Neal Cassaday is the man who comes into her life on an afternoon she steals a car. Neal Cassaday is a familiar name in literature. Jack Kerouac's dear friend inspired the Dean Moriaty character in On The Road, which tells the story of Sal Paradise's adventures on the road. The first chapter concludes with a blistering paragraph of poetic exuberance in which Sal warns the reader that Dean will break his heart and leave him behind. Kerouac used Neal's name in the first draft of the novel. Neal/Dean is a character who explodes out of the pages of On The Road and into the mind of the reader. He's all over the place, with all sorts of women, for long stretches absent but also present because of his influence of Sal. Sal's whirlwind experiences would not be possible if not for Dean. It takes a hell of a lot of disappointment for Sal to see the character as he is, just as Emma's forced to change her perception of the man who took her by storm and loved her for the first time in her life.
Once Upon A Time's Neal Cassaday has an infectious spirit personified by his energy and commitment to Emma. Emma steals a car Neal already stole. They concoct ways to steal from convenience stores without the owner catching on. If busted, Emma fakes labor in her fake pregnancy, and the couple skips town free and clear. Jennifer Morrison's never been more animated in the series than in her flashback as Emma in love with Neal. The girl beams. She's been infected by this fellow criminal who loves her and promises to never leave her. She risks imprisonment to secure funds for their life in Tallahassee. The two are to meet in at 9PM to leave, but Neal doesn't show. Sal follows Dean into Mexico City, in one of the richest passages in the novel, which is where Dean's selfishness appears; he leaves Sal in Mexico City. Neal turns Emma into the police for the stolen watches (though it was probably August). It was moment Emma's trust issues became a
permanent part of her.
August involves himself in Neal's life hours before the departure for Tallahassee because of his role in Emma's destiny. Their scene makes one wonder the identity of Neal Cassaday. Espenson responded to a theory about Neal being Rumple's son, which makes total sense. Neal's the probable father of Henry, and he's en route to Storybrooke. His arrival is going to change so many dynamics in Storybrooke. August interestingly followed Emma 11 years prior to their meeting in Storybrooke. Neal is struck by the item in the box, presumably the Book, and agrees abandon Emma for the good of breaking the curse. 11 years later, August sends him a postcard with 'Broken' written; evidently doing so before he became completely wooden.
Emma betrays Captain Hook before he can betray her in the Giant's fortress. Hook's already an untrustworthy man due to his close relationship with Cora. The boring choice would've been Hook betraying Emma in the large living room of the giant's. Once Upon a Time is many things, but it is not going to put Emma in a never-ending cycle of getting betrayed and never learning from it; she's sort of the anti-John Locke. The action on top of the beanstalk was incredibly ambitious yet incredibly terrible. The effects were abysmal. SyFy Original Movies have better effects than the beanstalk scenes. Jorge Garcia was terrific as the giant despite him being underwritten. Emma's understanding of The Giant was as inevitable as Neal's abandonment of her. She gets the compass and continues her journey, after an emotional reunion with her daughter, the specifics of which eluded me as I was distracted (something involving Mulan and the sand watch?).
Nightmares were less important but foreboding nonetheless. Aurora and Henry share a nightmare--a room with no windows or doors, a menacing figure who's eyes are only seen, which scares Aurora and Henry to death. Snow comforts Aurora; Charming comforts Henry, lighting a candle to burn the nightmare away, the way he used to soothe Snow's soul in the days and weeks and years after her near-eternal slumber. There are so many gosh darn threats in Once that any number of villains met throughout could be the figure in the nightmares. Maybe the figure will be someone new, or it'll be boring old Cora. I just hope Once doesn't spend a fortune on a guest star and have the nightmare scene take place in a poorly painted run down room.
"Tallahassee" was the most substantial episode of the season. Neal's inclusion was genuinely surprising, the first time in fact I've been surprised by the show. Emma's story was simple and easily connected to her adventures atop the beanstalk. The nightmares aspect wasn't fluff, it'll go somewhere sometime in season two. I've been waiting to write positively about Once Upon A Time. "Tallahassee" was good.
-Jennifer Morrison needs to wear black frames all the time. Good golly, woman!
-The absence of Regina and Gold was outstanding.
-The story of Jack and the beanstalk was okay. Jack's brutal death wasn't cool. I always loved the Jack and The Beanstalk video I rented from West Coast Video. That's the gold standard for me regardless of the fact it's my seven year old self's opinion. I haven't seen the movie in years.
-Dave M. Barrett directed it. Christine Moylan & Jane Espenson wrote it.
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK