I think this week’s Once Upon a Time was the first time that the show has made me cry. Maybe. Then again, maybe it was just the first time this season.
In the opening scene, I found it hilarious that Emma is asking how it is possible that Rumpel could be alive. Hello??? This is fairy-tale-land, you’re all from an Enchanted Forest, and you have magical powers. As Alice’s father put it, “Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Meanwhile in the Enchanted Forest, we find that Neal is trying to find a way to bring his father back from the dead. Amazing how sacrificing yourself can erase all the bad away. Even in Neverland while they were searching for Henry, Neal wanted nothing to do with Rumpel. However, as in real life, when someone dies, you often regret what you did or didn’t do. I read on Pinterest that Rumpel and Neal’s bonding might look something like this:
Rumpel: Hook stole my woman.
Neal: Same here.
If you are Team “Captain Swan”, my apologies, but I have always been Team “Swanfire.” While it’s partly the neat little mending of a family, I always felt like Neal/Baelfire had Emma’s best interest at heart and really loved her and she him. Hook is terribly good looking and a nice distraction, but he is an unstable love interest, only recently on the good side, and can you imagine him as a father figure to Henry? <gasp> Not to mention that he was in love with Henry’s grandma once upon a time.
Meanwhile, Zelena tries to summon the Dark One but there is no response. She mutters that he broke free and that he knows too much. I found it hard to believe that Rumpel broke free himself in the last episode because the locks looked like they had been broken from the outside.
Belle hears that Rumpel is alive and says, “he’ll come to me,” with confidence. Aw! Hook says he will stay with her and she expresses doubt considering he has tried to kill her twice. I only remember the one time–when he shot her and she fell across the town line, losing her memory. I know he threatened to kill her, but I can’t remember another attempt. Yet another reason for him NOT to be a love interest for Emma!
In the Enchanted Forest, Belle is helping Neal find a way to bring Rumpel back and looking in her/his library. It was strange seeing Belle wearing pants instead of her Enchanted Forest dresses. Neal shows Belle the necklace that he’d given to Emma, back when it was a keychain…aw, he kept it! Lumiere appears! Yay! I broke into a verse of “Be Our Guest” when I saw him!
In present day, Neal falls in the door of Rumpel’s shop and they take him to the hospital. He has a mark on his hand that reminds me of the burn Joe Pesci gets when he grabs the hot doorknob in Home Alone.
The mark matches a key that Lumiere leads Belle and Neal to. He agrees to guide them to the dark one’s vault if they can assure him that Rumpel will change him back into a human. After they leave, Zelena appears and indicates that Lumiere is doing her bidding.
Henry confronts Emma and tells her that he knows that none of this makes sense and her cover story of working on a case isn’t true. Too many friends in this town that he didn’t know about and secrets and he wants to know what is going on. Emma admits that while it is technically a case, it’s not the usual case and there’s more to the story that she will explain later. She is saved by a phone call, telling her that Neal has been found.
When Zelena goes to visit Snow, she’s wearing a big green pendant and a black cape. HELLOOOOO! Can we ignore the obvious any more? And she gave Snow some orange juice because Snow didn’t feel the baby moving and suddenly after the OJ, the baby starts breakdancing. Anyone else wonder what was in the OJ???
Regina is skulking around the witch’s property and heard a noise and thought a winged monkey was after her. Robin Hood appears and apparently has the philosophy to shoot first, ask questions later because he fires an arrow at Regina, thinking it’s the wicked witch. No fear, though, she beats William Tell hands down and catches the arrow in her hand. They agree to team up.
Apparently Hook has been charged with babysitting Neal in the hospital and tells him that he thinks Neal used dark magic to bring back his dad. Neal decides to leave and help search, ripping his IV out and Hook says, ambiguously, “I’m in your way.” Then they hug. A full-on, lengthy hug. We forget that they were friends when Neal was on board the Jolly Rodger as a kid. But, seriously, bros before hoes, man–get your own girl!
