Subtitle: Rumplestiltskin and Neal are both basically horrible people
Wow, this episode made me really happy. “Tink” has been one of my nicknames for a very long time and she is the face of the “pixie” in my social media handles. But as much as I have been looking forward to the introduction of Tinker Bell because I have such a personal connection to her I have also been fearing her introduction because I have such a personal connection to her. See also: Alice (here) and Ariel (coming soon!). But Rose McIver’s Tinker Bell is perfect. Can we please keep her?
But there was a lot to love in this episode and much less to rage at than last week, or than I expected, truly. I only really disliked two things and they are related in theme and reality. Rumplestiltskin and Neal are both basically horrible people. I don’t even find them interestingly horrible. I would definitely trade Tinker Bell for one or both.
We start in Neverland. Emma’s Magic Map is leading our favourite fivesome astray. Or is it? Hook explains that Peter is moving his camp, playing games, like he does. So all the tromping they’ve been doing is for naught. Regina suggests magic for the fifty thousandth time but everyone tells her no for the fifty thousandth time. Hook claims Pan’s magic is stronger than Regina’s and any attempts to magic them in will result in their death. Regina pouts but everyone sides with Hook because they like him better.
Hook: We need someone Pan trusts. I know a fairy. With dust.
Snowing: Magic dust?
Hook: Pixie dust!
Snowing: Ooooh! Double Magic Dust!
Regina: You just said magic won’t work!
Hook: I said your magic won’t work.
Regina: I call shenanigans.
Emma: Wait! You’re talking about Tinker Bell!
Hook: You know her?
Emma: Every kid knows about her.
Regina: There is no way Tinker Bell is gonna help you. No way. At all. Zero chance. Fairies suck.
Hook: …So, you know her?
Regina: Of course not.
But of course she does.
Fairytaleland. Young Regina is sad and lonely so Rumplestiltskin pops in to press her self-esteem even lower. It’s his thing: to use the truth in as cruel and manipulative a way as he can come up with. In this instance he tells Regina she is not the feaster but the feast and has a good a chance at happiness and freedom as the dead swan on the table. With this lovely pep talk in mind Regina goes to look out over her kingdom, has a bit of a useless tantrum – no one is there to witness it – finds herself plummeting to her doom…and then covered in green fairy dust and dropped gently to the ground.
Tinker Bell saved her. She then turns big and also adorable. They head off for mead and girl talk at the local renaissance faire (but seriously, the town set looks exactly King Richard’s Faire. Which is on point! I just find it entertaining).
Regina: Daniel Daniel Snow Snow Kill Kill. ♪ So much for my happy ending. ♪
Tink: Don’t you ever get tired of repeating this sad story?
Regina: You have no idea.
Tink: So let’s do something else! Let’s make you happy!
Regina: I don’t understand.
Tink: Pixie dust! I can use pixie dust to find your happy!
Regina: Pixie dust can do what now?
Tink: Find what you need! To make you happy!
Regina: I don’t know what that means!
Tink, literally: Love.
Regina: Pixie dust can do what now?
Tink: Work with me. I can find your soulmate!
Regina: He’s dead.
Tink: Your un-dead soulmate!
Regina: That was season two.
The church bells chime and Tink dashes off, down the hill, running back to get her habit which she probably shouln’t have taken off to sing about the hills being alive, and rushes into the churchyard of Pixie Hollow to meet with Mother Superior. Sadly, the Blue Fairy does not burst into Climb Every Mountain to tell Tink to go back to Regina and sweep her off her feet. Instead she is a jerk.
Blue: You’re late and you make bad choices.
Tink: I want to help Regina.
Blue: No one should help Regina. Her mother is Evil and her mentor is Evil and nothing Good can come of them.
Tink: So you are basically admitting that Regina is surrounded by dark forces who want to harm her and all the Evil in her heart was taught to her from childhood? And now you want me to abandon her?
Blue: Yours is not to wonder why! Don’t ask questions. Do as you are told. Stay away from Regina. Call yourself after the color of your dress.
