In this week’s episode, Emma and the gang realize that in order to save Henry they need an exit plan off the island. So far there has only been one person who has left the island without Peter Pan’s permission- Neal (Baelfire). Hook leads the gang to Neal’s old Neverland hideout in search for clues.
Clues to Neal’s complicated relationship with his father, Rumple, abound in this episode. And insights into Rumple’s connection to Peter Pan seem complicated. Habits can be nasty. Habits can be changed. However, many of Rumple’s habits can have haunting consequences.
While envisioning Belle, Rumple confides that he has been struggling with his need for self-preservation and his need for redemption. He confesses that he has nothing to live for since he lost his son. Therefore, he will sacrifice himself to save his grandson Henry.
What has caused this need for redemption? This internal struggle is not Rumple’s only nasty habit. Rumple, like his son Baelfire, has trouble trusting others. Heightened by his wife’s abandonment and unfaithfulness, Rumple believes that eventually everyone he loves will leave him- including Baelfire. It is this lack of trust that causes Rumple to keep Bae a prisoner in his own home. He tries to disguise this fact by explaining it is for Bae’s protection only. While this may be partially true, Bae has also become distrustful of his father and see past the charade.
When the Pied Piper (Peter Pan) begins to lure boys from the local village away from their families, Bae finds himself drawn to Peter’s calling. Once Rumple discovers what has happened he confronts Peter Pan. It is discovered that Peter has known Rumple since he was a little boy- they have a shared past- but how much of a past is unclear but the tension is strong. Outraged, Rumple uses magic to bring Bae home. It is only then that Rumple’s habit of distrust begins to backfire. Peter Pan tested Rumple’s faith in his own son. The true test Peter told Bae was simple; if his father asked him to come home it would show that he truly trusted Bae. Rumple failed.
The ultimate consequence of this betrayal is that Bae, now Neal, cannot trust his father. He knows of the prophecy and believes his father will recant his promise to protect Henry. Bae knows that self-preservation is higher on Rumple’s list of needs than redemption. He freezes Rumple’s powers with squid ink and escapes with Henry. Freedom is short-lived. Henry and Neal are captured (again )by Peter Pan. The game has to be reset.
There are a lot of questions left unanswered: What exactly happened between Peter Pan and Rumple? Did Neal truly outwit Peter and escape Neverland as a boy?- Is all of this part of Peter Pan’s grand game plan? Will Henry be true to his heart and believe in his family?