When I sat down to retro-review this episode, I will admit I had to watch it twice. For science, you understand. And I'm also going to tell you right off the bat that this episode gets 648 billion hooks out of five, because it's That. Damn. Good.
We begin this evening running through the jungle with the Lost Boys, who are dragging Neal along for the ride.
Meanwhile in Pan's camp, some little shit of a Lost Boy is taunting Henry and poking him with a stick. Henry picks up a stick to defend himself, and Pan tells him he can believe his stick into being a sword, since he has the heart of the truest believer. Henry does so, and then using the skills his badass Grandpa and Papa taught him, he cuts the other kid's stick down to nothing, and manages to get a slice across the kids' cheek for good measure.
Henry is mortified that he hurt the kid, apologizing profusely, but Pan is clearly pleased. "Henry, don't you know the best thing about being a Lost Boy?" he asks. "You never apologize."
The Lost Boys send up a cheer for Henry, who seems to enjoy the praise.
Meanwhile, over in Neal's cave, Emma finds an entire wall full of tally marks that passed the days. The marks end long before Neal left the island and Emma tells them all it's because he lost hope. She used to do the same thing whenever she went to a new foster home - eventually she'd stop counting as well because she lost hope and it became pointless.
She thinks they need to send Henry a sign to let them know that they're on the island and working to rescue him. Regina snarks that there isn't a Neverland post office around, just a bunch of Lost Boys - and Snow seems to get an idea. She tells the others to follow and she heads out of the cave.
Emma, however, gets pulled back by a very thoughtful pirate.
"I just wanted to let you know that I, too, know what it's like...to lose hope, " he says soulfully.
Emma takes that for a come-on, and shuts that nonsense right down. She walks away, and unfortunately, Daddy David has also heard the exchange. He offers Hook a bit of advice: "She's never gonna like you."
This of course, gets Hooks back up and he offers a grin and a snarky "Is that so?"
"How could she?" David replies. "You're nothing but a pirate."
And back we go - I assume to the Enchanted Forest but really, it could be another realm, and it is long, long, long ago. We see a young, fresh-faced, un-guylinered Lieutenant Killian Jones (and use the British pronunciation of "LEFtenant" please) in a crisp, swoon-worthy uniform. He is an officer of the royal navy and it's clear he's a hard-ass with a love for the rules who will not suffer fools gladly. He even throws away a sailor's rum, citing its vices. Bad form will NOT be tolerated on his ship, bucko.
The captain comes aboard, and we are introduced to Liam Jones, Killian's obviously beloved older brother. He brings out an interesting sextant, revealing that they are on a covert mission - one that will bring honor and glory not just to the kingdom, but to the Jones brothers as well.
"A hero's journey," Killian says, with excitement and pride shining in his eyes.
Back we go to the jungle, Where Emma is shooting some guilty looks in Hook's direction (guess she's rethinking the way she shut him down) as she helps her mother fashion a trap. David heads off to get more rope, snapping over his shoulder, "You're coming with me, pirate!"
He's obviously trying to run interference, and Snow and Emma share a knowing look as David and Hook head off into the jungle. David warns him to stay away from his daughter and Hook reminds him that his interference will be a moot point soon - he's going to die in a day or so. He starts to mention that there might be a way to save him but David cuts him off, telling him that anything that derails them from Saving HenryTM is out of the question. If he dies, ("When!" Hook reminds him) it'll be saving his family, something Hook clearly can't understand.
Hook takes extreme and obviously deeply-felt offense to that remark.
"Bugger off!" he fumes. "I'm risking my life for all of you, every day that I'm here aligned against him!"
"You're not doing it for any nobility," David snaps back. "You're here for Emma!"
He then assures Killian that he's never going to get her - David will see to that. Hook gives him a horribly placating smile and tells him it's a good thing he's going to die, then. This leads David to come out swinging, and then nearly pass out from the effort.
Hook, to his credit, lays him down and takes care of him instead of breaking his pissy daddy face. He demands to see David's magnificent abs again and it's clear that the dreamshade is advancing faster than he'd thought. David has hours now, not days.
As David catches his breath, he notices something glittering in the dirt and picks up a leather tag with a metal insignia and the name "Jones" upon it. Killian identifies it as the tag from the magical sextant that once belonged to his brother, explaining that they had sailed here many years ago. It must have washed down from Dead Man's Peak above them. He believes the sextant might just be able to decode Neal's star map and show them the way home.
