We start with a flashback to when Baelfire – Neal – first went through the portal, arriving in Victorian London.
6 months after his arrival, Baelfire is reduced to stealing to survive; he sneaks into a house to steal some bread and is confronted by a girl and a dog. Realising he’s just hungry, she offers him the bread. He introduces himself as Bay – and she is Wendy darling.
To modern Storybrooke, early morning after Tamara goes running, Neal is disturbed by the sound of broken glass and Gold having great fun bullying someone with Lacey outside the bar. Before Neal hurries down and spoils their fun. Neal doesn’t understand why Gold hasn’t tried to meet Tamara since he’s gone to so much effort to track down Neal – but Gold doesn’t see the point while Neal is still pining for Emma. He declares that Gold hasn’t changed and he can stay away from him and Henry
Meanwhile David and Emma burst into Regina’s office, guns drawn.
Whoa – David with a gun? When did Prince Charming learn how to shoot? No no no and hell no.
Henry and Mary Margaret follow when it’s safe, looking for the beans Regina stole. Emma sees something is wrong – the beanstalk is there but no beans, Regina wouldn’t leave evidence and the security system shows someone other than Regina had entered the office. Mary Margaret suspects Gold as the only one powerful enough to take down Regina, but Emma leaps to Tamara because… let’s be honest, no logical reason. Mary Margaret is doubtful too.
Great Emma, you’re making me agree with the Wet Lettuce. Do you see what you’ve done to me?
Regina is being tied down somewhere by Hook while Tamara confirms to Gregg that she broke into Regina’s office to get the magic beans. He’s a little jealous of her relationship with Neal but she tells him her engagement ring is coming off as soon as they’re done. He shows her Regina’s gem to add to the items they can send back to the “head office”.
Regina mocks Hook for trusting them and Gregg wires Regina up to a machine to find out about his father. Hook refuses to help them torture Regina and leaves. Gregg powers up the machine and asks where his father is using electroshocks to try and make her talk.
Back to Victorian London, with Wendy hiding Baelfire in the house and feeding him – and being caught by her parents. He tries to leave without causing any trouble but when her mother realise he’s an orphan she allows him to stay. That night Wendy and her brothers gather at the window waiting for a shadow that comes at night – a shadow that is magical and can do so many tricks. Baelfire is afraid – naturally afraid of magic – and tells them it has a cost and he is from a land with magic. He makes them promise not to go near the shadow.
Storybrooke time with Emma being suspicious of Tamara. Neal is surprisingly tolerant of his ex’s irrational dislike of his fiancée.
At Gold’s shop, David calls in his terrible favour and demands Gold help them find Regina. And why do the Charmings want to help? Because Mary Margaret still has her guilt over Cora pounding away at her precious precious blackened heart. He gives them a spell using one of Regina’s tears (that he has hanging around) and one of Mary Margaret’s to allow Mary Margaret to connect to Regina to help find her. As a side effect – Lacey hears everything and knows and believes Gold can do magic
At home Mary Margaret uses the dropper after another “oh my poor dark heart” speech and starts seizing – feeling the pain Regina is feeling.
Victorian London and the shadow in the shape of a boy arrives. Wendy takes his hand and tells Baelfire that the shadow is from Neverland, a place with good magic and no grownups where you never have to grow up – and it’s good and different. She flies off into the night while Bael calls for her.
On the Storybrooke beach Emma and Neal fine Tamara – pretending to run. Again, Emma has to accept the excuse so she and Neal have a heartfelt conversation on Neal’s guilt for leaving her instead. Tamara ducks back into the torture room which must be near the beach where Gregg is having trouble breaking Regina because… well because she’s Regina damn it, the Evil Queen doesn’t fold so easily. She goads them about their uselessness and they start telling her things, that they’re part of a larger organisation that exists to cleanse the land of magic which Tamara calls “unholy”.
While Regina’s being tough and coherent, Mary Margaret, linked to her, is being a Wet Lettuce. She remembers the smell of sardines. They communicate that to Emma and Neal still at the coast who look up and see the Storybrooke cannery.
