Once Upon a Time's Michael Raymond-James: Neal and Emma Have 'Unfinished Business'

Once Upon a Time Season 2 PreviewThis Sunday on Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8/7c), Emma’s determination to get the goods on bad Tamara will tee up a much-need talk between her and Neal, the father of her son Henry and the great love she lost under, well, extraordinary circumstances. Michael Raymond-James spoke with TVLine about Season 2’s penultimate hour, which will feature hearts on sleeves and change the course of at least one part of Neal’s life.

RELATED | May Sweeps/Season Finale Scoopapalooza: More Than 100 Spoilers on Once Upon a Time, Castle, Revenge and More of Your Favorite Series

TVLINE | Emma been trying to convince Neal that Tamara is bad news. What new evidence might she trot out this week?
You know Emma, man. She gets on a case and she goes after it pretty fiercely. She definitely feels that Tamara has got some evil intentions, and she is going to try to convince me that she may have had something to do with Regina being kidnapped.

TVLINE | Whether he was protecting Emma’s destiny or not, do you think that Neal still harbors some guilt about what happened all those years ago?
I am glad you asked that. Yes. I think he does, but Neal feels that he really didn’t have a choice in the mater. It was a matter of her fulfilling her destiny and for the greater good. I mean, we’re talking about her saving a town full of people that I grew up with, people from Fairytale Land, so these aren’t total strangers where I can be like, “Screw them. This is about me and my love.” MICHAEL RAYMOND-JAMES, JENNIFER MORRISONSo, in Neal’s mind he was sort of jumping on the grenade for the greater good. But of course there’s guilt. Of course there’s pain for having inflicted pain on someone you care about. I don’t know how you get beyond that.

TVLINE | [Series creators] Eddy [Kitsis] and Adam [Horowitz] told us that in addition to whatever Emma might still feel for Neal, Neal probably still feels something for Emma. Is he going to start to cop that?
You’re going to see some of that this week, a broaching of that subject is definitely going to come. We’re beginning to scratch the surface on that and at least acknowledge some of the unfinished business that’s been hanging over our heads since we first saw each other again.

TVLINE | ‘Cause I am just telling you, man — if it was me? I’d carry a torch for Jennifer Morrison for some time.
[Laughs] She is the best. One of the great things about this show is the cast. Morrison and I have become really, really great buddies, so it’s so much fun going to work. If I’m having a bad day, she knows how to make that better and vice versa. We sort of developed a shorthand between each other as people in terms of getting through the days together. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation to fall into.

RELATED | Once Upon a Time: Neal’s Peter Pan Connection, Tamara’s Boss and 7 More Burning Questions Answered

TVLINE | We saw Tamara eavesdropping when Neal and August reconnected in New York City, but are we ever going to connect any dots on why exactly she decided to latch on to you?
That’s a good question. The thing with this show, aside from it being an incredibly difficult to talk about, is that we, audience members and actors alike, need to be able to trust that the future will further define the meaning of the present. There are times that you just have to go with it and you know that the people in charge of the show are smart people and they’re aware of where they’re leaving things, and it’s all by design. Further on down the road we’ll have more explanation, so when you go back and look at it again, it will tie together.

TVLINE | Let’s talk about the blanks we know will be filled in this week. DYLAN SCHMID, FREYA TINGLEYWhat can you say about the flashbacks for Young Bae, hanging with Wendy Darling in Victorian London?
I can say that you want to stay tuned for them because it’s going to be awesome.

TVLINE | We’ll find out how it is that he knew Hook previously?
That could be something we find out, yeah….

TVLINE | There’s a “really big” twist coming up this week involving Rumple and Neal. What can you say about it? Is it going to be emotional gut-punch?
At PaleyFest, Bobby [Carlyle] called it a “game-changer,” and I think that this will certainly change the course of the path that they had previously entered on.

TVLINE | Is it more shocking, or more sad? Or a bit of both?
Bob Dylan had a great quote one time about people asking, “Do you think any of these kids who come to your shows and listen to the words you’re saying have any idea what you’re actual message is?” He said, “Listen, man, I just go out there and sing, I don’t try to get anybody to listen.” I think that however people receive [the twist], whether it’s shocking or a gut-punch, is up to them. We just go out there and try to tell a story as best we can.

TVLINE | Going from something so grounded, real and gritty as Terriers to this, was that sort of by design, or do you just go where the work is?
I always choose jobs based on material, and when I first met with Adam and Eddy and they discussed what this show was and what they wanted to do with the character, their enthusiasm is incredibly infectious. It is sort of a departure for me — even from fantasy shows that I have done before, like True Blood, which is much darker –but I was so interested in the stories that they were telling that I wanted to jump on board. I try to stay grounded whether I’m talking about stealing somebody’s wallet in Terriers or if I’m talking about magic in Storybrooke!

Want more scoop on Once Upon a Time, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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. agnes says:

    I dislike Neal, I don’t want to see him near Emma, they have 0 chemistry!

    • For God’s sake! He and Emma have a child, they have to talk right?
      There are some people who can be very ridiculous.
      I’d rather see Hook away from Emma and especially away from Henry.
      Hear a man making sexual innuendos to his mother, is too shocking and improper for a child.
      Haters see what they want to see…God!

      • chitta says:

        Neal is no better than Hook

        • K says:

          Yes he is. Neal may be a selfish coward and a (former?) thief, but to the best of our knowledge he hasn’t killed anyone, shot anyone, ripped out anyone’s heart, or punched a woman in the face. And I agree with the idea that Henry being around while Hook is making his slimy sexual innuendos to Emma and Snow is ick, but hopefully even Hook can keep his mouth decent in those circumstances.

