Once Upon a Time welcomes August back into the Storybrooke family. But this nice guy facade is not fooling us.
It’s impossible to keep track of all the Once Upon a Time characters living in Storybrooke. Granny appears every now and then to serve up some sass and pancakes. The town cryer, also known as Leroy, puts everyone on high alert when a smoke monster reachers the town line. Aladdin and Jasmine? Well those two are off fighting to save a whole new world.
However, every now and then an old character returns to the take some of the spotlight. Once Upon a Time season 6 is investing time in the return of August. The season 6B premiere takes the outlier of Storybrooke and gives him some purpose in the alternate universe. After helping Regina and Emma return to Storybrooke, we expected to bid farewell to the real boy.
Then he appears again in episode 12, “Murder Most Foul.” Suddenly, Emma’s pal took a darker turn. Of course August could be acting with the best intentions, much like he was when he pushed Emma Swan to believe in herself and get off the streets.
August loves Emma
And not in the platonic friend type of way. August and Emma may not share a ton of onscreen time, but they are closer than most characters on the show. Don’t forget that August has known Emma longer than her parents. He kept an eye on her while she grew up in the real world knowing that her enchanted past would someday catch up to her.
August watched as Neal and Emma fell into trouble and in love. Then, upon his return, he witnessed Emma and Hook trying to sort out their emotions. While Emma does her best to convince Hook that there is nothing going on between her and August romantically, their friendship is rooted in deep love and concern.
If nothing else, August still feels the pull to protect Emma.
Old habits die hard
The August of the alternate universe is not the August of Storybrooke. Once Upon a Time’s trip into a world without the Savior gave the audience a chance to see how the characters we are familiar with would be without her leaning into her fate. August is one example of a person who lives his life as a real boy without ever leaning into dishonesty, temptation, or selfishness.
It’s almost unsettling to see August with such a strong glimmer in his eye. When Pinocchio travels with Emma into the real world as her protector, he sticks by Emma until an offer to escape comes along.
August’s retention of his Enchanted Forest memories push him to make choices that were in Emma’s best interest. When Neal came along, August shows his cards and reveals that he knows who Baelfire really is. Crushing Emma completely, August takes off and abandons her yet again with only Neal’s yellow car. Even later, when he finally pushes Emma to believe in the curse, he does it to save himself from turning back into wood.
While his intentions are to protect Emma, August’s pattern of behavior has a selfish streak. Does one sacrifice to save Emma from Tamera make up for years of selfishness? After all, he is reverted to the man he was before the spell by Mother Superior brought him back to boyhood.
This brings us to intention.
What does August want?
If he provides Hook with the pages ripped from the story, does he actually know more than he lets on? Was August there the night of Robert’s murder? Or do his connections to the history of the Authors give him the ability to supply false information. Remember that he is the person who provided the exposition on the history of the Author to the group just a few seasons ago.
If he did not manipulate the pages, his memories as Pinocchio could still connect him to the crime somehow. In the flashback to Pleasure Island, the puppet did show some interest in Robert’s coin. Pinocchio tailed Robert on his journey to see what became of him. Why else would August hold onto pages that are unconnected to his story?
He is trying to sabotage Emma and Hook’s relationship by pushing the captain out of the picture. Emma lost her family once. Perhaps August sees her relationship with Killian as a step away from them. He may be trying to make up for all the times he let her go.
Is August innocent or guilty?
Examining the evidence it is hard to take August’s charm at face value. While it is nice having him around, Once Upon a Time has a track record of using charm to mask darker intentions.
This is not to say that August will not come out on the side of the heroes, but for now we think Leroy needs to take a stroll through the town and get everyone on high alert.
Do you trust August?
Once Upon a Time season 6, episode 14, “Page 23,” airs Sunday, March 26 at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC.