Once Upon a Time kicked off its third season premiere, “The Heart of the Truest Believer,” with a flashback, but there were no fairy tale characters or magical realms in sight. Instead, we got to see Emma giving birth to Henry and then tearfully telling the doctor that she wasn’t going to change her mind about giving him up because she can’t be a mother.
The story then switched to present day where Emma was holding on for dear life as Hook steered his ship carrying them, Snow, Charming, Regina and Rumple through the portal and into Neverland. Needless to say that a bumpy ride was only the beginning of the problems the six would face on their journey.
Meanwhile, Henry arrived in Neverland with his kidnappers, Greg and Tamara. He was surprised when he learned where they were – he’d assumed they were going to the Enchanted Forest. But it was Greg and Tamara who got the biggest surprised when they realized they had no way to contact the ‘home office’. Henry correctly pointed out that they probably should have asked more questions.
The Jolly Roger
Back on the ship, Hook and Regina share a conversation about villains and whether or not they get happy endings. Regina isn’t sure, but Hook tells her that he hopes so because otherwise, they wasted their whole lives. Snow and Charming attempt to comfort Emma, but she’s not interested: she blames her parents and magic for the fact that she’s not with Henry. She’s not a fan of being the same age as her mother and points out that they have equal wisdom. Snow insists that she will never lose hope.
Mr. Gold is over the group adventure and decides that he’s going to set out on his own – after a wardrobe change that puts him back in his ‘dark one’ uniform. Hook is unimpressed and Emma reminds him that they agreed to work together. Mr. Gold tells her that he agreed to no such thing and he believes that Emma will fail because she’s never taken a leap of faith and Neverland is a place where imagination runs wild and hers doesn’t. He disappears.
Emma wants to prove that she can hold her own and prepares for a fight. Hook gives Emma a sword that once belonged to Neal and reminds her that they were once close. The two share a toast to Neal and Hook admits that he misses him. Before they can delve in any further, the ship is under attack. Hook and Emma race to the deck and as Charming, Emma and Snow throw out possibilities for what’s attacking them, Hook assures them that it’s worse: it’s mermaids.
The Enchanted Forest
Neal wakes up and Mulan, Aurora and Prince Philip are there to greet him. He mentions that he’s originally from there, but Mulan thinks he’s lying until he tells her that he knows Emma. He’s worried about her and Aurora offers to go under the sleeping curse to try and make contact. When that doesn’t work, Neal says they need to go to his father’s castle and tells them that his father is Rumpelstiltskin.
On the journey to the castle, Mulan questions why Emma never mentioned Neal and he explains that he broke her heart so that she would be free to fulfill her destiny. When they arrive at the castle, Robin Hood is already there and assumes they are trespassers until Neal identifies himself and then he’s quite polite since he owes Rumple his life. Neal finds his father’s cane and is able to use blood magic to find a hidden door. He uses a crystal ball to locate Emma is shocked to see where she is.
Greg and Tamara want to use fire to contact the home office, but a group of Lost Boys storm their camp. It turns out that they were behind everything and their plan had nothing to do with getting rid of magic. Greg doesn’t want to hand Henry over, but his shadow is ripped away and he dies before the Lost Boys hit Tamara with an arrow. Henry runs and a fellow runaway lost boy offers to help him stay out of sight. The boy seems skeptical when Henry insists his family is coming for him.
Rumple finds Tamara and surprises her by healing her with magic. She tells him what happened and asks him if he can forgive her. Rumple says ‘no’ and rips out her heart. Later, he is approached by the Lost Boy leader who tells him that Pan welcomes him to Neverland as long as he’s not there for Henry and if he is, that makes him Pan’s enemy. Rumple points out that nothing has changed and he’s accepted that it will cost him his life; he says the question is how many of them will he take with him? The Lost Boy responds by gleefully giving him a present from Pan, which makes Rumple cry.
The Jolly Roger (aka mermaids are mean)
An army of mermaids is attacking the Jolly Roger and causing it to take in water. Charming fires canons at them while Emma and Snow work together to catch one in a net. Regina is not in the mood to have her time wasted and hurls magical fireballs into the water to send them away (BAMF). She also brings the one from the net onto the deck so they can question her. Hook is not happy about a mermaid being on his ship and Charming is ready to use his sword to get answers – until the look on Snow’s face reminds him that he’s not the villain.
The mermaid warns them that she doesn’t have to kill them; they’ll kill themselves and then Regina turns her into a wooden statute. A huge wave falls over the ship and Snow and Regina continue to argue about the best way to handle things. Snow punches her and Regina punches back. Charming goes to break it up, but Hook makes him mad so he punches him. Naturally Hook hits back. Emma realizes the storm is getting worse and they’re the ones causing it. To get everyone’s attention, she jumps into the water.
Charming is ready to dive in after her, but Hook stops him and offers to help to make sure that they both don’t drown. Charming ties a rope around his waist and Hook, Regina and Snow hold onto it while he goes into the water to rescue Emma. He finds her and the others pull them back onto the boat. Charming and Snow beg Emma not to leave them and she opens her eyes, making the storm stop (can we pause to talk about the look of relief on Hook’s face when she woke up?).
Once the group reaches the shore, Emma tells them that they need to believe in each other. Regina and Charming are skeptical, but Emma insists they don’t have to be friends; they just have to work together (again, how proud does Hook look?). Regina is still not buying it, but Emma tells her to help her get her son back or get out of the way.
Meanwhile, the boy helping Henry admits that he stole pixie dust from Peter Pan, but it doesn’t work. Henry tells him that he just has to believe and as the Lost Boys close in on them, Henry sprinkles the dust and the two fly through the sky to get away. Once they land safely, the boy calls him Henry and Henry is suspicious that he knows his name.
Henry assumes that he’s working for Pan, but it turns out (to the shock of no one) that he is Peter Pan. Henry wants to know how he got Tamara and Greg to help him and Pan explains that it’s easier to get people to hate something than to believe it. Then he tells him that the pixie dust was a test because what Pan covets is the heart of the truest believer and now Henry’s is his. The Lost Boys returns and Pan shouts, “Let’s play!”
What did you guys think? Did you enjoy the season premiere? Are you swooning over the Captain Swan moments or is your heart with Neal in the Enchanted Forest? How sassy was Regina? Hit the comments and share your thoughts with us!