"Heartless" is the 118th episode of Once Upon a Time.
In the fairytale land that was, Snow White the bandit dodges a bounty hunter known as the Woodcutter while David the shepherd goes on a fateful journey to sell his family's farm. Several decades later and the royal couple are being made to surrender their heart, lest they want the Evil Queen to make good on her threat to destroy Storybrooke and everyone in it. As Emma and the others prepare to defend the town, the Charmings go with Regina in search of a magical sapling created by the first spark of true love, with the latter using Gold's burgeoning romance with the Queen against them both. Meanwhile, with all this going on, Zelena takes it upon herself to offer Belle some friendly advice.
The stage is set for a showdown.
The wind howls at night as we are taken through the Charmings' loft, where they slumber not too far from where a brief flash of light depicts a Queen-shaped shadow onto their rippling curtains. As we move further toward their marital bed, focusing on Snow in particular, she turns around, and then the shadow moves across her. When her eyes open, she is no longer lying next to her husband; instead, she is suddenly out in the woods, having been transported there magically, and in a panic she gets to her feet and drapes a white wrap over her even whiter nightgown. She is clearly disconcerted as she continues to stand there, lit up by the moonlight which streaks through the many trees, and then a familiar figure steps out from behind a trunk, giving the princess an inkling as to just who is behind whatever's going on. The figure is but a silhouette right now, and so Snow squints to try and see her, but soon enough the Evil Queen disappears back behind the trunk and reappears suddenly right in front of her worst enemy, startling her immensely. "Did I wake you?" the Queen then asks, but Snow exhibits only an angered expression in response. Her stepmother's dark half goes on to comment on how peaceful she is when she's asleep, clarifying that sleeping Snow is her favorite Snow, at which Snow finally speaks up and demands to know what the villainess wants.
Snow's heart remains the Queen's object of desire.
Instead of giving a direct answer, the Queen replies by asking Snow if she remembers her fifteenth birthday, which confuses the princess a fair bit. The Queen continues recalling how Snow wanted a pony and her father bought one, beginning to encircle her nemesis menacingly while said nemesis acts in kind. It was a miniature horse really, tiny as a dog, and he had a trainer work with it for half a year. He then brought Snow to the stables to see this sweet little horse and, when she went to it, it did as it had been trained and bowed its head. Another loyal subject eager to honor her. The Queen has clear distaste for this memory, while Snow remains staring at her in contempt, and then the malicious monarch adds that she's never seen such delight as she did on her stepdaughter's face when that tiny, tiny horse bowed to her. "'This is my perfect day!' you said. Your father always made sure you got what you wanted, plus a little bit more." The Queen then starts to advance on Snow, stroking her face as she says that now she wants what she's always wanted; her hand drifts down to Snow's chest as she reveals, "Your heart in my hand," and she begins to mime holding it.
And so she hands her a riddle in the form of a bottle.
And, since Snow's husband has half her heart, the Queen gets that too, for that's the "little bit more" that will make today her perfect day. Snow shakes her head, assuring the Queen that Regina put a protection spell on both she and David the moment she rolled into town, meaning she can't take them. However, the Queen points out that she never said she would take them, but rather that they would hand them over - willingly. "And this," she takes out a bottle filled with some mysterious liquid, "is how I know it will happen." She forces the bottle into Snow's hand, and the latter has to ask what it is. The Queen makes clear only that it's something terrible, informing the princess that she has twelve hours to figure it out. "And follow your conscience, or the whole town gets a taste of it. And it will be their last taste of anything." With that, she finally vanishes in her signature flurry of purple smoke, and Snow is left standing there with the bottle in tow, a small dead twig amid whatever cloudy liquid fills it. She stares out at the night, unsure of what to do, as she is left abandoned in the moonstruck forest.
ONCE UPON A TIME
The Queen gabs to her sister about her plans for her "perfect day".
Later that morning, at Zelena's farmhouse, the Wicked Witch is bottle-feeding her baby when the Queen returns home in a particularly good mood, happily greeting her sister and commenting upon how she and Robin look so pretty and domestic. As she says this, she grabs a hand mirror from the shelf and begins checking herself out in it, and Zelena proceeds to ask what terrible things she's been up to, for she looks like she's having a good day. The Queen, fixing her hair, amends that it's a perfect day, explaining that she's finally getting her revenge on Snow White with Prince Farming thrown in as a bonus. Soon she'll have their little shared heart beating in the palm of her hand and, to fully express what's going to happen, she foregoes the mirror in favor of one of the apples from her sister's fruit bowl, holding it up and gripping it as though it were her nemesis' life-giving organ. Zelena takes note of how confident she seems and so asks if the Dark One is helping her, wanting to know if that's why he dropped by the day prior, and the Queen, placing the apple back into the bowl, admits that, yes, she had a "productive conversation" with Mr. Gold... lots of give and take. "What did you give and what did he take?" the Wicked Witch would like to know and the Queen informs her that Rumple wanted the Shears of Destiny and so she fished them up for him; he was grateful. Zelena isn't a fan of the implications of this and the Queen begs her not to start insinuating anything, for she and the Dark One are simply old friends, and Zelena, lifting a teacup so as to take a sip, assures that she didn't mean a thing. The Queen knows that there's more to be said, but instead she tells her sister that, while she'd love to stay and burp the baby with her, she's simply got tons to do before Snow's last breath.
A nobleman almost catches Snow out.
Many breaths ago, however, we see Snow wandering through an Enchanted Forest campsite during her early days on the run from the Queen. She approaches a nearby nobleman, working to get his attention, and when she finally has it she holds out a valuable-looking brooch and asks if she can interest him in a piece of jewelry. He takes it for inspection, commenting that the girl before him doesn't look like a peddler, and she says she's not, explaining that there was an emergency and she's been forced to sell; she adds that the brooch would make a lovely gift for his wife and the nobleman ponders this, eventually deciding to offer her three coppers. Snow is taken aback by this, as hard as she might try to mask it, for she is sure the man must realize that it is worth a hundred times that, being a family heirloom. Finding this curious, the nobleman states that he only knows one family with heirlooms this valuable, and Snow appears worried now as she fears he may be figuring out who she is. He asks for her name and she responds by telling him that three coppers will be fine - just fine. She takes the money from him and gives thanks, then running off into the woods. The nobleman is left looking highly suspicious.
Ruth thinks it might be time to sell the farm.
Meanwhile, out in the farmlands, a dog can be heard barking as it follows its owner - David - back to the sheep pen beside the small house he shares with his mother. When Ruth emerges from said house, excited by her son's return, her face becomes suddenly embittered by disappointment as she sees that he was obviously unable to find the lost lamb. David explains that Wilby, the sheepdog, did indeed find it, but they were too late; the night was simply too cold. Ruth points out that they can't build up the flock this way, for the winters are too long and their flock is too small, but David tries assuring her that it will turn, comforting her with the knowledge that Wilby's the best tracking dog he's ever known. He adds that they'll be fine, knowing what this farm means to his mother, but she reveals that she's been thinking about that. "Thinking about what?" he wonders, at which Ruth makes clear that if they had the money to make this place a success then she'd never leave... but with the way things are going... She says to her son that she knows giving up isn't in his nature, but she thinks it's time to admit defeat and sell the farm, to his dismay. Upset by his mother's words, David retires into the house, needing time to think.
