"Quiet Minds" is the 59th episode of Once Upon a Time.
Neal finds himself back in Storybrooke and yearns for a way to reconnect with his son Henry, whose memories of his father are gone, while also trying to find his own father, Rumplestiltskin, whom he has just learned is alive but missing, and Regina discovers a possible connection with Robin Hood. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was over the past year, agonizing over the death of his father, Neal - with the help of Belle and enchanted candelabrum Lumière - attempts to find a magical solution to bring back Rumplestiltskin from the dead.
Previously on Once Upon a Time...
Zelena looks at herself in a mirror in the Dark Palace, smiling. ("New York City Serenade") Snow asks Zelena who she was in the past life, so the witch lies that she was a midwife. ("Witch Hunt") Zelena and Regina meet in the Enchanted Forest ("Witch Hunt") Charming, Hook, Regina and Emma discover straw turned into gold in a bunker near Zelena's farmhouse and deduce that Rumplestiltskin is still alive. ("The Tower")
A meeting his held to discuss the witch, Rumple and Neal.
In the early hours of Storybrooke Emma rushes up to Granny's Diner and knocks on the door. Granny lets her in, where Snow, Charming, Regina and Hook are waiting and she explains that if they want privacy they better hurry because nothing gets between Leroy and his bacon. After being asked by Hook, Emma explains she found no trace of Rumplestiltskin at the farmhouse. Charming suggests searching all the places he might go, but a baffled Emma questions how it's even possible for him to be alive as they all witnessed him disappear. Hook butts in, explaining that when they went back to the Enchanted Forest, Neal talked about the possibility of getting his father back. Charming asks how, but Hook says Neal didn't know how, he just missed his family and was desperate to get back to this world, so he thought bringing his father back would be the key. Emma states that if that was his plan then something went wrong, because although Gold might be alive, Neal is missing as no one has seen him since the new curse. Charming assures his daughter that he's out there, but Regina interrupts, stating they have more important issues than who brought Gold back. She points out Rumple being in the Wicked Witch's basement is one example, wondering what she was cooking up with him. Snow says the best way to find that out would be to ask Gold and Charming supposes he can tell them who the witch is and help track her down. Regina tells the group she's going to the farmhouse as it's possible the witch left behind some trace of potion or special ingredient. Emma tells the queen to be careful, but she warns Emma that the witch is the one who needs to be careful because she invaded her space, and when she returns the favor she won't be pulling any punches.
Zelena orders her flying monkey to find Rumplestiltskin.
Meanwhile, at the edge of the woods, on a hill looking down at Storybrooke, Zelena is stood holding the Dark One's dagger. She holds it out in front of her and smiles menacingly as she summons the Dark One. However, when nothing happens, she becomes frustrated and yells for Rumplestiltskin. Realising it's not working, she becomes worried because the Dark One has broken free and knows too much. With that, a Flying Monkey lands on a tree beside the witch, awaiting orders. Zelena turns to it and angrily demands that it find Rumplestiltskin. The monkey obeys and flies away, ready to complete its task. Meanwhile, Rumplestiltskin is running through the woods in a hurry, leaping over all the obstacles in his way, all the while checking behind him to make sure he's not being followed.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Belle is informed that Rumple may be alive.
At Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer, Belle is examining a golden piece of straw as she questions how it's possible for Rumple to be alive. Emma says they were hoping she'd be able to tell them because she knows the shop and Rumple better than anyone else. She supposes that there must be a clue somewhere in the shop as to how and if he got back, so Belle tells her she's start looking. Charming asks her to keep her eye out for him, because if he's in town he'll come to her. Belle says she knows this, causing Snow to smile warmly. Emma then gives a signally look over to Hook, who offers to stay with Belle. The confused librarian asks if he'll stay with her, so Emma explains he'll protect her if the witch comes. Belle points out that he tried to kill her, so he tells her there was extenuating circumstances. She points out that he tried twice, so he awkwardly tries apologizing, making Emma mock his charming abilities. Hook then offers this as a way to make it up to Belle, so she reluctantly agrees. With that sorted, Emma turns to her mother and suggests heading to the woods, however Charming supposes Snow should stay home. She points out that she's their best tracker, but he reminds her that Zelena told her to get her rest. The family agree with the new plans and before setting off, Emma thanks Belle for her help and assures her they'll find Rumple. Belle thanks the blonde in return before she sets off.
One Year Ago
Belle and Neal start their search.
At the Dark Castle in the Enchanted Forest, Belle tells Neal that if there's anyone that can defeat the witch and get him back to his family, it's the Dark One. After she supposes the way to resurrect him must be in this castle, Neal realizes that she really believes in Rumple, so she tells Neal she loves him, even the parts the belonged to the darkness. Neal tells her it took him a while to see past the darkness and see a good man trying to get out. Belle states that he did get out, so Neal sadly agrees that he did, adding that now he needs to use the dark part to get back to his family. He looks at something in his hand, so Belle asks what it is. As he holds it out, he explains that it's a necklace of Emma's that was supposed to represent their life together. He wonders how it survived the trip, so Belle tells him it's because it was born out of true love. She then tells him to follow her as she thinks she knows where they can find what they need.
Lumière offers his assistance.
A short while later, Belle enters the library in the castle, only to be followed by Neal, who asks her if she thinks there's magic in here. She tells him there's something better; books. She lists that there'll be books on history, witchcraft, and hopefully some on the Dark One too. She begins lighting a candelabra to get light in the room as Neal asks her where they should start, she tells him to start one shelf at a time. "Hello there" a voice calls out quietly, confusing Belle and Neal, who look for the source of the sound. The voice speaks again, causing them to look at the candelabra Belle just lit. The flames begin to take the shape of a male face. Belle and Neal are both baffled, so the candle tells them not to be frightened as he's just a humble servant of the castle; he introduces himself as Lumière.
Neal decides to show up.
In Storybrooke Belle passes Hook some books she wants to study, warning him to watch the covers on them. He points out that he's dealing with a hook here as he takes them and awkwardly holds them. Suddenly, there's a banging sound from one of the doors. Assuming it's Rumple, Belle excitedly runs into the main part of the shop and Hook follows her. They look at the side door and see a man trying to barge in, attempting to push past the boxes that have been placed there to block the door. The person eventually breaks through and enters the shop, collapsing to the floor from exhaustion. It's Neal. A shocked Belle rushes to Neal's side and attempts to wake him up by calling out his name.
Henry tells Emma he doesn't believe her.
At Granny's Bed & Breakfast, Henry is sat doing some homework when Emma enters, passing him a bag and a cup. The boy asks his mother if she was out all night as he didn't hear her come in, but she explains that she was working and got him breakfast because she's "super mom". She tells him it's cocoa and a sesame bagel, but when he opens the bag he scoffs at the contents, asking if it's really a bagel. She apologizes, telling him they're not in Manhattan any more and then they both take a sip from their drinks. She moves, getting ready to leave, so Henry asks if she's going back out. She tells him she is and asks if he remembers Leroy. When he confirms he does, she tells him he's going fishing and asks if he wants to go too, Henry says he will, but only because he likes fishing, not because he believes her. Emma asks what he means, so he explains that she's not fooling him, stating something is up. She lies that she's working a case so he knows how she gets focused, but Henry points out it's something more than that.
Emma promises to reveal everything eventually.
He adds that it's the town and all these old friends she's never mentioned before who whisper around him. He tells his mother there's something she's not telling him, but she tries to lie again, shrugging it off as the bail bonds business being dirty. Seeing through the lies, he states she's not getting off that easy and tells her if she can't tell him the truth then he wants to go home. Suddenly Emma gets a call, so she apologizes to her son before answering it. The person on the other line tells her something shocking, so she asks "what" in disbelief. She then tells them she'll be right there before hanging up. She awkwardly tells Henry she has to go, but he stops her, asking what's going on. His mother confesses that something is up, but tells him it just got even more complicated. She asks if he can trust her for now that she's doing what's best, promising to fill him in later. He tells his mother that he trusts her, so she thanks him before leaving, kissing him and telling him she loves him.
Emma and Neal are reunited.
Over at the Storybrooke General Hospital, Neal is sat in a bed with Belle and Hook by his side when Emma and Charming arrive, shocked to see him alive. Emma asks what happened, but he tells her he doesn't know and all he remembers is the yellow bug car crossing the town line and then suddenly running around the woods in Storybrooke, where apparently a whole lot has been going on. Hook asks Emma if she's going to tell him or if he should, so Neal curiously asks what he needs to be told. Charming explains that they think his dad is back. Neal angrily asks what they mean by "back", stating that he just saw him die. Emma tells him to take it easy before suddenly noticing a strange burn mark on Neal's hand; a triangle with lines surrounding it. She asks what it is as she takes a picture of it, but Neal says he doesn't know as it was there when he woke up. The blonde asks Belle if she can do more research, offering to send her the picture, the brunette says she will.
Neal finds out Henry doesn't remember him.
Neal asks Hook, Belle and Charming if he and Emma can have a minute, so they all leave, leaving the former couple alone. He tells her it's good to see her and even better to have her remember him, so she tells him it's good to see him too. He asks if its really been a year, so she confirms it has. He then asks when he can see Henry, but she doesn't know how to answer that. He says he understands that he can't just come barging back into her life, but she stops him, explaining that Henry's memories never came back, so he doesn't remember anything about the curse, his old life, and Neal. He asks what Henry knows about his father, so she tells him it's that he let her go to jail and never came back for her. He defends himself, stating he didn't have a choice and she knows that, so she tells him she knows that now, but she didn't during the whole year. He asks if his son simply thinks he's a jerk that abandoned him, but when Emma doesn't reply, he insists they have to get his memories back and fix this. Emma tells Neal that Henry was really happy in New York with their new life, so Neal realizes she doesn't want him to get his memories back. She supposes that it's maybe for the best, but Neal tells her he's his father and he wants him to know who he is.
Lumière tells his story.
Back in the Enchanted Forest during the missing year, a confused Belle and Neal stand before the magic candelabra, Lumière. Belle explains that she's dusted every nook and cranny of the place so wonders how their paths have never crossed. He explains that it's a big castle and he only awakens when his candles are lit, stating those are the rules of his punishment. Neal wonders who the punishment was from, so Lumière mockingly tells him it's obviously from Rumplestiltskin. As Neal examines the magical candle, Lumière explains that he made a deal with Rumple a long time ago and when he couldn't keep his end of the bargain he was made sure to pay the price. He fearfully asks if he's here, but Belle sadly tells him he's dead. Neal adds that they're trying to bring him back, shocking Lumière. He asks if he knows anything that could restore the Dark One since he's spent a lot of time here, so Lumière tells him he knows a great many things. Neal begs the candle for his help because without him he'll never see his family again.
Belle and Neal discover a key.
Lumière angrily asks why he should help resurrect the man who put him in this wax prison, so Belle tells him the Rumple he knew may have seemed cold and hard, but insists that he's changed since then. She promises him that if he helps them then she knows he'll restore him to his human form. As he contemplates helping, Belle begs him one last time. He finally agrees and tells her to look in the bookcase behind her in the bottom cabinet. As she opens it, Lumière tells her she'll know it when she sees it as it's a volume befitting the Dark One. Once Belle looks inside, she sees a giant ancient looking book that stands out from all the rest. She grabs it and puts it on a table, tentatively opening it. As she looks through it, Neal asks what kind of book it is. However, she reveals that it's not a book, but a hiding spot, as she pulls out a giant key hidden within the pages. The marking on the key resembles the same pattern on Neal's hand in Storybrooke. As she and Neal examine it, the latter asks what it is. Lumière tells them it's a key to the Vault of the Dark One. Confused, Belle asks what the Vault of the Dark One is. Lumière tells them it's where the first Dark One was made, born out of the darkness.
Zelena threatens Lumière.
Lumière tells them that it's where they must go if they intend on bringing back the Dark One. Belle asks if he'll guide them on their journey, so the candle confirms that he will if her promise of being returned to his human form is true. They put the key back into the book and Neal states they'll set of first thing in the morning. After blowing out the candles, the two leave the library. Once they're gone, Lumière's candles magically begin lighting on their own...and Zelena comes out of the shadows, telling him "nicely done". She tells him she doesn't think they suspected him for an instant, which says more about them than it does about him. She mocks Belle for not being as smart as she thinks and calls Neal dumber than a box of hair. Lumière sadly states that they're merely desperate to bring back their Rumplestiltskin, but Zelena adds that they're also blind. The candelabra then demands to be released as he's aided her enough, but she tells him to watch his tone as there's more to be done, stating he shall do it unless he desires being the wax seal on an envelope.
Zelena helps Snow in a time of worry.
Back in Storybrooke, Snow opens the door to her apartment, letting in a smiling Zelena, who's carrying a bag of groceries. Snow comments that the midwife got here fast, so Zelena tells her she could hear a little panic in her voice. She assures Snow that there's no need to be anxious if you don't feel your baby move for a while, claiming it doesn't mean a thing. She pulls out a bottle of orange juice, shocking Snow. As she pours the soon-to-be-mother a glass, she explains that babies move less when they're about to go into labour, so it's possible that she's closer to delivering than they think. Snow says it could be, or it could be that she's getting anxious with everything going on and getting ready for the baby. Zelena adds that it could also be stress from the wicked witch, claiming everyone in town is talking about it. She asks if they've find out anything more about her, but Snow explains they haven't before becoming frustrated over the fact that she's cooped up inside while everyone is working hard to find her. Zelena calms her down, explaining that no one is working as hard as her right now because she's creating a whole new person. She then tells Snow to drink up, so she does. As she drinks the orange juice she eagerly watches her. Suddenly, moments after drinking, Snow becomes shocked when she feels a kick. She places a hand on her stomach and so does Zelena, who tells her it works every time; Snow tells her she's amazing. Zelena explains that her little prince or princess can be here any day before telling her she's not going to let her have the baby without her. She then smiles sinisterly at Snow, although the princess doesn't pick up on the creepy look on Zelena's face.
An awkward first meeting.
At Zelena's farmhouse, Regina is pacing outside when she hears a twig snap behind her. Assuming it's a Flying Monkey, she tells the "winged freak" to show itself. However, she's met with an arrow flying towards her, shot by Robin Hood's crossbow. As she catches it in her hand, the thief apologizes, stating he thought she was the Wicked Witch; she says she thought he was a flying monkey. He tells the queen he hopes his mistake hasn't cost him his head, addressing her as "your majesty". "So, you know who I am?" she asks, leading him to say her reputation in the Enchanted Forest precedes her. She says she didn't catch his name, so he introduces himself as Robin of Loxley. He holds out his hand to shake hers, but instead she drops the arrow her shot at her into it, pointing out he's the thief. Robin points out that since they're "tossing labels around" that she's known as the Evil Queen. She tells him she prefers Regina before asking if he thinks he can take down the Wicked Witch with "sticks". He says he'll try, but she warns him they're too late as she's long gone. Robin supposes she left a trail, so the mayor reveals she thought the same thing, "Then you've got yourself a partner" Robin tells her. Uncomfortable, Regina says she doesn't remember asking for one, but he simply tells her he didn't. She turns to him, trying to hold back her smile, and tells him not to get in her way, "I wouldn't dream of it" he responds. A confused Regina asks if they've met before, but he tells her he doubts he'd forget ever meeting her...unless it was during the year that nobody can remember, which would be all the more reason to find the witch, as she could possibly provide some insight into their lost memories. The two walk towards the farmhouse, ready to investigate.
Amends are made.
Meanwhile, at the Storybrooke Memorial Hospital, Neal is sat in his bed looking at the strange mark on his hand when Hook approaches him with a bowl of jello, saying he thought he could use some sustenance. Neal jokes about the jello, so Hook says he gathered it has "great medicinal properties". Neal goes on to ask the pirate who put him on babysitting duty to make sure he doesn't run off, so he explains it was Emma. Neal thanks Hook for getting Emma the message to come back, so Hook says he'd have done the same. Neal asks what it feels like to be the hero after being a pirate for so long, so Hook tells him it's unfamiliar before asking how it feels to play the villain. "I'm a villain now?" Neal asks, leading Hook to point out that if he truly brought his father back then he'd have had to use the darkest magic to do it. Neal unstraps himself from the machines and attempts to leave, stating he should be out there looking, asking Hook if he's going to stand in his way. Hook tells him he is in his way before grabbing Neal and hugging him. A confused Neal asks what he's doing, so Hook tells him the hug was long overdue, stating that when he looks at him all he sees in a man and he forgets that underneath it he's still "that boy" who he looked after all those years ago. Neal says he hasn't forgotten, leading Hook to point out how they got caught up in so much nonsense a woman. Neal tells the pirate that he doesn't need to do this, realizing what's about to happen. Hook tells him he has ten minutes before he alerts the others he's gone. Neal rushes out of the hospital to find his father.
Neal rushes similarly alongside Belle through the Enchanted Forest with a flaming torch in his hand and Lumière in his satchel, and his father's girlfriend admits to him that, ever since it happened, she hasn't been able to stop thinking about Rumple's sacrifice; how he died to save everyone in Storybrooke. Neal asks if she realizes that that wasn't it, and points out that he died to save the two of them specifically: his family. Belle is happy about the fact that he died a hero, and Neal wonders if she's surprised he had it in him, which she isn't. She extends the same question to him, and Baelfire answers negatively, going on to say that his "papa" was never the most selfless guy, and he knows he wished he hadn't let him go through that portal, but now that he has a son of his own Neal can't ever imagine doing what Rumple did. Belle recalls that the Dark One regretted what happened with his son so much and was willing to do anything to get back to him, and Neal says that that's one thing about him that he can relate to, because he would do anything to get back to Henry. Belle comments on how cold it's getting and notices the snow on the ground in front of them, then looking ahead and telling Neal to do the same. They are next seen walking through a particularly snowy area of the forest, making it to a white-covered clearing, and Neal tells Belle that they should get what they came here for, for his father. He sticks his flaming torch into the snowy ground.
Emma doesn't plan on staying in town.
In Storybrooke's forest, David is walking with Emma and asks how Neal is, and she tells him that things are difficult due to the complication brought on by the Henry situation; Neal is hoping that Gold will be able to bring the boy's memories back. David comments that that would be an added bonus to finding Rumple, but his daughter questions this, saying that she would have thought that was true a couple of days ago but maybe now... "Now what?" Charming questions, wondering how Henry will stay in Storybrooke without his memories, then realizing that Emma doesn't plan on staying, for she wants to return to New York after the new curse is broken. Emma recalls that a week ago she and Henry were playing video games and eating fruit roll-ups, and now she's looking for the Dark One hoping that he can help her track down the Wicked Witch of the West.
Gold flees during a monkey attack.
An odd scream is heard, and the two Charmings rush to the source of the noise to find Gold on his knees and clutching his head in the middle of the woods; Emma asks if he's alright. "Not alright! Not alright!" he yells, making the savior take a frightened step back, and he proceeds to complain about the unquiet voices in his head. Emma crouches down calmly in front of him and reminds the crazed wizard that he was held captive by a witch, wanting to know if he remembers. He does, but he can't tell Emma anything, too busy yelling about the fact that there's "no room" in his mind; too many voices. David, approaching, says that Gold needs to be taken out of here, but then the cawing of a flying monkey is heard from behind and so the prince draws his sword in order to fend off Zelena's winged pet. It crashes to the ground, managing to get to its feet, and Emma takes out her gun as her father and his blade take another swing at the creature. They do their best to keep it at bay, but this gives Gold an opportunity to run; and he does. David promises the hold the monkey off while Emma runs after the Dark One, and so she puts the gun away and begins to chase Rumple through the woods.
Could this be love?
Regina declares that there's nothing useful in Zelena's farmhouse, unfortunately, and Robin Hood is surprised that none of the jarred substances they've come across contain magical properties. Regina says that a good witch covers her tracks, but a better one can uncover them; she is looking at the witch's dresser as she promises that they'll find her if they're patient. Standing behind her, Robin recalls having heard many stories about the "great and terrible" Evil Queen, but from this angle the "Evil" moniker seems somewhat of an overstatement. He adds that she is "bold and audacious, perhaps", but not evil. She turns around to face him and says that the name served her well, because fear is quite an effective tool, and Robin begins approaching, looking as though he's about to kiss her. However, he does not, instead grabbing a bottle from the dresser behind her and asking her if the liquid inside is magical. She says that it isn't exactly, but it can conjure courage, give strength or even act as a love potion of sorts; "It's called whiskey, and no, it's not magical... especially the next day." Robin realizes what she means by this, being familiar with alcoholic beverages, and proceeds to grab two glasses.
The lion tattoo.
Regina is surprised that he wants to have a drink at a time like this, and, as he pours them, he points out that in the last few days alone they've been cursed, woken up in an entirely new realm and forgotten a year of their lives, so he'd say they've earned it. Regina smiles, but as he hands her her drink she notices the lion tattoo on his forearm...
"You need love!" Tinker Bell exclaims in a brief flashback, and Regina appears skeptical that the fairy will be able to help her find another soulmate. However, the two of them are next seen standing outside a tavern, and Tink is pointing inside at the man with the lion tattoo - Robin Hood. He is Regina's fated true love (see "Quite a Common Fairy").
