Once Upon A Time: Quiet Minds (S3E15)

Neal: “Was it serious?

Emma: “He proposed.”

Neal: “Wow.”

Emma: “And then he turned into a flying monkey.”

Neal: “Sounds intense.”

Emma: “Go ahead and laugh. I almost married a monster from Oz. It’s hilarious.”

Neal: “I almost married a minion of my evil grandfather, Peter Pan. So I know what you’re saying.”

Note to self: the next time you miss an episode of Once Upon A Time on Sunday and have to watch online afterwards, don’t do it during work because you risk the chance of crying at your desk. Now that everyone knows Rumplestiltskin is back, Emma and David track him down while Hook plays babysitter. How exactly is the Dark One alive? One year ago in the Enchanted Forest, Belle and Neal team up to bring Rumplestiltskin back. And finally in present day, the show suffers its most heartbreaking death yet. Now if you’ll excuse me I have something in my eye…

In Storybrooke, our band of heroes convenes at Granny’s to discuss how Rumplestiltskin could have come back and what to do. Hook chimes in that Neal was looking for a way to bring his father back because he missed his family. (Man Hook really got a lot of information in that hour he spent with everyone before disappearing on his own quest). But did Neal even make it to Storybrooke? They agree that their best bet is to find Gold so he can tell them who the witch is, because yes you and I know that the too-good-to-be-true strange midwife with the giant green brooch is her, but poor Snow still has no clue. Regina heads back to check the farmhouse, because much like in the Enchanted Forest, Regina has a new purpose in tracking down this witch for… kidnapping Rumplestiltskin? For taking over her villain role? Whatever it is, an Evil Queen on your side is a good thing.

“She’s the one who needs to be careful. She invaded my space. When I return the favor I’m not pulling any punches.” – Regina

Zelena tries to call Rumplestiltskin using the dagger, but is unable to retrieve him. We also still don’t know who unlocked his cage. But Zelena sends off her flying monkey to chase him down. Meanwhile Rumple is running away through the woods. Emma and Co. arrive to tell Belle that he is alive and will probably seek her out if he is free. In one of their many “eye conversations”, Emma commands Hook to (reluctantly) agree to look after Belle in the meantime.

Belle: “You will stay with me?”

Emma: “He’ll protect you if the witch comes.”

Belle: “You do know he tried to kill me-“

Hook: “There were… extenuating circumstances-“

Belle: “Twice.”

Hook: “Sorry?”

Emma: “You really know how to charm a girl, don’t you?”

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Belle and Neal discuss Rumple and how Neal needs to bring him back so that Neal can get back with his family. He takes out the necklace he gave Emma in ‘Tallahassee’ (and the one she angrily returned to him in ‘Manhattan’) and says it represents their life together. (Because either of them keeps getting angry and losing the other?) Belle tells him it survived the trip because of true love, and leads him to the library where she says they’ll find a way to bring Rumple back. I’d take her more seriously if she wasn’t dressed like she just went shopping at the Hot Topic store in the Enchanted Forest. Belle lights what turns out to be fan-service Lumiere, and Neal looks like he’s in absolutely no mood to talk to a candelabra.

Belle promises that Rumple will restore Lumiere to his pre-cursed body if he tells them how to bring back Rumplestiltskin. Lumiere points them to a book with a key that will unlock the vault that contained the first “Dark One.” That was easy enough. Oh but it’s a trap! Lumiere is in cahoots with Zelena but wants her to turn him back. Zelena threatens to turn him into the wax seal on an envelope. Yeah, I think these threats only sound good when you’re not an inanimate object.

Back in Storybrooke Belle and Hook hear someone charging at the door and Belle immediately assumes it’s Rumplestiltskin. Yeah maybe be a little more careful of someone trying to break down the front door, Belle? It turns out not to be Rumple at all, but Neal, who has magically arrived in town before collapsing on the floor. Please don’t turn out to be a flying monkey.

“Sorry kid, we’re not in Manhattan anymore.” – Emma

Emma checks back in with Henry, who knows that Emma is lying to him and something is going on in this town. Emma finally admits that yes, there is something more going on, but asks him to trust her not to say anything because it’s best for him. Henry will go fishing with Leroy in the meantime, and I am loving this minimal Henry presence after the first half of this season.

