Things do not look very good for Henry Mills (Jared S. Gilmore) and his family on Neverland as we come into this week’s Once Upon a Time episode, “Save Henry.” Peter Pan (Robbie Kay) has stolen Henry’s heart to become immortal and Henry lies on the dirt barely alive as time ticks by and hope grows dimmer and dimmer. All Emma (Jennifer Morrison), Regina (Lana Parrilla), David (Josh Dallas), Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin), and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) can do is look on in horror. And Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) is captured in the darkness of Pandora’s box, powerless to do much of anything.
But all seems much better as the hour progresses: Pan is vanquished, Rumple is released from the box, apparently no worse for wear and with all signs of darkness removed and replaced by genuine remorse and love for his son and concern for Henry. Emma, Snow, David and Hook prepare for the journey home. But Regina isn’t convinced the danger is passed. Worried that Henry is not adequately protected, she casts a spell that will prevent his heart from ever being taken again. And it seems a good thing as Pan has found his way onto the Jolly Roger and tries to wrest from Henry his heart. Finding he cannot, he tries to detach Henry’s shadow from him, when Rumple appears to finally capture Pan in Pandora’s box.
All of them, however, have underestimated the evil Peter Pan, who has somehow switched places with Henry in the process. Now with the best disguise of all — Henry Mills — Pan is free to create havoc, now no longer in Neverland, but able to do his bidding in Storybrooke.
The only good that has come out of it is that Tink has gotten back her magic (and a vial of pixie dust). I wonder how that will come into play in the coming weeks as this first half season of Once Upon a Time draws to a close (there are only two remaining episodes until the series goes into hiatus until March). I imagine that this is not the last we will see of that vial in the final episodes.
The events in Neverland play out against the backstory of Henry’s adoption, and will undoubtedly lead to much renewed speculation about when Rumplestiltskin actually realized who he was (or if he knew from the start). The conventional wisdom has always been that the introduction of Emma into the mix in the series pilot was the trigger that brought back his memory. I wonder if he, like Regina does in “Save Henry” had cast upon himself a forgetting spell to be broken upon only upon meeting Ms. Emma Swan?
Very interesting, indeed, that the Darling boys (AKA Pan’s spies) had been tracking Henry from his infancy. They are well aware that Henry is special and the son of Baelfire and Emma. The question is: how? And why? Has Pan’s power has been waning for all these years (why else would he have need of Henry?)? If so, how has he forestalled his own death for so long?
And what has this all to do with his connection to Rumplestiltskin? I’m still wondering about why Rumple had always contended that to kill Pan would only mean his own death (something he’s been willing to do). We still have no answer to that question. Now we add to that: how had Pan known at Henry’s birth — just after the curse had been executed — that he was special?
What is now to come that they’ve all gotten back to Storybrooke? What of the dreamshade toxin coursing through Charming’s blood? Will Gold really be able to fix him? Yeah, we know he will, but at what cost? What will become of the lost boys? Will Peter Pan/Henry rally them to cause chaos within the town? And what role do Wendy and her brothers have to play in what will undoubtedly be the final showdown in the mid-season finale?
Lana Parrilla knocks it out the park again, playing Regina’s hard edges as well as her emotional center, so bereft of love but not quite understanding how to deal with it. Her transformation from completely inept, and even angry, motherhood to becoming enthralled by the little bundle was perfectly played. I loved as well that the entire troupe worked together for the greater good of rescuing Henry (or at least so they thought). Each member of the team had something to do. But once they’re back in Storybrooke, how long will that alliance stay intact (my guess is not very)? And when will the fingers start pointing for the Pan/Henry switcheroo?
I expect that next week, we will be treated to some nice reunions, unexpected (and not very welcome) surprises and a ratcheting up once again of tension as the Neverland battle moves its Ground Zero to Storybrooke.
Don’t forget to tune into Let’s Talk TV Live tomorrow night to join the discussion of this week’s episode. Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC.