I am annoyed, Oncers. Sunday night’s “The New Neverland” was very frustrating to watch. Emma followed her gut instincts about Henry’s odd behavior, but I can’t believe everyone else was so blind. They should’ve picked up on it much sooner. Regina let her insecurities get in the way. She enjoyed being chosen over Emma, so she ignored all the warning signs. As this week’s Fairytale flashback taught us, sometimes you can be your own worst enemy. Like Snow White, Regina defeated herself by falling for Panry’s act. I’m glad they realized the truth about Panry before the episode ended, but it was a little too late. Panry got what he wanted and now he is even more dangerous than ever before. Will Peter Pan succeed in transforming Storybrooke into the new Neverland? I sure hope not.
Fairytale Land past: “I defeated myself.”
‘Once Upon A Time’ takes us all the way back to the pilot when Regina promised to thwart Snow White and Prince Charming’s happily ever after. Snow White wants to eliminate Regina as a threat, but Charming wants her to relax and enjoy their honeymoon. He argues that Regina won’t make a move yet, so they might as well have some newlywed fun. He tells Snow to pick their destination and she chooses her family’s summer palace because that’s where her parents honeymooned. Later she tells Grumpy her real reason for the less than exotic locale: the palace has something that can help defeat Regina.
The Charmings make it to the summer palace and Snow promises that their magical night together will be worth the wait. He heads out to start settling in to the palace and Snow takes off into the woods. Charming knows his bride, so he catches her and wants in on her plan. As we discovered in the sneak peek, Snow wants to track down the mythical Medusa. Supposedly she lives in a cave nearby. One look into her eyes and Regina could be turned into stone. Snow hasn’t worked out the details quite yet, but she wants Medusa’s head handy as an unparalleled weapon in their war against the Evil Queen. Charming insists on going with Snow and the fearless duo tackles the Greek gorgon head on (pun intended).
Things don’t go exactly as planned. Charming ends up getting stoned and Snow has to think fast or else she’ll be next. As she hides from Medusa, Regina appears in a vision on a nearby shield. She laughs at Snow’s failure, saying she destroyed her own happiness. Snow White laments, “She’s right. I did this. I destroyed myself.” Then she has an epiphany: that is exactly how she can defeat Medusa. Snow aims the mirrored shield at Medusa and the creature turns herself into stone (fans of ‘Percy Jackson’ may have seen this play coming.) Once Medusa turns to stone, Charming is released from her curse and returns to his normal self. Snow White realizes that her obsession with Regina was foolish. She tells Charming, “I almost lost the thing I could never live without. You.”
That night, Snow and Charming enjoy their honeymoon. Snow has learned a valuable lesson from the day’s events. She does not want to wait around until the threat of Regina is eliminated. If Regina isn’t causing trouble, it will be something else. It is impossible to wait for the right moment. They need to enjoy all the good moments they can make in between the bad ones. Snow White doesn’t want to waste time. She tells Charming they should start a family and he is thrilled to hear it.
Snow and Charming try to teach Emma the same lesson, but she has a harder time seeing how it could work for someone with great responsibility.
Storybrooke: “I promise to be the mother you always wanted me to be. I love you.”
Belle takes Ariel to her beloved Prince Eric, who has ironically become a fisherman. (I just hope he wasn’t gutting Flounder when Ariel saw him on the docks because that would be super awkward.) They share a sweet kiss, but before they have chance to catch up, the Jolly Roger flies into town. Cue a slew of helloes, hugs, and kisses as everybody is reunited with their friends and loved ones…everyone except Regina. I have to admit, I felt bad for her in that moment. Like Rumple, the Evil Queen has shown a lot of growth. She has come a long way to prove herself to Henry. Luckily, Snow alerts the town to Regina’s importance during Operation Cobra Rescue. Interestingly, Rumple comments on his own development when he and Neal reunite with Belle. Neal hands his cane over, but Rumple doesn’t want it. Mr. Gold’s cane is a reminder of the cruel and selfish man he once was and it is a man he “shall no longer be.” Now that we no longer second guess Rumple and Regina, Panry pops in to take their place.
Panry steps away from the crowd and stands beside Felix. Pan needs to gain people’s trust, so he turns Felix in and suggests punishing the uncooperative Lost Boy. Once Felix is secured, Rumple casts a spell over Pandora’s Box back at his shop. Rumple is the only person who can release Pan now, so they assume everyone in town will be safe. Belle is proud of Rumple and she is looking forward to their happy future together. She says that Henry turned out not to be Rumple’s undoing, just as she predicted. (Although in a strange way, he kind of is. Now that Pan has possessed Henry, he will be Storybrooke’s undoing. Unfortunately, the seer did not foreshadow that switcheroo.) With Pan and Felix locked away, the gang goes out to celebrate at Granny’s Diner.
