The red apple of the title plays a dangerous role in both worlds. First, Regina uses it to put the sleeping curse on Snow White. Later she retrieves it with the help of Jefferson’s hat and tries to use it to poison Emma by baking it into a pastry. But Henry eats it instead. In a cliffhanger episode ending, he collapses to the floor.
The fairtale land action begins with Snow White and the dwarfs, aided by Red and a squadron of fairy air support, storming King George’s castle to rescue Prince Charming. Alas, when Snow thinks she has finally found Charming, deep in the castle’s dungeon, he is not really there. The Evil Queen has him prisoner in her palace, and what Snow sees is one of the Queen’s image-transmitting mirrors.
The Queen promises to save Charming’s life if Snow will eat the apple. Snow does and falls into a sleep that looks to her friends like death, but the Queen does not seem to be in any hurry to keep her end of the bargain.
In Storybrooke, we learn that Mr. Gold wants the curse to be broken, but we don’t know why. Emma decides to leave town, believing that the constant tension between herself and Regina is hurting Henry. Regina goes ahead with her plan to poison Emma anyway. Henry bites into Regina’s pastry to show the still nonbelieving Emma that the poison is real, sacrificing himself just as Snow had sacrificed herself in the other world.