"Think Lovely Thoughts" will take viewers back to the fairy tale land that was, where a young Rumple (portrayed in flashbacks by Wyatt Oleff) has an even rockier relationship with his father Malcolm (Stephen Lord) than his present-day self has with Neal/Bae (Michael Raymond-James).
"The relationship is not good," Carlyle tells TVGuide.com. "The father only cares about himself, and he's a selfish guy. Rumple's father has the gift of the gab. He's certainly a gregarious kind of guy; friends of everyone and probably no one. He's a trickster. He's a hopeless gambler. So he's really not someone who is usually fitted for parenting."
Unlike Rumple's relationship with Neal, which was tenuous because of Rumple's quest for power, Malcolm really doesn't want to have anything to do with his son. "The boy's a kind of tagalong," Carlyle explains. "You find him hanging outside the bar waiting for his father to come out."
But there are still a lot of parallels between the two relationships since the young Bae always hoped to have a closer relationship with his own father, who, despite being preoccupied with dark magic, did love Bae with all his heart. "That's a moment we can kind of bond over," Raymond-James says. "'See, you know what it's like to have a sh---y father then, too! And it's hard and maybe I've been harder on you than I needed to.'"
Even though Neal is still wary to about trusting that Rumple has Henry's (Jared Gilmore) best interests at heart, the realization that Rumple went through a similar childhood may actually bring father and son closer. "Neal is somewhat of an internal optimist," Raymond-James says. "He was willing to forgive his father before and the stakes have been raised now. Now he feels his son's life is in danger as a direct result of his father and that's hard to take. The audience realizes that Rumple's intentions are pure, but Neal doesn't. Neal is also somebody who's looking for a second chance himself with Emma [Jennifer Morrison], the woman he loves, and he's willing to give his father the 35th chance if conditions eventually work out."
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.