          • ika says:

            For God’s sake, of course he is not better than Hook! Come on, Neal is not any saint. He was a thief and leave Emma .

          • K says:

            To Ika: Murderers are worse than thieves. Men who beat women are worse than thieves. Neal’s no prince, I completely agree, but he IS better than Hook.

          • ika says:

            Charming kills people too. so he is worse than Neal?Chaming is a murderer?.Emma beats men too, so she is worse tha Neal?She is a bad person?…

          • K says:

            To Ika: Charming has killed men in war. Not murder. And when has Emma EVER beaten up an innocent person, let alone one who was confined like Belle and Archie?

        • Rita Coelho says:

          Bae may have many faults ( like us is not perfect), but it is not comparable to Hook.
          Bae doesnt hit women, does not kill, and doesnt makes sexual innuendos to women, especially married women as Snow

        • Si says:

          Maybe. But how on Earth is Hook better than Neal?!

      • ika says:

        And abandon the woman you love and leave her go to the prison..it’s not something correct either…I prefer the sexual innuendos!
        I don’t like Neal with Emma. I think I couldn’t trust him again.

        • Christine says:

          ITA ika, I’ll take charming sexual innuendos from a flirty man over a man letting me sit in jail for his crimes, give birth to his child (ok he didn’t know about it then) while in jail, and then not even have the decency after the curse was lifted to come and say sorry. I’m sure he was ashamed but its not all about him. If emma had yelled at him then so be it. All the more reason to explain and apologize. On a side note he is at least being a good dad – I can’t dislike him for that. But I would not take Neal back either.

          • Do you read that tweet Adam Horowitz posted few minutes ago?
            « Neal never sent her (Emma) to jail. Not what happened. And MRJ understands his character better than anyone…»

    • Rita Coelho says:

      Great video. Baelfire/Neal Cassidy is my favorite character.
      Is nothing but far away to spread hate or bad comments about Hook being a regular but to be honest, I was always more intrigued with Neal than with Killian.

    • Astrid says:

      I’m not a fan of the way Neal has been written nor do I see any romantic chemistry between them. I like Michael saying how they buddies off screen, that I can totally see. They can be great parents and be friends for the sake of Henry. They need to talk so Emma can put the pain and lack of trust behind her and move on. I still hate that graham was killed off as he was a great match for her. But then there is Hook – and Emma and Hook could be EPIC.

    • jojo says:

      Yeah… he’s kind of protective towards Emma but nothing more… anyway no matter what words they’ll put in his mouth I could never ship Swanfire… I mean in the past OK, when Emma first met him, yes they kind of fitted each over… both alone,lost,without roots, always on the run… but… Emma’s character should have grown since then and putting them together just cause he’s Henry’s father and Rumple’s son was a real LAME move IMO… and they had to reinforce their pairing using devices like August being the one who separeted them (I swear I’d ship them more if Neal himself had left Emma for selfish reasons instead of trying to put the blame all on August just to make their love story more convincing blahh!) or Tamara being the new bad guy (CAUSE THE FACT SHE TURNED OUT TO BE EVIL WAS SOOO CONVINIENT! U_U) or throwing him into a vortex to another land…AGAIN (how original) so that she’ll move heaven and hell to find him next season (I’m so thrilled about it +_+) … Couldn’t they keep August so that there would have been some believable love triangle between him,Neal and Emma??? Cause right now even Regina has more chemestry with Emma than Neal! Especially since it looks like August and Bae were friends! Oh and I wish they’d cut with the crap that the biological family is the only right one for a person u_u. Anyway the show has disappointed me since S2 began that’s why I’m not going to watch it anymore! They can save their SOAP OPERA drama for themselves as much as I care.

      • jojo says:

        Oh and I got NOTHING against the CAST or the ACTORS… they’re ALL amazing… from MRJ to JMo…what bothers me to no end is the lazy writing and watching a show only cause the actors rock their roles in it isn’t enough for me! Kistowitz should wake up and realize that if they keep going this way they’ll kill the show.

  2. angela says:

    Great Interview. Im a huge MRJ fan love his work. Cant wait to see how everything plays out. I think how him and jmo play off each other is great one of my fav eposides is manhattan. Looking forward to more interaction with robert.

    • HeatherC says:

      I completely agree. MRJ’s been a great addition to the show and the fact that he also seems like a very genuine human being makes me like him even more. He’s getting very good at the whole “tease the fans with info but don’t really give them anything much by way of spoilers” thing that the other actors have perfected so well, LOL ;) I’m excited to see the Neal & Emma talk this weekend and to find out more of Bae’s back story. I also love his scenes with Robert so hopefully we get a lot more of that these next two week’s too! (Count me as another who thinks Manhattan was awesome. That’s my fave episode of this season!) Thanks Matt (and MRJ) for the great interview! =)

      • CyndeJ says:

        Totally agree with your comments! Well said….MRJ is a wonderful addition to the show. The dynamic and chemistry that Emma/Neal have is great.
        People seem to dislike Neal because he was a thief but so was Emma. Circumstances made them that way but they are evolving and are both good characters!

  3. jennwithapen says:

    Always suspected Matt had a little crush on Jennifer Morrison ;-)

    • HeatherC says:

      I hope you’re not just now realizing this! I figured that out about five Jen interviews ago, LOL ;)

      • jennwithapen says:

        I could tell when I first began following him that he had a lot of professional respect for her…then during Paleyfest, he got excited when she laughed at his impression (of Rumple?)…I was like, ‘uh-huh….’ ;-)

    • Sara says:

      Who wouldn’t have a crush on Jennifer though? I’m a straight female but I wouldn’t say no to her.