Emma meets Neal at the hospital, where he says he has no memories except for running around in the woods after seeing Emma drive off in her yellow bug. David tells him that Rumple is alive, and Neal is incredulous after just watching him die. Emma catches a demonic-looking triangle symbol burned onto his hand and takes a picture with her phone to send to Belle. So naive Belle is the only one with internet access in this town? Neal asks for a minute alone with Emma, and more eye conversations occur between her and Hook before everyone else leaves.

Neal and Emma have a heart-to-heart, and Neal wants to see Henry, but Emma tells him that he has no memories of Neal other than what memories he has of Emma telling him that Neal sent her to jail and abandoned them. Neal doesn’t want Henry to only have lies about him and wants to get Henry’s memories back but Emma says that Henry was really happy in NYC, and that maybe not getting his memories back is for the best. It’s actually a pretty interesting moral dilemma.

Back at the apartment Snow invites Zelena in, who offers her what can only be a sinister glass of orange juice and tells her not to worry if the baby’s not kicking. Zelena even asks if they’ve found out more about the Wicked Witch. I’m surprised her giant green brooch didn’t sparkle or glow at this point. Snow says no and complains that everyone’s looking while she’s cooped up at home. Zelena reassures her and might as well be twirling her handlebar mustache because Snow is so oblivious at this point.

“Your little prince or princess could be here any day. I am not letting you have this baby without me.” – Zelena

Regina investigates the farmhouse, where Robin Hood sneaks up on her in an incredibly parallel encounter when they first teamed up to sneak back into Regina’s castle. Robin is surprisingly much more flirtatious in Storybrooke, and without Regina’s ridiculous bird feathers, their chemistry works a bit better. And I mean Robin is incredibly cheeky, checking out Regina and wanting to drink whiskey with her. I’m confused where this is all coming from, like there was some missing scene where they interacted prior to this. Regina then notices his lion tattoo, realizing he is her soul mate, and much like Emma would, panics and runs.

Now it’s Hook’s turn to babysit Neal by lovingly bringing him some green jello in a shoutout to a deleted scene from season 2 where Hook first stumbles upon the jiggly creation.

Neal: “What’s it feel like – to play the hero after being a pirate for so long?”

Hook: “Unfamiliar. And you – how does it feel to play the villain?”

Neal: “I’m a villain now?”

Hook: “Well if you truly had a hand in bringing your father back, I suspect you had to use the darkest of magic and paid an even darker price, though I’m sure you felt the ends justified the means.”

Neal wants to rush out and help find his dad, and we get a standoff moment between Hook and Neal before Hook pulls Neal into a giant, warm embrace and reminisces about how he forgets sometimes that Neal is still that boy he once looked after so long ago, and that they got into a silly fight over a woman… who is either/both Milah and/or Emma. (Oh the tug on my heartstrings). He agrees to give Neal a 10-minute head start before he alerts the others that he’s gone. This is undoubtedly my favorite moment between these 2 so far. It’s not a petty love triangle; it’s two men who have a deep respect for each other and who just happen to love the same woman.

In the woods, Emma tells David that she wanted Henry to have his memories back, but now she might not even want to stay in Storybrooke after they break the curse. They hear Gold scream and find him and want to know who the witch is, but Gold is frantic, saying there are too many voices in his head. Then they get attacked by a flying monkey and Gold runs, Emma chases after him, and David fends off the simian with wings.

Emma loses Gold but then finds Neal and reluctantly allows him to help her. They talk about living in NYC and how Emma was happy to have a normal good life. Neal says it must have been lonely, but Emma says she had someone and apologizes. Neal is a little hurt but tells her she had nothing to be sorry for. She had no good memories of him.

Neal: “Was it serious?

Emma: “He proposed.”

Neal: “Wow.”

Emma: “And then he turned into a flying monkey.”

Neal: “Sounds intense.”

Emma: “Go ahead and laugh. I almost married a monster from Oz. It’s hilarious.”

Neal: “I almost married a minion of my evil grandfather, Peter Pan. So I know what you’re saying.”

