Sunday night’s “The Return” provided another powerful and superbly acted installment of ‘Once Upon A Time.’ The stellar episode gave us deeper insight into Rumpy’s heartbreaking past, shed some light on the mysterious Mr. Booth, celebrated Mary Margaret’s innocence, and upped the stakes in Emma and Regina’s ongoing feud.
Fairytale Land: “I will find him.”
This week’s fairytale focuses on the effects Rumpy’s magic powers have had on his relationship with his son, Baelfire. When the Rumpster initially chose to become the “Dark One” in “Desperate Souls,” he sacrificed his soul to dark magic in order to protect his son and stop a war. However, his newfound power has only corrupted him, causing his son more pain than what he would’ve experienced had he gone off to the war.
Baelfire’s heart breaks every time he sees his father lose a piece of his humanity by misusing his magic powers. The opening scene exemplifies Baelfire’s valid concern for his father’s true intentions; when one of the townsmen runs over Baelfire’s ball while he is playing in the street, the man immediately recognizes him as Rumpy’s son and begs for forgiveness. As Rumpel approaches, Baelfire insists that the man is not at fault and begs his father to leave, but Rump makes an example out of the man by turning him into a snail and then stepping on him. Baelfire is ashamed of the cruel man his father has become and he tries begging him to change his dark ways.
In one of the night’s many moving scenes, Baelfire maturely sits with his father and pleads that there must be a way to lose his powers without killing him and transferring the magic to a new “Dark One.” Rumpy does not believe it is possible, but Baelfire persists and strikes a deal with him. If Bae can find a way to safely extract his magic powers, then Rumpy agrees to give them up; Rumpel says, “All I want is your happiness, if you find a way, I’ll do it.” With that grain of hope, Baelfire reaches out to the all-powerful Blue Fairy for advice.
The Blue Fairy tells Baelfire that the only way to free Rumpy from his power is to send him to a place without magic. The boy is willing to leave everything behind and save his father from further evil. She tells Baelfire that Rumpy’s paternal love is the only thing that still keeps him human and she gives Bae a magic bean that will open a portal to a new world that will “save them both.” Later that night, Baelfire returns to his father with the good news and Rumple is skeptical of leaving his world. Bae confronts him, “You’re getting worse. You promised! Are you backing out of our deal?” Rumpy says, “No.” and follows his son into the woods.
As Baelfire buries the magic bean, Rumpy voices his concerns about a world without magic, but Bae insists that it will be a better world. The portal opens and Bae grabs his father’s hand to take him into the new world, but Rumple resists. He plants his dagger in the ground and anchors himself in Fairytale land as he screams in fear, “It’s a trick, it’ll tear us apart!” He watches Bae slowly getting sucked into the other world while gut-wrenchingly calling out to his father in tears, “You promised!!!” With a final flash of light, Bae is gone and Rumpy regretfully digs into the crater pleading to join his son in the other world.
Rumple accuses the Blue Fairy of driving his son away and demands to be sent next to him, but she says there is no other way to get there. Rumpy vows to create a curse that will enable him to enter Baelfire’s world and the Blue Fairy warns him that it cannot be done without paying a great price. If the Rump creates such a curse, then he would have to sacrifice the Fairytale Land for the next world. Rumpy does not care what it costs, he promises, “I will find him.”
Now we know why Rumpel created the Storybrooke curse and why he gave it to Regina, he did it all to be reunited with Baelfire. As we soon learn, many of Mr. Gold’s questionable actions may be driven by his desire to find Bae and be better man.
Storybrooke: “I’m taking back my son.”
There is a lot going on in Storybrooke this week; August and Mr. Gold investigate each other, David apologizes to the two women he betrayed, and Emma is determined to punish Regina for her crimes.
A seemingly sore August rolls out of bed and calls a mystery man about accelerating their plan, as we soon find out, that “man” is Henry and the plan is none other than “Operation Cobra.” Henry distracts Mr. Gold in his shop while August snoops around his back office, but Gold catches him and sends him off. Shortly after, Mr. Gold gets a visit from Regina who accuses him of breaking their deal. In one of the best Mr. Gold/Regina scenes yet, Gold claims that she merely asked for “something tragic” to happen to Kathryn, she did not say “kill,” so he assumed her disappearance was tragic enough. He also cheerfully points out how all the evidence can be traced back to Regina. Meanwhile, Emma talks to Kathryn at the hospital about what she remembers from her disappearance.
Kathryn remembers the car accident and that she was kept in a basement until she suddenly woke up in a field after being drugged. As Emma heads out to look into Kathryn’s case, David arrives to check on his ex-wife. He apologizes for the way he treated her and she easily forgives him. She does not blame him for being the first to realize that their love wasn’t “it.” He sweetly kisses her on the forehead and heads over to Mary Margaret’s apartment where they are having a “welcome home” party.
Henry asks August if he found what he was looking for, he hasn’t yet, but he tells Henry not to worry, “It’s gonna find me.” As Henry leaves the party to go home, Emma opens the door to surprisingly see David; MM does not want to talk to him, so Emma sends him off with Henry. While at the party, Emma also confronts Mr. Gold about Kathryn’s kidnapping, but he claims to be innocent and changes the subject to August. Emma says she trusts the stranger, but Gold sets out to find some answers.
