Before First Curse
As a child, Rumplestiltskin watches his father, Malcolm, swindle a participant out of money in a rigged card game and then get beat up for it, though he tries to intervene to protect his only parent. The man steals Malcolm's money, leaving both father and son penniless. Rumplestiltskin is sent to a pair of wool spinners while his father goes off to look for work. Reluctant to be left behind, he is consoled when presented with a straw doll by his father. Urged by his father to name the doll so it can be his protector, Rumplestiltskin chooses "Peter Pan". For the duration of his stay, he becomes quite good at spinning wool; earning praise from the spinsters. They suggest he can spin for kings and queens one day. Pleased, Rumplestiltskin envisions earning money so he and his father can be together. The spinsters state Malcolm's reputation as a cheat and coward will never die down. They hand Rumplestiltskin a magic to take himself to another land, and reveal his father is continuing to swindle people out of money. In disbelief, Rumplestiltskin goes to find his father at the pub. Despite his father's terrible ways, Rumplestiltskin suggesting they start afresh together by using a magic bean. Malcolm recalls the phrase "think lovely thoughts", which he often said to himself at night during his difficult childhood years, and traveled to a wonderful place calledNeverland in his dreams.
They use the bean to reach Neverland, where Malcolm quickly realizes he can no longer fly as he did in his boyhood years, and proposes they look for pixie dust so the feat is possible again. Rumplestiltskin waits beneath the tree as his father climbs up. A moment later, Malcolm gives up on his dream of flying because adults don't belong in Neverland, so Rumplestiltskin advises they can try another land as all that matters is being together. Rather than that, Rumplestiltskin is grabbed by the Shadow, but manages to hold onto his father, who reveals he wants to stay in Neverland alone and regain youth. Rumplestiltskin is let go by Malcolm and whisked up higher as he drops his doll and watches his father transform into a young boy. Dropped back home, Rumplestiltskin seeks comfort at the spinsters' cottage as he cries over his father's abandonment. The spinsters offer him a home with them. On a lesser level, Rumplestiltskin is upset his doll, Peter Pan, is gone forever.
When Rumplestiltskin is older, he marries a woman named Milah, and together they live in a village spinning and selling wool. One day, he is drafted to fight in the ogre war; excited to prove himself and show that he is not a coward like his father. However, in the training camp, the prisoner he is assigned to watch over as his first task—a Seer—indicates she knows of his fate, and would gladly exchange this information for a glass of water. She tells him that Milah is pregnant, and that his actions on the battlefield will leave his son fatherless. Skeptical at first, Rumplestiltskin eventually believes what she says and intentionally injures himself, so that he can get out of the war and be with his son, Baelfire. Once he returns home, Rumplestiltskin attempts to explain to Milah about the seer's prophecy, but she is astonished that he is gullible enough to believe in such a thing. Disgusted with his cowardice, she argues it would have been much more honorable for him to die and for Baelfire to have a dead father that fought in the war.
As the years pass, Milah grows more and more disillusioned and unhappy with the life she has with Rumplestiltskin. She drinks and gambles at the bar with a pirate captain, Killian Jones, and his ship crew men. He comes by to bring Milah home, to which she jeers and mocks him for his cowardly reputation. From outside, Baelfire comes in asking for his mother, and only then does Milah depart for her son's sake. At home, Milah tries to persuade Rumplestiltskin that it's possible for them to have a better life in another place where he doesn't have to live in the shadow of his reputation and they can travel the world. Instead, Rumplestiltskin pushes her to make the marriage work for Baelfire. She reluctantly agrees, but the next morning, he hears word of Milah's kidnapping by Killian. Rumplestiltskin attempts to rescue his wife, but is turned away by Killian when he is too cowardly to duel with him. Regretfully, he returns home to tell Baelfire that his mother is dead.
When the kingdom resorts to using children as soldiers in yet another ogre war, Rumplestiltskin and his son flee into the forest, only to be found and bullied by royal knights. After the knights leave, Rumplestiltskin and Baelfire are approached by a mysterious old man who offers them help in exchange for a small amount of food and company. After Rumplestiltskin explains his reason for running away, the old man has a better idea and steers him towards stealing a magical dagger from the Duke's castle. As holder of the dagger, Rumplestiltskin can control the Dark One, a terrifying entity with unmatched magical powers who is the most feared being in all the land. He decides to steal the dagger with the hopes of protecting Baelfire and turning the Dark One into a force of good. However, Rumplestiltskin can't see himself keeping the Dark One as a slave as he is terrified of him. Convinced he has no other choice, Rumplestiltskin sets fire to the Duke's castle and makes off with the blade. Afterwards, he meets Baelfire in the forest and sends him home. Once alone, Rumplestiltskin summons the Dark One and cowers at the being's presence. When the Dark One taunts him about Baelfire not truly being his son, Rumplestiltskin stabs the entity in a fit of blind rage. Shockingly, he discovers the Dark One is the old man who told him about the dagger. The man briefs on all the horrible deeds he was forced to do as the Dark One and states death is welcome release and ominously warns Rumplestiltskin that "magic always comes with a price". Then, Rumplestiltskin's own name replaces Zoso's on the dagger, and he gains the powers of the Dark One. Relishing over his new-found status, he returns home to humiliate and kill the knights who harassed him and his son while Baelfire looks on in terror.
As Rumplestiltskin continues his reign as the Dark One, he doesn't allow Baelfire out of the house. One day, he gifts his son a knife, but Baelfire angrily proclaims he wants nothing his father gains from being the Dark One. The boy desires freedom to go out and have friends, although Rumplestiltskin forbids it since his enemies might kidnap him. Baelfire thinks his father is afraid he'll choose to leave and never return, which Rumplestiltskin denies and asserts he's simply concerned for his son's safety. The next day, after procuring a castle for Baelfire, Rumplestiltskin returns home to find his son missing. Investigating at the nearby town ofHamelin, the townspeople admit to the Dark One that all their children are gone, and they suspect someone playing a pan flute from the prior night led them away. On the next night, Rumplestiltskin watches as several boys are guided by the distant sound of a pan flute to a campfire, where many are fervently dancing around in animal masks. Unable to find Baelfire, he confronts the cloaked piper by snapping the pan flute in half. As the stranger takes off his hood, a shocked Rumplestiltskin learns the piper is Peter Pan, his father who abandoned him for youth. Pan admits it's lonely in Neverland and he desires some companions. Since only certain boys filled with loneliness can hear the pan flute, he points out this is why Rumplestiltskin heard it as well. His father accuses him of craving power, but in actuality, is nothing more than an unloved, lonely lost boy. Recalling his son's abandonment issues, Pan challenges Rumplestiltskin to put his trust in Baelfire and allow him to stay or leave out of free will. Rumplestiltskin ignores the suggestion and whisks Baelfire to safety with magic. At home, Rumplestiltskin attempts to help Baelfire see how dangerous Pan is by briefly disclosing he once knew him, but the latter betrayed him in the end. Even so, Baelfire reveals knowing about the Pan offered earlier, and he angrily asserts had Rumplestiltskin asked him, his choice would have been to stay. As Baelfire contemplates their lost chance to be a family, Rumplestiltskin says they still can, though his son storms out abruptly.
Eager to fulfill his promise, Rumplestiltskin puts his new found powers to use by bringing about an end to the ogre war by walking into the middle of battlefields and brokering a truce between the warring parties. However, while this good deed brings Rumplestiltskin reverence and respect, the powers of the Dark One have corrupted his mind, causing him to continually hurt people and seek more power for fear that he would not be able to protect Baelfire from his enemies otherwise. As a downside, people begin to fear him, especially after Rumplestiltskin publicly demonstrates cruelty towards a peddler after Baelfire injuries his knee running into the man's wagon. Though Baelfire believes his father would not need so much power if he simply did not have any, Rumplestiltskin details the only way to rid himself of the Dark One's abilities is if someone killed him with the dagger. In a deal, Rumplestiltskin agrees to give up his powers, if there is way to do so without dying, if Baelfire can find a way. Baelfire comes back home with a magic bean given to him by the Blue Fairy so they can both go to a land without magic, thus making Rumplestiltskin without his powers. However, when the a portal is opened for them to jump into, Rumplestiltskin backs out of his promise to Baelfire, clinging onto his son's hand while the dagger keeps himself from falling in, until he finally lets go of Baelfire as the vortex closes. When he finally comes to terms with the fact his son is gone, Rumplestiltskin furiously calls the Blue Fairy and begs her to send him to Baelfire. She says it is impossible to do without any magical means, and accidentally lets it slip that a powerful curse can bring him to his son. From this point on, Rumplestiltskin vehemently swears to stop at nothing, even if it means sacrificing an entire world, to reunite with his beloved Baelfire.
Since Rumplestiltskin's loss of his son, the seer, now much older, appears before him once more and proclaims the future she foresaw for him many years ago has recently come to pass. With magical force, he demands information out of her about how to reach his son. Eventually, she allows him to take her powers so that he may learn to see into the future. By doing so, the burden of future sight is no longer in her hands. Just as the seer is drawing her last breaths of life, she sees into his future one last time. She speaks of how he find his son under the most unusual of circumstances, and a young boy who will be the key to the reunion. Alas, this boy will also be his undoing. Despite her warning, he doesn't see the boy as a true threat and decides to kill him when the time comes.
A time gap passes, and Rumplestiltskin is promised a magic bean by a man named William Smee. Rumplestiltskin agrees and promises the man eternal life in exchange, but if the bargain is not met, he will age him to dust. Before leaving the bar, Rumplestiltskin sees Killian Jones enter with his crew and stays to follow after them. In the alley outside the bar, Rumplestiltskin passes them and the pirates proceed to mock him. When Rumplestiltskin reveals himself, Killian recognizes him as the coward from his ship, but also as the Dark One. They begin a duel, with Killian nearly having his heart ripped out by Rumplestiltskin, until a very much alive Milah pleads on the pirate's behalf. He learns the truth of Milah's disappearance all those years ago, that the kidnapping was nothing but a cover story, and she willingly went with Killian because they fell in love. Rumplestiltskin is furious, but Milah offers him Smee's magic bean in exchange for both Killian's life as well as her own. They meet aboard Killian's ship the next day to seal the deal. Unable to hold back his inquiries, he questions Milah's judgement in leaving their son behind. Milah admits feeling guilty about her choice, which she made while miserable in the marriage with Rumplestiltskin. As the argument heats up, she denies ever loving him, causing Rumplestiltskin to rip out her heart out of rage. While Killian cradles a dying Milah in his arms, Rumplestiltskin crushes her heart to ash. Then, he procures the magic bean by cutting off Killian's clenched left hand. Though Killian stabs him with a hook, it has no effect on Rumplestiltskin, who departs unharmed. When he finally checks the severed hand, he discovers the bean is missing.
In a deal with Jiminy, who wishes to be free of his parents, Martin and Myrna, Rumplestiltskin gives him a potion to transform them into another form. However, Jiminy's parents switch the potion to give it to a village couple, Stephen and Donna, which converts them into puppets. Afterwards, the puppets are retained in Rumplestiltskin's possession within his castle.
Driven by a future vision, Rumplestiltskin approaches a miller's daughter, Cora, who lied to King Xavier about her skill for spinning straw into gold and now must prove herself or she'll be faced with death. Rumplestiltskin agrees to help if she gives him her first-born child, who will have great importance in the future he foresees. She agrees, but only if he teaches her to spin straw into gold. He instructs that the key to making magic work is to give into the rage of emotion she feels at her worst moment. They bond over their similar, humiliating experiences. Her anger channels into magic, and turns the straw into gold. After Cora wins the hand of King Xavier's son, Rumplestiltskin visits her on the day before the wedding where they share a passionate kiss. Despite being fifth-in-line to the throne once she marries the prince, she has a change of heart and wants have genuine love with Rumplestiltskin. He decides to change the deal so any child they have together will be his. Cora readily agrees, but wants to learn how to rip out a heart, so she can have revenge on King Xavier. Following this lesson, they settle on meeting under a tree in the castle courtyard after Cora extracts King Xavier's heart in a box, and then they will run away together. When she finally arrives, Cora goes back on their agreement as power is more important to her than love. Puzzled, he asks whose heart is in the box. Saddened, Cora admits it is hers as it is necessary to remove the love she has for him to focus on obtaining power. Infuriated at the betrayal, he demands payment for their deal, but Cora reminds him of the changed contract, and any child she has will never be his.
Traveling from Arendelle to the Enchanted Forest, a woman named Ingrid asks Rumplestiltskin to permanently get rid of her ice powers. Ingrid desires to be normal as magic is not common in Arendelle, and even when Rumplestiltskin offers to teach her to harness them, she refuses. He implies that the true love existing between Ingrid and her sisters, Helga and Gerda, is equal in weight to magic and might be enough to help her. However, Ingrid persuades him that her powers are too strong and she absolutely needs something to control them. He shows them a pair of gloves capable of concealing magic, but only if she has faith. As a safety measure, he directs them to an urn to entrap Ingrid if her powers grow too dangerous. When Ingrid attempts to take the items from him, Rumplestiltskin explains their deal requires an exchange of goods, so he asks for the sisters' three ribbons. Though they look like ordinary objects, even the simplest things can contain magic because of the essence of love. Helga and Gerda dislike the idea, believing they can protect Ingrid on their own, but their sister goes through with the deal to ensure she will never harm anyone with her powers.
In another kingdom, King George finds himself unable to bear an heir after his wife is cursed to be barren. Rumplestiltskin finds a farm where a commoner, Ruth, has recently given birth to twin boys. Granted permission by both her and her husband, he takes one of the children to be raised as King George's heir in exchange for keeping the farm afloat with monetary support.
One evening, Rumplestiltskin is summoned by Regina, the daughter of Cora, when she accidentally says his name out loud from her mother's spell book. He exhibits knowledge about who she is as their families know each other in the past and future. To his surprise, Regina is a sweet-natured woman who doesn't wish to hurt anyone, particularly when he suggests she can kill Cora. He shows Regina a magic mirror to another world and tempts her into getting rid of Cora with a simple push into it. On the day of the wedding, Rumplestiltskin manifests inside the mirror reflection to beckon Regina into going through with their plan, to which she obeys. Now free of her mother, she returns the spell book to Rumplestiltskin on her way out of the kingdom. Though Regina insists she doesn't need magic, he continually prods her over how it felt using magic. She admits, with much hesitancy, that she loved it, but has fears of turning out like her magic-obsessed mother. Rumplestiltskin promises that is entirely up to her, and takes Regina in as a magic protege.
To start with, he instructs Regina how to conjure a rock, which she has difficulties learning. Rumplestiltskin later spies on her mastering this technique, but upon closer look, it is actually a red-haired woman donning Regina's clothes. The woman, Zelena, claims to be Cora's first-born child; something he refuses to believe until testing her genetics. Surprised by the unexpected, Rumplestiltskin teaches her magic, as he did with Cora, by helping her channel rage into power. As a cooling down period after exerting this much magical force, she is taught to think of a happy memory. When Zelena asks for an example, he tells her of his time growing up with spinsters who baked him meat-pies. Sometime following this, Rumplestiltskin send a letter to Cora about his discovery of Zelena, who he believes is even more powerful than her. After the lesson, Zelena makes him a meat-pie, but he cannot stay since Regina still needs his help learning magic. At this, an angered Zelena repeatedly insists she is casting his curse so he doesn't need Regina, to which Rumplestiltskin points out that her jealousy is literally turning her skin green. Realizing the potential danger, he masquerades as Regina to bait Zelena, who tries to kill her half-sibling. He disqualifies her from casting his curse since one one of the spell's main ingredients is the thing she loves most—him—and that makes her too dangerous. However, Rumplestiltskin is quick to change his mind after Zelena mentions she has a pair of slippers that can take him to a Land Without Magic. Zelena scornfully rejects his offer, and before disappearing, she promises that next time he will choose her. Soon after, Regina succeeds in conjuring the rock, which pleases Rumplestiltskin so much he dubs her his "best pupil". Furious, Zelena witnesses the exchange from Oz.
The lesson moves onto teaching Regina to manifest a ball of fire. After he demonstrates, she copies him, but has problems keeping the fire from burning out. Zelena, who is continuing to spy on them from Oz, angrily remarks it's not that difficult, and as proof, she creates a massive fireball of her own.
