This week’s episode gave us a glimpse of Emma’s past and further explained why her trust issues are not so easily shaken. In the present, Emma (trust issues and all) and Hook climb the beanstalk to steal the magical compass from The Giant.
In Fairytale Land, Hook leads Snow, Emma, Mulan and Princess Aurora to the beanstalk. Emma is sure she’s heard this tale before, but Hook explains to her that there are no more beans and there was once way more than one giant. Instead, they need to get their hands on the enchanted compass, go back and steal the wardrobe ashes, and only then will they be able to find their way to Storybrooke. The women are unsure if they can trust Hook, but he promises them that his allegiance isn’t to Cora and he will be loyal to the person that gets him to his destination first.
While Emma and Hook climb the beanstalk, he lets her know that she’s like an open book. He’s seen that same look in the eyes of the discarded Lost Boys, and he knows that she was abandoned too. When they finally make their way to the top, Hook suggests that they wait for The Giant (played by Jorge Garcia, Lost, Alcatraz) to fall asleep. Emma smartly asserts that they use Mulan’s poppy powder (Wizard of Oz foreshadowing perhaps??) to knock the giant out. A successful plan, except they didn’t account for how quickly the giant would wake up. Hook is pinned under a few rocks and Emma is the one who escapes and traps The Giant. Instead of using Jack’s sword to kill or even harm The Giant, she spares his life. She’s rewarded when The Giant breaks through the cage and also spares her life. Although it looks like she’s going to use her second favor to save Hook, she instead cuffs him to the wall. It seems she trusts him enough to keep him alive, but not quite enough to let him journey back down the beanstalk with her. She makes it down just in time to break up Snow and Mulan, who started chopping down the stalk as Emma requested. Teary mother-daughter reunion and the voyage back to Storybrooke continues.
In Emma’s past, we go back 11 years and see that Emma’s yellow VW bug was initially a stolen possession. The mystery man we met in the season opener turns out to be Neal Cassidy (played by Michael Raymond-James), the Clyde to Emma’s Bonnie. They traipse around the country on a petty crime spree, but eventually they agree that it’s time to settle down…in Tallahassee. As with any plan that involves tortured romance, things are cut short. Neal finds out that he’s a wanted man for a jewelery heist he pulled and explains to Emma that he needs to leave the country without her. She nixes this plan and decides to re-steal the watches that he left at the train station so that they can sell them for money and start their lives together. Meanwhile, Neal is caught by August (aka Pinocchio) who shames him into setting Emma free so that she can get back on the path to her true destiny. Whatever he show’s Neal with his box is enough to seemingly convince him of magic or at the very least, how important it is that he leaves Emma behind.
Emma is arrested at the rendezvous point and led to believe that Neal sold her out. Down the line, August and Neal meet up so that Neal can give him the key to the VW and money. August promises to send Neal a postcard if and when it’s all right for him to return to Emma’s life. August sends Emma the car key (we hear no mention of the money!) and we learn that she’s pregnant with Henry.
And finally, at Storybrooke, Henry has a nightmare and Grandfather Charming comes in to calm him down. He lights a candle, just as he did for Snow White when she was having post-sleeping spell bad dreams. When Henry recounts his dream, it’s exactly as Princess Aurora described her own: a windowless red room, curtains on fire and someone looking at her across the room. David promises him that it was all just a bad dream.
- We know that Neal has received the postcard and that he’s Henry’s father, which makes a reunion inevitable. Will it be before or after Emma and company make it back to Storybrooke??
- Emma is 28/29 and we know this took place 11 years ago, which would make her 18 in the flashbacks. I can accept that the adorable Emma we saw was supposed to be that young, but there’s no way you’re convincing me Neal wasn’t at least in his late 20s during their time together.
- I don’t know how Aurora and Henry’s dream connection works, or even if it’s merely a plot point to get Mulan and Aurora to Storybrooke in an organic way, but I like that this show keeps finding new ways to develop stories that should have felt stale after one season.