While Emma and Charming goes out into the woods to find Rumple, Regina went to see what the Wicked Witch is cooking up with him and finds herself a partner in the process. Back in the Enchanted Forest, however, Belle and Neal attempted to resurrect the Dark One with the help of a candle that knows many things, only to pay an irreversible cost.
One Year Ago (Enchanted Forest)
This episode only has a few scenes in the past, starting with Neal and Belle in Rumple’s castle. In the episode “Skin Deep”, Belle told Rumple, “You’re not a monster.” In this episode, Belle said almost the same thing to Neal, “I love him. All of him”, showing her unconditional love for him despite the darkness inside him. On the other hand, it was strange seeing that Neal has Emma’s swan necklace, especially since she was seen wearing it in New York in the episode, New York City Serenade. Could this be a continuity error? Will it come into play later, that’s why it was brought up in this episode? Does it have its own magical property, given that it survived the curse? Unfortunately, it was one thing that painfully reminded us of Emma and Neal’s love for each other.
Thought this was interesting so I thought I would pass it along. The image on the front of the Dark One book that Belle and Neal find in Rumple’s castle is an image of an Abraxas. Abraxas was a diety from the Greco-Roman era whose origins are a bit unknown. Here’s a description pulled off of wikipedia.
“the whole represents the Supreme Being, with his Five great Emanations, each one pointed out by means of an expressive emblem. Thus, from the human body, the usual form assigned to the Deity, forasmuch as it is written that God created man in his own image, issue the two supporters, Nous and Logos, symbols of the inner sense and the quickening understanding, as typified by the serpents, for the same reason that had induced the old Greeks to assign this reptile for an attribute to Pallas. His head—a cock’s—represents Phronesis, the fowl being emblematical of foresight and vigilance. His two hands bear the badges of Sophia and Dynamis, the shield of Wisdom, and the scourge of Power.”
Zelena seemed very insecure; it was incorrect of her to say that they didn’t suspect a thing because Belle later figured out that Lumiere was lying. Despite the Lumiere in this episode was very different than the original Beauty and the Beast Disney movie, it was interesting how different they made him.
Although the entrance to the vault of the Dark One was a well-shot, well-done scene, we were expecting a little bit more to the actual vault. It was a bit of a let down, just like the dragon from the second season.
On the other hand, there may seem to be a continuity problem to this. TheGoldenKey of the forum pointed out that the Blue fairy told Baelfire that the Dark One didn’t come from the Enchanted Forest.
At the vault of the Dark One, there are a few symbols that can be seen — All Seeing Eye, Triangle, Pentagram, Triquetra. Moreover, Rumple seem to have died particularly for Belle and Neal, not for ‘everyone.’ On the other hand, there seem to be a nobility problem regarding Neal sacrificing himself. While it was clear that he wants to get back to his family, it seem a bit selfish of him that he was willing to do anything to get back to Henry, no matter the cost.
Back in the vault of the Dark One, Belle said that Rumple built the Library shortly before the curse, about 30 years ago. It was first seen in the episode, The Doctor, when Regina was still Rumple’s student. Even if Rumple built the library for Belle, it could have existed for more than 30 years before her. Is this another loophole to the plot? One the other hand, Rumple’s dress wasn’t as flared as what he used to wear. It looked more evil than what he has been seen in the past.
It was great that Rumple sacrifices his power for his son, letting go of the dagger for Neal.
Rumple’s conscience drift
— Shar-ron Powell
So I’m sure some people are calling out on Rumple’s resurrection because it breaks one of the laws of magic of not being able to bring back the dead. (ONCE Wonderland not withstanding of course), However I believe you can legitimize Rumple’s resurrection with magic by thinking of it from this angle. As the episode says many times Rumple is the Dark One, he is the living embodiment of all things dark and evil throughout the realms, even if Rumple is not that dark and evil himself anymore . However darkness cannot be destroyed for it is part of the natural balance of the universe. Good and Evil, Light and Dark etc. So if we see Rumple’s resurrection as just magic restoring the balance and since Rumple is still the Dark One the magic can restore him. Just my wild thoughts. Also the magic did come with a price so, that works too. — Darkones1Fan
Is Rumple’s resurrection merely restoring the balance? If Philip was restored from the wraith, does that mean that Zelena had something to do with saving him as well, pushing them to get on her side? Why didn’t Rumple just give the dagger to Belle? Why throw it at the Wicked Witch?
