At some point in each parents life there comes a time when you have to let go and trust your child. While I personally fear that moment, as distant as it may now be, I too will one day have to let my own kid spread his wings and fly. In that moment all you can do is hope you’ve done your best and equipped your child with the skills he or she will need out there in the world. But even more than that I imagine every parent hopes that their child will return.
As a parent, being too over-protective can back fire, as Rumplestiltskin learned the hard way. In some key flashbacks all of Rumple’s misguided parenting is brought to light along with his “nasty habits” (this episode’s namesake) of putting himself first. His son Baelfire is the apple of his father’s eye, his most precious possession, and therein lies the problem, people cannot be possessions. Practically kept under lock and key, confined to his own home lacking the social elements most other boys his age enjoyed, Baelfire felt isolated.
It’s no wonder Peter Pan — who seems to double as the pied piper in this episode — is able to entice Baelfire away. Baelfire is among the first group of Pan’s lost boys. In fact it’s in this episode we discover the origin of the lost boys and how Pan came up with their name. I thought it was very clever writing, executed in a whimsically believable way.
All Baelfire wanted was to be treated with a modicum of respect, if Rumple had asked him to come home instead of joining Pan’s new group his son would have acquiesced. Instead employing his “father knows best” philosophy, Rumple forced the issue with magic and created the very situation he feared most by pushing his son away. Time and again Rumple has lost his son and this time it’s come full circle.
Redemption is all Rumple can hope for now, he’s finally willing to sacrifice himself for Henry in one last attempt to make things right with his (supposedly dead) son. It’s hard to believe that the Dark One has turned over a new leaf, but grief makes people do funny things, so I’m a believer. Unfortunately, all that flew out the window the moment Rumple discovered his son is still alive. Now I’m not so sure Rumple is still willing to die for Henry, after all it isn’t Henry he loves, but his own son Baelfire. Despite Rumple’s assurances that he’s changed, Baelfire only knows the man his father has proven to be time and again. With that in mind Baelfire, who’s made it very clear that he is “Neal” now, leaves his dad behind no longer trusting his son Henry with Rumple.
It’s befitting of Peter Pan’s nature to know exactly what to say to break up the ardent father and son team. Had it not been for Pan’s manipulation it’s possible Rumple and Neal would have successfully rescued Henry and perhaps even begun to patch up their relationship. Seeing such potential made their failure seem ten times worse.
Robert Carlyle gives an excellent performance in this father-son episode, he pulls the humanity out of a very dark character and gives us someone to sympathize with. His talent’s are front and center, this is his episode to shine and show the world who Rumple really is.
My biggest gripe in this episode is with Emma Swan. What few minutes she spent on screen left me with a few questions. Where did our strong kick ass leader go? And why replace her with a teary-eyed, over-emotional girl? Maybe it was to illustrate that every person, no matter their strength, has a breaking point and for her it’s a combination of simultaneously losing Neal and potentially losing Henry.
Some may call this episode boring because the pace isn’t as fast as Once Upon A Time viewers are accustomed to. However there was never a dull moment despite the sedentary pace, this episode was a close examination of the personal ties we create and break. I was entertained throughout and found the direction it took enlightening as a fan.
Aurora Snow Says: