‘Once Upon a Time’ recap: A spotlight on Emma Swan’s past

"Once Upon a Time's" Neal and Emma try to get out of a ticket shortly after meeting.

It felt as though “Tallahassee” was one of the few (only?) episodes of “Once Upon a Time” that concentrated on one group, spotlighting only one character in flashback mode. Yes, this was Emma’s time to shine -- and we finally get a look at who Henry’s father is, in the personage of the thieving Mr. Neal Cassidy.

First, back to the enchanted forest. Snow White, Aurora, Mulan and Emma argue briefly about who will go up the beanstalk with Captain Hook to face the giant and get the magic compass. You know, the magic compass that’ll let them choose dimensions (like Storybrooke) whenever they find a dimension opener of some sort. Emma wins, slyly tells Mulan to chop the beanstalk down if she doesn’t return in 10 hours, and begins the crazy climb.

Back in past Portland, we see an earlier Emma Swan: black glasses, plaid skirt, ponytail, leather jacket ... and a slim jim. She’s stealing a car, which we know as her own yellow VW bug later. Turns out, she was stealing a stolen car, and the original car thief was still in the car. Neal. Neal Cassidy ... nice to meet you. They hit it off pretty well.

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Back to the enchanted beanstalk: Interestingly, Hook seems to be trying to analyze Emma as they continue to climb toward the giant and the compass that he’s guarding. She doesn’t seem to trust Hook -- and that’s probably good. When they reach the top, though, they conspire to knock out the giant with a powder Mulan gave them. It works, and the giant, Jorge Garcia from “Lost,” is out like a light.

Back in the real world, in the past, Emma and Neal have been getting along very well, running cons and stealing anything not nailed down. Neal’s past catches up with him, though, and he sees his face on a wanted poster in the post office. They may need to leave the country, instead of fleeing to the randomly chosen Tallahassee, so one last caper. Emma must grab some watches, pre-stolen by Neal, from a locker. She gets them, and Neal is about to fence them for running-away cash when a face from the past stops him.

Back in the giant’s treasure room, Emma and Hook haven’t found the compass, but the giant has awakened. After burying Hook under some debris, the giant turns to Emma. After outmanuevering and trapping him, Emma sees that he’s not such a bad guy. As a matter of fact, after she gets the compass from the giant, she enlists him to help her get a head start on Hook. See? Didn’t think she trusted him.

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And this could be where the trust issues stem from. Neal, her new love, is stopped by none other than August, or Pinocchio. He’s been searching for/keeping an eye on Emma her whole life, and doesn’t think that her hooking up with a thief on the run is a good idea. She has a destiny. In order to convince Neal, August shows him something inside of a case. WHAT IS THIS THING? This will be on my mind for a while. Anyway, August was able to persuade Neal to double-cross Emma for her own good. Not sure if he knew that she was pregnant as she spent 11 months in prison.

Back at the bottom of the beanstalk, Show White and Mulan came to blows over Mulan following Emma’s orders to chop down the beanstalk if she wasn’t back in time. Snow wasn’t having it! Emma does return, though, and they resume their journey. Also, while waiting for Emma, it came to light that Aurora was having nightmares about a red room with curtains on fire, and a figure looking at her from across the room.

Neal received a postcard from Storybrooke, meaning that August must’ve contacted him. So, Henry’s dad will be returning. And speaking of Henry ... the last scene we see is him waking from a nightmare similar to that of Aurora’s. He tells Charming that there was a red room, curtains on fire, and a figure watching him from across the room. Mysterious ... and spooky. Jane Eyre? H.G. Wells? Who knows?

< Previous recap: ‘The Doctor’ | Next recap: ‘Child of the Moon’ >


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