For the character, see Cora.
"Queen of Hearts" is the 31st episode of Once Upon a Time.
Cora and Hook face off with Mary Margaret and Emma in a race to secure the compass, which will point its holder to the portal into Storybrooke. But back on the other side, Regina and Mr. Gold, desperate to keep Cora out, put a plan into action that would kill anyone entering the portal - placing Mary Margaret's and Emma's lives in danger as well. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale land that was, Captain Hook travels to Wonderland and meets up with a vengeful Queen of Hearts.
Previously on Once Upon a Time...
In the netherworld, David tells Mary Margaret that she needs to obtain a special jar of ink that can be used to defeat Cora from Rumplestiltskin's cell. ("Into the Deep") David pricks his finger and sends himself into a sleeping curse. ("Into the Deep") Snow awakens, thus leaving the netherworld, and explains to Emma that Charming put himself under a sleeping curse and is now trapped. ("Into the Deep") Emma, Snow, Mulan and Aurora all have Hook tied up, he explains that Cora obtained the ashes from the destroyed wardrobe and plans to combine their magic with a compass that she seeks. ("The Doctor") Emma shows Hook the compass before chaining him up to give herself a head start, Hook, enraged, points out that the compass is in her hand and asks her why she is doing what she's doing when she's doing it. ("Tallahassee") Cora is proud of Hook for taking Aurora's heart, he points out that she now controls a princess. ("Into the Deep") Aurora approaches Snow, Emma and Mulan and assures them that Cora didn't see her escape, Emma asks her how she did escape and Aurora states that Hook set her free, telling her that if they had trusted him then they could have defeated Cora, together. However, it is seen that Cora is using the girl's heart to control her speech. ("Into the Deep") Hook asks Cora if they should get down to the business of getting to Storybrooke, "All we need is a compass.", she tells him. ("Into the Deep")
Hook causes ruckus.
In the fairytale land that was, over at the Dark Palace, a cloaked, hooded figure walks up a dark stairwell. He reaches the top but is halted by one of Queen Regina's men, the man says that he has food for the prisoner, showing the knight the small bucket he's holding. The knight exclaims that it's not dinner time and demands to know who the man really is, yelling for the "slave" to identify himself. The knight grabs the man's shoulders and his hood drops, we see he's Captain Hook and he digs his famed hook into the knight's shoulder, and defeats him, a second guard advances on the pirate and Hook clashes hook to blade, he lunges at this soldier and stabs him in the gut, before throwing him over to the first. He stands over the bodies, "Slave? I prefer Captain," he tells them before robbing their keys and proceeding into the prisoner's cell. We see that the prisoner is Belle and Hook walks in discretely, the princess is surprised to see him and he closes the door behind himself. Belle believes him to have been sent by the queen to kill her, however, Hook reveals that he is actually there to rescue her. He unlocks her shackles and she asks him who he is, "A friend," he describes himself before going on to tell the girl that they haven't much time as her father's life is in danger. Belle is utterly confused and more so when Hook goes on to say that he's being attacked by the very same monster that tore her away from her family to begin with, "What? Rumplestiltskin?" she asks, almost laughing. Hook tells Belle that he must be stopped and goes on to say that there are rumors of a magical weapon that can be used to kill the Dark One. Belle requests to talk to Rumple, insisting that he's not a monster. Hook tells her that she's hanging her father's life in the balance and that he needs to know what the weapon is and where to find it. "I have no idea what you're talking about and I have no idea how to... how to kill Rumplestiltskin!" she exclaims, Hook is disappointed at this and Belle explains that nor would she. "Oh, then I'm afraid I'm not here to rescue you," Hook tells her before slapping her across the face, causing the poor girl to fall onto her bed, unconscious. "So pretty..." he says, "And yet so useless." He raises his hook and prepares to slaughter Belle before it's is suddenly taken by magic.
Regina obtains something of Hook's.
Queen Regina stands at the door, assuring Hook that Belle is not useless, but a "valuable chess piece". "Do I look like I'm playing a game of chess?!" Hook demands, and Regina slams the cell door. Hook requests his hook, but Regina refuses, and Hook explains to her that his asking was merely him being a gentleman. Regina asks him if that's any way to address a queen, telling him that even a pirate should know better manners. She advances on him, circling him, "Yes, I know who you are... captain. I know why you came here from Neverland. And I know all about the crocodile you wish to skin." Hook tells her that that means she must know that he'll stop at nothing. Regina commends him on his dedication as well as his resourcefulness, saying that no one has been able to get past her defenses before. "She can't help you kill Rumplestiltskin, Hook... but I can," she assures him, telling him that she only shall if he does something in exchange for her. Regina uses Hook's hook to grab his neckline and pull him closer in to her, "Care to join me for a drink?" she asks.
Hook's task is disclosed to him.
The Evil Queen pours Hook a drink, "Things are about to change in this world..." she tells him, handing him his goblet, "Radically." She takes her own goblet and goes on to tell Hook that she plans to enact a curse that will take everyone to a far off land. Hook asks her how that will help him and Regina explains that the new realm they're going to, it's a land without magic, where the Dark One will be stripped of his powers, meaning Hook shall be able to kill him with a mere flick of his wrist. Hook asks what he will have to do, Regina explains that there's one person that she doesn't want following her to the new land and that she wants Hook to take any and all measures to make sure that that doesn't happen. "An assassination?" he asks, wondering who it is she'd like him to dispose of, and Regina pauses before stating, "My mother..."
