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Self-preservation has been a nasty habit I've had my whole life.

Mr. Gold to Neal Cassidy

"Nasty Habits" is the fourth episode of Season Three of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by David H. Goodman & Robert Hull and directed by David Boyd. It is the forty-eighth episode of the series overall and premiered on October 20, 2013.


Mr. Gold makes a decision to confront Pan, but will he go there to save Henry or give in to the prophecy that the boy will be his undoing? Neal finds himself back in Neverland and in the custody of one of Pan's most loyal Lost Boys. And David struggles for his life as the poison continues to take its toll on him. Meanwhile, in the Fairy Tale Land that was, Rumplestiltskin goes in search of a missing Bae, who has followed a mysterious figure who steals away children with his music.[2]


This section is a detailed recap of this episode. There are major spoilers. Click to expand.

In present-day Neverland, Felix is escorting a tied up Neal to Pan’s compound. Felix tells him how it feels like only yesterday he welcomed Neal to Neverland the first time, and how he hoped he'd never see Neal again. Neal tells Felix that he will get Henry back, and that Pan shouldn't have taken his son in the first place. Felix warns Neal that Pan is not to be trifled with, and that he should know, since Neal was once a Lost Boy. While Felix mentions the time Pan has been searching for the Heart of the Truest Believer, Neal is able to untie the rope holding his hands together. Felix comments that Neal grew up stupid, but then Neal turns around and knocks Felix out with the rope wrapped around his fist. Neal leaves Felix unconscious on the ground as he runs off into the jungle.

In the Enchanted Forest of the past, a 14-year old Baelfire is drawing at the kitchen table in his old house. Rumplestiltskin walks in happily with a small dagger with a golden handle as a present for his son. Bae doesn't want it though since he knows it came from a person Rumple terrorized. Rumple asks Bae what he does want, and his son tells him he doesn't want to always stay in their hovel. Rumple says he'll build a castle for his son so its shadow would blanket the countryside. Baelfire doesn't want that, what he wants is to be able to go outside and make friends, and he doesn't understand why Rumple doesn't trust him to do so. Rumplestiltskin insists that he does trust his son, but it's others that he can't trust since many of his enemies could hurt Bae. Baelfire thinks Rumple is actually afraid that if he leaves, he might never return. Rumple denies this, and says he doesn't know what he would do if he lost his son.

In Neverland, Mr. Gold is applying warpaint made from the poisonous dreamshade to his face, on top of his right eye and cheek. The Shadow in the form of Belle appears and comforts Mr. Gold. Mr. Gold insists that he needs the monster side of himself so he can save Henry from Pan. Belle reminds Mr. Gold of the prophecy and about his “undoing”. Mr. Gold does not feel confident in his ability to stop Peter Pan and rescue Henry. Belle tells him that self-preservation has always been an unbreakable nasty habit for him. Mr. Gold says how it doesn't matter anymore since he has nothing to live for and that when he said goodbye to Belle in Storybrooke, it was for good. Belle has faith in his return but Mr. Gold declares that eventually even she would leave him when she sees the monster inside of him. Mr. Gold tells her that his son is dead and that the only way to redeem himself to save Henry while sacrificing himself.

Inside their camp, Emma, Mary Margaret, David, Hook, Regina, and Tinker Bell are planning their method of infiltrating Pan's compound. Emma is discussing the plan in detail by using an outline of Pan's camp in the dirt. Tink warns the others about the Lost Boys inside the compound along with the sentries that have weapons dipped in dreamshade. This concerns David as he looks at Hook. David cuts the topic short and asks when the rescue plan will take place. Tink says she's ready to go, as soon they tell her the exit plan. They admit that they don't have one, which discourages the ex-fairy. Tink thinks their attempt to rescue Henry is futile if they don't have an escape route to take. She says that no one gets off of Neverland unless they have Pan's permission and to capitalize on her point of Pan's ruthlessness, she shows the group a watch that he got off of Tamara’s body. She claims that she took half the night cleaning the blood off of it, and that there wasn’t enough left of Greg Mendell’s body to find anything useful on it. Tink refuses to help and risk her own life if there’s no way of escaping the island, so she leaves for her treehouse. David starts to go after Tink to bring her back but Emma stops him, says that she has learned: “You never break in somewhere unless you know the way out.” Regina mockingly asks if she learned that for “bail bondsperson school”. Emma says that Neal taught her. David asks Hook how he got off the island and the Captain claims he used a form of magic to open a portal that he got during a deal with Pan, one that the latter is not ready to repeat. Hook reveals that the only man to ever get off the island without Pan's permission is Neal. To explain how it was done, Hook leads the others to Baelfire's old home in the jungle.

