For the character, see Ariel.
"Ariel" is the 50th episode of Once Upon a Time.
Back in the fairytale land that was, when Ariel saves Snow White from drowning in the ocean's depths, Snow returns the favor by helping her new friend get acquainted with Prince Eric, with whom she has fallen madly in love. Meanwhile, Emma, Mary Margaret, David and Hook attempt to save Neal, who is imprisoned in one of Pan's encampments, and Regina and Mr. Gold begrudgingly team up to find a way to take down Pan.
Ariel saves Snow White.
In the Enchanted Forest, a panting Snow White peeks through some leaves, looking for something, when suddenly she hears men shouting behind her, yelling "After her". Snow runs away and then two black knights appear and they begin to chase after the princess. Snow runs at a fast pace through the forest as the knights chase her, telling her to stop, however she doesn't listen. She jumps over rocks and slides down mud hills to escape the knights, but they continue to be hot on her tail. She manages to get a lead and then runs out of the forest, however, she finds herself on the edge of a cliff. She stops in fright and looks down at the ocean below, sighing "Really?". The two knights then emerge from the forest and get ready to draw their swords. One of them tells Snow she's a long way from home and then asks if she really thought she could hide from the queen here. Snow admits she did. The guard then tells her not to worry as they're here to take her back. They both draw their swords as the guard tells Snow that the queen is eager to see her again. Snow simply smiles and tells them it's not going to happen. She turns and jumps into the waters, much to the guards' displeasure. As she hits the water, she falls unconscious and begins to sink. However, a hand suddenly grabs her and Snow is taken to the surface. She regains her consciousness and turns to her savior, a red haired girl. She thanks the girl, who tells her it's no problem before suggesting diving in calmer waters next time. Snow looks down into the water and notices the woman has a fin, pointing out she's a mermaid. The red haired girl smiles and confirms this before introducing herself as Ariel.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Regina teaches Emma magic.
In Neverland, Emma is standing in front of a pile of firewood as Regina tells her to focus. The blonde is trying to set fire to the wood using her magic. Nothing happens, so a frustrated Regina yells to concentrate. Emma says it's hard when she's shouting in her ear, but Regina points out she will find herself in many hard situations when she needs to use magic and then tells the blonde to find her anger, using it to focus. Emma says there must be a way to do it without going dark, so Regina angrily says she's a pathetic waste of ability. Emma retorts that Regina is a monster, but the queen doesn't respond, she simply points out a smell. She points out that the fire is now lit because of Emma's anger. The blonde and her parents are all shocked and Regina smugly walks away.
Hook reveals that Neal is alive.
Meanwhile, as they observe their daughter, Charming tells Snow that this is a bad idea. Snow points out that Emma has the power in her and she should learn to use it, adding that they have to trust her. Charming explains that it's not Emma who he doesn't trust. With that, Hook emerges from the jungle after his encounter with Pan. He quietly tells the two that they need to talk and then he kneels beside the couple. Hook reveals that Pan paid him a visit and revealed that Neal is alive and in Neverland; Snow and Charming are shocked. Snow points out that Emma saw Neal get shot and fall through a portal, claiming nobody could survive that, however, Hook states that Neal did and Pan took him from the camp they're at and took him to his cave. Charming wonders why Pan would reveal this, so Hook, not wanting to state the truth, says he doesn't know. Snow suddenly notices something and realizes Pan is telling the truth. She walks over to a snapped branch in the tall grass, noticing there was a struggle. The princess attempts to rush over and tell Emma, but Charming stops her, reminding her that Emma lost Neal once so they can't put her through losing him again. Hook agrees with the prince. Snow asks if they want them to find Neal without letting Emma know and she points out she's never lied to Emma before. Hook points out that she's not lying, she'll just be keeping a secret. Snow says that secrets keep people from those they really care about, but Charming adds that secrets can also stop those you care about being hurt. Snow looks at her daughter and sighs.
Ariel tells Snow about Eric.
In the fairytale land that was, Snow and Ariel have made it to the shore and the former is sat on a long while the latter watches her from near the water. She asks what possessed Snow to jump so Snow asks if she's been chased by an Evil Queen; Ariel says she hasn't. Snow adds that it makes you do crazy things and Ariel agrees, so the princess asks if she's on the run too, however, the mermaid says she's on the run to someone. Snow smiles and asks his name, pointing out that it's obviously love. Ariel explains that his name is Eric and he's a prince in this kingdom. A confused Snow asks if he's human. Ariel explains that about a year ago his ship wrecked and she saved him from drowning and although they never spoke as he was unconscious, she knew he was the one. "Love at first sight" Snow tells Ariel, who begins to think she sounds dumb. Snow stops the mermaid and tells her it doesn't sound dumb at all. Ariel smiles and begins to search through a little bag she carries. Snow comments that it's interesting, so the mermaid states that she collects things and then hands Snow a piece of paper, saying she found it. Ariel explains there is a ball tonight at his castle celebrating the sea goddess Ursula. She adds that she was hoping on meeting him there, so a confused Snow asks how she will do that with a tail.
