"A Bitter Draught" is the second episode of Season Six of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Andrew Chambliss & Dana Horgan, and directed by Ron Underwood. It is the one-hundredth and thirteenth episode of the series overall, and premiered on October 2, 2016.
When a mysterious man from the Land of Untold Stories, who has a past with the Evil Queen, arrives in Storybrooke, David and Snow work together with Regina to neutralize the threat. Belle seeks Hook’s help finding a safe place to hide away from her husband, Mr. Gold. The Evil Queen continues to try to win Zelena over to her side, while Emma resumes her therapy sessions with Archie and shares her terrifying vision of the future.
In the Storybrooke Graveyard, late at night, the Evil Queen and Zelena approach the Mills Mausoleum. Upon realizing their destination, Zelena stops the Queen, telling her she can't let her into the vault. The Queen replies that if Regina didn't want her to help herself to some ingredients, she wouldn't have sealed the vault with Blood Magic.
Inside, Zelena asks how the Evil Queen how she knows she won't tell Regina about their activities. The Queen laughs and replies that if she was going to, she already would have. Zelena asks why she needs magic, and the Queen replies that she used everything the Dragon had to get to town. Zelena asks what happened to him, and the Queen informs her that he should have know better than to get in her way. Zelena comments that it's good advice for everyone, and the Queen observes that she's worried she'll hurt Regina. She tells Zelena to "relax", that she intends to teach Regina a lesson; "that she can never escape who she really is". Zelena asks what she gets out of it, and the Queen responds, "A sister who appreciates all of your delightfully malevolent qualities. A sister like you." She teleports away.
The next morning, Regina and Henry Mills, carrying his storybook, approach Granny's Diner. Henry asks his mother if she's "ready", and she replies that everyone listened to her before, when she was the Evil Queen, and she is going to show that she's "just as strong without her". Henry hands her the storybook, dubbing their mission "Operation Cobra: Part Two", and that Regina is the hero this time. Inside, David Nolan, Mary Margaret Blanchard, Emma Swan, Hook and Granny are trying to help the new arrivals from the Land of Untold Stories. David points them to room keys, clothing, and food, sounding stressed. Regina and Henry enter, Hook remarking to her that "it's about time. The rabble are getting restless." Regina drops the storybook on the counter, quieting the room. She introduces herself to the crowd as Mayor, and welcomes them to Storybooke. Holding up the storybook, she remarks that the new arrivals fled to the Land of Untold Stories out of fear that whatever was in the book would play out, and that now they are in Storybrooke, they are afraid it will. She tells the crowd that she's just like them; getting a fresh start, and not knowing what the future holds. She tells them that they don't have to be afraid, because "whatever comes next, we are going to face it together". The crowd applauds as Belle French enters. She begins to ask a question when Emma interrupts, expressing shock that she's there, and awake. Belle announces that she's looking for a place to stay. Hook asks about Mr. Gold, and Belle explains that they are not together, and she thought Granny might have a room. Emma tells her that they can find her something better than a room at Granny's, and Hook agrees, saying he knows "just the place". He invites Emma along to show Belle, and Emma declines, saying she has an appointment with Archie Hopper. Hook tells her he's impressed, since being vulnerable is not easy for her. Emma agrees, saying they've been through a lot and it might help to talk about it. He tells her he's glad, and escorts Belle out of the diner as another new arrival walks in. Henry speaks to him, asking him who he is. The young man responds with confusion, and Henry asks for his name, explaining that if he can find him in the book, they can try to figure out how to continue his story. The stranger tells Henry he's not important enough to have his own story. Henry starts flipping through the book, but when he looks up, the young man is gone. Looking down at the counter, a small envelope, stamped with the stylized initials "CM", has been left behind.
In the past, at the Wilmore Estate in 19th Century France, a party is in full swing. A butler rings a bell and musicians stop, and the butler announces the party's host: the Count of Monte Cristo. The Count welcomes his guests, thanking them for joining him. Baron Danglars tells the Count the guests should be thanking him for hosting the party. The Count replies that the evening would not be possible if not for the Baron. He toasts the Baron and the crowd follows. Confused, the Baron questions the Count, who in turn asks the Baron how he doesn't recognize him, pointing out the prominent scar above his eye. The Baron then recognizes him, naming him as Edmond Dantes. He further points out that Edmond Dantes is in prison, and the Baron put him there. The Count agrees, recounting that the Baron also burned down his home, spent his family's fortune, and murdered his fiancée. As the Baron stands dumbstruck, the Count goes on to explain that he escaped from prison and has spent more than ten years rebuilding his fortune, all for "one reason". He draws his sword, quickly cutting away the Baron's sword-belt, grabs him, and holds the tip of his sword poised at this throat as he interrogates him. He demands to know who helped the Baron destroy his life. The Baron tells the Count to kill him, that he won't find justice. As the Count runs the Baron through, he replies that he is after something "much more satisfying": revenge.