Mr. Gold runs across two sentries while entering Pan's perimeter and both of them are knocked out with a sleeping spell of Gold's. He picks up one of the boys’ dreamshade-laced spears and prepares to lunge it at the incoming person behind the trees; but stops himself when he realizes in shock that it's Neal. Neal is confused by the situation, but he can figure out what's going on, once Mr. Gold attacks him with the spear; claiming that Neal is just another vision like Belle. Neal is able to convince Mr. Gold to put down the spear after calling Mr. Gold “Papa.” Mr. Gold is happy and relieved to find out his son survived.

In the Enchanted Forest of the past, Rumple enters the hovel with a golden crown as a present to Baelfire, only to find him missing. Rumple uses a tracking spell which causes his son's trail to end in the town of Hamelin. He walks in on a meeting the sheriff is having with the town's citizens, as they're discussing the use of search parties. Rumple accuses the people and the sheriff of abducting Bae and hiding him. The sheriff denies this and tells the Dark One that many of the town's boys were lured from their homes last night by some unholy music from a pipe. Only the children could hear it, they tried telling their parents but were just sent back to bed; and the next morning, they were gone. No one saw the pipe player's face, just a hooded figure, hidden be a pied cloak of multicolored patches. The figure then led the children into the forest. After hearing this, Rumple declares: “Then whoever this Pied Piper is, he’s about to play his last note.”

In Neverland, Neal briefly tells Mr. Gold that he was back in the Enchanted Forest after he was shot by Tamara, and that the debt owed by Robin Hood has been paid. Neal wants to know where Emma is, so he can help her save Henry. Mr. Gold says that he left her and the others on board the Jolly Roger. Mr. Gold claims the others don't have the stomach to do what needs to be done. From this, Neal assumes his father killed the two boys on the ground, but Mr. Gold reassures his son that they are just sleeping. Mr. Gold thinks Neal doesn't have the stomach either, but Neal claims he will do what it takes, without killing Lost Boys. Mr. Gold confirms to Neal that he will sacrifice his life for Henry since it's the only way, and Mr. Gold is willing to die to beat Pan. Neal tells his father that there's another way. Neal leads Mr. Gold to the shoreline and picks up a conch shell (most likely owned by a mermaid), and he tells his father how with some shells, the ocean can hear you, instead of the other way around. As Mr. Gold asks why this is important, Neal blows into the conch loudly. From this, a giant squid is summoned and emerges from the bottomless ocean. Neal throws the spear at the creature and kills it. Neal explains that the ink inside the squid can immobilize the most magical of creatures, at least for a little while, even Pan. Mr .Gold says he has some experience with the substance (when Cinderella used it on him). Neal asks if Mr. Gold can extract the ink from the squid's body, which Mr. Gold confirms he can. He asks his son how he's going to get close enough to use the ink on Pan. Neal says all he needs is one clean shot to get Henry back, which Mr. Gold says he will provide him with.

Hook, David, Regina, Emma, and Mary Margaret arrive at the cave that was Baelfire's home during his stay at Neverland. David and Hook open the cave's entrance together and quickly talk about the condition of David's poisoned wound. Hook insists that David should tell his family about his condition, but the latter refuses, because there is no hope. Hook reassures him that there's always hope, but David will still not make it off the island alive. David wants his infliction to remain just between Hook and himself, because the only one the others should be focused on saving is Henry. After lighting the torch inside, the group views a variety of drawings on the walls (some include two hands over a portal, the Darling family, and the P and S that represent port and starboard). They all start looking around for clues about Neal's departure of Neverland.

In the Enchanted Forest of the past, Rumple is patiently waiting on top of a house at night in the town of Hamelin. He soon hears a pipe playing a melody in the distance. A few boys also hear the music as they sneak out of their homes to follow the tune. Rumple angrily follows the children out of town and finds several boys dancing, whooping, and laughing around a bonfire in the forest. All of the boys are wearing masks, making their faces hidden. Rumple can't figure out which child is Bae and then he sees the mysterious piper playing his music. Rumple teleports right in front of the strange figure, breaks the pipe in half, and demands to know where his son is. The piper instead reveals himself from under his hood to be Peter Pan, telling Rumplestiltskin: “Been a long time, laddie. Glad you could make the show.” Rumple and Pan are both surprised to see each other, mostly since Pan didn't expect to see Rumple grow up to become the Dark One. Rumple wants to know what Pan is doing here, and the latter claims he was lonely in Neverland and that the only children he meets are those that visit the island in their dreams, but they can't stay. Pan says he has come to the Enchanted Forest to bring boys to Neverland (in a physical sense), including Baelfire.

Rumple tells Pan that he won't succeed and that a magic pipe will not influence Baelfire to go to Neverland. Pan explains that the only thing magical about the pipe is that only certain boys can hear it, those who feel unloved and lost, that's why Rumple can hear it. Pan says that beneath Rumple's dark powers, he is nothing more than an unloved, lonely lost boy. Saying this inspires Pan to name his new group of friends: “The Lost Boys”. Rumple still says that Bae won't join Pan. Pan says that he understands Rumple is upset, but not because Bae has been taken, but because Rumple's afraid his son will leave, just like his father and Milah did. Pan wants Rumple to ask Baelfire if he wants to come to Neverland or stay with his father. If Bae says no to Pan's offer, the latter will leave and never come back. Rumple refuses to make any deals with him.

In Neverland, there is a party going on at Pan's compound celebrating Henry's arrival to the island and because the Lost Boys believe he is there to save magic itself from dying. The many boys are dancing and hollering, along with the sound of drums playing a tribal beat in the background. Everyone is jolly but Henry who is sitting alone on a rock away from the dancing. Pan notices Henry's distance, and he walks over to him. Pan tries to play a song to get Henry “on his feet” with his enchanted pipe but Henry hears nothing. Pan is surprised and before he can tell Henry of the pipe's power, Felix walks into camp with an angry look on his face. Pan sees his second-in-command coming so he walks over to him and out of Henry's hearing range. Felix informs Pan that Neal escaped, and that two sentries were found unconscious via a sleeping spell. From this, Pan realizes that the Dark One and Baelfire have joined force and are coming for Henry. Felix suggests moving Henry to someplace safer but Pan sees no reason to do so, because “We can’t end the party when the real fun is about to begin.”

While in the cave, Emma looks in detail at the drawings on the wall and says she had no idea that Neal enjoyed drawing. Hook comments that Bae got it from Milah. Emma discusses the time Hook spent with Neal while the two of them were in Neverland hundreds of years ago. Emma appears to be sad over the loss of Neal as she sees what his childhood was like in the cave. The group notices two halves of a coconut, one half is filled with holes and the other piece holds a candle in it. Emma realizes the two halves put together with the candle lit form a map of stars on the cave ceiling after the torch is snuffed out. Emma says the map leads to “home”.

Back at Pan's compound, the Lost Boys continue yipping, dancing, and hollering when suddenly all the boys (including Henry) fall unconscious. The only one left awake is Pan, in the center of the camp. Pan playfully guesses who the guest(s) is arrival at the camp. As he guesses “The Dark One”, Mr. Gold appears in front of him. Soon, Neal comes out of the jungle to reveal himself, wielding a crossbow. While Pan mocks Mr. Gold for abandoning Neal, Neal fires the arrow at Pan, but Pan easily catches the arrow by the shaft right before it hits him. Pan berates Neal for his forgetfulness for how powerful Pan is until he realizes the tip of the arrow wasn't dipped in squid ink, but the shaft was. Suddenly, Pan is immobilized by the ink while father and son grab Henry and prepare to leave. Before they leave camp, Pan reveals the secret about the prophecy to Neal. Later, Mr. Gold and Neal arrive at Mr. Gold's camp and Neal lays Henry down to rest. Mr. Gold tells Neal that Henry will wake naturally from the sleeping spell in a few hours, and that trying to wake him would be dangerous. Neal begins interrogating his father about the prophecy Pan was talking about and soon becomes outraged because of Mr. Gold's dodging his questions and his constantly calling him “Baelfire” instead of “Neal”. Mr. Gold finally confesses to Neal about the seer that told Mr. Gold of the prophecy in the first place and along with the fact that he was going to kill the boy mentioned in the prophecy. This causes Neal to turn on Mr. Gold and try to get Henry away from him. Mr. Gold asks Neal to trust him, but the son doesn't see how he can.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, in the forest outside Hamelin, Rumple can't figure out which masked boy is his own. Pan says the reason of this is because Bae's out in the world and having fun for once. Rumple finally grabs Bae and takes his mask off. Rumple tells Bae he's here to prove he cares about him, and decides to teleport both Bae and himself back to their small house. As they vanish, Pan tells Rumple: “You’re going regret not taking my deal, Rumple.” In their hovel, Bae is very angry at his father for taking him back home. Rumple reassures his son that he's safe, but Bae doesn't think he was ever in danger, saying that the Piper was his friend. Rumple debunks the theory and reveals that the mysterious musician's name is Peter Pan. Rumple also tells him that growing up, he and Pan were incredibly close, he tells Bae that Pan became immortal when he went to a place called Neverland and betrayed him. Bae wants to know what happened but Rumple is vague on the subject and just tells Bae that Pan is more dark and repulsive than Bae should ever be exposed to. Bae calls Rumple worse than Pan. Rumple tries to tell Bae that he didn't have a choice but to transport then both home. Bae calls him out on his lie and tells him that Pan revealed to him the deal he offered his father, before Rumple found the boys at the bonfire. Baelfire is saddened to think that Rumple didn't trust him to come home with him, because he would have chosen his father, if only he had asked.

