Storybrooke’s back! Or better, we are back in Storybrooke, and finally see some familiar faces again that have been absent for this season until now.

* Five days have passed in Storybrooke since the Henry Rescue Party left. Well, that’s not quite right; at first we see what happens right after the ship is gone – Blue, Team 7 and Archie find Belle at the docks, crying, and learn what has happened. Together they cast the cloaking spell – not knowing that two guys have made it though and into the town right before the spell-bell closes, after all.
Fur then, however, everything’s quite for a while, and life goes on as ever. My favorite scene here was when Team 7 sat that the ocean and talked about how now that the Charmings aren’t there anymore (meaning Snow and Charming) it is suddenly so beautifully quiet in SB. May Grumpy have protested, but this was awesome. Even more so because they talked about the Charmings – and not Regina or Rumple, who I would have assumed are more responsible for any commotion than the Charmings. Or well, I would have thought the others to think so. Instead, however, they consider it to be their friends, and I loved it.
It is also an interesting insight – because clearly they have doubts about those who they’ve been sworn to stand by, and who are their friends. I hope there’ll be some follow-up in which we see these doubts in a situation where it is more severe that they have them. There’s a way to reintroduce this once there’s trouble caused by the Charmings; unnecessary trouble. And suddenly the dwarves might just stand back and ask questions first; not be blindly loyal.
* Then we have John & Michael Darling – Wendy’s grown-up brothers. Now, my first thought on these guys was – they look like Ed&Adam in young(er). That was really distracting, and I actually wondered if that had been done on intention – bringing themselves into the story? Especially seeing that apparently the two guys won’t be gone anytime soon, or so I think. Maybe they’ll stay in SB for as long as it takes the others to return with Wendy?
In any way, I loved how they turned to the good side, or how they never really were on the bad side, but only did what they did to save their sister. They might also prove to be very useful later on, I assume; who knows what they can still be needed for. For the moment, however, they have to rely on Belle and her word, or more so, her faith in Rumple. This will be interesting in regards to whether the others can actually save Wendy; what if, for drama, there has to be a victim of sorts?
The other question of course is – if Pan kept John and Michael alive to do his bidding, because they should be long dead by now due to old age, what happens as soon as Pan is defeated? I guess it’s save to assume that he will be one way or another, so this is also a general question – what happens to the Lost Boys then, what happens to those who were once under Pan’s spell? In particular, what happens to those who are by now already back in non-magical lands, or at least outside NL? Will the effect Pan’s magic had/has be reversed? Will they age and die? This would then also affect Neal…
* Speaking of magic – we’re once again back to Belle’s magic. When Belle wants Blue to cast the spell, Blue tells her that it is her task because Rumple entrusted HER with it – implying that it is Belle’s believe that will help the spell to work. Later on, she has to find a way to unlock the message Rumple has sent, and find the object he needs – all with some considerable magical help. A least she has to include magical ways and functions in her thoughts when searching.
Is this Rumple’s way of slowly and gently introducing her to magic? Does he even want her to have her own; does she possess any magic abilities? Maybe True Love comes with certain magic capabilities. Maybe magic is something everyone from FTL has, but most are not able to use, and it needs help time and certain ingredients to be activated – such as this love Belle feels for Rumple. Because we all know TL is the most powerful magic of all.
If Belle is able to use magic sooner or later, if Rumple can teach her, then she could be another important weight on this scale of power – if it still exists. That’s questionable, because while Rumple and Regina can still be considered as the bad guys, at the moment they fight all the same fight – they are all, “Good” and “Bad”, on a mission to save Henry; maybe they each have slightly different reasons, but in the end they want the same.
Still, Belle with magic would, most likely, only ever use it to do something good, and together with Emma and maybe Henry (ignoring Blue as minor character) they would strengthen the position of those with good intentions and power.
*Rumbelle is another important theme of this episode – their love, as well as Belle’s position in this world, and in Rumple’s, too, for that matter. What we see is a Belle full of doubts. We also see Belle missing Rumple very much.
This is the first time I think she is actually questioning her situation. So far she always had faith in Rumple, their love, and also their future. Now that she has been left back, with nothing to do after the cloaking spell is cast, she wonders if she is, or ever was, important. She could have gone with the others on that mission, instead she sits in SB and feels like cast out and unwanted; unimportant.
I wonder about Belle’s sudden turn in her thinking, since she so far was always positive about the whole situation. She doesn’t seem to be all hopeful to a fault, after all, and that makes for an interesting character trait, because now she can be expected to show maybe more of these moments (I hope). Here is faced with the possibility of Rumple not returning, and also with the question why she wasn’t included in the journey. We know she is brave, could be a warrior in her own regard. Now she sees herself as being left back in a situation where she doesn’t have anything to do but wait – and especially wait for news from NL, and whether Rumple is still alive.
Seeing it from this point, one could of course wonder why Rumple left her back. Casting the cloaking spell he entrusted her with because he had faith in her comes to mind; that she would do it, that she knew when he asked her to do something like this, it wouldn’t be with ulterior motive, wouldn’t include anything that could possibly harm SB and least of all Belle.
Next would be that he wanted to keep her save because he’s feared for her life too often, and he knows NL, so he rather leaves her back. Also he might have been afraid of her seeing him die… which leads me to the next theory that maybe he was afraid her presence could keep him from sacrificing himself. We’ve seen that already without her, he had a hard time accepting his fate (although, he still had Fake!Belle). Plus, Fake!Belle was obviously shaking his determination to save Henry, which would probably have been worse had she been there, the real her.
In the end it becomes very clear that those two need each other, and love each other just as much.

