"The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" is the 7th episode of Once Upon a Time.
One of the town's residents begins to remember their fairytale past, and Storybrooke mourns the loss of one of their own. Meanwhile, in the fairytale world that was, the Evil Queen attempts to find a heartless assassin to murder Snow White.
There is a town in Maine...
We see an overview of the streets of Storybrooke. ("Pilot") Emma enters Granny's Bed and Breakfast and requests a room for one, Granny welcomes her to Storybrooke. ("Pilot") Henry looks at his storybook at the page picturing the wedding of Snow White and Prince Charming. ("Pilot")
Where every storybook character you've ever known...
Is trapped between two worlds...
Mary Margaret Blanchard releases a blue bird out her classroom window, from her hand. ("Pilot") Snow White releases a blue bird from her castle's balcony, from her hand. ("Pilot") "The Evil Queen sent a bunch of fairytale characters here?" Emma asks her son. ("Pilot") The Evil Queen walks down the aisle at the royal wedding. ("Pilot") Regina Mills, the Evil Queen's counterpart, looks at Emma from her front door. ("Pilot") "And know they don't remember who they are," Henry says, in response to Emma's question. ("Pilot")
Victims of a powerful curse...
The Dark Curse envelops the castle. ("Pilot") The Evil Queen has crashed Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding and announces, "Everything you love, everything all of you love, will be taken from you." ("Pilot")
Only one knows the truth...
And only one can break her spell...
Emma talks to Regina from her front yard as the shot revolves around the blonde's head. ("Pilot") "It's your destiny, you're gonna bring back the happy endings," Henry tells Emma as they sit on his castle. ("Pilot") "Enjoy your stay," Mr. Gold tells Emma after she accepts a room at Granny's Bed & Breakfast. ("Pilot") The Storybrooke clock ticks. ("Pilot")
ONCE UPON A TIME
Graham never misses.
The shot shows us a photograph of a deer before a dart is seen hitting it. Sheriff Graham is the thrower of said dart, and is preparing himself to throw another within the confines of Granny's Diner. He throws the second dart, hitting the deer picture on the dart board in a similar place as before, and Sidney Glass, who's siting in one of the diner booths, compliments him on the nice shot, then betting him twenty bucks he can't do it again. Graham downs a drink which is served to him by Ruby, and he throws his third dart, hitting the picture precisely in the deer's face. Sidney is surprised, and Emma proceeds to walk out of the bathroom, surprised to see Graham. Ruby asks the blonde what she can get for her but Emma states that she wants nothing, waling past Graham in an attempt to leave through the diner's door. However, just as she's about to exit the establishment, a fourth dart is thrown in her direction, hitting the door frame right next to her face. She is understandably startled, as is everyone else in the diner, and she asks the Sheriff what the hell he's doing since he could have killed her. He assures her that he never misses and begins to walk towards her, asking if she's been avoiding him since last night when she saw him... "Leaving the Mayor?" she asks, "And yes, that is a euphemism. I'm not avoiding you, Graham, I just have no interest in having this conversation. It's your life, I really don't care." With that, she finally manages to leave the diner.
Graham takes his chances.
Soon, Graham chasing Emma down the street, exclaiming after her and wanting to know why she's so upset if she supposedly doesn't care. She assures him that she's not upset, but he points out that if that were true then she'd be at the bar having a drink and not running away. He gets in front of her, stopping her from getting any further so that they may talk properly, but she insists that it's really none of her business. She walks past him and he begs her to talk about this so that he can give her the opportunity the understand; this finally gets her to stop and she asks why. Graham admits he doesn't know, suggesting that it would help him understand too, but Emma tells him that if he wants analysis then he should go and talk to Archie. He tells her in turn that he wants to talk to her, to which she says that his bad judgment is his problem, not hers. Again, she tries waling away, but again, Graham walks after her. He says that she doesn't know what it's like with Regina, for he doesn't feel anything, and Emma is forced to stop once more. He asks her if she can understand that, and she tells him, "A bad relationship, yeah, I understand a bad relationship, I just don't wanna talk about yours." Continuing to walk with the Sheriff not far behind, she hears him profess that he knows she and Regina have their own issues and that he should have told her before she took the job, which she agrees with, wondering why he was so secretive since they're all adults and he can do whatever he wants. "Because I... I didn't want you to look at me how you are right now," he explains. Emma asks him why he cares how she looks at him. "Because..." he starts. "What?" Emma asks, impatient, but Graham says nothing; he merely leans in... and kisses her.
Emma is mad with Graham for overstepping the line.
As this happens, Graham is startled as he has flashes of another life; he sees the trees of the Enchanted Forest and a wolf walking down a hill within it. The wolf growls and the shot moves in on its eyes: one normal, and one red.
"What the hell was that?!" Emma yells, backing out of the kiss, and a frightened Graham asks her if she saw what he saw. Emma asks him in turn how much he's been drinking, telling him that that was way over the line, and he apologizes, saying that he just... "What?! You What?!" Emma demands angrily, leading the Sheriff to explain that he needs to feel something. Emma tells Graham that he is drunk and full of regret, which she gets, but whatever it is he's looking to feel, she can assure that he's not getting it with her. She then walks across the street, leaving Graham alone with his drunken insanity, and for once he does not follow.
Later, Graham is seen knocking on Regina's door, prompting for a light to turn on and for Regina to answer it. She is surprised to see him, and he immediately asks if Henry is asleep. She confirms that he is, wondering why he asked, and he proceeds to walk inside and kiss her. She pulls away but he persists, forcing her to give in as the door closes. He begins to kiss her neck, to her pleasure, and the shot moves into her eye, leading us into the fairytale land that was.
