In an episode heavy on the drama and light on action, “Once Upon a Time” reveals the answers to several mysteries big and small.
Emma (Jennifer Morrison), Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) and Henry (Jared Gilmore) all arrive in New York City to search for Gold’s son. They quickly find him, although he doesn’t want to be found. It turns out that Rumple’s long-lost son, Baelfire (Michael Raymond-James), is none other than Emma’s old flame, Neal!
And by the way, yes, this makes Baelfire Henry’s father. And Rumplestiltskin is Henry’s paternal grandfather. This is a bit of a shocker for Emma, Emma’s family, Rumplestiltskin and the new daddy himself.
What ensues is equal parts apologizing and anger. Emma is pissed at Neil for abandoning her. Henry is pissed at Emma for not telling him the truth. Bae is pissed at Rumple for … well, for being Rumplestiltskin. Rumple is sorry for letting Baelfire go. Neal is sorry for breaking Emma’s heart. Emma is sorry for lying to her son.
So, we are left to wonder, where does all this new information leave us? Stay tuned.
Meanwhile in Fairytale Flashback Land, a pre-Dark One Rumplestiltskin is excited to prove his bravery in the Ogre Wars.
But when he meets a Seer who tells him he will leave his son “without a father” on the battlefield, Rumple takes a drastic step. He injures himself to avoid the battle. Hence, he is forever branded a coward.
Meeting the Seer again in his post-Dark One era, Rumple attains the ability from her to foresee the future. But she warns him that in finding his son again, he would meet a boy who “will be his undoing.” Rumple vows to kill the boy instead, which makes it awkward that she apparently was talking about Henry.
Snow and David doing the math on their bizarre family tree, followed by David’s pronouncement that Thanksgiving dinners would really suck in their house. But they would be hugely entertaining, David!
Cora (Barbara Hershey) in business attire somehow makes her even scarier. Both the evil ladies in town are looking very stylish these days, and it’s actually more effective than their over-the-top fairytale Evil Outfits of Evilness.
The Seer, especially as a child, was seriously creepy.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
The “surprise” about Neal’s identity was probably the worst-kept secret so far this season. Anyone who didn’t see it coming at the beginning of the year had to have figured it out by last week’s give-away preview. Fortunately, it was revealed at the beginning of the episode so we could focus on things we didn’t already know.
For all the talk of a big field trip to the strange new world of Manhattan, the episode actually didn’t make much use of the city. Nearly everything took place in a generic bar set or Neal’s apartment. If a fairytale series can’t find a way to use the fabulous, unique Big Apple, what’s the point in going there?
Is the staff at Storybrooke Hospital trying to give away the town’s secrets? They’re letting the dreaded outsider Mr. Mendel wander around unattended with his smartphone, while they openly tranquilize Belle in a lobby!
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
“Manhattan” was written by series creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. It was directed by Dean White.
“Once Upon a Time’ returns after the Oscars, regularly airing on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.