“Tell Belle I love her and that she was right – I will see her again.”

– he tells Ariel before the mermaid leaves for SB again after she has fulfilled her mission. If Belle gets the message from Ariel, hope might just once again be restored to her. But what then? She’s back to waiting for Rumple, without much of a mission, something she before was very happy to have. She had a purpose, she was needed, and what will happen as long as Rumple isn’t back? We know that when Rumple’s around, she has this task of keeping him in line, of reminding him of his humanity. But other than that… I guess here it comes in where she really needs to be made part of Rumple’s life in more ways than just the love interest and voice of reason, therefore the magic part mentioned above could be very interesting.
*Of course I have to talk about CaptainSwan (and Neal) – and how my favorite ship’ chances to develop are now, as Neal is back. And really, I’m inclined to be positive about it. Why? Well, for the moment Hook seems to be the much better man for Emma, seeing how he acts and what he does – what he is willing to do. In addition, there are Emma’s reactions to both men, her behavior.
Hook aims for full disclosure. He tells Neal about the kiss (alas, thinking Neal heard his confession in the Echo Caves), apologizes even. In my opinion, and given that Hook is not a damn good actor, he’d been find with it; and they both should have been. Instead, Neal starts to grumble around, starts acting very cool not only around Hook, but also Emma. He’s angry, and really, he’s childish, seeing that they have such an important mission. This is the first reason why I think that maybe, Neal isn’t the right man for Emma, after all. If he can’t put personal feelings as stupid as jealousy aside to go through with what they actually have to do, he is an idiot, in my opinion.
Certainly does Hook have the advantage here. He’s been with Emma ever since Neal “died”, showed her his support, was there for her, went with her on a mission (made the mission possible in the first place, what with him taking them all on board the Jolly Roger!) that isn’t his in the slightest and he could have easily refused to go on with his history. He earned her trust, very much so, and that in every way.
When he and Emma have a heart-to-heart while looking for the Dark Hollow, the home of the shadows (or shall I say, Hell…), she even asks why he told the truth when he could have kept it to himself that Neal is alive, which would have easily served his purpose of winning her over. And he once again explains that he wants to win her heart, and that

“[…] it won’t be because of any trickery, it will be because you want me.”

