Hope is where happy endings begin, but that doesn't guarantee everyone will find theirs.
Such was the message on Once Upon a Time Season 3 Episode 6.
Ariel finally arrived on the scene when she rescued Snow White from drowning as she tried to escape the Evil Queen's men many years ago. The little mermaid was beautiful... and magical... and naive. And much like the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, she would not find her happy ending - but at least in this version she survives to continue to hope.
Once again, the Evil Queen continued to impress me with her wickedness. Much as Snow told Ariel that even if Eric rejected her at least she'd know she tried, her nemesis took that knowledge away with her voice. Ariel would never be able to tell Eric she loved him and that may be the cruelest revenge.
Of course, leave it to Regina to call on Ariel the moment she needed something, despite what she'd inflicted on the mermaid.
But let's review the rest of the Neverland group first.
How much fun was it to watch Regina try to teach Emma how to control her magic? Hopefully Emma's right and there's another path to access her powers, but no one can deny that dark side actually works.
Peter Pan believed that the secrets the gang was hiding would be their undoing, so he placed Neal in a cave where only sharing their darkest secrets would save him. The deeper the lie the more truth in it's echo. And it turned out that everyone had something to share.
Starting with Hook who confessed to Emma that their kiss meant a lot more to him than it did to her. He hasn't felt anything like that since he lost Mila and he didn't think he'd ever feel it again. Until he met Emma Swan.
But before anyone had the chance to react to that heartfelt confession, Snow told Charming how disappointed she was that they missed Emma's life. Although it won't bring back all that they lost, she wants another baby with him.
Which left Charming with one of the bigger secrets to share. He finally told Snow about the Dreamshade and that taking the cure meant he can't leave Neverland. So if she wants another child, it most likely won't be with him.
Finally, Emma reached Neal but it took her own confession to set him free. Hers may have been the saddest of them all as she told him in this Once Upon a Time quote…
I love you. I probably always will. But my secret is that I was hoping this was a trick. I was hoping you were dead because it would be easier to put you behind me than to face all the pain that we went through all over again.Emma
Even when she set him free, Emma still appeared completely guarded and unsure. She's not ready to expose herself to that kind of hurt once again. The problem is that without making herself vulnerable, she'll have no hope of finding her happy ending.
Some of my favorite scenes were between Regina and Rumpelstiltskin. I loved that she was the one to show Rumpel he was getting played by Pan. If anyone knows about evil manipulation, it's Regina.
And Regina's right. If the Dark One and the Evil Queen can't take down a smug teenager, there is no hope. Plus, beating Pan doesn't have to mean killing him. There are fates worse than death, and these two are adept at finding them.
Which led Regina to call on Ariel. They needed to get something from Mr. Gold's shop and mermaids can jump realms. And how much fun were Regina's quips about calamri and Rumpel asking why she called on this particular mermaid.
Regina: We have history together.
Rumpelstiltskin: That would explain the distrustful look on her face.
So it looks like we're finally heading back to Storybrooke.
Have you missed it? Do you think Hook will fight for Emma or bow out gracefully? And do you doubt that Snow will find a way to make a baby with Charming on Once Upon a Time season 3?
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.