The Heart of the Truest Believer
Once Upon a Time 3x01
September 29, 2013
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"The Heart of the Truest Believer" is the 45th episode of Once Upon a Time, as well as its third season's premiere.


As Emma, Mary Margaret, David, Regina, Mr. Gold and Hook enter Neverland to search for a kidnapped Henry, they're greeted by a school of not-too-friendly mermaids who threaten to end their search before it begins. Meanwhile, Henry finds himself on the run from the Lost Boys with another escapee from Peter Pan's encampment, and Neal, recovering from his wounds, travels through the Enchanted Forest with Mulan in an attempt to learn the fates of Emma and Henry.



Eleven Years Ago

301 01
Emma gives birth.

We are treated to the shot of a wall clock hanging in a delivery room. The clock's hands point to 8:15, and Emma Swan is seen lying down on a delivery bed, giving birth to her child. Her left foot is shackled to the stirrup, for she is still serving time in prison, and a female police escort is waiting by the door. The doctor has his hands between Emma's legs as she shrieks in agony, and he and the assisting nurse encourage her to push further and further. Eventually, Emma is able to push the baby out, and when she does the lights that surround her start to flicker and burst, but this apparently goes unnoticed by the attendants. The doctor holds the baby in his arms and tells Emma that it's a boy, but the blonde, who is recuperating from the laboring process, looks away. The doctor calls out to her, but Emma starts shaking her head, looking as though she is about to cry. The nurse whispers something in the doctor's ear, apparently telling him that Emma has no intention of keeping the baby. The doctor addresses her again, reminding her that she can change her mind, and Emma responds that she can't be a mother. The doctor walks away with the baby and Emma looks up at the ceiling and cries.

Present Day

Emma is seen aboard the Jolly Roger, as Hook steers it through the magical vortex, which took the form of a spiral of sea water. The ship comes out of the portal, flying through the air, and lands on the sea waters of the dimension where Neverland is set. Emma catches something in the distance and asks Hook if that's it, and he confirms that it is, indeed, Neverland. The ship continues sailing through the waters as they make their way to the island.


Act I

301 02
Welcome to Neverland...

We see the flashes of a magic portal briefly showing before a sandy beach, and Henry falls on the sand, looking wet, with his hands tied by a cable tie. He looks back and then tries to get up and make a run for it, but Greg grabs a hold of him and tells him to slow down, and that he has nowhere to go. He lets go of Henry again, and we see that he and Tamara are also wet, having just come out of the watery vortex. Greg removes his backpack and Tamara, amused, says, "We made it. Mission accomplished." Henry responds with, "Are you sure about that? 'Cause my mom's coming to get me. Both of them." Greg tells him that he might wanna take a look around, and Tamara does just this herself. Greg asks the young man if he sees any clock towers, and then says that he is a long way from home. Henry retorts that it doesn't matter, because his family has been to the Enchanted Forest before and they can get there again. They are interrupted by strange sounds coming from the woods that surround the beach, and Tamara explains to Henry that they are not in the Enchanted Forest, but rather in Neverland. Henry quickly jumps to the conclusion that they are there to destroy Neverland, and Tamara confirms this, by saying that Neverland is the mother lode of magic, and that they have hit the jackpot. She then tells her lover that she needs to signal the Home Office, and Greg hands her a device from his backpack. Henry, confused about the Home Office being set in the jungle, asks them who works there. Greg puts his backpack on again and tells the kid that it's not of his concern to know who they work for. "Just know that they take care of us." Henry asks if they really do, and whether they have told the pair how to get back home after they destroy magic. Greg lets him know that they don't ask questions, they just believe in their cause. Tamara then calls out for him, and tells him that she's not getting a status light on the device. She hands it over to him, and Greg wonders if she's checked the batteries. He flips it around to check them, and when he removes the lid he finds what appears to be bird feeding inside. They are all surprised and confused, and Tamara says, "What the hell is this? A toy?!" Henry tells them, mockingly, that it's a good thing they don't ask any questions. Greg, bemused, tells them "Let's go" and forces Henry to walk. Tamara looks concerned.

301 03
Two villains have a conversation.

We are treated to a panoramic view of the Jolly Roger, headed towards the island of Neverland, and then to a close-up shot of the ship's steering wheel spinning. It is stopped when Killian Jones rests one of its handles on his hook, and Regina, who had been looking overboard at the waters, turns her attention to him and asks why he's slowing down the ship, reminding him that her son's life is in danger. "Oh, I know, my hot-headed Queen," he tells her, then explaining that his plan is to bring them to the far side of the island, link up with the widest part of the river, sail quietly through and take the inhabitants by surprise. Hook then comments on the irony, and she asks him what he means, to which he replies that he's spent more time than he cares to remember trying to leave that place so that he could kill Rumplestiltskin, and now there he is, sailing right back into its heart with Rumple as his guest of honor. "It's not quite the happy ending I was hoping for," he says. Regina then recounts that Greg Mendell told her something funny: that she's a villain, and villains don't get happy endings. Regina asks the captain if he believes that, and he answers that he hopes not, otherwise they have wasted their lives.

301 04
Emma is tired of optimistic pep talks.

Below them, on the waist of the deck, Emma is staring blankly into the distance, looking pensative. Her parents approach her with concern, and Mary Margaret tells her "Hey", but gets no reply. She then tells her daughter that what happened with Neal and Henry wasn't her fault, and she shouldn't blame herself. Emma tells her that she doesn't, and then turns to her and says, "I blame you. All this happened because I listened to you. You say good always wins? It doesn't. I didn't grow up in some fairytale land. My experience is different. That's all I can go on." Mary Margaret rebuts that all they have to go on is their experience, and she just wants to share their wisdom with her, but Emma, interrupting her, says that she appreciates them trying to be parents, but they are the same age, and have equal amounts of wisdom. And all Emma wants is Henry back. She starts to say that she should have never broken the curse, she should have just taken Henry, and Mary Margaret tells her that she's right, then they would be together. She then tells her child, however, that they missed her growing up, and it haunts them everyday. David finally jumps in, saying that that's why they are there now, because they don't want her to have to go through the same thing too, and she won't, he reassures her, because they are going to get their family back. Emma, aggravated, turns to him and asks how they can be so infuriatingly optimistic. Mary Margaret doesn't know how to reply, and David tells his daughter that that's who they are. Emma asks why, because ever since they got their memories back and remembered that they are Snow White and Prince Charming, their lives have sucked. David denies this, because they found her, and Emma points out that they lost Henry, and Neal, and countless other people. Mary Margaret, calmly, tells her daughter, "Emma, the minute I let go of the belief that things will get better is the minute I know they won't." David grabs her shoulder, and she tells Emma that they will find Henry. "No, you won't," they are told by a voice coming from behind them.

301 05
A wardrobe change. Never mind why.

They turn their attention to the quarter deck, where Mr. Gold has emerged, wearing a different outfit. Hook sarcastically comments that a wardrobe change is a great use of their time. Emma grabs a lantern to get a better look, and Gold says that he is going to get Henry. Regina tells him that they agreed to do this together, and Gold points out that they never made such an agreement. Emma asks why he's doing this, and Gold immediately responds that he wants to succeed. She wonders what makes him think she's going to fail, and he promptly replies that she couldn't possibly win, because she doesn't believe in her parents, or in magic, or even in herself. "I slayed a dragon, I think I believe," Emma says, and Gold points out that she only believes in what is shown to her, and wonders when she ever took a leap of faith, the kind with absolutely no proof. Emma doesn't reply. Gold tells her that he's known her some time, and even with everything she's been through, she's still just a bail bonds person, looking for evidence. "Well dearie that's not gonna work in Neverland," he says. Emma tells him she'll do whatever it takes, and Gold says that she just needs someone to tell her what she needs to do, but their foe is too fearsome for the two of them to hold hands. "Neverland is a place where imagination runs wild. And sadly... yours doesn't." This said, he starts spinning his walking stick on the floor of the deck, and when it finally hits the boards, they all can see that he is no longer on the ship. The gang exchange looks, slightly intimidated.

301 06
Greg and Tamara finally get to meet the Home Office...

In the woods of the island, Greg is seen lighting a fire in an impromptu fireplace he made out of rocks and sticks. He lights it up with matches, while Tamara looks impatient. Henry asks them if they are making s'mores, and Greg, also looking impatient, denies this, and tells Henry that he is building a signal. He tells Tamara to help him gather some dry leaves, for they need to let the Home Office know that they're there, but his partner asks what about if that's not enough, and what if the empty communicator wasn't an accident. Greg tells her not to let the kid get in her head, and their attention is then caught by the sounds of footsteps approaching them. They turn to see Felix and the other Lost Boys coming out from the wilderness. Greg asks them who they are, and Felix, in a mocking tone, tells them that they're the Home Office, and welcomes them to Neverland. Greg looks back at his lover, who says, "The Home Office... is a bunch of teenagers?" Henry tells his captors that they are not teenagers, but rather the Lost Boys. Felix says "Look at that...", interested in Henry. Henry asks them why they would want to destroy magic, and Felix says, "Who said we wanna destroy magic?" Greg walks up closer to him and says that that was their mission, to which the leader of the group responds that he was only told so. Felix then tells them to hand the boy over, but Tamara positions herself in front of Henry and says they won't be getting the boy until they tell them what the plan is for magic, for getting home. Felix sneers, and makes it clear to them that they are not getting home. Greg affirms that they are not getting the boy then. Felix looks down, smirking, and then looks back at him and says, "Of course we are." Greg looks somewhat intimidated, and then his attention is caught by a strange sound coming from above. He looks up and witnesses the shadow descending upon him. The shadow swoops in and rips Greg's own shadow from his body, and he screams in agony. The fire in the fireplace burns brighter, and Tamara are shocked. Greg's body falls to the ground, and Tamara turns to Henry and shouts at him to run. He does so, and Felix tells his mates to get the boy. Henry manages to outrun them, going into the woods, and as Tamara tries to run for her life as well, one of the Lost Boys hits her with an arrow and she goes down as well. Felix looks around, and the gang then leaves to go and look for Henry, leaving in their trail the bodies of the young man's original captors.

Act II

301 07
Henry is rescued.

The Lost Boys are seen chasing after Henry through the woods of the island, but the young man manages to elude them, whilst running with his hands still tied. Eventually he accidentally trips and falls to the ground, and when he does a hand reaches out to grab him and pulls him into the bushes. The Lost Boys make it by them without noticing the two boys in on the other side of the plants, and the boy who rescued Henry removes the hood from around his head. Henry thanks him, and the boy tells him that Pan and his troupe are in tune with every grain of sand in the island, so they must be careful. Henry asks him if he's a Lost Boy, and the boy, whilst cutting off the cable tie around Henry's hands, explains that he was, but he escaped, and now they're after him too. Henry asks what happened, and the boy tells him that there is no time for questions, they must keep moving. This said, he urges Henry to come with him.

301 08
Emma gets ready for a fight.

