We begin with an early morning meeting at Granny's between our cadre of major characters, all wondering how in the hell it is that Rumplestiltskin is alive. Hook mentions that back in the Enchanted Forest, Neal had been searching for a way to bring his father back, hoping that his father could help him return to Emma and Henry. How Hook knows this, I don't know, since he rode off before Neal had that conversation with Belle a few episodes ago. Screw continuity, on with the show!
Emma reminds him that no one has seen Neal - it's possible he's even a flying monkey. Regina wants another crack at the farmhouse - it's possible there's something magical there that can help them. They all agree to reconvene later.
Over on the hill above Storybrooke (there's a hill above Storybrooke?) Zelena tries to summon The Dark One with his dagger - unsuccessfully. The Dark One has somehow broken free from the dagger's power so she sends a monkey after him. Cue Rumple running through the forest.
Emma lets Belle know that Rumple is alive, and sets Belle looking for a clue within the shop. Hook gallantly offers to stay behind with Belle to protect her in case the witch pays a visit and Belle reminds him that he's previously tried to kill her. Twice.
"Sorry?" he says with a sheepish grin, and Belle magnanimously chooses to accept that apology. Then again, being threatened at gunpoint wasn't so awful for her, as I recall.
Emma and David head off to the woods after David orders Snow home to rest her baby-hauling body.
Flashback to a year ago, and Belle is with Neal in Rumple's castle, desperately trying to find a way to resurrect Rumple. Neal holds up the crappy convenience store keychain necklace that used to be Emma's, and remarks that he's surprised it survived the trip. Belle tells him it did because it was "born out of true love." In a factory. In China. Whatever. Belle takes Neal up to the library and lights the candelabra only to have Lumiere come to life.
Forward to Belle and Hook in Gold's shop when suddenly, someone starts beating down the back door, which is blocked by boxes in a clear violation of fire code. The door flies open, and Neal faceplants on the floor in front of them, out cold.
Back at Granny's, Emma brings Henry some breakfast in their room and tells him she's going out. He brings her up short by letting her know that she's not fooling him. He knows this isn't a case she's working on. She asks him to trust her and promises she'll explain everything to him later.
She gets the call about Neal and rushes off to the hospital. He's awake now, but like the others, has no memory beyond her driving over the town line. He has no idea his father is still alive, either. Strangely, he's now bearing a weird scar that looks like the deathly hallows sign on his palm, and has no idea where it came from. Emma snaps a pic and sends it to Belle so she can research.
Emma asks to talk to him alone and lets him know that Henry has no memory of anything, including Neal. Neal is upset of course and gets even more so when Emma suggests that it might be better to leave Henry as he is - he was really, really happy in New York.
Flashback to Rumple's castle, and Lumiere lets Belle know that Rumple cursed him into the candelabra. He balks at helping them until Belle promises him that Rumple will restore him once he's freed. He directs them to a special book that has a hidden nook bearing a key to the vault of The Dark One, where the first Dark One was made. The key bears the exact same symbol that is burned into present-day Neal's hand. Lumiere agrees to guide them to the vault.
Once Neal and Belle exit the room we discover the Zelena planted Lumiere there, and she's orchestrating the whole thing.
Forward to Storybrooke, and Zelena the psycho midwife shows up at Snow's door with a bottle of orange juice and a sympathetic ear. Poor Snow is in a panic because she didn't feel the baby move, and as soon as she drinks the juice she gets a kick. Zelena reassures her with a terribly creepy smile that she's not going to let Snow have this baby without her.
Over at the farmhouse, meantime, Regina runs into Robin and nearly gets sliced by an arrow. They reintroduce themselves again, and Regina is fighting off some serious deja vu.
Meanwhile, at the hospital, Hook is bringing Neal some jello (in a nod to his deleted scene from season two) and the two share some bro time. Hook has been sent to keep Neal from running off to find his father. Neal asks him how it feels to be a hero and Hook asks how it feels to be a villain - in order to have brought his father back, Neal must surely have used "The darkest of magic."
Hook then surprises the hell out of Neal with an awkward hug, and reminisces about the boy he once looked after all those years ago.
