Let’s Talk About ONCE, Shall We?

Okay, can we dish about that last episode of Once Upon a Time? I guess since it’s my blog, I can write about pretty much whatever I want, right?

We have officially left the 24 hour spoiler-free zone, so all bets are off. Leave now if you haven’t watched “Think Lovely Thoughts” and don’t want to get spoiled.

Right, then.

First of all, kudos to the writers for catching me completely flat-footed with the big reveal that Peter Pan is really Rumpelstiltskin’s dad. I have a solid track record for seeing plot twists like that coming a mile away. That was not the case this time. I didn’t catch on until the Smoke Monster Pan’s shadow showed up in the tree when Malcolm “Worse than Widmore” Stiltskin was trying to score some heroin-stuffed Virgin Mary statues pixie dust.

Having had a couple days to reflect on this big reveal, post “OMGWTF?!”phase, this really is kind of a genius storytelling move. They took the modern cliche of a guy having a “Peter Pan syndrome” midlife crisis and abandoning his kid(s) to recapture his lost youth, and made it breathtakingly literal. Go back and look at Malcolm’s hanging out in the pubs and gambling. I think that puts a much darker interpretation on his obsession with acquiring the pixie dust and flying, once they get to the Island Neverland. Literally, Rumpel’s dad was an irresponsible, immature addict who abandoned him in favor of getting high.

Again, a cliched modern metaphor made jaw-droppingly literal.  It was so obvious, I never saw it coming.

Suddenly, all the pieces clicked into place. Rumpel’s “Pan ruined my father’s life” explanation to Neal/Baelfire became the sort of “What I told you was true, from a certain point of view” statement we should probably all expect from cagey magical mentors whose actors originate in the British Isles.

So well played, ONCE. Well played.

Some other things to ponder:

  • The Smoke Monster shadow pre-existing Pan’s presence on the Island Neverland is an interesting twist as well. Does it bode well or ill for the possible redemption of Pan/Malcolm? Or is it just another tantalizing thread that’ll get forgotten?
  • It would be a lot easier to #SaveHenry if the kid didn’t have the survival instincts of a suicidal lemming. Are we sure he’s related to Rumpel, Emma and Neal?
  • On the “What are you thinking, Henry?” note, wasn’t this the same kid who spent most of last season begging Regina to give up magic, convinced it was a bad thing? But now, magic is not only good, it’s worth ripping your own heart out and handing it over to a guy all three of your parents tell you not to trust?
  • There was not nearly enough Hook in this episode for my liking.
  • My guess is there’s going to be a “do we or don’t we free Rumpel from the box” vote, which is going to be skewed a bit by the fact that right before he got boxed, he revealed he had a cure for the incurable poison keeping Charming on the Island Neverland.

What do you guys think? Let’s discuss.


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    It’s as if we were sharing one brain! I definitely spent a few minutes scraping my jaw off the floor at the big reveal. I love being fooled like that. They can’t just drop the Shadow thread. It was too good to leave hanging.

    About Henry: let’s start a “stop making Henry stupid” petition. This gullible goof is not the same kid who left Storyville alone on a quest, stood up to all the doubting adults and dreamed up Operation Cobra. Maybe there’s a “Henry’s stupid twin” thread in the works.

    1. Kat

      Yeah. During season 1, Henry was occasionally a little naive and gullible, but understandably so for a kid his age. Now, he’s visibly older. He clearly had qualms about Pan from the beginning of the season. He’s got all three of his parents cooperating, right in front of him. Unless the cave had a secret soundproof room, I don’t see how he didn’t hear the whole exchange between Pan and Rumpel. The decision to go along with Pan just seemed so completely out of character and wrong. It was just bad writing, plain and simple, and in a show that had just pulled off such a nice twist, it really ticked me off.

  2. Kimberly

    I, too, was blindsided, but there was something niggling at my brain prior – the fact that Rumpel was once on the island as a child was really bothering my logic/timeline. Daughter #2 and I are still the only faithful watchers and she was bouncing up and down on the couch. Same thing on the Henry idiocy. I can ONLY think that Neverland does a number on boys to turn them into mindless idiots, a lost boy, for example. Or stupid, stupid Henry. Even his expresssions were more earnest and naïve than recently – like he was becoming more innocent and trusting.

    I’m definitely back in.

    1. Kat

      I like your “Neverland makes boys dopey” theory. In that sense, it’s almost a metaphor for puberty. Otherwise, he’s just kind of an idiot. Maddie watches alongside me, and has an ongoing special dispensation from her 8:30 bedtime for ONCE. When I caught up to the Malcolm/Pan twist, I had to catch myself because I almost shouted… something you probably shouldn’t with your nine year old sitting next to you.


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