ONCE062: Tallahassee

USA map from Red Lantern Lodge (Tallahassee-2x06)


Is Neal really Baelfile? What did August have in the box? Were the giants and fairies once working together? Could the nightmares be a future form of communication?

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Portland, Oregon, 11 years ago

Emma is 17, but this doesn’t line up with the newspaper from “Desperate Souls” that does Emma was in Massachusetts.

Neal Cassidy and Emma Swan introduced themselves to each other by full names

There are some Lost references with Neal’s name

Ben’s Swedish passport was registered under the name “Dean Moriarty”. And Dean Moriarty is Neal Cassady’s character in the novel “On the Road”.

And of course the birthplace of Ben and the first meeting of Emma and Neal are both Portland, Oregon.


Neal Cassidy is the name of a poet.

After a rewatch, I really think this episode supports the theory that Neal is Bae. When August was pretending to be Baelfire, he knew a lot information – Bae and Rumple’s history, their terms of endearment for one another, and all about the dagger – things that he could only learn had he actually met Bae.

Also, Neal Cassady is clearly an assumed name. Neal Cassady was a poet and writer in the beat movement, famous for his letters to Jack Kerouac, and the basis of the main character in Kerouac’s On the Road. The question now seems to be whether he has a fake name because he’s a criminal or because he’s a fairytale character.

I love your podcast! You’re easily the best OUAT podcast out there!


Neal stole “Pay-Rite” gift cards, and there was also a pirate keychain next to swan keychain.

Keychains (Tallahassee-2x06)

Emma was dressing the same as Mary Margaret once did.

Hello Daniel and Once Podcast Crew,

Watched the episode last night. We finally got see the backstory behind Emma’s yellow bug and finally met Henry’s daddy. Neal’s not really a bad character. Yes, he and Emma were thieves in love (which is really cute and reminds me of Robin Hood since he was traditionally a thief that stole from the rich but gave to the poor). But he was willing to set aside his own feelings for her and guide her towards her destiny.

I am more convinced now after watching the episode that Neal Cassidy is Baelfire. His eyes have a childlike quality that remind me of Baelfire’s innocence.

I was reading the thread in the forums about what Neal might have seen in August’s box and I think, maybe it was a tiny portal. If Neal is Baelfire, seeing another portal in the real world would have clicked with him since that’s how Baelfire came to our world if that is him.

But like Daniel said, it could have been the page showing Rumpelstiltskin’s dagger. Baelfire would be familiar with the dagger but wouldn’t necessarily know about Emma’s fairytale land history. He was too easily convinced about what needed to happen.

On Aurora/Henry’s dream, I think it was a premonition. We know Rumpelstiltskin can see the future, maybe because Henry and Aurora were under the sleeping curse, it enabled them to see the same future. I think before Emma and Snow can go home, they’ll end up in Wonderland with Aurora and Aurura will get captured by the Queen of Hearts and Emma will rescue her.

I didn’t like August after The Stranger last season and now, well, I want him to confess to Emma his role in separating Neal and her and Emma to punch him real hard.

Oh and did you notice, I think it was in the scene where Emma and Neal were stealing from that store, the dress Emma was wearing was similar to the dress Mary Margaret was wearing on her date with Dr. Whale in Snow Falls?

Can’t wait to listen to the podcast :)


Neal said “The little guy saved us,” almost a forethought of Henry’s saving them?

The hotel was Red Lantern Lodge and Neal seemed interested in the “flypaper for nightmares.” The dreamcatcher was also in his apartment in NYC.

Dreamcatcher (Tallahassee-2x06)

Neal's apartment in NYC with a Dreamcatch left of the window (Broken-2x01)

Neal’s apartment in NYC with a Dreamcatch left of the window (“Broken”-2×01)

“Retire the Bonnie and Clyde act”

Neal’s wanted poster reveals some interesting things about him:

  • Wanted by FBI for grand larceny
  • Born March 23, 1977
  • From New Jersey
  • 5’9″
  • 170 pounds
  • W238392092039
  • Janitor at a jewelry store
  • Black hair
  • Brown eyes
  • has a scar on his left arm from a knife wound—this was the most interesting thing
  • may be in possession of stolen firearms

Neal Cassidy's wanted poster (Tallahassee-2x06)

Now the “Charlie’s Girl” song from “Broken” makes sense for Neal’s introduction.

August says he’s Emma’s guardian angel, and he’s been looking for Emma for two years.

August asked Neal, “Do you believe in Magic?” “I take it your do.” “And so will you. Trust me.” So what would have so easily convinced Neal of magic and to hear August’s story?

