“I know all magic comes with a price. Saving magic must come with a price too.”Henry
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Colin O’Donoghue, Michael Raymond-James, Jared S. Gilmore, and Robert Carlyle.
Once again, Once managed to create an engaging and action-packed instalment, while also balancing this action with emotional character moments. To see the heroes in Neverland united was a brilliant sight, and the twists in the tale were impactful and full of suspense.
At first, the flashbacks to Rumple’s childhood seemed to be a little tangential. While they helped us to understand Rumple’s own problems with being a father to Bae, it didn’t really offer us very much more until…well, it did. And with that understanding, and the jaw drop and the moments of stunned silence, the purpose of the flashback became abundantly clear. The fact that Pan is Rumple’s own father was a genuinely surprising revelation, and helps us to understand far more about Rumple’s own character and his relationship with Bae, considering his own experience with his father. It also helps us to understand Pan’s motivations a little better. Like the Disney version, he just wants to have no responsibilities and be eternally young, using Neverland as his own sort of playground. In order to do that, there was no space in his life for Rumple, as you cannot be a child while having one. It was truly one of the more harrowing and disturbing of the backstories, seeing a father willingly give up their very young child so that they could pursue their own happiness.
This also helped us to appreciate Rumple’s actions since arriving in Neverland, and all of his interactions with Pan thus far are suddenly much more sinister. Looking back upon these exchanges, it’s easy to see just how vindictive and manipulative Pan is as a villain. The reveal of Pan’s evil plan: that he needed Henry’s heart so that he could be immortal, resulting in Henry’s death, seems a simple enough motive, and not dangerous enough for it to appear silly. Pan doesn’t seem to have any machinations upon world domination, but rather his own self-preservation, which ties in with all we know about him so far.
The further twists, as the heroes’ plan entirely backfired, and Rumple ended up trapped instead in Pandora’s Box was also tense. Henry then ignoring his parent’s pleas and instead following Pan’s instructions was also shocking, if a little infuriating, and demonstrates just how much Pan has moulded and manipulated him to his own will.
This episode definitely put the wheels in motion in Neverland in a way that we haven’t really seen before this season. Before, the season was moving at a snail’s pace as our heroes slowly made steps towards liberating Henry. Here, however, there was a real and imminent threat, putting more a time pressure upon our characters as they rushed to Henry’s side. It made for a much more tense and enjoyable instalment and with every twist, the audience were pulled further and further forwards on their seats to see what would happen next.
The heroes’ interactions with each other were also wonderfully realised. There was none of the love-triangle mess from the previous week getting in the way, but there was still key conflict and disagreements within the group as Neal finally took Gold to task for his behaviour concerning Henry. It was slightly frustrating to see Gold falsely accused of trying to kill Henry when he had, in fact, done nothing wrong, but Michael Raymond-James and Robert Carlyle’s chemistry is so brilliant that any exchange is a joy to watch.
One of the larger downsides to this episode is perhaps true of many of Once’s adventures, being the over reliance upon CGI backgrounds. It’s horrendously ambitious on a TV show budget, but the inside of Skull Rock wasn’t anywhere near as compelling as the outside and it does serve to remove the audience from the realism of the moment as you watch characters awkwardly slide around on the floor. What’s worse is that the creatives involved don’t seem to understand how ambitious this is, as they still attempt to shoot the scenes as if they were in a real, grand location, causing a lot of unnecessary rendering work which could otherwise be avoided with more static shots that could be better realised.
This episode was action-packed, surprising and tense from start to finish. The Neverland storyline is definitely rattling along to a close, but it was a joy to see our heroes united in Neverland and fighting for a common cause. Hopefully this camaraderie will continue into next week and allow them to best plan and save Henry and Gold.
- Rumple, as a child, has to deal with the dodgy dealings of his father. When they are given a magic bean, they escape to Neverland.
- Rumple’s father gives Rumple up so that he can be eternally young, transforming him into Peter Pan.
- The heroes storm Pan’s camp but find it empty. Wendy tells them that Henry and Pan are on Skull Rock.
- Gold reveals that he can heal David of his Dreamshade poisoning when they get back to Storybrooke.
- Gold gets trapped in Pandora’s Box and Henry gives his heart to Pan, dying in the process.
- It makes a lot more sense now why there were so many episodes of very little happening in Neverland. If that’s the compromise that they had to make to make that gigantic magical hourglass CGI set, then I question whether or not that was a sensible decision.
- I get that Henry needed to believe in Pan, but honestly, the entire story was incredibly flimsy from the beginning. I like to believe that Henry was really taken in by Pan’s proclamations of him as a hero, and wanted to live up to all of the others in his family by doing his bit too. There’s no other explanation for his sheer gullibility on this one.
- I felt so bad for little Rumple, but he was also incredibly irritating. With a very strange, and much stronger, Scottish accent than his father. Accents have always been an odd one in this show.
- This episode had a nice resolution to Rumple’s little doll, as it was where Pan got his name from, and Rumple had lost when his father had abandoned him.
- It seems very convenient that Gold can suddenly heal Charming of his affliction.
- Surely Henry heard everything that Rumple and Pan were saying to each other? He was literally just on the other side of the hourglass. He’s not deaf. A little bit stupid, but not deaf.
- I like how the flashbacks in this episode only filled the episode until they were no longer necessary, and allowed the present day action to take centre stage for the rest of the time.
A fast-paced and eventful instalment, with multiple jaw dropping twists and high stakes, keeping viewers hooked for the next episode.
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.