Continuing to train Regina in the dark arts, Rumplestiltskin teaches her to rip out a horse's heart, but she refuses to do it. Annoyed by her hesitation, he tells Regina to figure out what is holding her back. He discovers she is still pining after her dead fiancé, though it is not possible to bring someone back with magic. Instead, he does a bit of research by traveling to the Land Without Color to witnesses a doctor, Victor Frankenstein attempting to retrieve his brother from the dead. They come to a deal for Victor to teach him knowledge on revival while Rumplestiltskin leaves behind a horde of gold for him as payment. He comes to Victor again after the doctor's failure at revival because of scorching his brother's heart. Rumplestiltskin guarantees him a stronger heart if he will help fake a failed attempt to restore Regina's deceased lover. The doctor agrees, and Rumplestiltskin returns to the Enchanted Forest to turn Regina away from magic lessons since she can't let go of the past. At the same time, Rumplestiltskin procures items from a world traveler, Jefferson. Unknown to Regina, the two are working together to push her to call on Victor to resurrect her fiancé. Victor follows the terms of Rumplestiltskin's deal to crush Regina's hopes of regaining her past. Directly after, Rumplestiltskin takes on a new magic apprentice, Trish, though Regina cuts the lessons short by tearing out and crushing the girl's heart to prove to Rumplestiltskin she is ready for the dark arts. Satisfied with the end result, Rumplestiltskin takes her back, and in secret, gives Victor a heart as promised. They have a disagreement about the usefulness of magic, though Rumplestiltskin is quite certain Victor will discover magic is indeed beneficial.
Regina resumes her magic lessons with Rumplestiltskin, but does not show up for one planned session. That night, while she is dining alone, he materializes in the seat across the table from hers. Regina voices concerns about continuing the lessons as she doesn't want her own future to end up like his, and when prompted, goes on the detail the unhappiness in her life. She talks about being Queen as well as feeling like a prisoner in a castle, having a husband whose only focus is on his dead wife and young daughter. With no freedom, she finds life intolerable. Rumplestiltskin interjects that leaving this life is not possible even though Regina thinks there are choices in having love or darkness. He states what she doesn't know is that darkness is what will consume her. Upset at his words, Regina orders him to leave. Instead, Rumplestiltskin explains further that once the darkness has started to eat away at her, it will progress until she is swallowed whole, and there's no way to fly away from fate. Before leaving, he sets up lessons for tomorrow and stresses she must bring the only thing inside herself, which is simmering rage.
When Rumplestiltskin's magic lessons come to a halt, Regina angrily complains to him about it. He advises her to have more patience, and uses Maleficent, who spent years honing her powers, as a good example. However, after she insinuates he is not skilled enough to teach her, he whisks Regina to Maleficent for assistance instead. Surprisingly, Regina returns, with a small dose of the sleeping curse, which she tests on Snow White's precious horse. Since spending time with Maleficent, Regina considers that Rumplestiltskin was right about being patient, and she promises not to question his teachings from now on.
Through a crystal ball, Rumplestiltskin looks into Ruth's farm where her remaining son, David, is now a shepherd. With Ruth's knowledge, a farm visitor named Joan receives the name of a wizard who can help her with something magic-related. As Joan rides away on her journey, she looks at the slip of paper where Ruth had written the wizard's name. When she attempts to enunciate his name, Rumplestiltskin, the Dark One himself sees this from his crystal ball and cackles in delight. Despite the name she presented herself with to David and Ruth, Rumplestiltskin already knows her true name is Anna and she has come to seek answers about her parents' past reason for coming to the Enchanted Forest.
Learning of a sorcerer's box with the ability to absorb magic, Rumplestiltskin decides to obtain it to be free of the dagger's will but also keep his Dark One powers. First, he poisons the apprentice guarding the box. Then, with good timing, Rumplestiltskin strikes a deal with Anna; sending her to douse the apprentice's tea with a bottled substance. While it is an antidote to cure poison, Rumplestiltskin is simply testing Anna, who believes the substance is lethal, as he knows she won't do it. In the end, he reveals the truth and shows her the apprentice's reversion into a mouse. While Anna runs off to the man's cottage, Rumplestiltskin materializes there as well. Since she broke the contract, her punishment is to be locked up in his castle forever. Because of the box's second line of defense, in which it can only be touched by one who has been tempted by darkness but hasn't succumbed to it, he goads Anna into acting against her kind-hearted nature. Desperate, Anna threatens him with a sword as he insists she has to kill him in order to walk away. Following a terse moment, she collapses in tears. One of her tears drips onto Rumplestiltskin's dagger, which he takes to breach the box's second line of defense and gain the box. He tells Anna about her parents, fearful of Elsa's powers, wanted to be rid of it with the box's power of absorbing magic. However, Rumplestiltskin's ulterior motives for the box are spoiled when the apprentice, in mouse form, bites him. This causes him to drop the dagger, which Anna grabs. With it, she forces him to hand over the box. She then orders Rumplestiltskin to do three things—return her and the box to Arendelle, never harm her or Elsa and revert the apprentice into a human. After she is sent away, the dagger falls to the floor, which Rumplestiltskin retrieves and proceeds to rage at his failure.
Desperate to have another family, Ingrid uses a spell to turn Anna against Elsa. However, she did not anticipate that Anna would seal Elsa in the urn. An enraged Ingrid then freezes all of Arendelle, to which Rumplestiltskin appears before her asking for the sorcerer's hat. Though she claims not to know where it is, Rumplestiltskin takes away the urn and will only return it when he has the hat. Before leaving, he instructs her to summon him, by calling his name thrice, once she is ready. Later, Ingrid changes her mind and gives the hat to the sorcerer's apprentice in exchange for finding another person she intends to make part of her family.
Desiring to acquire a curse hidden in the Bald Mountain, which has three obstacles and is guarded by a fearsome Chernabog, he uses Cruella De Vil, Maleficent and Ursula to accomplish this. Sending invitations to Cruella and Ursula to meet at the Forbidden Fortress, the women arrive and bicker with Maleficent, who is unhappy about having strangers in her home. Rumplestiltskin then reveals he sent the invitations and proposes the trio help him retrieve a curse, which can grant all of them happy endings that they'd otherwise be unable to have as villains. After agreeing, they travel with him to the Bald Mountain, where Cruella and Maleficent uses their magical abilities to take down one obstacle per person, until Ursula grabs the curse with her tentacles. This triggers the Chernabog into attacking, and as Rumplestiltskin confesses to the truth, he advises them to be wary of the demon's power to detect the heart of the person who has the greatest potential for evil and devour it. Since he intended for all three to die at the Chernabog's hands, he quickly exits the room and out of the mountain as the women fight to escape the beast.
Some time later, Rumplestiltskin has amassed considerable wealth and a castle of his own. Summoned by SirMaurice to protect his town from a horde of ogres, the Dark One makes a deal to protect the kingdom in exchange for Maurice's daughter, Belle, to live in his castle forever as a caretaker. To protect her family and the people on the lands, she agrees to go with him.
Desiring a skilled thief to help him steal the elixir of the wounded heart from Zelena, Rumplestiltskin tempts Robin Hood in exchange for clearing his taxes. Through a portal, Robin Hood heads to Oz to retrieve the item, but he ends up forfeiting the elixir to someone else who needs it more than him. Having stolen a six-leaf cloverfrom Oz, Robin Hood decides to use it to glamour himself if he and the Dark One ever meet again so Rumplestiltskin won't harm him for breaking their deal.
Annoyed at Belle's nightly crying sessions because of missing her family, he bursts in, conjuring a pillow so she can muffle her sobs, which are distracting him from his spinning. Suddenly, they discover a hooded thief stealing a wand. Unbeknownst to Rumplestiltskin, the thief is actually Robin Hood glamoured to look like another man. Caught in the act, the thief shoots an arrow from his enchanted bow at the Dark One, hitting him in the chest. The arrow, however, has no effect on Rumplestiltskin, who imprisons the thief. After flogging his prisoner, he leaves the castle and later returns to find Belle let him go. Furious, Rumplestiltskin forces her to come along so she can watch him kill the thief. On the carriage ride there, Belle tries to talk him out of murder so people will see he is a man, not a beast. While she believes he loves something more than power, Rumplestiltskin cackles that he loves his things most of all. In the woods, the Sheriff of Nottingham recognizes the thief's bow that Rumplestiltskin is carrying, but before providing any information, he asks to spend a night with Belle. Rumplestiltskin refuses, and when the latter continues to press the issue, he menaces the Sheriff by ripping out his tongue. After regaining his tongue, the Sheriff finally admits the thief's name is Robin Hood and discloses his whereabouts. Near a road, Rumplestiltskin and Belle watch Robin Hood heal a sickly woman with the stolen wand. Even though the wand was used for a good purpose as Belle points out, Rumplestiltskin prepares to execute the thief with an arrow. When Belle sees the woman is pregnant, she talks him out of it, as killing Robin Hood will make the child fatherless. Reminded of his own son, he allows the arrow to hit a carriage, scaring the couple into fleeing. Returning to the castle, Rumplestiltskin shows Belle a library, denying that the room is for her, but she understands he did do it for her and there is good in his heart.
With Rumplestiltskin away in Camelot, he returns to catch Belle examining one of his swords in the castle cabinet. Although he did say that she could look around, this was to test how she would react. Engrossed in his castle collections, Belle reasons she was curious since he never talks about where the items came from. Furthermore, it's her dream to see the world, which is what he gets to do. When she inquiries about Camelot, he chucks her a "souvenir", a magic gauntlet used to locate one's greatest weakness. As he states, the weakness is usually a thing the person loves most. After serving him tea, Belle theorizes he collects things because of having a hole in his heart. Instead, Rumplestiltskin whisks her off to laundry duty. When he goes to check up on Belle, she is gone. From the sky, a raven drops an enchanted sand dollar at him. Inside, he sees an imprisoned Belle who desperately pleas for him to save her by bringing the gauntlet to Demon's Bluff by midnight. Arriving to Demon's Bluff, the Dark One confronts Maleficent by magically strangulating her, and when he asks for her last words, the witch gleefully chokes out that she isn't alone. Rising from the sea, Ursula wraps her tentacles around Belle, and Cruella steps out to pressure him into honoring the ransom. On refusal, Ursula begins crushing Belle's heart, to which Rumplestiltskin throws the gauntlet to Cruella and releases Maleficent. With the terms satisfied, the trio reveal their motivation for having the gauntlet is to know their enemies' weaknesses. As the trio retreat, Ursula pushes Belle and she falls into Rumplestiltskin's arms. When he expresses concern for her safety, a surprised Belle wonders why he cares about her. Stumped by the question, Rumplestiltskin shoves her away from him and snaps that, rather than someone else, only he is allowed to end her life by crushing her heart. Later, he retrieves the gauntlet from the trio. Cruella suggests he join them in their fight to defeat heroes, but Rumplestiltskin boasts that he always wins and doesn't need them to do it.
On the night of Baelfire's birthday, Rumplestiltskin sadly lights a candle in his honor. Belle walks in on him and though she apologizes, he coldly orders her out of the room. Instead, she walks up to set a basket of flowers on the table. He gives her a second warning, but she still doesn't leave. Belle notices a shawl sitting nearby and realizes he must have been using the candle in remembrance of someone. She gives her condolences, even asking how old would he be, but Rumplestiltskin states this person is not dead, but lost. He admits it is this person's birthday—without using Baelfire's name—and expresses regrets for his own past actions that tore away their chance of happiness. Belle proposes it's not too late. Though Rumplestiltskin hopes for the same, he thinks his own ending won't be a happy one.
The Queen, Regina, vents her frustration to Rumplestiltskin about how the citizens of the kingdom don't love her, and they only want her stepdaughter Snow White as Queen. She proposes he teach her a spell to disguise herself so she can fool Snow White and get close enough to kill her. Rumplestiltskin doubts Regina can do it because it took her mother, Cora, a month to learn that spell, and Regina would only be able to change her hair color in a week's time. Regina wants to use any means, so she asks him to cast the spell instead. Because Rumplestiltskin is the one casting the spell, Regina will have no control over when the disguise comes off, and she will be magic less. Another deal is bargained, and in exchange, he wants her to cut off monetary ties with King George of the neighboring kingdom. She wonders why, and Rumplestiltskin retorts he needs the king bankrupt, but it is none of her business. By casting the spell, he turns Regina into a peasant, although to her own eyes, she looks like herself, but to other people, she has a different face. He warns that she won't like what the commoners say about her, though Regina insists it will not matter. Though Rumplestiltskin previously told Regina to call out his name whenever she wants the disguise to come off, he does not respond after she calls twice. When she storms into his castle, he jokingly remarks that she's come to be his maid, though it is a jest she does not find amusing and wants Rumplestiltskin to take off the disguise right this instant. As Regina gazes into the mirror, she is annoyed and ponders if Rumplestiltskin just wants her to admit he was right about what the commoners—that they will never love her. She sadly states it is true, to his absolute glee. He asks what she will do, and she vows to punish them all. Finally, he reverts her back to normal as Regina embraces herself as the Evil Queen.
Some time later, he is summoned to king's court, where King George begs him to bring his son, who has been killed in a tournament, back from the dead. Rumplestiltskin admits not even magic can bring back the dead, but tells the King that Prince James has a twin who can take his place. In return, he demands the location of King George's family fairy godmother as payment for getting the other twin, which King George reluctantly gives into. Rumplestiltskin goes back to the farm to collect the other twin, David, and convinces him to masquerade as King George's son.
- Alternate Timeline: Outside his castle, Rumplestiltskin sights his most hated enemy, Hook, and immediately begins suffocating him until the pirate's companion, Emma, tells him of how he will cast a powerful curse, which she breaks, and and this will reunite him with Baelfire. To keep the past unchanged and ensure the future, Emma and Hook need his help to organize a destined first meeting between Prince Charming and Snow White. After the trio enter his castle, Belle walks in to ask if he needs anything. Strangely, Emma knows Belle, claiming Rumplestiltskin mentioned her, though he did not. Rumplestiltskin shoos his maid away, and then dismisses Emma's claim that he and Belle fall in love with each other. Moving their plan along, Emma and Hook motivate Snow White to steal Prince Charming's ring from King Midas' castle. As they wait for her to succeed, Rumplestiltskin informs them about his possession of a wand that can recreate a portal. When the pair want to sneak into King Midas' castle to check up on Snow White, he provides glamoured disguises for them. Back in his own castle, the Dark One discovers the wand can only open a portal by those who traveled through it. He prepares a potion to erase his memories of the future just as the twosome, with another person, arrive back. Rumplestiltskin explains the portal issue and hands the wand to Emma, who cannot wield it, so he traps them in his vault to "protect the future". When Emma does open a portal, Rumplestiltskin demands information about Baelfire's future, to which she reveals his son forgives and loves him, but he dies to save everyone. Shocked, he insists the future can be changed, but Emma warns it'll make things worse. She urges him to drink the potion, which he does after releasing her. Once she disappears into the portal and it closes, Rumplestiltskin, his memories erased, picks up the fallen wand and teleports out of the vault.
One day, Rumplestiltskin catches Belle just before she is heading to town to buy food. He reminds her against trying to run from the castle, especially since her enchanted cloak clasp will let him know if she has, while Belle reassures him she doesn't intend to. On her return, Belle brings home an old friend, Samuel, whose wound she wants to heal. Despite not believing the man can be saved, Rumplestiltskin agrees not to kill him. Later, as Samuel is resting, Rumplestiltskin notifies Belle that he'll be away for a bit. While the Dark One is gone, Samuel admits he is rescuing Belle on her father's orders and intends to capture Rumplestiltskin in Pandora's Box. She, however, refuses to aid him and leads him out of the castle. Soon, Rumplestiltskin returns and conjures the box into his own hands. Belle reveals she learned early on, from a notebook that Samuel carried, that he actually wanted to find the Dark One's dagger and make Rumplestiltskin plunder the Enchanted Forest with it. Not wanting the plan to come into fruition, she had to trick him into leaving. When she asks about her friend's fate, Rumplestiltskin swears he kept his promise not to kill Samuel, without telling Belle he banished him to a swamp.
