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Eventually, everyone turns on people like us. Even friends. Even family. They're just waiting for a reason.


"Rocky Road" is the third episode of Season Four of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by David H. Goodman & Jerome Schwartz and directed by Morgan Beggs. It is the sixty-ninth episode of the series overall, and premiered on October 12, 2014.


When an icy spell is cast on Marian, which will ultimately freeze her heart and kill her, the Storybrooke residents place the blame on Elsa. But unbeknownst to anyone, a mysterious woman who runs the town’s ice cream parlor has the same powers as Elsa and is trying to frame her. Emma and David find former Merry Men member Will Scarlet rummaging through Robin Hood’s tent, Regina teams up with Henry to try and discover who the author of the fairy tale book is, Mary Margaret is having trouble balancing her duties as leader of Storybrooke and mother to young Prince Neal, and Hook begins to suspect that Mr. Gold is still in control of the dagger that calls upon him to be the Dark One. Meanwhile, in Arendelle of the past, Elsa and Kristoff set off to stop Hans from attempting to take control of the kingdom.[2]


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

As they walk down the streets of Storybrooke, Robin Hood is attempting to explain things to Marian while Roland begs his mother for ice cream. The trio goes into Any Given Sundae where the Snow Queen serves Robin and Roland some rocky road ice cream and serves Marian vanilla ice cream on a cone with sprinkles, which she secretly curses before giving it to her. In the next scene, Emma, Hook, and Elsa interrogate Mr. Gold about whether he knew Elsa was trapped inside the urn that he had in his pawnshop. Mr. Gold denies he did. Belle uses the dagger on him and proves to the trio that he's not lying.

In the next scene, Mary Margaret is holding a town meeting in the mayor's office while also taking care of Neal. The town is upset over Elsa's mayhem while Mary Margaret, David, and the Hood family defend her. As they speak, a strand of white begins to frost into Marian's hair and she collapses, causing a panic amongst everyone else.

At Granny's Diner, Henry is sipping on a mug of hot chocolate when Regina comes in and puts down some comic books for him. He is happy over her gift, to which Regina remarks that she wasn't sure which kind he liked anymore, so she got a bunch. As Henry begins flipping through one, Regina questions him about the writer of his storybook. He inquires why she is asking. At first, Regina says she wants to force the storybook author, before changing her wording, and explaining she wants to ask the author to rewrite a happy ending for her. Henry agrees to help her find him, and the two decide on the name of the mission to be "Operation Mongoose". Robin bursts into the diner and requests that Regina help Marian. Henry, Regina, and Robin rush to the town hall where Regina observes Marian. Emma and Elsa later come too. Elsa states there is only one way to save Marian, which Regina knows painfully, is true love's kiss. Robin then kisses Marian, hoping it will cure the curse, however, nothing happens.

When Emma decides to go and find the one truly responsible for the spell on Marian, Regina asks her to take backup because it seems like the town was busy saving the "savior" than the other way around. Emma asks Regina not to lash out at her and tells Killian that she can manage it on her own, and could he please stay out of it. But she is later shown to be disturbed by what Regina said. 

In the meantime, Killian disobeys Emma, and he (along with Elsa) visit Mr. Gold with a strand of Marian's hair to find out who is actually behind the curse. When Mr. Gold doesn't seem to be in a mood for business as the duo have nothing to offer, Killian informs him that Mr. Gold can purchase his silence, as he knew that Belle never had the real dagger. Mr. Gold accepts and performs magic on the strand of hair turning it into snowflakes, revealing that this is indeed ice magic, but of a different kind from Elsa's. But like a snowflake, it is unique, and it will return (Mr. Gold says) to its source. Killian and Elsa follow the snowflake. 

Meanwhile, Emma and David are in the forest, around Robin and Marian's tent where they split up to search for clues to whoever cast the spell. Emma discovers an intruder, and in her chase through the forest, she trips and loses him. However, David manages to capture him. The intruder is Will, one of the Robin's Merry Men, and also a thief, who offers a clue regarding the ice cream store, which he had tried to rob on the day of the power outage. He reveals that despite the power outage, all the ice creams seemed strangely unmelted. The trio visits the store and verifies the truth, although Will manages to escape after stealing money from the cash register.

