Manhattan is the episode everyone has been waiting for. Must be. Because it promised to finally reveal who Bae is in our world, and oh, how many speculations were out there about that? In the end, they proved to hold up; and yet was it exciting and surprising.

The beginning of the episode brings us back to the pre-Curse FTL – actually a FTL long before the Curse. The Ogre Wars are raging, and Rumple, still a normal man and not even yet a father, is called to the front lines. He’s proud and happy about that, the usual reaction from a young (unfortunately, his age isn’t defined here) man who sees it as a privilege to fight in a war. But for Rumple it’s twice as important – he wants to prove that he’s not a coward like his father.

Rumple: “I’ve lived under the shadow of my father’s actions for too long now.”
Milah: “Just because your father was a coward it doesn’t mean you are.”

Huh? Coward like his father? Now that’s a new one. And while it was announced that this episode would answer questions, it presents us with new ones just in the same second, as one of course now wants to know: What was Rumple’s childhood like? Who was his father, what did he do, why was he a coward? It can’t be just about leaving the family behind, this is nothing that would bring so much shame that everyone knows about it. At least that’s what I think, but it’s hard to say how people back then thought about it. Still I think there’s more to it, that Rumple’s father did something that brought disregard to the whole family in some way.

Ultimately doesn’t this answer any question about Rumple, as far as I am concerned. There is obviously a long history to the man and his whole behavior every psychiatrist would have a field day with, and it definitely needs to be told. After all is Rumple the one who’s spinning it all in this show. And his fears and motivations seem to have so deep roots in his being and own life’s history that they are, as we see now in the former FTL and in today’s SB, what fuels him.

When Rumple is summoned for his military service, he is already married to Milah. What we see here actually surprised me – it almost seems as if Milah really loved him back then. Of course, he was still a decent and honorable man and not yet the coward that had brought shame to her later on. I’m saying this because it’s, rationally speaking, true, and because that’s how Milah sees it – it’s not my opinion because I admit that I can understand his motivation for how he acts and handles things.

Anyways, Milah’s concerned and anything but happy that he’s been called to the front lines; she doesn’t want to lose him. Technically, we go back in time here with the background story, something that is especially complicated in Rumple’s case because most of the fandom more or less hates Milah, and knowing her already, knowing what she’ll do later, doesn’t help believing her when she appears to be a nice and honestly loving woman here. Even less that she dreams of having a family with Rumple. The whole scenario appears unreal, with them laughing together, sweet-talking, being happy and optimistic and all. The only reason this still works somehow is that both actors, but especially of course Robert Carlyle, are so good.

When we see Rumple at the front line later on, he’s already got this face we see so often afterwards; we can read the fear and panic in his features, the shock about what war is really like. He is already scared, so what follows isn’t surprising, especially considering that he has this “precondition” of bring prone to cowardice, as much as he doesn’t ever want to.

Much more interesting, however, is his first encounter with the Seer child – because of the whole encounter itself, certainly, but especially because of what he says when he at first refuses to believe her:

“I don’t indulge in this… Dark Magic…”

So we all know what happened then, that he became the Dark One etc pp. But – important here is that deep inside, where there is still the Rumple from before his DO time, the ordinary man who loved his wife, wanted nothing more than to prove that he isn’t a coward, was kind and warm-hearted and compassionate man, also didn’t want to have anything to do with Dark Magic. It is important in the respect of that part of him we know is still in there will have a vital role in helping him becoming a better man, changing (for Belle mostly), and maybe one day giving up on the Dark One’s magic and personality.

The prophecy the Seer then shares with Rumple is so revealing, and yet could I bet that everyone only thought of the immediate consequence and not that she would be right in any way:

“You have a son and your actions will leave him fatherless.”

This is open for interpretation, so, so much. And I’m pretty sure every single Oncer went with the obvious one. Of course, if Rumple dies in the war his son (he hasn’t even seen yet) will never have a father. Not his real one, at least. Rumple’s fear that his son will have to grow up without a father, just like he had to after his cowardly father abandoned the family, is bigger than anything, and also makes him forget what his other actions will result in. So, when the Seer’s words are proven to him, he does what even nowadays would be looked at with shame: He hurts himself. He hits his own leg with a hammer. And really, that was the moment I wondered how anyone can call him a coward for this; chopping off your own hand can’t be more painful…

When it comes to interpreting the Seers words, we soon learn that whatever a Seer says, it will always be true – the future is written an cannot be changed. In one way or another, it will have the foretold outcome. One can try to avoid one version of said outcome, like Rumple did by not dying in the war. But that doesn’t mean that the prediction won’t become the painful, unavoidable truth some day.

Unable to fight anymore, Rumple is sent home. But, as Milah says, news from the front line travel fast – and so does the fact the Rumple injured himself, like a deserter. Like a coward. So this is where it all starts, really starts; all the unhappiness, the hurt and shame and rejection we then saw in 2×04. If we take into account the Milah we got to know in 2×04, the one who wanted to get away from their village, go somewhere else where no one knows them, where this shame wouldn’t follow them to, and the Milah who wanted to travel the world, wanted to have excitement in her life, this is clearly a turning point, because instead of excitement, she now has a husband everyone knows as the coward who fled the war. That his intentions are heartbreakingly noble when he says that he doesn’t want to leave his son behind fatherless no one can see, and no one will ever see.

It’s hard to tell whether Rumple also saw this as an easy way out of the war situation he was obviously scared by, but actually I rather like to think that this was more a modern thinking Rumple acting here; one who put family above everything, something that in this Dark Ages FTL can’t be considered as good by anyone else, because bravery and heroism is much more important to everyone than taking care of their families. On the other hand can’t Rumple take care of his family properly if he is injured and has this bad reputation in his village, and maybe more villages around. I like to think that it isn’t Rumple’s cowardice that makes his life so hard here, but his thinking that is so much more fitting to our time and thinking today, where most of us would probably rather see their husband at home with the children and live with the “shame” of having a deserter/coward, then not having their beloved one at all because he died in a useless war. This is of course much more extreme today, as those wars are avoidable; something I wouldn’t say about the Ogre War. But who knows.

In any way returns Rumple home to Milah and an already born Baelfire; however, nothing is left of the even if worried, but still proud wife of a soldier. She appears to mostly hate him, loathe him for what he did, and as we know that isn’t going to change much, even though she seems to sort of resign and learn to live with her fate of being a coward’s wife.

Furthermore is Milah shocked that Rumple listened to a Seer, what makes me wonder how she would have/should have reacted had she ever consciously recognized that Rumple had gone even a step further by the time they meet again in 2×04 – that he didn’t only listen to Dark Magic anymore, but now also possessed it. Not that I think she would have cared much.

Despite obviously knowing Rumple’s story in detail, Milah still shows no acceptance or understanding at all for Rumple’s actions to come back and not leave his little family alone. I assume that if she had had the chance then, she would have left the family behind, like she did a few years later. If she ever loved Rumple, nothing is left of this now; one could also say that Rumple’s actions didn’t leave Bae fatherless as an immediate consequence, but sure did they leave his son motherless, sort of. It is as if this baby who is as much a part of her as it is of her hated, cowardly husband now also doesn’t get as much unadulterated love as it deserves.

The moment Milah gives Rumple little Bae is incredibly adorable. He already loves this baby, though he’s only just “met” him, and you can see this love speaking from every fiber of his being. He tells Baby Bae (who grabs his nose – this is soooo sweet, and I loved it that they chose this scene, since I’m pretty sure that this wasn’t in the script) that he’ll “never ever leave” him, which is very sad as we all know what will follow. Still, his intentions for everything he does in the following years, as extreme as it may seem, have always only the background of wanting to be there for Bae. Maybe he doesn’t make the right choices, and maybe it only proves the more that he is a coward who grabs at every straw he can spot anywhere, but still is it all rooted in his love for his son.

What happens next we’ve all seen. Milah leaves them when Bae is around six, and when the boy turns fourteen and is supposed to be sent to the war (which is still raging on – bloody hell…), Rumple becomes the Dark One. The next scene we see is set after Bae has already left through the portal to the “land without magic”, and Rumple is alone.

Now he finds/meets the Seer again, who has aged (a detail I actually would never have thought of, that’s why I mention it) as well and is now a young adult woman. By now Rumple has realized that his actions indeed left his son fatherless, but in a much different way than he originally believed it would happen. But, as said before – the future is written, and no matter what one tries to do and change, the result will always be the same, even of the path there is different and as much altered as one can think of.

Rumple is angry, no surprises here. He demands the Seer to tell him what is yet to come; and this time, he wants a clear answer and not some twisted words open for interpretation. And here it comes: The Seer tells him about the Curse, a Curse that will change everything (“…powerful enough to rip everyone from this land…”), but won’t be casted by him – nor will it be broken by him. So the original idea for this Curse didn’t come from Rumple himself. Thus, while we always gave him credit for how great a strategist and planner he is, not everything seems to be his doing; at least the push in the right direction came from someone else. Consequently it bears the question how much of a genius Rumple/the Dark One really is. All the scheming and planning certainly came from the Dark One, as I doubt that Rumple himself has it in him. But then, as we’ve seen, is the Dark One also like a Genie – bound to an inanimate object that allows its holder to control the magical being.

His trying to take the Seer’s powers away and claim them for himself goes wrong when Rumple realizes that her offer to take them is only but a desperate attempt to finally get rid of the burden being able to see and tell the future are. As a consequence, the stress kills the Seer; but since her death means that she’ll be freed of her burden, she offers Rumple one last glimpse into his future before she dies:

“You will be reunited with your son and it will come in a most unexpected way. A boy… a young boy will lead you to him. But beware, Rumplestiltskin… for that boy is more than he appears. He will lead you to what you seek. But there will be a price. The boy will be your undoing.”