Neal asks for his help (calling him Killian!) and Hook offers him a ten minute head start before he alerts the others.
Emma and David, meanwhile, are trudging through the woods and Emma lets David know that she's considering going back to New York when this is all over. They hear a cry and run for it, only to find Rumple, on his knees and babbling about voices in his head. A flying monkey shows up and Rumple runs off.
On the other side of town, Regina and Robin are searching the farmhouse. Robin is tossing compliments like they're confetti and it's intriguing Regina, who hasn't had any action since Graham bit the dust. He pours them both a drink, and when he hold it out to Regina, she sees his tattoo and rushes out the door.
Over in the woods, Emma is looking for Rumple, finds Neal instead. They agree to team up.
Flashback to Neal and Rumple, who have found the vault. Neal reaffirms that he would do anything, anything to help his family. They light Lumiere up and he directs them to the hatch-like door in the ground. Lumiere trips up, however, and Belle catches him in a lie. They demand the truth and he confesses that he's really working for the witch.
Zelena wants Rumple resurrected so that she can control him. Neal wants to go ahead with the plan anyway. If this will work, he doesn't care about the cost. He heads to the door, and puts the key in. It burns his hand (giving him the scar) and a viscous black fluid pours over the door, morphing (in some cool CGI) into Rumple.
Forward to the woods of Storybrooke, and Emma and Neal are catching up. She tells Neal she had a relationship, but since he was a flying monkey, it didn't go so good. Neal laughs, but then reminds her that he almost married a minion of his evil grandfather, Peter Pan, and its a beautiful and warm moment between them, very reminiscent of their early days together.
He tells her he wants her happy, even if it isn't with him. Gee, writers. Foreshadowing much?
Belle interrupts them with a call. She's done her research on Neal's scar and discovered he used the key to open the vault of The Dark One. The problem is, the price is a life. If Neal used the key, he should be dead. Emma looks over at him, startled, and Neal drops to the ground with a scream.
Next comes a disturbing face-morph montage, contorting his face and then his father's. Then we flash over to the Enchanted Forest, where Neal falls to the ground, mortally wounded as Rumple steps off the vault door. He grabs his dagger, and Zelena steps out to taunt him. He puts a protection spell on Neal, but for some reason he can't keep Neal alive and hold the dagger - it's too much.
He drops the dagger, folding Neal into himself, absorbing him, so that they're both sharing a body. Zelena picks up the dagger, surprised that he chose his son over it, and Rumple begins babbling like a loon - having a hard time processing the voices in his head. Zelena commands Rumple to kill Belle, but Lumiere grows some waxy balls and magically binds Zelena so they can get away.
Forward to Neal/Rumple and Emma, and Neal is begging her to use her magic and separate him from his father. Emma balks, knowing that this is how Neal is being kept alive, but he demands it - they need his father and The Dark One's magic more than they need him. "Save the town," Neal begs. "Save you and Henry."
Emma uses her magic, the CGI face-morphing gets weirder, and they're separated. Neal lives just long enough to say his goodbyes to Emma and his Dad. He gives her back the keychain necklace, telling her to find her Tallahassee. His last words are to Rumple:
"I love you, papa."
Emma and David kick down the door of the apartment (instead of opening it like normal human beings) looking for Zelena, who has already flown the coop. Emma calls Regina to get a protection spell around the apartment.
Back in the woods, Zelena pays a visit to Rumple, gloating as she stands over Neal's body. Rumple tells her he's informed them all of who she is and she's sunk. Zelena only gives him her special crazy-eyed smile and tells him it doesn't matter, as long as she has his beautiful braaaaiiiiinnnn.
Regina, on the other hand, is watching Robin play with Roland from afar, totally poleaxed that she's met her true love. Snow and David head to Gold's shop to tell Hook and Belle that Neal is dead, and Emma finds Henry in the park, where she tells him she came to Storybrooke for his Dad, who was in trouble. She lets him know his Dad is dead, but he died a hero.
I'll give this one five hooks out of five.
Some good Hook snark, a big death scene, crazy Zelena and Regina flummoxed by fate. Nice balance.