This evening we begin with deliciously evil Enchanted Forest Regina, rolling along in her royal carriage as Grumpy tolls the town bell screaming "The curse! It's here!"
Rumplestiltskin is in his cell and Regina arrives to gloat. Rumple asks her how it felt to rip out the heart of the thing she loves the most, and Regina doesn't dwell upon it. "It was the price of the curse," she says, "how it felt doesn't matter."
Rumple seems to think that it matters very much. Something's now missing inside Regina. A price that steep leaves a hole in your heart, and someday, Regina will come to him to fill it. She wonders if he's taunting her in an effort to get out of the last deal he made and escape the curse, but Rumple makes it clear: he's exactly where he wants to be.
Forward to Neverland now, where Henry is limp and lifeless and Pan is gloating and gleeful. He lets the group know he trapped Rumple in Pandora's box. Emma manages to slice him with her cutlass but Pan gets away. Regina puts a preservation spell on Henry, but it won't hold forever. They have to get his heart back from Pan.
Flashback now to Storybrooke of eleven-plus years ago. Regina has called Archie to a conference at her house, and he astutely guesses that she's got a hole in her life. He asks her if there's ever been a time when she didn't feel so empty, and Regina replies that it was when Owen was around. Archie tells her that a child can provide so much meaning in your life.
Now we see Regina visiting Gold's Pawn Shop.
"I need a child, Gold," she says, coming right to the point. "And I need your help."
He gives her a cool look and replies, "Well, I'm flattered, but uninterested."
Of course, that isn't what she meant at all. She wants to adopt a child. She's called adoption agencies all over the place, but the wait lists are two years long. She wants a baby and she wants a baby now. Gold agrees to assist her but he reminds her that she needs to put her new child first - no matter what.
Forward in Neverland, and Regina is frantic, snapping at everyone, and when Emma reminds her that she knows how she feels since Henry is her son too, Regina lets her have it with both barrels.
"You have your parents, you have this person (gesturing to Neal), a pirate who pines for you - you have everything! And yet, you claim to know what I feel? All I have is Henry and I'm not about to lose him because he is everything."
It's a rare and extremely vulnerable moment for Regina, and all the more poignant for the ring of truth in it. She's either murdered or pushed away everyone else in her life. Henry is the only person she has left with any love associated, and he's got the motherlode - literally.
Emma realizes that she's finally seeing the woman underneath all that veneer, and Regina's just as invested in Henry as she is. She asks Regina what they ought to do and Regina points out that Emma managed to draw Pan's blood. If he can bleed, he can be hurt, and killed. She vows to do just that.
They take Henry's body back to Pan's camp and an evil, grinning Felix asserts that no one will tell them where Pan went. Regina offers to torture it out of them (and I would have loved to have seen her rip into Felix - the creep), but Emma has a better plan in mind. She's going to get motherly.
Flashback again to old Storybrooke, where Gold has found a baby for Regina. A baby boy from Phoenix was supposed to go to a family in Boston, but at the last minute it fell through. Regina heads off to Boston, for one meeting with the caseworker who apparently isn't going to do any kind of homestudy or recurring meetings before handing a baby to this strange woman. Great security procedures, there, Boston. Very professional.
He reminds Regina that this is a closed adoption and that she will be unable to access any information about this baby's parents at all. Regina is fine with that, of course. They bring Henry in and the moment he's in her arms, her face lights up.
Forward to Neverland, and Emma is talking to the Lost Boys, offering them the one thing they truly want: families and homes. She promises to get them off the island if they'll tell her where Pan went. Felix tries to counteract everything she says, but the Lost Boys cave at the promise of a home and tell Emma that Pan is at his "thinking tree."
Flashback to Storybrooke of old, and Regina is trying to have her breakfast with a fussy baby who is obviously riding her last nerve. Granny suggests that she tell Henry a story, and he promptly barfs on her and keeps on crying. She takes him to Dr. Whale, who proclaims Henry perfectly healthy and prescribes ten cc's of maternal love. Regina is frustrated - Henry seems to cry non-stop and she's sure something is wrong. Whale reminds her that without knowing Henry's family history, he's flying blind on any further diagnosis.
Regina gets on the phone to Sidney, passing a still-crying Henry off to Mary Margaret so she can talk. She asks Sidney to trace Henry's birth mother and get her some information. Henry, in the meantime, is now cooing contentedly in his grandmother's arms, much to Regina's chagrin. Mary Margaret passes him back and he starts up all over again.
Regina takes him back home, where he continues to cry and she begs him to just tell her what he wants. "Just give me a chance," she pleads, and he calms down, finally getting happy. Sidney, meanwhile, has found all the dirt on Emma and faxed over the info.
