Previously on Once Upon A Time, Regina told a bunch of fish jokes she MUST have been saving up since her last encounter with a mermaid, Emma jumped overboard because her parents and their relentless optimism were driving her mad, and Henry got kidnapped by a quite sinister Peter Pan.
This week, we begin somewhere deep in Neverland, where Rumpelstiltskin, still clad in crocodile-skin, is setting up camp. He magically starts a fire and starts making shadow puppets on a giant boulder. He then takes his big evil dagger and removes his shadow, which looks a little painful. He then hands the dagger to his shadow and tells him to go hide it. I’m going to need someone to teach me that trick so I can train my shadow to fetch me coffee.
Meanwhile, on another side of the island, the Jolly Roger crew is hiking through the dark forest. Regina is furious. Hiking is for peasants, they should have let her poof them all to where they want to go. Hook, no stranger to this island and its secrets, says that there are too many dangers lurking to just Apparate wherever they please. He tells them which direction they should go, but Charming has been trying to prove his importance since the pilot, and is constantly being outdone by the women in his life, so he decides to try to take on a man this time. Hook gives in and lets Charming lead the way. Emma (like me) is still in shock about Peter Pan being a bad guy and Hook takes the moment to ask about how he is portrayed by the stories. He doesn’t know what a perm is, but he is sure it’s not good.
After a while, Hook says they should make camp and start again in the daytime. Regina is feeling very “NO SLEEP ‘TIL HENRY” but they eventually agree that it’s easier to find a missing person when they’re not so tired they can’t fight a bunch of teenage boys.
Flash back to the Enchanted Forest, back when Snow White still had a little spunk to her, and Evil Regina finds out that Charming woke Snow up from her sleeping curse. Evil Regina goes to town to confront Snow, saying she’ll let her and her posse live if she’ll give up her right to the throne. Charming tries to but in, but is once again shut down.
Evil Regina tells Snow that she might have been a princess once, but she will never be a queen.
In present-day Neverland, Emma is awakened in the middle of the neverending night by the sound of boys crying. For people supposedly in the most dangerous of places, her traveling companions sleep awfully soundly through her sharp whisper, imploring them to wake up. While attempting to find the source of the sound, Peter Pan appears. She pins him to a tree with her sword, but he knows she won’t kill him as long as he has Henry. And he wants to play a game. He gives Emma a blank sheet of parchment and says that it’s a map that will appear only when she stops denying who she really is.
Which of course, I assume to mean admit to her feelings for Regina.
When the rest of the crew finally wake up a day late and a dollar short, Emma is staring at the supposed map, trying to figure out how to get it to work, since whispering “I solemnly swear I am up to no good” didn’t do the trick. Regina wants to just use her magic on it but Emma says Pan was very clear in his one rule, it has to be Emma.
At his own campsite, Rumple is startled when someone steals his doll. He immediately runs after it to find that it’s Belle under that cloak. He interrogates her for a minute before realizing it can’t be Belle. NotBelle is like “Duh, I’m in Storybrooke with Ruby and we’re running Granny’s diner and are very much in love thank you very much.”
She leads him to a cliff, but really he was leading himself to a cliff, since NotBelle points out that she’s all in his imagination. She prompts him to think of why he might be doing this. Gold admits that he’s afraid of becoming his father, or reliving the mistakes he made with his son. Saving his grandson is his last chance, but part of him wants to be cowardly and save himself. NotBelle tells him that he needs to let go.
While Rumple is talking to himself, Emma is talking to the blank parchment. She’s chatting it up like they’re on a blind date, hoping it will reveal itself in return. Regina says she has to say “the S word” but that doesn’t even work.
Regina grabs the parchment and says she’s had enough of the MTV confessional and is going to put a spell on the damn thing. She puts a locator spell on the parchment and it starts to glow and float into the darkest, scariest part of the forest. Regina laughs and turns to Emma, “You wanted to be Leader of the Pack. Hop to.”
After a while, Regina is feeling pretty cocky and is like “Ha! Didn’t I do good?” And Emma actually agrees, surprising us all for a moment.
Suddenly Regina stops, because she can sense Peter Pan nearby. It takes a smug, somewhat evil creature to know one.
Flash back to the Enchanted Forest, where, in an asinine attempt to get Snow White to believe in herself again, Charming plants a fake Excalibur in a rock and convinces Snow she pulled it out because she was meant to be the true leader. I get it, and Snow did end up getting an extra fire under her, but it was lying and it felt a little patronizing to me. All I’m saying is, all Little Red needed to inspire Snow White was a good ol’ speech. Though, while the means were less than perfect, the end was pretty amazing, because the end was Snow and Regina facing off.