Previously on Once Upon a Time, half of Storybrooke spent five episodes running around in circles in Neverland, which was rather annoying, except that we got a weekly dose of SwanQueen interaction.
We open in a happier time, albeit not a simpler one, with Snow White in her badass tunic sliding and running through the forest away from some of the queen’s henchmen. She gets to a cliff and they think they’ve caught her. She laughs in their faces and leaps off the cliff and into the water.
There, a lovely little redhead comes to her rescue, and Snow looks down to see that this girl is a mermaid. And not just any mermaid. It’s Ariel.
Present day Regina is in the forests of Neverland, yelling at Emma, trying to teach her magic. Finally. Regina tells her she needs to reach deep down inside her and access her anger, and Emma snaps and says there has to be another way. Regina calls her weak, Emma calls her a monster, but right before they start angrily making out, Emma realizes she started a fire with her mind.
Hook comes creeping back to camp and whispers to the Charmings that Neal is alive. David thinks it’s one of Pan’s tricks, but Mary Margaret believes him. The boys decide that it would be best to not tell Emma in case it isn’t true, not giving Mary Margaret much say in the matter.
Flash back to Snow and Ariel, sitting on some rocks and chit chatting about boys and the like. Ariel tells her that once she saved a handsome prince from a shipwreck and empties out a seemingly waterproof bag full of gadgets and gizmos aplenty to show Snow a flyer she found for Prince Eric’s annual ball honoring the legend of the sea goddess Ursula. Snow gently points out that she doubts the ball takes place in an Olympic-sized pool when Ariel pulls her tail out of the water, and it promptly turns into a pair of legs. Every year at the highest tide, the goddess Ursula grants mermaids the ability to walk about on land for 12 hours, just enough time to attend a prince’s ball.
Snow White is very excited to help someone find their true love, but Ariel pleads with her to keep her mermaid identity a secret. Snow points out that he’ll probably figure it out sooner rather than later, but Ariel wants him to fall for her before she tells him.
Hopefully that fares better than Hook’s secret, because Mary Margaret blurts out that they think Neal is still alive not ten seconds after she was told not to tell Emma.
Meanwhile, Peter Pan finally finds Rumple, who has apparently been sitting on the same log since two episodes ago. He tries to feed him eggs? I don’t know, it’s weird. Pan tells Rumple he doesn’t know why he bothers, Neal and Henry will never forgive him anyway. Pan then turns up his creep-o-meter to MAX and tells Rumple to go back to Storybrooke to be with Belle because “she looks fertile” and can probably just give him new kids who won’t keep getting themselves almost killed. The grossness of this is only amplified by the egg-eating.
Back at Camp Charming, Mary Margaret keeps finding footprints in the dirt, and even though they’re probably her own, she takes it as proof that Neal is alive. Regina is not so easily convinced. She decides to get the hell out of dodge and when Emma asks where the hell she’s going, Regina replies, “To save our son.”
Emma turns to the group and says Regina might be right, that Pan might be lying, but Mary Margaret says they need to be sure.
Back in the Enchanted Forest, Ariel and Snow arrive at the ball. Snow quizzes Ariel about some human stuff, but Ariel calls a dinglehopper a salad trident and pockets it. Before Snow can teach her anything else, they see Prince Eric, and Ariel positively swoons. Eric swoons right back, so Snow shoves Ariel in his general direction and they dance. Eric totally steals Prince Philip’s line and says, “I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream.” He thinks Ursula saved him from his shipwreck, then gave him dreams about Ariel as a sign of his future. He then asks her to travel the world with him. Now, lesbians get a pretty bad rap when it comes to moving quickly, but the guys on this show seem to fall harder and faster than any lesbians I’VE ever met.
In her nearby castle, watching this unfold via mirror, Evil Queen Regina is pissed. She had sent her henchmen to KILL Snow White, not introduce her to a mermaid. But she has an idea of how to set things right.
In present-day Neverland, Not!Belle shows up again and tells Rumple to listen to Pan and come home to Storybrooke with her. Suddenly, she starts to choke, and Regina steps out of the brush, her hand magically wrapped around Not!Belle’s throat. Rumple starts to panic, because he’s not ENTIRELY sure it’s not the real Belle, but soon Not!Belle turns into Pan’s ShadowMan and flies away.
Across the forest, the rest of Team Storybrooke is following the trail that could be Neal’s and Emma pulls Mary Margaret aside to tell her that she kissed Hook. Snow responds with the voice of the fandom and says, “Uh…why?” Emma says it was just a kiss, and quickly changes the subject. She doesn’t want to hope that Neal is alive, in case he isn’t. Mary Margaret tells her that she has to, because all happy endings start with hope.