As per usual on Once Upon a Time, we had two stories, one in the present and one in the past. The twist for this episode was that the present story took place in Enchanted Forest and the past story was Emma’s story from 11 years ago in our world. And if you are doing the math – that’s right. We just met Henry’s father and proved one theory correct.
We’re going to start in our world past this week. Our first look at Emma 11 years ago is as she is stealing what we think of as her yellow VW Bug in Oregon. Just as she is taking off with it, she finds someone in the backseat. Since he has the keys, she assumes he is the owner, but when a cop pulls them over, she learns the truth. This man, Neal Cassidy, doesn’t own the car either.
And thus is born a beautiful friendship. The two make a life for themselves robbing and stealing what they need, or want, from stores along the way. They live in the car and sneak into hotel rooms to clean up. Somewhere along the way, they fall in love.
Soon enough, they start talking about leaving their Bonnie and Clyde life behind and going to live in some random place, Tallahassee as it turns out. Unfortunately, Neal learns that he is still wanted for some watches he stole down in Phoenix. He’s going to flee on his own and leave Emma alone, but she insists that there must be a way for them to stick together. So they concoct a plan whereby Emma will get these watches from the locker where Neal put them, Neal will sell them, and they will get new identities and run away together to Canada.
Emma’s part goes off without a hitch, but as Neal is leaving to fence them (well, all but the one he gives Emma), he is chased and attacked by none other than…August.
That’s right, it’s our first time seeing August this season. He’s been trying to track Emma down for two years now to make sure she is following her destiny to help those in Storybrooke, and he’s finally caught her. It takes some doing, but he explains to Neal that he will keep Emma from fulfilling her destiny. How does he do that? He shows Neal the contents of a box on the back of his motorcycle. It was the box his typewriter was in last season, but we didn’t see what was in it tonight. Naturally, I’m now dying to know just what Neal saw, but whatever it was, it works.
In fact, it works so well that in the next scene, Emma is waiting for him to show up after fencing the watches. She tries his number, but it’s been disconnected. Then a cop shows up and arrests her for having one of the stolen watches.
A couple months later up in Canada, Neal and August meet up again. We find out that Emma is serving an 11 month sentence, and Neal feels so bad about it. Badly enough that he gives August the keys to the car and the money he got from the watches to give to Emma when she gets out of prison. And he also makes August promise that if Emma breaks the curse, August will tell him. August promises to send Neal a post card. (Yes, it was Neal we saw in the season premier.)
And we check in on Emma when she gets the key to the car in the mail. The bigger shock to her, however, is the fact that she is pregnant.
Meanwhile, in Enchanted Forest present, our gang of five has reached the bottom of the beanstalk. We’ve learned that the giants were the ones who created the magic beans and used them to come down and destroy Enchanted Forest, stealing stuff along the way. As humans killed the giants, they destroyed their magic beans. There is one beanstalk left, it leads to the meanest and mightiest giant, and it is shrouded in magic. Hook has enough counter magic for two people to climb the beanstalk. The other was supposed to be Cora, but since she isn’t there…. The others fight, but it is eventually Emma who goes with Hook. To help them, she carries a sleeping powder.
As they climb, Hook tries to draw Emma out about her past, but she is silent. Still, he does compare her haunted look to those of the abandoned Lost Boys he knew in Neverland. When they reach the top, Emma finds Milah’s name tattooed on Hook’s arm and makes the connection to Rumplestiltskin. So now she knows why Hook wants to get to Storybrooke and get his revenge. (What did I miss? Why did Emma know the name at all to connect it to Rumple?)
They lure the giant out of his house and hit him with the sleeping powder and then head to the treasure cave to try to find the compass. Hook keeps getting distracted by the treasure around them, but Emma is very focused. Unfortunately, the powder wears off long before they’ve found anything, and the giant comes back to defend his treasure. Hook gets buried under part of the ceiling that collapses while the giant grabs Emma and squeezes her, intending to crush her to death. Emma bites his hand to escape and manages to trap the giant in his own security box.
Earlier, we had found the remains of Jack and his giant killing sword, and Emma uses it and the poison on it to get the Giant to give her the compass, which he was carrying on his person. They never would have found it otherwise. She also learns that, while the giants had the magic beans, it was the humans who came after them and killed all but the one we met. So now the question becomes, which version of the story is true?
Emma gets one last promise from the Giant before she takes off. Hook is the prisoner of the giant for 10 hours, giving the ladies a head start on their quest to find the ashes of the wardrobe.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the beanstalk, Snow and Aurora bound over the fact that they have both been under sleeping spells. Aurora hasn’t really slept since she came out of hers, but Snow convinces her to go to sleep. Sure enough, she has a nightmare. She is in a room with no windows and no door. There are red curtains, and they are on fire. As Aurora huddles down in a corner of the room, she can see someone staring at her. Snow calms her down, and Aurora asks if the dreams go away. Snow says yes, but I frankly found it a little hard to tell if she was telling the truth or not. But watching Snow mother her was so sweet.
Before she left, Emma made Mulan promise that she would cut down the beanstalk if Emma wasn’t back in 10 hours. The time is up, and she starts to do that, but Snow attacks her. As the two are fighting, Emma jumps down. Snow tells her in no uncertain terms that the two of them are returning to Storybrooke together or not at all. The two hug. And then Emma explains the arrangement with the Giant about Hook and the trio set out to get the magic ashes from Cora. Yeah, that will go well.
Missing Storybrooke? We made one stop there for the final scene. It’s night, and Henry is having a nightmare. Charming rushes down to comfort him just like he used to do for Snow when she would have nightmares from being under the sleeping spell. And Henry explains his dream – the exact same one that Aurora has talked about earlier.
So, we learned that Neal, the stranger from the first scene of the season, is indeed Henry’s father. The question still remains if he is anyone else from Enchanted Forest or someone random from our world who has been drawn into the story because of Emma. And is he heading to Storybrooke to try to find Emma? Will he be able to get in?
Lost alum Jorge Garcia played the Giant, and I must admit I had a very hard time watching sweet, innocent Hurley play a mean giant. He did fine; I just couldn’t deal with it. The CGI during his scenes could have used some work, too.
So what’s up with this dream? Does it mean anything? Will it indeed go away after a while? Will it be less for Henry since he wasn’t under the sleeping curse as long?
When will we see August again in the current timeline? And just what did he show Neal? (And could Neal have had a closer name to Neal Caffrey, the conman characters on USA Network’s show White Collar?)
It was a good episode, but it was fairly straightforward. They answered a question from season 1 (assuming there isn’t more to Neal we need to know) and definitely answered a question from this season.
So, how about it. What did you think? Is there more to Neal than meets the eye? Hit me up with comments and new theories while we wait for next week.
In the mean time, come take a look at my thoughts on the #1 movie in America – Wreck-It Ralph.