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I'm growing tired of this glass prison.
Sidney to Regina

"Breaking Glass" is the fifth episode of Season Four of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Kalinda Vazquez & Scott Nimerfro, and directed by Alrick Riley. It is the seventy-first episode of the series overall, and premiered on October 26, 2014.


Regina reluctantly teams up with Emma to search for the Snow Queen after Sidney, who is once again Regina's prisoner in the mirror, discovers her whereabouts and agrees to lead her to the location. With Belle babysitting baby Neal, a nervous Mary Margaret and David prepare for their first date night away from their child and find themselves on a mission to track down Will Scarlet, who has escaped from the town jail, and Elsa sees Anna in the Storybrooke woods. Meanwhile, back in the past, young Emma finds herself a kindred spirit when she befriends a girl who, like her, is a runaway orphan.[2]


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

Deleted Scenes

These scenes are included on Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fourth Season.

"The Babysitter"


"Friends Forever?"

Emma approaches Lily's adoptive father and tries to explain that she didn't know that Lily actually had a family, but the man doesn't listen to her, rather warning Emma to never get close to Lily again. From inside a car, Lily apologizes to Emma and claims to feel as a real orphan, but the blonde ignores her and walks away.[4]

Unnamed scene

A scene with Gerda and her husband was cut from the episode. However, Pascale Hutton and Oliver Rise are still credited in the episode's press release.[2]



Guest Starring





Production Notes

Event Chronology

  • Note that some of the dialogue in this episode is rather misleading: When Emma comments on why she ran away from her group home, she refers to the events of "Snow Drifts" as if they happened recently: "This little girl from my home, Cecilia, got adopted. I watched her get in this station wagon with this perfect-looking couple. That's when I realized no one was ever gonna look at me the way those parents looked at her. I'm too old. I missed my chance. There was no point in me staying another day if I was just gonna keep feeling... Invisible?" Emma's words suggest that she ran way shortly after Cecilia was adopted, but since Cecilia was adopted in 1995, Emma actually waited a few years.

Episode Connections

  • How Sidney was trapped in the mirror was explored in "A Tale of Two Sisters".
  • Will was arrested in "The Apprentice".
  • Hook takes Henry sailing, which he first did in "It's Not Easy Being Green".
  • The set of photos that Sidney took of Emma and Henry first appeared in "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree".
  • The photographs of Emma and Henry are from scenes in "The Thing You Love Most".
  • The picture of Emma and Henry leaving Archie's office[8] first appears in "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree".[9]
  • The picture of Emma in the Snow Queen's ice cream shop was taken during "Shattered Sight".
  • The reason why Emma doesn't remember the time she spent with the Snow Queen is explained in "Shattered Sight". Emma gets her memories back in the same episode.
  • Young Emma mentions a little girl from her group home, Cecilia, who was adopted, which was illustrated in "Snow Drifts".
  • Young Emma states that she realized no one would ever look at her the way Cecilia's adopted parents looked at her. However, Emma did eventually get to experience this when she was reunited with her parents in "Broken".
  • Regina's anger toward Emma is explained in "There's No Place Like Home".
  • Marian's affliction occurred in "Rocky Road".
  • Regina is looking at a photo of herself and Robin Hood,[10] which was taken between scenes in "A Curious Thing".
  • Regina makes a reference to the first time she trapped Sidney in a mirror during "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree".
  • Sidney's cell at the hospital, which Regina refers to, appears in "A Land Without Magic" and "A Tale of Two Sisters".
  • The Snow Queen says that she has hundreds of mirrors. Some of these mirrors appeared in her ice cream shop in "White Out" and "Rocky Road".[11]
  • Lily's origin, and how she was adopted, is revealed in "Best Laid Plans".
  • After going their separate ways, Emma and Lily were reunited twice, something that is explored in "Lily".
  • Emma's box of keepsakes[12] first appears when she unpacks her things in "The Price of Gold".[13] In "Tougher Than the Rest", she is seen opening the same box to show August a set of pages from "The Ugly Duckling" fairytale.[14] In "The Song in Your Heart", she opens it to look though her possessions.[15]
  • Hook picks up glasses,[16] which Emma used to wear as a young adult, as established in "Tallahassee" and "There's No Place Like Home".
  • The ring that Hook picks up[17] is the one that teenage Emma got when she was at the funfair with Ingrid in "Shattered Sight".[18]
  • Emma picks up her baby blanket, which was knitted by Granny in "Pilot".
  • The photograph of Emma and Neal[19] was taken between scenes in "Tallahassee".
  • The Snow Queen's connection to Emma was first alluded to in "Rocky Road", and is explored in "Shattered Sight".
  • The video recording of Emma and the Snow Queen was made during "Shattered Sight", and is seen again in "Family Business".


Fairytales and Folklore

Popular Culture

  • Lily says that she likes to think of the star imprint on her arm as a symbol, "Like Harry Potter"; a reference to the title character of the famous book series by J. K. Rowling, and the scar on his forehead. The first book of the series was released in the U.S. in 1998 (more specifically, in September),[20] which is also the year where the flashback takes place.

Props Notes

  • As Regina is looking through the spell book, we see a palmistry illustration of a hand, with astrological symbols for the mounts on the palm.[21] Mounts are the bumps of flesh on the palm, which are named after planets, and which play a very important role during a palmistry reading. Four astrological symbols can be seen on the illustration:[22]
    • Venus (♀), the mount by the thumb.
    • Jupiter (♃) is erroneously printed on the mound between the thumb and the index finger, which is where lower Mars should be.
    • Mars (♂) is erroneously printed on the mound beneath the index finger, which is actually Jupiter's mound.
    • Saturn (♄), the mount under the index finger.
    • Note that the mounts of Apollo (the sun) and Mercury, which are placed beneath the ring finger and the baby finger respectively, are obscured.
  • The framed photo of Regina and Robin Hood[10] is taken directly from a shot in the scene with the two of them in the diner hallway in "A Curious Thing".[23]
  • The Polaroid of Emma and Neal[19] is taken directly from a shot in the scene where Emma volunteers to pick up the stolen watches in "Tallahassee".[24]

Set Dressing

  • The graffiti on a gate, which Emma and Lily pass as they run from Lily's father, has "Cora" written on it.[25]
    • As the girls hide inside the alley, graffiti on the building across the road says "always valiant".[26]
  • Many Storybrooke locations contain references to the Enchanted Forest. Although it is not actually in Storybrooke, the house where Emma and Lily crash for the night, follows the same pattern: There are two paintings depicting tree trunks in a forest are decorating the walls,[27] and when the girls are sleeping, the shadows against the curtains are reminiscent of leaf-covered branches and bushes in a forest.[28] This is a subtle reference to the world that Emma and Lily actually come from.
  • As Elsa is running through the woods, she runs past a sign which says "Storybrooke Wilderness Park - Yarrow Lane".[29]

Costume Notes

Filming Locations

International Titles



  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2
  5. File:405Title.png
  8. File:405HotCocoa.png
  9. File:111SheKnewAbout.png
  10. 10.0 10.1 File:405FramedPhoto.png
  11. File:403HearNothing.png
  12. File:405Box.png
  13. File:104WhatDoYouMean.png
  14. File:611EmmaBox.png
  15. File:620OpeningBox.png
  16. File:405Glasses.png
  17. File:405Ring.png
  18. File:410Ring.png
  19. 19.0 19.1 File:405Polaroid.png
  21. File:405ISuppose.png
  23. File:319TenderMoment.png
  24. File:206IKnowICan.png
  25. File:405TrustMe.png
  26. File:405Graffiti.png
  27. File:405NotTooShabby.png
  28. File:405Nighttime.png
  29. File:405StorybrookeWildernessPark.png
  30. File:405TrustMe.png
  32. File:410DontLookAtMe.png
  36. File:405SnuckOut.png
  38. File:419JustWrong.png
  39. File:405GoingToBeFine.png
  41. File:413HopOutOfHere.png
  43. File:405HomeWithNeal.png
  46. File:415MissedYouToo3.png
  48. 413 Garden Dr Vancouver, British Columbia (Alley way view of market). Google Maps (May 2016).
    The name of the convenience store can be seen on a price tag behind Emma (File:405WannaGoShopping.png).
    The alley way behind the market (Seen in the Google Maps view above) matches the alley way behind the convenience store as Lily's father chases after them. (File:405Heey!.png)

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