We’ve been specualating for a while that Eion Bailey’s August W. Booth, aka The Stranger, could be Rumplestiltskin’s long-lost son Baelfire. It turns out he’s not, but Robert Carlyle’s Rumpelstiltskin/Mr.Gold has some hope early on in episode nineteen called The Return.
It opens with a seemingly-disabled August struggling to get out of bed and to walk. He meets up with Jared Gilmore’s Henry across the street from Mr. Gold’s Pawn Shop, asking for the boy’s help in “accelerating the plan” while pretending it’s part of Operation Cobra. “We’re a go,” he says as Henry runs into Mr. Gold’s to buy a gift for Miss Blanchard “since she didn’t kill that woman” (one of the funniest scenes is the accompanying “We’re glad you didn’t kill Mrs. Nolan” card from her class), while August searches Mr. Gold’s back office. I saw them film the exterior scenes in a mid-February downpour in Steveston dressed as Storybrooke, and then move inside Mr. Gold’s for interior scenes with Robert Carlyle.
Once Upon a Time intercut these scenes with the fairytale world where Bae tries to get his now clearly evil father Rumple to return to his original self, untainted by magic. They make a deal that if Bae can find a way to rid him of the Dark One’s powers, his father will go along with it.
Back in Storybrooke, a suspicious Mr. Gold decides to follow August out of town to the local convent. That’s Eion Bailey on the motor bike below but his stunt double rode it down the Moncton Street in Steveston. And that’s Mr. Gold’s ride, the big Cadillac parked outside his pawn shop.
Bae obtains a special bean from the Blue Fairy which will open a portal to a land without magic where his father will have no dark powers. But when Rumple sees the gigantic swirling vortex he loses his nerve, reneging on his deal and letting go of his son’s hand. Bae goes through the vortex alone.
Back in Storybrooke, Mr. Gold confronts August at the caretaker’s cottage at Murdo Park in North Vancouver. “Well then, I guess all the lying can stop… Papa,” August says. Ever since Rumple let go of his son’s hand he’s been looking for him. Has he finally found Bae? Together they go to the spot where the Dark Dagger is buried. August takes it from him. This is what he’s been searching for. He wants the Dark One’s powers so that he can heal himself but there is no magic in Storybrooke and all he has done is prove he’s not Bae.
So Bae remains missing and we still don’t know who August is apart from someone who is ill and seeking magic in a town which doesn’t have any. Some believe that August will turn out to be Pinocchio and there have been several clues, including one I saw for myself in North Vancouver’s Capilano Woods on March 1st for a scene in this Sunday’s aptly-titled The Stranger — the original tree stump of enchanted wood from which newborn Emma’s wardrobe was carved which allowed her to cross over into our world from the fairy tale one. Could Pinocchio have been carved from this same wood?
We’ll have to wait to Sunday to find out.
UPDATE: Those wonderful shipwrecked scenes of Gepetto with the wooden and then human Pinocchio on the beach were filmed at Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver. You can see a tip of Bowen Island in the background.
And the magic stump (above) filmed in the Capilano Woods became a CGIed leafy tree on the screen. So while I was right about Eion Bailey being the grownup Pinocchio who crossed over to the land without magic because of enchanted wood, I wasn’t quite right about how it happened. He travelled in the same wardrobe as Emma in exchange for promising to care for the future saviour. He was only a boy though and couldn’t keep his word, but now Pinocchio/August is trying to make grownup Emma believe in her destiny. Will he succeed?