"The Miller's Daughter" is the 38th episode of Once Upon a Time.
Cora's desire to rid herself of Rumplestiltskin in order to take his place as The Dark One takes one step closer to becoming reality as she and Regina try to overpower a dying Mr. Gold, and Mary Margaret is once again tempted by dark magic. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was, Rumplestiltskin agrees to offer his services to a younger Cora - for a price - when the king calls her bluff and orders her to actually follow through on her boast of being able to spin straw into gold.
Previously on Once Upon a Time...
Captain Hook arrives in New York and stabs Mr. Gold in the chest with his iconic hook. ("The Queen is Dead") In Neal's apartment, Emma notices the oddness of Gold's wound and he states it's poison. Emma says that they need to get him back to Storybrooke and Neal reveals that he can sail them there on his ship. ("The Queen is Dead") Mary Margaret sees Cora and Regina digging in the woods for Rumplestiltskin's dagger. ("The Queen is Dead") Mary Margaret later tells David of Cora and Regina's plans, and he states that they have to stop them. ("The Queen is Dead") Cora is seen with the dagger in her hand. ("The Queen is Dead") The "Blue Fairy" offers a young Snow White a candle, explaining that it is fused with magic and can save one life by taking another in exchange. ("The Queen is Dead") Cora tells Eva's corpse that poison looks good on her, revealing that she killed her. ("The Queen is Dead") "You killed my mother! Why did you take her from me?" Mary Margaret asks Cora within the Storybrooke clock tower, to which Cora replies, "To make my daughter the queen." ("The Queen is Dead")
Meet Cora, the miller's daughter.
A windmill is seen turning in the fairytale land that was as the shot moves down to reveal a man, passed out drunk atop a wagon full of flour sacks. A young woman, Cora, is seen approaching him, placing her wicker baskets down and addressing the unconscious man as "father". He awakens with a bottle of alcohol in his hand, wondering what his daughter wants and professing that he's resting, however, Cora grabs the bottle out of his hand, stating that he's always "resting", before throwing it against the wall, causing it to smash. She goes on to remind him that the flour was due to be delivered that morning and that she for one would like to eat that week. At this, Cora lifts the wheel of flour herself, deciding to deliver it in her father's stead, and begins wheeling it away.
Cora kneels on the floor, where she belongs.
As Cora wheels the flour into King Xavier's castle, Eva, an honored guest who is there at the time, spots the young woman carrying the heavy bags. As she, the king, and his son walk past Cora, Eva subtly trips her up, causing her to fall and spill flour everywhere. Eva yells at Cora, calling her a "stupid foolish girl". The king asks what happened, so Eva explains that the peasant fell. The king asks her if she's all right, but Cora assumes he's asking her, so replies. When the king corrects her, Eva states that Cora ruined her slippers. Henry tries to defend Cora, but his father says she'll receive no money for the flour and she'll apologize to Eva. Cora is appalled at the idea of apologizing, claiming she was tripped and calling Eva a wench. The king tells Cora to watch her tongue and reveals that Princess Eva is an honored guest visiting from the Northern Kingdom. Cora angrily snarls that she's just a girl. The king asks for Cora's name, and when she gives it, he demands her to kneel. She reluctantly obliges and then even apologizes to Eva when asked again, worried the king won't buy her flour any more. The royals then leave as Cora stays kneeling down on the ground, where she belongs.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Emma and Gold discuss the latter's dagger.
We are treated to a view out at sea before being taken into Captain Hook's camouflaged pirate ship to see Henry Mills sailing it, with his father, Neal Cassidy, guiding him. Inside the hold of the ship, Mr. Gold is seen holding a bandage to his poisoned chest wound as Emma walks in, telling him that he doesn't look comfortable. The pawnbroker sarcastically retorts that the poison racing towards his heart will have that effect. The blonde approaches him, wanting to talk about that dagger of his, asking if Cora and Regina do have it, whether they'll be able to make him do anything. Gold answers positively and Emma asks if "anything" includes "kill us all", to which Gold stares at her, before confirming this. He asks her if this means that she's now hoping he'll bleed to death, but she reminds him that he's Henry's grandfather, which means that they're family now, and she's going to save him. "I feel so reassured..." Gold utters, non sincerely.
Cora breaks the enchanted phone tap.
In Storybrooke, David is telling Mary Margaret, who's in her apartment, via cell phone that he just talked to Emma, who said that Gold has a poisoned wound which can only be cured in town, and they're sailing home. Inside Regina's office, we see the mayor and her mother, Cora, listening in to the conversation via phone tap. Mary Margaret replies to David, saying that they need to stop Regina and Cora, asking "who knows what that wicked woman would do?" At this, Cora knocks the machine off of the table, causing its malfunction. Regina scorns her mother for this, proceeding to pick the machine up as Cora goes on to say that she doesn't like what the "enchanted box" was saying, claiming that she's not wicked. Regina informs her mother that it's not an enchanted box, it's a phone tap, before sitting back down, but Cora exclaims that she doesn't care as what matters is that they've been warned. She states that Rumplestiltskin's smart, and now he's had time to think. Regina reminds her mother that Gold is injured, and Cora looks down at the Dark One's dagger, which is resting upon the table, noticing that the "R" of "Rumplestiltskin" is fading away, followed by the "u" and "m". At this, Cora lifts up the dagger and tells her daughter that Rumple is more than injured - he's dying.
"There's nothing I won't be able to do."
She then explains that when his name disappears from the weapon, all of that power of his will just boil off into the air and there will be no new Dark One. Regina takes this to mean that they have to use Gold to get Henry back before he dies, but Cora tells her that they can't in his condition, as she wouldn't want to kill him faster. "No. There are no other options. I have to stab him with this knife and take his power as my own. I have to become the Dark One. And with his power... there's nothing I won't be able to do." Regina stands up, telling her mother that Henry's never going to forgive that. "And the whole point of this is- Wait, what is the point of all this?" Regina wonders, becoming confused as to what her mother's true motives are. Cora replies that the point of all this is to protect their family, but Regina asks if maybe it's just Cora gaining her power. Her mother is silent for a moment, stating that whatever power she gains is for them, to protect her and to protect Henry. She says that if they lose this battle, they will spend the rest of their short lives on their knees in front of them - "And that, my love, is something I'll never do."
Cora captures the attention of Prince Henry.
We see a woman in a masquerade mask twirling in the arms of a man, who's in a similar mask, as the shot moves out to reveal many couples doing the same, them all being in attendance of a royal masquerade ball. At an unnoticed entrance, we see Cora, wearing a beautiful red dress, walking right into the ball, grabbing a mask from beside her an applying it to herself to disguise herself, acting as though she belongs. We see her take a rose from the flowers that rest upon the stair banisters and apply it to her hair, before proceeding to mingle. Cora walks through the dancers and stands at the side, taking her place next to Prince Henry, who is also spectating. She asks him if the king has only brought these rich women here simply to pair off with his son, calling him "Poor Prince Henry". Henry tells her that she's very frank, and she turns to him, realizing that he is the prince himself and feeling embarrassed. She tries to apologize, calling herself a "goose", but as the current song ends, Henry offers to let them find out, extending his arm out, inviting her to dance as the next song begins. As they step out onto the dance floor together in order to waltz, Cora states that she wouldn't want to get in the way of anyone purchasing him, which leads Henry to ask her what she's doing there, before they bow to each other as part of the dance. She jokes that she merely came there for the free food and Henry laughs before exhibiting a twirl and beginning to dance. As they waltz, Cora compliments him on the exquisite mutton, and he thanks her.
King Xavier sees past Cora's guise.
King Xavier approaches them and excuses his son, asking to cut in. Henry allows this, going elsewhere, and Cora tells the king that she didn't expect such an honor as she begins to dance with him. He assures her that it is no honor, asking if she really thought a stolen gown and mask would keep him from recognizing her. He points out that there's straw on her dress before telling her that she carries the mill with her, "miller's daughter". Cora tells the king that he has some nerve disparaging her when he's selling off his own flesh and blood. At this, Xavier stops dancing and tells Cora that she's an insolent girl, explaining that the kingdom has been strained. he says that they do need gold, but that they are still miles above "her kind". Cora gives him an evil glare and he orders her to go, picking a stray strand of straw from her dress and stating that it's all she can offer them. She assures him that that is nothing but delusion, forcing Xavier to ask what she could possibly have to offer them.
King Xavier calls Cora's bluff.
Worried, Cora improvises, "I can turn straw into gold and solve all your woes." Xavier has a hard time believing this and Cora goes on to say that, as the king's insulted her, he shall not reap the benefits. "Good luck whoring your son," she tells him as the music stops, before walking away. However, Xavier grabs her by the arm, stopping her, before calling his loyal subjects to attention. He tells them that they have a very special guest with them, dragging Cora over to the stairs where she can be seen by everybody. Xavier tells his subjects that this woman tells him she can spin straw into gold, at which each and every one of them laughs, before the king adds that she's going to demonstrate it for them. Cora appears worried, telling the king that it takes time to gather her thoughts, at which Xavier tells her to spend the night there locked in a tower full of straw, spin it into gold tomorrow, and she can marry the prince. He points out Prince Henry in the crowd who smiles at this idea, Xavier then tells the miller's daughter that if she is to fail, she shall die.
Gold arrives back in Storybrooke.
