Once Upon a Time season premiere recap: Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat

Mermaids, pixie dust, a storm that doubles as a metaphor -- yep, Once is back!
Ep. 01 | Aired Sep 29, 2013

YOU'RE A CROOK, CAPTAIN HOOK Emma, won't you throw the book at the piiiiii-RATE?

Jack Rowand/ABC

Battle stations, everyone! Charming fires a wee little canon at the sirens. Regina hurls a fireball at them, which... doesn't seem the most effective way to fight a ocean-based opponent. (Maybe they hate being in hot water.) Either way, Regina's spell seems to drive the horde away -- though one of the maids has been hauled onto the boat. I hope Emma and Snow remember to ask her if there's a store in Neverland where they can get matching mother-daughter seashell bras.

Alas, shopping tips aren't in the cards. The mermaid has brought with her a conch shell, into which she blows ominously. And suddenly, the waters around the Jolly Roger seem a whole lot choppier. The quarrelsome quintet hardly notices the winds over the sound of their own arguing voices. Snow yells at Regina for threatening their mer-captive. Regina almost goads Charming into slitting the fishlady's throat. Hook matter-of-factly shouts "All mermaids are liars!" while keeping a straight face.

Then, with one whoosh of her hand, a fed-up Regina transforms the mermaid into a freestanding figurehead. The shouts get louder; the waves get higher. It's only after fists begin to fly -- Snow vs. Regina! Charming vs. Hook! -- that Emma finally realizes what's happening: The mermaid cast a spell that links the Jolly Roger crew to the storm. The more they fight, the worse it gets. Thankfully, she quickly comes up with a solution: risking her own life so that the remaining four must band together to save her. Kids, please don't try this at home.

Finally, the gang lands on Neverish shores and takes stock. Emma gives a rousing speech, telling the others that even though they're nothing alike, they have to work as a team -- and use their own individual strengths -- if they've got any hope of saving Henry. They're basically the magical Breakfast Club! Snow is the athlete, Charming is the princess, Regina is the basket case, Hook is the criminal... which, hmm, leaves Emma to be the brain. Hopefully her Henry-hunting is better than her police work.

As his ex-comrades fight and bite and fight and bite and fight, Rumpelstiltskin explores the Neverland forest -- soon arriving at the site of Tamara, Greg/Owen, and Henry's altercation with the Lost Boys. Pan's shadow has forcibly removed Growen's own shadow, leaving the duplicitous dude apparently dead. (Does shadow removal kill a person, or turn them into a zombie, or what? Maybe shadow extraction is how Disneyland creates new animatronic It's a Small World dolls!)

But even though she's taken an arrow to the back, Tamara is still alive. Rumpel heals her wounds, hears what she has to say about Henry's whereabouts (hint: not much)... then pulls out her heart and crushes it into dust. Ding-dong, Nikki and Paulo -- er, Growen and Tamara -- are gone! Be honest: Did you cheer?

Unfortunately, Rumpel's moment of grim triumph is short-lived. Not long after Tamara's death, he has an encounter with the Lost Boy leader that Once calls Felix -- but I still want to call Rufio. (More on that later.) For the sake of clarity, maybe I should stick with his official name. Anyhow, the Boy threatens Rumpel, saying he certainly won't come out of a fight with Pan alive -- and surprise surprise, Rumpel agrees. The real question, the Dark One says, isn't whether he'll survive, "because we both know I won't" -- instead, it's "how many of you I take with me." Shiver.

NEXT: Little does he know -- his son is Bae-okay!

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