‘Once Upon a Time’: Fathers and sons are reunited in ‘Manhattan’

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The “Manhattan” episode of “Once Upon a Time” answers a lot of lingering questions: Who’s Henry’s father? What will happen when Rumpelstiltskin reunites with his son? Who is Rumpelstiltskin’s son? How did Mr. Gold get his limp? What was in the box August showed to Neil? All pressing queries that the creators could’ve dangled for years, but they didn’t. We get to see the answers, and, of course, we get to form lots more questions. As is often the case, we start in the past.

Years ago, Rumpelstiltskin is out to prove that he’s not the coward his father was, so he’s happy that he’s been called to the front lines of the war. His wife is not so happy but knows it’s best.

In present-day Storybrooke, Cora comforts Regina, who is a bit distraught over Emma and Rumpel taking Henry to Manhattan. Hook is upset as well, because he is again being denied the chance to kill Rumpelstiltskin. Cora, she of the calming voice, assures him that he will get his chance as they search for Rumpel’s dagger.


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Back in present-day Manhattan, Rumpel, Emma and Henry have reached Baelfire’s apartment. Rumpel’s kid runs, which he’s apparently been doing all of his life, but Emma, being the great bailbondswoman that she is, catches him. And ... it’s Neil! The guy she grunged out with in Portland, Ore., 11 years earlier. The guy who double-crossed her, who broke her heart and who let her go to prison for his crime. The guy who got her pregnant. Yep ... Henry’s father.

In a bar meeting, Neil/Baelfire tells Emma that he did not intentionally meet her years earlier but that “there are no coincidences.” Emma is obviously mad that he knew/found out who she was and doesn’t tell him about Henry. Bael didn’t know initially, though. And so, the mystery of the box that he looked in earlier is revealed ... August/Pinocchio simply wrote out “I know you’re Baelfire” on his typewriter. No profound mystical object. Just a typed truth.

In the past, Rumpelstiltskin, as he prepares for battle, finds a seer. A little girl with her eye sockets sewn shut but with eyeballs peering out of the palms of her hands a la “Pan’s Labyrinth.” The freaky seer tells Rumpel that he’s going to be a father but that his actions on the battlefield will leave his son “fatherless.” With predictions of riding cows out to battle, Rumpel, though shaken, doesn’t take her completely seriously.

Back to Manhattan. Emma, freaking out, calls to tell Snow White of her dilemma. She was trying to protect Henry and never thought she’d see Baelfire again, so she told him that his dad was a firefighter and was killed. Snow tells Emma that she’ll have to tell Henry that his father is alive. Simple as that.

Rumpel and Henry are bonding a bit as they wait for Emma to get back. Mr. Gold buys his grandson (unbeknownst to him yet) a hot dog, and later they sit and talked. Henry knows that Rumpel is supposed to be able to see the future and wonders why he doesn’t use it more often. Rumpelstiltskin explains to Henry that the power of divination is not all it’s cracked up to be. When Emma returns, she lies and says that Baelfire eluded her.


Back in Storybrooke, Regina pays a visit to Belle. Belle still remembers nothing, but Regina doesn’t care. Using magic willy-nilly, she finds a clue in Belle’s belongings. Hook, Regina and Cora find a map in the library that seems to lead to Rumpelstiltskin’s dagger — the only way to kill him. Good thing Hook reads maps and is very adept at “finding buried treasure.”

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In the past, some of the seer’s predictions are coming true (riding to battle on cows — just a clever way to say saddled). So Rumpel, not wanting to die on the battlefield and leave his child fatherless, decides to injure himself in order to be sent home to his wife and son. He does get sent home, but everyone knows that it was a ploy. The coward tag follows him anyway.

In the present, Hook deciphers the map only to be cast aside by Cora and Regina. They will find the dagger on their own and use it to control Rumpelstiltskin and make him kill their enemies. (Do you really think Hook just gave up the location like that? Me neither.)

In Manhattan, Rumpel decides to check out Bael’s apartment, over Emma’s objections. They argue, and as it begins to get heated, Bael steps in to defend Emma. Henry hears the fighting and comes to see what the commotion is. Bael then figures out that Henry is his son. Henry is dumbfounded and tells Emma that she is just like Regina for lying to him. Ouch.

While mother and son work that out, Bael gives Rumpel three minutes to explain himself and make his pitch. Rumpel is heartfelt and all, but Bael is not budging. As the conversation closes, Bael says he never got any closure, so why should Rumpel. He leaves Rumpel standing there and goes to talk to his new son.


As Rumpel watches, we look back to after he has become a dark magic master. He finds the seer and forces her to tell him his future, and especially about Baelfire. He hears about the curse, his son, Regina, Emma — and the fact that a little boy will lead him to his son, but that little boy will be his “undoing.” This was part of the plan all along, and now Henry is in danger.

A small but important side note: Mr. Mendel, the car accident victim who was rendered unconscious, will be staying in Storybrooke a bit longer. He could never get the image of Rumpelstiltskin using magic out of his head. But now he has proof of the magic: Unbeknownst to her, Mendel videotapes Regina using magic, albeit tame magic, to rifle through Belle’s things in the hospital. Will it go viral?

<< Previous: ‘Tiny’ | Next recap: ‘The Queen is Dead’ >


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