Gather ’round, Once Upon a Time fans, because here is some exciting casting news. As reported by TV Line Monday, Michael Raymond-James is coming back as Neal Cassidy. That’s right, Rumple’s son (aka Baelfire), Emma’s former love and Henry’s father is returning for the 100th episode.
So far, details surrounding his reappearance are being kept on the down low, but it seems that Neal won’t be featured heavily. Per TV Line, he snuck back to Vancouver in January “to shoot a scene.” That said, Neal’s role could definitely be much larger than it appears.
For those who need a refresher, Neal first appeared in Season 2 and then met his unfortunate demise in Season 3. Despite dying, he was shown in a flashback during Season 4’s finale. So, how exactly will Neal reemerge in Season 5B?
It makes most sense for Neal to pop up in the Underworld, especially since that’s where Emma and the others were headed during the midseason finale. As OUAT cocreator Eddy Kitsis told TV Line, the dead hang about the Underworld only if “[they] haven’t found closure yet.” Kitsis also said, “I think that it would be very disappointing for her to go down there and not have somebody talk about Neal.”
However, if you asked Jennifer Morrison (Emma), she once didn’t think Neal would end up in the Underworld. “As far as I understand, Hades only has people that have unresolved issues,” she told Entertainment Weekly while shooting the 100th episode. “Neal died pretty resolved. He died a hero, he died knowing why he was dying and making that choice, and that didn’t involve taking on the Darkness. Hook [Colin O’Donoghue] took on all of the darkness of the Dark Ones in order to sacrifice himself, so that was clearly a choice that involved Darkness. As far as I understand, Neal’s death wouldn’t be considered wrapped up in Darkness in any way, so I guess that would mean he would go somewhere else. I don’t totally know.”
If Neal isn’t in the Underworld, then maybe he’ll reappear via flashback, again. Or, maybe, just maybe, he’ll be resurrected somehow. Hey, it could easily happen, especially since this is Once Upon a Time. It’s a magical world where anything occurs, including Hook being turned into another Dark One.
If Neal is brought back permanently (though that seems very unlikely), that means possible rough waters for Emma and Hook. Before Captain Swan, Emma and Neal were a couple (they even had Henry). Now, Emma is head over heels in love with Hook. Heck, she is even going to the Underworld to try to save him.
Basically, Neal’s return could mean a lot of things for OUAT and its beloved characters. Whatever happens, all I know is it will be lovely to see Neal’s face once again.
Once Upon a Time returns with its 100th episode Sunday, March 6 at 8/7c on ABC.