interesting and longer-than-expected past with Peter Pan, which explains the fear and hatred poor Rumpy always felt for the original lost boy. Neal adds salt to Rumple’s wounds by turning his back on his untrustworthy Papa. Meanwhile, Charming still keeps mum about his deadly dreamshade infection and Hook helps Emma & Co. find a clue left behind by Baelfire that could help them find a way home.
Fairytale Land flashback: “I don’t know what I’d do if I ever lost you.”
Young Baelfire suffers from a case of severe cabin fever. Rumple doesn’t let him leave the house for fear of what others may do to him, but Bae doesn’t buy it. Bae feels that Rumple does not trust him and worries that once Bae leaves home, he will never return. In an incredibly vulnerable moment, Rumple expresses his love for Bae and admits, “I don’t know what I’d do if I ever lost you.” Oh, Rumple, you’re breaking my heart and the episode has only just begun.
One day Rumple returns home and sees that Bae is gone. He magically follows the boy’s trail into town and discovers that several children have gone missing. Some of the other parents have learned that the kids were lured away from home by the sound of music played by a figure in a multi-colored cloak…a Pied Piper (good one, ‘OUAT’). That night Rumple waits up and listens carefully. He hears the music and sees children climbing out of windows, so he follows them. He sees masked boys dancing around a campfire and approaches the Pied Piper, who turns out to be Peter Pan. Okay, we expected that, but this next part is shocking.
Peter Pan knows Rumple and they go way back. Rumple breaks the pipe and demands to have his son back. Pan looks at Rumple through glaring eyes and notices how he’s grown up to become the Dark One. Peter has been keeping track of him. He tells Rumple that only boys who feel unloved and lost can hear his music, which is why Bae and Rumple can hear it. Pan taunts Rumple for still being a lost boy deep down, then the nickname hits him: Peter Pan will call his clan the Lost Boys. He asks Rumple what he is willing to do to get his son back. Pan says that being abandoned is what Rumple is good at, so he doubts Rumpy will be able to win his son over. Peter Pan sure knows how to press all the right buttons to demoralize someone. He also knows how to set a trap and manipulate people. Pan makes a deal with Rumple: He can ask Bae if wants to stay home or go to Neverland with Peter. Rumple goes along with it, but once he sets his sights on Bae, he magically transports them back home. Rumple then explains himself to Bae.
Rumple knew Peter as a boy. Pan fooled Rumpy for a long time before ultimately betraying him. (Can’t wait to discover exactly what happened between Rumple and Peter back when they were both boys.) Bae doesn’t care what happened in the past and feels that Peter can’t be any worse than the Dark One. Bae then reveals that he knew about the deal all along. Baelfire would have chosen to stay home with Rumple. He just wanted to know that Rumple trusted him. All he had to do what ask and give Bae the chance to prove himself. If only father and son could be on the same page for once, this is so heartbreaking and frustrating to watch. Unfortunately, Rumple had several chances to gain Bae’s trust and he failed to do so every time. What will it take to make Bae trust Rumple? If we are lucky, we might find out this season.
Neverland: “You’re my happy ending.”
Neal escapes from lost boy Felix while Rumple prepares for battle. As Rumple streaks a make-shift mask on his face, Belle appears to offer him some comfort and support. She was the only person who could see beyond his mask, yet Rumple fears that one day she will see the monster behind it. Belle disagrees and she does not want him to go on this suicide mission to save Henry from Peter Pan. Sadly, Rumple believes that redemption can only be found through self-sacrifice. When he said goodbye to Belle in Storybrooke, he knew there was no coming back. He tells Belle not to wait for him. With Bae gone, he has nothing worth living for. This is Rumple’s chance to prove he has changed and he is determined to do right by Bae and Henry. Meanwhile, Emma & Co. come up with their own plan to save Henry.
