Image credit: Jack Rowand/ABC
GIRL ON WIRES Somehow, the Shadow is even creepier as a disembodied blue arm-stick.
Unfortunately, Bae's permanent slumber party is threatened by the appearance of a mystical being: The Shadow, a mute, wraith-like entity that stalks the Darling children by night and somehow does not totally creep Wendy out. (Maybe that's because this sound doesn't play when The Shadow arrives.) Bae, though, senses that the thing is bad news. He makes Wendy promise never to open her window for it, and Wendy reluctantly agrees... then immediately goes back on her word, merrily flying off to Neverland with the shadow the next time it stops by. Flakiness, thy name is teenage girldom.
When Wendy reappears the next morning, though, she's changed her tune. She mournfully tells Bae that The Shadow's home is kind of awful -- and that it's called Neverland because he never lets any of the children he's taken there leave. The Shadow did, however, bring Wendy home... but only because he's decided he'd rather have one of her brothers instead. Hey, maybe she'll pull a Mulan and step in in Michael or John's place!
Or maybe not. Bae promises Wendy that he won't let The Shadow tear her family apart. Instead, they'll fight the thing by lighting a bunch of candles, grabbing croquet mallets and other sundries to use as makeshift weapons, and spreading jacks along the windowsill (?). Thought oughtta do it.
Unfortunately, these kids are no Kevin McCallisters. The Shadow easily gets past their brilliantly devised impediments, forcing Bae to sacrifice himself so that the Darlings won't be torn asunder. (Well, unless The Shadow simply returns to the Darling house after depositing Bae in Neverland. Wouldn't that be a kick in the pants?)
In no time at all, Rumpelstiltskin's son is traveling with The Shadow over London's roofs, past Big Ben, and into the ocean that surrounds Neverland. There, he manages to escape the thing's misty grasp. (Uh oh; Melisandre will not be pleased.) And who happens to be sailing nearby when Bae hits the water? That's right: None other than Captain Killian "Hook" Jones, the man who seduced Bae's mother and has devoted his life to trying to kill Bae's father. That's gonna be one awkward boat ride.
Phew! I got so wrapped up in the fairyback that I almost forgot everything else that happened tonight. To start: Growen and Tamara have taken Regina to Storybrooke's cannery, where they're torturing her with a Milgram electroshock machine that actually works. We learn that these two are apparently soldiers of some greater anti-magic conspiracy; Tamara is intent on passing data along to "the home office," but Growen is preoccupied with trying to find out where his father is. The whole thing is too unseemly even for Hook, who excuses himself as soon as the electrodes emerge.
Regina is taking the torture like a champ, even pausing every now and then to snark at Growen and Tamara -- but even she won't be able to hold out forever. Luckily, Emma and the Charmings have realized the queen is missing and are working to track her down. (Finding the magic beans she stole may also be serving as motivation.)
Snow and David head off to Rumpel in search of a location spell to find Regina. Emma, who's still suspicious of Tamara, tries once more to find some evidence that might incriminate Bae's fiancee. All she ends up with is a handful of sand and a heaping pile of embarrassment, the final haul from history's saddest Christmas. But hey, at least in the process she learns that Bae only left her because August talked him into it. Nothing like transferring your rage onto a helpless 7-year-old puppet boy.
NEXT: Emma Swan and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Portal