Episode 1.16 “Heart of Darkness” — recap, review, etc.

Great episode! Mary Margaret’s on the lam! David saw the past! Rumpelstiltskin collects hair!

In this Snow White centric episode, Ginnifer Goodwin acts her heart out in three distinctly different roles — Snow White under the spell, Snow White restored to herself, and Mary Margaret in a performance that broke my heart.


Fairytale land

We pick up from a scene a few episodes back, when Prince Charming was running away from King George’s men, and he ran into Red in the woods. Red must have decided to embrace her inner werewolf, because she deliberately takes off her cloak so she can attack the King’s men, giving Prince C a chance to get away.

Red / Ruby werewolf Once Upon a Time Heart of Darkness

Red turning into a wolf

Meanwhile, Snow White is freaking out the dwarfs because Rumpelstiltskin’s magic potion not only took away her love for Charming, but it also turned her into a Mean Girl. Jiminy Cricket tells her not to be so mean to her friends, but this has the unintended consequence of giving her the idea to kill the Queen. She grabs a pickax and sets off.

After Snow stabs a knight in the leg (ouch!) and peels off his armor, Grumpy shows up to take her to Rumpelstiltskin, hoping to reverse the potion. Snow goes along because she hopes Rumpel will help her kill the Queen. It’s great to see Rumpel again, after he has been absent too long from our screens. He gives Snow a map of the Queen’s route and a bow and arrow.

Prince Charming shows up at Rumpelstiltskin’s mansion. Rumpel tells Prince C where Snow had gone, in exchange for Charming giving him his cloak. Rumpel tells him he better be quick, because if Snow kills the Queen, she will become as evil as the person she killed. Charming insists that Snow could never be so evil.

“Evil isn’t born, dearie,” Rumpel says, in a significant line, “it’s made.” That line echoes what Regina tells David in Storybrooke.

Charming finds Snow and gallantly stands between her and her target when she shoots her arrow, to prevent Snow from committing an act that will corrupt her and change her forever. The arrow lodges in his shoulder, sticking straight out in front of him.

Charming embraces Snow and gives her a restorative true-love’s kiss while the arrow is still stuck in him. If you’re shot with an arrow, aren’t you supposed to pull it out right away? That was all I could think about when watching what was supposed to be a romantic moment. And how did it not get in the way of the embrace?

The King’s men arrive, and one of them finally pulls out the arrow. Whew. Relief is short-lived, though, because they throw Charming in a cage and take him away. Snow returns to the dwarfs, who are thrilled she is no longer the Mean Girl, and they all take off together to go find and rescue Prince C. Heigh ho.

Rumpel plucks a hair out of David’s cloak and combines it with one of Snow White’s hairs to make a love potion — the one potion missing from his collection, and the most powerful potion of all.


Emma takes mug shots of Mary Margaret, who is all buttoned up again. Emma knows that Mary Margaret is innocent but says she has to go through with the arrest, or else Regina will put someone else in the Sheriff’s job, and then Mary Margaret would be in even worse trouble.

Regina insists on sitting in on the interrogation. The incriminating evidence piles up. We know that Regina must have planted it all, but Emma can’t figure out how.

August W. Booth, the Mysterious Stranger/writer/believer/Henry’s-book-tinkerer sits next to Henry in the cafe and tells Henry that he knows the stories in the book are real. He reveals why he came to town, but his explanation raises as many questions as it answers: he says he came to make Emma believe.

He tells Henry that Emma needs proof, and Henry thinks he finds it when he steals Regina’s keys and uses them to show that Regina was the one who broke into Mary Margaret and Emma’s apartment.

Mr. Gold shows up (yay!), says he’s a lawyer, and offers to help Mary Margaret. Despite Emma’s trepidations, Mary Margaret accepts the help. When she asks him why he is helping her, he tells her he is “invested in her future,” a line he repeats in FTL to Snow when he gives her the arrow. Not sure if his being invested in her future is a good or a bad thing.

David goes to see Regina, who does her best to plant seeds of doubt in his mind. David says Mary Margaret couldn’t have killed Katherine because she’s not evil — that’s not who she is. Regina says, echoing Rumpelstiltskin, “I always believe that evil isn’t born. It’s made.”

