It took a tragic death to produce "Quiet Minds" on Once Upon a Time Season 3 Episode 15 - and many tears were shed as Neal gave up his life for his father.
TV Fanatics Robin Harry, Michelle Calbert, Christine Orlando, and Jim Garner are joined by Gareth from Once Upon a Fan to debate whether Neal is really gone, why Zelena is fixated on Snow's baby, and what the future holds for Regina and Robin Hood.
Is Neal really dead and if so, do you think he should have been saved?
Gareth: I think this was the death the writers warned us about and it will be permanent. We have had so many characters ‘die’ then pop up again good as new an episode later and it was becoming a bit predictable, a sense of real threat was always missing.
I felt like it was time for the writers to make a bold storytelling choice and kill someone permanently. The exchange was a life for a life. If the writers had found a way to get out of that clause, it would have cheapened Rumple’s resurrection and Neal’s sacrifice. Still sad to see Neal go though.
Robin: He's definitely dead. Neal was a good guy and I really felt for him, but he brought it on himself. His "sacrifice" was sadly just the consequence of a willful mistake that he could have avoided making, a mistake that cost everyone.
Michelle: I truly do think he is dead, even though that saddens me greatly as I loved his character. As for him being saved, I knew once it came down to either him or Rumple, that Neal would have to die. It sounds heartless, but Rumple is a main cast member while Neal is not. Also, his death will have a huge impact on everyone left behind.
Christine: I agree. Neal is well and truly dead. And as much as I hate that Henry lost the dad he barely know (and currently doesn't remember) I think it has some great story repercussions. Emma, Rumpelstilstkin, Henry and Belle will all be affected and everyone is Storybrooke will mourn the loss. LIke Gareth said, an actual death will give the story more seriousness and from time to time that's a good thing.
Jim: This is storybrooke, nobody is ever really dead.
Any ideas on why Zelena is so fixated on Snow White's baby?
Gareth: So many incredible and creative fan theories being sent my way. I really like the theory that Dorothy is Snow’s unborn child and the Witch somehow knows Dorothy will be her downfall. The problem with reading so many fan theories is that sometimes they are far better than what actually appears on screen!
Robin: Snow and Charming are the only ones in Storybrooke who continue to embody true love, making their children the ultimate curse-breaking superheroes. Their first child, Emma, was the only one who could break Regina's curse. It stands to reason that the second child may have the power to break Zelena's.
Michelle: I think the baby will be a source of power or something else she can use to her own means. What those means are I'm not sure, though I do wonder if she too might now be stuck in Storybrooke. Perhaps the baby can help her return home?
Christine: I've heard the theory that the baby is really Dorothy, I'm just not entirely sure how that would fit into this universe. But these writers are so creative almost anything is possible. I'm also wondering if there was something in that juice Zelena had Snow drink last week that could affect the baby.
Jim: More flying monkeys? I have no idea yet.
When Hook hugged Neal, did you remember that they were once friends?
Gareth: Yeah, I remembered. The scene felt a bit awkward though, almost like it was thrown in last minute to reconcile that story thread. It was also a big pointer to the possibility of Neal not making it out of the episode alive.
Robin: I remembered that back in Neverland, and it was somewhere in the back of my mind. I agree with Gareth: that reconciliation was a giant red flag.
Michelle: I've never once forgotten that they were friends and that, in some ways, Hook raised Neal. Theirs was a very special bond that sadly became complicated over things like them both falling for the same woman. That hug was a great moment between them and I'm sad it didn't happen until Neal was about to die.
Christine: I think it was awkward because Neal was taken aback by it but I loved the reminder that they had a bond long before Storybrooke. It's easy to forget when they're both in competition over Emma's affections.
Jim: Yeah, I was glad to see it.
Regina and Robin Hood. A mismatched pair or Storybrooke's new super couple?
Gareth: Reserving judgment on Regina and Robin until we are further into this block of episodes, but I really like what I have seen so far. They have great chemistry together.
Robin: Well, Robin Hood is certainly giving Hook a run for his money in the pheromones department! I don't know if they'll be a supercouple, but I really want Regina to find love, and I hope she allows herself to do so. Makes me wonder what happened between them during the lost year, though.
Michelle: Totally the new super couple! As I've said before, I am loving this new version of Regina we're getting this season and I think her meeting Robin Hood is going to be a big part of her future story. I'm kind of excited to see her as stepmother to Robin's little boy.
Christine: I'm really enjoying these two and I especially like the slow build that their taking. I think it's going to be spectacular when they finally come together.
Jim: I love em!!! I hope we get more of them?
What was your favorite scene from this Once Upon a Time Season 3 episode?
Gareth: Neal’s death. Was beautifully played by Michael, Jennifer and Robert. When Neal said “I love you papa," I totally lost it! So sad.
Robin: Watching Rumpel go down the stairs and sit in his cage, after he watched his son die. That absolutely broke my heart. He didn't even get to mourn his son with dignity.
Michelle: Definitely the Neal/Hook hug. I really wish we'd gotten to see more of them becoming friends again. But at least Neal didn't die without reconciling with his old buddy.
Christine: I enjoyed Neal and Emma joking about how she almost married a flying monkey and his connection to Peter Pan. It was nice to see these two as friends. Also that Tallahassee was mentioned. It was their what might have been moment if they'd been able to follow through with that plan.
Jim: Neal's goodbye was super touching.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.