Peter Pan wants to play on this week’s Once Upon A Time.
So let’s make a deal, he tells Emma. You want to find Henry, well here is a map. Yeah, it’s blank, but all you have to do is accept who you are to reveal the path. You aren’t a hero, savior or even a princess.
No, Peter Pan’s game leaves the motley crew with the all important question – just who are you, Emma Swan?
This week, the adventure to save Henry begins with the Dark One conjuring a fire and removing his own shadow with his dagger. At first, I couldn’t believe he’d bring the one item that could kill him to the island – but hey, Rumpelstiltskin has made it crystal clear from the beginning that he believed the journey to Neverland was a one-way trip for him.
He instructs his shadow to take his dagger and hide it where no one will ever find it – not even him.
Hook has taken on the role of tour guide as the Dysfunctional Five (Charming, Emma, Hook, Regina, and Snow) trudge through the Neverland jungle in search of high ground to get a glimpse of Pan’s camp. Sassy Regina has stuck around this week and remarks how she can get them to their destination with magic. The Captain thinks it’s unwise to zap them to unfamiliar terrain and Emma has his back.
Yes, Emma and Hook have shared the role of leader. Hook, she points out, is the only one familiar with this land. That four-letter word that always rocks these two to the core – TRUST – has developed a significant amount since arriving in Neverland.
Snow offers Emma water for which she thanks her – but, not as mom. No, Emma calls her Mary Margaret. This doesn’t sit well with Snow.
Hook saves Charming from a plant called Dream Shade. This plant produced the poison he used on Rumpelstiltskin last season. Hook wants to take the path around it, but Charming – because of his distrust in the pirate – ignores him completely and continues forward.
This irks Hook, who makes a comment to Emma about how her father is a distrusting man. Well yeah, he’s not used to working with the bad guys, she tells him.
“On this island, I am not the bad guy.”
This prompts Hook to ask about how they see him in their realm. He notes he’s clearly a villain, but asks if he’s also handsome. He’s obviously trying to get her to call him attractive. Emma laughs, “If waxed mustaches and perms are your thing.”
Poor Hook looks confused. What are perms? Are perms bad?
The Dark Jungle has grown considerably since Hook left Neverland. He advises the group to avoid it at all costs and that they should make camp. Emma is worried about Henry’s well being. Snow reassures Emma that Hook is right (Woah. Progress). If there is one thing Snow’s learned through all her years, it’s that it’s never too late.
In the Enchanted Forest that was, we get to see what happened after Charming broke Snow’s sleeping curse with true loves kiss. A guard is running the magic mirror down a corridor to find the Queen. Regina’s utterly disgusted that true loves kiss broke her curse. (Sidenote: How great is it to see the magic mirror again?)
Snow is trying to build an army to fight the Queen. Speak of the devil, Regina appears dressed in the most beautiful gown I’ve ever seen. She ties up Charming and threatens Snow. Same old same old.
This time Regina doesn’t want to kill Snow. She wants to strike a deal. If Snow goes into exile and gives up her claim to the throne she’ll let the Princess, her Prince, and the dwarves live. Snow’s not keen to the deal, so Regina uses magic to strangle an innocent girl. She has one day to make her choice. Regina promises if she doesn’t stop denying who she is, she will kill an innocent person each day. Snow’s story is paralleling Emma today.
In Neverland, everyone is sleeping at the camp. Emma is stirred by the distant cries of children. Nobody can hear them except Emma. So naturally she makes the not-sensible decision to wander off in the jungle alone.
Oh hello there Peter Pan. That wasn’t surprising at all. He introduces himself to Emma who goes full on rage with the boy as she holds her sword against his throat demanding he give her Henry.
Pan is into it. He likes her fire and says he’ll help her find Henry. The tricky boy gives her a map and laughs telling her he always keeps his promises. Emma, distrustful as always (and she really should be in this case) asks why he’d give her a way to find her son.
“It’s not about finding Henry, it’s about how you find him,” he tells her. Emma is the only one who can find him. Just like Rumpel and Hook this boy has a way with his words. She should listen carefully.