Snow is attacked by the Woodcutter.
Snow tears one of her WANTED posters off a tree as the Blue Fairy, who's hovering in sight, expresses sympathy that her friend was only able to get three coppers for her brooch. The princess, as she begins to really rip up the poster in her rage, exclaims that the nobleman was on to her and that if she'd tried to ask for more then he'd have turned her over to the Queen, at which Blue asks how she knows he won't anyway. Snow claims to know his type - corrupt and greedy - and is sure that he's just happy to have gotten something of value for next to nothing. With that, she throws the poster's remains onto the forest floor, sure that the nobleman won't tip anyone off, but Blue hurriedly tells her that she thinks she might be wrong about that - "Run!" Snow turns to see a man in furs and armor wielding a pair of axes, one of which he throws in her direction. Thanks to Blue's warning, she is able to duck out of the way just in time, meaning it lands in the ground. The ax-crazy assailant then runs at Snow with his second weapon, and she ducks again as he digs it into the tree which earlier bore the poster, landing on the ground herself. It seems her attacker was able to snag some of her scarf as he tries his best to dislodge his second ax from the trunk of the tree, finally succeeding just as Blue flies his way in order to provide her friend with a diversion.
And, after fending him off, realizes she can't stay.
Snow uses this time to pluck the first ax from the ground and throw it at him, causing him to clutch his arm in pain as it bounces off of it. Blue then sees the ax lying on the ground and goes for it, growing to full human size so that she may pick it up and wield it against the attempted murderer. Snow arms herself with the other ax in the meantime, which he dropped when hit, and eventually, realizing he's outflanked, he decides to flee. Blue finds herself asking Snow who that was and Snow says that it must have been the Woodcutter - a bounty hunter who usually specializes in hunting down werewolves, meaning that nobleman must have tipped him off about the price on her head. "Blue, I can't stay here! I have to go! I'm a princess! A princess without a kingdom; the forest is no place for me!" She throws the ax onto the ground and goes digging for the pouch of money she keeps on her person, stating that she's sold everything her parents gave her and has just enough to book passage on a boat out of the kingdom. Out of Regina's reach. She thinks maybe an allied nation will take her in, at which Blue, shocked, asks if she's going right now. Snow exclaims that there's nothing holding her where she is, so she is heading to the nearest port town; she's heard there's one not far from there, called Longbourne. With that, she begins to set off.
David sets off for Longbourne, just like a certain other someone.
Back at the farm, David is packing some supplies into a bag as Wilby waits nearby. Ruth soon emerges from the house with a pouch of something extra to go with her son's things; she thanks him, telling him to have a safe journey, and as he packs the pouch he says that of course he will - and that he won't return until he's found a buyer. As he finishes packing, he prepares to sling the bag around his shoulder, explaining to his mother that the place that he's going to is filled with noblemen who see an opportunity, meaning hopefully they'll see value in this farm. Ruth wonders how long he will be, at which he assures he won't be long at all, giving her a hug goodbye. As he pulls out of the hug, he adds that it's only a day's journey to Longbourne, and then he too sets off. He makes a gesture which beckons Wilby to follow on from him, and Ruth waves as her son unwittingly heads to the same locale as his future wife.
Emma's tremors get worse.
The married couple, several decades later, are outside Granny's Diner staring at the bottle provided to Snow by the Evil Queen, surrounded by their fellow heroes as they all ponder just what's inside of it. David, who's comforting his sitting wife, explains to the others that if they don't give into the Queen then she'll use that bottle's contents on everyone, and Snow confirms this as Regina reaches out to pick it up, asking what it is. Snow relays that the Queen told her to figure it out and that if she and David didn't surrender their hearts within twelve hours then she'd use it on the whole town. Emma goes to take the bottle from Regina but can't quite bring herself to do so thanks to her hand tremors returning, leading Snow to ask her if she's okay. The savior steadies her hand and replies that no, she's not, but she has an excuse: the Evil Queen's trying to kill her parents. Said parents try remaining calm, with David recalling how Emma said the two of them were alive and well in her vision of the future, but Emma recalls in turn how the Oracle said that things could change as they went along and that the only thing that was certain was that she dies.
The contents of the bottle are deciphered.
Hook appears saddened by this while Regina, on the topic of death, believes she's figured out what's inside the bottle. Heading for a nearby potted tree, she uncorks the thing and cautiously pours one tiny drop onto the stem. Instantly, the entire tree dies, turning black and rotten as its leaves shed away and all that's left is the sudden, charred skeleton of the plant that was. The others are horrified, and David asks what kind of potion that is, but Regina reveals that it's not a potion. It's water. "Knew it," Hook comments, "Never trusted the stuff. Rum would never do that." Emma asks what kind of water it is and Regina says that it's from the River of Lost Souls, then realizing that her evil half must be working with Gold, for only he would have brought it back from the Underworld. And now, if the Charmings don't give the Queen their hearts, she can destroy the whole town. Everyone is more than a little daunted by this prospect, staring out at the condemned tree and realizing that that could be what's in store for everyone.
David tries to calm his fretting wife.
Snow and David are wandering down Main Street when the former stops to acknowledge all the people around them, commenting on how many there are and saying how, if they don't sacrifice themselves, they'll die. Not to mention what happens to Emma. Continuing to walk with her husband, Snow ponders the thought that all of this could simply be leading to her vision, wondering if this is all just the path to their daughter's death. David is the one to stop now, needing to look into his wife's eyes and tell her not to give up. The princess sorrowfully assures that she isn't and that she never would, making clear that she would fight for Emma until her last breath - "But what if this destiny can't be beat, and... we're just moving towards it? I don't know that we'll ever get back to normal. The Evil Queen's finally got us!" Snow appears more panicked now as this realization sets in, while David remains silent, unable to find the right words of comfort.
Wilby discovers something curious.
David of the past remains on the move, trekking through the woods with Wilby not far behind. The sheepdog whines to get his owner's attention and the young shepherd soon notices a peculiar object hanging from Wilby's mouth; he crouches down to take it from him - a cup - and suggests that the dog let him hold his treasure. He doesn't seem particularly fazed by the item retrieved though, and so simply tells Wilby that they should be getting a move on if they want to make it to Longbourne before dark. However, as David gets back up to continue trekking, Wilby runs off in the other direction, and so the shepherd begins to call after him. Soon he is forced to give chase, cup still in tow, and eventually catches up to his dog outside a wagon which has been parked in the middle of the clearing. Wilby jumps up at the locked door and barks while David just appears confused... and then a figure emerges from the tree behind him. "Can I help you?" asks a man - Gabriel - and David apologizes for the intrusion, explaining that his dog got something into his head. Gabriel then points out that that's his cup David is carrying, recalling how he went over a bump a while back and dropped it, having thought it was lost, and comments on how it's not good for a travelling merchant such as himself to be so careless with his goods.