In the present, Regina remains shocked to be faced with the man that Tinker Bell told her she was destined to love forever, and Robin asks if there's something wrong. She is unable to muster any words, and so she just leaves as fast as she can.
Emma finds Neal in the woods.
Emma is still running through the woods and comes to a stop, having entirely lost Gold. She tries looking around for him and eventually sees someone moving nearby, and so tries calling out the Dark One's name. "Emma!" Neal Cassidy exclaims in reply, finally spotting her and approaching. She asks what the hell he's doing here, for he's supposed to be in hospital, and he says that he could hardly stay in bed while she was looking for his dad. She realizes this, apparently having forgotten who she was dealing with, and Neal proceeds to ask if she has a beat on Rumple yet, but she doesn't; she and David just saw him but then he took off again. "So it's true? He's alive?" Neal asks, shocked, and the savior confirms it, making it so that Rumple's son desperately wants to see him. She is unsure about this because he seems to have gone insane as the Wicked Witch's prisoner, and when she asked him about her it was like he wanted to tell her but couldn't. Neal says that he can't be far and so they should keep looking for him, pointing out as he does so that her trying to make him go back to hospital will only waste time, and so she agrees. They begin making their way continually through the forest.
Belle sees past Lumière's lies.
Night has fallen in the snowy clearing of the Enchanted Forest, and Neal is using his lighter to ignite the candles of Lumière, who's rested on a tree stump. His face forms from the fire and he congratulates both Neal and Belle on having found the Vault of the Dark One; Neal wonders what they are to do now, and so Lumière instructs him to go to the center of the clearing where, under the ice and snow, he should find the entryway to the vault. Neal is next seen on his hands and knees, digging through the snow as Belle watches apprehensively from behind. Something definitely appears to be at the clearing's center, and Neal calls Belle over as he begins to uncover the vault, taking the key out from his inside pocket once he's done. Belle, who's now crouched down beside her true love's son, says that the key must go in the middle, but before he does anything, Neal asks Lumière if he's sure about this. The French candelabra points out that he spent over two hundred years in Rumplestiltskin's library, witnessing more dark magic and sorcery than any living creature has ever seen. "I'm sorry, how long did you say you were there?" Belle asks as Neal continues to dig a little more, and Lumière once again proclaims that he was trapped in that library for at least two hundred years. This leads Belle to realize that he's lying, and she tells this to Neal, going on to stand up and exclaim that Rumple built that library for her not long before the curse, so it's been there barely thirty years.
Neal decides to resurrect Rumple, regardless of the cost.
Neal demands to know just who this fiery fiend is, and Lumière promises that he is who he appears to be, only it wasn't Rumplestiltskin who turned him into this wretched form - it was the Wicked Witch of the West. Belle is shocked that she and Neal were led to this place by the Wicked Witch, and Lumière explains that she wants to bring back the Dark One so that she can control him with his dagger, prompting the deceased's girlfriend to tell his son that they need to leave this place. Neal tells her to wait, however, for they now know for certain that they can bring Rumple back, and it shouldn't really matter who got them there. Belle says that Rumple didn't sacrifice himself for good so that he could come back to be a slave to evil, but Neal, removing his gloves, reminds her that his father is the king of loopholes, and so he's sure that he'll be able to find a way to deal with Zelena. "What if he can't?" Belle questions, "Think what she could do with the Dark One under her control! We'll find another way to bring him back..." She reaches out her hand in order to receive the key to the vault, but Neal just stands there and questions the likelihood of there being another away; he can't waste any more time because he needs to get back to Emma and Henry - "To hell with the cost!"
The Dark One rises anew.
He approaches the vault and drops to his knees in the snow, contemplating what he's about to do with the key in his hand due to Belle talking behind him, pointing out that that's what his father told himself before forging the curse which condemned countless people to misery. She begs Neal not to make the same mistake he made, but Neal doesn't listen, instead opting to place the key into the center of the vault's seal and push it in. "Neal, wait!" Belle begs, but it's too late. The vault has already begun searing with heat, and this heat travels up the key as well, thus burning the palm of Neal's hand and marking into it the symbol he's seen with in the present day. He screams, but manages to cool it down in the nearby snow, seeing his marked hand before turning and watching as the vault's seal sinks into the ground, allowing the whole thing to be filled with a thick, ominous, black liquid. It seeps from all edges and joins at the middle, writhing and contorting. Soon enough, a form begins to rise. A human figure is emerging from this inky substance. "Rumple?" Belle questions, and the figure becomes more defined, confirming her suspicions.
Neal and Emma talk things out.
Neal and Emma continue in their attempt to track the former's father through the woods of Storybrooke as he asks his old girlfriend about her and Henry's life in New York over the past year. She commends the city on its excellent pizza, and Neal wonders if Henry liked it, to which Emma exclaims that he loves pizza. However, Neal makes clear that he meant living there in the city, and Emma confirms that he did, adding that she did as well because it meant that they had time to do all the things that they normally couldn't. "Like what?" Neal wonders, and Emma shrugs, listing off various activities such as going to the park, seeing a movie, going to the zoo, doing nothing - life was good; really good. Neal asks if it ever got lonely, being just the two of them, leading her to say that Henry had tons of friends at school and she had someone of her own. She quickly apologizes after revealing this, but Neal doesn't understand why she's sorry, for it isn't as though they were together, nor did Emma even remember any of the time she spent with him after their days as thieves.
Belle makes a crucial call.