August definitely has a typewriter in his box. Magical and convincing, maybe?

August and Neal with the box (Broken-2x06)

August originally explained his box in “7:15 a.m.” Back then, August wouldn’t answer whether he had been to Storybrooke before.

Couldn’t have been the drawing of the dagger, because Bae would’ve put up a fit. Besides, if August knew this was Baelfire and the dagger would convince him, then August would’ve said different things.

Could’ve been a picture from the book of Emma doing something, or maybe Neal and Emma with a happy ever after?

Okay, so we know that whatever Pinocchio showed to Neal Cassady (probably named for the Beat era writer who was very much a bohemian drifter type: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neal_Cassady … whatever was shown to Neal was immediate proof of magic. I don’t think the book would have convinced him. It would have to be something that would be small and would be incontrovertible.

My best guess is that he had Tinkerbell with him. Proof:

  • Tink is small, and anybody seeing a living fairy would have to face the fact that magic is real
  • Tink is also shown, by the nature of her fairy tale, to be able to enter the normal human world. Thus, she may be the only magical creature who can exist in our mundane world without dying or losing their magic. I think it’s an interesting idea anyway, and could indicate a very interesting twist to the curse.

The Ruby Fangnatic

Obisgirl thinks it could be a mini-portal.

Maybe Neal’s story in August’s box?

Hi guys,

Long time listener, first time emailer.

I believe that the item in the box is the same typewriter we saw in it in Storybrooke.  Please see the attached pic where I’ve put screencaps next to each other.  I’ve tried to lighten the screencap from “Tallahassee” up a bit so you can see the curved shadows, which I believe are the curved edges of the typewriter, as seen in the screencap on the left from “7:15am”.  But why would seeing a typewriter convince Neal that August could be trusted to be telling the truth?  I think there was a page from Neal’s story in the typewriter, and I think Blue Fairy/Mother Superior put it in there. (Sidenote: I believe that Blue is the author of the book and that she kept all of her memories when they came to our world.)

If we go with the assumption that Neal is Bae, (which much of the fandom seems pretty much convinced of), if he saw a page in the typewriter that said something like: “My father.  He is the Dark One,” said Baelfire sadly.  “Oh.  I can’t make him the man he was before,” replied Reul Ghorm,” but I can send him someplace where he won’t be able to use his powers.”  That’s something that Neal/Bae wouldn’t be able to question the legitimacy of.  It was a private conversation that he had with Blue back in the day, and as such, would be an indicator that she was the only one who could have sent August to see him, so what August said could be trusted, and Neal must follow his orders.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on August’s role in this ep.
Thanks for the great podcast, keep up the awesome work.
Much love from one of your Aussie listeners,


Hi guys;

I just had to share that after watching this show, I woke up in the middle of the night asking… “What was in the box!” LOL

I was tempted to rewatch the show just to see if they showed it and I missed it but ended up falling back asleep.

I just wanted to share that with you. O and I didn’t light a candle. :)

Love your podcast.

Suri Maya

Vancouver, two months later, the only time we’ve seen Vancouver and they actually called it Vancouver.

Emma got eleven months in a minimum security prison in Phoenix. This is where Henry was born. Neal is definitely the father.

August promised to send Neal a postcard if Emma does her job.

Is Neal Emma’s True Love?

Hi guys!

This is my first time writing to a podcast but I felt compelled to do so after watching Tallahassee. There has been some debate over whether or not Neal is Emma’s true love. I personally wouldn’t mind them pairing up since they both had great chemistry and it’s pretty much shown that they were or are both still in love with each other.

It’s strange that Emma held on to that yellow bug and keychain necklace for ten years! Even when she believed that Neal set her up and left her to take the fall, she was well within her rights to sell it or torch the car if she really hated him. It seem that her feelings are still very strong from the way she told Hook she once was in love with the same heartbreak look on her face.

Neal also did not seem like he moved on from the premiere episode. Having waited 10 years for a postcard from August, to let him know that Emma is free from whatever obligation she was suppose to do. (Possibly to pursue her again?) That takes some dedication doesn’t it? Instead we see he cleaned up his act and got a legit job by the looks of it. Most likely a single NYC guy who can’t afford the rent. We don’t know what was said by August that convinced Neal enough to stay away from Emma, but clearly he did it for her well being.

I hope they expand more on Neal’s character. By the looks of it he will probably be integrated more in the story in future episodes. I’m also anxious to know if he may be a fairy-tale character since he believed August a little too easily then just an average joe.

