Once Upon a Time Recap: Arrested Developments

This week on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, there were big (if not giant) revelations about Emma’s past and that Mystery Man in New York City. Also, a nightmare scenario suggested a connection between two unlikely characters.

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IN THE FAIRYTALE LAND THAT IS…. | Hook explains to Emma and Snow that there are no more magic beans to open a portal, that they were all destroyed in a war that felled all but one giant, who now lives atop the beanstalk. The enchanted compass that is among the giant’s treasure, however, can get them back to Storybrooke — if coupled with the wardrobe ashes in Cora’s possession. (What’s more, the captain pledges his allegiance to whomever gets him to Storybrooke first.) He and Emma climb the stalk, sharing stories of love and loss along the way, then find many a grim skeleton outside the giant’s residence. Hook summons the big guy (played by Lost‘s Jorge Garcia), and Emma promptly KOs him with sleeping powder. They root around for treasure some, with Hook tempted to plunder, but the roused giant interrupts their plan. After Hook is pinned under rubble, Emma scrambles for the sword that belonged to ill-fated Jack (of “___ and the Beanstalk” lore), and uses it to trap the giant in a cage. He soon escapes, but spares Emma since she spared him. Emma frees and then cuffs Hook to the wall, explaining, “I can’t take the chance I’m wrong about you.” Emma returns to her mother just as Snow is tackling Mulan, who was acting on orders to chop down the stalk after 10 hours. “We go back together — that is the only way!” mother tells daughter.

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IN, WELL, PORTLAND…. | Flashing back 11 years, we find an adorkable Emma jimmying open a yellow VW bug, only to discover a man named Neal Cassidy (Michael Raymond-James) — aka the Mystery Man we sorta met in the season premiere — in the back seat. And he’s not the vehicle’s owner, either! They fall in love, pinch the occasional Apollo bar and Native American dream-catcher (as spied in Neal’s NYC apartment) during their spree of small-time crime, until they decide to find a “real place to live,” together. No sooner do they decide on Tallahassee (aka “Not in Portland,” heh) does Neal discover the heat is still on for a jewelry heist he previously pulled. Emma offers to and succeeds in retrieving Neal’s stash of pricey watches, but just before they are to rendezvous and build a life together, Neal is chased down and tackled by… August! He who is also known as Pinocchio explains Emma’s destiny and his role as her “guardian angel,” and says that Neal will only get in the way of her important fate. Neal agrees to stand up Emma, who is instead met by a cop tipped off to her fetching of the watches.

Months later, the gents convene in Vancouver (where Once is filmed, natch). Neal agrees to remain away from Emma’s life, provided that once the coast is clear and her fantastical duty is fulfilled, he gets the nod. “I’ll send you a postcard,” August agrees. (A-ha! A man of his wood. Er, word.). Later, we see Emma serving 11 months in a Phoenix lockup, where she gets mail from Phuket — the VW key left to her by Neal, sent by August — just as she realizes she is pregnant with he-who-shall-be-Henry. Cut to….

IN STORYBROOKE…. | Henry wakes from a nasty dream, and Charming runs in to soothe the lad and light a candle to “catch the nightmares” (just as Snow White told Aurora the prince did for her after she had trouble bouncing back from the Evil Queen’s sleeping spell). As Henry describes the night terror, we realize it is the exact same one that Aurora still is having, involving a red, windowless room with curtains that are on fire. In Aurora’s version, she says a “he” is looking across the room at her, while Henry alludes to a “she.” Hmmm….

What did you think of this blast from Emma’s past? Did August’s appearance surprise and/or delight you? Are we to surmise that his typewriter “magically” compelled Neal to be a believer? And is there more to the Henry/Aurora connection other than just a shared side effect of the sleeping curse (along with, we presume, the usual nausea and headaches)?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Kay says:

    I didn’t like Neal. He seemed really sleazy, a thief who stole things he really didn’t even need to get by (keychains), and who knocked up teenagers then abandoned them because it’s their “destiny.”
    So naturally I’m disappointed that Emma/Neal are clearly endgame. Once is a show about family, and what better way to demonstrate that then by having Emma, Henry, and Neal reunite? The only way I can see Emma and Neal NOT ending up together is if Neal isn’t Henry’s father. At this point, that’s pretty much impossible.

    AUGUST. What a crazy psycho you are. Yet I still love you.
    Augusts character is so interesting, how he cant say no to temptation, thinks it’s his job to protect Emma. Man, Emma is going to be PISSED at you when she finds out what you did to her, August.
    If I had to choose between Neal, Hook, and August for an endgame romantic relationship for Emma, I would say August would be my first choice.
    Hook is overly flirtatious and Neal is icky.
    Also, on an unrelated and unnecessarily shallow note, Neal is the ugliest out of all of Emmas relationship choices. Why couldnt they have cast someone else? WHY

    • Louise says:

      They should have picked younger actors to play Emma and Neal. Jennifer Morrison as 17 year old Emma didn’t work at all (she looked not a day younger, nothing compared to what they did with younger Snow in the episodes around the time of her father’s death or young Regina, but then they also only put glasses on her and dressed her slightly differently) and Michael Raymond James already looks a little older than he really is. It was awkward to watch when you knew Neal and Emma were supposed to be teenagers/young adults in the flashbacks.

      I think Neal is meant to be a little sleazy, not the hipster-pretty-boy type of guy they had for Emma before. But the actor looks older than Jennifer Morrison and in the flashbacks it had some slightly creepy tendencies.

      • jen says:

        thought neal and emma looked age appropriate and cute together. nice to see m-r-j play someone nearly normal. but first time i’ve ever seen eion bailey without a beard. wow. so different in a good way. didn’t recognize him until he spoke.

  2. Dreamrose says:

    I am curious as to how August managed to get the postcard to Neal in New York; he was still somewhat out of sorts at the time, being wood and all – he didn’t reanimate until the end of the episode. And where is August now?

    And a little reminder for all those who think Emma should be with Hook romantically: the man is a pirate who spent years chasing after children with rather murderous intentions. He stole a man’s wife and humiliated him. He was a PIRATE, for cryin’ out loud. I know many people have this romantic notion of piracy (thanks for that, Captain Jack Sparrow), but pirates are *not* nice people, no matter how charming they are. Emma is right not to trust him.

    • Suzie says:

      I’d say Wesley [Princess Bride] did more to romanticize pirates than Jack Sparrow. Sparrow was a bit too swishy to inspire romantic notions in women.

    • Shelley says:

      Just because we did not see Austin become real again until the end of the 1st episode means nothing. The curse was broken at the end of season 1. There was not enough time to show everyone, even important characters like him!!

  3. robinepowell says:

    If anyone had read up on this episode, they would have known that Emma was 18 in the flashbacks. So if she’s going out with a guy in his 20s or 30s, there’s nothing illegal about it.

    As for Aurora’s and Henry’s dreams, it got me thinking, Alice in Wonderland? Blood red room and all they could see where eyes. Chesire cat anyone?

    • Suzie says:

      No. She was 17. Henry found her on her 28th birthday and he was 10 at the time.

      • She was 18. You don’t get out of the foster system until you’re legal and August states emphatically that she is now in danger because she is out of the system. Also in season one Emma says flat out that she got pregnant at 18. If she got pregnant shortly after her 18th birthday she could have given birth while still 18 meaning that she would be 28 when Henry found her at age 10.

        • GingerSnap says:

          And it was stated over and over in Season One that the savior would come in “28 years”, which is how old Emma was last season.

          • Tzigone says:

            Quite correct – Emma was 17 in this ep. I will say I think she probably just ran away from foster care, rather than being allowed to leave.

          • GingerSnap says:

            It’s possible she was 17 when she met Neal, but we really don’t know what age he is. When he arrived here, we don’t know what point in time he was placed here. Emma could easily have already been 10, and they met when he was a biological age of 18 or 19. Without clarification from the writers, I assume the writers intended for her to be 18 when she got pregnant.

          • Tzigone says:

            She can’t be 18 when she got pregnant – Henry was already 10 the day after Emma’s 18th birthday.

            I have no idea how old Neal is supposed to be (and I hope he’s just Neal and not a fairy tale character, especially Bae). Since the actor looks the same in present and past (as does Jennifer), I’m just going to go with like a 0-3 year age difference until I’m told otherwise – the actors are two years apart, I think.

          • Tzigone says:

            Oops – 28th birthday. lol

        • Sara says:

          She ran away from the foster system. For Henry to already be 10 on the day she celebrated her 28th birthday, he had to be born when she was 17. That would also explain why she got only 11 months in jail, youth offender. And to be a bounty hunter her record would have been expunged.

          • True plus she told Regina last season that her records were sealed because she was a juvenile when she was in jail.

            I don’t get why people are upset at the fact that she was 17 and Neal may have been older perhaps as old as 30. It’s not like she had a stable home. She was basically living on her own as an adult for who knows how long. In that sense there isn’t much difference being 17 and being 18. In fact she could’ve been 16 when her and Neal met. They seemed like they’d been together for a while before she ended up in jail.

  4. GingerSnap says:

    If Neal is a thief, what story book character could that be?
    Is he Bae?
    Robin Hood?
    Peter Pan?
    And if he is, how did he get here?

    • Templar says:

      If he’s Bae, he got here via the beanstalk probably when Emma was about 10 [think Delorian]. He found out it’s not so easy to make your way in a strange world and became a thief [think Oliver Twist].

      • GingerSnap says:

        If he’s Bae, his way into this world opened through a hole in the ground, not beanstalk. But I do think it’s an interesting story twist that Henry’s grandfather could be Rumplestiltskin.

  5. I personally don’t see anything with Hook and Emma. Not even that trip wire moment did anything for me. I honestly saw more with Neal and Emma. Sure, he’s shady but I think that’s what the writers and producers want; so we’re confused to if he’s a storybook character or not. I think he’s the White Rabbit

  6. Shannon says:

    Does anyone else find it interesting that when August asked Neal if he believed in magic, Neal didn’t actually answer, he just said, ‘I take it you do.’
    I still am leaning towards Neal being Bae, while having spent a considerable amount of time in Neverland before making it to Earth.

    I also don’t see anything happening between Emma and Hook. In fact, he reminds me way to much of Jack Sparrow. Every time they mentioned the compass I couldn’t help but wonder if it was anything like Jack’s.

    The highlight of the episode for me was August and I can’t wait for when Emma finds out how much he had orchestrated. Granted there was a distinct possibility if he didn’t do anything, Storybrooke would still be cursed and Emma would never have found out who her parents are.

    • Templar says:

      I don’t understand why you think Bae was in Neverland. Didn’t he say he was leaving Fairytale to go to a land without magic? Neverland has magic. Peter Pan can fly, there’s Tinkerbell etc.

    • GingerSnap says:

      If he’s Bae, he knows about magic, but it isn’t the good kind. So he may know that it exists, but that doesn’t mean he has faith in it. His faith could be restored if he Rump changes from evil to good.

      Redemption is this season’s storyline. Can Rump and Regina become good instead of evil? That has been a premise on which the show is based – evil is made, not born. Will we see them both choose to become good.

      I’m fascinated with idea that Rump is Henry’s grandfather, Regina his adopted mother. Everyone is connected in one way or another.

  7. Sara says:

    Neal is a nice guy but he is so underwhelming and dull. He’s definitely no Graham. I’m not seeing the spark between Neal and Emma yet.

    I’m not sure about Hook and Emma. Yea, he is a murderer and all that BUT Once goes to lengths to say that nothing is black and white. You have Regina and Rumple who have done equally immoral things but Rumple loves Belle and Regina loves Henry so if they have potential to love someone, why shouldn’t Hook? Not to say that I can see Emma and Hook together though.

    I wouldn’t mind if they brought back Graham in a different manner. I know the twin thing has been done with Prince Charming but maybe as clone, identical cousin…this is fairytale land afterall. Im sure anything goes.

  8. jen says:

    if august hadn’t interfered, belle would still be in jail. grace- with that other family. david would be in boston. neal & emma would probably be in separate maximum security prisons serving life-sentences. And,instead of the loving mother henry had-regina, he’d probably be raised in foster homes like emma. the curse would never have been broken—unless emma died while robbing a bank. wonder why august likes phuket so much?

  9. Lindsey Lyons (@lindseylyons) says:

    So… the giant must constantly be re-stacking his treasure seeing as he knocked it all down as soon as he walked accross the room… dude has a rough life. His family is all dead and he has to keep cleaning up after himself due to his earthshaking footfalls. #giantproblems

  10. Jordash says:

    I think that Neal is Balefire. Since he hasn’t been able to go to storybrooke until after the curse was broken. It would only make sense. And Hook is hot!

    • Elyse says:

      Hook is hot but Neal had been staying away because August asjed him to stay away until Emma fulfilled her destiny. Now that the curse is broken he can contact her.

  11. GingerSnap says:

    Based on this season’s premiere, Neal’s character has a fascination with watches, clocks, & old style rotary phones. What story book characters that we know of have that? Is his story more connected to Oz than we realize?

  12. AT says:

    I caught a little Easter egg in the map/shoplifting scene. There was a rack of leather keychains with names on them. One of the names most visible… Henry.

  13. Elyse says:

    in Auroras dream she was seeing a guy in Henrys dream he sees a girl does anyone else think the way Snow and Charming find to talk to each other is going to be through Aurora and Henrys obviously shared dream?

  14. Andy says:

    I was wondering if the “Red Room” was an allusion to the novel Jane Eyre. That is a recurring motif about Jane’s childhood trauma of being locked in a red room where her uncle died and her lifetime fear of need for acceptance. This Gothic novel also contains many references to fire, the supernatural, and fairy tales.

  15. A says:

    I wanna know what was in the box that August showed Neal. Mulan is getting on my nerves and this was the first episode I was able to at least tolerate Aurora. I think maybe if they show her back story maybe she’d be more interesting instead of the whiner she is right now. I don’t know. If they do that though, even though Kristin Bauer van Straten is awesome, she was the wrong casting choice for Maleficent. Maleficent is supposed to be scary, fearful and give you the chills and Kristin played it too cutesy and pink. She didn’t creep me out at all until she turned into the dragon in the finale. Great episode overall though and loved Hook and Emma.

  16. Leo says:

    So excited for next episode! Red and finally King George gets more screen time. I feel like the King can be a really good villain if fleshed out properly. All the villains we have hide behind their magic, it’s nice to have someone who’s more, “physical”? Lol.

  17. Pokie says:

    Not crazy about Hook. I expected a meaner, edgier, more cruel depiction of him. This actor playing him hasn’t got enough pizazz. I could see Emma with Neal or August.

  18. Liz says:

    I LOVED Charming/David taking care of Henry. It was sweet, and made me love him even more. I recognize that Hook’s take on Emma, seeing her like a lost boy, even if she’s a beautiful girl, is where they were trying to go with Emma’s story and who she was in her past. Remember Peter Pan and the lost boys were not entirely innocent. I’d love to see Jorge again if possible. I wonder who really was the bad buy in the human/giant war. Love it!

  19. Erin says:

    Do we think Henry’s father is Robin Hood? Maybe that’s why he believed August so readily?

  20. Templar says:

    For me, today, all roads seem to lead to the Blue Fairy. She is the lynchpin of the tale. She turned Jiminy into a cricket, she facilitated the wardrobe solution, she moderated the curse on Snow and Charming, and she gave Baelfire the bean to get out of Fairytale.
    So, I’m thinking that she gave the 7 year old Pinocchio/August information or things to help him after the journey to here. And if Cora/Hook/Emma etc. use the ashes to come through to our world, August knows where the tree is located and can have help there if need be.

    • GingerSnap says:

      We know the episode ended with Emma possessing the compass. But I don’t think they can make it work without Hook. And it’s not a direct path back to Storybrooke, but a trip through other story book lands – Neverland, Oz, and any other journey the show’s creator decide to take us on.

      The journey back to Storybrooke is through Aurora and Henry. Henry has to possess some magical qualities – especially if his grandfather is Gold, Charming and Snow White.

      • Templar says:

        Yeah, I’m thinking that Henry’s dad can’t be just a mere mortal. Henry’s magic would have to come from his father’s side since Snow and Charming do not have magic.

  21. Samantha says:

    Okay, on the love quadruple what-ever-you-call-it deal that’s going on with Hook, August, Neal, and Emma……….

    I honestly REALLY enjoyed seeing Emma with Hook. It definitely gave a different dynamic to the show. Before I saw Hook, OUaT was just a show I felt like watching once in a while. But now I’m in love with it! And I don’t know why so much of OUaT fans think that those scenes were cheesy. I mean, come on… we’ve seen cheesier scenes with other characters in the flashbacks and the modern world. Technically, a person under 10 years could probably watch the show anyways. I guess they’re just trying to make it appropriate for all audiences. Anyhow, to me they connected immediately and I can tell you already, I’m shipping Captain Swann! I think that they can both teach other the good and the bad within each other and in the word, because they definitely have a different view on the wall. Besides, Hook can help Emma ease up a little and actually LET her trust people again. Also, a lot of you are saying he’s so “villainous” and “gruesome,” but… we haven’t really seen him do that. He may be working for Cora, but that’s only because he wants to go back to Storybrooke to get revenge on Rumpelstilstkin. Rumpy DID kill the love of his life (plus he cut off his hand. I mean, how annoying would that get sometimes? I need to write a letter to— Oh, wait, I can’t). Everybody is just going off on him because of his reputation. Spoilers are even saying that Hook has a crush on Emma, meaning that all those scenes between them weren’t really all just a scheme to get on her good side. I’m really excited to see more of them in the future!

    As for Neal…

    I kind of overestimated what Henry’s “supposed-father” would be like. His character just didn’t really fit into my good side. I know that he gave her up for love, I mean, obviously he cares for her, but to me it didn’t seem like both of them really “clicked” together. However, we all have our own opinions. To me, THOSE two seemed to be forced together. I didn’t buy any of it.

    But, as I said, we’re all entitled to our own opinion!


    • Templar says:

      For me Jefferson belongs on the list for Emma’s prospective matches. August isn’t “real”, and Hook is too self serving and is of such low character that he was able to love and admire a woman who abandoned her child. ITA about Neal, he’s kind of a nobody. The Only thing that makes sense to me about August showing him inside his Typewriter case hinges on him being Baelfire. Something as simple as the word Rumpelstiltskin would do, or his drawing of the dagger. The writers plainly stated that Henry’s father was someone we’d seen in season one. The only one that comes to mind who hasn’t been seen in season two is Baelfire.

  22. Layla says:

    I LOVED THE CHEMISTRYBETWEEN HOOK AND EMMA!!, all her other relationships were boring and went nowhere. Emma brings out the good in hook.. I love it !! <3