‘Once Upon A Time’ recap: Is Emma a ‘Lost Girl’?

I’m hoping that after this week, we get out of our main characters’ heads and dig into some actual action. While these first two episodes have taken us to Neverland, introduced Peter Pan and opened the door to some dark and unexpected plot twists, not much is happening with all the navel gazing. But, if this is what it takes to lay the groundwork for what I hope will be (and expect can be) an exceptional season, so be it.

Emma says the “S” word… but it’s not the word Peter Pan is looking for After an encounter with that little stinker Peter Pan, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) receives a map that will lead her to Henry — but only once she admits to herself who she really is. This is a case of character development holding plot hostage, and the idea that Pan is willing to waste time on such frippery makes me worry that his storyline will be just as secondary. 

But yes, this is an effective (if silly) way to force Emma toward a deeper understanding of who she is. While everyone around her is trying to think happy thoughts and convince her that she’s the Savior, the map (and, by extension, Peter Pan) are more insightful. No, Emma grew up alone and the sudden appearance of Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Charming doesn’t change that. When Snow asks Emma to call her mom, it’s an awkward moment, one that tells us just how little understanding these two have of one another in their new familial relationship. Despite everyone’s best efforts, Emma is still more of a Lost Boy than a savior.

When she explains to Snow why she saw herself in the Lost Boy she was fighting, it’s wrenching. “On this island, I don’t feel like a hero or a savior. I just feel like what I’ve always been. An orphan,” she says. Snow believes she can change that. I’m not as sure. Neither is Peter Pan. Clearly, the enemy is within this season, which is fine, but I worry that means the enemy without (Peter Pan) will get stuck as set dressing. An evil Peter Pan deserves better than that.

Gold can’t shake his past Like Emma, Gold is set upon a vision quest that makes me worry about what we’re doing in Neverland (except, of course, in circles). As Belle (who appears after he conjures her up somehow) urges him not to repeat the mistakes of his father and to forget the past, that damn doll that won’t go away, making it clear that’s not an option. Gold’s ugly past, his cowardice, his relationship with his father define him, for better or for worse. While Emma needs to accept who she is, Gold needs to stop accepting that low water mark so readily. For him to do the right thing for Henry when all logic suggests he shouldn’t will involve him denying who he thinks he is and who everyone believes he is, and dredge up a heart of gold (couldn’t avoid that pun) we haven’t seen much of before.

Snow White finds her inner kick-ass heroine While this episode is primarily about Emma’s sad acceptance of who she is, it also gives us a nice flashback to show why Snow is so stubbornly attached to the idea that, if you dig deep, you’ll find your inner superpower. In facing off against Regina, Charming fed her the Camelot myth (a gift from Gold) and helped her find her inner Queen. It’s heartwarming and we get to see the dwarves (I love the dwarves), but except for the humor in Camelot traveling all the way to Snow’s old stomping grounds, this was mostly it felt a bit been there, done that. 

Hook! Emma! It’s a small moment, but it was definitely a moment. As Hook sees more of himself in Emma, and Emma realizes she isn’t so much the Savior as a Lost Girl, Hook starts looking to her like a bad boy she can embrace. We haven’t had much romantic Hook in a while, and hey, Neal has some ‘splanin’ to do, anyway. Bring it on!

Charming’s in trouble
After a brief skirmish with the Lost Boys and Pan, it seems our intrepid Henry seekers get away clean — until Charming reveals he’s been cut, most likely with a weapon poisoned with dream shade. Charming can’t die, right? Well, anything is possible in Neverland.

Next week, Tinkerbell! And not a moment too soon!

Are you worried for Charming? Do you think Gold will do the right thing? Do you think Emma can ever be the Savior? 

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