The crowd of partygoers flees the room as the Count sheathes his sword with a sigh. The Evil Queen, seated in a chair, applauds, commenting that there is "nothing like the first kill". The Count asks her who she is. The Queen comments that she is a fan of his work, asking if he really spent a decade setting up the party's events. The Count replies that it went by in the blink of an eye, and the Queen admires his commitment. She comments that it's a "pity" the Baron didn't give any names, pondering how long it will take the Count to find his next victim. The Count replies that he would spend the rest of his life avenging his love, and the Queen comments that he might not have to, showing him a scroll. She tells him that it contains the names of those who have wrong him, and the Count asks what she wants in return. The Queen responds that she wants help getting some revenge of her own.
In modern Storybrooke, outside the Diner, Henry gives the mysterious envelope, addressed to Snow White and Prince Charming, to David and Mary Margaret. Henry explains that the man just vanished, and wonders if he might be the Invisible Man, or Dracula. Mary Margaret recognizes the note as being from the Count of Monte Cristo. Granny comments that she's not a fan of the sandwich, and David explains that Monte Cristo is a place, and it's Count has "quite a reputation". He asks his wife why the Count would want to meet with them, and Regina, standing in the Diner's doorway, explains that Count wants them dead, and she hired him to do it.
*Note: Only in archive footage.
- The title card features the Dark Palace.
- The title of this episode was announced by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on July 13, 2016.
- The episode's title appears in a passage in chapter 35 of Alexandre Dumas' adventure novel The Count of Monte Cristo, in which Baron Franz says to the titular character, "Hatred is blind, rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught."
- A few scenes of this episode and "The Savior" were filmed simultaneously.
- Technically Dr. Hopper broke multiple HIPPA laws by revealing the name of a client to Emma when he stated that Bashful was his 4:00 appointment.
- The CGI model used for the interior of the Count of Monte Cristo's estate is recycled from the model used for the library in Maurice's Castle in "Family Business" and "Her Handsome Hero". This can, for example, be seen from the identical design on the Solomonic columns (columns characterized by a spiraling twisting shaft like a corkscrew) and the windows, and the curved ceiling, which is very similar to the ceiling in Maurice's library.
- The CGI set used to portray Snow White and Prince Charming's dining room in the Royal Castle, is recycled from the computer generated model created for the interior of the Royal Manor in "The Stable Boy", and the Summer Palace in "The New Neverland". For example, the archways and the flowers on the window sill, have a very similar design. The horse tapestries in the dining room are the same as the ones in the Royal Manor.
- Rumplestiltskin says that Charlotte and the count's wife "share the same je ne sais quoi, n'est-ce pas?" Je ne sais quoi is French for 'I don't know what': a pleasing quality that is hard to describe. N'est-ce pas? means "isn't it so?".
- The confrontation between Regina and the Evil Queen at the docks was first filmed with Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen, and a double as Regina. Later, they shot the reverse of the scene with Lana as Regina, and the double as the Evil Queen.
- The exterior shot of Granny's Diner in the evening, is stock footage from "Heroes and Villains": Even though the people walking by the diner are different, the parked car and the leaves on the ground are exactly the same.
- The Storybrooke events take place after "The Savior" and before "The Other Shoe". (For more details, see the Land Without Magic timeline)
- The Enchanted Forest events take place during "The Cricket Game", after the Evil Queen's cancelled execution and before Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding day. (For more details, see the Enchanted Forest timeline)
- Zelena mentions she agreed to have a drink with the Evil Queen, which occurred in "The Savior".
- The Evil Queen had a run-in with the Dragon during "An Untold Story".
- The Dragon's fate is ultimately revealed in "I'll Be Your Mirror".
- The Land of Untold Stories citizens came to Storybrooke in "The Savior".
- Belle woke up from her curse and returned home in "The Savior".
- Henry and Regina continue Operation Cobra Part 2, which Henry first started with Emma in "Broken Heart".
- Emma says that she would not wish the mattresses at Granny's Bed and Breakfast on her worst enemy. Emma previously stayed there in "Pilot", "The Thing You Love Most", and from "Witch Hunt" to "A Curious Thing".
- Emma started having visions of her death, and agreed to have therapy sessions with Archie, in "The Savior".
- This is not the only time the Evil Queen recruits a person set on vengeance to murder someone for her; she did the same thing with Hook in "Queen of Hearts".
- Grumpy recalls Snow White sparing the Evil Queen from execution, an event that happened in "The Cricket Game".