After hearing this, Rumple’s first reaction is “Then I’ll just have to kill him.” Cut to Rumple in our time and world, as he stands in Bae’s apartment, obviously remembering exactly this moment all this time ago. Realizing what all this means now – he’d have to kill Henry. Theoretically. But then Rumple also has to know that it is now too late anyways to change anything.

It is Henry’s existence that made this rock of events to roll. Henry left SB to get Emma (as he was also the one only able to do so), brought her to the town, made her believe in the Curse and everything else he told her, and ultimately made her break the Curse. Without Emma, who knows if Rumple would ever have had the chance to go search for Bae, even with the Curse broken. But, while Henry made it possible for him to look for Bae, it also at the same time leads to Rumple having to leave SB and the only place in our world with magic; the only place where he can be safe, protected by his own powers, whereas everyone else he’s just an ordinary man without great skills I guess. I doubt he’s much of a fighter, plus he has his injury/limp that limits him very much. He even says it to Emma when Neal flees – “That favor you owe me – get him to talk to me. I can’t run.”

Had Henry been just a random boy, then maybe I would have, just for a moment, feared for his safety, his life. But as Rumple’s grandson, I seriously doubt that Rumple would even consider harming Henry, much less actually doing something in that regard. And it is not only the fact that Henry is Rumple’s grandson. It is also the one that he is Bae’s son, and if Rumple ever wants a chance to reconcile with his son, he will do anything but hurt the boy. Plus, as I said before, in my opinion is it very obvious that Rumple has a soft spot for Henry. Last but not least wouldn’t it help Rumple’s case when it comes to Belle if he hurt Henry – something Rumple must know very well.

So, in conclusion, no, I don’t think that Henry is in danger; quite the contrary can I rather see Rumple protect his grandson. All Rumple wants is to be loved and accepted, and not be seen as coward. Helping and protecting his grandson, being there for him in a way he couldn’t with Bae may just be the best way to finally prove himself.

 

But, I’m starting at the ending. There’s much happening before that realization who Henry is and what it all means for Rumple, and it leaves you at the edge of your seat because suddenly is this whole (dysfunctional) family so much more interesting than any other that ever was in this show… and maybe every other show.

2×13 left us off with Emma, Rumple and Henry sitting in the plane, waiting for take-off. As we go into the new episode, we are already in New York; in Manhattan, to be precise, and as the episode title says. The three arrive at the apartment building Rumple’s globe told him he’d find his son at (curious, as I only saw a tiny blob in the area of New York on a world map, but well, it’s OUAT…), and Emma’s bail bond’s senses help her find the right bell to ring – it has to be the one without a name.

And indeed, it is the right one. They know it when they hear someone outright flee the scenery, using the fire escape stairway. As said above, Rumple asks Emma to follow the man, sure that it is his son, and Emma, after assuring that Rumple will look after Henry (which I thought was such a wonderful little detail – especially when Rumple nodded), she sprints after the escapee. And catches him. And… almost has a heart attack.

What wasn’t that much of a surprise for us Oncers who follow spoilers (and even if you didn’t you already knew by then who Emma would hunt down), was a total shock to Emma herself. Because then man she caught (bodychecked, really) is no one else but Neal Cassidy, the man who was her first love eleven years ago, the father of her child, and the man who left her to be imprisoned after he was told to do so by August. And Emma catches up quickly after her first shock – much quicker than Neal, who still can’t believe that it is Emma standing before him. Because he doesn’t seem anything about Storybrooke except for that it exists (since he knew what the postcard he got in 2×01 meant). He doesn’t know who Gold is for example – he is completely confused when Emma demands to know if Neal is Gold’s son. That is until she adds “your father” to the conversation, and Neal goes very quiet. Shocked. Scared even. When Emma says Rumplestiltskin, we finally have our confirmation: Neal is Baelfire. And yes, I really expected some wicked twist in this plot that would make of Neal someone else; someone connected to Bae and Rumple, but not the lost son himself. But, alas, he really is Bae, what only makes this whole story better, as there are now a thousand other new twists.

Starting with Bae saying:

“I spent a lifetime running from that man.”

So no happy reunion – Bae doesn’t want to meet his father again. Actually, I had expected Bae to be not all that happy to meet Rumple again, after he was abandoned by his father, sent to an unknown world alone and all. But his words about spending his life running from his father nevertheless surprised me. Because it gives an impression of Bae fearing his father, of him hating him so much that he can’t even bear the thought of seeing him again. I can understand it, sort of, but then I also can’t.

And here comes the next thought. There is much speculation out there about Bae and where he really spent his time all those years, as this must have been much more time than only the 28 years of the Curse after Bae left FTL. Now there’s this theory among a good number of Oncers that Bae first went to Neverland and spent some time there before he somehow got to our world. No idea how that should work, especially since the Blue Fairy said the Bean would sent him to a land without magic, something Neverland certainly isn’t. Let’s still assume for now that this is how what happened – Neverland first, later our land.