The Evil Queen comforts Snow White after the passing of the girl's father.
Within this past land, the shot moves into the Dark Palace and Regina's counterpart, the Evil Queen, is seeming rather distressed. She looks out of her balcony at the Enchanted Forest beyond, before turning her gaze to a lower floor of the castle and seeing a figure walk towards a tomb. The figure is Snow White, who places a white rose upon the tomb of her father, King Leopold. She is deeply saddened, dressed all in black, and bids her father goodbye while weeping. Her stepmother approaches from behind and lightly touches her shoulder, shocking the princess slightly, but Snow then turns to her the Queen, who offers her seemingly genuine condolences. Indeed, the Queen doesn't seem so Evil yet, and Snow cries that she loved her father so much, leading the Queen to hug her crying stepdaughter. She says that she loved him too, sounding so sincere, and adds that the loss she feels for her husband must be nothing compared to the loss Snow feels for her father. She tells her to let her know if there's anything she can do; "I may only be your mother through marriage, but I'm here for you, dear. Truly and forever." Snow hugs her stepmother yet again.
The Queen reveals her evil plot to her Magic Mirror.
The Queen walks through her castle and into her private quarters where her Magic Mirror congratulates her, saying that he revenge is almost complete. "One down, one to go," the Queen states happily, reinstating her Evil moniker as she walks toward her dressing table. The Magic Mirror appears in this mirror instead, wondering if Snow has any idea that the Queen is responsible for the King's passing, and she answers negatively, mocking the fact that he stepdaughter actually sought comfort in her father's murderer. Sitting down, she describes the experience as sickening and comments that she could have ended the princess' miserable existence right there; "Believe me, it was tempting." The Mirror says that it would have sated her soul but the Queen points out that the kingdom is still loyal to Snow and would turn on her if she killed her, for they don't now the wretchedness inside her like she does. They don't know what she did to her stepmother. She leans into her Mirror and tells him that they must be delicate in this next phase, for Snow's demise has to be handled with care. She then stands up and walks past another mirror, which the Magic Mirror proceeds to transfer himself into, suggesting that one of her Black Knights do the deed. She refutes this, telling him that she needs someone adept at murder who has no mercy. The Magic Mirror realizes she's after someone with no heart, and she tells him that now he understands. "Well, in that case," the Mirror reveals, "You need a Huntsman." The Queen is intrigued.
Meet the Huntsman.
Elsewhere in the Enchanted Forest, a deer is feeding from the forest floor when it hears something from nearby. It tries to run but an arrow is soon fired and the deer drops dead to the floor. The animal is then approached by the Huntsman, its killer, who proceeds to crouch over it, stating, "You have died so that I may live. Forgive me. Your sacrifice is honorable. I thank you." He cries as this is said, then going to remove the arrow before hearing a wolf. He looks up to see the same one from Graham's vision in Storybrooke - with one normal eye and one red one - and it walks toward him. He tells his pet not to worry, for he shan't go hungry tonight, and finally pulls the arrow from out of the deer.
Graham tells Regina of his dreams.
In Storybrooke, Graham wakes up in Regina's bed and sits up, shocked. The Mayor wonders what's wrong, placing a hand on his arm, and he reveals that he just had the most intense dream where he was in the woods, hunting, and killed a deer; there was a wolf. He seems greatly confused while Regina reacts with, "A wolf?" and sits up just like him. He describes its differing eyes, with one having been "blood red" and the other "black as night", and, the funny thing is, he thinks he's seen the wolf before. He is exhaling heavily and Regina tells him to come back to bed, assuring him that it was just a dream, but he says that it didn't feel like a dream... it felt like a memory. Regina grows worried and her lover gets up out of bed, beginning to get dressed. He tells Regina that he needs some air and some time to think, but she asks him to return to bed. He adds that he left his credit card somewhere and needs to go get it, sitting on the bed as he applies his boots. "Graham, it's late, you're tired, you're still drunk, don't leave," she requests, leading him to wonder when she's ever wanted him to stay anyway. She tells him that he's not well but he assures her that he's fine. Graham leaves and Regina is wary.
Outside, a scruffy-looking Graham approaches his sheriff's car. He drops his keys and crouches down to pick them up; however, before grabbing them, he looks up to see that the wolf from his vision is standing before him, with its one blood red eye and its other as black as night. The Sheriff backs away, shocked to the core, and the wolf soon walks away. A nonplussed Graham leans back against his car, shaken.
Mary Margaret and Emma discuss the former's one-night stand.
