Once Upon A Time – Season 3, Episode 4: Pipers And Promises

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We begin tonight with Felix leading Neal through the jungle, taunting him about how Henry will never get away. Neal punches him in the face and gets away. Any episode that begins with Felix getting smacked in the chops is okay by me.

Then we go back to the Enchanted Forest where teen Baelfire is given a gift by a post-Dark One Rumplestiltskin. He lets his father know on no uncertain terms that he’s tired of getting gifts taken from people his father has terrorized, and what’s more – he wants to leave their home.

Rumple offers him a palace but Bae wants to see the world and have some real friends. Rumple refuses – he wants to keep Bae safe at all costs.

Forward to Neverland now, and we see Rumple putting on war paint as his faux Belle shows up again. He tells her that he’s got to embrace his Dark One side if he’s going to defeat Pan. He’s fully committed to giving his life if it means he can (say it with me!) Save HenryTM.

Our group is now planning some strategy with Tink. She warns them again about Dreamshade, but she’s not going anywhere until they have an exit plan in place. No one leaves unless Pan allows it, and she’s not risking her neck without a bonafide escape plan. She tells them that she found Tamara and Greg’s bodies, noting that there wasn’t enough left of Greg to bury – prompting a thoroughly wicked grin from Regina that looks something like this:

She also notes that this is how Pan treats the people who work for him. It’s only going to be that much worse if you’re against him.

Hook claims he can take them off the island with his ship, but they need something that can make a portal. Only one person has ever gotten off the island without Pan’s permission – Neal. Emma wants to know how and Hook tells them to follow – he may no a way to find out.

And then they irresponsibly walk away from their roaring campfire. Clearly, none of these people were ever boy or girl scouts. But I digress.

Back to Rumple, who is hearing Lost Boys. He drops them with some magic, and then he runs smack into Neal. At first he disbelieves – thinking Neal is just a hallucination, until Neal calls him Papa.

And that sends us back to the Enchanted Forest, where Rumple has brought Bae a crown, only to find that Bae is missing. His trail leads Rumple to Hamelin Town, where the townsfolk are up in arms over a mystical “Pied Piper” who has stolen their children away.

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Over to Neverland again and Neal’s got a plan. He leads Rumple to the lagoon, where he summons a giant squid. Neal harpoons the squid and with the squid ink, they can now immobilize Pan.

Hook leads everyone to Neal’s old cave hangout, but needs some help getting the stone door open. He tries to get a little closer to Emma, but David intercedes, sweating and pale, which prompts Hook to remark, “You don’t look so hot, mate.”

“That’s because it’s a hundred degrees in this damn jungle, David replies. “And I’m plenty hot.”

Oh writers, sometimes you’re just too adorable.

Hook pulls David aside and tells him that it’s time to tell the family that he’s a goner, and David still refuses. He sees no point in telling them when there’s no hope. Hook reminds him that for the hero-types, there’s always hope, prompting David to ask him if there’s something he’s not telling him.

“I told you the truth,” Killian says with obvious and genuine sorrow. “You’re never making it off this island alive.”

David asks him to keep that just between them, so that his family only has to worry about how they’re going to (say it with me!) Save HenryTM..

Back again to the Enchanted Forest, where the Pied Piper is calling children again on the overnight, and this time Rumple follows. He comes upon them dancing but they’re all hooded and he can’t pick out which one is Bae. He manages to de-cloak the Piper and steps back in serious shock at the sight of Peter Pan. Peter clearly knows Rumple, and even calls him “laddie.”

“Look who’s all grown up and become The Dark One,” he crows. Obviously, he’s known Rumple since his childhood, so we cannot help but wonder now if Rumple was once a Lost Boy – which would make sense because we know that he was abandoned by his father.

Peter’s come to take some new boys back to Neverland, including Bae. The only reason can hear the pipes is because he feels unloved. Peter taunts Rumple about all the people who’ve left him in his life. He offers Rumple a deal – if Bae wants to stay, Peter will go and never return.

Now we go forward to Henry in Neverland, watching the Lost Boys dance around the fire and refusing to join in the celebration. Peter tells him they’re celebrating because he’s come to save magic. He starts to play his pipes, and Henry can’t hear them (because he’s not unloved – nice try Pan).

Felix shows up in the middle of this and pulls Pan aside to let him know that Bae and Rumple have now teamed up, but Pan remains unworried.

Our group, meanwhile is going through the cave and there’s another intimacy-building moment between Emma and Hook when he tells her a bit about teen Baelfire and she realizes that he knew Neal pretty well and there was real affection there. Snow finds a coconut shell will some holes punched in it and theorizes that it might be a colander, prompting Regina to roll her eyes and snark:

“Yes, because pre-teen Baelfire probably made lots of pasta.”

Emma figures it out – dousing the torches as she puts the halves of coconut together to reveal a night-light of sorts, projecting points of light. Hook recognizes it for what it is: a map to home.

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Over at Pan’s camp, a sleep spell drops the Lost Boys but doesn’t affect Pan. Rumple steps out to confront him – or better yet, distract him – so Neal can get a bead on him with the crossbow. Pan is still unworried, even when Neal fires at point-blank range. Pan stops the arrow in mid-flight with his fist, gloating:

“We’ve been through this before, Baelfire. Have you remembered nothing?”

Neal assures him that he’s remembered plenty. That’s why he coated the shaft of the arrow, instead of the tip.

The squid ink does its job, immobilizing Henry. Pan uses the only weapon he can wield – his words and his knowledge of all sorts of stuff in people’s heads. He tells Bae about the prophecy and that Rumple is actually there to murder Henry.

The two of them take off with Henry and then Bae confronts him, demanding the truth. Rumple ‘fesses up about the prophecy, but reiterates that he’s willing to do the right thing. Neal doesn’t believe him for a minute.

“Self-preservation has been a nasty habit I’ve had my whole life,” Rumple tells him. “I came here to break that. To do the right thing!”

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He asks Neal to trust him, but Neal just can’t.

Back we go again to the Enchanted Forest, where Rumple finds Bae, and instead of asking him to come back home, he strong-arms him with magic and poofs him away. Bae demands to know who Pan is and Rumple says only that he’s known him since he was a boy, and they were once very close. Pan betrayed him and went to Neverland, and he’s too dark and dangerous for Bae to be around.

Bae tells him that he can’t be any worse than dear old Dad, and he knew about the deal Pan offered. If Rumple would have only trusted him and asked, Bae would have chosen to come home. Bae leaves, presumably to return to Peter.

Forward to Neverland, where Rumple is pleading to regain Neal’s trust. Bae asks for the Dark One dagger, but Rumple doesn’t have it and has no idea where it is. Neal points out that if they get back to Storybrooke and he gets back with Belle, he may just change his mind and want Henry out of the way so he can get his happily ever after.

A tearful Rumple tells Neal the truth: “You’re my happily ever after.”

Neal clasps his father’s hand, and we think he’s moved by his father’s words, but it’s more like this:

Then he moves away and we see that he’s put squid ink on a leaf that he pressed into Rumple’s palm. Rumple is immobilized, and Neal takes off with Henry.

“We’re safer without you,” he tells Rumple as he goes.

Back in Neal’s old cave, Hook confesses that he can’t read this particular star map. He taught Baelfire how to navigate by the stars, but he also taught him the old pirate trick of concealing your maps in code. Neal is the only person who can read this map.

“Which means the only person who can read this map is dead,” Emma says flatly – and then she storms out with her parents following. She’s distraught, because this has brought up all the old feelings again. Emma goes back into the cave and now Snow is distraught. She has no idea how to comfort her own daughter and she turns to David and says “How can we blame her? If something happened to you I would not be able to go on.”

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Nice punch to the gut there, Snow. David says gently but firmly, “You must.”

Back to Neal, who finds the group’s abandoned camp – and look! The fire is now out but it was still warm, so he knows they’re nearby. Unfortunately, Pan and Felix have found him. Neal is recaptured and taken away, and poor Henry never wakes up, and never knows his Dad was alive.

Pan reminds him that Henry can become part of the family there in Neverland, bring back magic, and make dreams come true. He picks up the flute and starts playing, and now Henry can hear it. He joins in the dance.

Somewhere in the jungle, Rumple is now free, courtesy of Belle, who is more than sympathetic about his whole failed bid at belated fatherhood. He orders her away as he contemplates the whole prophecy-tells-me-to-kill-my-grandson thing.

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

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There were some solid moments between Neal and his father, and we can see how insidious Pan is, chipping away at Henry’s resolve bit by bit. So delightfully evil.

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