[WARNING: This post contains major spoilers from Sunday night's episode of 'Once Upon a Time.' Proceed at your own peril!]
This week's episode of 'Once Upon a Time' marked a very major turn of events as one of the show's beloved characters met a very tragic and emotional end. Of course, I'm referring to Neal Cassidy/Baelfire, played by the adorable Michael Raymond-James.
Neal became the Wicked Witch of the West's first victim after she tricked him and Belle into resurrecting his father aka The Dark One aka Rumpelstiltskin. (Seriously, I don't think these characters have enough different name titles.) But as we've all come to learn the hard way: all magic comes with a price and Neal was forced to trade his life in exchange for dear old dad's.
However, on a show like this, nothing is ever that simple and his death was slightly delayed, giving him the chance to say a heartfelt goodbye to Emma and Rumpel — the two people he loved most. (Sorry Henry, but it's true.)
But does this mean he's gone for good? I mean, let's face it, this series is well-versed in bringing people back from the grave (the Blue Fairy, Rumpel, Prince Phillip). Then again, there's also been some very real deaths (Cora, Pan, Sheriff Graham Humbert). So what should we believe? Will this death actually stick or be fixed later on with some magical cure?
Unfortunately, the answer seems to be the former rather than the latter...
TVGuide caught up with executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis regarding Neal's demise and they assured fan that this death is for keeps.
"He is really dead," Horowitz confirms. Earlier this year, when we realized this is the time that Neal would die, we talked to Michael Raymond-James. We all discussed how to best do this. We did our best. We thought that Michael was brilliantly emotional and amazing on Sunday night as we brought that character's life to an end."
Meanwhile, the actor made it clear via Twitter that he neither quit nor was he fired from the series and that there are absolutely no hard feelings. "I did not ask to leave the show. Nor was I fired. Neal's death was nothing more than a bold storytelling choice," he tweeted. "I have nothing but love and the utmost respect for everyone that works on the show. From My cast mates and crew to the network on down."
So yeah, this is probably the farewell we were warned about back in January. But on the bright side — at least there's always the possibility he'll reappear in a few flashbacks!
'Once Upon a Time' airs Sundays at 8/7 on ABC.