We finally find out what happened to Bae after he was sucked into the Whirlpool of Death in the Enchanted Forest. He also continues to be in the running for the Crappiest Childhood Award.
Having been thrown into a land without magic, young Bae (Dylan Schmid) finds himself in Victorian England. There, he meets a nice young gal named Wendy Darling (Freya Tingley) and is befriended by her family.
However, the Darling children are being stalked by a flying shadow creature who wants to take one of them to a fantastical realm called Never Land. Trouble is, no one ever returns from Never Land.
Bae mounts a scrappy defense of the Darling children, but ends up being taken by the shadow himself. He wriggles out of the creature’s grip just shy of Never Land and falls into the sea. He is rescued by none other than our favorite pirate, Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue)! Boy, do we hope Hook doesn’t figure out Bae’s parentage …
Meanwhile, Storybrooke’s residents are in a world of trouble. Greg (Ethan Embry) and Tamara (Sonequa Martin-Green) have Regina’s magical “fail-safe”, which could destroy the town. And it turns out they are working for a larger organization out to destroy all “unholy” magic in our world.
Greg tries a little old-fashioned torture to get Regina (Lana Parrilla) to tell him what happened to his father. She finally admits to having killed poor old dad. Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) and David (Josh Dallas) rescue Regina, but Greg gets away.
Emma (Jennifer Morrison) tries to convince Neal (Michael Raymond-James) that Tamara is bad, but he is only convinced when Tamara shoots him. He and Emma battle Tamara, who escapes by distracting them. She opens a portal with a magic bean that threatens to suck Neal out of this realm, with Emma desperately trying to save him.
And so Neal sacrifices himself to the portal so that Emma can be saved to look after his son. But not before both declare their love for each other. So that pretty much sucks for both of them.
Finally! A slam-bang episode that zipped along but still had time for the character touches. Which is just as it should be as we head into the season finale.
This week, we were served two equally interesting storylines in both past and present. Unlike many other times, this flashback story wasn’t too pointed, nor tied too heavily into the current story. It set the stage without beating the viewer over the head with its significance.
Along with kudos for both the A- and B-plot lines, the writers also get marks for finding time for interesting character touches that didn’t derail the story. Emma and Neal, Mary Margaret and David, David and Emma, Bae and Mr. Gold — there were lots of nice smaller moments. And of course, Regina got to throw in a little bit of classic Evil Queen just for good measure.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
The episode actually worked pretty well, so there’s not too much to complain about. However, the coinciding stories about the larger battle against magic and the introduction of the Darlings may have given away a future plot point.
And after many, many episodes that wasted Greg Mendell’s presence in town, this episode rushes through his and Tamara’s motivations and plot much too quickly. Even with two seasons under belt, the series still struggles with the timing and pacing of its plot lines.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
“Second Star to the Right” was written by Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, and it was directed by Ralph Hemecker.
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.