We open with a flashback – and a crooked find the lady game (is there such a thing as an honest find the lady game?) The man, Malcolm, gets himself beaten and robbed by a mark who is not amused, despite his son trying to intervene on his behalf. And the innocent young boy? That would be Rumplestiltskin.
To the present and Neverland and Pan maintaining the charade that Wendy is sick and dying to Henry unless he uses his special belief power to save them all. Naturally Henry continues to fall for it hook, line and sinker and is just eager to do whatever Pan needs him to.
Regina vents to Gold about how very very annoying it is working with the Charmings and how very naïve and silly they are – though Gold does confirm that Neal is alive and on the island (so the distraction of rescuing him wasn’t a lying distraction, just a distraction). Regina smells more to the story but Gold is tight lipped – and leads us into a flashback to Kid!Rumple and his dad leaving him with 2 spinning women while he wanders off on some scheme – but when Kid!Rumple gets upset Malcolm gives him the doll we’ve seen Rumple angsting about.
Back to the present and the Charmings (and Hook) are moving on Pan’s camp while Emma and Mary Margaret discuss Mary Margaret staying on the island with David. Emma tells Mary Margaret that she’s giving up and there’s always a way (I know the story doesn’t intend this, but in my mind Emma is saying “see, all this hopey wish on rainbows crap is REALLY ANNOYING when it’s your life up the shit, isn’t it Snowy?”) The group runs into Rumple and Regina and Regina shows them Pandora’s box. Unfortunately Neal also spills about Henry being Rumple’s undoing and the Charmings (and Hook) all draw weapons assuming he’s hunting down Henry because it’s not like Rumple didn’t already have multiple opportunities to kill Henry over and over again, right?
The whole cast turns on Rumple which prompts a flashback to Kid!Rumple. Having spent some time with the spinning ladies they declare that Rumple is a spinning prodigy! He thinks he can make lots of money so he and his dad can live together – alas, no. The spinning ladies warn him that Malcolm is well known as a liar and a cheat, for Rumple to be a success he needs to go away, alone, where his father’s reputation won’t follow - and they give him a magic bean. They also shatter his illusion – Malcolm is at the pub, indifferent about his child
Back to the present and Rumple protests his innocence (which no-one believes) and that they need him because he’s the most powerful (which Neal, perhaps sensibly for the first time ever, points out makes them more wary not less) so to prove his good intent Rumple gives Neal Pandora’s box, since he doesn’t have the dagger. Just as the box can stop Pan, it can also stop Rumple. Neal warns Rumple against using magic – yay, depowered again! Regina was right Rumple, you should have kept away from these people.
Rumple warns Neal that Pan destroyed his father and we have another flashback – Kid!Rumple finds his dad in the pub and the remaining confidence he has in him is badly damaged. His dad blames his bad reputation and Kid!Rumple shows him the bean – how they can use it to go somewhere and have a fresh start. He suggests they go to a place he used to dream of – Neverland.
Back to the present and Emma pokes Hook for a cure for David because there has to be one (for narrative reasons). Of course there is – not Hook, but Rumple. He was poisoned with the same substance so he studied it – he thinks he can make an elixir. He wants to make a deal but Neal throws guilt at him – demanding Rumple do it for free. Bah, Rumple was far more fun when his son wasn’t around.
They approach Pan’s camp and Rumple grabs a sword since they still won’t let him use magic (Regina puts the Lost Boys to sleep instead – and gives Rumple some quality side-eye for questioning whether she remembered the spell) but the camp is deserted – only Wendy in her cage. She reunites with Neal/Baelfire
Wendy’s belief that Baelfire’s parents were both dead causes Rumple angst and another flashback with Rumple’s dad ecstatic at arriving in his childhood dream place – where anything you imagine is real. Kid!Rumple imagines cake and it appears. His dad assures him he can fly if he believes it and jumps – and falls. He decides they need pixie dust and off they look – followed by Pan’s shadow
Back to the present and Wendy tries to lie to hide Pan and protect John and Michael – but Rumple knows lies and Regina reassures her they’re with Belle. Wendy then launches on the exposition of Pan’s lies and how magic isn’t dying – but Pan is and he needs the Heart of the Truest Believer which will make him immortal and all powerful. And kill Henry.