Ariel tries out her new shoes.
Ariel smiles with a bit of anxiety before bringing her tail out of the water, revealing it all. Smoke then surrounds the scaly tail and Ariel is suddenly able to stand up...with legs. Snow looks at the wobbly mermaid with shock and asks how she did that. Ariel poorly walks over to Snow, stating she doesn't know much about mer-mythology. As Ariel struggles to walk and sit down beside Snow, the princess chuckles that Ariel doesn't know much about people-mythology. Ariel explains that every year Ursula grants her kind the ability to walk on land for twelve hours. Snow wonders why Ariel doesn't ask Ursula for a bit more time than twelve hours, but the mermaid explains that nobody has seen her for thousands of years, stating she's a bit of a myth. Snow points out that Ariel saved her life, so the least she can do in return is help find the love of hers. Ariel thanks her friend and then asks if she can keep a secret; she's a mermaid. Snow says she knows, but Ariel points out that Eric doesn't and asks if they can keep that under the sea for now. Snow asks if Eric should eventually find out, but Ariel asks to let him fall for her first. Snow agrees and assures her that her secret is safe. The two smile at each other.
Emma learns the truth.
Back in Neverland, Hook, Snow and Charming are preparing to leave. Snow adds that if they're going to hide this they'll need a good cover story, Charming and Hook both agree at the same time that they have it sorted. With that, Emma asks them where the three of them are going so the two men reply simultaneously, however, they both have different responses. A confused Emma asks what's going on, so Snow immediately confesses that Neal is alive. A conflicted Emma repeats what her mother just told her and then Snow points out that he may be alive. She then apologizes to Hook and Charming, stating that Emma deserved to know the truth. Emma looks horrified.
Rumple gets a visit from Pan...
Rumplestiltskin is sat on a rock with his eyes closed and a look of frustrated concentration on his face. Suddenly, Pan appears in front of the man and gets his attention by claiming he can't see the future here. Rumple is startled. Pan adds that it's impossible to see the future in a place where time stands still. Rumple says he may not be able to see the future here, but he can make one happen. Pan grows a smug smile and asks if that was a threat before showing the breakfast he made for him. Rumple looks at the cooking eggs on the fire and Pan says that he thought Rumple could use it as he's looking sad. Rumple insists he's fine, but Pan points out that he lost Neal again and Henry is unattainable because he'd have to go through him, pointing out they both know he can't. Pan grabs one of the eggs and offers it to Rumple, but he doesn't trust him and asks what he wants.
...and Pan gives Rumple a choice.
Pan eats the egg and then he tells Rumple he's just pointing out the silver lining in his cloudy life. Rumple asks if that's killing Pan so all their troubles end. Pan laughs and then his smug smile goes, pointing out they both know that's not going to happen because the only way to do that would mean sacrificing himself. Pan then tells Rumple he could leave the island, but Rumple refuses to leave his son and Henry. Pan asks what the point of saving them would be because he'll never be forgiven. A sad Rumple says he doesn't know that, so Pan asks if Rumple has forgiven his father. Rumple seems even more upset by this. Pan goes on to explain that Rumple has Belle waiting for him in Storybrooke so he should go back to her and make a new start, adding that she seems fertile so he could get a new child. He then tells Rumple that they both know that's his only possible future...considering he wants to live. After a moment of silence, Pan tells Rumple to enjoy the eggs before evilly walking away into the jungle. An upset Rumple is left alone.
Regina decides to do her own thing.
"This is a waste of time" Regina angrily tells the rest of her group, who wants to save Neal. Regina claims that Pan is toying with them, but Snow isn't so sure and then she shows everyone more marks in the ground; she concludes someone was definitely resisting. Emma asks how they're sure that means Neal, so Snow says it means someone was fighting for their life. Regina asks Emma if she's really going to fall for this, and when she doesn't get an answer, she knows she believes it. Regina then tells the group that if they want to follow "the evil munchkin's dirt road" then they can be her guest. As she begins to walk away, Emma asks where she's going, so Regina states she's going to save their son. Emma says they need to stick together, but Regina says they don't. She tells Emma that although she might be willing to risk their son's life over Neal, but she's not. She tells the group that she's tired of waiting around before finally leaving. When she's gone, Emma realizes Regina may be right and Pan could be lying, however, Snow tells her that just because it seems too good to be true it doesn't mean that it is. She tells her daughter not to give up as she owes it to Henry and to herself to find out if Neal is still alive.
Snow and Ariel arrive at the ball.
In the fairytale land that was, Snow and Ariel enter the Prince's ball, dressed in beautiful gowns. Both girls are amazed by the ball's beauty and then Ariel asks if she looks okay and if it's supposed to be tight, so Snow assures her that she's fine. Ariel wonders how she knows these things, so Snow explains that she used to be a princess. Ariel says she may be again, but Snow doubts this and instead tells Ariel she can be one tonight. The two walk past a golden statue of Ursula as they head to a buffet table. Snow picks up a fork and tells the mermaid to remember what she taught her. She asks what the thing she's holding is called, so Ariel asks if it's a mini trident. Snow makes an S-sound, so Ariel questions if it's a salad trident. Snow corrects her and tells her it's a salad fork. The two chuckle. Ariel then grabs the fork and puts it in her pocket, but Snow explains it's not very valuable. With that, Prince Eric arrives. Snow notices him and points him out to Ariel, wondering if it's the right guy. With a huge smile, Ariel confirms this, stating he's just as she remembered...less wet, but more handsome. As Eric walks down the stairs, he notices Ariel and stops in his tracks to look at her beauty. Ariel smiles at him and he smiles back. Snow whispers Ariel to go to him, but the mermaid is unsure. Snow tells her friend that love at first sight doesn't need much prompting before pushing her forward slightly.
Ariel meets Prince Eric.
Ariel smiles as she walks towards the prince, but she accidentally trips over. Eric helps her up and asks if she'd like to dance as it may be easier than walking. Ariel looks around and points out that nobody is dancing, so Eric tells her that a perk of being a prince is that he can dance when he wants. He then takes Ariel's hand and then signals to some musicians to start playing some music. He introduces himself as Eric and she introduces herself as Ariel. He bows and tells her she looks familiar, wondering if they've met. She curtsies in return and tells him she doesn't think they have. Suddenly, as the two begin to dance, Eric realizes where he knows her from. He tells Ariel that he was in a shipwreck and he nearly drowned, but someone saved him. He says he didn't see their face, but he's had a recurring dream of a face since then...her face. Ariel tells him that can't be as she's new in town. Eric tells her that Ursula saved him, and in doing so she showed him a vision of her future; her. Ariel tells the prince that Ursula is just a myth, but he questions if she is, because she's standing in front of him.
Eric asks Ariel to go on an adventure with him.
Eric asks what brings Ariel to his kingdom, so she tells him she wants to see the world. Eric explains they have something in common because tomorrow morning he's going on a grand expedition. He tells her that he's been planning it for years and this ball shall be his last ball, as come tomorrow, he'll be exploring the lands as far as Agrabah. Ariel is amazed that Eric is doing it, claiming that she's always wanted to see the world. Eric tells her to come because he can see in her eyes that she wants to. Knowing she can't leave with him because she only has legs for twelve hours, Ariel looks uncomfortable with this request. Eric wonders if he's misread things so Ariel awkwardly tries to answer him. He apologizes for pressuring her, stating its unfair. He then offers Ariel a deal...tomorrow morning he will wait for her and if she shows up, he'll be filled with joy. And if she doesn't, he may be heartbroken but he'll understand. Ariel lets out a little smile. The prince then bows and tells her it's so nice to meet her. She curtsies back and then he walks away as the song has ended. Ariel looks at him as he goes to greet his other guests, and then as she hurries back to Snow, he quickly gives Ariel another glance. When Ariel reaches her friend, she begins to tell her about what just happened.
Regina gets an idea.
Unbeknownst to the two girls, their conversation is being watched by the evil Queen Regina. Regina is watching them from a mirror in her Dark Castle with the two guards who chases Snow behind her. She watches the two friends talk and snarls with disgust. One of the guards confirms that the woman with the red hair is the one who rescued Snow White, he adds that he thought she had a tail but confirms it's her. Regina tells the guards that next time they let someone fall to their death they should make sure they're actually dead. The guard claims that she looked dead, but Regina tells him "No, death looks more like this" before giving a wave of her hand and snapping his neck with magic. The second guard is left terrified as he asks if the queen wants him to send more knights after Snow White, but she tells him that they've proved unequal to the task. A thought suddenly pops into her head and then she turns to the mirror, in which she can see the two girls, and she tells him that she's got a new idea. She then continues to watch Ariel and Snow talking while she smiles evilly.
The game goes as planned...
