We open in a familiar HOVEL in FAIRY TALE LAND, where Rumple's wife MILAH sews. RUMPLESTILTSKIN, still an ordinary man, rushes in and excitedly tells Milah that he's been called to the Ogres-war. Milah is frightened for him, and if it wasn't clear already our story has gone back to a point in Rumple's history when he and Milah are still in love (and also before Bae is born). Rumple tells Milah that, while the front lines will be dangerous, this is his chance to prove to everyone that he's not a coward like his father. Milah knows this is something Rumple needs to do, and tells him to fight bravely. When he returns they can have the life and the family they always dreamed of.
We leap to present day NEW YORK CITY, on a street, as a CAB pulls up and out steps... MR. GOLD, followed by EMMA and HENRY. As they gaze at an APARTMENT BUILDING, Emma asks Gold if this is the place. Gold assures her it is. After Gold confirms that Bae isn't expecting them, Emma: "Well, who doesn't love a surprise?" As they head toward the building, and Gold's long-lost son, we go to -
STORYBROOKE, in Regina's house, where CORA comforts a morose REGINA, who is despondent that Emma has taken Henry away to New York with Gold. Regina says that even once they return, Henry will be Emma's, not hers. HOOK appears in a nearby doorway. He's interested in the part about Gold being outside of Storybrooke: if that's true, he's powerless, and can be killed. Hook wants his vengeance, and aims to find out where Gold has gone, but Cora stops him short by convincing him to help her and Regina find the enchanted DAGGER that can kill Rumplestiltskin. From an intrigued Hook, we travel to -
-- New York City, in the LOBBY of the APARTMENT BUILDING where Baelfire is staying. Gold, Emma and Henry check the names on the buzzer system, but Baelfire isn't listed, and none of the other names present a recognizable alias. Emma notices that one of the apartments has no name listed, and her bail bondswoman instincts kick in. "Here's your boy." Gold suggests it could just be vacant, but after reminding him that her specialty is finding people who don't want to be found, she buzzes the apartment and hears a pick-up. She says "U.P.S.," telling whoever is listening that she's got a package for 407. After a short moment Emma and Gold hear noises of someone on a fire escape, and Emma instantly knows, "He's running." The group exits the lobby onto the street just in time to see a man wearing a hoodie leaping down from the fire escape and then taking off running. Gold, desperate, tells Emma the favor she owed him is to bring his son back to him so they can talk. Emma, reluctant but eager to be out from under her debt to Gold, tells him to watch Henry and then starts running after the mystery man. The foot-chase weaves through traffic, down side streets, but Emma cuts the man off and TACKLES him, with both of them hitting the ground. When they look up at each other, both are floored to see... the man is NEAL CASSIDY! In EP 207 he was revealed to be Emma's past love, and (unbeknownst to him) Henry's father. He wants to know what she's doing there, but Emma quickly shuts him down. She's not answering his questions until she finds out why he played her. Neal seems confused until Emma asks him if he's Rumplestiltskin's son. It's clear that Bae's past has come rushing back to him. He's instantly upset, demanding to know why Emma brought his father here. But Emma yells at Neal that she's the only one who has a right to be angry. She hits him with a barrage of questions: Did he know where she was from, was he playing her the whole time - But Neal cuts her off, telling her they need to get off the street. "I spent a lifetime running from that man, I'm not going to let him catch me." Neal suggests they go to a bar down the street, and pushes through Emma's reluctance by assuring her she can keep yelling at him once they get there. He starts off toward the bar, and Emma, at a loss, follows.
Back with Gold and Henry in front of Neal's building, Henry reassures Gold that his mom will find Bae. Gold says his son has been running a long time, he's probably good at it. Henry reminds him that at least he found him, which Gold agrees with. Gold tells Henry that none of this could have happened without him, adding, "You are a remarkable young man." Henry tells Gold that he forgave Emma for giving him up for adoption, and he's sure Bae will forgive him, too. Even if the circumstances of how they were separated were, as Gold puts it, "not as noble," Henry tells him that he's here now and wants to connect with his son. That's what matters. Off Gold, optimism creeping up on him...
