Once again I really enjoyed this latest episode of Once Upon a Time. As we approach the season finale next, things are really starting to come to a head even as we are left with more questions setting us up for next season. We see the return of dynamic young actor Dylan Ray Schmid as young Baelfire/Neal, who delivers a commanding and very real performance as the newly orphaned boy. We get our first very quick glance at Neverland and some intriguing and disturbing hints about it. Rumple and Lacey’s “relationship” continues to strengthen, though not necessarily in the what some would consider the right way. We learn more about Greg and Tamara’s purpose in Storybrooke, which may not be as personal and individual as we first suspected.
With Belle’s transformation into the darker personality of Lacey feeding his negative impulses, Rumple begins his backslide into the Dark One once again. He assaults Dr. Whale for looking at Lacey and when confronted and lectured by his son Neal he shows no regard or remorse, even though he had spent centuries looking for his lost son. Upon learning he has magic by eavesdropping, she shows a great interest in it, asking if he can keep her young forever, which he confirms. When he confides that there is a person, he does not mention Henry by name, which may be fated to be his undoing she asks why he hasn’t gotten rid of this person. He does show hesitation, saying there is something in his way, presumably a lingering love for his own son, Henry’s father. Lacey tells him he doesn’t seem like the type to let anything stand in his way, which he agrees with.
We learn that while Owen (Greg) is still looking for his father he and Tamara have grander plans. It is revealed that they work for an as yet unnamed organization that is dedicated to destroying any magic that encroaches on Our World. They state that this is not the first time that magic has entered this world, and their organization has been fighting it for a very long time as magic is unholy and does not belong in this world. Greg tortures Regina for information about his father, she finally admits that she killed his father when Greg ran away from the town as a boy, burying his body at the campsite he and his father were staying at when the curse was enacted. Greg does indeed dig up a skeleton at this location, though I wouldn’t discount the possibility that this is misdirection and Regina has his father locked away somewhere. Greg and Tamara possess the trigger that will destroy Storybrooke and having been informed as its function by their organization’s “home office” resolve to use to destroy this source of magic once and for all.
When Emma and Neal finally discover and confirm the truth about Tamara, things go poorly. Neal is shot and severely wounded by Tamara and then falls into a portal Tamara creates with a magic bean stolen (double stolen?) from Regina which she uses to cover her escape. Neal is seemingly lost forever as he was very wounded and the portal’s destination is unknown. I wouldn’t discount the possibility of a bleeding Neal falling out of the sky and landing on top of Aurora and Mulan, whom we have yet to see a return of, possibly setting up season 3 next week. Regina is rescued by the Charmings and healed of her magic blocking machines by the Blue Fairy, she informs them she no longer controls this trigger. Snow White and David are initially indignant that she was planning to destroy Storybrooke and everyone in it and escape with Henry, to which she counters that they contemplating abandoning her in Storybrooke with no warning.
A young Baelfire initially lands in our world, in an Industrial Revolution-era London, England, setting up a twisted version of Peter Pan. He is adopted by the Darling family, with urging from the famous Wendy Darling of the Pan mythos when she discovers him breaking into their home to steal food as he is starving on the streets. After Wendy informs him that a magical shadow visits her home on occasion, he tells her and her siblings that he is from a land with magic and they should avoid it all costs as it cost him his family. Wendy declines to take his advice and initially travels with the shadow, who is vaguely shaped like Peter Pan, to Neverland. Upon her return she confesses that far from an idllyic children’s paradise, Neverland is a trap from which the Shadow does not let children leave. He only released her because he wants one of her brothers. Baelfire sacrifices himself by offering himself in place of the brother. Upon approach to Neverland he forces the Shadow to drop him, and is fished out of the ocean by Captian Hook and William Smee on the Jolly Roger.
So, next week is the season finale. Will we see the return of Mulan Aurora, or is that the province of season 3 entirely? Will we learn more of the shadowy organization Tamara and Greg answer to? In the previews this trigger is activated, so what will be the ultimate fate of Storybrooke?