Perhaps there’s no need for that question mark. After all, way back in January, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz swore that a Once series regular would die “for real” in the second half of season 3 – meaning no takebacks, no reversals, and no 11th-hour resurrections.
That said: Considering Once’s history, I’m still not totally convinced that this is the One True Death we were promised. For every really, most sincerely dead character on this show (Cora, Pan, Sheriff Skinnyjeans), there’s one whose death stuck about as well as an old Post-It note (the Blue Fairy, Rumpel, Prince Phillip). Until we see Emma spreading Neal’s ashes in a Tallahassee swamp, I will refuse to believe that there isn’t the slightest possibility of him returning just in time to make the twisted Charming/White/’Stiltskin family tree whole again. [UPDATE: Eddy and Adam say that Neal is 100 percent for realsies dead. Guess that settles that.]
If he is gone for good, though, let’s take a moment of silence to remember dearly departed Nealfire: the noble mumbler who inadvertently spearheaded Once’s master plot. (If he hadn’t been sucked through a portal to Earth, Rumpel never would have devoted his life to finding his son, which means Regina never would have gotten her evil little hands on a certain Dark Curse.) While his passing may be celebrated by Captain Swan ‘shippers, the rest of us will miss the grounding influence he brought to Once – in no small part because Michael Raymond-James never looked totally comfortable fighting computer-generated beasties and reciting magic mumbo-jumbo. Farewell, sweet Glumsy Magoo; I’ll steal a motor vehicle in your honor as soon as I can wrap up this recap.
Let’s begin with tonight’s one-year-ago fairyback, which finds Nealfire, Belle, and Belle’s gnarly wig plotting to resurrect Rumpelstiltskin. They’re looking for clues in the Dark One’s library when suddenly, they find help from an unexpected source: A candelabra. With a French accent. Named Lumiére. This is pure ridiculosity presented in a totally straightforward manner, and I love it unconditionally.
So Lumiére isn’t exactly a talking partial menorah – he’s a spirit trapped within the candelabra, one that manifests only when the candles are lit. Upon lighting, he appears as a floating Oz-esque head who informs Belle and Neal that there’s a way to bring Rumpel back. A fairly simple way, in fact. All they have to do is take a key hidden in the library and stick it in a magical manhole in the woods. Sounds easy, right? And as we all know, performing magic like this never comes with an unforeseen price!
NEXT: Don’t go chasin’ Rumpelstilts