Victorian London and Wendy returns with the dawn – though she thinks she was gone longer, time working differently in Neverland. She describes how fun it was and how there were no rules – but on the night all the children cried and wanted to go home - but the shadow wouldn’t let them. It was Neverland because they could never go home. She was allowed to return because the shadow wanted a boy and that night he would return for one of her little brothers.
Storybrooke and Lacey loves Gold’s magic tricks; he warns her magic cost him everyone eh cared about but she just says he dared about the wrong people. She wants to be immortal to be with him forever – but that leads him to warning her that immortal doesn’t mean invulnerable and someone is prophesised to be his undoing. She asks why he hasn’t dealt with them with a “I thought you were a man who didn’t let anyone get in your way?”
In the cannery Mary Margaret, David, Neal and Emma advance; Tamara sees them on CCTV and tries to get Gregg to run with her – but he won’t go until he has the answers about his father from Regina. Before Gregg pushes any bodies Regina tells Gregg she killed his dad and whether the body is – to taunt him. He pushes the button on the highest setting.
Victorian London again and the kids prepare for the return of the shadow. The shadow returns and all the fires go out – and the window opens. Bael hurries the kids into the crawl space but the youngest boy doesn’t run. With Michael threatened by the shadow, Bael offers himself in his place in exchange for a promise never to bother the family again. The shadow takes him across London and up to the second star on the right.
Storybrooke and Greg continues to zap Regina until David zaps his zappy machine. Gregg runs but David and Mary Margaret stay to help heal Regina and get her to the Blue Fairy. He calls Emma and tells her to block the exit
Neal and Emma get the message and Neal says “aha it wasn’t Tamara” just as Tamara bashes Emma on the back of the head with a metal pipe. She tries a brief conversion attempt since he should know better than anyone who dangerous magic is. He demands to know how long she’s been lying and she tells him from the very first moment they met. He moves towards her and she shoots him in the side. She points the gun at his head – and Emma gets up and lays on the smack down. Emma gets the gun and in response Tamara throws a magic bean, opening a portal, giving her chance to run while Emma dangles precariously over the portal until Neal can help her to safety. Then he stumbles and falls in and only Emma’s precarious grip stops him from plummeting. Lots of dramatic speeches, he wants her to let go so Henry will have one parent. She can’t let him go because SHE LOVES HIM (well DUH). He says he loves her too – and lets go. The portal closes.
Gregg digs where Regina indicated – and finds a body.
At home, the Blue Fairy heals Regina and they remove the leather cuff, she will be well. Emma returns looking shellshocked and tells Mary Margaret and David that “she killed him” (with Neal’s bullet wound and no medical attention it’s likely)
Neverland Past – the shadow tries to take Bael to Neverland where the sound of children crying can be heard – but Bael makes it let go by lighting a match, falling in the water. He is rescued from the sea by… Hook on his pirate ship.
Emma grieves comforted by David and Regina wakes up – shocked that Mary Margaret saved her. David points out that they are family in the end (this sounds amazing but based on what? Based on her being Henry’s mother, or based on her being Mary Margaret’s Step Mother?) But Regina is worried that Gregg and Tamara escaped with the diamond.
It’s the diamond that will destroy Storybrooke, the trigger that ends the curse.
I have a pet hate – when the protagonist is right for all the wrong reasons. Basically the protagonist is right because she’s the protagonist and therefore should be right. Every time Mary Margaret and Neal called Emma out for her being silly about Tamara THEY WERE RIGHT. They were – the only reason Tamara was actually the villain was pure coincidence. It wasn’t deductive or logical on Emma’s part – it was name out of a hat.
I really liked this episode and the rather sinister re-telling of Peter Pan, that’s definitely a new twist! There’s a lot of interesting things going on now in Once Upon a Time, many different story threads which I quite like. But this is the penultimate episode and this entire season has been scattered. It is highly unlikely that any of these threads are going to be resolved in the conclusion which means we may be going into season 3 with the same fracture as season 2.