In a BAR, Neal tells Emma to ask him anything she wants. Emma asks if he knew who she was when they met, and Neal says no. If he had he wouldn't have gone anywhere near her. Emma can't believe that mere coincidence could have brought them together, and Neal tells her that maybe it was fate, adding that, while he doesn't have many good memories of his dad, he does remember how he used to tell him that there are no coincidences. Fate, destiny, whatever it's called, maybe their meeting happened for a reason, and something good came of it. Emma, emotional, tells him, "No. Not that I can think of." She went to jail. But it doesn't matter. She's over it. And him. Neal points out the necklace she's wearing, that has the familiar SWAN from the keychain he gave her hanging on it. But Emma just snaps it off her neck and lays it on the bar in front of him, telling Neal that she kept it as a reminder not to trust anyone again. With that, Emma tells Neal to come on, she made a deal with his dad to bring him back to talk. Neal, incredulous, "You made a deal with him?" She did, and she's going to uphold it. Neal tells her to just tell Gold she lost him. That way she'll get what she wants; she'll never have to see him again. Off Emma, suddenly torn -
We travel to Fairy Tale Land, to the snowy CAMP of an army. Rumple, clad in the soldiers' uniform of leather armor and a dark cloak, is told by his SARGEANT to guard a nearby covered crate with his life. Rumple: "What's in there?" The sergeant tells him it's something that can help turn the tide against the ogres, but warns Rumple to be careful, as it's also "a tricky beast." Rumple stands guard over the crate when he hears a voice from inside the crate say "Rumplestiltskin." Rumple's curiosity gets the better of him, and he lifts the tarp covering the crate to reveal... a GIRL, but with ghastly stitches where her eyes should be. She asks an amazed Rumple for some water. He asks how she knew his name, and she tells him she's a SEER, revealing to him that she has a set of EYES ON THE PALM OF HER HANDS! He doubts her claim that she can "see all." She heard his name from one of the other soldiers. But she adds that she knows his father was a coward, spinsters raised him, and that he's afraid of being a coward, too. Rumple is floored by what he (and we) know is all true. She tells Rumple she can also see the future, and Rumple, tempted, stops her. He wants no part of this dark magic. The seer: "Even if what I see concerns your wife? Milah?" Rumple looks stricken. This is his weakness. He asks her if something happens to Milah, now quickly meeting the seer's request for water by pulling a cup from a nearby bucket. The seer tells an impatient Rumple that his wife is already with child. Rumple is thrilled that he's going to be a father, until she adds that, while his wife will bear him a son, Rumple's actions on the battlefield will leave the boy fatherless. Rumple, terrified: "I'm going to die?" At first Rumple wants her to tell him how to stop it, which she tells him he can't. Taking away her water, Rumple accuses her of lying. Milah isn't pregnant. She's just trying to get him to desert. But the seer offers one more bit of prognostication. She tells him that tomorrow, when the soldiers go into battle on cows, he will know she's telling the truth. Rumple finds this ludicrous, of course. She repeats her terrible prediction of he and his son's fate, before Rumple angrily throws the tarp down, covering the crate and the seer's terrible prediction with it.
We intercut between MARY MARGARET in her and Emma's apartment (with DAVID nearby), and Emma, on a street corner in New York... Mary Margaret: " Wait, Gold's son is Henry's father?" Emma says she understands MM has a million questions, and in a moment that reminds us that this is a vulnerable daughter asking her mom for advice, Emma asks her what to do. Mary Margaret gets that Emma is calling her to tell her it's okay not to tell Henry that Neal is his dad, but she won't acquiesce. The truth about her parents? Emma of all people should know how important that is. A tearful Emma says she just wants to protect Henry. MM gently asks her if she's sure it's not herself she's protecting.
In the LOBBY of Bae's NYC apartment, an inquisitive Henry asks Gold why he seems so nervous; when he met his mom he was excited. Gold tells him he has the benefit of experience, and knows that things don't always work out how you want them to. Henry tells Gold the story book said he could see the future. Gold says that ability is complicated. "Seeing the inevitable can be a terrible price," he tells Henry, adding, "The future is never what you think." Emma suddenly enters the lobby. It's clear she's made her choice when she tells Gold and Henry that she failed. Bae escaped.
Meanwhile, in the STORYBROOKE HOSPITAL, BELLE lies in bed, watching TV, as Regina enters. Belle asks who she is. Regina realizes it's true; Belle really has lost her memories (from Hook shooting her and her crossing the town line in EP 211). Regina asks her about Gold, but finding Belle unhelpful, waves her hand and puts Belle to sleep. Regina uses magic to open Belle's purse, revealing a card with a number on it... 915.63. Regina has a thought that takes us to...
The STORYBROOKE LIBRARY. Regina tells an accompanying Cora and Hook that she knows Gold wouldn't have simply hid his dagger in his shop or home. He wouldn't have crossed the town line and risked losing his memories without entrusting the dagger's location to someone. Hook: "Belle." Regina presumes Belle hid it in one of her books, and Cora congratulates Regina on her cunning. Cora and Regina uncover a seemingly inscrutable scroll, which the pirate Hook tells them may not be the dagger itself, but as a TREASURE MAP, it's the next best thing. Hook reminds mother and daughter that he's very adept at finding buried treasure.
Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, David and Mary Margaret try to unpack the implications of Gold/Rumplestiltskin being Henry's grandfather. David, summing up, "It's a good thing we don't have Thanksgiving in our land, because that dinner would suck." MM, for her part, hopes that this newly revealed family tree might mellow everyone out.
In NYC, in the lobby of Bae's apartment building, Gold presses every buzzer, finally gaining entry. Upstairs, outside of Neal's apartment, despite Emma's objections and with Henry's conspiratorial assistance, Gold breaks in to his son's apartment.
In Fairy Tale Land, at the CAMP, Rumplestiltskin and another soldier watch as the wounded from the war are carried past. The fellow soldier says they're lucky. Rumple says they'd beg to differ. The soldier reminds him that the wounded get sent home, and that's the only way out of there alive. The SARGEANT appears from a nearby tent, that fortune favors them; they won't be marching in to battle, they'll be riding. Rumple, caught off guard, asks what they'll be riding. The soldiers and sergeant laugh this off, and he tells Rumple they'll be riding horses, of course. "Now grab a cow!" Rumple, shocked, is told by the sergeant that ‘cows' are SADDLES of the finest leather. At least their ride into doom will be a soft one on their backside. Rumple, horrified to hear the seer's prediction come true and understanding the implications, tells his fellow soldier he'll catch up. "Oh no." He goes to the CRATE to confront the seer, but throws back the tarp to reveal... the seer is gone! A desperate Rumple notices a large blacksmith's HAMMER nearby. Making a fateful decision, Rumple takes up the hammer and strikes his own leg. This is the origin of his unmistakable limp. From Rumple's agony -
We go to BAE'S APARTMENT in New York, where Gold has picked the lock, and Emma and Henry follow him in to Bae's dwelling. As they all scan the place, Emma notices... the DREAM-CATCHER that she and Neal found in a hotel (In EP 206). Gold notices that Emma is transfixed by this, and accuses her of lying to him. Emma tells Henry to wait in the bathroom. Gold knows Emma's lying, and his fury rises at her until... NEAL/BAE enters, telling his father to leave Emma alone.
Back to Fairy Tale Land's past, where a newly hobbled Rumplestiltskin makes his way home to find... the seer was right, he has a newborn son. Milah tells him his name is Baelfire. From Rumple's proclamation that it's a strong name, Milah says the boy will need it to overcome the shame of being the son of a coward. She knows everything about Rumple's desertion, and we see, now, where the poison of Rumple's cowardice turned Milah away from him, as she leaves Rumple to care for newborn Bae. Rumple tells his newborn son he'll never leave him.
Back in NYC, where Neal is confronting Gold, while Emma watches on. Gold thinks his son came back for him, but Neal replies that he came back to make sure Gold didn't hurt Emma. Neal demands Gold leave, but after Emma refers to Neal by name and he tells her he's got this, Gold surmises they know each other, and demands they tell him how. Henry rushes in. Neal: "Who's this?" Neal quickly realizes that this is his son. Henry contradicts, telling Neal his dad was a fireman who died. But Emma's reaction lets them both know that Henry is Neal's son. Shocked at the revelation, Henry climbs out onto the fire escape, with Emma following. In the apartment, Gold tells Neal he has to talk to him. If he wants to release Emma from their deal, this is the way. Neal tells Gold he has three minutes.
