I shall start this review by praising Colin O'Donoghue's acting. Because wow. I was seriously impressed with him in this episode. I think part of it was that he actually got a pretty decent script and story to work with, but he was just selling all of those emotions. I knew that once he got a chance to shine, he'd hit it out of the park.
Let's take a look at the plot. There are two main plots happening. The story in Neverland has good elements, but it has its problems as well. Then, there's the Hook-centric back story, which I found to be pretty strong, generally. Here we go!
Henry is feeling more and more at home among the Lost Boys. During a sword fight with Devin, Henry accidentally cuts Devin on the cheek, but Pan tells Henry that Lost Boys don't ever apologize. I'm not entirely convinced about the Lost Boys plot arc yet, but Pan is making for a very convincing villain, and I think this worked okay.
Meanwhile, Emma and the gang continue their journey to find Henry. Emma is scared that Henry might be losing hope. She remembers her time in the foster system, and she sees markings in Neal's cave that indicate he stopped counting the days... she knows that Henry needs some sort of sign in order to maintain hope. They decide to set a trap for a Lost Boy and ask him to deliver a message to Henry.
David is getting weaker and weaker, and Hook knows it. However, no matter what Hook says, David refuses to tell his family that he's dying, preferring to focus all of his energies on helping Henry. Hook tells David about a sextant that could help them to read the map of stars Neal left in the cave, and thus help them to find Henry. David agrees to go find it with Hook, while Regina, Mary Margaret, and Emma stay and try to catch a Lost Boy.
The girls do succeed in getting a Lost Boy - Devin, the same boy that Henry hurt earlier. He initially does not agree to bring a message to Henry, but Regina takes his heart out in order to control him. Regina gives Devin half of a mirror, and Devin delivers this mirror to Henry. The three girls get to see Henry. He seems happy to see them, but he has to throw the mirror away as Pan approaches.
Meanwhile, while Hook and David try and get to the sextant, Pan arrives. He tries to strike a deal with Hook - if Hook will kill David, Pan will allow Hook to leave the island, with Emma in tow. David overhears their conversation and believes that Hook has betrayed them, but Hook reveals something else: there is no sextant. He has been lying to David, but not in the way David suspected. He brought David up here to save his life using magical spring water that acts as an antidote to night shade. Only one catch: David will never be able to leave Neverland. David takes the cure and the two men reunite with the three women as they continue to look for Henry.
We then have the already famous kiss scene between Emma and Hook. Emma kisses him as a sort of "thank you" for saving David's life, even though she doesn't know the whole story. It looks as if this budding romance might be coming to an end, however, as Pan arrives to tell Killian that Neal is alive, and on the island. We then see Pan rising Neal up in a cage next to another unknown prisoner.
In the flashback story, we see Killian Jones acting as a lieutenant for his brother Liam, the captain of a royal ship. They set out to sea, and Liam reveals that the king has sent them on a special mission to retrieve a healing plant from a magical land. They use a special Pegasus sail to fly to Neverland, where Liam and Killian come across Pan. Pan tells them the truth about the plant - it's night shade, and a deadly poison; clearly the king is planning on using it to wage dishonorable war. Killian is concerned, but Liam says there's nothing to worry about. He voluntarily cuts himself with the plant to prove that it's harmless, which of course results in his near immediate collapse. Pan tells Killian about the healing spring, but fails to mention that it traps a person in Neverland. When the ship leaves Neverland, Liam collapses and dies in Killian's arms. Furious, Killian turns traitor to his country and announces himself a pirate, casting his Royal coat into the sea and renaming his ship the Jolly Roger. The crew applaud him.
Alright. So, there were a lot of really intense character interactions and developments in this episode, which I always love, but there were also some problems. For one, this episode didn't do anything to push the A plot forward. The group is no closer to finding Henry than they were last week, although they have talked to him now. Then there's the particularly stupid fact that David didn't tell his wife and daughter that he was facing imminent death. I get that he wanted to help Henry, but this dude is actually a bit of an idiot. It's one thing to be a hero, it's another to be a martyr unnecessarily. Hook doesn't tell David that he's going to try and save his life, because he knows David is stupid enough not to let anyone help. Honestly, there are things that I do like about David, but I've been very annoyed with him lately.
But I really do love the interactions between David and Hook in this episode. I think it's a testament to both of these men's acting abilities, more than anything else. I liked the growing if grudging respect that David showed for Hook, and the fact that Hook really did seem happy that David was going to be alright, even if it was just for Emma's sake.
We have to talk a bit about that kiss... to be honest, it actually worries me for the future of the Captain Swan ship. I mean, damn, that was some really sexy smooching, but as far as the narrative goes, it doesn't seem to support an endgame relationship for them. It came out of nowhere, really, and seemed motivated (at least on Emma's part) much more by lust than by love. I hope we can see more of Emma's emotional journey as the season goes on, and we can see if a relationship between Emma and Killian is possible on an emotional level.
We didn't get very much from Regina and Mary Margaret this week, but I did love the fact that all three women set aside their differences when they saw Henry. Regina even said "we love you." How sweet is that? There was brief mention of the darkness within Mary Margaret when Regina pulled out Devin's heart. Mary Margaret warns Emma that she has to draw a line between what Regina is willing to do, and what Emma is willing to do. Mary Margaret knows all too well how easy it is to let that darkness in. Regina makes an interesting point here when she says that being dark and evil is basically her job within the group. She's willing to do the ruthless and cold things that need to be done in order to get to Henry.
Liam, the brother from the flashbacks, didn't do much for me, but that's probably because it was such a brief role. The acting was great from O'Donoghue, as I already mentioned, and his reaction to Liam's death was particularly poignant.
There's a lot I could say about this episode, honestly. It was very strong in terms of character development. Its biggest flaw was that it focused on smaller plot threads without doing anything to advance the main plot. We're no closer to Henry or to a way off the island than we were before.