  4. K. says:

    I like Neal but not for a love match with Emma, I don’t see the chemistry there! I mean I saw and felt it when she was with Hatter and even with August. For me Neal was Emmas first love like in high school or college and think they would be great as friends or work together to save the day when they have too….

    • I like MRJ dont like Neil, i hate that he sees himself as the victim.

      • Mike says:

        I don’t think he makes himself out to be a victim, he is a victim in the case of Rumple, who was a horrible father, at least I don’t see him as making himself a victim.

    • Rit says:

      I agree, Emma had great chemistry with August, and Jefferson too, even Graham and now with Hook. With Neal is more in the past, of course they will always have feeling for each other and they have a kid together, but 10-11 years passed, I don’t think Emma loves him anymore.

      • Astrid says:

        I think you always have a soft spot for your first love. I think she does still have feelings for him and I guess we’ll be seeing to what extent soon but Emma is so kick ass and well Neal is not. I just don’t see them together romantically. As friends and parents yes.

    • Rissa says:

      I agree. I don’t see any chemistry there. The contrast during Tallahassee made it really stick out like a sore thumb. You were going back and forth between Emma and Neal with no chemistry to Hook and Emma who were practically lighting the beanstalk on fire their chemistry was so hot. I love MRJ, but I’m not a fan of Neal or Neal as a love interest for Emma. She needs to move on.

    • Sami says:

      I think Neal and Emma would be far too cliche, teen mom/baby daddy story. I would expect more from the creators and writers than to do this worn out story.

      • A fan says:

        Yup. I agree. There is also no chemistry between them at all. It’s boring. I care more about the core 5 then Neal.

        • tess says:

          So far their scenes have been rather unimpressive. Guess we’ll see what happens on Sunday – I think they will have a much needed talk but I can’t see Emma not questioning why he didn’t come to her after the curse was lifted? He got the news and instead of being tempted torn he immediately latched on to Tamara. I also hate how he brushes off Emma’s instincts.

      • Rissa says:

        And there aren’t any potential storylines to go off of with Emma and Neal. There are 14 billion you can choose from with Hook and Emma. Her trying to help him redeem himself and stop his thirst for revenge, the fact that her parents don’t like him, the fact that Henry is Milah’s grandson, etc. etc. But what storyline do you have with Neal? He and Emma make sarcastic comments to each other all day and teach Henry how to hot wire a car? That’s boring.

        • K says:

          I’m no fan of Emma and Neal, but let’s face it, there are always stories to tell. Neal needs redemption too; maybe Emma can help. Her parents don’t like him, with good reason. SHE doesn’t like his parent, with good reason. Tamara will cause trouble. Henry may switch sides when he learns Neal left Emma. About the only plot you suggest that wouldn’t also work for Neal/Emma is her son being his ex-lover’s grandson, which frankly, ick, is something I personally would much rather ignore.

      • Fran says:

        That’s why I wouldn’t want Emma with Hook- that’s too cliche, good girl trying to reform the bad guy.

        • Ronnie says:

          neal and emma are cliche don’t you think?. Hook doesn’t need emma to reform him, IF he is reformed he will hopefully start doing that on his own.

    Michael Raymond-James is THE BEST addition to the show this season.
    We know why some OUAT fans hate Neal and the ator (some fans can not separate fiction from real life).
    But forgetting that, I love Neal and I think it one of the most interesting characters of the show.
    And I always thought Neal and Emma have a lot of chemistry. Cant wait to see Them together!

  6. lyn says:

    I get a huge kick out of the people who think that Regina is capable of redemption, but believe that what Neal did is inexcusable. She murdered her father and her lover, massacred an entire village etc. and Neal [under August’s guidance] let Emma take a juvie rap for the greater good. He didn’t know she was pg.

    • Shawn says:

      Haven’t see anyone say a word about Regina. Neal’s actions have to stand on his own. I don’t think he has much to redeem himself for – beyond, yes, hurting Emma – but I also don’t think she should ever take him back. Forgive if she wants to (and she doesn’t owe him it) but consider a second chance? No way.

      • lyn says:

        Not today, no. But often on this and other sites, posters vilify Neal, yet mitigate Regina.

        • Shawn says:

          Perhaps but it’s not relevant then, nor is it now. Characters aren’t comparable in their actions as they have different motivators and such. Neal doesn’t get a pass because Regina did XYZ anymore than she should get a pass because someone else did ABC.

          Personally, I wish they’d left Bae’s story as just being about Rumple. Making Bae into Neal has made – IMO – both stories underwhelm.

    • Louise says:

      This is what’s wrong with this fandom. People are absolutely incapable of discussing a character’s actions without immediately looking for someone who’s supposedly so much worse and supposedly makes the character in question look better.
      Is it really so damn hard to discuss Neal without dragging Hook or Regina or god-knows-who-else into it? Is it really so hard to accept that yes, for some what Neal did is indeed something they’d have a really hard time to forgive?

      • DC says:

        This fandom? all fandoms.

        That said, does anyone else expect him to sound Cajun? I picture him as Rene on True Blood every time he’s on screen.

        • the girl says:

          I completely forgot he was Rene, thankfully. I wouldn’t be able to get into this if I thought of Rene every time I saw Neal.

        • Mikael says:

          I always expect to hear the Cajun accent. I hope Neal gets a reality check soon. These tv shows always have someone who’s with the bad guy/girl but refuses to see it.

        • Alice says:

          In Tallahassee I kept thinking “Wait, when is he going to slit her throat and leave her for dead like he did in Bon Temps?”
          Which is why I’m actually really glad that they didn’t try to give him aggressive, sexual-predator Hook-like dialogue. I’dve never been able to stop thinking about Renee.

  7. Lexi says:

    LOVE Neal (and MRJ) such a great addition to OUaT. Hopefully him and Emma will have another chance again.