Tink agrees so Blue will leave so she can steal pixie dust so Regina can fly and also find her new soulmate because pixie dust can do that. It leads them to a tavern and lights up a Man with a Lion Tattoo. Tink’s pep talk is far and away better than Rumple’s in that she is explicitly encouraging and supportive and positive. Regina has little to no experience with such things (support, hope, love) and bolts as soon as Tink is gone.
Back in the Neverland jungle Hook figures out that Charming is hiding a wound –
Hook: You’re going to die before hiatus so you better tell your wife.
Charming: But I’m so much better at lying to her continuously. Anyway, if we find the fairy pixie dust can save me!
Hook: Pixie dust does what now?
– Regina figures out Captain Swan is a thing –
Regina: Emma, c’mere, look, we don’t need the fairy’s Double Magic, WE can make Double Magic!
Emma: I really pleased you remembered we make beautiful magic together but the memo said Captain Swan not Swan Queen.
Snow: I think the memo said Swan Fire.
– and Emma figures out that Regina is hiding a secret past with Tinker Bell.
Emma, literally: What did you do to her?
Regina, literally: What I always do.
They also bond over Operation: Henry and it is really quite lovely.
Elsewhere in Neverland Pan is playing mind games on Henry. He starts by giving Henry an apple and pretending he doesn’t know Charmings are apple-wary. He asks Henry to shoot the apple off Head Lost Boy’s head as a test that Henry passes with flying colors by attempting to shoot Peter straight on. Because Henry is just as Gryffindor as his mother, and also a bit Slytherin like his other mother.
Peter finally explains why he wants Henry and what being the Truest Believer means. He needs Henry to bring back magic across all the worlds. He says he’s been looking for Henry for a long time, before he was born, before his mother was born, and he has a piece of paper to prove it. We the audience have seen this paper before so we know Peter is telling the truth about its ancientness but I don’t know why Henry takes it as proof since Peter could have had it commissioned in the week or so Henry’s been in his camp. I guess part of being the Truest Believer is being Super Gullible. Anyway, Henry is special because he is the child of the lightest light (the Charmings) and the darkest dark (the Dark One).
Speaking of the Dark One, Neal is rummaging through his father’s treasure trove to find a portal so he can get to Neverland, save his son, and convince Emma to love him again. He makes a lot of noise and a group of Robin’s men, led by Little John, run in to investigate. With the group is Robin’s son. Robin explains that Marian died and Roland is all he has left. Upon seeing the boy Neal immediately stops looking for a portal because all he needs is the kid to attract Peter Pan’s shadow. Exhibit one in Neal is a horrible person: he doesn’t pause for a hot second before deciding to use a four year old as bait.
Robin, quite reasonably, says How about no? So (exhibit two in Neal is a horrible person) Neal guilts him into it.
Robin: My wife is dead, my boy is all the family I have left.
Neal: So you know exactly how I feel!
Robin: How are our two stories remotely alike?
Neal: Your wife died, I abandoned my girlfriend in jail. You are raising your son alone, I’ve spent some two months sharing my son with his mother and her parents because I didn’t know he existed because I abandoned my pregnant girlfriend in jail. Also he has an adoptive mother who actually raised him but no one cares because she’s Evil.
Neal: My dad is the only reason you have your son at all!
Belle: Um, actually–
Neal: You only get to talk when my father wants you to!
Robin: If I agree will you leave?
I found Mulan and Neal so adorable just two episodes ago but now I find their exchange bordering on exhibit three in Neal is a horrible person. He’s not completely horrible here because he admits that he can’t force Emma into taking him back and letting him be a family with her and Henry. But he is in the territory of horrible because he plans to forcefully express his love and I am certain it is meant to come off as sweet but since he’s in the middle of putting a four year old in danger because he thinks his son and his family and his needs are more important than everyone else’s it comes off more like bullying.
I mean, here’s the test. Imagine Regina in Neal’s place. Imagine Regina doing everything Neal does here. It would be more proof of her villainy not her heroism.
