“Manhattan” was an episode of vindication. The end of one mystery was upon us: the identity of Henry’s father, who was definitely not the noble fireman Emma made him out to be. Obviously he was Neal, the thief who stole Emma’s heart and whose betrayal sent her to prison. Because she didn’t have enough issues. It was also an episode of beginnings (as most of them are) – the seeds of latter season plot have been planted, hopefully to bloom into something cohesive and glorious instead of confusing and desperate.
We also learned what August W. Booth showed Neal that convinced him to give up Emma. I was expecting it to be a magical hand or a cursed object or something. But no, it was just a typewriter with the words “I know you’re Baelfire” center-justified for emphasis. Cool story, bro. A more interesting one would be how the hell Pinocchio knew that. Hopefully that will be in a future episode, instead of learning yet another damn thing about Snow White and David, who were mercifully absent from this episode except to comment about the incestuous nature of their family relations.
The truth about Henry’s parentage comes out, and while Henry feels betrayed R-stilts probably feels worse because now he has to kill his grandson. Long ago, before he was the dark one or a coward or anything he injured himself the night before a battle with the ogres. It was always assumed he had done it out of cowardice, but in “Manhattan” we learn that a Seer told him both that he would have a son and that he leave the child fatherless. We also learn that Seers don’t always have eyes in their head – sometimes Guillermo del Toro shows up to put eyes on their palms and leave horribly unsewn scars in the space between forehead and nose. To prevent his battlefield death, R-stilts hobbled himself, but no one seems to buy his reasoning. Instead of a warm welcome, Mila becomes disgusted at the sight of her husband and moves that much closer to pirate booty.
Later, after he has become the Dark One and lost Baelfire, R-stilts seeks out the Seer again. Now instead of a creepy child with an echoing voice, he finds a grown woman. He’s annoyed that she gave him such a broad vision of the future – he wants specifics, down to the last detail. The Seer offers him the burden of her visions, but he refuses it. Before she (presumably) dies, the Seer prophesies that a boy will lead R-stilts to his son in the other world. This boy will also destroy R-stilts. It's unbearably obvious Henry is the boy. So, yeah, now we know what R-stilts’ next great conflict will be: can I kill my own grandson to save myself? I hope for the sake of his character development that the answer is no.
R-stilts’ dedication to his son is heartwarming, but he does strike me as one of those parents who will try to correct his own poor choices through the life of his child. For what it’s worth, Baelfire/Neal is having none of that. He wants nothing to do with R-stilts, and while it’s clear that he still has feelings for Emma she is less willing to reveal hers. Therefore, if he wants to have a family at all, he must get to know Henry. They make a good start, especially since Henry is mad at his mom for lying, but I don’t know why they had to do it on the fire escape. It’s New York in February, it’s probably cold. Not good parenting.
Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke, three of our villains compete for “Most Eyeliner Worn While Not Hooking.” Seriously, you do NOT need that much makeup before seven o’clock.
Regina visits the still-amnesic Bell in the hospital, and uses magic to search Belle’s purse, instead of, you know, doing it by hand (that would just be crazy), and finds a piece of paper with a Dewey number written on it. Cora, Hook and Regina look for the corresponding book in Belle’s library, but it has gone missing. They take an extraordinarily long time to search – it’s like they don’t know how call numbers work. I’m pretty sure I knew that by age six… although my mother is a librarian so I might be biased. Anyway, where there should be a book they find a piece of wax paper (maybe?) with squiggles on it. Proving he’s not just brawn, Hook uses his man-brain to decipher that it is a map. The women are completely amazed while I scream “fucking duh” at the television. I would ask how these dumb bitches became powerful in the first place, but then I remember they were up against Snow. I’m surprised they even lost the war at all.
Oh, and remember Ethan Embry?
Because he snapped a video of Regina using unnecessary magic and sent it to the mysterious “Her”. I assume “Her” works for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and is concerned with all these violations of the Statute of Secrecy. I expect Aurors to descend on the town in days.