  8. I cant wait for Neal and Emma to get back together. He gave her up so she could find her family and save SB now they can become the family they always wanted.

  9. Erin says:

    I love that he quoted Bob Dylan.

    • Janet says:

      This season 2 for the show sucked so bad that seems everyone is is somehow related to another character. They made it a cheap soap opera.

      • di says:

        Bael / Neal has existed since the 1st season. He had to grow up right?
        I’m glad to be personified by Michael Raymond-James. He is one of the most talented actors of the last generation.

        Love the interview!
        Thanks Matt!
        I loved knowing that Michael and Jen Morrison share a great friendship

  10. jennwithapen says:

    I love them, I think they have incredible chemistry. Not only that, but I think they’re reunion as a couple will the be the “end game.” They may have many struggles over the course of the series, but like Snow and Charming, they’ll end up together. And I can’t wait to see what their potential for magical powers is as a couple and as a family – considering their lineage, I know they are capable of a lot we have yet to see!

  11. K says:

    MRJ’s wrong about one thing. Bae lived 200-some years before the “present” of the Enchanted Forest. He doesn’t know any of the people affected by the curse. A better excuse would be guilt because he found out that his dad cursed all these people in order to get back to him. As for the rest, his apology to Emma has been a long time coming, and if Neal is still in love with her I haven’t seen it. That bit where he told Emma he “needed” Tamara still irks me. That said, Emma clearly has feelings for him, and if she chooses to forgive him and wants him back, I can live with it–as long as there is groveling on his part involved. If nothing else, they and Henry do make an adorable little adventure family. The family that breaks and enters together stays together.

    • Kat says:

      Remember New York wasn’t his first stop. He knew Hook so we don’t know who he knows!

      • Kat Kat says:

        There are two Kats now! I’ll have to change my post name :) I would think Neal doesn’t know any of the current Storybrooke residents. To not have aged he had to be in Neverland for almost all of those 200 years.

        • Bob says:

          More like 100 years or 113 to be more exact. Peter Pan story is set in about 1900, when it was written.

  12. Alice says:

    I love Neal. I think he’s written so differently from most of the other characters on the show. Laid back, stoic, in a town full of prancing, prating ego-maniacs. He’s like the Once Upon a Time equivalent of Oz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    • di says:

      Agree Alice!
      Neal is to be written differently. Son of Fairy Tales characters, but refusing to submit to the catalog of superhero or villain.

  13. whatever says:

    Young Bea is phenomenal. I can’t believe this sweet, charming and beautiful boy has turned into this guy.

    The show did an excellent casting with young Cora and Snow. I like and respect MJR but I seriously think he was miscast.

  14. Kat says:

    I see zero chemistry with Neal. If Emma winds up with him it will ruin the show for me. He’s such a schlub and more like a buddy than a romantic interest. Hate the idea of them together. Emma has had chemistry with Graham, Jefferson, August, (blazing chemistry) Hook. Neal = zero. The actor is totally miscast.

    • There is NOTHING between Hook and Emma. I would stop watching if they ever force that crap on tv.

      • Sami says:

        oh man how childish- I should say I would stop watching if they didn’t eventually have an epic love story between Hook and Emma. They have the most incredible chemistry.

      • di says:

        Agree. I would stop watching if they ever force that crap on tv too…
        Rumpel and Bae, aimed at seeing women who love to sleep with Hook. This is not normal, this is a cheap soap opera and nauseating.
        No! Worse. Henry is the boy, whose mother and grandmother slept with Hook.
        And Emma will be the woman who will sleep with Hook, the man who made sexual advances of her mother’s. Adam and Eddy think if redeeming Hook we will accept or forget the things he said and did before?

        • Sam says:

          I totally disagree, Hook and Emma have the most amazing chemistry and as the actors themselves have said ‘ a connection’. Hook likes to rile people with his innuendos – he adds humor to the show. He’s one of the most fun and entertaining additions they have ever had. The fact Henry who is of no blood relation to Hook, is a living relative of the woman Hook loved. .. plus he’s Emma’s son. I think that makes for a fabulous connection and great future storylines for these three.

          • Sorry..but dont found funny Hook sexual his innuendos. It’s gross for a family show!

          • A says:

            I think this show really should be primarily for teens and adults. It’s like Disney adult-style with a twist. Its not for little kids to be watching. There are too many adult themes and I even read somewhere that the creators didn’t even specifically set out to write a “family” show. There is, violence, murder, decapitation, etc. Things kids really shouldn’t be watching. If a “family” of adults and teens were watching, I think they can handle a little sexual innuendo. People get offended by the smallest things?!

          • Ronnie says:

            Seriously his innuendos always me laugh…but I’m never been prudish so it doesn’t bother me. Considering what else is on tv during family time these days Hook is incredibly mild. I find Rumpels/Regina’s graphic and violent yanking and crushing of hearts to be much more of a problem for a family show than Hook’s mild innuendos.

            Back to Neal though, Sunday will be interesting to see how he explains why he left Emma in jail after the crimes he committed and why he didn’t come back to her after the curse lifted.

          • Ronnie says:

            “A” yes you are right I had totally forgotten the decapitation. Yikes that and all the heart yanking and crushing – it really isn’t a family show or for those who are overly sensitive.

    • Chris says:

      Hook and Emma are fabulous and they have the most amazing chemistry. As the actors have themselves stated, they have a connection and are kindred spirits. Can’t wait to see more Hook and Emma! They make this show exciting.