David has Archie hypnotize him, hoping he can clear Mary Margaret by finding out what happened during his blackouts. Instead, he has a memory flash of Snow White talking about killing the Queen in FTL, which he wrongly interprets as being Mary Margaret talking about killing Katherine.

He goes to see Mary Margaret in her jail cell. I think Ginnifer Goodwin’s performance in this scene is the best performance of the season. She tells David, “When everyone thought you killed Kathryn, I stood by you, I never once doubted you.” I feel her heartbreak in my own body. The acting is elegant, understated — her eyes are shining, but her voice is soft. You can feel her fighting for self-control. “Do you actually think I’m capable of that kind of evil?” she asks, and a single tear escapes her eye. “Get out,” she says in a whisper and turns around. Only after David leaves does she let herself cry. It’s a pitch-perfect performance.

Later, she finds a key under the mattress that will open her cell door. Emma tells her that the DNA test results show that the heart in the box is Katherine’s — but I have my doubts. I think Regina could have pulled strings at the DNA lab to get them to produce a phony report.

Emma tells Mary Margaret she believes that Regina framed her and she will do what it takes to expose Regina. Emma says, “I have faith in you. Now I need you to have faith in me. Can you do that?” Mary M says “Of course,” but she is taking no chances. Like Snow, Mary M cares more about actions than words. Emma’s actions — leaving MM in the cell — seem to speak louder than Emma’s words.

Mary Margaret doesn’t know that Emma is going to see Mr.Gold. The two make a pact to help Mary Margaret, with Emma promising to do whatever it takes — and more.

The final shot of the episode shows the cell, the door open, and Mary Margaret gone.

Episode Title

The Heart of Darkness is a classic 1902 novel by Joseph Conrad with the famous line “The horror. The horror.”

As is usual with OUAT titles, this one has multiple meanings. It refers to Katherine’s heart (or whoever’s heart is really in the box). It refers to the Evil Queen’s dark heart. It refers to going into a psychologically deep dark place, which I think is where Mary Margaret is now, with her best friend locking her up and David doubting her innocence.

The most interesting reference came in the interrogation scene in the police station. Regina takes Mary Margaret’s hand and with phony sympathy, says: “I know what you’re going through. I know what it’s like to lose someone you love, to be publicly humiliated. It put me in a very dark place. It changed me.”

Since, presumably, it’s Snow White’s fault that the Queen lost the person she loved and was humiliated, the irony here is thick enough to cut with a knife (or a diamond-cutting pickax).

Fabulous hat

The Evil Queen once again wears a smashing outfit.


One of my favorite episodes.


The director is Dean White, who previously directed Snow Falls, True North, and What Happened to Frederick. He will also be directing the upcoming episode The Stable Boy, which airs in two weeks.

The writers are Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg. They previously worked together writing The Shepherd and Fruit of the Poisonous Tree.


What did you think of the episode?

Do you think Katherine is really dead?

Where do you think Mary Margaret went?

We know a little more now about why August came to town — he wants to make Emma believe in the curse — but why? What is his motive?

Both Regina and Rumpelstiltskin say “Evil isn’t born — it’s made.” What’s the significance of that line?

29 responses to “Episode 1.16 “Heart of Darkness” — recap, review, etc.

  1. One annoying thing with Once is that right when they get to a good story line they tend to go off topic the next week. Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, etc. I wish they would scatter those eps and not put them after a crazy ep that has revealed a lot of info… like almost too much info to keep going forth.
    Mr. Gold intrigues me
    I need to know more about August Booth (he is v hot)
    David is so perfect as the Prince.. I heart him.
    I hate Regina and hope something miserable happens to her.
    I miss Graham!

  2. OH, and what is going on with Belle (emilie de ravin) ? Regina really employs people to watch her in a secret wing of the hospital… Little far fetched?

  3. This episode was great. I don’t think Katherine is really dead, it may be her FTL heart. I think Mary went after Regina, just like Snow went after the queen. August may be Rumpel’s son Bae.

  4. This episode was so needed because it finally filled in some gaps. I like how Mm is now a fugitive just like how she was in FtL. I don’t think Katherine is dead. I think it’s her heart though. Regina has that locker full of hearts in her fathers tomb. She prob took Katherine’s heart out of the locker, let herself into MM place with her set of keys, planted the knife and took the jewelry box, then buried it in MM and David’s ‘spot’. I hope MM gets more of Snow White’s renegade qualities now that she is on the loose. Where will she go? Regina has eyes everywhere. Will she find the rest of the dwarves in a hobbit hole in the woods? I’m glad Rumple is back and on Emma and MM side. Will we ever find out what snow white did to the EQ to make her evil?? Looking forward to the Alice in Wonderland episode coming up. Is Emma supposed to be Alice??

  5. So I watched it again. Did anyone notice when Regina was cutting the apple that she had on the ring that Charmings mother gave to him in FTL. In the early episodes MM is wearing the ring and twirling around her finger. She didnt have the ring on last night, but Regina had it. This is proof that Regina took her jewelry box.

  6. Interesting episode. I did not notice the ring on Regina, but I could tell there was significance to that scene with her cutting the apple. I believe now that it was to show she was wearing the ring. I have always thought that she was in love with Charming/David for some reason. I wonder if we’ll ever find out who she was in love with and lost.

  7. Any idea who left the key for Snow to find??

    • Def rumple left the key for MM to escape. About that key, it’s a mystery why Regina wants it. It was David’s mothers In FTL and before David and his mother said their goodbyes she said whoever is the wearer of this ring will always have true love.

    • I think it was Rumpel who left the key. I dont know how he did it without her noticing, unless, he left it when he was in jail. Who knows?

    • I suspect the key was left there by Rumple. He always knows what the Evil Queen (EQ) is up to and oftentimes is one step ahead. He is quite a trickster, that one.

  8. I do like the show. I hope that they have some “happy endings” soon. It’s getting a bit depressing.

  9. I must have missed one of the previous episodes, because I had *no* idea what was going on in the beginning–either that, or I just forgot since there are so many intertwining stories. If I had copious amounts of free time I’d rewatch all of the episodes and would probably gain a lot more understanding of the whole web. :)

    I’m getting the impression that a lot of people aren’t going to have any interest in returning to FTL. Lot of miserable stories there; of course the Evil Queen is causing just as much havoc now as she did then.

    Did anyone else notice that Prince Charming hid Snow White in her cloak when he got carried off by the queen’s men, but then shouted her name out for everyone to hear?

    • If I recall correctly, this was the day (or soon after the day) that Prince Charming was supposed to marry Abigail, but instead ran away to find Snow, was chased by the King’s men, was rescued by Abigail, and then returned the favor by defeating the Lady in the Lake and turning golden Frederick back into flesh — all in one very eventful day. He then bumped into Red in the woods, seemingly accidentally, if I recall correctly. For Red, I think there may be a gap between the time we saw her in the last episode, when she first learned she was the wolf, until the beginning of this episode, when she seems to have had some time to learn to accept who she is.

      With the exception of Snow White and Prince Charming and (ironically) Regina, I think almost all of the characters are better off in Storybrooke than they were in FTL. Perhaps this is a flaw in the conception of the show — the curse doesn’t seem horrific enough, especially considering what these characters had to put up with back in FTL.

      From my perspective, the worst aspect of life in Storybrooke is that the characters are trapped in the town and cannot leave. But it doesn’t seem to bother them. Except for Katherine, who wanted to go to school in Boston, no one seems to want to go out of town, so it’s hard to see this as imposing a severe limitation on their lives. Now if they were all avid travelers, or they missed the ocean, or the mountains, or being immersed in a new language, then it might be more of a hardship.

      • I agree the curse doesn’t seem so awful. I think it doesn’t seem so bad because Emma came and started to weaken the curse. Before that they were all sorta like zombies living day to day without love / happiness, or knowledge of who they are, and being bullied around by Regina. I guess it was an ignorant bliss curse. I like the juxtaposition between worlds though, because it really is hard to tell which is worse at this point.

        • I wonder what they are going to do if/when the curse is broken and they can go back. Will they choose to go? Or maybe they will have to go back, whether they want to or not.

      • Yeah, see, I *totally* missed that episode apparently. No wonder I was confused! :)

        I’m glad I’m not the only one that’s been thinking FTL isn’t one Disney happy ending for most of the characters. I guess maybe their lives now are a bit aimless, and some are w/o their true loves, but like has been said below, they don’t really know they’re missing anything. It’s an interesting question–is ignorance bliss? Granted, a lot of people are still afraid of Regina so I guess they’re not completely in bliss. :)

        • If you don’t remember the guy who Abigail loved who was turned into a gold statue, then the episode you missed was probably “What Happened to Frederick.” (It’s still on Hulu! 😉 )

    • Yes. But that wasn’t the queen’s men. It was his “father’s” army men who took him. They weren’t after Snow, they were after him.

  10. My question is this. I realize David is confused by his FTL memory of Snow wanting to kill the Queen, but there was one very simple way for him to tell it wasn’t her, or at least not recently. Her hair. In Storybrooke, Mary Margaret always keeps her hair short, kind of like an 8-year-old boy……but in FTL, her hair was long and thick, much different than in Storybrooke. So why doesn’t he realize this? It’s fairly obvious, even if rather confusing for him. I just don’t understand how he can’t see this.

    • He was seeing Snow while he was in a hypnotic trance, which is probably similar to seeing her in a dream. We were seeing her directly on our screens — he was just seeing her in his mind’s eye. So we could see her more clearly. Also, even if David did notice a difference in hair styles (and clothes), it wouldn’t have the same significance for him as it does for us. We know that when we see Ginnifer Goodwin in long hair, it means she’s Snow White, and when we see her in short hair, it means she’s Mary Margaret. David doesn’t even know that Snow White existed, except in the very dim subconscious corners of his mind. If you were in a trance and saw a friend of yours with a different hairstyle, you wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that your friend was really from another era. David is in the same boat, with his memories suppressed.

      • Yes, but David is in love with MM, or at least “has feelings for her.” so wouldn’t he be jumping at any thread of hope that meant MM *isn’t* the culprit? Wouldn’t he try any scenario in which she isn’t guilty? A man in love will do many things, after all. Even go to drastic measures sometimes. But in this case, he doesn’t need to. And it would also be the perfect reason for David to start listening to what Henry was saying. And I get that he doesn’t know Snow exists, just MM, but wouldn’t this be the perfect time for him to start questioning the reality they’ve been trapped in? I also get that the fact he saw Snow while under hypnotic trance is confusing, but don’t we all wake up from a dream and realize that something was amiss? Unless……unless maybe the curse hasn’t actually put them all in a different reality, but instead simply trapped them in an enchanted sleep? It would explain why they haven’t aged, and why they can’t remember events from before. I mean it’s a possibility, right? An enchanted sleep is really rather common for fairy tales….

  11. Yes, this was a great episode. So good to see Rumple again – he’s my favorite bad guy. Loved seeing that Red has accepted her Werewolfness and is using it to her advantage – that’s pretty cool. I wonder how that will transfer to SB… We only saw a glimpse of it last week when she found David and the box containing the heart. And, let’s talk about that heart, shall we? I believe the heart is Katherine’s, but much like Sheriff Graham’s heart, she is able to live without it actually residing in her body. I suspect she and Belle are co-existing miserably together in this secret insane asylum that the Evil Queen manipulates, much like everything else in SB. Can’t wait to get back to that story!

    There are really only a couple of places MM could go; Mr. Gold’s or to Leroy’s (that is Grumpy’s SB name, right?). My bet is on the latter. Remember, he has that boat…

    August is an interesting character. Is he the true author of the book? Is he Rumplestiltskin’s son from FTL? He spoke of being a “believer” and of having “faith.” Interesting Christian references – how will that play out? I’m glad that he pointed Henry back to the book. That’s where the answers are. And of course, we mustn’t forget that August tampered with the book. What did he add?

    An aside: does anyone remember when Emma went into the woods several episodes ago and found Mr. Gold burying something? What was that all about? I do like her uncomfortable, mutually beneficial relationship with Mr. Gold, though.

    • I forgot about Gold in the woods. But why would he bury her heart? Why would he frame MM? Unless, this one of his schemes to bring down Regina.

  12. Great episode, I’m so very excited about this show…it only gets better (of course, I’m dying to know more about Rumple and Belle…it’s agonizing not knowing what will happen).
    I really doubt Katherine is dead. What about Frederick? They were one of the only two who got the happy ending in the enchanted forest…and yet they lost each other in an insanely dramatic way in SB. What with Kath being married and all.
    I LOVE that Emma and Gold are working together again. They’ve been sort of a secret ship of mine since “Desperate Souls.” But, of course, Rumple belongs with Belle in the end.
    Anyway, great episode, and I’m so excited for the Mad Hatter one next week 😀

What do you think?