Back in Neverland, someone is watching Snow White, Prince Charming, Emma Swan and Captain Hook make their way through the thick jungle through a telescope. The beholder of the telescope is none other than Peter Pan, who is stood with his right-hand-man Felix. Neal is hanging in a cage behind them. Pan tells Felix to look at them go, so determined to find their missing friend. Felix wonders what they should do with that friend; Neal, so Pan tells Felix that it's time to move him and take him to the Echo Cave. Felix walks away and then he orders some Lost Boys to lower the cage. As they lower it with a rope, Pan utters to himself that the game is about to get interesting.
Regina destroys Rumple's fantasy.
In Neverland, Rumplestiltskin is sat sadly on a log, looking at the doll his father gave him. Suddenly, a familiar female voice tells Rumple he doesn't know what to do; it's revealed to be "Belle". He sees her sat next to him and confirms that he doesn't know. Belle suggests coming home to Storybrooke, but Rumple points out he'd be leaving Henry and his family behind. Belle tells him to come with her and they can start a new family. Rumple gets suspicious eyes. She continues to say that a family is what she wants and then asks if Rumple wants that. Rumple states that she can't want anything as she's just a figment of his subconscious. Belle smiles and insists that she is really here before stroking Rumple's hair. She holds out her hand and then tells him to take it so they can go back. Rumple looks at her as she begs him to take her hand and come home to him. As he slowly moves his hand towards hers, Belle suddenly lets out a sound of pain. Choking. Regina emerges from nearby bushes with her hand out, implying she's choking the vision. Rumple tries to stop the queen, but Regina simply asks if he's going to fall for the trick. The queen continues to choke Belle, who gasps for air, and then she tells Rumple she's showing him the truth. Belle drops to the floor in pain and Rumple is distraught to see Belle in pain. Regina then tells Rumple to look who he's really dealing with when suddenly, Belle turns into smoke. Out from the smoke emerges Pan's shadow. "Pan..." Rumple gasps with shock before the shadow flies away.
Emma reveals a secret.
Meanwhile, Emma and Snow are walking through the jungle, a fair distance ahead of Hook and Charming. Noticing they have some privacy, Emma reveals to her mother that she kissed "him". A confused Snow asks who, so Emma confirms that she kissed Hook. Snow is surprised by this and then asks why in a non-judging tone. Her daughter states she doesn't know and supposes that it's been a while and she was feeling good. Snow asks if it meant anything, but Emma tells her it was just a kiss. Snow assures her daughter that Neal will understand, to which Emma adds if he's still alive. Snow tells Emma that she understands what she's doing, not opening up to the hope that he's alive, but she adds that she should. Emma stops walking an asks why. The princess tells her daughter that she deserves a happy ending...and happy ending's always start with hope.
Snow tries to give Ariel a confidence boost.
In the fairytale land that was, Ariel and Snow are still at Prince Eric's ball. The former states that coming was a terrible mistake, but Snow explains that Ariel met her love so it's a start. The mermaid tells her it's more like an end, stating she can't expect a man to give up his dream for someone he just met. Snow tells her friend that she might be his dream. Despite this, Ariel refuses to make him choose as it's not right. Snow asks Ariel if she can't make him choose or she doesn't want to make him choose. Ariel thinks for a moment. Snow points out that Ariel is afraid, so the mermaid asks of what. "Of his choice" Snow explains. Ariel sighs and states that none of this is easy, leading Snow to give her some advice; be honest, have no secrets and open her heart to love. Ariel says she needs some time to think. Snow reminds her she has three hours, assuring her she'll be here if she needs her. Ariel is grateful for this and then walks away. Snow watches her new friend with concern.
A while later, Ariel, who is now dressed in her human form mermaid outfit, is stood by the sure under the dark of night. Staring out to the water, she asks what to do, confirming she's talking to Ursula. She points out that Eric believes Ursula brought them together but says they both know that's a lie. She then asks Ursula, "between girlfriends", what she should do. There is no response, the water just gently crashes onto the beach. "Nothing, huh?" Ariel asks sadly. She wonders what more she should expect from a long dead myth, stating she gave her legs but that's it...no answers. She then thanks the sea goddess for nothing and throws a stone into the ocean. As she begins to walk away, Ariel is stopped by the sound of something coming from the water. She turns around to see large black tentacles waving around in the water. She is then shocked to see what appears to be Ursula, half woman and half squid, approach her. The mermaid asks the goddess's name in disbelief. It is then revealed that Ursula is none other than the evil Queen Regina, disguised as the goddess. "Hello, Ariel" she slowly says to the shocked mermaid.
Regina recruits Rumple's help.
