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This article focuses on the Season Two episode.
For the Season Five episodes, see "The Broken Kingdom" or "Broken Heart".

The curse... it's broken?


"Broken" is the first episode of Season Two of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz and directed by Ralph Hemecker. It is the twenty-third episode of the series overall, and premiered on September 30, 2012. This episode is the second-season premiere.


Reality and myth begin to merge as the fairytale characters awaken from Evil Queen Regina's broken curse and remember who they were. But to their dismay, they aren't transported back to fairytale land. To make matters worse, Rumplestiltskin - aka Mr. Gold - in an effort to gain the upper hand in his power struggle with Regina, has introduced magic into the town. In fairytales magic has its place, but in our world it can be unpredictable. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale land, Prince Phillip awakens his sleeping beauty, Aurora, but discovers that he and his traveling companion, Mulan, will soon have to face a deadly foe.[1]


This section is a detailed recap of this episode. There are major spoilers. Click to expand.

In New York City, a mysterious man is on his way home. Upon arriving in his apartment, it begins to rain, and he notices that his window is open. Cellphone in hand, he attempts to close the stuck window, but drops the phone out the window in the process. The man leans on a desk, looking defeated, when a dove lands on the windowsill. The dove leaves a note and flies off. The man picks up and examines it; it's a postcard with the word "Broken" written on it. The man turns it over, revealing a photo of the Storybrooke clock tower.

In the Enchanted Forest, two riders cross a desolate countryside, approaching an abandoned castle. Upon their arrival, one of the riders, Prince Phillip, cuts through thorns to reach a slumbering young woman in a large room. He advises his riding companion that they should not tell "her"—referring to the young woman—everything yet. Prince Phillip uses true love's kiss to awaken the sleeping beauty, Aurora. Phillip advises a confused Aurora that they will restore their castle and kingdom, and must journey to a safe haven. Aurora questions if they are hiding from Maleficent, and Phillip advises her that there are new dangers, but they can face them.

In Storybrooke, the magical smoke vanishes. Mary Margaret Blanchard and David Nolan walk down the main street where they meet Ruby, Granny, and the Seven Dwarves, all of them relieved that the Dark Curse has been broken, and recognizing each other from their fairytale pasts. When Ruby asks what they should do now, Mary Margaret replies that she wants to find her daughter. Emma Swan and Henry Mills appear, and she has a brief reunion with her parents. Henry address David as his grandfather, causing Mary Margaret to laugh joyfully, at which David embraced Henry as his grandson. Though everyone is relieved that the curse is broken, Leroy questions why they haven't returned to the Enchanted Forest. The dwarfs question what the smoke was and who caused it; Mother Superior approaches the group and informs them that it was magic. Henry suggests that she "do something magical"; Mother Superior replies that there are no wands or Fairy Dust, and matters are complicated.

Meanwhile, at the wishing well, Mr. Gold and Belle discuss Belle's imprisonment at Regina's hands. Belle reveals that she was abducted by the Evil Queen in the Enchanted Forest and was locked away, and spent the entirety of the Curse's reign in the asylum. Gold swears he will not let this go. However, Belle wants him to promise that he will not kill Regina, to which he agrees before they kiss.

Back with Emma, the crowd (her parents, Henry, the dwarfs, Ruby, Granny, and Mother Superior) walk down the main street. Mary Margaret suggests they discuss their pasts, but Emma puts her off, more concerned about what Gold has done to the town. David and Mary Margaret express that they have longed for this reunion, and Emma agrees that she has as well, but she never imagined it this way, and she needs time. The conversation is interrupted when David notices townspeople running through the streets. Archie Hopper approaches the group and informs them that Dr. Whale has worked everyone into a frenzy; they're heading to Regina's house to kill her. Leroy suggests it's great, but Archie argues that killing Regina is wrong, and Henry agrees, adding that Regina is still his mom. David points out that Regina may have her powers back, and the townsfolk could be heading to their deaths. They rush off to stop the mob.

Phillip and Aurora joyfully reunite. It is interrupted, however, when his traveling companion notices a rumbling from the floor. Suddenly, a large creature bursts through. Phillip fights the creature briefly, before causing it to drop a wraith amulet. The creature then flies off, and Phillip picks up the creature's amulet. Aurora asks what it was, to which Phillip replies, "Something bad."

Mr. Gold and Belle enter his shop. Gold tells Belle to wait, while he goes to find her something to wear. He enters the back area, unlocks a cabinet, and takes out a box. Opening the box, he removes the same amulet that the creature dropped in Aurora's palace.