As seen in a past flashback, Elsa is still frantic about her missing sister Anna. There is news that Prince Hans and his army are planning to attack ArendelleKristoff secretly spies on Hans' and his brothers, and discover that their plan involves retrieving a magical urn that can trap magical beings of Elsa's kind. Kristoff and Elsa then set off in search of this urn. While Kristoff begs Elsa to destroy the urn immediately, Elsa is curious and wants to know if it can reveal more about herself. They are apprehended by Hans' party, who take the urn from them and open it in the hope of capturing Elsa. However, there is another that is trapped inside it.  And it is the Snow Queen, (who is the same lady who manned the ice cream store). The Snow Queen tells Elsa that she is her mother's sister, and promises to help her find her sister Anna.

Meanwhile, back in the present, Killian and Elsa discover the Snow Queen, who in turn discovers them spying on her. She traps Killian by frosting over his feet and trapping him in place. Elsa seems to have no recollection of the Snow Queen. The Snow Queen tells Elsa that her memory has been wiped out by the Rock Trolls and that her own sister Anna trapped her in the urn. The Snow Queen wants Elsa to learn the lesson that ordinary folk will always see them as monsters which is why she cursed Marian and directed the blame at Elsa, and which is also why she will now kill Killian. Elsa's magic cannot stop the Snow Queen.

Just when it seems Killian will die from icicles falling from the sky, Emma and David arrive just in time, and Emma's magic is powerful enough to stop the Queen. The Snow Queen is shocked by the sight of Emma, and it seems she knows Emma, though Emma has no recollection of her. The Snow Queen escapes. Emma is angry at Killian for having put his life in danger.

Later, Killian tries to charm Emma into having a drink with her, one that she refuses. He follows her, trying to tell her that he understands how it is to have the weight of the world on her shoulders, and how she finds it hard to trust him (an insight he hears from Elsa). However, Emma says that this is not about trust, but about her fears because the people she loved before him all died and she is afraid that anyone who loves her will die. Killian assures her that if there is anything he is good at, it is surviving.

Regina manages to remove Marian's heart from her chest before the ice touches it which preserves Marian's life. Now she just needs to find a cure to unfreeze Marian and return the heart.

The Snow Queen is seen walking away in the forest. Mr. Gold seems to be there, looking for her to cross by. It appears they know one another, and Mr. Gold wonders aloud why the Snow Queen has not yet come to him for help.  The Snow Queen says she will come to him when she is ready to make a deal, and Gold indicates that he is waiting eagerly for that day. He also asks if Emma recognized the Snow Queen, and shouldn't the Snow Queen be worried that she would. 

Deleted Scenes

"Elsa Searches for Anna"

This scene was released on the website of ABC News.

Mr. Gold, Belle, Elsa, Emma and Hook enter the barn of Zelena's farmhouse to get more information of how Elsa got into the urn and where Anna is. Mr. Gold asks Belle to give him the dagger, which is the fake one despite what everyone believes, and picks up some dirt from the ground. Mr. Gold explains that magic can change forms but it can never be completely destroyed and that this dirt can still neutralize any magic practitioner just like it did before. After they leave, Elsa comments that they still have nothing, but Emma encourages her, assuring her that they will find her sister.[3]



Guest Starring





Production Notes

  • During the shooting of this episode, Christie Laing was ill with food poisoning for an entrie filming day, so it was a reprieve for her to lay down during the scenes where "Marian" is supposed to be a frozen ice statue.[8]
  • The Snow Queen is barefoot as she walks, which was Elizabeth Mitchell's decision. She described herself as a "gazelle in galoshes", and otherwise, she would be "tripping over everything".[9]
  • For the scene where the Snow Queen freezes Hans, Tyler Jacob Moore had to be 3D modeled, and stand with his hands up and a frozen look on his face.[10]
  • REAL WORLD FACTS: Henry and Regina's mission, Operation Mongoose, references the real-life carnivorous animal of the same name. Mongooses feed on cobras in the wild,[11] and are usually unaffected by cobra venom at low doses.[12] This is ironic considering Emma and Henry's first mission together was named Operation Cobra.