– he will not give up fighting for her, and for the first time we actually see that there is, despite all the honesty and true helpfulness, also a part of Hook who does want Emma. He also again declares that he believes in her, believes that she can fulfill her mission and save Henry, and his faith in her is a strong motif of love – he unshakably trusts her abilities and, more so, her inner strength they both know she will need most in NL. It is another proof of his love for her. Ultimately, everything we see of him and his behavior towards Emma only shows that he is the better man for her, and I hope that he won’t give up, just as much as I hope he will be given a chance.
Emma, on her part, doesn’t seem to be so unaffected by Hook, whereas her relationship with Neal appears to be continuously complicated and more that of a friendship kind than anything else. Also, Neal doesn’t seem to have these charming and seductive qualities Hook has and shows, or at least doesn’t use them towards Emma where maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
In any way, what we do see is a telling reaction in the Dark Hollow when the trio is attacked by shadows after the guys have just lost the much-needed lighter for the candle that is supposed to trap Pan’s shadow. Both men are attacked and the shadows attempt to pull out Hook’s and Neal’s shadows – but only Hook Emma screams for, not Neal. Her concern seems to be focused on Hook, which might just come a bit from the fact that before, Neal showed jealousy and disregard, acting childish, while Hook and Emma where left to wonder where his priorities are. Whatever the reason is, to me that made for a highly interesting and revealing scene.
Last but not least on that part I have to mention this reunion between Neal and Tink. Those two obviously know each other, and it seems they know each other well. This made me think that “TinkerThief” – Neal and Tink – could be a new ship, and CaptainSwan could become true, after all.
*Also in that scene how Emma uses her newly acquired magical abilities that have been taught to her by Regina to light the candle. There’s really not much to say about that for now, however, I liked how Hook and Neal reacted to it – very impressed 😉 And of course was Emma able to use her magic on her own after only one (?) lesson, which might indicate her strength.
*The Charmings – well, what to say about them. Not much, really. Snow sulks, doesn’t talk to David, which he, rightfully so, complains about. Her behavior is just as stupid and childish as Neal’s, and completely unnecessary. Everyone dealt well with what was said in the Echo Caves, except for Snow, who right away started to ignore David – and this on the mission they’re on.
In the end it comes down to David having been afraid that if Snow knew the truth she’d stay with him on NL, because he didn’t want to that for her, whereas she doesn’t care, as long as she is with him. Problem solved. Or is it? It is possible that there’s more conflict to come, though I won’t hope for it, at least not for conflict that will actually last and maybe even tear them apart, because all this happy ending stuff going on with them is getting tiresome.
* So, apparently Pan has finally reached his goal. I have to say, he is clever in what he does. Making Henry believe that magic in the island is dying and thus also its inhabitants will (which brings me back to what I said earlier about the Darlings and the outcome of defeating Pan) with Wendy’s (involuntary) help is indeed a nice touch. And useful, as we see, since now Henry is willing to follow through with whatever plan Pan has.
I never once believed that Henry went undiscovered and unnoticed when he followed Felix, so this had to be all one big scheme – one that also convinced Henry that Pan only wants the best for those living on NL. Yeah, you bet. Pan’s speech he gave was bad and pathetic, and not the best work of Ed&Adam yet. Or maybe it was meant to be like that, but only an idiot would have fallen for that. Well, or a kid as Henry. Anyways.
The skull rock asks for heroism and sacrifice, with the latter meant to sound more figurative than literal – though I guess that it will be anything but not real. No, Henry is supposed to die for Pan’s purpose, whatever is behind that; maybe by dying, Henry will set free an energy Pan can then acquire. Who knows. We know it’s not going to happen, but there will be a huge showdown, so…
Ah well. This is going to be interesting. I hope.

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Tags: Ariel/Little Mermaid, Belle, Emma Swan, Emma/Hook (CaptainSwan), Hook/Killian Jones, Magic, Neal Cassidy/Baelfire, Neverland, Once Upon A Time, OUAT, Peter Pan