Emma told Neal in the hospital that Henry doesn’t remember him and he should basically leave him alone because he was happy in New York. What made her think Henry was unhappy before the second curse? Now, as she is tromping through the woods with her dad, looking for Rumpel, she says that she may go back to New York after this because life is normal. Eh, normal is overrated. They hear Rumpel and pursue. Rumpel is muttering about voices in his head and Emma and Charming fight off some flying monkeys and Rumpel gets away.
We had another “aw!” moment at Regina’s expense when Robin Hood compliments her and she smiles. They had a close encounter where he moved in close and we thought that she might get some lip action! But, Regina finally sees the tattoo and remembers that Tinkerbell told her that the man with that tattoo was destined to be her love and she panics and runs from the farmhouse. You’d think she would be happy, but I guess she was scared the last time she ran away from him and she must be scared again this time. Though, mommy dearest isn’t around to murder this one this time.
Meanwhile, in the Enchanted Forest, Belle and Neal find a clearing that Lumiere told them about and they figure out that he is lying because he says he was in the library for two hundred years and Belle says that Rumpel built that library for her maybe thirty years ago. But, Lumiere says that the wicked witch is the one that turned him into a candlestick and forced him to deceive them because she wants the Dark One. Belle tries to convince Neal not to do this because Rumpel didn’t sacrifice himself for good just to return to be used for evil. Neal said his dad was the king of loopholes, so insinuates that Rumpel will be able to take care of himself and find a way out of the wicked witch’s control. Neal just wants him back, whatever the cost, so he puts the key in this round metal plate that looks like a manhole cover and it burns his hand. It opens a portal and black goo starts coming out, which eventually drains away to show Rumpel, in his gold flaky facepaint once more.
Emma almost marrying a flying monkey is getting to be an old joke as she tells this again to Neal when he catches up to her in the woods and refuses to leave. He says he wants her to be happy no matter what, even if it isn’t with him. Another big “aw”! See, this is why I am team Swanfire–Neal will step aside if that’s what’s best, he is selfless. Belle calls Emma because she found a book with the mark from Neal’s hand. She says it’s a key and that it makes a one-for-one trade. She says that Neal should be dead right now if Rumpel is alive because he would have traded his life for his dad’s. At that moment, Neal falls down in pain and his face morphs back and forth from Neal’s to Rumpel’s.
In the Enchanted Forest, the wicked witch appears and Rumpel tries to hold on tight to Neal and the dagger, but Zelena says he can’t hang on to both, so when she gets the dagger, we understand that he exerted more effort holding on to his son. Sheesh, so many touching moments! Rumpel somehow absorbs Neal into himself. Zelena orders Rumpel to kill Belle, but Lumiere traps the witch temporarily, so that Belle can get away, taking Lumiere with her.
Neal tells Emma to separate him from his father because of the two of them, they need Rumpel more, to find out who the witch is and defeat her. He tells her to use her power. Emma hesitates because she knows that this a trade and she’s never done anything quite like that before. But, Neal persists that she has to do this to save her and Henry (selfless!) and the town. She succeeds and it appears that Rumpel isn’t entirely thrilled about it because he knows that he will live at his son’s expense. Rumpel tells them that the witch is Zelena. Emma asks Rumpel if he can save Neal and is told it is too late. NOW, Emma wants Neal to see Henry and Henry to remember him. Neal says he doesn’t have to, but he wants him to know that in the end, he had a good father (because all Henry knows is that his father abandoned his mother while she was pregnant). He pulls out the necklace that he saved for her and tells her to go be happy without him. Lots of tears and Rumpel breaks and says he can fix this, but Neal says no. He thanks his “papa” for showing him what a true sacrifice is. Emma and Rumpel cry and hold on to him, but he tells his dad to let him go and says he loves him and dies…again. And I am left in a pool of tears (and yes, I AM crying again, writing this, and rewatching the scene).
