“Tallahassee” was a revealing episode that answered many questions from Season 1. We learned the reason for Emma's imprisonment (Neal), why she is so guarded when it comes to love (Neal), and, finally, who Henry's father is (Neal). We also found out that it was Pinaugusto (had to do it) who sent Neal the postcard, solving a Season 2 mystery as well. But “Tallahassee” revealed much more than Emma and Neal's history together. Many of the missing pieces of a major puzzle have now been played, which all but prove a widely-believed theory: Neal is Baelfire. But the evidence that proves this also has implications for August and the Blue Fairy. Let's put it all together and see what comes out of it!
What Could Possibly Be Inside That Box?
Emma has had a roller-coaster love story that very much mirrors that of Snow and Charming's. Both mother and daughter have spent time in jail while the men they loved weren't there for them. The key difference between them is that Emma's trip to jail was meant for the greater good. It was August's arrival in Portland that led to Emma's jail time, with his box in tow. The contents of the box were enough to convince Neal of the existence of magic, and furthermore, to leave Emma in jail, allowing her to embrace her destiny as the Savior. Whatever it was, it was major, but not enough to make him have an outburst of denial or shock. Neal accepted the existence of magic quite easily.
In Episode 18 “The Return,” August is shown to have a drawing of Rumplestiltskin's dagger. I, like many people, believe August's box in “Tallahassee” contained that drawing. It's all but certain that the only people who could have known about the dagger are Baelfire and Rumple, given that Rumple's desire to keep it secret was enough to drive him to kill his maid. It's doubtful that he would allow knowledge of its existence to go beyond himself. How did August know about the dagger? Rumple asked August the same question in Episode 18, and August's response was that “a little fairy” had told him.
For the sake of argument, let's assume that this is a lie. How else could he have known about the dagger? We know that any conversation about the dagger did not happen before Pinocchio went through the wardrobe, so he had to have learned of its existence after he arrived here. The only people who could have told him are Bae or Rumple, and neither of them did. It is possible that another character told him about it, but unlikely (see maid example). Therefore, the only person who could have told August is the Blue Fairy.
Switching gears, let's assume what August said is true, and a fairy did tell him. It's likely that it was the Blue Fairy who told him, as she is the one who played a role in the separation of Bae and Rumple. It's implied that he's been to Storybrooke before in Episode 13 “What Happened To Frederick.” Also, he tells Neal in “Tallahassee” that he's been searching for Emma since she was 16. It's plausible to think that his natural course of action after finding Storybrooke would have been to seek out the Blue Fairy, who would have told him how to find Emma and Baelfire while giving him the drawing. This would have been followed by his 2-year search and the events of “Tallahassee.” Furthermore, August's visit to Mother Superior at the convent in “The Return” was a meeting to let her know the status of their plan.
Either scenario points to one thing: the Blue Fairy told August about the dagger, which means that Regina isn't the only one who remembered their real lives for 28 years. If the dagger weren't enough, there's another piece of evidence that points to similar conclusions.
'Now all the lies can stop...Papa.'
August said this to Rumplestiltskin outside the latter's cabin in “The Return.” It was his attempt to convince Rumple that he was Baelfire. The two of them went to the forest, dug up the dagger, and August tried to use it against Rumple. He failed, Rumple knew the truth, and the jig was up. But it's interesting that August used the word ‘Papa’ to address Rumple. There are other ways to address a father figure. August refers to Geppetto as ‘Father.’ Regina called her father ‘Daddy’ in “The Thing You Love Most.” It's a pretty specific choice and something that he would have needed to know if he was going to succeed in making Rumple believe his lie. He could only have learned that from two people: Nealfire or Mother Blueperior.
It All Comes Down To The Dagger
The Dark One's dagger has done damage beyond cursing Rumplestiltskin. The effects of that event rippled out and touched many lives. The opening of the box, and the drawing of the dagger, set Neal free to embrace his former life as Baelfire. His choice to save Emma's future, while the right thing to do, wounded her deeply as his dagger-driven betrayal basically stabbed her in the heart. The closing of Emma’s jail cell, another box, brought the change needed to set her on a different path in life. How fitting that her rise through the ashes happened in Phoenix. Meanwhile, August and the Blue Fairy share a measure of responsibility for these things happening in the first place. All because of a dagger.