The theme of the "Lost Girl" episode of "Once Upon a Time" is finding oneself. A past tale for Snow White and Charming, and present revelations for Emma and Rumpelstiltskin in Neverland frame this game of cat and mouse being played by Peter Pan. Let the past and present storytelling begin...
Rumpelstiltskin, off on his own trying to rescue Henry in Neverland, decides to hide the dagger that can be used to kill him. Well, he doesn't hide it himself. His newly detached shadow is ordered to take care of it.
The others -- Emma, Snow, Charming, Hook and Regina -- continue their search, as Regina gets increasingly impatient with their slow progress. "I could've just poofed us up here." I wonder why Regina didn't do that, too. Hook explains that the island is Peter Pan's playground, and he's powerful in his element. Still, not sure why her magic isn't utilized even more. She does well abiding by what the group wills -- but there'll be a crossroads sooner or later.
TIMELINE: Snow White through the years
Giancarlo Esposito returns for a flashback as the magic mirror! Cool, but very little of him. Back in the Enchanted Forest, Charming has awakened Snow White, and Regina pays the newly engaged couple a visit. Snow must either give up the throne or the Evil Queen will kill one of her 'subjects' periodically until she bows down to her. The flashback, the empowerment speech by Snow, and Regina's attempt to get Snow to give up the throne seem very familiar.
Peter Pan visits Emma in the dead of night. He gives her a map that will lead her to Henry. All she has to do is "stop denying" who she really is, and the map will no longer be blank. Odd? Regina wants to, again, just magic her way to a solution. Hook knows this would be unwise, so now the group waits while Emma tries to come to some sort of self-realization.
Back in the past Enchanted Forest, Snow White is contemplating giving in to Regina and renouncing the throne. They could all live happily ever after, without the constant fighting, but Charming thinks it's a bad idea. Snow has made her mind up, though. The dwarves question Charming, and why he is so intent on getting Snow to get back her kingdom. A princely golddigger?
Belle is somehow in Neverland! She's a bit shocked to see Rumpelstiltskin dressed as the Dark Lord. Is he regressing? He thinks her appearance may be Peter Pan up to his old tricks, but it's his own subconsciousness that apparently manifested a vision of Belle. There must be a reason she was summoned...
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In the past, back in the Enchanted Forest, Charming consults with Rumpelstiltskin on what he can do to get Snow White to fight for her kingdom and defeat Regina. Never a good idea to consult Rumpelstiltskin, but he may have a non-magical idea.
In Neverland, Emma says aloud who she is. Mother. Sheriff. Daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. Savior. None of it works in getting the map to reveal Henry's location. So, Regina, impatient with waiting, conjures up a locator spell to find Pan. The Black Forest -- the forbidden place -- is where they have to go.
Despite her mind being made up, Charming tells Snow that they can fight Regina with a magical weapon that Rumpel told him about. They ride to find it: a sword stuck in a stone that can only be removed by the rightful ruler of the land. Snow pulls Excalibur from the stone! It's on, Regina!
Rumpelstiltskin and Belle figure out that he must let go of his past, of his father's abandonment and him defining himself as a coward and his desire not to abandon Henry. This is symbolically represented by a freaky doll that Rump's father gave him before walking out on them. Rump drops it off a cliff.
Following Regina's locator spell in Neverland, the group is led into an ambush by Pan and the Lost Boys. Despite their poison-tipped arrows, the Lost Boys really couldn't beat Charming, Hook and the rest. The Lost Boys fled, but Pan let it be known that magic wouldn't help them make the map visible. Back to the drawing board...
In the Enchanted Forest, Snow faces Regina with Excalibur. A minor skirmish, but Snow draws blood, telling Regina she's going to fight for her people. They'll meet on the battlefield. Snow later goes to confront Rumpelstiltskin, knowing that he must have something over Charming to have let the info about Excalibur slip. He said he didn't help, and that the sword was a fake. Charming had just given her a nudge to get her confidence and fighting spirit back.
In Neverland, during a candid talk with Snow White, Emma reveals that she identifies with the Lost Boys because she still feels like an orphan after all those years without her parents. Suddenly, the map appears. They know where they need to go to get Henry.
In Rumpelstiltskin's search, he finds that the freaky doll doesn't go away so easily. It returns, dropped from the sky by unseen hands. He sets it on fire, but it returns. Peter Pan's torment continues.
Pan visits Emma again, telling her that she is one of the Lost Boys, that he was testing her, and that she will be a true orphan soon. He also says that Henry feels like she does now -- orphaned -- and that by the time they find him, he won't want to come back. Pan's a mean little guy.
Lastly, Charming, hiding it from the group, reveals that he was grazed by one of the poisoned arrows. Earlier, Hook said it would be fatal and slowly kill its victim if anyone were to be hit by an arrow. Uh-oh.
Next episode: Tinkerbell vs. the Evil Queen!