"The Shepherd" is the 6th episode of Once Upon a Time.
David must choose between staying with Kathryn or leaving her to be with Mary Margaret, with whom he's fallen deeply in love, and Emma catches Sheriff Graham in a lie. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale world that was, Prince Charming is about to encounter a life-changing event that will forever alter his destiny.
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
David prepares to be welcomed home.
The shot moves out on Kathryn and David Nolan's house, made clear by the banner reading, "WELCOME HOME, DAVID". Kathryn and David themselves are seen standing outside of it, but David is hesitant to go in, seeming confused. Kathryn tells him that he had the same look on his face the night they bought it too, going on to say that he couldn't see past the windmill on the lawn and said he'd never buy an "old lady house". She asks if he remembers what made him change his mind and David doesn't answer, merely pointing out that the windmill's gone. Kathryn says they should go inside because everyone's waiting; as they walk up the porch, David asks, "Who's everyone?". They proceed into the house as the shot moves over to the sign in front of their home which reads, "The Nolans".
Dr. Whale assures David that surrounding himself with "familiar faces" will be good for him.
Inside, the citizens of Storybrooke, David's supposed friends, all clap and cheer at his arrival home from the hospital after his prolonged coma. Kathryn begins to reintroduce David to all of his past friends and he politely greets each one with a handshake after Kathryn tells him their names just seconds before. Kathryn shakes the hand of Dr. Whale, as does David, and Whale assures the latter that, although it may feel overwhelming, the experience of being around familiar faces is good for him as they could trigger memories. "Just try to have fun," the doctor recommends, and David thanks him before trying to get back to his party.
David goes to talk to Emma and Henry.
Over by the stairs, Henry is sitting with Emma, telling her that his theory as to why David can't remember anything is because the curse isn't working on him. Emma assures her son that David has amnesia, but Henry argues that that is preventing the curse from replacing his fairytale story with fake memories. "Right, because everyone here has fake stories that prevent them from remembering who they really are," Emma states, humoring him, and he replies with, "Right, and now's our chance to help him. We just have to get him to remember that he's-" "That he's Prince Charming," Emma finishes for him, and Henry explains that they need to jog his memory by getting her and Miss Blanchard together. Emma is confused, pointing out that they just tried that, but Henry points out in turn that things may be different now that David's woken up. The guest of honor approaches Emma and Henry, saying that they're the only ones he knows there, and Emma offers to let him hide with them. David thanks her, stabbing an appetizer very precisely with a cocktail stick. Seeing this, Henry asks him if he's ever used a sword, causing David to laugh before changing the subject. Seeming interested, he asks if Emma lives with Mary Margaret, and she nods. He ass further if she's coming tonight, but Emma says that she couldn't make it. David nods, trying to hide his sadness.
Kathryn tells Regina that she has a friend.
Over in the kitchen, Regina is talking to Kathryn, telling her that she should get out there in the party and saying that there's plenty of food. "Be with your husband]," Regina instructs, and Kathryn says that she lost David once and now she has him back, but it's like she still doesn't have him back. She adds that Regina has no idea how that feels but Regina tells her that, actually, she does, going on to say that she lost someone once too. Kathryn is surprised by this and Regina adds that with the love she lost, there's no bringing him back, but Kathryn has a chance here. She tells her to go to David and Kathryn says that Regina is right, obliging by leaving the kitchen to find her husband. However, before she leaves, she turns to Regina, wanting to thank her for being such a good friend because lately she's been so lonely and unused to having one. Regina claims to be on the same friendless boat, but Kathryn assures that she has one now. Regina smiles as her new friend walks away.
Kathryn walks into the living room and asks Emma, who's currently talking to Dr. Whale, if she's seen David. Emma realizes that he's gone, not having noticed that he left.
David escapes his party to see his beloved.
David looks beyond a picket fence as Mary Margaret hangs a birdhouse from a branch. He asks her if she got the invite and Mary Margaret is surprised to see him. David hops over the fence to join her, helping her down from the step-ladder she's standing on and taking the bird house from her hand, and he proceeds to climb up the step-ladder himself and hang the birdhouse flawlessly on the branch. He brings up the fact that Mary Margaret resigned from the hospital and asks her if it was because of him and what he told her about how he felt about her. He begs her not to tell him that his feelings are one-sided, but she points out that he's married and that it should be no-sided. David tells her that that doesn't matter, saying that whoever married Kathryn, it's not him - "I didn't choose her, I'm choosing you." He adds that he knows she can feel it too but Mary Margaret shakes her head, saying that she knows he thinks they have a connection but suggests that maybe it's just because she saved his life. She tells him they should leave it at that before walking away, leaving David greatly disappointed.
"Next time, make sure I'm really dead."
In the fairytale land that was, the brave Prince James is faced by a bloodthirsty behemoth, and the two of them clash sword and spear as a battle rages on. James nearly falls from the clifftop on which the battle is taking place; however, he steadies himself and angrily spins, striking down on the behemoth's spear. There is more battle and James is flipped to the ground, he gets up just in time to block the tip of the behemoth's spear with his shield, and they continue to lay into each other. James goes for a stab, which makes the behemoth flip the prince over his head, causing the latter to go flying and land on the floor once more, now having dropped his sword and shield. It seems all hope is lost for James as the behemoth approaches, spear at the ready, about to stab the prince in cold blood, but, James suddenly rolls, causing the behemoth to stab the ground instead, getting the spear stuck. James leaps to his feet, sword in hand, and begins to attack the behemoth ferociously. He soon manages to stab the brute in the chest with his sword, telling him "Next time, make sure I'm really dead." The prince kicks the behemoth to the floor, retaining his sword and holstering it. The audience of knights applaud the prince, as do two kings who sit on a higher level, watching him. King Midas congratulates the prince as he and King George walk towards him. George tells Midas that a simple "well done" is an understatement considering how James handled the brute so well, stating that he "killed the unkillable" and giving his son a pat on the back. Midas concedes that it was surely a valiant feat, but a man is but a man; he wants to know if James could do the same to a dragon. George responds by asking if fairies sprinkle dust and if trolls live under bridges, at which James tells his father to relax, then assuring Midas that he could kill any beast he could send after him. Midas explains that his kingdom is plagued by a dragon like nothing he's ever faced before, saying that it's killed every warrior who has faced it so far, and James tells him that the dragon has yet to face him, causing Midas to smile before telling James that his kingdom needs the threat vanquished. "And my kingdom needs gold. I'm sure we could work something out," George chimes in.
Prince James is killed by a brute.
King Midas raises his gloved hand and one of his guards runs along to hastily remove the gauntlet. "Careful," Midas tells the guard, slowing him down, "Remember what happened to Frederick." Midas' right hand is seen to glow gold with magic, and James smiles at it before Midas requests the prince's sword. James obliges, handing his brandished steel over to the golden-handed king. Midas extends his magic hand to touch the blade of James' extended sword, slowly. The metal of the weapon begins to turn to pure gold before their very eyes. Midas tells James to consider it a down payment and says that he'll get the rest when the dragon's head is delivered to him. "Deal. Forgive me if I refuse to shake on it, King Midas," James says jokingly. Midas laughs and requests that George follow him now to discuss the details. Midas, George and the former's knights then leave and one of James' followers approaches him and raises a toast to their fearless prince. However, he tells them that there's to be no celebrating today, for what he did was but a simple test, and the task before them is too big and too important to make light of. "Just because I was easily able to kill this brute doesn't mean-" a splash of blood bursts from James' chest, as does the tip of the behemoth's spear. It seems someone didn't die when he should have done. James falls to the floor thanks to the vengeful brute and a group of James' knights draw their swords. James lies on the floor, meanwhile... dead.
"Did I not mention there was another?!"
Inside the castle, a group a knights gather around the deathbed of Prince James with King George standing by it in silent mourning. With tears in his eyes, he bids his son goodbye, and James' body is removed by four knights acting as his pall bearers. They carry the bed from the room, and a knight approaches George, telling the king that they have no time to grieve because if King Midas learns of James' death, he will find another warrior to slay the dragon that plagues his kingdom and they will never see an ounce of his gold. George says he understands and that the kingdom must survive, and the knight asks what they're to do. George explains that he has asked for help and that it should be arriving soon, at which the voice of Rumplestiltskin proclaims, "Oh, it's here." He has appeared within the castle and George tells his knight to leave the two of them alone. The knight does as told, taking his men with him and leaving George and Rumplestiltskin to talk; Rumple takes note of the funeral and tells George that he really should be more careful with his "gifts". George rages that his son was not a gift, but Rumple points out that he was the son he gave him. George recalls the deal they made and mentions that the Dark One did him no favors, leading Rumple to argue that he did, saying that it was a shame George and the queen couldn't conceive a child of their own. He adds that the price of the deal was "abidance" and goes on to say that now the queen's gone and the matter of conceiving another heir is out of the question. George suggests that they make another deal, telling Rumple to bring James back because he needs his son to slay the dragon. He then asks the Dark One what he wants, and he replies that there's a magic wand he desires that belongs to a certain Fairy Godmother who's patron to George's family; he wants to know her whereabouts. The King hesitates, but eventually says, "Done." He then asks how he is going to bring his son back to slay the dragon, and Rumple seems confused, telling George that that's out of the question because James is dead - magic can do much, but not that. George tries to argue but Rumple points out that he said nothing about resurrection. The King paces, lamenting that his kingdom his lost and that he's alone, but Rumple begins to babble and points out that he did tell him that his son can slay the dragon and he's a man of his word. George snaps that Rumple said he was gone forever, and the Dark One assures, "Oh, that he is... but his brother..." George is confused, and Rumple continues in saying, "His twin brother. Did I not mention there was another?!" He laughs maniacally.