Stranger danger for David.
David seems to think that this explains things, for Wilby must have gotten the scent of it, and relays to the stranger as he tosses him back his cup that his mother always said Wilby was a bloodhound in a sweater. He then apologizes for the cup's battery but is assured it's alright, for Gabriel believes it to be worth it to see a fine animal such as this; he crouches down to pet Wilby as he approaches, conferring that he is a fine little fellow, and David smiles before the stranger explains to him that he made camp in this clearing the night before so no brigands would find him. "Brigands?" David questions, and Gabriel confirms it, standing up as he says that he usually never travels this road alone. As such, he asks which way the shepherd is headed, and David reveals he's going to Longbourne. "Fate has smiled upon our heads, that's exactly where I'm headed. Perhaps we can travel together?" the peddler offers, and David sees this as sounding fine, shaking this man's hand. Gabriel tells David to hop on up, for he's eager to get started for the day, and, as David and Wilby head around to the other side of the wagon, Gabriel unlocks the back and we see that, inside, there are various chains, shackles and manacles intended to hold a prisoner. He pops a canteen inside, allowing us to see the armor and fur he wore as the Woodcutter. He then promptly shuts the door, still on a mission to capture Snow White.
Time for Snow to go...
"Do you really have to go, Princess Snow? The fairies can help you; surely there is a way other than leaving your home!" Blue exclaims as she follows Snow through the woods, only for the latter to retort that "home" is where one's family is and by now, for her, that's pretty much just a woman who's trying to kill her. Blue stops her though, telling her that there's an old fairy saying: if someone believes in you, you are never alone. Snow wonders about the relevance of this and Blue assures her that all the people love her, but Snow smirks off the idea of love. The fairy, almost offended, states that love is the most powerful magic in the world. "Really?!" Snow yells in response, "You know that brooch I sold? My father gave that to my mother because he loved her; she treasured it because it was from him. After she died, you know what he did? He gave it to Regina, because he loved her too; she treated it like trash. His love meant everything to my mother and nothing to my stepmother. See, love doesn't hold its value. The only thing that's maintained its value this entire time is the brooch, and I can't afford to invest in anything less." She then raises her small pouch of money and declares that it and only it can buy her something that can actually change her life - a ticket out of there. Blue hugs the princess, who bids her goodbye, and the fairy warns her friend to be careful because danger can look harmless at first. Snow heeds this before heading off, and Blue appears sad to see her go.
Blue might have a way to help, for a change.
The bottle, filled with water from the River of Lost Souls, now rests on Emma's table as the rest of the heroes stare at it in fear. One such hero is Belle, whom Emma comments as not seeming too shocked that Gold brought some of this back and gave it to the Queen, and the beauty replies that that's because she's not, for her husband isn't acting like the man he could be. She wishes she could help, but she's looked through all her books for any information on how to neutralize water from the River of Souls and she's afraid there's nothing. Snow smiles at her anyway, appreciating the effort, and Belle assures that she'll keep looking. She then heads out of the house just as Mother Superior is on her way inside, saying she's sorry to interrupt and that she came as quickly as she could after David called to tell her what happened. Upon seeing the bottle on the table, the fairy stops dead in her tracks, and Snow begs to know if she can help. Blue shakes her head, informing them that, unfortunately, she doesn't have a way to counteract Lost Souls water, at which David sums up that they either have to let the whole town die or allow the Evil Queen to get exactly what she's always wanted. "Maybe. But there is a bit of magic that just might be powerful enough to imprison the Evil Queen," Blue reveals. The Charmings appear hopeful at this, wanting to hear more, and the fairy explains that it's a sapling. "A baby tree?" David questions, and it is elaborated that it was created by a first spark of true love, which is incredibly rare.
Regina reveals something gross.
Hook asks if she's got one and Blue tells him that they had one, back in the Enchanted Forest; they assumed that it was left behind in the curse, but now they think it might be lost somewhere in Storybrooke. The heroes begin to smile, with Emma saying that there has to be some sort of magical way to find it, and Blue confirms that there is a spell that can point the way with a sort of beacon. But, it wouldn't be visible just to them, and if Gold or the Queen or even Zelena saw it they would know exactly what it was. "And then we'd have a race on our hands," David realizes, only for Regina to finally chime in with, "Maybe not." The others inquire as to what she means and the Mayor finds it difficult to suggest that the Evil Queen and Gold's alliance might have more to it than business. The others appear perplexed and so Regina finds herself forced to admit that there was always a certain amount of chemistry between she and Rumple. Hook appears disgusted while Emma blankly espouses, "Regina oh my God..."; the Charmings seem amused and Henry just sort of hangs his head. Regina understands their reactions, assuring them that nothing ever happened, but she thinks they can use this to their advantage. David appears abhorred at the implications of this while his daughter looks confused, all the while Regina gets up to retrieve and notepad and pen. With that, she begins to construct a note...
Which Zelena then lays witness to.
Said note is next seen in the hands of Zelena, who unfurls it to see that the Queen would like for her to meet her at Gold's shop; the Wicked Witch smiles at this, then looking at the crow who brought the note to her and thanking it for the special delivery. It caws before flying off, and Zelena turns around to begin heading to Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer across the street. As she does this, Regina watches from behind a nearby corner, happy to see that her forged note was successful in fooling her sister. She then disappears from sight, knowing the distraction she's set up for the town's local villains to be taking form successfully. Zelena is then seen entering the shop with the note in tow, confused as to why no one is there to greet her, and walks on over to the counter in order to place the note down on it. She sighs, waiting for her sister to show up, and then she hears a strange set of noises coming from the backroom. Curious and disturbed, she decides to go check it out. In the backroom, we watch as Gold passionately kisses the Evil Queen's neck, and she moans before continuing to make out with him. Between kisses and with heavy breath, she tries suggesting that the two of them take this somewhere more comfortable, at which Zelena comments, "Yes. Like a bed of lies!" Rumple and the Queen are shocked to see the Wicked Witch there, and then she begins to storm out, distraught.
Someone's true colors are starting to show again.
Zelena bursts out of the backroom in a rage, her neck already showing tinges of green as the jealousy starts to set in too. She heads for the door of the shop, wanting to be as far away as possible from what she's just seen, only for the Evil Queen to promptly block her path by poofing up in front of her. Not in the mood, Zelena requests that she just be let past, but the Queen insists that the two of them need to talk. Zelena doesn't think so, claiming that she saw what her sister wanted her to see, at which the Queen, confused, professes that she didn't want the Wicked Witch to see it. Gold too has emerged from the backroom by this point, while Zelena continues to berate the Queen for having lied to her. The Queen claims that she only did it because she knew her sister would be jealous, but Zelena assures that she isn't jealous - not of her. Not ever. Meanwhile, Gold makes his way behind the counter and begins to inspect the note sent to Zelena by Regina, clearly curious about it. The Evil Queen uses this time to retort to Zelena's claim, saying, "Really? Well then what's wrong with your neck? Growing moldy?"