ONCE UPON A TIME
Gold suggests that Regina prove herself.
At Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer, Prince Charming is still slumbering as a result of a sleeping curse. Regina stands over him, looking worried, she walks into the main shop area to talk to Mr. Gold. He asks her if there's any change but Regina shakes her head, telling Gold that he's not improving and needs true love's kiss. "He won't wake up until Mary Margaret comes back," she says, Gold latches onto the word "until" and tells Regina that it's rather optimistic of her to say so. Regina asks him what he's talking about and Gold reminds her that they're up against Cora and that the only chance they have of stopping her is with the squid ink. Regina points out that that's why they sent them the message through David, and Gold says that that would be beneficial if they knew that that message had been delivered, but alas, given the prince's condition, they don't know. Gold tells Regina that they should start preparing for the worst and facing the possibility that when the portal opens, it shan't be Snow and Emma who come through, it'll be Cora. Regina pauses, "And neither one of us wants that," she states; he goes on to say that they need to find where they'll be coming through and destroy that portal. He says that they need to muster up enough magic to do so. Regina asks what happens if they're wrong, what if that portal opens up and it's not her mother, and Emma and Mary Margaret defeat Cora and go through it, she asks what they will do then, he says that he'd call that a "win win". She wonders what he means, and he makes clear, "You stop Cora, you are protected from your mother... if, on the other hand, we stop Snow and Emma, well, you become the only mother in your son's life." He tells the queen that magic is unpredictable in their world and if something unfortunate were to happen whilst she was attempting to help, Henry could hardly blame her for that. Regina is intrigued but eventually refuses this, telling Gold that she cannot lie to Henry as she's trying to be a better mother. "You won't be able to be a better anything if Cora comes through," Gold points out, "And if she does, she will be a threat to everyone. Including your son. So, if you truly want to be a good mother to Henry, to protect him. If you want to be better..." he continues, "Prove it." Regina is at a loss.
"Emma Emma Emma Emma..."
In the fairytale land that is, Mulan, Emma, Aurora and Snow ignite the torches that light the prison containing Rumplestiltskin's cell. As Mulan and Aurora walk forward, Snow talks to Emma and tells her the that last time she was there was before Regina's curse and that it was the time he told them that Emma was the savior. (see "Pilot") Emma is surprised that Rumple knew about it and Snow explains that it was prophesied. Snow and Emma hold up their lanterns and walk into the cell, Aurora says that the squid ink is no where to be seen, Snow says that Gold said they'd find it and Mulan asks if there was ever anyone in there with Rumple who could have take the ink, Snow denies it. Aurora finds something in between the rocks of the walls, a rolled up sheet of parchment. Snow goes on to say that visitors were forbidden as he was too dangerous for any human contact, Emma asks how he kept from going crazy. "He didn't," Aurora says, looking at the sheet of parchment, now unrolled in her hands. The three others wonder what Aurora's holding and Emma asks her if it's a message, "Yes," Aurora says, "And I think it's for you." She hands Emma the parchment and she's shocked by the contents, the whole way down, it reads, "Emma Emma Emma Emma..." non stop, she rolls the parchment out some more and sees that it's much longer than first thought, all of it with her name inscribed everywhere. Emma is stunned.
Henry reads to his grandfather a very familiar story.
In Storybrooke, Henry is reading to Charming from his book, "'With one kiss, true love's power made everything right again. But, this was not the end of their story. It was just the beginning.'," Henry finishes as Regina walks in, telling her son that she believes this time it will be the other way around. "You think so?", Henry asks, Regina tells him that she does. She tells him that she needs him to stay and watch David for a little while, Henry wonders where she's going and Regina explains that she and Mr. Gold need to prepare for Emma and Mary Margaret's return as coming through the portal won't be easy and they'll need to make sure everything's in place. Henry is surprised that Regina's really going to help them. "I promised you I was going to do better. To be better," she reminds him. She says that she will do everything in her power to see to it that his mother and his grandmother come home safely. "Wow... you really have changed," he says; they smile at each other and Regina stands, telling Henry that she'll be back as soon as she can. She walks away and Henry smiles.
Regina and Gold inquire the help of a dead Fairy Godmother.
Down in the Storybrooke mines, Regina and Mr. Gold stroll through it, flashlight in hand, the latter tells the former that he's glad she came to her senses. "Let's just get through this," she tells him, clearly uncomfortable. They walk a little further and Regina shines her torch to the diamonds on the mine ceiling, Mr. Gold seems happy at this discovery. Regina asks how much they will need, Gold gives a laugh and states, "All of it." He starts taking something from his inside pocket as she wonders how they're going to do that and Rumple retrieves a wand, "With a little help from a fairy," he says, showing her the wand and adding, "A dead one." He tells Regina that no one mourns her before waving the wand up higher; it glows bright with magic as it collects from the diamonds. Soon, all of the magic flies into the magic wand and the diamonds of the mine ceiling are gone.