"What is this, amateur hour? Did you really believe that was Belle?", an angry Regina asks Rumple. Choosing not to respond, Rumple asks why she's here, so Regina points out that she's apparently saving his life because he was about to be "Pan's lunch". Rumple asks why she cares, so she explains that she's been with the Charming's for a week and it's gotten them nowhere. She states that if they're going to save Henry, she'll need him; Rumplestiltskin. Rumple explains to Regina that the only way he can stop Pan is by dying, but she assures him he won't die by anyone's hands but her own. She then points out that they're the two most powerful practitioners of magic who have ever lived so they can find another way to handle one smug teenager. Rumple tells Regina that she's never face him, but he has, and he knows the only way to kill him is his life.
A new idea of how to defeat Pan is hatched.
Regina then suggests not killing Pan, wondering if there's another way to contain him...another fate. With this, Rumple gets an idea, and suggests "a fate worse than death". Regina smiles and welcomes back the malevolent imp before asking if there's a spell they can enact. He says there isn't, but explains that back in his shop he might have just the thing. An angry Regina slaps his arm and asks why he didn't bring it. Rumple yells that he came to kill Pan and die in the process. Regina laughs and explains she could've told him that wouldn't happen. She tells Rumple she's known him a long time and she knows all about his survival instincts. Rumple assures her that they've just kicked in, pleasing Regina, who states they need a change of plans. She explains that they need to get back to his shop, get the item, and then all of their problems with be solved. "Crossing realms, is that all?" Rumple asks sarcastically. Regina stares confidently at Rumplestiltskin and assures him that is all, indicating she has a plan.
Regina poses as Ursula.
Back in the fairytale land that was, Ariel is standing before Ursula, shocked. "You're real..." she gasps. Ursula laughs and assures her she's as real as the legs she's standing on. Ariel apologizes for being rude earlier, but Ursula assures her that its fine. She tells Ariel that she's in luck as she can help with her dilemma. Ariel asks if she's going to have to tell Prince Eric the truth, but Ursula states she doesn't have to. She explains to the mermaid that if she tells Eric the truth, he won't accept her. Ariel asks how this is helping, so Ursula tells Ariel that she can keep her legs and walk on land, being a part of his world... forever. She asks Ariel if she would be interested, and of course Ariel says she is. The "sea goddess" then smiles at the mermaid, as he plan has worked.
Snow White gets a bit fishy down below.
A while later, on the docks outside of Prince Eric's castle, Ariel approaches a waiting Snow White with a big smile on her face. Snow asks what happened, so Ariel explains she brings something amazing for the both of them. The mermaid goes on to say she received a gift that will allow her to spend her life with Eric and a way for Snow to escape the evil queen. Snow wonders how that's possible and then Ariel pulls out a bracelet. She puts the bracelet onto Snow's wrist, explaining it's no ordinary bracelet. Suddenly, Snow begins to feel funny below the waist and then smoke engulfs her legs. When it fades, she falls to the floor...with a tail. A saddened Snow asks what Ariel has done, so the mermaid explains that the bracelet is magic and she got it from Ursula. She states that by wearing it, Snow gets her tail and Ariel gets legs, explaining that's the price...but it's a good price. She explains to Snow, who is struggling with her tail, that she can swim to her land and have a life without the evil queen under the sea. A suspicious Snow asks Ariel if Ursula gave her the bracelet, and when this is confirmed, she states that Ursula is a myth and hasn't existed for thousands of years so she isn't real. Ariel and smiles and assures her friend she is real. "Actually... that's not entirely true" Regina says a few meters away from the girls. Recognizing the woman as Ursula, but seeing she now has legs, Ariel asks what's going on. Regina laughs wickedly and comments on her "catch of the day", referring to Snow. Ariel asks if this is Ursula, but Snow explains this is Regina...the Evil Queen.
Hook reveals what the Echo Caves are.
Back in Neverland, Snow White and the rest of the gang come to a stop when they arrive at a cave. Snow announces that the tracks she was following lead inside it so realizes that this is where Pan is keeping Neal. Charming questions why there aren't any guards if the cave is supposed to be a prison, so Hook states that "this prison" doesn't require guards. He calls it Echo Cave, so Snow asks if he knows it. He reveals that he does...all too well, adding that he's lost half his crew inside the cave. He tells the group that the only way to rescue someone from inside is to reveal a secret. Snow asks if that's all, but Hook explains that it has to be your darkest secret. The pirate explains that the name of the came derives from the saying "the deeper the lie, the more truth in its echo". He tells the group that the cave demands you reveal a truth about yourself, something you never would admit to anyone. A frustrated Emma tells Hook that this is ridiculous, but he simply tells her not to kill the messenger. She then questions how they'll know Neal is alive if they tell their secrets, so Hook tells her that this is what Pan wants...for them to rescue him. Charming asks why, so Hook states it's so they reveal their secrets, which will hopefully destroy them.
Ariel realizes that she was fooled.
