The curse... it's broken?
"Broken" is the first episode of Season Two of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz and directed by Ralph Hemecker. It is the twenty-third episode of the series overall, and premiered on September 30, 2012. This episode is the second season premiere.
Reality and myth begin to merge as the fairytale characters awaken from Evil Queen Regina's broken curse and remember who they were. But to their dismay, they aren't transported back to fairytale land. To make matters worse, Rumplestiltskin - aka Mr. Gold - in an effort to gain the upper hand in his power struggle with Regina, has introduced magic into the town. In fairytales magic has its place, but in our world it can be unpredictable. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale land, Prince Phillip awakens his sleeping beauty, Aurora, but discovers that he and his traveling companion, Mulan, will soon have to face a deadly foe.
In New York City, a mysterious man is on his way home. Upon arriving in his apartment, it begins to rain, and he notices that his window is open. Cellphone in hand, he attempts to close the stuck window, but drops the phone out the window in the process. The man leans on a desk, looking defeated, when a dove lands on the windowsill. The dove leaves a note and flies off. The man picks up and examines it; it's a postcard with the word "Broken" written on it. The man turns it over, revealing a photo of the Storybrooke Clock Tower.
In the Enchanted Forest, two riders cross a desolate countryside, approaching an abandoned castle. Upon their arrival, one of the riders, Prince Phillip, cuts through thorns to reach a slumbering young woman in a large room. He advises his riding companion that they should not tell "her"—referring to the young woman—everything yet. Prince Phillip uses true love's kiss to awaken the sleeping beauty, Aurora. Phillip advises a confused Aurora that they will restore their castle and kingdom, and must journey to a safe haven. Aurora questions if they are hiding from Maleficent, and Phillip advises her that there are new dangers, but they can face them.
In Storybrooke, the magical smoke vanishes. Mary Margaret Blanchard and David Nolan walk down the main street where they meet Ruby, Granny, and the Seven Dwarves, all of them relieved that the Dark Curse has been broken, and recognizing each other from their fairytale pasts. When Ruby asks what they should do now, Mary Margaret replies that she wants to find her daughter. Emma Swan and Henry Mills appear, and she has a brief reunion with her parents. Henry address David as his grandfather, causing Mary Margaret to laugh joyfully, at which David embraced Henry as his grandson. Though everyone is relieved that the curse is broken, Leroy questions why they haven't returned to the Enchanted Forest. The dwarfs question what the smoke was and who caused it; Mother Superior approaches the group and informs them that it was magic. Henry suggests that she "do something magical"; Mother Superior replies that there are no wands or Fairy Dust, and matters are complicated.
Meanwhile, at the wishing well, Mr. Gold and Belle discuss Belle's imprisonment at Regina's hands. Belle reveals that she was abducted by the Evil Queen in the Enchanted Forest and was locked away, and spent the entirety of the Curse's reign in the asylum. Gold swears he will not let this go. However, Belle wants him to promise that he will not kill Regina, to which he agrees before they kiss.
Back with Emma, the crowd (her parents, Henry, the dwarfs, Ruby, Granny, and Mother Superior) walk down the main street. Mary Margaret suggests they discuss their pasts, but Emma puts her off, more concerned about what Gold has done to the town. David and Mary Margaret express that they have longed for this reunion, and Emma agrees that she has as well, but she never imagined it this way, and she needs time. The conversation is interrupted when David notices townspeople running through the streets. Archie Hopper approaches the group and informs them that Dr. Whale has worked everyone into a frenzy; they're heading to Regina's house to kill her. Leroy suggests it's great, but Archie argues that killing Regina is wrong, and Henry agrees, adding that Regina is still his mom. David points out that Regina may have her powers back, and the townsfolk could be heading to their deaths. They rush off to stop the mob.
Phillip and Aurora joyfully reunite. It is interrupted, however, when his traveling companion notices a rumbling from the floor. Suddenly, a large creature bursts through. Phillip fights the creature briefly, before causing it to drop a Wraith Amulet. The creature then flies off, and Phillip picks up the creature's Wraith Amulet. Aurora asks what it was, to which Phillip replies, "Something bad."
Mr. Gold and Belle enter his shop. Gold tells Belle to wait, while he goes to find her something to wear. He enters the back area, unlocks a cabinet, and takes out a box. Opening the box, he removes the same Wraith Amulet that the creature dropped in Aurora's palace.
A mob of townspeople, led by Dr. Whale, confront Regina at her front door. Regina attempts to use magic to frighten the crowd, but is unsuccessful. As Dr. Whale pins Regina against the column, the crowd calls for blood. Emma and her allies break through the crowd, calling for Dr. Whale to let Regina go. When Whale questions why he should listen to Emma, she responds that she is still Sheriff. Mary Margaret adds that nothing justifies killing Regina, and David tells Dr. Whale to back off. Whale responds that David is not his prince, but further telling him that who he really is, is none of his business. Mary Margaret declares that Regina should be locked up, for her safety as well as the safety of everyone else.
As they lock Regina in a jail cell, David asks her why they didn't return to the Enchanted Forest, when the curse was broken. Regina responds that there is nothing to go back to. Mary Margaret suggests they find Gold, and they depart. Gold appears as Regina eyes the lock on her cell, telling her that magic is "different" in Storybrooke. Gold reveals that he promised Belle he wouldn't kill her, but will give her a fate worse than death. He then forces Regina to hold the Wraith Amulet.
Phillip's companion explains that the creature was a Wraith, and reveals herself to be Mulan. She explains that the Wraith marks its' victims and then sucks out their souls, and reminds Phillip and Aurora that they need to begin their journey. As Phillip reassures Aurora, he notices a mark burned into his hand from the Wraith Amulet; however, he hides this fact from Aurora.
Back in town, Mr. Gold uses the power of his dagger to summon the Wraith. As he does so, the mark from the Wraith Amulet burns on Regina's palm.
Emma entrusts Henry to Ruby. Mary Margaret attempts to start a reunion conversation with Emma, telling her that she seems unhappy about it. Emma tells her that she is happy, but explains that, her entire life, she only knew that her parents sent her away. When Mary Margaret tells her that they did it for her, Emma replies that it doesn't change the fact that she was alone. Mary Margaret replies that if they hadn't sent her away, she would have been cursed too, and Emma responds that they would have still been together, and wonders which curse is worse. She then ends the conversation, reminding them that they need to find Gold.
Traveling until nightfall, Mulan, Phillip, and Aurora decide to make camp for the night. Phillip tells Aurora that he is going to find wood for a fire. He kisses her goodbye, and a tear runs down his face, as he walks away.
Emma, Mary Margaret, and David confront Mr. Gold in his shop. When Emma asks what the purple mist was, Gold replies that it was magic, but refuses to answer why he brought it to Storybrooke. At this moment, the shop shakes violently. David and Mary Margaret look out at the town under siege, Gold explains that "it" is his gift to them, and it's going to take care of Regina. Before exiting the shop, Emma advises Mr. Gold they're "not done", and he replies that she still owes him a favor. After the trio departs, Belle emerges from the back and having overheard everything she confronts Gold, they have an argument and she tells him she thought he'd changed. Annoyed he replies, "What, in the hour you've known me?" she exits the shop, clearly hurt.
While Mulan attempts to start a fire, she hears the Wraith lurking nearby. Aurora emerges from her tent, asking where Phillip is. Realizing he has taken the horses, Mulan concludes that Phillip was marked by the Wraith, and left to protect Aurora. She heads off after him, and Aurora chases after her.
The Wraith attacks Regina in her cell. As it begins to suck out her soul, David appears and hits it with a chair. After he is unsuccessful in subduing the creature, Mary Margaret uses a makeshift flamethrower to scare the creature off. Regina informs the trio that the Wraith cannot be killed, and will stalk her until it claims her. David suggests they do nothing and let the creature take Regina. Emma interjects that she promised Henry she'd protect Regina, and Regina suggests they send the Wraith "somewhere it can't hurt anyone".
At city hall, Regina produces Jefferson's hat. Emma recognizes it and names its' owner, but Regina pretends to not know who Jefferson is. In the main hall, Regina places the hat on the floor, explaining that it's a portal to the Enchanted Forest, and they only need to send the Wraith through it in order to get rid of it. When Mary Margaret remarks that she thought their land was gone, Regina replies that it is, and sending the Wraith into the portal will "banish it to oblivion". As the Wraith approaches, Regina tries unsuccessfully to open the portal.
Mulan tracks Phillip as Aurora approaches, having found one of their horses. Mulan tries to convince her to stay behind, telling Aurora that Phillip's best chance is her. Aurora claims that Mulan loves Phillip as well, and Mulan denies it.
The Wraith enters the hall and is engaged by David as Mary Margaret lights a railing on fire to keep the Wraith away from Regina, Emma, and the hat. Regina continues her attempts at opening the portal, and is unsuccessful.
Phillip is attempting to draw out the Wraith, when Mulan and Aurora find him. He tells them to go, and Mulan suggests she mark herself. Phillip refuses, and the Wraith approaches. Phillip turns briefly, saying "I love you" before his soul is sucked out by the Wraith. The Wraith is then sucked back into the Wraith Amulet.
Regina is still unsuccessful in opening the portal, and out of options Emma touches her arm and the portal opens instantaneously. David is knocked back by the Wraith, which then goes after Regina, standing in front of the portal. Emma knocks Regina out of the way as the Wraith is sucked through the portal, but Emma is grabbed and pulled through as well. Mary Margaret jumps in after her, and David tries to do the same; but the portal closes before he gets there.
Aurora and Mulan return to the castle and lay Phillip on Aurora's bier. While they lament over the loss of Phillip, Mulan gives Aurora the Wraith Amulet, saying that she should have it.
An enraged David confronts Regina, over the portal closing, and demands to know what happened. When Regina responds that she does not know, he threatens her. In defense, she uses her magic to force him against the wall and, while wrapping vines around him, they begin to squeeze and choke the life out of him. Regina gives him some mocking words, and prepares to deliver the final blow. However, she is interrupted by Henry and Ruby's arrival. Henry is horrified at what he sees. David falls from the wall, as Regina releases him. Shifting from a menacing to a soothing tone, she tries to reassure Henry that everything is fine. She tells Henry that Emma and Mary Margaret are gone. Henry tells her that he doesn't want anything to do with her, until she gets them back. When Regina questions where Henry will go, David responds, "With me". He then exits with Henry and Ruby.
Mr. Gold absently spins his wheel in his shop, when Belle finally returns. Gold tells her that the beast is gone and Regina lives. Belle replies that he didn't get what he wanted, but Gold responds that it "remains to be seen". Belle notices the chipped cup. Gold tells her that it's the only thing he truly cherishes, and that she must leave, because he's still a monster. Belle responds that this is the reason she must stay.
In Mary Margaret and Emma's apartment, a dejected Henry gazes at a photo of the two women. David reassures him that they are alive, and he will find them.
At Aurora's Palace, Aurora mourns over Phillip, when Mulan tells her that they need to leave. She informs Aurora that much has changed. Aurora responds that she was asleep for less than a year. Mulan then explains that, while Aurora slept, the Evil Queen enacted a curse over the land that ripped everyone away to another world. When Aurora points out that they are still there, Mulan explains that their corner of the land was left untouched, and the people left behind were "frozen" for 28 years until time suddenly started again. She further tells Aurora that the land is ravaged with terrible dangers, and the survivors have found a safe haven that they should depart for.
Hearing a noise, the two approach the rubble left from the Wraith's arrival. Moving a large piece that is blocking whatever is underneath, Mulan uncovers Emma and Mary Margaret, saying, "That's what brought the Wraith here. That's what killed our Prince."
- The titlecard features the Wraith.
- The title of this episode was announced by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on July 11, 2012.
- As of this episode, Meghan Ory and Emilie de Ravin are billed as "starring", and Raphael Sbarge and Eion Bailey are billed as "guest starring" when they appear.
- The mysterious man enters a building across the street from real-life Italian pasta supplier Piedmont Ravoli Co. Inc., located on 162 Mulberry Street, while the frontal retail store is on 190 Grand Street in New York.
- For the first time, the events in the Enchanted Forest occur in the present after the events in Storybrooke.
- The season premiere of the second season was actually the second episode that was filmed for season two. "We Are Both", the second episode, was filmed before the shooting of this episode.
- In an interview with TV Guide, Emilie de Ravin admitted she accidentally bit Robert Carlyle's lip while filming Mr. Gold and Belle's kiss scene.
- Mulan refers to the Wraith as Qui shen. In Chinese culture, Qi is an active principle forming part of any living thing. In Chinese, it means "life force". Shen is a key word in Chinese philosophy and religion, and means "spirit".
- Mary Margaret holding onto Emma in the final shot of the episode, because she won't let her go of her daughter again, was Ginnifer Goodwin's idea.
- The Land Without Magic events take place after "A Land Without Magic" and before "We Are Both".(For more details, see the Land Without Magic timeline)
- The Enchanted Forest events occur 28 years after the Dark Curse is cast and before "We Are Both".(For more details, see the Enchanted Forest timeline)
- The mystery man's identity is revealed in "Tallahassee". Who sent him the postcard, is revealed in "Tallahassee" and "Selfless, Brave and True".
- The reason why Neal is in New York, is revealed in "Only You".
- How Aurora was put under the sleeping curse is shown in "Enter the Dragon".
- The reason for a portion of the Enchanted Forest being spared from the curse is revealed in "Queen of Hearts".
- The meeting of Phillip and Mulan is shown in "The Outsider".
- Mother Superior says to Henry that she doesn't have her wand. She gets it back by the time of "The Queen Is Dead".
- Belle says that the Evil Queen abducted her and kept her locked inside a tower until the curse hit. These events are shown in "Queen of Hearts" and "The Outsider".
- Mr. Gold risked Henry's life to bring back magic in "A Land Without Magic".
- The reason why Mr. Gold wants Regina dead, was shown in "A Land Without Magic."
- This episode reveals that the "Sleeping Beauty" mentioned by Regina in "The Thing You Love Most" is Aurora's mother. This is further confirmed in "Enter the Dragon".
- Mulan and Aurora figure out how to revive Phillip in "Queen of Hearts". Philip is alive and well by the time of "And Straight On 'Til Morning".
- Emma and Mary Margaret return to Storybrooke in "Queen of Hearts".
- In the opening scene, a spindle's needle rests at the foot of the bier where Princess Aurora sleeps.
- As the mysterious man holds his iPod while struggling to close the apartment window, the back of the iPod case has a Geronimo Jackson logo.
Fairytales and Folklore
- This episode is a rendition of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, focusing on the Prince's reunion with Princess Aurora by true love's kiss.
- This episode features Mulan from the Mulan legend.
- Also featured is the Wraith. It is a mythological combination of a creature found in both European and Chinese folklore.
- The song playing on the mysterious man's iPod is "Charley's Girl" by Lou Reed.
- Beside the shelf next to the door in the New York City apartment, there is a black skateboard with the words "NOMEANSNO" from the punk rock band Nomeansno's The Day Everything Became Isolated and Destroyed album logo.
- The face piece on the bridle worn by a horse in New York City is also worn by Bo Peep's horses in "White Out".
- The symbol on one side of the Wraith's medallion, which is branded onto the victim's hand, is one of several alchemy symbols for the chemical element arsenic, a deadly poison which has been historically used to kill people. Interestingly, arsenic was sometimes represented by the image of a swan.
- In "Skin Deep", when the Evil Queen makes a surprise visit to Rumplestiltskin after Belle is banished from his castle, he has a tea set laid out on the table, with two cups; as if Rumplestiltskin is waiting for Belle to return. In this episode, after Mr. Gold and Belle are reunited, one of the first things he does after she's settled in her new clothes is to use exactly the same tea set to make tea for himself and Belle.
- The interior of town hall has Birch Tree Gold Wallpaper from Fine Decor.  It is this wallpaper that Regina makes come to life and trap David.
- On set, Josh Dallas filmed the broom fire torch scene using a pre-burned broom. Each broom was treated with special burn-proof product so the flames would not scorch the entire broom once lit up.
- At least thirty-five brooms were used for the shooting of the scene.
- The New York City apartment has a framed Aesthetic Apparatus poster containing the image of a red hand, which was created for the Communication Arts Magazine 2008 May/June issue.
- Next to the sign "Cleaners & Hatters" on the wall, an Aesthetic Apparatus Bike Ride poster is hanging.
- In "The Thing You Love Most", the window outside the entrance to the Blanchard Loft is a regular, clear single-pane window. In "The Price of Gold", it has been divided into four window panes. In "The Return", it's replaced by a glass-stained window. In this episode, it has been replaced by a new glass-stained window.
- The weather was very cold during the filming of the finale of the first season. This episode, which picks up where the previous episode left off, was shot during a much warmer period, which is the reason why Mary Margaret loses her coat so quickly.
- Mary Margaret's key necklace, visible when she is standing in front of Regina's house, is a Pyrrha Oval Key Necklace. It is the same brand as Emma's swan necklace.
- Canadian-based fine headwear maker Kelly Dunlap, also known as The Saucy Milliner, created several duplicates of Jefferson's hat, which were used for filming this episode.
|Finnish||"Kumottu kirous"||"The Repealed Curse"|
|French||"Le Retour de la Magie"||"The Return of Magic"|
|German||"Der neue Fluch der Freiheit"||"The New Curse of Freedom"|
|Hungarian||"Az átok megtört"||"The Curse Is Broken"|
|Polish||"Klątwa zdjęta"||"The Curse Is Broken"|
|Portuguese||"Maldição Quebrada"||"Broken Curse"|