Okay, beyond being a giant ball of sadness, Quiet Minds was also like one giant here’s why i love Neal Cassidy manifesto for me, and this moment is really important to me and I need to talk about it.
Here’s what’s going on: Neal just showed up out of nowhere in the woods, collapsed on the floor of his father’s shop, can’t remember the past year or what he did, including an ominous scary mark on his hand and how he got it, and the father he just watched die is apparently alive and missing. So:
1. Neal’s first thought is immediately about the son he can’t remember fighting to get back to. Because the one constant about Neal Cassidy since the moment he found out he had a son is that Henry is the first thing, the most important thing. Because so much of this episode, about Neal’s entire arc since Manhattan, has been about his desire to be a better father to Henry than he ever had. And I have plethora of problems with how they chose to let that play out, but the important part to me? Neal loves Henry more than anything and Henry is always always always first.
2. He actively recognizes Henry and Emma had a whole life without him. He’s had, what, five minutes to process that a whole year passed? Emma and Henry have memories together that he’s not going to be a part of. They had a whole year of reality, and in that first gif—he’s letting it sink in that he missed another whole year of his son’s life— he’s probably taller now, more of a teenager, likes and dislikes a whole new set of things and Neal missed all of it— and I’m sure that absolutely wrecks him. He wants to see him. But he’s not going to push. He’s not going to force his way in as Henry’s father in whatever thing the two of them have going— he wants to be Henry’s father more than anything, but he knows it’s not just about him. He doesn’t get to slot himself him, but he wants more than anything to work to find his place there.
Neal hasn’t really had a family since he was 14 years old and it’s all he’s ever wanted. He’s capable of making really impulsive decisions when it comes to Emma and Henry. They make him beyond desperate. But there’s a line to that, and what’s so interesting to me is that line is only ever drawn by Henry and Emma’s best interest. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to get back to them, to be there when they need and want, but on their terms. Because his love for Henry and Emma is about Henry and Emma, not about how badly he needs them.
tl;dr neal cassidy, ultimate family man who never got a chance to be a family man my tears could fill oceans goodbYE.