Or better title "Where's the Headless Horseman?"
We finally get the answer to the question that's been burning in our hearts since last season's dismal finale...
What's Belle been up to in Storybrooke?
After Mr. Gold handed her a vial filled with a protective spell, he sealed his tearful goodbye with a cringe-worthy kiss. Then he boarded the Jolly Roger knowing he'd never see Belle again. With the scratch of his grey stubble still fresh on her rosy cheeks, she explains to Grumpy, the Blue Fairy, and Dr. Hopper about how she now has a cloaking spell to keep Storybrooke safe from other magic haters—like Greg and what's her name.
It's a confusing moment; they're excited because the town didn't blow up, but now they're worried because other magic haters are coming to destroy them...again.
Just like last season.
The dwarfs lead Belle to their mine. They feverishly chip away at a huge diamond with their special axes. Once a crack has been made, Belle tips the vial, pouring the spell into the center of the diamond. A flame shoots up, high into the sky, creating a dome over the town—but not before a red convertible sneaks over the town border with two guys who look like they stepped out of Downton Abbey.
*Googles fairy tale characters from the 1920's*
Back on the beach of Neverland, Mr. Gold gives Ariel directions to Storybrooke. He tosses her an enchanted sand dollar that only Belle will know what to do with. Regina reminds Ariel that the magical bracelet will only give her legs for twenty four hours.
Why the time frame? I mean she is going on an errand to retrieve the only weapon that can defeat Peter Pan. Why make it harder for her?
Peter Pan knows Ariel has left the island, but he's not worried because he has spies in Storybrooke.
Spies with nerdy haircuts and tie clips.
Neal comes up with the plan to capture Peter Pan's shadow. If they have his shadow they can get off the island.
The dwarfs picnic on the beach and are the first to see Ariel walk out of the water, bursting out of her bikini top and brand new legs. Looking through binoculars, our loafer loving dudes watch the scene unimpressed. They knew a mermaid was coming and they're going to make sure she never leaves.
Really? How? By boring her to death at the flower show? Oh, scary!
Belle sulks at Granny's diner/pub/laundromat, convinced Mr. Gold doesn't think she has the guts or brains to help save Henry. That must be the reason he left her behind!
Um...or maybe he knows he's going to die and he wants her to stay safe? Just a thought. *Rolls eyes* This is what happens when chicks date old guys who used to be super evil.
Before Belle can update her facebook status with a sad face emoticon, Grumpy arrives with Ariel and news that Mr. Gold is alive and needs her help to defeat Peter Pan.
Hooray! Belle has a purpose!
She takes Ariel to Mr. Gold's shop and lends her a mini shirt and pair of heels. They talk about the mysterious sand dollar and how Belle is the only one who can unlock the message.
But how? She has no idea how to use magic.
Hold on! Belle picks up a magnifying glass and suddenly a hologram of Mr. Gold pops up from the shell. He tells Belle that if she's smart enough and loves him enough, she can find the 'magic thing' he needs to defeat Peter Pan. Belle is excited because now she's cool enough to be loved by an old guy who used to be super evil.
Peter Pan and Henry have a heart to heart, but Henry is unwilling to yield to his request to save the island with his belief in all things magical.
Captain Sexy Eyes (CSE), Neal and Emma create an awkward love triangle while they hang out in his cave. Neal lets them know his coconut shell isn't a star map. It's a Shadow Catcher. And everyone knows all the shadows hang out in the spookiest part of the island called Dark Hollow.
Better than Sleepy Hollow, I guess. Actually that would be awesome. A headless horseman would shake things up.
Belle and Ariel search Mr. Gold's shop. Ariel finds a brass button from the jacket Prince Eric was wearing the night she saved him from drowning. She gets all misty eyed and lets Belle know he's her true love and all that.
Belle nods, but stays quiet because this scavenger hunt is NOT about Ariel. It's about Belle being a hero and saving not only everyone in Storybrooke, but everyone trapped in Neverland. All she needs to find is the thing that holds the strength of her love for Rumpelstiltskin.
I'm stumped. I usually have to hold my hand over my mouth when they kiss, but I don't think that's it.
Never mind. It's the chipped teacup.
Now what? How will she figure out what to do with it? I mean, she has no idea how to use magic?
Belle places the cup back on the saucer in the cupboard. A glowing trail leads from the cup to a trap door in the floor. Belle retrieves a small box and shivers when she recognizes what it is. Before you can say 'Pandora's Box', the two mysterious nerds show up with guns.
They tie up the girls and take Pandora's Box. Belle manages to get the guys monologuing, which is the best way to distract a villain. I turns out they're not magic hating party poopers, but spies for Peter Pan, and it's his order to destroy the box.
Plus, they have English accents. Although Belle has an Australian accent, so...yeah.
After Henry's fight with Peter Pan, he overhears mention of a prisoner that needs checking up on. He manages to escape from camp and follows one of the Lost Boys.
Why didn't he do this earlier? Also, wouldn't that be great if it was Schmexy?
David and Mary Margaret argue about him keeping his imminent death a secret, thereby creating tension in their idyllic relationship. However, since no one cares about these two, it's totally moot.
Emma makes sure that CSE knows their kiss STILL doesn't mean anything. He tells her he will win her heart and it won't be because he's a tricky pirate but because he's way hotter than Neal.
Sorry, that part came out of my head. But we're all thinking it, right?
Emma stammers and says she's only concerned about saving her son, and maybe kissing CSE again so she can make sure she REALLY doesn't like him.
At least that would be my plan.
Ariel and Belle manage to untie themselves. Belle reasons the only thing strong enough to destroy Pandora's Box is a dwarf's axe. She and Ariel run down Main Street toward the mine in their heels and mini skirts like an episode of Charlie's Angels.
Mary Margaret and David finally have a big fight. There are a couple quotes about love and then blah, blah, blah. She ends up in his arms saying, “You needed to believe in us.”
Gentle Joe Jeezer! Hasn't he done enough?
Neal explains all they need to do is light the candle in the coconut trap and the flame will absorb the shadow. The dudes argue about who is manly enough to use the lighter. The dementors—oh sorry, I mean the shadows arrive and quickly trap Neal and CSE. Emma cradles the shell in one hand and brandishes her sword with the other. The guys scream for her to leave, instead she uses her magic and lights the candle.
Oh, yeah. She's magic! But only at the most awkward and desperate times or when the script calls for an easy out.
The shadows get sucked into the shell and all is well.
Henry continues to follow the Lost Boy like a ninja.
Who is in the cage? Please be the Sheriff! *closes eyes and prays*
Belle and Ariel arrive just as the skinny dude with the glasses raises the axe over Pandora's Box. Belle ignores their English accents and activates a mine cart. It knocks the villains off their penny loafers. The spies whimper on the dirt floor, they've reached their limit. They confess their sister has been Peter Pan's prisoner for a thousand years. They wanted to use the box to save her.
*Waves to John and Michael*
Peter Pan approaches the bamboo cage. He leans in and lets Wendy Darling out of her prison.
Weird. I hate this.
Ariel puts Pandora's Box in her waterproof bag and swims back to Neverland.
Henry continues to follow the Lost Boy and instead of a prisoner he finds Wendy Darling convalescing in a tree house. She explains her illness is connected to the island. The magic is dying and so is she. Henry promises to help her. But it's a set up, of course.
Ariel finds Mr. Gold and Regina waiting for her on Neverland's beach. She hands over Pandora's Box. Impressed with her speedy assistance, Regina enchants the bracelet so that she can have legs whenever she wants.
Emma can't take the guys bickering over her. She tells them the only one she loves is Henry.
Mary Margaret and David arrive at Tinkerbell's house with the good news about their plan to capture Peter Pan's shadow. She thinks they're bluffing until Emma shows up with her lover boys and a coconut shell full of shadows.
Henry confronts Peter Pan about Wendy. Peter Pan presses again that Henry is the only one who can save the island because he is the truest believer. Henry says he is ready to help. Peter Pan smiles and shows him where he has to restore the magic, Skull Island—the darkest place in Neverland.
Which is like the Dark Hollows, but worse...I guess.
How many more ways can this show rip off Harry Potter?