A Fan Theory by Zach Van Norman
At the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz screened the first clip from the season three premiere of Once Upon A Time, during which we see Rumplestiltskin having an exchange with a Lost Boy named Felix. Their conversation revealed a bit more about Rumple’s history and made it clear that season three will raise the stakes of the story, and the very foundation of the show may be affected by Rumple and Pan’s relationship. Let’s take another look at what we’ve learned and add it to what we know.
- The Clip -
Let’s start with the facts that the clip established:
1) Rumple and Pan know each other from the past;
2) Rumple and Pan are enemies;
3) Pan kept a doll that has meaning to Rumple.
The last point is the most interesting. The doll is very simple, white straw for the body and wearing a blue jacket with white trim. It appears to be a child’s toy, and Rumple’s reaction to its appearance, as well as Felix’s words, make it clear that it used to be his.
We know from “Manhattan” that Rumple was abandoned by his father and raised by spinsters. Combine this with their history and the doll and we can guess that Rumplestiltskin used to be a Lost Boy in Neverland who left his toy behind when he departed Neverland.
The biggest questions now are, why are they enemies and why is Rumple afraid of Pan? I think they’ve shown the answer.
- The Shadow -
Peter Pan’s shadow and his struggles to keep it with him are a central piece of the Peter Pan story. The Once Upon A Time version of the shadow has proven to be pretty creepy and something you don’t want to disturb. Rumple’s cowardly instincts were probably present in childhood and the thing likely scared the dickens out of him.
The shadow is very interesting. What is a shadow? A shadow is only darkness. Peter Pan’s shadow seems to be magical; what do you get when you combine darkness and magic?
- The Dark One -
In “The Return,” the Blue Fairy says to Baelfire, “What ails your father is specific to our realm. His powers do not belong here.” There it is, plain as day: The Dark One’s powers are not from the Enchanted Forest.
- My Guess -
Earlier I mentioned that Rumple was probably scared of Pan’s shadow. I think there’s more to it than that: I think Pan was still in control of the shadow when Rumple was a child, and Rumple fears him because he saw Pan use the shadow’s power. I think Rumple may have hated magic as a child, drawing a parallel to his son’s feelings later. What Rumple didn’t know was that the power he feared came from the shadow itself. I think when the shadow got away from Peter Pan, it traveled to the Enchanted Forest and attached itself to someone, creating the Dark One. Now, Rumplestiltskin has the shadow with him and has become the very thing he used to hate.
That’s why Peter Pan needs Henry. He thinks that Henry will be the Dark One’s undoing and the way to reclaim his powers. “And Straight On till Morning” showed that Peter Pan has a drawing of Henry centuries before he was born. So the question then becomes: how did he have it?
- The Drawing -
The drawing is very simple: a head-and-shoulder view of Henry. But it also looks like something from Henry’s storybook. I think the person who wrote the storybook is the person who drew this picture. As to that person’s identity, I’ll have that for you in part two!