At the town docks, Mary Margaret and David step out of the latter's van to see Emma and Henry, with Neal and Ruby beside them, who are escorting a poisoned Gold off of Hook's ship. David and Mary Margaret run over to them and the former helps stabilize Gold as Henry brags that he drove the ship as his dad showed him how. David glances at Neal, who explains that that's him, and the tow of them rest Gold up against the back of the van. David asks the pawnbroker if Cora's trying to control him with the dagger, however, he replies that he would know if she were, as most of them would be dead by now. Mary Margaret states that they will just have to take the fight to her before that can happen, and David says they will, however, Mary Margaret adds that this time, they're going to finish it. David tries to quiet her down, but his wife tells him that Cora needs to be stopped, "She needs to be killed. This is our family, we are going to protect it!" David tells her that of course they are, but that what she's talking about goes beyond that.
Mary Margaret argues that she must kill Cora.
"Does it?" she asks, before pointing out that Cora is the reason that David never met her mother. The prince says that he knows what happened to Queen Eva and that he has zero problem with Cora dying for it, but not by Mary Margaret's hand and not out of vengeance. Mary Margaret asks him why and he grabs her by the arms, telling her that she wouldn't be able to live with herself. "You have the purest heart of anyone I have ever known. That's who you are. And that's who you're gonna stay." Mary Margaret remains silent and Emma approaches Gold with blankets in her arms, asking him if he's okay. He says that he does feel a bit stronger but that they need to take him back to his pawn shop as there's magic there that can protect them. Neal and David begin to escort the former's father and Henry guesses that he gets to stay with Ruby. Emma tells him that he guessed right and Ruby promises to keep the kid out of the crossfire. Mary Margaret thanks her and Henry quickly tells his mother and grandmother not to look so worried, assuring them that they'll stop Cora and won't let her get away.
Cora contemplates jumping.
We are treated to an exterior view of the window to the tower that Cora is locked up in, before we are shown the girl lean out of the window, looking at the water below and contemplating jumping out. A shrill giggle is heard behind her and she turns around to see Rumplestiltskin inside the tower, holding a piece of straw. He tells her that "that's never gonna work", saying that she'll escape, but she'll be dead, which kind of defeats the purpose. Cora asks him who he is but he extends the same question to her. She tells him that her name is Cora, to which he points out, "Not a very pretty name, is it? Sounds like something breaking." Ignoring this, Cora asks Rumple how he got inside, thinking that if he got in, then she can get out. He tells her that as he understands her situation, the straw and the spinning wheel are her way out. He sits at the wheel, stating that it's such a marvelous coincidence that spinning straw into gold just so happens to be something that he likes to do, picking up a piece of straw and dabbing it, he says it's almost like fate. Rumple begins to spin as Cora tells him that no one can spin straw into anything, however, she is proven wrong by the long golden thread that Rumple magically produces and presents to her. Cora is amazed, inspecting the gold and surprised that Rumple wants to help her. But he instead tells her that he wants her to help him, and she will, because the future is his gift ("in a manner of speaking"), which makes Cora ask what he could possibly get from her. Rumple clicks his fingers, telling her that it's funny she should ask and asking if she can read, magically presenting her with a contract.
Rumplestiltskin offers Cora a deal.
Cora takes it from him and begins to read, realizing that he wants her first born child, to which Rumple replies that she is quite important. "'She'?" Cora asks, and Rumple again reminds her that he sees the future. He adds that he only gets his payment if Cora lives past tomorrow and she asks him if he'll be able to spin all of the straw into gold by morning, which he can, telling her that she can parade in front of the royals and take the hand of the dear prince in marriage, having the subjects kneel before her. As Rumple elaborates, Cora simply says, "No," which confuses the Dark One. He turns to her, and she asks him to teach her, don't just do it, teach her how to do it. She suggests that he make it part of their deal and Rumple giggles, naming Cora as a "spicy one" before bowing and introducing himself as Rumplestiltskin, saying that he does believe she just earned it before changing the contract's words with magic. Rumple offers Cora a quill so that she may sign it, before telling her, "Now, let's begin."
Mary Margaret discovers an object from her past.
Back in Storybrooke, in Mr. Gold's pawn shop, David, Mary Margaret and Bae sit the dying pawnbroker down on his couch in the back room before he proceeds to ask Emma, who's carrying a jar, if she found "it". She presents the jar, saying there's nothing in it, but shaking it and hearing a rattle, becoming confused. She reaches inside and pulls out- "Invisible chalk," Gold tells her as Emma looks at the space between her fingers where the chalk is being held, but not seen. Gold proceeds to tell her to use it on the front doorway, to draw a line, telling the rest of them that they might want to prepare for battle. Emma goes into the front section of the shop and is soon followed by David and Neal. Mary Margaret begins to follow on, but is stopped by Mr. Gold, who asks her to please retrieve him a warmer blanket, which she'll find in the cabinet. Mary Margaret obliges and opens the cabinet, however, she is absolutely shocked to see the object inside, not a blanket... but a magic candle, one that had been given to her when she was a little girl by the "Blue Fairy". Mary Margaret carefully takes the candle out of the cabinet with one hand, asking Gold why he has it. "For a rainy day," he replies, but Mary Margaret appears far from amused.