The savior laughs, and Neal asks if her relationship with this other guy was serious. She informs him that he proposed... and then he turned into a flying monkey, which Neal says "sounds intense". The both of them laugh and she tells him to go ahead, sarcastically pointing out the hilarity in the fact that she almost married a monster from Oz, but Neal points out in turn that he almost married a minion of his evil grandfather Peter Pan, so he knows what she's saying. They make their way down a hill before Neal offers his condolences over the fact that things didn't work out, which surprises her, and he assures her that he cares about her, and always will. He adds that he just wants her to be happy, even if it isn't with him, but Emma recalls that they were happy... once. Neal laments that they never "found Tallahassee", and Emma espouses a sad smile before her cell phone begins to ring, and she answers it to Belle. The librarian explains to the savior that the symbol on Neal's hand is from an ancient talisman; a key that opens the Vault of the Dark One.
Things take a sudden turn for the... insane.
She thinks he may have used it to resurrect Rumple back in the Enchanted Forest, and Emma is surprised by the fact that Neal brought Gold back, as is Neal himself. However, Belle says that that's not all: the vault will only restore the Dark One in exchange for another life. "Whoa, hang on a minute, what?!" Emma questions, and Belle tells her that it's a "one-for-one" trade, so if Neal used that key... he should be dead right now. Emma is utterly shocked, and Neal suddenly screams, falling to the floor in pain. The savior neglects her phone as she tries to make sure he's alright, crouching down before him and checking the hand which contains the burn mark. "Neal what did you do?!" she cries out, but he retracts his hand away from her, screaming some more before looking up, revealing that his face is starting to contort. It's melded with his father's. He's becoming Gold. Emma doesn't know how to react.
Rumplestiltskin is back.
Neal screams with similar pain back in the Enchanted Forest, having just used the key to resurrect his father. Rumplestiltskin continues to rise from the inky blackness that fills the Vault of the Dark One, while Belle runs towards her true love's son, not understanding what's wrong with him. Finally, the process becomes complete, and Rumple stands fully-formed with the Dark One's dagger in his hand, looking up for the first time since he sacrificed himself to save Storybrooke to see Belle cradling the dying body of his only child. "Belle..." he utters, and then, "Bae... No!" He makes his way over to them, crouching down beside Neal as well, and as he takes his son into his arms, Zelena appears in a flurry of green smoke and comments upon the sadness of Baelfire's predicament. She adds that he just couldn't learn from his father's mistakes; he wanted so badly to get back to his son that he couldn't see the forest for the trees.
Rumple realizes that the Wicked Witch is responsible for this, having tricked Neal, but Zelena swears that all she did was pass on some vital information - with the help of a friend - and then his son did the rest. Lumière appears nervous at this mention, still alight and sitting on the stump of a tree, as Rumple grows furious at the fact that Zelena didn't tell Neal the price of what he was doing. "Oops!" she excitedly exclaims, smiling as she points out that all she committed was a sin of omission, although she thought the idea of "a life for a life" was rather obvious. The Dark One assures his son that he's going to be alright, which Zelena doubts, and Rumplestiltskin snarls with anger before telling Belle to go. She nods, getting to her feet and stepping away from the center of the clearing, and Rumple promises that he's not going to let Bae go, clutching his dagger as a sheen of his magic washes over them both, beginning to bind them together. It doesn't seem to be quite working, and the Wicked Witch offers insincere condolences, making it clear that Rumple can't hang on to both his son and his dagger.
The Dark One absorbs his son in order to save his life.
With this choice imperative, he finally throws his dagger to the snowy ground, and Zelena expresses surprise that he had this in him as she picks it up off the floor. Rumple's magic is continually worked, and Neal is finally absorbed into him, where he is to be protected from dying. Belle looks shocked to have witnessed this strange occurrence, and Zelena congratulates the Dark One, saying that he's got his son... but he's lost himself. Neal's face is momentarily present within his father's as the two of them merge into a single body, and Rumple can't help but collapse wholly to the ground. Belle is deeply worried for him, calling out his name, but the Dark One insists that there's "no Rumple... no room! No room... no Rumple!" He is referring to the fact that his mind is barely able to contain two consciousnesses - the sheer weight of it all is driving him insane - but Zelena grows bored of this, commenting that his madness is his burden, not hers, and it's time to go.
Lumière saves Belle from the Wicked Witch.
He cowers, and the Wicked Witch of the West continues in saying that before they do, "Kill her!" She has possession of the dagger, and so Rumple is obliged to do as she says. He looks up at Belle and she appears fearful, uttering her true love's name as he hesitates to kill her, but, suddenly, Lumière blows forth a gust of fire from his mouth, wrapping Zelena in a tendril of flames. The candelabrum exclaims that he can't keep her for long, telling Belle to go before she gets Rumple under her control again, but the beauty keeps staring at the beast with tears in her eyes, leading Lumière to advise that she not make him regret this sudden flash of conscience and get out of here. She whimpers, eventually running past Rumple and towards the tree stump that Lumière is rested on top of. "You're gonna regret this, candle!" Zelena assures as a crying Belle takes him and runs away via the woods, looking at Rumple one last time before she goes. Zelena continues to be entwined in fire, while Rumple just continues to be insane after having just absorbed his son.
The savior uses her magic to separate Neal and his father.