The gang, including Tinker Bell, plots their entry into Pan’s camp. Everyone is pretty much on the same page until Tink asks how they plan to get off of the island once Henry has been saved. She insists that they can’t enter Pan’s camp without a solid exit strategy. Tink shows them Tamara’s watch as proof of what Pan does to those who cross him. Until they know how to leave Neverland without Pan’s approval, Tink is out of Operation Henry. Emma agrees and says that Neal would say the same thing during their time as thieves: don’t go in without knowing how to get out. They ask how Hook left Neverland and he says he won magic to open a portal from Peter during a duel, which is an occasion he does not care to repeat. However, Hook has an idea. Neal knew how to escape Neverland, so he takes them to Bae’s old hide-out. Elsewhere in the jungle, Rumple is moving on with his own plans to rescue his grandson.
Rumpy magically knocks out a few Lost Boys on his way to Pan’s camp when Neal suddenly runs into him. Rumple thinks Neal is another vision who appeared to remind him of his weakness. He presses Neal against a tree and nearly chokes him when his son utters, “Please Papa.” Rumple is relieved to learn that Neal is alive and tearfully tells his son, “I thought I lost you forever.” After their brief and touching reunion, Rumple tells Neal his plan of self-sacrifice. Rumple is prepared to take care of all the dirty work, which is why he left the others behind. They would not be able to do what is necessary to save Henry. Neal claims to be different from the others. He will do what needs to be done, but he won’t kill Lost Boys. He also says that Rumple doesn’t have to die. He leads Rumple to the ocean and reveals his plan.
Neal picks up a shell and explains how most people can hear the ocean when they listen to a shell, but in Neverland, the ocean hears you (pretty cool). Neal calls for a giant squid and then tells Rumple to extract the ink. In the past we saw how Rumple used the magical squid ink to write a letter that he left behind for Snow White during his stint in the palace dungeon in “Queen of Hearts.” Now Neal wants to use the squid ink to immobilize magical creatures, like Peter Pan. While, Rumple and Neal make their way towards Henry, our little hero proves to be a greater challenge to Peter Pan.
Pan has a party celebrating Henry’s true and faithful heart, which will bring magic back worldwide. As boys dance around the campfire, Pan plays his pipe for Henry, but Henry is not like the other boys, so he can’t hear the music. Suddenly, Neal and Rumple crash Peter’s shindig. Rumple casts a spell putting all the boys to sleep, including Henry. Neal fires an arrow at Peter, but he catches it before it hits his chest. While Pan laughs at Neal’s foolishness, Neal reveals that he remembered Pan’s trick and coated the stem of the arrow instead of the tip. Thanks to Neal’s clever plan, Pan remains immobilized while Rumple and Neal walk away with sleeping Henry. As they leave, Pan warns Neal that sometimes the people we should fear are those who are closest to us. Rumple, Neal and Henry magically transport to the other side of the island, where Neal and Rumple have a major heart-to-heart.
Neal demands to know the truth about the prophecy Peter Pan was talking about. Rumple admits that a seer told him the boy would be his undoing, so he initially planned to kill Henry. He explains that self-preservation is his primary nasty habit. However, when Rumple discovered that Bae was Henry’s father, he decided not to kill the boy. Rumple came to Neverland to break his nasty habits and prove himself worthy of Bae’s affections. He asks what he can do to gain Neal’s trust and Neal asks for the Dark One’s dagger. Rumple says he made his shadow hide it, but Neal doesn’t believe him. He thinks Rumple will do anything to get his happy ending. That is when Rumpy pours his heart out to Bae again, saying “You are my happy ending.” He explains that Neal’s forgiveness and support will help him find redemption. Rumple can be strong enough to overcome his nasty habits if Neal simply has faith in him. So sweet! Neal takes Rumple’s hand and pulls him in close. Rumple left him behind once before, so why should this time be any different? As Neal pulls away, we see that he poisoned Rumple with the squid ink. Rumple stands immobilized and pleads with Neal. His magic can protect Neal and Henry, so it will be too dangerous to venture through the jungle without him. Neal disagrees and says it will be safer without Rumple. He throws the still sleeping Henry over his shoulder and bids his Papa goodbye. Poor Rumple. You can’t blame Neal for holding a grudge and not trusting his father, but Rumple is really making an effort to change. We’ve never seen him be this vulnerable and honest before. Surely that must be worth something. Neal’s actions have left Rumple completely demoralized. He even shoos away a comforting vision of Belle because he is too upset. Will Rumple be able to shake his nasty habits? Did Neal’s negligence push him back towards the dark side? Hopefully, Neal will have a change of heart in the future and be able to help Rumple kick his nasty habits. In the meantime, we discover that Bae made quite an impact on Hook during his stay in Neverland.