Emma draws an invisible line.
In the front section of Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer, Emma is seen holding the invisible chalk and bending down to scribble a line beneath the doorway with it. Neal, who's behind her and holding a sword, jokingly tells her that she missed a spot, and Emma sarcastically tells him that he's hilarious, continuing to draw. He tells her that he didn't know she was magical and she asks him if he's being "judgey" about it, saying that he's not allowed to have opinions on surprises and calling him "Mr. I'm-the-son-of-Rumplestiltskin". He gives an "Oh," and Emma wonders what it means, he explains that he didn't mean for Emma to be surprised. She asks him if he's referring to the fact that the guy she dated a decade ago is engaged, but Bae doesn't answer. David walks into the room, telling the pair that they're all clear outside and asking them if everything's okay. Neal smiles and turns to Emma, who nods.
Mary Margaret thinks about letting Gold die.
In the back room, Mary Margaret is still holding the magic candle and realizes that Mr. Gold wasn't really getting better. He explains that the candle is needed to save him as there's nothing else. Snow reminds him that she wouldn't use it to save her own mother, asking him what makes him think she would use it for him. He replies that she's all grown up now and, for once, their interests are aligned. Mary Margaret then realizes that it will be Cora who dies in Gold's place and he tells her that he knows she can do it and he knows she wants to do it. Mary Margaret offers him a blank look, stating, "There's no coming back from murder." But he points out that there's no coming back from death either, and that's what will happen to her loved ones. Mary Margaret says that even if she were to do this, that the candle only works when you whisper the victims name over them. "The heart will do," Gold tells her, leading Mary Margaret to realize that Cora's heart isn't in her body. Gold tells her to use the candle to curse the heart, before performing the tricky part. Snow is confused as to how that's not the tricky part, and Gold explains that she has to put the heart back into Cora's body in order for the candle to take affect; she will die, and Rumple will live. "There's another way: I get Cora's heart, I control her and make her do the right thing, and I let you die. Takes care of two evils in one," she points out. A weak-looking Mr. Gold laughs and tells her that he's just imagining the look on Henry's face when he finds out that she killed his grandpa. Mary Margaret appears taken aback when Emma walks into the room, causing her to place the candle into her pocket. The blonde states that she drew the invisible line and asks what they do now, wondering if Gold is to cast a protection spell, however, the pawnbroker reveals that Emma's going to do that for him. "I'm relying on you," he tells Emma, although this little phrase clearly also applies to Mary Margaret, who stares at Rumple with rage.
Emma after casting a spell of protection.
"I can't cast a spell! I can spell 'spell'," Emma tells Mr. Gold in the back room of his pawn shop. However, a weakened Gold tells her that it's in her. Emma asks if she's meant to cast it from where she is, from her brain, but Gold just tells her to try. Emma closes her eyes, attempting to oblige, but Gold exclaims for her to stop thinking as conjuring magic is not an intellectual endeavor, it's emotion. She must ask herself 'Why am I doing this? Who am I protecting?', he tells her to feel it. Emma takes this on board before turning around, she closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, suddenly, we flash between the shop's exterior and her as we begin to see an invisible barrier rise from the chalk line that Emma drew. As the spell becomes complete, Emma nods and smiles to herself as we see the protection spell reach full capacity. Gold asks the blonde if she felt it and she tells him that she thinks she did, before turning to him. He calls her a "very good girl".
Rumplestiltskin teaches Cora to spin straw into gold.
Back in the tower of the fairytale land that was, Cora is seen spinning straw into thread as Rumplestiltskin stands over her, seeing that no gold is being produced, she stops spinning and angrily tells the Dark One that it's not happening. He tells her that she just needs to stop thinking about it as magic is about emotion. "Summon up that moment that made you so angry... you would have killed if you could." Cora stares at Rumple, asking him if he does that, and he replies that he does. She wonders what his moment is and she smiles before telling her that once, "a man made me kiss his boots in front of my son", and now in his mind, he goes back and he rips out his throat and he crunches his veins with his teeth - "And that, dearie, is how magic is made." Cora smiles at him, before uttering, "Blood lust." Rumple tells her that he likes the phrase before walking behind her and placing both hands on her shoulders, asking her to let him help her. At this, he crouches down beside her, running his hands down her arms, as she continues to spin the wheel. "They made me kneel," she starts as Rumple buries his face in the crook of her neck, "I didn't do anything wrong... but they made me apologize... to a child. I realized, no matter how good I was or how hard I worked, I was never going to be more than I am now." As Cora continues to spin, Rumple asks her what she would like to do to them, and she smiles, before saying, "I want to make them bow. I want their kneecaps to crack and to freeze on the stones. I want their necks to break from bending." At this, Rumple tells her to look and Cora sees that she has successfully spun straw into golden thread. She happily says that she did it and she's going to live, but he assures her that she's going to do much more than that, telling her not to stop until they are on their knees. As Rumple runs his face up her neck and smells her hair, she decides to keep on going, and the wheel begins spinning once more.
