|Season 3, Episode 15|
|Airdate||March 30, 2014|
|Written by||Kalinda Vazquez|
|Directed by||Eagle Egilsson|
It's Not Easy Being Green
In this episode, Neal finds himself back in Storybrooke and yearns for a way to reconnect with his son Henry, whose memories of his father are gone, while also trying to find his own father, Rumplestiltskin, whom he has just learned is alive but missing, and Regina discovers a possible connection with Robin Hood. Meanwhile, in the Fairy Tale Land of the past year, agonizing over the death of his father, Neal - with the help of Belle and enchanted candelabra Lumiere - attempts to find a magical solution to bring back Rumplestiltskin from the dead.
View the Quiet Minds Gallery.
Lumiere is featured in the background.
In the Characters' Past
In the Enchanted Forest a year earlier, Belle and Neal talk about Rumplestilskin as they search for clues in his castle on how to find him. As they enter the library to check for any evidence, a voice starts calling for the two, and a face of flame in a candelabra is revealed to be Lumiere, who tells them Rumplestiltskin had him entrapped in this form as punishment. He directs them to a key with a triangular sign on it, which opens the vault where the first Dark One's dagger was made. A curious Neal agrees to use it, then blows Lumiere's candles out with Belle carrying it to the destination in the forest. Unbeknownst to Neal and Belle, Zelena enters the library, and is pleased that they fell for her trap using Lumiere as her minion, believing that they are not as smart as they think.
As Belle and Neal walk through the woods again, they find the location. Brushing away the snow, Neal finds a circular metal plate with symbols on it, in the ground. When Lumiere tells them he’s spent over 200 years in the library, Belle, who knows how long the library has actually been there, since Rumplestiltskin built the library for her, realizes that he is lying. Lumiere confesses that he works for Zelena, who cast the spell on him because she wants to find Rumplestlitskin's dagger, not knowing that if Neal does bring back his father there will be a price to pay. Believing he can save both his father and his family, Neal opens the crypt and he burns his hand, leaving the marked scar, and bubbling up from the ground is Rumplestiltskin. As he is finally reunited with Baelfire and Belle, they are interrupted by Zelena. Baelfire then falls to the ground, having learned that he has sealed his fate by saving Rumplestiltskin from Zelena. Rumplestiltskin tries to save Baelfire by absorbing him into his own body, but cannot so long as he holds the dagger. Rumplestiltskin releases the dagger and absorbs Neal, but becomes insane as a result. Zelena snatches up the dagger and orders Rumplestiltskin to kill Belle, but Lumiere uses his flames to hold Zelena back long enough for Belle to escape with him.
It's one year later in Storybrooke, and at Granny's Diner, Emma Swan, David, Regina, Captain Hook, and Mary Margaret have a meeting to discuss another search for Mr. Gold, as they suspect that he might have escaped the cage. Meanwhile, out in the forest, Zelena starts searching the area for Gold, and she summons her flying monkey to find him after the dagger she now possesses fails to work. Later on at the pawn shop the group, minus Regina, meets up with Belle, and Hook agrees to stay with her even though she hasn't forgiven him for their prior encounters, for which he apologizes. David and Emma decide that because of her pregnancy, Mary Margaret has to stay home while Emma and David handle the search. Suddenly there is a shuffling by the door, and Belle and Hook are surprised to see Neal stumble into the shop, instantly collapsing.
Over at the apartment, Zelena has shown up to play mid-wife to Mary Margaret by having her drink a glass of orange juice "in order to keep the baby healthy". However, the juice was spiked with a spell so Zelena can feel the baby growing inside her.
As Emma stops by the inn to check on Henry, he becomes suspicious that Emma isn't telling the truth, but Emma tells Henry that she will, but he must trust her until then. Emma then gets a phone call from Belle that Neal is alive and in the hospital, where they discover a branded scar on his right hand. Emma arrives to see Neal, who says that he was in Storybrooke and was looking his father but doesn't remember how it happened. Emma then takes a picture of his hand on her iPhone and sends it to Belle for research. Neal then talks to Emma and he asks about Henry, but Emma has made up her mind about not telling Henry or restoring his memories. After she leaves, Hook brings Neal some Jello, then they bond over lost time and resolve their differences. Neal tells Hook that he is leaving the hospital to find his father and Hook gives him a head start.
