From the earliest experience in Fairytale Land on ABC's Once Upon A Time, Baelfire (Michael Raymond-James) was always somewhat of a loner. Whether it was because he lived in the woods as an only child with his family who were then torn apart, because his father became the Dark One everyone feared therefore keeping them at a distance, or because he then went through a portal alone, he has thought on his feet and risen to challenges of being intrepid for himself. His time in the modern day world as Neal, though, allowed him to actually-- finally-- make connections with other people-- ones he is now proving he will fight to the death and return to dark, previously sworn off places in order to regain. But these are ones that he may only be able to rely on himself to regain. After all, he has the history with Neverland; he knows just how manipulative Peter Pan (Robbie Kay) can be.
"Neal's been somebody that, throughout most of his life since he was 13 and dropped through a portal, has been pretty self-reliant, so he knows how to operate on his own [but] if it turns out that there are people willing to help at this point where there's such a laser focus that there has never been in his life since he was a child, in terms of what he wants and how he needs to get there, if people are willing to help [he's] certainly not going to turn them away," Raymond-James said to LA TV Insider Examiner when we visited with him on set of Once Upon A Time.
"Neal obviously has some experience in Neverland and it's not a great neighborhood, but he knows how to operate there. Should he find himself in Neverland, those skills could be useful in terms of fighting the good fight, finding the solution."
We have seen before that the power of true love knows no bounds on Once Upon A Time. From simply waking Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) from a small curse, to breaking Regina's (Lana Parrilla) Storybrooke-wide curse, it has brought people back to each other and helped them remember who they are-- in the most literal sense. Raymond-James shared that Neal is "under no illusions that things between he and the woman that he loves are perfect," but will Neal's love be capable of bringing Emma (Jennifer Morrison) after she loses bits of herself, reverting back to her basest fears and emotions from childhood in Neverland? The answer that the show delivers may be the truest way to define their relationship.
"I can say, from Neal's perspective, that he feels Emma is his one true love," Raymond-James said.
"I think, now more than ever, he realizes that there's work to be done and is prepared to do whatever work is necessary because I've had an opportunity to sort of touch what Neal feels could be his happy ending but I haven't been able to grasp it yet. It was a fleeting sort of instant. So he's trying to get back there and whatever he needs to do in order to have that I think he's willing to do."
And yes, that includes working with magic, even though Raymond-James said that is something Neal would do "grudgingly."
"I have a really complicated and messy history with magic. That being said, if it can help me achieve the goals... This is 300 years in the making, to finally have a place where I feel like I belong, a sense of family that I haven't had since I was 13. That's the paramount thing. And if I have to utilize some magic along the way, that may have to be done," Raymond-James said.
"I don't know what the boys have in store I would be surprised to see Neal turn into a wizard at some point!"
Once Upon A Time airs on ABC on Sunday nights at 8 p.m.
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