Even though I didn’t think Neal and Emma should end up together in the end – I feel like they were in love but then due to unfortunate circumstances, had to move on – I love giggly Neal and Emma. Contrast that with the very same albeit dramatic conversation with Hook. Neal and Emma have a long history where they can laugh off things (and Emma still doesn’t think it’s a big deal she almost married a flying monkey!!) It’s so cute though. Neal then tells Emma he just wants her to be happy even if it’s not with him and Emma tells him they were happy once, but Neal says they never made it to Tallahassee. Belle calls and interrupts their moment, telling Emma that the seal on Neal’s hand means that he brought back Rumple, but in exchange for his own life, and technically he should be dead right now. And right on cue, Neal starts to change, switching between himself and Rumple.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Neal and Belle head towards the vault, and Belle says that Rumple sacrificed himself to save everyone, but Neal corrects her and says that he sacrificed himself to save his family, and although he forgives Rumple for sending him though the portal, he would never do the same thing to Henry. But Neal agrees that he would do anything to get back to his son.They find the seal and Lumiere gives himself away by giving the incorrect age of Rumplestiltskin’s library. Lumiere reveals it was Zelena behind it all, saying that she wants Rumple back so she can control him. Belle wants to leave, but Neal still wants to bring him back because this might be the only way. Belle tries to persuade him, but Neal turns the triangle-shaped key and unlocks the vault. Oh magic always comes with a price, dearie.

And Neal does pay the ultimate price as Rumple comes back to life. Rumple tries to hold onto both his dagger and Neal, but Zelena says he can’t do both, so he lets the dagger go and takes Neal within himself. Zelena takes the dagger and commands Rumple to kill Belle, but Lumiere uses his… fire breath(?) power to contain her. Belle takes Lumiere and runs.

Back in Storybrooke, Neal wants Emma to use her magic to separate Neal from his father, but this will result in Neal’s death. He says Rumple is more important to save the town and when Emma hesitates saying it’s too much, he tells Emma to use her magic to save her and Henry. So we’re continuing Emma’s use of magic for love rather than vengeance. Emma reluctantly agrees and Rumple and Neal separate and Rumple tells them that Zelena is the witch and wants what she can’t have. Emma wants Gold to save Neal but there is nothing he can do. Emma says Neal can’t die without seeing Henry again, but Neal says he’ll be happy if Henry just knows he was a good father. Then Neal gives Emma back the swan necklace and tells her to find Tallahassee, even if it’s without him. (And oh man here come the waterworks). *sniff* Neal then says goodbye to his father, and says it’s his turn now to make a sacrifice to save the ones he loves. (Oh the tears won’t stop).

Emma and David team up in the best father/daughter busting down doors scene ever at Snow’s apartment, and then finally tell Snow that Zelena is the Wicked Witch. Snow is more concerned about what just happened with Neal, understandably since the previous scene was so heart-wrenching, but I would be a little more concerned about what the witch wanted with her baby.

Rumple stares at Neal’s dead body when Zelena comes to retrieve him. He tells her that he was able to tell “the savior” who she really is, and that they’ll kill her, unless he kills her first. Unfortunately his last threat doesn’t carry much weight, as Zelena forces him to walk back to his cage after watching his son die. And now Zelena has his brain. Which leaves the heart to someone else.

Regina spies on Robin with his son from afar while everyone else reels from Neal’s death. Emma has a heart-to-heart with Henry, in what I guess is the newest permanent lake set-piece to Storybrooke. Emma finally tells him a little of the truth, that she came to town to save his father, but she was too late and the killer got away. But he was a good man, would have been a great father, and died a hero. Emma then vovs to find whoever did this.

So to recap, the very purpose of Rumplestiltskin’s curse, the whole purpose of the show’s first season was for him to reunite with his son Baelfire, whom he abandoned. Rumple sacrificed himself so that Bae could finally be happy, and then Baelfire turns around, sacrifices himself to bring Rumple back, and Rumple watches his own son die right in front of him. I was gutwrenched when Gold died, but he had done what he set out to do, reunite with his son and make sure he had a good life. Here it’s like he’s failed again.

Emma falls in love with Neal, who abandons her with child (unknowingly) because he will get in the way of her saving Storybrooke. Emma starts to have feelings for Graham, who then dies in her arms. Then Emma runs into Neal again, but he is engaged to a bad person, and then Emma thinks he dies. But then he comes back, they get separated again. Emma falls in love with Walsh who turns out to be a bad guy. Emma finds Neal again, and watches him die, again, after once telling him that she kind of wished he had stayed dead the first time because it was so painful for her. Oh I want to give Emma a hug right now!

Damn you, show, for making me care so much about these characters. I’m not angry about Neal’s death; story-wise, it’s heart-breaking motivation. But I did really want Neal to stay alive though and have a good father-son relationship with Henry eventually and find his happiness. I can’t believe I didn’t see it throughout the episode. Neal’s coming-to-terms with who his father was, his closure with Hook, and finally his closure with Emma sealed the deal. I just didn’t think the show would go there after Neal’s fake death last season, and that is what makes this so heart-wrenching.

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