After Belle has been his maid for several months, he allows her to go into town to fetch him straw for spinning gold. In actuality, he expects to not see her again once she leaves; assuming she will run away. Against Rumplestiltskin's assumptions, as well as her own, Belle returns to the castle to give him true love's kiss; causing him to begin reverting to human form. Shocked by her actions, he mistakenly believes Belle is working with the Queen when she stutters about learning from a woman that kissing him would break his curse. In a fit of anger, Rumplestiltskin locks her in his dungeon and later casts her out of his castle after he claims to value power above everything else. However, Belle challenges Rumplestiltskin, declaring that despite all his efforts to be powerful and feared, he is still a coward at heart for not being able to accept someone could actually love him, in the end power will only give him, "an empty heart and a chipped cup." Some time after Belle has left, the Queen visits Rumplestiltskin and goads him about his ex-maid's torturous fate at the hands of her father, who believed she had been sullied by the Dark One's evil ways, and sought out priests to cleanse her in a locked tower, which ended with her suicide. Visibly shaken by this knowledge, Rumplestiltskin calls the Queen a liar and tells her to leave. Left alone in his grief, he replaces a golden chalice on a pedestal with a teacup Belle had chipped on her first day as his caretaker; the only memento he still has of his lost love.
To find the Fairy Godmother, whose wand he desires, Rumplestiltskin goes to the family manor of a maid named Cinderella. Interrupting the Fairy Godmother's wish granting session, he kills her and takes the wand as a shocked Cinderella watches. He convinces the maid to make a new deal with him instead—she can attend the royal ball, but will owe him something "precious". Cinderella agrees, signs the contract, and hurries off to the ball.
Some time later, he meets with Snow White, who wants him to give her something to forget the man she loves,Prince Charming. Rumplestiltskin plucks two hairs from her head; using one to create a forgetting potion for her and keeping the other as payment.
After Snow White drinks the potion, she only cares about exacting vengeance on the Queen. One of the seven dwarves, Grumpy, drags her to Rumplestiltskin hoping he can fix it, but it's not possible. Instead, he sends Snow White on the road to becoming a murder by giving her Robin Hood's old bow to use on the Queen. On the same day, Prince Charming is ensnared into a deal with Rumplestiltskin in exchange for information on Snow White's whereabouts. Rumplestiltskin takes Prince Charming's cloak as payment, but in truth, he picks off a strand of the man's hair. Entwining the strand with Snow White's hair, he creates the elusive and rare form of true love in a bottle.
Rumplestiltskin has further success in creating the Dark Curse and places a single drop of true love on the spell parchment as "a little safety value". Meanwhile, he approaches a struggling Prince Charming in the Infinite Forest, who can't seem to find his way out to reach Snow White. He steals Prince Charming's ring, enchanting it to glow when near Snow White, and suggests another deal. Prince Charming vehemently refuses, and draws his sword. Rumplestiltskin humors him with a fight, but with his powers, he easily defeats Prince Charming, and informs him they're after the same thing—he and Snow White being together. Then, he shows Prince Charming his true love potion. When asked what he knows about true love, Rumplestiltskin describes his own past love as "a brief flicker of light amidst an ocean of darkness", though she died. The fragile nature of true love combined with its unequaled power, the ability to break any curse, is why Rumplestiltskin wants it to be protected. He instructs Prince Charming to hide the potion "inside the belly of a beast". After Prince Charming successfully puts the egg inside the body of a dragon, he surfaces at a beach shoreline near Maleficent's castle. Rumplestiltskin hands over the ring, and then uses his powers to give the latter a princely outfit to match with the occasion. Prince Charming asks why Rumplestiltskin is helping him so much. Mysteriously, the Dark One states he is a fan of true love, and what it creates.
Having secured and enacted the deal with Prince Charming, Rumplestiltskin returns to his castle. While spinning gold at his leisure, he is visited by Prince Charming, who wants to bargain in helping a now curse-less Snow White to find the motivation to fight against the Evil Queen for the kingdom. However, Rumplestiltskin has nothing to give him. Instead, Prince Charming comes up with a plan of his own and manages to strengthen Snow White's resolve in battling for the right of the throne. Snow White, having the impression all this was possible because Prince Charming made another deal with Rumplestiltskin, decides she wants to pay the price of magic. In the forest, she summons the Dark One to explain her intention to reimburse him for his services rather than let Prince Charming do so. Rumplestiltskin inquires about the sword Snow White is holding, which she says is the legendary Excalibur of Camelot, and having pulled it out of proves herself to be true claimant to the kingdom. In disbelief, Rumplestiltskin shows her the sword is nothing but a forgery by using magic to dissolve it into dust. After spilling the truth that no deal was made between himself and Prince Charming, he rips a necklace from Snow White's neck as payment for wasting his time.
Soon, a war ensues between Prince Charming and Snow White against the combined armies of the Evil Queen and King George. At long last captured, the Evil Queen is sentenced to death by the kingdom's war council, though Snow White is resentful of the decision. At the execution, Rumplestiltskin and many other citizens gather to watch, but at the last moment, the Evil Queen is allowed to live on Snow White's orders. In the evening, he gives Snow White an enchanted knife to test on an imprisoned Evil Queen to see if she is capable of changing her murderous ways. The Evil Queen fails the test by attempting to stab Snow White with the knife, which is magically rendered ineffective. In addition, whoever uses it will never be able to harm Snow White or Prince Charming in the Enchanted Forest. The Evil Queen, banished to elsewhere, is visited by Rumplestiltskin at a later date. She is deeply upset at never having the chance to kill her enemies again, though Rumplestiltskin stresses a particular caveat of the enchantment--they cannot be harmed in this land, but can in others. His words help her recall the effects of the Dark Curse, and she hurries off to Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding to announce her intentions of using it to destroy their lives for good.
Since Cinderella's deal with Rumplestiltskin, she captures the attention of Prince Thomas at the royal ball and they soon marry. During the wedding party, Rumplestiltskin shows up just long enough to claim his "precious" price from Cinderella as her firstborn child. Many months later, he meets with Cinderella again, whereupon she tells him she is carrying twins and wants to make a new deal. At first he does not believe her, but after warning Cinderella about the consequences of using magic against him, he eventually signs the contract with a quill filled with squid ink, which paralyzes him. Grumpy and Prince Charming load Rumplestiltskin up into a cart to take him away to prison, but Thomas mysteriously disappears. Upon confrontation, Rumplestiltskin states that Thomas will never return unless he receives her baby. Then, he is carted away to his prison in the dwarves' mine.
When Snow White becomes heavily pregnant, she also grows even more concerned about the threat of theDark Curse from her former step-mother. She and Prince Charming go to Rumplestiltskin, the only man powerful enough to counter the Queen's magic. Their escort warns them not to tell him their names, because it will give him power over them, but Rumplestiltskin already knows who they are. Rumplestiltskin agrees to give them information in exchange for their unborn baby's name, to which Snow White agrees, in spite of the guard's earlier warning. He tells the couple that the only thing that can save all the people in the land from the curse is their unborn child who will come back to save them all on her twenty-eighth birthday. As they turn to leave, Rumplestiltskin asks for their child's name. After a moment of hesitation, Snow White states the child's name to be Emma. To help himself to remember this vital piece of information, he repeatedly writes her name on a piece of parchment using squid ink.
The Queen tries to fulfill plans to use the Dark Curse, but her first attempt at casting it fails. She visits Rumplestiltskin to find out why, and his price for this information is to receives riches, comfort, and influence in his life once the curse takes effect, and that if he comes to her for any reason, she must give him anything if he uses the word "please". After the Queen agrees to this, Rumplestiltskin tells her that she must sacrifice the heart of the thing she loves most for the curse to work. On the day the Dark Curse is cast, he expectantly waits for it to take effect. The Queen materializes outside his cage to gloat about her success with the curse and boasts at the knowledge he, like all others will be affected by it, will soon lose their memories of everything. He relishes in asking her how it felt ripping out her father's heart for the curse to work, but she doesn't answer as it is of little importance. Rumplestiltskin can tell despite her triumphant front, she is still unsatisfied with something. He stresses that Prince Charming and Snow White's child will foil her curse, to which the Queen voices plans of getting rid of the baby. Additionally, Rumplestiltskin hints that now she has hole in her heart and will feel the need to fill it in the future. The Queen doesn't take his prophecy seriously, though he shouts she has underestimated the price of magic and will come back for his help someday. Soon after, the curse takes Rumplestiltskin and many other inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest to another land.
During First Curse
After the Dark Curse is cast, Mr. Gold becomes a pawnshop owner and rent collector in the town of Storybrooke. He walks with a noticeable limp while carrying a cane to support himself. A few days later, mayor Regina storms into his shop to express dissatisfaction with her life, so he inquisitively points her in the direction of Dr. Hopper's psychiatric office. Instead, Regina wants to speak with him about a deal they made in the previous land as it hasn't turned out as she wanted. Puzzled, Mr. Gold has no idea what she is talking about. When Regina expresses unhappiness, he doesn't see why since she's the most powerful woman in town as mayor. She explains how frustrating it is for everyone to submit to her will because they must, and not because they want to. Again, Mr. Gold has no inkling of what Regina is looking for, and she leaves dejected.
After eighteen years have passed, Regina requests Mr. Gold's assistance in finding a suitable child for her to adopt as the agencies she looked up all have long waiting lists. He questions if she is ready to be a mother, though Regina attests it's something she needs. Mr. Gold agrees to procure an infant, but advises once she becomes a mother, it means putting the child's interests before her own. In a short time, he informs her of a baby from Phoenix who was previously placed with a family in Boston, but the adoption did not go through, leaving her with the open opportunity. Much later, she bursts into the pawnshop carrying the baby, Henry, in a crib while angrily confronting him over something she learned about the child's birth mother, who was apparently found in the woods eighteen years ago. Mr. Gold understands even less when she starts rambling on about things he apparently told her in a previous life. He takes these furious outbursts as the pressures of motherhood getting to her head.
In ten years time, Mr. Gold heads into the bed and breakfast to collect the monthly rent from the owner, Granny, and meets a new town visitor, Emma. Upon hearing her name, he regains his memories from his former life as Rumplestiltskin.
At night, Mr. Gold takes a stroll and ends up in Regina's backyard as she is tending to her apple tree. He congratulates her for being in high spirits for banishing Emma, to which Regina replies that she has triumphed. Even so, he tells her not to get ahead of herself because he saw Emma and Henry together. Mr. Gold states that he would have been able to help her for a price. Suspiciously, she inquiries if Emma arriving in town was something he planned, but Mr. Gold asks her to drop the subject by saying "please", an enchantment that was part of a previous deal he made with Regina in their past lives, in which she must obey him if he ends the sentence with "please". Mr. Gold walks past as a shocked Regina is unable to disobey his command.
A few nights later, Mr. Gold locks up his shop for the evening. After he is gone, a pregnant Ashley breaks in to steal back adoption papers she previously signed for her unborn child. When caught in the act by Mr. Gold, she pepper sprays his face; causing him to knock his head and pass out. By the time he comes to, Ashley is gone and so are the adoption papers. Putting on the mask of a concerned citizen, he asks Emma to help him find Ashley as it is dangerous for a pregnant woman to be all on her own. Emma tracks down Ashley as she is going into labor. After bringing her to the hospital, she gives birth to a healthy baby girl. Mr. Gold comes to collect the child, but Emma promises to owe him a future favor if he will leave Ashley alone. He agrees to the deal and leaves the hospital empty-handed.
One night, while Sheriff Graham, Deputy Emma Swan and Mayor Mills, as well as many other townspeople, are busy rescuing Archie and Henry from a collapsed mine, Mr. Gold remains in his shop. When leaving, he passes a couple of puppets resembling a young man and woman.
One evening, Mr. Gold gives David directions to the Toll Bridge after he gets lost following Regina's instructions. David goes over to Emma's mobile from the Enchanted Forest, but then takes notice of a windmill. David stares at it, transfixed, and seems to gain some recollection of the windmill having belonged to him in the past. Mr. Gold smirks as David remembers his previous life pre-coma in the hospital as opposed to being Prince Charming.
To prevent Regina from gaining the upper hand over him, Mr. Gold buries his magic dagger in the forest when he sees Sheriff Graham stumbling about. Graham tells him about the wolf and strange dreams he has been having. With a casual smile, Mr. Gold indirectly hints at Graham's previous life as the Huntsman by saying that some believe dreams are memories of a former life, which does nothing to calm the sheriff's nerves.
After the sheriff's death, he offers Emma some of Graham's old things, which she declines. When he learns the mayor fired Emma, he brings over the town charter to her as it might help her contest Regina's decision to elect Sidney as the new town sheriff. Mr. Gold offers his assistance to Emma by becoming her benefactor. The next day, he purposely sets fire to the town hall building while Emma and Regina are inside. Emma carries Regina out from the danger and is branded a hero by the public. Mr. Gold is confronted by Emma with her suspicions about the fire. Emma plays right into his hand, beginning to feel guilt about winning the townspeople's favor through trickery, and at the electoral debate, she steps out of the running after publicly indicting Mr. Gold as the fire-starter. As planned, this is the exact path he wanted Emma to take so Regina would not gain the upper hand and become more powerful by setting Sidney as a puppet sheriff. He pays Emma a visit at the station the next morning to congratulate her on the victory, and lets her know everything was premeditated on his part. He explains the residents of Storybrooke had to see Emma is capable of standing up not only to the mayor, but himself, too.
When Emma is trying to help out two orphans, Ava and Nicholas Zimmer, from becoming a part of the foster system in Boston, she goes to Mr. Gold's pawnshop in hopes that he recognizes a compass that once belonged to the siblings' mother. Mr. Gold pretends to take out a paper with the name of the item purchaser, though it is actually blank, but states a man named Michael Tillman bought it. This leads Emma directly to the orphans' biological father.
On Valentine's Day, Mr. Gold is dissatisfied with Moe French's late rent fees, and takes away the man's flower delivery truck until he pays up. Regina attempts to start a conversation with Mr. Gold, but he dodges her with a well-placed "please". He returns home later in the day to see many of his home belongings are gone. He reports the robbery, to which Emma arrives to investigate. He relates what occurred with Moe earlier as a possible reason for the robbery. She manages to recover nearly everything, but Mr. Gold is furious that an item of utmost importance to him, the chipped cup, is still missing. Emma is unaware of which item is it, but promises to find it. However, Mr. Gold decides to take the matter into his own hands. That evening, he buys duct tape and rope from the pharmacy. While on line, he sees David is buying two Valentine's Day cards. Mr. Gold can tell each one is for a separate woman, though David lies. Briefly, he talks about love, which is a delicate flame that can snuffed out forever. Then, he kidnaps Moe into a van and brings him to an abandoned cabin for interrogation about the item's whereabouts. While physically beating him, Mr. Gold becomes emotional about the cup's significance, which is in memory of "her", and is enraged at the man for causing her downfall, though Moe has no idea what he is going on about. Emma breaks into the cabin to stop the assault. When she questions him about the "her" he kept talking about, his refusal to answer prompts Emma to arrest him for physical battery charges. While he is holed up in the sheriff department jail cell, Regina bribes Emma into spending free time with Henry while she speaks with Mr. Gold. Regina reveals she did indeed persuade Moe to rob him, but he did not take his precious belonging. She won't give it back unless he gives her an answer about his real name. At first, Mr. Gold sticks to the name he has always had in Storybrooke. When she presses further for a name he had in another place, Mr. Gold admits his name to be Rumplestiltskin. Satisfied with the answer, she hands back the cup and leaves.
In a deal with Regina, Mr. Gold agrees to make David's wife, Kathryn, disappear so Mary Margaret will be blamed for murder if she pulls some strings for the District Attorney to drop the physical battery charges pending against him. Additionally, he gives Regina the suggestion that when Mary Margaret is arrested, she could slip a key in the cell for her to escape since bad things happen to those who leave Storybrooke. Just as Kathryn is driving out of town to Boston in pursuit of her dream in law school, he kidnaps her. In a room, she is kept alive with food and water, but he never allows himself to be seen by her.
A few days later, Mr. Gold is led out onto the docks by Leroy, who wants to sell his boat in exchange for five-thousand dollars. Mr. Gold is unimpressed by the asking price, and insists three-thousand dollars is more reasonable. As an alternative, Leroy requests waiving a month's rental payment for the nuns, though Mr. Gold gladly remarks that he wouldn't mind kicking them out of the convent for good. He refuses either deal with Leroy.