Neal writhes around painfully in the present as Emma comes to the conclusion that Gold is somehow inside of him, and she thinks that's how he's still alive. Neal exclaims that he can hear his father's voice in his head, and it's driving him mad, which leads Emma to recall what the Dark One said about there being "no room": he meant Bae. Neal says that he needs the savior's help, requesting that she use her magic to separate he and his father, and she asks if he's kidding, pointing out that he'll die. He knows this, but points out in turn that she needs his dad more than him to figure out who the Wicked Witch is and save the town. She needs to do this. Emma argues that she's never done anything like this before, for it's such a large feat of magic, but Neal tells her to do it, to save both she and Henry; "Do it... please!" He holds out his hands for her to take, and she does, closing her eyes in order to focus her magic into her old lover.
Gold reveals Zelena to be the Wicked Witch.
Eventually, after more melding of faces, Neal is separated from his father, falling backwards as Gold is left kneeling before the savior in his son's old position. She is stunned, but quickly turns her attention to Neal as he lies on the forest ground, causing Gold to notice this as well and demand to know what Emma has done. She positions herself behind him and props his head up as Rumple takes his son's hand, wanting to know why he volunteered to let himself die. Neal explains that he did it so that Gold could tell them who the witch is and they can defeat her, and he angrily utters, "Zelena..." Emma turns to him in shock, knowing Zelena to be her mother's midwife and wondering what she wants, to which Gold, having begun to tear up, replies that she's after the one thing she doesn't have. Tearing up also, Emma enquires that there has to be some way the Dark One can save Neal, but he remains silent, implying that there's not.
The swan necklace is returned.
He gets to his feet as he tells Emma that it's too late, to her dismay, and she turns her attention back to the dying man in her arms, begging him to "hang in there". Crying profusely now, she points out that he hasn't had a chance to see Henry and make him remember him, but Neal assures her that it's okay; Henry doesn't need to remember, he just needs to know that in the end he had a good father. "I saved this for you... to give to you again..." Neal reveals as he retrieves the swan necklace from his pocket, telling her to take it and to "find Tallahassee", even if it's without him. All she can do is cry out his name as she weeps, but he talks with a quiet acceptance in spite of the tears also prevalent in his own eyes, promising his true love that he'll be watching over her and Henry from somewhere - but he needs her to promise him in turn that they'll both be happy.
Neal dies to save everyone.
Emma promises, hugging Neal close, but a nearby Mr. Gold refuses to accept what's going on, crouching back down beside his son as he insists that he can fix this. Neal tells him that he can't, but thanks his papa nonetheless, for showing him what it is to make a true sacrifice; it's about saving the ones you love, and now it's his turn. Rumple yells out in defiance, grasping his son's hand and lamenting the fact that he doesn't want to lose him. Emma's grief continues to be expressed on her face, and Neal begs his father to please let go. The Dark One reaches out and touches his son's face as he tells him that he loves him, leading Baelfire to finally utter his last words: "And I love you, papa..." His voice trails off at the end as his face becomes still, and his body rigid. He is dead. Emma turns away from him in devastation, and Rumple kisses his son's hand one last time, proceeding to move his fingers carefully down Neal's forehead to ensure the closing of his eyes. Neal Cassidy's corpse lies peacefully in the presence of his father and true love.
Emma is consoled in a time of need.
Emma and David burst into the apartment; the former is wielding her gun while the latter readies his sword. Mary Margaret is shocked by their sudden entry, unknowing as to what's going on, and Emma asks her mother where Zelena is, learning that she's in the bathroom. It is at this point that Charming's blade is drawn, and Mary Margaret gets to her feet, watching confused as her husband and daughter approach the bathroom with their weapons. They nod towards one another, each kicking in a separate door and heading inside, but Zelena is nowhere to be seen. The window is open and the curtains around it are blowing in the wind, and the prince deduces that she had to know they were coming. Emma decides to call Regina, for they need to get a protection spell around this apartment right away, and Mary Margaret asks if anyone would care to tell her what's going on, still worried out of her mind. David puts his sword away and tells his wife that he's just glad she's safe, to which she snaps that of course she is, wanting desperately to know why she wouldn't be. "It's Zelena..." David starts, and Emma finishes by revealing to her mother that her midwife is the Wicked Witch of the West. Snow is disbelieving at first, wondering how they know, and Emma says that Gold told them; "Neal brought him back before..." The savior is unable to finish her sentence and her pregnant mother walks towards her, asking what happened. With a heavy heart, Emma reveals that Neal died, and Mary Margaret is quick to offer her condolences before hugging her daughter, who cries into her mother's consoling shoulder.
Zelena comes to gloat.
Neal's corpse continues to lie motionless on the forest floor as his father, Rumplestiltskin, stares down at it devastated while sat on a nearby tree stump. Zelena, as she approaches, comments on how rather ill-timed everything was - Gold's son coming to the surface, staging that "little escape" - but she can see that Baelfire will no longer be a problem. Rumple says that his son may be gone, but he gave his life so that the savior could be told the Wicked Witch's true identity, and now it's only a matter of time before she's found and killed by Emma and the others; unless, of course, he manages it first. Upon declaring this, he gets to his feet in a fit of rage, but Zelena quickly shrugs him off with the word "please" as she takes out his dagger, thus compelling him to stay at an arm's length. She assures him that he can't hurt her, but he's more than welcome to try because of how much she enjoys watching futility wreck a man's will. She uses the dagger to make him take another step back, and she comments on how much better it is now that his head is no longer cluttered, because everything's all working properly and it's "so much more entertaining".
And to get her wicked on.