Emma walks down the stairs of her and Mary Margaret's apartment to discover a bouquet of flowers on the table, assuming that they're an apology gift from Graham. She prepares to throw them in the trash but her roommate soon sees this and stops her, wondering what she's doing. The blonde starts to say that if Graham thinks flowers are going to work on her, but Mary Margaret reveals that they're hers. "Oh..." Emma utters, applying her coat as she asks if they're from David; however, Mary Margaret admits that they're from Dr. Whale, with whom she had sex (see "The Shepherd"), to Emma's surprise. Mary Margaret says that she knows it's a disaster but Emma tells her that it's amazing because it means she's finally getting over David. "First of all, there's nothing to get over, and second of all... it's just a one-night stand," the teacher assures. "Not according to those flowers," Emma points out, and Mary Margaret realizes that she perhaps shouldn't have called him. Emma is shocked that her friend did this, registering it as a mistake, and tells her that that is definitely not a one-night stand. This leads Mary Margaret to argue that she's still learning since she's never had one before and she feels guilty; Emma wonders why, for there's nothing wrong with what she did and one-nighters are as far as she herself ever goes. "Well, yeah, but that's because you're-" Mary Margaret starts to say stopping herself. "Because I'm what?" Emma asks, but her roommate tells her to never mind, turning her attention back to her coffee. "No, tell me, what do I do?" Emma insists and, Mary Margaret pauses, soon telling her friend that she's just protecting herself with that wall she puts up. Emma replies that she doesn't get emotional over men but Mary Margaret tells her that what she did to the flowers tells a different story. The blonde wonders what story that would be, and Mary Margaret says that it's the one that's obvious to everyone except, apparently, her: that she has feelings for Graham. Emma refuses to believe this at which Mary Margaret points out that she's using the wall. Emma tries to tell her that it's not a wall but Mary Margaret refuses to believe this. "There's nothing wrong with being cautious," Emma insists, and Mary Margaret, who's fished the flowers from the trash can and is now placing them in a vase with some water, concedes that this is true, but, while Emma's wall may keep out pain, it may also keep out love. She takes the vase and leave, allowing Emma to ponder her words.
Graham finds Mr. Gold in the woods.
Graham is running through Storybrooke's forest and comes to a sudden stop, seeing a rustling in the bushes after having presumably followed the wolf from his vision. The person causing the rustling is soon seen to be none other than Mr. Gold, who wishes the Sheriff a good morning and apologizes for startling him. Graham apologizes in turn, saying he thought that Gold was the wolf, and the middle-aged pawnbroker asks jokingly if he forgot to shave, then being asked by Graham why he's out in the woods so early. Mr. Gold says that he was just doing a spot of gardening and extends to Graham a likewise question, leading the Sheriff to answer that he was looking for... "A wolf," Gold nods, "Yeah, I think I'm beginning to catch on. You know, to the best of my knowledge, Sheriff, there are no wolves in Storybrooke... not the literal kind, anyway. Why are you looking?" Graham says that Gold will think he's crazy, but the pawnbroker suggests that he try him, leading the Sheriff to admit that he saw one in his dreams and then he saw one for real, just a couple of hours ago. He asks if Gold saw anything unusual out where they are but the latter walks closer to her conversant, looking at the shovel in his hand before answering negatively. He says he wishes he could be more helpful, proceeding to philosophize that some say dreams are memories - memories from another life. This deeply confuses Graham, who is wished look by Mr. Gold. "I do hope you find what you're looking for," the town's "owner" leaves him with, and Graham continues to trek through the woods.
The Huntsman can't get a moment's peace.
In the fairytale land that was, the Huntsman and his wolf are walking through the Enchanted Forest when they come across a tavern and decide to go in.
Inside, the Huntsman finds a seat with his wolf, to most customer's discomfort. "They're letting animals in here now? This isn't a slaughter house," says a guy, Bartholomew, at the bar. "Forget him, he might as well be one too, I heard he was raised by them," says another guy, Horatio. Bartholomew agrees that he does smell like them, while Horatio calls him pathetic, having heard that he cries over his kills. He asks his friend, who downs his drink, if he can believe that, and the latter approaches the Huntsman, asking him to tell him what kind of man cries over an animal. "An honorable one," the Huntsman replies, and Bartholomew asks him what he knows about honor. "I have it, they have it, you don't," the Huntsman tells him, but Bartholomew seems doubtful that animals have it. The Huntsman assures that they're pure-of-heart and not selfish or self-serving like people are. The wolf growls madly at this, and Bartholomew orders the Huntsman to tell his pet to stop threatening him, then asking if he knows what he does to animals that threaten him: he hangs them on his wall. At this, the Huntsman quickly draws his dagger and stabs the Bartholomew in the shoulder, causing him to drop the floor. "He's not a pet," he says before Horatio runs at him with a sword; however,, the Huntsman grabs him and smashes his head into a mirror, knocking him unconscious. The tavern owner then approaches the Huntsman with another sword and so he grabs a large shard of the mirror and approaches the owner with it. The owner backs off, and the Huntsman places the shard down and looks at his reflection.
The Evil Queen is watching all of this through her Magic Mirror, commenting that he's perfect. She tells her Black Knights to bring the Huntsman to her, and they nod.
Graham bonds with his former companion.
Sheriff Graham continues to run through the woods of Storybrooke, stopping momentarily when he hears a wolf's howl and decides to follow the noise, still running. Soon, Graham hears another howl and a growl and then sees the wolf running through the forest. He follows it and eventually becomes face-to-face with the animal. Both its red eye and its black eye stare at the Sheriff, who demands to know what it wants. The wolf just continues to stare at him before walking away. Graham gives a whistle and it stops, walking towards its master. Graham strokes the creature.
Suddenly, Graham has another set of flashbacks. It begins with Snow White, whom he recognizes as Mary Margaret; of a knife being drawn on her; he then sees the wolf howling followed by a strange symbol on a roof.
Graham snaps out of it only to realize that the wolf is now gone. He looks at the forest around him but there is no sign of the animal and so he leaves, confused.
Graham goes to Miss Blanchard for answers.
The school bell rings and the children leave Miss Blanchard's class as Graham walks in. He addresses the teacher, wanting to talk to her, and Mary Margaret wonders what the matter is, asking if he's okay. He tells her that he thinks they know each other, to which she says that of course they do, but he adds, "No, no, no. Not from here. Not from Storybrooke." "From where then?" she asks him, and he tells her, "...another life." Mary Margaret is staggered.
Regina requests that the Huntsman cut out the heart of the beloved Snow White.
In the fairytale land that was, in the Dark Palace, the Evil Queen sits as the Huntsman is introduced to her by one of her guards. She asks if he has a name or if she should just call him "the Huntsman", but he responds only with silence. As such, she gets to her feet and walks toward him, deducing that he's a tortured one and asking if it's because his parents abandoned him to the wolves. The Huntsman says that those weren't his parents, for all they did was give birth to him; the wolves are his family. "Wolves indeed," she says, "I always felt there were two kinds of people... wolves and sheep. Those who kill and those who get killed. And you, Huntsman, you are most certainly a wolf." He merely wonders why he's there and the Queen reveals that she'd like him to kill someone, wondering if he can do that. He tells her that he kills for himself, wondering why he would do anything for her, and she points out that she has so much to offer: a place at her court; he could become her official Huntsman. He tells her that he has no interest in being a pet and likens Regina's palace to a cage. She says she can offer him luxury but he points out that she has an army at her disposal and asks what she needs of him. "My prey is beloved by all the kingdom, I need someone who won't be blinded by that; someone without compassion; someone who will have no qualms carving a heart out and bringing it back for my collection," she says sternly, placing a hand upon his chest which he shakes off. He confirms that that's him, as she suspected, and she wonders what it will take to make him do it, for there must be something. The Huntsman requests that there will be no more hunting of wolves, that they are to be left alone and protected, and the Queen seals the deal by saying that that should be simple enough. "So, who do you want me to kill?" the Huntsman queries.
Mary Margaret likens Graham to Henry, giving the sheriff an idea...
Mary Margaret sits in her classroom, listening to Sheriff Graham as he asks her how long they've known each other. She pauses, saying it's been a while, and he asks further as he sits down if she remembers when they met. She goes to answer but stops herself, realizing she cannot remember, and he says that he can't either; he can't remember when he met her or anyone, and finds that odd. Mary Margaret supposes it is, utterly confused, but says that that's just life - things get hazy. Graham wonders if he's ever hurt her, but she assures that of course he hasn't, wanting to know what's going on. "Do you believe in other lives?" he questions, and she wonders if he means like heaven; however, he reveals that he's talking about past lives, which leads the teacher to deduce that he's been talking to Henry. Graham is unaware what Henry has to do with this and Mary Margaret explains how he has this book of stories and has been going on about how he thinks they're all characters from them, of another land and having forgotten who they are, which, of course, makes no sense. "Right... no, of course," the Sheriff pretends to agree, and Mary Margaret places her forearm on his forehead, diagnosing that he's burning up and subsequently recommending that he go home and get some rest, thinking that he'll feel much better once he's had some sleep. He tells her that she's absolutely right,apologizing for disturbing her. He thanks her before leaving and she begins to really think about what he was asking.
In the Enchanted Forest, the Huntsman, dressed in the armor of one of the Queen's Black Knights, is walking Snow White through the woods. She tells him that, when she was a little girl, the forest was her favorite place, saying it felt like a cradle that allowed her to feel safe. She adds that she looks forward to returning to it now, while the Huntsman adjusts his helmet, leading her to ask if it's stuffy in there. He then removes the helmet altogether and Snow retrieves two apples from her satchel, offering him one. He refuses it and the princess takes a large bite of her own before asking, "You're not a knight, are you?" He wonders what makes her say that and she reveals that, without fail, every one of her father's men has offered her condolences... except him. The Huntsman then tells her to please accept his condolences, while she adds to her deduction that he is not a knight that they all know how to wear armor. She knows that her stepmother picked him to take her and wonders why, to which he says that he thinks she knows. She realizes that he's going to kill her and he says, "You have good instincts." "And you have too much armor," she replies; he begins to take out a knife and so Snow picks up a large log from the ground and strikes the Huntsman with it, flooring him before speeding away into the forest by herself. The Huntsman then stands up and begins to chase the princess.
Regina confronts Emma.
In the sheriff's station in Storybrooke, Emma places some files on her desk and throws a dart at the dart board, missing it completely. She picks the dart up off the floor and Regina comments sarcastically as she enters the station that she sees the town's tax dollars are hard at work. Emma tells her that Graham isn't there, having assumed he took a sick day... with the Mayor. "Oh, so you're aware of us," Regina notes as Emma pulls the darts from the board, proceeding to say that that's good because it's why she's there - because she's also aware of Emma's relationship with him. Emma makes clear that she has no relationship with him, to which Regina questions if anything has ever happened between the two of them. Emma smiles, and Regina points out that she forgets that she has eyes everywhere, leading the blonde to defend that the kiss didn't mean anything. "Well, of course not, Because you're incapable of feeling anything for anyone. There's a reason you're alone, isn't there?" Regina asks. "All due respect, the way I live my life is my business," Emma tells the Mayor, who insists, "It is until it infringes on my life. Stay away from Graham. You may think you're doing nothing, but you're putting thoughts in his head. Thoughts that are not in his best interest. You are leading him on a path of self-destruction... stay away." The Mayor then leaves and Emma is conflicted.
Sheriff Graham rings Regina's doorbell and Henry answers. He greets the Sheriff, telling him his mom's not there, but Graham reveals that he was actually there to see him, wondering if the kid could help him. Henry wonders what he would be helping him with, and the Sheriff says that it's about the boy's book; "Am I... in it?"
"I don't understand, are you not going to kill me?"
Snow White is sitting on a large log in the Enchanted Forest, writing a letter as she does so; she hears rustling in the bushes nearby and knows it's the Huntsman who's been sent to kill her, beginning to write faster as such. The Huntsman sees her, confused as to why she's stopped to compose a letter while he hunts her, and she explains that she doesn't know these woods while he's obviously a skilled hunter and would find her. "No matter what I do, I know how this ends," she tells him, and he agrees. She says that there's one thing she needs him to do for her after he kills her, and she finishes the letter and hands it to him, requesting that he please deliver it to the Queen. He tells her that her trick won't work on him, but she assures that it's not a trick, again requesting that he give it to her stepmother and tell her she means every word. She tears up, and the Huntsman takes the letter and unfolds it, ready to read. As he does this, Snow White bravely anticipates her fate and, after finishing the letter, the Huntsman is tearing up himself. He then raises his knife and prepares to plunge it into the princesses' heart; however, when he stabs down he shears a plant stem from a bush next to her, and an expectant Snow White is stunned. He makes a couple of cuts into the stem with his knife and hands it to Snow, telling her to use it whenever she needs help. She accepts it but is crying and confused, and he explains that it's a whistle that will bring her aid and allow her to be led to safety. "I don't understand, are you not going to kill me?" she weeps, but he just exclaims for her to run, and she obliges, taking the whistle and standing up from the log, running in a random direction through the forest. As the princess flees, the Huntsman sees a nearby deer and gets an idea.
Henry supplies Graham with answers.
The same deer is seen in Henry's storybook before the boy turns the page, asking when Graham's flashes began. The two of them sitting on the former's bed, storybook in hand, and Graham reveals that they happened right after he kissed Emma. "You kissed my mom?!" the boy exclaims, proceeding to ask the Sheriff what he saw. Graham recounts seeing the wolf, and that he had a knife in his hand, and he was with Mary Margaret. Henry wonders if he was about to hurt her, having figured something out, and Graham confirms it, wondering how he knew that. Henry explains that Mary Margaret is Snow White as he turns the page, saying that that makes Graham the Huntsman. The page pictures Graham's fairytale counterpart, and the Sheriff asks the boy if he really thinks he could be another person. Henry assures that it makes total sense, for he was raised by wolves, hence he keeps seeing one; it's his friend and guise and is trying to help him. Graham wonders how he's remembering all this just because he kissed Emma, not knowing how that's possible, and Henry says that the two of them have a special connection because she owes him her life. Graham wonders why and Henry tells him that Snow White is Emma's mother, and he spared Snow; if he hadn't, then Emma would never have been born. Graham asks what happened after he spared Snow White, and Henry reveals that the Queen took his heart, having ripped it out - it's kind of he thing - because she wanted him to never be able to feel again. This deeply worries Graham and he asks to see the book, turning to a page of the Evil Queen in front of her mausoleum which has a strange symbol at its roof. He asks what that is, having seen that too in his vision when the wolf was howling at it, and Henry informs him that it's her vault, where she put his heart. "The wolf wants me to find it... Thank you, Henry," Graham says, handing him the book back before running out of the room.
Emma feels for Graham's heart.
Outside, Emma steps out of her yellow bug to greet Graham, who's walking out of the Mayor's house. She says she heard he had a rough day and he wonders who told her that, to which she replies pretty much everyone, adding that she should go home and get some rest. He assures that he's fine but she insists otherwise, for he just went to see a ten-year-old for help. Graham tells her that he's the only one who's making any sense and Emma asks him what's going on - "What's really going on?" "It's my heart, Emma, I need to find it," he explains, and she asks him how he's planning to do that. He says that he just needs to follow the wolf from his dreams, for it's going to help her find it, and she apologizes, having thought they were talking in metaphor before coming to realize that he really thinks he doesn't have a heart. He is adamant that it's the only thing that makes sense, as well as the only thing that explains why he doesn't feel anything, but Emma tells the Sheriff to listen to her; "You have a heart... I can prove it." He shakes his head at this, and the Deputy places her hand upon the left side of the sheriff's chest, feeling for a heartbeat which he seems doubtful exists. However, she assures him that it's beating and that it's real, leading him to shake his head again. At this, Emma the places Graham's own hand upon his chest so that he may feel his own heart beating, asking if he does. She says that that's his heart, but he says that it's the curse, which Emma is shocked to learn he believes is real. She soon looks at something behind Graham and becomes stunned and speechless; he asks her what's wrong before turning around to see his wolf: one red eye, one black one. They are both shocked and the two of them begin to chase after the creature as it runs away.
The mausoleum is discovered...
Soon, Emma and Graham are chasing the wolf through the town graveyard; it stops and looks at them with its different-colored eyes and Graham stops too, as does Emma. He assures her that it won't hurt them and Emma watches worriedly as it howls. It walks around before trotting off and Graham runs after it; a tuckered out Emma runs after him again. It runs past a mausoleum and Graham and Emma stop at it. The wolf is gone, and Graham looks up at the symbol on the roof, seeing that it's exactly the same as that which is printed in Henry's storybook on the Queen's vault. "What is it?" Emma asks. "It's my heart," Graham responds, staring up at the symbol, "It's in there."
Graham is determined to find his heart.
