Once Upon a Time recap: Father and Child Reunion

Once throws a curveball by revealing the identity of Rumpelstitlskin's long-lost son. (Hint: He's exactly who you think he is)
Ep. 14 | Aired Feb 17, 2013

OH, BAE-BY That little bundle of joy will one day become a dreamcatcher-hoarding car thief. They grow up so fast...

Jack Rowland/ABC

After a Simba/Nala-esque "what am I doing here? What are YOU doing here?!" exchange, the pair head to a bar, where Neal -- whom I'm just going to call Baelfire from here on in -- tells Emma that he learned the truth about her parentage only when August showed him the contents of that box we first saw way back in "Tallahassee": a piece of paper that read, "I know you're Baelfire." How did Pinoch know Bae's true identity? Why did he write that info down instead of just, you know, saying it out loud? (Obvious answer: because "Tallahassee" didn't air during February sweeps.) We don't know -- but we do know that an emotionally bruised Emma wants to go back to Rumpelstiltskin and pretend like none of this ever happened.

And at first, that's precisely what Ms. Swan does. When she returns to the apartment building, she simply tells Rump that she lost track of his son. But the Dark One hasn't come all the way to the Big Apple just to give up on his decades-long quest. He breaks into Bae's apartment, then grows suspicious of Emma when she seems to linger a little too long over a dreamcatcher she finds hanging in the man's window.

Rumpelstiltskin tells the ex-bounty hunter that he knows she's hiding something, then starts threatening her for breaking the deal they've made -- and is stopped from hurting Emma bodily only when Bae finally shows up, demanding that his father leave the poor lady alone. Which is really too bad, since I'm curious which of these two would win in hand-to-hand combat.

Meanwhile: After learning the truth about the "cows," Past Rump despairs that he will die in battle, thus leaving his unborn child fatherless. (Too bad dude isn't familiar with the story of Croesus and the Oracle of Delphi.) He sees only one way out of this predicament: punching the side of a wagon like it's a rogue toilet seat cover dispenser, then lifting up a hammer and slamming it down on his own leg so that he's too lame to fight. Thomas Barrow, you've officially been seen and raised.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Rumpelstiltskin isn't too pleased by her husband's bloody sacrifice. When he finally arrives home, Milah acts cold, even when Rumpel expresses his enthusiasm about their newborn son -- then tells her husband that dying would have been better than leaving poor Baelfire to be raised by a dishonorable coward. Next stop for Milah: Smelly pirate hooker junction.

Back in the present day, Rumpelstiltskin is delighted to discover that Bae has come back for him. But not so fast -- the prodigal son says he's returned only because he didn't want his father to hurt Emma, since he's seen what the Dark One does to people who break deals... let alone those whose donkey carts happen to be standing in inopportune spots. Then Henry decides to emerge at precisely that moment, effectively ruining and complicating everything (as is his wont).

NEXT: Father of mine/tell me where have you been?

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