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At Present (Storybrooke)
Just a few clarification between Neal and Rumple’s switch. We tracked Neal and Rumple’s switched and found out the following:
- Rumple ran from Zelena’s farm
- Neal broke into Gold’s shop
- Neal in hospital
- Neal left the hospital 10 minutes before the alarm
- Rumple shows up in the woods and starts running
- Emma finds Neal
When Zelena tried summoning Rumple, it looks like near where Flynn and Owen camped in the episode, “Welcome to Storybrooke”. But why didn’t the summoning work? It was also weird calling one of his flying monkeys, “beautiful one.” Why was it so important to her, enough to give it such a name?
Nice dialog between Belle and Hook, when they broke the news to Belle about Rumple being alive. Finally, Hook’s attempts on Belle’s life was acknowledged. However, Belle was hard to read in this episode. Could be the mixed emotions she was feeling at the time? Poor Snow, though, Charming wouldn’t let her go with them despite her being the best tracker. Still, why was Zelena so interested in Snow and Charming’s baby? Is the new baby going to be significant in breaking the curse?
As Neal barged into Gold’s shop, the pounding sounded a lot like Rumple. Did they switch during the time?
As Emma brought breakfast to Henry, Emma handed him a bag of bagels. Perhaps one of the cast of crew members have some connection with Manhattan Bagels? Henry was also seen studying Primitive Art. Moreover, Emma and Henry’s relationship was admirable. Henry outright told his mom how he is suspecting that something is going on, but trusted her in the end. Maybe because he doesn’t have as much baggage of his real memories? At least Henry’s temper tantrums are more mature than they used to be.
In the hospital, Emma and Neal’s conversation had us thinking, does Emma want Henry to have his memory back? They could be living a good life in New York, but with her memories back and the new curse, can she really keep everything to Henry? Neal’s scar also reminded us of “Home Alone”, as well as the wraith.
The orange juice that Zelena gives to Snow said “Andana” on the label. This word means “Story” in a language called Cebuano which is a language used mostly in the southern part of the Philippines.
When Zelena visited Snow, is the orange any significant? What was in it? There’s definitely a look of relieve when Snow drank it. But why was Zelena so interested in Snow and Charming’s baby? Is it because it’s going to be a prince or a princess once it was born? Is it because just like Emma, this baby will be born out of true love?
Speaking of true love, Regina finally found out that Robin Hood was her soul mate. Despite Robin Hood being the thief, Robin of Loxley was actually an honorable man. When Robin Hood told her, “Wouldn’t dream of it,” Regina asked him, “Have we met before?” If a certain conversation can trigger a memory, can their memories be brought back the same way Graham got his when he kissed Emma? When Regina and Robin Hood finally shared a kiss, can their memories be retrieve?
Fast forward a bit to Zelena’s farm house, Regina looked almost disappointed and then maybe relieved that Robin didn’t go in for a kiss when he leaned in to get the bottle of whiskey. Regina also explained whiskey to Robin as “a liquid that can conquer courage, gives strength and acts as a love potion of sorts.” Finally, Regina saw his lion tattoo.
Back in the hospital with Neal, Hook handed him a green Jello, which is a nice nod to one of the deleted scenes in season 2 (pictured above). Hook then went to ask Neal, “How does it feel to play the villain” and then, “I suspect you used the darkest of magic and paid an even darker price.” Does Hook know what Neal did? The hug they shared before Neal left, however, was so endearing.
As Emma and David finds Rumple in the forest, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for Emma to want to leave her family to live in New York with Henry, and Henry not remembering much true history. Seems like Emma was making a choice for Henry himself, had Henry was given the chance to take the blue potion to get his memory back.
When Emma finds Neal in the forest, how is it that Neal can be so sane with the voices, but Rumple can’t? Does that mean that Neal was affected by the curse, but perhaps not Rumple? Emma and Neal started to connect again as they were walking. It was as if they were giving us a closure.
After Emma splits Neal and Rumple’s personality, Rumple said that Zelena wants what she doesn’t have. What does she want? If she has gotten Rumple’s brain, and Charming’s courage, does that mean that she was also looking for a heart (or love, perhaps) and a home? What “unholy desires” was Rumple referring to?
Emma used her magic again by separating Neal and Rumple. She may not use her magic all the time, but she was pretty good when she uses it.
In Snow and Charming’s loft, Emma and David broke into their bathroom, only to find that Zelena has already escaped. David also said, “she had to know we were coming”? How?
As Zelena meets Rumple in the forest, Zelena said that she wanted Rumple’s “beautiful brain.” What does she want from him?
I am less convinced all the time that Zelina and Regina are sisters. Zelina used Rumple’s blood to break a blood magic lock which proves that if you have someone’s blood you don’t need to be a relative to use blood magic (and it seems quite unlikely from Zelina and Rumple’s conversation that Rumple is her father). Also for what it’s worth in Wonderland Cora says “my daughter” and not “daughters” and she would have no reason to hide the number of children from Anna.
Is there a possibility that Zelena was lying to Regina about them being sisters? If Zelena was Regina’s older sister, Cora could have her heart then.
Throughout the second half of the season, Regina’s heart has been in turmoil over the loss of Henry and the prospect of having a new soul mate enter her life after decades of loneliness. She seems to be a good candidate for Zelena.
Although Regina has finally got her redemption, her heart was almost black. Does Zelena know how black her heart is?
Beautiful montage in the end. They showed beautiful camera shots, and it was very emotional.
As Emma talked to Henry and tell him about finding his father but how Emma was too late, Emma told him that Neal was a good man. Even though Emma couldn’t talk to Henry about everything yet, it was great seeing her talk to Henry about Neal that is somewhat truthfully.
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Cycle of Abandonment
Over the past 3 seasons, we’ve been learning about the Stiltskin men and the continued cycle of abandonment (Malcolm left go of Rumple, Rumple let go of Baelfire) and now Neal was determined to break the cycle, and he was doing it. THAT was about hope. In 3×09, Neal tells Henry (Pan) that he will always have his father.
Neal’s story arc has always been about second chances. More SwanFire shippers wonder how come the “villains” get second chances but not the guy who has fought other people’s second chances all along.
Slurpeez108 of the forum pointed that “Emma said in 3×06 that it would’ve been easier to lose Neal than to go through all the pain they went through before. Yet, not dealing with the past isn’t forward growth; it’s stagnation and burying your head in the sand.” Because of Neal’s death, it seemed that Emma’s character development just got chopped off because she might never get to deal with the past.
Completely Out of Character
He was a hero when he was willing to give up the only world he knew, in a bid to save his father’s soul. He was a hero when he gave himself over to the Shadow to protect the Darlings. He was a hero when he let go of Emma’s hand over the portal so that Henry wouldn’t lose them both at the same time. He was a hero when he returned to NL on a mission to save his son. It was completely unnecessary to give him a heroic death as a means to establish that he was heroic.
No one knows better than Neal the price of magic. Why, all of a sudden, did he not care about the consequences just to resurrect his father? It was as if they made him seem a bit impatient and reckless for going after what he wants despite what it will cost him in return.
Death Means Nothing
Neal wasn’t even included in the previous episode; not even in 3×12 and 3×13 that much. They talked about him in the previous episodes, but didn’t show him until it was his time to die. Zelena even got what she wanted in the end — a perfectly sane controllable Dark One.
A death on TV, especially on Once Upon a Time, is supposed to mean something; bringing some sort of a message. When Graham died, it proved that the curse is real and Regina is that desperate to keep it going. Cora’s death proved that love is strength, and that Rumple’s deaths meant that villains can make heroic sacrifices, too. What did Neal’s death meant, then?
I feel that Neal’s death was perfectly cohesive to the show, and made complete sense.
In season 2 it was made clear that Neal would take the easy way out whenever the situation allowed – in my opinion, he took the easy way out when he left Emma to the “care” of August, and in his own words to Mulan, he took the easy way out when he never came back to Emma when he had the chance. He took the easy way out when he let go of Emma’s hand at the portal.