      • A says:

        THIS!! I love the thought of Hook and Emma. Hook is a character that has room for so much more development, but people are offended by the smallest things. They don’t like him because of the sexual innuendos? I say bring on more sexual innuendos. They weren’t really even that bad. What you’re mad because he flirted with Snow in front of Charming? I loved that he did that (mostly because I dislike Charming) but he obviously did it to get on Charming’s nerves because Charming’s annoying and not because he wanted to get into Snow’s pants. Hook is a flirt. That’s who he is and he uses it to his advantage as well as a defense mechanism for whatever he’s trying to cover up. He is funny and the chemistry between him and Emma is sizzling. I hope there are more scenes between her and him.

        • Astrid says:

          ITA. I hope we continue to get interaction between these two once current storylines play out and that they are on a journey that will eventually bring them together.

  15. Mike says:

    I don’t get the hate for Neal, I mean he is nothing special, but he is not awful in any way. Honestly of her potential suitors, I’d prefer Emma to not be with anyone, Hook is a villain , and Emma should stay far away from him, and Neal, while better than Hook abandoned Emma, so I don’t know what to think, so on the note I think the hate of Neal is unwarranted, you don’t have to like the guy, but there are no valid reasons for him to have the hate he has. Tamara and Greg deserve the hate.

    • Kat says:

      I think the major dislike (I would say any hate words used about him are from those who always talk in extremes about all the characters)for Neal is because they are setting this bleh, schlubby guy up to be the true love of our main heroine. That irks a lot of people. She’s strong, interesting, beautiful. She’s burned up the screen with a number of actors. With him it is a real meltdown. But we will all have different opinions on the characters. I personally don’t consider Hook a true villain. Not like Rumpel, Regina or Cora.

      • kaleyna says:

        That should say letdown, not meltdown. Heh. Meltdown will be what I do if she winds up with him. :)

      • Cass says:

        Just curious–what would it take to qualify as a “true villain,” if killing/trying to kill/shooting innocent people doesn’t?

        • Kat says:

          Hook has killed one person that we have seen. The guy who betrayed Belle and worked for Regina. Charming killed a number of the men in Regina’s army. I’m sure some of them were only there for the paycheck and to feed their family. He might have killed Belle in Regina’s dungeon. We don’t know as Regina stopped him form hurting her. I will agree Hook is consumed by his obsession for revenge for Milah’s death and is doing bad things. But people seem to have no issue with Rumpel winding up with the very sweet and beautiful Belle (Lacey notwithstanding). Rumpel has killed…a lot. Out of all of them, I would say at this point Hook is closest to be able to find redemption since he has done the least amount of killing and evil.

          • Chris says:

            Oh so true, at this point. We’ll see what happens in the future but from what Eddy said about Hook looking out at at rumpel and belle, sounded very promising. I always want an edgy Hook but with a good heart once he puts his obsession to rest.

          • Cass says:

            Hook has killed one person successfully, yes. Off the top of my head, he has tried and failed to kill Belle (at least twice), Emma, Snow, Aurora, Mulan, Cora, and Rumple–all of whom, except Rumple, had done nothing to him. Incompetence doesn’t make him less evil. We can also throw in him torturing Archie, shooting Belle, ripping out Aurora’s heart. That’s just what we know about in a 300-year career of piracy and revenge. As for Rumple and Belle, most people who want them together don’t say that Rumple is a good guy. And as it relates to Hook and Emma (as I assume it does for many people), Belle and Emma are very different. Belle’s thing is compassion; Emma’s thing is justice. Emma hates bullies of all things; she is always on the side of the underdog and the vulnerable: orphaned children, abandoned wives, pregnant teenagers, lonely giants. And vulnerable people are exactly the ones Hook targets: cuckolded lame men, starving beggars, chained-up 100-pound waifs, imprisoned princesses, tied-up mild-mannered psychiatrists. I think that Emma would be revolted if she knew half of the stuff Hook has done, such as punching Belle in the face.

          • Kat kat says:

            Totally disagree with you on almost all points, but then people see the actions of many of the characters VERY differently.

          • Christine says:

            I love the villains they made this a true fairytale but like others, unless of course that changes, I don’t see Hook as a real villain. He’s not out for power, he’s not out to destroy lives, he hasn’t taken any pleasure in killing the guards in Regina’s castle, the one time he took a heart was only because of a one time spell and he couldn’t even stomach not giving it back. Hook’s no angel by any means but he doesn’t have magic and he is no where near as much a threat as Regina or Rumpel are to the innocents in this tale – they derive pleasure in bullying, maiming and murder.

            Some don’t like Neal but not because he’s a villain more so because young Emma loved him and his desertion screwed her up. When the curse was lifted he should have been a man and contacted her if for no other reason than to apologize.

      • Mike says:

        I think Hook is indeed a true villain, I think a better way to describe the difference between the villains is Hook is not as evil as Rumple and Regina, but I hope they develop him more as a villain next season, and maybe he’ll be able to compete with the other two. That is best reason one heard for the dislike of Neal, I just think they have done a bad job developing adult Bae, if he is around next season, maybe they’ll have a chance to remedy that.

        • lyn says:

          My take is that Rumpel and Regina are evil, whereas Hook is only ruthless.

          • Kat says:

            “My take is that Rumpel and Regina are evil, whereas Hook is only ruthless.” — Well put. And to those who are talking about his innuendos, we saw clearly in even their brief scenes before she was murdered that he and Milah were partners and he loved very deeply. On the beanstalk and in the giant’s home, when Hook let his guard down he talked and openly straight with Emma. He uses the innuendo and the snark and charm as weapons to put people off kilter and make them mad. I seriously doubt if he was in a relationship with Emma he would be talking like that in front of Henry. He would more likely be very loyal once he gave his heart.

          • K says:

            Rumpel is under a dark curse. Cora very literally lacked a heart. And even Regina may have some sort of excuse if magic really is as addictive as they’re trying to sell it. We know for a fact that Rumpel and Regina were good people in horrible circumstances before they made their initial bad choices on the road to evil. But Hook’s a guy who started out being a bully and a pirate (which certainly equals thief and could easily equal killer) and has committed all his evil without any outside influences egging him on.

          • Rissa says:

            But we don’t have Hook’s full backstory. We don’t know why he became a pirate. We don’t know who his parents were or where he grew up. You can’t judge him the same way you judge Regina and Rumpel because you don’t know him on the level you know those two. Based on what we’ve seen I’d say he’s the least awful of all the villains.

    • Astrid says:

      Love Hook with Emma, but I don’t hate Neal, I just don’t find the way he’s been written very interesting or exciting to watch. That may change in the last two epis but we’ll see. I don’t see Hook as a villain – but we’ll see what he does in the next two epis.

  16. Jess says:

    Love Neal. I hope he and Emma can eventually works things out and get back together. I think it was fate that brought them together because they’re true loves. Really hope he becomes a series regular!

  17. jorie74 says:

    I am wondering how the tide will turn when Bae finds out his father killed his mother. Of course, maybe he already knows, but I have a hunch if he had known, he wouldn’t have been so quick to set sail back to Storybrooke when his papa got Hooked…

    And it is natural that Bae/Neal would have a calmer disposition than most of the other characters, he is a lot older than most of them and would have seen more. That being said, I am sure some of his feelings also run deeper because of all he has seen.

    • Lydia says:

      That town is already full of characters primed to fly off the handle at a moment’s notice, or that can’t for the life of themselves shut up and insist on these long, dramatic speeches. Hook, Rumple, August, Regina, Charming, Snow. It’s refreshing to have one character who doesn’t react the same way. Neal doesn’t say so much of what he’s thinking, it’s all communicated in forehead wrinkles. I like it. It lessens the din of the more shrill characters.

    • Astrid says:

      Yes that is the burning question…did Hook tell him how his mother really died and who killed her? And if not, how is it going to affect him when he finds out now? I hope that is something we get to see in the next two episodes.

      • lyn says:

        His mother abandoned him like a used Kleenex. Why should that change anything? He already knows how dark his father is.

        • Ronnie says:

          Do you think so? hearing that in a fit of jealous rage your father ripped your mothers heart out and crushed it effectively murdering her wouldn’t affect him. If he already knows then I guess not but if he doesn’t I would think it would affect him even more considering what he says in the next epi.

        • K says:

          I dunno, I think that the murder of one’s mother, even if she’s a deadbeat, would hit pretty close to home in any case except self-defense. In a normal world, I can’t imagine Bae ever forgiving Rumple. But this is a moral universe that expects us to believe that a twelve-year-old girl who is manipulated into spilling a secret to a murderer is worse than the murderer, and that the latter can be forgiven but it’s okay to hound the former for forty years and through two universes.

  18. tess says:

    While I loved the actor on True Blood, I find the character of Neal written awful. He hasn’t bothered to apologize to Emma (maybe finally on Sunday) he has zero chemistry. they don’t look good together – have zero chemistry. I would have had much higher hopes for Bae than what Neal turned out to be. The man has no idea of real love – if he did he would have fought tooth and nail for Emma, especially after the curse was lifted. He was afraid…seriously, he is no match for Emma.

  19. Ashley says:

    If Neal and Emma get together I will be seriously disturbed. Emma running back to him would be the biggest step backwards in character development I can possibly think of, And to get together and give Henry that hope is terrible. If they break up he may never forgive them.

  20. ABC says:

    I hated Neal in Tallahassee (he looked way too old), but he has grown on me a bit. I want to know his connection to Hook, and I liked young Bae in the eight minute preview for Sunday’s episode. I think the trip to Neverland will be fun.

  21. amelie says:

    I love the actor. Neal and Emma have great chemistry. I can’t wait to learn more about Neal/Bae. Hope MRJ will be a regular next season. He has a sexy voice and an adorable smile.

    • tessa says:

      He does have an adorable smile but sorry I see zero romance between them – more a buddy vibe.

    • lucy says:

      I enjoy their chemistry as well. It’s different than some of the couples, I think its the history- we’ve never seen Emma with someone that she knew pre-Storybrooke. So even though she isn’t trying to seduce him and he isn’t trying to seduce her, they’ve written their interactions as two people who used to love each other- and even though they are both keeping their distance, they still know each other really, really well. That doesn’t go away. And it shows. I also enjoy the MRJ smiles. Especially the little ones where he’s biting his tongue and not saying anything, because Emma has moved on she probably doesn’t want to hear about how adorable/cool that thing she just did was. But the forehead wrinkles speak volumes.
      But if you prefer your couples to be a little more 50 Shades of Gray, I could see how you wouldn’t notice anything.

  22. Nat says:

    You know, I don’t like Neal much. And I definitely hope he and Emma won’t get back together. But there’s nothing that I find more annoying than Hook fans spreading negativity (don’t want to use hate, too strong a word) in the comment section of an article that has absolutely nothing, zero, nada, zilch to do with him. It’s just rude in my opinion and it’s yet another reason why I hope the writers of OUAT will never cater to fans who think they just need to scream for what they want loud and insistent enough on the internet and it will happen.

    • HeatherC says:

      Agree with this and even as a Neal (and MRJ) fan, I actually don’t mind Hook that much but reading this stuff here has been bugging me all day too.

    • Abbey R says:

      I think a good number of the comments have said they felt Emma had chemistry with August, Jefferson, Graham…and Hook. So Hook came up doe to talk of how others had chemistry with Emma and Neal doesn’t. If none of these men existed in the OUAT universe, I still would hate the idea of Emma with Neal. I find the actor totally wrong for the role and his vibe with Emma more of a buddy thing. Methinks the negativity you think you see comes more from your viewpoint than anything people are posting. In fact I see a lot of Hook hate going on. But I guess that is not negative?

      • lyn says:

        I agree that MRJ is horribly miscast on OUAT.

      • Nat says:

        Oh please. It did not just casually come up in conversation. Everyone who reads TVLine knows how this works. They publish an article or spoiler about Neal -> Hook fans show up to profess why Emma needs to end up with him and why their “ship” is so much better and why Hook is the much more interesting character, etc., etc. It’s just annoying.
        It’s annoying when it’s the other way around and Neal fans are doing it when the article is about Hook. Everyone who thinks being “loud” means their opinion counts more than others and the writers should give them what they want because they’re screaming for it on the internet annoys me. Especially if they confuse supporting what they love with being negative about everything that’s in the way of their favorite “ship”.

    • Astrid says:

      You know if you look back up and follow the conversation and see who brought Hook into this conversation it was a Neal fan bashing Hook. So people commented on that. I love Hook – but I don’t hate Neal I am just not a fan of the way Neal has been written nor do I like the teenmom/baby daddy cliche storyline but when ‘certain fans’ right from the start like ‘k’ and ‘ecrc’ start bashing Hook, viewers who enjoy Hook will add their opinions.

      • K says:

        Whoa, I wasn’t bashing Hook (and didn’t bring him up)–I was just responding to the ludicrous contention that a thief/jerk is worse than a murdering thief/jerk. You can argue that Hook is better *for Emma* than Neal, and I won’t agree, but it’s subjective. But pretty much every moral code known to humankind ranks murder as worse than stealing. Ditto for Hook being a “real villain”–it’s subjective whether he’s worse than Regina or Rumple or Cora, but it’s astonishing to me that people think he’s not a “real villain” because he almost always fails when he tries to kill people. So King George is a good guy because he didn’t succeed in having a mob lynch Ruby for a crime that he committed?

  23. Shannon says:

    I know it won’t happen, but I am rooting for Graham as he has always tried to do his best when it comes to the charming family.

  24. Bailey says:

    Love MRJ, love Neal, and love the Neal/Emma pairing. Those three things have been the saving grace of this season for me.

  25. Hope some of you read the last Adam tweet :
    Neal never sent her to jail. Not what happened. And MRJ understands his character better than anyone.

    • Fan says:

      No he should have sent himself to jail.
      Ummm what did Neal think would happen? Emma would get off with a warning? *rolls eyes*

      • lyn says:

        Emma was a juvie and was only charged with possession of stolen goods. Her record was obviously expunged or she wouldn’t have been licensed as a bail bondsman.

    • Ronnie says:

      HUH of course he didn’t send her to jail, the law did that…he just left her there and didn’t take responsibility for the theft of the watches. he did leave money and the car for her with august but when august told him the curse was over and he should go to her he didn’t. he hooked up with tamara instead.

    • Si says:

      Neal left Emma, but August was the one that put her in jail. I wish people just stop using this “he send her to jail” as a way to blast Neal.

  26. T.j says:

    You know I was looking forward to the Bae storyline until we got Neal. I can not put into words how  extremely disappointed I have been in his storyline.

     I loved the little kid Bae but Neal does nothing for me except make me roll my eyes and change the channel.
    It’s been an extreme disappointment in the second half of the season.

    There is no chemistry what so ever between those two. Every time they share a scene it drags the entire storyline. Emma has so many other things to deal with besides him. Not to mention there are story lines we’d rather have then this dragged out soap opera.
    I care about the main five…not Neal.

    Also is the chemistry so bad that every character has to point it out because it’s sooooo not there?

    Oh and every time I read someone say ‘oh Emma, Neal and Henry can now be a real family…’ I think IF that happens it will show that this show is completely anti adoption. 

    • lyn says:

      Only when the adoptive parent turns out to be a monster.

      • Ronnie says:

        Well considering the baby daddy’s daddy is Rumpel – the worst monster is already on scene. And we have yet to establish if Rumpel has any love for henry or attempts to kill him so he can continue to keep his evil powers. Regina isn’t mother of the year but neither Neal nor Emma know about the prophecy and that their son’s life could be on the line.

        • lyn says:

          IMO Regina is worse than Rumpel. Milah abandoned Rumpel and Bae. He killed out of revenge. Regina killed her own father, who loved her, to further her own agenda. She wiped out whole villages to get what she wanted. Rumpel is not paragon, but he’s way better than her.

          • Steph says:

            I don’t even like Regina that much, but Regina is definitely NOT worse than Rumpel. Regina is weak and a murderer and a rapist, among other things, but Rumpel manipulated and schemed to put Regina in those situations. Could she have chosen to do the right thing instead? Absolutely. But let’s not forget that none of these events would have been possible if not for Rumpel. Regina is a front, a red herring for Rumpel’s role in all of this.

          • K says:

            To Steph: When did Rumpel manipulate Regina to rape Graham? I missed that part.

          • Steph says:

            I didn’t say that he manipulated her into raping Graham, I was pointing out that he deliberately misled/coerced her into positions which would eventually lead her into creating the curse. She made the evil decisions, but he urged her down the path to darkness in the first place. Raping Graham was all on her, though.

    • Cass says:

      What in the world does Emma, Neal, and Henry as a family have to do with adoption? It’s strange enough when people frame Regina losing custody of a child after she literally killed him as anti-adoption, but this?

  27. Lizzy says:

    We can argue about who has chemistry with whom and who should end up with who but its important to remember fan perception will have no affect on what happens. the writers will write what they want because they’re the writers and the fans are just along for the ride.

