‘Once Upon a Time’ Recap (Season 1, Episode 19): Dealbreaker
This week on Once Upon a Time, Rumpelstiltskin breaks a deal for the last time.
August awakens in pain before going to meet Henry, with whom he’s cooked up plans. Henry will go in and distract Mr. Gold, while August snoops around in his office. But Gold catches August, who has to slink away in shame.
Meanwhile, everyone’s pleased to see Kathryn alive, most of all Mary Margaret, because it means she’s off the hook for murder (even though we’re still not quite sure what actually happened to Kathryn). Regina’s a bit less pleased, since she says Gold went back on their deal by not killing Kathryn. Gold assures her that he’s only ever gone back on one deal, and this isn’t it. Regina’s puzzled, because she thought Gold was working on her side. After all, wasn’t it he who gave her the curse that brought them to this world? Well, why did he do that?
Good question. The answer goes back to the time after Rumpelstiltskin had become the “Dark One”, but was still living with his son Baelfire. Bae fears his father and hates his magic power, even though he’s used it in some cases for good–for instance, bringing all the children back from the fromt lines of the Ogre wars. Still, Bae thinks the magic is bad and wants it gone, but he knows that the only way to lift the mantle of the Dark One would be to kill his father with the magic knife. Still, Bae wants to find another way to get rid of the Dark One’s power, and Rumpel, wanting the best for hsi son, agrees that if Bae can find a way, he’ll do it. The deal is struck. Oh boy. I can see where this is going.
Since finding August snooping around his office, Gold’s become suspicious and he’s asking around. First he crashes Mary Margarets “Hooray! You didn’t murder anyone!” party to ask Emma, and then he sneaks into August’s hotel room for good measure. To his horror, he finds a drawing of the magical knife of the Datk One. Gold follows August around, and sees that he goes to the Mother Superior of the local vaguely non-denominational nuns. Gold pressures her into divulging what she talked with August about–appparently August has come to town looking for his father after a long separation.
Meanwhile, Emma meets with Sidney to confront him about his betrayal. Realizing Sidney is in love with Regina, she gives him an ultimatum: join her in taking Regina down, or go down with her. At the same time, David confronts Mary Margaret on the street to beg forgiveness for falling for Regina’s trick and doubting her innocence. Mary Margaret gives a speech about how they can never be together, because that’s her favorite thing to do.
Back in the Enchanted Forest, Bae is worried that his father is getting worse–he’s killed another one of their maids after she overheard them talking about the knife. From one of his friends, Bae learns of the existence of the Blue Fairy. Bae summons her and begs for a solution. She tells him that the magic of the Dark One cannot be removed from Rumpelstiltskin, except by traveling to a world without magic. She gives him a magic bean–the last of its kind–that will open a portal to that world.
In Storybrooke, Mr. Gold goes to see Dr. Hopper looking for advice. He thinks August is his son, come back to kill him in revenge for a previous wrong that he’s spent his whole life trying to fix. Hopper advises him to be honest with his son, which Gold admits is hard for him. When Gold finally encounters August in the woods, he tells him “I know who you are,” and August calls him “papa.”
In flashback, when Bae tells his father about the world without magic, Rumpel is hesitant, but agrees that he cannot back out of his deal. However, when Bae plants the bean, creating the vortex-like portal, Rumpel chickens out and won’t go. Bael gets sucked into the vortex and it dissipates, leaving Rumpel behind. Immediately he regrets it and wants to go through, but it’s too late. The Blue Fairy tells him there’s no way to follow… except for a certain curse. Rumpel devotes himself to learning how to perform that curse so that he can reclaim his son.
In the present, August and Gold have a tearful father-son reunion, and Gold decides that August should destroy the knife. When Gold shows August where the knife is buried, August digs it up and then uses it to attempt to command the power of the Dark One. “You’re not my son!” Gold says. Because the real Bae would realize that the magic of the knife doesn’t work here… that’s the entire friggin’ point! Apparently August is just a terminally ill person looking for a magical cure, who heard about the Dark One’s power from the Blue Fairy. Gold considers killing him, but doesn’t bother, since he’s going to die anyway.
The next morning when Emma arrives at the police station, she finds that Sidney is taking the fall for Kathryn’s abduction and the subsequent frame job. Emma once again vows to take Regina down, and much like Rumplestiltskin, she says she will take her son back.
The ending had a bit of anticlimax to it, with the apparent big emotional reunion between Rumpelstiltskin and his son being naught but a sham. But at the same time, it was a fairly well executed swerve away from the obvious, and leaves some interesting questions about August’s true identity up in the air for the coming weeks.
Plus, regardless of the fact that August isn’t Bae, the background we got on Rumpelstiltskin will stick. With each Rumpelstiltskin-centered episode, we come slightly closer to a full picture of his motivation. Now we know why he never breaks a deal, and we also know why he provided Regina with the curse. We even know why he doesn’t like the nuns. But still, there’s much about Gold’s current plans that we don’t yet understand–Is he plotting to keep the curse intact, or to break it? He remains a wild card.
Overall, as is typical of Jane Espenson’s episodes, and her Rumpelstiltskin episodes in particular, this was one of the show’s stronger episodes, even if it did continue the obnoxious floundering of Mary Margaret and David’s relationship. Hopefully the new revelations–-and Emma’s new focus on defeating Regina–-will give the series additional momentum as we head toward the season finale.
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