Tonight’s episode of “Once Upon A Time” sure gave readers a huge surprise! Finally, finally we get to meet Henry’s dad! It turns out that the mysterious man seen in the first episode of Season 2, “Broken”, is actually Henry’s father. Told in flashbacks, tonight’s episode showed Emma’s relationship with Henry’s father, and why she was left alone with Henry in the first place.
Eleven years before she came to Storybrooke, Emma lived in Portland, Oregon, and successfully managed to break in and start an abandoned car. Once she begins taking off in the car, she discovers the car’s owner in the back. After being pulled over by the police for running a stop light and successfully getting away with only a warning, Emma realizes that the “owner” of the car, who introduces himself as Neil Cassidy, is not the legal owner of the car. Together, Emma and Neil embark on a cross-country journey, robbing convenience stores for food and crashing in motels when they have an opportunity. It isn’t long before the two fall in love, and Neil gives Emma the option to pick the city where they will live together. Emma closes her eyes and points on a road map to Talahassee, where the two agree to move. Their plan is foiled when Neil sees a “WANTED” poster, identifying him as a thief. Neil reveals to Emma that he in fact robbed a jewelry store of luxury watches and stored them in a locker at a train station. Not wanting to drag Emma into his crime, Neil makes plans to leave Emma and move to Canada. Emma stops him by promising that she will steal the watches back from the train locker so the two can exchange the watches for money. Emma successfully steals the watches from the train locker, and Neil plans to exchange the watches alone. Neil’s plan is disrupted when he is pursued by an attacker, who is revealed to be August! August stops Neil and explains his childhood relationship with Emma. As her “guardian angel” (aw!), August explains to Neil that Emma must fulfill her destiny by breaking a curse, and tells Neil that the only way Emma can begin her journey is if Neil leaves her. Neil agrees, and leaves Emma to be found by the police, who arrest her. August and Neil meet in Canada two months later, where August reveals that Emma is imprisoned in Phoenix and will be released. August promises Neil that he will send him a postcard if and when Emma breaks the curse (which explains the postcard Neil receives in “Broken”). Meanwhile, in prison, Emma receives a package with just a key chain – the same one, she realizes, as the one Neil stole for her from a convenience store. In addition to the car she will be left with upon her release from prison, Emma realizes that she is pregnant.
Back in the Enchanted Forest, Emma, Mary Margaret, Aurora, and Mulan follow Hook to a magic beanstalk, where Hook explains that they will find a compass that can lead them back to Storybrooke. Emma volunteers to climb the beanstalk with Hook to retrieve the compass from the last giant that survived Jack’s massacre of the giants (who were known for making the magic portal beans). As they climb, Emma and Hook bond over their pasts, and Emma learns that Rumplestiltskin has murdered Millah, the name tattooed on Hook’s arm. Hook lures the giant out of hiding, while Emma releases a sleeping powder given to her by Mulan. With only little time to retrieve the compass, the two embark through the giant’s castle, and are left clueless as to where the compass is. The giant soon wakes and traps Hook before capturing and nearly killing Emma. After escaping the giant’s clutches by biting his hand, Emma uses one of the giant’s own traps to keep him from harming her. The giant surrenders the compass to Emma and allows her to go free because she spared his life when she could have killed him. Emma drags Hook out from his trap, but she handcuffs him to one of the walls of the castle, claiming that she can’t risk bringing him back with her.