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Ariel
Season 3, Episode 6
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Airdate November 3, 2013
Written by Edward Kitsis
Adam Horowitz
Directed by Ciaran Donnelly
Episode Guide
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Good Form
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Dark Hollow
Ariel is the sixth episode of the third season of the American fantasy drama series Once Upon a Time, and the show's 50th episode overall. This episode also marks the debut of Ariel, played by Joanna García Swisher.

In this episode, the group finds a way to rescue Neal (Michael Raymond-James) from captivity through the Echo Cave; though it requires everyone to reveal their deepest secrets to each other. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale world, Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) is saved by Ariel (Joanna García Swisher), and then helps her reunite with Prince Eric (Gil McKinney), with The Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) posing as Ursula in an attempt to stop them.

The episode — written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz — was watched by 7.55 million viewers, and received generally positive reviews from critics.

Plot

Opening Sequence

Ariel is shown sitting on a rock.

In the Characters' Past

Ariel (Joanna García Swisher) saves Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) after she runs off a cliff to avoid capture by the Evil Queen's (Lana Parrilla) guards. Snow later helps Ariel get closer to her love interest Prince Eric (Gil McKinney), whom she met when saving him from a shipwreck. Ariel is able to meet Prince Eric again at a ball, thanks to a legend that says every year the sea goddess Ursula grants mermaids the ability to walk on land at high tide for twelve hours. At the ball, Eric invites her on an expedition around the world. She then grows conflicted about whether to stay on land or return to the sea; however, the Evil Queen, having watched this from the mirror in Prince Eric's castle, sees an opportunity that she uses to her advantage.

Later that night, Ariel attempts to communicate with the goddess Ursula, but it's The Queen disguising herself as Ursula. She tells Ariel that she can make it so she stays human forever. The next day, Ariel approaches Snow and tells her about her encounter with Ursula. She puts an enchanted bracelet on Snow, turning her into a mermaid, and explains that this way both she and Snow can get what they want: Snow gets to escape from the Evil Queen and Ariel gets to remain human. The Evil Queen reveals herself before them, and orders Ariel to leave, stating that Snow White is going to die whether Ariel decides to go to Prince Eric, or stays with her friend. Ariel begins to leave, but then stabs the Queen in the neck with a fork, distracting her while she takes the bracelet off Snow that turned her into a mermaid. The two then escape before the Queen can act on vengeance. Snow then encourages Ariel to swim to Prince Eric's ship and reveal who she is and her love; however, as an act of revenge, the Evil Queen takes her voice from her, so she cannot call out for him. Heartbroken, she watches from afar as Eric finally turns to leave, having waited for her for a long time. Unfortunately, as the Queen returns to her fortress, she sees the real Ursula appear from the mirror, vowing to make her pay if she ever impersonates her again.

In Neverland

As Regina tries to teach Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) how to use magic, Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) arrives to tell David (Josh Dallas) and Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) that Neal (Michael Raymond-James) is alive. At first, the trio decided they should keep this a secret from Emma, but unable to keep a secret, Mary Margaret comes clean to Emma. Mary Margaret reasons encourages Emma to believe that Neal is alive and should pursue him. Regina, disgusted by what she sees as a waste of time, decides to leave Hook and the Charming family and go it alone.

As Peter Pan watches from a distance, he orders Felix to take the caged Neal to a place where he hopes that this "game" will get more interesting, the Echo Caves. Emma and the gang track Neal's struggle marks, during which Emma confesses to Mary Margaret about kissing Hook. When they reach the Caves, Hook explains that the only way to save Neal is to reveal a dark secret. Inside, they see Neal locked in a cage but the only way to get to him is by creating a bridge as a rock separates the quartet from Neal. One by one, each comes clean, Hook about his feelings for Milah, and how having kissed Emma he realized he moved on from his first love when he met her, Mary Margaret feeling that having been robbed of experiencing having a daughter around, wants to have another child with David, and David finally coming clean about the Dreamshade and that because Hook saved him by using the water from the springs he won't be able to leave Neverland. As Emma races across the bridge, she reveals to Neal that she had wished that it was a trick and he was really dead. Despite still loving him, Emma admits that a part of her wished he was dead because it was easier to move on than relive all the pain he put her through. The cage is magically opened and Neal is free.

Now that they have escaped the cave and resume their quest to save Henry, it appears that the truth is causing more hurt than help among the rescuers, with Mary Margaret upset with David. As Neal says he can get them home once they rescue Henry, Emma apologizes to Neal about how she feels, but said it's not going to change, to which Neal responds that he's never going to stop fighting for her. Emma doesn't comment on this, merely looking an emotional wreck, and Hook overhears the conversation.

Meanwhile, Gold (Robert Carlyle) is visited by Peter Pan, who offers him poached eggs, but Gold refuses and vows to stop him and reunite with his son and grandson. Pan tells Gold he is wasting his time since Neal and Henry won't ever forgive him and suggests that he return to Storybrooke to be with Belle and start a family, which Gold rejects immediately. Moments later, the image of Belle returns to give Gold a chance to give up his quest to find Henry and start a new life back in Storybrooke, then convinces Gold that she is real and she tries to caress him. Regina immediately shows up and recognizes the image of Belle as Pan's shadow and she uses her magic to scare him off.

Seeing that Gold is not the Rumplestiltskin that she knew from the Enchanted Forest, Regina tells Gold that he needs to come back to his senses and suggests that they combine their powers to take down Pan by using a different approach besides killing him. Gold believes the answer lies back in Storybrooke at his pawn shop, so the only way to solve the problem is summon a person from her past. As they head to the beach, Regina uses a sea shell to summon a mermaid, who turns out to be Ariel. Regina then gives Ariel her voice back and gives her a mission, which is to retrieve an item from Storybrooke, which is where Ariel will also find her true love, Eric.

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