In the fairytale land that was, Regina is seen putting a spell on Hook's hook, she hands it back to him, placing it where his left hand should be. She tells him that it's now enchanted. "It will enable you to rip out her heart. I believe you've seen it done before..." Regina tells him, Hook confirms this. The queen tells the captain that the enchantment will limit him to only being able to take one heart - "So make sure you do it right.", she warns him. Hook wonders what Regina's mother could have done to warrant such brutality. "That's my business!" Regina exclaims before going on to say that Hook's business is to kill Cora and bring her back to her. Hook asks when he shall be setting foot on his murderous journey, Regina states that he shall be doing so immediately. The queen tells Hook that she shan't be going alone, she walks over to a bed with a sheet covering it and removes the sheet in one swift movement to reveal the dead body underneath. "You remember Claude?" she says, gesturing the dead soldier, Hook denies that he does and Regina reminds him that he killed him in the cell block, this rings a bell with Hook. "I didn't recognize him without my hook in his neck," Hook states before asking if Claude's not just a bit of dead weight, Regina paces to her desk, explaining that she banished her mother to a far off land some time ago and that Hook will need a portal to get to her. Regina pulls a hat box out from under her desk and she takes Jefferson's hat from the box. "The rules are simple. One goes in. One comes back. Or, in this case, two in, two back. You arrive with Claude and return... with my mother," Regina explains. Hook asks which far off land he has the pleasure of visiting. "Wonderland," Regina says, placing the top hat on the floor. Hook says that he's sure the name is an overstatement before asking how he'll find her. Regina tells him not to worry as Cora shall find him. Regina spins the hat with a little magic and a portal opens.
Oh, the thrill!
In Wonderland, Captain Hook is being dragged by knights before the Queen of Hearts. A golden and red masquerade mask covers the Queen's face and the Knave of Hearts bows to her before standing at her side, Hook is made to kneel and the Queen of Hearts waves an arm as an order for the Knave to lift her horn, he does so and she whispers through it, into the Knave's ear. The Knave tells Hook that the Queen would like to know why he's come to Wonderland, Hook explains that he's in search of someone. "In my native land, she goes by 'Cora'," Hook tells her. The Queen of Hearts the exclaims, standing up, "In this land she goes by 'Your Majesty'!" removing her mask, thus revealing herself to be Cora. She orders her royal ensemble to leave her and Hook alone, each and every one of them immediately oblige, scattering from the premises. Cora requests the pirate's name. "Hook," he tells her. "What a clever name..." she retorts. He smiles and stands, telling the Queen that he has a gift for her, he approaches her with a necklace. Cora approaches Hook also, saying that, if she's not mistaken, his hat, his portal, the same number must return as how many went through. "You arrived with him," she gestures Claude, lying on his death bed, "Who shall you return with?" Cora wonders. "You," he tells her, planting his hook into her chest without pulling anything out. Cora reminds the pirate that she's the Queen of Hearts and asks him if he thinks she'd be so careless as to leave her heart where everybody else does. She proceeds to plunge her hand into Hook's chest, taking his heart in her grip, telling him that that's how it's done. Cora keeps Hook pulled close, demanding to know who sent him there to kill her. Hook writhes in pain, "Your daughter," he utters, and Cora is hurt. She tells Hook that he is now going to tell her everything and do anything that she wants, as when you hold a heart, you control it.
"The time for making deals is done."
"You have the power," Aurora hears Cora's voice say as she stares to the compass. Still in the cell, Emma's wondering what the parchment containing her name really means. Snow, who's climbing the walls, tells her daughter that Rumple was obsessed with her as she was the key to breaking the curse. Aurora says that they've looked everywhere and that there's no ink in the cell, Snow argues that there has to be as Gold told David that it would be so, Emma reminds her that she was in a netherworld and that maybe something got lost in translation. "No, she heard right," Mulan says, pulling a small jar from the rocks. They ask her if she found it and she says that she did in a manner of speaking, showing them that the jar is empty. Aurora steals the jar and throws it at a nearby mechanism, the cell bars soon drop from the ceiling and rise from the floor, sealing Emma, Mulan, Snow and Aurora inside. They ask her what she's doing, "Helping me.", says Cora who's standing outside of the cell with Hook alongside her. Cora holds out her hand and the compass disappears from Emma and appears in Cora's clutches. Emma shakes the cell bars, trying desperately to escape, Cora advises her not to waste her energy, reminding her that Rumplestiltskin himself could not escape the cell. Cora thanks Aurora, telling her that she could not have done it without her. Snow and Emma are shocked, asking Aurora how she could do such a thing. "Don't blame her. She was only doing what she was told," Cora says, taking out Aurora's glowing heart. The girls are stunned. Cora tightens her grip on the girl's heart and Aurora screams in pain, Mulan rushes to her aid and the pain stops once Cora relinquishes. The mad sorceress tells them that Storybrooke awaits before turning around to leave, beckoning Hook also, however, the captain approaches the cell to talk to Emma once she requests it. "Please, don't do this. My son is in Storybrooke, he needs me," Emma pleads. Hook tells her that she perhaps should have thought of that before abandoning hi up a beanstalk. Emma tells him that he would have done the same, he advances, telling him that, actually, he wouldn't have. Hook pulls a necklace from his pocket, asking Emma if she knows what it is, she recognizes it as the giant's last magic bean. She makes a grab for it but Hook keeps it out of reach, gazing upon it, "A pirate always keeps a souvenir of his conquests... but this... this is much more than a mere trinket. This is a symbol. Something that was once full of hope, possibility... now look at it, dried out, dead, useless... much like you," he says, "The time for making deals is done. Just like I'm done... with you." Hook and Cora vacate the prison, leaving the princesses trapped.
No more sparklies!
Down in the Storybrooke mines, Ruby runs through the tunnel, torch in hand, asking Leroy what's wrong. He is silent and merely looks upwards, Ruby tries to ask him what the emergency is before looking up also, shining her flashlight on the mine ceiling to reveal that all of the magical diamonds are gone. "They're gone," says Leroy in a saddened tone, "They're all gone..." he finishes; the two of them shine their torches around the ceiling but there is no trace of diamond.