Event Chronology

Episode Connections

  • The ice cream shop, Any Given Sundae, was first featured in "White Out".
  • Robin Hood buys Rocky Road ice cream for himself and Roland at Any Given Sundae. The Snow Queen's Rocky Road is also mentioned by Emma when she breaks into the Snow Queen's ice cream truck in "Family Business". The Snow Queen serves Emma the same ice cream in "Shattered Sight".
  • Emma informs Mr. Gold that Elsa was trapped inside an urn he stored in his vault. She saw this relic in "There's No Place Like Home".
  • Mr. Gold insists he is a changed man since losing a son and gaining a wife. These events occurred in "Quiet Minds" and "There's No Place Like Home".
  • Emma warns that she can tell when someone is lying by using her superpower. She first noted this in "Pilot".
  • Mary Margaret welcomes townspeople into her office since becoming mayor, a role she first took on in "White Out".
  • The ice wall surrounding the town was created in "White Out".
  • Leroy mentions Elsa freezing his car in "A Tale of Two Sisters".
  • Granny's recollection of Elsa creating the snow monster and the creature attacking Marian are events from "A Tale of Two Sisters".
  • Marian's affliction is cured in "Heroes and Villains".
  • Regina conceived the plan to change Henry's storybook in "A Tale of Two Sisters".
  • At Henry's suggestion they undertake a mission together, Regina recalls "Operation Cobra" that he had with Emma, which began in "The Thing You Love Most".
  • When Robin Hood fails to wake his wife with true love's kiss, David remembers Frederick, a knight, who was accidentally turned into golden statue. Frederick's fate is further explored in "What Happened to Frederick".
  • Breaking into Any Given Sundae, Emma once again performs a lock-picking trick, which she used to escape the Evil Queen's dungeon in "There's No Place Like Home". How Neal taught her the trick is also featured in the same episode.
  • The reason behind Any Given Sundae's missing cooling system is explained in "White Out".
  • Elsa says that she should have destroyed the urn when she had the chance, which she eventually does in "There's No Place Like Home".
  • How the Snow Queen ended up inside the urn, and why Elsa has never heard of her aunt, is revealed in "The Snow Queen".
  • How Elsa herself was trapped inside the urn, and how it ended up in Rumplestiltskin's vault, is revealed in "Smash the Mirror".
  • The real reason why Anna's necklace came into Mr. Gold's possession is explained in "Smash the Mirror".
  • How the Snow Queen knows Emma is first revealed in "Breaking Glass", and further explored in "Shattered Sight".
  • Why Emma has no memory of the Snow Queen is explained in "Shattered Sight". Emma gets her memories back in the same episode.
  • Emma believes that Ingrid wasn't brought to Storybrooke by a curse. How Ingrid came to Storybrooke is revealed in "Shattered Sight".
  • Emma mentions Graham and Neal's deaths, which occurred in "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" and "Quiet Minds", respectively. She also mentions Walsh's death, an event which occurred in "New York City Serenade".
  • Emma's reason for distancing herself from Hook is revealed in this episode, and was previously alluded to in "A Tale of Two Sisters".
  • Hook claims to be good at surviving. Pan described him the same way in "Good Form", and Hook himself used those words for the first time in "The Evil Queen".
  • Hook tells Emma that he is a survivor. He refers to what he says to her, in "Heroes and Villains".


Fairytales and Folklore


Popular Culture

Props Notes

  • The miniature ice castle that the Snow Queen creates while Hook and Elsa are spying on her in the forest was an actual prop and not CGI.[9]
  • MYSTERIOUS WRITINGS: When Elsa touches the magic urn, strange characters appear.[21] Elsa recognizes the inscription as "ancient Futhark runes", but is unable to read them. However, two of the characters are Elder Futhark runes:
  • Laguz (ᛚ, meaning L), which means "water" or "lake"
  • Isaz (ᛁ, meaning I), which means "ice"

Set Dressing

Costume Notes

  • BRAND INFO: Belle is wearing[50] a Tory Burch Lidia Lace & Ruffles Polo Shirt[51] (no longer available). Note that the buttons on Belle's shirt have been changed and the sleeves have been shortened by the costume department.
  • The same shirt was worn by the character Andrew Lofland on an episode of the romantic comedy television series A to Z.[56]

Filming Locations

International Titles



  1. Bibel, Sara (October 14, 2014). Sunday Final Ratings: 'Once Upon A TIme', 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' & 'Resurrection' Adjusted Up; 'Madam Secretary' Adjusted Down. TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on October 14, 2014. “Once Upon a Time (...) 7.92”
  2. 2.0 2.1 LISTINGS: ONCE UPON A TIME. The Futon Critic. “Air Date: Sunday, October 12, 2014. Time Slot: 8:00 PM-9:00 PM EST on ABC. Episode Title: (#403) "Rocky Road".”
  3. EXCLUSIVE: Elsa Searches for Anna. ABC News. Retrieved on November 3, 2018.
  4. File:403Title.png
  5. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (July 30, 2014). "Here's another #OnceUponATime #titlespoiler. Hope to see ya this fall." (screenshot)
  6. File:403ClockTower.png
  7. File:406ClockTower.png
  8. Martin, Teresa (April 2015). Following Her Heart: An Interview with Christie Laing. Once Upon a Fan. Archived from the original on April 14, 2015. “Marian was "Frozen" in the Fall [sic]. What techniques were used to obtain the physical transformation? The magic and talent of the special effects team as well as a bit of food poisoning haha. One of our days of filming I was unbelievably ill with food poisoning so laying down frozen was a huge blessing.”
  9. 9.0 9.1 Abrams, Natalie (October 13, 2014). 'Once Upon a Time' star Elizabeth Mitchell spills scoop on the Snow Queen. Entertainment Weekly. “In the present day, we saw the Snow Queen messing with some sort of CGI mini ice castle. Is that going to come back into play? That was totally real. Wasn't that pretty? That was my first day. That’s when I decided that the Snow Queen was barefoot. Everyone was like, "You can't make the Snow Queen barefoot." I'm like, “Have you seen me walk? I'm a gazelle in galoshes. Yes, the Snow Queen is barefoot, otherwise I'll be tripping over everything."”
  10. TwitterLogo.svg @TylerJacobMoore (Tyler Jacob Moore) on Twitter (October 13, 2014). "I had to be 3D modeled for the scene where they froze me...So I had to stand there with my hands up and a frozen look on my face" (screenshot)
  12. Mongooses: Their Natural History and Behavior, H. E. Hinton and A. M. S. Dunn, University of California Press, 1967, page 17. Facsimile by Google Books.
  13. File:403HearNothing.png
  14. 14.0 14.1 File:403InkAndPaper.png
  15. Thor: God of Thunder (2012) #23. Marvel Entertainment. Retrieved on August 26, 2021. “Published: June 18, 2014”
  16. S.H.I.E.L.D. (2011) #3. Marvel Entertainment. Retrieved on August 26, 2021. “Published: October 12, 2011”
  17. Avenging Spider-Man (2011) #1. Marvel Entertainment. Retrieved on August 26, 2021. “Published: November 09, 2011”
  18. 18.0 18.1 File:403IsntItFunny.png
  19. File:109-111-403-515-602-719-W111Props.jpg
  20. Thor: God of Thunder (2012) #18. Marvel Entertainment. Retrieved on August 26, 2021. “Published: January 29, 2014”
  21. File:403UrnWriting.png
  22. File:401OpeningDiary.png
  23. Some Runes Used in "Once Upon A Time" Season 4. Panya's Blog: Linguistic Aspects (October 11, 2014, updated on December 12, 2014).
  24. File:403AWidow.png
  25. File:422ImWilling.png
  26. File:501HookAwakens.png
  27. File:502EmmaLeaving.png
  28. File:503TheRoundTable.png
  29. File:504ACloseCall.png
  30. File:505IsAmongUs.png
  31. File:506Stopping.png
  32. File:507HighAlert.png
  33. File:508Birth.png
  34. File:409IDoubtThat.png
  35. File:403Hii.png
  36. File:513MovingCouch.png
  37. File:403AndIceCream.png
  38. Boys' baseball henley. Neiman Marcus. Retrieved on November 5, 2018. (Note that the garment that is pictured has a different color.)
  39. File:403DiscoveredSomething.png
  40. File:212IDidIt.png
  41. File:212IPurchasedYouACommission.png
  42. File:417OffWithHisHat.png
  43. File:516OzGuard.png
  44. File:618ToRemindThem.png
  45. File:606YourLifeFamily.png
  46. File:614GiveThatOrder.png
  47. File:615FromThoseBeasts.png
  48. File:407DiplomaticMission.png
  49. File:407WelcomeToMyKingdom.png
  50. File:403MissSwan.png
  51. Tory Burch Lidia Lace & Ruffles Polo Shirt. Neinman Marcus. Retrieved on November 5, 2018.
  52. File:403See.png
  53. ONCE UPON A TIME: SEASON 4 EPISODE 3 MARY MARGARET'S FLORAL SKIRT. shopyourtv. Retrieved on November 5, 2018.
  54. 54.0 54.1 File:403LookAtThat.png
  55. ONCE UPON A TIME: SEASON 4 EPISODE 3 EMMA'S TEXTURED CREW NECK T-SHIRT. shopyourtv. Retrieved on November 5, 2018.
    SHEER SLUB CREW NECK TEE. James Perse. Retrieved on November 5, 2018.
  56. 56.0 56.1 Paul Smith Jeans TAILORED PLAID SHIRT. Pradux. Retrieved on November 3, 2018.
  57. FlickrIconTemplate.png Ashley Davis. OUAT Set - Delta (2014) (August 6, 2014).  "August 6th 2014. Delta, BC.(archive copy)