Okay, if this episode’s flashback doesn’t blow your mind, then I have doubts you have human DNA. All this time, Pan was Rumpelstiltskin’s father! During Rumple’s boyhood, his father was a chronic gambler with no intention of straightening out his life. Boy Rumple, however, held an unconditional love for his father, and when his two spinster caretakers (who also were the ones who taught him to use a spinning wheel) gave him a magic bean to give him a chance to start over, Boy Rumple decided to share the bean with his father so they could continue being a family. However, Rumple’s father chose to go to Neverland, a place he’d occasionally visited in his dreams long ago. Once they get there, Rumple’s father realizes he can’t stay on the island unless he gives up his son, as adults cannot remain on the island. In the end, he chooses to give up his son so he could stay on Neverland, reverting back to a boy himself in the process. And thus, Peter Pan was born. While seeing this story does explain why Dark One Rumpelstiltskin was so afraid to go through the portal with Boy Baelfire (the last time he jumped through a magic bean portal, things did not end well for him), it doesn’t really cast a good light on this particular bloodline. I mean, we got multiple generations of men who abandoned their sons for their own personal reasons. Rumple’s father chose his youth over his son, and Rumpelstiltskin chose power over his. While Nealfirebagelperson didn’t know Emma was pregnant at the time, his actions still left Henry without a father figure for most of his young life, and his actions, despite whatever he might say on the contrary, were fueled from his desire to continue avoiding his estranged father.. And it’s implied that Rumplestilskin’s father was also abandoned as a boy. I can only hope that Henry can break this endless cycle. After all, his mother clearly came from much better stock, so that might be enough to override whatever he might of got from his father’s side of the family.
We’re told exactly what Pan is after in this episode. Originally, the point of Neverland was only meant to be a place children could visit in their dreams. No one was ever supposed to live there permanently. When Pan attempted to break that rule, it came with a price, as things oft do in this story. He could live there, but not forever, and a magical hourglass was constructed to count down to the point when his immortality would end. And that was the real reason why he wanted to kidnap Henry. He needed the Heart of the Truest Believer for some sort of sacrificial ritual that would allow Pan to continue living even after the hourglass ran out at, the cost of Henry’s life.
And to be brutally honest, I am disappointed how easily Henry swallows Pan’s cover story about how the ritual is really about saving the island. Henry, I know you believe what Pan is telling you is true since you’re apparently the Truest Believer and all, but still, why aren’t you asking more questions? When Pan put up that protection spell when you two reached Skull Rock, weren’t you the least bit curious WHY he put one up? And why aren’t you questioning what Pan needs to do ‘before you get started?’ You don’t even think about following him to see for yourself? No, it’s okay, kiddo. You just sit there twiddling your thumbs. Come on, show writers. Please don’t make it so Henry inherited his father’s level of intelligence. Although, considering the episode ends with him choosing to believe Pan over Emma, Regina and Nealfire, it’s really looking like that’s what might happen. I mean, seriously, did Pan ever give Henry an actual reason to trust him? At all? Just look at that final scene, when Pan is hissing his verbal poison into Henry’s ears, telling him that he’s never lied to him when his parents have. First of all, is Henry really not over that by now? Is he still carrying around a grudge against Emma for not leveling with him about Neal? Come on, kid. Let it go! (And no, I will not sing that song.) Besides, even IF Pan was telling the truth about wanting to save Neverland instead of his own stinking skin, he DID lie to you- when he tried to keep Wendy’s ‘illness’ from you out of a desire to ‘spare you of the burden.’ Was Henry just giving Pan a pass about that particular issue because he bought Pan’s statement that he lied to protect Henry? Because that’s also why Emma lied to him about Neal. Which makes the very idea that Henry’s still holding that against her even more ridiculous. It would be like Henry was saying it was okay for this person who he barely met to want to protect him but it’s not okay for his own mother to do so. How does that even make sense? I get that Pan is the King of Manipulation, but why is it so easy for Henry to be led astray like this? And please don’t tell me it’s because he’s just a kid, because I think that’s a lazy explanation. I want to like this kid. I really do. But throughout this whole story arc, he just made me want to bang my head repeatedly against a hard surface. And I don’t like that.
