Rough week for being a son on Once Upon A Time, you guys.
Now, I’m a girl who grew up with a single mom so maybe some of you can enlighten me; is abandonment and betrayal, like, a normal father-son relationship thing? Because it happens a lot on this show, and Sunday’s episode, “Think Lovely Thoughts,” was like the Superbowl of daddy issues.
Our weekly flashback kicks off with the story of this “cowardly father” Rumpelstiltskin has been pining about since last season. Based on what little detail we’ve heard about him, I was expecting more of the same George McFly brand of weakness that we saw in Rumpel’s backstory. However, Rumpel’s dad was really more conniving-dirtbag than candy-ass. Malcolm (which is apparently his name according to the Internet) was the kind of dad that liked to rip people off in cards, have a drink or six, and get beat up in front of his son. So basically, your best friend’s “cool dad” in highschool.
Malcolm eventually realizes that having Lil’ Rumpel around is cramping his style, so he decides to drop him off with a couple of literal Spinsters while he runs out to buy cigarettes. Not to be outdone by Nelson Muntz’s dad though, Malcolm gifts his son with a hand-made doll to keep him company – and not the Nerf gun that Rumpel actually wanted.
Turns out the Spinsters are nice as far as guardians go, and teach Rumpel how to do the spinning wheel thing. He’s incredibly gifted at it and probably spun a lot of emo-looking tapestries while he patiently waited for his loser father’s return.
In Neverland, Peter Pan continues to let Henry believe that he is The Shit. We’ve always known that Henry has a hero complex and is just dying to be of use to somebody, so the sight of Wendy Darling pretending to be ill pretty much leaves him salivating. He’s so excited about being the new Saviour that he ignores the basic rules of Stranger Danger and accompanies Peter Pan to a second location;
Penetration Station Skull Rock.
Meanwhile Henry’s two rescue parties finally reunite just outside of Pan’s camp. Unfortunately for Rumpelstiltskin, this prompts Neal to narc on his own dad to the rest of the crew – Rumpel needs Henry dead in order to survive, remember? Although he swears his intentions of saving the boy are true, nobody’s buying that from a guy that calls himself The Dark One. They put him on a time out for being naughty and…well that’s basically it.
Emma also vows to save her father from his curse and get him back to Storybrooke safely, because she was feeling left out from all the dad drama so far. The new plan is to bring some of the magic Neverland water back to Storybrooke with them so that Charming remains connected to the island long enough for Rumpel to create some sort of antidote with the materials in his shop.
More importantly, this week in “Cute Stuff My Favourite Couple Did”:
Back in Ye Old Enchanted Forest, the Spinsters offer Lil’ Rumpel (a child with literally no other contacts or resources in the world) a magic bean so that he can travel to a new land and start a new life without his deadbeat dad – which is what we all thought he was doing with these broads but they must have gotten annoyed with him always leaving the toilet seat up or something. Unfortunately, he is one of those aggravating idealists and insists on finding Malcolm so that they can jump in the Magic Bean Portal of New Beginnings together.
When he finally peels Malcolm away from the tavern and asks him where they should start their new life, Malcolm suggests
Disneyland Neverland; the magical place he would visit in his dreams as a child after his own father sold him to a blacksmith BECAUSE OF COURSE HE DID.
Malcolm is absolutely thrilled to be in Neverland at first, while Lil’ Rumpel is more “meh, at least there aren’t spinning-wheels and pictures of cats everywhere.” His father’s enthusiasm is crushed, however, when he is told that he cannot fly because he is an adult and Neverland is kids-only. Who told him this? None other than the Prince of Darkness himself, Pan’s Shadow as voiced by Marilyn Manson. At no point does the Shadow take advantage of not having any ribs to get in the way of orally pleasuring himself, so it’s a bit of a waste.
Lil’ Rumpel’s dad is really determined to fly though, and makes a deal with the Shadow in order to become young enough to stay on the island. Any guesses as to what the trade off is?
Dads suck, y’all.
Now that Lil’ Rumpel is out of the picture to stop “reminding” Malcolm that he’s a grown-up, his youth returns to him and he’s now young enough to live on The Island. But the young-version of that douchebag Malcolm turns out to be THAT DOUCHEBAG PETER PAN, WHAT WHAT WHAT?! (renaming himself after the doll he gave to Rumpel at the beginning) Okay, that one got me. I’m not supposed to forgive him for all the pervy subtext and locking girls in cages now though, am I?
Henry’s rescue party storms Pan’s camp, but Henry and Peter Pan/Malcolm/Rumpel’s Dad/The Pied Piper/Buffalo Bill have already left for Skull Rock. They do, however, find Wendy in her girl-cage, and she snitches on Pan’s plans to rip out Henry’s heart to replace his own dying one. The island/magic/I-never-actually-understood-this-part was never dying, but instead Malcolm’s youth is running out and he needs Henry’s heart to live and become all-powerful.
The gang races to the Skull Rock to stop Peter Pan from chest-fucking his great-grandson, and everything that could possibly go wrong does. Rumpel confronts his dad in the cave and, even though he had ample time to just open Pandora’s Box and end this whole thing, Peter Pan somehow turns the tables and ends up trapping Rumpelstiltskin inside the box-of-pure-eternal-evil forever instead. Whoops.
Henry doesn’t overhear any of this exchange at all, however, even though they’re all in the same cave that’s literally designed to be an echo chamber, and he spent the last 2.5 seasons eavesdropping on everyone else’s conversations. And even though Henry’s parents manage to reach him in time before he sacrifices himself, he’s so desperate to be a hero that he thinks they’re lying to him about Pan and still does it anyways.
So now, Henry’s dying/dead, Peter Pan is invincible, Rumpel is a dick in a box, and Charming’s only hope for leaving the island is lost to that box with him.
Thankfully we have a two-week break before we get a new episode; which should give the writing staff enough time to seek professional help for all of their unresolved issues with Dad.