A Neal flashback would be so awesome toward filling the character out, but then again, Emma hardly gets any either! There are many stories they can tell about him, but obviously for any character there’s tons of possibilities and truly it is only up to the imagination of the writer.
If it were me, I’d have stories about how Neal arrived in this world, perhaps going through Oz or some other lands. I’d make him a bit like “forrest gump” but smarter :P, on the run through many other Fairy Tale /Classic characters stories. Someone mentioned Oliver Twist, and obviously, he connects to the Peter Pan story, but he also could play into others if the writers have the desire to write more background on him.
At times though it worries me that the writers want to just “close the chapter” and not just sweep under the rug, but just build a new floor and forget about the first 3.5 seasons and pretend we’re playing with basically new characters. That here’s single mother Emma, never mind how she got there, but here’s handsome pirate “old friend” Hook, come to help her on a journey spanning worlds to rescue her family (ie Charming and Snow). That Henry’s father’s side of the family is just forgotten now, as part of this tale. What of Belle, Neal and Rumple? If I think about Season 1 & 2 , it was in the “A” storyline a war between the Charmings and Regina, the Evil Queen. The B story was how Rumple used that war to further his own end of finding his son. We’ve wrapped up all of that, the “war” is over with the EQ, and Rumple found his son. The Charmills family is at peace more or less because of Henry, and Rumple has his son back (kind of, since he paid the ultimate price or so we think). So the next chapter is built around a theme of “Home” to mirror the first half being about belief. They say they’re going to explore what it means.
We know so little, but apparently envy is going to be a theme, and obviously it will have to do with WWW and Regina, yet I could easily see it being a theme for Hook or Neal. Whoever is on the outs with Emma could be envious of the other. I’d hope that’s Hook as Neal said he’d quit bugging Emma and just support her. So hopefully he wouldn’t be the envious, jealous type but Hook on the other hand seems like he definitely would be. We had hints of that for both guys really with the Dark Hollow fight, but Hook did sort of lurk and eavesdrop and we didn’t see that the other way around. Neal didn’t appear to be trying to undermine Hook’s confidence. Neal didn’t go hit on another woman to boost his ego. Hook’s the boastful type and it feels like he’s never really handled rejection well, nor seems to want to take “No” for an answer. On the other hand they are showing him as genuine about his feelings to the point of “risking his life” in the church and turning Pan down, so maybe they wouldn’t take him in the direction of going stalker-boy-friend-crazy. It could be Tinkerbell then, as there is a history in PP story of getting jealous of Wendy too and acting spitefully. I think this Tink seems too sweet, but we know she did something unfairylike to ruin her first chance at being a fairy. I’m still puzzling what to make of the Hook and Tink scenes. Tink’s interest in his love life may not be just about her “professional concern” as a fairy as with Regin. She didn’t react quite the same to Regina as she did to Hook. Since we’re getting a story that “it is not easy being Green”–it could be one about WWW and Tink both, in that they are both envious in some way and it could lead Tink to betray our friends. This is traditional in the PP story as well, for Tink to sell out Wendy to hurt Peter for preferring her. In this case? Tink could try to sell out Emma to WWW to get back at Hook. This is why Blue said Fairies shouldn’t fall in love. Now in the play, Tink regrets her actions and swaps back to helping the good guys. Perhaps she does when she realizes that Emma doesn’t want Hook at all, but wants Neal, and tries to fix her mistake, only to have Hook sacrifice himself to save Tink, saying he loves Tink after all, he just never realized it until then having taken her for granted all those years they were together in NL.
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?” -- Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass