We begin this episode in a slight flashback, with Rumple saying goodbye to Belle at the dock before their departure to Neverland. He gives her a cloaking spell to shield the town and she realizes he never means to come back because he’s going to Save HenryTM.
They show the cheesy CGI of the ship heading into the portal, and Belle lets the town know that they’re not safe – there could be others that were associated with Greg and Tamara who could be on their way to Storybrooke right now.
And of course, there are. We see a car speeding toward the town line, while Belle, Blue, Archie and the dwarves head down to the mines, to open up a vein of fairy dust. Once they do and release the spell, the dust will carry it through town. We see a brightly lit dome come down over the town, knocking the rear bumper off the car, but not before it makes it through and across the town line.
The two men inside glance at each other, and keep on driving into town.
Over in Neverland, Rumple gives Ariel an enchanted shell, asking her to deliver it to Belle. He won’t say what the object is for fear of Pan listening in, but he’s sure Belle will know what to do once she receives the shell. Ariel takes off and we head over to Pan, who senses that someone has left Neverland.
“We need to get word to our friends on the ground in Storybrooke,” he tells Felix. “And I need to have a chat with our friend in the other cage.”
Back with our group, Neal explains the plan: the coconut with the holes in it isn’t a star map – it’s a trap. They need to capture Pan’s shadow so it can fly them off the island – this is how he got away all those years before. Emma volunteers to go with him, and Hook puts himself right in there – he’s determined to keep that foot in the door. David lets that go right by because he wants a chance at getting Snow alone to talk, so he and Snow will be heading off to meet Tinkerbell.
Over to Storybrooke now, where the dwarves are enjoying a peaceful lunch – a lot more peaceful than they’ve had in a long, long time. Happy notes that things are pretty good without the Charmings around. It’s only been five days, but it’s the first five days without any killings or mayhem. Good point, Happy. Seriously.
Suddenly a mermaid tail flips out of the water and Ariel pops out, looking for Belle. Across the way, the two mystery men (who sound decidedly British, which could mean they’re from anywhere on this show) are watching it all with binoculars. They’re under orders from the home office to see that she doesn’t return to Neverland.
Belle, meanwhile, is sitting at Granny’s and feeling a little blue. In walks Leroy with Ariel and Granny looks right down her bespectacled nose at her and says, “Didn’t you see the sign? No shirt, no shoes, no service.”
“Now you got a dress code?” Leroy snarks. “I seem to recall some Ruby outfits that are seared into my brain.”
Yeah, Leroy, don’t we all. Don’t we all….
Belle is thrilled to hear that Rumple is still alive, and once back at the shop, she figures out how to activate the sanddollar, which starts a holographic projection of Rumple talking to her. He explains that the outsiders are a big danger and unwitting pawns in Pan’s game. The object he needs is hidden, but with the strength of their love, she can find it – and in so doing, save them all.
Over to Neverland again, where Henry tells Pan that he’s lying about his family. He knows they’re on the island. He tells Pan that he knows he’s hiding something.
Meanwhile, in Neal’s old cave, Emma runs out to find the holey coconut while Hook and Neal share a brief and eye-opening discussion. Hook thanks Neal for his understanding – you know, macking on his ex-girlfriend and all. Neal is taken aback – he didn’t hear Hook’s secret in Echo Cave and Emma certainly hasn’t mentioned that she had a pirates soft, full lips pulling at hers while his hand tangled in her hair, pulling her closer as their mingled breath –
Okay. I need to stop. Read my fanfic if you want more of that. Lots more of that.
Anyway, Neal tries to play off how much that bothers him, Hook is feeling really awkward and Emma walks right into the middle of it, not sure what the hell is going on. Neal takes the coconut and lets them know that the shadow can only be captured in Dark Hollow.
“Really?” Emma whines. “Why couldn’t it be called something like ‘Sunshine Valley’ or ‘Rainbow Cove’?”
Dark Hollow is the darkest spot on the island, home to all the shadows that Pan has torn from his victims. Doesn’t sound to appealing, but off they go.
Back in Storybrooke, Belle is trying to figure out just what Rumple’s cryptic shell meant, and Ariel happens upon a button that belonged to Prince Eric. Belle finally realizes Rumple meant the teacup, which was sitting out of its protective case. She returns it to its spot, and a trail lights up to a hidey-hole in the floor. Belle reaches in and pulls out Pandora’s Box.
Her excitement is short-lived, however, as the two strangers walk through the door, pointing guns and demanding that she hand it over.
They tie the two girls up and Belle taunts them, telling them they don’t even know who they’re working for. To her surprise and ours, they tell her they’re working for Peter Pan.
Unlike Greg and Tamara, these two know exactly who’s pulling the strings. Their mission is to see the Rumple fails.
Over in Neverland, Pan is telling Felix to deliver supplies somewhere. He glances around furtively and adds, “Make certain Henry doesn’t see what you’re up to.” Felix takes off, and of course, our industrious Henry is following.
