So, Rumpelstiltskin’s motives for wanting the curse to be cast is revealed to be his desire to reunite with his son, Baelfire, who he lost centuries ago. Throughout this episode’s flashback, we’re able to see how Baelfire was feeling alienated by his father, due to his growing habit to murder people for the smallest offences. (Although, it was nice to see that little girl, Morraine, had returned home safely after she was forcibly taken from her family in ‘Desperate Souls.’) Wanting his father to return to who he was before becoming the Dark One, Baelfire seeks out the Blue Fairy for help. From her, he obtains a magic bean that can open up a portal to a Land Without Magic. However, when Baelfire opens up the portal, Rumpelstiltskin chickens out and refuses to go through the portal with his son. Even though he regrets it the instant the portal closes, it’s too late to fix the mistake, as the Blue Fairy has no more magic beans. While on some level, you can feel bad for Rumpelstiltskin for losing Baelfire, at the same time you can’t deny he brought it upon himself. First from his tendency to brush off Baelfire legitimate concern of how much the Dark One’s power was having such a negative influence on his mind, and then being too attached to his power to give it up in some unknown land. In the end, he was the one who chose the power over his son’s happiness, and even though he clearly regrets it, the damage has already been done. The fact that he refused to accept the blame and tried to place it on the Blue Fairy only further shows how far gone this man is. While he does say he was wrong later on in this episode, during his scene with August, the fact that he clearly still hates fairies (something that was touched upon in ‘Dreamy’) indicates he never truly accepted the fact that the blame was his alone. (And can we talk about how Rumple considered using a Time Turner in order to get his son back? Was that a deliberate Harry Potter reference?) Admittedly, I did have to question Rumpelstiltskin at the end of this episode. As horrible as this might be for me to point out, while Rumpelstiltskin did indeed have all the time in the world to figure out the curse that would bring him to the Land Without Magic in order to find his son, Baelfire wasn’t immortal. So, unless something happened to him in the Land Without Magic to help keep him alive longer (wink wink), there was the very real possibility he would have died from old age before Rumpelstiltskin could even start creating the curse.
It was really enjoyable to see Henry and August actively working together in this episode, much like he was working with Emma in the last one. August really starts to grow on you in a good way, even when he’s being Mr. Mysterious. And I applaud the show writers for the whole red herring by leading us to suspect that this might be the adult Baelfire. Of course, that possibility proved to be false, (you had to wonder why Gold even suspected that, though, seeing as how August’s eyes are a different color than Baelfire’s) but that leads to more questions. Like why was he after the Dark One’s dagger in the first place? To force Rumpelstiltskin/Gold to help him get Emma to believe? Somehow, I don’t think that would have worked, especially since Jefferson tried to force Emma into believing a few episodes ago, and that obviously didn’t work. (And speaking of the dagger, wow, I’m a moron! THAT’S what he was burying way back in ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter!’ I feel so stupid for not remembering that.)
This episode pretty much wraps up the whole murder subplot. Everyone is being super-happy with Mary Margret, who is now out of jail. (Props to Mary Margret for commenting on how all these people are being her friends now, even though they all were shunning her for the past seven episodes. Can you say ‘fair-weather friends,’ Storybrooke?) It was somewhat refreshing to see Mary Margret continue to give David the cold shoulder. He really did mess up badly. Like the whole Enchanted Forest storyline with Rumpelstiltskin and Baelfire demonstrated, sometimes being sorry is just not enough to fix things. We also get the confrontation between Regina and Emma that has been a long time coming. After Sidney Glass arrives at the Sheriff’s station to confess kidnapping Kathryn with Regina in tow, Emma concludes, for very good reasons, that Regina had coerced him into taking the fall. Emma responds by practically dragging Regina out into the hall to give her a tongue lashing. It’s a complete role reversal of the scene in the pilot episode, and the one in ‘Fruit of the Poisonous Tree,’ where Regina was verbally bashing Emma and being all ‘I’m going to make sure you stay away from Henry’. This time, it’s Emma who is in the position of power as she declares her intention of taking back Henry. She’s come a long way from the woman who seemed reluctant to be around Henry. Character development for the win.