"Heart of Gold" is the seventeenth episode of Season Four of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Tze Chun & Scott Nimerfro, and directed by Billy Gierhart. It is the eighty-third episode of the series overall, and premiered on April 12, 2015.
Emma is still reeling after learning the truth of her parents' history with Maleficent, but she must focus on finding the Author, who is running loose in Storybrooke, before Gold does. When Gold's quest for his happy ending grows more urgent, he blackmails Regina into helping him. In a Fairy Tale Land flashback, Robin Hood learns what it means to be an honorable thief when he accepts a proposition by Rumplestiltskin to travel to Oz to steal a valuable magic elixir from the Wicked Witch.
Regina wakes up and discovers Rumple is holding her hostage. He tells her if she wants Robin to stay safe she will do whatever he wants. She asks what happened to Robin, and he hands her a phone telling her to call him herself. Nine weeks ago, Regina says goodbye to Robin and sends them away. Arrving in New York, they are scared and someone steals Marian's purse. Robin steals a horse and rescues it from the thief. He tells Marian they have keys to Rumple's son's apartment. Marian mentions that he was also from the Enchanted Forest and survived there for many years so they can too. They are trying to adjust to life in the city when Rumplestitlskin opens the door to the apartment and asks what they are doing there. After verbally arguing about who really belongs there, Rumple clutches his chest and falls to the ground. At the hospital, Rumple tells Robin that all his dark deeds poisoned his heart. He was able to use magic to protect himself but without it in this land he will die. He tells Robin to retrieve some of the elixir of a wounded heart which he was sent to get in Oz in the past. Robin asks him "and why would I help you?" and Rumple tells him it's because he is an honorable person with a code to live by. Marian tries to convince Robin to let Rumple die but he tells her he cannot and that she is different than who he remembers. She reminds him everything is different now. Robin breaks into Walsh's furniture shop and steals the elixir; he gets away just as the police arrive. He brings it to Rumple and tells him they own the apartment now and he never wants to see him again. Rumple drinks it but says it isn't working. Marian comes in and tells him it's because it isn't real magic but rather a cold and flu medicine. Rumple asks her why she switched it as he caused her no harm. "That's not exactly true," she says. She pulls out a necklace which glows green and reveals it is Zelena. Rumple asks how it is possible since he killed her. She explains that when he stabbed her in the jail cell her life force left her body before it shattered and she went through the portal with Emma and Hook. She killed Marian and assumed her form to come back and steal Regina's happy ending and that no one has been the wiser. She then taunts Rumple in reminding him that because she is still alive he never avenged his son's death. Rumple's heart fails and they resuscitate him. Zelena tells him she will give him the elixir if he finds the author, forces him to write her a happy ending and stops trying to kill her. He reluctantly agrees. Nine weeks later, in Storybrooke, Rumple finds the author, shows him a magic quill and convinces him to come with him. Regina calls Robin's phone and discovers Zelena is alive and acting as Robin's wife. Rumple tells her if she doesn't help him turn Emma dark he will call Zelena and tell her to kill Robin.
In the Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood owns and operates a tavern. Little John wants him to return to thieving with him but he explains that is no longer who he is after marrying Marian. The Sheriff of Nottingham enters and tells him his taxes are overdue. He says he will give Robin Hood two days or he will shut down the tavern and put Robin in jail. The Dark One enters later and tells Robin if he goes to Oz and steals the Elixir of a Wounded Heart, which can cure hearts physically and emotionally, he will take care of his tax problems. Robin enters through a door to Oz and meets Will Scarlet, who is tied up on the road. He releases him and Will tells Robin if he brings back some of the Elixir for him he will keep his mouth shut and not tell the guard. Robin Hood agrees and dresses as an Ozian guard. In the Emerald City, Robin is trying to find the elixir in the vault. He also finds a set of ornaments bearing a six-leaf clover and steals one, then puts some of the elixir in a vial and is finishing filling another vial when he hears a voice say "What are you doing?" He looks in the mirror and sees the Wicked Witch. He tries to hail her but she knows he is not a guard because he spoke to her, and they are not supposed to; Robin then spots a nearby bow with set of arrows and takes them, trying to take the Wicked Witch hostage, only to find that she's cast an illusionary spell and now there's three of them. She asks him why Rumplestiltskin sent him because she knows he is the only one bold enough to steal from her. She throws a fireball at him and he shoots an arrow towards a pillar and smoke hisses out. While she is coughing in the fog, he escapes. Back at the door, he lies and tells Will it was a trap and he got none of the elixir. Will explains he wanted it for him because his sister died and he wanted the hurt to go away. He tells Robin his wife will understand. Robin goes through the door and Will walks away. Will discovers Robin left the vile of the elixir in his pocket. The Sheriff comes to arrest Robin Hood but Robin's men prevent that from happening. Robin explains he understands being a thief with honor is to steal from those who have too much and give to those who have too little and he takes the Sheriff's bag of gold pieces.