On inspection, Emma sees the parchment is blank. He leaves her with a riddle. She can only read the map when she stops denying who she is.
Back at camp, the Dysfunctional Five argue as Emma looks at the map that’s not really a map. Hook is annoyed. Pan loves his games, and he lets them know that if Pan says there is a map on that parchment than there is. Regina is visibly frustrated. She wants to use magic to show the path on the map. Hook warns it’s a bad idea, and Charming reluctantly agrees. He’s winning him over he can feel it.
In the past, Snow makes the decision to leave the kingdom. This doesn’t bode well for Charming. The band of seven confront the Prince. Grumpy essentially calls him a gold digger. If they have true love, what difference does it make if they live in a castle or a farm? He leaves Charming with a warning- they have their eyes on him. (Sidenote: Did anyone else see the deer walking around in the background during this scene? Bambi is that you?)
Unhappy with Snow’s decision and her seven big brothers support, Charming seeks out Rumpelstiltskin. Our good guys never learn do they? He wants to strike ANOTHER deal to help out Snow and her continuous blood-feud with the Queen.
The scene changes to the present right after the line about about remembering who you were. Rumpelstiltskin chases a hooded figure through the jungle who took his creepy doll. It’s Belle. What is going on?
Belle chastises him for wearing the Dark One attire, and lovingly caresses his cheek saying there’s still hope for him because he hasn’t fully become the Dark One. He realizes that Belle is still in Storybrooke. Turns out, he conjured this shadow vision of her. Why?
Back to the past, Charming argues with Rumpel. He’s not liking any answers from anyone this episode. Rumepl tells the Prince that magic can’t make someone believe. Here’s the central theme of this episode: belief can only come from within. The Prince asks him to name a price.
Snow is shooting arrows. Charming rides up and tells her what Rumpelstiltskin had to say about a legendary weapon that can help her reclaim the kingdom. Looks like before the Queen’s deadlines up, the lovers are embarking on an adventure.
Emma starts talking to the map like a robot. “My name is Emma Swan,” she says. Her parents are desperately trying to show her their support. The entire time she is letting the map know who she is, she is filled with doubts. “I’m the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming which apparently makes me the product of true love.” The camera pans to Hook. Subtle, but not really. They did this last episode too.
She uses the S-word as Regina puts it. “I’m the savior.”
Regina is incredibly frustrated because each attempt to read the map fails. She takes the map and casts a locator spell to find Pan. Charming and Hook agree yet again that it’s a terrible idea to use magic. Hook has spent a significant amount of time this episode vying to get in the Prince’s good graces. He makes the comment, “I told you we were getting along.”
The map glows and starts floating off into you guessed it, the Dark Jungle. Sarcasm rolls off the tongue of the pirate because of course that’s where it would lead them. Oh, that place you told us never to go, Emma remarks. Yep! That’s the one. Emma leads the way.
Shadow Belle and Rumpelstiltskin have a conversation about letting go of the past in order to move forward. The Dark One thinks he’s like his father, a coward. Shadow Belle reassures him he’s not. That creepy voodoo looking doll is thrown off a cliff into the ocean. Rumpelstiltskin is really struggling this season with who he is. Neverland is effecting them all this way. Luckily he has Belle to support him.
Regina and Emma share a moment. She wants Emma’s thanks, and Emma gives it to her. These two haven’t been at each other’s throats the way they have the last two seasons. I think they’re coming to some sort of understanding which I really like.
The group abruptly stop when Regina feels Pan’s smugness. Thinking they have the element of surprise, Charming charges forward into the Lost Boy’s camp. Hook has Emma’s back again, letting her know that although Pan looks like a boy he’s not, he’s a bloody demon.
In the Enchanted Forest that was, Snow and Charming ride horses to find this magical weapon that will help them fight the Queen. It’s Excalibur. Before they reach it, Charming points out how Snow’s seven older brothers don’t trust him. Oh the parallels to what’s going on right now in Neverland.
Moving on – Charming attempts to pull Excalibur, and fails. Snow reluctantly pulls, and it slides right out. Is Snow the once and future Queen? This is giving me Merlin feels.