We all know that children don’t age in Neverland. This could explain why Neal isn’t around 50 as he should be, but only, I guess, in his mid-thirties. If he was in Neverland, it is also possible that he met Hook. Now OUAT has proven countless times that they may take known fairytales and stories, but rework them in clever ways so that it all fits. I see it possible that maybe Hook and Bae met and became friends of sorts, for whatever reason. In this case, when Hook meets Bae again in our world and learns that he is the son of Rumple, and that Emma is the mother of Bae’s son and thus also of Rumple’s grandson, it could change things a lot. It could even make Hook reconsider his whole vengeance mission. I don’t know why, but I think that would be a very interesting and welcome turn of events.

Back to the today, it would make Bae’s behavior even less understandable if he did indeed spend some time in Neverland, because I guess there he would have been safe and in the company of people who take care of him. Which consequently would make it less likely that the Neverland part happened.

Anyways, as he talks to a very agitated Emma, he appears jumpy and panicky; under no circumstance he wants to face his father. Not then, at least. Despite her protest he goes to a bar with Emma where he says they can talk.

Side note: Neal must know where they are, and how far they’ve run during that chase. He also must know that Rumple has his limp – unless he believes that Rumple in this world is also the Dark One. There are a thousand thoughts that don’t make sense, because as Dark One, he would most definitely draw attention, and Neal can’t believe that Rumple would want that, so he has to look normal. Also speaks Emma of a Mr. Gold, who is obviously a normal person, only confirming this no DO exterior thing. So him being scared of Rumple turning up any second is quite irrational. Understandably in this situation, also because he can’t know that there is no magic in this world (outside SB) that would allow Rumple to “teleport” himself, but still it is curious.

While Emma and Neal go to the mentioned bar, Henry and Rumple wait. Rumple has bought Henry a hot dog, and a great conversation follows, that is as heartwarming as it is foreshadowing. For one, Rumple’s behavior towards Henry is very kind and warm. He even thanks to boy, as he is the one who brought Emma to SB, making all this possible – he even calls Henry “remarkable”. In return, Henry assures Rumple that sooner or later all will have a good outcome; he forgave Emma for giving him up, so Bae will too with Rumple. Rumple may have his doubts then, but I think that ultimately, Henry may just be right – even if it will take a few good words from him to Bae. And seeing the outcome of the episode, I’m pretty sure that Henry will have some influence on Bae.

In the end, it may just be Henry who will reunite all characters and family members…

At the bar, Emma finally hears the story of what really happened. Neal of course didn’t know who Emma was – if he had, he would have never gone near her, as he says. But, he didn’t know, and his love was true (my interpretation, I still think that he really loved her). And he wanted to go through with their plan of selling the watches – when he met August. And yes, he says the name. Making Emma known who it was to destroy her happiness. Something tells me that August better shouldn’t return to SB because there’ll be someone waiting who is very angry at him.

The big moment comes in the flashback that shows us a scene from 2×06, the one with August where he opens the box. The moment that made the whole fandom speculate what August could possibly have in the box that convinced Neal to give Emma and their love up, to betray her and send her to jail. I think I said back then that I assume it is the drawing of Rumple’s dagger. But, it is much simpler, as we see now: All we find inside the box is the typewriter, in it a sheet of paper that holds one single sentence: I know you’re Baelfire.

The only thing I wonder about now is: How the hell did August know that? I doubt that they’d ever met before, and Bae’s existence, the existence of Rumple’s son, isn’t common knowledge; people who know the Dark One won’t know much about the man behind it, the father and husband he once was. Actually, how I see it aren’t there many people in general who know of Bae and Rumple’s history outside their little village. So how did August acquire this piece of information? The only person I can think of as a connection between these two is the Blue Fairy. Somehow she must have told August who Baelfire is and that he should find him. But why – and how could the Blue Fairy have known that Bae and Emma would ever be connected, the Bae was about to keep her from fulfilling her purpose (unbeknownst to him though), so that August would have to intervene? It’s again something that doesn’t make sense and will hopefully be cleared up as soon as August returns.

Emma is a step ahead, suspecting that this was all a plan by Rumple and Bae, or at least one of them. But just as Neal (this is getting confusing with the Neal/Bae thing…) tells her, it wasn’t – and we all know that it couldn’t have been. Because Neal is right – their relationship could and would have kept Emma from ever breaking the Curse. Bae couldn’t have known anything about it, as he left FTL long before the Curse was even thought of (thanks to the Seer, so it was never in Rumple’s/the Dark One’s plans to begin with), much less prepared. And Rumple included Emma in the Curse as the Savior, of course, but he could never have known that Emma would meet Bae and fall in love with him. It also wouldn’t make any sense, since we later see that he has no idea that those two have met before. Without this fact I’d go for Rumple having seen something in these moments he was trying to get the Seer’s powers, but it is absolutely impossible that he knew before.

In the end, this family definitely needs to gather and exchange stories so everyone will finally know what really went on and how all the events came to pass.

When Neal says that they maybe met for a reason and something good came from them being together, my first thought was – he isn’t wrong, there is something: Henry. But Emma denies it, said that nothing good came from it. Of course she doesn’t want Neal to know about Henry, she wants to protect him. So no surprises there.

But. As far as Neal’s words go, he’s right. I said it above already – none of all this would have happened without Henry. How would Emma ever have come to SB if Henry hadn’t found her and insisted on coming with him? The people of SB couldn’t have left, Neal would never have brought her back, and August… well, he’s the only way, but he would have had a hard time bringing her to SB I guess. It is way easier for a child to convince someone of fairytales being true, than for an adult. Had August even started to say anything about fairytales and magic and the Curse, Emma would just have turned on her heel and left SB again, I’m sure.

So in the end Henry’s birth, his existence was destiny as well; the destiny of everyone.

The scene seems to mark the end of Emma’s and Neal’s relationship, or whatever was still left of it. When Neal points out that she’s wearing the key chain he got her, the swan, she pulls it from her neck and thus breaks the last connection that may have been there. She also says that he only wore it to remind herself to never trust anyone again (and we know that especially Hook suffered from Neal’s groundwork regarding this) – but it is still interesting, as both seem to have never forgotten each other. Maybe they are still in love? Who knows. Certainly is her giving him back the key chain not the last point in their relationship. Actually I can even see her getting it back…

Emma wants to bring Neal to his father – because that’s the deal she made with Rumple. Neal’s reaction to this is a shocked one: “You made a deal with my father?” Obviously, although we never saw Bae watch Rumple making deals (and what followed), he seems to know all too well what it means. And he says something that is interesting: She doesn’t have to fulfill her end. I’m sure that almost every Oncer out there took deals with Rumple as a binding word, something that couldn’t be broken. Certainly this impression was made because he is so powerful and if people don’t do as he wants, he just makes them. So question is – did anyone ever consider just don’t holding up their end of a bargain? Ashley/Ella did, but that was in SB and while the Curse was still active, and everyone feared Mr. Gold anyways, especially a young woman without much money and the means to take care of a child.

But everyone else? Here it is Neal/Bae who practically gives Emma the “Jail Free Card” by telling her that she doesn’t have to meet his demands. And when he asks her if he knows that she doesn’t have to uphold her end, she actually even says “I know”. So if there was ever one person to break a deal with Rumple, it would/could/will be Emma. Well, it is. Because she leaves Neal and goes back to Rumple and Henry alone, telling Rumple that the man got away. So ultimately, she defies Rumple, and may be the first one to do so, which unfortunately isn’t paid any more attention to. Not in this episode anyways.

Before that, however, Emma talks to Snow on the phone. Delivering these breaking news that, of all people, Rumplestiltskin is Henry’s grandfather. Emma is considering not telling Henry the truth either (she doesn’t want to tell it Rumple of course), but Snow argues that Henry has a right to know. Seeing how messed up this whole situation is, that Emma doesn’t want to see Neal again (at least that’s why she says…) and Neal doesn’t want to meet his father, and considering Emma’s trust issues, it is only natural that Emma rather wants to keep it all a secret. Plus, Snow sort of nails it – in the end, even if Emma says she wants to protect Henry, it’s mostly about protecting herself, because that’s what she’s been doing all her life.

In addition to that is her saying that she wants to protect Henry not really understandable. She now has heard from Neal what really happened all those years ago, why he let her alone and go to jail. Who is to say that Neal wouldn’t want to be there for his child – if he knew about him? The way I see it will her trust issues still make for a big problem in the future, and this is most likely where some of the obstacles in the general series plot then could also come from.

While Emma is away, Rumple and Henry share another conversation as they sit and wait in the entry hall of the apartment building. And this is what initially excited, but in the end really confused me. Because there are several things said that just don’t add up with the ending of the episode. So we’ve seen that Rumple tried to take away the Seer’s abilities, but we also saw that it didn’t work, that he interrupted/broke the connection, realizing that all the Seer wanted was to get rid of her burden. However, she kept it and it died with her. It is possible that Rumple received at least fragments of that ability, but that would be a very sudden change of things. In any way is Henry saying that according to his book, Rumple is able to foresee the future. And in return Rumple answers that he didn’t always had that ability, and that, to sum it up, the future is a tricky thing to predict.

Ultimately, this makes me wonder: Can he or can he not see the future? The ending indicates he can’t; but his and Henry’s words seem to tell us otherwise. Or is this notion that the Seer must have lost her ability had the whole taking away process worked wrong, to begin with? Maybe he got some of the Seer’s powers after all, even if not the whole thing. But what is he then able to see? And why didn’t he predict some of the things that have happened so far, starting with Belle’s return, for example? Can’t he see anything that happens in our world, but only what is to come in FTL? That would be the only logical explanation for all this; otherwise there’s some plot hole that is not yet filled and secured.

As viewer we already know that even if Emma rather wants to keep this all from Henry and Rumple, it’s not gonna happen. And surely, when she returns to the unsuspecting grandfather and grandson, her saying that Neal got away brings Rumple to break into the man’s apartment. It will never cease to amaze me how quickly Robert Carlyle can change within the enormous range of his acting abilities. One minute he’s the nice, quiet man talking to Henry, the next he’s almost furiously hitting all the bells at once so he can get to the apartment door. Fascinating, really.