Anyway, the kid shouts “I believe” to the wind and the Shadow appears to take him away. Robin and Mulan rescue the boy while Neal leaps onto the Shadow and they fly away. The plan works perfectly because they put Mulan in charge of it. Robin is so impressed he offers her a place with his Merry Men. She says maybe, but first she has to tell someone something important. This leads to the second best scene in the episode.
Robin: A loved one.
Mulan: I hope so.
Camera, literally: pans to reveal Aurora
I can’t even write a cute faux dialogue here, you should just rewatch the scene. I have been pulling for this pairing since their introduction (legitimate OTP) and this is beautiful and heartbreaking. It seems very obvious to me that Mulan is in love with Aurora, not Phillip, since the actual dialogue is “No, I want to talk to you.” But some people still seem confused so I hope Mulan gets to explicitly say some version of “I love this girl” in a future episode. I also hope she gets another female love interest. But the best part of this is that I do feel hopeful.
Which brings us to the best scene in the episode. Back in Neverland, Tinker Bell is stalking Regina. See, when Regina failed to get back on the horse and try dating her pixie-destined Man with the Lion Tattoo her life didn’t change and Tink’s life was ruined. And worse, she lied to Tink’s face about it. And then called her a moth and told her to fly away. She chose anger and revenge and cruelty over hope and love and friendship. And as punishment for putting her faith and trust and pixie dust in someone unworthy Blue took Tink’s wings away.
But Regina knows that Tinker Bell is after her. She knows what Tinker Bell wants from her. And instead of running or hiding or trading or fighting or doing any of the things Regina always does, Regina gives it to her. Regina rips her own heart out of her chest and presents it to Tink with the instructions to crush it if she wants to kill her.
It’s another scene you just have to watch. Regina is amazingly self-aware. It’s as if all the back and forth she went through last year actually paid off. She knows who she is and she knows what she wants. Hope. Love. Henry.
Tink, literally: You love your son?
Regina, literally: Very much! With Henry I finally got something right.
Remember when Cora was dying and looked at her daughter and said “You would have been enough.”? Regina was listening. Through her tears, and her anger, and her pain, that last lesson did get through. If she can get Henry back, it will be enough.
It also seems that Regina cares about Tinker Bell. She doesn’t taunt her the way she did Snow when she was holding her darkening heart hostage.
The rest of the group belatedly realize Tink was after Regina and rush back to intervene. Regina explains that she’s fine but Tinker Bell won’t and can’t help. She has no magic, no dust, no wings, because no one believes in her. Hook thinks she can still be useful as Pan trusts her. Tink points out then he’ll kill her because she helped them. The Charmings counter that she can come away with them. She can come home, Snow says, because Snow believes in her. Tink agrees to try and joins the crew. I want her to stay forever.
In the end, Neal arrives in Neverland and is welcomed by the Head Lost Boy. So I guess Henry will be reunited with his father before either of his mothers. Joy.
The Jolly Roger Sextet (an awesome new jazz band) settle down for the night. Hook and Emma drink coconuts together and I approve of their ship. 1) I shipped Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth pretty obsessively, and 2) I hate Neal right now. Charming continues to keep the fact that he is dying from his wife and daughter because he is the king of poor choices. And Regina sits alone spinning Daniel’s ring. But there is finally another lonely soul in this grouping and it turns out Tink still likes to girl talk. She slides over to chat about the Man with the Lion Tattoo and explain that Regina didn’t just ruin Tink’s life and her own life by running away all those years ago, she ruined the Little Lion Man’s too. True love, you guys, it always come with a price.
And who is the Man with the Lion Tattoo? Our friend, Robin Hood, who welcomes a heartbroken Mulan to his Merry Men with a grin and a hand shake showcasing said tattoo. I’m good with this reveal since Robin is the most likeable man in the story so far. He’s stand up, cares more about morals than rules, has a cute kid that he loves and a family he made.
I didn’t even miss Storybrooke this week. Did you?