Henry is told of Regina's betrayal.
Over at Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer, Henry is reading to his sleeping grandfather from his book again. "'She was beyond hope, beyond dreams. This was her end.'," he finishes before hearing the bell ring and the pawn shop's door opening. He sees Ruby rush in, the seven dwarfs alongside her. Ruby asks Henry where Regina and Gold are and Henry wonders what's going on. Ruby explains that all the magic has been taken from the mines. "They stole it?!" Henry asks, shocked, and Leroy explains that they sneaked in after his shift and took everything. "Nobody steals from a dwarf!" he exclaims. "Except the queen," Doc points out. "And Rumplestiltskin," Happy adds, making Leroy's statement rather redundant. Henry makes the connection that, if his mother's not helping Emma and Mary Margaret, then she lied to him. Ruby kneels down beside Henry to face him, she apologizes to him, Henry concludes that they must find Regina and Gold, stop them, and then help Emma and Mary Margaret.
Snow comforts her daughter.
In the current fairytale land, Emma is whacking against the bars of Rumplestiltskin's cell with her sword, wanting to escape, Snow reminds her that she can't break it down as it was enchanted to hold Rumplestiltskin, she says that they don't have a chance, at this, Emma sits down, disgruntled. Aurora perches next to Mulan and professes that their current predicament is her fault, Mulan disagrees, taking the blame herself, saying that Cora stole Aurora's heart because she failed to protect her. Emma tells them that what they're saying is sweet, but that it is indeed her own fault as she's meant to be the savior and hasn't exactly done much saving. Snow sits down next to her daughter, assuring her that they're going to win their fight as good always defeats evil. Emma compares Snow to sounding like Henry. Snow says she supposes that optimism runs in the family but Emma points out that it must have skipped a generation. Snow tells her that she should know better than anybody as she broke the curse. "And what have I done since then?" Emma asks, "I got us stranded over here, burned down the wardrobe, let Cora get the ashes, and now the compass... the only reason I broke the curse is because it was exactly what Gold wanted me to do, I had nothing to do with it," she states. Snow asks her what she's talking about and Emma goes on to explain that it was Gold who predicted that she was the savior, it was his plan, and, once she fulfilled that role, maybe it was all she was ever meant to do. Emma asks what she's done, saying that it was all mapped out before she was born - "I'm not powerful, I'm not... the savior. I'm a name on a piece of paper.", she says, handing Snow the parchment with her name written all over it. "I'm a pawn, and that is exactly why we are in here... and Cora's on her way to Storybrooke," she reminds Snow.
Lake Nostos blows its top.
Cora and Hook are venturing together and the latter asks where they're going, Cora tells him that they're going to Lake Nostos as legend says it's water was the power to return what was once lost. She holds the flask of ashes and says that the waters will return magic to what's left of the wardrobe. "And then... we'll be able to cross worlds," she assures him. They stop and the shot moves around them to reveal Lake Nostos - completely empty. Hook says that me may be a simple pirate, but he knows one thing: lakes have water. Cora merely extends her hand and twirls her wrist repeatedly, the bottom of the lake deteriorates and a mass of water comes gushing out of it in a whirl of wind and smoke. "After everything we've been through, why do you still doubt me?" she wonders.
"And then I'll rip her heart out."
Back in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts still has her hand in Hook's chest, gripping his heart. He says that he's told her all he knows and begs her to have some honor and kill him. Cora laughs at "honor", calling Hook a hypocrite as he sneaked into her palace to assassinate her. He reminds her that it was at her daughter's request. "She should've come herself,", Cora says, leaning in to whisper, "She should have killed me herself," she states, squeezing Hook's heart within him, he writhes in pain. Cora lets go and Hook drops to the floor, heart still in chest, the Queen sits back in her throne. He stands up slowly, saying that mercy is a bit out of character, she assures him that it's not mercy and that Regina knows her methods better than anyone, if she were to control Hook, Regina would know. She tells him that it has to be his own choice and Hook asks why he should, Cora points out that she's the only one who can give him what he wants. "Is that so?" he asks, Cora explains that the curse her daughter plans to enact, the new land she's taking everyone to, he won't remember who he is. Cora asks how Hook expects to kill someone he can't even remember, she promises him that if he helps her, he'll not only kill Rumplestiltskin, but he'll remember every single moment. Hook asks what she wants him to do; "Get me close to my daughter," Cora starts, "And then I'll rip her heart out."
28 years ago
Cora lies in her tomb, dressed all in black, lying still and peaceful. Regina and Hook stand over the tomb, the former of which dressed all in black, wearing a mourning crown and carrying a single, red rose. She wonders if her mother put up a fight. Hook assures her that it was nothing he couldn't handle, she thanks him. Regina requests a moment alone with her mother and Hook obliges, walking out of the room. Regina looks over Cora's body and apologizes to the Queen, telling her that without her, she never would have become the person she is now. But she had no choice. She had to do this. Or so she says. Regina goes on to remind her mother's corpse that, after she killed Daniel, she said something to Regina that she never forgot - "Love is weakness." - Regina begins to tear up, "Oh, mother. You are my weakness... because I love you," she weeps. She says that that's why she couldn't risk taking her to the new land with her, her grip on her heart is just too strong. And, for what she needs to do, she can't have weakness. Regina places the single, red rose upon her mother's body before saying "goodbye" to her, Regina then leaves the room and closes the doors behind her, sadly. We see Cora's hand move and grip the rose, Hook walks back into the room and over to his new colleague. Hook asks Cora why she did not kill Regina, before lifting her up. Cora tells the pirate that there's been a change in plans. He asks her what the change is, she replies, "My daughter's curse is coming... we have to protect ourselves."
Cora enacts her bubble.
The Dark Curse in all its glory makes its way over the Enchanted Forest, Cora and Hook watch it as it nears, the former holds a wooden staff in her hand and stomps it on the floor. An immediate burst of magic is released and the shot moves out to view them from afar as a huge, magical bubble forms around a segment of the land, preserving it, defending it from the curse which passes over. Hook asks if it would have been easier to reconcile with Regina before her curse destroys the land, Cora states that Regina doesn't need her, not when she still has a place in her heart. She goes on to say that the curse won't last forever, it will end, and in twenty eight years time, the savior will come along and she'll break it. Hook is shocked at how long it will take but Cora assures him that he won't even notice the time pass as he'll be frozen, like all of those in that corner of the land. She assures the Captain that, when the curse ends, their quest will resume, and, when it does, Regina will truly have lost everything. "And then she'll need me," Cora states. She tells Hook that that's when they'll go to the new land and Hook will get his revenge whereas she will "help pick up the pieces".
28 years later
Regina and Gold inspect the Storybrooke well.
In Storybrooke's forest, Regina is strolling with Gold and asks him if he's sure there's a way out where they are. Mr. Gold points to something, saying that it's where things that were once lost are returned and where Cora will come through. They approach the town well. The two of them look down the well at the swirling waters, the portal is being formed. Regina makes the case that it could be Mary Margaret and Emma, however, Gold tells her that he highly doubts it.
In the fairytale land that is, in Rumplestiltskin's cell, Snow is still holding the parchment containing Emma's name before assuring her daughter that they are going to get out of there. Emma wonders how saying it's not like staring at the scroll will just magically open a door for them. Snow smiles, telling Emma that, in fact, the scroll will help, Emma is intrigued and Snow stands up with the scroll, explaining that when she was a little girl, she would sneak into Cora's chamber and watch her practice magic, she had a spell book - "And, Emma... the spells were in the book," she says. Emma asks if that's not what a spell book is, a book with spells in it, Snow tells her to watch. The princess blows onto the page and the words literally fly off of it, the many "Emma"s forming a cloud of ink, which Emma suddenly realizes came from the squid that made the ink for the quill that trapped Rumple, the ink that they went there to find. Snow gives the cloud a blow and it disperses, clashing with the bars of the cell, a hole is made in them. Snow reminds Emma that good always wins before grabbing her weapons and preparing to leave. Aurora halts the three of them, telling them that she cannot go with them and that they have to tie her up. Mulan insists that they're not leaving without her but Aurora makes the case that she can't be trusted, not as long as Cora has her heart. The three of them are speechless until Mulan promises to get Aurora's heart back to her. There is pause and Emma reminds them that they have to go, Mulan obliges to tie Aurora up in the cell. Aurora wishes the girls luck and Snow thanks her, offering her a likewise sentiment. Snow and Emma walk away.
The portal forms...
The water rises again from the bottom of Lake Nostos before sinking into the ground which has now a pool of water which Hook and Cora stand over. The latter retrieves the wardrobe ashes and asks Hook if he'd care to do the honors, Hook agrees, taking the flask and pouring the contents into the waters, it turns to a whirlpool as a huge portal forms in the pool. Cora states that they'll be in Storybrooke soon enough and says that she really looks forward to seeing her daughter.
Regina and Gold take any and all measures to keep Cora out.
Regina and Mr. Gold stare over the Storybrooke well, at the whirling waters beneath, and Regina asks Gold what he's waiting for, Gold steps back, as does Regina, and takes the Fairy Godmother's wand from his inside pocket. He holds it upwards and, as magic is channeled into it, the sky turns story and the object itself glows red. Soon, a thick, green lightning is blasted from the sky and Gold suddenly aims the wand for the well, directing the lightning right into it. The green magic flows with the water, swirling with the portal and fizzing, teaming with electrical energy as it settles in the well. It glows and flashes and Mr. Gold relinquishes the wand's aim, he says that it doesn't matter who comes through now, "No one can survive this."
Hook captures Aurora's heart.