Over in a shepherd's field in the Enchanted Forest, a charming young lad looks out from his farm. He turns. His face the same as James'.
Mary Margaret and Emma drown their sorrows.
In Storybrooke, Mary Margaret is aggressively washing dishes over her sink, clearly using it as an outlet, when Emma, who's watching, tells her that she might want to ease up or her cleaning utensil is going to press charges. Mary Margaret explains it away by saying that the dishes were just piling up and Emma asks if it has anything to do with David stopping by, mentioning that she saw him sulking away as she walked up. "He just... uh... we just... um..." Mary Margaret tries, to which Emma says that she knows what they were "just", and that she did the right thing. Mary Margaret adds that he made a pretty compelling case but Emma reminds her that he's still married, saying she knows because she was just at the party. Mary Margaret asks what she should do and Emma tells her that she needs to stop cleaning and have a drink. The blonde grabs a bottle of McCutcheon scotch and some glasses and she pours, telling her roommate that she doesn't know a lot about relationships (other than having many which have failed) but, generally speaking, if she thinks something she wants to do is wrong, it's probably wrong. "So, you need to stay strong and he's got to figure out his life," Emma tells her, and the two girls drink.
Kathryn attempts to jog David's memory.
Over at the Nolan house, David is sitting on his couch after the party is over, looking through some old photographs. Kathryn comes to sit with her husband, telling him that he looks different; he has longer hair whereas he used to always have a buzz-cut, having complained that long hair is itchy. David continues to rifle through pictures of him and his wife, saying that he guesses it grew whilst he was in the coma, and Kathryn says that she's going to go to bed and asks David if he wants to join her, stroking the back of his head. "You mean go to bed go to bed, or... go to bed?" he asks, and Kathryn tells him that it's whatever he wants. David suggests that they just sit and talk somewhere and Kathryn kisses him, but he soon pulls out of it. She is surprised but he tells her that this isn't right.
Meet Charming, the shepherd.
In the fairytale land that was, the man we later come to know as Prince Charming is a poor and humble shepherd and is using a twig to chase a lamb through a field and back into its pen on his farm. He manages to usher the creature in and lock the gate, proud of himself; he tells the creature that he bet he didn't see that coming before his mother calls out for him. She approaches her son and he greets her, asking how the market was. She replies that it was interesting, which surprises her son, who tells her that usually she comes home cursing the prices. His mother, Ruth, assures him that that hasn't changed but that this time she had a very interesting talk with the grain merchant. Charming, still working, notes that they don't need any grain, but Ruth tells him that he has a daughter who's ready for marriage and she says she thinks the two of them would make a great couple. Charming stops her there and she admits to hating herself for even bringing it up. He mentions that the girl will be able to save the farm and Ruth reminds her son that they're running out of options. However, Charming tells her that, as poor as they are, love is the one thing he can afford, and he will find a way to save their livelihood that isn't marrying for riches. When he marries, he wants it to be because he chooses to spend the rest of his life with someone he loves. He then hands Ruth some crops and she asks her son when he's going to learn that he can't have everything. "Or perhaps he can," says Rumplestiltskin, appearing suddenly on the farm. Ruth is shocked and Rumple laughs his crazy little laugh.
Rumple explains the glory of heroism to Charming.
"A twin brother?! And you gave him to that man?!" Charming asks his mother after the story has been explained to him; he gestures to Rumple, who's out of earshot. Ruth explains that they were poor, barely surviving, and then Rumplestiltskin came along with an offer: one of her sons for the farm. She explains that the deal forbade her of ever speaking of it and that his father regretted making it as soon as it was set in stone, having proceeded to carry the guilt with him to his grave. She takes her son's hand and Rumple says that he hates to interrupt this tender moment, but time is of the essence. Charming tells his mother to wait inside their house and she obliges, walking indoors and leaving her son alone with the Dark One. The shepherd asks Rumple what he wants from him and Rumple explains that it's not for him, but for the King, sayinf that he needs a prince to slay a dragon. Charming assures that he's not a dragon slayer but Rumple reminds him that there will be a reward and that his new found kinship will be his salvation. Rumple tells the boy that he simply has to play the part and the King's knights will take care of everything else, and then all he will have to do is deliver the dragon's head to Midas. Charming asks Rumple what's in it for him, but Rumple says that what's in it for him is his business while Charming should be thinking about what's in it for himself, telling him that if he does this then his mother will never have to want for anything ever again, his farm will be saved and he, should he survive, will return home, the conquering hero. Rumple leans in to him, "Now don't tell me you don't want that." Charming contemplates this before uttering that he doesn't have a choice. "Oh, everyone has a choice, dearie," Rumple says, crossing his legs, "Just make sure it's the right one."
Regina threatens Mary Margaret.
In Granny's Diner, Mary Margaret is sipping her coffee whilst reading her morning newspaper. Dr. Whale walks up behind her, startling the teacher, and says that there's no way David wakes up as someone else's husband, referencing the paper's front page. Mary Margaret greets him and Dr. Whale immediately goes on to ask why she resigned from the hospital, telling her that he hopes it wasn't because of him. Mary Margaret asks why it would be because of him and Dr. Whale brings up how he never called her after their date (see "Snow Falls"). He apologizes before prompting that if she were ever to change her mind, she knows where to find him. He tells her to have a good day before leaving the diner at the same moment that Regina walks in. She requests a word with Miss Blanchard, now sitting across from Mary Margaret who again sets down her newspaper. Regina states that she would like to talk to her about Kathryn, and Mary Margaret grows confused. The Mayor goes on to say that, more specifically, she'd like to talk about Kathryn's husband David, then leaning in and telling the teacher that the two of them don't belong together; David is not hers, he is taken and she should find somebody else. Mary Margaret argues that she hasn't done anything but Regina tells her that it seems unlikely that he up and left his wife "on a whim". Mary Margaret is shocked by this, not having known, and Regina is equally shocked that Mary Margaret genuinely has no idea what she's talking about. She tells her, however, that she suspects she soon will; "So listen carefully, dear, because it's in your best interest. Stay away. He's in a fragile state, he doesn't know who he is or what he's doing and you're this close to ruining multiple lives!" She presses her finger close to her thumb to exemplify just how close Mary Margaret is and, on a final note, the Mayor tells her that before she does something that cannot be undone, allow David to remember who he is first. She gets up to leave Mary Margaret is left saddened by her words.
Charming is talked to by Midas.
In the fairytale land that was, Charming, now shaven, short-haired, and armored up, stares at his new self in the reflection of his polished shield. King Midas approaches, pointing him out as his kingdom's savior ("The man who is going to tear the dragon limb from limb") and Charming draws James' golden sword. Midas takes hold of it, telling the new prince that if he does what is required of him then he shall be legend. Midas and his men walk away and Charming attempts to fix his armor; one of his brother's former knights approaches him and tells him to allow him, explaining to Charming that he's fastened it wrong, altering the shoulder of the armor himself. The knight takes the golden sword and Charming asks how he'll fight and protect himself without it. The knight tells him that he won't - he will stay outside the cave as the knights kill the dragon; "If you don't come out of this alive, Midas won't give our kingdom any gold. You might have the title of hero, but not the job." They hear the almighty dragon roar from its mountain home and stare up at where the beast awaits.
Prince Charming has the fearsome dragon slain with his sword of gold.
Charming, now for all intents and purposes a nameless Prince, follows the knights up the mountain trail in order to face the infamous dragon. He looks around and is spooked by the fires and burnt corpses on the ground as they continue to trek. He notices yet another skeleton before being told by the head knight where the dragon's lair is, pointing out a cave in the mountain. Charming is told to stay where he is, for the men will be back, and all of the knights proceed draw their swords simultaneously and walk together into the beast's cave, and he asks the knight who stayed behind if he knew his brother well. The knight says that he did know him, characterizing him as the best man he's ever met just before a jet of fire flies from the dragon's cave and the shepherd prince exclaims that they need his help; he attempts to run but is restrained by the two knights who are guarding him; he continues to try but they hold onto his arms. Another jet of fire bursts forth and Charming exclaims that people are dying, before struggling a lot more in the knights' arms and finally managing to escape their grip, running towards the cave. The head knight is crawling away, on fire, burnt and screaming at the dragon, his sword aimed, telling Charming to go. Charming pulls him back down the trail and the dragon emerges from its cave, spitting fire at the prince as it does so. The golden sword is dropped as the knight is dragged securely to safety by Charming, who places him behind a large boulder. He asks where the knight's sword is as the dragon flies toward them from out of the clouds, stopping him from being able to answer. The dragon's breath flames down upon them and they are just barely shielded by the boulder. Screaming is heard and the two of them look over at the flaming, headless knight just ahead; they panic and Charming helps the knight to his feet, telling him to stay where he is before making a dash for a sword. He retrieves a regular one from the flaming corpse but it burns his hand and he drops it. The dragon flies toward Charming and so he huddles to a rock to keep out of the beast's line of fire. The shepherd prince then notices a small gap in the mountain and runs toward it, being chased by the dragon; he narrowly avoids its fire as he dashes into the path, successfully retrieving the golden golden sword as he does so. The dragon gets its head stuck in between the rocky walls and snaps its jaw at Charming, repeatedly. Charming sticks to the wall, perfectly safe, and repeats what he earlier said to one of the sheep on his farm: "You didn't see that coming, did you?" He swiftly wields the sword and decapitates the dragon, then staring at the weapon in his hand before looking outwards.
David asks to meet with Mary Margaret.
In Mary Margaret's classroom in Storybrooke, she is wielding a letter opener with an envelope in her other hand when, David, who's entered the classroom, tells her that she should be careful. She drops the letter and its opener and tells David, rather bluntly, that he can't be there. He proclaims that he needs to see her but Mary Margaret does her best to ignore him, begging him to tell her that he didn't leave his wife because of her, explaining that she does not want to destroy a marriage. David assures her that she's not, telling her that it's him; he explains himself that he doesn't want to hurt Kathryn either but that the worst thing to do to her would be to pretend, for she needs someone to feel about her the way he feels about Mary Margaret. The elementary school teacher tells him that she's trying very hard to stay away from him and do the right thing, hastily placing papers on her students' desks to distract herself. She adds that it's because he already has a life. The school bell goes and the students immediately enter her classroom. He tries telling her that whoever married Kathryn is gone and that he's someone else now, but Mary Margaret tells him that he has to go, practically pushing him out of the room. He asks her if that's what she wants before telling her to meet him at 8 o'clock at the Toll Bridge, saying that if she doesn't show, he'll know, and that she has until then to decide. David tells her that he hopes she chooses them before smiling and saying that she'll know where he'll be. David leaves Mary Margaret to think deeply about his request.
Mary Margaret is at a loss.
Over at the sheriff's station, Emma is sat at her desk reading the newspaper when Graham walks in behind her; he comes bearing donuts and shows them to her, telling her that, sometimes, clichés are true. Emma asks him what he wants and he reminds her how he said "no night shifts" before proceeding to tell her that he needs her to work the night, just the once. Emma asks him why, seeming whiny, and Graham explains that he works at an animal shelter and that the person who runs it is sick so someone has to feed the dogs. Emma tells him that he's very lucky he bought a bear claw before taking the baked good from his box and eating it; he smiles and walks away just as Mary Margaret enters the sheriff's station, asking to talk to Emma. Graham vacates to his office and, once he's gone, Mary Margaret begins to talk. She tells Emma that David left Kathryn and Emma tells her in turn to slow down; the teacher goes on to say that David did it for her and wants her to be with him and he asked her to meet him that night. She adds that she has been trying to keep strong but that David just keeps on coming. "I mean, how do I stop it? How do I let him down? What would you do?" Mary Margaret asks her friend, frantically. "I'd go," Emma admits a pacing Mary Margaret who is now shocked at her friend's response. Emma explains that it's because David actually left Kathryn, for it's one thing to say that he wants Mary Margaret but it's another thing to make a choice on the matter and do something about it. She says it's all she can ask for. Mary Margaret replies that, given her friendship with Kathryn, she doesn't think Regina would be happy, but Emma states that that's all the more reason to do it. Mary Margaret pauses. "Good lord, is this really happening?" she wonders. "You tell me," Emma says, smiling.
Over at Granny's Bed and Breakfast, David enters his room and places his set of keys on the dresser. He briefly looks at himself in the mirror and fixes his hair before moving on to look out of the window at Storybrooke's clock tower. He then averts his gaze downwards to the wedding ring on his finger, which he begins to twist off it with his right hand.
Charming meets his new fiancee.