Emma gets her first gut feeling about Panry when she hands him the storybook. Panry is less than amused over an item that means so much to Henry. Emma even admits her surprise at Panry’s lack of excitement, but the boy shrugs it off. Hook watches Emma from the bar and he calls a truce with Neal. He assures Neal, “I am not here to pursue the Lady Swan.” He tells Neal that he is going to back off. “Devilishly handsome” looks aside, Hook does not believe Emma will be quick to fall for a man who abandoned her once before. Hook arrogantly “surrenders” with charm and cheekiness, but you can tell he is really hurting. I never thought we’d see this dashing and confident pirate pine after Emma in this way. It really is heartbreaking.
Elsewhere in the diner, Regina takes Tinker Bell to the Blue Fairy and tells her to give Tink her wings back. The self-doubting fairy tells Blue that she was able to make the pixie dust glow for a moment, but that isn’t good enough. Blue says that Tink needs to believe in herself for Blue to believe in her too. Sometimes all you need is a little faith.
Neal still believes he has a chance with Emma, so he asks her out on a casual date. Without the pressure of a serious relationship, he simply states that he will be having lunch a Granny’s tomorrow and Emma is welcome to join him. If Emma doesn’t show, Neal promises to back-off. You can already tell that Emma isn’t keen on the idea, but Mary Margaret and David encourage her to give love another shot. As the night grows on, Emma tells Panry it is bedtime. He surprisingly asks to spend the night with Regina. Emma thinks it is strange, while Regina beams with happiness.
Before going to bed, Panry asks Regina if she brought the magic vault over with her when she came to Storybrooke. Regina says he knows that she did. He acts fearful of Pan’s return and wants to be able to protect himself with magic. Regina assures Panry, “magic isn’t the answer…it is dangerous…I’ll protect you.” Instead of picking up on the clues, Regina enjoys the feeling of being needed. She tucks Panry into bed and leaves. Panry gets out of bed and looks out the window. He says, “Magic is the answer. It’s time.” Then he releases Pan’s shadow from the Jolly Roger’s sail. Uh oh. You know this won’t end well. While Panry sets his plan into motion, Rumple provides David with a life-saving potion.
The following afternoon Rumple gives David the potion at Granny’s Diner. He says it is on the house, but he also notes that they are family now and he may need a favor sometime in the future. It is all a matter of semantics for Rumple at this point, but I won’t judge him until I see what favor he asks of the Charmings. As soon as he leaves, David chugs the potion and immediately feels healed. He tells Mary Margaret that he is ready to expand their family and he doesn’t want to waste any time. (Maybe we really will have Baby Charming in the near future and it will hopefully tie in nicely with Ginnifer Goodwin’s real-life pregnancy.) As they celebrate making a good moment in the midst of bad ones, they see that Emma did not show up for lunch with Neal. David goes off to have chat with his hard-headed daughter.
Emma is worried because Henry is not acting like himself. She doesn’t have time to focus on her love life when there is so much at stake. David disagrees. He says that everyone is recovering from their time in Neverland. Emma feels bombarded by the bad things that keep happening. David takes a paternal stand and tells her that there is more to life than “looking for the next fight.” Like he and Snow said in the past, life is made of moments. Emma needs to stop focusing on the bad moments and start making some good ones for herself. She teases her father and asks if setting her up with Neal is his way of keeping her away from Hook. He laughs it off with a joke, but we know that there are lingering feelings still stirring between Emma and Hook.
Just when we think Hook has evolved, he makes a pass at Tinker Bell. I know Hook is hurting, but it is a small town. Trying to sleaze away the pain will not score him any points with Emma. A one-night stand will not fill the hole in his heart and he should know better. I love Tink’s response to his proposal: “I may have lost my wings, but not my dignity.” Good for you, Tink! During Hook’s awkward rejection, Panry strikes his first blow.
Pan sends his shadow to kill the Blue Fairy. As the gang gathers to rush to her side, Emma spots Hook with Tink and wonders if they’re “involved.” Tinker Bell swears they’re not, while Hook tries making Emma jealous with a mischievous, “Perhaps…”
Emma and the others rally around Blue’s body and Hook knows that the town is in trouble. Peter Pan is the only person capable of controlling his shadow. Neal says he’ll get the coconut candle to trap the shadow again. Emma tells Regina to keep a close eye on Henry because she has a gut feeling that something is wrong with him. Insulted, Regina quips back saying she’s Henry’s mother too and she spent “10 years soothing his nightmares.” She tells Emma to use her gut feeling to find the shadow and storms off with Panry. Regina falls into Panry’s trap and takes him to the vault. Meanwhile, Emma & Co. go to Rumple to see if Pan could have escaped from Pandora’s Box.
Rumple is afraid to tempt fate by opening Pandora’s Box, but Emma wants to make sure Peter Pan is gone for good, even if it means killing him. They decide to release Pan across the Storybrooke borderline, so that he can’t fight back with magic. Emma steps over the line with gun in hand and opens the box. Peter pops out and cries “Mom!” Everyone thinks it could be a trick, but given Panry’s strange behavior, Emma is willing to hear him out. She asks him to tell her about the first time they connected as mother and son. He tells her about their moment in the castle when he realized why Emma gave him up to give Henry his best chance. No else could’ve possibly known that. Emma hugs him, then he rushes over the line and hugs M.M. and David. Rumple apologizes for trapping Henry in the box. Henry says it’s okay because he would’ve done the same thing. Now that they know where the real Henry is, the gang sets out to warn Regina about Panry. Unfortunately, he has already caused more trouble.
