Previously on Once Upon A Time, Peter Pan stole Henry, Tinkerbell sort of agreed to help get him back, David got poisoned, and Neal made it to Neverland. Also worth noting, though she is woefully absent from this episode, Mulan almost confessed her love to Aurora. Sleeping Warrior was so close to becoming a reality. SO CLOSE.
We pick up moments after we left off last week, that is to say, moments after Neal lands in Neverland. He is quickly intercepted by the Scariest Lost Boy, who prods him along towards Peter Pan’s camp, sneering his way into my good graces by saying Neal grew up stupid. Neal spent enough time on a ship to know how to get out of a simple rope knot, so he quickly escapes, telling Scarface that he’s neither lost nor a boy anymore, then takes off into the darkness.
Flashback to when Neal was a boy, a boy named Baelfire. The Dark One brings home a stolen gift for his son, but little Bae wants nothing to do with his criminal activity. Bae wants to go out and have friends (he wants to be a real boy) but Rumplestiltskin doesn’t trust the world to protect his son, only he can do that. He says instead perhaps he can build them a castle to stay in, because obviously more belongings will fill the hole in his son’s heart.
Present-day Rumple is somewhere deep in the forests of Neverland facepainting. I’ll admit, it looks pretty badass, but I’m not sure it was entirely necessary. NotBelle shows up to say the same thing, that he doesn’t need to hide behind a mask anymore. Rumple disagrees; he says he needs to channel his inner monster if he stands a chance at winning. He thinks his son is dead, so he’s willing to risk his own life to save his grandson, in Baelfire’s honor.
Meanwhile, in their own camp, Team Storybrooke is making a plan like a bunch of regular ol’ Spencer Hastings, using sticks and rocks to map things out.
Emma is still having a hard time calling Tinkerbell by her name and keep a straight face, but the former fairy is not amused. She wants to know their exit plan, and is horrified to learn they don’t have one. She whips out a watch and says she pulled it off Tamara’s body, and that Stranger Greg was so dead that even the Thenardiers wouldn’t have been able to pilfer off him. Regina smiles wickedly at the news that the people who stole her son are deader than dead.
Tink, suddenly unsure what she got herself into, reminds them that no one has ever left Neverland without Peter Pan’s permission. Hook points out one notable exception to this rule – Baelfire.
Speaking of Baelfire, newly freed from his Lost Boy captor, he runs towards Pan’s camp, only to find Rumple standing over the unconscious bodies of two more Lost Boys, one of their spears in hand. When Rumple sees him, he attacks, thinking he’s an apparition like Belle. He tells him that he will die for Henry if that’s what it takes, and Neal cracks and calls him Papa, making him realize it’s his real son’s trachea he’s crushing.
Flash back to a shiny gold Rumplestiltskin bringing home a shiny gold crown for little Baelfire, only to find an empty home. He magically follows the boy’s trail to a village, where he finds that he’s not the only one whose son went missing. The Pied Piper had come through in the night, playing a tune only some children could hear, and they followed him into the forest.
The next night, The Dark One sits on a roof and waits for night to fall. He suddenly hears a tune that sounds a bit like Sarah Sanderson‘s “Come Little Children” and sees boys clamoring out their windows to follow the sound.
Present-day Rumple is following Neal to a beach, where he blows into a shell and calls forth a kraken. Okay, it’s just a giant squid, but it would have been cooler if it was a kraken. Neal asks Rumple to extract some of its ink, since it will immobilize any magical creature.
On the other side of the forest, Hook pulls Charming aside and huskily whispers in his ear that he’s worried about the poison slowly taking over his handsome body. Charming tells him that they have to put their homoerotic flirting on hold until after they find Henry. Hook follows his orders, and leads the gang to a cave where little Bae lived long ago.
Speaking of long ago, when the Dark One follows the wayward boys into the forest, he finds them dancing around a fire like a bunch of monkeys. He strolls up to the monkey with the pan flute only to find out the Pied Piper is none other than Peter Pan. He seems to recognize The Dark One and tells him that only boys who feel unloved can hear his song, so Rumple is still just a lost boy. Pan likes the sound of that and decides to call his stolen kids his Lost Boys.
Peter Pan strikes a deal with Rumplestiltskin: They’ll leave it up to Baelfire. If he chooses to stay, Pan will leave him, no drama. But if he chooses to come, he’s taking him back to Neverland and Rumple can’t stop him. Rumple doesn’t take the deal and swoops Bae back home again. This plan backfires because Bae knew about the deal and his hurt that his dad didn’t trust him enough to let him make his own choices. Bae storms back out into the night.
In the present day, Peter Pan still has a band of Lost Boys dancing around a fire like monkeys, but they’ve since evolved into monkeys with rhythm sticks. Pan tells Henry they’re celebrating because he’s there to save magic, but Henry’s not in the mood to dance. Pan tries to play him his song to inspire him, but Henry can’t hear it, which means he still feels loved and doesn’t feel lost. This is good since he has two moms, a dad, two grandfathers, a grandmother, a pirate and a fairy out looking for him.
That very group of people is now in Bae’s old cave looking for clues, and they find a coconut candle and its lid. Emma puts the two pieces together and realizes it’s a map of stars that will guide them home.
Unfortunately, when Hook taught Bae about star maps, he also taught him how to code it so that only he could read it. So now they think the only person who knows the way home is dead. This stirs up all kinds of emotions in Emma, which she insists does not include sadness, but I dunno, her face looks awful sad to me.