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This article focuses on the Season Four episode.
For the operation, see Operation Mongoose (operation).

Thanks to the hero Regina's sacrifice, Isaac's villainous work was undone.

Henry's first story as the Author

"Operation Mongoose Part 2" is the twenty-second and final episode of Season Four of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz, and directed by Ralph Hemecker. It is the eighty-eighth episode of the series overall, and premiered on May 10, 2015.

This episode is the second part of the season four finale, and premiered immediately following "Operation Mongoose Part 1".


The Author proves to be a formidable wild card and forges an alliance with Gold. Emma, her parents, Hook and Regina scramble to stop them, but when Gold and the Author turn the tables on heroes and villains alike, the prospect of any happy outcome appears worlds away. Henry discovers he has big shoes to fill as he steps up to save his family before the story's final page is turned. It's a race to the finish, and everything culminates with a shocking twist that will leave the residents of Storybrooke reeling.[2]


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

In Isaac's Enchanted Forest, the knight Rumplestiltskin rides his horse across the countryside to his cottage and his beloved wife, Belle. He then goes to check on his infant son but is surprised to be greeted by a man he does not recognize. His house-guest introduces himself as Isaac, a traveler who Belle invited in to slake his thirst. He asks Belle to get him some more water. Rumplestiltskin instantly realizes that Isaac has not come to his home for the water. Isaac explains to the Light One that he is here delivering a warning—a young boy is on the loose and on a mission to help a bandit named Regina. If the boy succeeds, it will destroy the world as Rumplestiltskin knows it. Rumplestiltskin does not believe a word, thinking Isaac is trying to corrupt him into harming the boy and Regina. Isaac tells him that his world is not real, but a creation of Magic, and it is in danger of falling apart if Rumplestiltskin does not do something. He tries to explain by recalling how his story originally went-he was arguably the worst villain of all time, so he asked Isaac to rewrite his story so he would no longer be such. Isaac provides further evidence by revealing he knows secrets about the Light One that not even Belle knows--Baelfire, Rumplestiltskin's first son. He tells him of how Baelfire fell in the first of the Ogre Wars in spite of his father's heroic efforts, but originally, Baelfire met his end through his father's cowardice. The Light One is taken aback at such an idea and sends Isaac on his way, but not before Isaac tells him one last time that he is not really a hero, and unless he kills Regina, everyone, including Belle, will know it.

Elsewhere in the realm, Henry finds his way to the Jolly Roger and Hook, looking for passage across the Bottomless Sea to rescue Emma, but quickly learns that Hook has been rewritten into a far cry from the man Henry knew. Instead, Hook is a timid, cowardly deckhand on the Jolly Roger under the orders of Captain Black Beard. Watching Black Beard intimidate and bully Hook, Henry tries to convince Hook to stand up for himself, but Hook is too frightened to help. Taking matters into his own hands, Henry knocks Black Beard unconscious and tells the pirate to set sail to save Emma.

Henry and Hook reach the Emma's remote island prison and successfully defeat the soldier standing guard by knocking him out. Henry takes the guard's keys and races to the top of the tower, where he finds his mother. Aware that Isaac has likely rewritten her memories, he slowly approaches her, and is shocked and ecstatic when she recognizes him. As Henry unlocks her shackles, Emma explains that the Dark One and the Author's punishment for her was that she knew about the book's spell but could not do anything about it, as well as being stripped her of her magic. Henry, however, has an idea.

As the three make their getaway, Hook is introduced to Emma and sheepishly tells her he is glad she has reclaimed her freedom, but is cut short when the guard from earlier awakens. As fate—or rather, Isaac Heller—would have it, the knight is none other than Lily Page, a fierce dragoness. Emma and Hook work together and just manage to fire the cannon and knock the dragon into the sea. Curious as to why Emma just trusted him with her life, Emma agrees to tell him her story, but first they need to work on Hook's fighting skills.

At the palace of Queen Snow White, Her Majesty is not at all happy that her minions have been unable to capture Regina and Henry. Grumpy blames the situation on the Blue Fairy for using her dark fairy dust to render his ax useless, which sparks Widow Lucas to accuse him of being unable to take responsibility for his own actions. Before their argument escalates, the Queen claims not to be angry. She tells them that since she is the leader, it is her duty to motivate her troops, and she provides this "motivation" in the form of ripping out Doc's heart and crushing it to dust. She threatens to reduce the number even further until they complete the simple task of finding and killing Regina and the boy.

