This week's episode of "Once Upon A Time" isn't exactly twisty-turvy. We know Henry (well, Pan in Henry's body) is going to put some nefarious plan into action, and everyone will fall for it because their defenses are down, and the pieces will be put in place for a bang-up midseason finale next week. Still, there are a few surprises, like the appearance of a really cheesy-looking Medusa. The scope of the show is getting a little broad, in that Greek mythology (Pandora's box and Medusa), Arthurian legend and Mary Shelley's favorite monster all fall under the fairytale banner. But I guess as long as we don't see ewoks, hobbits or the cast of "Glee" in any future episodes, I guess it's all fine.
Initially (because we know Pan and Henry have swapped forms), it seems glaringly obvious that Henry isn't Henry anymore. He isn't excited about his big fairytale book! He hugs the wrong mom! He's fearful in a way Henry would never be! Of course, there's no reason for anyone to think he's not really Henry, so Gold merrily sticks Pandora's box under the floorboards and makes sure no one except himself can ever remove it. I half expect to see Henry (Peter Pan) turn around, whip out a pad, and scribble notes for future reference.
It is nice, however, to be back in Storybrooke where everyone (for a moment) is happy, secure and seemingly ready to move on with their lives. Sure, it's not to last, but everyone's worked so hard, they deserve a break, don't they? Seeing the Darlings reunited is a lovely moment, though it's a little weird when Neal (Baelfire) joins in the hugging. Yes, they all grew up together, but it's a little sad they're all stuck at very different ages.
Still, there's a sense of relief and, dare I say it, community in the air. Gold even gives Charming an elixir to finally wipe out his dreamshade poisoning with no tit-for-tat in the deal. Well, a little, but come on, it's Gold. Even when Emma finally suggests to Regina she keep an eye on the increasingly creepy Henry, Regina only slightly chastises Emma for her lack of faith in Henry. In the end, it's a little disappointing that the truth of Pan's body swap reveals itself so quickly -- there was an opportunity for the whole of Storybrooke to turn against an increasingly hysterical Emma, which also would have given Pan (as Henry) time to cause a lot more chaos in the sleepy little town than he did. Really, everyone's getting along a little too well if you ask me.
Alas, he doesn't have to do much to get Regina to bend to his will. Her soft spot has always been Henry, and, as the theme of the episode is being your own worst enemy (we'll get to the Medusa storyline in a moment), she basically plays right into Pan's hands. It's not often we get an opportunity to feel sorry for Regina, but this would be one of those times.
The B storyline this week was a flashback to Charming and Snow setting off on their honeymoon, which Snow had to go and ruin with a plot to find Medusa, lop off her head and destroy Regina with it. Though Charming is turned to stone (and miraculously cured when Snow lets Medusa stare into the reflection in a shield -- I wasn't aware that all of Medusa's evildoing was magically erased when she turned to stone, but hey, why not?), all's well that ends well, more or less. Snow emerges realizing that her worry about Regina was ruining her happiness, and the ensuing speech is, if heavy handed, a great rallying cry for the character. When Snow and Charming try to pass along their wisdom to daughter Emma, of course, it doesn't sink in. She's the Savior, dammit! Saviors don't get time off! They must be miserable and cranky at all times!
This also means blowing off Neal for a pseudo-date, ignoring Hook, and obsessing over Henry. Yes, this leads her to unravel the Henry/Pan swap, but Emma is becoming a less and less pleasant character to follow. It's also making Neal and Hook's shared fascination with her harder to believe. Yes, Emma is strong and independent, but she's also a massive bummer. Do either of these guys really think that will change if they succeed in romancing her?
Hook does, for a moment, try to entice Tink into a quick fling, but Tink has too much dignity to accept his offer. I'm wondering if Mother Superior/Blue Fairy's loss of her shadow will send Tink into the background again (her encounter with Blue Fairy was definitely intriguing enough to make me want to see more). I hope not -- while we got a quick glimpse of Ariel (and her reunion with Eric) as well as Tink in this episode, it only made it clear to me we need much more -- and, as soon as possible, a lot less of this Neverland nonsense.
Now that Henry has been rescued (in Pan form), the bad news is that Pan has stolen Regina's dreaded Storybrooke curse -- which won't be so easily broken this time around. Pan is in a position to create a new Neverland, which I can't say I'm terribly excited about. If it were to happen, it seems as if we're just going to be creating a mash-up of season one and this season (which has been admittedly disappointing). I'm starting to worry that "Once Upon A Time" is recycling ideas -- too soon, too soon! Hopefully the plan will be thwarted, Pan will be sent away, and we'll get something a little fresher. With so many characters in need of further development (Tink and Ariel!), there's no reason for a retread.
What do you think about the Pan's plan? What do you think about Hook's long-haul commitment to Emma? Do you think we'll see more of Tink and Ariel soon?