    • Ronnie says:

      Well said…we all have our favorite characters, and this show has so many talented actors – and it is totally out of our control. As long as its entertaining and our favs get some screentime we keep watching and hopefully enjoying it for however long it airs.

    • lucy says:

      I take great comfort in the writers remarks that, while they love their fans and love hearing from them – they then ignore the tantrums and go write the story they were planning to tell all along.

  28. jerrired says:

    All the Hook vs. Neal stuff is really annoying. Why must fans simplify every show as a ship war? I personally love the Neal/Emma chemistry, especially on the flashback episode. But if she doesn’t end up with him, it’s no big deal. As long as the storylines evolve better I’m fine. Right now, not loving the Owen/Tamara thing but what matters should really be about the story! Not who the girl ends up with.

    Michael Raymond James is a great actor, so thank you Matt from TVline for doing this interview! Great to read these little tidbits about what’s to come on the show.

    • Steph says:

      I hate that people force ship wars onto the rest of fandom as well. Like what you like, cool, but when you feel the need to drag another character to “prove” the superiority of yours, you look super tacky. Personally, I ship both Neal and Hook with Emma, so watching both sides of the fandom is pretty embarrassing.

  29. Ronnie says:

    So going on what Michael says “the big game changer” between Neal and Rumpel…anyone have any theories on what that could be?

    • Bailey says:

      I don’t know…but all these interviews MRJ is giving, makes me nervous that he won’t survive the season. If Neal dies, I would be so mad! His addition made me finally forgive the writers for killing off Graham. LOL.

    • Kelly says:

      I have a bad feeling about Neal maybe ending up back in fairytale land with Mulan and away from his family or about the wraith coming for neal but I hope I’m wrong. I want Neal alive and conscious and a regular next season.

    • Patti says:

      I hope he does not die or get separated from Emma and Henry. Maybe it’s Neal learning Rumple killed his mom

  30. Si says:

    Emma and Neal have incredible chemistry! I have a feeling that all that hate Neal gets comes from CaptainSwan shippers. I would be okay with their perspective but they are getting really rude.This shipping war HAS TO STOP.
    BTW Imo Neal is truly the best addition to the show this season. Hope they will make him a regular for the next season!

  31. Romane says:

    Stop comparing Hook and Neal like that. Both are not perfect but there is no need to spit on the one you don’t like. I prefer Hook and I think he has chemistry for Emma but I don’t really know if he can be good for her so for the moment I’m shipping Captain Swan like others ship Swan Queen. I wait for interactions :) About Neal, I like his character and he can be good for Henry but I still think he was not obliged to leave Emma (even with this interview). And go from “I trust my fiancée” to “I never stop thinking about you” it’s kind of weird.

  32. Megan says:

    I absolutely love him! I really hope they make him a regular! Or at least keep him around for a while!

  33. Am I the ONLY one that thinks that Neal and Emma have far more chemistry than Emma and Hook? I mean, Emma and Hook look good together and have snarky dialogue, but the absolute longing in the looks that Emma and Neal share just burn up the screen! The moment they’re in a room together it’s just electric. With Hook it just feels… Boring. Like they wanna jump each other, but not like they WANT each other.

    • Bailey says:

      No you’re not the only one. When even was the last time Emma had flirtatious dialogue with Hook? Or any other guy character? Since Neal came into the picture, I honestly can’t remember – and that’s one reason why I love Emma/Neal. They’ve made me completely forget that there are other romantic options out there, LOL.

    • Kelly says:

      I am with. I love Neal and Emma and their chemistry. For me I just don’t get the hype the show tries to make with Emma and Hook. I just don’t see it. If they were trying to pimp Emma with Jefferson or Huntsman like they do I’d see what they are talking about even if they aren’t my favs but I just don’t get the hook thing.

    • Patti says:

      I am rooting for Emma and Neal. MRJ and Jennifer’s chemistry is sizzling.

  34. Kelly says:

    Great interview. I think it’s one of my favorites. I love MRJ’s acting and him as Neal as been the best part of season two. I hope he is a regular next season.

  35. Steph says:

    The addition of of MRJ as Neal is one of the only good things about the second half of Season 2 imo. He’s a great actor who brings a lot to the character, gives him some real flesh and blood. I only wish the writers would give him more screen time. I’m also pumped to see Hook/Bae scenes; those two must have a lot of history and interesting character interaction in Neverland, I want to see it! Also, reading through these comments, I feel like such a fandom unicorn because I ship both Swan Thief AND Captain Swan. Idk, I just like to see BOTH characters interact with Emma, since each relationship dynamic is so unique and compelling! Ultimately, I ship Emma/Happiness, so as long as the writers step their game up, I should probably enjoy the ride.

  36. Patti says:

    Michael Raymond-James is a great actor. I like him a lot on Once and think Neal is great character with so many possible connections and loads of stories.

    I think Neal’s intentions regarding Emma were good but he never really let her choice. She is one of the few characters that at times had choice taken from her and I still don’t understand why he had to leave her for her to fulfill her destiny. I’d like that writers to address that. He could have stayed with her and guided her to storybrooke after all he loves her and those were his people cursed. He could of helped her was it because he was a coward running from his dad? and why did he have to send her to prison? he could have just run away with the money. Those aspects should be addressed and I wish on screen they would address that and that she didn’t get the money. It’s like all the talk about Belle not knowing this world and freaked out by toasters yet we never saw it. frustrating

  37. Lani Alvarado says:

    When Tamara put out that portal on the ground and tried to make Emma and Neal fall, Neal let go for some reason.
    PLEASE TELL ME HE IS COMING BACK AND IS GOING TO BE THE FATHER!!!! They can’t cut off unfinished business ! PLEASE!!!!