Finally, with “Second Star to the Right,” Once Upon a Time found its groove again. The disappointingly-uneven season came together with the episode, which explores the truth behind Neverland in the Once universe.

The Players:

  • Director: Ralph Hemecker
  • Writer: Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg
  • Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Robert Carlyle

Episode Title: “Second Star to the Right”

Neal takes after his father, when it comes to filling multiple roles. Not only is he Emma’s ex-lover, father of Henry and son of Rumpelstiltskin; he’s kind of Peter Pan. In “Second Star to the Right,” we learn how he made his way from Fairytale Land to Neverland. In present day Storybrooke, Tamara and Greg’s plan is mostly revealed.

The Good:

  • Neal/Bae/Peter: In every iteration we’ve seen so far, Neal shines – and his version of Peter Pan is no different. Perhaps the biggest draw to tune in for the finale is to see Pan in action. Neal’s decision to sacrifice himself when he and Emma are hanging over a portal opened by Tamara was one of the season’s true emotion-evoking moments.
  • Mr. Gold’s Magic Trick: For a show so preoccupied with magic, it often takes a backseat in storytelling. This week, was a rare Once treat: magic that progressed the plot without entering deus ex machina territory. Using a mixture of Regina and Mary Margaret, Mr. Gold is able to link their experiences to help the Good Guys find the kidnapped Regina. The magic gives them clues, but not an easy answer.
  • Lacey: Belle as a bad girl is one of the most entertaining twists of the season. Will she motivate Gold to return to the dark side and stop Henry from possibly fulfilling the prophecy?

The So-So:

  • Bumbling Baddies: Greg and Tamara are an even less satisfying duo than Cora and Hook. Their motives are vague, but uninteresting. Their tactics are obvious, but executed in the most convoluted ways. They monologue like Bond villains (while electrocuting Regina like they’re playing Count Rugen to her Dread Pirate Roberts (Note to Once writers: You already have your Princess Bride.).

The Bad:

  • The Failsafe: Bumbling as they might be, Greg and Tamara succeed in lifting a very important trinket off Regina – a black gem that acts as a fail-safe to the Storybrooke curse. When activated, it will blow up the town. When you wait until the penultimate episode to set up a master plan, this is what happens.


“Second Star to the Right” is a great episode, but might prove to be too little too late. It hinges on the interest level of the character on whom it focuses. Luckily, Neal/Bae/Peter Pan is part of the top tier there.

Rating: 8/10

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

What did you think of this week’s show?