'Once Upon A Time' Continues To Paint Its Dark Portrait of Neverland
ABC's Once Upon A Time is no stranger to turning our favorite stories on their heads, but their take on Neverland has got us all confused. Last season's finale had almost all of the show's main cast of characters leaving the real world and traveling through portals to other realms. The season three premiere showed us where the went - to Neverland. Henry, Emma, Snow, Charming, Regina, Hook, Owen and Tamara are either on the island of Neverland or on Hook's ship trying to get there during tonight's episode (or dead). But the most curious (curiouser and curiouser) of tonight's episode was malevolent Peter Pan.
We've seen some strange things on OUAT in the past two seasons (Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) doubles as The Beast (kind of) and Little Red Riding Hood is actually the wolf) but nothing quite like what they've done to our beloved story of Peter Pan.
Neverland isn't a fun place, the Lost Boys aren't cute and playing with wooden swords, and Peter Pan is the evil one, not Captain Hook (Colin O'Donoghue). As a matter of fact, Hook was on point in this episode. He gave Emma some helpful advice en route to the island, a weapon, and a drink and played a pivotal role in rescuing her from drowning in the waters surrounding Neverland. Hook, who was definitely not to be trusted in previous seasons, is starting to abandon revenge in favor of redemption by helping Emma (Jennifer Morrison) get Neal (Michael Raymond-James) and Henry (Jared Gilmore) back.
Peter Pan, who's a cute but really evil little boy, flies around in the form of this super creepy shadow-thing that looks less like a human and more like a flying devil with glowing eyes and goes by "Pan". He also somehow has the upper hand on The Dark One (aka Rumplestiltskin, aka Mr. Gold, aka Neal's dad and Henry's grandpa) and has the ability to reduce him to tears, which is a really scary thought considering how incredibly evil Rumple can be when he wants. After swooping in as his shadow-devil self and sucking the shadow (soul? very dementor-like, if you ask me) out of weird, magic-hater Owen (Ethan Embry), formerly known as Greg, and instructing his minions, the Lost Boys (who dress like grim reapers...), to kill Tamara (Sonequa Martin-Green), he turns back into human-form and pretends to befriend Henry. So basically, Peter Pan is an evil, shape-shifting, dementor-human in the OUAT universe. OH and fun fact, he wants Henry's heart because it's the "Heart of the Truest Believer" and he knows this because Henry believed in fairy dust when Pan pretended not to. Okay, creeper.
Neverland itself looks a lot like the island from Lost (all hail), even though we were only able to see it at night during this episode. The realm and the story of "Pan" briefly appeared last season in the flashback to Neal's childhood, when he was still going by his Enchanted Forest name, Baelfire. He was living with Wendy Darling in London, after jumping into a portal to escape the magical world of his father, when he sacrificed himself to Pan in place of her younger brother to save their family. He ends up escaping the fate of the Lost Boys, who have all been brought to the island under false pretenses and then forced to stay and act as Pan's minions, and falling into the water surrounding the island to be rescued by Hook and continue on his realm-hopping spree before meeting Emma in present day.
Does any of this sound like the Peter Pan story we know? NOT EVEN CLOSE. Also, Peter Pan himself is enough to give me nightmares. He's a creepy, little sociopath that wants to rip out Henry's heart to do what? Eat it? Put it in a box? Tinkerbell, a key player in the Peter Pan story we know, has yet to make an appearance in this version of Neverland, but hopefully she's not as nightmarish as the shriveled-up fairies of True Blood. Once Upon A Time has taken Neverland from the happy place for kids that never want to grow up to our worst, creepy nightmare. J.M. Barrie is probably rolling over in his grave...