There is a theme that runs through the heart of Once Upon a Time season 3, episode 2 -"Lost Girl" - whether it's Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) in the past, or the Storybrooke crew in the present, or Rumple (Robert Carlyle) on his lonely quest: Identity. The search for oneself and what to do once the discovery is made.
This is most obvious in the story of Emma (Jennifer Morrison). The opening credits have barely rolled when her restless nocturnal wanderings lead her straight to Pan (Robbie Kay) - the boy with all the answers she seeks. Unlike last week, Pan makes no effort to disguise who he is and that he's got Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) right where she doesn't want him. Pan further baits her by offering a magic map that will take her to Henry. Providing she admits who she really is.
Emma will spend the rest of the episode soul-searching and making one confession after another in search of the truth the map desires. But lo and behold, that truth does not lay in who her parents are, or that magic is real, or that she was destined to save her people from the curse. No, Pan draws out of her the lonely, lost little girl she never quite grew out of. And with classic bad guy dramatic flare, he promises Henry will feel the same by the time their adventure is through.
While Emma wrestles demons in the present, the audience is also treated to some more of the Enchanted Forest's past. As it turns out, Mama Snow wasn't always so bold and badass. In fact, had it not been for Charming (Josh Dallas) and a touch of Gold's influence, she would have ceded her father's realm to Regina (Lana Parrilla) and gone into exile.
Much like Pan baits Emma with the map, Charming baits Snow with the story of the sword and its powers. Both men are playing games in order to achieve their own goals, but where Pan gets perverse pleasure from drawing the worst from Emma, Charming seeks to show Snow her strengths. Both succeed.
The final identity crisis dealt with in this episode is the small side story that belongs to Rumplestiltskin. It takes a trippy dream with Belle (Emilie de Ravin) for the audience to work out that the cornhusk doll haunting him was the final gift Rumple received from his father before dear old dad took off. As with Emma, Pan is the one pulling the strings here so it's not too big of a stretch to conclude that Rumple is yet another Lost Boy in Neverland; though what that holds for the future is yet to be seen.
What course is being set for the season here?
Well, there's obviously more to the story of Rumple and his dad, not to mention last year's prophecy surrounding himself and Henry. And it appears the story the audience will get from the Enchanted Forest's past is how Snow and Charming came to overthrow Regina and set up shop in the castle.
As for the Storybrooke crew in the present, they'll continue looking for Henry. Snow and Regina will probably continue their cat fight until one of them goes too far. Charming will probably have a brush with death and the solution will present itself only when all hope seems lost. Emma will fight her own internal battles while fending off Hook's advances and more than likely both will wear her down until she gives in just about the time that Neal (Michael Raymond-James) hops a portal to Neverland announcing that the rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated. Hello, new love triangle! Oh, and the kid will eventually get rescued because this is Disney so they're more likely to kill the parents than the kid.
Stay tuned next week when Tinker Bell (Rose McIver) is added to the mix!
Once Upon a Time will return next week with "Quite a Common Fairy" @8pm on ABC.