Switch to Pan taking Henry to Skull Rock and raising a magical barrier behind him and on to a flashback where Kid!Rumple is tired of walking all the distance chasing his dad’s dream of flying nor does he want to fly that badly – certainly not to climb giant trees for the dust. Malcolm climbs the tree alone and finds the dust – but it doesn’t work. The Shadow comes to him, describing itself as the only inhabitant of Neverland; Malcolm asks why he can’t fly and the Shadow tells him both tat he needs to believe and that he doesn’t belong.
The heroes arrive at Skull Rock (David and Hook and Mary Margaret staying behind to guard the Lost Boys) and run into Pan’s protection spell which they cannot break, but Rumple walks right through it. It’s a spell to hold out anyone who casts a shadow – and Rumple got rid of his. It’s designed to ensure only Rumple can follow Pan. Neal realises Rumple really will save Henry (somehow, I have no idea) and gives him Pandora’s Box – after Regina backs up that trust with a threat.
Rumple walks up – but Emma gets the idea that their shadows are cast by the moon – so if they block the moon they won’t have shadows. Regina can do it – but only with Emma’s help
Pan and Henry reach their destination – a giant egg-timer with the sand nearly gone (which Pan calls the source of Neverland’s magic). Pan dumps Henry and heads off to “take care of something” and Rumple pulls out his doll for some angst – Flashback time!
A crying Kid!Rumple is reunited with his dad and Malcolm confirms that Neverland is just for children which is why the dust doesn’t work on him. Kid!Rumple decides they can go somewhere else so long as they stay together. But Malcolm doesn’t want to go anywhere else and try and mend his ways and become a good father – he wants to stay there and be a kid again. And he can do that by sacrificing the thing holding him back – Rumple, his son. The Shadow leaps out and grabs Kid!Rumple. Malcolm says to stay he has to believe he is young again – and he can’t believe that and have kid!Rumple around – a child can’t have a child. The Shadow pulls Kid!Rumple away – and Malcolm transforms into… Peter Pan.
To the present and Rumple confronts Pan – and Pan calls Henry his great-grandson and asks why Rumple hasn’t told everyone (narrative tension – it would have ruined the twist). Pan wants Rumple to stay, to let go his quest and be with his father – but Rumple is not very forgiving of being abandoned. Though Pan points out Rumple himself abandoned Baelfire/Neal rather than give up the power of the Dark One. Rumple counters that he then devoted his entire life to finding Neal again – and accused Pan of forgetting him; Pan denies that – saying the fact he calls himself Peter Pan proves he cares. Rumple pulls out Pandora’s Box – but it doesn’t work; Pan has swapped it with a fake. He opens the Box and traps Rumple inside it
Flashback! Kid!Rumple is taken back to the spinning ladies. They take him in and assure him he has a home with them. He also reveals he’s lost his doll his father gave him – the doll was called Peter Pan. In Neverland Malcolm/Peter Pan travels to Skull Rock and sees the hourglass with the Shadow who explains that the hourglass shows the magic that lets him stay and stay young – when it runs out he loses his youth and dies. Neverland is meant for kids to visit in their dreams – not live there
In the present, Pan puts down Pandora’s Box and tells Henry he has to give him his heart. No that’s not a euphemism. But Henry doesn’t get it and thinks he’s going to live through it, especially when Pan lies and says the price is he’ll have to stay in Neverland. Brought up on tales of heroes and self-sacrifice, he agrees.
Pan enchants Henry’s hand so he can reach within his own chest and remove his heart – just as Regina and Rumple remove the hearts of others. He pulls it out – and Neal, Emma and Regina arrive. But Henry believes Pan over them because… actually I have no damn clue. Pan’s only explanation is “adults lie”. Uh-huh because kids always tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
After a few back and forths where Henry continues to believe Pan, he gives Pan his heart. The shockwave races over Neverland
Peter Pan is Rumplestiltskin’s father? Ok, hats off that’s a twist I did not see coming, not even close. I’m impressed.
Henry also needs to become the greatest sorcerer in the world with his lineage. Sadly with Charming decision making skills.
What did Pan do to earn so much trust? C’mon something that made Neal, Regina and Emma AGREE?! How is Pan’s word more believable than this?! Curse those Charming genes.