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

Lil' Rump presents the bean to his dad, who comes up with the perfect destination: Never Land, a magical realm Malcolm visited in his dreams when he was a little boy. And off they go, to a country that looks a lot more like a Canadian forest than the tropical jungle Never Land has become in the present day. Also, there's sunlight. Vive la différence!

Malcolm's gotta crow. He and his son have arrived in a perfect fantasy land where there are no pub thugs threatening bodily harm -- and, more importantly, they can have anything they want, so long as they just believe. There's just one problem: While Lil' Rump has no trouble taking advantage of Never Land's magic, Malcolm isn't so lucky. Look on the bright side, guy; there are plenty of ways in which unlimited cake isn't exactly a good thing.

At first, Malcolm believes everything will be fine as long as he gets his hands on some pixie dust. But when he goes on a dust-finding mission, he learns the harsh truth: Never Land is a place for children, not adults. And as long as Malcolm has the responsibilities of a grown-up, he'll never be able to enjoy its bounty. (Who delivers this news? Why, it's the shade formerly known as Pan's Shadow, who's apparently been living alone on Never Land like a common smoke monster since the dawn of time. Also, he speaks with the voice of Marilyn Manson. Like I said -- lots of surprises tonight!)

There is, however, one way for Malcolm to shake off his adulthood: by voluntarily letting go of his own son. As he tells Rumpel, "a child can't have a child" -- and the kid shouldn't mind being renounced too much, since he was always a pretty lousy father. So the shade carries off a kicking and screaming Rumpel... and Malcolm is magically transformed from a 40ish sad sack to a fresh-faced teenager, with a kicky new outfit to boot. As he watches his son get carried away, his eyes seem to carry some genuine remorse. But after he discovers that he does, in fact, have the ability to fly, all thoughts of the son he abandoned soar out of his head like so many airborne British children wearing nighties.

The manchild who will soon start calling himself Peter Pan -- a name first used by Rumpel for the doll his father gave him; this is what we call "coming full circle" -- travels to Skull Rock, a formation that appeared when Malcolm grew young again. There, the Manson shadow informs Never Land's newest resident that he'll be able to hold onto his youth only until the sand runs out from the Rock's enormous, ornate hourglass. (Shades of Aladdin, anyone?)

NEXT: Oh, Henry.

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