‘Once Upon a Time’: Peter Pan demystified and ‘Lovely Thoughts’

Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle, left) and Neal (Michael Raymond-James) discuss their shared foe, Peter Pan.

A huge reveal in the “Think Lovely Thoughts” episode of “Once Upon a Time” hearkens back to the fun of discovering characters that this show presented in Season 1, though a bit in reverse. We find that a fairy tale character has a true-life identity instead of the other way around. We’ll leave that for later.

We start, and end, with Skull Island, where Peter Pan has taken Henry. Pan is still manipulating Henry, and using Wendy to do it. “Tonight, Henry saves magic!” says Pan to the assembled Lost Boys. He may whip them into a frenzy, but that “saving magic” crack seems suspect.

The heroes -- Snow White, Prince Charming, Emma Swan, Tinker Bell, Captain Hook and Neal Cassidy/Baelfire -- meet up with the dark heroes finally. Regina tells them about Pandora’s Box, and how they’ll use it to trap Pan, but the bigger revelation is that the prophecy is out. Neal doesn’t want Rumpelstiltskin around because, as he tells the group, Rumpel came to the island to kill Henry in order to thwart a prophecy that says that Henry will be the Dark One’s undoing. Swords are drawn and it’s everyone versus Rumpelstilskin. Despite his pleas that he’s definitely there to rescue Henry, Neal wants to carry Pandora’s Box, and throws out the unofficial rule that Rumpel can’t use magic while accompanying them on the rescue mission. He reluctantly agrees, and finally, the question is asked: What really happened between Rumpel and Pan? He says that Pan destroyed his father.

TIMELINE: Snow White through the years


We get to see Rumpelstilskin’s childhood in flashback mode. His father, a con man -- and not even a good one -- leaves him with others while he goes off on his next caper. Little Rumpel learns to spin fabric as he’s sitting with the women. The two, for lack of a better name, witches give little Rumpel a magic bean to open another portal -- a place where he and his father can go and no one knows his dad to be a cheat. Rumpel finds his dad working another scam in the village. He’s upset but tells him about the bean. His father, seemingly really wanting to have a new start, remembers hearing about a place called Neverland, and they open a portal to travel there together.

The heroic group raids Pan’s camp -- with Regina providing the sleep spell for the Lost Boys -- only to find that he and Henry are gone. But they do find Wendy, who had apparently come to Neverland to rescue Neal (Baelfire) back when he sacrificed himself to the shadow for her and her brothers. After Rumpelstilskin sees through her lies, she tells them about Pan’s plan to use the heart of the truest believer -- not to save Neverland’s magic, but to save himself. Pan is dying. He has to take Henry’s heart to gain immortality, killing Henry in the process. Pan is keeping Wendy’s brothers alive, forcing her to do what he says.

Pan and Henry travel to Skull Island. There’s a powerful protection spell erected -- one that will keep anyone who casts a shadow out of the area. When the rescuers arrive, only Rumpel can cross the barrier, seeing as how he let his shadow go once he got to the island. The heroes have to trust him with Pandora’s Box, and with the mission to save Henry, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stop trying to get in themselves. Emma posits that the moon makes their shadows, so she and Regina, using magic, attempt to block out or somehow eclipse the moon so that they can all go help Rumpel.

PHOTOS: Movie princesses through the years

Little Rumpel’s dad knows about pixie dust and its power to grant a believer flight. He climbs a high tree and finds the dust, but Pan’s shadow stops him. We don’t see exactly what the shadow did, but with Daddy Rumpel in the tree, the shadow told him that he “didn’t belong.” We later find out that the shadow made a deal with Daddy Rumpel: Let go of your child and regain your youth. He does it, letting the shadow take Rumpel, as he turns young -- and into ... Peter Pan!?!?! The shadow returns Rumpel to the real world, and he goes on to live with the two women who gave him the bean in the first place.

Rewind a little.... Oh. My. Goodness. Pan is actually Rumpel’s dad!?!? Awesome twist! On Skull Island, their father-son talk reveals that they were alike in that each of them let their son go in order to gain something (youth and power for Pan, power for Rumpelstilskin). Rumpel wants to repent a bit, though, and wants Henry back. He’s going to open Pandora’s Box, but it turns out it’s a fake box. Pan has the real one, and he opens it and imprisons Rumpel inside instead. The most powerful piece on the board taken out.

Separately, Pan continues to tell Henry that they have to save magic, and gives Henry the power to take out his own heart. According to Pan, that’s the only way to do it; and he’d have to make a big sacrifice and stay on the island forever. Henry takes out his heart just as Emma, Neal and Regina arrive. They tell him Pan is wrong, that he’s doing it only for himself, and that they all believe in Henry and love him. Henry loves them too, but he’s been poisoned by Pan’s lies too much, and decides that he’s a hero that is saving magic despite what the adults say. He shoves his heart into Pan, and immediately collapses as Pan rises up into the air, seemingly reenergized. A magical wave ripples through Neverland while Henry lays unresponsive to Emma, Neal and Regina. Oh Henry ...

No new episode next week, so we’ll be back Dec. 2 to see what Pan will do with his renewed power.


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