In a village square, Emma teaches Killian how to use a sword. She tells him more of her alternate world she hopes to return to, and he is captivated to hear that the two of them were close. The moment is cut short when Lily appears with the Queen and Charming, along with many soldiers of the Black Guard. Emma tries to reason with her parents, telling them they were the ones who taught her to be a hero and believe in hope, and tells them they need to believe too. For a moment, Snow White's tone changes and it appears Emma's power may still be intact to get through to her mother, but Her Majesty quickly turns the tables. She tells Emma that hope is a very powerful thing, which is exactly why she must crush it out of Emma and her dreadful son. At that moment, Charming spots Henry and a sword fight ensues. Emma rushes to protect her son as Killian discovers he is a natural with a sword and disarms Charming. Unfortunately, during his boast to Her Majesty, Charming gets to his feet and runs the pirate through. Emma is devastated, but Henry manages to get her to run before the Queen aims a fireball at them.

At their cottage, Rumplestiltskin tells Belle that he has learned of a threat to the realm which could undo everything they have. While she believes her husband can overcome it, he further explains that in order to stop this threat, he must make a hard decision and fears making the wrong one. She tries to console her husband with a cup of tea, but he drops and chips the cup. Belle reassures him that it can be fixed, but he ominously wonders if it is that easy.

At Regina's hideaway, Henry introduces Emma to Regina. Emma tries to convince Regina that her happiness is still a possibility, and the first step is opening her heart to love and going after Robin Hood. Regina doubts this, reminding her that she will have to crash his wedding to Zelena. Emma can tell that those are Regina's insecurities speaking and tells her own story of watching the man she love die before she told him she loved him. She encourages her friend not to make the same mistake, that this is a risk worth taking.

Emma, Henry, and Regina race to the church and Regina readies herself to tell Robin how she feels when Rumplestiltskin appears and declares that no one is going to disturb this wedding. Emma duels the Light One while Regina heads for the church. Eventually, Rumplestiltskin manages to disarm her and knock her to the ground. Refusing to let his mother die, Henry takes up her sword, but he is no match for Rumplestiltskin. Driven to remain a hero, he lunges at the boy, but at the last second Regina comes through and takes the sword's deadly strike herself. Realizing what he has done, Rumplestiltskin vanishes and the wedding bells toll, meaning the book has ended and Emma fears there is no way to fix things now. Robin rushes to Regina's aid, and is shocked when Zelena expresses bitterness at Regina for ruining her big day by getting blood on her dress. This causes Zelena's skin to turn green and she flees in surprise. Robin tries to console Regina, but Isaac mocks them for being too late. Angry, Emma punches the Author and demands he undo the book and save Regina. He replies that he cannot since he is no longer the Author. As if in a trance, Henry takes the Author's quill, which gives off a strange blue glow, and Henry realizes he is the next Author. Isaac smugly continues that he is still powerless without any ink, but Henry figures that in this reality, he doesn't need the blood of a dark savior, but a light one. He takes some from Regina's wound and writes:

Thanks to the hero Regina's sacrifice, Isaac's villainous work was undone.

This breaks the book's hold on everyone and in a blast of blue magic, everyone returns to Storybrooke.

After being returned to town, Emma rushes to the loft and is happy to see that Hook is alive and well. She prepares to tell him that she loves him, but at the last moment takes it back and simply thanks him for helping her.

At Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer, Isaac realizes that he has failed and tries to run, but Mary Margaret and David stop him. Before bringing him to justice for what he did to an entire world of people, they ask him what drove him to do that. Isaac explains he holds no grudge against them, but what they are symbols of: heroes. After a lifetime of bosses who fancied themselves heroes and pushing around people like him, Isaac wanted his chance to win and be the hero. Mary Margaret responds that instead, he has become a villain—choosing himself over others. She further tells him that making others miserable for your own gain just makes you more unhappy. As someone who knows how it feels to have your heart darken, she tells him that is not something she would idolize, but pity.

At the mayor's office, Henry stares at the quill and two storybooks when the Apprentice enters. Henry reveals that he has been contemplating if he could use the quill to revive his father, as he did with Hook. The Apprentice explains that not even an Author can undo death, and Hook did not really die, as the world of Heroes and Villains was a work of fiction Isaac created and Henry erased. He comforts the boy by telling him the best way to honor lost loved ones is to tell their stories. Turning his attention to Once Upon a Time, the Apprentice explains that these stories cannot be erased because they are not merely stories, but the truth, which the Author must write. He hopes that Henry will be able to resist the temptation of the quill, for the power to change reality is only outweighed by the price. Realizing he is right, Henry snaps the quill in two, deciding nobody should be that powerful. The Apprentice smiles, saying that it seems they have found the right person for the job.

Belle enters the pawnshop to make sure Gold will not inflict harm to anyone else, but instead finds her ex-husband getting weaker by the moment. He muses that at least he had one last taste in the book with a happy marriage and good life. Belle reveals that she had loved him either way, and they could have had a good marriage in Storybrooke, asking him why he threw it away. Heartbroken and feeble, he tells her that he could not bring himself to believe in it. He tells her to go with Will, but she admits that she does not love Will, and has no intention of letting him die alone. Frightened for her safety, he tells her to run far away. Once he dies, all that will be left is the Dark One. Without a human soul to weigh it down, the darkness will be unstoppable.

At Granny's Diner, the residents of Storybrooke are gathered for a celebration. Hook, Emma, Mary Margaret, and David patch up over the chaos and violence that ensued between them in Isaac's world. While hugging her parents, Emma spots Lily sitting alone across the diner. She walks over to her old friend, who explains that she was hoping to stick around town for a while, hoping to find her biological dragon father. Not even her mother knows who he is, as Lily's conception occurred while in dragon form. Emma smiles and tells her she would be happy to have her stay. The moment is cut short when Belle races in, telling the townspeople what Gold told her—his heart is nearly gone, and the town is in more danger than ever.

At the pawnshop, the Apprentice opens the Sorcerer's Hat, removes the nearly coal-black heart from Gold's chest, and casts a spell. He explains that the spell should remove the darkness from the heart and contain it in the Hat. With the spell, the Dark One's curse ends and the dagger is blank, and Mr. Gold's heart is now pure white. Since Rumplestiltskin has been the Dark One for so long, his heart has contained more darkness than possibly any other in existence, so it is unclear if he will be healed. He casts a preservation spell on the man's frail body to protect him until they can discern if he can be helped. Before he can explain any further, the darkness breaks free and attacks him. Emma manages to repel it with a blast of light magic, but she cannot stop it from spiraling out into town. As David and Mary Margaret run to chase it down, the Apprentice tells the others the tale of the Darkness. Long ago, the Sorcerer battled the Darkness and was able to stop it from consuming the realms by tying it down to a human soul and controlling it with an enchanted dagger—the birth of the Dark One's curse. Believing the Sorcerer to be the only one who can destroy the Darkness forever, he tells them to find the Sorcerer—a wizard called Merlin.

Back in town, the Darkness has seemingly vanished as Emma, Mary Margaret, David, and Hook run into Regina and Robin, who are out on a walk in the moonlight. Emma, however, realizes that the Darkness has not gone anywhere, but is surrounding them. It comes winding down toward Regina, and the group realizes the Darkness has chosen its new host. Knowing how hard Regina has worked for her happiness, Emma refuses to let this happen to her friend and takes up the Dark One's dagger. Her loved ones protest, and she assures her parents that they can find a way to take this new darkness from her. She tells Killian she loves him and picks up the cursed dagger. The Darkness encircles her, binding her soul to the Darkness before both it and she vanish into thin air. The Dark One's dagger drops to the ground. The camera pans toward the knife to see the new Dark One's name engraved across it--EMMA SWAN.

Deleted Scenes

"We Can Fix It!"

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

After Henry frees Emma, he tells her that Hook helped him find her. Emma wonders what Mr. Gold did to Hook, and Henry says that he isn't exactly the man Emma knew back in Storybrooke.[3]



Guest Starring





  • The title card features Emma's tower.[5]
    • During the original airing, the two parts were separated by a different title card featuring a swan.[6] The manner in which the letters form to make the show logo is different from the other episodes as is the musical accompaniment. The swan title card also appears in the Blu-ray/DVD version of this episode.
    • The same musical accompaniment is used in the original and Blu-ray/DVD version of "An Untold Story".
    • The swan title card was also used in the original airing of "There's No Place Like Home".
  • The title of this episode was announced by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on March 19, 2015.[7]

Production Notes

  • REUSED FOOTAGE: The establishing shot of the pawnshop at the end of the episode[9] is stock footage from a montage shot from "Unforgiven".[10] The new shot does not have Mr. Gold in it (the original shot opens with him walking out on the street, where he stays for the rest of the shot), indicating that the new shot was created from cut footage from before Mr. Gold walked out on the street.

Event Chronology

Episode Connections

  • In Isaac's story, Belle is Neal's mother.[4] This is fitting since Belle is often his babysitter in Storybrooke in episodes such as "Breaking Glass", "Smash the Mirror", and "Lily".
  • Isaac recalls Mr. Gold asking him to rewrite his story in "Mother" and "Operation Mongoose Part 1".
  • As per Rumplestiltskin's false memories, he was an honored hero in the Ogre Wars, in direct contrast to his actual cowardice in "Manhattan".
  • Baelfire's actual death occurred in "Quiet Minds".
  • Once again, Black Beard is in control of the Jolly Roger, just as he was in "The Jolly Roger" and "Fall".
  • Black Beard challenges Hook to duel him for the Jolly Roger, which the two pirates did in "The Jolly Roger".
  • Henry recalls Hook teaching him about navigating ships in "It's Not Easy Being Green" and they went sailing, albeit off-screen, in "Breaking Glass".
  • Emma's fate in the world of Heroes and Villains is very similar to Jefferson's "punishment" under the first Dark Curse in "Hat Trick".
  • Lily is not the first dragon that Emma has fought; she previously battled Maleficent in "A Land Without Magic".
  • Emma recalls Hook's frequent utilization of rum, something she first became familiar with in "Tallahassee".
  • Queen Snow White's assembly of her underlings mirrors the council of her allies seen in "Pilot".
  • In the alternate reality, Grumpy seems to strongly dislike fairies. His true self also has history with the fairies, as seen in "Dreamy".
  • Grumpy refers to Granny as a wolf, the context of which is explained in "Red-Handed".
  • Emma first used a sword in "A Land Without Magic".
  • This is not the first time Hook has been jealous of himself; he previously expressed envy when Emma flirted with his past self in "Snow Drifts".
  • Emma tells her parents she believes in hope and now they need to believe too. This is reminiscent of Henry's monologue to Regina when telling her that he believes she can defeat Zelena in "Kansas".
  • Hook is killed after defeating an enemy, then boasting about it, giving the enemy enough time to get back up and impale him. Prince James met his fate the same way against the Behemoth in "The Shepherd".
  • The conversation between Belle and Rumplestiltskin about a threat to their happiness reflects a conversation he had with Lacey in "Second Star to the Right".
  • While drinking tea, Rumplestiltskin drops and chips his teacup. Belle did the same to a now-iconic piece of china in "Skin Deep".
  • Regina declares that her happy ending is not a man. She previously stated this in "Mother".
  • Emma promised to get Regina her happy ending in "A Tale of Two Sisters".
  • The priest who serves as the marriage officiant at Zelena and Robin Hood's wedding is the same priest that oversaw Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding in "Pilot".
  • Rumplestiltskin's flaw of self-preservation, choosing himself over others, was first addressed in "The Return".
  • Zelena's skin turns green when her envy takes over, just as it did in "It's Not Easy Being Green".
  • Isaac tricked Snow White and Prince Charming into doing something horrible to Maleficent and her daughter Lily in "Best Laid Plans".
  • What happened to Isaac after he was taken into custody is revealed in "Mother's Little Helper".
  • Mr. Gold learned his heart was blackening at a dangerous rate in "Heart of Gold".
  • STORYBOOK CONTENT: The Apprentice opens the storybook to an illustration of Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding in "Pilot".[12]
  • Mr. Gold tried to use the Sorcerer's Hat to free himself from the Dark One Dagger in "Heroes and Villains".
  • The Darkness is transferred back into Mr. Gold in "Swan Song".
  • Mr. Gold is awoken from his coma in "Siege Perilous".
  • Emma's parents found a way to protect her from succumbing to darkness in "Best Laid Plans".
  • The Apprentice eventually dies in "The Dark Swan".
  • Emma is reunited with her friends and loved ones in "The Dark Swan".
  • Emma remains the new Dark One until "Swan Song", where the Darkness is removed from her.




Fairytales and Folklore

  • The same excerpt appears in dozens of episodes; read the trivia section in the article for Henry's storybook for more information and a transcript.
  • Another storybook page ends with an excerpt from the fairytale of "Snow-White and Rose-Red".[15]
  • The same text appears in several episodes; again, read the trivia section for Henry's storybook for more information and a transcript.

Popular Culture

Props Notes

  • The layout of the newspaper page that Isaac is reading,[35] is based on the The New York Times Best Seller list.[36] Notice how the prop maker included the "weeks on list", but forgot to add in the number of weeks for the books presented.
  • PAUSE AND READ: The Hardback Fiction bestseller list, is adapted from The New York Times Best Seller list for March 29, 2015:[37]
Two Punks in Paris, By Bill Burd (Hansen Knowles.) Part memoir, part travellog, Burd pens an interesting set of vignettes, set in the dawning days of the 1980's. A reference to the property master on the show. Bill Burd is also the author of one of the novels on a shelf, next to the Heroes and Villains paperback in "Operation Mongoose Part 1".[38]
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. (Scribner.) The lives of a blind French girl and a gadget-obsessed German boy before and during World War II. La Marionetta, By Antonine Hepanza (Walnut Tree.) The lives of a Mute Neapolitan girl and a cinema-obsessed German boy before and during World War II.
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. (Knopf.) Four generations of a family are drawn to a house in the Baltimore suburbs. Olivia Marque's Funeral, By Americus Van Resenee (Scale and Weather.) Four generations of a family are mysteriously drawn to a village in Equador. This novel can also be seen next to the Heroes and Villains paperback in "Operation Mongoose Part 1".[39]

The author's name also appears on a headstone prop created for the Hyperion Heights Cemetery in the Season Seven episode "Is This Henry Mills?".[40] The headstone, however, does not appear on-screen.
Last One Home, by Debbie Macomber. (Ballantine.) Three estranged sisters work to resolve their differences. The Cicada Tree, By Terence Barnwright (P. V.) Three estranged sisters work to resolve their differences during the Great Depression.
Prodigal Son, by Danielle Steel. (Delacorte.) Twins, one good and one bad, reunite after 20 years when one of them returns to their hometown. All the Unusual Places, By Elizabeth Harpinster (P. V.) Twins, one good and one morally ambivalent, reunite after 20 years when one of them return to their hometown.
The Whites, by Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt. (Holt.) A slashing in Penn Station draws a Manhattan detective back into a case from the past that haunts him. Project Nimbus, By Fred Danzetti (Anchorage.) A terrorist attack in Grand Central Station draws a [sic] FBI agent back into a case from the past that haunts him.
All the Old Knives, by Olen Steinhauer. (Minotaur.) A C.I.A. case officer meets with a former colleague and lover to try to understand a massacre in Vienna in 2006. Hidden Informant, By Klaus Jandermann (Hemera.) A CIA case officer meets with a former colleague and lover to try to understand a massacre in Helsinki in 1994. This novel can also be seen next to the Heroes and Villains paperback in "Operation Mongoose Part 1".[38]
World Gone By, by Dennis Lehane. (Morrow/ HarperCollins.) In 1943, the gangster Joe Coughlin, a rising power in the Tampa underworld, discovers that there is a contract out on his life; the final book in a trilogy. The Triad Undertow, By Ron West (Hansen Knowles.) In 1943, the secret agent G. Venturi, pursues rising power in the Tokyo underworld, discovers that there is a contract out on his life; the final book in a trilogy. "G. Venturi" is a a reference to art director Greg Venturi.
The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro. (Knopf.) In a semi-historical ancient Britain, an elderly couple set out in search of their son. The Tattooed Demon, By Jim Grange (P. V.) In a semi-historical ancient Gaul, an elderly couple set out in search of their daughter.
The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. (Riverhead.) A psychological thriller set in London. The Undiscovered, By Antonette Dollante (Scale and Weather.) A psychological thriller set in Austin, Texas.
  • The fictional publisher of The Cicada Tree, All the Unusual Places and The Tattooed Demon is P. V., the same as Isaac's novel Heroes and Villains, as seen on his podium during the book signing in the previous episode, "Operation Mongoose Part 1".[41]
  • The Paperback Trade Fiction bestseller list includes the following titles (note that most of the list is too blurred to read):
  • The Ladder
  • The Marzipan Rose. This book can also be seen next to the Heroes and Villains paperback in "Operation Mongoose Part 1".[38]
  • The Shipwrecked Dutchman. The description ("… 50-gun Spanish ship Natividad is sighted off the… much more powerful ship in a sea battle…") is copied directly from Wikipedia's summary of the novel The Happy Return by C. S. Forester: "While Hornblower replenishes his supplies, the 50-gun Spanish ship Natividad is sighted off the coast heading his way. Unwilling to risk fighting the much more powerful ship in a sea battle, Hornblower hides nearby until it anchors and then captures it in a daring, surprise nighttime boarding."
  • My Spirited Heretic by Sophia Tanniston
  • The Sorcerers of Xandor. The description ("…help mythical creatures assimilate into society") is copied from a summary for Moster Musume, Vol. 9", found on The New York Times Manga bestseller list: "A teenager who agrees to help mythical creatures assimilate into society gets more than he bargained for."[42]
  • The information about the list, is taken from The New York Times bestseller list: "This page features a rotating combination of weekly best sellers — Paperback Trade Fiction, Mass-Market Fiction, Paperback Nonfiction, Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous, Manga, Hardcover Graphic Books, Paperback Graphic Books — and monthly best sellers by subject category. Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous Best Sellers includes both e-book and print book sales, as do the monthly lists. An asterisk (*) indicates that a book's sales are barely distinguishable from those of the book above. A dagger (†) indicates that some bookstores report receiving bulk orders. The full categories and expanded rankings of both weekly and monthly lists can be viewed online" (the ending, "at nytimes.com/best-sellers" has been removed from the show's version).[36]
  • The fictional novel pictured in the newspaper is The Stellar Jay by Justice Greybridge. The praise for the novel reads: "'Completely fascinating and told with a feverish and furious necessity. -Jason Kent".[35] It is adapted from a review printed on the 2013 novel Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil: "'Completely fascinating and told with a feverish and furious necessity.' --Alan Warner".[43]
  • Below that, there is a book review of My Spirited Heretic (from the paperback bestseller list),[35][17] which is adapted from The New York Times's review of the book Wake Up Happy Every Day by Stephen May, from March 15: 2015:[44]

‘Wake Up Happy Every Day,’ by Stephen May

P[obscured]back Row

[obscured]RETIC, by Sophia Tannis-

There's a reason many readers will
forgive the comic novel a clunky narra-
tive structure or uneven pacing; a reason
they'll forgive a predisposition to
tangents, tics or lack of emotional depth.
The reason is simple — because funny
is hard, both to execute and to resist.

[obscured]on many readers will
[obscured]ic novel a clunky narra-
[obscured]even pacing; a reason
[obscured] a predisposition to
[obscured]ck of emotional depth.
[obscured]ple — because hilari-
[obscured]ecute and to resist.

That's not to say Stephen May's third
novel, "Wake Up Happy Every Day," suffers
from the above maladies. In fact, it admirably
avoids most of them. But without
question it is May's comic touch
that drives the book.

[obscured]a Tanniston's third
[obscured]eretic suffers
[obscured]n fact, it admirably
[obscured] them. But without
[obscured]niston's comic touch

The central characters are a couple
of British expatriates in San Francisco.
When Nicky's childhood friend and best man, the (...)

[obscured]ters are a couple
[obscured] York. When
[obscured] the

  • There is an article called "Is the writing life a vocation or merely a career?",[17] which is adapted from excerpts from a real article in The New York Times called "Is Being a Writer a Job or a Calling?", from January 2015:[45]
Is Being a Writer a Job or a Calling?

JAN. 27, 2015



M. Soparlo

That teenage vision of Parnassus
was followed by years of sitting at the
computer, fighting off feelings of
boredom with work and frustration
with self, as visions of art were
replaced by visions of picking up the
That adolescent vision of Parnassus
was followed by aeons of sitting at the
keyboard, staving off feelings of
[image ends] with work and frustration
[image ends]s of art were
[image ends] up the
dry cleaning. “A writer is someone
for whom writing is more difficult
than it is for other people,” Thomas
Mann said; and it is good that no
beginner suspects how torturous
writing is, or how little it improves
with practice, or how the real
rejections come not from editors but
from our own awareness of the gap
yawning between measly talent and
lofty vocation. Fear of that gap
destroys writers: through the
failure of purpose called writer’s
block; through the crutches we use
to carry us past it.
No young writer can know how rare
inspiration is — or how, in its
place, the real talent turns out
to be sitting down, propelling
oneself, day after day, through
the self-doubt surrounding our
nebulous enterprise, trying to
believe, as when we began, that
writing is important. Not to
believe that literature — other
people's writing — is important.
But to believe that our own
writing, imperfect, unfinished,
inevitably falling short, might
matter to anyone else.
We never know if we are doing it right.
Even the best writing
will never have the imme-
diate, measurable impact that
know for sure if we are doing it right.
Even the most superlative writing
imaginable will never have the imme-
diate, measurable impact that may
a doctor's work has,
or a plumber's.
jobs have on the population at-large,
that which a doctor's work has, a
district attorney, or a plumber's.
To discover if we
are on the right track, we can, and
do, become obsessed with
our “careers,” which is the
word we use for what other people
[image ends] discover whether or not we
[image ends] right track, we can, and
[image ends]y obsessed with
[image ends]ich is the
[image ends]le
think of us. And we secretly welcome
the unanswered emails and unpaid
royalties that beleaguer us as they
do every working life — their whiff
of bureaucracy making us feel part
of the adult world. Because, hard
as it is, writing rarely feels
like a real job.
  • CREW NAMES ON PROPS: The news reporter is called "M. Soparlo",[17] a reference to production staff member Mark Soparlo.
  • An article called "Has Digital Imagery Supplanted the Printed Word?"[17] is copied from a real article in The New York Times from June 17, 2014, called "Has the Electronic Image Supplanted the Written Word?". The following is the first two paragraphs of the original article, with the words that can be seen on-screen set in bold:[50]
Has the Electronic
Image Supplanted
the Written Word?

By Dana Stevens and Rivka Galchen

June 17, 2014

Upon its publication in 1964, "Under-
standing Media
" — the elliptical,

prophetic, wildly successful third book
by Marshall McLuhan — turned its
author, then an English professor at
the University of Toronto, into one of
the world's most prominent public
intellectuals, a pop shaman of the
dawning television age. (It didn't hurt
that McLuhan, whose skill at coining
catchphrases eventually gave him a
second career as a business and adver-
tising consultant, was the shrewdest
self-promoter since P. T. Barnum.)
McLuhan quickly became the thinker
anyone aspiring to hipness had better at
least pretend to have read and — here things
got trickier — understood. Thirteen years
later, McLuhan's influence was still
widespread enough to inspire the "Annie
" scene in which Woody Allen's
Alvy Singer, overhearing yet another
pretentious McLuhan conversation in a movie
line, produces the scholar himself from
behind a sign to disabuse the academic
speaker of his misperceptions: "You know
nothing of my work. . . . How you ever got
to teach a course in anything is totally

To read "Understanding Media" in
2014 is to wish McLuhan, who died in
1980 at the age of 69, were still
available in theater lobbies for consul-
tation. The book is a structural maze
whose repetitiveness, rhetorical
vagueness and propensity for brazen self-
contradiction will drive your inner editor to
contemplate rash acts. But flashing out of the
 murk at regular intervals are aphoristic
bursts of uncannily prescient wisdom about the
history and future of the various technologies
of human communication — what McLuhan refers to
in the book's subtitle as "the extensions of man."
After a while you get accustomed to the terrain of
McLuhan's mind — a place of dizzying shifts and
precipitous drops, crammed to bursting with false
etymologies and weirdly inapposite literary
references, where making sense is less important
than making big, bold connections. "The electric
light is pure information." "Print technology
transformed the medieval zero into the Renaissance
infinity." "Einstein pronounced the doom of
continuous or ‘rational’ space, and the way was
made clear for Picasso and the Marx Brothers
and Mad." These sweeping, oracular pronouncements
don’t always lend themselves to paraphrase or
rational explanation. Rather, they function as
invitations to readers to use these ideas as tools
in their own thinking about media, which perhaps
explains why McLuhan later called his mantra-
like formulations "probes."

  • HIDDEN DETAILS: The same newspaper was mentioned on the cover[38] and book blurb[39] for Heroes and Villains in "Operation Mongoose Part 1". In the Season Two episode "Manhattan", the name appeared on a vending machine when Neal was running from Emma in New York City.[52]
  • STORYBOOK CONTENT: In "The Snow Queen", an illustration of Snow White and Prince Charming kissing in Henry's storybook, was accompanied by a story about Charming protecting his infant daughter Emma from the Black Knights.[15] In this episode, the text has been replaced by a description of the scene where the Evil Queen interrupts Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding in "Pilot"[53] (note that most of the text is illegible or off-screen, but appears in a photograph from an online prop auction;[54] this text is set in fuchsia):

The Queen paced back and forth,
filling the spectators with fear as
she declared her evil intentions
for the kingdom. "Soon, every-
thing you love, everything all of
you love, will be taken from
you forever. And from your
suffering, will rise my victory."

The Queen then turned to face Charming and Snow. "I
shall destroy your happiness if it is the last thing I do. [sic]
Having made her vows, the Queen turned and began
to walk away. But Charming, unwilling to let the
Queen's threat go unanswered, grabbed his sword and
threw it at the evil woman. Before the sword could hit
her, however, the Queen vanished into a dark puff of
smoke. The sword hit the ground with a clatter, and the
Queen was gone.

Set Dressing

Costume Notes

  • USE IT AGAIN: She wears the same coat in the Season Five premiere "The Dark Swan".[62]

Filming Locations


International Titles



  1. Sunday Final Ratings: 'Once Upon A Time' & 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' Adjusted Up. TV by the Numbers (May 12, 2015). “Once Upon A Time (...) 5.51”
  2. 2.0 2.1 LISTINGS: ONCE UPON A TIME. The Futon Critic. “Air Date: Sunday, May 10, 2015. Time Slot: 8:00 PM-10:01 PM EST on ABC. Episode Title: (#421/422) "Operation Mongoose Part 1/Part 2".”
  3. S4 Deleted Scene We Can Fix It!. Daily Motion (2015).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 TwitterLogo.svg @KalindaVazquez (Kalinda Vazquez) on Twitter (May 19, 2015). "the intention is that it was baby Neal (MM and David's son)." (screenshot)
  5. File:422TitleAlternate.png
  6. File:422TitleOriginal.png
  7. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (March 19, 2015). "The last season 4 #OnceUponATime #titlespoiler is a big surprise. Hope to see ya Sunday!" (screenshot)
  8. Scneticer, Mark (May 28, 2014). Season Finale Awards: 'Once Upon a Time' creators dish on Hook, Elsa. Entertainment Weekly. “For us, we kind of look at Captain Hook as our Han Solo. We say he's Han Solo with guyliner.”
  9. File:422StorybrookeAtNight.png
  10. File:413ADarkPath2.png
  11. File:622GoldsShop.png
  12. 12.0 12.1 File:422TheGoldenBird.png
  13. File:422SnowCharmingStorybook.png
  14. Dragon. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved on October 13, 2021. “Dragon, in the mythologies, legends, and folktales of various cultures, a large lizard- or serpent-like creature, conceived in some traditions as evil and in others as beneficent. In medieval Europe, dragons were usually depicted with wings and a barbed tail and as breathing fire. (...) In general, in the Middle Eastern world, where snakes are large and deadly, the serpent or dragon was symbolic of the principle of evil. (...) In East Asian mythologies the dragon retains its prestige and is conceived as a beneficent creature. (...) Both Chinese and Japanese dragons, though regarded as powers of the air, are usually wingless. They are among the deified forces of nature in Daoism. Dragons also figure in the ancient mythologies of other Asian cultures, including those of Korea, India, and Vietnam.”
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 File:407SnowCharmingStorybook.png
  16. File:422SorryAboutTheMess.png
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 File:422Newspaper.png
  18. File:101Group.png
  19. File:106WellDone.png
  20. File:120FashionedIntoAVessel.png
  21. File:422WhereIs.png
  22. File:403AWidow.png
  23. File:409IDoubtThat.png
  24. File:501HookAwakens.png
  25. File:502EmmaLeaving.png
  26. File:503TheRoundTable.png
  27. File:504ACloseCall.png
  28. File:505IsAmongUs.png
  29. File:506Stopping.png
  30. File:507HighAlert.png
  31. File:508Birth.png
  32. File:422ThatWedding.png
  33. File:705WithoutHer.png
  34. Once Upon a Time - Rumple as Gold Knight / Tiana's Stunt Sword (0411). iCollector. Archived from the original on July 15, 2020. Retrieved on July 15, 2020. “Gold Knight / Tiana shared sword. This sword is constructed from a wooden blade and cast plastic hilt (S04E22/S07E05).”
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 File:422NotOnThatList.png
  36. 36.0 36.1 "The New York Times Best Seller list" facsimile (PDF). Publisher's Marketplace. Retrieved on December 22, 2018.
  37. The New York Times Best Seller List: March 29, 2015: Fiction (PDF). Hawes. Retrieved on December 22, 2018.
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3 File:421HeroesAndVillainsPaperback.png
  39. 39.0 39.1 File:421BookBlurb.png
  40. TwitterLogo.svg @cathdoll1 (CathDoll) on Twitter (March 5, 2018). "#onceuponatime #OUAT filming in New West today. Graveyard scene ... lookin' a wee sinister 👀" (screenshot) (set photograph)
  41. File:421CloseToMyHeart.png
    The fictional publisher's logo can also be glimpsed on the Heroes and Villains paperback:
  42. BOOKS: BEST SELLERS –Manga. The New York Times (September 19, 2016). Archived from the original on May 4, 2021. “NEW THIS WEEK: MONSTER MUSUME, VOL. 9 by Okayado. Seven Seas Entertainment. A teenager who agrees to help mythical creatures assimilate into society gets more than he bargained for. In this volume, Mero the mermaid holds a secret.” (Note that an archive link has been used to circumvent the newspaper's page view limit.)
  43. Narcopolis Paperback – 7 Feb 2013. Amazon UK. Retrieved on December 22, 2018. “'Completely fascinating and told with a feverish and furious necessity.' --Alan Warner”
  44. Evison, Jonathan (March 20, 2015). ‘Wake Up Happy Every Day,’ by Stephen May. The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 4, 2021. (Note that an archive link has been used to circumvent the newspaper's page view limit.)
  45. Benjamin Moser and Dana Stevens (January 27, 2015). Is Being a Writer a Job or a Calling?. The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 4, 2021. (Note that an archive link has been used to circumvent the newspaper's page view limit.)
  46. File:214ItShouldBeHere.png
  47. File:109Articles.png
  48. File:406NewspaperClipping.png
  49. File:520IJustThought.png
  50. Dana Stevens and Rivka Galchen (June 17, 2014). Has the Electronic Image Supplanted the Written Word?. The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 4, 2021. (Note that an archive link has been used to circumvent the newspaper's page view limit.)
  51. File:211ANauticalGuide.png
  52. File:214IntoTheTraffic.png
  53. File:422SnowCharmingStorybook.png
  54. ONCE UPON A TIME Storybook. Propabilia. Archived from the original on October 25, 2020. (Photograph)
  55. File:107IsSnowWhite3.png
  56. Gung Ho (1961). BoardGameGeek. Retrieved on December 22, 2018.
  57. File:422RushingToHook.png
  58. File:422IsaacIsCaught.png
  59. File:422TellMeMore.png
  60. File:422StillLockedUp.png
  61. The Kooples PYTHON PRINT SILK TOP. Pradux. Retrieved on December 22, 2018.
  62. 62.0 62.1 File:501TakeUsThere.png
  63. File:422InDanger.png
  64. THE LATEST. Club Monaco. Retrieved on December 22, 2018. “FEBRUARY - LOOK 7: DAYLIN COAT”
  65. InstagramIcon.png Jordyn (ouat7669). April 1, 2015. "No idea who this is or what this was about, but ya this happened today haha / Central Park in Canada" (archive copy)
  66. TwitterLogo.svg @heglahegla (Helga Ungurait) on Twitter (May 11, 2015). "ok last one. Amazing church front our team built in a park near the studio. Have a great day everyone. Hug" (screenshot)
  67. File:422IsaacIsCaught.png
    Roberts St, Burnaby, British Columbia. Google Maps (June 2015).