The child he let go (left) and the child he wouldn’t (right). The child he feels immense regret over, and the one he does not feel remorse over. The child biologically his and the one for which he, in his mind, acquired the right for through a deal.
Maybe it’s just me but one of the most fascinating things in this episode to me was Rumplestiltskin as the father figure to a person he had the most influence on. I don’t know if it was a specific thing they tried to do here or just the extreme connection as actors between Lana and Robert, but if you look carefully, the moment Rumple is reunited with Bae and gets immediately rejected and told off by, he starts acting like the familiar mentor/ father-figure to Regina.
The histories of these three characters are clear and it is messed up and complicated with lots of hurt, wrongdoing, corruption, disappointment etc. But I just find myself so godamn fascinated by these dynamics. Rumple had a child alright, but it’s somebody else’s, the one he used to get back to the son he really loves.
He twisted and corrupted Regina, freed her from her mother to trap her under his own influence just to get back to Bae. Because he was so desperate. He did a crappy thing in order to right the wrong he had done when he let Bae go. Yes, she hates his guts, there is a lot of anger and bad blood between them and she needs him to help save Henry. But what we have right now is Rumple reunited with a son who won’t act like his child, and Regina who, ultimately, always falls back to him.
After all, just two episodes ago she saved his life and knocked some sense into her old mentor. He certainly was a more prominent father figure in her life than daddy Henry Sr.
And while the show is preoccupied with twists and surprise family connections, I’m just stuck marveling at how many bloody feels I get over this messed up, non-biological daddy/daughter connection. It’s not a beautiful story. But it is a fascinating one.