At Lake Nostos, the portal rages on and swirls madly, Cora presents Hook with the compass, telling him that she told him he'd get to kill Rumplestiltskin. Hook takes a grip of the compass, as does Cora, and she warns him not to let go unless he wants to end up somewhere that isn't Storybrooke. Suddenly, the compass is displaced into the sand by an extremely precise arrow, Cora and Hook look up, shocked, to see that the arrow's firer is Snow, accompanied by Emma and Mulan. Snow tells Cora that she's not going anywhere and that the portal's taking them home, she instructs Emma to get the compass and the blonde obeys, running beside the portal and towards Cora and Hook. Cora tells Hook, who has the compass, to hide it as she takes care of the girls. Hook runs away and, as Emma advances on Cora, Cora creates a stream of flames with a wave of her hand. She fires the flames at Mulan who blocks them with her sword. Soon, Emma runs at Hook with her sword at the ready, he does the same and a swash buckle ensues between the two. They swing their swords and she kicks him in the stomach, Cora fires another flame ball, this time at Snow, who avoids it, and Emma clashes blades with Hook once more, he manages to get her sword to come flying from her hand in a quick maneuver, however, a determined Emma runs at him, attempting to tackle him. Hook easily slips her and floors her, he goes to attack her but is immediately distracted by another arrow fired from Snow to protect her daughter. This delay gives Emma some time to crawl for her sword, however, she doesn't make it as Hook drags her along the ground by one ankle, fueled with rage. Snow prepares her bow to fire yet another arrow whereas Cora sends another ball of fire for Mulan who maneuvers and deflects the magic with her sword. Mulan spins, swishing her blade, however, Cora vanishes in a swirl of purple mist and Mulan ends up sending the pouch containing Aurora's heart flying into the active portal. As it seems all hope of saving Aurora is lost, Hook bends backwards and manages to catch the pouch by the handle with his hook, he brings the heart to shore. Emma stands and runs to her sword. Hook states that he may be a pirate, but he wouldn't deny a young lady her heart, throwing it to Mulan. Emma runs to battle and Snow runs over to Mulan, telling her that she needs to go, Mulan reminds her that she needs the compass but Snow argues that Aurora needs her heart. Mulan agrees and hands her sword to Snow, telling her that it deflects Cora's magic, they nod and Mulan flees with the pouch. Emma faces Hook, back with her sword, and tells him that she had no idea he had such a soft side, Hook argues that he doesn't, but he prefers a fair fight. At this, the two begin to lay into each other once more, blade against blade.
"Now, let's go home!"
They battle on and end up pressuring each other's swords with their own, Hook commends Emma on her good form and the girl goes to kick him, he grabs her leg ad tells her that it isn't good enough, tugging on her ankle, tripping her. Snow sees this and becomes worried, however, she is alarmed by a sudden whistle, she turns to see Cora standing before her, the Queen and princess circle each other, Cora makes a sudden move, startling Snow, and laughs at the gullible girl. Hook has Emma floored and locks her sword into position with his own and his hook, leaning in towards Emma. "Normally, I'd like to do other, more enjoyable activities with a woman lying on her back," he tells her, "With my life on the line, you've left me no choice. Bit of advice, when I jab you with my sword, you'll feel it, you might wanna quit." Emma grabs the compass from the sand with the space her hand has left, she asks Hook why she would quit when she's winning, freeing her arm, flashing the compass in his face before kneeing him in the gut. He lifts and she kicks him, propelling him backwards as she rises, sword in hand, ready to battle some more. They clash blades and they are swung below them on the other side, Emma thanks him for overpowering her as it freed up his head, Emma proceeds to punch Hook square in the face. Hook falls slowly and Emma turns to Snow's direction, "Now, let's go home!"
Bye bye, dearie.
In Storybrooke, the magic blocking the portal in the well is still acting madly within it, emitting a green electric glow. Regina and Mr. Gold watch the well as Henry and Ruby run onto the scene. Henry asks his mother what she's doing, realizing that she's not helping Emma and Mary Margaret, she replies that she's helping him but Henry asks her what she's talking about. "You're gonna kill them!" Ruby exclaims, "Sorry, dearie," Mr. Gold says before putting up the palm of his hand, sending her flying backwards across the woods. She lies there, unconscious. Henry again asks his mother what she's doing but Regina explains that she cannot let Cora come through the portal, saying that Henry has no idea what she will do. Henry makes clear that Emma and Mary Margaret are going to defeat her and that they're the ones who are going to come through the portal. Mr. Gold tells Henry that his mother is right and that it will be Cora, Henry refuses to believe this, stating that good always defeats evil and telling Regina that she should know that better than anyone. Regina leans in towards him, telling him that what she knows is that her mother will destroy everything she loves, which includes Henry himself, she says that she cannot let that happen.
Emma and Snow are finally going home.
Emma and Snow are faced with Cora, Snow remains still whereas Emma decides to take the more direct approach by charging at Cora with her sword, however, Cora simply vanishes in a cloud of purple mist, Emma swipes the air with her sword. Snow yells for Emma to run and she does so, the two of them head to the portal but Cora appears before them, putting out her hands, sending the two of them flying backwards, landing on their backs. Cora heads towards Snow, who stands up first, Emma tries to get to her feet also but is floored once more with a mere wave of Cora's arm. Snow is faced with the witch and asks her why she wants to go to Storybrooke. Cora states that her daughter needs her, and, that when she arrives, she will present her with something she's always wanted - "Your heart." She wishes Snow a goodbye before going to plunge her hand into her chest, however, Emma leaps to her feet and pushes Snow out of the way, meaning that Cora's hand is now in Emma's chest, gripping Emma's heart. Snow cries out for her daughter. Cora tells her, "Oh, you foolish girl. Don't you know? Love is weakness." She goes to pull on Emma's heart but is unable to retrieve it, her hand lodged in Emma's chest, she tries again, multiple times, but Emma's heart appears unable to be taken out. "No," Emma tells Cora, "It's strength." And, just like that, Cora is blasted away by a burst of magic that emanates from Emma, the evil witch is no where to be seen. Snow runs over to her daughter to check her safety, she places her hand over the blonde's heart and Emma asks her mother what just happened. Snow tells her that that is a great subject for discussion when they get home. The two of them grab the compass together and run over to the portal, they jump in.
At the well in Storybrooke, Regina has resorted to restraining Henry, exclaiming for her to stop as she will kill his mother and grandmother. He begs her to stop but she continues to restrain him as the electric, green magic grows bright within the well, blocking the portal.
Regina has faith in Henry.
The green magic rages strong in the well, swirling with the portal that is supposed to be bringing Emma and Snow home. Henry is still being restrained by Regina, "They're going to make it through!" he exclaims, "We have to turn it off! You're gonna kill them!" He finally gets loose and runs towards the well, gripping the edge, however, Regina runs after him, pulling him away from it. She asks him what he's doing, he assures her once more that Emma and Mary Margaret are going to come through, he knows it. He reminds her that she told him she wanted to change, to be better and that this is how. "You want me to have faith in you?" he asks, "Have faith in me." Regina stares at her son, a tear rolling down her cheek. Regina approaches the well herself, Mr. Gold calls out for her but she ignores him, she proceeds to move her hands out over the well. The green energy is sucked up into Regina's hands, running through her, she seems to be taking in a lot and unstable. More and more magic is absorbed by the queen as a stunned Henry and Gold watch. Soon, her arms are spread as the magic flows through her, straight from the well, leaving its source. Soon, the energy dissipates. Regina is propelled backwards and falls down, the sudden loss of power startling her, she places one hand on a tree to stabilize herself. She coughs and Henry loos briefly to her, and then to the well, waiting for something to happen portal-wise, now that the green lightning has gone. Nothing happens and he cries out, Regina apologizes to him, crying. Henry tears up and watches the well, and, soon enough, a hand grips the edge. The three viewers watch, shocked at this and wondering who's there, it is Emma who climbs out of the well, followed soon by Mary Margaret, the two of them safe and sound. Emma is ecstatic to see Henry and the feeling is mutual as the two of them run into each others arms, embracing. They both exclaim that they missed each other and Snow joins in on their hug. Regina looks to this happy reunion and then to Gold, who makes eye contact with her before leaving the scene. Mary Margaret wonders what happened and Henry tells her that Regina saved them. Emma thanks the mayor before Ruby comes to and runs towards them, hugging Snow. Suddenly, the latter asks where her husband is, exclaiming that she needs to find him. Ruby leads Mary Margaret away, leaving Emma and Henry with Regina. Emma describes Regina as a "piece of work", Regina nods. "Welcome back," she says, after a pause. Emma smiles and thanks her, still hugging an overjoyed Henry.
Once again... they've found each other.
Snow White runs into Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer and straight through it, alerting the seven dwarfs. The princess runs to her Prince Charming and kneels down beside him. Everyone watches, expectantly, and Mary Margaret proceeds to kiss David, a kiss born of true love. A burst of magic is released and Mary Margaret stares at her husband, who soon awakens with a gasp. "You did it..." David says, "Did you ever doubt I would?" Mary Margaret asks, quoting him. He answers negatively before kissing her again and joking that the burning, red room gave him pause. She laughs and kisses him again, the prince and the princess are happily reunited.
Emma and Gold have a chat.
In the other room, Mr. Gold puts away the Fairy Godmother's wand before Emma approaches him. She tells the pawnbroker that they need to talk and he tells her that he believes apologies are in order. Emma tells him that no apologies are necessary as she understands why he would want to keep Cora out, now having faced her. He asks her to remind him never to bet against her again but Emma tells him that it's not really a bet when the game is rigged, Gold is confused. He asks her to what exactly she is referring and she mentions that she saw his scroll in his cell and how he wrote her name again, and again, and again. "Just wanted to make sure it would stick," Gold assures her. Emma says that the ink was there all the time and that he could have gotten out, however, Gold replies by telling her that he was where he wanted to be and that Emma needed to find the scroll to make all of what happened possible. "You created the curse, Gold," she says, "You made me the savior. So, everything I've ever done... it's exactly what you wanted me to do..." she says. Rumple points out that he created the curse, but he didn't make her, he merely took advantage of what she is: the product of true love. "That's why you're powerful," he assures her, "And everything you've done... you've done yourself." Emma realizes that Gold "doesn't know", he wonders what he doesn't know. Emma explains that Cora tried to rip her heart out, but she couldn't, and was blasted back by something from within her, "By... by... by..." she tries, "By magic," he finishes for her. He assures her that, whatever that was, he didn't do it, it was all her.
Mulan gives Aurora her heart back.
Over at Rumplestiltskin's cell, Mulan takes Aurora's heart from the pouch and presents the glowing muscle to the princess who asks the warrior if she's ever returned a heart before, Mulan answers negatively. Mulan's hand grows nearer to Aurora's chest before she eventually plunges it in, returning the girl's heart to her body. Aurora takes a large inhale and Mulan smiles, the former thanks the latter. "What now?" Mulan wonders, Aurora says that Cora told her something whilst she was kept prisoner, that when a wraith consumes a soul, it's not trapped there forever, it can be reunited with its body. Mulan asks the princess if she thinks that they can save Phillip and Aurora tells Mulan that they can try. Mulan obliges, standing up and offering Aurora a hand, Aurora takes it and stands up herself. The two of them leave the old wizard's cell.
Hook shows Cora his bean.
Cora and Captain Hook stand before the pool of water lying in Lake Nostos. The portal has now closed. She states that they've failed. Hook asks, "Really, Cora? After all this time... why do you still doubt me?" He takes out the giant's dead magic bean but Cora reminds him that it's petrified and useless, however, Hook points out that the waters of the lake have regenerative properties. "Perhaps it's time to do some gardening?" Hook suggests.
Regina is abandoned by Henry.
