In the Enchanted Past, Rumpelstiltskin's father (Stephen Lord) is a swindler, whose signature sleight of hand game is Follow the Lady. When he's outed as a cheat, he leaves his boy with two spinning spinsters and lies that he's off to find honest work. The spinning spinsters don't swallow the father's spin, but they are impressed with Rumpel's ability at the wheel. Feeling for the lad, they give him a magic bean and encourage him to use it to find a new land, one in which he won't be sullied by his father's reputation. Being but a boy, Rumpel finds his ne'er-do-well father, tells him about the bean, and says they can have a fresh start together. The father uses the bean to transport them to a place he visited as a boy in his dreams -- Neverland.
Once on Neverland, Papastiltskin finds that he can no longer fly, so he climbs a tree to harvest some pixie dust. There he encounters the Shadow (voiced by Marilyn Manson) who is, at the time, Neverland's sole inhabitant. It makes some sort of a deal with Papa. The Shadow turns Papa into the boy we know and loathe as Peter Pan, and takes Rumpel back to the Enchanted Forest, because the boy is Papa's only challenge to believing he never has to grow up. There's a magical hour glass at Skull Rock. Since Neverland was only meant for children's dreamtime visits, when the sands run out, so will the days of Pan's childish life. Since anything is possible on Neverland, Pan vows to find a way to thwart this rule.
In Neverland's present, Pan has wooed wee Henry into believing his hype. He convinces the boy that by giving him his heart -- literally -- he will be saving magic. Rumpy and Regina have joined the rest of the gang, so Operation Cobra Rescue is at full strength. They find and free Wendy who lies to them at first, but once they assure her they can keep her brothers safe, she comes clean to them about Pan's plans. He wants to take Henry's truest-believer heart, which will allow him to absorb all of Neverland's magic, and remain an immortal, eternal child.
Rumpy, Regina, Neal and Emma head out to Skull Rock. Because Pan has cast a protection spell (which keeps out anyone with a shadow), at first, Rumpel is the only one who can get past the beach. With Pandora's box in hand, Rumpel squares off with his father, the child. Pan offers him a deal -- this can be their fresh start. The only fresh start Rumpel is interested in is one with his own son, so he refuses. When he tries to magic Pan into the box, Pan digs into his old bag of thimblerigging tricks and produces the real box, because on Neverland, you don't even have to use sleight of hand. You only have to believe something to make it so. Pan deploys the box, which mist-ifies Rumpy and sucks him in.
By then, Emma has figured out that by blocking the moon, she, Regina and Neal will also be shadow-free. Working together, Henry's mothers do just that and the trio goes off in search of their boy. By the time they get to the center of the cave, Henry has already ripped out his heart and is about to give it to Pan. Neal, Emma and Regina all plead with their son not to do it, but Henry is too deeply in Pan's thrall, and a little too chuffed at the possibility of being a hero. He thrusts his heart into Pan's chest, then falls to the ground. Magic whooshes out of Pan, knocks down Regina, Emma, and Neal, then swooshes over everyone back on Neverland proper, too. The parents rush to their unconscious (dead?) son's side as Pan levitates above them. Dun dun dun. Somebody had better start believing they can still save Henry.
I'll be back with the recap, ASAP. In the meantime, please grade the episode up top, and then join us on the boards, where we are awaiting the fabulous prizes and cash award we're due, for figuring out Pan is Rumpy's father.
Previously, on Once Upon A Time, in the Enchanted Past, Rumpelstiltskin meets a Seer who knows he's scared of turning out like his cowardly father. He hobbles himself and heads home to meet wee baby Baelfire. When Bae is a teen, he procures a magic bean to take him and his father to a land without magic, but Rumpy is too cowardly to take a chance. He lets Bae fall into the portal and a whole new world all alone.
And we're back to the Seer. She tells Rumpy "The boy will lead you to your son." In Manhattan, Henry asks, "What's going on?" Back in the past, the Seer tells Rumpy, "The boy will be your undoing." Charming is dying of Dreamshade poisoning. Hook provides him with magical Neverland water, but warns that once our fair Prince drinks this water, he can never leave Neverland. Bae flies off to Neverland. Wendy asks Peter Pan what he needs Henry to believe in. Pan says, "Me. Pan shows Henry Skull Rock and tells him it's where their salvation waits, then asks the boy if he's up to the task.
And now, on Once Upon A Time, we open in the Enchanted Past at a village marketplace. Wee Rumpelstiltskin (Wyatt Oleff) watches as his father (Stephen Lord) swindles the locals with a "Follow the Lady" version of Three Card Monte. Let me say right now, that I see some sources referring to Papa Stiltskin as Malcolm, while IMDB.com currently has the character's given name listed as Colin, so Papa Stiltskin it is, unless and until I learn his name from the show. (That said, Malcolm makes more sense, since their accents are Scottish.) The losing mark objects, grabs Papa and pounds the shite out of him. Rumpy tries to intercede, but the mark just tells the boy, "You'd be better off without him," rips off Papa's purse and storms off. Papa assures the boy he'll figure something out. "I always do, Rumple." The title card features Skull Rock.