After the end of S2 and during the course of S3A, I was getting more and more interested in the possibility of Emma/Neal/Regina dynamics. All three of them are Henry’s parents who care for him. And all three of them have their own parental issues to deal with.
One of my dearest wishes during early S3 was that after Neverland arc was over, we would get to see this awkward family dynamic as all three of Henry’s parents try and navigate the new and unfamiliar territorry.
First of all, they would have to come up with some kind of a custody arrangement. Henry wants all three of them in his life. But there are prevalent issues from earlier (Regina’s gaslighting him pre/during S1 or using magic on him in late S2, Neal being really new to the job and so far being viewed as the cool parent - what would happen if he put his foot down about something? -, Emma stepping in only recently as well) that need addressing and solving.
And then there are their own parental issues as I said. Each of them has a reason to question themselves: What kind of parent will I be? Will I repeat my parents’ mistakes?
We saw this partially addressed with Regina early on in We Are Both when she realized how much like Cora she had become. Things like that don’t just go away. She would doubt and worry: What if I become like my mother? What if I hurt my son the way my mother hurt me?
Neal’s issues are mostly with abandonment. His mother left him. His father let him go. He wronged Emma when he left her. He wants to do something good and it backfires on him. What if he fails Henry too? What if he messes things up again?
Emma now knows that her parents had a good reason for letting her go. But in her heart, she still feels like an orphan. Her childhood was so unstable, going from one foster home to another. What kind of an example does she have to draw on when it comes to Henry? Can she actually be a good mother to him? She wants to be but is that enough?
So many questions, so many doubts. But they have to face them and to put them behind. For Henry’s sake and, just as importantly, for their own sake.
Maybe it’s just me. But I would have loved to watch how these three different people, from such different backgrounds would struggle to overcome their pasts, their legacies, their fears. And if, in the process, they would become close, co-parents, friends, even lovers, wouldn’t that be a beautiful story in and of itself?
Well, we’ll never know now, will we?
The saddest words in any language are: Could have been.