A mob of townspeople, led by Dr. Whale, confront Regina at her front door. Regina attempts to use magic to frighten the crowd, but is unsuccessful. As Dr. Whale pins Regina against the column, the crowd calls for blood. Emma and her allies break through the crowd, calling for Dr. Whale to let Regina go. When Whale questions why he should listen to Emma, she responds that she is still Sheriff. Mary Margaret adds that nothing justifies killing Regina, and David tells Dr. Whale to back off. Whale responds that David is not his prince, but further telling him that who he really is, is none of his business. Mary Margaret declares that Regina should be locked up, for her safety as well as the safety of everyone else.

As they lock Regina in a jail cell, David asks her why they didn't return to the Enchanted Forest, when the curse was broken. Regina responds that there is nothing to go back to. Mary Margaret suggests they find Gold, and they depart. Gold appears as Regina eyes the lock on her cell, telling her that magic is "different" in Storybrooke. Gold reveals that he promised Belle he wouldn't kill her, but will give her a fate worse than death. He then forces Regina to hold the amulet.

Phillip's companion explains that the creature was a wraith, and reveals herself to be Mulan. She explains that the wraith marks its' victims and then sucks out their souls, and reminds Phillip and Aurora that they need to begin their journey. As Phillip reassures Aurora, he notices a mark burned into his hand from the amulet; however, he hides this fact from Aurora.

Back in town, Mr. Gold uses the power of his dagger to summon the wraith. As he does so, the mark from the amulet burns on Regina's palm.

Emma entrusts Henry to Ruby. Mary Margaret attempts to start a reunion conversation with Emma, telling her that she seems unhappy about it. Emma tells her that she is happy, but explains that, her entire life, she only knew that her parents sent her away. When Mary Margaret tells her that they did it for her, Emma replies that it doesn't change the fact that she was alone. Mary Margaret replies that if they hadn't sent her away, she would have been cursed too, and Emma responds that they would have still been together, and wonders which curse is worse. She then ends the conversation, reminding them that they need to find Gold.

Traveling until nightfall, Mulan, Phillip, and Aurora decide to make camp for the night. Phillip tells Aurora that he is going to find wood for a fire. He kisses her goodbye, and a tear runs down his face, as he walks away.

Emma, Mary Margaret, and David confront Mr. Gold in his shop. When Emma asks what the purple mist was, Gold replies that it was magic, but refuses to answer why he brought it to Storybrooke. At this moment, the shop shakes violently. David and Mary Margaret look out at the town under siege, Gold explains that "it" is his gift to them, and it's going to take care of Regina. Before exiting the shop, Emma advises Mr. Gold they're "not done", and he replies that she still owes him a favor. After the trio departs, Belle emerges from the back and having overheard everything she confronts Gold, they have an argument and she tells him she thought he'd changed. Annoyed he replies, "What, in the hour you've known me?" she exits the shop, clearly hurt.

While Mulan attempts to start a fire, she hears the wraith lurking nearby. Aurora emerges from her tent, asking where Phillip is. Realizing he has taken the horses, Mulan concludes that Phillip was marked by the wraith, and left to protect Aurora. She heads off after him, and Aurora chases after her.

The wraith attacks Regina in her cell. As it begins to suck out her soul, David appears and hits it with a chair. After he is unsuccessful in subduing the creature, Mary Margaret uses a makeshift flamethrower to scare the creature off. Regina informs the trio that the wraith cannot be killed, and will stalk her until it claims her. David suggests they do nothing and let the creature take Regina. Emma interjects that she promised Henry she'd protect Regina, and Regina suggests they send the wraith "somewhere it can't hurt anyone".

At city hall, Regina produces Jefferson's hat. Emma recognizes it and names its' owner, but Regina pretends to not know who Jefferson is. In the main hall, Regina places the hat on the floor, explaining that it's a portal to the Enchanted Forest, and they only need to send the wraith through it in order to get rid of it. When Mary Margaret remarks that she thought their land was gone, Regina replies that it is, and sending the wraith into the portal will "banish it to oblivion". As the wraith approaches, Regina tries unsuccessfully to open the portal.

Mulan tracks Phillip as Aurora approaches, having found one of their horses. Mulan tries to convince her to stay behind, telling Aurora that Phillip's best chance is her. Aurora claims that Mulan loves Phillip as well, and Mulan denies it.

The wraith enters the hall and is engaged by David as Mary Margaret lights a railing on fire to keep the wraith away from Regina, Emma, and the hat. Regina continues her attempts at opening the portal, and is unsuccessful.

Phillip is attempting to draw out the wraith, when Mulan and Aurora find him. He tells them to go, and Mulan suggests she mark herself. Phillip refuses, and the wraith approaches. Phillip turns briefly, saying "I love you" before his soul is sucked out by the wraith. The wraith is then sucked back into the wraith Amulet.

Regina is still unsuccessful in opening the portal, and out of options Emma touches her arm and the portal opens instantaneously. David is knocked back by the wraith, which then goes after Regina, standing in front of the portal. Emma knocks Regina out of the way as the wraith is sucked through the portal, but Emma is grabbed and pulled through as well. Mary Margaret jumps in after her, and David tries to do the same; but the portal closes before he gets there.

Aurora and Mulan return to the castle and lay Phillip on Aurora's bier. While they lament over the loss of Phillip, Mulan gives Aurora the amulet, saying that she should have it.

An enraged David confronts Regina, over the portal closing, and demands to know what happened. When Regina responds that she does not know, he threatens her. In defense, she uses her magic to force him against the wall and, while wrapping vines around him, they begin to squeeze and choke the life out of him. Regina gives him some mocking words, and prepares to deliver the final blow. However, she is interrupted by Henry and Ruby's arrival. Henry is horrified at what he sees. David falls from the wall, as Regina releases him. Shifting from a menacing to a soothing tone, she tries to reassure Henry that everything is fine. She tells Henry that Emma and Mary Margaret are gone. Henry tells her that he doesn't want anything to do with her, until she gets them back. When Regina questions where Henry will go, David responds, "With me". He then exits with Henry and Ruby.

Mr. Gold absently spins his wheel in his shop, when Belle finally returns. Gold tells her that the beast is gone and Regina lives. Belle replies that he didn't get what he wanted, but Gold responds that it "remains to be seen". Belle notices the chipped cup. Gold tells her that it's the only thing he truly cherishes, and that she must leave, because he's still a monster. Belle responds that this is the reason she must stay.

In Mary Margaret and Emma's apartment, a dejected Henry gazes at a photo of the two women. David reassures him that they are alive, and he will find them.

At Aurora's Palace, Aurora mourns over Phillip, when Mulan tells her that they need to leave. She informs Aurora that much has changed. Aurora responds that she was asleep for less than a year. Mulan then explains that, while Aurora slept, the Evil Queen enacted a curse over the land that ripped everyone away to another world. When Aurora points out that they are still there, Mulan explains that their corner of the land was left untouched, and the people left behind were "frozen" for 28 years until time suddenly started again. She further tells Aurora that the land is ravaged with terrible dangers, and the survivors have found a safe haven that they should depart for.

Hearing a noise, the two approach the rubble left from the wraith's arrival. Moving a large piece that is blocking whatever is underneath, Mulan uncovers Emma and Mary Margaret, saying, "That's what brought the wraith here. That's what killed our Prince."



Guest Starring




Production Notes

  • The season premiere of the second season was actually the second episode that was filmed for season two. "We Are Both", the second episode, was filmed before the shooting of this episode.[6]
  • EPISODE FRAME USED AS PICTURE: A frame of Mother Superior from the scene where everyone is reunited[7] was used as a photograph attached to a "missing" report in the Season Four episode "Darkness on the Edge of Town".[8]
  • For the scene where Mary Margaret uses a lighter and a spray can to burn the wraith, the flames were CGI and not real fire.[10]
  • Mary Margaret holding onto Emma in the final shot of the episode,[11] because she won't let her go of her daughter again, was Ginnifer Goodwin's idea.[12]

Event Chronology

Episode Connections



Fairytales and Folklore

  • This episode is a rendition of the "Sleeping Beauty" fairytale, focusing on the prince's meeting with the sleeping princess.
  • This episode features Mulan from the Ballad of Mulan, and the ugly duckling from the titular fairytale.
  • Mulan wears armor, with her face and hair covered, and Aurora mistakes her for a man. This alludes to the Ballad of Mulan where the titular character pretends to be a man to take her father's place in the army.
  • HIDDEN DETAILS: A spinning wheel rests at the foot of Aurora's bier,[13] a reference to the "Sleeping Beauty" fairytale.
  • "Wraith" is another word for ghost, but it also refers to the spectral figure of a person seen as a premonition just before their death.[17] The wraith as an omen of death originates in Scottish folklore,[17][18] where a wraith was the apparition of a living person, usually taken as an omen of their death, but not always: If a wraith of a person was seen early in the morning, it forebode that they would live until old age, but if the wraith was seen in the evening, it indicated that their imminent death was at hand.[18]
  • Mother Superior says that she is unable to perform magic because she has no wand or fairy dust. Fairy dust originates in the Peter Pan story.
  • In the Frankenstein novel, there is an angry mob out to destroy Dr. Frankenstein's creation. In this episode, Frankenstein's Storybrooke counterpart Dr. Whale leads an angry mob.

Popular Culture

  • Interestingly, one of the album tracks is called "Beauty and the Beast".
  • ARTWORKS: A promo poster for Life Through One Speaker, a 2003 album by the Canadian indie pop band Young and Sexy, can be seen over the bed.[20]

Props Notes

  • HIDDEN DETAILS: The symbol on one side of the wraith's amulet,[28] which is branded onto the victim's hand,[29] is one of several alchemy symbols for the chemical element arsenic,[30] a deadly poison which has been historically used to kill people.[31] Interestingly, arsenic was sometimes represented by the image of a swan.[30]
  • USE IT AGAIN: In the Season One episode "Skin Deep", when the Evil Queen makes a surprise visit to Rumplestiltskin after Belle is banished from his castle, he has a tea set laid out on the table, with two cups;[34] as if Rumplestiltskin is waiting for Belle to return. In this episode, after Mr. Gold and Belle are reunited, one of the first things he does after she's settled in her new clothes is to use exactly the same tea set to make tea for himself and Belle.[35]
  • On set, Josh Dallas filmed the broom fire torch scene using a pre-burned broom. Each broom was treated with special burn-proof product so the flames would not scorch the entire broom once lit up.[39]
    • At least thirty-five brooms were used for the shooting of the scene.[39]

Set Dressing

Costume Notes

  • Canadian-based fine headwear maker Kelly Dunlap, also known as The Saucy Milliner, created several duplicates of Jefferson's hat, which were used for filming this episode.[59]
  • BRAND INFO: After Belle changes out of the hospital gown, she dons[60] an Theyskens' Theory Deddie Tweed Dress[61] (no longer available).

Filming Locations


International Titles



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 LISTINGS: ONCE UPON A TIME. The Futon Critic. “Air Date: Sunday, September 30, 2012. Time Slot: 8:00 PM-9:00 PM EST on ABC. Episode Title: (#201) "Broken"”
  2. Bibel, Sara (October 2, 2012). TV Ratings Broadcast Top 25: Sunday Night Football Tops Week 1 Viewing Among Adults 18-49 and With Total Viewers. TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on October 2, 2015. “Once Upon A Time. P. ABC. 11358.”
  3. File:201Title.png
  4. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (July 11, 2012). "For anyone interested... here's a tiny season 2 #OnceUponATime premiere tidbit..." (screenshot)
  5. Munn, Patrick (March 26, 2013). Channel 5 Sets UK Premiere Date For ‘Once Upon A Time’ Season 2. TV Wise.
  6. Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas on the Season Two Blu-ray/DVD Audio Commentary for "Broken"
  7. File:201NoFairyDust.png
  8. File:412Missing2.png
  9. Image of the article on Imgur
  10. Ginnifer Goodwin (September 30, 2012). Thank you for all of the lighter/hairspray/"blowtorch" love but PLEASE DO NOT TRY THAT AT HOME! We used computer effects!. Twitter. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. (screenshot)
  11. File:201WhatBroughtTheWraith.png
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Ginnifer Goodwin on the Season Two Blu-ray/DVD Audio Commentary for "Broken"
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 File:201WhatHappened.png
  14. File:301IsHeWell.png
  15. Abram, Natalie (October 18, 2012). Lightning Round 2: Once Upon a Time Bosses Answer Your Burning Questions!. TV Guide. “Was it Aurora's (Sarah Bolger) mother that Regina (Lana Parrilla) was referring to back in Season 1 who got the best of Maleficent (Kristin Bauer)?
    Edward Kitsis:
  16. File:201AttemptingToCloseWindow.png
  17. 17.0 17.1 wraith. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved on January 11, 2022. “1 a: the exact likeness of a living person seen usually just before death as an apparition. b: GHOST, SPECTER. (...) Did you know? If you see your own double, you're in trouble, at least if you believe old superstitions. The belief that a ghostly twin's appearance portends death is one common to many cultures. In German folklore, such an apparition is called a Doppelgänger (literally, "double goer"); in Scottish lore, they are wraiths. The exact origin of the word wraith is misty, however, and etymologists can only trace it back to the early 16th century—in particular to a 1513 translation of Virgil's Aeneid by Gavin Douglas (the Scotsman used wraith to name apparitions of both the dead and the living).”
  18. 18.0 18.1 WRAITH. Dictionaries of the Scots Language SCIO. Retrieved on January 11, 2022. “1. (1) An apparition of a living person, usu. taken as an omen of his death, a double-ganger (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 482; Uls. 1953 Traynor); any premonitory token of danger or misfortune. Gen.Sc. and now adopted in Eng. after Scott. (...) Sc. 1808 Jam.: The wraith of a living person does not, as some have supposed, indicate that he shall die soon. Although in all cases viewed as a premonition of the disembodied state, the season, in the natural day, at which the spectre makes its appearance, is understood as a certain presage of the time of the person's departure. If seen early in the morning, it forebodes that he shall live long, and even arrive at old age; if in the evening, it indicates that his death is at hand.”
  19. File:201DoorCloses.png
  20. File:201WalksToWindow.png
  21. File:201BirdLeavesLetter.png
  22. File:201NewYorkHorse.png
  23. File:113CarriageArrives.png
  24. File:402Laughing.png
  25. File:201GreetingsFromStorybrookeMaine.png
  26. File:621PullUps.png
  27. File:518AppearingInOz.png
  28. File:201PhillipHoldsMedallion.png
  29. File:201HerMark.png
  30. 30.0 30.1 Periodic Table: Arsenic. Royal Society of Chemistry. Retrieved on August 16, 2018.
  31. Smith, Roger. Arsenic: A Murderous History. Dartmouth Toxic Metals. Retrieved on August 16, 2018.
  32. File:201Box.png
  33. File:717DifferentWeapon.png
  34. File:112KeepTryingDearie.png
  35. 35.0 35.1 File:201SomeOfMyOwn.png
  36. File:W113TeaParty.png
  37. File:201GettingReady.png
  38. Birch Trees from Eco Chic EH61007. Wallquest. Retrieved on June 8, 2018.
  39. 39.0 39.1 Ochej, Josephine (April 27, 2013). Wraith Torches. ABC. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. “Each broom was pre-burned (by highly trained Special Effects Department crew - definitely do not try this one at home!), then treated with a special burn-proof product so they wouldn't burn up once they were lit for the scene. They went through at least 35 brooms for this scene!”
  40. File:201WalksToWindow.png
  41. CONTROL & CAPITAL. Aesthetic Apparatus. Retrieved on August 16, 2018.
  42. COMMUNICATION ARTS COVER, MAY/JUNE 2008.. Tricia Seibold. Retrieved on August 16, 2018.
  43. BIKE RIDE (ORANGE). Aesthetic Apparatus. Retrieved on August 16, 2018.
  44. File:102BailMoney.png
  45. File:104Briefly.png
  46. File:119WithDavid.png
  47. 47.0 47.1 File:201ANewHome.png
  48. File:609GoldEntersConvent.png
  49. File:201RidingTheSubway.png
  50. File:201IKnow.png
  51. ISO club monaco veda scarf. Poshmark. Retrieved on August 16, 2018.
  52. Mary's wide collared shearling coat, white tie top and key necklace on Once Upon A Time. WornOnTV. Retrieved on October 6, 2021.
  53. Once Upon a Time - Behind the Magic, Titan Publishing, 2013, p. 56
  54. Liane Balaban and Club Monaco Gloria Top. Coolspotters. Archived from the original on January 30, 2017.
  55. File:201SheNeedsToBeLockedUp.png
  56. Pyrrha "talisman" Sterling Silver Oval Key Necklace. Amazon. Retrieved on October 6, 2021.
  57. Swan. Pyrrha. Retrieved on October 6, 2021.
  58. File:106StayAwayFromYou.png
  59. Once Upon A Millinery, Part Two. The Saucy Milliner (October 8, 2012).
  60. File:201Hi.png
  61. Theyskens' Theory Deddie Dress. Shopbop. Retrieved on August 13, 2018.
  62. The Official Once Upon a Time ABC Podcast: "Welcome to Storybrooke". ABC (2012). (At 10:53)
  63. Neal enters a building opposite Piemonte Ravoli, a real-life Italian pasta supplier located on 162 Mulberry Street. 161 Mulberry Street is the building Neal enters; proven by the fact Piemonte Ravoli is on the opposite side of the street and a green patch of wall appears both in File:201Enter.png and on the Google Maps street view of the location:
    161 Mulberry St, New York. Google Maps (March 2018).
  64. File:201GroupRuns2.png