"Desperate Souls" is the eighth episode of Season One of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Jane Espenson and directed by Michael Waxman. It is the eighth episode of the series overall, and premiered on January 8, 2012.
Regina and Mr. Gold play dirty politics and take opposite sides when Emma runs for a coveted Storybrooke public office against Sidney. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale world that was, Rumplestiltskin tries to track down the ultimate power source in order to help his son avert the horrors of a meaningless war.
Rumplestiltskin is spinning in his village. Hordor and his knights ride up and conscript a girl named Morraine from his village into the army to serve as a soldier. Rumplestiltskin is frightened that his son Baelfire will be taken next, since he reaches fourteen which is the age of the draft for the Ogre Wars in a couple of days.
In Storybrooke, Mr. Gold expresses his condolences to Emma Swan about the late Sheriff Graham's untimely death, and offers her his support, if she chooses to run for sheriff. He has a box of the sheriff's possessions and tells her to take something for remembrance. She refuses his jacket, but is persuaded to take a pair of walkie-talkies.
Emma meets Henry at his fort, and she gives him a walkie-talkie, so that they can always stay in touch during their operations, but a despondent Henry tells Emma that he thinks they should stop "Operation Cobra". He tells her that they should not mess with the curse. Henry tells Emma that the Evil Queen killed Sheriff Graham, because he was good, and he is worried about Emma, because she is good. Henry does not want to upset the Evil Queen - otherwise known as Regina - anymore.
Emma is in the Sheriff’s office, and she is looking at the sheriff’s badge. Regina comes in and tells Emma that despite the fact that Emma is deputy, the sheriff's badge is not for her, as she intends to appoint Sidney Glass as the new Sheriff. Regina tells Emma that she has not earned the right to wear the badge. She fires Emma and takes the badge away.
Emma is at home trying to fix the toaster. (She needed to hit something so she hit the toaster.) She tells Mary Margaret that Regina fired her. Mr. Gold comes to the door, wanting to discuss something with her. She invites him in. He tells her that he heard what happened and that he feels it is an injustice. He tells her two people with a common goal can accomplish a lot, but two people with a common enemy can do much more. He asks her if she has checked out the town charter. Perhaps the mayor is not as strong as she thinks she is.
In the Enchanted Forest, Rumplestiltskin and Baelfire are leaving, he tells his son that he does not know what war is like. Knights on horses find them on the King’s road and ask them where they are going. Rumplestiltskin is meek and tries to come up with a lie. The lead knight asks Baelfire how old he is and he finds out he is 13 and will be 14 in two days.
The knights tell him that Rumplestiltskin ran during the war of the Ogres. His cowardice is the reason that his wife left him. The knight tells him that it is treason to avoid service, and they will take Baelfire who will be old enough to serve. Rumplestiltskin asks what he has to do to save his son and the knight tells him to kiss his boot in front of his boy. He bends down and kisses the boot and the knight kicks him. The knights leave and an old man whom Rumplestiltskin had given money to earlier comes to help them. Rumplestiltskin tells the old man that he has nothing more to give him, but the old man tells him not to worry and that he would be his benefactor (much like Mr. Gold's offer to Emma).
In Storybrooke, the Mayor is holding a press conference to introduce the new sheriff, Sidney Glass. Emma interrupts the press conference and tells Regina that she has no power to appoint a sheriff; she can only appoint a candidate. Emma tells Regina that she is running for sheriff, and Regina tells Emma that Sidney is running too, with her full support.
The old man tells Rumplestiltskin that he has to find another way, but Rumplestiltskin does not think he has a choice, because he is the town coward. The old man tells him that there is always a choice, and if he could acquire power he could save Baelfire. The old man tells him that if he wants power, he can take it from the Duke, who has the "Dark One" enslaved with a dagger. The old man tells Rumplestiltskin that if he can steal the dagger, then he would control the "Dark One", and could save his son.
In Storybrooke at Mr. Gold's shop, Regina comes in to confront Mr. Gold and accuses him of finding the clause in the town charter. Mr. Gold tells her that it is a shame Sheriff Graham died. Regina asks if he is going up against her. Mr. Gold tells her no, not directly. Regina tells him that he is backing a losing horse.
Emma comes to see Henry and asks him how school is, and she sees that he is reading something. It is the town newspaper for which Sidney Glass works, and Emma is on the front page, in a story about how she had served time in prison and had given birth to Henry while incarcerated. Henry tells Emma that while his mother is evil, Emma is not. Emma tells him Mr. Gold is helping her, and Henry tells her that she already owes Mr. Gold one favor; she does not want to owe him two.
Emma goes to visit the Mayor, and she is mad that Regina had her juvenile records printed in the newspaper. Emma tells her that it is not good for Henry to see his adopted and natural mother fighting. Regina tells Emma that she can talk to Sidney about it all in the debate - much to Emma's surprise, as she didn't realize there would be a debate. They go to open the door and the door explodes with a huge fire behind it. Regina falls, hurting her ankle, and she tells Emma that she has to help her get up.
In the Enchanted Forest, Rumplestiltskin is working with Baelfire on something that will help him get to the castle to steal the dagger from the Duke. He tells Baelfire that if he can get the dagger, he can get the power, and then redeem himself. He can save not only his own son, but all the children of the land. Baelfire asks if it is true that he ran and that his mother left him. Rumplestiltskin tells him that his mother had died, as he said before. Baelfire then asks for their plan to get the dagger, and Rumplestiltskin tells him that part of the Duke's castle is made of wood and that wood burns.
Back in Storybrooke, Regina tells Emma that she knows that she is going to leave her to die in the fire. However, Emma grabs a fire extinguisher and helps Regina out of the building. As they walk out of the building, someone takes a picture of Emma helping Regina out, and Regina complains when Emma does not set her down gently enough. Sidney comes over and takes Regina’s picture. Regina asks Sidney if he is trying to give the campaign to Emma. All the people of Storybrooke are calling Emma a hero. Emma tells Henry that this shows that they don’t have to fight dirty. Emma then sees a rag on the ground and suspects that someone set the fire. She goes to Mr. Gold and accuses him of doing it. Mr. Gold tells her if he did it, it was because Emma could not win, unless she had done something dramatic to prove herself. Emma tells him that she cannot go along with this. Mr. Gold tells her that if she exposes him, think of what she will be walking away from and who she will be disappointing.
In the Enchanted Forest, Rumplestiltskin and Baelfire are setting fire to hay around the castle. Rumplestiltskin goes into the burning castle and finds the dagger.
The debate for sheriff is drawing near in Storybrooke. David meets Mary Margaret, and she asks David how things are. He tells her he has gotten a job at the animal shelter. David is posting campaign pictures of Sidney, and Mary Margaret is posting photos of Emma. David says he's posting Sidney's posters because his wife Kathryn is the mayor's friend. When Mary Margaret asks about her, David says she's fine and that he's about to meet her soon, after which Mary Margaret leaves, saying she ran out of Emma's pictures and needed to get more.
Mary Margaret goes to see Emma, and Emma tells her that she cannot win, as she does not fight dirty like Regina. Emma tells Mary Margaret that she wants to show Henry that a hero can win.
In the Enchanted Forest, Rumplestiltskin comes back and asks Baelfire to go home and wait for him, but his son has a bad feeling. Rumplestiltskin looks at the dagger and repeats the words, summoning whatever is in the dagger. He turns around and the Dark One is there, and Rumplestiltskin tells him that he controls him. The Dark One, however, taunts Rumplestiltskin, implying that his son is not his. The Dark One asks Rumplestiltskin what would he have him do, and he says die. Rumplestiltskin then stabs The Dark One, who falls to the ground to be revealed as the old man. He tells Rumplestiltskin that magic always comes with a price and now it is Rumplestiltskin's to pay. As his skin starts to change color, Rumplestiltskin looks at the dagger and finds that his own name is now engraved on it.
In Storybrooke, the candidates are at the town hall and are about to debate. Sidney makes his opening statements and then Emma gets up to make hers. She tells them she has had a troubled past, and they have overlooked it, because she was a hero. She tells everyone that the fire was a setup, that Mr. Gold said he would support her, and he set the fire. She has no definitive proof of it, but she knows it is true. She tells them that she cannot win that way, and she apologizes. Mr. Gold gets up and leaves.
Emma is in the cafe, and Henry comes in and gives Emma a walkie-talkie and he tells her that she is a hero, because she stood up to Mr. Gold. Regina comes in with Sidney. They tell her that she won, and she is the Sheriff. It was a very close race, but people were impressed, because she stood up to Mr. Gold. Regina tells Emma that Mr. Gold doesn't make a good friend, but he is a superlative enemy. She then tells her to enjoy her win.
