once upon a time - ep 8 - rumple stillgotit

“Tonight!” Pan shouts, “Henry saves magic!” If by ‘magic,’ you mean the excitement of watching Once Upon A Time, and by ‘save’ you mean, ‘gives away his heart turning Pan into a demi-god,’ then yes. That’s exactly what happens in “Think Lovely Thoughts.”

The Players

  • Director: David Solomon
  • Writers: David H. Goodman and Robert Hull
  • Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Michael Raymond-James, Robbie Kay, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore

Episode Title: “Think Lovely Thoughts”

Box in hand, Rumple and Regina stumble into Team Charming. After Neal reveals the prophecy about his dad they finally storm Pan’s camp. It takes two seconds to ambush the Lost Boys, free Wendy, and find out what’s really going on. Henry’s heart will rejuvenate Pan’s youth, which was always on lease from the shadow inhabiting Neverland. How did Pan acquire such a deal? Well, through a little moppet Rumplestilkin. Young Rumple used a magic bean some spinning ladies gave him to transport he and his father Malcolm to a place they can start over – Neverland. The spirit of the isle presents dad with a choice: to stay and be young again, he has to abandon his son. Considering he already did that earlier in the episode, it’s not shocking he does it again. But then pixie dust turns him into Robbie Kay, who takes the name ‘Peter Pan’ after Rumple’s straw doll. Father and son reunite in the present, and despite Pan’s smooth talk, Rumple fully means to put him away. Alas, Pan robs him of Pandora’s Box and traps Rumple in there instead. Henry, who’s been sitting in Skull Rock and apparently heard none of that exchange, ignores all three of his parents when they rush in to save him, rips out his own heart and gives it to Pan. This event now makes Peter all-powerful and immortal? If it means Henry gets to be unconscious for the rest of the season, fair trade.

The Good

  • From Generation to Generation: OUAT’s nothing if not cyclical, and the troubles of fathers and sons took center stage tonight. But for all the abandonment that screwed up Rumple, Baelfire, Emma and Henry, Pan is the first we’ve seen of a parent who was actively didn’t want his child. The issue was made fresh, and wonderfully acted in the flashback. It charged the showdown between Rumple and Pan in the present all the more.
  • Heart And Soul: Never look the gift of a Robert Carlyle in the mouth. Rumple’s easily one of the most interesting characters on the show, so getting backstory and an ennobling turn of love and conscience in the present from him is a treat. We’re sad he’s stuck in the box, but it’s worth him sitting out the next two episodes for the pained but steely determination stamped on his face.
  • Star Power: The strobbing effect on Ultra-Pan is one of the better visuals the show’s done this season. Robbie Kay is also one of the better people. He did a great job both at manipulating Henry and simply looking around in the flashback, after he’s just become young again.

The So-So

  • The PTA: Didn’t Neal have Pan’s shadow the entire time? Couldn’t he have loosed it and caused some havoc? Why’d Regina have to be the one to speak right after Pan told Henry adults always lie? The dream team was losing last night, and by a lot. That said, the showdown between Pan and Henry’s parents was well-staged and very tense. Just don’t think about it too hard.

The Bad

  • The Elixir of Life: Oh by the way, Rumple can totally make a potion to cure David once he’s off the island. We’re so glad you spent so much time on this subplot, writers, since it actually means nothing. Find something real for Snow and Charming to do, or kill one of them. True Love is boring.
  • Suffer the Little Children: Henry gets to give his hero speech right before sacrificing his heart to Pan, and it’s about as stirring as you’d think a Jared S. Gilmore speech would be. We can’t fault the showrunners for trying to limit his role, or putting dramatic beats on other actors. Wendy’s opportune coughing to cement his resolve was a nice touch, but that also limited Pan’s mentorship of the budding hero. It feels like Henry’s a dupe, which makes the conflict much more frustrating.

Overall:

As Regina herself says, trust Rumple to get things done. Once Upon A Time finally plays its hand, and thank goodness it’s a full house. With a revealing flashback and a couple of showdowns setting up the midseason climax, “Think Lovely Thoughts,” packed the hour and made it fly by. The show’s finally free to move at full speed.

Rating: 7/10

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

Who else will end up in Pandora’s box? Let us know what you think will happen in the comments.