Cora accepts Henry's hand in marriage.
We see the spinning wheel spinning elsewhere in the morning as Cora spins straw into gold before King Xavier and his subjects. Rumple is seen in the crowd, smiling as he watches, as Cora stands up, carrying the golden thread and handing it to the king, telling him that there's his gold. He inspects it, asking her if she really did it, and Cora points out that he saw it with his own eyes. Xavier looks at her, saying that she's just a miller's daughter, but she tells him that she's so much more. At this, the king tells her that she's "earned him", before Prince Henry steps out and faces Cora. He takes her hand and gets down on one knee, asking her if she would do him the honor of taking his hand in marriage. Cora smiles at him, before accepting his proposal, and Prince Henry kisses her hand as she looks out at Rumplestiltskin in the crowd.
Mary Margaret knows what she must do.
David looks out the window of Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer through the protection spell that's guarding them. Mary Margaret is with him and he looks at her, wondering what's wrong. She shakes her head, remaining silent, and he asks her if Gold told her something. She immediately answers negatively before telling him it's just that Cora's determined to hurt them. He assures her that he won't let that happen and that they will do whatever needs to be done. "You're right," she says as David continues to stare out of the window. "You're absolutely right."
There is a sudden Earth tremor that runs throughout the shop, and in the back room, Emma and Neal become confused. David walks in, telling them that it's "them". Gold lifts his head before David states that it's Regina and Cora , "they're here".
Let's do this bitch.
Outside the pawn shop, we see that it is covered by Emma's protection spell with Cora and Regina stand before, the former of which is holding Rumplestiltskin's dagger. She holds it to one side before her and her daughter look to one another. They step back and cast a fireball between them, they allow it to grow before throwing it with a great force, one which causes the door to open and the protection spell to break with ease. They are met by Emma, Neal, David and Mary Margaret, and the former three are all carrying swords. Regina and Cora walk inside and Emma asks the former to think about what she's doing, however, Regina orders the blonde not to talk to her. As this happens, we see Mary Margaret slip out of the room and leave the shop via the side door, quiet and unnoticed, before running down the street.
Emma and Neal give Cora a choice.
Emma, Neal and David stand before Cora and Regina inside Mr. Gold's pawn shop, all three of them with swords aimed. Regina lifts her hand a little and casts a fireball, she proceeds to throw it at Neal and Emma, however, David runs at him and deflects it with his sword, causing it to vaporize in the air. He points his sword at Regina who merely gestures grabbing him and dragging him, and with magic, he is flown out of the store and made unconscious on the pavement outside. Emma calls out for her father, but the door closes. Cora quickly uses magic to push Emma over, causing the blonde to fly against the wall. Neal runs at Cora, swiping at her with his sword, however, she quickly disappears in a flurry of purple smoke, dropping the dagger as she does so. Emma gets to her feet and is immediately met by Regina who begins to strangle her with magic, Emma begins to choke, pinned up against the wall, as Regina takes relish in it. Cora reappears opposite Bae which makes Regina lose her concentration, with this, Emma grabs her sword, turns Regina around and places her blade at the mayor's neck. Cora looks to her daughter to the dagger on the floor, and Neal asks the witch what it's going to be.
Cora tries to break Emma's spell.
Regina calls out for her mother as Emma keeps her restrained and Neal tells Cora to choose wisely. Cora uses magic to make the dagger fly into her hand and at this, Emma throws Regina across the counter, causing objects to smash as she slides over it, landing on the other side. Emma tells Neal that they have to go and that she has the chalk, as Cora and Regina stand up, they see Emma marking off the door to the back room with the invisible chalk and casting a protection spell around it as Neal and Emma run to Gold. Cora asks Regina to help her take out Rumplestiltskin, but she suddenly feels an odd jolt. Regina asks her what's wrong and Cora states that it's her heart, which is among Regina's things in her vault, and someone's there. Regina calls out for her mother again in worry but Cora tells her to leave and her daughter obliges, walking out of the pawn shop and heading to her graveyard vault. Cora, dagger in hand, walks over to face the protected doorway. "Really, Rumple?" she asks, "Hiding's beneath you." With this, she extends her arm, attempting to break the protection spell.
Cora and Rumple reveal their affair.
Back in time, Cora, who's dressed in a wedding dress, applies white gloves to complete her outfit. She lifts her veil in order to look at herself in the mirror when Rumplestiltskin suddenly appears behind her, asking if she's enjoying the view as much as he is. He walks over to her and they kiss passionately, but Cora asks how he dare, calling herself a married woman. He reminds her that she's not yet as the wedding's tomorrow and she kisses him, saying that she supposes it's alright. They kiss again before Rumple tells her that he loves the dress and Cora states that royal brides have to be snow white. At this, Rumple giggles, telling Cora that when one can see the future, there's irony everywhere. He sits down on a chair in the corner as Cora says that she thought she wanted this, white and bright, all the admiration, but then she looks at it. She approaches Rumple and says that she's fifth inline to be queen, telling him that that won't happen without an awful amount of bloodshed. She then brings up what Rumple gives her, but he states that he can give her nothing but darkness and isolation. "And love," Cora adds, and Rumple agrees.
