What a shocker of an ending, wasn't it? Just at the moment when Rumple crosses out of Storybrooke, when he is finally free to fulfill his quest to find Baelfire, life takes a terrible turn.
Spared by Rumple on Belle's urging, Hook ambushes the couple and Belle as soon as Rumple crosses the town line. Taking aim, he shoots Belle using Rumple's gun and she falls into his arms, but on the other side of the town line. She has no recollection of who she is, who he is. As Rumple holds the bleeding and dazed Belle, he is horrified and frantic. Hook has stripped from Rumple the one thing he has left.
Before anyone has a chance to react (and Rumple can take murderous revenge for the terrible cruelty of the act), a car with Pennsylvania plates comes barreling into Storybrooke. Rumple pulls Belle out of the way, but the car hits Hook.
Who is the stranger? We'll have to wait until next week to find out. To me, an even larger question is what will Rumple do now? Will he go out and find Baelfire as he has hoped to do for centuries? Or will he stay in Storybrooke with Belle? Can he leave her, injured, with no memory of even herself? I have to imagine that Rumple will stay with her and once again put his pursuit of Baelfire on hold.
Next week's episode looks awesome from the preview. And written by the equally awesome Jane Espenson, I have no doubt it will be. And next Monday the night after her next episode airs, Jane will be my guest on Let's Talk TV Live.
Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights on ABC.