If there’s one thing Once Upon A Time writers are able to do masterfully is provide viewers with a beautiful sense of closure as a beloved character’s life comes to end.
Enchanted Forest Flashbacks: When Neal and Belle meet Lumiere (Henry Lubatti ) he points them in the direction of a key that leads to the Dark One’s vault. As it turns out, he’s working with the Wicked Witch, and during a battle with the witch, Rumple chooses his son over the dagger. Even though Lumiere was working for the Wicked Witch, he then chooses to help Belle escape which we’re certainly pleased with because we’re holding onto the hope that he’ll maybe make an appearance and sing “Be Our Guest”.
Present-Day Storybrooke: Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, both Rumple and Neal have been found, and as it turns out they’re now one. Neal makes the choice to ask Emma to end his life in order for Rumple to be able to reveal that Zelena’s the Wicked Witch.
The episode opens with the Charming, Snow, Emma, Hook, Regina, and Granny discussing the possibilities of what could have happened. Regina decides to go back to the farmhouse to check for more clues while the others head to Gold’s shop in order to let Belle in on the news. It’s always nice to get playfully lighthearted yet meaningful moments in episodes as heavily dark as this one. Thus, seeing as how Hook and Belle haven’t exactly been the best of friends, it’s nice to watch him stay behind in order to protect her, and though his apology was the most awkward kind to witness, it’s great that he got a chance to redeem himself to her. Though the inept apology served to display the evident fact that he’s genuinely remorseful, it’s likely his attempt was to lighten the mood in order for there not to be as much tension between them.
Speaking of Hook, the instinctual embrace he gives to Neal followed by the heartfelt speech is certainly a moment worth praising as not only have the men come incredibly far from when they first met, but it obliged as yet another apology on Killian’s end. We felt the entire purpose of the scene was to illuminate the idea that even though these men haven’t always been at peace with one another, they appreciate and cherish the past they’ve shared because it represents something much bigger.
For Killian, their past was a chance to start over, a way of both honoring Milah’s memory and wholeheartedly caring for a child who was alone in the world. His intentions were purely out of love and even though Bae chose not to stay with him, he’s never held that against him as he’s continuously remained dear to his heart. For Neal, even though at the time he felt betrayed by Killian, telling him he hasn’t forgotten what he’s done was his way of thanking him. It was his way of letting him know that despite what they’ve been through, the time they’ve shared together is a fraction of the life he too cherishes. Colin O’Donoghue and Michael Raymond-James delivered this scene with such sincerity and grace, and because it was unfortunately their final scene together, it was definitely a remarkable closure.
While last week’s episode “The Tower” was focused on facing fears, “Quiet Minds” was about the importance of second chances and forgiveness. Just like every character on this show, Neal Cassidy is flawed, and even though letting Emma go to prison wasn’t a noble act, not searching for her after the curse broke was in fact much worse as he had the chance to make well but didn’t do so. As someone who’d already felt rejected and alone, there’s no denying that his act heightened Emma’s heartache even further, but it was enjoyable to watch their interactions this week because the troubles from their past don’t haunt them as much. Emma’s forgiving nature is one of her most admirable qualities because even though open wounds still pain her, she’s found the means to forgive and live. In the past, Neal and Emma were able to find comfort with one another, and they were able to dream, which as cliché as it may seem, it’s a remarkable thing to do as a couple.
However, in this week’s episode, it was all put behind for good, and closure was achieved on both ends. We’ve always felt that the moment Emma decided to let go of Neal, not because he was dying or because he was in grave danger, but because she needed to do it for herself, was in Echo Caves. Emma tells Neal that even though she will always love him, she cannot change the fact that their relationship wasn’t something she was looking forward to reconciling. For Emma Swan, that was closure. That was the moment she let go of all the heartaches that have haunted her since the moment he chose to let her go.
Tallahassee was a token of hope, it served as a paradigm of the kind of ideal life they could’ve had if they were willing to make it work. Therefore, when Neal said “I just want you to be happy. Even if it’s not with me. – followed by – find Tallahassee” we felt he was coming forth with the mistakes made in the past and assuring Emma that she should keep the hope of finding Tallahassee, a home, a safe haven, something they couldn’t have because they simply weren’t meant to. And perhaps that’s it, their romance never worked because it wasn’t in their destiny to.
With his dying breath, he made it clear that it was Emma’s and Henry’s happiness he wanted more than anything; therefore, it definitely seemed as though while he was telling her to “find Tallahassee,” he knew who she’d be finding it with, and especially after the conversation with Killian where his heart was more bared than before, Neal understood his honorable intentions and accepted the fact that his love for Emma is in fact true.
As Neal once said in Neverland, the best thing that came from the two of them being together was Henry. In the season one episode titled “True North,” Emma lies about Neal’s identity and calls him a true hero. But the lovely thing about this episode is that even though his act wasn’t immensely heroic, more so noble and a way of him taking responsibility for his actions, it was nice to see his arc end with him doing something great. We cannot imagine how difficult it was for Emma to use her magic to kill her first love, but we’re hoping to understand that it was the right thing to do to make it at least a bit easier. And despite some apologies left unsaid, the amount of closure the two of them got was incredibly well done.
Robert Carlyle’s portrayal this week is what ultimately broke our hearts the most as the moment Rumple chose his son over being the dark one in the Enchanted Forest was an astoundingly phenomenal scene. It’s always the little things actors do that make a scene even greater than it is, and when Rumple was holding onto Neal’s hand and kissed it as though he were still a child, our hearts ached because, despite everything that’s happened, this is still his Baelfire – the child he adored more than anything. Neal’s most interesting relationship to watch has always been the one with Rumple as the bond between father and son has been most important and sadly tainted. Mistakes after mistakes but the one thing that’s remained steadfast between the men has been their love for one another. In the end, it’s merely about redemption, and as Neal said, it’s about putting family above everything else. Desperation and loneliness make people do treacherous things, but once a family is present, and they’re filled with a sense of hope and happiness, people become the best versions of themselves. It’s also necessary to add that Jennifer Morrison, Michael Raymond-James, and of course Robert Carlyle sold this final scene brilliantly.
While everyone’s been out trying to find Neal and Rumple, Snow’s been at home feeling useless – adorable if we may add, as the darling bandit’s skills are always welcomed. Zelena comes to keep her company, touches her belly, and makes a statement about how it could be any day now that the baby arrives. She also gives her orange juice and though we don’t believe she would’ve done anything to drink, a part of us feels as though she definitely wants something from the child. As Rumple said, she wants what she never had, and she’s never had a family, so perhaps she wants to steal the child? Who knows with that woman, but we’re undoubtedly pleased with the fact that it didn’t take about a zillion episodes for her identity to be revealed. Father and daughter busting into the bathroom and working as a team were also marvelously enjoyable to watch as their bond is certainly unique and phenomenal.
Regina sets off on her own to investigate the farmhouse, and she’s accompanied by an unexpected guest from who she effortlessly stops an arrow aimed towards her. As far as first meetings in Storybrooke go, Robin and Regina’s was exquisite, and Sean Maguire’s and Lana Parrilla’s chemistry was more electric than ever. They delivered these scenes with such charisma that the raw passion already present within Robin and Regina was impressively great to watch. Parrilla was graceful and darling while describing whiskey, she perfectly portrayed just how much Regina was enjoying the playful banter, and as Robin said, her lighthearted audacious side is anything but evil.
Regina expresses feeling as though they have met before and Robin’s reply is that he’d never forget such a thing unless it occurred in the year they remember nothing from. Smooth, Robin, real smooth. It’s possible that Regina feels as though she knows him because since they have been established as soul mates through pixie dust, she feels a much deeper connection to him. Maybe this is why she’s able to be herself so freely around him, and not to mention when true love couples are separated through a curse with no memories of one another, they’re still drawn to each other as though bound by a magnetic and irreplaceable force. It’s happened with Snow and Charming in season 1, Rumple and Belle while she was Lacey, and even Hook and Emma as even without memories of Storybrooke, there was undoubtedly a part of Emma who felt a connection to the persistent stranger begging her to hear him out.
Regina is certainly correct when she states that “fear is quite an effective tool,” for the moment she sees Robin’s lion tattoo, their flirtatious bonding is cut short as she runs away. Following this week’s theme of second chances, their story is a fantastic example of the effect choices of running away have on people. Parrilla wore Regina’s heartbreak, regret, and wonder beautifully as she was watching Robin and Roland play together. Our hearts broke for her as she was questioning whether walking away from him twice was the right thing to do. However, there’s no doubt in our minds that this time, she’ll allow herself to give love a try. And we’re thrilled beyond words to see where their relationship goes as it’s marvelous to see Robin look beyond the hard exterior into the heart that makes her who she is.
Last week Zelena took David’s courage, and this week she talked about already having Rumple’s brain since it’s under her control. If David’s a representation of the cowardly lion, and Rumple’s the scarecrow, then who’s the tin man? Our bets are on Killian as his heart’s been exposed the most, and because we know his love for Emma will inspire him to do anything, there’s a prodigious chance that she’ll use that against him.
There’s not a more beautiful way to allow viewers to mourn a death like a stunning montage of everyone’s heartfelt expressions and gestures to console one another. The motherly embrace Snow gave to Belle, and the comforting pat Charming gave to Hook followed by both their heartbreaking expressions were gorgeously executed. And what we found most beautiful about Emma telling Henry about her father, was the setting. Neal mentioned watching over them from wherever he goes, and what better place for them to have this conversation than out in the open where it’s often said the most wonder resides.