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This article focuses on the Season Two episode, "Queen of Hearts".
For the character known as the Queen of Hearts, see Cora.

I'm the Queen of Hearts. Do you really think I'd be so careless as to keep my heart where everyone else does?

Cora to Hook

"Queen of Hearts" is the ninth 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 thirty-first episode of the series overall, and premiered on December 2, 2012.


Cora and Captain Hook face off with Mary Margaret and Emma in a race to secure the compass, which will point its holder to the portal into Storybrooke. But back on the other side, Regina and Mr. Gold, desperate to keep Cora out, put a plan into action that would kill anyone entering the portal, placing Mary Margaret's and Emma's lives in danger as well. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale land that was, Captain Hook travels to Wonderland and meets up with a vengeful Queen of Hearts.[1]


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

In the Enchanted Forest that was, a hooded man walks up the steps of the Evil Queen's palace's cell block. When he is stopped by a guard, a fight ensues. The man prevails against two guards, and is revealed to be Hook. He takes keys from one of the guards and opens the door to the nearby cell.

Inside the cell, Belle asks Hook if the Evil Queen sent him to kill her. When Hook replies that he is there to rescue her, Belle asks who he is. Hook simply replies, "a friend". Hook further explains that her father is being attacked by Rumplestiltskin, and must be stopped.  He asks Belle about a magical weapon that can stop him. When it becomes apparent that Belle has no knowledge useful to him, Hook knocks her out. He raises his hook in preparation to strike the unconscious Belle, and as he swings downward, it disappears. The Evil Queen stands in the doorway of the cell with his hook in her hand. 

Captain Hook asks for his hook back, but the Queen refuses. The Queen knows of Hook and she knows all about the crocodile he wants to skin. Then she states that she can help him, if he helps her first. She invites Hook to tea where she tells him about her plan to unleash the Dark Curse, and how it will take them to a new land, a land without magic. There Hook will be able to kill Rumplestiltskin with ease, but first he must kill the one person who may stand in her way, her mother.

In Storybrooke, Regina Mills and Mr. Gold wait anxiously for David Nolan's awakening from the Sleeping Curse. Regina says that he will not wake up until Mary Margaret Blanchard returns to Storybrooke to kiss him. Mr. Gold seems pessimistic about her return, and is unsure if David was able to deliver the message. He says that Cora may be the one who manages to get through the portal into Storybrooke and that they must stop her. Regina then says that Emma and Mary Margaret still could come through, but Mr. Gold says that even if they did it would still be a win for Regina, as she would again be Henry's only mother. Regina says that she has been trying to be a better mother to Henry and regain his trust. Mr. Gold replies by saying she won't be a better anything if Cora manages to come through the portal.

In the present Enchanted Forest, Mulan, Princess Aurora, Mary Margaret, and Emma search through the cave to find Rumplestiltskin's cell. When they find it Mary Margaret tells Emma it was the place where Rumplestiltskin told them she was to be the savior. Emma is surprised by this. As they are looking for the squid ink Aurora finds a scroll left by Rumplestiltskin, for Emma. She is handed the scroll and sees her name written over and over again. 

Meanwhile, in Storybrooke Henry reads his Book to a sleeping David. Regina than walks in telling Henry that this time Mary Margaret will be the one to wake up David, then Regina tells Henry to watch over David while her and Mr. Gold prepare for the arrival of Emma and Mary Margaret. 

Mr. Gold leads Regina down into the mines where diamonds were found. Regina shines a flashlight up at them revealing tons of sparkling diamonds. She is surprised when Mr. Gold says that they need to use all of the diamonds. When asked how, Mr. Gold pulls out the Fairy Godmother's wand, telling Regina it is from a dead fairy that no one mourns. He then points the wand up towards the diamonds and the wand absorbs the Fairy Dust into itself and glows. 

