Once Upon A Time Recap: “Heartless”

Once Upon A Time.jpg

By Casey Rose Frank

This week the new season really hit its stride, proving that the preseason press about a return to the best parts of Season 1 were true.

At the start of the episode our lovely Snow and Charming are fast asleep, but soon Snow wakes up to find herself in the woods, being threatened by the Evil Queen.

The Evil Queen’s hatred of Snow has been explained many different ways in the past, particularly over losing the man she loved because Snow told her secret, but this week it’s bitterness that Snow was so doted upon by her father, “Your father always made sure you got what you wanted plus a little bit more.”

EQ wants Snow’s heart, and while I thought that was a tired line last week, I had forgotten an important detail: “Since your husband has half your heart, I get that too. See, that’s my ‘a little bit more’.”

The Evil Queen tells Snow that she and Charming will willingly hand their hearts over, because of a vial she has. She gives it to Snow and tells her she has 12 hours to figure it out or the whole town gets a taste of it, and it will be the last thing they taste.

Back in the early days of the Enchanted Forest, before they had even met each other, both Snow and David are traveling toward a coastal town, each with their own intentions: Snow to escape the land and EQ, David to find a buyer for his mother’s failing farm. David is joined on his quest by a trusty dog named Willoughby, and I’m realizing there has been a distinct lack of dogs on the show. I miss Pongo.

In Storybrooke the gang has assembled to examine the vial EQ gave Snow.

Regina puts some of the vial on the tree and it immediately shrivels up and dies.

Regina realizes what it is and says, “It’s not a potion, it’s water.”

Hook says, “See, never trusted the stuff, rum would never do that.”

It’s water from the River of Lost Souls, something that Gold brought back from the underworld, and now they know for certain Gold is working with EQ and she has the power to destroy the whole town.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, David and Willoughby encounter a man who bears a strong physical resemblance to the woodcutter who tried to kill Snow. But he seems like a nice guy, so why not continue the journey together?

Meanwhile, Blue is trying to get Snow to stay, saying that people love her, and that love is the most powerful magic in the world.

But Snow believes that love doesn’t hold its value, and that she needs safety more than she needs to be a beloved princess.

The whole Charming gang are together at Emma’s, along with Belle, who can’t find anything in her books about neutralizing the water from the River of Lost Souls.

Mother Superior/Blue (what do they call her now?) arrives and while she doesn’t have a way to counteract the water either, she believes that there may be a bit of magic that can ensnare the queen.

“A sapling formed by the spark of first love, it’s very rare. We thought it would be left behind in the forest, but it may be lost here in Storybrooke.”

But if something like this exists, then EQ might be looking for it too, so how to occupy her while the good team searches?

Regina drops the news that EQ and Gold may be more than allies, citing a historical chemistry between them and everyone looks as uncomfortable with this development as I am.

Regina tricks Zelena into visiting Gold’s shop while EQ and Gold are having some erm, quality time?

Z walks in on and them and boy, she is pissed. Her jealous greens are starting to show and she’s over “sisterhood and spa days” because EQ lied to her about her interest in Gold.

Blue creates a spell to find the sapling, but while finding it will mean having the ability to ensnare the Evil Queen, they’ll need a place to put her permanently, so Regina suggests her vault. She’s already removed the blood magic so EQ shouldn’t be able to break out, they’ll just need someone to go clean out all her magic potion goods.

Back in the Enchanted Forest the happy woodcutter drugs David so that he can use Willoughby to track down Snow White. I feel like Willoughby needs to get his shit together and know when to not track stuff down.

Regina, Snow, and Charming are out in the woods looking for the sapling. Despite everything that’s happening Snow says that she’s happy to be on an adventure with Charming. Regina finds a trapdoor in the earth (as one does) as she magics them down the hole.

Emma and Hook are cleaning out Regina’s vault and Emma starts shaking again.

Hook: “I know you’re worried about your parents and it’s making this worse, but they’ll find the magic little baby tree thing.”

Emma’s worried that EQ will get there first and she won’t be ready for a fight.

Hook was wonderfully prepared for this moment, saying he borrowed Henry’s book so that he could tell Emma a story.

As he flips through the pages, pointing out the images of Snow and Charming we’ve come to know and love so well, he tells Emma, “They always found each other, and they found you. True love can break any curse. You’re a savior because you were born of their love, you can overcome anything. Remember who you are.” I loved this moment because I never really thought of Emma’s role as the savior in quite that light.

