'Once Upon A Time' Recap: Neal And Rumpelstiltskin Almost Rescue Henry
Emma and Neal continue to search for their son Henry in Never Land and Rumpelstiltskin is forced to confront his selfish past in Once Upon A Time’s “Nasty Habits.”
Neal (Michael Raymond-James) made it safely to Never Land, but, unfortunately for him, that means that he is alone in Never Land, and neither Peter Pan (Robbie Kay) nor any of the Lost Boys is particularly glad to see him again. Neal is quickly caught by one of the more nefarious Lost Boys, but he escapes easily – this Lost Boy apparently doesn’t know how to tie a knot. Neal runs around the island and finds himself face to face with his father, Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle), who is embracing his identity as the Dark One in the hopes that his ruthless magic will help him save Henry (Jared Gilmore) and repent his sins towards his son.
At first, Rumpel doesn’t believe that Neal is really there, but is only appearing to him as a manifestation of his conscience, like Belle (Emilie de Ravin). Neal convinces him that he is real, and that he didn’t die when he fell through the magic portal. So, father and son reunite and are off to find Henry together. Only one problem: Neal doesn’t trust Rumpel – not one bit. He tells his father that the only way he’ll work with him is if Rumpel gives him the dagger, the one that controls the power of the Dark One. Rumpel tells him that he doesn’t have it (he gave it to his shadow to hide so that neither he nor Peter Pan could find it).
Flashback to Fairytale Land, where the Dark One is doing his best to keep his young son (Neal/Bae) locked away in their cottage. He says it’s for Bae’s own safety, but Bae is growing more suspicious of his father’s intentions everyday. Bae runs away and Rumpel tracks him to a small town. The Dark One is ready to slaughter the entire town in search of his son, but it turns out the entire town has lost their sons as well. The boys are disappearing into the night, and they are all leading a search party to find them. At night, Rumpel goes off on his own and tracks a few runaways to a campfire party, hosted by none other than Peter Pan.
When Rumpel confronts Peter Pan, it is revealed that the two knew each other once, when they were both boys. As Rumpel tells Neal in the present, Pan changed and escaped to Neverland and the two parted ways. Back in the Fairytale Land, Pan tells Rumpel that all the boys he has gathered want to be there with him. They hear the music from his enchanted flute, which only those who feel unloved and alone can hear. Bae heard it, just as Rumpel heard it, for both feel abandoned by their family. He proposes a deal: Rumpelstiltskin can ask his son if he would like to return home with him. If Bae says yes, then Pan will let him go, but if Bae says no, then Rumpel must let him stay. Rumpel appears to agree and grabs his son, but before anyone can get a word out, Rumpel uses his magic to transport father and son back to their home.
Bae is furious. It was him who told Peter Pan to make that deal with Rumpelstiltskin as a test. Did Rumpel care what Bae wanted or did he just want to possess him and keep him prisoner? We already know how this will end: Bae begs his father to swear off magic and Rumpelstiltskin ends up dropping him off, alone, through a portal to a land with no magic. On the island of Never Land in the present, those wounds are still painfully fresh for both Neal and Rumpel.
Henry, who, when tested by Pan, couldn’t hear the magic pipe of abandonment, is still reluctantly bonding with Pan when Neal and Rumpel arrive. Rumpelstiltskin puts all the Lost Boys (including Henry) under a sleeping spell and Neia shoots Pan with an arrow coated in poison that will temporarily paralyze him, and, as Pan stands motionless in front of them, he taunts Neal. Rumpelstiltskin didn’t come to Never Land to save Henry, he says, he came because of the prophecy. Not wasting time, Neal grabs Henry and runs.
Neal confronts his father, who tries to deny any such hidden agenda, but eventually he caves. Rumpel comes clean about the prophecy that says that Henry will be his “undoing,” and, though he desperately wants not to kill Henry as redemption, Neal doesn’t trust him. Neal says he has promised him things before, and then abandoned him. If he could do that to his own son once, then why should Neal believe he will protect his grandson when his own life is on the line? Neal paralyzes Rumpel with some extra poison, and runs off with Henry on his back.
Neal and Henry don’t get far. No sooner does Neal find Emma’s trail, than Pan shows up with his army of Lost Boys. Without Rumpel’s magic, Neal is hilariously out-manned and is taken away (to some kind of magical dungeon, one assumes). Pan gets Henry back, and when he awakens, Pan convinces him that the promises of rescue from his father he heard in his sleep were just a dream. And he conveniently reminds Henry that Neal is dead and will never come for him. When he plays his enchanted pipe, Henry can hear it.
Meanwhile, Emma (Jennifer Morrison), Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin), Charming (Josh Dallas), Regina (Lana Parrilla) and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) are still working on Operation Rescue Henry. As new ally, Tinker Bell (Rose McIver), points out, it’s not enough to have a plan to get inside Peter Pan’s camp. They need a way out, and nobody leaves Never Land without Pan’s permission. The only man who has ever escaped from under Pan’s nose is Neal, who they believe is dead. But, not all hope is lost, as Hook points out, Neal may have left some clues behind as to how he escaped. Hook leads the troops to Neal’s old home (a cave) and they all begin searching. They find a coconut shell with what appears to be very specific holes punctured in it. When they make it into a lantern, it creates a pattern of stars on the cave ceiling. It’s a map, but a coded one. Hook says that one thing he taught Bae when he was here is that a pirate never writes a map that somebody else can read. Their only hope is Neal (who they believe to be dead), and even then, Pan hints that he just let Neal think that he didn’t know Neal was leaving the island all those years ago.
In other news, Charming still has not told Snow or Emma about his impending poisonous death, despite Hook’s encouragements. And Snow told him that she wouldn’t know how to go on if he died. Uh oh.
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.
– Olivia Truffaut-Wong
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