I have been trying to work out all the ramifications of this ever since. Why did Neal fall down right then in the Storybrooke woods if the one-for-one trade happened a year ago in the Enchanted Forest? Neal being absorbed into Rumpel would explain why no one had seen Neal previously (because Rumpel was locked away in the cellar), why Neal went to Rumpel’s shop, and why Rumpel was talking about voices in his head. I had mistakenly thought that Neal was in the hospital or at the shop while Rumpel was seen running through the woods, but I realized that those things weren’t concurrent, so we thought that they were both separate, but they really weren’t. We just weren’t seeing them morph and apparently they weren’t fully aware of what was going on.
Part of me wants to believe that this won’t be a permanent thing, just like he didn’t die the last time and I didn’t believe Rumpel was gone for good and they brought him back. I so want Neal and Emma and Henry to be a family! I am totally Team Swanfire! But, I am afraid that this may be permanent. How many times can they kill a character or return characters from the dead? And we know that when they tried to bring back Regina’s stableboy love, he was evil. Of course we know that this is a fairy tale and anything can happen, but I also read an article where the creators promised that one of the main characters would die this season and indicated that he/she wouldn’t be back. Break my heart! You brought back the blue fairy! Lose her and keep Neal! Now, according to IMDb, he is in the cast for the next episode, but that could be funeral or flashback. Beyond that, there are no cast listings for future episodes. And the episode titles don’t tell me much, either.
Emma and Charming go to Snow and Charming’s apartment, apparently knowing that Zelena had been expected there. Snow says she is in the bathroom and they burst in and she is gone. Snow is shocked that she is the witch. And there is a tender moment with her hugging her daughter when she tells Snow that Neal is dead. I can’t get that look on Emma’s face out of my mind!
Rumpel is still sitting in the woods next to Neal’s body when the witch comes along (why didn’t someone protect him or stash him somewhere?). He tells her it’s over because they know who she is now and she will be killed. She pulls out her Dark One-controlling dagger and tells him to go back to his cage. Without Neal also in his head, which was blocking him from obeying Zelena’s summons, he is forced to obey. He trudges back to the cellar and sits in the cell. With Rumpel emotionally broken, what can we expect from him now? Is Belle and his son’s pride in his dad’s newfound goodness enough to keep him on the good side, or will hate and revenge make him fully embrace being the Dark One again? For now, he is forced to do whatever Zelena says.
They show a montage of scenes without dialogue: Regina watching Robin Hood play with his son, Snow and Charming walk into Rumpel’s shop dejectedly where Belle and Hook are and Snow hugs Belle who starts crying (why is she crying? Rumpel is alive. Is it sympathy because her love lost his son?), and then Emma meets Henry. She tells him that the case was about his dad and that he was a good man and was in trouble. Henry asked if she was able to find him and she said it was too late, that he died, but he died a hero. <Enter more tears.> He says he wishes he would have known him and she said that he did. Henry says she isn’t making any sense and asks what happened to the person that killed him. Emma says that she got away, but she is going to find her.
In the previews for the next episode, it’s apparent that it is going to be a western-themed show. Zelena challenges Regina to meet her on Main Street at sundown. Regina says this isn’t the wild west and Zelena replies that it’s the “wicked west.” Regina smacks her and Zelena throws Regina through the clock tower.
Okay, so I think they need to plan a recon mission to recover the Dark One dagger from Zelena. Then you get Rumpel, Regina, Emma, and the fairies to use their magic and Snow, Charming, the dwarves, and Robin Hood ready with weapons and Zelena doesn’t have a prayer of walking away from Storybrooke!
I hope the writers can continue to carry this show. Now that Neal is gone, I’m disappointed and they need to win me over again. I love this show, but whenever a main character that you are rooting for is killed off, it’s hard to stomach. Any thoughts on this episode? Do you think Neal is gone for good? What do you think will become of Rumpel? Will Henry find out what is really going on? And who will Emma end up with?