David has determined that this is how he'll spend his final hours. Since he'll die before he can make it back, he wants Hook to come with him and take the sextant back to Emma. "You ready to be a hero?" he asks Hook.
Flashback again to the brothers Jones as Liam hands Killian a book of star charts with unfamiliar constellations. Unfortunately, they're also about to be under attack. Liam reaches for the magical sextant and orders them to deploy the Pegasus sail (made from genuine mythical horse feathers!) and the ship takes off into the sky, streaking towards the clouds. And this is some reasonably good CGI, too!
"Set a course, lieutenant," Liam orders. "Second star to the right, straight on till morning."
Back with our group, Emma is questioning Hook and so is Regina over this plan, and Hook suggests that they split up. He tells Emma in a very heartfelt way that she was right - every day without hope is a day closer to becoming a Lost Boy. She needs to get a message to Henry while he and David retrieve the sextant.
David says some very awkwardly overly-loving goodbyes to Emma and Snow. His face as he walks away is just devastating.
A short time later, we see Snow with a bow cocked, letting an arrow fly to release the trap. They manage to net the Lost Boy that Henry dueled with. Regina offers him chocolate retrieved from an airplane crash and Emma tries to reason with the kid and get some information. He won't even consider helping them, despite Emma's offer to get him and the others off the island. He also tells them that Henry was the one who injured him.
Off in the jungle, David is asking Hook to tell his family that he died a hero, but please leave out the part where he left knowing he was going to be worm-fodder. David reminds Hook that he owes him, because if he hadn't stole that damn bean, Greg and Tamara might not have taken Henry, and he wouldn't be on this godforsaken island dying of dreamshade.
"Fair point," Killian concedes. "At least you got to say goodbye. Most people don't get that much."
The way he says that tunes David into the fact that he lost his brother here. That leads to this little exchange:
"You would have liked him," David says, "He was a thief and a liar."
"You would have liked my brother," Killian responds. "He could be a stubborn arse."
Back again to the brothers Jones, who have just made landfall in Neverland. Liam reveals that they're looking for a special plant - a magical plant potent enough to heal any injury. And there's Peter Pan. He's highly amused that they're in Neverland looking for dreamshade. He's even good enough to tell them that it's highly poisonous and their king must be a ruthless sack of crap to send them after it. "Why fight a messy battle when you can kill an entire army with the sap of one plant?" he points out.
Killian looks a little rattled by this news, and urges Liam to give this some thought. Liam, however, will not be swayed. The King says it's a happy good rainbow plant of love, and dammit, he believes him and not some snarky teenager with a god complex.
Forward to Hook and David and the simmering bromance. Hook has scaled the peak and is preparing to pull David up when Pan shows up. He offers Hook a deal: Come back and work for him, and Pan will let him off the island - with Emma. Hook points out that Emma will never leave her son, but Pan points out that if she did, she'd need someone to comfort her. As a sign of good faith, he wants Killian to sink his hook into David and kill him - immediately. Killian doesn't say yes, but he doesn't say no, either.
David gets tired of waiting and scales the peak himself, asking Hook if he was talking to someone. Hook lies and tells him he was talking to himself, and we see him staring at his hook as David walks by.
Flashback again to the brothers Jones, and Liam has found the dreamshade up on that same peak. Killian asks Liam again to rethink this whole thing. What if Pan wasn't lying? Killian reminds Liam that he signed up to serve an honorable king and if this is the weapon Pan says it is, it's not good form and not honorable.
Liam rolls his eyes and hacks off some dreamshade, stabbing the thorn into his arm against Killian's shouted objection - and then he collapses like the freaking idiot he is. He murmurs an apology as his life fades away.
Back with the womenfolk now, and the Lost Boy is taunting Emma. "It's too late!" he sneers. "Your boy is the most vicious recruit we have had in ages!"
Regina has had it. She's going to rip his heart out. Snow objects and Emma restrains her, telling Regina to do it even as she apologizes to her mother. Sometimes, you just have to use the weapons at your disposal, and Regina is a powerful weapon. Snow is playing the moral card, but Emma sticks to her guns. She's going to do whatever it takes to get to Henry.
Regina now has the heart of the Lost Boy, and even better, she's found a way that they can get Henry a message. She's got a compact mirror that she sections in half, giving part of it to the Lost Boy.