Back in the fairytale land that was, King George, King Midas and a collection of knights are gathered around a table containing the now golden head of the decapitated dragon. George says that the prince did everything Midas asked of him and more, then iterating that he battled the dragon and prevailed. A silent Charming turns to them and Midas instructs his knights to place the head in the palace next to some others that he possesses. They oblige and the golden item is taken away. George happily whispers to Charming that they pulled it off, but Charming is less than happy at this, asking the King how much longer it will be before he can return home. George asserts that that's a discussion not for now and Midas turns to them, saying that from this day forth the beast's head shall be a reminder to them of the valiant warrior who killed it - the bravest, most noble prince he has ever met - "You have earned my utmost respect." Midas bows his head to the prince, briefly, and King George assures that they treasure that respect, just as they respect his treasure. Midas is aware that they were promised gold and gold they shall have; however, he goes on to reveal that he did not get to their end by thinking small and that he stands before them as he thought big; he begins to explain that he did not just want a dragon slayer, but the bravest warrior in all the land, a hero, someone who could unite the kingdoms, someone he would be proud to call family. "Bring her!" Midas exclaims. Two knights then accompany a blonde princess to the room. As she walks toward the men, Midas introduces her as his daughter, Abigail (the fairytale counterpart of Kathryn Nolan). He says that he would only give away her hand in marriage once he could find a companion worthy of her, and now he has. "He killed the dragon? I guess he'll do," Abigail says to her father. And so, Midas offers his daughter's hand in marriage to "Prince James". Charming goes to turn down the offer but George stops him, saying he's always so humble. He pretends to hug his "son" but merely pulls him closer so that he may whisper into his ear: "If you say anything but 'yes', you will be responsible for the destruction of everyone and everything in our kingdom. You will marry this girl, or I will kill you. I will kill your mother. I will turn that farm into ash. Do you understand me?" George pulls out of the "hug" and touches Charming's face, telling him that he'll take his silence as wisdom; he instructs him to follow it, adding that he knows he'll make the right decision. Charming is silent.
Regina misdirects David.
In Storybrooke, David is wandering the streets, map in hand, clearly lost and trying to find a particular location. He looks around to find Regina, who startles him, and she explains that she was just heading home from work and saw him. She asks if he's lost and he admits that he is and that he's looking for the Toll Bridge. Regina notes that that's where he was found and wonders if he's trying to jog his memory. David says that he isn't, telling the Mayor that he's meeting someone, and she deciphers that he's made his choice. David pauses, confirming it, and Regina asks if he's able to change his mind, but he says that he can't change the way he feels. "No. Of course not. Walk down this street to Mr. Gold's pawn shop; you'll find a fork in the road, go left, it'll take you to a hiking trail that leads directly to the bridge," Regina informs him. He thanks her for understanding and, before he leaves, Regina wishes him luck, saying that she hopes he finds what he's looking for. David jogs away and Regina stares on at him wickedly.
The scene fades into the next and we are shown Mary Margaret standing alone at the Toll Bridge, waiting eagerly for David to meet her there. He is late and so she checks her watch before looking up at the moon in the sky.
The same moon is shown overlooking David, who is following Regina's directions and comes to Mr. Gold's pawn shop. He stops, checking for a fork in the road, but he sees nothing of the sort. Instead, David decides to walk into the shop and looks out at what's for sale, wondering if anyone else is in there. As he looks around, he is most captivated by a unicorn mobile and, as he inspects it, he hears, "Charming." The voice belongs to Mr. Gold who's standing behind the counter. "The mobile," he adds, "Isn't it charming?" David approaches him and asks if he knows the whereabouts of the Toll Bridge, telling him that the Mayor told him to come by the shop but the directions seem to be wrong. Gold determines that "Miss Mills" led him astray, and David comments that it's odd the Mayor doesn't know her own town. Gold instructs him to open the door, turn right, walk two blocks and he'll find a trail. David thanks the pawnbroker before trying hastily to leave his shop; however, something catches his attention: a windmill. Gold asks David if he sees something he likes and David asks him where he got the windmill. "That old thing, that's been gathering dust for... forever," Gold states, but David appears captivated by the thing and spins it around with his hand, watching it as it goes round and round. He says that he thinks it belonged to him and Gold asks him if he's sure. "Yes," David confirms, staring at the windmill. Gold smiles eerily while David just continues to stare at the item in question. He then says, "I remember..."
Ruth is reluctant to say goodbye to her son.
