"Once Upon A Time" Recap: "The Return"
This episode focused on developing Rumplestiltskin’s back-story as well as the after-math of Kathryn’s miraculous return to Storybrooke after everyone thought Mary Margaret had murdered her.
Back in the Enchanted Forest we see that Rumplestiltskin’s dark powers have changed him and made him evil. His son, Baelfire, suffers as a result because everyone is afraid of his father. In our first scene from this back-story we see Baelfire playing with a ball that rolls under a cart that then knocks him down. He scrapes his knee and insists that he is ok, but his father punishes the townsperson who owns the cart by turning him into a snail and squashing him.
Back at their home, Rumplestiltskin tries to treat Baelfire’s wound, but Baelfire refuses the help of his magic. Baelfire tries to express how the power has changed his father and everyone fears him because of it. Rumplestiltskin tells Baelfire that the power cannot be removed unless someone kills him with the special “Dark One’s” dagger. The housekeeper interrupts their conversation, but is mute so does not respond.
Baelfire asks his father if he would give up the power if there were a way to do so that didn’t harm either one of them. Rumplestiltskin doubts that such a thing exists and so makes the deal with his son.
In a later scene Baelfire accompanies his father into the forest to tend to some business. Baelfire tries to go play with some of the other children, but most run out of fear. One of his friends however stays and talks to him. They talk about how Rumplestiltskin ended the Ogre Wars and brought all the children home with his powers, but that the powers are now only causing harm. His friend suggests Baelfire seek help from a mystical creature that lives in the woods, The Blue Fairy. When Rumplestiltskin returns to fetch his son there is blood on his boots because he has killed their housekeeper for overhearing their conversation about the dagger.
At night Baelfire goes into the woods and calls for help to the magical creature. The Blue Fairy appears and understands Baelfire’s dilemma. She knows how Rumplestiltskin has changed because of the dark magic and that the only thing keeping him human is his love for Baelfire. The Blue Fairy says the only way to turn Rumplestiltskin human without killing him is to go to a land without magic. The Blue Fairy offers Baelfire a magic bean, the last of its kind, which will open a vortex and transport them to such a land.
Baelfire returns to his father and pleads with him to go. Rumplestiltskin is very skeptical and reluctant to follow, but goes into the forest with Baelfire and the magic bean when Baelfire reminds him of the deal they made. When they are in the forest, Baelfire plants the bean into the ground. A green vortex opens on the ground in front of them. Baelfire takes his father’s hand and attempts to jump through, but Rumplestiltskin holds on to a rock saying he can’t actually go. Baelfire pleads with his father to go but Rumplestiltskin refuses. In the end Baelfire calls his father a coward and lets go of his hand and is sucked into the vortex.
Immediately after the vortex closes Rumplestiltskin claws at the ground yelling to Baelfire that he has changed his mind and wants to go with him. Alas, the portal is gone. Rumplestiltskin goes to talk to The Blue Fairy, but she tells him that this was the last magic bean and there is no other way for Rumplestiltskin to get to the magic-less realm. Rumplestiltskin insists there must be a way and names out different possibilities, all of which the fairy denies as being possible. However, when he suggests a curse might take him to this realm the fairy hesitates. This makes Rumplestiltskin aware that such a curse is possible and he vows to find it so he can be reunited with his son.
Well, I guess now we know why Rumplestiltskin created the curse. The anger Rumplestiltskin feels towards The Blue Fairy, and I guess fairies in general, also explains Mr. Gold’s dislike of the nuns in Storybrooke as shown in the episode, “Dreamy.”
In Storybrooke, August Booth wakes up in his room with a terrible pain in his leg. He makes a phone call and tells the person that they must accelerate their plans. August meets with Henry and the two discuss their mission. August has Henry distract Mr. Gold, (Rumplestiltskin), in the front of his shop by looking for a present for Mary Margaret. Meanwhile, August sneaks in through the back and begins to look for something in Mr. Gold’s office. Before he can find anything though, Mr. Gold catches him. Mr. Gold is now very suspicious of August and his motives for being in Storybrooke.
Emma visits Kathryn in the hospital for information about her kidnapping. Kathryn says she remembers being in the car crash, being in a basement, and being drugged, but nothing else.
Regina, (the evil queen), goes to confront Mr. Gold about breaking their deal. Mr. Gold insists he has only broken one deal in his life and this wasn’t it. (He broke his deal with his son Baelfire). Regina reiterates that she had asked Mr. Gold to make something tragic happen to Kathryn and Mr. Gold counters that being kidnapped is tragic. Regina angrily claims that now the fake DNA test and the framing of Mary Margaret are going to lead back to her.
This was also a good scene in the episode because it is one of the first conversations the two have had where they blatantly reference and discuss their past lives and the curse. Regina also raises a question that we all have wanted to ask Mr. Gold: what team is he playing for? Regina questions Mr. Gold on his true motives and whether he is working for her or against her. He answers, appropriately, that he is working “diagonally,” and that she is a smart woman and should figure it out why for herself.
Later, Kathryn is visited in the hospital by David, who apologizes for what happened between them. Kathryn forgives him and does not blame him for being the first to figure out that they obviously weren’t right for each other.
At Mary Margaret’s welcome home party, Henry presents her with a bell and card from his class. David tries to speak with Mary Margaret, but she signals Emma she doesn’t want to speak to him, so Emma sends him away to take Henry home. Mr. Gold asks Emma what she knows about August and Emma asks Mr. Gold about his involvement with Kathryn’s miraculous reappearance.
The next day Emma confronts Sydney about the bug he planted in her office to spy on her. When Sydney defends Regina, Emma discovers that he is in love with Regina.
Mr. Gold breaks into August’s hotel room and discovers a drawing of the “Dark One’s” dagger, from the past. Mr. Gold worries August is in Storybrooke to kill him and begins to follow him. Mr. Gold follows August and finds him talking to the nuns’ Mother Superior, (The Blue Fairy). Mr. Gold asks Mother Superior what August was talking to her about. Mother Superior says August just wanted to ask for advice about confronting the estranged father he recently found.
David finally gets a chance to talk to Mary Margaret, but she is still very upset with him. He apologizes profusely for not believing her, but asserts that he is only human and fell for the framing. He also states how much he loves her and she says that is the worst part of it all. Mary Margaret says she will never forget how hurt she was when he didn’t believe her and doesn’t know if they should be together.
Mr. Gold goes to see Storybrooke’s therapist, Archie, (Geppetto), to talk to him. Mr. Gold wants advice from Archie about how to confront the son he hasn’t seen in many years and betrayed long ago. Archie tells Mr. Gold that he must be honest with his son and ask for forgiveness.
Mr. Gold confronts August in the woods that night and states that he knows August is Baelfire. August admits to being Rumplestiltskin’s son and the two talk about the past. Mr. Gold begs August for forgiveness and asserts that he has always regretted letting his son go.
The two hug and August tells Mr. Gold he was looking for the dagger as a sign that his father hadn’t changed. Mr. Gold takes August to a spot in the woods where the dagger is buried and unearths it. He gives the dagger to August to destroy, but instead August tries to use the dagger to control the powers of Rumplestiltskin.
This causes Mr. Gold to realize August was lying and he is not his son Baelfire. Mr. Gold knows this because Baelfire would know that the dagger has no power here because this world has no magic.
To be honest, even though it seemed to fit so perfectly that August would be Rumplestiltskin’s son Baelfire, I never quite believed it because it did appear too perfect. With this show there are so many twists and turns and unexpected revelations, having August be Baelfire and forgive his father just seemed too easy.
Mr. Gold does now know, however, that August is from their world because he knows about the dagger. August says that he is dying of a sickness that can only be cured by magic and that is the reason he had been seeking the dagger. He says he originally had tried to get the savior, (Emma), to believe in magic, but that has proven to be quite the challenge. Mr. Gold does not kill August because August is going to die anyways and if he lives for now Mr. Gold might be able to get something out of it. Then Mr. Gold tells August to keep trying to convince Emma of the truth.
The last scene in Storybrooke takes place in Emma’s office in the Sheriff’s station. Regina is waiting for Emma there with Sydney. Sydney confesses to kidnapping Kathryn and framing Mary Margaret, but Emma does not believe him at all and asks to speak to Regina in private.
Emma tells Regina she does not buy Sydney’s confession and that Regina is a sociopath who she will stop no matter what. Emma then states that she knows no one can win Regina’s game so she is gong to change the game and take back her son.
Snap! I love a good Regina, Emma confrontation. This reminds me of episode seven, “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter,” when Emma and Regina had their big confrontation and emotional and physical blows were exchanged. I look forward to seeing this conflict unfold in the remaining three episodes of the season. Also, I look forward to next week’s episode to see if August’s true identity will be revealed.
Reach staff writer G. Culbertson here