Once Upon a Time recap: A Family Affair

Once's twisted genealogy gets a little more tangled as we learn Rumpelstiltskin's true connection to Peter Pan
Ep. 08 | Aired Nov 17, 2013

BAMBOOZLED Emma looks like she just heard who's Rump's daddy.

Jack Rowand/ABC

Well! I think it's safe to say that none of us saw that coming.

Just when you thought Henry's family tree couldn't get any more complicated, Once threw us another genuine curveball. On second thought, "curveball" doesn't seem emphatic enough. Let's call it a genuine "oh-my-God, holy-crap, did-they-seriously-just-say-what-I-think-they-said?" ball instead.

The OMGHCDTSJSWITTSball in question: Peter Pan is Rumpelstiltskin's father. Peter Pan is Rumpelstiltskin's father! Good Lord. I can't wait until season 4, when we learn that Pan became such a jerk only because he was abandoned by his own father -- a ne'er-do-well pirate named Bluebeard. And Bluebeard is such a jerk because he was abandoned by his father, Puss in Boots. And Puss is such a jerk because...

Okay, I've made my point. Sense of history repeating aside, though, "Think Lovely Thoughts" really was full of surprises, thanks particularly to the fairyback that introduced us to a young, adorably big-eyed Rumpelstiltskin -- back in the days when he was still being cared for by his ne'er-do-well dad, whose name is either Malcolm or Colin. (IMDB says the latter; the episode's official press release says the former. It wasn't listed in the closing credits, and I didn't catch it spoken aloud during the episode itself. So let's go with Malcolm, just because OUAT already has one Colin in its life. Update: Adam Horowitz himself says it's Malcolm. Hi, Adam!)

Earlier reports indicated that Rumpel's father was a grade-A coward. From what we see, though, Malcolm actually seems less fraidy cat than neglectful a-hole; he spends his days swindling other drunks out of their money at the local cyberpub, eventually pawning poor Lil' Rumpel off on two middle-aged spinsters when he decides that he's had enough of fathering. Before he goes, though, Malcolm hands his son a doll and tells Rump to give the toy a name. Remember this; there will be a test later.

The good news: The ladies are kind, if a bit creepy, and Rumpel's a naturally talented spinner, so he fits right into their cottage industry. If things had gone differently, the kid may have grown up to be a simple craftsman who never went dark and always remembered to visit his batty foster aunts on the solstice, or whatever winter festival they celebrate in the Enchanted Forest. Alas, he just can't help wanting to reunite with his deadbeat dad -- and the spinsters sympathize enough to give him a magic bean, which will enable Rumpel and papa to travel far, far away to a world where nobody cares about Malcolm's crappy reputation.

NEXT: They'll head to the place where dreams are born, and time is never planned...

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