Rumple, my eyes are up here.
She holds his hands and leans into him, telling him that she wants that, and Rumple stands up, suggesting that he amend their contract. Instead of her owing him some random first born child, she owes him his own child. Cora assures him that she can make that deal and Rumple says that he can too, pulling Cora in close as she asks him if they can really do this and really have this. He says that they can if she truly wishes it, but she begins to state a qualm. He asks her what it is and she tells him that it's the king; he humiliated her and made her feel the way Rumple has shown her she never has to feel. "I want to kill him. I want to show him his heart before I do it so he can see it and know what I'm doing as I crush it." Rumple smiles at this and tells her that that is why he loves her. She smiles before placing her hand on his heart, asking him to show her, and he says that he wants to show her everything. Cora says that she will do it that night and Rumple suggests that they seal that promise and they do so by once again kissing passionately.
Emma and David lose Mary Margaret.
Mary Margaret walks down the stairs to Regina's vault beneath her father's mausoleum. Once down, she begins to look from side to side, wondering where to go, before slowly approaching a room of boxes and chests. She looks at them and sighs, beginning to search.
Outside Mr. Gold's pawn shop, David walks up, and inside, we hear Emma's phone ring. She answers it and he asks her if she's safe. She states that she is "for now" as she's put the spell up in the back room. David asks if Mary Margaret's okay.
Inside Regina's vault, Mary Margaret is seen searching through boxes and chests for Cora's heart.
Emma appears confused, having been under the impression that Mary Margaret was with David, but the prince answers negatively. Gold looks to Emma, knowing what's going on, and David wonders where the hell his wife is.
Mary Margaret looks to a cabinet and walks over to it, she cautiously opens it to discover a set of drawers, all presumably filled with hearts, but only one is glowing. Mary Margaret cautiously removes the chest containing the glowing heart and places it atop the cabinet, before opening it to see Cora's heart, still beating. She closes the lid, a little disgusted, and stares at the chest for a while, breathing heavily and still hearing the heart beat. She quickly opens the chest again and takes out the magic candle, as well as a cigarette lighter. With it, she lights the candle on both ends, allowing the white wax and the black wax to drip onto the heart. She moves her lips towards the flames before she whispers, "Cora... Cora..." She then blows out both ends of the candle.
Cora contemplates ripping out the king's heart.
In the fairytale land that was, King Xavier is seen wrapping golden thread around a coil and adding it to his desk which is filled with many many of these coils. Cora walks into the room, saying to the king that they told her she would find him counting his treasure. He says that she has made them a rich kingdom again before asking her what he can help her with. Cora tells Xavier that she doesn't love his son, and he says that he didn't expect her to, stating that, frankly, there's not that much to love. The king stands up and walks over to Cora, telling her that this is not about love, it's about alliances. "Love is weakness," he says, "It isn't for hard women like you. That should make your choice easier." Cora is confused as to what he means by her "choice", and Xavier tells her that she can either run off with the evil imp that she thinks no one knows about, in the name of love, or stand next to his son with a crown on her head and citizens at her feet. Cora pauses, before telling him, "If it's a choice of love or power, then even having a heart is a liability." She places her hand on his chest, feeling his heartbeat, and she asks him if he agrees. He looks from Cora's hand to her face and she gives him an evil glare.
Cora is seen walking out of the room with a chest in her hands and opens it to reveal a glowing, beating heart within.
Cora weakens the spell.
In Storybrooke, Cora is seen still trying to break Emma's protection spell which is cast over the doorway to the back section of Mr. Gold's pawn shop. She turns her hand and the barrier twists, weakening.
Within the back room, Neal tells Emma that the protection spell is getting weaker and that Cora is going to get through, but Gold states that maybe it's for the best as at least his cursed power will pass from this world. Neal places his sword down, telling his father that he's not dying, but Gold says that he is and that that much is certain. He tells Emma that he needs to talk to Belle, asking for the blonde's cell phone, and Neal asks who Belle is. Emma tells him that it's his dad's girlfriend as she hands Gold the phone.
Belle is reminded of who she is.
In the hospital, Belle is resting in her bed and tells Mr. Gold that she doesn't remember him. In the pawn shop, Gold says that he knows, but tells Belle that he's dying. Feeling awkward and sitting up, Belle tells Rumple that she's sorry, before Gold tells her, "I know that you're confused about who you are, so I'm gonna tell you..." the pawnbroker takes a deep breath, "You are a hero who helped your people. You are a beautiful woman... who loved an ugly man. Really, really loved me. You find goodness in others, and when it's not there, you create it." At this point, Belle begins to fight back tears, and Gold continues, doing the same, "You make me wanna go back - back to the best version of me - and that never happened before." A tear is seen streaming down Gold's cheek and Neal and Emma appear saddened as they listen in, as does Belle, whose eyes are now glistening with tears. "So when you look in the mirror, and you don't know who you are... that's who you are." Belle and Gold both cry as the latter says thank you, before finishing his goodbye by hanging up. Bae tells his father that he didn't know he had that in him, and Rumple replies that he's full of love, reminding his son that he spent a lifetime looking for him for a chance to tell him he loves him and he's sorry. Neal pauses before telling his father that he didn't think he would go back on their deal, and Rumple says that he just made the wrong choice. Bae becomes saddened and Rumple extends an arm, however, Neal tells him that he's still angry, and Gold says he knows. At this, Neal takes his father's hand and kneel at his bedside, beginning to cry by him. Emma looks at this and remains silent as Baelfire and Rumplestiltskin finally make amends.
Mary Margaret gives Regina a choice.
Regina walks into her vault to see Mary Margaret about to leave with a chest containing Cora's heart in her hands. The mayor furiously tells the teacher that she has no right to be there and has no right to her mother's heart. "I was going to give it to you," Mary Margaret lies, and Regina becomes confused. Mary Margaret explains that Cora can't love Regina because she doesn't have her heart, but with it, maybe she can. She tells her stepmother that that's why she never felt Cora loved her - she doesn't have her heart, "but I do". Regina wonders why Mary Margaret would be doing this for her and the teacher asks her to think about it, asking what would happen if Cora had her heart back inside her. Regina says that she was told Cora removed it to protect herself, but Mary Margaret asks if it worked, whether the person that Cora was before survived. "She can't love, so she can't love you." Regina states that her mother always wanted the best for her and that that's love, but Mary Margaret tells her to imagine real love, saying that Regina could have a mother and a start on making a family that Henry can be a part of, or she could have her be the Dark One. Mary Margaret extends her arms, pushing the chest closer to Regina and telling her that the choice is hers. Regina contemplates this.
Cora tells Rumple that she ripped out her own heart.
Rumplestiltskin is seen waiting beside a tree at night time in the fairytale land that was, he is approached by Cora, who's carrying a box with a heart inside in her hands, and smiles, telling her that he was beginning to grow concerned. Cora walks closer to him, saying that she's there now, before the two of them kiss. Rumple pulls away, saying that something's not right, and she confirms this. He asks her what happened, wondering whether or not she took the king's heart, and she replies that she was able to do it but chose not to. Rumple becomes confused and Cora places her hand on his cheek, apologizing and tearing up slightly, telling him that she's not going with him as she has a wedding to go to - her own. After a moment of silence, Rumple asks whose heart is in the box, but Cora begs him not to make this harder. Rumple exclaims that she lied to him before asking again whose heart it is. "Mine," Cora tells him after a pause, arguing that she had to as he told her not to let anything stop her until they're on their knees and claiming that her heart was stopping her. Rumple states that Cora never loved him and tells her that she's not getting away with this, exclaiming that they had a contract and threatening to take her baby. Cora reminds him that they changed the contract so that Rumple only gets his own child, and any baby she has from now on, it won't be his. Rumple stares at his love, feeling betrayed.
Back at Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer, Cora stares at Rumplestiltskin's dagger to see that more letters are fading away so that it now only reads, "in". With this, she extends her arm once more at the protection spell and begins twisting it.
Outside the mausoleum, Mary Margaret is sitting on the steps of the entrance, holding her head and seeming guilty. David runs up to her, calling her name and asking her if she's okay. Mary Margaret looks up at him shamefully and he stands up, asking her what she did. She tells him that he was right, "this isn't me".
In the pawn shop, Cora still has her arm raised at the protection barrier and twists her hand determinedly, the barrier itself twists with this and soon weakens before deteriorating completely. Cora appears relieved before walking though to the back room of the shop. She approaches Neal and Emma, both of whom have swords aimed at her, and tells them to get out of the way, waving her arm and causing them to disappear in an array of purple smoke.
Emma and Neal reappear in Storybrooke's woods and the purple smoke dissipates. Neal lowers his sword and steps back and the two of them appear extremely confused.
Cora regains her heart.
