“A lifetime of craven self-interest is a nasty habit.”Belle
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, Michael Raymond-James, Jared S. Gilmore, and Robert Carlyle.
Another week in Neverland, and the creatives behind Once have made it clear that they are continuing to focus upon character instead of spectacle. It’s a fair logic. At the end of the day, we are more invested in these characters than we are keen to see a tussle, though at some point we will have to see the stakes upped somewhat in whatever Pan’s nefarious plan is. We have heard from countless many characters – principally Rumple, Neal and Hook – how evil Pan is, but we have yet to actually see it take place on screen, and his slow-burn scheming is yet to fully pay off.
This episode’s true strength is by continuing Rumple’s redemption story and his relationship with his son, Neal. Rumple has made the decision to sacrifice himself in order to save Henry, but that doesn’t prevent Pan from driving a wedge between Rumple and Neal, by revealing the prophecy. Though we, as the audience, know that Neal is playing right into Pan’s hands by turning his back on Rumple, the one force perhaps powerful enough to protect them, it’s a natural development, and one which hopefully strengthens Rumple’s resolve to break his pattern of self-interest. It was also an even more upsetting turn of events considering the closeness that the pair had achieved throughout the episode as Neal became a sort of more-knowledgable-other to his father, through capturing the squid and then planning the assault on Pan. The use of “Papa”, as well, is a wonderful touch, and it’s fitting that Neal used this word for Rumple if he were just about to die.
The flashbacks with Bae and Rumple didn’t feel like it was covering new ground, to be honest, but it did serve to incorporate and cement Pan as a somewhat credible villain, even if we haven’t actually seen him do anything villainous. It also served to draw brilliant parallels with Henry, as he seems to be growing closer to the Lost Boys, and feeling alone and abandoned. Obviously we, as the audience, know that his family have come to rescue and liberate him, but it’s realistic for Henry to start feeling more isolated as time wears on.
So far this season, the writers have done well with incorporating the new characters through their connections to our established cast. Tink’s past with Regina, and Rumple’s still-to-be-unveiled history with Pan makes it more interesting viewing, as there are clearly gaps that need to be filled in. It also makes these characters feel more at home within the show, and it means that we do not have to have flashbacks solely dedicated to introducing a new character.
Robbie Kay is also oddly captivating as Pan, but we still have yet to actually see him do anything especially villainous. He is clearly a much more quiet sort of a villain – at least for now – his specialty being manipulating those around him. He’s already meddled and interfered with Emma’s relationship with her parents, seeking to get into her head as she tries to free Henry, and now he’s achieved a similar feat with Neal and Rumple, but I’m still longing to know what his actual evil plan is. Unfortunately, the longer that time passes without him seeming overtly evil, the less tension and stakes there are in this quest.
- In the Enchanted Forest, Bae gets taken away by the Pied Piper, who turns out to be Pan.
- In Neverland, Neal and Rumple band together and steal Henry back from Pan.
- Pan drives a wedge between Neal and Rumple, meaning that he can take Henry back.
- Henry wakes up, and feels so lonely that he can now hear the Lost Boys’ music.
- The heroes search for a way off the island, leading them to Bae’s old hideout, and Emma confronts her grief.
- It’s nice for Emma to be actively confronting her grief over Neal at this point. She didn’t really have much time between the event and now being in Neverland, though it would mean more if the audience didn’t already know that he was, in fact, alive and, moreover, in Neverland.
- It’s interesting that Rumple has known Pan since they were young. I did, in fact, predict this a couple of episodes ago, but I wonder how that encounter went down. I’m sure the program won’t waste too much time before diving into it.
- Charming’s decision not to tell Snow gets more infuriating with each passing week. Also how slow is this poison?
- Tink not agreeing to help the heroes until they have an escape plan is a necessary point to make and definitely a glaringly obvious hole in their logic. I’ve been wondering this since they arrived, but it does mean that our already-slow narrative has to take yet another unnecessary detour before actually liberating Henry.
- Some killer lines this week. My particular favourite, while in Bae’s cave:
- Snow: Maybe it’s a colander.
- Regina: Yes, because pre-teen Baelfire probably made loads of pasta.
- The sass, Regina. Honestly, her background snark is reason to watch this show in itself.
- There continues to be drama from Snow about being a good mother to Emma. It’s entirely in character, but it’s also really making me dislike Snow. Her and Emma were much closer when she was being less pushy about this mother-daughter relationship. Look, you’ve missed out on your chance. Sorry, it happened. Stop pretending that it didn’t.
A character developing episode nobly upheld by Michael Raymond-James and Robert Carlyle. Any scene with the pair of them in is an absolute delight, but the season is still suffering from an overly casual pacing, making the “quest to save Henry” more of an opportunity to very slowly explore a fake jungle.
You can watch Once Upon a Time Seasons 1 – 7 on Netflix. It is also available on home media and other digital platforms for purchase or rent.