The villains realize they're being played.
Zelena only now begins to notice it - the green that's starting to spread across her flesh - while Gold comes to a realization. "We were supposed to be a team," Zelena reminds her sister, "No secrets. Spa days and sisterhood. We were gonna run over this town together, and now what?! He's riding on your handlebars and I'm just sitting in the sidecar?!" Gold tells the witch that she needs to calm down, and she turns to him in anger. He then holds up Regina's note and asks her what it is, but Zelena suggests that he ask the Queen instead since she wrote it, wanting to rub her nose in it. The Queen grows confused again, approaching the note, and once she snatches it from her lover she exclaims that she didn't write it. Gold points out that someone else with her handwriting did, at which the Queen, annoyed, realizes, "Regina..." She sets the note back down on the counter while Rumplestiltskin arrives at the conclusion that the three of them are being played. The Queen nods, turning to Zelena as the local villains ponder what's going on and what they're being distracted from.
A beacon is formed.
Over at the docks, Blue raises her wand as she's backed by the other heroes, finally summoning enough fairy magic to send a fantastic bolt of light into the sky. The light then forms a beacon, as promised, and begins to point the way to where the sapling can be found. It lands across the harbor, with Blue explaining that that's where they need to go, and David acknowledges that Regina can magic he and Snow out there to find it - they just need to figure out where to put the Evil Queen once they've got her. Regina then reveals that she intends to imprison her dark half within her vault, explaining that she's taken all the blood magic off the locks so it should hold her. But, there's still a lot of dangerous stuff in there. Emma says that she and Hook can pack it all up, and Regina nods; with that settled, David believes it's time to go recover the sapling. Before they leave, Emma warns her dad to be careful, but he tells her not to worry because he's in good company.
David get roofied by the Woodcutter.
Back in time, David is seen in considerably lesser company, not that he knows that as he and Wilby continue to trek unwittingly alongside Gabriel the pretend peddler. With them obviously having gotten out of the wagon, the out-of-breath shepherd comments that he didn't think they'd break so soon, at which Gabriel explains that his horse needs a good many breaks, plus he likes to take a look at the local scenery. He points out that Wilby isn't complaining either, before stopping to remove his canteens of water and tossing one to David. He tells him to drink up, assuring that there will be no more breaks after this, and comments that they can make it all the way to Longbourne in one leg. As he drinks from his own canteen, David happily does as told and drinks from the one that's been provided for him, thanking his travelling companion. However, he suddenly starts to feel a little whoozy, looking as though he might collapse. Gabriel asks him if he's alright but the shepherd falls to the floor, now on his hands and knees and shaking. "Ah, mate, you shouldn't take drinks from strangers," the Woodcutter points out, apparently having drugged the water he offered up, and then David just passes out in fear. He tries to fight it but simply cannot remain conscious, and Wilby whines as a result. The Woodcutter turns to the sheepdog and assures him that his owner is just sleeping, then saying that he has a fun game for the two of them to play in the meantime. Wilby stares blankly at his captor, whining some more.
Who then finds and captures Snow.
Snow continues to wander through the forest on her way to Longbourne when, suddenly, she hears a rustle of leaves which indicates that someone is nearby, watching her. As such, she turns around in her startled state in order to see who might be there, then quickly picking a large rock up off the ground to use as a weapon. When the source of the noise finally emerges, however, the princess is relieved to see that it is but a mere sheepdog - Wilby, who's apparently tracked the wanted royal down successfully. She greets him happily, putting the rock down and wondering where this little guy came from, but her good mood is soon spoiled when an ax is sent hurtling into the log beside her. The Woodcutter has found her. Snow stands up in shock, seeing him there, once again kitted out in his armor and furs, and he comments that he sees Snow met his friend. She finds herself uttering his nickname, wanting to know how he found her, and he removes his helmet as he advances, replying that she's noting but a lost princess and he came across an excellent sheepdog. As he backs her up against a tree, he says that sheepdogs are great at finding strays; they just need to gain a scent. Indeed, while adding this, he takes out the piece of her scarf he was able to snag with his ax during his earlier attack, apparently having used it as fuel for Wilby's keen nose. Feeling trapped, Snow just spits in the bounty hunter's face. He laughs, using the scrap of scarf to wipe it away, and then he grabs her by the throat as he promises he's not going to kill her. He's just going to take her to the Queen to get a reward... and she'll kill her. The Woodcutter then violently begins to drag away his prey.
The Charmings are ready for their next adventure together.
In the present, Snow, David and Regina stand beside a familiar Storybrooke stream, with the former soon pointing in a certain direction and her husband realizing that that's where the beacon is. He wants to rush forward in getting to it, but Snow soon stops him in order to ask if he knows where they are. Beginning to walk hand-in-hand with her, he assures that he does, recognizing the locale to be the same one as where she found him during the curse when he'd wandered out of the hospital (see "Snow Falls"). "Where you saved me," he then makes sure to clarify, and Snow laughs as she asks him what the chances are. David wonders if she thinks it's a sign, to which Snow replies that she thinks... she doesn't know what to believe anymore. Except that it's good to be on an adventure with him again. She stares up at him, smiling, and he smiles back, assuring that it's always good. "Hey, lovebirds!" Regina then interrupts, telling them both that she's found something. Using her magic, she summons one of the dwarfs' pickaxes and strikes down against the earth where the beacon has landed. The gravel rises to reveal a square structure buried beneath it, and David wipes it away with his boot and realizes that it's a trapdoor. As such, he bends down to lift it open, meaning the three heroes are left staring down into previously uncharted underground territory. Regina asks her friends if they're ready, and Snow replies, "Always," as she takes her husband's hand. "Then hang on," Regina replies, twirling her arm so as to envelop them all in a flurry of purple smoke. As this flurry, they swirl on down into the mystery tunnel, ready to discover what might be in its depths.
The tremors continue to get worse.
We close up on Hook's eyes as he stares curiously into one of the many bottles down in Regina's vault, with him and Emma having agreed to clean the place out in preparation for the Evil Queen's imprisonment. Emma is putting things into boxes while her pirate boyfriend continues to inspect the bottle and finds himself asking what exactly Adder's fork is anyway. The savior explains that it's a snake's tongue, adding that there was some of it in the potion she drank to find Aladdin (see "Street Rats"), and Hook turns to her in shock and disgust, pointing out that she's kissed him with that mouth. He then puts the bottle away while Emma says that they should start getting these boxes up to Henry so that they can pack the bug before the new "tenant" comes; however, as she goes to lift a box, she is almost immediately forced to drop it back onto the top of the pile, thanks to her hand violently shaking. Hook approaches her in caution, telling her to hang on, then taking her hand and advising her to look at him. She does this, and he says that he knows she's worried about her parents and that it's making this - the hand tremors - worse, but then assures that Snow and David are going to be alright. They'll find their "magic little baby tree thing" and defeat the Evil Queen.