Back in the Enchanted Forest that was, the Evil Queen has just enchanted Captain Hook's hook so that it will be able to take one heart. She then shows him the body of the man he killed, and tells him he will be traveling with him. Hook is confused as to this, but Regina explains that if two travel, two must return. He will travel to Wonderland with Claude's corpse and return with the corpse of Cora. She takes the hat out and lays it down. When Hook asks how he will find her, Regina assures him that he will have no trouble. She then spins the hat, opening a portal to Wonderland.

In Wonderland, Hook is stopped by the Queen of Heart's Guards. They drag him to be questioned by the Queen. She sits above her courtiers and asks why Hook has traveled to Wonderland. She does this questioning by whispering her remarks to her Knave who relays them. Hook admits that he is in search of a woman named Cora. The Queen of Hearts is furious at this and lowers the mask she holds in front of her face, revealing herself as Cora, but says here he should call her "Your Majesty". Then she tells her subjects to leave them. Everyone runs out leaving just Hook and Cora. She begins questioning him and he tells her his name is Hook. As the two get closer Hook tries to rip out her heart with his enchanted Hook. Cora laughs at his attempt and tells him that she doesn't keep her heart where everyone else does. Then she reaches into his chest and squeezes his heart until he tells her who sent him here. After he tells her that it was Regina, Cora seems hurt by this and continues to squeeze his heart to torture him.

In the present day Enchanted Forest, they continue to search for the squid ink. Mulan finds the container that held the squid ink, but it is empty. Aurora then throws a rock, causing the cell bars to fall down on them, caging them in the cell. Cora then appears and tells them that Aurora has been helping her, summoning the compass from Emma's hand. The group confronts Aurora for betraying, but Cora shows them the heart, telling them that she was under her control. Hook steps forward and tells Emma that he was the one to take the heart. Cora walks away with the compass in one hand and Aurora's heart in the other, on her way to find Storybrooke. Before they leave Emma asks Hook to stop and tells him that her son needs her. Hook laughs and tells her that she should have thought about that before she abandoned him on the beanstalk. Emma tells him that he would have done the same, but Hook denies this. Then he shows Emma the magic bean that the giant kept and compares her to it; saying that she too is dried up and useless. He then leaves with Cora.

In the Storybrooke mines, Leroy notices that all the diamonds are gone. Ruby runs in asking him what happened, and she too notices the diamonds have disappeared. Meanwhile, Henry reads his book to a sleeping David before Ruby and the seven dwarves walk in. After they tell him about the missing diamonds, he realizes that Regina lied to him. The group decide to help Emma and Mary Margaret.

In the present Enchanted Forest, Emma tries to break out of the cell using her sword, but Mary Margaret tells her that it is useless. Emma then says that although she is the savior she hasn't saved anyone in a long time and that the only reason she broke the curse was because Mr. Gold wanted her to. She then hands the scroll with her name on it to Mary Margaret. 

Cora and Hook are guided by the compass to a dried up Lake Nostos. The lake can restore the magic of wardrobe ashes. Cora uses her magic to create a geyser, which shoots water up into the air refilling the lake.

In Wonderland's past, Cora continues to interrogate Hook. Cora tells him that Regina should have been the one to come, then releases her grip on Hook's heart. Hook thanks her for taking mercy on him. She then offers him the choice to travel back to the Enchanted Forest with her. Hook is confused and asks her why. Cora tells him that the curse will erase all of his memory, so he will not be able to remember his feud with Rumplestiltskin.  Cora asks of Hook to bring her close to her daughter, so she can rip her heart out. In exchange Hook be spared from the curse and will remember everything.

Hook brings Cora's body to Regina, who is convinced that she is dead as her body lay in an uncovered tomb. Hook leaves the room so Regina can say goodbye to her mother. She then apologizes to Cora, thanking her for making the person she has become. Regina recalls, when her mother killed Daniel and told her that "love is weakness". She then confesses that the reason she wanted her mother dead was because Cora was her weakness. She then places a red rose on Cora, and then leaves the room to enact the Dark Curse.

Hook walks toward her from behind the vault of hearts, asking why she didn't kill Regina. Cora tells Hook that she has changed her mind, but that they must protect themselves from the impending curse. Later as the curse comes storming through the land, Cora plunges a staff into the ground causing magic to be propelled into the sky, this creates a shield over a small island of the Enchanted Forest.  The Curse settles overhead, but does not engulf them. Everyone in this corner of the land will be frozen until the savior comes. Cora tells Hook that in twenty-eight years the savior will come. They will remain frozen until then, when Cora will reconcile with her daughter and Hook will get his revenge.

Twenty-eight years later, in Storybrooke Regina and Mr. Gold walk through the woods towards the Storybrooke Wishing Well. Mr. Gold is certain that it will become the portal,  because it is where things lost are returned. The two peer into the well and view the well's swirling waters. He assures Regina that Emma and Mary Margaret will not be the ones to come through the portal.

Emma and Mary Margaret sit in the cell staring at the scroll. Mary Margaret then stands up recalling when she was a little girl. She remembers Cora practicing magic by blowing word's out of her spell book. Mary Margaret blows on the page and the ink flies off the pages creating a hole in the bars of the cell,  because the scroll was written in squid ink. She then turns to Emma and tells her that good always wins. Aurora does not want to go knowing that Cora can control her with her heart. Mulan promises to get it back for her and ties her to the cell. They wish each other good luck, and leave to find Cora.

The geyser opened by Cora continues to shoot into the air until a small body of water is formed. She hands the wardrobe ashes to Hook, and he sprinkles them into the water, creating a swirling portal. Cora then remarks that she is looking forward to seeing her daughter.

In Storybrooke, Regina and Mr. Gold step away from the well. Mr. Gold lifts the wand into the air causing dark storm clouds to form in the sky, a blast of green lightning shoots into the well, which causes the well to become dangerous and zaps of lightning spark around it. Mr. Gold smiles while telling Regina that no one could survive it.

In the present Enchanted Forest, Cora and Hook hold the compass and prepare to jump into the portal together, but Mary Margaret quickly shoots the compass out of their hands with an arrow. Emma runs to snatch the compass. Hook takes on Emma, while Cora throws balls of fire at Mulan. Hook and Emma use swords to fight, after she falls down he drags her. Mulan ducks the fire balls thrown by Cora, but accidentally swings at the satchel that holds Aurora's heart. The satchel is about to land in the portal,  before Hook catches it.  After this, Emma manages to get up off the ground and continue fighting. Hook tosses the satchel over to Mulan saying that he will not allow a woman to lose her heart unless it is to him. Mulan gives her sword to Mary Margaret and leaves to go give Aurora her heart. After Hook knocks Emma to the ground, he says he prefers to do more enjoyable activities when a woman is on her back. Emma then grabs the compass off the ground and hits Hook in the head with it, which enables her to regain her stance. When Hook's sword is lowered, Emma punches him, knocking him unconscious.

In Storybrooke, Ruby and Henry find Mr. Gold and Regina standing by the well. Henry accuses Regina of not helping,  but she counters by saying she's doing what she must to help Henry. Ruby tries to approach, but Gold uses his magic to throw her, which knocks her out. Henry argues with Regina over who will come through the portal. Regina then says that Cora will destroy everything she loves, including Henry.

In the present Enchanted Forest, Cora and Mary Margaret now face off, Emma swoops in with her sword, but Cora disappears in a cloud of smoke. The two then run to the portal, where Cora reappears. Using her magic she knocks them both to the  ground. Mary Margaret manages to stand up, but Emma is knocked down again. Cora then says that her daughter always wanted her heart. While reaching in her chest, Emma pushes her out of the way, taking her place. Cora laughs as her hand now goes into Emma's chest, saying that love is weakness. Cora tries to pull out Emma's heart, but something prevents her. Emma then tells her love is strength, which causes Cora to fly backwards. Emma and Mary Margaret run towards the portal with the compass and jump into its magical water.

In Storybrooke, Henry tries to get near the portal, but Regina holds him back. He manages to break free for a second, but she quickly grabs him back again. Henry assures her that Emma and Mary Margaret will come through and that if she truly wants to change she should stop trying to prevent them from returning. Regina walks over to the portal and places her hands above the portal absorbing the energy into herself, causing her to be violently shaken and thrown back. Regina apologizes to him, but after this a hand is seen grasping on the well, Emma and Mary Margaret push themselves out of the well. Henry and Emma embrace each other. Mary Margaret asks what happened, and Henry tells her that Regina saved them. Emma thanks her. Ruby then wakes up and Mr. Gold walks away. Ruby runs with Mary Margaret to go find David. Emma tells Regina her mother is "a piece of work". Regina agrees and welcomes her back.

Mary Margaret enters Mr. Gold's pawnshop. She runs towards David and kisses him. True love's kiss wakes him up and the couple reunite.

Emma leaves to go talk to Mr. Gold. She asks him about the scroll and why he didn't just use it to escape. Mr. Gold tells her it was exactly where he wanted to be. Then Emma asks about why Cora couldn't rip out her heart and was blasted away by something inside her. Mr. Gold admits he took advantage of the fact that she was the product of true love and that Emma is powerful and magical.

In the present Enchanted Forest, Mulan reaches for Aurora's heart and inserts it back into Aurora, who then thanks her. Aurora tells her about what Cora said about how Phillip's soul's isn't lost forever and that it can be brought back. Mulan then agrees that together they will find  him.

Cora and Hook await by Lake Nostos, but the portal is closed. She tells Hook that they failed, but Hook shows her the petrified bean. Cora says that it's useless,  but Hook reminds her that the Lake can restore it.

In Storybrooke, Henry hugs Regina telling her that she has changed. The group ask if Henry wants to get a bite to eat. He leaves Regina and walks away with Emma. Mr. Gold taunts Regina, and she begins to cry.

Lastly, the recently reunited group stroll down Storybrooke's main street laughing and hugging. In the distance, a pirate ship can be seen parting the gloom. On the ship, Cora and Captain Hook sail towards Storybrooke.



Guest Starring




Production Notes

  • This episode was rerun on March 31, 2013 as an "enhanced episode". This episode included fun facts about the show.
  • While he was playing Claude, who was dead, Paul Lazenby fell asleep and started snoring.[5]
  • This episode reveals the identity of the Queen of Hearts. Lana Parrilla, however, had known about her identity since the filming of "Hat Trick", which had an effect on her performance.[6]

Event Chronology

Episode Connections



Fairytales and Folklore

Prop Notes

Costume Notes

  • HIDDEN DETAILS: The fake fur brings to mind Ruby's identity as a werewolf.

Filming Locations

International Titles



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 LISTINGS: ONCE UPON A TIME. The Futon Critic. “Air Date: Sunday, December 02, 2012. Time Slot: 8:00 PM-9:00 PM EST on ABC. Episode Title: (#209) "Queen of Hearts"”
  2. Sunday Final Ratings: 'American Dad' Adjusted Up, '666 Park Avenue' Adjusted Down + Unscambled [sic] CBS Ratings & Final Football Numbers. TV by the Numbers (December 4, 2012). “Once Upon a Time (...) 9.10”
  3. File:209Title.png
  4. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (October 16, 2012). "ep 8 "into the deep" ep 9 "queen of hearts"" (screenshot)
  5. TwitterLogo.svg @MaulerMMA (Paul Lazenby) on Twitter (January 3, 2013). "Nope, I suck. Started snoring." (screenshot)
  6. Lana Parrilla on the Season Two Blu-ray/DVD Audio Commentary for "Queen of Hearts"
  7. File:209SnowWhiteStorybook.png
  8. File:209BeyondHope.png
  9. File:209InThisLand.png
  10. File:209Truth.png
  11. More specifically, in chapter XIVXV:
    Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie CHAPTER 14: THE PIRATE SHIP. Lit2Go. Retrieved on June 21, 2019.
    Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie CHAPTER 15: "HOOK OR ME THIS TIME". Lit2Go. Retrieved on June 21, 2019.
  12. File:209ComeOn.png
  13. File:215KnewYoudCome.png
  14. File:408DoesHaveSkeletons.png
  15. File:209DoSomethingForMe.png
  16. Fairy Tale Fantasy Couture and Fashion with Eduardo Castro and the Society for the Museum of Original Costume. Clothes Line Finds (March 30, 2016). “Eduardo wanted a Joan Crawford feel for this blue velvet dress”
  17. File:209EverySingleMoment.png
  18. File:209NotHelping2.png
  19. Dorothy Perkins Red Chubby Fur Jacket as seen on Ruby in episode 2x09 "Queen of Hearts" (No longer available).. Once Upon a Time fashion and finds, Tumblr (November 7, 2013). Archived from the original on December 13, 2018.
  20. Zara Top with Transfers on the Shoulder as seen on Ruby in episode 2x09 "Queen of Hearts" (No longer available). Once Upon a Time fashion and finds, Tumblr (November 7, 2013). Archived from the original on December 13, 2018.
  21. File:209SorryDearie.png
  22. "Regina Mills" Storybrooke costume ensemble from Once Upon a Time Season 1, Episode 3.. Heritage Auctions (December 17, 2018). “Consisting of a black Club Monaco trench coat (size S) with satin lining (...)”
  23. File:103Group.png
  24. File:107BringingFlowers.png
  25. File:110Shrug.png
  26. File:217Promo6.jpg
  27. File:219ProcuredHimForMe.png
  28. File:222ContainItsEnergy.png
  29. File:301OnlyWhatWasShownToYou.png
  30. File:308MoreThanAnything.png
  31. File:309BTS10.jpg
  32. File:310Promo3.jpg
  33. File:621ThanIThought.png
  34. File:622YourStorybook.png
  35. File:709ImAware.png
  36. File:710ShesRightThere.png
  37. File:711ForgaveYou.png
  38. Gittins, Susan (October 6, 2012). SHOOT: ONCE UPON A TIME's Captain Hook and his Pirate Ship in Steveston for 2×09 – Updated. Hollywood North Buzz. “That was Once Upon a Time’s Captain Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) commanding the Lady Washington out in the Strait of Georgia. The ship's crew of 12 and the Once Upon a Time crew of many more set sail around noon Friday to film scenes of Hook and [Update: Barbara Hershey's Cora heading into Steveston as Storybrooke] for about five hours in the afternoon sunshine. I caught their return into dock at the Britannia Shipyards at suppertime, too late to see them in full sails, but just in time to see Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) [and Cora (Barbara Hershey)] disembark in full costume from a great distance.”

    Gittins, Susan (January 25, 2013). SET: ONCE UPON A TIME Films on its Floating Pirate Ship Set in Steveston. Hollywood North Buzz. “I didn't get to see and photograph Captain Hook’s pirate ship until the Lady Washington (above) sailed into dock at the Britannia Heritage Shipyard Park one Friday afternoon after filming scenes of it out in the Strait of Georgia and then heading into the real-life village of Steveston as Storybrooke. The ship’s crew of 12 and Once Upon a Time's crew of many more shot the scenes in five hours for the ninth episode of this season called Queen of Hearts.”
  39. 39.0 39.1 Gittins, Susan (October 21, 2012). WEEK: October 15-21, 2012. Hollywood North Buzz. “Friday, October 19th – Once Upon a Time films morning scene at Deer Lake Park. (...) Wednesday, October 17th – Once Upon a Time films at Minerva [sic] Bay (where Hook's pirate ship scenes shot for The Crocodile) on the road to Squamish.” (Note that the source erroneously refers to the area as "Minerva Bay", but the area on the way to Squamish is called Minaty Bay, as seen in this tweet and in this article.)
  40. The hearts card suit (♥) is named "copas" ("cups") in Portuguese due to the influence of the Spanish playing cards.