As the Dysfunctional Five cautiously move through the empty camp ,Emma spots Henry.
Just kidding! It’s Peter Pan dressed in Henry’s clothing, and boy is he unhappy. “Cheaters never win,” he tells them. “Bad form!”
During the magic-free summer hiatus, I imagined how OUAT would tackle the infamous rivalry of Captain Hook and Peter Pan. With Pan being presented as the villain for season three, and Hook being well, more of an antihero than a villain, would the two, like in other adaptations, be archenemies? That still remains to be seen as I’m sure there are layers to this relationship. The two do share one thing so far. Bad form. Oh yes, bad form indeed.
“I expect more from you Captain,” he tells Hook arching an eyebrow.
“Aye, and you’ll get it.”
The group is ambushed by the Lost Boys. Remember that plant Dream Shade that Hook warned the others about in the beginning of the episode? Well, the arrows the Lost Boys are shooting at the motley crew are laced with it. An arrow grazes Charming’s side, but he tells his wife it’s fine.
Hook and Felix clash. Wow, there is so much hate between these two! Apparently Hook did something to Rufio, and he informs Felix his fate will be far more gruesome. Felix, who has kept his cool in each scene so far, completely loses it with Hook. I can’t wait to see more of the story between Hook, Pan, and the Lost Boys.
Emma chases a Lost Boy up a hill and tackles him to the ground. She holds a knife to his throat and starts screaming about Henry. This scene hit me in the gut. The look this boy gives Emma stops her, and she backs off him completely spooked.
Do you remember in “Tallahassee” when Hook and Emma ventured up the beanstalk, and he gave her the line about orphans sharing the same look in their eyes? This Lost Boy, he has it. It’s the same look Emma has had the entire show.
Seems like Pan made his point, and he calls off the attack.
“The map will show you where Henry is only when you stop denying who you are,” Pan tells them as he and the Lost Boys retreat into the forest.
Snow and Charming, in the Enchanted Forest that once was, prepare to battle Regina with Excalibur. Snow is like, NO DEAL REGINA! So of course the Queen strangles Grumpy. Snow lunges forward with Excalibur and slices Regina in the face. She’s shocked the Princess drew blood. She has stopped denying who she is. This is her kingdom, and Snow, well, she’s going to fight for it.
Back in the jungle, Snow and Emma have a heart to heart. Emma has struggled with who she is her entire life. She couldn’t hurt the boy with the knife, and Snow wants to know why.
Get the tissue guys. “Because when I looked at his face, I saw me. That look in his eyes, the despair. I had it back when I was in the foster system. Just a lost little girl who didn’t matter and didn’t think she ever would. A little girl who cried herself to sleep each night because she wanted her parents so bad and could never understand why they gave her up.”
Tears fall as Snow is hit with the realization that when Emma found them and broke the curse, it was too late. Emma cries, because Neverland has forced her to confront her past. She doesn’t feel like anything but an orphan. She’s accepted who she really is. Snow tells her to look at the map as the path has now become visible. Emma may be an orphan, but Snow promises she will change that.
Back in the Enchanted Forest that was, Snow summons Rumpelstiltskin. The Dark One lets her know that EVERYONE knows Excalibur is in Camelot. Duh, Snow, come on, everyone knows that. The Princess believes in her soon to be husband so much she doesn’t believe Rumpel when he calls the sword a fake. Snarky Rumple disintegrates her faux Excalibur and takes her mother’s necklace as payment for wasting his time.
The dwarves apologize to Charming for doubting his intentions with Snow. They share a drink before a pissed off Snow strides up wanting to talk. How could he take her on a journey to find a fake sword, and ask her to stand up to Regina? He said she had it in her all along to do it, she just needed reminding she could. More parallels! Remember who else needed a reminding they could? (Hint: It’s the man this Snow and Charming backstory have been paralleling the entire episode.)
The Dysfunctional Five study the map together. Emma tells Regina, who has doubts about this entire situation, that their best chance is working together. When everyone leaves, and Hook and Emma are left alone he compliments her once more as he pulls out his flask. The two share another drink.