In Neverland, Mr. Gold asks Neal what he needs to do to gain his son's trust, and he'll do it. Neal wants the Dark One Dagger but Mr. Gold says that he gave the knife to his shadow to hide, but Neal doesn't believe him. Neal doesn't care if Mr. Gold is telling the truth because the prophecy still stands and he believes that if they get back to Storybrooke and when father's back together with Belle, he will try to go after Henry because he would standing in the way of Mr. Gold's happy ending. Mr. Gold insists that Neal and rescuing Henry is his happy ending, because it's his redemption. After hearing this, Neal holds Mr. Gold's hand tight and tells him that when he was 14 and sleeping in a cave, he had dreams of his father coming to rescue him. But then he would wake up and remember how he abandoned by his own father over the dagger. When Neal lets go of Mr. Gold's hand, the latter notices some squid ink on his right palm. Calling him “Neal” for the first time, he asks his son what he is doing. Neal tells him as he's leaving with Henry that he's going to find the others and leave Neverland and that they're safer without Mr. Gold.

In the cave, Hook reveals to the others that he taught Bae how to navigate using the stars and the map from the coconut is the fruit of his labors. But sadly, the map is concealed in code, so the only person able to read it is Neal. This greatly upsets Emma because the only person able to read it is dead. Emma rushes out of the cave with David and Mary Margaret right behind her. Emma is obviously emotionally distraught. She reveals she'd not sad; she's pissed; because even though Neal just died, she lost him years ago. For all those years since she went to prison, she thought that he didn't love her, only to find out that he did, and it was too late. And now Emma can't even tell Neal how mad it all makes her, or how terrified she was when he saw him in New York because she knew then that she never stopped loving him. Emma goes back into the cave teary eyed while Mary Margaret is also sad because she doesn't even know how to comfort her own daughter and that is the first thing a mother learns. She says that she and David can't blame Emma for how she feels because Mary Margaret wouldn't be able to move on if David died. David tries to tell his wife to move on if he were to die. Mary Margaret is not concerned and hugs David.

Soon, Neal finds the camp where the others were staying. Neal can tell that the campfire is fresh but before he can do anything else, Pan, Felix and other Lost Boys arrive and surround Neal and a knocked out Henry. Pan says Neal should have remembered what he taught him years ago: “You never break in somewhere unless you know the way out.” Felix picks up Henry and puts him over his shoulder. Neal tells Pan that he will get Henry back whatever it takes. Pan tells him that that's not the problem. What Neal's problem is that there's no escaping Neverland. Neal claims he's done it before, but Pan reveals that he let him go. Henry begins to slowly wake up as Felix is taking him back to the compound. The other Lost Boys subdue Neal and begin to drag him away as he shouts to Henry that he's alive.

At his camp, the power of the squid ink wares off of Mr. Gold and he can move again. The fake Belle returns and comforts him and has confidence in Mr. Gold's heroics. Mr. Gold seems upset because now that he knows that Neal's alive, the feeling of self-preservation comes back. At Pan's compound, the party continues as Henry wakes up. Pan tells him that it was just a little cat nap. Henry remembers his dad yelling for him but he's confident it must have been a dream because he believes Neal's dead. Pan says he's sorry and that it's normal to dream about things we lost and hope for. Like Neal being alive and his mothers coming to rescue him. But Pan reassures Henry that he will find new things to dream about that will come true, just like he did. Pan tells him again how he's going to save magic and the Lost Boys will be his new family. Pan plays another song on the pipe, and this time, Henry can hear it. Henry dances with the Lost Boys throughout the night as Pan and Felix are at the campfire not dancing as they look on creepily.