Back in the fairytale land that was, Regina is stood over Snow White, who is struggling with her fin. The evil queen asks if she's having trouble with her fin, but Snow angrily states she'll figure it out. Ariel, who is stood slightly behind Regina, points out the bracelet, so Snow attempts to take it off, but she can't. Regina reveals the wearer can't take it off and then tells Snow she won't be able to run away for once. Ariel sadly asks if Regina tricked her, but the evil queen mocks the mermaid for blaming her after going to a long dead octopus for help. Ariel states this is wrong and attempts to help Snow, but Regina stops her. Snow tells Ariel to get out of here and Regina agrees, telling the mermaid to get out of here. She refuses to leave if her friend is going to be harmed, causing Regina to turn to her. She tells her she has a choice, explaining Snow will be hurt either way. She asks if she's going to join Snow in being harmed or go get her happy ending. A conflicted Ariel shakes her head at Snow, not knowing what to do. Regina states that there are no second chances.
Ariel rescues her friend.
Snow assures her friend to go as she has a chance for happiness, something Regina doesn't have. She explains Eric will be leaving any moment so she should go to him. Regina yells at Ariel to listen to Snow, asking if she's going to give up the love of her life for a friend. A distraught Ariel apologizes to Snow before walking away. A disappointed looking Snow assures her its okay with a smile. Regina laughs evilly before turning to Snow and choking her with magic. Snow gasps for air, but the queen's spell is suddenly interrupted when Ariel returns and stabs Regina in the neck with the fork she stole from the ball. As Regina roars with pain and attempts to remove the fork from her neck, Ariel removes Snow's bracelet, returning her legs. She tells the princess to hold her breath before jumping into the water with her. Regina removes the fork before turning around to the two girls, however, when she sees them swimming away, she realizes it's too late and she growls with fury.
Captain Hook reveals his secret.
Inside the Echo Caves in Neverland, Hook, Snow, Charming and Emma enter a large cavernous area with a simple rock pillar in the middle of nowhere, with no way of getting to it. Atop of the pillar is Neal inside his cage. The gang all look at him with horror. Suddenly Neal notices the gang and calls out Emma's name, shocking her. Snow comments that the gap must be one hundred feet across, so Charming suggests fashioning some sort of rope to swing across with. Emma asks what has to be done, so Hook states that he explained what needs to be done, calling this the moment of truth before asking who wants to begin. Hook doesn't know what happens when a secret is revealed, so Charming asks how he know it'll work. Hook turns to look at Neal and sighs after saying there's only one way to find out. He turns back around and announces that he kissed Emma. Charming seems angered, but Snow tells him it's not the time. Emma reveals she told her mother, but adds that it was only a kiss so she wonders how it's his darkest secret. He goes on to explain that his secret is what the kiss exposed, adding that he never thought he'd be able to let go of his first love, Milah, until he met her. Emma is left speechless, but this awkward moment is soon lost when the cave shakes, and from Neal's pillar emerges part of a rocky bridge.
Snow White reveals her secret.
Realizing everyone else will have to share a secret in order to complete the bridge, Hook looks over to Charming, hinting he should reveal his secret next. Charming steps in front of his wife, ready to announce his secret, but she stops him and asks to go next. She tells him that ever since the curse broke and they found each other and Emma, there has been something she hasn't wanted to admit. After a moment of of hesitation, she tells her husband that Emma is a beautiful, smart, and amazing woman whom she loves very much and could not be more proud of. However, she adds that she's all grown up and she's not okay with that, no matter how much she pretends. She tells her husband that they missed "it". She explains that their relationship with their daughter is unique, but it isn't what she wanted. "We were cheated out of everything, her first step, her first word, her first smile... we missed it all" Snow cries. David asks what she's saying, so the princess tells him that once they leave Neverland she wants another go at "it" and she wants another baby. With this secret revealed, the caves begin to shake again and more of the bridge forms.
Prince Charming reveals his secret.
A distraught but pleased Charming tells his wife that nothing in this world would make him happier than having another child. As he says this, Hook gives an awkward look, knowing the price of the cure. Charming tells his wife that he knows she'd make an amazing mother, making her smile, however, her smile disappears when he tells her that it can never happen...at least not with him. A confused Snow and Emma share a glance before the former asks Charming what he's talking about. After a moment of hesitation, the prince explains that when he and Hook went to find the sextant, he was really being taken to find a cure. An angry Snow asks what the cure was for, so Charming explains it was for Dreamshade. Snow realizes that it was from when the Lost Boys attacked them and when he pushed her out of the way. He states he wasn't fast enough and he was hit. Before Snow can speak, Charming continues to explain that Hook could find a cure...but one that came at a price. He reveals that he cannot leave Neverland, because if he does, he'll die. Snow is left speechless, but yet again, this moment is ruined when the cave shakes and more of the rocky bridge is formed. This time, the bridge reaches the platform the group is standing on.