So Hook soothes Emma with a story.
Emma adds that they better find that magic little tree thing, and Hook smiles, telling her that that's right. However, the blonde then asks what happens if they don't, if the Evil Queen gets there first and she's not ready for a fight... Hook, still having her by the hand, then decides to lead her over to a nearby trunk, sitting her down on it. He then goes over to his satchel and takes Henry's book from out of it, explaining that he borrowed it because he wanted to tell his girlfriend a story. With the book in tow, he then goes to sit next to her, placing the compilation of fairytales down on the trunk in between them. Emma utters his name, unsure of what he's attempting, but he shushes her, needing to go on. "It's story time," he tells her, then opening the book up to the page which depicts Snow White and Prince Charming clinging to one another on their infamous wedding day. Emma, accepting this, listens as Hook says that, once upon a time, the Evil Queen vowed to separate Snow and Charming, but, no matter what she tried, they always found each other. As he adds this last part, he turns to the page which depicts Charming standing over Snow's glass coffin in the woods, about to use true love's kiss to wake her up.
Reminding her of who and what she is.
"Then, they found you," Hook adds, turning finally to the page which shows Charming holding baby Emma, about to put her in the magic wardrobe to save her from the curse. Emma smiles at this, while Hook goes on to assure that she inherited the strength of her parents' love, meaning that, even when they couldn't find each other, she made sure they did. To demonstrate this, he shows her the page which shows the two of them - as "Prince Charles" and "Princess Leia" - dancing at King Midas' ball during their memorable trip to the past (see "Snow Drifts"). "True love can break any curse and so can you because that's what you're made of," Hook wraps up, "You're a savior because you were born of their love. They're alive today because you brought them together. You... you can overcome these visions. You can overcome anything. Now remember who you are." As he says this, Emma is able to lift her hand from the book, and it is entirely steady. Not a tremor in sight. Hook then takes it with his own hand, finishing with, "The product of true love." Emma then stares at him with a smile and he stares back, before kissing that steady hand of hers. The shot then takes us down to the page of the book which shows Snow and Charming passionately kissing after the latter having awoken his princess. True love indeed.
Wilby wakes his master.
Ironically, in the past, David is the one asleep as he remains passed out on the forest floor from the Woodcutter's drugged water. The whine of a sheepdog is soon heard, however, as Wilby returns to his side, apparently having escaped the company of his kidnapper after carrying out the task he needed him to perform. Worried, he begins to lick his master's face so as to wake him up, and David stirs as it actually appears to be doing the trick. Finally, the shepherd comes to and begins to take a confused look around the place, still groggy from his little involuntary nap. His dog, at the same time, barks madly and begins running off in a particular direction, wanting David to take notice of him so that he can lead him somewhere important. "Gabriel..." David then utters in an angered realization, coming to recall just what happened to him, and with that same anger he grabs his bag of things and gets to his feet. He then begins to run, deciding to follow Wilby to wherever it is he clearly wants him to go.
An imprisoned Snow receives help from a significant stranger.
We return to the Woodcutter's wagon where something inside is clearly trying to get out. Indeed, Snow White has been imprisoned there, and she's currently trying to use her feet to kick the locked door down. This is at the same time that Wilby is running towards the wagon, wanting David to help the poor princess, and David arrives to notice someone inside attempting an escape. Wilby barks to indicate that this is the end of the trail and, from within the wagon, Snow hears the bark and appears somewhat hopeful. David then approaches the door and calls out to whomever's inside; Snow calls out to him in turn, exclaiming that the Woodcutter locked her in, and the shepherd realizes that, to get her out, he needs to break the lock on the door. However, Snow warns him that the Woodcutter will be back any second and if he catches him then he'll kill him so he needs to go. David then runs off and Snow hears the sounds of his footsteps growing fainter as he does, wondering for a moment if he actually took her advice. She goes to listen closer, not sure if he's really gone, and then she's startled as a massive rock is slammed against the door. It seems David only fled to collect it, and now he's attempting to bash in the large padlock in with it. Snow flinches with each strike, while the future prince continues to try his best to break the lock and free the damsel in distress.
The Charmings touch the sapling...
In the present, we are carried down the secret tunnel that Snow, David and Regina are currently exploring in search of the magical sapling. As they make their way through the large underground cavern, they eventually come to discover a distinctive green plant sprouting up from between a pair of rocks. It's the sapling, created by the first spark of true love, and David points out to the others that there it is. Regina tells him to get it, and he and his wife find themselves approaching the mystical plant with equal haste. They inspect it for a moment, and then reach out to grab it at the exact same time...
Suddenly, we are taken into the minds of Snow and Charming as lifting the sapling forces them to receive visions of their past together. We first see them running through a different cave together while on another adventure ("The New Neverland"), and then we're taken to the climax of their first meeting; Snow exclaiming, "Follow me!" before deciding to go back and rescue Charming during the attack on the Troll Bridge. We see the trolls rough the two of them around, with the prince crying out the bandit's name, but soon see the two of them after their victory as well. ("Snow Falls") Snow nods towards Charming as they continue to excavate Medusa's cave, and Medusa herself is even shown slithering on by; just one of the many threats they've faced as a couple. ("The New Neverland")
And an epic love story is recounted.
Snow's words echo over this, sarcastically handing her future husband his famed moniker: "Aren't you a real Prince Charming?" ("Snow Falls") The two of them continue to hold onto the sapling in the present while it continues to rock their minds; we see Snow and Charming regrouping in the cave, looking like the fairytale adventurers that they are, with Snow exclaiming that she thought she'd lost her true love forever. ("The New Neverland") Snow is then shown smiling to her husband right after their first wedding, so sure of her love for him, and then we're shown the wedding itself. Them kissing beneath a flowery arch while Lancelot, as the minister, wishes for the love between them to always be strong and true. As this is heard, we also see Charming using his mother's enchanted necklace on his new wife's hand, determining that their first born child is going to be a girl. ("Lady of the Lake") Snow remains suspended in a net during another memorable early encounter; she smiles, and Charming, with both a new nickname and a new chin scar in tow, smiles too. ("Snow Falls") Suddenly, we are shown a scene from earlier - of David using a rock to try and bash in the Woodcutter's padlock and free the unknown girl on the other side of the wagon door. But then we're taken back to more familiar memories; to Snow sleeping as Charming removes the lid from her glass coffin in the woods.
With a few unfamiliar twists.