When Mary Margaret is arrested for the suspected murder of Kathryn, Mr. Gold offers to be her attorney. Emma is skeptical of his motives and advises Mary Margaret against trusting him. However, Mary Margaret knows that she will need all the help that she can get and accepts his help. He rejects money from Mary Margaret and simply claims that he is "invested in her future". Later, Emma relates to Mr. Gold her suspicions that Regina is framing Mary Margaret for Kathryn's murder. She is not only willing to do anything, but also go further, so Mr. Gold agrees to help her and concedes that fighting Regina and winning will be tough, but believes Emma is more powerful than she realizes.
Regina follows through with Mr. Gold's advice and plants a key in Mary Margaret's cell. As he and Emma enter into the sheriff's station, Henry is sitting in the hallway and notifies them that Mary Margaret is gone. Emma goes on a search and successfully convinces Mary Margaret to return. The following morning, Regina is astonished to see Mary Margaret is still in the jail cell. To the mayor, Mr. Gold credits Emma's resourcefulness in the situation. Regina presses that their deal only occurred so she could get results. He assures that she will since Mary Margaret is still a murder suspect. Mr. Gold advocates to Emma that Mary Margaret's personality could get the charges dropped if the District Attorney sympathizes with the schoolteacher. In an interview with the District Attorney, Mary Margaret accidentally admits she "wanted Kathryn gone", which is taken as a murder confession. She is later taken away by the police for the trial, while Emma blames Mr. Gold for not trying harder to defend her. He asks her not to lose faith when there is still time for him to "work a little magic." Mr. Gold picks the perfect time to drug Kathryn and leave her unconscious at a field outside of town, to which she crawls all the way to the diner and is discovered by Emma.
Using Henry as a distraction, August tries to infiltrate Mr. Gold's back office in the pawnshop. Once caught, he feigns innocence, but Mr. Gold is suspicious. When news breaks about Kathryn being alive, Regina comes to him in a panic upon realizing all the fabricated evidence setting Mary Margaret up as a murder will point back to herself. She accuses him of breaking their deal since they both agreed "tragic" would happen to the woman. Mr. Gold attests Kathryn did suffer a terrible fate by being abducted, which fits the bill of their deal. He attends a party held in honor of Mary Margaret's return home. Emma has reason to suspect Mr. Gold was involved in Kathryn's kidnapping. Mr. Gold evades the probe by asking her if she thinks he is working with or against Regina. He questions her about August, but she knows nothing about him except that he's a writer. After leaving the party, he breaks into August's guest room at the bed and breakfast and is stunned to find a drawing of his magic dagger. At the nunnery, he spies on Mother Superior in deep conversation with August. Once Mother Superior is alone, he threatens the convent's status for information about what she and August spoke of. She acknowledges that August sought advice and counsel on how to approach his estranged father, whom he has not seen or spoken to in years. Shocked, Mr. Gold takes all this to mean August is possibly his long lost son. Anxious and unsure, he goes to talk with Dr. Hopper about how to approach his son. The doctor replies that, despite everything that may have happened between them, honesty is his best solution. Mr. Gold resignedly agrees. Mr. Gold catches up to August in the woods, and gives him an emotional apology. The two embrace as August forgives him and asks for the dagger as proof he's changed. He digs it out and gives it to August, who then tries to control him with it. Stunned, Mr. Gold quickly realizes this is not his son and threatens August until he coughs up a reason for trying to use the dagger as a cure for his own terminal illness. August demonstrates knowledge that a "little fairy" told him that getting Rumplestiltskin's magic was one of his two hopes for survival while the other option is to get the savior to believe in the curse, but did not think he was going to live long enough to see it happen. Mr. Gold decides to let him go, and relishes in the fact August is going to die anyway, but Emma believes in the curse, he himself will "get something out of it."
Regina comes into his pawnshop in a huff over her apple tree dying. He casually remarks that she should change her fertilizer, though they both know the real reason is because Emma's presence in town is causing the curse to slowly weaken over time. She desperately wants to get rid of Emma so Henry will be hers alone, but of course, there is a catch. Emma can't be killed, lest the curse will break, so she decides to use the Sleeping Curse on her. Regina returns later to gloat about her success in the plan. Mr. Gold heeds there will be a price to pay for the use of magic, which occurs when Henry, not Emma, takes a bite of Regina's poisoned apple turnover instead and is befallen by the Sleeping Curse. While Henry goes into a coma, Emma starts to believe in the curse. She and Regina team up and request Mr. Gold's help in the matter. He informs them about a true love potion capable of reviving Henry, which is hidden in the belly of a beast Emma must defeat, and gives her Prince Charming's old sword for the task. Despite this, Mr. Gold has a hidden agenda of his own. He gags Regina and tricks Emma into throwing up the potion. As he opens to check on the bottle in his shop, the entrance bell chimes, indicating a customer has arrived. Mr. Gold hastily tucks the potion away and turns around to see the one person he has long believed to be dead, Belle, standing before him. Apparently, she was told by someone that Mr. Gold would protect her, and informs him that Regina kept her locked up all this time. She does not recognize him in the least, but he breaks down in tears and hugs Belle while promising he will take care of her. She follows along as he brings her to the wishing well as the curse breaks. Belle's memories rush back as she affectionately calls him Rumplestiltskin and declares her love for him. At the mouth of the wishing well, he pours the true love potion into its waters. Suddenly, purple clouds erupts from the well as magic is brought to Storybrooke.
After First Curse
After the breaking of the curse, Belle pressures Mr. Gold to renounce vengeance on Regina and others who have wronged him. He promises, but his animosity cannot be contained. Mr. Gold goes on to mark Regina with a medallion and summons a Wraith to hunt her down. When confronted by Belle, he insists his promise was kept, since he will not kill Regina, but the Wraith will. Angered at his word games, Belle leaves; insisting she never wants to see him again. The Wraith fails to suck out Regina's soul after a portal is opened with Jefferson's hat through which the creature is sucked into another world. Afterward, Belle returns; concluding that she needs to be a civilizing influence in his life.
While Mr. Gold is in the shop, Regina storms in, looking through books and papers in the room. Regina tells him she needs "the book" and he chuckles at the fact she Mr. Gold refuses at first, stating that for Regina to regain her magic is "not in his best interest," but when Regina threatens to tell the truth of what happened to the Enchanted Forest, Mr. Gold uses magic, making the book appear and gives it to her, saying that the spells could be "rough on the system." As Regina storms out, he says that the way Regina is, holding the book, he can see the resemblance to her mother. Later, David enters the shop, causing Mr. Gold to bemoan the wasted money of a closed sign. David asks for help using the hat to find its owner, which Mr. Gold agrees to, providing that he will be left alone. He agrees, asking for the same courtesy. Mr. Gold inquires about the commotion outside and David reveals that if anyone tries to leave Storybrooke they will lose all memories of their Enchanted Forest selves. After David leaves, Mr. Gold reacts in a fit of anger, smashing the glass of his counters and displays. Then, he drives to the edge of Storybrooke and stares out at the border that binds him from going out of town.
Mr. Gold has not given up his goal to find his son and continues to practice magic. Belle discovers this and she asks him to explain what he is seeking to do. Mr. Gold only restates that "Magic is Power." Belle leaves the room and later leaves the house. Mr. Gold enlists the help of David Nolan to find Belle, however the people of Storybrooke are less than willing to help the man who has caused such misery. With the help of Ruby's skills in tracking, they follow Belle's trail to a flower shop owned by Moe French. Moe has kidnapped his daughter and arranged to have her cross the barrier so that she will forget about her true love and be safe from Mr. Gold's power. Mr. Gold uses magic to pull Belle back from the town border, but Belle has not changed her mind about his cowardice and tells Gold she does not ever want to see him again. Later, Mr. Gold sends Belle the key to the library and tells her she is welcome to stay in the caretaker's apartment upstairs. Belle says this will not cause her to change her mind, but Mr. Gold only says that he wants her to know the truth and explains the story of the loss of his son and that power has become a crutch that he cannot live without. He admits that he is a coward and has always been so. He says that he has lost so much that he loved, he could not bear to lose Belle without her knowing the truth. After saying goodbye to Belle, he turns to leave. Belle stops him, suggesting that they have a hamburger sometime. Later, Mr. Gold enters his basement where he has tied Smee up and asks him where his captain is. He learns that Jones escaped the curse and asks again where he is.
Mr. Gold is in his shop, polishing his items when Dr. Whale enters, carrying a cooler, which contains his severed arm. Placing the container in front of Mr. Gold, Mr. Gold quips that "charging an arm and a leg" is only a figure of speech. Dr. Whale asks Mr. Gold to restore his arm. Before Mr. Gold does, he questions Whale's purpose in bringing Daniel back. Dr. Whale comments only that he hoped if he brought Daniel back, perhaps she would be able to return Whale to his home. Mr. Gold shrugs at the futility of Dr. Whale's plan. Dr. Whale again asks Mr. Gold to fix his arm, but Mr. Gold first tells him to "Say it", meaning he wants Whale to admit that he needs magic. Once Dr. Whale has done so, Mr. Gold restores his arm.
Regina calls Mr. Gold to Mary Margaret's apartment to help Henry Mills as he is tortured by dreams where he is in a room on fire. Mr. Gold chastises Regina for knowing so very little about a curse she cast. Fiddling with various bottles in his case, he pours one bottle into a pendant. Handing it to Henry, he explains that the sleeping curse puts the sleeper in a place between life and death until they are woken. However, the potion will allow Henry some control over the dream and he will be able to come and go at will. As he hands it to Henry, Regina asks the price. Mr. Gold smiles wryly and says that she could never afford such a house call; however, he is doing this for Henry on his own.
While Mr. Gold and Belle are having a hamburger lunch at Granny's Diner, Regina comes to inform him about Cora's presence in Storybrooke. He believes himself capable of handling Cora on his own, but Regina assures that their shared nemesis is a bigger threat to him now that he has someone that actually needs his protection—Belle. He joins David, Henry and Regina in the pawnshop. To Henry, Mr. Gold tells him about some squid ink in his old jail cell in the Enchanted Forest, which is capable of stopping Cora. In turn, he wants Henry to deliver this vital information to Aurora in the Netherworld. Henry tries to follow through with the task, but awakens since the connection with Aurora was cut off and she wasn't able to hear him. Upon discovering Henry is suffering from burns due to constantly returning to the Netherworld, David volunteers to be put under the Sleeping Curse and deliver the message. After Regina brews the curse, a spinning needle is dipped into the substance to enchant it. Lastly, Mr. Gold pricks David's finger on the spinning wheel and puts him under the curse.
While David remains asleep, Mr. Gold convinces Regina that they should take steps to ensure Cora will not be able to make it through the portal to Storybrooke. At the mines, where all the magic diamonds reside, he absorbs their power via a wand. Next, they head to the designated site of the soon-to-be open portal, the well, and Mr. Gold uses the wand to create a trap that ensures the death of whomever tries to cross through. Henry arrives to witness what has been already been done, and while he pleads for Regina to stop it, Mr. Gold easily uses magic to render Ruby unconscious when she tries to get in his way. Regina relents to her son's wishes, lifting the barrier, just as Emma and Mary Margaret make it out of the well. Seeing as things are settled, Mr. Gold promptly leaves after removing the magic he cast on Ruby and heads back to the pawnshop. While David is awoken with Mary Margaret's kiss of true love, Mr. Gold is accused by Emma of pulling strings from the beginning; considering the name parchment found in his old jail cell. Mr. Gold states that Emma isn't his creation and only made use of who and what she is—the product of true love. She also asks about why Cora, when the witch had attempted to earlier on, couldn't pull out her heart. He reasons that it is because of the magic within Emma.
In the aftermath of the "murder" of Archie, Mr. Gold and Belle are ready to set off for a picnic lunch when David, Emma and Mary Margaret arrive to the pawnshop needing his help to see if Regina is truly to blame for the death. Emma pegs him as a suspect, but he denies any involvement. He cooperates by giving her a dream catcher to extract the memory of Archie's dog, Pongo, who was the only one present in the office when his owner was killed. With a brief look into the dream catcher, Emma gains irrefutable proof that Regina murdered Archie, though all remain unaware that another person is actually responsible.
Mr. Gold continues to make potions to find one that will enable him to cross the town line without losing his memory. He tests his latest concoction on Smee by pouring the potion on the man's most treasured possession—a red hat—and then forcing him across the line. The potion is a great success, and he later tells Belle about his plans to leave town and scour for his son. He intends to use the potion on Baelfire's shawl and wear it to keep his memory intact. Regrettably, he only has enough potion to travel out of Storybrooke alone, so Belle cannot come with him. Later in the day, Mr. Gold receives a panicked phone call from Belle, who is hiding in the library elevator due to a madman attacking her. He leaves the pawnshop to save her and learns the man is his long-time enemy, Hook. Mr. Gold tells her about how Hook stole his wife, but neglects to confess the matter in which he himself caused his former spouse's death. They return to the pawnshop, discovering the shawl gone, to which a furious Mr. Gold sets out to track down Hook and retrieve the item. Before going, he hands Belle a loaded gun, in case she needs it, and instructs her to lock herself in the library. On the street, he apprehends Smee, though the man has no idea where Hook is. Even so, he turns him into a rat as punishment. Mr. Gold eventually finds Hook's ship and boards it just as the pirate and Belle are having a confrontation. In a fury, he beats Hook to a bloody pulp, but only stops at Belle's plea. They leave with the retrieved shawl and go towards the town line. There, Mr. Gold passes the town line with the shawl, enchanted with the potion, and begins saying goodbye to Belle when a gunshot is fired by Hook. Belle takes the hit on her shoulder, toppling over the line and into Mr. Gold's arms, but loses her memory. Angered beyond belief, he prepares to throw a fireball at Hook when a car crashes into Storybrooke. While he rolls himself and Belle away from the vehicle, Hook collides with the car.
Immediately after, Mr. Gold magically heals Belle's injuries, but this only confuses the terrified and amnesiac woman. Emma and her parents soon arrive to assess the damages. Mr. Gold tries to choke Hook, though David quickly stops him. Once Belle is taken into the hospital, he shows up in pursuit of her, but is denied any further entry when David and Leroy block his way. He puts up a struggle until Dr. Whale calms everyone down. Later, Mr. Gold visits an asleep Belle in her hospital room and tries using true love's kiss. She awakens in a screaming frenzy, still without her memory, to which a saddened Mr. Gold leaves. In the hallway, Dr. Whale updates everyone on the condition of the stranger who crashed his car into town. Since the man is bleeding internally, Dr. Whale is unsure what to do and asks Mr. Gold for magical assistance. Mr. Gold refuses, as he doesn't owe anyone anything, and suggests it'd be best if the outsider died so magic won't be exposed. Returning to the pawnshop, he looks longingly at the chipped cup when a box appears. Cora enters and offers him the contents of the box, a magical globe, with the capacity to find his son. He accepts the item and gives Cora what she wants—Regina's current whereabouts. They also agree to a truce, which she mischievously seals by kissing Mr. Gold, who is visibly shocked by her action. In another attempt to bring back Belle's memory, he enchants the chipped cup and repeatedly insists that she concentrate on it. She becomes agitated by his request, eventually hurling the cup against the wall, where it smashes into pieces. Heartbroken, he leaves once more. Mr. Gold moves along with his search for Baelfire by pricking his finger and letting a drop of blood fall onto the globe, which pinpoints his son's location in New York. Recalling that Emma still owes him a favor, he shows up at her family's apartment demanding that she fulfill it by leaving for New York by noon tomorrow. Ominously, Mr. Gold warns that if Belle is hurt while he is gone, they will all pay with their lives.
Mr. Gold returns to the apartment to collect Emma and learns that Henry will also be going. He dislikes her plan, but Emma refuses to leave Henry in Storybrooke with Cora running loose. As they drive out of town, the shawl protects Mr. Gold, as expected, and keeps his memories intact. While going through security at the airport in Boston, Mr. Gold is told that he must put the shawl and cane so it can be scanned. Terrified of losing his memories, he refuses until Emma promises she will keep it from happening. After complying, he feels his memories slipping, but they return once Emma returns the shawl to him. As they wait at their departure gate, Mr. Gold enters a restroom stall, and in a fit of rage caused by his earlier nervousness, he pounds a toilet roll dispenser until cutting his knuckle, but is not able to heal using magic. Finally, the trio board the plane and await take-off. Mr. Gold, however, continues to act jittery, though Emma assures him that they will find his son.
Mr. Gold, Emma and Henry take a cab to Manhattan and step out in front of an apartment complex. They go inside and look through a list of resident names and room numbers, but he isn't able to discern which one is his son. Emma, using instinct, buzzes room number 407 that doesn't have a listed name. When the intercom switches on, she pretends to be a UPS delivery person, but suddenly, the line goes dead. They hear a shuffling sound and hurry outside to see a hooded man climbing down the fire escape and later take off running. Mr. Gold pleads for Emma to follow in pursuit and to make his son talk to him. While she is gone, he and Henry spend some time together. Henry is certain that no matter what happened between Mr. Gold and Baelfire, all that matters is he is here and wants his son back. Emma comes back, stating that his son got away, but that is not an answer he is willing to settle for. Mr. Gold breaks into his son's apartment; where Emma's peculiar behavior towards a dream catcher causes him to realize she knows something that he doesn't. As things get tense, Emma sends Henry out of the room. Her refusal to answer causes him to raise his voice and make threats, which is halted once Baelfire, or Neal, bursts in to stop it. Neal demands that Mr. Gold leave his apartment and Emma tries to intervene, but he doesn't relent. Hearing his son call Emma by her name, Mr. Gold realizes the two know each other. Before either can explain, Henry wanders in calling for his mother, Emma. Mr. Gold discovers that his son and Emma were together at some point in the past, and Henry is their son, but she never told Neal until now. Emma follows an upset Henry to the fire escape while Mr. Gold and Neal talk. Mr. Gold wants to make up for lost time by reverting him to fourteen years old, but the idea disturbs Neal. Though he asks for another chance to prove himself to be the father Neal once loved, his son bitterly recalls the unforgettable memory of when his father let him go into the portal. Neal coldly states that this time he will be the one letting his father go; much to Mr. Gold's distress and pain.
As Neal gets to know Henry better, Mr. Gold and Emma awkwardly trail after the pair as they walk the streets of New York. During a pizza stop, Mr. Gold asks Emma to convince Neal to come back to Storybrooke. She refuses as her one favor to him is already done. However, he attempts to show her how messy it will be if Henry, longing for his father, could leave Storybrooke just to find Neal. Emma defends her decision in not telling Henry that his father is Neal, believing she lied to protect him, but Mr. Gold compares her likeness to Regina. Once Henry and Neal have sated their pizza craving, the foursome head back to the apartment with plans of going to the museum next. Mr. Gold and Emma are left behind to wait in the apartment lobby when Hook shows up out of nowhere. Once Emma is thrown aside by Hook, the pirate pins Mr. Gold in place and stabs him with a hook coated in poison. Hook spews his hatred for him for taking away his happiness—Milah—and will now exact vengeance by taking Mr. Gold's life. As the killing blow is nearly dealt, Emma knocks Hook out. Neal hurries back, aghast at Mr. Gold's injury, and recognizes Hook. Mr. Gold is moved up to the apartment for resting, though he himself knows the poison is incurable. Emma proposes the only way to save him is to get back to Storybrooke, where magic exists, as soon as possible. Since Hook's ship is the quickest vehicle, Neal agrees to steer it.
Mr. Gold is taken aboard the Jolly Roger while Neal and Henry steer the ship towards Storybrooke's dock. When Emma questions him about the dagger's control over him, should Cora and Regina obtain it, he wonders if she would rather he bleed to death to prevent the latter from happening. She promises to save him since they are family now. At the dock, David, Mary Margaret and Ruby help Mr. Gold onto a truck, which whisks him back to the pawnshop. There, he instructs Emma to draw a barrier using invisible chalk. Using Mary Margaret's disdain for Cora to his advantage, he presents her with the enchanted candle, which can take one person's life in exchange for another. He suggests she curse Cora's heart, and then return the organ to its rightful owner. Thus, their shared enemy will perish while his life will be saved. She ponders controlling Cora and forcing her to kill Mr. Gold so both issues are solved. However, he warns if she kills him, Henry will be displeased. As Mary Margaret leaves, he teaches Emma how to enact a barrier spell around the building, though it is quickly torn down by Cora and Regina. During the fight, Emma creates another barrier to seal the backroom as she and Neal stand guard. Accepting death, Mr. Gold phones Belle, describing the person he knows her as—a hero who helped her people, a beautiful woman who loved an ugly man, and someone who sees good in those without good. After hanging up, he and Neal reconcile as father and son. Cora crumbles the barrier, teleporting Emma and Neal away, before sauntering up to her victim. In his last moment, Mr. Gold questions if she ever truly loved him. Cora acknowledges her love for him, but states that he was her weakness, and ultimately the reason she took out her own heart. She prepares to plunge the dagger into him, but is interrupted by Regina pushing the heart into her chest. Moments later, Cora perishes in Regina's arms as Mr. Gold's chest wound heals completely. At first, Regina blames him for her mother's demise until realizing Mary Margaret is the real culprit.
Mr. Gold comes to Regina's mausoleum to pay his respects at Cora's coffin. He states Cora has a place in his heart, too, but she doesn't believe his words and accuses him of exchanging her mother's life to save his own. He tries to deter her away from the path of revenge against Mary Margaret, but Regina promises she will pay for Cora's death. Unable to stop her, Mr. Gold notifies David and Emma of Regina's plans. As he moves to leave directly after delivering the news, David persuades him to help them stop Regina since he still owes Mary Margaret for saving his life. After Regina is gone from the mausoleum, he and David search and find missing spell ingredients. Back at the apartment, Mr. Gold concludes Regina wants to cast the curse of the empty-hearted, which she intends to use on Henry to force him to love her. The spell requires sacrificing the heart of the person she hates most—Mary Margaret. He suggests ending this feud by killing Regina; an idea Henry objects to, though David and Emma don't see any other choice. Upset, the boy flees the building as Emma follows. Mr. Gold warns David that while Cora was dangerous for not having a heart, Regina is more of a menace for having one. While David is gone, he stands guard over Mary Margaret, especially when Regina attempts to steal her heart. Later, Mr. Gold receives a phone call notifying him that Regina destroyed the curse. Suddenly, Mary Margaret asks him how he is able to live with himself despite all the evil things he's done. Mr. Gold says it's best to keep clinging onto the belief he did the right thing, and to keep thinking so until the mantra becomes reality.
In a dream, Mr. Gold celebrates Henry's birthday in the pawnshop along with David, Emma, Mary Margaret and Neal. He allows his grandson to pick out a present from the shop. Henry chooses a wand, which Mr. Gold then demonstrates for him. As the boy watches the wand movement, Mr. Gold turns him into a statue. Henry's parents and grandparents react with shock, but Mr. Gold states that he has no choice since the boy will be his undoing. Brusquely, he takes his cane and smashes the statue. Only then, Mr. Gold awakes from the nightmare. The next day, he watches from a distance as Henry and Neal play at the park. Regina stops by, inquiring why his son is with hers, to which he informs her of his kinship with Henry. She accuses him of orchestrating it, though he stresses this was fate's doing. Nonetheless, she knows he won't ever be accepted by others since he always chooses darkness. Surprising Belle at the hospital, Mr. Gold professes his love for her is real, which she believes. Belle thinks whatever past she did have, he was a part of it. Since she brings out the good in him, he will help her remember herself for his and her sake. After signing Belle's discharge papers, he finds her missing. Upon further inspection, a card of The Rabbit Hole. Mr. Gold discovers Belle, with false memories, calling herself Lacey. Furious, he confronts Regina, but she declares it's impossible to undo what has been done. Setting out to win Lacey's heart, Mr. Gold receives help from David to ask her out. During the date, Lacey expresses surprise that Mr. Gold is different from his fearsome reputation. She believes no one can truly know what's in a person's heart until you truly know someone. Shocked to hear words she once said in the past, he spills wine on her dress. Lacey leaves to clean up at the bathroom, but when she doesn't return, he finds her in the alley with Keith. Mistaking their rendezvous for a sexual assault, he scares off Keith. Lacey admits she only accepted his date out of pity for him, and that she is not Belle. Later, he takes out his anger by ripping out Keith's tongue and beating him up. Lacey, witnessing his actions, becomes drawn to Mr. Gold dark self. Sensing her acceptance of him, he continues to hit Keith as Lacey watches with a mischievous smile.
That same night, after Mr. Gold is done with Keith, he and Lacey stroll out into the parking lot side-by-side while chatting animatedly. Unbeknownst to either, Hook sees them from the clock tower.
Outside the Rabbit Hole, Mr. Gold allegedly catches Dr. Whale looking at Lacey. After forcing him to the ground, he tries to make Dr. Whale to kiss his foot as punishment when Neal stops the altercation. As tensions rise, Mr. Gold sends Lacey to the shop so he can talk privately with Neal. His son is upset that Mr. Gold apparently doesn't care about meeting his fiancée, Tamara. Mr. Gold believes the relationship won't work since Neal still have feelings for Emma. His son, however, is disappointed his father has not changed from the past. Neal then permanently cuts off contact with him; stating that the only person he's in Storybrooke for is Henry. While spending time with Lacey at the pawnshop, he is approached by David and Mary Margaret. Again, Mr. Gold asks Lacey to leave so he can take care of business. The pair ask for a way to locate Regina, and he helps them due to being indebted to Mary Margaret after she saved his life. Bringing out a bottle containing one of Regina's tears, Mr. Gold collects Mary Margaret's tear and mixes the two. Afterwards, he instructs she must put the liquid into her eye so a temporary bodily connection with Regina can be breached. After they are gone, Lacey curiously asks him about his magical abilities. Conjuring a necklace, he then helps her put it on. As Lacey learns more about his inability to age as the Dark One, she, too, wishes to be immortal so they can be together forever. He says it's possible, but mentions it doesn't keep a person immune from dying. Mr. Gold goes on to tell her about a prophecy a seer gave him a long time ago that someone will be his undoing, which he takes to mean his death will occur because of this person. Puzzled, Lacey questions why he doesn't just get rid of the obstacle in his way as he's the kind of man who won't let anything stand in his way.
At a distance, Mr. Gold deliberately tries to sabotage the swing Henry is playing on, but a car door slam startles him. From a truck, Emma and her parents step out. When questioned by a suspicious David, Mr. Gold lies and states that he's spending time with his grandson. Grimly, David and Mary Margaret tell him about Neal's sudden death at Tamara's hands. Hastily, they also fill Mr. Gold in on Greg and Tamara's plans of setting off a trigger to obliterate every person in Storybrooke who was not born in the Land Without Magic. They ask for his help to stop it, but he refuses. Blaming himself for Neal's death, after bringing magic to this land in order to find him, Mr. Gold is prepared to die once the trigger self-destructs. Later on, he receives a potion from Leroy to restore Lacey's memories. As the demise of Storybrooke nears, Mr. Gold drinks scotch with Lacey. She accidentally spills some and uses Baelfire's shawl as a wiping rag. Outraged, he snatches it back and angrily exclaims it belonged to someone very important to him, and that she would not understand. Mr. Gold recognizes, in this instance, that the person he needs most is Belle. Magically reconstructing the chipped cup, he pours the potion into it. With one sip, Lacey's memories as Belle return. As they reunite, Mr. Gold apologizes for waking her up only to die on the same day. Soon, destruction is alleviated when Emma and Regina's combined powers stop the trigger. At the dock, Mr. Gold and Belle learn Henry has been taken to another world by Greg and Tamara. Hook, possessing the last magic bean, agrees to help them pursue Henry's kidnappers. Mr. Gold persuades Belle into enacting a cloaking spell to keep outsiders from entering town. Mr. Gold intends this to be the last time they meet as it is his duty to save Henry for Neal's sake. Hopeful as ever, Belle believes the future isn't always what it seems, and they will see each other again. Parting with a kiss, Belle walks away, and then assures him that Neal would be proud. Aboard the Jolly Roger, Mr. Gold conjures the magic globe and pricks a drop of blood onto it, which pinpoints Henry in Neverland. After Hook opens a portal with the bean, he, Mr. Gold, David, Emma, Mary Margaret and Regina set sail for the land.
As they sail towards the island of Neverland, Mr. Gold announces his intent of getting him back on his own and proceeds to list off reasons why Emma will fail in this mission; not believing in her parents, in magic, or even herself. He disappears from the ship to continue the journey alone on the island. In the jungle, he stumbles upon a campfire with a deceased Greg and finds Tamara, despite taking an arrow to the back, still alive and struggling to move. Mr. Gold heals her wounds and asks for Henry's whereabouts. She shakily describes Henry running off, and apologizes for everything, including what happened to Neal; swearing she had not known the true intentions of the Home Office. Though she begs for his forgiveness, Mr. Gold calmly declines and tears out her heart; crushing it to ash. Afterwards, Mr. Gold continues trekking on foot. One of Pan's Lost Boys, Felix, warns Mr. Gold will be making enemies with Pan if he desires to find Henry, and that path will lead to death. Unafraid, Mr. Gold boldly attests if that occurs, he'll be taking countless other lives with him as well; implicating Felix will be one of them, too. Before letting Mr. Gold walk off, Felix tosses him a doll figurine from Pan. The sight of it shocks the older man, who breaks down into tears as he holds the doll in his hands.
Later, a more composed Mr. Gold lights a bonfire and uses the Dark One's dagger to slide away his shadow. Then, he instructs it to hide the dagger away. A noise attracts his attention and he sets down the doll to investigate. An unknown person steals the doll, to which he chases the thief down and pulls off the hood to reveal Belle. They talk about Mr. Gold's willingness to become the Dark One again if it means rescuing Henry. As she draws him into a kiss, he pulls away to confirm his suspicions that she isn't actually physically in Nevlerland, which she affirms. Belle answers his questions about Storybrooke and the protection spell easily enough, but he is almost certain she is a fake and asks who brought her here. Shockingly, she states that he did. Belle brings him to a cliff edge to sort out unresolved emotions. Mr. Gold's own past with his father continues to haunt him as he's become exactly like his own parent; cowardly and selfish. He also addresses the deal Pan offered for him not to interfere with anything relating to Henry. This will prevent the seer's prophecy from coming true, but it'll also leave Henry at the mercy of Pan. Belle reminds him of the regret he lived with after abandoning Baelfire, and it doesn't need to be repeated in Henry's case. Encouraged by her to let go of the past, Mr. Gold reminisces about the doll, which was the last thing his father ever gave him before he left. When she advises he must stop holding onto the past to prevent it from repeating again, Mr. Gold throws the doll into the ocean. Following a descent down from the cliff, Mr. Gold is once again on alert after hearing a sound nearby. He checks around and upon stepping forward, the doll falls onto the ground from the night sky; seemingly returned to Mr. Gold. Troubled, he sets it on fire and walks off, but is startled to see the doll, good as new, in the next clearing. He gives up, and tucks the doll into his jacket pocket.
In preparation to sacrifice himself, Mr. Gold rubs a black substance on his face. He talks to Belle about putting back on his mask of a monster in order to save Henry. She regards his intentions as good, but warns a life of craven self-interest is a nasty habit he's never been able to break. Mr. Gold states that there's nothing left to live for with his son gone, and knowing he'll never truly see Belle again. Even if it is possible, he knows Belle will, in time, see him as a monster. On foot, he puts to sleep two Lost Boys on guard duty and pilfers a spear. Unexpectedly, he arms himself when someone—Neal—runs into him. Mr. Gold, believing he is seeing an illusion, begins choking him. However, he realizes this is indeed his son when Neal calls him "Papa". Rather than his father's self-sacrifice, Neal kills a squid to retrieve its ink, which he coats on an arrow shaft. They storm Pan's camp where Mr. Gold puts all the Lost Boys and Henry to sleep. Pan catches the arrow Neal shoots at him and becomes paralyzed as they take away Henry. However, Pan brings up the prophecy, which later causes Mr. Gold to disclose everything to Neal, who loses trust in his father. Neal asks for the dagger, which Mr. Gold cannot provide since his shadow hid it away. Though this is a legitimate reason, he sees this as another one of his father's empty excuses. Mr. Gold promises he can be different from the past if his son has faith in him. Placated, Neal grabs Mr. Gold's hand in a gesture of trust. However, he brings up what it felt like being stuck in Neverland and knowing his father, too greedy for power, would never save him. Too late, Mr. Gold notices Neal slid squid ink onto his palm, which freezes him in place. After his son leaves with Henry, the paralyzing effect wears off on Mr. Gold. Belle materializes to give condolences for Neal’s lack of belief in him, yet Mr. Gold has doubts about his own ability to go through with the sacrifice. Again, he struggles with his nasty habit of selfishness. Belle reminds him that habits can be broken, but Mr. Gold, not in the mood for talking, sends her away.
Mr. Gold attempts to look into the future, though Pan rudely interrupts to inform him that foresight is not possible in such a place. Pan confronts Mr. Gold about losing Neal, and his inability to go through with the sacrifice to save Henry. When told his only chance to live is by leaving the island, Mr. Gold refuses as he doesn't want to abandon his son and grandson. Pan pointedly suggests that even if Neal and Henry are saved, they will never forgive him for his horrible deeds. Furthermore, he instigates Mr. Gold hasn't forgiven his father either and tries to persuade him to go back to Belle and have another child as this is the only future he can have without dying. Belle reappears; persuading Mr. Gold to come home so they can start a family together. As he reaches for her hand, she starts choking. Under the strain of Regina's magical grip, Belle proves to be just an illusion created by Pan's shadow. Regina suggests they team up, which Mr. Gold blatantly refuses as the only way to stop Pan is if he himself dies as well in the process. As much as she would not mind that, Regina suggests finding a way to contain Pan. Mr. Gold has just the item, except it's sitting in his pawnshop. She reprehends him for not bringing it along, though Mr. Gold's whole plan all along was to sacrifice his own life to kill Pan. Regina mocks him for such an idiotic plan as his will for self-preservation is too strong anyway. To procure the item, Regina summons a mermaid, Ariel, promising her human legs and the location of her past love, Eric, if she will help them. Ariel complies with their terms and is told to go to Storybrooke.
To help Ariel find the way there, Mr. Gold draws a route to Storybrooke on the ground and then gives her an enchanted sand dollar to take to Belle. Through a hologram projection in the sand dollar, he gives Belle a hint about the location of the item needed to destroy Pan. He states that it can be found with strength of their love. Passing the time until Ariel's return, Regina asks Mr. Gold if he really believes Belle can succeed. He is certain she can, but Regina wants to be sure his feelings aren't blinding him. Mr. Gold attests that his feelings for Belle are enough to believe in her. She realizes he must really love her. He jokes she is jealous, but Regina denies being envious of Belle. Mr. Gold determines she actually covets not having someone. A splash interrupts the exchange as Ariel peers out from the water to deliver the requested item, Pandora's Box, to Mr. Gold. After Regina gives Ariel control over being human as a reward, Mr. Gold sends her off to Eric. Before she goes, Ariel notifies them about Pan's prisoner, Wendy, and that the girl's brothers are in Storybrooke awaiting their sister. She pleads for them to rescue Wendy as thanks for procuring the box. Mr. Gold promises to try and asks her to tell Belle that they will be seeing each other again.
When Regina brings up Emma's search for Neal, which she believes is Pan's trap, Mr. Gold admits his son is alive. She senses Mr. Gold is hiding something, however, he talks his way out of the issue. Then, they come across David, Emma, Hook, Mary Margaret, Neal and Tinker Bell in the jungle. Neal then reveals his father's objective to kill Henry and prevent a seer's prophecy from coming true. To placate them, Mr. Gold hands the box to Neal, who warns him against using magic. Mr. Gold insists Pan is too powerful, and when Neal tries to ask about his history with the Lost Boy, he refuses to say anything. Later, Emma asks Hook for a way to save David from the Dreamshade poison, and Mr. Gold suggests gathering more of the island spring water until he makes an cure in Storybrooke. In exchange, he wants a favor of equal value, but Neal convinces him to help for the right reasons rather than for personal gain. Gaining access to the Lost Boys' camp with Tinker Bell's help, they search for Henry and Pan, but neither are found. Instead, Neal frees an old friend of his, Wendy, and later asks her about Henry. At first, Wendy lies to them, but with encouragement from Neal, she admits Pan needs Henry's heart to become immortal. As a trade, Pan lives, but Henry will die. With Emma, Neal and Regina, Mr. Gold heads to Skull Rock to stop Pan. There, a special barrier keeps out anyone with a shadow. Conveniently, only Mr. Gold is without a shadow, which surprises Neal as he believed his father was lying about ripping away his own shadow. Armed with the box, he goes upstairs to face Pan, who suggests they can start over as a family. As soon as Mr. Gold refuses, Pan reveals he has the real Pandora's Box, and traps him within it.
Trapped in the box, Mr. Gold is rendered powerless, while Henry gives up his heart to Pan and dies. Pan, retreating to Pixie Woods, leaves the box to lure Emma, Mary Margaret and Regina into his trap. However, he underestimates Regina, who breaks free and retrieves both Henry's heart and the box. Aboard the Jolly Roger, after Henry has been revived, Neal frees his father, and the two reconcile. Neal finally realizes Mr. Gold truly cares for Henry's well-being, and he regrets not believing in him. When questioned about Pan being his father, Mr. Gold expresses fears that he turned out just like him by abandoning his own son and being selfish. Though Neal has always held a grudge against his father for that, he now recognizes Mr. Gold has changed for the better.
Following a safe journey home to Storybrooke, he and Neal have a joyous reunion with Belle at the dock. Neal hands him his trusty old cane, which Mr. Gold affirms is a reminder of the man he used to be, but not anymore. Peace resumes as Mr. Gold seals the box away in the pawnshop. Belle brings up the endless possibilities of his future now that everything is settled. Mr. Gold agrees, and states that the only future he wants is where they are together. The next morning, he drops by the diner to give David the elixir. Mr. Gold doesn't ask for anything in return, though notes that they are now family, so perhaps David will help him in the future. That same day, Mr. Gold exits his shop with Belle just as David, Emma and Mary Margaret rush over to ask for the box as they believe Pan is controlling the escaped Shadow from inside it. At the outside of the town border, Emma steps over the line as Mr. Gold opens the box to release Pan on the same side as her. Pan claims to be Henry, as the two switched bodies, and proves it by telling Emma something only the boy himself would know. They all regroup with Hook, Neal and Tinker Bell at the vault where Regina took "Henry" for protection, though the door is locked. Mr. Gold busts the door open with magic. Inside, Regina is found unconscious while one critical item is missing and now in Pan's hands--the Dark Curse. Mr. Gold shares with everyone of the only viable way to stop Pan's curse is for Regina, as the original caster of the Dark Curse, to undo it by destroying the scroll, though there will be a steep price for this. They plan to switch Henry back to his own body so he will be in possession of the scroll and bring it to Regina. Mr. Gold can perform the spell, but needs a strong outlet in order for it to work. Tinker Bell has knowledge of a powerful Black Fairy wand that Mother Superior kept, so she, David, Hook and Neal go to retrieve it from the convent nuns. David, Hook and Neal arrive back with the wand. Before getting started, Mr. Gold clasps a bracelet on Henry, which will absorb away Pan's magic, after their bodies are switched back. Henry's spirit travels out of Pan into his body, to which everyone goes to find him while Mr. Gold stays behind. When Pan finally awakens, Mr. Gold gives him a chance to express remorse. Pan disdainfully blames him for stealing away everything he ever wanted; whether it be his dreams, money, time and even hopes of bettering himself. Mr. Gold prepares to kill him with a sword, but Pan rips off the bracelet and materializes it on the older man's wrist. He is then magically thrown into a shelf as Pan taunts him about being a coward once more without his magic to hide behind. Pan stalks off to reclaim the Dark Curse scroll while Mr. Gold tries, without success, to take off the bracelet. In frustration, he almost decides to cut off his own hand, but then apprehends Pan while everyone else is frozen by a spell. Mr. Gold affirms to Belle and Neal how much he loves them, but can't be together with them. As a last line of defense, he summons his Shadow, who previously hid away the dagger, and stabs Pan as well as himself with it. Pan melts away in darkened smoke as Malcolm takes his place. He ignores his father's attempts to stop him, even when Malcolm insists they can start over as a family. Mr. Gold attests that he himself is a villain, and as such, can't have a happy ending. He twists the dagger to embed deeper into both their puncture wounds as a golden light erupts from the blade. The two are showered in the glow and disappear as Mr. Gold plants an affectionate kiss on Malcolm's cheek.
Before Second Curse
Rumplestiltskin's body and his dagger are recreated from a black liquid, when his son, Neal, uses a key to open the vault of the Dark One. As an unexpected cost, which Neal is not aware of, he dies while Rumplestiltskin is revived. As his son perishes, Rumplestiltskin grabs hold of him as well as the dagger. However, he is not able to grip both at the same time, and the Wicked Witch snatches the dagger. Unwilling to let Neal perish, he absorbs his son into his own body to keep him alive. Enslaved to the Wicked Witch's orders via the dagger, she orders him to kill Belle. Just before he does, Lumiere entraps the Wicked Witch in flames. Belle flees with Lumiere in tow while Rumplestiltskin is forced to stay behind. Imprisoned in a cage in his own castle, Rumplestiltskin busies himself with a spinning wheel. Belle, Prince Charming, Snow White, Robin Hood and Regina break in to ask him how to defeat Zelena, but he responds with gibberish and veiled speech. However, when Belle approaches, he recognizes her and provides information about the banished Good Witch of the South, Glinda, who may be able to help them. His only clue to her whereabouts is a door that can only be entered by the pure of heart. Shortly after, Zelena, discovering Snow White cast another Dark Curse to find Emma, drops a potion into the mixture to erase everyone's memories of the last year in the Enchanted Forest. Before the curse spreads, she drinks a substance to retain her memories, and then passes it to Rumplestiltskin. She gives him the option to remember losing his son, or be foolish enough not to take the potion and forget everything. Left alone, Rumplestiltskin chooses to ingest it; believing that with pain is power, but also vengeance. As he lifts the vial to his lips, Neal breaks free. While Rumplestiltskin is passed out, his son writes a note to Hook asking him to give the potion to Emma, and he then attaches it to a messenger bird. With his last bit of strength gone, Neal returns to his father's body; causing Rumplestiltskin to awaken.
During Second Curse
Prior to the casting of the new curse, Neal is tricked into resurrecting Mr. Gold by opening the vault of the Dark One and trading his own life for his father's. Mr. Gold, then as Rumplestiltskin, absorbed Neal into his own body to keep him alive. Consequentially, the Dark One's dagger ends up in the hands of the Wicked Witch of the West, who later assumes the guise of Zelena the midwife in Storybrooke. Imprisoned by her, Mr. Gold is kept in a farmhouse cellar. As a direct result of having two minds in one body, he begins acting erratically in a crazed Rumplestiltskin-like behavior. When Zelena brings a plate of food, Mr. Gold grabs her arm and warns that she should have never brought him back. She laughs, stating that they have work to do, and leaves. Alone, he repeatedly recites, "You feed the madness and it feeds on you!" and laughs hysterically. ("Witch Hunt", "Quiet Minds")
In passing, he frantically spins straw into gold with a mantra of cleaning his mind and soothing the soul, which his captor mocks him about. Zelena's taunts anger Mr. Gold, to which she unlocks his cell and enters; daring him to harm her. As much as he would like to, Zelena is in full control of him with the Dark One's Dagger in her possession. When ordered to sit down, he assumes Zelena is going to stab him with the dagger and become the new Dark One, but instead, she gives him a facial shave by using the weapon as a razor. Claiming that she needs him to keep up appearances, Mr. Gold later questions if that were so, it would make more sense if he is given a new shirt. Admitting little, Zelena only states that she is after something he has spent a lifetime waiting for. While still jailed, Mr. Gold breaks out of the cellar, leaving the floor littered with his spun gold. ("The Tower")
Following his daring escape, Mr. Gold disappears into the forest. Despite that he feels the pull of Zelena's command via the dagger, Neal helps him resist her. While heading to the pawnshop, Neal assumes control of the body and collapses. While he is resting up at the hospital, Belle begins looking into a strange marking on his palm. Once Neal leaves for the forest, he becomes dormant in the body as Mr. Gold re-manifests. Unable to quiet Neal's extra voice in his head, Mr. Gold screams in agony; alerting David and Emma to him. When a flying monkey attacks, intent on returning Mr. Gold to Zelena, he flees. Emma chases after him, but doesn't see him revert to Neal. With Belle's research, Emma discovers he and his father are sharing the same body, and she magically separates them. Mr. Gold, having gained his sanity back, tells her the Wicked Witch's true name, Zelena. As Neal's time nearly runs out, he thanks his father for showing him what it means to make a true sacrifice for loved ones. Heartbroken, Mr. Gold reaffirms his love for him as Neal responds with similar sentiments before passing away peacefully. Emma leaves to track down the Wicked Witch, but Mr. Gold is unable to leave his son's side until Zelena herself comes along to drag him back to the farmhouse cellar. ("Quiet Minds")
While a public funeral is held for Neal, Mr. Gold remains caged. When asked by Zelena if his son was worth the trouble of casting the curse, Mr. Gold assures her it was because Neal is family; something she could never understand. To the townspeople, Zelena outs herself as Regina's half-sister and challenges her sibling to a showdown on Main Street. Hoping to win Mr. Gold away from Zelena's influence, Belle enters the cellar to coax him into leaving with her. Just as Mr. Gold reaches for Belle's hand, he alerts her to Zelena's presence in the room; sending the girl running out of the cellar. He is then forced to deliver a message from Zelena to Belle's allies warning them to not interfere again or risk paying with their lives. After nightfall, Mr. Gold accompanies his captor to the face-off. Emma tries to goad the witch into a fight, though Zelena has Mr. Gold fling her away. Regina arrives, with Zelena attempting to steal her heart, but the witch departs upon discovering it is hidden elsewhere. Locked up once more, Mr. Gold spitefully attests that even if he had to choose again, Regina would still be his choice as the curse caster. Gleefully, Zelena reveals her master plan of resetting the past so he'd be forced to choose differently. ("It's Not Easy Being Green")
Sent out to do Zelena's bidding again, Mr. Gold menaces Robin Hood for Regina's heart by threatening Roland's life. Robin Hood has no choice but to comply, and Mr. Gold departs, heart in hand, for Zelena. Upon return to his cell, he is handed a suit from his captor and later made to sit down for a meal with her. During dinner, she tells him more about her time spell for changing the past using the collected ingredients—David's sword, Regina's heart and his brain. Zelena boasts that she can even help him find his son again by allowing Mr. Gold to come with her to the past. Mr. Gold remains skeptical, but outwardly expresses remorse for having once chosen Regina over her. To make up for the error of his ways, he seduces Zelena, though this is just a ploy to distract her long enough so he can reach the dagger. Unfortunately, Zelena catches on and quickly seizes the weapon before he can take it. She angrily berates him for losing his only chance of seeing his son again, though Mr. Gold asserts that Neal died valiantly to save him. Fed up, she forces him to return to his prison. ("Bleeding Through") Since Hook is refusing to follow Zelena's orders of removing Emma's magic, she has Mr. Gold kidnap him. On the town roadside, Mr. Gold drives up and stops his car. Upon opening the trunk, he unveils a bound-up Hook to her. Zelena gives the pirate an ultimatum to do as she asks or Henry will suffer the consequences. Later, Regina breaks the second curse when she bestows Henry with a kiss of true love. ("A Curious Thing")
After Second Curse
While Mr. Gold spins more strands of gold to "clear his mind", Zelena transforms it into his brain as one of the ingredients she needs. In the barn, he digs a symbol on the ground for the time spell. When Emma and Hook storm the farmhouse, Mr. Gold is compelled into drowning the pirate; forcing the savior to resuscitate him and be drained of magic. In turn, this leaves Mary Margaret, who is in labor, unprotected due to Emma's magic barrier around the delivery room being undone. At the hospital, Mr. Gold follows Zelena in as she easily subdues all those who stand in her way. They stumble upon Belle, who refuses to back down against Zelena, but via the witch's magic, she passes out in Mr. Gold's arms. Though Mr. Gold doesn't wish to leave his beloved, he is forced to by Zelena's will. Zelena successfully makes off with the newborn as the last ingredient for the spell, however, a confrontation ensues with Emma and her allies. Mr. Gold orders Emma to seize the dagger so she can control him instead, but it is Regina who defeats her sister with light magic. Regina takes Zelena's pendant; rendering her powerless, which gives an irate Mr. Gold the opportunity to punish the witch for enslaving him. Instead, Regina seizes the dagger to compel him to stop, and she spares Zelena's life. Mr. Gold regroups with Belle, who received the dagger from Regina, and she relinquishes it to him so he can be forever free. Due to her immense trust in him, he promises to do the same. He returns the dagger and proposes to Belle, which she happily accepts. Without her notice, Mr. Gold switches the dagger; taking the real one while replacing a fake in the pawnshop. In secret, he later kills Zelena with it; accidentally triggering magic in her pendant, which activates the time spell. ("Kansas")
Afterwards, Mr. Gold places the weapon in the pawnshop cabinet and magically obscures it. Belle, unable to keep what she believes is the real dagger, tries to give it back to him. Mr. Gold insists he trusts her completely and then changes the topic to their upcoming wedding. She happily informs him that her father, Moe, has given his blessing to them. During the diner celebration welcoming David and Mary Margaret's newborn son, Mr. Gold and Belle walk in as Zelena's time spell is activated. He follows as Belle, David, Regina and Robin Hood to the sheriff department to discover Zelena missing from the jail cell. Regina suspiciously accuses Mr. Gold of wrongdoing, but he attests Belle has the dagger and wouldn't order him to harm Zelena. To prove it, David runs the security tape. Nearly exposed, Mr. Gold quickly changes the recording to give the appearance that Zelena used magic to turn herself into a statue, which shatters and melts away into powder. As a group, they agree to leave the time portal untouched, however, Emma and Hook enter through it to the past where they recreate a first meeting between Prince Charming and Snow White and then return to the present. Later, Mr. Gold witnesses David and Mary Margaret announcing they are naming their son after a true hero—Neal. During the marriage ceremony, Archie acts as pastor while Belle is walked by her father to her future husband. Beginning her vows, Belle recalls losing Mr. Gold to darkness, weakness and death, but has actually spent her life finding him. For his vows, he talks about being unloved and unloving since love has always given him pain, but she was the one who brought light into his life. Mr. Gold promises to never forget what he once was and what he is now. Belle believes the monster in him is gone and though as a man he is flawed, everyone is too, which only deepens her love for him.
Soon after their wedding, Belle encourages Mr. Gold into visiting Neal's grave site. Once there, he reminisces about when the ogre war was still prevalent, Neal—then Baelfire—had become frightened by the noise outside and sought comfort with him. Mr. Gold recognizes this as the happiest moment in his life since it was first time that he himself felt strong enough as a man to protect his son. Alas, he admits this ended upon his discovery of the Dark One's dagger. Pulling out the cursed tome from his jacket, Mr. Gold recalls it turned himself into a monster obsessed with power when all he truly needed was him. He tells Neal about gaining love with Belle, but it has started with a lie since she believes the dagger is in her possession. Mr. Gold contends that the dagger was needed to avenge Neal's death, but now he must find the strength to return it to Belle. Remembering Neal sacrificed himself for him, Mr. Gold pledges to become the very man his son gave his life for. Afterwards, Belle shows Mr. Gold a vacant mansion that she wants to use as their honeymoon suite. Inside, as she chatters on about the scenic ocean view, he magically freezes her in place and switches out the fake dagger in her purse with the real one. As he unfreezes her, Belle then leads him into another room. Before following, Mr. Gold sees a box with stars decorated at its center. They walk into a dance hall, in which he uses magic to set up designated clothes, lighting and a playing gramophone where the couple waltz together. Later that night, after Belle is asleep, Mr. Gold takes out the real dagger and moves it in a circular motion over the box. The device manifests into a hat and gives off a purplish-pink glow at its core. At some point, he once again places the fake dagger into Belle's purse.
Returning to the shop, Mr. Gold and Belle discover it has been broken into. As they enter, Henry approaches and asks to speak with his grandfather. Once Belle is gone, the boy explains a desire to reacquire his false memories because Regina is currently not speaking to him. Mr. Gold declines since having both good and bad memories are essential to a person's character. He also emphasizes the fact Henry has the blood of the Dark One as well as the blood of the savior in his veins and shouldn't give up on Regina. As Henry begins to leave, Mr. Gold asks him to pay for the broken lock as he assumes the boy had forcibly entered the pawnshop earlier on. Instead, Henry states it was already broken when he arrived.
Later, whilst working together in the pawnshop, Mr. Gold and Belle's martial bliss is interrupted by David and Hook, who inform them that an ice magic wielder, Elsa, entrapped Emma in a cave where she is freezing to death. Mr. Gold fails to see how it concerns him, though a worried Hook pushes for action. He suggests melting the ice, though it might kill Emma, which angers Hook. Before things out of hand, David explains Elsa is looking for her sister, Anna, whose pendant she found in the pawnshop. Belle gives David a photo of the necklace, which he recognizes as belonging to a woman named Joan, whose real name must be Anna. ("White Out")
Inside the pawnshop, Emma and Hook bring Elsa to Mr. Gold and question him about her. As Emma recalls, he had the urn, which Elsa was trapped within, in his vault. He claims to not know her and suggests they ask Elsa how she ended up in the urn. Elsa, however, cannot remember anything. To ease their suspicion of him, Mr. Gold justifies that items, like urns and necklaces, naturally fall into his possession as a collector, but he doesn't know the histories behind them. Hook counters that Mr. Gold wouldn't unless he had something to gain out of it. Owning up to his past, Mr. Gold affirms that was true once, but since losing a son and gaining a wife, he's "turned over a new leaf". In order to satisfy their skepticism, he allows Belle to command him, using the dagger, into revealing the truth. Mr. Gold proclaims he did not know Elsa was trapped in the urn and that he doesn't know her or Anna, though this is a lie, as the dagger Belle holds is a fake. Nonetheless, this declaration is enough for Emma to cross him off as a suspect, but not for Hook, who later returns with Elsa. Hook mentions the fake dagger, knowing that Mr. Gold would never allow anyone to have power over him, and offers to keep quiet about the truth if he assists Elsa in finding the person who cast a freezing spell on Maid Marian. Elsa shows Marian's strand of white hair, which he reverts into its magical form. After releasing the snowflake patterned magic, it flies off to the spell caster, which Hook and Elsa follow. During the evening, Mr. Gold approaches the Snow Queen, Ingrid, in the woods. He questions if Emma remembered her, and she confirms it didn't happen. When he asks if she requires his help, the Snow Queen states she will when the time is right. ("Rocky Road")
Hook, recalling the dagger secret and the repercussions if he tells Belle, wants his lost hand reattached. Mr. Gold warns that the hand may cause his ruthless personality to emerge once more, but Hook believes he is bluffing. After closing up for the evening, Mr. Gold gets in his car, to which Hook, having violent outbursts due to the hand, pushes him to remove it. Though threatened with exposure, Mr. Gold claims he returned the dagger to Belle, so Hook's leverage has no merit. Since only his magic can undo the hand, Mr. Gold and Hook strike another deal. Meeting at the docks, Mr. Gold enchants a broom, which leads them to Apprentice's house. As he his accomplice, Hook follows Mr. Gold's orders and subdues the man. When Mr. Gold unlocks the hat from the box using his dagger, the Apprentice reminds him that every Dark One has tried to possess it but all fail. The Apprentice believes Mr. Gold will never accumulate enough magic to reach his goal, which is to be free of the dagger's control and retain his powers. In turn, Mr. Gold absorbs him into the hat. Soon after, he implicates Hook, with a security tape from the old man's house, and then erases himself from it so only the pirate is culpable. In doing so, Mr. Gold keeps their current deal open, so Hook still owes him. Hook argues that he followed his orders to be rid of the cursed hand, which Emma will be understanding of. However, Mr. Gold reveals the hand was never cursed and Hook's violence is his inner darkness shining through. In anger, Hook considers harming Belle, but Mr. Gold promises, should it happen, he'll do the same to Emma. Henry, seeing as Mr. Gold is his closest relative to Neal, wants to spend more time with him by taking on a pawnshop job. Mr. Gold agrees to make him an Apprentice, and instructs his grandson to start by sweeping the floor. ("The Apprentice")
After storing the Sorcerer's hat, Mr. Gold closes the safe just as Belle enters the room calling for him. Insisting Emma has urgent business with them, they go to the sheriff station where David, Henry, Hook and Mary Margaret are also gathered. Emma plays camera footage of herself where her prior foster mother is revealed to be none other than the Snow Queen. With only the Snow Queen's ice cream truck to investigate, David suggests Mr. Gold team up with him to comb the eastern side of town, but he would rather work alone. In the woods, Mr. Gold outsmarts Ingrid by striking a deal for the Sorcerer's box that is supposedly in her possession, though she does not know he has it. Instead, she simply tells him to stay out of her way. When he returns to the pawnshop, Belle pleads for him to lead her to the Snow Queen's hideout. Secretive about her mission, she reasons it's for fixing a past mistake, but he refuses. Belle then pulls out the dagger, explaining she never wanted to do this, but she needs his help. Using it, she orders him to take her to the Snow Queen's lair. Unable to not obey, lest she finds out the dagger is fake, Mr. Gold complies. Once there, Belle admits she needs a Sorcerer's hat from the hideout so the Snow Queen will divulge Anna's location. Though ordered to stand watch, he eventually goes in and finds a trance-like Belle standing in front of a mirror. When he calls out to her, she slashes his neck. Wrestling her into his arms, he whisks them to the pawnshop where she regains normalcy. Guilt-ridden, Belle reveals she once failed to rescue Anna in the past and wanted to make things right before anyone knew. Remorseful for using him and the dagger, she apologizes. Mr. Gold forgives her, to which they embrace as Belle expresses sorrow for keeping a secret from him as she knows he would never keep something her. Afterwards, he confronts Ingrid about her plans to cast the spell of shattered sight. Mr. Gold doesn't want his loved ones to be harmed, but since she is not willing to spare them, he shows her the Sorcerer's hat; threatening to put her in it.
Since finishing sweeping duty at the pawnshop, Henry asks Mr. Gold if he can start learning magic. Mr. Gold mysteriously talks about having something capable of turning an old item into a new one, but he reveals it to be furniture polish; much to Henry's disappointment. Moments later, Belle, David, Elsa and Hook arrive requiring his assistance. As David explains, Emma is trapped in the sheriff station with the Snow Queen inside. Due to Belle's imploring, Mr. Gold agrees to help. They all exit the pawnshop, except for Hook, who stays behind to confront Mr. Gold about his suspiciously calm demeanor about the Snow Queen. He suggests that the two must have history, but Mr. Gold states that's solely his own business. Joined by Henry and Mary Margaret, everyone arrives to the station as an explosion tears open a hole in the building. A shaken Emma explains the Snow Queen got away, but she herself caused the combustion. With her powers spinning out of control, Emma then accidentally collapses a streetlight, which almost falls on Hook, but David takes the hit. Due to this, Mary Margaret reprimands Emma, but upon seeing her daughter's hurt expression, she retracts her anger. However, Emma flees and drives off in her car. Since his services are no longer required, Mr. Gold resumes his duties at the pawnshop when Ingrid visits. The Snow Queen reveals the dagger was once in her possession and thus she knows its secrets. In exchange for knowledge of the last thing he needs to be free of the weapon's will, Ingrid wants the ribbons she and her sisters gave him in a past deal. She whispers that he'll need the heart of someone who knew him before his time as the Dark One, to which Mr. Gold replies he'll gladly do it.
From Belle, Mr. Gold learns everyone is out looking for Emma. The elusive savior, desperate to contain her destructive powers, begs him for a way to be rid of them. Pulling out a parchment, he explains it's a spell to take away light magic, but the effect is permanent. Emma agrees, but since the spell's casting power will reduce buildings to rubble, Mr. Gold tells her to arrive at a manor in the woods. Only after she leaves, he throws out the parchment, which is a cover for his plan to absorb Emma into the hat. At some point before this, he amasses all the obliterated and powdered pieces of the urn from the barn house. Mr. Gold seeks out Ingrid and, while distracting her in conversation, he sprinkles the urn powder in a circle to entrap her in it. Though the effect is temporary, it buys him time to keep her from ruining his plans. Inside the manor, Mr. Gold urges Emma to go into a room where she'll be stripped of her powers. Hook, having tracked down the location, is tied to the gate fence before he can stop Emma. While Mr. Gold is busy holding off the pirate, Elsa secretly persuades Emma to accept her magic. While Hook relishes at the Dark One's failure, Mr. Gold reveals what he requires to be free of the dagger's will, which is the heart of a person who knew him before his acquired powers. Thus, he rips out Hook's heart with future intentions of using him as a puppet. In a confrontation at her lair, Ingrid boasts to Mr. Gold about Elsa and Emma accepting their magic; causing the ribbons to materialize on their wrists and absorb their powers into her own ribbon for the spell of shattered sight. She suggests the amassed magic is enough to kill even him, but he cautions her not to overestimate her own power. As he leaves, Ingrid counters that he should not doubt her magic, and she then shatters the mirror using the ribbon's power.
As Ingrid's spell approaches, Mr. Gold offers to stay out of her way permanently, seeing as he's immortal and will be immune to her magic's effects, by leaving town. She allows him to depart with his wife and grandson. Before doing so, Mr. Gold tasks Hook with absorbing the nuns, who are currently working with Belle on spell to counter Ingrid's spell, into the hat. This will supply the hat with enough magic to retain his powers and keep them when he departs from Storybrooke. Hook criticizes his intent of killing a possible cure that could stop Ingrid's spell, but Mr. Gold cares little for the fate of the townspeople. As part of the plan, Mr. Gold attempts to persuade Belle to leave the diner and watch the pawnshop for him, which is only a cover to get her out of the way so Hook can use the hat on the nuns. She insists on staying to assist with the spell, so he decides to keep her company. Mother Superior disapproves of his presence; remarking that they are using light magic, though he contends he could help anyway. Elsa dupes the nuns by giving them a pouch of rocks instead of Anna's necklace, which they need to make the counter spell. Emma goes after her, and once word is received that Anna has been found, Mr. Gold coaxes Belle into leaving the remaining work in the nuns' hands. Once the couple are gone from the diner, Hook seals the nuns into the hat. Seeing his wife into the pawnshop, Mr. Gold then enacts a barrier to shield her from outsiders. Hook, overhearing the pair's warm exchange, bitterly asserts that Mr. Gold has Belle's love, but he is picking power over it. Mr. Gold claims he can have both without choosing, and then takes the magic-filled hat. Despite his plan not being yet complete, Mr. Gold promises that by morning, Hook's life will come to an end.
While the curse is in effect, Mr. Gold packs for his departure from Storybrooke. Walking into the pawnshop, Hook, whose heart he still possesses, remains unaffected by the curse. Mr. Gold sends the pirate to find and bring Henry to the town line in preparation for leaving town. He intends to do the same with Belle, and when the stars in the sky align with the stars in the Sorcerer's hat, stepping over the town line is possible. The curse, at the cost of Ingrid sacrificing her own life, eventually comes to an end. Before Hook heads off, Mr. Gold gives him a potion to break Henry out of wherever Emma or Regina have him hidden. Later, as Mr. Gold watches over a sleeping Belle, Hook reports that Henry escaped. Still, Mr. Gold believes his plan will work. Desperate to protect everyone, Hook asks him not to hurt Emma and the townspeople. Mr. Gold vows, as long as no one gets in his way, he won't harm them. However, he makes no such promises for the people outside of Storybrooke.
Mr. Gold gains insight from Hook about the remnants of Ingrid's magic at the town line, which will prevent those who leave from re-entering. The Arendelle natives, seeking a way home, are still stuck in town until they locate a portal. Knowing of Belle's past acquaintance with Anna, who is aware of his scheme with the Sorcerer's hat, he orders Hook to prevent the women from crossing paths. After waking up Belle, Mr. Gold suggests they go on a proper honeymoon in New York. With the Apprentice's broom, a portal door that once brought Ingrid to this realm is unveiled. Via the heart, Mr. Gold assumes control of Hook's speaking actions and tells Emma about the portal. When Regina has to say goodbye to Robin Hood, who is departing from town with Marian, Mr. Gold informs her of his intent to leave with Belle. He asks her to pass on his farewells to Henry, and hints his grandson was snooping around the pawnshop for something. Regina admits Henry, wanting to change her storybook ending, believed Mr. Gold knew the Author's identity. Certain that villains don't get happy endings, she questions how he obtained one. Mr. Gold states he gained happiness with force, and suggests she can too by letting Marian die. At night, he syncs the stars in the hat with the stars in the sky. Emma and Mary Margaret arrive to intervene, but too late, as Mr. Gold freezes them and begins crushing Hook's heart. Suddenly, his grip loosens due to Belle forcing him, with the real dagger, to stop. An upset Belle later makes him teleport both of them to the town line. There, she recalls when he traded the gauntlet for her, and her perception that this proved he had love in him. Instead, Belle recognizes he has not and will never give up power for her, especially since she found the gauntlet in the pawnshop and it led her to the real dagger. He insists having power is not a bad thing, and they can have both, though Belle states she only wanted his love. Mr. Gold pleads for another chance, but she refuses. Having once seen the man behind the beast in him, Belle angrily declares he's just a beast now. She tearfully banishes him out of town, and a heartbroken Mr. Gold has no choice but to obey.