This episode seemed to mainly focus on Gold/Rumpelstiltskin’s character arc. When he and Regina run into the others again, Nealfire fills them all in on the prophesy that stated Henry could lead to Gold/Rumpelstiltskin’s downfall. As a result, everyone instantly turns on him, refusing to trust his word that he has no intention of harming Henry. This is a really awesome scene with everyone standing together to protect Henry from him. Everyone’s mistrust of Gold/Rumpelstiltskin continues as they infiltrate Pan’s camp and learn from Wendy exactly what Pan is planning to do with Henry. It’s not until the end when they reach Skull Rock that Nealfire sees the proof that Gold/Rumpelstiltskin was telling him the truth about splitting off from his shadow, which leads him to believe that he was also sincere in his promise to not harm Henry. Unfortunately, this does seem to be ‘too little, too late,’ as Gold’s plan to trap Pan in Pandora’s Box fails, as Pan somehow switched the box when no one was looking, resulting in Gold getting trapped instead.
Emma really was awesome in this episode, particularly when she comes up with the idea how to get past Pan’s barrier- by blocking out the moonlight so they’d no longer cast a shadow. That was really good thinking, and it led to her once again teaming up with Regina to create a lunar eclipse. Speaking of which, what exactly is Nealfire’s thoughts about Emma being able to use magic? We all know he has a strong dislike of magic, but whenever Emma uses magic in front of him, he’s rather mute on the whole subject. While he might be viewing it as a necessary evil at the moment, given the fact that they’re ? Itrying to get Henry back, what are his thoughts going to be when they leave Neverland don’t think the show ever answers that question, but I could see it putting a significant strain on their relationship, if you could call it that. Which is one more reason why I don't think these two should even attempt to pick up where they left off.
There was also a small scene in this episode with Emma and Snow that I think is particularly noteworthy. Snow is seriously thinking about remaining on Neverland to stay with Charming, even if it means saying goodbye to Emma for good. She is doubting that there is another way, as she cannot bring herself to leave the island without him. Emma, on the other hand, is very quick to scold her mother for giving up, saying ‘maybe this is just you rubbing off on me, but I don't believe that. There's always a way.’ It might just be the shipper goggles at work here, but I can’t help but remember that it’s only been an hour or so since we saw Emma visibly touched by Hook/Killian’s complete faith that she’d get Henry back. I tend to think that played a part in Emma starting to develop an optimistic side. That having him simply believe in her so much inspired her to show the same level of faith in other things. Either way, she is later seen turning to Hook/Killian to ask him if he has any ideas of how Charming can leave the island without dying. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have an answer for her, but Gold/Rumpelstiltskin, who had been listening in on their conversation, reminds them of how Hook/Killian tried to poison him with Dreamshade last season and stated he thinks he can create a potion that would permanently cure Charming. At first, he falls back into his typical pattern of stating he’ll only make the potion if they give him something in return, but Nealfirebagelperson steps in, telling him to give them the potion at no cost. You know, as much as I dislike Neal, which I still do, I still have to give him credit in this episode, as he does genuinely care about his son’s wellbeing. Not only is he doing whatever he can to make sure Henry gets out of this mess unharmed, he’s also trying to make sure Henry's family remains intact. I admit he deserves merit for that. (I still think he’s the village idiot, however.)
On a final nitpicky note- I couldn’t help but notice that Emma suddenly got a wardrobe change. Last episode, she was wearing the grey tanktop that she’s been wearing though most of the Neverland arc, which made a lot of sense as Neverland was apparently a hot jungle environment. But here, she’s in a long-sleeved black shirt, which I think is the same one she was wearing when they were still in-route to Neverland at the start of the season. Did she get a prolonged chill during the side-mission in Dark Hollow and needed to make a quick stop back at the Jolly Roger in-between episodes to grab the shirt? She certainly did look chilly during the scene in question, so I suppose that’s as good an explanation as any.