The snow rains down on them and the dwarfs as he leans down to give her a kiss, and a pulse of pure love is sent out to engulf the land as she wakes up. Over this, we hear him assure that he will always find her, and Snow asking in response if he promises. "I do," we hear at the same time we see Snow taking a deep breath, the sleeping curse now absolved. ("Pilot") Words we've not heard before in Snow's voice: "Knowing you believe in me means I'm not alone." And then... the two of them tearfully touching hands through one of Regina's mirrors during a failed attempt at a rescue mission ("An Apple Red as Blood"), followed by them touching hands again, but this moment is also unfamiliar. Of Snow reaching her hand through a hole in the wagon door and dropping coins into David's palm. In the present, they remain stunned, then receiving some final flashes of their more extravagant wedding day ("Pilot") and the moment they first fell in love, where Snow tries on Charming's mother's ring and he realizes that he never wants to see it off her finger, before the two of them are forced to part ways for the time being. We also hear Mary Margaret whisper, "Come back to me," as she desperately attempts to wake her John Doe ("Snow Falls") in the very same locale that, in the present, they're still clutching to that sapling.
The sapling is stolen by the Queen.
As the flashes finally cease, Snow finds herself letting go of the sapling and asking what that was. David, staring at it, says that it must have been the sapling, and Snow recalls how Blue said it was created from true love - so maybe that's just hat it does, shows you your own true love. "As if we needed reminding," David finds himself responding with a smile. Snow then takes the sapling from him in confusion and asks her husband how much he saw; "There was something I couldn't quite..." However, her preponderance is cut off by Regina, who says that this is really sweet but begs for them to go so they can defeat someone, for they don't have long. The Charmings thusly begin to hightail it out of the cave with the sapling in tow, only to stop dead when a certain someone suddenly poofs into existence before their very eyes: the Evil Queen. "So true," she says in response to Regina's statement that they haven't much time, "Time flies." She then uses her magic to make the sapling vanish from Snow's hands and appear in her own.
Who proceeds to reduce it to nothing.
Snow exclaims that the Queen has won nothing, for that sapling is made of pure love and therefore will not work for her. "Oh, won't it?" the Queen asks, feigning disappointment, and then she suggests that maybe it just needs a "firm hand". With that, she grabs it from either end and snaps it cleanly in two. The heroes appear desolate at this, while the Queen attempts to mock them by saying that maybe it can be repaired; she jams the two halves haphazardly into one another, but proceeds to use her magic to turn the remains into dust which falls from her palms and to the floor. "Maybe not." She wonders if perhaps the Charmings would like to beat the rush and simply hand those hearts over now, but David refuses, pointing out that they still have some time left. "True," the Queen acknowledges, "Read a book. Pick a flower. Rage, rage against the dying of the light! Just do it quickly. I'll see you at the cemetery soon enough... it's a good place for endings." The villainess then poofs on out of there while Regina and the Charmings are left looking more worried than ever.
The Charmings come to realize their true first encounter.
Snow stares down at her baby's empty crib, cross-armed and stoic inside her loft. David soon approaches from behind and relays to his wife Granny's message that Neal's doing fine, and she nods in response, saying that Granny is good with him. She adds that he's got a lot of people who love him, while David tries comforting her with soft embraces and tender kisses. However, she is forced to point out that they don't have much time, and they have no choice; they can't let the town die, and her husband agrees, wandering hand-in-hand with Snow away from the crib. She lets out a heavy sigh as she parks herself on one of the kitchen stools, lamenting the fact that the Evil Queen is going to have their hearts after all these years, and she has no idea what she's going to do with them. David laments in turn that if only they had saved the sapling, then asking Snow if she too felt the power in it. She says she did, adding that she keeps thinking of everything it showed them - all those memories - while David wonders if she heard what he heard in the flashes: her saying, "Knowing you believe in me means I'm not alone." He'd like to know if that's still true, but Snow doesn't respond, instead growing confused. She tells her husband that, while that was a memory, it was her memory. Now he is confused and so his wife tells him to think about it, pointing out that every moment they saw was a memory they shared, except that one; the words and handing over the coins, which she exclaims David wasn't even there for. "No," David utters, now thinking back, "You weren't... or were you?" The two of them grow stunned at this revelation.
The Woodcutter returns for David.
Delving back into the past, we see as David continually struggles to free the mysterious woman trapped inside the wagon, still bashing a heavy rock against the door's padlock in the hopes of breaking it. From inside, Snow is forced to exclaim that it's no use, trying once again to warn the shepherd to run away before it's too late. However, David refuses to give up, and then Snow's warning grows more pertinent as an ax is sent hurtling towards him, landing in the door. The runaway princess is startled by the noise it creates, unsure of what's going on, while her attempted rescuer turns around to see the Woodcutter - armor, furs and all - now charging at him with his second ax. He lets out a war cry as he prepares to bury it in David's skull, but the shepherd is swift and able to use the large rock he's been wielding as a shield, though this does mean he's flung into the wagon door. Having dropped the rock, he finds a new way to take advantage of his resources and takes out the ax which was just thrown in his direction, dislodging it from the door's frame. He goes to swing it against the one the Woodcutter is currently brandishing, but it seems the Woodcutter's is stronger, for with one swipe it chops David's in half at the handle.
And Snow aids in his defeat.
This means that the blade drops to the ground and he is left holding a wooden stump, so now it seems avoidance is his best strategy. Once again he finds himself forced up against the wagon, and then he has to duck his head to avoid yet another swing of the ax. This means that the Woodcutter ends up bashing a hole into his own door, to Snow's shock. David rolls away in the meantime, while Snow re-familiarizes herself with the daylight shining in on her face, realizing that she can now be of use. With the shepherd on the ground, the Woodcutter lifts his ax behind his head, prepared to thrust it forward and end this battle for good; however, Snow's gloved hand suddenly protrudes from the hole that he himself created, and she grabs the ax by the handle to stop the bounty hunter from being able to swing it. "Get him!" she then cries, and David does as told. He springs up from the ground and lunges forward with the sharp remains of what used to be an ax, plunging the severed handle right into Gabriel's gut. Snow feels the tremors that are sent through him as he's stabbed, and then he lets go of the ax as David pulls the makeshift weapon out of him. Finally, the Woodcutter drops to the floor, unable to ever do anyone anymore harm, and David, still holding the now bloody ax handle, exclaims, "We did it!"
Snow can't let David see her face.
Snow takes a deep breath of relief from within the wagon, while David forgoes his weapon in exchange for the key that he spots hidden in Gabriel's sleeve. He figures it's time to free the Woodcutter's prisoner, beginning to insert the key into the padlock, but Snow, hearing what's happening, suddenly yells for him to wait. "Don't." David assures her that it's okay, she'll be safe, trying to make eye contact through the hole in the door; however, she blocks this hole with her hand, telling him that it's his safety that should concern him. She explains that she's made some enemies, so if he sees her face... there will be a target on his back. Not particularly liking this, David decides to obey the woman's wishes and removes the key from the lock, not looking as he passes it to her through the hole and says that, after he's gone, she can let herself out. She thanks him, and then we see them from either side of the wagon door: two great lovers, meeting before they really met and not even knowing it thanks to a convenient sheet of wood. Snow gets more comfortable as conversation sets in, and David finds himself having to ask what she was doing out alone in the woods. Clutching the key, she tells him that she was just trying to survive, then taking a look at the portable prison she's found herself in and joking that she's obviously not doing a very good job of it.
