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This article focuses on the second iteration of Jack and Hansel.
For the first iteration of Jack, see Jack (Tallahassee).
For the other Enchanted Forest character, see Jack (Changelings).
For the first iteration of Hansel, see Hansel (True North)
For the folktale, see "Jack and the Beanstalk".
For the criminal case named after his nickname, see Candy Killer Case.

I was so tired of being Hansel. You know, carrying his scars. So I picked a new name. Jack was simple. Jack had no past. And then when we slayed all those giants and you decided I was Jack the Giant Killer. And suddenly I... I was a hero.
—Nick Branson to Henry Mills src

Hansel, later known as Jack, currently known as Nick Branson, and also known as the Candy Killer, is a character on ABC's Once Upon a Time. He débuts in the eighth episode of the seventh season. He is portrayed by guest stars Nathan Parsons and Seth Isaac Johnson.

Jack is based on the character of the same name from the folktale "Jack and the Beanstalk" and the fairytale and legend "Jack the Giant Killer". He is also based on Hansel from the fairytale "Hansel and Gretel".

History

Before First Curse
In Oz, Hansel lives with his sister, Gretel, and his father, Ivo, a woodcutter. Their relationship is at first strained, but after Ivo gets into an accident that results in him losing his sight, they become much closer. Unfortunately, Hansel and Gretel are kidnapped by a witch who keeps them in cages in her gingerbread house, planning to eat them after fattening them up with sweets. The witch is attacked by Zelena, who wants no competition from other witches in Oz, but when Gretel ask her to free her and Hansel, she refuses. Their captor then uses her magic to knock Zelena out of the cottage. Hansel and Gretel eventually escape and return home, discovering that Ivo has met and become close to Zelena, and they warn him about how wicked she is. When Zelena returns, having stolen the witch's sight and offering it in powder form to Ivo, the family refuses to welcome her despite her pleas for them to give her a second chance. Enraged, Zelena throws the powder into the fire. When Hansel threatens her with a knife, declaring she doesn't deserve to walk away from the situation alive, she then enchants the fire to surround his arms, burning him until Gretel extinguishes them with a blanket. This encounter traumatizes both Hansel and Gretel in different ways: Gretel swears to teach herself magic so she can better defend herself and never be as helpless ever again, while Hansel becomes mentally unhinged and changes his name to Jack in order to distance himself from his painful past. ("Chosen", "Sisterhood")

After Fourth Curse

At some point, Jack comes to the New Enchanted Forest. One day, he encounters Henry, becoming his first friend in this realm. Together, they escape some giants by defeating them together, causing Henry to give him the heroic nickname "Jack the Giant Killer". For Jack, this provides him with the second chance he has wanted in life, with his past as Hansel no longer haunting him when he can be someone else. For Henry's 19th birthday, Jack takes him to a tavern, The Crimson Crow, where he buys him the first of many drinks that he has that day. Afterward, they part ways as Henry plans to return to his home of Storybrooke and Jack plans to go to Agrabah. However, they are reunited when Jack arrives at the Resistance Camp, informing Tiana, the leader of the Resistance, that he is looking for Henry. They briefly pretend to quarrel by recreating a scene from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back before breaking the facade to hug each other, and Henry introduces Jack to his new companion, Ella. ("Pretty in Blue", "Chosen")

After Henry and Ella's daughter Lucy is born, Jack congratulates his friend for becoming a new father, however, Drizella arrives to forewarn the heroes about a Dark Curse she will cast on the child's eighth birthday. As Jack and his allies arm themselves against Drizella, who moves to attack them with her magic, she finds herself turning into a statue because of a trap the heroes created with Lady Tremaine's help. ("The Eighth Witch")

Eight years later during Lucy's birthday, Jack is present as the girl prepares to blow out her cake candles. The celebration is interrupted by Gothel, who frees Drizella and makes it known she intends to aid her in casting the curse. Later when Lucy reports that Henry was taken by Gothel's coven of witches, Jack prepares to go with Hook and Tiger Lily to rescue him, but Ella stops them because she is aware this is part of Drizella's plan to distract them from the curse. As Regina and Zelena confront Drizella to stop her from casting the curse, the others surprise the other coven witches, with Jack holding one of the cloaked women as a hostage. Drizella, not to be intimidated, blackmails Regina into enacting the curse to save Henry, whose heart is now poisoned, by bringing him to a Land Without Magic. After the curse is cast, Jack is swept away to Hyperion Heights along with everyone else. ("The Eighth Witch")

During Fifth Curse

After Regina cast Drizella's curse to save Henry's life, Jack becomes Nick Branson, with memories of a brief relationship with Jacinda, resulting in the birth of her daughter, Lucy. Jacinda eventually dumped Nick, which motivated him to stop playing drums in his mother's basement and graduate from law school. ("Hyperion Heights", "Pretty in Blue", "The Eighth Witch")

Ten years later, Jacinda's friend, Sabine, does some social media stalking and learns that Nick has finished law school, suggesting that Jacinda contact him for help in regaining custody of Lucy. She eventually does and Nick heads to Roni's, where Jacinda works, and meets Henry. They briefly bond over their shared musical interests before Jacinda arrives and introduces them. When Henry learns that Nick is Lucy's father, he begins worrying that Jacinda may end up back together with him. Nick leaves but invites Jacinda to a new restaurant to look over their case. Once there, he questions her on the location of the papers relating to her stepmother, Victoria, winning custody of Lucy and Jacinda promises that she will get them to him soon. After they are finished, they head to the garage where the food truck Jacinda and Sabine are refurbishing is being kept, just in time to see Henry successfully turn on the engine. Seeing Jacinda and Nick arrive together, Henry leaves, heartbroken. Going by Henry's advice, Jacinda later admits to Nick that Victoria never won custody of Lucy as she gave up her daughter voluntarily out of fear she would lose the case if she tried to fight her stepmother. With this information, Nick is able to get Lucy back for her and is there when Lucy emerges from her foster home, where Jacinda introduces Nick to Lucy. ("Pretty in Blue")

After Victoria gives her the paperwork for custody of Lucy, Jacinda calls Nick over to check and make sure her stepmother isn't trying to trick her. Nick confirms that the papers are legitimate and they joyously celebrate Jacinda's victory. In the heat of the moment, they kiss, but Jacinda quickly pulls away and tells him that she can't. Nick apologizes for misreading her signals, although Jacinda admits he wasn't wrong but that she is grateful towards him and what she actually wishes for is for him to have a relationship with Lucy. ("One Little Tear")

When Lucy is taken to the hospital, Sabine suggests calling Nick. He promptly comes to hear news about his "daughter". ("The Eighth Witch")

With Lucy continuing to be nonresponsive, Doctor Sage runs tests to find the cause of her condition, however, the results are inconclusive. The doctor then asks for a blood donation from both of the girl's parents as proof of a genetic match in case an emergency arises and a donor is needed. Both Nick and Jacinda then go to begin the procedure. Thanks to Mr. Samdi, who somehow slips him a bit of memory potion, Nick regains his memories from before the curse. Later, Doctor Sage is looking over the results, including Henry's, as he asked to be tested despite supposedly not having any genetic relation to Lucy. However, Nick's test shows he is not the biological father of Lucy, while Henry's test confirms he is. As Doctor Sage looks over these results in her office, she realizes something is wrong with her drink just as the poison, planted by Nick, takes its effect, killing her. Nick slips into the office, cuts off a lock of her hair, and takes the papers before escaping. ("Secret Garden", "Sisterhood", "Chosen", "Is This Henry Mills?")

Continuing his witch-killing spree, Nick attacks another coven member, Hilda Braeburn, in her bakery, handcuffing her to a table and allowing gas from her ovens to fill the building. However, before she dies, she is rescued by Rogers and Weaver and taken to a hospital where her room is guarded by the police. After Eloise tells Rogers about the killer's penchant for gifting his victims a heart-shaped box with chocolate marzipan truffles before he kills them, Nick plants one of these boxes at a local flower shop, distracting Rogers and Weaver long enough with a false lead so he can attack Hilda, this time infiltrating her hospital room by killing the guards and successfully stabbing her to death. Tilly is framed for the crime as she is found in the hospital with the bloody scalpel, has a poster of the coven's logo with two of the points crossed out, and later the locks of hair Nick took from his victims are found in her backpack. However, she is proven innocent when she is seen on security camera footage walking past the Fremont Troll. ("A Taste of the Heights", "Knightfall", "The Girl in the Tower", "Sisterhood")

Because of the heart-shaped boxes that his victims receive, Nick becomes known by the inhabitants of Hyperion Heights as the "Candy Killer". While Ivy attempts to find her sister, Anastasia, Eloise Gardener reveals that she has received the same chocolates, but Ivy is unconcerned about being the killer's next target. Ivy is walking to her car in a parking garage when she hears someone approaching and warns the person that she has pepper spray. However, as Nick turns all of the lights out, she begins to panic and tries to escape back through the door, only to find it locked. Nick appears, wearing a mask and carrying a keychain and a knife, and attacks her, but she pepper sprays him in the face, kicks him with her stiletto, and escapes while he's still on the ground. ("Sisterhood")

Later, Nick receives a text from Lucy asking him to meet her at Flynn's Barcade. However, this turns out to be a ruse to get him to hang out with Henry and Rogers. Despite the trick, Nick and Rogers elect to spend some time with Henry, playing Galaga and drinking with him as he laments his failed relationship with Jacinda. In order to get him out of his funk, Nick and Rogers encourage him to ask out the next girl to walk through the door, who turns out to be Jacinda herself. As Henry and Jacinda discuss their fate, Rogers and Nick play pool and discuss the Candy Killer, with Nick playing dumb. Later, as they leave the barcade, Nick finds that his car tire has a flat but assures Henry and Rogers that he can handle it. Once they're gone, he begins working and places one of his tools in the trunk, where he keeps the mask he wore while attacking Ivy and several identical boxes of chocolate to the ones received by his victims. ("Sisterhood")

The day after Ivy and Anastasia return to the New Enchanted Forest, Nick sits alone drinking at Roni's when Henry greets him. Nick claims to be in a bad mood because a "client" got away from him last night, but Henry reassures him that he'll get back on his feet. When Henry's phone rings, Nick jokingly says it's destiny. Later, when Henry's car gets a flat tire, Nick comes across him and offers to give him a ride to the airport, but Henry would rather go see Jacinda. As Nick drives him to Jacinda's apartment, Henry mentions his collaboration with Detective Weaver on the Candy Killer case, mentioning the killer thinks he is Hansel from Hansel and Gretel. Nick's grip tightens as Henry laughs at the notion, but the latter does not notice. When the car swerves around a corner, Nick moves his hand to keep his keys from falling, exposing his burned forearms to Henry. This causes Henry, who earlier reasoned to Weaver that the killer was possibly a burn victim, to realize that Nick is the Candy Killer. Hurriedly, Henry attempts to come up with an excuse to leave the car, saying that he can hop out at the hotel and take a shuttle to the airport. Nick pulls over but locks the doors as Henry tries to get out. Henry moves to unlock it, but Nick injects Henry with a tranquilizer, knocking him unconscious. Nick brings Henry back to his apartment and ties him to a post, where Henry comes to as Nick silences an incoming call from Jacinda on Henry's phone. A dazed Henry finally acknowledges Nick as Hansel, to which the latter smirks and declares he has not heard his real name in a very long time, proving he is awake. Henry asks what Nick plans to do with him, but Nick has not yet decided. Henry pleads for Nick to turn himself in, saying that if Nick believes he's Hansel, they'll think he's insane and he'll get off from the charges because of it. Nick refuses, saying in that scenario, he doesn't get to keep killing. He finishes by ominously telling Henry that he's not done killing yet. ("Breadcrumbs")

After choosing Kelly, the former Wicked Witch who physically burned him when he was a child, as his next victim by leaving a box of chocolates for her outside the bar, Nick sends a text to Jacinda on Henry's phone to give her the impression that Henry is in New York and went on his job interview. Henry tries to sympathize with Nick's ideations because he is clearly still not over losing his sister, while Nick agrees that the pain is quite real and Henry will help him get revenge on the one who hurt him the most. Later when Henry refuses water from his captor in fear of it being poisoned, Nick is reminded of Henry's 19th birthday, during which he bought Henry the first of the many drinks he has ever had. Nick tells him about how becoming Jack was like a second chance at life for him, especially when Henry gave him the nickname "Jack the Giant Killer" and suddenly he could be a hero without having to remember the trauma of being Hansel. However, he admits it went awry for him when Henry's family came along as he believes all witches, including Henry's mom and aunt, are inherently bad and need to be killed. Henry continues to play along by asking for the identity of the witch who burned him, and when Nick reveals she is Henry's aunt Zelena, he suggests Nick untie him so he can rewrite his story and fix things. Nick declines, knowing Henry would only ever offer to do that to fool a villain, though he insists he himself is not a villain but a hero out to rid the world of evil witches. Growing desperate the longer he is held captive, Henry proposes Nick can let him go and he'll help him bring Zelena to the cops. Nick laughs at the idea, telling him about how he too used to not believe just like Henry until one day he somehow regained his true memories. In the hopes that giving proof will help Henry to believe, Nick shows him the blood test result he swiped from Doctor Sage after he killed her, which confirms Henry is actually Lucy's father. Henry instead rejects it as a forgery, and upon learning Nick believes Zelena is Kelly, he berates his thinking as nothing but a delusional fantasy. Perplexed by Henry's stubbornness, Nick decides to go forward with his plans whether Henry fully understands him or not. He then apologizes and knocks Henry out to prevent him from undoing his own restraints. Nick leaves Henry there to be found by Rogers, while he poses as a New York doctor and lures Kelly's fiancé, Chad, to Hyperion Heights by telling him that Kelly was in a cycling accident. ("Chosen")

After kidnapping Chad and making him call Kelly, Nick speaks into the phone, telling her to do as he says or her fiancé is doomed. Nick later leaves Chad as bait in the bar basement for Kelly before he entraps her in the room. Kelly begs him to stop making other people pay for her mistakes, to which Nick agrees that he should when he can just end her. He jabs his knife to stab her, but Kelly blocks and incapacitates him with several kicks to his gut. She then pulls him up and against a wall to hold the knife at his throat, with Nick telling her to finish him off, but she declines as she has changed from who she once was and settles for knocking him out instead. Nick is left tied up in the basement until the police arrive to take him to the station. As he waits in the interrogation room, the lights flicker before someone enters the room. Rather than a police officer, Mr. Samdi arrives, revealing he was the one who woke up Nick as he wished for him to get rid of Gothel, who is his competition for the Dark One's Dagger. Nick asks for another chance to have a go at Gothel, but Samdi laments that the opportunity has passed since he was caught by the police and now he is too much of a wild card that he needs to be taken out of the deck. Pricking a voodoo doll, Samdi kills Nick, causing him to have severe chest pains until he collapses dead over the table. ("Chosen")

After Nick's death, Weaver and Rogers enter the interrogation room to find him dead. Rogers speculates Nick had a medical condition, but Weaver finds straw from the voodoo doll Samdi used to kill him. Later, Rogers reviews the footage of Nick prior to his death and is unable to see anything beyond that because of a hardware malfunction. Henry, still uneasy about some of the things Nick told him, asks Rogers for permission to speak with him, but the latter informs him of Nick's recent passing. He eventally persuades Rogers to let him enter Nick's apartment to retrieve the blood test result. Upon being warned by Drew to take a closer look at how Nick died in order to understand why his killer Samdi is so powerful, Rogers discovers from the coroner report that he apparently died from being stabbed in the heart from inside his body. ("The Guardian")

From Nick's body, Weaver extracts some blood and uses it to distill a bit of memory potion before later giving it to Roni to possibly help Henry regain his memories. ("Is This Henry Mills?")


Trivia

Etymology

Character Notes

Production Notes

  • His casting announcement describes him as "a confident and charismatic slacker-turned-successful-lawyer. He's polished, but not stuffy or smarmy. A natural guy's guy, Nick has an instant likability and always says the right thing".[2]
  • Jack was the name given to Neal Cassidy during his casting.[3]

Fairytales and Folklore

  • Nick, whose original counterpart is Hansel, giving his victims a heart-shaped chocolate boxes is a reference to the original "Hansel and Gretel" fairytale, where the titular characters try to eat a gingerbread house made full of sweet and chocolate.

Props Notes

Set Dressing

Costume Notes

Appearances

See also

References