The knights come to get Baelfire and the newly changed Rumplestiltskin stabs one. The lead knight Hordor gets down on one knee thinking he is the old "Dark One", but then realizes it's not the same man and asks who he is. Hordor realizes it's Rumplestiltskin, who tells him that he is the new dark one. He asks Hordor to kiss his boot, and then he kills him and the remaining Knights. Baelfire asks what has happened to him. He tells his son that he is safe and asks if he feels safe. Baelfire tells him that he feels frightened, as he backs away. Rumplestiltskin tells him he protected what is his, and he is no longer afraid of anything.Mr. Gold comes to visit Emma and tells her it was all an act. He had to give her a higher form of bravery, the people had to see her defy Mr. Gold. He tells her by standing up to him the people feel she could stand up to Regina. Emma asks why he did it. Mr. Gold says it's because they made a deal a while ago and that she owes him a favor (strongly echoing the deceased Dark One's words right before he died as Rumplestiltskin stabbed him). Now that she is sheriff, he is sure that she can find a way to repay him.
"Waste of Time" (Scene 24)
Henry Mills is putting up posters of Emma Swan. He placed her face over a fireman's body to make her look heroic, but she has a different opinion of how she looks. Regina Mills walks up, and Henry quickly rips the poster down and tries to hide it and the others. Regina notices and describes his effort as a waste of trees and a waste of time.
- The opening title card features the Dark One riding a horse.
- Kate Bateman, who plays Morraine's mother, also plays Peasant #1 in the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland episode "Nothing to Fear".
- The short speech that Sidney gives in the town hall contains references to his counterpart, the Magic Mirror. Examples include the use of the word "reflection", and the fact that he chose best qualities to state just as he would to the Evil Queen.
- The Enchanted Forest events of this episode happens after the opening scene in "The Apprentice", a few years after Milah's departure from her family in "The Crocodile", and shortly precede those of "Nasty Habits". (For more details, see the Enchanted Forest timeline)
- The Storybrooke events of this episode occur two weeks after "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" and before the events seen in "True North". (For more details, see the Land Without Magic timeline)
- This episode's flashbacks, as well as those in "Manhattan", are set during the first ogre war. The second is mentioned in "Red-Handed" and the third war occurs during "Skin Deep".
- The walkie-talkies that Mr. Gold gives to Emma, which used to belong to Sheriff Graham, were seen in "Snow Falls", where Graham used one to call for an ambulance.
- Further storylines involving the walkie-talkies are explored in "The Stable Boy" and "The Stranger".
- Photographs of Emma and Henry's time at the playground castle are displayed in "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree".
- Hordor recalls Rumplestiltskin's cowardice when he fought in the ogre wars, which occurred in "Manhattan".
- Hordor recalls Milah running away from her family, which occurs in "The Crocodile". Rumplestiltskin and Baelfire believe her to be dead due to events in the same episode.
- Emma's role as sheriff continues throughout this season.
- Emma's sealed juvenile record was referred to by Sidney in "The Thing You Love Most".
- The events surrounding Emma's arrest and jail sentence are revealed in "Tallahassee".
- Henry's birth is shown in "The Heart of the Truest Believer".
- Rumplestiltskin remains the Dark One until "Operation Mongoose Part 2", where the darkness within him is removed and transferred to another. He becomes the Dark One again in "Swan Song".
- Mr. Gold mentions the favor Emma owes him as a result of the events in "The Price of Gold". The favor is fulfilled in "Manhattan".
- Zoso tells Rumplestiltskin that he knows how to recognize a desperate soul, before Rumplestiltskin succeeds him as the Dark One. After Mr. Gold tells Emma the same thing, she eventually succeeds Mr. Gold into becoming the Dark One herself in "Operation Mongoose Part 2".
- Zoso glamours himself to appear as a regular person as opposed to the Dark One. Emma glamours herself in the same way in "Siege Perilous".
- During Emma's confrontation with Mr. Gold in his shop, a Mickey Mouse figurine rests in a case on the bottom left of the screen. A Minnie Mouse figurine is also on the table to the right of Mr. Gold.
- When Emma is taking out her anger on the toaster, there is a bottle of MacCutcheon Scotch Whiskey on the countertop. This was a fictional brand on Lost.
Fairytales and Folklore
- This episode features Rumplestiltskin from the Rumpelstiltskin fairytale.
- The Dark One's name, Zoso, refers to a nickname for Led Zeppelin guitarist and songwriter Jimmy Page, who was represented on Led Zeppelin's fourth (unnamed) album by a symbol resembling the letters ZoSo. This episode premiered on the night before Page's sixty-eighth birthday.
- Interestingly, the inside cover of the album shows a cloaked figure holding a staff and a lantern. When Rumplestiltskin first meets Zoso, he is also wearing a cloak, and is carrying a staff and a lantern.
- According to Adam Horowitz, the flashback story in this episode is inspired by Led Zeppelin and J. R. R. Tolkien. Interestingly, Led Zeppelin loved The Lord of the Rings, and some of their songs have references to the famous novel. In fact, many people wrongly assumed that the aforementioned inside cover was a figure from Tolkien's book (it was actually inspired by a figure from a Tarot card).
- The song playing while Mary Margaret walks in on Emma "fixing" a toaster is "Kool Thing" by Sonic Youth.
- There is a picture of Stonehenge on the front page of the Storybrooke Daily Mirror.
- There is a tiny brass figurine of the Three Wise Monkeys on top of the old-fashioned till in the pawnshop.
- An FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list is pinned to the billboard in Emma's office at the sheriff's station.
- After the playground scene with Emma Swan and Henry, there is a shot of Storybrooke main street where you can see the clock tower building, but without the actual clock tower (the top two layers of the clock tower, including the clock, are CGI).
- When Mr. Gold brings the town charter binder to Emma in the apartment, he puts it down on the table while taking a seat. In the next shot, the binder remains in his hands as he sits down.
- While Regina is on the ambulance stretcher and breathing in oxygen from a mask, she has a coat draped over her shoulders. After Sidney irritates her by snapping photos, she says, "She's the competition, you fool", and pushes him away; the coat is lying behind her back in the next shot.
- A framed certificate in Graham's box of belongings lists him as Sheriff of Storybrooke County. This is consistent with the title of "Sheriff", which is not a title given to a city chief of police (which is itself not an elected position).
- The newspaper article Henry is reading says:
position of local sheriff has just gone into
overdrive. The Storybrooke Daily Mirror has
recently come into possession of a number of
controversial documents that purport to shed
an entirely new light onto the character of
Storybrooke’s prospective new law enforce-
ment official, Emma Swan.
Records show that when she was merely a girl
of seventeen, Emma Swan found herself, ironi-
cally, on the wrong side of the law. She was
visiting friends of her foster parents in the
town of Worcester, Massachusetts, it would
prove to be a trip that that Swan would come to
regret. Something that would earn her a
juvenile criminal record.
On the evening of June 16th, 1996, Swan
- The time and place for Emma's arrest is contradicted in "Tallahassee" and "There's No Place Like Home", which prove Emma was actually arrested in Portland, 2001.
- There is an article called "Pumpkins Weekends at Storybrooke Farm are seasonal treats for the entire family." What little of the content that can be glimpsed on-screen, is adapted from paragraph one and four of a real newspaper article from October 2010 (updated in January 2011), from the official website of the Daily Herald, a daily newspaper based in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
|ORIGINAL VERSION||SHOW VERSION|
fall in all its glory
Sweet as it is,
|Pumpkins Weekends at|
Storybrooke Farm are
seasonal treats for
the entire family.
- The Duke of the Frontlands' crest symbol is an heraldic dolphin.
- When Emma takes over as sheriff, she takes a photo of Henry and a cup that says "I ♥ Boston" into her new office. Previously in the episode, both items were sitting on the deputy's desk.
- The well in Rumplestiltskin's village, is the same prop used for the well where Prince Thomas disappears in "The Price of Gold", but with a different pulley.
- The Mickey Mouse telephone in Mr. Gold's pawnshop is a vintage Disney Mickey Mouse Phone from AT&T.
- Two Ny Form troll figurines are sitting on a shelf in the pawnshop.
- A poster pinned to a billboard outside the Storybrooke Town Hall says "Midsummer Night's Dream". It is accompanied by an illustration of Titania and Nick Bottom.
- The same poster can be seen in the library in "A Land Without Magic", "The Crocodile", "Smash the Mirror" and "Darkness on the Edge of Town".
- Another poster is about a boat for a sale, while a third poster shows an illustration of a house. The former can also be seen inside the library in "A Land Without Magic", while latter also appears in the library in "A Land Without Magic" and "Broken Heart".
- Another poster is about a charity event ("...preventing abuse and neglect before it starts") at the "Downtown Bowling Hall". A similar poster ("Parents bowling for kids to fight child abuse" ... "At the Downtown Bowling Hall") can be seen at Game of Thorns in "Last Rites".
- If you look closely at the exterior of the Duke's castle, which Rumplestiltskin breaks into to steal the dagger, you can see that the coat of arms on a flag sitting at the top of a tower, is the same as King George's. Since these events took place a long time before King George's time, this suggests that the Duke is one of his ancestors.
|Finnish||"Epätoivoinen sielu"||"The Desperate Soul"|
|French||"Le Ténébreux"||"The Dark One"|
|German||"Verzweifelte Seelen"||"Desperate Souls"|
|Hungarian||"Elveszett lelkek"||"Lost Souls"|
|Italian||"Anime disperate"||"Desperate Souls"|
|Portuguese||"Almas Desesperadas"||"Desperate Souls"|