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This article focuses on the Season Five episode.
For the items, see Her Handsome Hero (book).

Gaston: Her Handsome Hero... Interesting. Wouldn't have picked you for a fan of cheap romance.
Belle: No! No. This is not like that. This book is about compassion and forgiveness... the things that truly make a hero.

"Her Handsome Hero" is the seventeenth episode of Season Five of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Jerome Schwartz, and directed by Romeo Tirone. It is the one hundred and fifth episode of the series overall, and premiered on April 10, 2016.


Belle turns to Rumplestiltskin with hope of finding a way to protect their child from Hades. However, they disagree over whether to use dark magic, as Belle forbids Rumplestiltskin from using his powers for evil. Meanwhile, Hades secretly meets with Gaston in the Underworld and encourages him to seek revenge on Rumplestiltskin. As the heroes try to find a way to defeat Hades, Emma has a terrifying nightmare that she realizes is beginning to come true. And in flashbacks, Belle and Gaston meet for the first time, but their blossoming romance comes to a halt on the eve of the Ogre wars.[2]


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

In the Enchanted Forest, Belle bursts into the stables asking her father why her riding lesson has been cancelled. Maurice tells her a suitor is visiting, Gaston. Belle has heard of him, and refuses to meet him, telling her father that Gaston is the vainest man in the world and she considers him a hunter of both animals and women. She turns to leave but her father stops her telling her there is a lot at stake. Ogres have began attacking the northern border. Gaston's father has a strong army, and if Belle were to marry Gaston, he would help them.

She rejects the idea, only Maurice then asks her to give Gaston a chance. Just then, Gaston walks in, and much to Belle's surprise he is sweet and understanding. He tells her he has heard much about her (all good things), but he also says that she obviously doesn't think very highly of him and he is okay with that, implying he heard everything. He turns to walk away when she stops him and says that "one walk couldn't hurt anyone."

Back in the Underworld, Emma wakes up from a nightmare where she was with Hook and Snow White trying to erase the names from the tombstones that Hades has created. Hook says he thinks something is wrong when a tornado appears. They seek shelter where Hook then says he senses a large creature nearby. Snow decides to fight the creature only to be taken. Emma then woke up. Emma tells Hook about the dream and wonders if they are visions of the future.

Regina spent the night in the library preparing a spell to break Hades' protection spell on the elevator by drawing runes all over the elevator door. Emma and Regina use their magic to open the door, which opens and reveals a brick wall instead of a way down to Hades' lair. Emma states that she believes she may be able to erase the names from the tombstone by using her magic.

Hades is waiting to see Zelena when he notices a daisy growing in the broken road and realizes the visitors have brough hope. Regina decides to talk to Zelena, who knows more about Hades rather than the others. When Regina visits Zelena, she realizes that she and Hades are in love. Zelena believes she may be Hades' only weakness.

Emma goes to the headstones to try cast the spell from her dream, only to suddenly realize that her nightmare was coming true when the same storm appears. She, Hook and Snow go to Regina's vault, where Hook, Snow, and even Regina tell Emma not to give up. Emma failed everyone but she saved Hook's life. Snow White tells Emma that love is worth it.

Meanwhile, Belle walks into Mr. Gold's shop, telling him she won't be separated from her unborn child and demands his help. He asks if this means that she accepts him as he is, she says she accepts that nobody fights for a child like a father. She does however, set down guidelines, such as no dark magic. He counters that dark and light magic are a matter of perspective. She tells him that if he wants any sort of future with her that he better do things her way.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Belle and Gaston go for a walk. They find a young ogre trapped. Belle believes it will not hurt them and wants to let it go. Gaston agrees to leave it until they know it's okay to let it go. They return home and go to the library where they search for books.

Belle finds "An Alphabetic Inventory of Magical Antiquities", which lists all of the magical items in the kingdom. Belle reads about a mirror which reveals the evil in a person's soul. She hopes to use the mirror on the ogre to see if it means the kingdom any harm. Belle also shows Gaston her favorite book, "Her Handsome Hero", and she says the story defines how a hero is supposed to act; with compassion and forgiveness. They nearly kiss, until Belle turns him down. Belle leaves to fetch the mirror and Gaston agrees to watch over the ogre.

