Well, guess that takes care of that whole love triangle thing now don’t it?
So, we finally rejoin Neal and Belle in the Enchanted Forest, seeing what they have been up to while Snow and the others have been trying to reclaim the Castle. The pair go to Rumplestiltskin’s castle, hoping that there will find a way to bring him back. Instead they find a talking candle stick. That’s right folks, Lumiere has made an appearance. It makes sense, tying into the whole Beauty and the Beast thing that was Rumple and Belle. Lumiere tells them of a way to bring back the Dark One, by using a key hidden in a book and going to where the first Dark One was created. With key in hand and possessed candlestick in tow, they venture off and find the place. It is here that Belle realizes that Lumiere has been lying to them, and he (it?) reveals that he (it?) has been working for the Wicked Witch, and that she has plans for the Dark One’s power. Neal doesn’t care, thinking only of getting back to Emma and Henry, and uses the key to bring back his father, unwittingly giving up his own life in the process, a price must be made after all. Unwilling to lose his son, Rumple pulls Neal into him, which causes his madness.
Honestly, this was a pretty dull sequence, we didn’t get anything that we haven’t seen before. Belle talking about her love for Rumple and how there is good in him, Neal saying that things with his dad were rough, but he had forgiven him and wanted him back. There was an interesting parallel drawn between Neal and Rumple in the whole doing whatever it takes to get back their son and how this blind desire led to their downfall, but apart from that, it was basically just the two talking and walking through the woods. Even the confrontation with Mean and Green at the end wasn’t all that spectacular.
Back in Storybrooke, Emma and gang continue their hunt for the witch, only this time taking a different approach. With the knowledge that Rumple is still alive they decide its best to find him, as he knows the true identity of the witch. They go to Belle for help, thinking that if anyone would know how to find Rumple it would be her. Instead, Neal crashes through the door. They take him to the hospital, where we get a touching moment between him and Hook, reminding us of their history together. Hook lets him go and Neal joins up with Emma to find his father. There are some dramatic family moments as Emma tells Neal that she is hesitant to return Henry’s memories, thinking that he is happier with the false memories. Before long Belle discovers the price that Neal payed to bring Rumple back, and they see Rumple saved him. Neal insists that Emma use her magic to separate them, his reasoning that they need Rumple far more than they need him, wanting only for Emma to tell Henry the truth about him. Emma agrees and separates the two, allowing Rumple to reveal the identity of the witch and giving us a touching farewell to Neal. We close out with Emma telling Henry a little bit about his father, that he was part of the reason they came to Storybrooke and that he was a hero. While all this is happening, we are also treated to a little bit of Regina and Robin interaction, really helping to build up their inevitable romance.
Unlike the Enchanted Forest story, this one was a bit more interesting. It wasn’t anything awe inspiring, but watching the search for Rumple, Neal’s sorrow over Henry not remembering, and Emma wanting it to stay that, were all great moments to watch, but they were interspersed between people running through the woods, or Regina explaining whiskey to Robin. Overall this really felt like a filler episode, even though it was the big reveal of who Zalena was and the death of Neal. Neal was actually the best part of the episode. His moment of honest friendship with Hook, his sorrow over everything with Henry, determination to get his father back, and finally his sacrifice to save Emma and Henry were all amazing. Michael Raymond-James was fantastic in the role, and I am really sad to see him go. However, as stated above, this does close out the current love triangle predicament we have, in a rather cop out kind of way. Would have been better to see one of the two guys bow out because Emma loved the other one, but trust the OUaT writers to find the easy way to solve the problem.
Apart from that, there was a bit of an interesting development in the Witch’s plan, she is obviously planning something devious involving Snow and Charming’s baby, but we don’t know what. All we know is Rumple’s reveal that she wants is something she’s never had. This is interesting, and raises a few questions about her plots, but she is still failing to be an overly impressive villain, hopefully that will change.
Overall, not a great episode. I wouldn’t go so far to say as it was a bad one, as some interesting things did happen, and we had a well done character death, but so much else of it was rather boring. So far the back half of the season is failing to live up the first half, but hopefully that will change, although judging by the preview for next weeks episode, I am predicting a lot of eye rolling in my future.