'Once Upon A Time' Will Steal Your Unhappy Kids Away With Music
Sunday night's episode of Once Upon A Time really made us feel sorry for all of its kids, because their lives have just been so hard. But really, they have. The episode titled "Nasty Habits" didn't really do much in terms of getting us anywhere in the plot (everyone's pretty much doing the same thing, which is search for Henry), but we learned a few things about why these characters do what they do. And surprise, surprise, they had difficult childhoods.
Once Upon A Time is no stranger to talking about childhoods — pretty much every character has been developed that way since the series began. It's becoming a abundantly clear in this season, especially during the characters' time on Neverland, that not one character had a fairytale childhood. Which I guess is where Peter Pan comes in, because there'd be no Lost Boys and probably no Peter Pan if every kid loved grown ups so much.
Neal made his triumphant return to Neverland at the end of last week's episode and this week, he hooked up with his dear old dad, Rumpelstiltskin, to try to get Henry back. And they almost succeeded. It's really a shame that every time Rumpel tries to change, he keeps getting sucked back in by his preceding reputation. Through flashback (OUAT's favorite way to develop characters) we learned that Pan and Rumpel grew up together (so that explains their connection a little), that Rumple's father abandoned him, and that Neal tried to run away a bunch of times, one of which was to join Pan's Lost Boys. We also learned how little self-worth Rumpel has always had, considering he didn't trust Neal to choose him over Pan even back in their Enchanted Forest days (sad). Needless to say that these old wounds were the ammunition Pan needed to break the father-son duo by appealing to Neal's childhood pain and convincing him not to trust his father after they'd finally got Henry. Neal tries to go on alone, because he doesn't trust his father not to kill Henry because of the prophecy that says he'll be Rumpel's undoing, and ends up getting caught by Pan and handing Henry right back.
Neal and Rumpel's relationship has always needed some serious rehab, but if there's any hope of them getting Henry back, they need to do it soon. They seem more likely than Emma and company to actually saving him anyway, assuming that Rumpel will continue on his path of growth by choosing not to kill the boy to save himself.
Emma's still wallowing in self-pity and making her parents feel bad with every chance she gets. In the group's attempt to discover an escape route from Neverland, they end up in Neal's old hideout on the island looking for clues (because Neal once escaped). They find a map that no one can read because it's written in coded-constellations, yup, Neal was an experienced cartographer at a young age. Emma throws a hissy fit over the fact that Neal's dead (even though he's not) and he's the only one that can read the map and storms out. Snow and Charming, who are trying so hard to be good parents that it's sad/cute at the same time, follow her out and she yells at them because she's a tantrum queen (now we understand Henry's whining problem) and then give up/feel sad. Emma is clearly still not over her mommy and daddy issues, because being a kid is hard, duh, but she never had anyone to take it out on until now.
Henry's still stuck with demonic Peter Pan and now he's testing him with his hypnotic pipe à la the Pied Piper to see if he's succumbing to Neverland. OUAT's continued to make Peter Pan even more terrifying by linking him to the Medieval fairytale character that kidnapped an entire town's worth of children that would never return. Pan's piping can only be heard by boys who feel "lost" and at the beginning of the episode, Henry's not yet one of them. After the ordeal of him being rescued and then recaptured (conveniently he was under a sleeping spell so he remembered none of this) Pan realizes that the best way to turn Henry into one of his minions is to brainwash him with the word "lost." At this point, Henry believes his dad is dead and that he may never see his family again, so Pan plays on those thoughts to get Henry to hear the music. Like father, like son, I suppose, considering the same music almost got Neal to come to Neverland many years ago.
Neither search party is closer to rescuing Henry at this point, and Pan's drastically changed the game. The episode ended with Henry, hypnotized by the music like many of the Lost Boys, dancing around the fire as if they were taking part in a pagan ritual. Now that Henry's identifying and giving in to Pan's assertions that he's going to save magic, will he even want to go home when he's found? He spent so much time convincing Emma of her destiny, what will he do now that he's found his own?