Subtitle: Neal deserves better tbh
What even was this episode. So much happened – reunions! reveals! death! – and yet nothing moved forward.
We start with Emma running to a meeting of minds.
Granny: Make it quick, I’m running a business. Hook: Why are we even at Granny’s for this secret meeting? Regina: I don’t know why you still expect any of what we do to make sense. Charming: Public place so no one will suspect? Hook: But it’s closed. Granny: But open soon so get talking. Nothing stands between Leroy and his bacon!
GPOY Emma. This is how I feel throughout the episode.
Emma’s report on the farmhouse in the fields amounts to I found nothing so Regina volunteers/demands to go looking herself while the rest go hunting Rumple and also Neal because reasons. Meanwhile in the woods, Zelena tries to summon the escaped Dark One back to her side but it doesn’t work. She sends her monkey after him.
Does this remind anyone else of Mary Poppins? Just me? Okay.
Rumple runs through the woods. A lot.
Hook and the Charmings head to Gold’s Pawn Shop to tell Belle Surprise! He’s alive, and ask her to help them find him.
Emma: You know Gold and this shop better than anyone and you actually like reading so you’re perfect for this assignment. Hook, stay with her.
Belle: He tried to kill me.
Emma: That was when he was a pirate. Now he is a hero.
Then Charming tells Snow to go home because the woods are too dangerous for a pregnant lady and since Regina isn’t there no one hits him.
A Year Ago
We flash back to when, as Hook and Belle relayed in the present, Neal was looking for a way to bring Rumple back to life so Neal could get back to his son. It’s a hugely heavy handed cycle of Fathers and Sons Separated by Magic. As established, Belle is the best at research and the second best at wanting Rumple back so the two of them are in the Dark One’s castle looking for a way back for Rumple.
They find a magic candlestick. Hurray for Lumiere!
Forward in Storybrooke
Neal shows up on Belle’s doorstep. Literally.
And Emma brings Henry breakfast. He is unimpressed with the bagel and Emma’s obvious lies about what they are doing in this weird little town. Emma admits she’s keeping things from him but promises she’ll tell him more when she can. Henry goes fishing and Emma heads to the hospital to see Neal.
Emma: Neal! You’re not a monkey! Neal: Emma! What’s going on? I just watched you drive away and now I’m in the hospital and I don’t remember anything. Charming: You’ve caught up with the plot then. Hook: No, there’s more. Emma: Your Dad’s back. Rumple: But we just watched him die. Emma: Actually that was a year ago.
They find a scar on Neal’s hand and Belle is tasked with figuring out its secrets.
Back in time
In exchange for a promise that his body will be returned to him Lumiere leads her and Neal to a key:
It is clearly where he got the scar. Lumiere tells them the key opens the hall of the Dark One – the original Dark One – and thus can be used to bring back the current Dark One aka Rumplestiltskin. They head off on the quest.
And it’s revealed Lumiere is actually working for Zelena.
Forward in Storybrooke
Snow is still dumb. I would like to write a cutesy dialogue for her scene with Zelena but all I could think about throughout was how dumb Snow is to trust this complete stranger when they KNOW that a) they’ve forgotten a whole year of important intel, b) there is a wicked witch in their town.
And since everyone seems to have read the book I don’t understand how THIS GIANT EMERALD BROOCH THAT ZELENA ALWAYS WEARS does not set off any warning bells.
Anyway, Snow is worried that her baby stopped moving so Zelena gives her some orange juice. My eight year old thinks it’s poisoned but I think he’s more clever than this particular plot line. The baby kicks and Zelena promises to never ever leave Snow or her baby alone.
At the farmhouse Regina’s spidey senses alert her to an arrow which she catches because she is a BAMF.
Robin: Oh hey, that’s mine. Sorry. Your majesty.
Regina: Have we met before?
Robin: I’m sure I’d remember your hot ass.
Regina: Who do you think you are?
Robin: Robin of Locksley. Milady.
Regina: The thief.
Robin: And you’re the Evil Queen so pot, kettle, black, partner.
Regina: I didn’t ask for a partner.
Robin: How many times do I have to explain that I don’t wait to be asked?
Back at the hospital Hook brings Neal some green Jello.
Neal: Thanks for bringing Emma back into fairy tale hell.
Hook: What are friends for? Are you intending to sneak out of the hospital, go after her, find your dad, kill the witch, and live happily ever after?
Neal: That’s the plan, yeah. You gonna stop me?
Hook: I really thought you were gonna make it to the finale but I can read the writing on the wall. Been a good run, bro. You’ll always be Millah’s wee lad to me.
That hug was it everybody. Neal is not making it out of this episode alive.
Back in the Enchanted Forest
Belle and Neal are tromping through the woods as per usual. They come upon the super secret door to the Dark One’s soul or something which is in a clearing in the woods under snow where literally anyone could stumble upon it. Idk you guys this episode makes very little sense.
In the present Not Enchanted Forest
Emma and Charing are also tromping through the woods as per usual. Charming asks about Neal, Emma says it’s complicated and Henry not knowing anything makes it even more so. Charming thinks it will get easier when they find Rumple and the witch and get Henry’s memories back but Emma thinks maybe it’s best she takes Henry back to NYC. He was happy there. It’s interesting that Emma thinks Henry’s happy ending is as far away as possible from everything related to magic kingdoms and I wish this episode was about that instead of this Neal mess. Anyway, Emma and David find Rumple.
Rumple babbles No room, no room and Emma decides they should get him out of the forest, have Regina look him over, but a monkey attacks. Emma draws her gun and Charming whacks it with his sword, they’re able to hold off the monkey but Rumple runs away. Charming tells Emma to go after him, he’ll deal with the monkey.