Meeting before they even met.
This makes David smile, but he assures her that he's impressed nonetheless, complimenting that she's very resourceful. Snow doesn't know about that though; she soon finds herself compelled to continue talking, to ask him what he was doing on this road, and he reveals that he was headed to Longbourne to sell his mother's farm. He leans his back against the door now and Snow can hear in his voice that this is not something he wants, with him then adding that he's afraid they need the money. After a moment, the princess utters, "I have money," and David grows confused. She starts to explain how she was going to use it to leave the kingdom but soon abandons this, seeing it as unimportant. Instead she just takes the pouch of coins from her person and tells the shepherd that he should have it as a reward for rescuing her. David can't accept it though, for surely whatever she needed it for, she still does. "Maybe not," Snow comes to realize, having a sort of epiphany. "Maybe I am resourceful," she adds, removing her gloves as she informs him that there's a pretty corrupt nobleman who rides his carriage through her territory a lot, and it just might happen some of his fine cash is liberated as he passes through. She'll find a way.
The first spark of true love.
David points out that it sounds dangerous, asking if she's sure she wants to do it alone, but Snow, pouring the contents of her money pouch out into her palm, tells the unseen man on the other side of the door that she doesn't feel so alone right now. And then, she utters the words that, several decades later, the two of them will be reminded of in a series of flashes: "Knowing you believe in me means I'm not alone." With that, she reaches her coin-bearing hand through the hole and waits for David to retrieve his reward. He turns to see her fair hand hanging there, coins in tow, and he gently lifts his own palm to take them, meaning their hands touch for a brief moment as the money passes over. Snow feels something at this point, although perhaps she doesn't know, and, as their hands detract from one another, their fingers brush together in a brief moment which emanates a small orb of light unnoticed by both. A spark, if you will. As David walks away, knowing the soon-to-be bandit has the means to escape her current predicament, this spark slowly drifts down to the soil where he just stood, embedding itself in the ground. Suddenly, a plant sprouts up from the earth. It's the sapling. Born from the first spark of true love.
Zelena tries to capture Belle's interest.
The destroyer of that sapling now waits in the Storybrooke cemetery, pacing before all the town's citizens as Snow and David have yet to show up to surrender their hearts to her. She soon grows impatient and decides to address the people of Storybrooke, referring to them as her people, and adds that she's so glad they accepted her invitation because this is about them. "If Snow White doesn't show up in the next five minutes, I'm going to share a little treat with you all," the Queen makes clear, blending anger with joy, "A taste of water, from the River of Lost Souls." As the crowd reacts to this, horrified, Zelena worms her way through them all in order to approach Belle, who stands near the front alongside the likes of Emma, Hook and Henry. The Wicked Witch comments that it looks like the beauty doesn't have to worry about that blasted river water, not since her husband struck a deal with the Evil Queen, but Belle claims that she doesn't care about the deals that her husband makes. Zelena tells her that she should, asking if she wouldn't like to know the rest of what Gold and the Queen have been up to, and Belle can't help but be intrigued.
Snow and David show up to accept their fate.
Meanwhile, Emma stares blankly at the mausoleum - which the Queen has designated her backdrop - as Regina approaches her and asks if she's ready. The savior replies that she actually is, holding out her hand to reveal that it's remained steady, and then she decides that it's time for she and the Mayor to do it. However, before they're able to combine their magic and hit the Queen with a surprise attack, a recognizable voice is suddenly heard yelling, "Wait!" It's Snow, and the Queen turns in excitement, almost taken aback at the sight of her arch nemesis entering the graveyard alongside her husband. Emma is even more taken aback to see her parents having shown up to sacrifice themselves, but that doesn't stop them from confidently making their way through the crowd and towards the Queen. The latter comments that they're right on time, saying that she should have known they'd show up even without their precious sapling, and Snow, smiling serenely, responds that they may not have the sapling but they don't need it. It's done its work, and they know their love is more powerful than anything she can throw at them.
The protection spell is lifted.
The Queen rolls her eyes at this while David adds that, to save the people of Storybrooke, they're willing to do as she asks. It's a sacrifice they need to make. Their loved ones don't seem to agree, all of them having dejected reactions, and Snow finishes by stating that they're going to do the right thing. "Dad... Mom..." Emma finds herself exclaiming in saddened disbelief, and they turn to their daughter, remaining strong. Snow tells her that most people go through life never knowing where their paths will take them, but somehow she and David always do. "It's always to each other and then back to you." She smiles, but Emma is despondent, and Regina has to ask the royal couple if they're sure about this. David assures that they are, ordering her to lift the protection spell, and, with great reluctance, Regina raises her arms and uses her magic to remove the enchantments which safeguarded the Charmings' hearts. They are vulnerable now, ripe for the plucking, and Emma cries as she continues to watch her parents and what they are about to do. The two of them are far less worried though, merely taking each other by the hand and turning back to the Queen, who rubs her own hands together in preparation.
The Queen finally gets what she's always wanted.
Emma can't believe this, and Snow and Charming turn to one another in reassurance; the Evil Queen then slowly raises her hands high into the air... and plunges them into the chests of her two mortal enemies. A wave of shock works its way through the townspeople, who all hear the unholy squelch as the Queen roots around inside the two royals and finally removes the glowing, beating hearts from their rightful places. She then stands there, met by gasps, holding Snow White's heart in its two separate halves. One in either hand. She stares down at them longingly; satisfied. She whimpers about how she's dreamt of this moment for so long. "I'd wake up still feeling the grit of your crushed heart clinging to my palms," she adds as she works some sort of magic over the divided organ, "But that ending isn't poetic enough, is it?" Snow and David look confused now, entirely unsure of what the Queen plans to do, and so the Queen explains it to them, telling Snow that she wants to give her her pain. The pain of being alone. And, since she couldn't accomplish that by killing her, she's come up with something much more cruel.
A new kind of sleeping curse is set in motion.
With that, she plunges the hearts back into the Charmings' chests, to the surprise of all. The sense of relief is rather fleeting though, for Snow's eyes soon begin to close and she drops to the ground, unconscious. David is quick to tend to his wife, but almost laughs when he realizes she's been put under a sleeping curse, reminding the Queen that it's never kept them apart before. "This one has a little twist," the vile villainess reveals, waving her hand and making it so that Snow vanishes in a flurry of purple smoke. Her loved ones don't know what to make of this, while the Queen continues addressing her stepdaughter's husband. "You say you always find her," she says, "Well start looking, shepherd. And let's see what happens when you do." She then makes herself vanish in another flurry of smoke and David gets to his feet, looking out at the still bewildered citizens of Storybrooke and needing desperately to find his wife.
Belle won't allow Rumple to tamper with their son's fate.