Gold concedes that she may control him, but it's over nevertheless because the heroes know who she is, which means she'll never get close to Snow White's baby now, nor any of them. So, whatever her "unholy desires" are, she can forget them. However, Zelena says that while they may know who she is now, it no longer matters, not when she has Rumplestiltskin and his "beautiful brain". She strokes his forehead with his own dagger as she says this, proceeding to tell him to be a "good little Dark One" and get back in his cage. He walks away, hard-pressed, meaning that his son's dead body is left abandoned in the woods.
Gold is next seen making his way down the steps of Zelena's storm cellar, wherein his cage is situated. Each step is slow and sad, and it is clear that he's acting against his will. He reaches out to his spinning wheel soon enough and sits down on the stool beside it. "Oh, Bae..." he whispers to himself, followed by a moment of silent grief and reflection.
Grief is felt from all around.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the woods, Regina watches from afar as Robin Hood plays a game with his son Roland amidst the other Merry Men; the two of them are pretending to fire arrows at one another, clearly having an enjoyable time before engaging in a loving hug. As Robin lifts his son up into the air, tears are brought to the eyes of the former Evil Queen.
Across town, Hook is perusing Gold's shop when David and Mary Margaret enter. Belle is surprised to see them, and while the prince tells the pirate what happened to Neal, Snow White tells the shopkeeper; princess-to-princess. It ends with the two of them hugging, both very tearful, while David gives Hook a consoling pat on the shoulder.
Emma vows to avenge Neal's death.
At the same time, Emma Swan is making her way along a Storybrooke lakeside, looking for Henry. She soon spots him roaming around the bench area with his backpack nearby, and she approaches him via bridge. It takes a while for her to get there, with him not having seen her yet, for she's walking at a reflectively slow pace, finally asking her son how his fishing trip was. He turns around, happy to see her there, and assures her that it was "awesome", commenting that they should take more fishing trips when they get back home to New York. The savior is unresponsive, and Henry wonders what's wrong with his mother; she approaches, telling her child to "come here", and the two of them are soon sitting side-by-side on the nearby bench. She starts off by telling him that he was right in thinking that she was not completely honest with him about this case, or rather, this trip, for her true reason in coming was to protect someone, but the person who needed help was not a client - it was his father. Henry knows that bad news is about to be foreclosed, and grows disheartened to know that it's about the dad he thinks he never knew. Emma explains that some "bad people" wanted to hurt him, and while she did indeed find him like her son asks... she was too late, and now he's gone. Crying, she makes sure to clarify that he was a good man and would have been a great father, and there's one thing she needs her son to know about him: he was a hero. Henry wishes he could have known him, but Emma, smiling through her tears and hugging her son, assures him that he did. He points out that she's not making any sense right now, and she takes his hand as she says that she knows. Henry goes on to ask what happened to the person who did it, and Emma reveals that they got away - but she's going to find them.
- The title card of this episode features Lumière, the enchanted candelabrum.
- The title of this episode was revealed by executive producer/co-creator Adam Horowitz, via his Twitter account, on December 25, 2013.
The episode managed to maintain the same rating numbers from the previous outing, placing a 2.1/6 among 18-49s, but averaged only 6.46 million viewers, down slightly from the last episode.
The episode was met with mixed to positive reviews.
- Hillary Busis of Entertainment Weekly gave it a good review but summed it up this way: "Considering Once's history, I'm still not totally convinced that this is the One True Death we were promised. For every really, most sincerely dead character on this show (Cora, Pan, Sheriff Skinnyjeans), there's one whose death stuck about as well as an old Post-It note (the Blue Fairy, Rumpel, Prince Phillip). Until we see Emma spreading Neal's ashes in a Tallahassee swamp, I will refuse to believe that there isn't the slightest possibility of him returning just in time to make the twisted Charming/White/'Stiltskin family tree whole again.
- Christine Orlando of TV Fanatic gave the episode 4.4 out of 5 stars.
- Gwen Ihnat of The A.V Club gave the episode a C+, noting that "This pondering led me to wonder what I would do to fix the show right now, if I were able. OUAT’s still excels at reinterpreting of fables and legends, like the off-kilter look at Rapunzel in the previous episode. We’ve seen an Evil Queen progress from a villainous character to one whose flawed heart now is open to more possibilities. But numerous characters running around for an hour searching for the Wicked Witch is not compelling, and does nothing for the show overall. And inspiration from recent Disney interpretations would probably not be as effective as more elements from the classic Grimm tales." The review also took note of how the producers handled Neal/Baelfire's death scene: "Michael Raymond-James gamely played every troublesome hand he was dealt with this part, but there just wasn’t much good there. He played a tear-inducing death scene, though, and Jennifer Morrison brought it as well, but plotwise it’s almost an afterthought." 
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- ↑ Adam Horowitz tweet.
- ↑ "TV Ratings Sunday: 'Revenge','Resurrection', 'Believe' & 'Crisis' Down, 'Once Upon A Time' & 'The Simpsons' Steady" from TV By The Numbers/Zap2It (March 31, 2014)
- ↑ "'Once Upon a Time' recap: Really, Most Sincerely Dead?", by Hilary Busis, Entertainment Weekly (March 30, 2014)
- ↑ Once Upon a Time Review: A Life For A Life, by Christine Orlando, TV Fanatic (March 30, 2014)
- ↑ ONCE UPON A TIME: "Quiet Minds", by Gwen Ihnat, The A.V Club (March 30, 2014)