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As the Neverland arc comes to closure, I’m having more and more troubles putting up with Henry; he doesn’t ruin the episode for me (in fact, I consider this episode one of the strongest installments of the season), but I could have enjoyed it way more without his presence. And it’s not just Jared S. Gilmore poor acting skills, it’s the character himself, making stupid choices the thing that bothers me; it bothers because he makes bad choices just to get the plot going on instead of being due to some character development or something. That’s cheap and sad; while most of OUAT’s character have grown and developed, Henry is kind of stuck if not regressing; in season one he blindly believed in Emma, and now he couldn’t trust her. That would be ok development if there was an actual reason for Henry to doubt her mother, but certainly not because she lied about his father just one time. But that aside, I enjoyed the episode pretty much, it had some nice reveals and development to keep everything going.
The episode has two main stories: Rumple flashback and our heroes getting to Henry.

The flashback is great; to be honest I didn’t have much expectations to begin with, as I thought that when Rumple’s father leaves him with the old ladies that would be his abandonment story, but there was way more to it than I initially thought: the ladies give Rumple a magic bean so he and his father can go somewhere else, where they could start over. This echoes to what Baelfire tried to do with Rumple and so there is a nice theme of story being repeated; usually, repetition can hurt a show a lot, but when done right it’s a great theme, and here is one of those times.

Rumple’s father was kind of a gambling addict, so instead of working he would always leave his son behind to play; Rumple, with his magic bean, convinces his father to start a new life somewhere else, and his dad knows exactly where he wants to start over: Neverland.

Halfway through the episode I realized that Rumple’s dad was actually Peter Pan (a name he took as a way to remember Rumple, as the doll he gave Rumple was named Peter Pan) and I was thrilled with this realization: it made sense and it added incredible tension to their struggle. Way back to “Nasty Habits” I thought Rumple and Pan might be related, but I always thought Pan would be his brother or something, it wasn’t until this episode that the idea that he was going to be his dad came and I just loved it. And I love how the bad guys are usually related to our main character; back on season 1 we had Regina- Henry’s mother-, then we had Cora in season 2- Regina’s mother- and now Peter Pan- Rumple’s father. As I said, I have nothing against some repetition as long as it’s done right, and this is one of the elements that work wonders for the show as it adds a lot of tension to the conflict; at its core, Once Upon a Time is all about broken families, and when the show exploits this plot well, it’s wonderful.

The great thing about watching Rumple and his father on Neverland is that somehow you know that everything is going to fall apart; Rumple’s father acts just as if his son doesn’t exist, and he is so desperate to experience Neverland the same way as he did as a kid that he outright ditches his son, who is sent back to the Enchanted Forest, so he could become a kid again, an ageless kid. And that’s how Peter Pan was born. But wait! There’s more! Neverland has rules; there’s only so much time Pan can spend on Neverland because it’s a place that should only be visited in dreams, so when the hourglass on Skull Rock drops the last bits of sand Peter Pan will die unless he gets the heart of the truest believer, where Henry comes in.

The fact that Peter Pan ditched his own son, that he kept his grandson on Neverland for so long and that he is willing to take his great grandson’s life for his own benefit just shows us what kind of nasty character this is, and that’s how he is supposed to feel, so everything here works right.

Back on Neverland, Regina and Rumple are soon reunited with Emma and company; unluckily for Rumple, Neal doesn’t trust him and his distrust starts spreading around the group, so Rumple is forced to give his Pandora’s Box to Neal and play nice. I like that through the whole episode he had to restrain himself from doing typical Rumple stuff; he couldn’t force Wendy to tell them where Henry was and he had to let Neal handle that and he had to promise to heal Charming free of charges, just because it was the right thing to do; these things are not easy for him, but he tries and when they get to Skull Rock, a spell prevents anyone with a shadow to move forward, and as Rumple has no shadow he is the only one who can move forward, so he finally asks Neal to give him the chance to redeem himself, who agrees, but not without Regina warning him that if he failed whatever Pan did would be just childplay in comparison to what she would do (oh, how I love this woman!).

Rumple has a confrontation with his parent which is one hell of a scene. The pain on Rumple feels real and earned, which makes this scene all the more hurtful, as he didn’t fall for his dad’s tricks, but he didn’t get to trap him on the box, instead he gets trapped himself.

So while Rumple is locked away, Regina and Emma try to lift the spell and it seems Regina’s magic classes (which I assume where more than 1, but just off screen) paid off, as the two of them together cast an eclipse on the moon so that their shadows won’t be seen and they can get past the spell. Sadly for them, they arrive a little too late, as dumb Henry is holding his heart and is willing to give it to Pan; even though both his mothers and his father tells him not to believe in Pan, he is so desperate to be a hero that he just gives his heart to Pan, granting him immortality.

That’s a really good cliffhanger and it sets up what could be a really intense episode, but it feels wrong that I can be so tempted with the idea of Henry dying for good; I’m supposed to care for the character, but both Jared S. Gilmore and the writers have made sure that he is so annoying that I don’t really care if he lives or not. He will live, for sure, but I can’t stop thinking about how cool it would be if he wasn’t saved and how that would affect our main characters. Sadly, there’s only about 1% chance of that happen (even less chances considering next episode title is ‘Save Henry’) and it’s even more sad that a character so relevant to the show just annoys me so much. Oh well, at least we will always have Hook, Regina and Rumple to compensate.

Grade: A-

Stray observations:

-Charming and Snow go to look for some water to keep Charming alive long enough in their trip back to Storybrooke so he can last enough to be healed by Rumple; the episode benefits from having limited amount of screen time for both as they haven’t been on their best form in this arc. The sad part: Hook stays behind with them.

- Henry : “Heroes have to make sacrifices all the time. My family taught me that.”
Please, no more goofy lines like that for Henry, Jared doesn’t know how to deliver them.

-I found it hilarious when Rumple’s father believed he could fly and he falls in the sand. He was so convinced he was going to make it that it made the fall all the more funny.

-Wendy is essentially saved, right? Is she going back to Storybrooke with our gang? Why do I feel the show will so desperately try to pair her with Henry?

-If all that Pan needed was Henry's heart, why didn't he outright took it out when they first met? Did he need Henry to believe him to get it to work?

-Next epido: I feel a lot of Regina badassery coming in their way to defeat Peter Pan. I’m glad the arc is coming to an end; these last episodes have been really great, but it feels like the right time to end it.

Pablozky
I'm currently studying Psychology while also writing fantasy books (one already published in my home country, Chile, you can check it out on the facebook icon). I watch many different types of shows, including my favorites Revenge, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time and about 23 more. Currently writing articles and some reviews as well

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