Once Upon a Time recap: The End Is the Beginning Is the End

In a gamechanging midseason finale, Once wraps up Peter Pan's plot --then hits the reset button.
Ep. 11 | Aired Dec 15, 2013

THE PEW, THE PROUD Hook, Nealfire, Tink, and Charming are not impressed by this community theater production of Into the Woods.

Jack Rowand/ABC

Yeah, not so much. Pan performs a short monologue titled "Why Some People Aren't Meant to Be Parents" before explaining something that Rumpel really should have seen coming: Pan created the cuff, and formulated it specifically so that its powers wouldn't work on him. He then slaps the spell-blocking snap bracelet onto Rumpel's wrist and saunters out of the shop. Oh Pan, I  think I'll miss you most of all!

And now comes the most terrifying part of the episode: Pan appears in the middle of town, freezes our heroes in their tracks, and starts gleefully chatting about which of them he's going to kill first. His scenes are interspersed with shots of Rumpel back at the pawn shop, desperately trying to remove the cuff... then picking up his sword... then darting his eyes between the sword and his wrist... ACK! RUMPEL! NO NO NO NO NO! I did not sign up to watch 127 Hours: The Desolation of Pan tonight!

Luckily, Rump ends up electing to keep his hand. Instead, he strides into the street to meet his father, declaring that he doesn't need magic after all. Why? Because Rumpel's detached shadow has just flown in from Neverland, bearing the one weapon that can defeat Pan once and for all: The Dark One's dagger.

I'm blanking on when, exactly, it was established for sure that if Pan dies, Rumpel will die as well. But that's apparently the case -- and Rumpel has grown strong enough to accept his fate. So he says a touching goodbye to Bae and Belle before stabbing Pan in the back, forcing the villain to transform from an eternal boy into the sad, bedraggled man he was before ever setting foot on Neverland. There's a brief bit of pleading on Pan/Malcolm's part -- if Rump spares him, he promises, they can have a fresh start and a happy ending! But Rumpel's mind is made up: "I'm a villain. And villains don't get happy endings."

With that, Rumpel twists the knife some more, finally bringing Pan's reign to an end -- and disappearing into the ether, along with his father's body. Belle is weeping. Bae is stoically devastated. Evidently, they don't remember that another Once character just came back to life like, ten minutes ago. If this was indeed the end of Rumpel, I'm going to need some time to deal with my feelings -- but I've got a hunch that the Dark One is about as dead as Brian Griffin.

NEXT: Say goodnight, Storybrooke

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