We begin this evening with Rumple, building a giant fire and that casts his shadow against a large rock. He then takes his magical dagger and painfully cuts the shadow from his body, commanding it to take the dagger and hide it where even he couldn't find it. He obviously doesn't trust Pan, and Pan obviously knows all about him.
On the other side of the island, our cadre of heroes and villains are looking for a good vantage point upon which to spy on Pan's hideout. Snow offers Emma a drink of water and Emma takes the water skin with a mumbled, "Thanks, Mary-Margaret." Awkward. Snow lets her know that it's okay to call her Mom, but Emma's not ready to do that on a regular basis.
While hacking away through the jungle, Hook stops David from slashing into a very poisonous plant known as Dreamshade. Then he and Emma get into an amusing conversation about his alter-ego in our world when he asks what the Captain Hook of the story books looks like. Emma mentions wax mustaches and perms with her trademark smirk as Hook lets the reference sail right over his head.
Now we move back in time to the Enchanted Forest, where we see Prince Charming galloping to Snow White's side on his magnificent steed. He approaches the funeral bier, and we re-enact True Love's Kiss yet again. This time we see it all from Regina's point of view as she views the news via her magic mirror.
And hot damn, she looks incredible in that outfit.
We move on to Bandit Snow, who is giving an impassioned speech to rouse the people in a bid to take back the castle. Into this scene strolls Regina in yet another amazing dress.
She offers Snow a deal: declare Regina the rightful ruler, and she'll let her live in exile with David and the dwarves. She starts to torture and kill a young girl as a show of strength, but stops short of her goal. She gives Snow until sundown the next day to get on her knees and renounce her throne, or she's going to start killing Snow's loyal subjects one by one.
Forward now to Neverland, and Emma's having trouble sleeping. All she can hear are the sounds of the Lost Boys, crying for home. She goes in search of the sound and runs smack into Pan. She holds a knife to his throat, demanding her son back, and Peter gives her a serious MILF once-over and says "You've got fire. I like fire."
Oh, naughty, naughty, Peter.
He reassures her that Henry is alive and even offers to help her find him. He gives her a map - a map that only she can activate, simply by remembering who she really is. Ooooh, he's tricky. I like it. Then he's out of there, and Emma's staring at a blank sheet of paper, trying to figure it out.
Hook explains that Peter is all about his games, and this is just another one of them. Regina suspects a trap but Hook sets them straight: Pan doesn't need to set a trap. The whole island is a trap (and again...why in NO ONE listening to Hook???). Regina is tired of things that delay them and she demands to use magic on the map - which Emma stops, citing Pan's rule: it's got to be her and nobody else.
Hook agrees - you don't break Pan's rules and David weighs in with...
This prompts a cheeky grin from said pirate and a snarky "I'm winning you over, I can feel it..." before Regina storms off. Snow reminds Emma that if this is a game Pan is playing, it can be won.
Flashback to the Enchanted Forest again, where Snow is in council on the banks of a wooded river, talking to David and the dwarves about the Regina thing. She's seriously considering Regina's offer, mostly because she's not feeling much like a queen and doesn't believe she can stop Regina from hurting anyone. David tries to talk her out of it, but to no avail, and this also causes Grumpy to question his motives, passive-aggressively accusing David of being a gold-digger.
Oh, I love passive-aggressive Grumpy.
"That chiseled chin ain't foolin' us. We've got our eyes on you."
Forward to Neverland again, where Rumple is holding that straw doll. He sets it down, and it's taken by a hooded figure who takes off into the jungle. He runs the figure down only to see that it's Belle. He's not fooled, though - he knows she can't be here. He puts his hands to her throat, telling her that Pan has conjured her, but she replies that Pan didn't do it - Rumple did. And he needs to figure out why.
Flashing back to the Enchanted Forest again, Charming seeks out the help of Rumplestiltskin. He wants something that'll help Snow believe in herself. "Belief must come from within," Rumple says with a cocky cockney accent. David is sure that Rumple has something - and offers to make a deal at any price.
Next we see Charming confronting Snow with the information he's gleaned from Rumplestiltskin. Apparently, there's a magical weapon that can help her reclaim the kingdom, and it's only a half-day's ride away. Snow reluctantly agrees to go.
Forward to Neverland, where Emma is sitting in frustration, trying to figure out the damn map without any success. She's tried "I am Emma Swan, I used to be a bail-bondsperson, I am the sheriff of Storybrooke," and "I am the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming." David and Snow toss down the "S" word and Emma reluctantly admits she's the savior.
Nothing. Nothing happens.