Back at Mr. Gold's pawn shop, Henry walks up to Regina and tells her that he was right, she really has changed. Henry then hugs his adoptive mother and she savors this hug, he thanks her and she smiles. Emma walks into the room and David and Mary Margaret are very happy to see her. David says that they have some catching up to do and Emma tells him that he has no idea. Ruby suggests dinner at Granny's Diner, on her, and Emma says that she's in so long as she's not served chimera. Emma asks Henry if he's hungry and he answers positively, letting go of Regina's hand to join his biological mother. "I'll see you later," he tells Regina before being embraced by Emma and led out of the store. Everyone else leaves also, besides Regina, who's left standing there, deeply saddened. Mr. Gold walks in and congratulates the queen, saying that she's reunited mother and son. "Maybe one day," Gold starts, "He'll even invite you to dinner." Regina begins to tear up.
There are villains on the horizon.
Emma, Henry, Mary Margaret, David, Ruby and the seven dwarves are walking through the streets of Storybrooke on their way for lunch at Granny's Diner, all of them walking merrily as they go. The shot moves up to the town's iconic clock tower.
Across town, out at sea, an old-fashioned pirate ship is seen approaching the city. It sails in the mist under the jolly roger. We see that Cora and Hook are standing on board, nearing Storybrooke. Hook is looking through a monocular and puts it away. "There it is," Hook says. "Storybrooke," Cora finishes. The two menaces advance on the town.
- The title card features the waters of Lake Nostos bursting from the ground.
- It is with this episode that the identity of the Queen of Hearts is revealed as being Cora.
- This outing saw a slight uptick in the ratings from the previous episode placing a 3.1/8 among 18-49s with 9.10 million viewers tuning in.
- The episode received generally positive reviews. In a review from Blogcritics.org: "Queen of Hearts" happily brings back to the fore the central narrative of the show. All of the key characters are front and center where they should be (most of the time, anyway!): Emma, Snow (and by extension Charming), Henry, Regina, and Rumple. Each plays a critical role in the episode, driving the story to its intense conclusion, setting up the narrative for the chapter of season two with Hook and Cora poised to make their entrance into Storybrooke — not through the Lake Nostos portal, but by sea.
- Entertainment Weekly critic Hilary Busis gave it a good review, with some reservations: "Did Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz consult a checklist of Unsolved 'Once' Mysteries while writing "The Queen of Hearts?" It sure felt that way as the episode trundled along, resolving question after question," but then added "...by the episode's end, the only really big question left danging is "What the hell happened to Baelfire?" (Okay, one more: And Pinocchio! Where is that hunka hunka lying wood?) I'm glad that Kitsis and Horowitz tied up so many loose ends in tonight's winter finale, since season 1 was hurt by storylines that dragged on far longer than they should have. At the same time, I wonder if Cora and Hook's arrival in Storybrooke is really enough of a cliffhanger -- especially since it wasn't really surprising that they found their way to the "Land Without Magic" after all. Sure, "The Queen of Hearts" was a game-changer -- it just wasn't as much of a game-changer as I was expecting it to be."
- Laura Prudom of The Huffington Post gave the episode a positive review: "We knew that the creative team behind Once Upon a Time had something big in store for the show's winter finale, but it was still great to see all the plot threads tied so definitively together in 'Queen of Hearts,' making for an action-packed hour."
- Oliver Sava of The A.V. Club gave it a C+: "For it’s winter finale, Once Upon A Time reverts back to the old status quo before throwing a silly new wrinkle in the mix, but let’s all just celebrate that Emma Swan and Snow White have finally made it back to Storybrooke. As their fairy tale adventure dragged on, this show began to lose focus of the relationships, but this week’s installment helps get things back on track. That said, it’s the structurally flawed track that Once Upon A Time has been on since the start, so there are still plenty of issues with “Queen Of Hearts.” This episode by show-runners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz is definitely stronger than the last few chapters of this show, but it still feels unsatisfying. The writers continue to quickly write the characters out of every obstacle with a makeshift magical solution, and the result is a general “That was it?” feeling when everything is resolved." Sava also made comparisons between OUaT to another TV series (Charmed), saying that "Both shows are fantasy soap operas with one foot in a world somewhat resembling reality, have a heavy emphasis on magic, and feature a cast of tough females, but there’s also an artificiality that makes everything a little bit hokey," but unlike Charmed, Sava points out that "...everything is dead serious in Once Upon A Time."
- Amy Ratcliffe of IGN gave the episode a 8.3, proclaiming that "The winter finale of Once Upon a Time delivers with happy endings." She also was impressed with Lana Parrilla's performance in this episode as the conflicted Regina and added that "Cora being the Queen of Hearts was a great touch" to the plotline.
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- ↑ Adam Horowitz tweet.
- ↑ "Sunday Final Ratings: 'American Dad' Adjusted Up, '666 Park Avenue' Adjusted Down + Unscambled CBS Ratings & Final Football Numbers" from TV By The Numbers/Zap2it (December 3, 2012)
- ↑ "TV Review: Once Upon a Time - "Queen of Hearts"" from Blogcritics.org (December 2, 2012)
- ↑ "'Once Upon a Time' recap: There and Back Again" from Entertainment Weekly (December 2, 2012)
- ↑ "'Once Upon A Time' Recap: Who Won The Race To Reach Storybrooke In 'Queen Of Hearts'?" from The Huffington Post (December 2, 2012)
- ↑ "Queen of Hearts" S2 / E9, by Oliver Sava, A.V. Club (December 2, 2012)
- ↑ "GOOD MIGHT WIN, BUT EVIL IS PERSISTENT." from IGN (December 3, 2012)