Regina is still blinded by her desire to be a good mother to Henry. While in the vault, she vows, “I promise to be the mother you always wanted me to be. I love you.” Panry takes advantage of her vulnerability, grabs a powder from the vault and sprinkles it on Regina, making her unconscious.
On their way to Regina’s vault, Henry tells Rumple that Pan is still in his body, so if he needs to use magic fireballs, he asks that Rumple keeps them away from his face. How cute! Even though it is really weird seeing such sweetness come from this season’s vicious villain. Rumple takes a moment to magically open the doors to Regina’s vault. While they wait, Emma tells her parents the truth about how she feels. She says, “I’m the Savior. I don’t have the luxury of good moments…My magic has a price…I don’t get a day off.” Although the Charmings may disagree, Emma does have a point. But then again, the two men chasing after her are fully aware of her responsibilities as the Savior. I think she should take her parents’ advice and give love another chance. Nonetheless, matters of Emma’s heart will be left for another day, once Rumple opens the doors, the gang realizes they are in even bigger trouble than they ever imagined.
They rush downstairs and find Regina lying unconscious on the ground. Rumple magically heals her and she wakes up apologizing. She confesses, “I wanted to believe he still needed me to be his mom.” Henry quickly chimes in, “I still do” and hugs her. Then Rumple notices that something is missing from the vault. Panry has stolen Regina’s curse! The same one that created Storybrooke thirty years ago. Rumple explains that Pan can cast the spell again and this time around even Emma would be powerless to its effects.
Panry and Felix look over Storybrooke and Panry exposes his master plan: everyone will forget who they are and time will stand still. Pan will be in charge again and he can create a new Neverland.
Dun, dun, dun!
Is it even worse than you expected, Oncers? Do you think Panry’s plan will prevail? How will they be able to get Henry back in his body? Is there a way to prevent the curse from being cast again? What were your favorite moments?
- Panry: Jared Gilmore is ‘Once Upon A Time’s’ secret weapon. You can’t help but love him. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to see him as a baddie because he is such a charmer, but he pulled it off. Panry is a testament to Gilmore’s talent. He embodied Pan’s mannerisms and captured that shifty look in his eyes. Very well done! He was unnerving to watch. I’ve spent so much of this season hating Pan and it felt really strange to project those feeling onto our charismatic young hero. Robbie Kay also did a wonderful job of capturing Henry’s innocence and unwavering optimism. He was kind, forgiving and full of hugs. Again, it was weird to see. Body swap episodes are fun, but risky. If the actors fall short, the whole things comes off as a farce, which is especially bad for drama. Kay and Gilmore nailed it. They should be proud of their work.
- Mommies Dearest: Once again we see Regina and Emma at odds. Although Regina spent more time with Henry, Emma was the first to notice that he wasn’t acting like himself. We always knew that Henry was Regina’s only weakness. Pan knew exactly how to play her to get what he wanted. I’m glad Emma trusted her gut and made everyone else know how she really felt about Panry. I am surprised that David and Mary Margaret shrugged off Panry’s behavior so easily. I suppose they were too caught up in making a new good moment that they were oblivious to the bad one forming before their very eyes. I think Regina also clung to Panry because she had no one else to turn to. Everyone else ran into welcoming open arms, but Regina had no one waiting for her return. It was a heartbreaking sight. When Panry showed her extra attention, she was eager to please him. She has been terrified of losing her son to Emma and she let that fear cripple her.
- Captain Swan: You have to love Hook’s overture. He is doing Neal a favor by stepping aside and giving him a chance for Henry’s sake. The moment Hook briefly bows out of the race, he turns into a cad. Was he doing it to simply make Emma jealous? Or was he trying to find comfort in a fling? Either way, Emma took notice. Throughout the whole episode, she says she doesn’t have the luxury to entertain the thought of romance, yet she flat out asks Hook if he slept with Tink. I find that very interesting. She left Neal hanging at Granny’s without a care in the world, but in the middle of an emergency, she pauses for a moment to see if Hook’s intentions are honorable. Why would she ask if she didn’t have feelings for him? The promo for next week’s winter finale gives us a glimpse at another intense Captain Swan moment. For a second, Emma gives Hook a tearful look as the curse is unleashed upon Storybrooke. If the curse works, do you think Emma and Hook’s new alter-egos would be drawn to each other? Is their love true?
- The Curse: If the curse works, everyone, including Emma, will forget his/her true identity. Could Pan create new alter-egos for everyone? Can this curse be broken again by True Love? If so, then whose love will be strong enough? I do not like where this is headed, Oncers. I hope ‘OUAT’ doesn’t loop back to the beginning. Emma was destined to break the curse the first time around because she is the Savior. If Emma gets cursed, then who will save the Savior?
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‘Once Upon A Time’ airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC.