[This is a review of Once Upon a Time Season 3, Episode 8. There will be SPOILERS.]
It’s been a hit or miss season for the ever popular Once Upon A Time but one question has been at the back of everyone’s mind since the season 3 premiere and the introduction of the show’s newest bad guy, Peter Pan (Robbie Kay): Who is this Pan and why is he so different from the one we all knew and loved as children? While there are still some huge blanks to fill in, “Think Lovely Thoughts” at least starts to give us the answer.
The entire episode – and one could argue the entire season – has been building up to a reveal worthy of Anakin Skywalker himself. But that’s getting ahead of things, as this episode sets a few other wheels in motion as well. First off, the two groups traversing the jungle toward the same purpose finally cross paths and make the rest of the trip as one big, dysfunctional family. Neal (Michael Raymond-James) sets down a few guidelines for Rumple (Robert Carlyle) to follow to prove he’s acting in good faith (including a moratorium on magic) and along the way they also rescue Wendy (Freya Tingley) and add her to the mix.
Actually, parental trust issues pretty much dominate the episode. Emma (Jennifer Morrison) isn’t keen on her folks becoming permanent residents on Neverland when the rest of them go home. In the past, a young Rumple (Wyatt Oleff) is warned not to trust his father and learns the hard way that he should have listened. And the final scene is one massive shouting match with Regina (Lana Parrilla), Emma and Neal begging for Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) to trust them, while Pan whispers about the treachery of adults in his other ear.
The episode also centers around fear and the choices we make because of it. Wendy fears what Pan will do to her brothers and keeps silent until Neal wins back her trust. Neal himself fears what his dad’s end game is, but in the end gives him one last shot. Emma’s fear of losing her parents again makes her willing to pay any cost – ditto her desire to bring Henry home – which leads to her teaming up with Regina to use magic. And at the center of the story, Henry fears what will happen if magic is lost and so makes a sacrifice for what he believes to be the greater good.
Now back to that reveal. It’s obvious that the little straw doll means something to Rumple, but here the foreshadowing is thick when his dad tells him to name the doll, with the thought that a name makes things real. One magic bean, a portal, and some pixie dust later we discover that Rumple also learned from a young age just how heavy a price magic can exact. And just as Neal’s dad once left him to become the Dark One, so Rumple’s father leaves him to embrace eternal youth and name himself after his kid’s doll: Peter Pan. Good form, writers! Plus we all (re)learn that the best person to voice a creepy, disembodied shadow is Marilyn Manson.
Fans will have two weeks to sift through the minute details that were missed and try and divine how the Stroybrooke residents will live happily ever after in the end. For instance, will the now-heartless Henry live up to the #SaveHenry hashtag ABC has been pimping like crazy? Can David (Josh Dallas) come home with them since Rumple is currently caught in his own trap? Does Pan get a new hourglass or is he immortal? What is the twist that no one will see coming since we didn’t see this one either? And, really, how cool is the Skull Rock interior and exterior set?
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Once Upon A Time will return Sunday, December 1st with “Save Henry” @8 on ABC. Check out a preview below: