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Evil Queen: Tell me what will suffice.
Rumplestiltskin: The heart of the thing you love most.

"The Thing You Love Most" is the second episode of Season One of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz and directed by Greg Beeman. It is the second episode of the series overall, and premiered on October 30, 2011.


Regina does everything in her power to force Emma out of Storybrooke and out of her and Henry's lives forever. Meanwhile, the chilling circumstances of how the Evil Queen released the curse upon the fairytale world is revealed.[1]


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

The next morning after Emma Swan decides to stay in Storybrooke, the townspeople notice the town clock has started to move. Regina goes through her son Henry's storybook and notices that there are missing pages near the back. She goes to Henry and asks where the pages are, but he says that it is an old book, and they have always been gone. Regina complains that he thinks of her as an evil queen, rather than as his mother. He insists that he does not, and she asks who he does think his mother is. Regina assures him that Emma is no longer an issue, but then hears the town clock chime.

She goes to see it and notices that Emma's car is still in town. Regina goes to see Emma with a basket of apples, saying that they're from the tree that she has had since she was a little girl. The mayor suggests that Emma should enjoy them on her way home.

Emma points out that Regina telling her to leave is just encouraging her to stay, and that she wants to stay and make sure her biological son is okay. When Regina says that she has things under control, Emma asks what she means, and Regina says that she has the boy in therapy and warns Emma not to underestimate her.

The Evil Queen teleports back to her castle, as Prince Charming tries to kill her by throwing his sword. The Magic Mirror asks what she has done, and the Evil Queen explains that she has cast the Dark Curse, much to the surprise of her servant and the Magic Mirror. She then goes to the Forbidden Fortress to see Maleficent, and the two briefly spar verbally.

The Evil Queen then demands her curse back, but Maleficent says that they have already made their exchange, and it is hers now. The Evil Queen says that she knows that it is hidden in the orb on Maleficent's staff; Maleficent points out that it is contained for good reason and asks where it came from. The Evil Queen summons one of her magical forces, a fireball from the fireplace. Maleficent fights back, as the Evil Queen animates all of the weapons, and throws them at Maleficent's pet, a black unicorn.

The mistress protects her pet, but the Evil Queen binds her to the wall, with the metal from the chandelier, and takes the staff, smashing the orb to retrieve the curse. When Maleficent tells her to do her worse, the Evil Queen refuses, saying that she is her only friend, and ignores her friend's warning that the Dark Curse will create a void within her that she cannot fill. The Evil Queen accepts that and leaves with the curse.

Later, the Evil Queen meets with the other dark forces of the land and tells them that today is the day that they will finally emerge triumphant. They ask if they will be happy, and the Evil Queen says that they will, but she needs a lock of hair from the darkest souls of the land. At her gesture, the trees around them animate, surrounding them. They each contribute a lock, and the Evil Queen causes the limbs to withdraw.

She then takes out the final ingredient: the heart of her prized steed from her childhood. She unleashes the Dark Curse, and a column of magical smoke swirls up into the air, as the others look on, but then disappears. A gnome laughs at the Evil Queen for her failure, and she transforms him into a stone statue.

Regina is in the garden admiring the apples and a gnome statue, when the newspaper editor, Sidney, approaches her. He has already published an article in the town newspaper, the Mirror, about Emma destroying the town's boundary marker, but admits that he has learned little of Emma's background. Regina points out that he's learned nothing of value and warns him to find something, or she'll dispose of him.

Emma is at Granny's Diner getting breakfast, when the waitress, Ruby, brings her a cup of hot chocolate. She tells Emma that someone has bought it for her, and Emma, seeing Sheriff Graham, assumes it is from him. Emma tells him that she does not want gifts from him, and Henry looks up from the next booth and says that he sent it over. He invites her to walk him to school and tells her that his plan is to free everyone from the curse. As Emma attempts to eat one of Regina's apples, Henry grabs it and throws it away. She asks why the citizens do not remember their past lives, and Henry explains that they all live in a haze, and Emma is the only one who can free everyone. He removed the pages from the storybook, to keep Regina from learning that Emma is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. Henry tells her to read the pages and learn about her past, but to make sure that Regina does not see them because it would be bad, if she learned who Emma is. They arrive at the school, and Henry goes inside, after saying that he is glad Emma believes him. Henry's teacher, Mary Margaret Blanchard, sees them talking and comes over to thank Emma for making Henry smile. She explains to Emma that Regina has managed to remain mayor through intimidation and that Henry thinks she is Snow White. When Mary Margaret asks who Henry thinks Emma is, Emma lies and she says she is not in the book.

Emma goes to see Archie Hopper and asks why Henry thinks that people are storybook characters. Archie explains that Henry is using the book to deal with his problems, but Emma points out that Henry only got the book a month ago, while Henry's problems go back further. The psychiatrist admits that Henry has had problems with his adoptive mother, and he offers Emma the file.

Emma wonders why he is violating doctor-patient confidentiality, and Archie says that Emma is very important to Henry. As she goes, Archie tells her to be careful not to destroy the boy's imagination. Once Emma leaves, Archie calls Regina and says that she was right, and that Emma took the file. When Archie wonders why Emma came there, Regina says that she is the one who gave Emma the idea.

Emma is in her room at Granny's Bed and Breakfast reading the file, when Graham comes by to visit. He says that Archie has filed a complaint that Emma stole the file. Emma shows him the file, and Graham arrests her. She points out that she's being set up, but Graham asks who would want to set her up.

Regina comes to see Henry at school and tells Mary Margaret that it is important. She takes him aside and tells him that Emma has been arrested and that she is a con woman, trying to take advantage of them. Henry does not believe it, but Regina insists that she is just trying to protect them. As Graham takes Emma's photos, Emma warns him that Regina is trying to get rid of her and asks what influence she has, with the police. Henry arrives with Mary Margret and tells Emma that he knew she was gathering intel, for his operation. Mary Margaret offers to post bail, much to Emma's surprise.

Regina is working in her office, when she hears a noise outside. She looks outside and sees Emma taking a chainsaw to her apple tree. Regina storms out, and Emma tells her that she will have to do better than that to get her out of town. She tells Regina that it is her move and walks away.

The Valet tells the Evil Queen that perhaps it is for the best that she failed, since the dark forces are more powerful than she can conceive. He assures her that helping her is his life, and she asks for his help to find out why the Dark Curse did not work. The Valet suggest that she goes to the person who gave her the curse and warns that, after going for revenge, there is no going back. The Evil Queen wonders what she has to go back to.

Rumplestiltskin is in his cell, when he realizes that one of the rats outside his cell is the Evil Queen and tells her she can show herself. She transforms to her human form and tells him that the Dark Curse he gave her is not working. Rumplestiltskin says that Snow White and Prince Charming visited him and that he told them that only their unborn child can stop the darkness. She asks what she did wrong, and Rumplestiltskin says that he will tell her, in return for a good life in her new future and also says that she must agree that she will heed his every request, as long as he says "please". The Evil Queen notes that he will not remember anything, if the curse succeeds, and so she agrees. He then tells her that she needs to sacrifice the heart of something precious. When she states that she used the heart of her most prized steed, Rumplestiltskin hisses that what she requires is more than just a horse's heart, for the curse to work. The Evil Queen asks what will suffice, and he says the heart of what she loves most. When she says that what she loved most died, because of Snow White, Rumplestiltskin says that there must be something else and tells her to consider how far she's willing to go. The Evil Queen says that she will go as far as it takes, and he tells her to stop wasting time and go kill it.

As Emma returns to her room, Granny approaches her and asks her to leave, because they have a no-felons city ordinance. Granny asks for her key back, and Emma hands it over. Graham comes to see Regina, who demands that he arrest Emma, for destroying city property. The sheriff remarks that Emma may be innocent and wonders who convinced Archie to lie. Regina warns him not to let a crush get the better of him.

Graham agrees to arrest Emma, but warns her that she will keep coming, no matter what, and Henry will be hurt if the situation escalates. As Emma goes to get her car, she discovers that it has been booted. Regina calls and offers to meet with her, so that they can make peace. When Emma gets there, Regina apologizes and then suggests that Emma wants to take Henry away. Emma denies it and says that she simply wants to make sure that Henry is okay, given his troubles.

Emma explains that Henry cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality and that she worries he is delusional. Henry overhears them and runs away, and Emma realizes that Regina set her up. Regina says that she did know he would be there, because she is his mother. Emma wonders how Regina has become so soulless and walks away.

The Evil Queen returns to her castle, and the Magic Mirror asks what happened. She ignores him, and the Valet asks if she learned what she needed to know. The Evil Queen admits that she is conflicted and explains what she has to do, and the Valet realizes that he is the one that she loves most. She calls him "Daddy" and admits that she doesn't know what to do. He tells her to move past it, but the Evil Queen says that she cannot live with what Snow White took from her.

The Valet suggests that she start over, so they can have a new life, but the Evil Queen says that her power will disappear, and the others will think she is nothing. He tells her that she can have love again and hugs her, saying they can find happiness together. However, the choice is hers. The Evil Queen cries and then says that he can be right, and stabs him in the heart, as he stares at her in shock. As he collapses to the ground, the Evil Queen apologizes.

Emma goes to see Mary Margaret, to pay back the bail money. The teacher offers to hear her out and offers her cinnamon hot chocolate and cookies. Emma asks why Mary Margaret trusts her, and she says that she has the feeling that they have met before.

She believes that Emma is innocent, but Emma says that she is leaving to keep Henry from being hurt. Mary Margaret points out that the fact that Emma wants to leave is the very reason to stay, because she cares about him and there'll be no one else to protect him.

Henry goes to see Archie for therapy, and he says that he does not think Archie is Jiminy Cricket. Emma storms in, and Archie tries to apologize, for what he did, but she tells Henry that she wants to stay and get to know him. She admits that she thinks the curse is crazy, but that does not mean that it is not true. Emma told Regina what she needed to hear, and that the only way to break the curse is by tricking the Evil Queen, into thinking that they are both nonbelievers.

Henry cheers up, tells her that the pages are dangerous, and burns them in Archie's fireplace, to make sure that Regina never sees them. He gets up and hugs her, saying that he knew she was there to help him. Emma assures him that not even a curse will stop her from helping him.

The Evil Queen takes her father's heart to the clearing and tosses it into the fire. This time the curse expands throughout the land, changing everything in its path. The Evil Queen then goes to a gravestone and leaves a flower at her father Henry's grave.

Henry and Emma leave Archie's office together. As Regina tends to her apple tree, Mr. Gold comes by and congratulates her on being in high spirits. When the mayor says that she has triumphed, Mr. Gold warns her that he saw Emma and Henry together.

He suggests that Regina should have come to him for help... for a price. When Regina says that she's not in the business of making deals with him anymore, Mr. Gold points out that he procured Henry for her and asks how she chose the name.

Regina realizes that Mr. Gold wanted Emma to come to Storybrooke and asks where he obtained Henry. Mr. Gold says he will not answer her questions and asks her to let it go... please. Regina stares at him in dawning realization, as he walks away.

Deleted Scene

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

"Motherly Love" (Scene 38)

Henry is laying on his bed when Regina Mills enters. She is persuading him to go to therapy, but he doesn't want to go. She thinks it would be good for him to talk to someone. He gets up, and Regina tries to give him back the book; explaining that she was too harsh in taking it. However, he tells her that he doesn't want it and throws it onto the bed. After he leaves, Regina smiles.



Guest Starring



*: Only in archive footage.



Production Notes

Event Chronology

Episode Connections

  • The title card is used again in the episode "Best Laid Plans".
  • As Regina reads Henry's storybook, the last illustration left in the book is the Evil Queen interrupting Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding; events that are detailed in "Pilot". This scene is used again in this episode.
  • Regina's shock at the clock tower's movement is understandable; in "Pilot", Henry informs Emma that the clock has been stuck at 8:15 his entire life.
  • Regina's gifting of apples to Emma with the words, "I do hope you like apples", is used again in "An Apple Red as Blood" when she bakes an apple turnover for Emma as a parting present.
  • A photograph taken by Sidney when Emma walks Henry to school, appears in "Breaking Glass".[16]
  • Henry's therapy sessions with Archie are explored further in "That Still Small Voice".
  • The Magic Mirror first met the Evil Queen in "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree".
  • How the Evil Queen and Maleficent first met and what Regina means by saying "You're my only friend." are explained in "Enter the Dragon".
  • Maleficent's past with Sleeping Beauty is brought up again in "Broken" and "Enter the Dragon".
  • Maleficent says that whoever created the Dark Curse makes herself and the Evil Queen look moral in comparison. Who created thee Dark Curse is revealed in "Mother's Little Helper". The reason why it was created is revealed in "The Black Fairy".
  • The void in Regina's heart, which Maleficent refers to, is brought up again by Rumplestiltskin in "Save Henry".
  • The actual reason why Maleficent struggles not to give the curse away to the Evil Queen is explained in "Unforgiven".
  • The Evil Queen recalls Prince Charming breaking the sleeping curse on Snow White with true love's kiss in "Pilot".
  • The Evil Queen's notion that "love is weakness" was learned from her mother. The origins of the idea are seen in "The Miller's Daughter", and the Queen's harsh introduction to it is detailed in "The Stable Boy".
  • The apple tree Regina tends to is from her former life, and it appears in "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree".
  • Emma's juvenile record, despite being "locked up pretty tight", is later dug up and revealed in Sidney's newspaper article in "Desperate Souls".
  • Emma's habit of moving around and running from place to place is referred to again in "The Price of Gold", "Snow Drifts" and "There's No Place Like Home". Her reasons for doing so, are explained in "Snow Drifts".
  • Sidney notes that Emma gave birth to Henry in Phoenix, Arizona. The events surrounding Henry's birth are detailed in "Tallahassee".
  • Sidney wonders how Henry wound up in Maine, since he was born in Phoenix. This question is answered in "Save Henry", where Mr. Gold explains that Henry was placed with a family in Boston, but the adoption fell through at the last minute.
  • The newspaper headline Emma reads in the diner reads, "Stranger Destroys Historic Sign". This event occurred in "Pilot".
  • Why Henry thinks Regina's apples are dangerous is explained in "An Apple Red as Blood".
  • Henry's "Operation Cobra" is mentioned again in such episodes as "Desperate Souls", "True North", "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree", "The Evil Queen" and "A Curious Thing".
  • The pages of the storybook Henry gives to Emma include Prince Charming putting her infant self into the magic wardrobe. This event is detailed in "Pilot".
  • This is not Emma's first brush with the law. She was arrested by Sheriff Graham in "Pilot", and the felony Granny evicts her from the inn for is explored in "Tallahassee".
  • Regina's apple tree is magical and comes into play in "We Are Both".
  • Rumplestiltskin and the Evil Queen have a long and storied relationship. They first meet during the flashback events of "We Are Both", and their relationship is further explored in "The Doctor" and "Quite a Common Fairy".
  • The origins of Rumplestiltskin's imprisonment in the dungeon is revealed in "The Price of Gold".
  • Rumplestiltskin's cell is revisited again in "Queen of Hearts".
  • The Evil Queen blames Snow White for the death of the thing she loved most, a story explored in "The Stable Boy".
  • Regina's real motif for Henry's therapy sessions is explained in "Smash the Mirror".
  • A photograph taken by Sidney, as Emma and Henry leave Archie's office, appears in "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" and "Breaking Glass". In "Breaking Glass", Emma reveals they went for hot cocoa.
  • How Mr. Gold "procured" Henry for Regina is understood in "Save Henry".
  • Mr. Gold's deliberate use of the word "please" towards Regina is used again in "Skin Deep", and fails in "We Are Both".



Fairytales and Folklore

Popular Culture

Prop Notes

"Charming and Snow held each
other close, both of them
shocked by this turn of events.
They stood on an alter, sur-
rounded by loved ones. Today
was meant to be the happiest
[obscured word] of their lives, but now,
[obscured word] Queen had a dark
[obscured]ing Snow and Charming
[obscured] buzzing. The Queen
[obscured]. But how would
[obscured] the power to
[obscured] the King-
[obscured]ho could".



By Michael Wong – staff

Storybrooke, Maine – The "Welcome
to Storybrooke" sign on Route 1 was
demolished this morning shortly
after 3 a.m. when a single car
swerved off the road, colliding with
the sign as it came to rest.
Emma Swan, 28, of Boston was
traveling south of Route 1 when she
lost control of her 1979 Volkswagen
beetle and left the roadway,
Storybrooke Sheriff Graham told.
Earlier that evening, Swan was
seen getting into her vehicle visibly
intoxicated, at which it was
suggested to her that she spend the
night in town, rather than attempt
the drive back to Boston.
According to Sheriff Graham, Swan
claims that she was not drunk and
that she swerved to avoid a large wolf
in the road.
Swan was wearing her seatbelt and
was uninjured.
Swan was taken to the Storybrooke
Sheriff's office
where she was treated
and held overnight as a precaution.
The sign sustained about $1,200
worth of damage.
  • Michael Wong worked as an art director on this episode.
  • The part about Emma being recommended to spend the night in Storybrooke as she was about to leave town, refers to a deleted scene from "Pilot", where Graham meets Emma by her car and suggests that she stays at the inn for the night due to Regina's drinks being strong. Emma disagrees and believes she is fine to drive and would pass a breathalyzer test.
  • Note that the article is just the same block of text repeated three times.
  • The back headlines read "Sonnet Hill Orchard Park Apple Tree Threatened by Prune Beetle S[four illegible characters]"[28] and "Crops Decimated by Freak Flood".[29]

Set Dressing

Costume Notes


  • In an exterior shot of Storybrooke, the computer-generated clock tower is situated at least two streets behind Sara's Old Fashioned Ice Cream,[106] a business located next to Mr. Gold's pawnshop.[107] However, other episodes clearly show that the pawnshop and Sara's Old-fashioned Ice Cream are both located in the same street as the clock tower building, with the clock tower building on the opposite side of the road.[108]
  • The article on the front page of the Storybrooke Daily Mirror is just the same block of text repeated three times.[27]
  • In "Pilot", Emma has a mole on her chest.[109] In this episode, it is gone.[110] (In real life, Jennifer Morrison has had many moles removed from her body.[111] The scar from this particular surgery, can be seen in a few episodes; the most prominent example is when Emma wearing a revealing corset in the Season Three episode "Snow Drifts".[112])
  • Regina claims to Emma that her apples are from a Honeycrisp tree. However, the apples in the basket, on the tree, and everywhere else that apples are used in this episode, are Red Delicious, which have a totally different shape and color from Honeycrisp apples. Honeycrisp apples were not commercially available until 1991, and must be specifically bred.
  • When Emma is walking Henry to school, at the beginning of their conversation about the curse, they are walking down the street away from Storybrooke Country Bread and Storybrooke Hardware and Paint, they are visible in the background. However, as they walk they pass the sign for Storybrooke Hardware and Paint twice. At the end of the conversation, when Henry gives Emma the pages from the storybook, they are in front of Storybrooke Country Bread.
    • Also during this scene, when Emma pauses and stops walking, the clock tower is reflected in the window, but without the actual clock tower.[113] (The clock and the uppermost part of the tower are CGI; they are not part of the actual building in Steveston Village.)
  • During Regina's conversation with Emma in her office, she states that today is a Thursday. This is later proven incorrect. According to "The Stranger" and the Season Two episode "Selfless, Brave and True", August woke up in pain in Phuket on October 24, 2011 at 8:15 A.M. the exact minute that Emma decided to stay in Storybrooke at 8:15 P.M. on October 23 (since Thailand is 12 hours ahead of Maine's timezone). This episode takes place the next day, but October 24, 2011 was a Monday.[114]
  • When Emma is drinking hot cocoa with Mary Margaret, she has a flower tattoo on her wrist.[115] When she opens the door for Granny earlier in the episode, it can barely be seen.[116]
  • Maleficent says Regina was about the same age when Daniel was killed as Snow White is on her wedding day. In actuality, Regina was about eighteen years old when she married King Leopold,[117] while Snow White was approximately twenty-eight when she married Prince Charming.[118]

International Titles



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  109. File:101LessCalm.PNG
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  111. Simpson, Leah (April 17, 2013). Not afraid to show some skin! Jennifer Morrison displays plenty of flesh in a sheer coral gown ... after THAT naked photo shoot. Daily Mail. “Confessing her favorite body part is her abs, Jennifer says she has a lot of scars, due to having moles removed. 'I have anywhere between 15 and 20 scars on my body,' she says. 'I go to my doctor every six months to make sure.'”
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  114. Calendar for Year 2011 (United States). Retrieved on June 10, 2018.
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  117. In the novel Regina Rising, where Eva is still alive, Regina is sixteen (according to page 11), while Snow White is seven or eight (according to page 228), which means that Regina is approximately eight–nine years older than her stepdaughter. Snow White is eight years old when Eva passes away in "The Queen Is Dead" (in "Shattered Sight", Mary Margaret states that she was ten years old during the events of "The Stable Boy". Emma says the same thing in "Sympathy for the De Vil". In "the Stable Boy", King Leopold says that they lost Eva "years ago" and in "The Price", Mary Margaret says to Emma that her mother sent her on a ball when she was eight. This means that Eva died when Snow was eight.) and ten when Regina marries Leopold. This means that Regina is about eighteen years old when she marries Leopold.
  118. In "The Heart of the Truest Believer", which takes place less than a year after "Pilot"*, Emma says that she and her parents are the same age ("I appreciate you trying to be parents, but we're the same age. We have equal amounts of wisdom."). According to "The Thing You Love Most", Regina started working on casting the Dark Curse on Snow White's wedding night (Maleficent says to Regina, "Well, it's her wedding night, I doubt she's suffering right now.") and as implied in "The New Neverland" and confirmed in "Unforgiven", Snow White got pregnant with Emma on her honeymoon. Mary Margaret gave birth to Emma at the same time as the curse was cast, which means that less than a year passes between her wedding and the casting of the curse. As seen in "Pilot", time is then frozen for twenty-eight years, before time starts moving again when Emma turns twenty-eight.

    *In "The Tower", which takes place one year after the first half of Season Three (as seen in "Going Home"), David says that it's been nearly thirty years since Emma was born. This means that less than a year passes between "Pilot", where Emma turns 28, and the second half of Season Three.

Start a Discussion Discussions about The Thing You Love Most

  • Watch With Me: Part 2 - "The Thing You Love Most"

    12 messages
    • Utter solitude wrote:I forgot how subtle Gold was in the beginning. He just pops in and messes things up again and pops out, leaving us wonder...
    • OEdystopia wrote: You're right. I love his conversation with Regina at the end of this episode. I love Gold and Rumple, especially in t...