Back in the Enchanted Forest David wakes up from his drug-nap and discovers that someone (Snow) is locked in the back of the woodcutter’s cart. He begins to try to break the lock.

Down in the magic hole, they find a little green plant. Snow and David pick it up at the same time and see their history unspool before their eyes. But they’re confused over one of the memories. While we viewers are already assuming that it was their spark of true love that created the sapling, Snow and Charming are still like, “Why did it show us that, is it a reminder of our love, is that what magic saplings do?”

But once again EQ gets the upper hand, stealing the sapling with magic and incinerating it. So much for that plan.

When she asks if Snow and David want to go ahead and hand their hearts over now, they decline, saying they still have more time. EQ says she looks forward to seeing them in the cemetery for the final showdown.

In their apartment Snow stares at Neil’s crib, worrying about their future.

“David, we don’t have much time, and no choice, we can’t let the town die.”

He agrees, saddened that the sapling was lost, especially since its power was so strong.
Snow remembers telling a mysterious man who had a hand in rescuing her, “Knowing you believe in me means I’m not alone,” but that was her memory and not David’s, and he’s like, no, that was my memory, not yours. Cue the action back in the Enchanted Forest.

From a hole in the cart Snow halts the woodcutter’s axe and allows David the opportunity to stab him. With him down, David attempts to open the cart but Snow stops him, saying, “If you see my face there will be a target on your back.”

David hands her the key through a hole, abiding by her wishes for anonymity and asks why she was traveling alone.

“I’m trying to survive and not doing a good job,” she says.

David explains that he was traveling to find a buyer for his mother’s farm because they need the money.

Snow decides to give the money she would have used for her passage to safety to David as a reward for rescuing her. She decides she can be resourceful after all, and we see the birth of our arrow-wielding badass.

As Snow hands the money out the hole, her hand touches David’s and a tiny spark falls from their hands as they part ways, creating the sapling.

EQ is pacing in the cemetery with much of the town assembled around her.

Z strolls up to Belle and mentions EQ’s alliance with Gold, asking “wouldn’t you like to know the rest of what they’ve been up to?”

Snow and David arrive and declare that they don’t need the sapling, “We know our love is more powerful than anything you can throw at us, and we’ll show the people of this town that they are worth this sacrifice.”

“Our path always leads to each other and back to you,” Snow turns and says to Emma.

Regina lifts the protection spell off their hearts at Snow’s request and they take each other’s hands and smile.

EQ reaches in and removes their hearts.

“But that ending isn’t poetic enough is it?” EQ asks of the idea of simply crushing their hearts and killing them.

“I want to give you my pain, the pain of being alone. And since I couldn’t accomplish that just by killing you I’ve come up with something much more cold,” she says, before plunging their hearts back into their bodies.

Snow crumples to the ground.

“A sleeping curse? That’s never kept us apart before,” David declares once Regina announces what has happened to Snow.

EQ says, “This one comes with a twist. You say you always find her shepherd, well start looking and let’s see what happens when you do.” And EQ disappears, taking Snow with her.

In his shop Gold is looking at his ultrasound pic.

Belle walks in and tells Gold that Zelena told her about Gold and EQ getting together.

Gold thinks she’s upset about his romantic involvement, but Belle says, “I don’t care about what you do right now, but she also told me about the Shears of Destiny, and that I do care about. You’re going to use them the moment our son is born? You don’t get to tamper with his life.”

Gold says that he’s driven by the love for my son.

“Not that excuse anymore. You want your sons’ love, don’t take it, be worthy of it,” Belle says and I feel like my favorite bookworm is back in cutting form.

Once David finally locates Snow in the woods of Storybrooke, back in the glass coffin from the original curse in the Enchanted Forest, he kisses her and he wakes up.

But then David collapses instead.

Regina assess the situation with her magic, “She put a sleeping curse on your shared heart- when one of you is awake, the other will be asleep, so as long at the curse is unbroken…”

“We’ll never be together,” Snow finishes.


This was a hell of a great twist this week, really pumping new life in the stale Snow/Charming/Evil Queen narrative.

Are you intrigued by this Lady Hawk-like turn of events? (Anyone else watch that at an inappropriately young age?)

And does anyone think there’s any intentional timing for the title of this episode and the new Marissa Meyer book dropping on Tuesday?

Casey is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty On Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click HERE.

{photo via Entertainment Weekly}