Back at the farmhouse Robin and Regina go on a date.
Robin: You know, I’ve heard a lot of stories about the Evil Queen but from this angle “evil” isn’t what comes to mind. Regina: Stop looking at my ass. Robin: No, but really. Regina: Being “evil” let me get my way. Robin: That’s cute. Want a drink? Regina: Aren’t we supposed to be looking for evidence? Robin: I don’t see how drinking will get in the way of that.
He pours their drinks but Regina catches sight of his Lion tattoo (that Tink told her indicates he is her True Love TM) and bolts. Meanwhile, Emma’s still looking for Rumple in the forest but she finds Neal instead. Foreshadowing!
Back in that snowy clearing in the woods Belle and Neal prepare to set the Dark One free. Lumiere tells them exactly what to do which Belle finds suspect and she figures out he’s playing them.
Lumiere: I’m working for the witch. But everything else I said is true.
Belle: We can’t do this if it’s what the witch wants us to do.
Neal: I don't care who’s calling the shots so long as it works.
Belle: We’ll find another way. Please make a different choice from your father.
Neal: Have you ever actually watched the show?
Neal turns the key. His hand is scarred and the tar monster who killed Tasha Yar pops in to kill Neal and it is just as stupid.
In the present Emma and Neal are still tromping through the woods.
Emma: In that year you don’t remember? I dated this guy.
Neal: Oh, well, that’s okay. You didn’t remember me and also we weren’t together so. I get it. But was it serious?
Emma: He proposed.
Emma: And then he turned into a monkey and flew away. I was going to marry a minion of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Neal: I was going to marry the minion of my evil grandfather Peter Pan, so.
Emma: So you get why I think Henry and I should GTFO!
Neal: No, because I am his father and I need that to be most important.
Belle interrupts with a phone call to say she’s found that symbol on Neal’s hand and it means Neal is the Dark One. As Emma is processing this Neal falls forward in agony and his skin starts to morph. We flash back to the tar monster and learn that opening the tomb and bringing the Dark One back required an exchange (MAGIC ALWAYS COMES WITH A PRICE!): Neal for his father. Rumple casts a spell that ties them together so they can choose which gets to live and which gets to die. Zelena is impressed but she has the dagger and orders Rumple to kill Belle. Lumiere is able to hold Rumple back just long enough for her to escape, with the candlestick in tow.
In the present
Neal asks Emma to use her magic to separate his soul from his father’s soul.
Emma: But you’ll die!
Neal: You need him more than you need me.
Emma: What about Henry?
Neal: You just said like five minutes ago he doesn’t need me, or even need to know who I am.
Emma: I was wrong!
Neal: What’s important is that you admit it. Now do as I say.
Emma concentrates and Rumple is torn from Neal. And then Neal dies. It’s sad. It’s really sad. I cried, my son cried. They talked about sacrifice and love and being a hero and all that stuff. It was incredibly emotionally manipulative, which is fitting for Baelfire. Everything about Neal and Baelfire is incredibly emotionally manipulative and frankly I am happy to see him gone. But I would have been happier if he was just a better put together character in the first place!!!
Rumple tells Emma Zelena is the Wicked Witch and she and Charming race to get her away from Snow.
Zelena’s escaped out the window and shows up in the woods to collect her prisoner. Rumple feels better about life because he trusts in Emma to save them all, which is nice, really: Rumple trusting someone to do something he doesn’t control. Of course he also feels awful about life because his son died again and this time is really, really, most sincerely dead. Sad Rumple walks into his cell and takes up his spinning.
Emma finds Henry at the park and tells him he was right about her mission in town. It wasn’t a random criminal she was after, it was his father.
Henry: So a specific criminal?
Emma: I may have exaggerated his bad parts.
Henry: Did you find him?
Emma: Yes, but it was too late. He’s dead.
Henry: Deja vu.
Emma: He would have been a great father.
Henry: I do not know how to feel about any of this.
Emma: I’m sorry, kid. I’m so sorry this is your life.
I really do love the No Happy Ending subtext of this episode.
But the rest of it was a mess! Neal’s death was rushed and served no purpose. Why build up the love triangle the anvil to the head way they did and then resolve it by killing off a corner piece? And now everything that Rumple did to get Bae back – which, to recap, is 98% of the plot of the entire series!! – doesn’t matter because it didn’t work. I mean, that could be interesting but not the way this played out. It feels like the writers got bored with the character and killed him off so they didn’t have to think too hard about it.
At least Zelena has been exposed and I don’t have to suffer through any more scenes of her deceiving Snow. And at least Belle was awesomely smart in this episode. And well dressed, I want to cosplay Belle’s amazing fairytaleland outfit.
Outlaw Queen, I don’t know? It was a little jarring to have that heating up in the middle of this particular episode. There definitely felt like a scene was missing – Regina runs off and when we catch up Robin is playing with Roland while she watches and what? Where even were they? If there had been a conversation, even a line about Robin and his son at least that would have tied back to the family themes in the rest of the episode: Rumple and Neal, Neal and Henry, Charming and Emma, Emma and Henry, Snow and Baby. As it was, it felt like the real story was put on hold for Robin and Regina’s will they, won’t they dance. For no reason. Also, I hated the flashback to Tinker Bell. Lazy storytelling to insert a scene from an earlier episode to remind the audience what’s going on.
So, yeah. That was an episode. Are you sad about Neal? Are you excited about Regina and Robin? Are you scared of Zelena? I don’t know how I feel, how do you feel?