Caution: This review contains spoilers.
“Quiet Minds” was a Baelfire (Michael Raymond-James) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin) centered episode tonight on “Once Upon a Time”, bringing answers to some questions. How was Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) brought back? Where is Neal in Storybrooke? Why is Rumple a bit mad?
The episode begins with Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and the others laying out a plan of action to find Rumple to see if he can reveal the identity of the Wicked Witch (Rebecca Mader). They inform Belle of the developments, knowing that an escaped Rumple would probably seek her out for safety.
Meanwhile, Regina (Lana Parrilla) heads back to the Witch’s house in search of clues, an investigation in which Robin Hood (Sean McGuire) insists on laying a hand. The chemistry between the two characters is great and immediate, making one wonder just how close they became during the missing year. Regina becomes alarmed when she sees the tatoo on Robin’s wrist, realizing that he is her second chance at love, as foretold by Tinkerbell (Rose McIver, who has yet to emerge in this second half of season three).
Back in the missing year (Fairy Tale Land), Belle and Neal seek answers at the library in the Dark Castle. They receive help from Lumiere, the candlestick (yes, a hats off to “Beauty and the Beast”) who instructs them to find the key for the Vault of the Dark One. Unfortunately, Lumiere is caught in a lie by Belle and reveals that he was put in his waxen state by the Wicked Witch. Belle does not wish for Rumple to become a slave to the Wicked Witch, but a reckless Neal insists his father will find a loophole somewhere. Neal inserts the key, willing to pay the price to return to Emma and Henry.
In Storybrooke, Emma and Charming (Josh Dallas) find Rumple in the woods, where he is screaming about too many voices. Zelena sends a flying monkey after Rumple because for some reason, she is unable to summon him with the dagger. Rumple runs away from everyone.
Belle and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) are gathering some books when they are interrupted by Baelfire’s entrance. Neal eventually finds Emma to help her look for his dad. He collapses in agony, which coincides with Belle’s revelation to Emma over the phone: the price for resurrecting the Dark One is your life!
It’s an interesting twist, made even more exhilarating as the scene cuts back and forth to Rumple’s revival. Admittedly the CGI is sometimes weak on OUAT, but the effects were quite good here with Rumple emerging from the black gel-like substance. This reunion is not happy, as Neal lays dying. Additionally, the Wicked Witch has arrived, trying to take the dagger from Rumple.
Rumple cannot hold both the dagger and his son, so he relinquishes his grip on the dagger in order to merge bodies with Neal. (Thankfully, show writers did not make Neal out to be another flying monkey!) The price he pays is his madness. The Wicked Witch wastes no time in using her control over Rumple, ordering him to kill Belle; her first order of business is thwarted by Lumiere and Belle is able to escape.
In Storybrooke, Neal begs Emma to use magic to separate him from his father so they will be able to stop the Wicked Witch. His decision to employ magic in this case is altruistic, in a direct contrast to his selfishness in FTL. Reluctantly, she obeys and they exchange tearful goodbyes. Rumple reveals that the Witch is Zelena, sending Emma and Charming back to Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin).
Neal’s sacrifice seems to spur Emma out of her phase of keeping Henry (Jared Gilmore) in a bubble: their happy life in New York. She tells Henry that his father is dead and that he was a good man. It remains to be seen whether she will try to get Henry’s memories back. As Rumple’s grandson and Emma’s son, Henry’s potential with magic could be substantial. He could be of great help in the battle against the Wicked Witch, who appears to be giving Regina a hard time in next week’s showdown.
The dagger of the Dark One did not work in the beginning of the episode because Neal’s resurfacing protected Rumple. Unfortunately, the control is back, with Zelena putting Rumple back in his cell. There is hope for Rumple: he chose his adult son over the dagger without hesitation. He has no desire to help Zelena and Belle is still out there to fight for him. From previous seasons, a reunion between Belle and Rumple will probably have to wait a while, but true love has a chance to prevail.
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sunday evenings on ABC at 8|9c.