- Hook recalls trying to kill Belle in the Evil Queen's palace, an event that occurred in "Queen of Hearts". He also recalls shooting Belle at the town line, an event that occurred in "The Outsider".
- The events of "The Savior" led Belle to distance herself from Mr. Gold in favor of protecting her unborn son.
- Regina sealed her vault with blood magic in "The Savior".
- The Evil Queen puts her sword skills to work again in "Shattered Sight".
- The Evil Queen remembers how Rumplestiltskin put a protection spell on Snow White and Prince Charming, an event that occurred in "The Cricket Game".
- Rumplestiltskin reminds the Evil Queen that casting the Dark Curse can help her get revenge on Snow White and Prince Charming. He mentions this to her again in "The Cricket Game".
- Mr. Gold hears about Regina separating herself from her darker half, an event that occurred in "An Untold Story".
- Rumplestiltskin implies he needs Snow White and Prince Charming alive and able to procreate a child. The importance of this child and the manner in how he came to know about the child is explained in "Pilot".
- Another key to the Land of Untold Stories is seen again in "The Other Shoe".
- Regina throwing a sword over her head at the Count of Monte Cristo is reminiscent of Prince Charming throwing his sword at the Evil Queen in "Pilot". This move was also used by Emma when fighting Maleficent in "A Land Without Magic".
- The Evil Queen taunting Regina about the tiny spot of darkness in her heart that will only grow with time is reminsicent of Regina taunting Mary Margaret about her darkening heart in "Welcome to Storybrooke".
- The Evil Queen talks about the death of Prince Charming's father, something that was briefly touched upon in "The Shepherd", and further elaborated in "White Out". She also implies the death was not an accident, and David learns in "The Other Shoe" about how his father actually died.
- Th Evil Queen says to Zelena that she admires someone who can keep a secret, a reference to "The Stable Boy", where a young Snow White revealed Regina's secret to Cora.
Fairytales and Folklore
- This episode is a rendition of The Count of Monte Cristo story with the Count of Monte Cristo. The episode also features Baron Danglars from The Count of Monte Cristo, the Three Musketeers from The Three Musketeers, Snow White, Prince Charming, the Evil Queen and Grumpy from the Snow White fairytale, Rumplestiltskin from the Rumplestiltskin fairytale, Captain Hook from the Peter Pan story, and the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz story.
- The invitation to the Count of Monte Cristo's party says "You are cordially invited to a feast at the Wilmore Estate". In the novel, "Lord Wilmore" is one of the Count's alias.
- The Count makes a reference to a woman that he loved and lost, who was his fiance; a reference to Mercédès from the novel.
- Henry wonders if the Count could be the Invisible Man.
- Henry also wonders if the Count could be Dracula, but quickly dismisses the idea, since he saw the Count in daylight.
- Granny makes a remark about the Monte Cristo sandwich, when she overhears the Count of Monte Cristo mentioned. It is a type of ham and cheese sandwich that is dipped in egg batter and pan fried, though it may also be deep fried. It is a variation of the French Croque-monsieur.
- While driving her parents to a safer place, Emma jokingly refers to the Count as Errol Flynn. Errol Flynn was a famous film actor known for his romantic swashbuckler roles in Hollywood films.
- Henry describes the movies The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather Part II and Temple of Doom as "the best sequels ever".
- The storybook that Regina shows the people from the Land of Untold Stories is Once Upon a Time Volume II. The same title was seen in the New York Public Library in "Only You", but it is not known whether this is the same version that was found in the library.
- The invitation to the party in 19th Century France reads "You are cordially invited to a feast at the Wilmore Estate. Festivities will begin promptly at Sundown on Midsummer's Eve."
- The message to David and Mary Margaret reads: "The Count of Monte Cristo requests the pleasure of your company this afternoon, at precisely twelve o'clock near the grounded dirigible."
- When David and Mary Margaret are fighting the Count at the docks, in a few shots, you can see the Snow Queen's old ice cream van from Season Four standing on the parking lot.
- The Storybrooke Wishing Well prop doubles as the well in the village that was attacked by the Evil Queen. The roof over the wishing well has been removed for this episode.
- The dress worn by the Evil Queen when meeting with the Count of Monte Cristo to give him the venom of the Agrabahn Viper is the same one Regina magicked up when under the influence of the Spell of Shattered Sight in "Shattered Sight", and when selecting a dress for the ball in Camelot in "The Price". The Evil Queen wore the same dress in Regina's dream in "Poor Unfortunate Soul". Her serum counterpart wears the same dress at the power station in "Changelings".
- Emma is wearing a Rachel Comey Ravine Silk and Lien Top and a Frame Le Oversized Jacket.
- Mary Margaret is wearing a Club Monaco Tymber Denim Trench.
|Italian||"Una pozione amara"||"A bitter potion"|