Before Mr. Gold leaves the area, he walks a hundred yards up the road and leaves his tie on a tree branch as a marker.
Sometime after this, Mr. Gold travels to New York and enters Neal's old apartment, where Robin Hood and his family have moved in, much to his ire. As he tries to throw them out, Mr. Gold suffers chest pains, causing Robin Hood to whisk him to the hospital. There, the doctors report it was a heart attack, but Mr. Gold knows it was caused by the poison of all his deeds as the Dark One. Through coercion, he has Robin Hood procure the elixir of the wounded heart from Walsh's furniture store in order to heal him. After Mr. Gold receives the elixir and Robin Hood has left, he ingests the liquid, only to find it's not working. While he panics, Marian walks in, admitting she switched the potion with a fake, before revealing she has been Zelena all along. Gleefully, she recounts escaping her own death and killing Marian in the past before taking her place in the present, as he suffers another heart attack, but the doctors manage to resuscitate him. When he awakens, Zelena offers a proposition in which she'll give him the elixir if he has the Author write her a happy ending. Mr. Gold agrees, and after leaving the hospital, he finds Robin Hood waiting for him outside with a box of Neal's belongings. Robin Hood wants him to have it, but Mr. Gold refuses since they are a reminder of the man his son became after he abandoned him. Having experienced happiness with Baelfire and not appreciating it at the time, Mr. Gold advises Robin Hood to chase after what his heart truly desires and never let it go.
Six weeks later, Mr. Gold steps off a bus in New York and enters an aquarium where he meets up with Ursula. Taking in his appearance, she sneers at how little he resembles a man who always wins, which is what he once described himself as. Mr. Gold coolly explains his situation is temporary, and he delves into the fact villains never win also applies to himself, but also to someone who can change it called "The Author". This doesn't impress her very much as she thinks such a person sounds pretentious, though Mr. Gold offers to take her to him. Ursula finds it strange he is coming to her for help, and she wonders exactly who they are up against. Unsurprisingly, he states that the heroes are in their way. He then suggests she pack her things for the journey as they still have two more stops to make.
For an unknown period after this, Mr. Gold stays in Ursula's apartment living off ramen noodles. On the computer, he has been in contact with Belle, who is looking for help to translate a spell, although she believes herself to be exchanging emails with an Oxford professor. The spell, which he translates, will release the nuns from the hat, but will also free the Chernabog trapped inside. He and Ursula go to Great Neck, Long Island to hitch a ride with Cruella De Vil to the road near Storybrooke. Mr. Gold gets out of the car to retrieve the tie he left six weeks earlier on the tree branch. Once he explains the town is invisible and cannot be entered, Cruella and Ursula angrily accost him for leading them on. Mr. Gold contends they all have their own reasons for wanting their happy endings, but cannot do it without his help. As he instructs, Cruella and Ursula use his phone to call Regina, pretending to be repentant from their villainous ways, and they ask for passage into Storybrooke. While the Chernabog is on the loose in town, the women advise Regina on the beast's attributes, which helps to vanquish the demon. For their assistance, Regina gives them a scroll to enter Storybrooke. Later that night, Cruella and Ursula return to the town line to bring Mr. Gold in, too, with the scroll. As the trio walk down the street, he counsels the ladies to continue playing nice with the residents. When Ursula complains they are doing all the work, Mr. Gold reveals his role as the "Oxford professor" who Belle communicated with.
Working behind the scenes while remaining unseen, Mr. Gold enters into the cave below the library and gathers Maleficent's ashes into a pile. Afterwards, he receives a phone call from Cruella and Ursula, who successfully stole a box from the pawnshop containing a trinket from Maleficent. David and Mary Margaret mistakenly believe the villains are going to use it to revive, when in truth, this is just to lure them into the cave as they need their blood to resurrect Maleficent. Once Cruella and Ursula regroup with Mr. Gold in the cavern, he asks if Belle spoke of him. They casually lie that she barely mentioned him, to which he regards this wordlessly. Leaving the women to restore Maleficent, Mr. Gold disappears and secretly watches Belle from across the street as she is fixing an item display. Upon seeing a man approach her, he looks on in shock and heartbreak as Belle smiles at the stranger and kisses him.
During one night, Mr. Gold hides out at a cabin and questions Cruella, Maleficent and Ursula on their whereabouts after they don't return until morning. He learns Regina has joined their side, and he regards her as an asset since she wants the same things as them. Masquerading as Hook, Mr. Gold interrupts a diner outing between Belle and her date, Will, to chat with her privately. He tells her about the villains seeking the Author to change their stories. Since the trio want Regina to steal something, Mr. Gold speculates they need the dagger to lure the Dark One into town and control him for the mission, although he actually wants it for himself. Convinced that the weapon must never fall into their enemies' hands, Belle agrees to give him the dagger so he can hide it. Before doing so, she considers the possibility that Mr. Gold is already in town. To quell her worries, he encourages her to order the Dark One with the dagger to face her. When her command yields nothing, Belle is relieved, and with her mind at ease, she gives him the dagger and departs. Later, Mr. Gold takes off the disguise as he walks to the pawnshop, but before entering, he glamours himself as Hook again. There, he persuades her into reciting a pirate's oath, in which neither of them must ever speak about the dagger to each other or anyone else. When questioned about her romance with Will, Belle admits the relationship is new, and she's not completely over Mr. Gold, but he makes her happy. Curiously, she wonders why he and Will are on bad terms, to which he painfully states the man took something he cared about. After exiting the shop, Mr. Gold reverts back to himself and sadly regards Belle before leaving. At the cabin, Regina and Maleficent arrive after kidnapping Pinocchio, and Mr. Gold reverts him to August so they can interrogate him about the Author.
Under interrogation, August claims he obtained research about the Author from the Dragon and the papers are in his old trailer. Suspecting he is lying, Mr. Gold steals a potion from the nuns, forcing August to ingest it, so for every time he lies, his nose will grow. After lying twice, August admits there is a storybook page of a door that the Author is trapped in. Mr. Gold demands the door location, but August truthfully states he doesn't know. While Mr. Gold goes to the Sorcerer's mansion with Maleficent and Regina to search for the door, Cruella stays behind to guard their captive. The trio find nothing there, and on their walk back to the cabin, Cruella drives up in her car to announce Ursula has betrayed them to the heroes. August, having been rescued by Emma and her parents, is also gone, after Regina secretly tipped them off. Later, Regina is ordered by the villains to retrieve the storybook page illustrating the door. While Mr. Gold believes the door is in a physical location elsewhere, August tells Regina that the door in the illustration can be opened to free the Author.
At the cabin, the villains await Regina, who returns with only a photo of the door illustration. Cruella is disgusted by the image quality, which has a light glare; something Mr. Gold quickly realizes is magic and he pieces together that the Author is trapped in the illustration. In order to find the door page without tipping off the heroes, Maleficent puts the whole town to sleep, despite that those previously afflicted by the sleeping curse are immune to it. Going by Regina's suggestion, they begin their search for the page at the apartment. On the way there, Maleficent pressures Mr. Gold to give her information about her lost child's fate as long as she helps him find the Author. At the apartment, the illustration is not found, though Mr. Gold suggests the likelihood that Henry ran off to the mansion with it. Citing he has business elsewhere, Mr. Gold then leaves it up to the three women to persuade Henry to forfeit the door page. Slipping into the pawnshop, he carries an asleep Belle onto a bed and begins talking to her about his plans. Due to the many debts accumulated from his questionable actions, Mr. Gold doesn't believe he can ever repay all of them, and therefore, wants to change things quickly with the Author's help. He vows, if possible, to come back for her. After he leaves, the women meet him outside with the procured page. With a quick glance, Mr. Gold notices the page is fake, tears it up and then orders Maleficent to put Regina to sleep. Believing she is culpable, he and the others haul her to the vault. Again, Maleficent asks for her child's whereabouts, and Mr. Gold tries talking her out of it, as the truth may make her pain worse. Since Maleficent is adamant in her decision, he uses the baby rattle to show her the child, Lily, being adopted thirty years ago.
In the woods, Mr. Gold stops the Author, Isaac, in his futile attempt to carve a magic quill out of a twig since it's useless if it's not made from an enchanted tree. Mr. Gold tempts the Author with a real magic quill, and in exchange for a place to hide from Emma, he wants happy endings written for himself and others. Only then, Isaac agrees to join his side. Regina awakens in the vault, finding herself shackled to prevent magic use, which Mr. Gold uncuffs to allow her to phone Robin Hood in New York. To her utter dismay, she discovers from the call that Zelena has been pretending to be Marian this whole time. As leverage to force Regina into helping him turn Emma's heart to darkness, Mr. Gold reveals he'll allow Zelena to kill Robin Hood if she does not. Regina blatantly refuses, recalling how he turned her into a monster, and she doesn't want Emma to suffer the same fate. He then questions if that is her final answer as a distraught Regina looks at him silently.
After bringing Isaac to stay in the cabin, Mr. Gold hears a summoning call from Belle at the wishing well, before taking off to meet with her. When she asks him for the truth about his motives, he pulls out his own heart, which is almost completely blackened from all his dark deeds. Mr. Gold explains that when the last bit of light in it goes out, he'll lose his ability to love, and only the Author can save him. Belle, accepting his reasons, reconciles with him. As the pair break apart from a kiss, her tone suddenly becomes cold, as she remarks Will is a better kisser than him, and that his attempts at groveling are pathetic. He, puzzled by her behavior, receives a shock when Regina approaches with Belle's heart in her grasp. Regina proceeds to tell Belle to forget everything and leave, which she does. He vows to make her suffer for using Belle's heart, but she threatens to crush the heart if he does. Mr. Gold doesn't believe she will do it, but as Regina begins squeezing the heart, he relents to make her stop. With the last word, Regina convinces him to say nothing to Zelena while she rescues Robin Hood. Later, Mr. Gold spies on the Author and Cruella through his crystal ball and learns they have history, especially when she kidnaps Henry and demands Emma kill Isaac or her son dies. Eventually, Isaac admits he took away Cruella's power to kill, and that's why she wants him dead. Using the situation to his advantage, Mr. Gold sets up decoys of Henry's voice, leading Hook and Regina to them, in order to make Emma kill Cruella and turn her heart to darkness.
In the aftermath of Cruella's death by Emma, only Mr. Gold and Isaac show up for her burial. Isaac reminisces about how Cruella made him the man he is as Mr. Gold bluntly remarks that she needed to die at the savior's hands. Although they both have what they need to rewrite the book, Mr. Gold reminds him they must keep Emma on the dark path to finish the story. Later, Isaac confronts him about letting Emma leave town to look for Maleficent's child, but Mr. Gold is certain the savior will become dark no matter what world she is in. When Belle is away, he intimidates Will into fetching Belle's heart, which is being guarded by Maleficent, who has changed sides. As Mr. Gold walks up to the mayor's office, Maleficent opens the door and persuades him to try and get in. He briefly touches the entrance, which reveals a barrier Regina cast to keep him out. Maleficent tells him that she is not working with him anymore since Emma is looking for Lily, and once she is reunited with her, the savior won't turn dark. Mr. Gold contends that Lily is the driving force keeping Emma on a dark path. While she is distracted by him, Will breaks in to take Belle's heart. As Will shows Belle the heart, Mr. Gold expresses remorse for lying to her throughout their marriage. By returning her heart, he wants Will to be her protector, as he believes himself unworthy for the task. He then walks out after restoring her heart while Belle stares after him longingly.
At the diner, Mr. Gold and Isaac are approached by a triumphant Hook informing them that Emma is returning to town without having gone dark. After the pirate is gone, Isaac considers how this could be the end of their plans since the quill's ink is powered by the savior's darkness. As Mr. Gold's darkened heart affliction worsens, he and the Author return to the pawnshop. Stumbling into the backroom, Mr. Gold takes out his heart, peering at the last speck of red still left in it. Hearing a noise, he reenters the pawnshop front, discovering Regina intends to take the Author for her own happy ending. Seeing his frail state, Regina expresses disbelief that he'll actually die, but he confirms his death will result in the Dark One taking over his body. Mr. Gold shakily pulls out the quill and suggests they have to work together since he has what she needs. Seeing as he is already very physically weak, Regina simply grabs the quill from him and teleports away with Isaac, as Mr. Gold collapses in a feeble attempt to stop her. Later, Isaac returns to the pawnshop, with both the quill and ink, after tricking Regina. Mr. Gold then tells him to start writing, and as Isaac looks for paper, he conjures a new storybook, "Heroes and Villains" for him to record new tales.
Before finishing the whole book, Isaac prompts Mr. Gold about whether he wants his memories of his son to be erased. Mr. Gold declines and asks his memories to be rewritten so he remembers trying to save Baelfire and doing everything possible for his son's sake. With the written words, "The end", Isaac concludes everyone's new stories, as burst of light pulls every former Enchanted Forest native into an alternate reality in the Heroes and Villains storybook.
During Alternate Reality ("Operation Mongoose")
After Isaac rewrites everyone's stories in the Heroes and Villains book, Rumpelstiltskin becomes a valiant knight known as the Light One, who uses his magic to save villagers from danger. He is married to Belle, and together, they have a young son. However, in this reality, Rumpelstiltskin remembers trying to save his previous son, Baelfire, during the Ogre War, only to lose him. One day, he saves Henry from an ogre, before heading off to save another village. Arriving home, Rumpelstiltskin finds Belle has welcomed a stranger, Isaac, into their home. While his wife goes to fetch water from the well, he detects Isaac has other reasons for coming here. Isaac mentions knowing details of Rumpelstiltskin's actual life before the alternate timeline, although the Light One remembers none of this, in which he was a coward and abandoned Baelfire. He threatens to reveal all this to everyone and ruin his happiness with Belle unless Rumpelstiltskin kills Henry and stops Regina from interrupting Robin Hood's wedding. Stuck in a dilemma, Rumpelstiltskin talks to Belle, telling her that the kingdom is in danger and if left unchecked, it will destroy the happiness they have. He worries about making a choice that may be the wrong one, but she is certain he'll do the right thing because he's a hero. Deciding to choose self-preservation, Rumpelstiltskin blocks Regina from reaching the wedding, but Emma distracts him with a duel, while the latter rushes for the church. After she is defeated, he bests Henry and prepares to deliver a killing blow, but Regina takes the hit instead. Believing his work is done, Rumpelstiltskin teleports away in a glow of light. Once Henry harnesses the quill and becomes the next Author, Isaac's stories are undone and everyone returns to their old lives in Storybrooke.
Before Third Curse
Harnessing the quill, Henry reverts Isaac's stories and returns everyone to Storybrooke. Finding himself in the pawnshop again, Mr. Gold's life resumes draining away as Isaac steals his car keys to escape. Belle arrives, stating she has come to ensure Mr. Gold doesn't hurt any more people, but upon seeing him collapse, her attitude softens. Knowing his time is almost up, he reminisces about being happy with her in the alternate reality. She insists they were happy in Storybrooke, or they could have been if it was enough for him. Mr. Gold admits it wasn't enough since he didn't believe anyone could love him, to which Belle asserts she knew what she was getting into with him and wasn't going to back out. He wishes her happiness with Will, but she denies loving him. Belle wants to stay with Mr. Gold in his last moments, however, he pushes her away, deeming it dangerous since only the Dark One will remain after his death. When he passes out, she gains help from the Apprentice to trap the darkness in his heart into the hat. While still unconscious, Mr. Gold's now completely white heart is inserted into his chest, and the Apprentice freezes him with magic, although there is no guarantee he will survive due to how long he has been the Dark One. Seconds later, the darkness escapes, first into the Apprentice and then into town, as Emma later absorbs it and becomes the new Dark One.