After far to long, we finally see what the gang in Storybrooke is up to while Emma and Co. are off saving Henry, and what they are doing is not a whole lot. Apparently life in Storybrooke is pretty dull without the Charming family around. So usually I start this off with talking about the flashbacks but this week was, blessedly, lacking in those. While the flashbacks have become a bit of a staple for this series, the lack of them this week made the episode all the better. I have made my thoughts on the flashbacks quite clear in past reviews, so we’ll skip over sharing that again and jump right in.
Lets start with the big part for this episode, Ariel in Storybrooke. I will admit, I have been really missing Storybrooke so far this season, while the adventure in Neverland is fun enough for the moment, its nice to check in with the other characters we have grown to love. I loved this, the Ariel and Belle team up was a joy to watch. JoAnna Garcia was fantastic in this episode, she played the wonderment of being in a new world perfectly and I think she and Emilie de Ravin played off each other amazingly. While limited in their roles, the various supporting characters that made appearance this week were a solid part of the episode and did a lot. The opening scene with the dwarves was as they talked about how quiet things were without Snow and Charming around. It was short but a lot of fun to watch. I am intrigued about how Pandora’s Box is the maguffin needed to defeat Pan, mainly because we are now also bringing Greek mythology into the series as well. Started out as fairy tales, and then we had literature worked in, and now mythology, makes me wondering what they will be throwing in next. Maybe we’ll see Regina unleashing some Face Huggers to take out Snow White next.
I would say the most important part of this episode would be the two new strangers in town, later revealed to be John and Michael, the brothers of Wendy. It was unexpected to see their inclusion in the series, seeing as they should have been dead quite some time ago, but it was an interesting twist to see them as the unwilling employees of Pan. I personally loved this, it really shows just how evil Pan really is, and how smart he is to keep control of agents spread across different worlds. In the end, the fact that they would trust two complete strangers to save their sister shows just how desperate they are to save her. I look forward to the eventual reunion they will have.
Back on the island, we have Emma and team putting together the final elements of the plan to save Henry. With Neal on the team they now have a way off the island, capturing Pan’s shadow, which I admit is a rather clever way to escape. Of all the possibilities, that is not one I saw coming. So Emma goes off with Neal and Hook to capture the Shadow while Snow and Charming go off to update Tinkerbell. The Emma parts were great. We saw some development of the love triangle, which I am still rather upset with, and honestly a really fun and intense action scene. While I find the love triangle developing a drawback to the series, I will admit that I like how they are building it up. I am honestly loving how Hook is developing as a character. He has flat out stated his intentions to win Emma’s heart, but knows that saving Henry is most important thing at the moment. The confidence and charm he shows when he states that he will in fact be with Emma was perfect for his character, and honestly, I’m rooting for him. I am on team Hook. (yes, I feel dirty inside for saying that)
The sequence in the Dark Hollow was amazing. It was set itself was amazing to see. Dark and creepy, the red lighting adding menace and the dark and gnarled branches giving the entire area a sense of hostility and menace. While the first part with Hook and Neal arguing over the lighter was cliched and just plain stupid to watch, serisouly guys, you’re both adults there to save a kid from an unspeakable evil, start acting like already, the attack of the Shadows was great. It showed the heroes out matched and in serious jeopardy, for a second I almost thought that one or both of them would be lost. I was glad to see that we didn’t get a “choose who dies” moment here. They very will could have amped up the love triangle drama here by having Emma having to save one and leaving the other to have his shadow ripped out (boy does that look unpleasant) but instead we had Emma saving them both, with magic. It was nice to see her busting out the mojo again to save her companions. Her ripping into them at the end was perfect. Emma is having none of that relationship drama BS. She is solely focused on saving her son, nothing else matters to her at this point, and she will not put with anything that may distract her from saving Henry. She has fully embraced her role as a mother at this point and it is amazing to see.
Snow and Charming’s role in this episode wasn’t all that grand. All we really got was some fallout of Charming revealing the secret of his poisoning last week. The most prominent part being that Charming doesn’t want to Snow to stay on the island with him and Snow being completely willing to stay. I will admit, Charming did have a bit of a lighthearted take on this at times, that was fun to watch, but it seems there role in this episode was solely to add a couple more dramatic moments. While not bad, it was nothing great.
Now Pan on the other hand, Pan was great. I am honestly loving him as a villain so far. He is the perfect example of the manipulative and trickster type villain. He is trying to, and honestly looks to be succeeding, convince Henry that he is actually a good day, that what is trying to do is save people and that only Henry can help him with that. His use of Wendy to manipulate Henry was perfectly done, to Pan, she is just a tool to use , a means to an end. This really shows just how evil Pan is, he uses people and employs mind games to achieve his goals. This is a nice change of pace from the past villains who really mostly on their magic to win. While the other three major villains of the show; Regina, Cora, and Rumpelstiltskin all employed trickery and manipulation to achieve their goals, none of them used them to same extent of Pan. This is what is making me love him as a villain so much. He doesn’t rely on brute strength to win, he lies, plays games, and uses people as tools to achieve his goal, which is still rather mysterious at the moment. The preview for next week’s episode did hint a bit at what his plan is, but we still really don’t know the full details of it, and I for one can not wait to see it.
Overall, it was a solid episode. The lack of flashbacks was a major strength as it allowed more focus on the ongoing plot instead of splitting it up with a random character based one shot story, seeing Storybrooke again was great, and while brief it was nice to see Tinkerbell again. While not the greatest episode of the season, it is definitely a one of the best.