Caution: This review contains spoilers.
‘Lost Girl’ brings back the Fairy Tale Land (FTL) flashbacks, centered on Snow White’s (Ginnifer Goodwin) uncertainty about taking the kingdom back from the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla). Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) is confident she is up to the task, but he has to overcome Snow’s stubbornness as well as the distrust of the Seven Dwarfs. Charming pays another visit to Rumple (Robert Carlyle), getting information about the famed Excalibur.
In Neverland, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and the others are still trekking through the jungle to find Henry. While everyone is asleep, Emma is the only one awoken by the sound of crying, which leads to her encounter with Peter Pan (Robbie Kay). Pan wants to play a game, giving her a map that will lead her to Henry. However, to make the map work, Emma needs to stop “denying” who she is. Don’t we already know that Emma is the Savior? What other answer is there?
No one, except Regina, wants to use magic. Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) warns everyone that breaking Pan’s rules is never a good course of action. An impatient Regina finally wields a locator spell, which leads to a fight with Pan and the Lost Boys. Emma stops herself from hurting one of the boys because his desperate and lonely look reminds her of her childhood, as we learn through her conversation with Snow. She admits that she was an orphan, which causes the map to activate and reveal the location of Pan’s lair.
Pan is turning out to be a creepy villain in this new season. He even shows up in Henry’s clothes during the episode. He has a penchant for games but he insists on having you play by his rules. “Cheaters never win,” he chastises Emma. Pan reveals only a little more of his sinister plans: he says Emma will be an orphan again and Henry won’t want to leave Neverland once everything is said and done. It’s still not entirely clear what benefits Pan reaps by having Henry. Does Henry increase Pan’s power in some way?
The Pan teasers are great, but even more intriguing are the developments with Rumple elsewhere. First, he conjures a large fire and cuts off his own shadow. Thankfully, cutting off your own shadow does not produce the same result as having your shadow ripped out by someone else. Just think back to Greg Mendell’s (apparent?) death in the premiere episode. Rumple gives his dagger to his shadow as he orders, “Hide it where no one can find it – not even me.” Will Shadow Rumple be handling other important tasks for the Dark One? Will Shadow Rumple fight Peter Pan’s shadow? How exactly does shadow combat work in the first place?
We see the return of the mysterious doll that reduced Rumple to tears last week. Shuffling in the nearby trees interrupts his reverie and he puts the doll down to investigate. A cloaked figure steals the doll and heads off but Rumple gives chase. He catches the thief, who is … Belle?! It is Belle (Emilie de Ravin), dressed in her blue dress from FTL. Rumple is suspicious that Peter Pan conjured this vision of Belle to trick him, but it turns out Rumple did the conjuring himself.
Rumple admits he is still a coward and he’s afraid he’ll make the selfish choice of abandoning Henry. He explains that the doll was a gift from his father, given to him right before he was abandoned. Belle helps Rumple to toss the doll off a cliff and let go of this part of his past. Unfortunately, the doll returns later, no matter what Rumple tries in order to dispose of it. Bringing a vision of Belle (FTL Belle particularly) was a genius and engaging method for portraying Rumple’s inner struggle. It also shows that he has such a high regard for Belle, whom Robert Carlyle recently characterized as Rumple’s “emotional centre.” Belle can also stand in here for Rumple’s conscience: his desire to do the right thing no matter how much he says he has to be the Dark One. It plays out really well when she questions his choice of attire and she insists he was never completely dark as the Dark One. Based on the surprises so far with Rumple, one would hope that his “undoing” (from the Seer’s prophecy) will come about in an unexpected way, too.
‘Once Upon a Time’ airs Sunday evenings at 8|7c on ABC. And don’t forget to check out ‘Once Upon a Time in Wonderland’ as well; it premieres this Thursday on ABC at 8|7c. It’s a double dose of fairy tales every week!