The mid-season finale of Once Upon a Time was quite a roller coaster as Peter Pan (Robbie Kay), still in Henry’s (Jared Gilmore) body, enacted the curse unbeknownst to Rumple and the others. Pan takes the heart of Felix (Parker Croft, his most loyal follower. Back at Regina’s (Lana Parrilla) crypt, Rumple lays out a game plan: half the group will go with Tinkerbell (Rose McIver) to retrieve the dark and powerful wand of the Black Fairy, while the others will return to Rumple’s shop to prepare Henry for a body switching spell. We learn that the Blue Fairy (Keegan Connor Tracy) had the wand of the Black Fairy; unfortunately, she had her shadow stolen by Pan. The group’s quest is interrupted by Pan’s shadow, which is quickly vanquished by Tinkerbell, who finally believes in herself and makes the Pixie Dust work. With Pan’s shadow destroyed, the Blue Fairy revives and gives the wand to Baelfire (Michael Raymond-James).
Rumple puts Henry in a deep sleep and succeeds in performing the spell, sending the others out into the town to find the restored Henry. In the meantime, he has “unfinished business” with Pan. Pan awakens to find the black cuff that Greg and Tamara used to disable Regina’s magic. We hear him recount his disgust at seeing baby Rumple, someone who shattered his dreams of freedom and was a drain on his money.
Rumple picks up a sword but he loses the upper hand when the wristband ends up on his arm! Pan created the wristband, after all, and such a device is therefore useless on him. Immediately, we see a dramatic shift from a self-assured Rumple to the cowardly Rumple. Pan threatens to kill Rumple’s loved ones, so confident that his son is too powerless and cowardly without magic to stop him. Left alone, it looks as though Rumple will cut his arm off to rid himself of the band and regain his magic.
Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and the others are frozen in place by Pan, who plans to kill Baelfire first. Rumple remerges, confident and smug once again, yet with both arms intact. This confrontation is the culmination of the prophecy, which has always been made up of events Rumple can never manuever around. Fate seems to give him the short end of the stick every time, resulting in the wrong choices. Yet in this case, he takes control, willing to pay a heavy price to defeat Pan and without magic (at least, from his own hand).
In an earlier post, I wondered what role Rumple’s shadow would have in season 3. Sure enough, his shadow returns with the dagger of the Dark One, which still retains its functional use as a knife! Rumple grabs Pan and stabs him. A wounded Pan reverts to his adult form (Stephen Lord), begging Rumple to stop so they can a happy ending. Rumple does not relent (and sees through the lie), insisting that “Villains don’t get happy endings!”, an idea Regina repeats to Henry. The bad news continues, as Regina destroys the curse and sends everyone back to Fairy Tale Land. Emma and Henry’s memories of Storybrooke are also replaced by fake, “happy” memories: Emma never gave up Henry.
The final minutes of the episode brought back Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), who tries to tell Emma that something terrible has happened to her family. When the show returns next March, we can probably expect Emma and Henry to regain their memories. In the promo, everyone else is back in Fairy Tale Land. Will Regina help Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming (Josh Dallas) rebuild the ravaged lands? We also got a glimpse of the next villain, the Wicked Witch of the West (Rebecca Mader)!
Is Rumple really dead?
Rumple’s death brings up a couple of interesting questions. Both he and Regina stress that “Villains don’t get happy endings.” That concept is certainly true for Pan, who is far darker than Rumple and Regina. All of Pan’s actions were for his own selfish gains, whereas Rumple and Regina have been more conflicted; they have done things to protect those they love.
Season 3 is all about the idea of belief, which can make whatever you want become a reality. It’s been vital to a place like Neverland. At the same time, we’ve been led to wonder whether there’s the possibility of redemption and change for characters. Undoubtedly, the series would be over the moment Regina and Rumple (if he is alive) commit themselves to being good guys. It’s both fun and moving to see remnants of their better sides, but they are at their best when they are evil and powerful.
That said, it seems highly unlikely that Rumple is gone for good. It’s a terrible mistake to kill such a popular and interesting character. (Just type in #Rumbelle to see the extent of only part of his fan base!) Certainly there are times when writers don’t have a choice, (Downton Abbey) but it doesn’t seem to be the case here. Rumple always leaves unfinished business. If Rumple’s shadow still out and about, maybe that is the key to reviving him. Prince Charming still owes him a favor.
What do you think will happen in the latter half of season 3? Is Storybrooke really gone for good? Is this the last we’ve seen of Rumplestiltskin? Catch the mid-season premiere in March 2014!
Once Upon a Time will return on Sunday evenings at 8|7c next year, March 2014.