On the other side of the jungle, Emma, Neal and Hook are hacking away toward Dark Hollow. Neal moves ahead to clear a path, after a testy little exchange with Hook, and Emma demands some clarification of the tension between these two. And yeah, I’m just gonna be lazy and let you watch it because I could watch this scene eleven times a day for life and never get tired of it:
Wow, is it hard to type when your ovaries are popping like popcorn and your panties have burst into flame.
Anyway, they head into Dark Hollow, but they need to get the candle lit in the coconut to draw the shadow. Hook and Neal get into a very male pissing contest (metaphorically speaking) and learn a valuable lesson:
Never Get Into A Lighter Fight When Death Is On The Line!
Shadows swoop in, pinning Hook and Neal to the trees and attacking them, trying to rip their shadows away. Emma scrambles into a corner, trying to light the candle with magic (and I want to note here that when the shadows attack both men, she only calls out one name – and it ain’t “Neal”).
Back over to Storybrooke, where Belle and Ariel find a way to squirm out of their bonds (courtesy of a smooth, fishy tail) and Belle realizes that the men are probably going to try to smash the box with a pickaxe to destroy it, so they head off to the mines to stop them.
Over to Neverland, where David and Snow are almost at Tink’s, and David has had enough of the icy shoulder Snow has been shoving in his direction. She rounds on him, tearing him a new one, and he admits he was scared – not scared that she’d leave him, but scared that she’d stay. He wants to her to and have a full, rich life, not spend her days on this godforsaken island with him.
“I would happily build a treehouse and spend the rest of my days dodging poisoned arrows and Lost Boys as long as I had you by my side,” she tells him, with a good deal of passion. “You should have told me.” She holds him close, and reminds him that he needs to believe.
Back in Dark Hollow, things are looking horrible until Emma finally rallies and lights the candle, trapping the shadow and releasing the boys. Neal isn’t too thrilled to learn that Regina’s teaching her magic, and really, can you blame him?
Over in Storybrooke, Belle and Ariel confront the men in the mines, begging them not to destroy the box as it will hurt the people they love (and then nobody can write a fanfic about Pandora coming to find her box. Just sayin’). The boys respond that they have something in common – someone they love will be killed if they don’t succeed. Belle releases the old mine cart, sending it barreling toward them at four tenths of a mile per hour, taking approximately six seconds to reach them and somehow, they can’t jump out of the way in time and get knocked over.
The men confess that they’re doing this to save their sister. Pan has kept her prisoner for over a century, and kept them young to do his bidding. Belle promises that if they can get Pandora’s box to Neverland, they’ll capture Pan and free their sister. Ariel asks for her name and they reveal that they are none other than John and Michael Darling, and Pan’s prisoner is Wendy.
Then we see Pan in Neverland, pulling a still-young Wendy (despite her brothers being grown men) out of her cage and inviting her to play. Creep. Meanwhile, on the beach in Storybrooke, Belle and Ariel are saying goodbye, and Ariel swears to deliver Belle’s message to Rumple along with the box.
Back to Henry, who is following Felix. He finds the bag of supplies that Felix drops just outside a cave, where couching can be heard. Henry climbs up inside and finds a bedroom and Wendy, bedridden and ill. She says that magic is fading from the island, and since she’s been there so long, her health is tied to that decline. Then she tells him he looks like Baelfire and introduces herself. Then she urges him to go before he too, becomes ill, but Henry swears he’ll come back for her before leaving.
Then out of the shadows steps Pan, applauding Wendy’s playacting. Wendy’s not happy to lie to Henry, but Pan says she’s providing motivation. He orders her back to her cage.
On the other side of the island, Regina is asking Rumple if he really thinks Belle will come through. When he affirms his belief in her and in their love, Regina remarks with a bit of amazement, “You really love her.”
Rumple remarks that she sounds jealous – not of Belle, but of him having someone and that barb strikes home. Before she can respond, Ariel surfaces.
She asks the two of them to fulfill Belle’s promise to John and Michael and get Wendy off the island. Regina’s not thrilled with the idea, but Rumple promises to do his best. Ariel swims off back to Storybrooke.
And back in the jungle with Emma and the boys, she tears into them over the stupid macho pissing contest that nearly cost them their lives.
She faces them both down and assures them that if she had to choose, she’d choose Henry. “He’s the only love I have room for in my life,” she says firmly.
Snow and David have now found Tink, letting her know they’ve found a way off the island. Just as she’s beginning to doubt, Neal, Emma and Hook show up and there’s a happy reunion between Tink and Neal that I wish they would have built on. I really do. She agrees to join them, and off they go.
Henry, meantime, has confronted Pan about Wendy. Pan admits that she’s dying but he hid her because he didn’t want Henry to have the pressure of knowing a young girl’s life depends on him.
And of course, Henry, the son of Emma the hero who’s the daughter of a badass hero Prince and Princess, feels the call of his hero blood and agrees to accompany Pan to Skull Rock, to bring back the magic.
This one gets five hooks out of five. DUH.
Or maybe that’s five hundred out of five. Between Hook professing his desire for Emma’s heart and Snow and Charming’s undying proclamations of love and loyalty, I spent most of the episode clutching a couch pillow to my chest and sighing. Oh I love this show. I love, love, love this show.