Emma and Graham stand outside of the mausoleum that supposedly contains the latter's heart. It's now dark out and Graham shines his torch on the building, telling Emma that he has to look in there. He moves toward it but his Deputy restrains him, telling him to stop. He begs her to let him in, but she asks if he really thinks his heart is in there. He nods in all seriousness and Emma suggests that they find out, walking up to the door and trying to open it; however, it's locked and, after several pushes fail, Emma steps back and simply kicks one of the door in, causing it to swing open. She and Graham walk inside as the shot moves up to the symbol on the mausoleum roof.
The Evil Queen is expecting a heart.
In the Dark Palace of the fairytale land that was, the Huntsman is walked through the halls by one of the Queen's guards, and told by him to wait. As the Huntsman obliges, the guard leaves, it is not long before the Evil Queen herself shows up. She approaches him and asks him if Snow's dead, at which the Huntsman lifts his satchel, stating that it contains the young girl's heart as requested. She goes to grab it but he pulls it away, telling her that, first, there's something he must do. The Huntsman pulls Snow's letter from his pocket and holds it before the Queen, who wonders what it is. He explains that the girl wnated her to have it, and she pauses before requesting that the Huntsman read it to her. He obliges and begins to read aloud...
By the time you read this, I will be dead. I understand that you will never have love in your life because of me. So it's only fitting that I be denied that same joy as well. For the sake of the kingdom, I hope my death satisfies your need for revenge, allowing you to rule my father's subjects as they deserve - with compassion and a gentle hand.
I know what you think you're doing is vengeance. I prefer to think of it as sacrifice for the good of all. With that in mind, I welcome the end. I want you to take my last message to heart.I'm sorry. And I forgive you.
"What did you do?!"
The Huntsman finishes reading; however, the letter seems to have made the Queen far more angry. She seizes it from his grasp and storms over to the fireplace, throwing it into the flames as rage fuels her. "Don't tell me you're becoming a sheep!" she exclaims, to which the Huntsman says that Snow put others before herself and yet the Queen hates her; he wants to know what she did. The Queen reveals that she shared a secret with her... and she couldn't keep it; that betrayal cost her dearly ("The Stable Boy"). She then walks away from the fireplace and storms up to the Huntsman, now demanding that he show her the girl's heart. The Huntsman slowly removes his satchel but the Queen snatches it from his hands, hastily walking to her vault in the next room, with drawers filled with hearts. There is a chest reserved for Snow White's heart which her stepmother removes from the satchel, holding it in her hand, staring at it; she opens the chest and slowly places the heart inside, closing the lid. The Huntsman seems relieved but when Regina goes to place the chest amongst the others, she stops. The drawer in which this chest is meant to go should open for it to be placed inside. The Queen pops the chest open and lets it drop to the floor, again holding a heart in her hand. She angrily walks toward the Huntsman, squaring up to him and yelling "This isn't her heart! This isn't a human heart! What did you do?!"
Graham gets distracted by Emma.
Graham shines his torch around the mausoleum in Storybrooke, insisting that his heart has got to be in there somewhere. He begins to look around at random objects, including the tomb, and says that there'll be a hidden door or lever. He grabs a pot from a shelf and tries to pry it open; however, it won't budge and he returns it to its position. Emma stops him, trying to tell him that there's nothing in there, but he says that there has to be. She tries to reassure him that it's going to be okay and Graham looks at her. "What the hell do you think you're doing?!" exclaims Regina from outside in the graveyard. The Sheriff and the Deputy step out of the mausoleum and Emma asks Regina what she's doing there, to which the Mayor explains that she's bringing flowers to her father's grave like she does every Wednesday, pointing out the bouquet in her hands. Graham tells his lover not to blame Emma, for it's his fault; he wanted to look in the mausoleum. Regina wonders what he was looking for but he says it was nothing. The Mayor tells him that he doesn't look well and grabs his arm, pulling him along and saying that she's taking him home; however, he stops, halting her, and tells that he doesn't want to go home - "...not with you." "But you'll go with her?" Regina questions, but Emma says that it's between the two of them and requests that she be kept out of it. Graham tells Regina that Emma's right, it's between them and things need to change. Regina says she wonders why that is all of a sudden but Graham continually assures that it's nothing to do with Emma; he realizes that he doesn't feel anything, and he knows it's not him... it's her. Regina thinks Graham is leaving her for Emma, but he clarifies that he's leaving her for himself. Regina tries to tell him that he's not thinking straight but he tells her that, for the first time, he is. "I'd rather have nothing than settle for less. Nothing is better than what we have. I need to feel something, Regina, and... the only way to do that is to give myself a chance," he explains. Regina tries to shake this off but he makes it clear that it's over between them.
"Not worth it."
Regina turns to Emma, telling her, "I don't know what I ever did to you, Miss Swan, to deserve this. To have you keep coming after everything I hold dear." She begins to tear up and Graham re-insists that it's not Emma, to which the Mayor exclaims that none of this happened until she arrived. Emma decides to weigh in, "I'm sorry, but did you ever stop to think that maybe the problem isn't with me, but with you?" she asks. Regina is insulted, and the blonde goes on, "Henry came and found me. Graham kissed me. Both were miserable. Maybe, Madam Mayor, you need to take a good, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself why that is. Why is everyone running away from you?" At this, Regina smiles before punching Emma hard in the face, causing the blonde to fall into Graham's arms and be lifted back to her feet, in pain. Emma retaliates by punching Regina in a similar fashion, before grabbing her by the arms from behind and dragging her over to the wall of the mausoleum, pinning her up against it. Emma gets ready to attack the Mayor when Graham restrains her, pulling an angered Emma away from Regina. The latter walks away from the wall and retrieves her bouquet from the ground. Emma walks up behind her, able to attack, but decides that it's not worth it before leaving Regina and Graham alone. Regina turns to her ex-lover but he follows on from Emma without saying a word. The Mayor watches in anger as Emma steals her man.
