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This article focuses on the Season Six episode.
For the Season Four episode, see "Mother".

Black Fairy: But part of you wanted to help me, now didn't it? Part of you always does.
Gideon: Of course, mother.

"Mother's Little Helper" is the sixteenth episode of Season Six of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Paul Karp after a story by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz, and directed by Billy Gierhart. It is the one hundredth and twenty-seventh episode of the series overall, and premiered on April 9, 2017.


Gold and Belle convince Emma to help Gideon, explaining that together they can stop the Black Fairy. Henry experiences a disorienting shift in his powers that forces Regina to seek counsel from the previous Author. Meanwhile, in Fairy Tale Land, Hook attempts to win the assistance of an old adversary by betting his most prized possession on a game of cards. And, in a flashback, the Black Fairy tortures young Gideon in hopes of molding him into the perfect apprentice.[2]


Deleted Scenes

"Itsy-Bitsy Nightmare" (Scene 14)

This scene is included on Once Upon a Time: The Complete Sixth Season.

Emma and Gideon are running from the spider and hide inside a room in the Sorcerer's mansion. Emma wonders "what the hell" that was. Gideon explains that it was the Great Spider from the Echoless Forest. "The what from the what?", she asks. He tell her that it is a monster from a book, Her Handsome Hero". Emma remarks, "From a book. Great. We are running from a pop-up character" and wonders why the Black Fairy would send it here. Gideon says that she did it to kill them before they get the chance to kill her. An angry Gideon throws a table lamp into the wall, where it breaks in a shower of electricity. Emma tells him to call down or he's going to get them both killed. Gideon wonders why she cares anyway; without the tear, the spell is destroyed and she is not getting Hook back. He believes that their alliance is at an end, but Emma refuses to abandon him. He tells her that after everything he's done, she should walk away. Emma says that Saviors don't do that and she won't let the Black Fairy or her "itsy-bitsy nightmare" terrorize him or her or this town. "So let's go down there and destroy it", she whispers. At that, she walks off to fight the beast. Gideon reluctantly follows.



Guest Starring




Production Notes

  • For the opening scene where the Black Fairy is flying though the night, Jaime Murray was placed inside a room with at least fifty different cameras and photographed from every conceivable angle.[6]
  • ABANDONED IDEAS: The scenes in the Sorcerer's mansion were originally supposed to take place in the forest but were moved indoors due to heavy rain.[7]
  • ABANDONED IDEAS: In the episode script, Regina asks Isaac, "Are we bargaining now? Is that what's happening?", and Isaac answers, "You're quick. I always enjoyed writing you. A challenge for the intellect."[8] This exchange is not in the final episode.

Event Chronology

  • Isaac asks for tickets to the musical Hamilton in New York City, which made its debut at The Public Theater in February 2015, and officially opened on Broadway in August 2015.[11] However, according to Adam Horowitz, the musical hit Broadway about 18 months earlier in the series' universe than in real life,[12] indicating that the episode takes place in the first half of 2014. This, however, is impossible: One of the previous episodes, "I'll Be Your Mirror", takes place in the autumn (Henry refers to the homecoming dance as "the fall formal", and this tradition usually takes place in late September or early October) -- meaning that the story would have to take place during the second half of 2014.
  • Further complicating matters is that in "The Final Battle Part 1", which takes place not long after this episode, the Black Fairy refers to Henry as being fourteen years old ("Now, thanks to you, I have a 14-year-old boy, who still believes in fairy tales"). Since Henry was born in August 2001, the story would have to take place in 2015 for Henry to be fourteen at this point.

Episode Connections


Fairytales and Folklore

  • This episode features Captain Hook and the Lost Boys from the Peter Pan story, the ugly duckling from the titular fairytale and the wicked fairy from the Villeneuve version of the fairytale of "Beauty and the Beast" (who is also the Beast's mother from the same story).
  • The Black Fairy abducting Gideon (the son of the Once Upon a Time version of Beauty and the Beast) and raising him as her own, as well as her habit of kidnapping other people's children, is all a reference to the original version of "Beauty and the Beast" by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve: In the original story, the wicked fairy planned to murder Beauty when she was a baby and the good fairy considered taking Beauty away, but knew that the wicked fairy would just retake the child from her, without it being in her power to stop her (the fairy then discovered that a merchant's baby daughter had died, so in order to protect Beauty, the good fairy took the dead girl away and left Beauty in her place). Also in Villeneuve's story, Beast's mother was forced to go off to war and left her young son in the care of the wicked fairy, who turned out to be evil.
    • Gideon addresses the Black Fairy as mother. In Villeneuve's fairytale, the Beast called the wicked fairy "mother" until she started to develop sexual feelings for him and forbade it.[15]
  • This episode features Fairy dust, a substance originating in the Peter Pan story.
  • STORYBOOK CONTENT: When Henry opens the storybook, excerpts from Charles Kingsley's novel The Water-Babies[16] and the Grimm fairy tales "Snow-White and Rose-Red"[16] and "The Golden Bird"[17] can be seen.
  • The same excerpts from "Snow White and Rose-Red" and "The Golden Bird" appear in many episodes; read the trivia section in the article for Henry's storybook for more information and a transcript.
  • The excerpt from The Water-Babies is from chapter IV of Kingsley's novel[18] (text set in fuchsia is off-screen):

(…) which assured every one who found himself the better or
wiser for the news, that there were not, never had been,
and could not be, any rational or half-rational beings
except men, anywhere, anywhen, or anyhow; that
nymphs, satyrs, fauns, inui, dwarfs, trolls, elves, gnomes,
fairies, brownies, nixes, wills, kobolds, leprechaunes,
cluricaunes, banshees, will-o’-the-wisps, follets, lutins,
magots, goblins, afrits, marids, jinns, ghouls, peris,
deevs, angels, archangels, imps, bogies, or worse, were
nothing at all, and pure bosh and wind. And he had to
get up very early in the morning to prove that, and to
eat his breakfast overnight; but he did it, at least to his
own satisfaction. Whereon a certain great divine, and a
very clever divine was he, called him a regular Saddu-
cee; and probably he was quite right. Whereon the
professor, in return, called him a regular Pharisee; and
probably he was quite right too. But they did not quarrel
in the least; for, when men are men of the world, hard
words run off them like water off a duck’s back. So the
professor and the divine met at dinner that evening, and
sat together on the sofa afterwards for an hour, and
talked over the state of female labour on the antarctic
continent (for nobody talks shop after his claret), and
each vowed that the other was the best company he ever
met in his life. What an advantage it is to be men of the
From all which you may guess that the professor was not
the least of little Ellie’s opinion. So he gave her a suc-
cinct compendium of his famous paper at the British
Association, in a form suited for the youthful mind. But,
as we have gone over his arguments against water-babies
once already, which is once too often, we will not repeat
them here.
Now little Ellie was, I suppose, a stupid little girl; for,
instead of being convinced by Professor Ptthmllnsprts'
arguments, she only asked the same question over again.
"But why are there not water-babies?"*
"Because there ain't."

*Between "But why are there not water-babies?" and "Because there ain't.", there is a paragraph which has been omitted from Henry's book: "I trust and hope that it was because the professor trod at that moment on the edge of a very sharp mussel, and hurt one of his corns sadly, that he answered quite sharply, forgetting that he was a scientific man, and therefore ought to have known that he couldn't know; and that he was a logician, and therefore ought to have known that he could not prove a universal negative — I say, I trust and hope it was because the mussel hurt his corn, that the professor answered quite sharply:"

Popular Culture

Props Notes

Ingredients to break Sleeping Curse
1) Tongue of newt Eye Tongue!!!
2) Otter spleen
3) Goat tears
  • PAUSE AND READ: The book page that Emma places on the table to enact Gideon's spell contains a version of Lorem ipsum,[20] 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 ipsum 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. Emma's page begins with the opening words of the standard Lorem ipsum passage: "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit".[21]
  • Note that the text is only seen from far away and is extremely difficult to read. A partial deciphering, done via digital image enhancements, and close scrutiny of the Blu-ray playing on a large television screen, reads:[22]

There was [five illegible words]
[two illegible words] along the evil Sorcerer's [three illegible words]
purpose of dead (?) spells that had cautioned people
[three illegible words] among the farm folk [two illegible words]
of these [three illegible words] in barely more [illegible word]
than a whisper from the (?) caverns of the old [illegible word]
[two illegible words] there was a [two illegible words] the [illegible word]
would [illegible word] everything that was said good or [illegible word]
he had heard [illegible word] of [four illegible words]
growing up with them in (?) [illegible word] every where part of it
[two illegible words] But Gideon was unafraid. He drew on
his sword and turned to face the Evil Sorcerer, ready to
save the people he loved.

Set Dressing

  • HIDDEN DETAILS: Two hanging cages are sitting on the floor in the Black Fairy's chambers.[27] The hanging cage was a medieval torture device in which the victim was either displayed and later freed from, or locked inside and left to die.[28]
  • The expiration date is December 2015.

Costume Notes

Filming Locations


International Titles



  1. Porter, Rick (April 11, 2017). ‘Chicago Justice,’ ‘Madam Secretary’ and ’60 Minutes’ adjust up: Sunday final ratings. TV by the Numbers. “Once Upon a Time (ABC) (...) 2.60”
  2. 2.0 2.1 LISTINGS: ONCE UPON A TIME. The Futon Critic. “Air Date: Sunday, April 09, 2017. Time Slot: 8:00 PM-9:00 PM EST on ABC. Episode Title: (#616) "Mother's Little Helper".”
  3. File:616Title.png
  4. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (January 5, 2017). "First #OnceUponATime #titlespoiler of the New Year! Hope to see ya in March!" (screenshot)
  5. Neumyer, Scott (September 27, 2013). Q&A: ‘Once Upon a Time’ Creators on Having a Role for Kelly Clarkson. Rolling Stone. “That could be an issue of the age of your show's audience as well. Kitsis: That could be. They're not as big Rolling Stones fans as us. [Laughs]”
  6. InstagramIcon.png msjaimemurray (Jaime Murray). April 9, 2017. "Wanna see how you make fairies fly?? #BlackFairy #onceuponatime #MothersLittleHelper tonight 8pm #abc 🦋✨🐍 ....You photograph them from every conceivable angle of course! It's all smoke and mirrors... and a lot of cameras too! 🎥✨📸✨" (archive copy)
  7. TwitterLogo.svg @BastardSonVan (Larry Andreutti) on Twitter (April 9, 2017). "That whole scene in the sorcerer's mansion was supposed to be a forest scene but got moved indoors due to heavy rain" (screenshot)
  8. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (April 9, 2017). "Here's another #OnceUponATime #scripttease -- hope to see ya tonight!" (screenshot)
  9. File:616Light.png
  10. File:612TalkedToRobin.png
  11. Gioia, Michael (August 6, 2015). History in the Making — Revolutionary Musical Hamilton Opens on Broadway Tonight. Playbill.
  12. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (April 9, 2017). "For the record, in the #OnceUponATime universe #Hamilton hit Broadway about 18 months earlier than in our universe." (screenshot)
  13. Abrams, Natalie. Once Upon a Time: Ultimate villain arrives as Final Battle begins. Entertainment Weekly. ““As we showed in the pilot, Emma was prophesied to come back and break the curse and the Final Battle would begin,” executive producer Edward Kitsis tells EW. “It appears we thought we had taken care of that, but it turns out that was not true.””
  14. File:616ClockTower.png
  15. The Story of Beauty & the Beast: The complete fairy story translated from the French by Ernest Dowson. With four plates in colour by Charles Condor. (digitized eBook) pp. 73. Internet Archive. Retrieved on October 24, 2021. “On her return, she was filled with admiration at the effects of the care she had bestowed upon me, and she began to conceive for me a love which was different from the love of a mother. She had previously permitted me to call her by this name, but now she forbade me to do so.”
  16. 16.0 16.1 File:616SnowWhiteAndRoseRed.png
  17. File:616TheGoldenBird.png
  18. The Water Babies, by Charles Kingsley: Chapter IV. The University of Adelaide. Archived from the original on September 14, 2015. Retrieved on November 19, 2018.
  19. File:616WhatIsThis.png
  20. File:616BookShakes.png
  21. Lorem Ipsum. lipsum.com. Retrieved on August 24, 2018.
  22. 22.0 22.1 File:616SpiderPage.png
  23. File:616ListenToThem.png
  24. File:701MyWings.png
  25. File:703SomethingFromYou.png
  26. File:706OnlyLovedChild.png
  27. File:616ReachingForOrb.png
  28. The Wrong View of History, Jack Paraskovich, Xlibris, 2016, pp. 118 - 119. Facsimile by Google Books.
  29. File:515EvilTwin.png
  30. File:601CarryingTray2.png
  31. File:721SearchingForFamily.png
  32. File:616CleaningHerBoot.png
  33. File:602NightParty2.png
  34. File:616NumberPlate.png
  35. File:616OneMoreTime.png
  36. The Kooples Ruffle Bib Blouse. Bloomingdale's. Retrieved on August 24, 2018.
  37. File:IGlee j buckley-616.png
    File:IGlee J buckley-616-2.png
  38. TwitterLogo.svg @WhatsFilming (What's Filming) on Twitter (January 17, 2017). "#OnceUponATime is filming at Spanish Banks, then #UBC's Cecil Green Park House for rest of today & tomorrow." (screenshot)
    Tumblr.png Katmtan — I'm out of the country but I'll be sure to keep you guys updated on filming when I can… Spanish Banks filming apparently were: Colin and lost boys. No idea on 2nd location. on Tumblr  (January 17,2017) (screenshot)
    File:IGhelgaungurait-616.png (notice Black Beard at the far left)
  39. File:609GrabsSword.png
  40. File:616Alright.png
  41. File:622LetHerGo.png