Ah, there’s that forward momentum we ordered! After weeks of running in place, tonight’s episode felt pretty action-packed from start to finish. What’s more, it actually advanced season 3’s master plot. Thanks to the events of “Dark Hollow,” Rumpel and Regina have secured a tool that can defeat Pan; the MBC has secured a way to leave Never Land; and Pan has secured the help of Henry, who’s been tricked into finally helping the ageless boy save Never Land’s magic — or whatever Pan is actually using Henry to do. What’s more, Ariel got legs, Belle got a renewed sense of hope, and we got a peek inside Pan’s other bamboo box. (Welcome to the game, Wendy!)
Let’s begin where the episode did — in Storybrooke, where Belle has just watched her boyfriend and his effed-up family slip away through a watery portal. Rumpelstiltskin has entrusted her with instructions on how to throw up a cloaking spell before more of Pan’s lackeys arrive in town. With the help of seven minor miners, the Blue Fairy, and the veins of fairy dust running through the town, Belle does as she’s told. Unfortunately, she gits ‘er done juuust after two mysterious, evil hipsters have driven their red convertible past the spell’s barrier.
No worries; the interlopers lay low for nearly a week, because of completely reasonable reasons. On the fifth day, though, Storybrooke gets another unexpected visitor: Ariel, bearing Regina’s Magical Leg Bracelet (not to be confused with Forrest Gump’s magic leg braces) and a message from Rumpelstiltskin to Belle: “My True Love went to Never Land, and all he got me was this crappy sand dollar.”
Psych! Once Belle points a magnifying glass at the shell, she conjures up a hologram, which immediately starts to perform Tupac’s greatest hits. Psych again! It’s a magical hologram of Rumpel, who urges her to find a hidden object that has the power to vanquish Pan… though he neglects to tell her what that object is, or where it might be. Before you can say “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi,” the hologram has disappeared. “He’s really into being cryptic, isn’t he?” Ariel helpfully observes.
Thankfully, Rumpel has given Belle one clue: the object’s location can be divined using “the strength of [their] love.” And as any Once fan knows, those words must refer to only one thing: our old buddy Chip the cup, last seen restoring the semi-princess’s memory in season 2’s finale. She intuits that it may help to put Chip back in Rump’s cabinet — no, he hates sleeping in the cupboard! — and voila, a trap door appears on the floor of the pawn shop. What could the Dark One have hidden down there?
NEXT: It is the beating of his hideous heart!