Warning: This article contains BIG spoilers for OUAT Season 2, Episode 14: "Manhattan."
UPDATE 2/17: In Season 2, Episode 14: "Manhattan" we learn the truth: Baelfire is Neal, Henry's (Jared Gilmore) father.
Original article below.
Once Upon a Time fans have been speculating that Henry's (Jared Gilmore) father is Rumplestiltskin's (Robert Carlyle) son, Baelfire, ever since we first learned that Bae was sucked into "a world without magic" (read: our world). Rumple has been searching for his son ever since, but what has Bae been up to? Could the answer be hooking up with Emma?
Meeting Henry's dad, Neal Cassady, in Season 2, Episode 6: “Tallahassee” did nothing to dissuade believers. In fact, it added more fuel to the speculation fire. We've talked about this theory before, but we find it compelling enough to deserve its own post.
So, here are the biggest reasons we think Neal might turn out to be Baelfire.
1. There's a plan for Neal. The writers have continually asserted that they have a specific plan for Neal, and Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan) has known who Henry's dad is since the pilot of the show. That suggests to us that Neal is more than just a random thief. Which significant character is unaccounted for, and possibly wandering around our world? Oh, that's right: Bae.
2. Something "mega" happens with Bae. Before the season started, Robert Carlyle said that we're in for something "pretty mega" regarding Bae (probably that Rumple finds him, based on the current plotlines) — and Jennifer Morrison said Emma is in for some surprises when it comes to Henry's dad. We can't help but wonder if these things are related.
3. How did August convince Neal to leave Emma? Emma and Neal were in love, big time. But all it took for August Booth (Eion Bailey) to convince Neal that not only is magic real, but he needed to leave Emma, was one measly look into a mysterious box. What could possibly be in there that would convince an average guy that all those crazy things were true?
Neal's easy acceptance of both magic and prophecy makes us think he's from a magical land, and potentially Bae. One popular theory we like is that August showed Neal an image of the Dark One dagger. We know August had a sketch of it, and seeing proof of his father's involvement would go a long way toward convincing Neal/Bae to believe everything August said.
4. It ties everything together. More than anything, we find this theory compelling because it ties so many threads together. Arguably, it actually makes things a little too neat: If Neal is Bae, that makes Rumple Henry's grandfather, meaning that both original villains are related to the Charmings. On another show we'd say it's far too pat, but OUAT is a magical world, so we don't mind if the hand of fate shows occasionally. It would certainly make Rumple's dynamic with the rest of the cast even more interesting.
Of course, if this theory is true, it raises another question: Does Rumple know? We're guessing not, since we don't think he'd knowingly entrust his grandson to Regina (Lana Parrilla).
Do you like this theory, or would you prefer if Neal and Bae remain separate characters?
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.