That Emma is trying to stop Rumple was to be expected. Only that I doubt that her reasons for doing so are morally founded. No, for sure is she afraid that the apartment will reveal who Neal really is… to Emma and Henry. Rumple already knows that he is Bae, but I’m pretty sure that Emma fears him finding out that Neal is also her ex-lover and father of Henry. Now, the latter would be a bit hard, as Neal himself doesn’t know, but who is to say that Neal doesn’t still have some little keepsake from his time with Emma?

Fun moment when Emma and Rumple discuss how wrong breaking in is and what the consequences would be, only to have Henry say “I’ll be lookout”. LOL. Something tell me that Henry has started to take a liking to Rumple, and I totally love that. Rumple needs all the love he can get, and even though he has Belle, the innocent love of a child could be just worth as much.

When they enter the apartment, it isn’t as revealing as I would have suspected it to be. But, the dream catcher thing then confused me. Okay, so Neal has, just like his father, a dream catcher, and Emma takes it from the window, holds it. As we can see is it the one from 2×06 they found in the motel room (It is, isn’t it? Looks the same, anyways…), the one Emma has to explain to Neal. But this is just her memory; nothing that would be written in her face. So for me Rumple’s sudden reaction, accusing her of lying, is coming out of nowhere. Just because Emma is holding a dream catcher it doesn’t mean that she’s lying. Plus, Rumple knows that she saw that dream catcher in his shop when they retrieved the memories from Archie’s dog, so her holding it, as it is a clear connection to Rumple and thus also proof that this is Neal’s apartment, isn’t much of giveaway, to my mind at least.

Still, he gets angry and demands answers, the truth… threatens her… and thus makes his son appear to be Emma’s knight-in-not-so-shining-armor. Well, that’s one way to reunite a family. And thus the one way becomes more than one, because there’s also more than one family, sort of, reunited. Clearly this is where it now starts to get really complicated, what with Rumple being Henry’s grandfather and all. I love it though. And – even if I’m repeating myself, I’ll still say it – it presents us so many opportunities and new ideas.

Just think about it – of all people it is the Savior who has a child together with Rumple’s son. What does this make of Henry? One thing is for sure – since Henry now is proven to be the son of two pure-blooded FTL beings (Emma is one, even born in FTL, and Bae is one anyways), there are many opportunities now what to do with Henry, what skills to give him. He could even possess magic, like his mother, or be able to learn it. And if he gets along well with rumple – which seems to be the case until now – it will be even more interesting to see whom Henry follows. Bae resents magic, Emma has to learn to use hers, Rumple is a master of magic, and Henry himself… is somewhere in between, fascinated by it, but at the same time also kind of resenting it because of Regina.

When Neal bursts into the apartment, it’s at first a Rumple/Bae moment. And it’s awesome. Because obviously, for a moment there Neal just didn’t think, but only acted on his feelings, his need to protect Emma – the woman he still loves, in some way. He comes in, and you can see his face transform to a “darn, I’ve really done it, I’m standing before him again” one when it sinks in that after so many years he’s just been reunited with his father. And it would have stayed a father/son scene hadn’t those two started to fight – and hadn’t Emma intervened.

Because when she and Neal start interacting a bit too much, they rise Rumple’s suspicions, who quickly finds out that those two know each other. And to add insult to injury, cue Henry entering the room, and an enormous light bulb appears over Rumple’s head as the puts the pieces together. That this poor man didn’t get a heart attack then still amazes me. Same for Neal I guess, who is as quick in putting pieces together as is his father and also soon has a suspicion that makes him demand Henry’s age, before said suspicion is confirmed. Eleven years. Exactly the time that has passed since Emma and Neal parted ways. And Emma went to jail where she didn’t have any contact to men (presumably).

The scene bodes an emotional rollercoaster for every one of the four people involved. Neal/Bae finds out he has a son, Henry has to face the fact that not only his father lives, but also his mom (btw, when did he start calling her mom on a regular basis?!) lied to him, Emma realizes that her past, the present and her lies for self-protection are catching up with her, and Rumple… well, he only remains in the background, almost frozen to the spot, shock and confusion written all over his face. And there’s something else – you can see his mind reeling as he probably thinks about what we’ll later learn the Seer told him.

Henry flees through the window and onto the fire escape stairway, and Emma follows him – leaving Neal and Rumple alone. On his father’s pleas Neal eventually gives him three minutes to talk to him about whatever he wants to talk to him. At first I wondered about the three minutes – until I remembered that three is a magical number. Not that it would have any meaning here in a bigger sense, but I love how this little detail was included; it shows once again that Ed&Adam and their team really are precise and give a lot of thought to what they do – and not only the general plots.

The Rumple/Bae scene is sad in the regard that we see that Rumple hasn’t really understood yet what has happened, and what mistakes he has made. He again wants to solve it all with magic, not realizing that Bae resents magic so much; so much more than Belle, who’s been/becoming accepting of it before she lost her memories. Bae, however, wants nothing of it, good or bad, destructive or creative. He just wants to be free and away from all that “crap”, as he said earlier when he talked to Emma.