Emma Swan reveals her secret.
Emma looks back at the group with apprehension before drawing her sword and carefully walking on the bridge. She gives one last look back to the group before crossing the bridge. Once realizing it's safe to cross, she runs to Neal's cage and asks if he's okay. When he confirms he is, she assures him that they'll take care of Henry, stating they need to get him out of the cage first. She proceeds to chop at the bamboo cage with her sword, but nothing happens. Neal stops her and points out that she knows how she can unlock it. Scared, she drops down to Neal's level and looks at him with fear. He assures her that she can tell him anything. She explains that when she found out he was alive and on Neverland she should have been happy, but she wasn't. She tells him that she was terrified, and she didn't know why until now...because from the moment she saw him in New York and he stepped back into her life, she knew she never stopped loving him. Neal smiles. She continues to say that before she could even take a breath she lost him again and all that pain she had pushed down for all those years came rushing back and she didn't know if she could go through it again. She begins to cry, but smiles as she tells Neal she loves him and always will. Neal is pleased by this news. However, Emma reveals that her secret is she was hoping this was a trick and she was hoping he was dead because it'd be easier to put him behind her than to face all the pain again. With the secret finally revealed, part of the cage holding Neal dissolves into air. Neal reaches out of it and hugs Emma tightly.
Neal Cassidy reveals his secret.
Outside the Echo Caves, Emma exits and is soon followed by Neal, who is soon followed by Hook, who is then followed by the Charming couple. Neal thanks the group for saving him, but Charming says not to thank them yet as they still need to save Henry. Hook tells his old friend that they found his star map, so wonders if he knows how to get off the island. Neal claims that if they find Henry then he can get them home. Hook says that they should find Tinker Bell and then retrieve the young boy. He walks off and is soon followed by Snow and Charming. Emma stops Neal from following to ask if he's all right after what she said. He tries to assure her that it's okay, but she realizes that it isn't before wishing she could change how she feels. She apologizes for not being able to do so, but he insists she has nothing to be sorry for after what he's put her through. He then tells her that he's happy she told him before confessing to a secret of his own; he's never going to stop fighting for her. He then proceeds to walk away, unaware that Hook witnessed this conversation from the other side of some bushes.
Meanwhile, Snow is angrily walking through the jungle of Neverland, being followed desperately by Prince Charming. Sensing that she's upset, he tries to stop her, admitting that he should have told her, but she shrugs him off and tells him it's not the time. She then continues to walk, leaving an upset Charming unsure what to do.
Snow urges Ariel to follow love.
Back in the fairytale land that was, Snow and Ariel have made it away from the Evil Queen as they reach the shore. The mermaid apologizes to her friend and asks if she's okay. Snow drags herself onto the beach and yells that she's fine, however, she tells Ariel that she needs to go. A confused Ariel asks what she means, so the princess explains that she must find Eric and tell him the truth. Ariel points out that the caravan has probably left already adding that they're miles from the docks. Snow tells her friend that she noticed how the prince looked at her at the ball, stating that he'll wait as long as possible. Ariel smiles and asks if she thinks he's still there, so Snow says there's only one way to find out. Snow yells happily for her friend to go, so a delighted Ariel thanks her friend. Snow yells again for her friend to go, smiling all the while. Ariel turns around and dives into the water to swim back to the docks.
Ariel loses her voice...and her love.
A while later, at Prince Eric's castle, Eric is stood on the balcony looking out at the docks, waiting for Ariel to arrive and join him on his adventure. Soon, his footman approaches him and states that it's time to go. Determined to see his princess arrive, Eric sternly tells the man to wait just a little longer. The footman nods at this and then leaves the prince be to wait for his love. With that, Ariel emerges from the waters at the docks, quite a distance from the prince on the balcony. Noticing he's still there, she smiles and swims a bit closer to him. When she's close enough, she attempts to yell out to him, however, she's horrified when no sound comes from her mouth. Confused, she attempts to call out again and again, but nothing happens. Having not noticed Ariel and thinking she hasn't turned up, Eric walks away from the balcony, disappointed. A distraught Ariel continues to attempt calling for him, but it's to no avail. Her voice is gone. Watching him walk away, Ariel begins to cry. "I told you there'd be no second chances" a voice is heard saying from the docks. Ariel looks over to see the evil Queen Regina. Ariel holds her throat while watching the queen, so Regina explains that she took it from her. The queen tells the mermaid that the only thing worse than her telling Eric the truth and being rejected is never telling him at all; never even knowing or having a chance at true love. As the queen speaks, Ariel begins to cry silently. Regina laughs and then tells the crying mermaid that her prince is gone. "Time to swim back home little mermaid" she growls. Ariel cries silently a bit more before turning to the water and swimming away.