In the fairytale land that was, Prince Charming rides a horse up to his mother's farm. He dismounts the horse and greets her, and she is happy to see that he's returned. She hugs him before asking if he's hurt, saying that she's been very worried; however, Charming assures her that he's fine. Ruth takes a good look at her son before commending him at looking like a prince. Ruth suggests that he come in for supper, adding that the house and the farm look better as the King has already started to take care of it. She begins to go inside but realizes she's not being followed, then turning to Charming and asking him what's wrong. He sighs before explaining that Midas wants to unite the kingdoms by marrying him to his daughter. Ruth is shocked before Charming goes on to say that his new fiancée makes the grain merchant's daughter look like sheep dung. She approaches her son and says, "No, you were right to turn down that offer, as you must this one too." She explains that when he was gone, she realized how shameful it was of her to try and push him otherwise. "Your freedom to choose is more important than anything." She offers to give up the farm but Charming refuses to allow this, telling her that, because of the ruse, Midas can never know who he truly is which means... "We can never see each other again," Ruth realizes, finishing her son's sentence. Charming confirms this and Ruth tells him not to do it, to run away; he says he can't as they will kill her. Ruth points out that she'll lose him either way but that she wants him to be happy. However, he reveals that he's already accepted Midas' offer and that he didn't return to her for advice... he came to say goodbye. He tears up as he explains that there's too much at stake and that he can't let them hurt her. He whispers that he can't have everything. Ruth takes her engagement ring from her finger and tells Charming to give it to his wife-to-be. Charming protests that he doesn't even love her or know her, but Ruth points out that, just because he doesn't know her, doesn't mean he won't grow to love her. "True love follows this ring wherever it goes, my son. I had it with your father. I've had it as your mother. Now you will have it." She holds his hand, forcing him to accept the ring before saying that she'll know, even if she never sees him again, that he'll find love. And she'll know he'll be happy. Charming nods and hugs his mother, grasping the ring that is now his to give to the woman he loves.
Mary Margaret leaves David at the Toll Bridge, after having been led on by him.
At the Toll Bridge in Storybrooke, Mary Margaret fiddles with the ring on her finger, still waiting patiently for David to come meet her. She hears footsteps nearing her and turns to discover the source: sure enough, her Prince Charming has arrived. "You came..." he says, surprise in his voice, and Mary Margaret smiles, wondering the reason for this surprise. She points out that he sounds a little disappointed, and he reveals that he remembers his life with Kathryn, to her shock. He approaches her and iterates that he remembers everything from his life pre-coma, and Mary Margaret's smile slips away. She asks David if he loves Kathryn and he says that he doesn't know, but that he knows that he did. He explains that he remembers how he felt and thinks he has to honor that. "And everything that you said to me-" "Is true," he assures her, telling her that he does have feelings for her, feelings he doesn't understand, and Mary Margaret then questions why he's going back to Kathryn. David tells her that it's the right thing to do. "The right thing to do..." she says, "Was not to lead me on." He knows this and Mary Margaret states that he's made his choice; he tries to apologize but she tells him that it's okay, saying that she guesses it just wasn't meant to be. The teacher, now extremely saddened, begins to walk away from her true love.
Graham is winded by Emma.
A car is driving speedily through the streets of Storybrooke, at night, and it is seen to be Emma driving; she stops outside Regina's house after seeing someone leap from her balcony. The Deputy steps out of the car and quietly closes the door, running into the Mayor's garden and seeing that the guy is walking out into the street. She hides behind the corner provided by a hedge and strikes, winding the guy who turns out to be Sheriff Graham. Emma is shocked. "This is volunteering?" she asks, and he tells her that plans changed, and that Regina needed him. Emma takes this to mean that she needed him to sleep with her but Graham, standing up, protests to this. She asks him why he was sneaking out of the window and he says it's because Regina doesn't want Henry to know. Emma is disgusted that Graham did what he did with Henry in the house and Graham argues that Henry's sleeping and is kept oblivious. Emma voices that she wishes she were Henry at that moment before telling Graham that it's disgusting. Graham says that he really does work at an animal shelter but Emma ignores this, telling him that he can finish her shift and that she's done working nights. The blonde throws the sheriff the car keys and walks away huffily.
David and Kathryn reconcile.
David rings the doorbell of his house and Kathryn soon answers, but says nothing. He tells her that she's right; he did hate that windmill out front. Kathryn realizes that he remembers and smiles, asking him how much he's bale able to recall. He says that he remembers enough, and that he knows they weren't in a good place when he went into his coma, and that she thought he was leaving her, but he wasn't. He wanted to work things out, he just needed some time. He then had his accident and had much more time than he expected. He apologizes, as does Kathryn. "I know we have work to do, but let's see what happens," he suggests, and Kathryn smiles and nods, telling David that she'd like that. David extends his hand for her to hold.
A... "joyous" union is made.