Back in the shop, Cora approaches a dying Mr. Gold, who tells her that a vision told him about her and told him that this day would come. However, it didn't tell him what he really wanted to know. Cora sits at his side and asks him what that is, to which he asks if she ever loved him. Cora pauses before asking him why he thinks she had to rip her own heart out. She brushes the hair out of his face as she tells him that he was her weakness and the only man she ever truly loved. A weak Gold begins to close his eyes and Cora stands, lifting the dagger and preparing to plunge it into him, his name almost completely vanquished. As she is about to stab the man she once loved, she is suddenly hit in the back by something and gasps, dropping the dagger. The shot moves to reveal that it was Regina, who was placing Cora's heart back inside her body. Gold's eyes suddenly open as the life floods back into him. Cora clutches at her chest as she stabilizes herself and proceeds to look at Regina, which causes her to laugh and smile through tears of joy, her full emotions returning. Regina smiles, greeting her mother and smiling.
Cora finally has them on their knees.
Cora's baby daughter is seen in her arms as King Xavier invites the princess out. Cora stands before her subjects with her baby in her arms and Xavier asks to know the child's name. "Her name... is Regina," Cora reveals, holding her daughter up high so that the kingdom may view her, "For one day, she will be queen." Everyone bows down to Cora as she raises Regina into the air, parading her high and strong. The princess proceeds to lower her baby and bring her inwards, carrying her normally. She looks from her daughter's face to the subjects before her and smiles, happy to see that everyone around her are all finally on their knees.
"You did this."
Cora smiles at Regina, still through her tears of joy, and begins to chuckle. Gold notices his lack of pain and looks to Cora, who suddenly feels a jolt of pain in her chest. Regina becomes worried and Gold lifts his bandages to reveal that his wound is all gone. Cora lifts her collar to reveal a tear in her jacket where, visible through this, is a poisoned stab wound. Gold's wound. She collapses and Regina kneels to her mother's aid, calling out for her mother. Mr. Gold picks up his dagger, which we can see now fully reads, "Rumplestiltskin". As Cora lays in her daughter's arms, Regina wonders what's wrong and the two of them stare into each others faces. "This would've been enough," Cora utters, a tear rolling down her face, "You... you would've been enough." Cora's eyes close permanently and Regina looks at her mother's dead face sadly, asking Gold, who now stands before the scene, what's going on. She looks from him to her mother's corpse and shakes her body, hoping for there to still be some life in her and begging her not to leave her. Regina cries and hugs her mother's body, asking what she's going to do. Mr. Gold tells the mayor that her mother did her no favors, but Regina orders him to shut up, accusing him of stealing her life by casting some spell. However, Gold tells her that he did nothing. Regina looks back into her mother's face as Mary Margaret and David come rushing in, the former exclaiming for Regina to stop, however, it's too late. Snow and Regina stare at each other and the latter comes to a realization, "You did this," she says to Mary Margaret as she holds her mother's dead body in her arms. Mary Margaret is utterly shocked and Regina stares at her through evil, tearful eyes.
We are shown a view out at sea until we're taken into Hook's invisible pirate ship where Henry is steering behind the wheel, under Neal's instruction, as Emma stands in the background. Henry says that he doesn't get what all the fuss is about, as this isn't so hard, and Neal agrees that steering's fun, but navigation's a bitch. Taking note of Henry's age, he amends himself, saying it's difficult as you have to use the stars and there's a lot of math. "It's second star to the right and straight on 'til morning, right?" Henry asks, and Neal wonders where his son heard that. Henry says that it's in Peter Pan, and Neal nods before telling Henry that Neverland isn't what he thinks. After a pause, Henry asks his father if he thinks Mr. Gold will die, but Neal answers negatively, saying that if there's one thing that man knows how to do, it's survive. At this, Emma makes her way down to the hold of the ship, where Rumple is currently.
- The title card features Rumplestiltskin's spinning wheel.
- Although credited, Colin O'Donoghue (Captain Hook) is absent from this episode.
- Ratings and viewership were slightly up from the previous episode. The Miller's Daughter had an 18-49 rating of 2.3/6 and was seen by 7.64 million viewers.
- Oliver Sava of A.V. Club gave this episode an "A-" and wrote, "There are a lot of very talented writers working on Once Upon A Time, but this show’s limitations prevent them from reaching their full potential. Jane Espenson did great work on Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica, but her episodes of this series have been largely lackluster. That is, until “The Miller’s Daughter,” which is easily one of the strongest episodes OUAT has ever had. Exploring Cora’s past and shutting the door on her present-day exploits, this episode is full of significant plot developments and emotional character moments, with a very strong connection between the fairyback and Storybrooke scenes." He also praised the performance from Rose McGowen calling her, "inspired casting as young Cora, and not just because of how much she looks like Barbara Hershey. She has an icy demeanor that is perfect for the youthful version of this season’s Big Bad, hiding her potential power behind a suit of armor that protects from the cruel nobility she delivers flour to. When she’s tripped by a princess and forced to bow and apologize, she’s filled with the rage that is essential for making magic happen. She sneaks into a ball that is intended to find the prince a wife, but the king sees through her disguise and threatens her until she says that she can spin straw into gold. She’s locked in the tower, setting the stage for Rumpelstiltskin to appear and give Cora a taste of the power that will drive her over the edge."
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.