Regina receives a threat from Ursula.
A while later, Queen Regina is walking triumphantly threw the corridors of her Dark Palace with a smug smile on her face. She enters her main chamber before being distracted by the voice of an unknown woman saying hello to Regina. Confused, Regina looks over to a mirror of hers to see a picture of the Ursula statue in Eric's castle. Magic suddenly takes over this statue and it begins to move towards the mirror on its own side. In shock, the queen moves closer to hers and then suddenly, both women are stood face to face in the mirror. A puzzled Regina asks if Ursula is real. "Next time you claim to be me you'll find out just how real I am" the possessed statue says before sending two of its tentacles through the mirror and grabbing Regina tightly around the body. The sea goddess tells the queen never to do that again before releasing her grip and stroking Regina's cheek with her tentacle. Regina is left in utter shock.
Regina and Rumple request the help of Ariel.
Back in Neverland, Regina and Rumplestiltskin arrive at a shore where the former picks up a conch. Rumple points out that if a giant squid is her solution then he's already tried it. She notes the fun he's had but then says she has no intention of "ordering calamari". She whispers into the conch, and then after a moment of waiting, a familiar figure emerges from the water. It's Ariel. Regina says hello to her and points out that it's been a long time. The mermaid remains silent. Rumple says its true that mermaids can cross realms, but adds that they cannot be trusted. Regina assures him that this one can as they have a history, so Rumple realizes this is why Ariel has a distasteful look on her face. Regina says loudly that she's going to help them, to which the mermaid tries to respond, but cannot as her voice is still missing. Regina returns Ariel's voice, and as soon as it's returned, she asks why she'd help them. Regina hands Ariel a bracelet, identical to the one she made her give Snow before and she promises to give her legs and control over them. She then adds that she can give her the thing she needs most. Ariel wonders what this is, so Regina explains she'll be sending her to the residence of Prince Eric. Tempted, Ariel asks the name of the place. Regina smiles and tells her it's called Storybrooke.
- The title card of this episode features Ariel, as a mermaid, sitting atop a rock and flipping her fins.
- Although credited, Jared S. Gilmore (Henry Mills) is absent from the episode.
- Josh Kalender (Black Knight #1) is incorrectly credited as Josh Kalendar.
- The title of this episode was confirmed by executive producer/co-creator Adam Horowitz, via his Twitter account, on August 27, 2013, along with a photograph of the script's cover.
For the second week in a row, this episode saw another spike in the ratings, as it placed a 2.3/6 among 18-49s with 7.55 million viewers tuning in, up a tenth from the previous episode. The number marked the highest viewing audience of the series since the show's second episode four weeks prior.
- In a review from Entertainment Weekly, Hillary Busis quotes, "To paraphrase the little mermaid herself, flipping its fins won't get a show too far -- unless there's some serious forward momentum propelling that paddling." and added that "Maybe the new MacGuffin Ariel's been sent to fetch will have the power to inject some energy into Operation Found Boy; maybe spending next week in Storybrooke will help give season 3 a roundness it's been sorely lacking. Either way, if the status quo doesn't change soon, I may go from grumpy to full-on maleficent."
- Amy Ratcliffe of IGN gave the episode a 9 out of 10 - signifying positive reviews - saying "The mermaid was endearing, and Garcia couldn't have done a better job with her. She had terrific chemistry with everyone, too. The Echo Cave was a touch too convenient to get everyone to reveal their secrets, but it got them to Neal (and gave the story some forward momentum) so at least it was satisfying in those regards."
- Gwen Ihnat of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B- rating, saying that "It’s really astounding how an entire of episode of Once Upon a Time can pass, some 43 minutes plus commercials, and still, so far this season, we pretty much always end in the same place we were when we started. As our troop enters week six of being stranded in Neverland, we again see so little progress that we are grateful for any small efforts. Regina and Rumple teaming up? A possible future visit to Storybrooke? Snow finding out that Charming got sick from dreamshade? Sure, we’ll take it."
- ↑ Adam Horowitz tweet.
- ↑ Sunday Final Ratings: 'The Amazing Race' Adjusted Up; 'The Simpsons' Adjusted Down + Final NFL Numbers from TV By The Numbers (November 5, 2013)
- ↑ 'Once Upon a Time' recap: Secrets, Secrets Are No Fun by Hilary Busis, from Entertainment Weekly (November 3, 2013)
- ↑ ONCE UPON A TIME: "ARIEL" REVIEW
- ↑ http://www.avclub.com/articles/ariel,104994/