Moments after picking up the flower in the Underworld, Hades enlist Gaston, who was working at Storybrooke Pet Shelter. Hades wanted Gaston to take down everyone, starting with Gold to try and stop hope returning to the Underworld. He gives Gaston a set of lethal arrows, which were forged in the River of Lost Souls.

When Gold and Belle attempt to look up a spell to save their child, they end up leaving in an argument over his use of Dark Magic. They are met by an arrow fired by Gaston which misses them. Gold catches the next one, even as Belle tries to mediate. Gaston tells Belle that Gold was the one who killed him as he aims another arrow. However, Gold uses magic to take him and Belle to the docks.

Belle is shocked to learn about how Gaston died. Gold hopes to use Dark Magic to defeat Gaston. Belle refuses to allow him, believing that she's meant to help Gaston move on which would solve the conflict and weaken Hades. While looking through Gaston's locker, Belle finds the book "Her Handsome Hero" and figures out that she was Gaston's unfinished business. Belle then asked Gold to leave.

However, Belle is then surprised by Hades, who showed up to give her a deal: he will destroy the contract about her child if she allows either Gaston and Gold to through the other into the River of Lost Souls.

Gaston goes to the pawnshop, to find Gold only to be confronted by Belle. She believes he still has feelings for her, only to learn that the book was only a constant reminder of why he died. Belle tells him she is Gold's wife which upsets Gaston who leaves. Belle then finds Gold and asks him to promise not to hurt Gaston.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Maurice reveals that the ogres are now advancing on their kingdom and believes Belle's actions are to blame. He says that they cannot win - they need the help of Gaston's kingdom so Belle will have to marry Gaston to get their help. Gaston arrives and proposes to Belle, and Belle reluctantly agrees, as she believes it is the only way to save the kingdom.

At the docks, Gold uses magic to choke Gaston by the throat and was ready to send him to the River of Lost Souls until Belle gets the dagger and commands him not to hurt Gaston. He drops Gaston on the ground. However, Gaston is unable to let his vendetta against Gold go, and when he goes for his arrow, Belle accidentally knocks Gaston into the River of Lost Souls.

Unfortunately, Belle discovers that because she saved Gold, the contract allowing Hades to take their baby was still in effect, as it had to be Gold to knock Gaston into the River of Lost Souls, not Belle. He then looks at a withering daisy flower that he picks up and is delighted that it means hope was fading away. The flower later shows up at Granny's Diner, as a gift to Zelena from Hades.

Emma, Regina, Hook, and Snow decide to return to the tombstone and see where Emma's dream leads. They chase down the beast in the woods that Emma believes to be the same one from the dream, and uses her magic to stop it. When they reach the creature, they are shocked to find a wolf, only to learn from Snow as she put Ruby's cloak on a big bad wolf; it's actually Ruby, who has shown up in the Underworld. She does not know whether she is still alive. Snow tells Emma that her dream was actually a vision pointing them to Ruby.



Guest Starring



Production Notes

  • ADDED RECAP FOOTAGE: The "Skin Deep" shots of Gaston in the recap were re-filmed with Wes Brown.
  • The line, "I am Sir Gaston, and you, beast, have taken..." was changed to "I am Sir Gaston, and you, beast, have taken my love."
  • The new line is based on the version that was originally scripted for the Season One episode "Skin Deep", where Gaston says, "I am sir Gaston. I fight for honor. For freedom. For love. And you, Beast, have taken my love. That shall not stand. For now you will taste the cold steel of my blade ––".[7]
  • The CGI model for the library in Maurice's castle, which was also briefly seen in the Season Four episode "Family Business", is modeled on the Clementinum library in Prague. The curved ceiling with frescoes and the Solomonic columns (characterized by a spiraling twisting shaft like a corkscrew) have the same shape and design.[11]
  • Emilie de Ravin wished to perform the horse-riding scene herself, since she is an animal lover and "everyone else" was riding horses. However, since the actress was seven months pregnant when the episode was filmed, most of the horse riding was written out and a riding double was used to film the scene.[15]

Event Chronology

Episode Connections


Fairytales and Folklore

  • Also featured is an ogre (a species that Belle's people is at war with), which are creatures from European mythology.[17]
  • When Belle is talking to Gaston in the backroom of the Underbrooke pawnshop, a rose arrangement in a metal vase is sitting on a table;[18] a reference to the rose that Beauty's father steals from the Beasts's garden in the fairytale of "Beauty and the Beast".
  • The Mirror of Souls is a reference to the mirror from the fairytale of "Beauty and the Beast". On Once Upon a Time, it shows whether someone has evil in their soul. In the fairytale, it allows Beauty to see the Beast while she's away.
  • HIDDEN DETAILS: In order to secure the kingdom's future during the Ogre War, Belle accepts her betrothal to Gaston even though it is an arranged marriage and she learns that he has evil in his soul. According to some people, the original version of "Beauty and the Beast" by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve can be read as a tale intended to prepare young brides of eighteenth century France for an arranged marriage. At the time, women in France had few legal rights and arranged marriages were common, with young girls being married off around the ages of fourteen or fifteen, often to men who were decades older than them. The Beast can be read as representing a young girl's fear of their future married prospect: Would the man abuse her, would he be a monster? Or could she learn to love her husband and accept her fate. Alternatively, the story can be read as critique of arranged marriages and women's lack of freedom in the arranged marriage system.[19]

Props Notes

  • The top symbols, ᛈᛟᚱᛏᚨᛚ (with a pentacle between them), translate as "portal".
  • The ones in the middle, around the locks, ᚨᛋ ᚨᛒᛟᚹᛖ ᛋᛟ ᛒᛖᛚᛟᚹ, translate as "as above, so below". This is a well-known occult maxim from the Emerald Tablet, an ancient, mysterious tablet which is one of the pillars of Western alchemy, and is said to be inscribed with the secrets of the universe. This tablet is one of the texts that form the basis of Hermeticism. In Fulcanelli's translation, the full maxim reads: " As below, so above; and as above so below. With this knowledge alone you may work miracles."[28]
  • The ones going down the right side of the door, next to the door frame, spell out "ᛒᛖ ᛁᛏ ᚹᛖ ᚹᛁᛚᛚ", meaning "be it we will".
  • The symbols at the bottom right, ᛋᛟ ᛒᛖ ᛁᛏ, translate as "so be it".
  • The word that Regina is writing when Hook and Emma come in, is ᛞᛟᛗᚢᛋ, which translates as "domus", which is Latin for house, home.
  • A pentacle (a pentagram with a circle around it) is inscribed at the top of the door. The pentagram and the pentacle have historically been used by occult faiths and magicians,[29] and today, the pentagram is used as a symbol for Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism.[30]

Once you are ready to use your
magical energy, you must be able to
concentrate. You must be able to
focus intently and visualize the
magic. What you want to happen
must be perfectly clear in your mind.
You are ready to use your own
magical ability. You must be able to
concentrate. You must be able to
focus intensity and visualize the
magic. What you want to happen
must be perfectly clear in your mind.
When you perform a magical act, you will build up a massive
amount of energy with your powers of concentration, then, when
that energy is most intense, you will send it out to work

for you.
In performing a magical act, you will build up a massive
cone of energy with your powers at intention, then when
that energy is at its zenith, you will send it out to work
for you and effect physical changes in the material
I will continually remind you of the basic witches'
principle: whatever energy or action is sent out,

whether it be negative or positive, will be returned to you in
kind. If you send out positive energies, you will
get positive energies in return. It's akin to tossing a
pebble into a pond – every positive ripple you
send out has the potential to affect many and much. In
this way, your life will continually expand and improve.
I feel the need to remind you of the [two illegible words]
principle: whatever energy or intention is sent out,
whether it be ill or good, it will be returned to you in
kind, three-fold. If you send out positive energies you will
will get positive energies in return. It's akin to [illegible word]
a rock into a pool of water. Energy positive [two illegible words]
send out has the potential [three illegible words] and [two illegible words]
this way, your life will [illegible word] expand and [illegible word].

  • The "cone of energy" is a reference to the cone of power, a method of raising energy in ritual magic. Traditionally, this is done by a group, although it can also be done without the assistance of other people. As energy is raised, a cone forms above the wielder(s). When the magic reaches its apex, that energy is sent out en masse, directed towards whatever magical purpose is being worked on.[33]
  • The principle of magic energies being returned to the wielder three-fold, is a reference to the Rule of Three, a tenet held by people in some magical traditions, primarily Wiccans. It states that whatever energy a person puts out into the world, be it positive or negative, will be returned to that person three times.[34]
  • ARTWORKS: The accompanying illustration[35] is from an eighteenth century demonology book called Compendium rarissimum totius Artis Magicae sistematisatae per celeberrimos Artis hujus Magistros (link to page), which roughly translates as A rare summary of the entire Magical Art by the most famous Masters of this Art. The book is dated to around 1775 and is written in German and Latin by an unknown author.[36] The picture is one of the book's many watercolor illustrations of grotesque demonic figures up to all sorts of appropriately demonic activities,[36] which is rather ironic, as Mr. Gold's book is supposed to be a spell book about light magic. Note that the illustration has been modified for the show: For example, the skulls and crossbones that adorn the table in the original illustration, have been removed, and the partially topless demon from the original is now fully dressed.
  • USE IT AGAIN: The same illustration can be seen when Mr. Gold flips through the spell book in "Ruby Slippers".[37]
  • Another page contains text from Lorem ipsum,[38] a filler text commonly used as mock-content when testing a given page layout or font. Lorem ipsum consists of badly garbled Latin, based on sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of De finibus bonorum et malorum ("On the ends of good and evil"), a philosophical work by the Roman philosopher Cicero. Lorem isum is often used when previewing the layout of a document, as the use of more understandable text could easily distract the user from the layout being examined.[39] While many forms of Lorem ipsum exists, the show uses a version that can be found on several online websites, including this French page about typography.
  • USE IT AGAIN: The exact same text can be seen in the book Her Handsome Hero when Belle is flipping through it in "Ruby Slippers".[40]

[image begins]
can unleash written words
to become real objects
3″ x 7″

Simply place the glass over any text
and by saying the lines,
"Abracadabra.. Abracadabr.. A"

Mirror of Souls: If
someone has evil in their
souls, it will be revealed
in this mirror's gaze

Their eyes will glow
with demonic fire

Size: Approx. 17″ x 19″

Set Dressing

  • HIDDEN DETAILS: A map of the United States of America, listing animal shelter spending by state, is pinned to a board at the Underbrooke pet shelter.[42]

Filming Locations


International Titles



  1. Porter, Rick (April 12, 2016). Sunday final ratings: ‘Once Upon a Time,’ ‘Simpsons,’ ‘Quantico’ adjust up; ‘Carmichael’ and ‘Crowded’ adjust down. TV by the Numbers. “Once Upon a Time (ABC) (...) 3.75”
  2. 2.0 2.1 LISTINGS: ONCE UPON A TIME. The Futon Critic. “Air Date: Sunday, April 10, 2016. Time Slot: 8:00 PM-9:00 PM EST on ABC. Episode Title: (#517) "Her Handsome Hero".”
  3. File:516Title.png
  4. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (January 20, 2016) (screenshot)
  5. File:112OhMyGods2.png
  6. File:406LeaveWithout.png
  7. ONCE UPON A TIME: "Skin Deep" script (PDF) pp. 28. Retrieved on July 14, 2019.
  8. File:112Landscape.png
  9. File:406MauricesCastle.png
  10. File:517MauriceCastle2.png
  11. File:517LibraryRoof.png
    Image of the Clementinum library, from Wikimedia Commons
  12. File:517Here.png
  13. File:517LibraryRoof.png
  14. File:517WhatWeNeed.png
  15. Abrams, Natalie (October 27, 2017). Once Upon a Time's Emilie de Ravin on that heartbreaking Belle ending. Entertainment Weekly. “I still wish I got to ride a horse. [Laughs] I do! It was the one thing I remember saying in season 1 or season 2 to the question, "What would you like to do?" "I'm such an animal lover, I had animals growing up, I'd love to ride a horse. Everyone else is riding horses!" Cut to season 5, they write me in that Gaston episode, "Her Handsome Hero," riding on a horse, but by that episode I was seven months pregnant. They wrote most of the horse riding out and then used a double.”
  16. File:517FindingShelter.png
  17. Ogre. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved on October 24, 2021. “The word gained popularity from its use in the late 17th century by Charles Perrault, the author of Contes de ma mère l'oye (Tales of Mother Goose). Since then, ogres have appeared in many works, including "Tom Thumb"; "Hansel and Gretel," where the witch is a type of ogre because she intends to eat the children; and "Little Red Riding Hood," where the wolf resembles an ogre.”
  18. 18.0 18.1 File:517MyLocker.png
  19. Beauty and the Beast: A Tale of Child Marriage. Medium (April 1, 2017). “At the time of publication, women in France had few legal rights. Arranged marriages were common. Women could not control property, and girls were married off around the ages of fourteen or fifteen, often to men decades older. A girl who failed her role as a satisfactory wife risked being imprisoned in a mental asylum. In this context, the Beast represents the fear of young girls for their future marriage prospects: would the man be a monster? Would he abuse her? Mme Villeneuve's version can be read as a tale intended to prepare child brides of 18th century France for their role. Though the man appears to be a monster, she can learn to love him and accept her fate. Alternately, the story be seen as subtly critical of arranged marriages and an attempt to address the lack of choice girls faced within the arranged marriage system.”
  20. Werewolf. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved on November 23, 2021. “werewolf, in European folklore, a man who turns into a wolf at night and devours animals, people, or corpses but returns to human form by day.”
  21. File:517BTS3.jpg
  22. File:509ShowYourselfWitch!.png
  23. Once Upon a Time - Gaston/King Fergus Sword (Stunt) (4862). iCollector. Archived from the original on April 28, 2020.
  24. File:517FindingShelter.png
  25. File:612BottleBash2.png
  26. File:707IsntExactlyWhat.png
  27. File:517ReginaWriting.png
  28. Emerald Tablet of Hermes. Internet Sacred Text Archive. Retrieved on August 25, 2018.
  29. Difference Between Pentacle and Pentagram. DifferenceBetween.com (August 2, 2012).
  30. Kraig, Donald Michael (June 4, 2010). Is the Inverted Pentagram Evil or Satanic?. Llewellyn Unbound.
  31. File:517SpellBook.png
  32. Magic Circles & Spells. The Smart Witch. Retrieved on February 17, 2019.
  33. The Cone of Power. ThoughtCo. Retrieved on August 25, 2018.
  34. The Rule of Three. ThoughtCo. Retrieved on August 25, 2018.
  35. File:517SpellBook.png
  36. 36.0 36.1 Compendium Of Demonology and Magic (ca. 1775). The PUBLIC DOMAIN REVIEW. Retrieved on August 25, 2018. (Illustration 10; note that some of the demonic illustrations are very graphic.)
  37. File:518WhichIsExactly.png
  38. File:517TurningPage3.png
  39. Lorem Ipsum. lipsum.com. Retrieved on August 25, 2018.
  40. File:518FlippingThroughBook.png
  41. File:517MirrorOfSouls.png
  42. File:517HisUnfinishedBusiness.png
  43. File:517ALittleCreepy.png
  44. File:117Jefferson.png
  45. File:116WhereSheIs.png
  46. File:601CastleTerrifiedHer.png
  47. Gittins, Susan (January 19, 2016). SHOOT: ONCE UPON A TIME's RumBelle (Robert Carlyle & Emilie de Ravin), Gaston (Wes Brown) & Hades (Greg Germann) on Steveston Docks. Hollywood North Buzz. “Sarah McCulloch, aka the Leaf Lady, shared photos of Belle (Emilie de Ravin) and the new Gaston (Wes Brown) in a flashback filming in North Vancouver's Lynn Canyon last Friday”

    TwitterLogo.svg @leafladygreens (Sara McCulloch) on Twitter (January 16, 2016). "Me LAST day on set today, & into the nite.@emiliederavin - keeping dry,.....he's quite the poser! Beautiful beings!" (screenshot)
  48. File:517RideBelleRide.png