I can only lament at the wasted potential of his character and the many unanswered questions. What happened in the 200 years he spent in Neverland? What happened when he got to land without magic? What happened in between the 10 years he left Emma? There are just full of holes in his story that will probably never be touched on again.
Something I found both weird and infuriating in one of the A&E interviews was that they were asked if we might see Neal again in flashbacks sometime, and they were all, “I’d be disappointed if we didn’t.” But, um, how exactly would they do that? Because the rest of the time he was in FTL in the missing year, he was merged into Rumple’s body, so we won’t be seeing him there. And how would they make any flashbacks to him in the real world relevant, because there wouldn’t be any other present day characters involved in those flashbacks, so it would be incredibly disjointed. I honestly don’t see how they could use him in a flashback of any kind if he wasn’t still alive in present day. He’s not like Graham, who was still with Regina in FTL, so they could work in a believable cameo, and who was in SB with all the others, so it was believable for him to be in those flashbacks.
Also there was little to no resolution to the issues Neal faced. He never made due to his promise to see Henry again. He and Emma never really talked about their relationship or whether or not it was salvageable. He barely reconciled with his father in a mere day or so over the 200+ years of hurt. He and Hook hardly touched on their pseudo father/son relationship and the betrayal.
SO MUCH wasted opportunity. *sigh*
Where was that CaptainFire hug in 3A??? Absolutely rushed and was an ill attempt to make Hook look better before Neal kicked the bucket. And I didn’t buy the CaptainFire scene for a second. Hook makes it seem like his took Bae in as a son but they fail to mention anything about Hook giving Bae away to Pan because god forbid, they actually ACKNOWLEDGE Hook’s wrong doings. It wouldn’t hurt to have Hook say “Betraying you to Pan was a mistake I regretted all my life.” Or something to that effect, would’ve done worlds for Hook’s character and Bae’s resolution. But no it was yet another crime they just brushed over, and in Neal’s death episode no less!
OMG THIS! It’s always infuriated me that many in the fandom brush over that like it was no big thing that Hook handed an innocent child (who Hook had claimed to care about and had lied to in order to use him for info) over to a “demon” (Hook’s own word). And it’s like the writers are totally down with the rotten apples in the fandom, and that just makes me angry and sad. *sigh* Those two have a major betrayal between them, major issues. And while I did like that Hook let him go from the hospital, the sentiment of the scene just felt so lacklustre, now that I’m thinking of it, especially in the same ep as his sarcastic non-apology to Belle. Why couldn’t they have just built up their relationship when they met in NL in S3A instead of having them fighting over Emma? *eye roll* If they’d been building on it then, but things were still frosty, then that scene in the hospital, all of it would have felt fitting and made sense. It would have been the culmination of their reconciliation arc, instead of just some out of the blue scene that felt really random, where Neal was all, “What is this, why are you touching me right now?”
What could potentially salvage this storyline, which should have been deep and emotional but instead just got brushed over, is if over the rest of S3B, Hook comes to realise exactly how much Neal really did mean to Emma, and accepts that she loves him, he’s not just some guy who left her years ago and she doesn’t give a crap. I want to see Hook witnessing some real grief from Emma over losing Neal, some real fire lit inside her to avenge his death, and then maybe Hook will finally get it through his skull how much Emma and Neal loved each other. And maybe seeing Henry without his memories of his father will get to Hook and make him sad, and make him realise that that’s how Bae grew up as well, when his mother wasn’t around and he’d been so young when she left, he probably had no real memory of her. And all of that coming together for Hook could then inspire him to help if they did find that there was a way to bring Neal back, and even though it was dangerous, he’d still do it, for the sake of saving Neal, to make up for having let him down all those years ago. And if that situation resulted in Hook’s death, then THAT would be a death that had reason, made sense, and had allowed a character to grow, which is the total opposite of what Neal’s death was, which was them making him regress to the point of being OOC for the sake of a plot device.