Aboard the Jolly Roger, inside the hold, Emma is seen doing pull-ups by grabbing onto a horizontal pole around which some rope is tied. She rests for a while, resting her feet on the bench below her, and Hook, from behind her, tells her not to stop on his account. Emma, with an attitude, says, "Wouldn't think of it", and resumes what she was doing. Hook asks her what she is doing, and she answers that she's getting ready for a fight. He retorts that he'd never known she was the type who would need to get ready for a fight, as he always presumed it was just a natural state with her. Emma isn't amused. Hook, more seriously, tells her not to let Rumplestiltskin get her down. Emma steps down from the bench and asks Hook what he wants, to which he responds, whilst showing her a small key, that he wants to give her something. Emma sits down, and Hook, opening a cabinet, tells her that he and Baelfire used to spend a lot of time together. Emma replies that he was always 'Neal' to her, and he says, "Yeah, right." He then takes a weapon out of his storage, a sword that he claims belonged to Bae. Emma takes it from his hands, then looks up at him and comments that she didn't realize he was sentimental. Hook denies this, as he goes to get something else, and says that he just thought she could use it for where they're going, to fight. He then hands her a small sipping cup and uses his teeth to pull out the cork from a liquor bottle, pouring a drink for the both of them afterwards. Emma thanks him, and they share a toast to Neal before drinking.

301 09
Neal finds new allies.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, Neal Cassidy/Baelfire is actually alive, albeit not so well. He is seen lying down on the same open coffin where Princess Aurora sustained the sleeping curse that was cast on her (see "Broken"), apparently sleeping himself. He regains consciousness and opens his eyes, and looks confused. Standing by his side is the brave warrior Mulan, who asks him who he is, to which he replies, with very little strength, "Neal". Immediately afterwards, Mulan looks back and the royal couple who keep her company approach the coffin. Aurora asks Mulan if he is well, to which the knight replies that Neal is well enough to be questioned. The princess pours some water into a glass and serves it to Neal, urging him to drink for he must be thirsty. Neal obliges, and then asks where he is. Aurora responds that he's in their kingdom, and Neal asks where that is. Prince Phillip tells him it's in the Enchanted Forest, and Neal says, "I'm back..." Aurora, confused, asks him if he's from there, and Neal nods affirmatively. Mulan points out that he must be lying, because his clothes are from the same world that Emma and Snow are from. This remark sets off something in Neal, who asks if Mulan knows Emma Swan. Mulan nods, and asks how he knows her, and Neal has a hard time answering the question, but he says that she's in danger and that he has to get back and help her. He gets up as he says this and we can see the bloody gunshot hole left in his shirt. Aurora aids him as he sits up, and Phillip tells him that he needs to rest, for he was gravely injured when they found him. He looks at his wound and asks if Neal was hit by some kind of arrow. Neal looks down at his chest too, where the wound has been bandaged by his new company, and says, "A .45 caliber arrow". Phillip is confused. Neal then tells them he needs their help, because he needs to know that Emma and Henry are alright. Aurora quickly realizes that Neal is Henry's father, which he confirms, and she tells him that she was once under a sleeping curse, and Snow helped her to control the nightmare, so with practice she is able to walk the dream world, and find others like her who have passed through. "It's possible I can make contact with them," she says. Neal, a little more hopeful, steps down from the resting bed and she asks him that, should she be able to, what he would like her to tell them. Neal asks her to tell Emma he's alive, and that he loves her.

Back in the hold of the ship, Emma and Hook are sitting across from each other on the benches, while the captain holds the liquor bottle. Emma asks him how long Bae was with him, and he says, "Long enough for me to know that I miss him too." The ship is suddenly rocked, and they are startled. Emma asks what that was, and Hook instantly gets up and rushes upstairs.

301 10
The Jolly Roger gang is befuddled.

David and Mary Margaret are shown to be struggling with the steering wheel of the ship as they sail through stormy waters, whilst being attacked by something. Regina asks them what they are doing, and is told that they are trying to keep it steady. Hook joins them and tells them to prepare for attack. Regina tells him to be more specific, and he tells her that if she's got a weapon she should grab it. Emma comes up from out of the hatch and closes it, and asks what is down there in the waters: "A shark? A whale?" David joins in and asks, "A kraken?" Hook tells them, "Worse", and the rest of the gang look overboard and are surprised to witness pretty women looking at them from below the surface, and swimming around with colored fish tails attached to their torsos. Hook finishes his line, saying "Mermaids!" The school of mermaids is then seen swimming towards the ship and flapping their fins above the surface, as they screech.


301 11
Fish out of water.

"Mermaids!" Emma screams as she looks at the half-fish, half-women creatures attacking the Jolly Roger from below. The sirens' tails glisten in the sea as they swim around and towards the ship, and the storm grows denser. Hook tells his new crew that mermaids are quite unpleasant, to which Regina replies, "You think?" The mermaids hit the ship with their fins, and Emma wonders how many of them there are. David, bemused, says that he will not be capsized by fish, and heads towards the cannon. He loads it up with gunpowder and chains, and Mary Margaret calls for her daughter's help with the fishing net, while Hook tries to maintain control of the steering wheel. David lights up the cannon's fuse and aims it at the school of mermaids. The cannon blasts and hits one of them, who shrieks in pain, and Snow and Emma throw the net overboard. David loads up the cannon again, and fires another blast into the sea. A mermaid is then caught in the fishing net. Mary Margaret says they caught one, and Regina, unimpressed, says "One? There are dozens of them." Emma and Mary Margaret pull the net up, David fires another blast, and Regina, having had enough, conjures up a fire ball in her hand and throws it at the sea. The fire hits the waters and spreads, and she hurls a second ball of fire afterwards, and a third one soon follows, effectively scaring the mermaids away. Their glistening tails are seen distancing themselves from the ship, and Regina says, "There. They're gone." Snow points out that not all of them are gone, reminding her of the mermaid they caught and are trying to bring on board. With a tiny hand gesture, Regina magically brings the net and its captive mermaid onto the deck. The mermaid starts flapping about like a fish out of water, looking frightened.

301 12
Henry tries to instill some hope in his new companion.

Henry and the fugitive boy keep trying to get away from the Lost Boys, who are still on their trail, as they all run through the woods of Neverland. The two fugitives stop running, and they witness the Lost Boys pass by them. The boy tells Henry that he thinks they lost them, and Henry, recuperating from the long run, asks him if they can rest for a minute. The boy nods affirmatively, and Henry sits down on a rock. The boy comments that Henry is new, and asks if the shadow took him too. Henry denies this, explaining that he was kidnapped by some people who work for Pan. The boy shows him his regards, but then says that if Pan sent for Henry, it's because he wants him, and if he wants him, he will get him. Henry asks why Pan wants the boy, and he reveals a vial containing pixie dust hanging from his neck. The boy explains that he stole the pixie dust from Pan because he thought he could use it to fly away and go home, but it doesn't work, it's useless. Henry tells him not to worry, because his family is coming to rescue him and the boy can just come with them. The other boy, sounding pessimistic, asks Henry if he actually thinks he's the first boy to believe that his family is coming for them. Henry tells the boy that his family's different, they always find each other. The boy tells him that he better hope they don't, or Pan will rip their shadows into oblivion. Henry gets up and puts one hand over the boy's shoulder, promising him that it's gonna be okay. Henry then tells him not to lose hope because all they need is time, and asks if there is a place where they can hide from the Lost Boys. The boy is reminded of a place where they can't be tracked, the Echo Caves, but it's far. They hear footsteps around them and Henry, in a rush, tells the boy to lead the way. They resume running.

301 13
Gee whiz, she's dreaming her life away.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Aurora is seen sleeping on her gazebo bed, with Phillip watching over her, while Mulan and Neal stand in a near distance, gazing upon her as well. Mulan turns to Neal and asks if he is feeling better, which he confirms. She then asks him how he got there, and he recounts that he fell through a portal, and, thinking that he was going to die, he reminisced about the Enchanted Forest, growing up there, and that's how he was taken to this place. He explains that that's how portals work, they take you to wherever you think of. The warrior asks him what the other place is like, and he brings up that, for starters, everyone there thinks of them as characters in a story. Mulan is curious about being a character in a story, and Neal points out that they made a movie about her that's pretty good. As Aurora starts to regain consciousness, still in a frightened state from visiting the Netherworld, Mulan asks what a movie is, but Neal's attention is caught by the princess waking up. She sits up and Phillip helps her down from the coffin. Neal looks at her with anxiety, but Aurora tells him that she couldn't make contact. She then says that she wishes she could be of more help, but she fears no one can. Neal then says that his father can, he always had a plan, he must've left something behind should he ever find himself back there, something Neal could maybe use to contact Emma and get back to her. Neal says he just needs to get to his castle. Phillip asks him who his father is, and Neal answers that it's Rumplestiltskin.

301 14
Tamara has her heart broken.

Rumplestiltskin, wearing his leather coat, is seen walking through the woods of the Neverland island, searching for Henry. He makes his way to the clearing where Greg and Tamara set up their fireplace, and finds Tamara crawling, trying to keep alive as she puts up with the horrible pain brought on by her wound. The arrow is still carved in her back, just below her shoulder. She notices Gold standing by her, and he asks her where Henry is. Tamara can't talk, and Gold crouches down beside her and says that he can help her speak. This said, he hovers his hand above her and the arrow and the wound it made magically disappear. Tamara recovers, and sits up, her hair covered in leaves and dirt. She thanks Gold for saving her. Gold repeats his question. Tamara doesn't answer right away, and Gold asks her if they've killed the boy. She says that she doesn't think so, she told him to run and he did. Gold asks where, and Tamara, still feeling weak, says, "The jungle", and barely points in the direction where Henry ran. Tamara explains to him that Pan wants Henry, and he's behind all this. Tamara then tells him that she didn't know who she was working for, and that she's sorry about Neal. Gold crouches down again and tells her that he knows, that she is merely a pawn. Tamara asks, with fear and repent in her eyes, if he can forgive her. The stern Gold smirks and says "No", before lunging his hand into her chest and removing her heart. He then crushes it before her eyes, turning it into dust, and she falls back onto the ground, lifeless. Gold shakes off his fingers and walks away.

Act IV

301 15

As the Jolly Roger continues to sail through the waters of Neverland, the mermaid stills finds herself on the deck of the ship, against her will, lying on the net that imprisoned her. Hook, at the wheel, commands that they get the mermaid off his ship, but Regina rejects this, because now they have a hostage. David points out that - despite hating it - he's with Hook, for those things just tried to kill them. Regina says that they should perhaps find out why, and Mary Margaret asks, "How, by torturing her?" Regina says maybe, if it is necessary, and the mermaid reaches for a conch shell that was brought in with her and blows on it, causing a deafening sound. The crew cover their eyes, and Emma then asks the mermaid what that was, to which she replies that it was a warning - either they let her go, or they die.

301 16
They rode through the desert. No unnamed horses, though.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Neal and his new traveling companion, the brave Mulan, make their way over a sand dune as they cross a desert land. Mulan asks if she can ask him a question, and Neal immediately tells her that he doesn't know how to explain what a movie is. Mulan recounts that he said he's fighting for Emma, but the blonde never mentioned him during her time in the kingdom, and Mulan wonders why. Neal confesses that he broke Emma's heart, he let her go so that she could break the curse and fulfill her destiny. Once the curse was broken, he could had gone after her, and told her he loved her, but he was afraid that she would never forgive him so he wound up taking the easy way out, which was not trying. Mulan sympathizes with this, commenting that his belief in love wasn't strong enough to overcome his fear of rejection. Neal confirms this, and points out that is the greatest regret of his life - one he doesn't wish upon anyone. Mulan looks glum. They continue hiking through the desert.

301 17
Plan B.

The Lost Boys continue chasing Henry through the woods of the island, as he continues to make a run for his safety in the company of the fugitive boy. Henry trips and falls again, but quickly recovers and resumes running. The Lost Boys are fast on their trail, and Henry says that they're close, he can see them. The boy tells him that they're close to the caves, and urges him to follow him, but they are caught off-guard by an arrow that is fired and pierces through a tree next to them, narrowly missing them. Henry says that they cut them off, they know about the caves, so the two of them need to go in another direction. They do so.

301 18
"Filet the bitch."

In the ship, David picks up the shell and asks the mermaid what it is, and what she's done. The mermaid looks at him seductively and begs him to let her go, and Regina tells her they won't until she tells them, or they will make her tell them. Mary Margaret says that threatening the mermaid isn't the way to motivate her, and Regina snidely says that she's all out of fish food. Hook brings up that it doesn't matter if they get her to talk because they can't trust her, mermaids are liars. Emma says, "Of course they are." Snow says that maybe the mermaids are just scared of Pan, and if they let her go the school will be on their side. Regina counter-argues that maybe the mermaid and her friends will just come right back to kill them. The mermaid says that she doesn't need her friends to kill them, they'll kill themselves. Emma is confused. She orders them to let her go, and lightning rips through the sky as the storm surrounding them gets stronger. They are all startled, and Hook says that she called the storm, and tells them not to let her go because she'll swim off and leave them all to die, and at least with her they've got leverage. David picks up a sword and points it at her neck, ordering her to call off the storm, and then they'll let her go. The mermaid, not the least bit intimidated, gives him a provocative look. Annoyed, Charming moves behind her and wrings her neck. Regina, amused, tells him to filet the bitch.

301 19

The mermaid starts choking, but David looks at his wife and daughter, who are horrified by his behavior, and lets her go, commenting that they're not barbarians. The stormy waters and winds continues to rattle the ship, and Regina comments that what they are going to be is dead. Hook reassures them that he can turn it around, for he's outrun many storms, but Regina tells the mermaid that either she makes it stop or she dies. Mary Margaret says, with conviction, that they are not killers, but the mermaid herself rejects this, saying that they are and that they brought this death upon themselves. Snow says that this is why they should free her, and Regina retorts that that feel-good nonsense might work in the Enchanted Forest, but this is Neverland. The ship is rattled again as the storm grows more intense, and David shouts at Hook to keep his grip. He says it wasn't him, but rather the ship. Hook leaves the steering wheel to check the deck and says that the ship is taking in water. Regina asks if she may resume killing the mermaid now, to be given a "No!" by both Charmings. Snow tells her that if she kills the mermaid, her kind will have a personal vendetta against them. Hook tells them that the Queen is right, they've already tried to kill them anyway. Emma shouts at them all to stop, because they need to think this through. Regina, bemused, looks at the titillated mermaid and says that she already has. This said, she waves her hand and magically transforms the mermaid into a wooden statue of herself. Regina says that that should stop the storm, but quite the opposite happens. Emma says, "Regina!... What did you do?!", as they all look up to witness a giant wave coming their way. They all hang on for their dear safety as the waters fall down upon them.

Act V

301 20
New acquaintance. Can never have too many of those.

We are treated to a panoramic view of Rumplestiltskin's castle, that he left behind in the Enchanted Forest. It looks relatively unkempt, aged, not looked after, for it has been without care for nearly three decades. Neal opens the doors to one of the rooms, where his father would hang out, and Mulan, walking behind him, brushes the dust and cobwebs off of herself. Mulan comments that it appears abandoned, but Neal rushes to a goblet on a pedestal, puts a finger in it and licks it. He says that someone's there, and Mulan looks around with caution. Neal starts examining the room, but he is scared by an arrow that comes flying near him, hitting the wall by his side. Mulan immediately unsheathes her sword as a male voice tells her that the first arrow was a warning, due to chivalry. A hooded figure with a crossbow aims another arrow at Mulan as they speak. Mulan, pointing her sword at the man, asks him who he is, and he steps down from the window pane, points an arrow at them again and says his name is Robin. Neal deduces that he is Robin Hood. Hood says he'd bow, but his quiver is rather tight. Hood then asks them what they are doing trespassing in his castle, and Mulan points out that the castle belongs to the Dark One, so he's the one trespassing. Robin Hood brings up the fact that Rumple hasn't been seen since the Queen's curse, and says that, should he ever show up, Robin will be happy to vacate. Neal says there's no need for that, and Robin can even have the castle, but he needs to look around for a bit. Robin asks who Neal would be, to grant such title, and the latter responds that in this land he is known as Baelfire, and he is the Dark One's son. Robin Hood moves away the crossbow and apologizes, then telling Neal to go ahead. Neal, nonchalantly, asks if he doesn't want to see any ID, to which Hood replies, "Who would claim to be that who wasn't?"

301 21
Neal uncloaks a door.

Neal says that's a good point. Hood tells him his father wouldn't stand for impostors, for he had quite a temper. Neal presumes that the thief knew his father, and Hood confirms that they crossed paths once indeed. Neal says that most crossings with his father don't end well, and Hood responds that theirs was "touch-and-go", and Rumple spared his life, so he owes him a debt. Neal says he's happy to collect, and moves around the room as he explains that he's looking for something Rumple left there, a magical item. Hood claims that he's sorry to disappoint, but he arrived shortly after the curse, and the place was cleaned out, so nothing of any value remains. Neal comments that thieves and looters would only take what they could see. He then is stopped cold by the sight of a cane on the floor. He crouches down and picks it up, and Mulan asks him what is magical about a knotted old cane that probably belonged to one of the looters. Neal claims that it belonged to Rumple, however, and shows them the markings on the cane, which are of when Rumple kept track of him growing. Neal then proceeds to swirl the cane repeatedly in the air, and then turns around to witness a painting on the wall transforming into a magic door. Robin Hood says that he handled that walking stick a dozen times, and it never released a cloaking spell before. Neal explains that his father enchanted items so that, what might be a useless piece of wood in the hands of a looter, would be magical in his. "Or in the hands of his only son," Mulan says. According to Neal, Rumple called it "blood magic". Mulan nods, and Neal comments that, even though it might not always seem like it, family was important to his dad. Robin asks what is behind the door, and Neal says, "Let's find out", and moves towards it.

301 22
The storm grows more and more intense.

Emma and Hook try to control the steering wheel of the ship as they storm continues to befall them, stronger than ever. Emma reminds Hook that he said he could outrun a storm, to which he replies that this isn't a storm, but "bloody damnation". Mary Margaret turns to Regina and asks her why she did this, and the Mayor is outraged that Snow is blaming her. Snow reminds her that she turned the mermaid into wood, and Regina brushes this off by saying that she at least did something, which is more than Snow can say for herself. The princess orders her to undo the spell and bring back the mermaid, and Regina sarcastically asks her if she plans on winning the siren over with her "rainbow kisses and unicorn stickers". Mary Margaret points out that, since the witch's plan failed, at least they can try. Regina calls her a naive princess, and Snow tries to come up with a comeback response, but instead she just punches Regina in the face, sending her to the deck. As she does so, the storm hits a peak. Regina recuperates quickly and asks her long-time nemesis if that is her best, to which Snow says it's not even close. A strike of lightning hits the ropes of the mast. Snow says she is tired of Regina ruining her life. "I ruined your life?!" Regina says, angrily, and David tries to make a run for them, but Regina punches his wife in the face as a retaliation and another ray of lightning comes close to the ship. David is stopped on his track by Hook, who grabs him and tells him to let the "slags" go for he needs him at the mast. David, annoyed, tells Hook not to call his wife a slag and elbows him in the gut, before turning around and punching him in the face, leaving Emma as the sole controller of the wheel. She orders them to stop, but the crew, paired up, continue fighting, as the storm grows more and more intense. Lightning splits the cloudy skies and Emma is horrified by it all. As David almost slices the pirate's throat with his own hook, Emma realizes that the mermaid isn't causing this, but rather themselves. She tries to get them to listen to her as she says that if they don't stop fighting they're all going to die, because they're causing the storm. She leaves the steering wheel and heads for the border of the ship, holding on to the ropes, and calling out for their attention, to no avail, as the two disputing pairs keep fighting. Frustrated, Emma does the only thing she can think of: she turns around - and her father finally notices her - and then she dives into the waters. David runs after her, as does Mary Margaret and the rest of the crew, who rush to the border of the ship to try and locate her in the sea. A sheave is dislodged from the ropes of the ship and falls to the sea as well, hitting Emma in the head and knocking her unconscious.

301 23
They can fly. They can fly. They can fly. They can fly.

Henry and the fugitive boy keep running through the woods of Neverland but they are stopped cold on their track when they make it to a cliff. They overhear the Lost Boys shouting out their location, and Henry asks his companion what they do, and whether there is any other way to the Echo Caves. The boy denies this, saying that they are done for, and then tells Henry that he will give them the pixie dust, and then maybe they'll let the two of them live. Henry asks if he wants to give up, and the boy says that they don't have a choice, the others have got them and this is the end. Henry rejects this, and says it's their way out, as he snatches the vial of pixie dust from his mate's neck. The boy asks what he is doing, and Henry grabs him by the shoulder and forces him to move a few steps back with him. Henry explains that he's giving them a running start. The boy asks for what, and Henry recounts that everyone knows pixie dust is for flying. The other lad reminds him that it doesn't work, and Henry says that's because he has to believe. The boy says he definitely doesn't believe, and Henry says, "That's okay," as he removes the lid from the tube, "Because I do." This said, he starts running towards the edge of the cliff, with the boy in tow, and they jump. The pixie dust comes out of the vial and turns into green magic that surrounds them and enables them to fly. The Lost Boys reach the cliff but they're too late to catch them. Henry and the boy fly over the woods of Neverland, and exchange a smile.

Act VI

301 24
Emma was right.

Mary Margaret shouts her daughter's name over the border of the ship. Emma is seen submerged in the waters, unconscious, and Regina, back on the ship, calls her an idiot. Mary Margaret begs Regina to bring her back onto the boat, but the Mayor claims that she can't do so in this storm, she can't seen Emma, so she'd just end up bringing a lot of water in and half her leg. David gets ready to jump overboard and Hook tells him to wait; David tells his his daughter will drown, and the pirate responds that so will he, and offers help. He grabs some rope and hands it to Snow, telling her to tie up her husband. With the rope around his waist, David dives into the ocean, while the rest of the crew members hold on to the rope. He swims around looking for his daughter, and is eventually able to locate and grab her. With Emma in tow, he swims back up to the surface, and Hook tells the ladies to pull. The pirate then hooks the rope to a sheave and pulls them up. David is able to grab on to the border and soon enough both of them are back on deck. Emma is laid down on the floor by her parents, and everyone looks upon her with concern. Mary Margaret looks a bit hopeless for a short while as her daughter feels so cold to her touch, but Emma quickly regains consciousness and spits out sea water. Hook is relieved and Emma's parents are delighted. The blonde then looks up to the sky and notices the clouds disappearing, giving place to the full moon.

301 25
Something old...

Rumplestiltskin makes himself appear in a clearing in the woods of the island, and sits down on a rock, before saying, "Come out and say hello, dearie." This said, Felix, the spokesperson of the Lost Boys, makes himself appear and obliges, saying, "Hello, Rumplestiltskin." The Dark One makes a sarcastic gesture, and Felix, stepping closer to him, lets him know that Pan welcomes him to the island, and wanted Felix to tell him he's excited to see Rumple again. Rumple, also sarcastically, says that he's sure Pan is. Felix then adds that Pan wanted Rumple to know he's welcome in Neverland, for as long as he wishes to stay... with one caveat. Rumple points out that there's always something with him. Felix explains that if he is there for the boy, then that makes him Pan's enemy. Rumple claims that nothing's changed then. Felix warns him that if he goes against Pan, he will not survive. Rumple, slightly amused, says that the question isn't whether he'll survive, but rather, and this he claims as he gets up from the rock and walks over to Felix, grabbing him, how many of them he takes with him. Felix, not intimidated, asks the Dark One if that's his answer, and the latter confirms it. Felix then says that means he'll see Rumple again, in less friendly circumstances. Rumple tells him to count on it, and lets him go, before walking past him. Felix, however, tells him there is one last thing. Rumple looks relatively annoyed. Felix points out that Pan wanted him to have something, and throws a straw doll at the ground by Gold's feet. The beats looks caught off-guard. He crouches down and picks up the doll, and admires it with sadness in his eyes. Felix crouches down in front of him as well, supporting himself with his staff, and says, "Isn't it funny?", as Rumple looks at him with teary eyes, "The things we haven't thought about in years... still have the ability to make us cry." He then gets up, puts the staff back over his shoulder and says, "See you around, Dark One." He leaves, and Gold is left behind, kneeling on the ground, crying over the straw doll.

301 26
Where is Emma?

Back in the Enchanted Forest, in Rumplestiltskin's castle, Neal opens the door that was covered by the cloaking spell, as Mulan and Robin Hood look on. He spots an orb and place his hands around it, without actually touching it. As he does so, he tells his companions that he spent his entire life running from magic, and now it's the only thing that can help him. He puts his hands over the orb and looks down. Nothing happens. Confused, Neal takes the orb from the shelf and asks them why it isn't working. He places the orb on a pedestal, and Mulan tells him not to think of a place, but instead to think of Emma, and more than that how he feels about her. He takes her advice into consideration and touches the orb again with both hands. This time, magic does kick in, and purple clouds are shown inside the orb as a clear image starts to form. As soon as Neal witnesses Emma and her whereabouts in the image presented by the crystal ball, he is horrified. Robin, confused, asks if she's not there, to which Neal explains that Emma's not in Storybrooke... but in Neverland.

301 27
Follow the leader.

The Jolly Roger crew makes it to the same sandy beach where Henry arrived earlier with his captors, having gotten there in a rowboat apparently, and Regina tells her companions that they don't have to do things this way, because her magic is powerful enough so that she may fix the ship and that they may execute Hook's plans. Emma tells her not to be naive and to save her magic, because Pan already knows they're there. She says Gold was right, that land runs on belief and they were all too busy being at each others' throats to be believers, and she confesses she was as wrong as everyone else, and it's time for all of them to believe, not in magic, but in each other. Regina asks if she wants them all to be friends, after everything that's happened between them, and Emma says she doesn't want or expect that, for she knows there is a lot of history and a lot of hate there. Hook jumps in and says that he quite fancies Emma from time to time when she's not yelling at him. Emma ignores him, saying that they don't need to be friends, what they need to know is the only way to get Henry back is through cooperation. "With her? With him?" David says, bemused, before telling Emma that they have to do this the right way. His daughter says that they don't, they just need to succeed, and the way they do that is by just being who they are, be it a hero, a villain, a pirate, and it doesn't matter which because they are going to need all those skills, whether they can stomach them or not. Regina then asks Emma what her skill is, addressing her as "savior". Emma turns to her and says, "I'm a mother. And now I'm also your leader. So either help me get my son back, or get out of the way." Emma turns around and starts walking away, and her parents follow her, proudly. Hook, slightly amused, follows after them as well, and so does Regina, who doesn't look as pleased. As they make their way into the woods surrounding the beach, they fail to notice the two creatures flying above them, in the nightly sky, surrounded by a magical green light.

301 28
Henry finds himself cornered.

Henry and the fugitive boy continue flying through the skies and the latter then points to the Echo Caves, their desired destination. They start to land, flying through the treetops, and make their way to the ground, dropping and rolling for a smoother landing. They get up from the ground and Henry tells his partner that if one believes, anything is possible. The boy then says, "You couldn't be more right, Henry." Henry is surprised. He looks at the boy, who has a stern look on his face, and asks him how he knows his name, since Henry never told him. Pan suggests that they make it a game, a puzzle to solve. Henry tells him that he lied to him, he is a Lost Boy and works for Pan. The boy says, "Not exactly. I am Peter Pan." Henry recounts that Pan told Greg and Tamara that magic was bad, and that he'd help them destroy it, and asks why. Pan, titillated, says that he needed the duo's help, and it is much easier to get people to hate something than to believe. Henry asks why Pan brought him there, and the villain starts walking around the young man and explains that he's been seeking something really important for quite some time, something more elusive than the greatest of all mysteries: the heart of the truest believer. Pan then adds that when Henry took that pixie dust and jumped off the cliff - Pan knocks on the base of a tree next to him three times -, he proved himself: he's the lucky owner of that very special heart, and now he and his heart are Pan's. Pan unsheathes his dagger, raises it to the air and calls for his Lost Boys, who all show up, coming from the woods, and gather around Henry along with their leader. Pan, entertained, then says, "Let's play!"


301 Title Card
  • The title card features Henry flying with Peter Pan in tow using pixie dust.
    • This title card introduces a slightly different backdrop than what's previously been seen (with the trees arranged differently and many of the further away ones being leafier), which - intersected with the original - will be used sporadically throughout the remainder of the series' run.
  • As of this episode, Meghan Ory (Ruby/Red Riding Hood) is no longer a series regular. In turn, Michael Raymond-James (Neal Cassidy/Baelfire) is promoted to the main cast.
  • Although credited, Emilie de Ravin (Belle French/Belle) is absent from this episode.
  • This is the first episode not to feature the setting of Storybrooke in any way.


  • The title of this episode was revealed by executive producer/co-creator Adam Horowitz, via his Twitter account, on July 2, 2013, along with a photograph of the script's cover.[1]
  • This episode was penned by series co-creators and executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, their 14th shared writing credit (and overall) with the series, and directed by Ralph Hemecker, his 8th directing credit.
  • Prior to the premiere of the season, Edward Kitsis stated that the first few episodes of the season would focus on Peter Pan and his intentions for Henry, "but like any good mystery, you won't know the whole picture until you watch the whole 11 episodes."[2]



This episode posted a 2.6/7 among 18-49s with 8.52 million viewers tuning in, down 33 percent from the second season opening episode "Broken" but was up 13 percent from the second season finale.[3] In addition, this outing was also the top social broadcast series of the evening with 136,627 tweets, the highest number ever for the show.[4] Viewers for the episode increased 1.8 million to 10.3, whilst the Adults 18-49 rating increased to 3.5 from 2.6.[5] In Canada, the episode was watched by 1.285 million viewers.[6]


The premiere episode received generally positive reviews from critics.

  • Amy Ratcliffe of gave the episode a score of 8 out of 10; she praised its humor and use of Rumpelstiltskin, explaining that the writers "keep his true motivations hidden and separating Rumple from the group gives him the opportunity to shine. Robert Carlyle owned the character in a way he never has before. His flourishes and 'dearies' didn't seem out of place and he even played with them a bit." Ratcliffe also positively received Peter Pan's introduction, saying "I appreciate how they've flipped Peter Pan from a lighthearted boy to a master manipulator with questionable intentions. This show is at its brightest when it thinks out of the storybook in that way."[7]
  • Liane Bonin Starr of also gave the episode a positive review, opining that "the show kicks off with one [fairy tale] I think (and hope) will not only be great, naughty fun but will also help to aggregate storylines that started to feel scattered and rambling last season."[8] Alyse Whitney of praised the beginning scene with Emma giving birth, saying "the one standout moment was in the first minutes, showcasing Jennifer Morrison's best acting to date. As Emma gave birth to Henry — and the electricity flickered, which could be a hint at her magic — and then refused to see him since she "can't be a mother," our hearts sank. It was an emotional way to kick things off, but was the perfect way to show how far she’s come as she heads to save Henry with everyone on the Jolly Roger."[9]
  • Hillary Busis of Entertainment Weekly compared Peter Pan to King Joffrey from Game of Thrones, saying "It's a shame Storybrooke doesn't get HBO. If Henry paid attention to Theon's story in the season 3 episode "And Now His Watch Is Ended" (or read George R. R. Martin's books, for that matter), he might have been a bit more reluctant to trust the kid who conveniently showed up right after the Lost Boys took out Greg and Tamara -- a kid who, to nobody's surprise but Henry's, turns out to be Peter Pan himself."[10]


Gallery of photographic stills used to promote the episode.

External Links


  1. Adam Horowitz tweet.
  2. "'Once Upon a Time' Season 3 Spoilers: Pan's Plans for Henry, Flashbacks, Family Bonding and More", by Michelle Carlbert,, August 30, 2013.
  3. "Sunday Final Ratings: 'The Simpsons' & 'Bob's Burgers' Adjusted Up; 'Revenge' Adjusted Down",, by Sara Bibel, October 1, 2013.
  4. "Sunday Night Ratings: ONCE UPON A TIME, REVENGE, THE GOOD WIFE Down From Last Year",, by Roger Newcomb, September 30, 2013.
  5. "L+3 Ratings: ABC's 'Once Upon A Time' Emerges as Sunday's Top Broadcast in Adults 18-49; 'Revenge' is the Night's Biggest Overall Gainer",, by Sara Bibel, October 4, 2013.
  6. Bill Brioux tweet, September 30, 2013.
  7. "ONCE UPON A TIME: “HEART OF THE TRUEST BELIEVER” REVIEW",, by Amy Ratcliffe, September 29, 2013.
  8. "'Once Upon A Time' season premiere recap: 'Heart of the Truest Believer'",, by Liane Bonin Starr, September 29, 2013.
  9. "Once Upon a Time Season 3 Premiere Review: What Did You Think of "The Heart of the Truest Believer"?",, by Alyse Whitney, September 29, 2013.
  10. "'Once Upon a Time' season premiere recap: Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat",, by Hillary Busis, September 30, 2013.
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