‘Once Upon a Time’ S3 Ep 8 recap: Daddy did a bad, bad thing

S3 Ep 8
Rumple never fails to shock us. (Photo credit: ABC)

Have you picked your jaws up off of the floor, Oncers? Sunday (Nov. 17) night’s “Think Lovely Thoughts” delivered the biggest ‘Once Upon A Time’ twist to date and I loved it. No offense, but when ‘OUAT’ teases that we’re in for a surprise, it usually is something that fans predicted for a while. Peter Pan’s epic twist is a true shocker that I never saw coming. It makes me want to go back a re-watch Rumple’s scenes with Pan to search for clues. This was a very clever trick they kept up their sleeves and probably, ‘Once’s’ best kept secret. Just when you think things can’t get crazier, we witness two heartbreaking “deaths” and realize that this show went above and beyond for November sweeps. I don’t know about you guys, but this episode had me shouting at the TV quite a bit. From Pan, to Rumple and then Henry, I kept yelling “Noooo!!!!” Wow. We have a lot to mull over, so let’s get started.

Fairytale Land/Neverland past: “A child can’t have a child…I was never meant to be a father.”

From the start, we’ve known that Rumple’s father, Malcolm, was a coward, a liar and a thief. Now we realize that it is so much worse than that. After getting into trouble over a card game scam, Rumple’s dad drops him off with a couple of sweet spinster ladies. Malcolm promises to go find a job and come back for Rumple, in the meantime he tells the boy to learn how to spin. He gives Rumple a little straw doll (the same one Pan kept throwing back at him in Neverland). He says the doll can be a sort of place holder that will protect Rumple while he’s gone. Malcolm promises to be back before he knows it and takes off.

Days go by and Rumple learns the art of spinning. According to the spinster ladies, the boy is a spinning prodigy worthy of weaving fine fabrics for kings and queens. One day the boy’s talent can earn lots of money. Being a little sweetheart, Rumple thinks he can earn a living spinning and help his dad out by bringing money into the family, so his dad doesn’t have to search for a job anymore. Then the ladies tell him the bad news, Malcolm has been drinking at the pub instead of job hunting. They tell Rumple that too many people know Malcolm is a cheat and no one will trust him. Rumple’s reputation will be tarnished by association alone. The spinsters give Rumple a magic bean and encourage him to begin a new life without his father. They assure him, “Your father will always be your burden.” But Rumple disagrees.

Rumple finds his father and tells him about the bean. He trusts Malcolm and wants to start over somewhere new as a family again. As Malcolm thinks of place they could go to, he remembers: “Think lovely thoughts.” As a child, he would sleep travel to Neverland, so he tells the portal to take them to the magical island. Hand in hand, father and son jump in.

When they land in Neverland, Malcolm explains how the island works. If you think of something, it will appear. Rumple thinks of cake and a slice pops up in his hand. Then his father remembers that you can even fly, but when leap of a hill, he lands on the floor. Malcolm says they’re missing pixie dust, but they can easily get some. He explains that pixie dust comes from flowers that grow at the very top of trees and the flowers bloom at night under the light of the stars. Once you truly believe, the dust glows and the magic starts to work. As Malcolm takes him to the tree, we see the Shadow (coolly voiced by Marilyn Manson) keeping watch over them.

They get to the tree, but Rumple is too afraid to fly or even climb up. His dad tells him not to worry and goes to get enough dust for them both. While in the tree, Malcolm sprinkles some dust over himself and believes, but it doesn’t work. Suddenly, the Shadow appears beside Malcolm and tells him that he does not belong in Neverland. We see his shoe drop down beside Rumple and we think that the Shadow has taken his father, but we soon discover that it is much worse.

As Rumple begins to cry, his father drops down from the tree. Malcolm explains that Neverland is for kids and magic doesn’t work the same for adults, even if they believe. He says he was never the father that Rumple needed him to be and admits he was always too weak. In order to stay in Neverland he must let go of the thing that is holding him back: Rumple. He lets the Shadow take Rumple. As the boy gets dragged away Malcolm explains that “a child cannot have a child.” He says, “I was never meant to be a father.” As soon as he renounces Rumple as his son, the pixie dust lights up. Magic turns back the clock for Malcolm and transforms him into a younger version of himself. That’s when we realize: Rumple’s father is Peter Pan!

After Rumple is whisked away, the Shadow leads Peter Pan to Skull Rock and shows him a huge hourglass. The Shadow explains that the sands of time mark the magical span of Peter’s youth. Malcolm’s decision to live in Neverland has broken the rules of the land. Skull Rock was created especially for Peter Pan and the deal he made with the Shadow. Once the sand runs out, Peter Pan will die. He broke the rules already, so Peter vows to break them again by finding a way to be immortal.

This was a mind-blowing revelation. Maybe I should’ve seen it coming, but I really didn’t. Rumple’s severe daddy issues are fully merited. It is a shame to see that he did the same thing to Baelfire, but at least Rumple felt remorse and regret afterwards. He wants to make it up to Neal now that he finally has him back in his life. Pan, on the other hand, is still a selfish and soulless manipulator. Guest star Stephen Lord did a great job of playing Rumple’s father. He even captured Rumple’s delightfully devilish laugh. Little details like that make a world of difference, so kudos on a job well done.

Okay, we covered one surprise, now on to the others.

Neverland Present Day: “We believe you Henry…Because we love you…More than anything.”

Peter Pan takes Henry to Skull Rock and assures him, “If you save magic, you’ll save us all.” Henry is more than eager to be a little hero, so he puts all of his trust in Pan. Meanwhile, Operation Cobra Rescue is running full steam ahead.

While Rumple and Regina walk toward Peter’s camp, she learns that Neal is really alive and on the island. Rumple wants to be sure that the next time he sees Neal he’ll be putting Henry in his arms. Hopefully reuniting father and son will put Rumple back in Neal’s good graces. As Rumple plans to reunite his family, Emma tries keeping hers from falling apart.

Mary Margaret has just accepted the reality that she and David will have to stay in Neverland to keep him alive, but Emma thinks there is always another way. She’s learned from parents’ optimism that you should never give up. Plus, love means staying together and that includes the whole family. Naturally, MM is on board and proud of her daughter. As Emma & Co. near Pan’s camp they bump into Regina and Rumple.

They tell the gang their plan about trapping Pan in Pandora’s Box, but Neal isn’t buying Rumple’s scheme. He tells everybody about Rump’s prophecy and says that he really wants to kill Henry. Suddenly, everyone turns on Rumple and draws their weapons. Poor Rumpy can never catch a break. Rumple tries to explain that he is the most powerful one out of them all, so he can be the only one to defeat Pan. Neal doesn’t care. He wants Rumple to hand over the box, so he does. Neal then threatens Rumple: no magic or else Rump goes into the box. Neal still doesn’t get what Rumple’s hang up is. What’s the big deal about Pan? What is their mysterious history? Rumple simply says, “Peter Pan destroyed my father.” (Ha! Talk about an understatement.) With that settled, the gang moves forward towards Pan’s camp.

On the way, Emma approaches Hook and asks what happened to his brother when they left Neverland. Can’t they just take some of Neverland’s magical water home with them to keep David alive? Hook says their water supply would not last long enough. The water would run out and the Dreamshade would kill David, just like it killed Liam. Rumple then steps in and says he created an antidote after Hook poisoned him with Dreamshade. The elixir is in Mr. Gold’s shop in Storybrooke. Rumple suggests they make a deal for it, but Neal busts into the conversation and sets his father straight. He tells Rumple that there will be no deals and he will save David’s life because it is the right thing to do. Rumple is a little taken aback, but agrees. Before they enter Pan’s camp, Rumple takes Hook’s sword, saying he can’t fight Pan off with his good looks alone. Then David hands over a sword to Hook, sarcastically saying he doesn’t have to rely solely on his looks either. (This light-hearted banter between Rumple, Hook and David was some much needed comedic relief in an otherwise intense episode. I’ve really enjoyed the fascinating dynamic between the characters during their time in Neverland. A lot has changed since their good old Storybrooke days. It will be interesting to see how they behave with one another if they ever make it back home.) Once everyone is properly armed, Regina casts a sleeping spell over the Lost Boys and they enter Pan’s camp. Pan and Henry are nowhere to be found, but they do see Wendy locked up in a cage.

Wendy says she came back to save Bae after he stopped Pan’s shadow from taking Michael and John all those years ago. Ever since then, Pan has held Wendy prisoner and she has done his bidding for fear of what Pan would do to her brothers. Wendy wanted Bae to have family, since his parents had died and he was left all alone. Rumple’s surprised, so Neal says that death was easier to explain than abandonment. They ask her if she knows anything about the heart of the truest believer and she plays dumb. Rumple has carried enough lies to “recognize the burden,” so he calls her out. Wendy says Pan will kill her brothers. Once Regina assures her that her brothers are safe in Storybrooke, the girl spills the beans. Pan needs the heart of the truest believer to save himself because he is dying. Henry’s heart will enable him to absorb all the magic in Neverland and then Peter Pan will be immortal. In order for Pan to live, Henry must die. Now that they know the whole truth, Emma tells David and Mary Margaret to go to Dead Man’s Peak to get enough water to keep David alive until Rumple can cure him in Storybrooke. Meanwhile, Neal, Emma, Regina and Rumple go after Pan and Henry.