- Footage of this scene being filmed can be found in "Secrets of Storybrooke". According to Adam Horowitz, the scene is not canon:
In the episode script, Robin Hood goes to Rumplestiltskin's castle after he returns from Oz. He sees Rumplestiltskin place a wand on a pedestal; the same wand that Robin steals in "Lacey". Robin remarks that Fairies can get quite nasty when they are stripped of their wands, but Rumplestiltskin says, "Only if they're still breathing after you've taken it"; implying that the wand that he stole from the Fairy Godmother in "The Price of Gold" (even though "Heart of Gold" and "Lacey" take place before this episode). Rumplestiltskin asks for the potion, but Robin says that the Wicked Witch proved too powerful, and he does not have it. Rumplestiltskin calls him foolish and says that no potion means no gold, which means no tavern, and debtors' prison. The Dark One tells him to get out of the castle and warns him that if he ever sees him there again, he will kill him.
*Only in archive footage.
- The title card features the Emerald City.
- The title of this episode was announced by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on January 27, 2015.
- The episode was discussed during the summer of 2014, conceived in November 2014, outlined in December 2014, and written in January 2015.
- During a concept meeting, the production team was described as "aflutter" because of something "outrageous" in the script.
- The name on the bus that Robin Hood and his family takes from Maine to New York, is Polar Star Coach Lines. The same company name appears on the sign at the bus stop where young Emma meets Lily in "Lily". The same name appears on the bus that travels from Maine to Boston in "Only You", and the one that brings Henry and Violet Morgan from Maine to New York in the same episode.
- Zelena's Marian disguise had been planned for a long time. The show creators came up with the twist when "Marian" was brought back in Season Three.
- Sean Maguire did not know Marian was going to be revealed as Zelena until the show runners told him.
- When Robin and Will hug, there is an overhead shot where a tin man appears lying on the side of the Yellow Brick Road.
- The Enchanted Forest flashbacks take place after "Quite a Common Fairy", and before "Forget Me Not".
- The Oz flashbacks take place after "Kansas" and years before "The Song in Your Heart". (For more details, see the Oz timeline)
- The Enchanted Forest quick-scene where Zelena steals Marian's identity, takes place between scenes in "There's No Place Like Home".
- The past Land Without Magic events take place shortly after Robin Hood and his family leaves Storybrooke in "Heroes and Villains" and before the epilogue where Mr. Gold recruits Ursula. (For more details, see the Land Without Magic timeline)
- The present day Storybrooke events take place after "Best Laid Plans" and before "Sympathy for the De Vil".
- Emma freed the Author in "Best Laid Plans".
- David and Mary Margaret recall their past meeting with the Author in "Best Laid Plans".
- Emma expresses anger at her parents for making her the savior at the expense of someone else's soul, which happened in "Best Laid Plans".
- Mr. Gold imprisoned Regina in the vault during "Best Laid Plans".
- The handcuffs used to neutralize Regina's powers have the same design as the handcuffs used to neutralize Ingrid's Ice Magic in "The Snow Queen".
- Regina remembers Mr. Gold wanting her to find her happiness; something he told her in "Heroes and Villains".
- Regina asked Emma to procure Robin Hood's phone number in "Poor Unfortunate Soul".
- The bus company that brings Robin Hood and his family takes from Maine to New York City, is Polar Star Coach Lines, the same bus company that travels from Maine to Boston in "Only You", and brings Henry and Violet Morgan to New York in the same episode.