It was made clear in 3A that Neal would do whatever it took to get back to his family – he called in a favour with Robin Hood just like his father would have done. He searched for a magical object that would take him back to his son. He used a little boy to bait the Shadow of Neverland. He used the squid ink to incapacitate Peter Pan and Rumple. But the common theme of all these actions is that they are magical – they are taking the easy way out.
So when Neal rather impetuously decided that he would pay whatever price in order to get his father back, I felt it was perfectly in character, even if it was somewhat idiotic. Because Neal always takes the easy way out. Just like Rumple. Just like Malcolm. And I felt Neal’s death was his way of breaking that cycle – his second chance to do the right thing, and NOT take the easy way out.
I have been reading both the Swanfire and Captain Swan forums since they started, and each had their own interpretations. But what I find interesting is that CS shippers have consistently been proven right in their theories. They actually had theorized in 3A that Neal may go dark, but quickly let it go when they saw his laid back attitude in the latter half of 3A.
I just think it’s terrible how the theories and careful deconstructions CSers have been performing have gone unnoticed. They’ve been consistently proven right in a lot of things. They theorised Hooks actions in 2×22 at least 7 episodes before it aired. They theorised the CS kiss in 3×02, before any hint of a kiss had been heard of. They theorised that Neal would go dark (which he did, as of 3×15). They theorized that in 3×11, Emma would give Hook “hope” for a future with her, which she did.
They are currently theorizing a True Love’s kiss for the finale, and also a possible Captain Swan engagement or wedding, which, given their history of being correct, I would certainly take seriously. I think the CS shippers deserve recognition for their interpretations of the show, so I am singing their praises for you. And I hope you will give them some of that recognition in your next podcast, because I know that SF fans will be represented.
— Helen H.
Neal paid the price for dark magic — Ariana
After this episode, some fans are starting to question the moral of the show. They have been leaning towards redemption and hope since the beginning, but is the life of one good man enough to say that there is no hope? Did the creator’s of the show just crushed a lot of fan’s hope by killing off Neal? After Neal died, was his story arc really done? If not, where could his story still go?
On the comic side of things, ILoveChessandPonies sent in an audio message and talked about Neal. He thought that Neal could have resurrected his father without dying if he only had oven mitts.
Furthermore, it’s still possible that no matter how sad Neal’s death is, there’s still a chance at a happy ending. Just because something bad happens doesn’t mean it’s already the end of the world. Hopefully, there is still a hope at a happy ending… just not the happy ending that everyone thought it will be.
What about you? What do you think about Neal’s death? Is this really where his story ends? Will Regina finally open up her heart to Robin Hood or will she ignore it just like before? How will this affect Emma and Henry? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below, emailing it to us, or by joining us over the forum!
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- Episode 16, “It’s Not Easy Being Green” was written by Andrew Chambliss and directed by Mario Van Peebles.
- Guest stars returning include Keegan Connor Tracy as Blue Fairy/Mother Superior, Rose McIver as Tinker Bell, Christopher Gorham as Walsh, Adrian Hough as woodcutter and Maria Marlow as wife.
- The guest stars don’t include the Wizard. Could Walsh be the Wizard?
- The promo looks like the shoot-out at the Wild Wild West
- In the promotional photos, both Regina and Zelena were seen wearing gloves.
- Zelena bursts into Granny’s, probably to tell Regina they were sisters
- 3×16 might be answering a lot of questions
- 3×16 will also be talking about how Zelena turned green
- Hook is still being a good guy; protecting Henry from the truth
- Hook and Henry talks about Neal, leaving Neverland out of it
- Lots of magic being used.
- Rumple thinks that Zelena is more powerful than Regina.
- Rumple might have given up on Zelena, which is why Zelena was so angry and jealous at Regina
- TV Guide confirmed a picture of Zelena and Rumple in a passionate lip-lock. Is Zelena forcing Rumple to do something against his will?
- In the episode 22 “There’s No Place Like Home”, Meghan Ory will be back as Red.
- Emma was seen wearing a cape and a FTL costume, and Hook was seen in another outfit, a brown trench coat. A reformed pirate, perhaps?
- Michael Socha, the actor who plays Will/Knave of Heart in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, is expected to join Once Upon a Time as a series regular should the show be renewed for the 4th season
- Karen Holness was cast as the Witch of the North and is set to appear on the episode, Kansas