Episode 1.7 “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” recap, review, etc.

(Last edit 12/17/11 — added more screencaps)

Episode 7 The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Evil Queen squeezing the Huntsman's heart

In this powerful episode, a character dies just as we were getting to know him. And if we ever had any doubts about whether Regina knew everything, those doubts were laid to rest.


Kisses have a lot of power. A kiss brought Snow White back to life in the Pilot. A kiss, in this episode, tears a rupture in the wall between the fairytale and modern worlds and brings Graham’s fairytale memories back.

In the fairytale world, Snow White’s father has died. The Evil Queen, revealed as Snow White’s stepmother, consoles the distraught young woman. Just as we start to think the Evil Queen might have some good qualities, she’s shown to be even worse than we had seen her before: she’s the one who had killed her husband/Snow’s father, and Snow is next on her list. And this is just a drop in her bloody bucket — she’s a mass murderer with a crypt full of hearts to show for it.

Wearing an Amy Winehouse beehive and a sexy red dress, she convinces the huntsman (Graham) to kill Snow White.

The Evil Queen rockin' the beehive

When the huntsman doesn’t go through with it and tries to trick the Queen, she adds his heart to her collection – a collection that still exists in Storybrooke in a room underneath her father’s coffin. After Graham ditches her, she takes out his heart and crushes it in her hand. He’s with Emma, their faces moving closer for another kiss – but he dies before their lips can touch again.

Graham and Emma, only moments before Graham's death

Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold

In the last few episodes, it seemed like Rumpelstiltskin was pulling all the strings. This episode, though, is about the Evil Queen’s power, which for the first time seems as if it might rival that of Rump.

Rump does not appear at all in the fairytale scenes. Gold is in a single brief Storybrooke scene, emerging mysteriously from the woods, holding a shovel, when Graham is entering the woods to look for the black-eyed/red-eyed wolf. Gold says he is gardening, but who gardens in the woods? – and knowing Rump and seeing the shovel, you have to wonder who or what he might have been burying.

Mr. Gold wearing a gardening apron over his elegant suit, dress shirt, and perfectly-matching tie ...

... and carrying a cane and a shovel

Once again, Gold seems to be encouraging Storybrooke residents to remember the past, telling Graham that dreams could be memories of another life.

This Week’s Themes: Hearts and Walls


Graham cannot feel and is desperate to feel something. Like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, Graham has lost his (physical) heart and makes the mistake of thinking that unless he gets it back, he will be unable to love. But both the Tin Man and Graham had the capacity to love all along – they just didn’t know it.

The Evil Queen collects the hearts of her victims – so many, that she stores them in a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling set of drawers that looks like the card catalog in a demented library from Hell.

In the Grimms’ version of Snow White, the Queen tells the huntsman to bring her Snow White’s lungs and liver. I was just about to say that the OUAT writers made a brilliant choice in changing lungs and liver to a heart, but I looked it up and saw that it had already been a heart in the Disney version (editing to add: and also in some versions of the Grimms’ tale). In any case, it’s appropriate that this Queen, who cannot love, rips out the hearts of others.


Emma’s kiss tears a hole in the wall between the modern and fairytale worlds, allowing first Graham’s memories and then his wolf friend to cross over.

Episode 7 The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The wolf in Storybrooke

The wolf looking at Graham in the woods with its one red and one black eye. (Screencap brightened.)

Graham’s love allows Emma to take down the wall protecting her heart and to be vulnerable for the first time.

Emma's vulnerability lets her feel love ...

.. but also pain

Unsolved mystery: What did Snow White do to the Evil Queen?

The Evil Queen tells the man in the mirror that other people “don’t know the wretchedness inside” Snow White. “They don’t know what she did to me.” We don’t know either. Snow White does, though. She had already admitted to Prince Charming, in an earlier episode, that the EQ’s sense of betrayal was justified. In this episode, she writes in her letter to the EQ, “I understand you will never have love in your life because of me.” We get a hair closer to knowing what’s going on when the Queen says, “I shared a secret with her, and she couldn’t keep it. That betrayal cost me dearly.” We still don’t know what the secret is, though. I suspect the show will keep us in suspense for a while.

Lost shout-outs

Both Gold and Graham mention “another life.” In their Scottish and Irish accents, respectively, they sound a whole lot like Desmond in LOST when he says his famous line, “See you in another life (brotha).”

(Edited to add 12/16): It’s hard to say if this one is a real shout-out or just a coincidence, but Spoiler TV pointed out that the Evil Queen’s wall of boxes (where she kept her hearts) contained 108 boxes (9 columns and 12 rows).

Design note

I love the look of the Evil Queen’s palace. The metalwork in the palace was similar to the metalwork in Snow White’s coffin – and there was another echo in the scroll design in the panel beside Regina’s front door.

Original stories

Snow White

Once Upon a Time has been following the traditional Grimms’ version (and the 1937 Disney version) of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs fairly closely. The biggest difference, so far, is the Queen’s motivation. Rather than her traditional jealousy of Snow White’s beauty (“Mirror, mirror, on the wall / Who’s the fairest of them all?”), the OUAT Queen rages about Snow White spilling a secret.

Raised by wolves

The raised-by-wolves story popped up in the ancient Roman legend of Romulus and Remus, in Kipling’s 1894 Jungle Book (1894), and in the 1967 Disney film of the same name. The raised-by-apes Tarzan is one of many variations.

While there have been intriguing reports of real children who were raised by wolves and other animals, the reports are generally believed to be hoaxes or urban (forest?) legends. In the few cases of actual feral children, the reality is not as glamorous as the stories. Instead of driving around town like Sheriff Graham, feral children may be unable to use language or even to stand upright.

8 responses to “Episode 1.7 “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” recap, review, etc.

  1. Heartbroken about Graham. Unless we’re lucky and Rumpel was burying Graham’s heart in the forest so the Evil Queen couldn’t get it. A girl can dream, can’t she?

    Have you noticed that this show is suddenly *so* not for children? It’s a bit of a strange transition they’ve made here. I’m enjoying the show, but I have to think that there are a lot of parents out there who are suddenly trying to explain heart-extraction and “take him to my bedchamber” orders… 😛

    • They are moving more towards the dark side. I must say, though, that for me, the creepiest moments were when the young couple were turned into puppets — and (even though it was funny) when the dwarf was turned into a garden gnome. I must have a deep-seated fear of being turned into an inanimate object. 😉

      I think the Huntsman will be back, so we probably haven’t lost the character completely. There’s also a very small possibility that Graham isn’t dead, that Dr. Whale could do CPR on him after the hiatus. I think the premise of the show is that everyone (except, presumably, the EQ) will have a happy ending, so something must be in store for Emma. A large part of that will be her having found her parents and her son — but I think that romance will be in the cards for her as well.

      The heart scene could have been worse. Instead of a pretty glowing squeeze toy, Graham’s heart could have looked realistic and been spurting blood all over the room. Ewww. That would have been a different show, though (and one I wouldn’t have watched, as I can’t take too much gore).

      Rumpel in the gardening apron with the shovel was hilarious. You KNOW he was up to something …. but what?

  2. I kind of enjoy this show, but the storyline development is waaaaaay too slow.

    Yes, I get it: the Queen is totally evil and has total power over the whole town, and Rumplestilskin will be her rival. Now let’s move on. Are we going to spend each episode destroying or redeeming every townsperson before we get to some conclusion? How dull.

    • The way I look at it is that the entire plot of the show is that Emma (and her allies) will fight the Queen (and her allies, if any) and remove the curse. And that’s it — that’s the whole story.

      If the show went full speed on the plot, it would have been over in a few episodes. But the creators want it to be a multi-year series, so they have to draw it out very, very slowly.

      Also, I think they want to do a LOST-like thing with the character development, which I’m all in favor of.

  3. I don’t think Rumplestilskin is for or against the Evil Queen. He seems like a Trickster and therefore a equalizer between good and evil or just trying to bring who ever is in charge down a notch. In other words, he doesn’t need a long term plan to be a Trickster. If Good gets the upper hand he might act against them too.

    I thought I saw a Lost shout out in some of the banners in the background in the scene where Snow is at her father’s coffin and EQ “comforts” her. At first I thought “That looks more like Asian heraldry rather than European” and then remembered about Lost and thought it looked a bit like the Dharma logos.

    • I love the idea of Rumpelstiltskin as the Trickster. That goes really well with his weird laugh and with the delight he takes in manipulating people and having them fall for his deals.

      I took a look at the symbol on the banners in the scene you mentioned, and they do look sort of like the Dharma logo, but square, not octagon.

  4. Decidedly off-topic, but what can anyone tell me about the black over-gown with the silver-crystal stand-up collar worn by the Evil Queen in “The heart is a lonely hunter” episode? My wife is absolutely captivated by the dress, and would like to learn more about it- and its designer(s).

    • I love that dress too. All I know is that Eduardo Castro is the costume designer for the show, and that Monique McRae is the assistant costume designer. Before OUAT, Eduardo Castro was best known for being the costume designer for Ugly Betty, for which he won several Costume Designers Guild awards.

      I’d like to know more too, if anyone knows.

What do you think?