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The only way to rescue someone from inside is to reveal a secret.
Hook to Emma, Mary Margaret and David src

The Echo Caves are a Neverland location featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. They appear in the sixth episode of the third season.


Before First Curse

During his travel to Neverland, Captain Hook gains knowledge about a location named the Echo Caves. Due to the loss of some of his companion sailors who ventured into the caves, he comes to know about a peculiar property of the Echo Cave—one can only be rescued from inside if someone reveals their deepest secret. ("Ariel")

After First Curse

Under the employment of the Home Office, Greg and Tamara believe they are fighting for a cause to destroy magic. Unknown to them, their boss is Peter Pan, whose immortality is coming to an end, and to survive, he needs the heart of the truest believer. A boy, Henry, fits the criteria, to which Greg and Tamara follow orders to kidnap him to Neverland. When his abductors are attacked by the Lost Boys, Henry runs away into the jungle. By chance, he is pulled into a hiding spot by another boy, actually Peter Pan, who introduces as an ex-Lost Boy and offers to help him escape. The boy's claim that the Echo Caves are the only place where they won't be caught, and Henry agrees to cross the island with him towards there. As they approach the caves, the two hear approaching voices and change directions; ending up trapped at a cliff edge. Refusing to surrender, Henry prepares himself and the boy to jump; trusting the pixie dust in his companion's possession will allow them both to fly, which indeed happens. Only then, the older boy reveals his true name as Peter Pan. Elaborating further, Peter Pan reveals he wanted to test Henry's power of belief as he needs his heart to prevent himself from losing magic. He then summons the Lost Boys to arrest Henry. ("The Heart of the Truest Believer")

Having captured Neal, Peter Pan orders the Lost Boys to hide him in the Echo Caves. He then ensures that David, Emma and Mary Margaret, who made their way to the island aboard Hook's ship, join the pirate in a journey to where Neal is held captive. At the entrance, Hook shares his previous experience of losing several crew-mates inside the cave, and he explains each person must expose one of their deepest secrets to save Neal. When they venture in, the group see Neal, trapped in a cage, on a separate strip of land with no way of crossing. Hook decides to reveal his secret first by admitting he kissed Emma, which made him realize love is still possible for him, even after the death of his beloved Milah. After his secret is revealed, a small portion of a bridge forms between where the group stands and where Neal awaits them. Mary Margaret guiltily apologizes to David for missing Emma's growing-up years and, despite how much love she has their daughter, she still wishes to have another child. Again, another bridge section forms, to which David tearfully insists Mary Margaret would make a great mother, but she can't have a baby with him since the price he paid for drinking the Dreamshade cure is to never leave the island. With the bridge complete, Emma crosses and, with Neal's freedom only one secret away, she admits her prior hopes that he was dead. Emotional, she confesses her love for him is too big that it is painful, and accepting his death would have been easier than reliving all the hurt of the past that they share. With all secrets revealed, the cage melts away as Emma and Neal hug. After the pair reunite with the rest of their group, they all exit the Echo Caves. ("Ariel")


On-Screen Notes

  • According to Hook, the Echo Caves derive their name from the old saying "the deeper the lie, the more truth in its echo". That references the fact that the only way to rescue someone from inside is for one to reveal their darkest secret. ("Ariel")


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.

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