As Mr. Gold snoops through August’s room, we are provided with a couple of clues. A stack of papers on his desk rest under a donkey paperweight and as Gold searches through the pages, he finds a sketch of his magic dagger. Meanwhile, Emma does some of her own sleuthing when she questions Sydney about planting the bug in her office. She knows he is working with Regina, but does not understand why he is willing to go down with her until she realizes that Sydney is in love with Regina and is a lost cause. When Emma walks out of the diner, we see Mr. Gold follow August as he rides away on his motorcycle.
After watching August speak with Mother Superior (aka the Blue Fairy), Mr. Gold asks her what their conversation was about. She says August has been searching for his father after a long separation and has recently found him, but they have not spoken yet because they parted on bad terms and have many issues. This increases Gold’s suspicion that August is really Baelfire, but before approaching his son, he visits Dr. Hopper for counsel. However, Mr. Gold is not the only one in Storybrooke eager to make amends.
David catches Mary Margaret on the street and apologizes. Even when the evidence piled up against her, he should have still stood by her and believed in her innocence. Unfortunately, the apology would have sounded better coming from Prince Charming’s lips because David’s phrasing comes off as an under-handed apology full of excuses. He says, “I’m human, I’m sorry, but we have to move forward.” MM can’t just move on, she retorts, “something keeps pouring poison between us.” David tearfully declares his love for her and she heartbrokenly replies, “That’s what makes it so sad.” Meanwhile, Mr. Gold talks to Dr. Hopper about reuniting with his son.
Dr. Hopper is shocked to learn that Mr. Gold even has a son, but he consoles Gold by saying that it is natural for there to be anger between a parent and a child. He urges Gold to be honest with his son and ask for forgiveness. That night Gold meets up with August in the woods; he tells August he knows who he is and what he is looking for. In another brilliant performance by Robert Carlyle, Mr. Gold’s eyes gradually fill up with tears as he apologizes to August: “You were always right Bae. I should’ve never let you go…Can you be the bigger man and forgive me?” August hugs him tightly and says, “I forgive you Papa.” Gold takes him to where he hid the knife and explains how he buried it once Emma arrived because he did not want Regina to find it. After they dig it up, Gold hands August the knife and tells him to destroy it; he says, “I chose it once. Now I choose you.” August takes the knife and tries to control Gold with it by summoning the “Dark One.” Gold realizes that August is from the Fairyland world, but he is not Baelfire. He asks how August found out about him and the knife. August says “a little fairy” told him; then he explains how he is dying and needs magic to save his life. August tried to make the “savior” believe, but after Emma’s resistance, he feels like it is useless. Instead of killing a dying man, Gold encourages August to try again; Emma trusts him, so maybe he can convince her that it is all true.
As the episode ends, Emma finds Regina in her office with Sydney, who is officially taking the blame for all of Regina’s crimes in Kathryn’s case. Emma pulls Regina aside and warns her that she will not get away with everything for long. In their best face-off yet, Emma stares Regina down and declares, “All I care about is what happens to my kid…you’re a sociopath lady…and I’m taking back my son.”
What did you think of “The Return”? Did you fall for the teaser that August was Baelfire? Do you believe he will turn out to be Pinocchio next week? Will Mr. Gold ever find Baelfire in this world? Will August get Emma to believe him? Will Emma be able to get custody over Henry? Share your thoughts and hopes below!
- Robert Carlyle is awesome: The depth he has brought to Rumpy and Mr. Gold has been consistently moving, fascinating, and engaging. The episodes that focus on him have been some of the season’s best. Hopefully, we will get to see Rumple reunite with his son before the series ends. Also, no matter how serious the situation is, his hilarious snarky remarks always make the scene better: “It’s not completely useless, it still cuts through flesh.” and “Even a mute can draw.”
- Who is August?: Jane Espenson wrote the episode and warned us that there have been many clues scattered throughout the season that are supposed to mislead us. He clearly is not Baelfire, but would it be too easy to believe that August is Pinocchio? Many hints point at it: the donkey paperweight, the shin-splints, the drawing of the stormy sea hanging in front of Hopper’s office, his conversation with the Blue Fairy, and the fact that Geppetto builds Emma’s magic cabinet under the condition that Snow and Charming help save his son as well. Maybe August was in there with Emma- he would’ve been a boy and could’ve run off before baby Emma was discovered on the side of the road. Do you have any other theories?
- Come on David!: He needs to find his inner Prince Charming and seriously step it up if he ever wants to win Mary Margaret back. Curse or no curse, it is time to man-up and make it right.
- “A Land without Magic”: The finale’s title takes on a new emphasized meaning after “The Return.” Baelfire found a land with no magic to save his father, Rumpy created a curse to journey to that magic-less land, and Regina trapped all fairytale characters in one town in a land with no magic. If Emma breaks the curse, will everything simply be restored to the way it used to be or could there suddenly be magic in Storybrooke? Will fairytale characters be trapped in Fairytale Land? Could people like Emma, Henry and August choose to be in either land?
- Spoilers: Some people have been wondering when Belle will return and IMDB shows that she will be in the finale as Belle/Mental Patient. Also, EOnline teases another death: “Someone completely majorly shocking will die in the last three episodes of the season. It’s the kind of death you can’t imagine could possibly stick!”