Once Upon a Time recap: Dark Shadows

'Peter Pan' gets a sinister rewrite as we barrel toward next week's finale
Ep. 21 | Aired May 5, 2013

GIRL ON WIRES Somehow, the Shadow is even creepier as a disembodied blue arm-stick.

Jack Rowand/ABC

Is the world ready for a darker, grittier reworking of Peter Pan that casts Neverland as an island prison populated by terrified orphans and morphs Peter's mischievous shadow into a sinister kidnapper with scary, glowing robot eyes?

Initially, your answer might be "no" -- but if you really think about J.M. Barrie's supposedly whimsical creation, you'll realize that it's actually pretty dark to begin with. Peter is a selfish, arrogant jerk whose eternal youth necessarily makes him incapable of emotional growth. On top of that, he's so terrified of both maturity and intimacy that he refuses to let Mrs. Darling adopt him at the end of the story, choosing instead to stay stuck in a state of arrested development forever -- something that seems totally cool when you're a kid, but terribly sad once you've gotten a little older.

And then there's the unhappy story of the kids who inspired Pan, most of whom died under tragic circumstances. (The biggest bummer of all: Peter Llewelyn Davies, a.k.a. Pan's namesake, killed himself after descending into alcoholism and learning that his children, as well as his wife, had all inherited Huntington's Disease. Sorry to harsh your Once buzz, everyone.)

So, long story short: I dig how Kitsis and Horowitz are twisting this particular story, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it continues to play out in the finale (and season 3) -- especially since we haven't even met Peter himself yet.

Those who guessed long ago that Baelfire would turn out to be the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up should feel free to award themselves partial credit. Bae isn't Pan -- but he does begin life in our world in Kensington Gardens, and he's also got a special connection with the Darling family.

Six months after falling through that fateful portal, landing in London, and transforming into a Dickensian street urchin, a hungry Bae sneaks into a random schmancy house and finds three unsliced loaves of bread inexplicably sitting on a table. He starts devouring the stuff, only to be discovered first by a large, fluffy dog -- Nana! -- and then by Wendy herself, an outgoing girl just around Bae's age. The two become fast friends, and Wendy manages to shelter her new street rat pal for weeks before her parents catch on. Even after the secret's out, though, the Darlings still let Bae stay in their house and sleep in the same room as their pubescent daughter. Man, parents were laid back in Edwardian England.

NEXT: Peter Pan has nothing on Home Alone

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