"Dark Hollow" is the seventh episode of season three on Once Upon a Time. It is the fifty-first episode overall. It aired on November 10, 2013. There is no backstory for any character in this episode.
The Storybrooke Library is featured.
As the mission begins in Neverland, Mr. Gold and Regina give Ariel instructions to contact Belle once she arrives in Storybrooke to retrieve an item that will be useful in their quest to destroy Peter Pan. Regina also gives her a bracelet that she can use for only 24 hours in order to complete her mission and Mr. Gold gives her an enchanted sand dollar, instructing her to give it to Belle, as she'll know what it means. However, moments after Ariel escapes into the realms, this plan is discovered by Pan, who tells Felix that a pair of minions from the outside world will arrive there immediately to solve the problem.
Going back five days earlier as Emma, Mary Margaret, David, Regina, Gold, and Hook left for Neverland to search for Henry, Gold tells Belle that the prophecy will be his undoing and he might not be coming back, but Belle believes in her heart that he will return. Gold also gave her instructions to use a cloaking spell because there might be others coming from the outside world to destroy Storybrooke, and after alerting the residents of the threat, she places the spell around the city limits by opening a vein of fairy dust in the mines; however, a pair of brothers arriving from Minnesota in a convertible managed to sneak in just in time, as they are revealed to be the contacts from Peter Pan's Home Office. Five days later, the seven dwarfs are having lunch by the beach talking about how quiet it has been since Regina, Snow, and Charming have left and no killings has occurred, when Leroy witnesses Ariel emerging from the ocean. She tells Leroy that she was sent on a mission from Neverland to contact Belle and retrieve an item that's stored in Gold's pawn shop. Unfortunately, this exchange is being watched from afar as the brothers are given their orders to make sure that Ariel never makes it back to Neverland with the item.
After Leroy brings Ariel to Belle at Granny's Diner, the two head back to the pawn shop, where the sand dollar is activated. A projection of Gold tells Belle that their love is the only way they can defeat Peter Pan. Belle believes that can be found in the only item that symbolizes their true love, the chipped tea cup, as magic can be put in its proper spot. Belle discovers that the spot is Pandora's Box, which contains the world's darkest evils and can be used to defeat Pan. But before they can prepare to bring it back to Gold, the brothers succeed in stealing the item and tying Belle and Ariel in bindings. Belle and Ariel however break free by using Ariel's fins and learn that the only way to destroy the item is by using the pickaxe in the mines, so she and Ariel race to the mines, where just as they are about to destroy the box, Belle uses a cart to knock the brothers out and stops them cold in going through with their plan. The brothers then plead with Belle that they are not interested in destroying magic: they want to use the box so they can rescue their sister, Wendy, who has been a prisoner of Peter Pan for over a century. They then reveal themselves as her brothers, Michael and John Darling. Belle tells the brothers that the box will be the only way to stop Pan and free their sister. Ariel then takes the box back to Neverland and gives it to Gold. Regina then rewards her by giving her the ability to walk on land, allowing her to continue her search for Eric. Ariel also tells Gold that Wendy is also a captive of Pan's and that they should save her too. As Ariel leaves, Gold tells her to send a message to Belle that he will return.
While one plan to destroy Pan is placed in motion, another is being plotted inside Neverland, as Neal reveals to Emma and Hook that the coconut shell that showcases the stars needs a shadow and he knows where to find one, which is revealed to be Dark Hollow, where the plan is to capture one by drawing it to the flame inside the shell. However, Mary Margaret is concerned that the reason why Neal and Hook are going along with Emma is both men might have feelings for Emma. As the trio leaves to the location, Emma is impressed by Hook becoming more of an ally, but he also tells Emma that sooner or later she'll have to choose between him and Neal. When they reach the destination, the trio starts to light up the candle inside the shell to attract them, only to have the two men fight each other over who'll light it and as expected, over Emma. However, the plan backfires as two of the shadows attack Neal and Hook, but Emma eventually springs into action by using magic to light the shell and it attracts Pan's shadow to the trap, prompting Emma to capture it successfully, and allowing Neal and Hook to be free from the shadows. Unfortunately, Emma is not happy with how both Neal and Hook are behaving around her, prompting her to read the riot act towards the two men, saying that the only man that she will fight for is Henry.
Moments later after Emma, Hook, and Neal leave, Mary Margaret turns her issues about David towards him by giving him the silent treatment over his lying to her about being poisoned by the Dreamshade and that he will not be able to leave Neverland while en route to Tinker Bell's hideout. David tells Mary Margaret that he did not want her to be trapped in Neverland forever, but Mary Margaret tells David that she would spend her life in tree houses and dodging darts to be with David. The two then stop fighting and hug each other. The five members then arrive at Tinker Bell's, where Tinker Bell sees Neal for the first time since his escape and shows proof of the captured shadow, which now gives the regrouped individuals the advantage needed to rescue Henry.
Meanwhile at Pan's camp, Henry begins to start doubting Pan, who visits one of the cages to check on and then release a prisoner, who is revealed to be Wendy, whom Pan wants to have to come out and play. As Pan tells Felix to go to another part of the island, Henry follows Felix, leading Henry to a location where he discovers Wendy sick in bed, claiming that she is sick and tells Henry that the powers on this island are fading fast which is affecting her. Henry vows that he will save her and promises that he will come back for help, not knowing that Wendy was being used as bait by Pan, who emerged from hiding to congratulate her on convincing Henry to believe in Pan again before sending Wendy back to the cage. Pan sees this as an opportunity to let Henry believe that he can save Wendy, so he tests Henry into taking a journey towards a place called Skull Rock, and Henry accepts the challenge.
A Star Wars allusion was used when Gold asked Belle for her help when the sand dollar beamed a hologram image of him. Also, Leroy tells the dwarfs "No time for whistling, boys", making a reference to "Whistle While You Work" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Ariel's entry into the present day for the first time and being intrigued by what she sees while seeking out Belle parallels a similar scene from the 1984 film Splash. Michael Darling/Keychain has a teddy bear on his rear view mirror, a reference to the teddy bear that he had in Peter Pan. Ariel says "Look at this stuff" in Mr. Gold's shop, which is the first sentence in the song 'Part of your World' from The Little Mermaid.