Column: Dark Matter: Review: Once Upon A Time 2.21: Second Star to the Right


[spoilers ahead]

Written by: Andrew Chambliss & Ian Goldberg

Recap: Fairytale Land of the Past: We recap the moment when Baelfire and Rump were going to jump through the portal (that the Blue Fairy gave to Bae to save his father) so that they could escape to a new world where they would be free of magic and together. Alas for poor Bae, his father chickened out and let go of his hand, unwilling to give up his magic and sending his son through the portal on his own.

Bae wakes up in a strange land, calling for his father, who is, of course, nowhere around. He is almost run over by a horse-drawn carriage. He sees a placard that says “Kensington Gardens” on it. He’s in London, England, around the 1800s.

Six months later, Bae is living on the streets and eating out of trash cans. He sees an open house window and crawls in, finding food on a table. Just as he’s helping himself, he’s interrupted by a dog barking, alerting a girl, who comes running in. She quickly realizes that Bae is just a starving boy and looking for food. She offers him as much as he likes. She introduces herself to him as Wendy Darling.

Storybrooke: Neal wakes up to find Tamara taking off running to train for her “marathon.” Just as he’s about to go back to sleep, he hears some shouting outside his room. Turns out that Gold has Whale on the ground, telling him to kiss his shoe, while Lacey, AKA Belle, is looking on in obvious enjoyment. Neal pulls his father off of the doctor, who runs scurrying away. Gold sends Lacey into the shop while Neal confronts his father over not having changed a bit. Gold points out that Neal is still in town, despite his words about not wanting his father in his life, and Neal tells him he is in town for Henry. He’d thought for a moment that his father had changed, but, obviously, he was wrong. He orders his father to stay away from him and Henry.

Emma, David and Snow with Henry in tow, break into Regina’s office, looking for both her and the magic beans she stole, but neither are anywhere to be found. While Henry worries for his adopted mom, Emma accesses the security pad and sees that someone overrode the security. Emma suspects Tamara, while David and Snow suspect Gold. Despite Snow’s suggestion that Emma is being influenced by her jealousy over Tamara, Emma heads off to search Tamara’s room again, while David and Snow visit Gold, to see if he can help them find Regina.

In a building at the docks, Tamara comes in and hands Greg the magic beans she stole from Regina’s office. They discuss collecting everything they have found and sending it to those in the home office, who will be very pleased with it all, including the big gem they took off of Regina.

Hook is watching over Regina, who is strapped to a table. She taunts him that what he is being paid for doing all of this isn’t nearly enough. He tells her that all he wants is Gold dead and they said that they will help him do that. Greg wheels in an electrical panel and asks for Hook’s help, but Hook wants no part of what Greg is up to, his only interest in Gold being dead, and takes off. Greg hooks Regina up to the panel with electrodes while she tries to bluff her way through it. All he wants to know is where his father is. When she doesn’t answer, he flips the switch, sending electricity through her body.

England of the Past: Wendy is feeding Bae, who has been hiding in the house for the past few weeks, when her parents catch her. Bae rushes out, apologizing, and tells them that he will leave. But Wendy’s mom has other ideas. She tells him he is to stay with them, much to both his and Wendy’s relief.

Storybrooke: Emma barges into Neal and Tamara’s room and tells Neal that she wants to search the room. When Neal asks about her suspicions about Tamara, she tells him that she thinks Tamara had something to do with Regina’s disappearance. Emma finds sand in the closet, throwing suspicion on where Tamara has really been running, as opposed to where she told Neal she was.

England of the Past: Bae is asleep in the children’s room with the others when Wendy wakes him up, telling him excitedly about a shadow that appeared around the same time as he did. A shadow that can do magical things. She and her brothers are excited about the possibility of its return, but Bae is scared at the mention of magic and tells them never to open the doors to the shadow again. When he tells them about the land he came from, and how magic destroyed his family, a solemn Wendy promises never to go with the shadow.


Storybrooke: David and Snow come to Gold, and enlist his help in finding Regina, David demanding payment of the favor that Gold owes him. Gold uses one of Regina’s tears and one of Snow’s to power the spell, binding the two women, then sends them on their way with it. Lacey, having overheard the whole talk of magic, confronts Gold over his abilities.

Back at the apartment, David and Snow enact the spell by pouring the mixture of tears into her eye. Shortly after they do, Snow starts feeling the pain and the torture that Regina is going through.

England of the Past: Bae is asleep in the Darling children’s room when something wakes him up. He looks over to see Wendy sitting in front of the open window, watching the shadow figure fly towards them. He tries to stop her from going off, but she tells him that the shadow is from a land called “Neverland,” different from where Bae came from. It’s a place where there are no grownups. Children can stay forever young and do whatever they want. Despite his attempts to get her to stay, she tells him that this is what she has always dreamed of and flies off with the shadow.

Storybrooke: Neal and Emma walk on the beach, looking for Tamara. Neal thinks that Emma’s jealousy is interfering with her perceptions of Tamara. Emma blurts out that it hurt her when Neal left her, and that he found Tallahassee with someone else, but the two are interrupted by Tamara’s arrival.

Tamara covers about her running area, and then expresses shock when she hears about Regina. After offering her help, she takes off, leaving Neal and Emma to discuss their past. Neal apologizes to Emma for what happened, telling her it kills him that he let August convince him to leave her. The reason he never went looking for her was because he didn’t think she could ever forgive him, since he could never forgive himself. There’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t regret what happened. Emma accepts his apology.

Tamara goes back to see Greg and find out how it is going with Regina. Regina taunts the duo about trying to steal magic. However, they reveal that they aren’t interested in stealing it, but in destroying it. And they aren’t alone. After Greg escaped as a child and started talking about magic, people who believed him found him. They recruited him and Tamara to destroy the magic that tries to enter their world and damage it. And it’s not the first time that they have destroyed magic.

David and Snow report to Emma what Snow experienced while connected to Regina. Emma realizes that Regina is being held in the cannery.

London of the Past: The next morning, Bae is woken by the return of a chastened Wendy. She tells Bae that Neverland was a wondrous place…during the daytime. At night, all the children there cry for their parents, but the shadow doesn’t let them leave. Once you set foot in Neverland, you can never go back. The only reason the Shadow let Wendy return was that it wanted a boy, not a girl. She tells Bae that the Shadow is planning on returning that night and taking one of her brothers in her place. Crying, she admits that Bae was right – magic is bad and it’s going to destroy her family. Bae takes her hand and promises her that he won’t let that happen.

Storybrooke: Lacey is thrilled when Gold shows her magic and reassures him that she is different from the other people in his life who disapproved of it. She asks if he can keep her young and immortal like him. He admits that he can. But there’s a problem: Immortal doesn’t mean that he can’t die and there’s someone out there who could be his undoing. She tells him there’s an easy way to fix that: Get rid of that person.

Neal and Emma are investigating the cannery when Snow and David arrive to help them. The two couples split up, but Tamara sees them on the security cameras. Tamara tries to get Greg to run off with her, but he is determined to get Regina to give up what happened to his dad, so Tamara leaves without him. Greg is about to turn up the power on the machine when Regina tells him that she killed his father right after Greg left and buried him at the campsite. Furious, Greg turns on the machine.

London of the Past: Bae and the Darling family prepare for the Shadow’s arrival, but the Shadow manages to break into the room, despite their precautions, and almost takes the youngest Darling boy.

Bae offers himself in exchange, telling the Shadow he will go with him as long as he never bothers the Darlings again. Wendy tries to stop Bae, but Bae begs her to let him do this. He thanks her for allowing him to be a part of her family before the Shadow takes him away, flying into the night, where they head for a star.

Storybrooke: Greg is frying Regina, about to kill her, when David shoots at him, scaring him off. David and Snow rescue Regina to take her to the Blue Fairy, while David warns Emma that Greg is on the run.

Emma and Neal block the exits, but Tamara gets the jump on them and knocks Emma out. Neal confronts her over her deception and she admits that it was all a con from the beginning. She tries to speak to Neal’s own dislike of magic, but he’s more focused on the fact that she was using him and planning to hurt everyone in town. Tamara shoots Neal, seriously wounding him, and is about ready to kill him when Emma leaps on her and the two women fight. Emma grabs the gun and holds it on Tamara, but Tamara has an ace up her sleeve: a magic bean. After she throws it on the ground, a portal opens and Tamara is able to get away.


Emma is about to be sucked into the portal when a wounded Neal is able to pull her out. However, there’s a tremor and Neal is pulled into the portal, with only Emma hanging on to him to stop him from getting sucked in. He tells her that she can’t hold both of them, but she is determined not to let go, fearing his injury will kill him if he goes through. Neal tells her that she can’t save them both and Henry needs one of them. He can’t grow up the way that they did. Crying, Emma begs him not to leave her, admitting to him that she still loves him. He tells her he loves her, too, then lets go of her hand, falling through the portal, which closes behind him.

Greg goes to the forest and digs in the place where Regina claimed she buried his dad. Devastated, he uncovers a body.

Back at the apartment, the Blue Fairy uses her magic to heal Regina and warns the Charmings that Regina’s magic will return, too. Emma arrives and tells her parents that Neal is dead, that Tamara killed him.

Neverland: The Shadow flies Bae into Neverland, where he hears the cries of the children. He struggles with the Shadow and manages to get away, falling into the ocean below. The Shadow searches for him, but can’t find him and flies off. Luckily for Bae, he’s rescued by a passing ship that is captained by Hook.

Storybrooke: David comforts a devastated Emma, who has no idea how she is going to tell Henry his dad is dead. Regina awakens and is shocked that the Charmings saved her. She tells them that they are all in danger from Greg and Tamara, who have the trigger that can destroy Storybrooke.

Tamara finds Greg in the woods and commiserates with him over the death of his father. She tells him that the home office discovered what the gem is for and they have been ordered to proceed to the next phase: destroying Storybrooke.


Review: So, we finally discover what happened to young Baelfire when he disappeared and whether or not he was Peter Pan. I know a little bit about the Peter Pan story, and know that his shadow was reattached to him when Wendy sewed it back. I never heard of Peter being malevolent, though, which is what this episode is implying about Once’s version of Peter. I admit that I am intrigued and curious about where they are going to take this story.

I feel bad for the character of Baelfire. Just when he finally lucks out and finds a family that will take him in and treat him well, he loses it again, all because of magic. It kind of is a wonder that Neal didn’t turn out to be as hateful and vindictive against magic as Greg did. Neal pretty much had every reason to. I like Neal, so I am glad that he finally came clean and apologized to Emma. This show is pretty short on character explanations – unless that character is Regina, who gets to whine over and over again – so it would have been nice to explore Neal’s guilt for having left Emma, his reasons for staying with Tamara when he was still in love with Emma, and his feelings over everything that has happened to him. No luck this season, but hopefully with Michael Raymond-James being a regular next season, we will get more.

Alas for the poor guy, this is the third time he’s lost family because he was sent to another world against his will.

I do wish we had got a bit more exploration of why Wendy was so eager to go off to a land where there were no grownups and you never grew up. She seemed to have a happy life. Her parents seemed very nice and even allowed Baelfire to live with them. She seemed to love her brothers and was excited to have Bae as a new brother. So, why was she so willing to throw it all away to rush off to a magical land?

At least they had her realize that it was bad in the end. But not before it cost Baelfire another family.

I know that I’m supposed to feel badly for Regina, being tortured by Greg. But I really didn’t. I don’t like the character of Greg, but, frankly, if anyone had the right to fry her to death, it was him. Maybe it’s because after watching two seasons of her continually getting away because the good guys (mostly the Charmings) picked their conscience and their needs over everyone else’s wellbeing, and let her go when they should have killed her, but I would have been fine if he had tortured her to death. Alas, she of course survived and we got more whining from her about how the Charmings were going to leave her behind in Storybrooke. That, of course, equaled her deciding to leave them all in Storybrooke and then blowing Storybrooke up to kill them all. And don’t even get me started on David declaring her “family.”

I’m really not thrilled with what they are doing with Gold’s character and I don’t understand it, either. This turning him into a bully very much like what Hook was to him, is distasteful. Whale is an ass, so it’s not like I feel sorry for him, but I don’t like Gold going down this path just because he lost Belle to Lacey. His son is right there. He finally has him back in his life and a chance to make amends, and he blows it all because the woman he loves turned into a slutty bitch who enjoys watching him hurt people? I don’t buy it and I don’t like it. Hopefully, they will turn this around before the end of the season because they are doing a really poor job with one of the most nuanced and interesting characters that they had.

Finally, we learned some more about Greg and Tamara’s organization. Or really, we learned there is one and that they have destroyed magic before. I think this story might be better if the characters that were spearheading it were more interesting, but maybe it will pick up next season. It does have some potential. It just needs more intriguing characters and actors to play it out.


Next episode: The second season comes to an end with the finale, “And Straight On ’til Morning.”

You can watch “Second Star To The Right” on Amazon Instant Video here.

About Heather S. Vina

Heather's been a fan of science fiction since she was five years old and developed a crush on Captain Kirk, while watching reruns of Star Trek: The Original Series. A huge Anglophile, she loves reading and watching (and mocking!) TV, but hasn't figured out a way to make a living doing either, yet. But she lives in hope!

Heather S. VinaColumn: Dark Matter: Review: Once Upon A Time 2.21: Second Star to the Right