- Robin Hood left Storybrooke in "Heroes and Villains".
- Marian states Baelfire was able to survive in New York City. This was first demonstrated in "Broken".
- Robin Hood's tavern is the same tavern that Cora visits later to gather intel on Regina's soulmate in "Mother".
- The flute music playing in Robin's tavern is also heard in the pub that Anton visits in "Tiny", the tavern where Hook and his crew celebrate in "The Jolly Roger", the tavern where Cora works in "Bleeding Through", the tavern where Emma meets past Hook in "Snow Drifts", the Wish Realm tavern where Wish Hook meets Captain Ahab in "Knightfall" and the Fish & Bird tavern in the New Enchanted Forest in "Breadcrumbs". It can also be heard in the tent camp that Snow White visits in "Heartless".
- The Sheriff of Nottingham's future fate is explored in "Lacey". Robin Hood and Rumplestiltskin meet again in the same episode.
- The land of Oz was first explored in "It's Not Easy Being Green".
- Robin Hood and Will have future dealings in "Forget Me Not".
- Mr. Gold states Walsh was keeping an eye on Emma for Zelena, an event that occurred in "New York City Serenade".
- The Wicked Witch ascended to power in Oz during "Kansas".
- Robin Hood uses the enchanted bow again in "Lacey".
- Mr. Gold remembers killing Zelena in "Kansas".
- Emma and Hook traveled through the time portal in "Snow Drifts".
- Marian was saved from execution in "There's No Place Like Home".
- Zelena relishes in pretending to be Marian to ruin Regina's happiness, which began "There's No Place Like Home" up to "Heart of Gold".
- Neal died in "Quiet Minds".
- Will mentions his sister again in "To Catch a Thief".
- Mr. Gold recalls abandoning Baelfire, an event that occurred in "The Return".
- Robin Hood's code to only steal from the rich and give to the poor is used again in "Forget Me Not".
- Robin Hood glamours himself with the Six-Leaf Clover in "Lacey".
- Regina blames Mr. Gold for turning her into a monster, which began during "We Are Both".
- In The Wizard of Oak furniture shop, there is a set of Mickey Mouse ears cast in steel inside a drawer.
Fairytales and Folklore
- This episode is a rendition of the Robin Hood ballad, with Robin Hood, Marian, Will Scarlet, Little John, and the Sheriff.
- Also featured is Rumplestiltskin from the Rumpelstiltskin fairytale, and the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz story.
- When Robin and Will hug, there is an overhead shot where you can see the Tin Man from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz lying on the side of the Yellow Brick Road.
- The Wizard of Oak furniture shop is a reference to the titular character from the novel.
- When Robin enters Oz, the magic portal lands on the guard, and his feet are sticking out, just like the Wicked Witch of the East from the novel.
- The Six-Leaf Clover is from L. Frank Baum's children's novel The Patchwork Girl of Oz.
- The Enchanted Bow painting says "The Omaha Circus and Freak Show". In the novel, Omaha was the Wizard's birthplace.
- As the episode transitions to New York, someone can be heard shouting, "I'm walkin' here, I'm walkin' here!"; an homage to the famous quote from the 1969 drama film Midnight Cowboy.
- In Neal's apartment, there is a poster promoting a "mint night" concert at The Brickyard (a former bar in Vancouver) on October 17, 2003. The performers listed are the Canadian indie rock band The Buttless Chaps, the rock band The Ramblin' Ambassadors from Calgary, Alberta, and the Canadian indie pop band The Gay.
- Next to it, there is a promo poster for the 2005 album Brigadoon by the Canadian indie pop band P:ano.
- Above this poster, there is a promo poster for the Canadian alternative country singer Carolyn Mark and the Canadian alternative country and bluegrass band Luther Wright and the Wrongs, and their Owner Operator Tour from 2012.
- The scene where Mr. Gold's heart stops and Zelena says "What a beautiful echo" is a reference to The Wizard of Oz scene where Dorothy bangs on the Tin Woodman's chest and the Scarecrow says, "Beautiful! What an echo".
- According to Regina's note, Robin Hood's phone number in New York City is 232-555-5152.
- Concept artist Keith Lau crated concept art for a pair of six-leaf clover earrings in addition to the necklace, but only the necklace was used in the episode.
- The container with the Elixir of the Wounded Heart is engraved with the words "cor aut mors", Latin for "heart or death".
- According to the sign, Walsh's furniture shop, The Wizard of Oak, is located in Brooklyn.
- There is a photograph of Emma Swan on Walsh's work desk.
- According to the heart monitor screen over his hospital bed, Mr. Gold's heart gives out at 14:33. The date, however, is wrong: It says 25 Dec 14, but since there was a one-year time jump in "Going Home", which takes place in 2012, the flashback story in "Heart of Gold" should take place in 2013. Nor could the flashback take place in December 2013, because the episode clearly states that both the flashback scene where Robin Hood an his family leave Storybrooke, and the New York City flashback, take place nine weeks before the frame story, meaning that there is no gap between the two flashbacks. However, "Heroes and Villains" establish that Robin left town shortly after Mother Superior's disappearance in "Fall", and according to the missing person form in "Darkness on the Edge of Town", Mother Superior was reported missing on November 6.
- Robin's jacket is a Belstaff H Racer Jacket in green (the exact color is no longer available). He continues to wear in "Mother", "Operation Mongoose Part 1" and "Operation Mongoose Part 2", and almost every episode of Season Five. Robin's Wish Realm counterpart, Robin of Locksley, wears the same jacket in the Season Six episodes "Murder Most Foul", "Ill-Boding Patterns" and "Page 23".
- Marian's blouse is the same garment worn by Alice in the Season Seven episodes "Beauty", "Pretty in Blue", "The Eighth Witch" and "The Girl in the Tower".
- The shirt Robin is wearing when he arrives at Neal's apartment is a J.Crew Homespun Knitwear Coalminer Contrast Henley.
- Robin's vest is the same garment worn by Jack in the Season Seven episodes "Pretty in Blue" and "The Eighth Witch".
- When Robin is masquerading as a Royal Palace Guard, the epaulettes on his shoulders are the same design worn by Gerhardt and Alphonse Frankenstein in the Season Two episode "In the Name of the Brother", the General in the Season Four episode "Rocky Road", the Duke of Weselton and King Harald in the Season Four episode "The Snow Queen" and by Captain Nemo in the Season Six episodes "Dark Waters", "Page 23" and "A Wondrous Place". The same epaulettes are worn by the Oz Guard that Zelena kills in the Season Five episode "Our Decay" and the guards that announce Stanum's arrival in the Season Six episode "Where Bluebirds Fly".
- The date on the heart monitor screen over Mr. Gold's hospital bed is "25 Dec 14"; however, according to the timeline of the show, the episode takes place in 2013. Nor could the flashback take place in December 2013, because the episode clearly states that both the scene where Robin Hood and his family leave Storybrooke, and the New York City flashback, take place nine weeks before the frame story. However, "Heroes and Villains" establishes that Robin left town shortly after Mother Superior's disappearance in "Fall", and according to the missing person form in "Darkness on the Edge of Town", Mother Superior was reported missing on November 6.
- Burnaby's Central Park doubles as the Storybrooke forest for the opening scene where Emma and her family are searching for the author. The same location doubles as the Enchanted Forest for the flashback scene where Zelena kills Marian.
- The streets of New York City were filmed on West Hasting Street, Victory Square and Gastown in Vancouver, where production for Once Upon a Time is based.
- The scenes by the magic door in Oz were filmed on a blue-screen set built at The Bridge Studios. While the set was dressed to look like a forest, the background and the Yellow Brick Road were added digitally in post-production.
- The final scene with Robin Hood and Maid Marian in the Enchanted Forest, was filmed in East Burnaby's Robert Burnaby Park.
|French||"Un Cœur en Or"||"A Heart of Gold"|
|Italian||"Cuore di Gold"||"Heart of Gold"|
|Polish||"Złote serce"||"Golden Heart"|
|Portuguese||"O coração de Gold"||"Gold's heart"|
|Spanish||"Corazón de Oro"||"Heart of Gold"|