We’re 7 episodes in of the third season of Once Upon A Time and aside from the long awaited Captain Hook/Emma Swan romance, there’s not much going for this show. Don’t get me wrong, I love a modern twist on fairy tales as much as the next wanna be Disney Princess, but my goodness ABC, what are you doing to us?? Honestly, I could go along with this season until last night’s episode. For those not caught up on the season let’s have a brief recap shall we?

At the end of last season, Henry (son of the Savior of Storybrook, Emma Swan and adopted son of the Evil Queen, Regina) was taken down a portal into what we know now is Neverland. Henry’s father, Neil (his real name is Baefire, son of the Dark Lord Rumplestiltskin) was shot and thrown into a different portal landing him back in his real home, the Enchanted Forest. Since then we’ve watched as Prince Charming (earth name: David), Snow White (earth name: Mary Margaret), Captain Killian “Hook” Jones, Rumplestilskin (earth name: Mr. Gold, or as his sweetheart Belle likes to call him Rumple), the Evil Queen Regina and the savior Emma Swan formed a ragtag team of rescuers to save Henry from the most evil entity ever, Peter Pan.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking, “Oh my word, people actually watch this stuff?” And the answer is yes. Yes we do, now bear with me.

So for a whole season we’ve been traipsing around this island where children never grow up, in search of a boy Pan wants for his heart. Pan has been search for the heart of the truest believer for hundreds of years and finally with the help of his evil henchmen in the real world, tracked him down to Storybrook, which is why Tamara and Greg took Henry through the portal to “home base.” Home base was really Neverland and their leader was really Peter Pan. Once Pan kidnaps Henry, he starts in basically brainwashing the poor kid into believing his family is never coming for him and there’s no way off the island. All this while, Emma and the gang sail from Storybrook to Neverland on Captain Hook’s ship, encounter a tsunami, mermaids, lost boys with poison arrows, and a very unhelpful Tinkerbelle.

It’s always helpful on a quest when your group has been to these places and knows what and who to encounter there. It seems that this group has all of that experience, but fails to communicate it well to one another. For example, Prince Charming is hit with a poison arrow, but instead of tell Charming right away there’s a cure, Hook waits 2 episodes until Charming is on death’s door to save him (which he claimed was all to impress Emma). It may have been pertanent information that Regina knows Tinkerbelle, Regina doesn’t divulge that information to the whole group and only does so when they’re like 3 minutes from finding Tinkerbelle. And the cherry on top of this uncommunicative cake: Rumple and Peter Pan seem to go waaaaay back, like so far back that even before Pan tries to steal Rumple’s son away from him, they know eachother. Though we don’t really know how, it’s only been alluded to. Aside from all the trouble the group causes themselves, there’s not much to really catch up on.

So let’s catch all the way up. Here’s 4 things you have to know before recapping last night’s episode:

1) Hook and Emma kissed.

2) Regina took Ariel’s (yes, the little mermaid) voice and her chance at Happily Ever After with Prince Eric.

3) Neil/Baefire/Rumble’s Son/Emma’s first love and baby daddy/Henry’s dad is alive, on the island and has been resuced.

4) There’s a mysterious box Pan keeps hauling around with him. What’s in the box?!?!

So last night’s episode didn’t’ seem to do much in the way of story aside from 5 really strong minutes of actual plot development. At the end of last week’s episode, Regina summoned Ariel to her and now we see that Rumple and Regina are sending her to Storybrook with her voice, a message for Belle and an incentive to retrieve an object for Rumple in exchange for her human legs. The message contains the way to trap Pan, save Henry and the only thing needed is… well it’s cryptic and only Belle knows how to answer it. The story then cuts back to Rumple saying goodbye to Belle at the end of Season 2 and Belle putting a cloaking spell around the town of Storybrook so no one from the outside world can find the storybook characters JUST as two strangers drive into town. We also learn that Henry’s rescue team has only been gone from Storybrook 5 days. When Ariel finally reaches Storybrook (it only takes until noon the same day, realm jumping isn’t really that hard)  she finds Belle easily and together they travel to Rumple’s antique shop, use Belle’s chipped cup to find a secret hiding spot that contains Pandora’s Box AND get captured by the two strangers who drove into Storybrook. They take Pandora’s Box from the girls and head down into the 7 dwarves mines (seriously, EVERYONE is in the show) to destroy it, but Ariel and Belle escape and make it down there to stop them. It’s there they discover the two strangers are working for Pan because Pan kidnapped their sister over a century ago and is only keeping them alive to do his bidding in the real world. Their sister is Wendy Darling which makes them James and Michael. Ariel takes Pandora’s Box back to Regina and Rumple and makes them promise to save Wendy too.

While all this is going on in Storybrook and Regina and Rumple await their mermaid’s return the rest of the gang have decided to split up to accomplish 2 tasks.

1) Capture Pan’s shadow. This job goes to the love triangle of Emma, Neil and Hook and 2) talk Tinkerbelle into helping them get into Pan’s fortress to save Henry. Nothing really happens here except for a lot of fighting. Snow White is mad at Prince Charming for him not telling her he was first dying and then after being saved, not being able to leave the island because all magic comes with a price (a recurring theme). After she rants at Charming for 5 minutes, she then tells him she would happily live on the island with him forever as long as they’re together. All the while Hook and Neil fight over a lighter in hopes of impressing Emma, while they’re fighting Pan’s shadow (which honestly is the creepiest thing ever because it can pull your shadow/soul from your body and control it) shows up, and begins to rip out both of the guys’ shadows. Emma uses her magic to light a magic coconut (I know, just stick with me we’ll address it) and trap the shadow inside it. Tinkerbelle isn’t so easy to convince to help the group until Neil shows up and smiles at her. She says yes instantly.

But what about Henry and Pan? The two boys who got us into this whole mess. Well Henry is convinced his family is there in Neverland with him and looking for him and is convinced Pan can’t be trusted so he runs off into the forest just to follow Pan’s right hand Lost Boy up to Wendy’s hut to see she’s sick. She tells Henry that Pan needs his help to save the island and her. Henry leaves her with the promise of saving her, the island and his family and Pan appears to applaud Wendy’s performance. According to Disney, the answer to Brad Pitt’s famous question of “what’s in the box” is Wendy Darling.

Before we talk about things everyone is excited for and next week’s episode, let’s talk about some things you (and I) are probably wondering about this season of OUAT:

  • Why is it always night in Neverland? That’s a really good question especially since 2 episodes ago in “Good Form,” we see that there is day in Neverland. Maybe people sleep during the day and move around at night, but it’s probably because the writers think it’s more dramatic if the show happens at night or that it’s a contrast to how we see Neverland in the animated movie.
  • Wait, if there’s a cloaking spell around the town of Storybrook and no one can come in or out, how does Ariel get there? That’s a good question, maybe it doesn’t extend underwater? And if it doesn’t I would think it’s a terrible cloaking spell because it’s not doing its job. Also, this really doesn’t seem like a good thing for the rescue team when they want to come home, as they can’t get back to Storybrook… maybe there’s a secret door.
  • Is Emma really over Neil and onto Hook? As much as I’m rooting for the Captain and Emma to hook up (see what I did there), I doubt she’s over Neil I mean it’s her baby daddy and he’s only been gone 5 days. She’s had feelings for him for over 10 years. But hey, 5 consecutive days with a pirate might speed up with grief process, who knows.
  • Is Henry really stupid enough to believe that Wendy is sick? It seems like it. Honestly, it’s a terrible answer for that question, but there’s really no other logical answer unless Neverland took all his sense away. He KNOWS his family is on the island and he KNOWS that Pan is hiding something, yet he trusts a kid he just found. We’ll see how it plays out. I really hope he’s not that dumb.
  • Is it really that easy to trap the most diabolical thing OUAT has ever seen? Well apparently, that coconut is the most magical thing ever, so yes. Honestly, this is really where the show lost me. You’re telling me that if anyone just MacGyver’s a coconut and a candle together they will have both an awesome nightlight and a shadow Satan catcher? And it’s taken every person in every realm hundreds of years to bring down Peter Pan’s reign of terror, why?
  • Snow White and Prince Charming fight a lot for a couple who are supposed to be perfect. Not a question but I’ll answer it anyway: honestly, Snow, he was trying to do the right thing. Get over it. Living on a tropical island that seems relatively small would probably be nicer than the Enchanted Forest for you two because you seemed to lose each other a lot there.

 Things I’m excited about next episode:

Maybe we’ll see more of Storybrook. I think we’re nearing an end of our time in Neverland. The group has everything they need to defeat Pan and head back to Storybrook. I know there are a TON of gaping plot holes this season, but the story has been fun and I’m excited to see how it ends for Pan. I’ve never loved to hate a preteen so much!

Check out the trailer for the next episode, ‘Think Lovely Thoughts” below!

~Princess Marvel