How can I commence this review without first saying “OMFG!”? Talk about your closely guarded secrets…er spoilers? I never saw it coming: that Once Upon a Time‘s Powers that Be would kill off Neal/Baelfire (Michael Raymond James) in this week’s episode “Quiet Minds.” But wait. Is he really, truly, and unmistakably dead (forgive the Oz reference)? Or could Zelena/Wicked Witch’s (Rebecca Mader) demise break whatever curse fused him in the first place with his father, the newly resurrected Rumplestilksin (Robert Carlyle)? Only time (and Zelena’s defeat) will tell.
“Quiet Minds” held my attention in a way that few Once Upon a Time episodes have this season (or last). I found myself anxiously waiting through commercials to find out the “what happens next.”
The “quiet minds” of the episode title refer to the multiple voices in poor Rumple’s head as we learn how he’d saved Neal from certain death in the Enchanted Forest by holding his consciousness within his own. But his act of love has a huge cost–the sacrifice of his dagger to Zelena. Neal is saved for the moment, but Rumple, tormented with two voices in his head, becomes Zelena’s slave.
But the predicament is fostered by Neal’s (perhaps reckless) desire to bring back his father from the dead, listening to the advice of an enchanted candelabra, Lumiere. Supposedly cursed by Rumple, the talking candelabra leads the Neal and Belle to the vault of the original Dark One, where Neal can use a magic key to resurrect his presumed-dead father.
Belle (Emilie de Ravin) pleads with him to think before he acts, reminding him of Rumple’s sacrifice–true sacrifice of himself for the good of others, and not to destroy that act. But Neal is desperate; all his family is gone: Henry, Emma, and now Rumple. He cares not a whit about the cost.
But Lumiere is not the product of Rumple’s dark magic, but Zelena’s, something that Belle realizes when she catches the French candelabra in a lie. But it’s too late; Neal has opened the vault–a virtual Pandora’s box. Neal’s life is forfeit (a detail Lumiere neglects to mention) and Rumple, now once again among the living, cannot imagine, nor allow his son to die in his arms. He cannot both hold onto Neal and his dagger, so given the choice, he relinquishes the dagger, and Zelena is only too happy to have it.
But where is Neal? Although his consciousness is now part of Rumple, his body has become an enslaved flying monkey. And perhaps, somehow, when Rumple breaks out of his prison cell, he is far enough removed from Zelena that Neal (or at least his body) is able to break free. Or something.
As Rumple flees through the forest, running from both Zelena and the torment in his mind, he encounters Emma. Neal realizes what has happened and what he must do: Rumple is too important to remain half crazed and fighting the voices. They must be quieted, which means Neal must end the spell and die. For only if Rumple’s mind is freed, will the good guys begin to figure out the identity of the Wicked Witch.
I have to say, Neal’s death scene brought tears to my eyes. It was a gorgeous moment for Neal and Emma, Neal and Rumple, and then all three of them as they share the grief and pain of loss, and the understanding of true sacrifice and heroism. Neal finally understands and acknowledges the good man are the core of his father, and their final moment is touching and very emotional.
It is heartbreaking to see the grieving and broken Rumple, dejectedly going back to his cell, his desire to do away with the Wicked Witch thwarted because he is under her control. But her victory is not complete over him, since he is free long enough to tell Emma that Zelena is the Wicked Witch.
But is it too late? And what is in that orange juice Snow White drinks? Zelena is seeking something that Rumple has sought for years, but has never gotten. Obviously it has something to do with Snow White’s baby–and something that transpires in the Enchanted Forest that we’ve yet to see. Hmmm.
I love the idea that Belle figures out both Lumiere’s lie and the location of The Dark One’s vault (in Storybrooke). She knows that Rumple built that library for her, and Lumiere’s insistence that he had been Rumple’s prisoner there for 200 years cannot possibly be true since the library was built only two years before the original curse had been invoked by the Evil Queen. So we also now have a timestamp on Rumple’s captivity and when the library came into existence.
Since last week, I’ve been trying to figure out which Once Upon a Time characters represent the characters we know and love (or hate) from The Wizard of Oz. Last week I speculated that Scarecrow is Rumple because he’s lost control of his mind. And Zelena confirms it because she tells him this week that she is quite in possession of his “beautiful brain.” Tada.
David is the Cowardly Lion, and although we’ve now seen any sign of cowardice, we do know that Zelena has his sword–the sigil for David’s courage. I believe that Henry is our Dorothy, because he continually desires only to go home and leave the surreal environment of Storybrooke, which has to represent for Henry a sort of Oz. But what, for Henry, is home? Is it New York? Or is it to be reunited with his family–including his father Neal? And I have to wonder if her demise will result in that reunion–and Neal’s return to the land of the living.
That brings us to the Great and Powerful Oz. Okay, so Regina says it herself: people know her as the “great and terrible Evil Queen.” Close enough. She’s the Wizard. Is it ultimately her mask that falls away to reveal her humanity? And is it her soul mate Robin Hood that ultimately unmasks her? Regina notes that fear has been an effective tool to maintain her power; something that she and the “great and powerful” (and quite scary) Wizard of Oz also has used.
But who is the Tinman in the remake of The Wizard of Oz? Who is missing a heart? I wonder if that would be Neal, whose heart, after all, has now stopped beating. We shall see.
Now it’s your turn. Leave your comments below, and if you’ll notice, I’ve placed a star rating system at the top of the article. Feel free to vote on this week’s Once Upon a Time episode, and be sure to tune in tomorrow night to Let’s Talk TV, where we will devote the final hour to Once Upon a Time talk.Follow @@B_Barnett
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