After watching this episode, you might be tempted to make an ‘it’s a small world’ joke, but I urge you to refrain. Turns out, Rumpelstiltskin’s son, Baelfire, is Neal, Emma’s baby daddy. And Emma is reasonably ticked off when she sees him again. And even more so when he explains his reasons for betraying her- it was all because August/Pinocchio got him to realize who Emma was and he knew staying with her could end up with him meeting Rumpelstiltskin again. We’re also finally shown what August showed him to make him hear him out. But… how did August KNOW Neal was Baelfire? If they ever actually explain that later on, I can’t really remember at the moment. I also wonder what prompted Neal/Baelfire to try and run when Emma rang his doorbell. I mean, I suppose he might be suspicious of a package being delivered if he wasn’t expecting one. Was he still involved in shady business practices? Unless he recognized Emma’s voice? That seems a bit of a stretch to me. How long does vocal recognition memory last? Does anyone know?
At first, Emma does agree to pretend she never saw Neal because she didn’t want to deal with him again, but that plan crashed and burned when Neal comes back to make sure his father doesn’t hurt Emma for not keeping their deal. What follows is a whole family drama scene of Neal/Baelfire making sure Gold/Rumpelstiltskin know he doesn’t want anything to do with him and Henry getting upset at Emma for not being honest about who his real father was.
When it comes to Neal’s reasons for not wanting his father back in his life, I was right on board with him. He made an excellent point about how Gold still was trying to cling to his magic when it was that love of magic that led to their separation in the first place. While Gold was claiming he’d changed, his actions were clearly saying the exact opposite. But before you ask, I’m not going to discuss the issue of what Neal did to Emma right now. Trust me, I’m holding off on that issue until a later episode analysis.
As for Henry, I was a bit bugged by his response to learning that Neal was his biological father. Particularly the bit when he accuses Emma of being no better than Regina. Yes, they both lied to him about something. I won’t deny that. But when Regina lied to Henry, it was either because she wanted to make sure her curse wouldn’t be broken or (in the case of when she tried to close the wishing well portal instead of helping Emma and Mary Margret/Snow get home) because she knew she was going back on her promise to redeem herself and she was trying to cover up her betrayal of Henry’s trust. Either way, both times, she was lying to make sure she got her own way, and to cover up her own misdeeds. Emma, on the other hand, lied about the identity of Henry’s birth father because she was a) trying to protect him and b) still hurt by what Neal did to her and didn’t want to relive it. After all, Neal’s betrayal was what ultimately led Emma to give up Henry in the first place, and it’s why she has such a hard time letting people in. For her, the truth was still a sensitive, painful topic. Who’d want to relive something like that? At the same time, I know deep down that I have to cut the kid a bit of slack. After all, while Henry is a sharp, clever boy, he’s still only 11 years old. You can’t expect a kid that age to see things from an adult perspective.
And then there’s Regina, who you just want to Gibbs-Slap. She is practically seeing the proof that Cora is really just interested in helping herself, and is only out to obtain the Dark One’s dagger. She has no true intention of helping her daughter out. But of course, Regina’s got her blinders on and falls for Cora’s flowery speech. I get it. Cora is her mother, and like most people, Regina has unconditional love for her parents. But even so, this is the woman who cast the curse and kept it going for 28 years. This is the woman who nearly got away with framing Mary Margret/Snow for murder. Regina, aren’t you supposed to be smarter than this?
Oh, there’s also the Enchanted Forest subplot, which is quite groan-inducing in its own right. Rumple, haven’t you ever read Oedipus? Granted that play probably didn’t exist in the Enchanted Forest, but again, this is the Enchanted Forest. The place where fairy tale characters and old legendary figures are real people. It’s perfectly reasonable to conclude that Oedipus might have been an actual person in this world at some point. While some might regard the story of Oedipus as a whole subconscious desire to sleep with your mother thing, there was also the less-spoken-of message. In an effort to prevent a prophesy from being fulfilled, King Laius had his infant son tossed out into the woods to die. But in doing that, the king triggered a series of events that just ensured that the prophesy would play out after all. In a nutshell, if you try and cheat fate, you’ll only end up making sure it happens. And that’s a lesson that Rumple should have learned the hard way in this episode. By purposely injuring himself during the Ogre Wars so he wouldn’t die in battle and leave his unborn son without a father, he only triggered the series of events that ultimately led to his separation from Baelfire. And the reason why I said ‘should have learned’ is because he clearly doesn’t learn his lesson. After becoming the Dark One and losing Baelfire, Rumpelstiltskin crosses paths with the seer again. When the seer tells him of another prophesy that involves a young boy being his undoing, Dark One Rumpelstiltskin immediately vows to kill the boy. Seriously, guy! Have you learned NOTHING about tampering with prophesies?