Emma is taken care of by Graham.
Over at the sheriff's station, Graham grabs an ice pack from the first aid kit on the desk and places it against Emma's forehead, apologizing for the events of the evening. Emma takes the ice pack and keeps it compressed to her wounds as he says that he doesn't know what came over him, for he kind of lost his mind. Emma assures him that it's okay, reminding him that he was tired, feverish and heartbroken, and Graham adds that he doesn't know why he let himself get caught up with Regina. "Because it was easy... and safe. Not feeling anything's an attractive option when what you feel sucks," Emma tells him. Graham smiles at this and takes the ice pack, as Emma is done with it; he then leans in and tries to clean her wound with a tissue, and she flinches at first but soon succumbs. They smile at each other.
Over at the mausoleum, Regina walks in, still angered from the earlier events of the night. Inside, she closes the door and looks at her father's tomb, placing her bouquet of flowers upon it and running her hand along the lid. She then slowly moves her hand down to the bottom of the lid and pushes the entire tomb to one side, revealing that a staircase is in fact hidden beneath it, leading down to a secret underground vault. The Mayor walks down the stairs and into the lair beneath.
Regina forces the Huntsman to pleasure her.
"You thought you could fool me with the heart of a stag?!" yells the Evil Queen in the fairytale land that was, slamming the fake heart down as she does so. The Huntsman remains silent and the Queen closes the doors behind him with magic, telling him that he's not going anywhere as they become sealed inside her vault. He professes that Snow doesn't deserve to die but the Queen makes clear that that's not up to him, then saying that she wanted a heart and a heart she shall have. With that, she plunges her hand into his chest, causing him to squeal in pain as he's pinned against the closed door. The Queen soon retracts her hand to reveal that she's now holding a glowing red beating heart. His heart. He wonders what she's going to do to him and, to his surprise, the Queen grabs his face and kisses him, telling him that he is now her pet. She storms over to her drawers and opens one, heart still in hand, announcing that this is his cage. He will do everything that she says; "And if you ever disobey me, if you ever try to run away... all I have to do is squeeze..." The Queen proceeds to offer example by compressing the heart with her hand, which clearly causes the Huntsman great pain. He then collapses to the floor due to this, and she continues to squeeze as he writhes, then summoning the guards. Two of her Black Knights walk in and seize the Huntsman, and she finally relinquishes her grip on his heart. However, she reminds him that his life is now in hr hands forever. "Guards..." she then instructs, "Take him to my bedchamber." They oblige, and she proceeds to place the heart in a chest in one of her drawers and shut it.
Regina continues to walk down the stairs beneath the tomb and into her Storybrooke vault. She walks up to a wall filled with drawers, which themselves are filled with chests, which themselves are filled with glowing hearts that have been ripped from her victims. Regina looks at one in particular and places a hand upon it, pulling the drawer open. She proceeds to remove the chest from the drawer and walks away a little from the wall before popping open the lid. The Huntsman's glowing heart is seen within the chest, and Regina pulls it out with one hand.
Emma and Graham share a kiss.
In the sheriff's station, Graham is still cleaning Emma's wound. He removes the tissue and tells her that it's all better. Emma stops as Graham returns his equipment to the first aid kit and he notices her, asking, "What?" Emma approaches him, not saying a word. Then, still a little teary-eyed, she proceeds to kiss Graham.
At this, Graham flashes to his former life. he sees a deer in the Enchanted Forest, and this is followed by an arrow shooting the deer; he then sees the different-eyed wolf growl, followed by him being restrained by one of the Queen's guards. Graham then flashes to Regina herself sitting in her chambers, and this is then followed by Snow White offering him an apple, before he flashes to himself drawing a knife before the princess. He carves a mark into a plant stem, making a whistle. He sees the Evil Queen once more, and flashes to her fireplace and again to her, slamming the stag's heart onto a podium, enraged. Finally, he Evil Queen holding up his own glowing heart.
The flashes end and Graham falls backwards, worrying Emma, who has just kissed him. "Graham...?" she asks.
Regina begins to crush Graham's heart.
In her vault, Regina continues to hold the heart in her hand. She lifts it and inspects it before her face.
Emma looks at Graham, worried and asking if he's okay. "I remember..." Graham utters. She does not understand and so he repeats himself. Emma asks him what it is he remembers.
Regina stares at the Huntsman's heart sadly, almost in tears.
A single tear is seen on Graham's face and he thanks Emma, before leaning in to kiss her.
Regina begins to compress the heart within her fist. It begins to beat faster, glowing brighter between beats, clearly strained and struggling. Regina begins to relish her squeeze as her grip becomes tighter.
Graham dies in Emma's arms.
Graham is about to kiss Emma again when, suddenly, before their lips touch, he jerks back, clenching his chest in pain. Graham falls to the floor, his eyes closed, and Emma quickly kneels down to his aid. She grabs his head and lifts him to lay across her, his head resting in her arm, and she calls out his name, crying.
Regina has now crushed the heart to dust and that dust falls from her clenched fist, to the ground, killing Graham from afar.
"Graham!", Emma exclaims, shaking him, hoping to revive him, tears in her eyes. There is no response and she continues to shake him madly, hoping for a sign of life... but he shows none. Emma soon gives up, realizing that he's dead, and cries over her loss, leaning her head against Graham's body still lying in her arms.
- The title card features the Huntsman's wolf.
- Although credited, Josh Dallas (David Nolan/Prince Charming) and Raphael Sbarge (Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket) are absent from this episode.
The episode was co-written by co-creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, and was directed by The Mentalist veteran David M. Barrett. Guest actor Giancarlo Esposito made his second appearance in the series as Magic Mirror/Sidney Glass. Meghan Ory returned as Ruby/Red Riding Hood, while Scott Heindl made his only appearance for the series as Bartholomew. Leading up to the episode broadcast, Kitsis and Horowitz noted that "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" would feature consequences of events that occurred in the previous episode. Horowitz explained, "Emma is in a raw emotional place, trying to come to terms with her feelings about what she discovered about Graham. Graham is also in a very raw emotional place because he's clearly conflicted and it's this cauldron of emotions that leads to the kiss." Kitsis added that, "We're really excited that the kiss that you've seen is really just the jumping off point of the story we're telling. It's not like it ends with the kiss, it starts with that and it takes us somewhere that we're excited to show you."
In the episode, the character of Sheriff Graham was killed off, something that actor Jamie Dornan had known would happen since ABC picked up the pilot. It was the first major death of the series. In an interview with E! reporter Kristin Dos Santos, Dornan hinted that while his counterpart in Storybrooke has died, the huntsman could return at some point, as Dornan is still a regular on the series. As much of the episode involves Graham discovering his fairytale past, the writers designed the episode to mislead viewers by having them invest in the character. Kitsis and Horowitz commented that while the death made them "sad," the battle between Emma and Regina requires "stakes and unfortunately, sometimes stakes are people's lives." They also decided to kill the character relatively early in the series in order to show viewers that "it's real. It's not in Henry's head." Kitsis continued, "It’s interesting, but part of the intent was to make you love him and we loved him very much. And the fact that the audience seems to have loved him means a lot to us, in that we feel like we succeeded on that front. If you don’t feel sad, then it was a failure of the execution of the story."
Actress Lana Parrilla believed that Graham helped fill a void for her character, commenting that his loss "was not easy for [Regina]. That’s why, when she crushes his heart, there’s a tear coming out of her eye. She didn’t want to do it, but she had no choice - almost like how she had no choice to kill her father. I’m not saying I agree with it, but for the character, it’s what she had to do." Parrilla also cited "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" as the first episode where viewers see "how the two worlds collided," a reference to Regina's ability to kill Graham by squeezing the heart of his fairytale counterpart. The revelation of the vault, Kitsis and Horowitz explained, "is a very important thing for us in terms of moving forward in the season in that we wanted to send a very clear message that Regina knows what’s going on and has some very clear intentions in Storybrooke."
For the third week in a row, the ratings for the series slipped, as the episode placed 2.9/7 among adults aged 18-49 and scored a 5.2/8 overall, with only 8.91 million viewers tuning in. It ranked third in its timeslot, being beaten by Football Night in America on NBC and 60 Minutes on CBS, but ahead of The Simpsons on the Fox network.
The episode received generally positive reviews from fans and critics alike.
- Amy Ratcliffe of IGN.com said that the episode made her weep, and gave it a 9/10 rating, indicating "Amazing".
- Christine Orlando of TVFanatic.com commented: "I love Once Upon a Time because it's like a mini-movie every week and I'm completely enthralled by this intriguing other world filled with characters that feel familiar yet completely new. (...) I can't believe we have to wait until January to see the rest of Snow and Charming's love story or find out if Emma suspects Regina's involvement in Graham's death. As much as I love the holidays, I'll be counting the days until this fascinating fairy tale returns."
- Barbara Barnett of BlogCritics.org said, "This is a great episode, by series creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. Sharply written and with a great final-bow performance by Jamie Dornan, it was a fantastic fall finale of a fairy tale."
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- ↑ Once Upon a Time: "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter"
- ↑ Once Upon a Time Episode: "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter"
- ↑ Scott Heindl
- ↑ 'Once Upon a Time' star 'knew about shock twist'
- ↑ Once Upon a Time Shocker! The Dead Man Dishes on His Departure
- ↑ Once Upon a Time' EPs talk Sheriff Graham, Rumpelstiltskin's backstory and more
- ↑ ‘Once Upon a Time’ team: We show women who aren’t afraid of power
- ↑ 'Once Upon a Time': Lana Parilla on 'dirty politics' and the Queen's true feelings for Graham
- ↑ Spoiler Room special edition: 'Once Upon a Time' creators talk second half of the season (more deaths coming?)
- ↑ "TV Ratings Sunday: 'Once Upon a Time' Continues To Fall; Fox Animations Down + Scrambled CBS", by Robert Seidman, TVByTheNumbers.Zap2It.com, December 12, 2011.
- ↑ "Once Upon a Time: "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" Review", by Amy Ratcliffe, IGN.com, December 12, 2011.
- ↑ "Once Upon a Time Review: No One Is Safe", by Christine Orlando, TVFanatic.com, December 11, 2011.
- ↑ "TV Review: Once Upon a Time – “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”, by Barbara Barnett, BlogCritics.org, December 12, 2011.