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Once Upon A Time

Prince Charming rides to the forest where the Seven Dwarves are standing watch over Snow White, dead and resting in a glass coffin. He tells them to open it so that he can say goodbye, and they reluctantly open it. As Prince Charming kisses his love, a wave of magical energy sweeps out and she comes back to life. He promises that he’ll always find her.

Soon, the happy couple is celebrating their marriage day. As the bishop proclaims them man and wife, the Evil Queen sweeps in, casting the guards aside with a wave of her hand. Snow White draws a sword but Prince Charming stops her, saying that there’s no need to stoop to her level. He tells the Evil Queen that she’s already lost, but she says that she’s there to give them a gift. She vows that soon, everything that everyone loves will be taken from them forever, and she shall thrive on their suffering. As the Evil Queen leaves, Prince Charming throws his sword but it passes through her as she disappeared in a cloud of black smoke.


A young boy, Henry, takes a bus to Boston. On the way he reads Once Upon a Time, a book of fairy tales. He gets off the bus in Boston and uses a credit card to hire a taxi.

Emma Swan arrives at a fancy restaurant and meets her blind Internet date, Ryan. They talk and Emma admits that it’s her birthday and she has no one to spend it with, no family. She offers to guess what he does for a living, and then informs him that he embezzled from his employer, and then ran out on his wife after she put up bail for him. Ryan realizes that Emma is a bail bondsman and runs for it, spilling a drink on her dress. He gets to his car but discovers that Emma has clubbed the tire. Ryan says that he can pay her, but Emma tells him that if he has the money he should give it to his family. When he asks Emma what she knows about Emma, she says, “Nothing,” and knocks him out.

Emma goes home and lights a candle on her birthday cupcake. She makes a wish and blows it out, and there’s a knock on her door. It’s Henry, who knows her by name and says that he’s her son. He slips in through the door and explains that he’s the baby that she gave up for adoption ten years ago. Once she gets hold of herself, Henry tells Emma that he wants her to come home to with him. Emma threatens to call the cops and he threatens to claim that she kidnapped him. She says that she can tell when people are lying, and she knows that he is. Henry begs her to come home with him to Storybrooke, Maine, and Emma agrees to take him there.

Once Upon A Time

A pregnant Snow White worries about what the Evil Queen said, and Prince Charming says that they’re only words and that the Queen is playing mind games. Snow White warns that he doesn’t know what the Queen is capable of, and he asks what he can do to ease her mind. She asks to see the prisoner, insisting that he can see the future and is the only one who can assure that their child will be safe. When Prince Charming admits he can’t guarantee their child’s future, he agrees to see the prisoner.


As they drive, Emma notices that Henry is reading the book. He insists that they’re not fairy tales and that they actually happened. Henry dares her to confirm that he’s telling the truth, and she does but points out that believing something doesn’t make it true. When Emma says that he has problems, Henry admits that he does and that she’s going to fix them.

Once Upon A Time

Snow White and Prince Charming go to see the prisoner, Rumplestiltskin, who knows who has come to see him and why. He refuses to help them unless they give him the name of their unborn child. Prince Charming refuses and starts to leave, but Snow White agrees. Rumplestiltskin tells them that the Queen’s curse is coming soon and they will be imprisoned when time stops, trapping them somewhere horrible while the Queen celebrates. Their only hope is the unborn child. Rumplestiltskin tells them to get the child to safety and on its 28th birthday, it will return and the final battle will begin. Prince Charming ushers his wife away, but Rumplestiltskin demands the name, saying that it is a girl, not a boy as Prince Charming believes. Snow White tells him that the child’s name is Emma and leaves.


Emma drives into Storybrooke and Henry refuses to tell her where they live. As they pull over, Emma notices that the town clock is wrong. Henry explains that time is frozen there and the clock has never worked, and that the Evil Queen sent all of the fairy tale stories there and froze them in time. Emma wonders why they don’t leave and Henry says that bad things happen when they try. A psychiatrist named Archie approaches them, recognizing Henry as his patient. Henry introduces his birth mother and Archie says that the boy lives at the mayor’s house. When Henry claims he went on a field trip and misses their session, Archie warns him that lying is giving into one’s dark side and never accomplishes anything. Archie bids them a good night and leaves, and Henry tells Emma that Archie doesn’t know that he’s a fairy tale character, Jiminy Cricket.

Once Upon A Time

Prince Charming convenes a council of war to deal with the Queen and her curse. Jiminy Cricket warns that nothing is ever accomplished by giving in to one’s dark side, but Prince Charming warns that no war is ever fought with a clear conscience. Snow White warns that the future is written and there’s no point in fighting, but Prince Charming insists that good will win. Even if it doesn’t, he tells his wife that if she believes in Rumplestiltskin’s prophecy, then she has to believe that their child will be the savior. The Blue Fairy arrives with a squad of soldiers, carrying a tree. She explains that it can be fastened into a vessel that will ward off any curse. Geppetto says that he can do the work, but the Blue Fairy warns that the enchantment is powerful but can only protect one person.


As they arrive at Mayor Regina Mills’ home, Henry insists that his adopted mother is evil and only pretends to love him. Regina and the local sheriff, Graham, come out and she embraces Henry. He tells her that he’s found his real mom and runs inside. As Graham goes to check on Henry, Regina invites Emma in for apple cider. She has no idea how Henry found Emma and explains that the birth records were sealed. Emma assures her that the father doesn’t even know he had a son and that Regina has nothing to worry about from her. Graham assures them that Henry is fine and leaves, and Regina explains that she’s had a hard time balancing things since he became a single mother. She admits that she’s strict because she wants Henry to excel at life, and Emma mentions that Henry thinks everyone in town is a fairy tale character. Regina says that she has no idea what Emma is talking about, and Emma says that it’s none of her business and that it’s time for her to leave. As Emma goes to her car, she sees Henry watching her from his bedroom window.

As Emma drives out of town, she notices that Henry has left her book on the car seat. She reaches for it and looks up to see a wolf on the road. Emma swerves and runs into the town marker, knocking herself out in the crash. The book flips open by itself to the page showing Geppetto at work.

Once Upon A Time

Geppetto and his son make a wardrobe out of the enchanted tree. In her quarters, Snow White worries and refuses to enter the wardrobe, saying that the prophecy says that it will be 28 years until they are reunited with their child. Prince Charming kisses her and insists that she has to be safe from the curse. As they embrace, Snow White convulses and realizes that their daughter is coming.

On the ramparts, Grumpy and Sleepy spot a cloud of blackness as the curse draws near.


Emma wakes up in a cell at the Storybrooke jail. A man named Leroy, actually Grumpy, is in the cell next to her. The handyman, Marco (actually Geppetto) has heard that Emma is Henry’s birth mother, and admits that he’s give anything to have a son. Sheriff Graham comes out to release Leroy and then suggests that Emma might have been drunk. He doesn’t believe her claim that there was a wolf standing in the middle of the road. Regina arrives to report that Henry has run away again and is surprised to see that Emma is there. Emma offers to help locate him by checking Henry’s computer. They agree and Emma checks the boy’s hard drive. There’s a receipt for a website that specializes in tracking down birth mothers, and Regina notes that Henry doesn’t have a credit card. Emma checks the record and learns that the card belongs to Mary Margaret Blanchard.

Mary Margaret (Snow White) is at school teaching the children how to build birdhouses. She releases a bird from her hand and it flies to its birdhouse. Emma and Regina arrive and the mayor demands to know where her son is. Mary Margaret insists that Henry must have stolen her credit card and admits that she gave Henry the book on fairy tales to help him with his loneliness. Regina tells Emma to have a nice trip back to Boston and storms off. Emma asks Mary Margaret how the book is supposed to help, and Mary Margaret says that fairy tales give people hope for a happy ending. Emma realizes that Mary Margaret knows where Henry is, and the teacher tells her to check Henry’s castle.

Once Upon A Time

Snow White goes into labor as Geppetto finishes the wardrobe. However, Doc the dwarf warns that they can’t move her. As the Queen and her Black Knights approach, Snow White gives birth to her daughter but realizes that the wardrobe won’t protect her and the baby. As the curse closes in on the castle and the Black Knights invade, Snow White tells her husband to take Emma to the completed wardrobe. She says that they have to give their daughter her best chance and says goodbye. Prince Charming fights his way past the Black Knights, but is wounded in the process. He finally gets to the wardrobe and places Emma inside, only to be mortally wounded by another knight. As he lies dying, Prince Charming sees the Knights open the wardrobe and discover that the baby is gone.


Emma finds Henry at the playground sitting on a castle structure. She gives him his book back and he admits that he had hoped that bringing Emma there would change things and the final battle would begin. Henry insists that Emma is there to fulfill her destiny and bring back the happy endings. When Emma refuses to accept that, Henry says that she’s trying to push him away because she feels guilty, and she knows that he did it to give him his best chance—the same reason that snow White gave her away. Emma insists that she’s a real person and no savior, and that his best chance is with someone else. As she takes him back, Henry asks her to stay for one week so that she can find the truth. When he says that his life sucks, Emma says that her parents abandoned her on the side of a freeway, and she was sent into the foster system and her first parents sent her back when she was 3. Henry tells her that Emma came through from the wardrobe and that her parents were trying to save her from the curse.

Once Upon A Time

Snow White makes her way to the wardrobe and finds her husband dead on the floor. As she begs him to come back, the Evil Queen arrives and says that soon Snow White won’t remember him or her love for him. When the knights report that the baby is gone, Snow White smiles, knowing that the Evil Queen will lose and good will always win. The curse smashes through the roof, pulling up everything as the Evil Queen laughs in triumph and says that they’re going somewhere horrible where the only happy ending will be hers.


Emma returns Henry to his home and he goes inside. Regina thanks her and Emma notes that when she made a wish a day ago on her birthday, she wished that she wouldn’t have to be alone on her birthday. The mayor makes it clear that Emma isn’t welcome back in Henry’s life, and that the boy is her son. She tells Emma that she insisted on a closed adoption is and has no legal right to Henry, and that she should leave now or she’ll destroy her. As Regina goes inside, Emma asks if she loves Henry. Regina says that she does and closes the door. Once alone, she takes Henry’s book and then goes to a mirror and studies her reflection.

At the hospital, Mary Margaret is serving as a volunteer and tends to a comatose patient: a John Doe who looks like Prince Charming.

Emma decides to stay in town and goes to a bed & breakfast run by a woman called Granny, who is arguing with her granddaughter, Ruby (Red Riding Hood). They’re both pleased and surprised when Emma says that she wants a room for a week. As Emma gives them her name for the register, Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) comes in and says that she has a lovely name. Granny hands over a large roll of bills and says that it’s all there, and Mr. Gold wishes Emma a lovely stay. Once he leaves, Granny tells Emma that Mr. Gold owns the entire town and then gives her the key to her room.

Henry watches from his window as the town clock moves forward for the first time and smiles in delight.

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Warning: Once Upon a Time season 1 episode 1 guide may contain spoilers
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