Thanks for reading, I absolutely love your podcast and will continue to listen every week. You also have my vote in the Podcast awards. Keep up the awesome work!

-Michelle, New York

Guard’s name at prison is Loretta and she gives Emma the keychain Emma kept as a necklace.

Present-Day Fairy Tale Land

Giants used beans to plunder all the lands, according to the victor’s story. But the truth could be that the Giants made the beans for the fairies. If that’s true, then Jack killed the giants a long, long time ago.

Hook explained the victor’s tale and Snow nodded in agreement. They’re not lying. It’s the truth as they know it.

Hook’s allegiance is to whoever gets him to Storybrooke first. This is a selfish and fitting perspective for a pirate.

Hook has a counter spell from Cora. The fact that Cora trusted him with both bracelets seems like Cora planned for someone else to go up the beanstalk with Hook.

Mulan’s sword is “the most powerful blade in all the realms.” Could there be more to this story?

Hook recognizes abandonment because he was in Neverland with the Lost Boys. Again, no mention of Peter Pan.

Seems like forgiveness or understanding between Snow and Aurora as Aurora starts having nightmares.

Hook said giants can smell blood. “Fe, fi, fo, fum. I smell the blood of an English man.”

Waiting for the giant to fall asleep is similar to Mickey and the Beanstalk.

Hugo the Giant. Ain’t that one of Sawyer’s nicknames?


Aurora described the nightmare in a little more detail than Henry.

Snow said the nightmares fade. If the nightmares are a possible communication method between worlds, are they running out of time?

The giant said that the humans attacked and stole all the beans.

Emma can tell that Hook isn’t lying, but she can’t take the chance


[About the] shared nightmare. The red room with no walls and burning curtains has to be symbolic about something. In the initial reactions podcast you talked about Snow’s reaction to Aurora talking about it. To me it looked like Snow knew exactly what the nightmare was about. I’m still not sure if Snow still has the dream. She turned away really quickly as if not to show she was lying about how long the nightmare lasts. Now Aurora said she saw “him”, and Henry mentions “her”, so they are not seeing the same person. I like the theory that they are seeing each other, but for some reason I doubt it. I think it is probably the person they missed the most while they were asleep. Aurora would see Phillip and Henry would see Emma. There are other possibilities, but I haven’t quite wrapped my mind around them yet. If they are seeing each other, then they could communicate with each other and each other’s world. Maybe they will be able to send information. And finally, we may be able to see Rumpel/Gold retrieve a memory from Henry (even if it gets messy). He could help Henry see what happens in the nightmare.

Keep doing a wonderful job!
CJ (TheWizardofOnce)

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  • Sean

    If Neal is Baelfire, what are the odds that Emma randomly choose to steal his car? Remember, this is happening in Portland, literally the opposite side of the country from where Emma came into our world.

    It seems far too coincidental for me.

    • Sean

      Hah, just a few minutes after I posted that, I got to the part where you guys said the same thing.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      I agree. This could be evidence that he’s just a normal guy.

      Then again, look at how in Lost, they showed how connected people were without realizing their “coincidences.”

      But at the same time, maybe part of Emma’s magic guided her to that car.

    • http://oldandnewfirm.dreamwidth.org/ Oldandnewfirm

      It’s as coincidental as Henry being the one baby chosen out of thousands to be sent to across the country to a small town called Storybrooke that just so happens to be the same place his mother is destined to save.

  • http://twitter.com/chrispodcaster Chris Moody

    Didn’t Emma’s baby blanket have a swan on it?

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      I don’t remember seeing enough of the blanket to see a swan. I would have to check back on those old episodes. But I’m quite certain that *_just_* “Emma” is embroidered on it.

  • ashley2754

    There is one thing I keep think about. In season one when Emma was talking to Mary M. about David I remember she said that He is married. Trust me it doesn’t worth the heartache (may not be the exact words) So who is that married guy could he be the father? Are we sure that Neal is the father?

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Great point! I think Neal definitely is the father and this confirms it. (Anytime someone has a very passionate kiss in TV and the screen cuts or fades to black, that means a baby is coming.)

      Maybe August planted information, or maybe it’s the truth, that Neal was married and this is what Emma eventually finds and it’s part of why she gives up on Neal.

      • Faux Pax

        Emma just warned MM not to get involved with a married man because it wasn’t worth the heartache She never said that she was talking about Henry’s father. She could have been remembering one of her other boyfriends or she could have been thinking about the guy from the pilot. If they do go for the married thing, I hope Daniel’s right and it was just info August planted.

        • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

          That’s totally true. I’m reading a lot into Emma’s statement to Mary Margaret.

  • Lily

    But there are a lot of clues that Neal is a fairy tale character. For one his apartment is full of references to Alice in Wonderland (a hatter commercial, a white rabbit, a music album which has a song on Alice etc.) And when he was stealing the keychain for Emma, there were names keychains next to Neal and 2 stood out (the names Henry and Alice). Not to mention that Neal stole watches (I’m late, I’m late for a very important date). There are also clues that he might be Bae. In the cast promo picture, Emma is wearing her mother’s clothes. Henry stands between her and Rumple (not Regina) and he is wearing Bae’s clothes while standing on August’s box. If that is not suppose to be a huge clue I don’t know what is. Why else would they dress Henry as Bae and put him on the mystery box? Plus, Jennifer Morrison in season one said that we had seen Henry’s father already. We only saw one character that was not a fairy tale character on the show, so for us to have met Neal before but for Emma not to have seen him, we would have to have met him in flashbacks of FL. Logically, everything points for Neal to have been Bae and for him to have some connection to wonderland.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Where is that recording of Jennifer?

      • Lily

        It was a paper interview actually, but I can’t find it anymore. Sorry. I can only find people quoting it in blogs without the references. I know I read it in season one. I’ve been following the show since the promos for it started appearing and I haven’t kept track of all the interviews. From what I can remember Jennifer was saying something to the effect that she knew who Henry’s father was and that we may have met him before. That had me freaking out back then. Since, I believe the writers also hinted at it in the same season and that now they are refusing to answer whether we have met him before or not, I think there is something quite fishy there. And really dressing Henry with Bae clothes for promo pics is setting a bit of a red alert in my brain. Besides, can the writers really resist the drama of putting Henry between Regina and Gold? And having Hook flirt with Neal’s mother as well as his son’s mother? The show does love parallels. Neal might not be Bae yet, but it seems like they have been connecting Neal to fairy tale land just by the objects they have him surrounded with. Why a hatter commercial of all the decorations they could pick? I would be shocked if Neal turned out to be just an ordinary man to be quite honest.

        • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

          Neal could also be an ordinary man who is now obsessed with learning everything about fairy tale land and wants the magical power. We have yet to see Neal again after the curse.

          But his age is still an issue for me. I’d think he should be 14 years older than Emma, unless Bae came through the bean hole later than everyone else through the wardrobe and Regina’s curse.

  • http://twitter.com/budinbelize Joel Dillahunty

    Lots of references to time. Could he be the white Rabbit?

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Possible. But he seems to look down on everything about the curse, especially by calling it “insanity.” This could be support for his being Baelfire, or maybe just his perspective as “someone caught in the crossfire.”

  • BlueRose

    I just noticed Mulan said the sleeping powder Emma used on the Giant was made from poppies – which is what makes Dorothy fall asleep in The Wizard of Oz!

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Yes! We continue to see Wizard of Oz references throughout the series.

  • http://twitter.com/queen_frostine Diana

    I think whatever was in August’s box has to be magical. What else would make sense as a tool for August to use to convince people who live in our world that magic exists? Regardless of whoever Neal might really be, to August he shouldn’t be anyone special. It seems pretty clear that August does believe that Neal is a normal guy, because he would have approached him differently if he knew about some past Fairy Tale life for him. Like he would have referenced their shared experience with crossing from one world to another, or what not. Plus he’d have no way of knowing any of that about a stranger. So whatever is in the box should be able to prove to any passing bystander that magic exists. A drawing of a dagger or Rumplestiltskin in his Dark One garb wouldn’t be anything but a picture to a normal person so that can’t be it.

    And I’m really, really hoping that Neal isn’t Balefire. Bae as a child seemed to have a very strong moral compass and was very brave, and I don’t see that at all in Neal. Yes, his years in our world could have changed him, but that would be tragic in my opinion because it’d be taking away all of the things that made Bae so likeable in the first place. I don’t want them to have ruined him in that way!

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      I could still see Neal being Baelfire and August having not realized it before meeting Neal. August’s conversation with Neal sounded like he really didn’t know much about him. If that’s true, then what would August use in a box to convince someone he believes is a “normal guy” that magic is real and that the viewer should hear August’s story?

  • erinjcruz

    There was a Henry keychain in this one too… I remember seeing it the first time I watched the episode (which made me totally not realize he’d given her the swan keychain until Kitsis and Horowitz talked about it on the official podcast for Cricket Game.