Hook takes the others into a small cave, which used to be Bae’s home. The walls are covered with drawings and Hook tells Emma that Bae got his artistic talents from his mother. Emma is surprised by how well Hook came to know Neal as a boy. It looks like Hook meant what he said when he reached out to Bae after Milah’s death. Hook wanted to have family and care for Bae like a son. It is always nice to see Hook’s softer side. There’s a lot of fatherly love in this episode, too bad it isn’t reciprocated. Anyway, the gang does some probing and Emma puts a puzzle together. Neal had fashioned a map of the stars out of a coconut. Unfortunately, Hook taught him how pirates write their maps in codes, so Neal is the only person who can decipher their map home. Emma still thinks that Neal is dead, so she assumes it is a lost cause. Emma storms out of the cave and her parents follow.
Mary Margaret says that Emma has every right to be sad, but Emma is not just sad, she is pissed. All of those years apart and Emma never stopped loving him. It turns out that he felt the same way and she found that out when it was too late. Emma walks off and MM turns to Charming saying she can’t blame their daughter. If David died, Mary Margaret would never be able to move on. Instead of seizing this opportunity to tell her the truth about his wound, David simply encourages her to move on if anything should ever happen to him. After all, the jungle is very dangerous, so you can never really be safe. I know David is trying to protect his family from the painful truth and does not want to take attention away from saving Henry by shifting the focus onto himself. He is holding out for a last-second save, but he doesn’t really seem to believe it will happen. His conversation with Hook is very interesting. Hook urges David to be honest with his loved ones so they can brace themselves and he reinforces the Charming family motto: there is always hope. How sweet is that? Hook and Charming have a bit of a moral role reversal. The Hook-Charming interaction this season has been wonderfully surprising. I suppose Hook’s foreshadowing came to pass, this secret is bringing them closer together already. But they aren’t the only ones keeping a secret.
Neal should’ve listened to his father. The Lost Boys and Peter Pan capture Neal as soon as he parts ways with Rumple. The ink has worn off and Pan is back in full force. He drops a bombshell on the overconfident Neal. Years ago, Neal thought he escaped from Neverland without Pan’s permission, but that is not true. Pan let him go. Now he has Henry back and Neal in captivity. The game has certainly changed. What makes matters worse is that Henry slept through the whole rescue mission, so he has no clue what happened. When Henry tells Peter he thought he heard his father, Pan passes it off as a dream. Pan then tells Henry that he will have new things to dream about, like saving magic. He says the Lost Boys can be his family. Peter Pan starts playing his pipe again and this time Henry sadly hears the music.
Wow. What an emotionally charged episode. Delving into Rumple’s history always results in an amazing episode. Robert Carlyle is magical. He manages to break your heart with a single expression or a subtle look in his eyes. This is one of the best episodes of the season so far. There has been so much brilliant work from the cast. This is shaping up to be a stellar season.
What did you think of “Nasty Habits”? What were your favorite moments? Were you surprised by anything? What do you think will happen to Neal? Can Charming be saved? Should he tell Emma and Mary Margaret the truth? Do you think Hook will tell them about Charming’s condition? Should he? How will Rumple recover from Bae’s brutal blow? Will he give in to the prophecy? So many questions!
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‘Once upon A Time’ airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC.