Robbie Kay, guys! I think he’s headed for great things. I don’t know if I’ve really gotten into how much this actor impresses me every week. He manages to pull off this fantastic combination of boyish and sinister. Pan as an abstract notion was such a saving grace at the end of the otherwise dismal Season 2, so casting Pan for this season was an absolutely make-or-break crucial task, and OUAT nailed it! Robbie Kay nailed it.
Robbie Kay is making me BELIEVE this season (or at least diligently ignore the 2006 cut-scene-level CGI), and I just see big things for him regardless of whether or not the Charming/Gold/Mills family skewers him up like so much cheap chicken next week as they certainly shall (I’ll be very sad to see him go, really... no offense, Henry). While we’re patting casting on the back: How did OUAT find a little kid who was so convincingly Robert Carlyle at age nine? Between Baby Snow and Baby Rumple, the show's casting is just so untouchable that I’m starting to worry (as perhaps the actors should) if the producers actually have access to cloning technology.
Anyway, let’s start at the top. Way back, a guy who did a great Robert Carlyle impression with a touch of “Crazy Eyes” earned a livin’ by playing three-card monte. He was also known far and wide as a cheat and a coward, so much so that he had to give his son to a pair of elderly spinning women. So far, so good.
Meanwhile, back in Neverland, Regina was complaining about how Emma ran off to go look for Neal, wasting valuable magic-practicing time. Rumple was like “I know Neal is alive and I can’t wait to put his son into his arms!” and Regina gave him this long hard look with so much quiet, defeated rage. Like “We’re still doing this, the thing where everybody completely ignores the fact I raised Henry for 11 years and Neal met him mmmmaybe three days ago?”
Meanwhile on the other side of the Home Depot Garden section where OUAT's been filming its Neverland scenes, Snow was happily boy-talkin’ with her daughter. Specifically about how she was going to abandon her daughter AGAIN to stay with Charming in Neverland. So much for proving Emma wasn't a Lost Girl! Snow claimed she didn’t want to, but raising her New Clean Babies in a treehouse with David maybe wasn’t sounding so bad to her after all. Certainly an upgrade from the three generations sharing one apartment shituation they’ve currently got going on in Storybrooke.
Two minutes later, everyone was reunited! The whole extended family and Hook and Tinker Bell. And Neal dropped the hammer on Rumple: He was out to DESTROY Henry! Showing their usual flair for priorities, the Charmings threatened to carve the Dark One into pieces to keep him from killing Henry, despite the fact that no one even knew where Henry was. Then Regina made all the Lost Boys pass out and the fam learned that Neal had put another bitch besides Emma behind bars.
Yup, like most criminals who manipulate women into taking the fall for them, Neal had run this little scam before: Wendy took his place in jail so Pan would free him to return to his... family? Wait, she said she knew he had no family? Basically Wendy was like “I took your place in jail because you seem more important than me and my family” and Emma realized that, much like a sailor with a girl in every port, in every dimension there is likely some poor bitch who's languishing in jail for Neal’s benefit. He is good at literally and figuratively compartmentalizing people.
Anyway, besides being a patsy, Wendy was also a world-class liar, and she started rattling off some tale about Henry to the grown-ups until Rumple interceded and called her out, reminding her we’d all seen the episode promo about sixty times and knew Henry and Pan were headed off to Skull Island so Pan could steal Henry’s heart. Yes, Henry is at the tender age where you can’t calculate one body minus one heart equals one corpse, and everyone knew he’d fall for whatever cockamamie tripe Pan was about to feed to him.
So everyone remotely useful and Neal decided to head over to the island to stop Pan, and the Charmings and Hook and Tinker Bell decided to, like, watch the Lost Boys sleep? Sure. I think Regina and Emma just gave them some busy work to do make them feel important while they were off saving Henry.
In our flashblacks at this point, we were learning that Rumple had gotten a magical bean from the delightful pair of biddies who took him in and IMMEDIATELY turned it over to his dad and was like “Let’s escape your terrible reputation to a whole other world.” Ironically, this is EXACTLY what Bae would try to do with Rumple later, when Rumple shook him off like a hangnail and they became separated way back in the day. Rumple’s dad was totally game, though, and they disappeared hand-in-hand into Neverland, which Rumple’s dad remembered from his dreams!
We were about to learn that of all the many magic addicts and bad parents on this show, Rumple’s dad by far took the cake. Of all the horrible, abandoning, emotionally stunted characters, Rumple’s dad was by far the worst. He wanted to just go to Neverland and do magic and fly and eat cake, CLEARLY an analogy for a charismatic, manic father who just wants to go live in a van in the woods getting high all day and all night while listening to Animal Collective. As a kid you know that’s a bad plan, but you can’t vocalize why, and you love your parent, and the fact that your shoes are always tight and they sometimes drive you really crazy and wake up screaming isn’t a dealbreaker when you’re very young. Poor Rumple’s dad was desperate for “pixie dust” and intent on scoring some.