Regina tries a locator spell, and the parchment begins to float, hopefully leading them to Pan. It leads them right into The Dark Forest, a place that Hook has told them they should avoid at all costs. But you guys go on ahead. Don't listen to THE ONE GUY WHO'S SPENT MORE THAN A CENTURY IN THIS GODFORSAKEN PLACE AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE.
Over to Rumple and his faux-Belle, who works him like a serious psycho-analyst, getting him to admit that he's a coward, and still hasn't forgiven his father. She encourages him to let go of the past, handing him the doll. Rumple admits that the doll is the last thing his father gave him. He tosses it off a cliff, into the churning water below.
Back with the save Henry brigade, and the parchment has lead them to Pan - or so they think. David draws his sword, and Hook warns that Pan may look like a boy, but "he's a bloody demon." Save your breath, Hook. Save your breath.
Flashback to the Enchanted Forest again, where Snow and Charming have found what they're looking for: Excalibur. David tries to pull it from the stone, and can't do it. He tells Snow that only the kingdom's true ruler can remove the blade.
She gives it a go, and blammo - it slides right out, proving that she's the kingdom's true leader, and rightful king of the Britons. Whatever.
In The Dark Forest, however, things aren't going so well. They've found Pan, all right, who teases them by showing up in Henry's clothes. They're surrounded by Lost Boys, and a fight ensues.
During the battle, David gets nicked by an arrow that he deflects from Snow. Emma manages to pin one of the boys to the ground as the others run away, but she can't bring herself to hurt him. All she sees is a scared kid, and she lets him go.
Pan reminds her again that the map will work - once she stops denying who she is.
Back again to the Enchanted Forest, where it's the following day and Snow is facing Regina with a new sense of empowerment.
Regina in this outfit nearly made me swallow my tongue.
egina attacks Grumpy, choking him, then Snow attacks Regina and actually manages to cut her with the sword. Regina poofs out of there.
Snow tracks down Rumplestiltskin, intent on paying whatever debt Charming owes for Excalibur, Rumple admits that Charming sought him out, but he didn't give him Excalibur.
"Everyone knows it's in Camelot," he says, as if talking to a four year old. Love it.
Then he poofs it into dust to prove it to her. The sword is a fake, courtesy of Charming.
By coincidence, the dwarves are now apologizing to Charming, who's about to share a friendly drink with them when Snow yanks him out of there, fuming. He points out that the sword was a prop to help her remember that everything she needed is inside her - including the power to wound Regina.
Forward to Neverland, and Emma has had it with Mom and Dad's assertions that this will all work out. Snow encourages her to try again. "Maybe who you think you are isn't who your really are," Snow remarks. She asks her about the boy that Emma let go - what made her do it?
Emma admits that she knew the look in that kid's eyes - a look she had back in the foster system, a lost little girl who had no family. A girl who could never understand why her parents gave her up.
"On this island I don't feel like a hero or a savior. I feel like what I've always been...an orphan."
The map lights up, and suddenly, it's all there. Emma has accepted that she's a lost girl, and as hard as it is for Snow to hear, it's the truth.
Hook helps them read the map, and they begin formulating a plan, over Regina's objections. Emma smooths her over, and they all start prepping, leaving her alone with Hook.
"Excellent show of patience," he praises. "And that's what defeats a nasty little boy."
He offers her a drink, then asks how she managed to unlock the map.
"Just who are you, Swan?" he asks.
"Wouldn't you like to know," she replies. And he follows up with:
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a pirate tentatively declares his interest. That look in his eyes says she's a mystery and he's intrigued. And Hook is devastating when he's intrigued.
Over to Rumple now, who hears a rustling in the jungle. He looks down and there's that damn straw doll again, flying out of the night sky to land at his feet - Pan's way of saying he'll never escape it, or the hold it has on him. Rumple sets it afire, but that's not the end of it. It simply shows up again on the path, a few steps later.
In The Dark Jungle, Pan has found Emma and crowing about her being a Lost Girl. "When you find Henry, you'll understand him," he says. "He hasn't forgiven you." He tells her that Henry will soon never want to leave, and then tells her she's about to become an orphan in real life.
And away from the rest, we see David (who has repeatedly reassured Snow that the arrow only ripped his jacket) peeling off his coat and lifting that shirt to show his magnificently sculpted abs Dreamshade wound.
I give this one five hooks out of five.
So much heart in this episode - and it's good to see them address Emma's awkward situation with her parents. Add to that an exceedingly snarky - and then blatantly intrigued - pirate captain, and it's close to perfection.