“Is rum you solution to everything?” she jokes.
“It certainly helps.”
Hook asks just who she is. Emma is smiling and flirting and quips back with, “wouldn’t you like to know?” Hook, who usually would seize any opportunity to dazzle her with his charm, is nothing but sincere. You can see as he grips onto the flask that he’s hesitant, but he says it anyway. “Perhaps, I would.”
Emma’s eyes move from his lips to his eyes before she throws back up her walls and walks off. You can see it in his face when he turns to watch her, he’s realizing how much he wants to know her.
I’m about to break it down here guys. Hook and Emma are not the traditional hero and villain we’ve become accustomed to seeing in media. Hook has never been a villain in my eyes, but more of the quintessential anti-hero as he is morally ambiguous. He possesses the traits opposite of the traditional hero, and I think what makes him so likable and interesting as a character is that Hook is more of an accurate depiction of humanity than, say, Charming, who always does the right thing and has an unrealistic unshakable optimistic view on what is “good.”
People are selfish, have doubts and fears, and they certainly don’t make the right choices each and every single time they have to make a tough decision. Emma Swan is not the traditional hero, but she is not fully an antihero either. What makes Emma so appealing as a character is how down to Earth she is. Emma Swan’s had a hard life. She’s dealt with problems that are sadly all to common in the world. Emma has been dealt a difficult hand of cards so far.
Here we have a woman who still sees herself as an orphan and continues to struggle with the question why her parents didn’t want her. She is also the product of a broken foster system. The one time she let love into her life, Nealfire, like her parents, abandoned her. She can be selfish and full of doubt and even afraid. She’s a real person thrown unexpectedly into a world that’s supposed to be fantasy.
Hook has never been specifically on team good guy or team bad guy. His allegiance is to whichever team allows him to reach his desired goal first. Emma has walked the thin line between doing whats wrong and right on several occasions. Most of the time, she does what she believes is right, but Emma has made it clear she doesn’t view herself as a hero or even a savior. These two are so alike in this regard.
I’d like to point out the only act of selflessness committed by the Captain the entire second season was done for Emma. Now sure, we can argue the partnership started out to fulfill his goal of reaching Storybrooke to kill his crocodile, but when Hook sailed back on the Jolly Roger at the end of season two he was not gaining anything to further his own selfish needs by doing so. When he offered his ship to help rescue Emma’s son, he wasn’t doing it for himself.
Last week, I talked about intent vs action being a prominent theme for the characters this season. Much like Hook, Emma is a person of action. Words carry little meaning to the woman who has been burned so badly in the past. That is where Hook and Emma stand at the moment.
Emma expects Hook to do the worst possible thing in each situation they encounter, and he keeps proving her wrong. Hook came back to Storybrooke. Hook sailed a group who hates one another to Neverland. Hook has believed in Emma’s ability to lead showing on several occasions that he has her back and supports each decision she’s been made.
Hook’s motto is, “a man unwilling to fight for what he wants deserves what he gets.” Hook has sincerely laid his intention on the table for Emma to see, and he’s backed it up by his actions. Week by week the two of them are letting their guard down and letting in trust for one another.
It seems the ocean is not enough to stop whatever demon posses that creepy doll as it falls right in front of Rumpelstiltskin’s feet in the middle of the jungle. What about fire? He torches it.
Nope! Fire doesn’t work. It’s back! This creepy doll just wont go away, so he pockets it.
Emma’s gathering berries. Pan appears and lets her know not to partake in the blue ones. He asks if he can call her a lost girl and Emma says he can call her whatever he wants she’s still going to save Henry. Pan lets her know that just like how she hasn’t forgiven her parents for abandoning her, Henry hasn’t forgiven her for abandoning him.
Pan’s threat startles her. “When we’re finished you won’t just feel like an orphan. You’ll be one.”
The episode ends with Charming inspecting the arrow wound near his armpit. It appears things are not fine for Charming. Uh-oh, the poison is spreading. He should tell someone. Keeping secrets never ends well on this show.
Till next time.
Written by: Jessica Lee