So Pan’s shadow, who has been a mute smoke monster all this time (except for when he was making out with Rumple while disguised as Belle) showed up butt-naked as ever and struck a deal with Rumple’s dad in a really crazy voice—if he abandoned Baby Rumple he could regain his youth and enjoy Neverland forever!
Guys, this is a brilliant metaphor for parental abandonment in general. “A child cannot have a child” totally sums up why some people shut down toward their children. The whole concept of “Peter Pan” relating to arrested development and the danger it can wreak in terms of negligent parenting, and the role of “pixie dust”/self-gratification in that equation—I just sat there nodding along to all of it. Rereading Peter Pan as an absent father (who later became obsessed with bossing around a bunch of similar perpetual adolescents) fit and it made emotional sense and seemed to connect to a larger real-world problem while reinterpreting a fairy-tale, as this show has done in its best moments. So thank you, writing room! Amazing work!! I know usually you are the cheese and I am the weird old fashioned tin grater and I rake you across my gauged surface and shred you to pieces, but I thought this was a well-done reveal for Pan’s origin story.
However, what was badly done (haha, my approval is so short-lived) was that after Rumple crossed over the line (it was magicked to keep out anyone who had a shadow, sure, whatever) and stood face to face with Pan, Pan confronted him with his own Pandora’s box! He had somehow magicked an exact replica and then exchanged it with the one Rumple had, without Rumple realizing it, and without standing near to Rumple at any point that I remember, because of all his three-card monte experience from 500 years ago. Nope. Anyway, he sucked Rumple up into Pandora’s sparkly box like Rumple was reverse body spray. Yikes!
Because Emma hilariously did a 360 degree backwards cartwheel when she tried to cross the line, she and Regina decided to cause a LUNAR ECLIPSE to get rid of their shadows so they could follow Rumple up into the Skull Room. Regina told Emma she needed help, because she trusts Emma like that and they rely on each other and believe their magic can literally move planets. We had all seen this moment approximately 80 times before, it was HIGHLY promoted. And disappointingly, no new footage was attached besides, like, a little peek of shadow on the moon. I guess we will simply have to imagine that afterwards, Emma and Regina congratulated each other in a way suitable for two people who have just generated enough “magic” (which as we’ve learned = emotion) to successfully shift a space object thereby cast a shadow on the moon.
I did love that Regina and Emma were side by side on the boat staring toward the island together, mentally holding hands. I can just see Neal stepping into the boat and Regina stepping into the boat and Emma just plopping right next to Regina and Neal being like “Can’t wait to see our son!” and Regina being like “I know right, and so close to his birthday!” and he’s all “I... know, right!” and she’s all “You don’t know his birthday, do you? Eye color? Shoe size? Middle name?” and he’s just like “How 'bout I just row?” and she’s like “Just remember that that's your level of participation in parenting Henry—donating your sea man services.” and then Emma bursts out laughing.
Tangent! Anyway, by this time we’d learned the shadow had given Peter Pan a finite amount of time to be a youthful demigod, and that time was running out, and only by slappin’ Henry’s young dumb heart into his own breast could he continue to be Peter Pan. We also learned that Rumple’s doll had been named Peter Pan (aw) and that the Shadow was kind enough to drop him back by the old biddies’ house. Anyway, with Rumple now sloshing around inside a gaudy perfume bottle, Henry’s life would depend on his parents' ability to convince him they weren’t a passel of liars.
I have a question here: If Pan can magic anything into his hand and is amazingly deft at snatching things from people, why didn’t he just take Henry’s heart in the first place? Why groom him psychologically for several weeks and then go back and forth arguing with Emma and Regina and whatshisface?
Also I’m sorry, but Henry you are old enough to know what happens when you remove a heart from a living person, I would hope. Granted both Emma and Regina have violated his trust in past seasons, but the fact Henry chose to give his heart to Pan was just so dumb of him, just terribly dumb. I fear that the Charming penchant for pointless self sacrifice may have skipped a generation. Henry did say that if he’d learned one thing from his family, it was that heroes had to sacrifice again and again and again. No, Henry, the Charmings just fumble the ball a LOT, and it hurts them and everyone they love, like that time Greg and Tamara snatched you right out of their very arms. Anyway.
So a giant magical pulse swept through all the land, as it does approx. every three months on OUAT, and now the question is: WTF?! How are they going to... bring Henry back to life? I mean, I know we’re operating in dream logic where Henry can probably live indefinitely—after all, Aurora was bustling around heartless for two episodes in Season 2 while her cardiovascular organ was at the bottom of Hook’s satchel. So TWO WEEKS from now we’ll see if they get Pan or commit Henry’s body to a hasty sea burial. I’m guessing they save Henry. Still, quite curious to see how!
... The reveal that Pan is Rumple’s dad: brilliant, horrible, shocker or saw it coming?
... Henry: too stupid to live?
... Um, if Regina and Emma can cause a lunar eclipse then WTF can’t they do? Like are they officially superheroes?
... Snow wanting to restart on Neverland: callous?
... Did your heart grow three sizes when David tossed Hook a weapon?
... Are you secretly/not so secretly devastated that OUAT is taking a week-long hiatus?
AIRED ON 12/14/2014
Season 4 : Episode 12