At the top of the Peak, David and Hook are facing a wall of dreamshade. Hook asks David to chop it down since he's already dying from the stuff, and David draws his sword, putting it to Hook's throat. He heard every word of what Hook and Pan were discussing. Hook confesses that there is no sextant up there - this was all a clever ruse.
He did it solely because it was the only way to get David to make the journey here - to save David's life.
David calls him a liar and attacks, but the dreamshade has gone too far now. He collapses, unconscious.
Flashback to poor, devastated young Killian Jones, holding his brother and trying to get him back to the ship. Pan shows up to gloat, and Killian begs him for help - his brother is all he has in the world. Pan parts the wall of dreamshade, revealing a hidden spring that contains all the magic of Neverland - it's what keeps everyone young. If Liam drinks the water, it will cure him, but at a price. Pan tells him not to leave the island unless he's willing to pay it.
Killian will pay any price to save his brother of course, and runs for the spring. The water works, and Liam is revived and good as new.
Forward again to Pan's camp, where Henry is suddenly approached by the Lost Boy that he fought. The boy gives him the message that his family is here, and we see Regina speaking through his heart. Henry disbelieves, but then the kid hands him the mirror. Emma, Regina and Snow appear in the mirror, assuring him that this is Operation Cobra Rescue and they are most definitely here to save him.
Pan strolls back into camp, and for some unknown reason, Henry tosses the mirror instead of pocketing it, and we see it shatter.
Back to the brothers Jones, who are flying through the sky in the magical ship. Liam thanks Killian and admits that he should have listened to him. He agrees that they cannot fight for a King who would so easily commit genocide.
"I will follow you to the ends of the earth, brother," Killian says, and he means it. Oh, how he means it. A voice calls out for all hands to brace for impact, and the ship touches down on the water.
A heartbeat later, Liam drops to the floor, dead on impact. The price of the cure was that Liam could never leave the island - and in doing so, he's forfeited his life. A nice little detail that Pan conveniently left out of his explanation. We end the scene with Liam in his brother's arms, and with Killian's sobs emotionally eviscerating us.
Forward to David and Hook, who is now hacking through the dreamshade and retrieving some more of the magical spring water. He brings it to David and wakes him. He explains that conundrum. He can save David's life, but David will never be able to leave Neverland. David will take that deal - he wants to Save HenryTM and get his family home. What happens after is a small price to play.
David asks Hook why he risked his life for him when there was nothing in it for him in return.
Hook gives him a conspiratorial grin and winks as he says "I didn't do it for you, mate."
They make their way back to the ladies, and David smooches the hell out of Snow. Killian lies and tells them all that Pan got to the sextant first, and then David lies (sort of) and says they were attacked by Lost Boys, but Hook saved his life. Everyone looks surprised - especially Regina - and then in a touching bromance moment, David demands Killian's flask, offering a toast to the newly minted hero.
And now I'm going to stop writing because I can't possibly do this justice. Here. Just watch.
His "As you wish" at the end is a beautiful nod to "Princess Bride," a movie that Adam and Eddie both adore and they freely admit that Killian's character was based in part upon The Dread Pirate Roberts.
Back again to a singular young Jones brother, who watches his brother's body slide into the sea (reminding us of the moment years later when he stood over Milah's body as it slid into the sea - reinforcing that this man has known some serious loss). He's now captain of the ship and as such, he commands his crew to join him as he turns against his craven king, vowing that he will never again take such dishonorable orders.
He sets fire to the Pegasus sail, throws his navy coat into the water and demands that they repaint the vessel. It is no longer the Jewel of the Realm but now the Jolly Roger, and they are pirates, for at least among thieves, there is honor. The crew rallies behind him, and so it begins.
Forward now to Neverland, where a very, very happy Hook is confronted by Pan, who sneers at Hook mooning over Emma.
"I think she's starting to see me for who I really am," Killian says.
"A man of honor," Killian corrects.
Pan then drops the bomb. Neal is still alive, and on the island. He leaves it up to Hook whether to tell Emma or not, and we close up on Hook's tortured face as Pan slinks gleefully away.
Pan heads over to where the Lost Boys are guarding Neal's cage. Felix asks what should be done with him, and Pan replies with, "Hang him up there, next to the other one."
We see the cage being raised to hang in the treetops, next to another identical cage that obviously contains someone. And we end it there.
I give this one eleventy billion hooks out of five.