Emma, Snow, Charming, Regina, Rumpy and Hook set sail (and portal) to Neverland, in search of Henry. Rumpy bails pretty early on, but the rest of the gang sticks together to fight and whip up an emotional storm with physical consequences (and I'm not just talking mermaids).
Meanwhile, Henry befriends a Lost Boy who ends up to be Peter Pan. I knew he was Pan within a minute, but the husband (who is usually pretty quick on these things) didn't know until the reveal. Regardless, it turns out that Pan is after Henry, because Henry has the snow white (not a quote; I'm just riffing) heart of a true believer.
Meanwhile, Baelfire/Neal is in the Enchanted Forest with Philip, Aurora, and Mulan. Once he realizes he's so close to home, he and Mulan set out for Rumpy's estate, and meet up with none other than a totally different Robin Hood than we had last season.
All in all, this episode gives me more faith than every second season episode, combined. Regardless, I'm still holding my breath. I love this story, and I've no doubt the creators love it, too. That said, I'm unconvinced they want to flesh it out in the way it needs to be fleshed out. Just close your eyes and say you believe. Right, Tink?
Welcome to the third season of Once Upon A Time. While they beat pilots, I'm not particularly fond of season premieres. "The Heart of the Truest Believer" is an exception. From the cold open, it engaged me far more than I expected and made me see the show from a fresher perspective: this show tells Emma's fairy tale.
I'm both sure I'm not the first person to have thought or said so, and this isn't even the first time I've thought it, but throughout season 2 I forgot all about it and that's where I think last season suffered. Emma, who grew up in the stark reality of Our World is our gateway to this magical multiverse. When an episode or plot-line forgets about Emma, it forsakes us. No matter how deliciously devilish Regina, Rumpy, Cora, etc. can be, no matter how noble Snow and Charming, no matter how well done flashbacks are, Emma needs to be the heart of this show, because this is her story, every bit as much as Sleeping Beauty is the story of Princess Aurora, or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is Snow White's.
Once Upon A Time, in a far away land, a royal family awaited the birth of their first child... For while the family's bravery and beneficence inspired both admiration and loyalty among their subjects and peers, their land was not free from the evil with which even the best do daily battle. As the child made her very entry into her world, that world was enveloped by the Dark Curse, cast by a vengeful Queen who had a generational blood feud against the child's mother -- a feud contrived by a crafty outsider -- the Dark One -- for a purpose all his own. Since the royal child was prophesied to be the savior who could rescue the people from the Dark Curse, the parents -- aided by their most loyal subjects, and one mostly loyal subject -- made arrangements to transport their child to a world beyond that curse's reach -- a land without magic.
When this child, a girl, came into the world her parents named her Emma. They entrusted the wee princess's safety to an enchanted wardrobe which transported her out of harm's way -- at least out of the reach of the Dark Curse. In her new world, the baby was abandoned by the one person who was supposed to protect her, and was shunted off to the custody of strangers who were more concerned with their monthly stipend from the State than with the care and nurture of the princess in their midst.
Though she grew fair in form and face, no one recognized either Emma's station or strength. No one recognized her innate power which bubbled up from her very heart. In this land without magic, no one realized that Emma -- made of true love, herself -- was magic incarnate. No one saw Emma's worth, until one day she met a man who, unbeknownst to her, came from her homeland -- a homeland about which she knew nothing. These two foundlings fell in love and planned for a future in which they hoped to live happily ever after.