When they get to Skull Rock, they realize that Pan cast a protection spell at the cave’s entrance. Rumple says it will keep out anyone who has a shadow. Since Rumple shed his shadow, he can go inside. Peter Pan planned it accordingly, so Rumple must go in. Neal hands over Pandora’s Box and Regina warns him to come back with Henry or else. Then Emma has an idea. What if they can prevent the moon from casting their shadows? Emma and Regina pool their powers and eclipse the moon so they can follow Rumple into the cave. Inside the cave, Peter points to the hourglass and shows Henry that time is almost running out. But Pan wants to take care of Rumple first.

Finally, it is the epic showdown we’ve been waiting for, except it is even more meaningful than we ever expected. Rumple confronts his father. How could Rumple ever forgive him after everything he has done? Pan has the audacity to say that Rumple did the exact same thing to Bae. Rumple traded Bae for a dagger and Pan traded Rumple for youth. Neither one of them were meant to be fathers. Rumple begs to differ. Unlike Pan, Rumple has a conscience and regretted his decision every day. He spent his life trying to get Bae back. Pan offers Rumple the fresh start he always wanted. They can start over in Neverland like they planned to all of those years ago. Oh Rumple will have a fresh start, just not with Peter Pan. Rumpy whips out Pandora’s Box, but Pan has switched them. Rumple’s is a fake and Pan has the real one. He gave Rumple a chance to start over, since Rumpy refused, Pan traps his son in Pandora’s Box.

Twist #2: Noooo! Poor Rumple. The prophecy came true. Henry was Rumple’s undoing, just not in the way he thought. Rumple got trapped by trying to do the right thing. Do you think Neal will forgive Rumple now? Sadly, Rumple took his secret with him and nobody knows that Pan is his father. That would help Rumple earn some points in Neal’s book. Is there a way to get Rumple out of the box? Will we see what it is like for him in there? How long will Rumple be gone? Regina and Rumple agreed that getting trapped in Pandora’s Box is a fate worse than death. We also know that if the box is opened, all sorts of evil will be unleashed. Is there anyway to free Rumple without having more baddies following him into the world? This risky plan turned out much worse than expected. And it has left us with so many questions. At least Rumple has back-up. Maybe the others will be able to save Henry…

Peter Pan goes back to Henry and tells him that it is time to save magic. He asks for Henry’s heart, saying this sacrifice will make him the greatest of heroes. Henry knows that all magic comes with a price. Pan says Henry will have to stay on the island with him. Neverland will be Henry’s new home and he’s okay with that since it means saving magic. Henry is willing to make a hero’s sacrifice. Pan enchants Henry’s hand so he can rip out his own heart. Oh come on, there is no way Henry would do that. He’s learned from Regina that no good can from heart-ripping. Wait for it…

Henry rips out is own heart! Neal, Emma and Regina catch Henry with his heart in his hand and they tell him not to give it to Pan. But Pan has already gotten into Henry’s head. He says adults lie and they are just saying that because they don’t want Henry to stay in Neverland. They beg Henry to believe them. Henry’s parents each plead: “We believe you Henry…Because we love you…More than anything.” But Henry wants to be a real hero. He needs to save magic, no matter what. Henry puts his heart in Pan’s chest. As Henry drops dead, Pan soars with more power than ever. Neal, Emma and Regina rush to Henry’s side, hoping they can find a way to bring him back to life.

Twist #3: Henry dies!!!

Oh Henry, you’re such a smart boy. Why did you fall for Peter Pan’s lies?! I really thought Henry would’ve figured out that Pan was a big phony. The impossible is possible in Neverland. Let’s hope resurrection is among those possible impossibilities. This was so frustrating to watch. We always admired Henry for his heroic instincts, but he put his faith in the wrong person this time.


This episode was jaw-dropping and gripping until the very end. I don’t know how ‘Once Upon A Time’ can have any more surprises in store for the season. How will they save Henry? Will they be able to kill Peter Pan and get rid of him for good? Is there a way to get Rumple out of Pandora’s Box? Will new sorts of evil be unleashed into the world if they open the box? Will Belle ever hear the bad news about Rumple in Storybrooke? If she does, will Ariel be able to help them out by traveling between realms and finding some sort of escape plan for Rumple?

What did you think, Oncers? Were you shocked? Did you see any of this coming? What do you think will happen?

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