After seven episodes, we are finally back in Storybrooke for Once Upon a Time. Sent to across realms to obtain a way to defeat Pan (Robbie Kay), Ariel (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) connects with Belle (Emilie de Ravin) in hopes of finding something — the one thing — in Rumple’s (Robert Carlyle) shop that may stop the vicious brat once and for all.
The best Once Upon a Time episodes involve the entire main cast in the action, and this week, with the story in Neverland connecting so closely with the story in Storybrooke, “Dark Hollow” ranks up there as one of the season’s best in an already-excellent season. Ariel returns, finding Belle only five days after the crew took off for Neverland pining for the loss of her beloved Rumple. But Belle is also frustrated, believing that Rumple left her in Storybrooke because he doesn’t need her. The message Ariel brings from Rumple is quite the opposite. To defeat Peter Pan — and live — Rumple very much needs Belle, and relying on their bond of true love, he entrusts her with the task of unearthing the one thing that really can get to Pan.
But there is a problem. The cloaking spell Rumple had given Belle at the end of season two is not put down in time and into Storybrooke sneak two of Pan’s hench-boys — namely the Darling boys. They must get object (Pandora’s infamous box) and bring it to Pan. For you see, Pan is holding hostage their sister Wendy. After several weeks, we finally learn who is in the second cage in Pan’s camp, and it is Wendy. That is quite a subversion of the Peter Pan story, making Wendy a prisoner. Hmm.
In the meantime, Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming (Josh Dallas) finally have their blowout. Like Emma, I understand why Charming kept secret his condition; it would have been an unnecessary distraction in the quest to wrest Henry from Pan’s clutches, after all.
Then there is the awkward triangle: Emma (Jennifer Morrison), Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue), and Neal (Michael Raymond-James). Hook is a bit insistent, pushing his and Emma’s shared kiss — and making sure that Neal knows about it. But Emma puts them both in their places after a stupid metaphorical fight over a lighter flame nearly gets them all killed and (at the very least) failing in their mission to capture Pan’s sinister shadow. Thank goodness for Emma finally realizing that she has it in her capacity to use magic for good and even gives a nod to Regina (Lana Parrilla) for teaching her.
Given a choice right now, Emma chooses Henry. Full Stop. Of course that won’t stop Neal and Hook from what is likely to become a very openly fought rivalry. I think, however, between “Swanfire” and “CaptainSwan,” I will place myself in the Swanfire camp. Hook, whatever his good intentions, is still a bit smarmy for my taste and I do not trust him at all. He’s pushing way, way too hard. And although I respect and admire his efforts at reformation, I think he has some way to go.
I really enjoyed this week’s episode. We have returned home to catch up and see the town rally behind Belle. It was wonderful to see Grumpy (Lee Arenberg) and the rest of the dwarves, Archie (Raphael Sbarge), Granny, and everyone else as they try to protect the town. Even Mother Superior Blue Fairy seems convinced of Rumple’s intentions when she defers to Belle in casting the cloaking spell. “He intended for you to do it,” she explains, knowing that Rumple has put his trust in Belle and she is the one who must do it.
It was somewhat predictable that the two henchmen slipping into Storybrooke would be the Darlings, but a surprise that Wendy is the one being held in the cage. They are nothing but a couple of boys frightened for their sister, and only hope to rescue her from Neverland.
I loved that Regina enhanced her end of the bargain with Ariel by allowing her to slip back and forth between her human and mermaid forms, and that Rumple promised to do what he could to rescue Wendy along with Henry.
Of course we are building up to next week’s highly anticipated “Think Lovely Thoughts,” which will draw us ever closer to Henry’s rescue and some very important reveals about Rumple and perhaps some other characters as well.
Be sure to join us tomorrow night on Let’s Talk TV Live for our weekly discussion of Once Upon a Time as well as other genre series. Tomorrow night at 9ET on Blogtalk Radio.
Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights on ABC.