Deleted Scenes

"Mr. Van Winkle"

This scene is included on Once Upon a Time: The Complete Third Season.

Rumplestiltskin chases a man throughout the forest and corners him against a tree. Demanding that their deal be fulfilled and his debt be paid, Rumple is furious until the man states he simply needs more time, having had one too many drinks the night before, making him unable to meet Rumple's dawn deadline. Rumple reveals the man's name to be Mr. Van Winkle and punishes him with a 100-year sleep.



Guest Starring





Production Notes

  • HIDDEN DETAILS: The drawings on the cave walls show several memories from young Baelfire's life, including:

Event Chronology

Episode Connections


Fairytales and Folklore

  • HIDDEN DETAILS: The coat of arms on the Sheriff of Hamelin's uniform is a griffin,[14] a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head and wings of an eagle; and an eagle's talons as its front feet.

Props Notes

Filming Locations

International Titles



  1. Sunday Final Ratings: ‘Once Upon a Time’ Adjusted Up; ’60 Minutes’ Adjusted Down + Final Football Numbers. TV by the Numbers (October 22, 2013). “Once Upon A Time (...) 7.05”
  2. 2.0 2.1 LISTINGS: ONCE UPON A TIME. The Futon Critic. “Air Date: Sunday, October 20, 2013. Time Slot: 8:00 PM-9:00 PM EST on ABC. Episode Title: (#304) "Nasty Habits".”
  3. KANE NELSON - UBCP/ACTRA. da Costa Talent. Retrieved on December 27, 2018. “Once Upon A Time- Eps. 304 – Dancer”
  4. MCLELLAND STEWART - NON-UNION. da Costa Talent. Retrieved on December 27, 2018. “Once Upon A Time- Eps. 304 – Dancer”
  5. File:304Title.png
  6. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (August 18, 2013). "For those interested, a new ep of #OnceUponATime is about to start shooting." (screenshot)
  7. File:304TorchLit.png
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 File:304SpentSomeTime.png
  9. File:304WasHisHome.png
  10. File:304TheFarWall.png
  11. File:304ConceptArt5.jpg
  12. File:304SorryIDont.png
  13. Cartwright, Mark (June 17, 2012). Pan Flute. Ancient History Encyclopedia. “In Greek mythology, Pan, the patron of shepherds, fell in love with the Nymph Syrinx, daughter of Ladon the river-god. Fleeing his attentions, Syrinx pleaded with Zeus to save her and just when Pan captured her, Zeus turned the Nymph into reeds. Enraged, Pan smashed the reeds into pieces but on reflection he was struck with remorse and wept and kissed the broken reeds, all that remained of his beloved. As he kissed the reeds, he discovered that his breath could create sounds from them, and so he made the musical instrument that would carry the lost Nymph's name.”
  14. File:304MulticoloredPatches.png
  15. Once Upon a Time - Coconut Lantern (0237). iCollector. Archived from the original on May 7, 2020. Retrieved on May 7, 2020. “This lantern was acquired by the production for use in 'Once Upon a Time' (ABC, 2011-2018). A real coconut.”
  16. Reed, Diane J. Keeping The Soul Fires Burning. Once Upon a Fan. Archived from the original on March 18, 2015. “There was one time in Season 3 when I was trying to push the knife off the table, but for some reason the knife would not slide off because of what it was made of, or perhaps the table was too rough! [Laughs] I really had to push the knife hard, so it took a few camera takes!”
  17. Gittins, Susan (October 20, 2013). SHOOT: ONCE UPON A TIME's Pied Piper Sequence in North Vancouver Rock Quarry. Hollywood North Buzz. “Unlike most of this season’s Neverland scenes, Once Upon a Time filmed this earlier encounter with Pan in the abandoned rock quarry at North Vancouver’s Greenwood Park, not on its vast sets in studio.”
  18. 18.0 18.1 Gittins, Susan (September 22, 2013). YOUR SHOOT: ONCE UPON A TIME in Vancouver as Neverland. Hollywood North Buzz. “And weeks later, in this quarry in North Vancouver's Greenwood Park, where one of the '"gang" is held captive. The logs are lightweight props. And then in Belcarra Park in Port Moody after nightfall.”
  19. Gittins, Susan (September 8, 2013). WEEK: September 2-8, 2013. Hollywood North Buzz. “Friday, September 6th – Once Upon a Time films overnight on a closed set in Belcarra Park in Port Moody.”