Prince Charming takes hold of Princess Abigail's hand in the fairytale land that was, and the two of them step out before King George and King Midas. "Let this mark the beginning of a new era. Of a new kingdom. United and strong," Midas states. "An era of mutual prosperity," George adds, Charming looks at his new father with hatred in his eyes. King Midas tells the betrothed pair to go to their new home at his palace where a celebration shall begin (see "Snow Drifts"). Abigail thanks her father, saying that she trusts that he knows best. As Abigail and her father converse, George takes Charming aside, telling him that he's glad he made the right decision. He extends a hand and Charming shakes it. "Thank you... father," he says awkwardly. Abigail interrupts this, saying that she grows tired of waiting. Charming agrees and suggests that they take the scenic route. She scoffs at this and continues, while George tells Charming to smile, saying that he's on the road to true love. Charming looks down at his pouch of jewels which contains his mother's ring before going to join Abigail.
Charming and Abigail's carriage is traveling down the scenic route and a hooded figure is seen watching them from a nearby tree. In the carriage, Abigail is moaning that the troll road would have been quicker. Charming smiles out of the window and Abigail asks him if he's even listening to her. Snow White, the hooded figure, smiles from the tree she's perched in, happy that the carriage has been halted due to an intervention she herself devised (see "Snow Falls").
Dr. Whale takes advantage of a broken-hearted Mary Margaret.
Over at Granny's Diner, Mary Margaret is sitting depressed at the bar, alone, again fiddling with her ring. Dr. Whale walks into the diner and sits next to her, asking her if she's had a rough day, and she responds by telling him that she doesn't feel like talking. "Come on, sometimes it's easier to talk to someone when you don't give a crap what they think," Whale points out and Mary Margaret looks at him, smiles, and then looks away. "Ever walk into a situation where you know exactly what's going to happen... and then you go into it anyway, and then when what you're afraid of happens, you kick yourself because you should've known better... because that's just who you are, so you keep punishing yourself?" she wonders. "...no.", Whale admits, after a pause, and Mary Margaret asks him how he does that. He tells her that he does it by never doing what's expected of him, for it keeps life interesting. He offers to buy her a drink and Mary Margaret pauses before turning back to him, telling the doctor that he can buy her two. Whale smiles, as does his soon-to-be one-night stand.
- The title card of this episode features the dragon that Charming slayed.
- Although credited, Raphael Sbarge (Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket) is absent from this episode.
- Both the clock moving from 8:23 to 8:42 and a bottle of McCutcheon Scotch are references to Lost. Alan Dale is introduced as King George, and he portrayed a role in Lost, Charles Widmore, a character that drinks McCutcheon Scotch.
- The episode would surpass the previous one as the lowest ever, as it slipped 9% to score a 3.2/7 among 18-49s and a 5.6/8 overall, with 9.66 million tuned in. It should be noted that all of ABC's Sunday night schedule were all down as well. It ranked third in its timeslot again beaten by Football Night In America on NBC and The Amazing Race on CBS but ahead of The Simpsons on FOX.
- In a article from Zap2It, reviewer Andrea Reiher noted that "On the latest "Once Upon a Time," we get more "Prince" Charming backstory, making us love Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin even more, which we didn't think was possible."
- Eric Goldman of IGN.com gave a positive appreciation of the episode, showing surprise in regards to the twists: "So, Prince Charming isn't really Prince Charming, huh? As twists go, it certainly was a surprising moment when that Kurgan-looking dude turned out to not be quite dead yet, and fatally stabbed the real prince to death. It isn't exactly earth-shaking, since all this happened before Snow White entered the picture, but it does give us a very different, humble beginning for Charming, who never grew up raised by King George." He gave the episode a 7.5/10 rating, indicating "Good".
- Christine Orlando of TVFanatic.com was very positive in regards to the episode and to the series thus far: "Once Upon a Time is such a delightful addition to Sunday nights. Somehow this fairy tale drama manages to tug at my heart, inspire my imagination and leave me counting the days until the next episode. "The Shepherd" threw us yet another twist. Just when I thought I knew what to expect, the series took my concept of the fairy tale world and turned it upside down. She gave the episode a 4.6/5.0, and the community rating on the website amounted to a 4.4/5.0.
Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the episode.
- ↑ "Sunday Final Ratings: 'Once Upon A Time,' 'Housewives,' 'Family Guy' Adjusted Up; 'Pan Am,' 'CSI: Miami,' '60 Minutes' Adjusted Down" from TV By The Numbers (December 6, 2011)
- ↑ "'Once Upon a Time': 'Prince' Charming saves the kingdom", by Andrea Reiher, Zap2It.com, December 5, 2011.
- ↑ "Once Upon a Time: "The Shepherd" Review", by Eric Goldman, IGN.com, December 5, 2011.
- ↑ "Once Upon a Time Review: More Dangerous Than the Dragon", by Christine Orlando, TVFanatic.com, December 5, 2011.