So Rumple offers to turn back the clock, turn back time. Make Bae 14 again, and life it all again, which Bae of course doesn’t want. Who would want to be 14 again, really? In addition to that, he’s lived his life until now, he has a son and all. And Rumple isn’t the father anymore he wants, he wanted back then, he knew back then.

But wait. Turn back time? Rumple can actually do that?! Then… why hasn’t he? If he is capable of that, why hasn’t he just turned the clock back, undid it all, to the moment before Bae was lost to whatever world? Or is it yet another power that would come with too many consequences even Rumple doesn’t dare to face? I mean, it’s not like he’s cared before, with everything he did. Only that now also Belle is part of the game, and he’d lose her love too (given that she remembers, which we all know she will soon), and maybe he doesn’t want to risk that. Thinking that it will be easier to get Bae back than to have Belle fall in love with him again. The other thing possible is that Rumple only learned how to tinker with time a long while after several things, such as Bae’s departure and Belle’s stay in his castle, happened. Maybe he even only learned it now; or he only learned now how to limit the change to one person.

Whatever it is – it’s a dead end. There’s loads of emotional baggage with both of them, and in between them, and it will take some time to resolve that, or at least get to a point when they’ll be ready to try and resolve it. After all, as he says himself, was Bae traumatized because of the whole event when his own father let go of his hand in favor of his magic; when his own father let him fall into an abyss of which no one knew where it would bring them/him. Bae suffers from a severe case of fear of loss, and I hope that this will be made a topic later on also, because he surely is strongly influenced by it.

In the end, Bae leaves, and it’s by all means a symbolic gesture. He breaks with Rumple, or at least he wants to show him that this is what he does. He doesn’t want to have anything to do with his father anymore – “Now I’m letting you go.” Without the background and all the terrible moments, this terrible time Bae had to live through, I’m attempted to say that he doesn’t see the whole picture. So yes, Rumple made a mistake – but he also tried to make up for it. Maybe it wasn’t the right way, maybe it brought harm to so many people, but he nevertheless tried. He doesn’t know how, he is a coward, he can’t be brave and just step up and do the right thing like maybe Charming would. But he does his best. And one thing also needs to be paid attention to: He knew that the Curse would force him to live without magic for 28 years, at least. And he still did it. Has anyone ever considered that little fact? Even if he didn’t need his magic then, he still lived without it, and readily so. Not it is for Bae to filter the good out of the bad and see that the father he loved is still in there. Right now, he can’t see it:

Rumple: You once loved me.
Bae: You were once a good man.

This must be the most heartbreaking moment of this episode. I won’t say season, because I’m a Rumbelle shipper after all, but this is so beautiful, and so, so sad. And all you can hope then is that one day, those two will reconcile because I think they both need it, desperately.

Meanwhile, Henry is more than disappointed, and as a boy of only eleven who hasn’t much seen of the world, who hadn’t to face the real bad sides of the world, and if people, yet (even under the prospect of knowing Regina), he of course can’t understand Emma’s reasons. That she never wanted to see him again and all. And of course is this no valid reason for a child to be kept from his father. Even though I do wonder of Emma even would have had the chance to contact Neal and tell him, keep him in their life… but then, she thought he had betrayed her (and he had, somehow), so it is understandable that she rather not wanted to see Neal in Henry’s life either.

So Henry compares Emma to the only person he can, according to his experiences – Regina. But, as we all know – and as much as Henry knows – did Regina try to change. So this could very well bring him back to his stepmother, even though I doubt it will be that easy for her. Plus, Regina is now of course busy with her own mother and their plans probably even she doesn’t really know what they are.

Which ultimately leaves Henry alone. Right? No. Because suddenly, there is a father, the one person he never before had in his life, neither with Regina nor Emma. And those two get along. Neal is happy as any man to have a son, and you can see that they connect immediately, like they’ve ever known each other, since day one. I guess there’s also Neal’s desire to be different than his father behind all that; he wants to do what Rumple once promised, be there for his son, “never, never leave” him now that he has him. Hope this will play out for all of them.

This whole Rumple family situation is now getting extremely complicated, with all the stuff in the background, most notably Rumple’s memory of the Seer’s prediction and the consequence of him theoretically having to kill Henry. As said before, I don’t see that happening, and contrary to what the producers and spoilers want to make us believe I also I don’t see Rumple actually thinking about it in earnest.

Yes, he is first and foremost thinking of his own safety and well-being, but then we’ve all seen him being better, sometimes, at least. He can be, and he can put others first if he loves them. Belle is a candidate here, as is Bae, and surely now also Henry. No matter what, and no matter how much of a coward there is in Rumple, it is something that has grown over decades and will be hard to lose, to unlearn again. It will need time; but if he gets this time, and the support he needs from the people that mean something to him, from the people he loves, he can do it, and he can recognize that there is no threat at all as long as you don’t believe in it. As long as you are brave.

Rumple will learn and understand that, some day, and till then, he’ll hopefully see that Belle, Bae and Henry stand by his side nevertheless, and are willing to accept him as he is – including the good core he carries. Thus, I think all this talk about Henry possibly being in danger is just a way to fuel our panic, to excite us and keep us watching, which is not really needed, by anyways…

 

The side storyline – and really, it is only the less important one here, despite of what it reveals – with Cora, Regina and Hook is more preparation of anything else. Nevertheless, there are several things that need to be mentioned.

First off we have an answer to the question I asked last time, about whether everyone would leave their magic, Cora included, when they leave SB. And indeed she would, as she says so herself. No surprise that it applies to Regina (“The moment either of us leave…”), but Cora? Wonder why she should be affected. Or is, in the end, SB nothing else than the extension of FTL, and every place would need magic to allow the same to the person being there?

The plan of the three is now to find Rumple’s dagger. That was hinted at before, and not only once, so I knew it was coming. There will be lot about that in the next episode(s), so I won’t say much about that now. I just think and know that nothing will be as it seems when it comes to this storyline, and certainly won’t the writers just give the dagger to the enemy, as there would be no turning back from this point.

And as Cora says: if they possess Rumple’s dagger and make him kill anyone, he’ll take the blame for it. Try and proof that what you’ve done, especially if it is something really bad, you were made to do because you are controlled by a knife. However, regarding that I wonder how much power the dagger (and the one holding it) really has over Rumple – maybe in SB it will have a completely different effect?

The Cora/Regina relationship in general is interesting. Cora mimes the concerned mother who cares about her daughter’s feelings, who wants to help Regina when it comes to all those bad, bad people (yep, exaggerating here), and to getting back Henry of course. Regina, on the other hand, and despite everything we see her do in this episode – most notably her showing up in Belle’s hospital room, will come to that in a minute – makes a very… um… complicated impression. Because to my mind, Regina isn’t fully in on Cora’s plans. To me, she seems to follow her own agenda, for now working with her mother – and Hook – but secretly not really being convinced of all that.

Surely one can say that she does everything Cora wants, and that it looks a lot like she wants it as well – anything if it brings Henry back. But even though Cora may have a lot of influence on Regina (that’s why she wanted to kill her mother), the younger woman still seems to have that conscious inside her, the one telling her that she needs to lay off magic, become a better person, or else she’ll never earn/keep Henry’s love. Regina very well knows that nothing short of her becoming said better person, without magic, will bring her closer to her (step) son. And since Henry is the most important person in her life…

The one thing that had me actually protest (read: rant) was Regina showing up in Belle’s hospital room. What the hell?! Didn’t anyone think of some kind of protection detail or whatever?! I mean, I doubt that the warning Rumple gave two idiots was hard to understand. True, Regina didn’t harm Belle in that sense, but she could have, and that is all that matters here. Belle was unprotected, and if Regina was able to walk in, who is to say that Cora or Hook couldn’t have done the same? And then done something even worse? So Rumple will probably never hear about that, unless Belle remembers after remembering, and tells him, but nevertheless I wonder if there will by any kind of consequence.

Now Regina and Cora are out to dig for the dagger, and I’m looking forward to see where this plot will lead us. Especially where the plot splits, since Cora has betrayed Hook and the two women leave him behind. Could this mean that sooner or later he’ll turn on them and work against them or mostly Cora? Also didn’t Regina really approve of Cora’s actions (and plans behind them), not even when Cora explained what she wants to do. Regina’s features were mostly frozen, as if she couldn’t really be happy about it all.

And I’m trying very hard not to go into the countless spoilers I’ve seen and read so far concerning this storyline. This is all for the next ep. *gottastaystrong*

 

This episode didn’t have many (if any?) light and humorous moments – except maybe for that little conversation Snow and Charming share. Snow tells her husband that Rumple is Henry’s grandfather – prompting Charming to say that he thought he was the boy’s grandfather. Seriously, this was a total facepalm moment. I’m no big fan of the Charmings because for me they are by far not as important as many of the other characters, and certainly didn’t that scene help. At least Snow knows that one can have more than one grandparent(s).

Fun was his “It’s a good thing we don’t have Thanksgiving in our land, ’cause that dinner would suck.” – even though I think a whole Oncer community, mostly on Twitter, begs to differ. It was interesting to see how many, in the days following that episode, wrote that they’d love to see this Thanksgiving dinner. And surely I’d love to, too. The whole family – Rumple, the Charmings, Emma, Bae, Henry and Belle, plus I guess Regina – at one table. Oh yes. Definitely want to see that.

On the other hand there is what Snow says: “Maybe this would mellow everyone out.” And of course would this be a great chance, as I said above already, to completely change the dynamics and bring people together who saw themselves as enemies until now. Or at least not as friends. In some way, this is a bit like Romeo & Juliet, just without the heroes (Emma & Neal in this case) dying in the end. And no, they won’t.

 

Luckily, episode 2×15 – “The Queen Is Dead”, a Snow story – is almost here. Even though something tells me that the main plot will be not as thrilling as the continuation of the Rumple family one…

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