Meanwhile, Regina decides to check out the farm house, when she hears something and out of nowhere catches an arrow launched by a startled Robin Hood. As the two investigate the place, Regina and Robin try to get acquainted with each other and try to break the ice when Robin comes across a bottle of whiskey. They decide to share a drink. However, as Robin exposes his arm, Regina recognizes something on his wrist: the lion tattoo. She realizes he was the true love Tinker Bell would have had her to meet, and this causes Regina to run out of the house, leaving behind a confused Robin. Later on in the forest from a distance, she watches as Robin and his Merry Men play with Roland.
Around the same time, David and Emma search the forest for any signs of Gold, and they find him after they hear his voice. Emma tries to ask Gold about what happened but he keeps saying that the only thing he hears are voices in his head. The three are then greeted by the flying monkey, prompting the three to split up. David injures the beast to slow him down while Emma runs after Gold, only to hear Neal's voice and she finds him instead. The two then resume the search for Gold with Neal telling Emma that he has not given up on her and Henry, when Belle calls Emma and tells him that the scar on his hand was to bring Gold back from the dead. Emma then drops her phone and sees Neal changing, and as he does, he asks Emma to use her magic as it turns out that Gold was inside him. Emma, using magic, separates the two, but unfortunately Neal, had sacrificed his own life in order to bring his father back as part of a trade. Gold tells Emma that Zelena was the Wicked Witch of The West and she, as the savior, is the only one who can stop her from carrying out her scheme. The two then mourn the loss of Neal, who tells the two that he loves them and Henry before dying peacefully in Emma's arms.
Emma and David later return to the apartment and burst in to try to capture Zelena, but she has escaped through a window. They tell Mary Margaret about Zelena's true identity and that Neal is dead. Mary Margaret and Emma both share a hug as Emma grieves her loss, and then break the news at Gold's shop, where Mary Margaret hugs and comforts Belle.
Back in the forest, Gold sits next to Neal's body, and a gloating Zelena walks up to him with his dagger, using it to control him. Gold tells Zelena (who reveals to him that she is after Mary Margaret's unborn child) that now everyone knows who she is, but since she has his dagger to control him, it doesn't matter anymore now that he has control of his brain. She tells him to go back to his cage, where he continues to mourn his late son. Moments later, Emma walks up to Henry at the park and they sit on a bench, where she admits to him that he was right about her not being honest with him about the case, saying that Neal was the client that hired her, but she was too late and he was gone. Emma tells Henry that Neal was a great man, a good father, and a hero. Henry, who says he wishes he could have known him, asks her what happened to the person who did it, and Emma says they got away, but she vows to Henry and to herself that she will find them.
The episode managed to maintain the same rating numbers from the previous outing, placing a 2.1/6 among 18-49s, but averaged only 6.46 million viewers, down slightly from the last episode.
The episode was met with mixed to positive reviews.
Hillary Busis of Entertainment Weekly gave it a good review but summed it up this way: "Considering Once's history, I'm still not totally convinced that this is the One True Death we were promised. For every really, most sincerely dead character on this show (Cora, Pan, Sheriff Skinnyjeans), there's one whose death stuck about as well as an old Post-It note (the Blue Fairy, Rumpel, Prince Phillip). Until we see Emma spreading Neal's ashes in a Tallahassee swamp, I will refuse to believe that there isn't the slightest possibility of him returning just in time to make the twisted Charming/White/'Stiltskin family tree whole again.
Christine Orlado of TV Fanatic gave the episode 4.4 out of 5 stars.
Gwen Ihnat of The A.V. Club gave the episode a C+, noting that "This pondering led me to wonder what I would do to fix the show right now, if I were able. OUAT's still excels at reinterpreting of fables and legends, like the off-kilter look at Rapunzel in the previous episode. We’ve seen an Evil Queen progress from a villainous character to one whose flawed heart now is open to more possibilities. But numerous characters running around for an hour searching for the Wicked Witch is not compelling, and does nothing for the show overall. And inspiration from recent Disney interpretations would probably not be as effective as more elements from the classic Grimm tales." The review also took note of how the producers handled Neal/Baelfire's death scene: "Michael Raymond-James gamely played every troublesome hand he was dealt with this part, but there just wasn’t much good there. He played a tear-inducing death scene, though, and Jennifer Morrison brought it as well, but plotwise it’s almost an afterthought."
- The object/animal/person in this episode is Lumiere's lit candle stick.
- Neal Cassidy/Baelfire "dies" near the end of this episode.
- The identity of the man with the lion tattoo (Regina's soulmate) is revealed to be Robin Hood.