Gold stares down at the sonogram photo of his unborn child, delivered to him discreetly by Belle the day prior. Belle herself proceeds to enter his shop, to his surprise, and he turns around to greet her, happy that she's there. He says he's been meaning to thank her for the photo, but she seems in no mood, informing the Dark One that Zelena told her about him and the Evil Queen. His smile drops at this, and he tells her, while acknowledging that it may seem trite to say, that it doesn't mean anything. The beauty, however, assures that she doesn't care about what he does right now, or with whom he does it, but the Wicked Witch also told her about the shears... now that she cares about. "She said that you were going to use them on our son. The first moment you can, the moment that he's born, to cut him off from his future. Well, I won't allow that. You don't get to tamper with his life just to keep him from hating you; I forbid it." Rumple tries pleading now, saying that the things he does are driven by the love of his son, but Belle makes clear that that excuse doesn't work anymore. She adds that if he were pure evil like the Queen then maybe she could forgive him because that's all he could be, but he does feel love and he could be a good man... if he tried. "If you want your son's love, don't take it. Be worthy of it." Rumple is silent for a moment, beginning to get emotional, and he asks what is to happen if he fails. Disgusted, Belle advises him to listen to himself, for that's just him all over: afraid of failing. And that's worse than being evil. That's just being too weak to be good. And with these words, Belle exits the shop, leaving her husband to stew in his sadness. However, his sadness soon drifts into anger as he scathingly utters the name of the person he blames for his plans now being ruined, "Zelena..."
Where could Snow be?
"Snow!" David exclaims as he bursts into his and his wife's loft, shortly followed by Emma. The both of them are in a great rush, dashing their way over to the bedroom in the hopes that that's where the Evil Queen has magically transported the unconscious princess. However, when they make it to the bed, they are shocked and disappointed to see that it's empty, meaning that Snow is somewhere else. Both sighing and thinking deeply, David tries his best to reckon where the Queen may have sent his wife in her sleeping state, and then suddenly he has a realization. Turning sharply to his daughter, he utters, "The woods. Where she sent her before." Emma's eyes widen while her father continues in his rush and quickly hightails it out of the apartment, now dead set on making it to the forest as quickly as he can. After a moment of this whole bizarre situation still setting in, Emma moves in hot pursuit, equally frightened for the well-being of her mother.
A familiar setting.
We then see David's truck speeding down the woodland roads, with David inside hastily looking around for any sign of his sleeping true love. Behind him, we see that Emma's yellow bug is speeding down the same set of roads, with Emma's father then putting his gas mileage to the test while he sharply turns a corner. Finally, it seems, he actually notices something, and before long he slams his foot down on the brake pedal and forces the jeep to halt abruptly. He then dashes on out of it while Emma prepares to pull over in the same spot, wanting to follow her father as he runs off into the forest. We watch as he pursues his wife's location on foot, going as fast as he can while also stopping to assure himself of the right direction; eventually he finds it, and then we are shown that Snow White, once again, has been entombed in a glass coffin while under the effects of a sleeping curse. David arrives to her side, worried at the sight of her lying there, lifeless, in a hollowed-out tree with a glass top. He soon removes the fragile lid and places it to one side, exposing Snow to the air, and then he prepares to do what must be done to wake her. "Dad!" Emma exclaims as she finally catches up to him, accompanied by Regina, Henry and Hook, and the former comments fearfully that she doesn't think a kiss is going to do it this time. Emma says that they should just let him try, and, indeed, as David stares down at Snow's sleeping face, that's exactly what he does. He leans down...
True love's kiss is once again a success...
Just as he did in the Enchanted Forest all those years ago, the snow falling as the prince moves in the wake his cursed princess.
...and his lips touch hers, planting a brief, gentle kiss on his wife's mouth, hoping that it will work.
Like it did before, with Charming leaning out from the kiss in the past and awaiting that pulse of pure love to accompany Snow's awakening.
In the present, as he stares down at her, he does the same thing... and then Snow's eyes burst open. The wave of true love engulfs the setting and everyone in it, and David smiles at his success.
Prince Charming smiles tearfully down at his future wife upon her sleeping curse having been broken (see "Pilot").
But then this new curse's "twist" makes itself known.
Snow takes a deep breath from within her new coffin, and David continues to smile, as do those around them. "How about that..." Regina says, relieved, but then David slowly blinks as he begins to feel drowsy. And, before long, he collapses, lying unconscious on the forest floor beside what almost could have been his wife's resting place. Emma calls out for her father while Regina crouches down to inspect him, and finally Snow is able to sit up and utter her husband's name as true consciousness befalls her once more. Along with this comes worriment as she stares down at the sleeping prince, and she demands to know what happened. "What did she do?!" Regina, using her magic to scan him, then figures out what's going on. She explains that the Evil Queen put a sleeping curse on Snow's heart - a heart she shares. So now, she shares the curse. This means that when one of them is awake, the other will be asleep. So as long as the curse is unbroken... "We'll never be together," Snow utters hopelessly.
- The title card of this episode features David's sheepdog, Wilby, wandering through the forest.
- The name Wilby is a reference to the titular character of Disney's The Shaggy Dog (1959).
- The town of Longbourne, which is referred to heavily within this episode's flashbacks, was previously mentioned by Rumplestiltskin back in the first season's "Desperate Souls", also penned by Jane Espenson.
- The location of Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer in this episode is different than in the past, with a lane way having disappeared between it and its neighboring establishments.
- Due to the many flashes the Charmings receive when they touch the sapling, this episode uses archive footage from various of their past episodes, including "Pilot", "Snow Falls", "An Apple Red as Blood", "Lady of the Lake" and "The New Neverland".
- The title of this episode was officially confirmed by executive producer/co-creator Adam Horowitz, via his Twitter account, on September 6, 2016.
- This episode marks, overall, the twenty-sixth writing credit for Jane Espenson, as well as the, overall, twenty-fifth directing credit for Ralph Hemecker.
The episode posted a 1.1/3 rating among 18-49s with 3.56 million viewers tuning in, up from the previous episode.
This episode received generally positive reviews from critics.
- Christine Laskodi of TV Fantic gave the episode a mild review: 3.5 out of 5.0. She started her review by saying, "It is good to see Snow White and her Prince on an adventure again," and proceeded to praise some of the episode's many standout moments. However, she ended on a critical note, taking issue with the twist of a two-way sleeping curse.
- Justin Kirkland of Entertainment Weekly gave the episode an A-.
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- ↑ Adam Horowitz tweet.
- ↑ ‘NCIS: LA’ and ‘Madam Secretary’ adjust up: Sunday final ratings, by Rick Porter, TV by the Numbers (November 8, 2016)
- ↑ "Once Upon a Time Review: Heartless", by Christine Laskodi, TV Fanatic (November 6, 2016)
- ↑ "Once Upon a Time recap: 'Heartless'", by Justin Kirkland, Entertainment Weekly (November 6, 2016)