In HuffPost TV's recent conversation with creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis, we learned that the two-part "Once Upon a Time" finale (airing May 5 and May 12 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC) will give us "more background" on the enigmatic Neal/Bae (Michael Raymond-James), Rumplestiltskin's (Robert Carlyle) long-lost son and Henry's (Jared Gilmore) father.
With titles like "Second Star to the Right" and"And Straight on 'Til Morning," it should come as no surprise that we're going to meet some familiar characters from a particularly beloved story, as well as explore the tumultuous history between Neal and Hook (Colin O'Donoghue).
In preparation for the finale, The Huffington Post spoke to Raymond-James about what the finale has in store for Neal's relationships with his father, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and the untrustworthy Tamara (Sonequa Martin-Green), and much more.
In the first 10 minutes of "Second Star to the Right," we see that Neal doesn't hesitate to lay a guilt trip on his father for his recent behavior. What can you preview about their dynamic in the rest of the episode?
First of all, there was a moment [in "The Miller's Daughter"] where [Gold's] on the phone with Belle and feels like he’s about to die and I’m exposed to this side of a man that I’m totally unfamiliar with. And you start to see the beginnings of what could possibly become a reconciliation there. But after that happens, there’s very little interaction between the two of them ... That both confuses and hurts Neal, and there’s so much unfinished business between the two of them, I think you start to see two people really trying to grapple with that.
He tells Gold that he's only staying in town for Henry, but there must be a part of him, deep down, that's longing for that reconciliation. Will we start to see Neal coming to terms with that?
I think that Neal has some rough edges, for sure, but deep down, I think he’s a person that is always hoping that given enough time and the right amount of effort that things can be reconciled … No matter what we’ve done to each other, he’s still my dad. He’s always going to be my dad. The circumstances that we find ourselves in are incredibly difficult, but I think despite what either one of us may say or do, there’s still a glimmer of hope that someday I can have the father/son relationship with my dad that I’ve always wanted. Absent of that, I can try to create the father/son dynamic that I’ve always wanted my own son.
Emma is still very suspicious of Tamara's motivations -- and rightly so -- but how does Neal feel about being caught between this rock and a hard place?
Emma continues to try to convince Neal of what the audience knows and what she suspects. And I think it’s hard for Neal ... he’s not ready to even imagine another betrayal on that level -- on the level of his father -- that it could happen again. So I think the spot Neal finds himself in is one in which the eye sees what it wants to see, and ear hears what it wants to hear. So at this point, it’s almost impossible for him to image the depth of that betrayal.
Would that kind of betrayal force him to close himself off completely to avoid getting hurt further, or do you think there's hope for him and Emma down the road?
The Neal/Emma dynamic is one that I'm particularly fond of ... These are two people who care so deeply about each other and they also share a child together. And the thing with Neal, the most important thing is being the best father he can be. So that’s the motivating factor in how to approach a lot of this and sometimes,there are no perfect answers. So he’s trying to proceed with caution and do things as best as he can with the information he has available. But he’s always had feelings for Emma that have never gone anywhere. They’ve always been there and he finds himself in a new situation he didn’t anticipate. So how he goes forward from here is something that we start to see discussed and we begin to scratch that surface.
The episode's flashbacks also deal with Neal/Bae's past, in which he meets Wendy Darling. Obviously, you're not in those scenes because Bae's still a child, but is there anything about that story that you can preview?
it’s going to be a great ride. I don’t want to say too much, but I want to get people to watch it because I think it’s such a great two-part finale and that a lot of questions people have had are going to start being answered ... if not completely, we will begin to answer them. It’s also going to lead to more questions on other fronts, and everything has repercussions in this world, so it’s exciting. I’m really excited for people to see it.
Adam and Eddy told us that the second part of the finale will be fairly Hook-heavy in the flashbacks. Is there anything you can tease about their relationship?
We know that they have known each other, and you’re going to absolutely see some of those questions be answered. [Laughs.]
Neal's obviously very mistrustful of magic, given that it tore his family apart and changed his father completely. Do you think that there's any part of him that could understand Tamara's perspective on it when he finds out the truth, or would the betrayal be too great?
Tough question. I sense that Neal may not be the biggest fan of magic because of his experiences with it, but at the same time Neal, can’t imagine wanting to hurt people over [magic]. It’s the difference between dying for a cause and killing for a cause and I don’t think Neal could ever understand anybody killing for a cause.
"Once Upon a Time" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.