Once Upon A Time – Season 3, Episode 1 Recap: Heroes, Villains, And Deep-Seated Regrets

31A

We begin eleven years ago, where we watch a young Emma giving birth to Henry, complete with dramatically shorting-out lights, as if the world knows that she’s magic somehow. The doctor happily proclaims “It’s a boy, Emma,” bringing Henry over for her arms, but she turns away tearfully, refusing to even look at the child she was giving up much less hold him.

The doctor gently reminds her that she can change her mind, but Emma is vehement. “No,” she says, through a voice choked with tears. “I can’t be a mother.”

And now we’re aboard the Jolly Roger, traveling through a portal, on a journey to (say it with me!) save Henry! Neverland is on the horizon, and it’s as dark and foreboding a place as you’ve ever seen.

Now we flash over to Tamara, Greg and Henry landing on the island. Henry lets them know that his Moms are going to be arriving soon, thinking he’s in the Enchanted Forest. Tamara sets him straight as Greg digs out the communicator sent by the Home Office. Unfortunately for them, the Home Office sent a communicator full of sand, and it’s clear that the mission they thought they were on is not what it seems.

Back aboard ship, Hook and Regina have an interesting conversation about the nature of villains and happy endings. Regina asks him if he believes that villains don’t get them (happy endings, that is – we all know Hook can get any damn thing he wants) and he replies that he hopes not – otherwise they’ve wasted their lives.

Snow and David approach Emma, wanting to talk about Neal’s death and reassure her that none of it is her fault and she responds with a rousing jacksmack to the heart: she blames them. Them and their damn “good always wins” nonsense is just a load of B.S. as far as she’s concerned. She won’t be fooled by it or their happy Disney-bird circling point of view, and she sure as hell doesn’t share it.

Rumple breaks into all of this by assuring them that he’s got this well in hand. He’s heading out on his own to get Henry because he’s the only one who can do it. Emma begs to differ and Rumple reminds her that she doesn’t believe in her own magic, or her parents. “When have you ever taken a real leap of faith?” he asks. “You know, the kind where there’s absolutely no proof?”

He reminds them that their foe is fearsome, and Neverland is a place where imagination runs wild. Then with a twirl of his cane, he’s gone.

adios

Meanwhile back on the island with Greg and Tamara, Greg is building a signal fire. Tamara is starting to have real doubts after that messed-up communicator and it turns out with good reason – suddenly a gang of Lost Boys surrounds them. Felix, their leader, mockingly informs Greg and Tamara that there is no “plan.” They’re not going home, and they’re not destroying magic. Peter Pan’s shadow swoops in, killing Greg and a Lost Boy takes down Tamara with an arrow to her back. Henry gets away, and the Lost Boys are in hot pursuit.

Henry runs blindly through the jungle, and is intercepted by a runaway Lost Boy – only this one wants to help. He hides Henry until the Lost Boys pass.

Back on board ship, we see Emma doing pullups on a beam belowdecks, interrupted by Hook and his trademark snark. When she tells him she’s getting ready for a fight, he counters with “I never knew you had to get ready. I always thought it was a natural state.”

It turns out he’s there to give her a gift. He’s kept the cutlass he gave Baelfire (a.k.a. Neal) all those years ago, and thought she could use it as a weapon. He blatantly denies being sentimental, and then blows that out of the water by pouring them both a drink of rum to toast Neal’s memory. It’s a warm moment, and a good tentative foray into friendship for the two of them, united by their unresolved feelings for Neal.

31B

Speaking of Neal – he’s waking up in the Enchanted Forest, with Mulan, Phillip and Aurora standing over him. When he’s told he’s in the Enchanted Forest, he murmurs, “I’m back?” which immediately sets of Mulan’s suspicion-meter. She notes that he’s wearing clothing from Emma’s world so he must be lying.

Of course, Neal reacts to that name and they all put two-and-two together and realize that he’s Henry’s father. Aurora offers to go back in the dreamworld and contact Henry. Neal asks her to get a message to Emma. “Tell Emma I’m alive,” he says. “And that I love her.”

Mulan goes on to ask what his world is like, and Neal replies that everyone back home thinks they’re all just fairy tale characters. “They made a movie about you,” he says to Mulan. “It’s pretty good.” Aurora wakes from her attempt at sleeping her way into the burning room, and she wasn’t successful in making contact with anyone. Neal decides his best bet is to make his way to his father’s castle, in hopes of finding some kind of magic there to transport him.

Back aboard ship again, and the Jolly Roger has hit rough seas. Hook knows what’s going on – they’re under attack from mermaids. And these aren’t the singing, fork-collecting kind. These mermaids are trying to sink the ship. Everybody has their own ideas about how to deal with the problem: Hook’s steering the ship away as best he can, David mans the harpoon, Emma and Snow reach for a net, throwing it over and snagging one, but none of it’s working. Regina takes matters into her own hand and lobs a few fireballs into the water, scattering them. She then poofs the netted mermaid up onto the deck.

31C

Meanwhile, in the forest, Henry and his former-Lost Boy buddy are running, and stop for a breather. The boy confesses that Pan is after him because he stole pixie dust from him, hoping to use it to fly home. It won’t work for him, though. Henry tells the kid it’s okay – his family is coming and when they do, they’ll take him back with them. “Do you really think your the first boy who thought his family was coming for him?” the boy scoffs.

On another part of the island, Rumple happens upon a slowly (and painfully…yeah!) dying Tamara. He removes the arrow, helping her speak, and she tells him she has no idea where Henry is. She tells Rumple she’s sorry about Neal, begging his forgiveness, and he casually rips out her heart and crushes it.

Back aboard ship, Hook -who has experience with these creatures – is furious to see that Regina’s poofed the mermaid aboard. Regina thinks it’s a good idea to have a hostage, and suggests that torture might even be a good idea, when the mermaid grabs a shell and blows a warning to her sisters. Thunder rumbles and she tells them to let her go – or die.

Regina threatens her more, Snow tries to intercede on the mermaid’s behalf, and Hook (why isn’t anyone listening to Hook? He’s the only one who’s been here before and he spent a couple of freaking centuries on this island) says you can never trust a mermaid. They all start bickering, and the mermaid notes smugly that she doesn’t need a school of mermaids to kill them – they’ll kill themselves.

In the Enchanted Forest, meanwhile, Mulan is accompanying Neal to his father’s castle and she finds it curious that he’s Henry’s father, yet Emma never mentioned him while she was there. Neal admits that he broke her heart, and he should have told her that he loved her sooner.

“Your belief in love wasn’t strong enough to overcome your fear of rejection,” Mulan says thoughtfully.

“Greatest regret of my life,” he says. “Not one I’d wish upon anyone.”

They reach castle only to find that someone is squatting there. It turns out to be Robin Hood – the one we know and love.

31D

When Neal asks if he can look around, Robin sheaths his arrows and tells him to go ahead. He owes Rumplestiltskin a debt for sparing his life – the least he can do is help his son.

Neal finds his father’s old walking staff, and realizes that since tied to him by blood, it could hold blood magic. He waves it around and it releases a cloaking spell, revealing a hidden doorway. “It might not always seem like it, but family was important to dear old dad,” he says.

Back aboard ship, a storm of epic proportions hits the ship as David puts a sword to the mermaid’s throat with Regina’s full approval. Then he rethinks that as Hook tries to outrun the storm. Regina turns the mermaid to stone and they all start fighting again. Snow demands that Regina release the mermaid, and she replies with a snarky, “And then what? You’ll win her over with your rainbow kisses and unicorn stickers?” David starts ragging on Hook’s captaining skills, Regina and Snow start beating on each other, and then Hook and David are slugging away. Emma’s trying to get them all to see reason but it’s not working – but hey, Emma looks really hot in a wet tee shirt.

31E

Emma finally realizes that the more they fight, the stronger the storm gets. The mermaid was telling the truth – if they don’t stop fighting, they’re all going to die. She climbs up on the riggings in an effort to get everyone’s attention, screaming at them to stop fighting and work together, but no one’s giving a rat’s ass about any of that right now. In a moment of pure desperation, she takes a leap of faith – a literal leap – into the stormy sea. A large metal pully breaks free from the lashings, falling into the water and conking her on the head. We see her body floating.

Back to the jungle again, and Henry and his friend have been cut off by Lost Boys right at a cliff’s edge. The boy offers to give the chasing Lost Boys the pixie dust – maybe they’ll let them live. Henry grabs the dust and tells the kid he’s got a way out – everyone knows pixie dust is for flying. The boys reminds him that it doesn’t work, but Henry shuts that nonsense down by telling him that he believes, and then takes a running start and they both begin to fly.

Meanwhile, back on board the ship, everyone’s stopped fighting and they’re looking over the rail at the spot where Emma jumped. Regina can’t see to poof her out of there, so David starts to dive in. Hook wraps a rope around his waist, reminding him that it’s no good if they lose him, too. With the other three bracing the other end of the rope, David goes in, pulling Emma safely to the surface (although you’d think Snow was hemorraghing or something, with the ways she’s screaming as she pulls). As Emma coughs, she splutters out “I told you…” and the sky begins to clear.

Over on the island, Rumple (who never misses a thing) takes a seat on a rock and proclaims, “Come out and say hello, dearie.”

Out steps Felix, who welcomes him on behalf of Pan, who is “excited” to see him again. He does warn that if Rumple is here for the boy, that makes him an enemy of Pan. Rumple replies “Then nothing’s changed.” Felix further asserts that Rumple won’t survive if he takes on Pan, which is just fine with Rumple – he’s not planning on getting out of this alive, anyway. Felix then tosses him a gift from Pan, a straw doll, and Rumple is moved to tears at the sight of it.

31G

“Isn’t it funny….things we haven’t thought about in years still have the ability to make us cry.”

Over in the Enchanted Forest, Neal finds a crystal ball, and he uses it to find Emma. In a split-second flash of her in the jungle, he figures out that she’s in Neverland. That’s some serious “Where’s Waldo” level sleuthing.

We now see our heroes (and erstwhile villains, as the case may be) on the shore, having made it to the island. Emma suggests that the all start believing in magic and working together. They’re going to need everyone’s skills if they’re going to get out of this. It’s an impassioned speech, and it does the trick. They’re a team now – maybe a reluctant team, but a team nonetheless.

And now we see Henry and his friend flying across the jungle and coming in for a landing.

31H

I haven’t seen CGI this cheesy since The Muppet Christmas Carol

They get to their feet and his friend drops the act. He’s none other than Peter Pan. He was behind Greg and Tamara and their plan to wipe out magic. It turns out it’s easier to get someone to hate something and act on it, then to get them to believe. They were both pawns in his bigger plan: Henry.

By using the pixie dust, Henry proved that he has the heart of the truest believer, and Pan wants that heart. He draw his dagger, and with an ominous “Come on boys! Let’s play!” he calls down the Lost Boys, who surround Henry.

I’m giving this one five hooks out of five.

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What a great premier! Lots of action, lots of snark, and I love to see all these heroes and villains having to team up. Pan is perfectly creepy and looks like he’s part elf, he really does.

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