We then jump to STORYBROOKE HOSPITAL, where GREG MENDELL is on the phone with the mysterious "her" that we've learned of before. He tells her he's going to be staying a while longer, offering footage he captured of Regina using magic to go through Belle's purse. Oh no. The outsider is way beyond ‘on to them,' and he's sharing it with someone else outside of Storybrooke!
Meanwhile, in the STORYBROOKE LIBRARY, Hook, Cora and Regina look over a map of Storybrooke, and Hook tells them he knows the precise location of the dagger. Cora takes the map, telling Hook they'll take it from here, and starts to leave. Hook tries to stop them, but Cora sends him flying with a burst of magic, telling him the dagger is much too powerful to be wasted on him. Regina, suddenly uncertain: "So... was this what it was all about?" Obtaining Rumple's dagger so that Cora could become the dark one? Cora tells Regina that she only wants the power so she can force Gold to kill their enemies and return Henry to Regina. Regina, satisfied, exits with her mother.
In NYC, on the BALCONY of Neal's apartment, Henry asks Emma why she didn't tell him that his dad was still alive. Emma tries to explain that it's because Neal is a criminal, but Henry doesn't care. He could have handled the truth. Henry is so upset that he tells Emma that she's like Regina; she was always lying to Henry, too. Emma is crushed. Henry tells her he wants to meet his dad.
Inside the apartment, Neal reminds Gold the clock's ticking. Gold tells his son he wants to make up for his mistakes, adding there's no worse pain than regret. Neal, solemn, "Try abandonment." Gold wants to make it up to him. He wants Neal to come back with him to Storybrooke, where he can turn back the clock and start their life over. But Neal is appalled that Gold would want to change him into a boy and erase his memories. Gold says he just wants another chance, adding that Bae once loved him. Neal says that's because Rumple was once a good man. Rumple says he can be that man again, begging Neal for another chance. Neal recounts how Rumple let him fall away through the portal, telling him he sees that image every night before he goes to sleep. Neal: "Now it's my turn. Now I'm letting you go." Gold apologizes, but Neal tells him his time's over, and leaves the room.
In FTL, in a clearing, Rumplestiltskin, now the Dark One, confronts the SEER, who is now a grown woman. He concedes to her that her predictions were true, but with menacing humor adds it would have been nice to know the pesky details. She tells him knowing would not have made a difference. He still would have been powerless to escape his fate. Rumple, giggling, says in that way she's just like him; suddenly using magic to choke her. She knows he came here because he wants to find his son. He stops choking her and she summons her powers to tell him... He will find his son, though it will take many years. She goes on to tell him about the CURSE, and that someone other than himself will enact it. The seer falters, telling Rumple that if he wants to know more he'll need to take her powers. He tells her he'd be happy to, takes her hands in his, and a bright energy is emitted as the seer (in agony) gives over her power to Rumple.
Back in New York, Emma come in from the fire escape and tells Neal that Henry wants to meet him. Neal gets that Emma wasn't going to tell him about Henry, and tells her that it's not just her decision anymore. Emma doesn't want Neal to hurt Henry, and Neal says he's going to do his best to make sure Henry won't have any further betrayals from him in his life. Neal goes out onto the fire escape. Henry: "So, you're my dad." Neal tells him he is, adding he's sorry it took so long to meet him. Henry tells him it's all right; he didn't know. Off this father and son reunited, we go back inside the apartment, where Emma watches on with trepidation.
Returning to FTL's past, Rumple has taken the seer's powers, but finds them overwhelming. It's too much. Rumple accuses her of planning this so she could bring an end to her torment. The seer offers him one last piece of the puzzle. He will find his son, but the BOY who helps him find Bae will also be his undoing. Rumple, unperturbed: "Then I'll just have to kill him."
And from that ominous declaration we travel back to NYC, where Gold looks out on Henry and Neal on the fire escape. We realize that the boy the seer was talking about? Yeah, that's Henry. Gold decided long ago that nothing would keep him from his son, whatever the cost. But will that cost include the death of his own grandson? Off this chilling prospect...