A furious Regina confronts Gold in his shop, fuming because Henry's birth mother was an abandoned child herself, found on the very day Storybrooke appeared on the map. She dances around the obvious - the Henry's birth mother is the savior - but Gold doesn't take the bait, as he has no memory of these events. Regina isn't fooled, however. She knows Rumple well enough to know he planned all of this, and Henry's mother is significant somehow. She storms off, vowing that nothing is going to keep her from the life she's built. Henry is going back to the adoption agency.
Emma, Regina and Snow head off to find Pan in the pixie woods - Snow opting to come along because with Rumple in the box, she's now back to staying behind with David on the island and she wants every second she can get with Emma before then. Neal vows to keep Henry safe, he and Hook trade some pissy one-ups, and everybody heads off to do their stuff.
The girls find Pandora's box sitting out in the open on a rock and Regina recognizes it as a trap easily enough.
Snow's not quite as quick on the uptake, though and the three of them end up lashed with magical vines to a very special tree: the Tree of Regret. Sheesh. Is that anywhere near the Shrub of Malaise and the Fern of Paranoia? Just wondering. Pan tells them that they're only going to see Henry again in the afterlife, because "Peter Pan never fails."
Back we go again to Boston now, where Regina is handing over detailed instructions for Henry's care to the caseworker. He reassures her that not every child is a good fit, and they already have a new family lined up. He excuses himself so that Regina can say goodbye, and suddenly, she can't do it.
"You deserve better than me," she says tearfully. "You truly are the only one in all the realms who believes in me."
The caseworker comes back in and she tells him that Henry is her son, and he's going home with her. The incredibly bad caseworker doesn't bat an eye at the mother who just tried to dump her newly adopted kid and lets her leave, informing the waiting family that Henry is no longer available. We see Wendy's brothers, John and Michael, noticeably upset because Pan has sent them to get Henry, and he's been thwarted.
Forward to the girls again, and Pan drops the bomb, letting them know that he's Rumple's papa. The look on Emma's face! Holy crap, her kid is the great-grandson of Peter Pan! Anyway, Pan lets them know the vines are going to tighten with the weight of all of their regret until it kills them. And all three of them have so much to regret, or so he thinks. As usual, this scene is so beautifully written and magnificently performed, I cannot possibly do it justice. Just watch (pick it up around 1:02 for a condensed version).
Yeah! Take that, you little creep! Go Regina!
Over on the Jolly Roger, they're loading the Lost Boys aboard, including Felix for some reason. Regina replaces Henry's heart and he wakes up, gasping. Hook gives up the Captain's quarters for the trip home and they all prepare to return, courtesy of the captured shadow that will now double as a flying sail.
Neal releases his father from the box, and they hug tightly. Neal wants to know why Rumple never told him the truth about Pan being his grandfather, and Rumple tells him that it's because he didn't want Neal to know how like his own father he is. Neal disagrees, and father and son hug again.
Flashback again to old Storybrooke, and Regina tearfully confesses to Archie that she's terrified Henry's birth mother will someday look for him and unravel everything she's built. Archie encourages her to live in the now and revel in Henry's love - if she's consumed with fear, she'll never get to truly experience her child.
We watch as Regina takes baby Henry down into her crypt and she begins telling him a story as she crafts a special forgetting potion that will target only the things she fears. The story she tells is about herself and her new-found love for Henry. She takes the forgetting potion and shreds the faxed information that Sidney sent her about Emma.
Forward to the ship, and Regina puts a spell on Henry's heart - one that will keep it from ever being taken from him again. He replies with a sleepy, "Thanks Mom," that melts her heart -and ours - before she kisses him goodnight and leaves the cabin. Unfortunately, Pan has decided to show up. He goes after Henry's heart and gets shot back, then decides to go for his shadow instead.
Rumple to the rescue! He opens Pandora's box, sucking Pan inside, but as Pan goes there's an odd flash in his eyes and in Henry's at the same moment, and that surely can't be good.
Up on deck, Neal releases the shadow, Regina magicks it up to the sail, and Hook flies them all the hell out of there. David gives his little girl some kudos for pulling them all together and leading them so well.
Wendy approaches Tinkerbell with a gift: she's saved a bit of pixie dust all this time. She's never been able to use it, and Tink remarks sadly that she's got no magic anymore so she can't make it work, either. Regina sidles over and Tink congratulates her on finally being able to love someone. Regina points out that the pixie dust is now glowing softly, signifying that Tink still has some magic in there somewhere.
Meanwhile, Henry has come up on deck and he grabs a plate of food, offering it to a snarling Felix, who assures him that unlike the other traitorous Lost Boys, he's still on Pan's side. Henry merely smiles and reassures him that Peter Pan never fails - even when they think they've won.
He switched bodies with Henry - putting Henry in the box - and now Pan is on his way to Storybrooke.
I give this one four hooks out of five.
There were some marvelous Regina scenes, but it all wrapped up awfully fast and easy. I know the "real" defeat of Pan will be the main focus, but this was all a bit too pat for me.