We never lived in a town called Storybrooke. We never took a flight from Boston to New York. We never did any of this.
"New York City Serenade" is the twelfth episode of Season Three of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz and directed by Billy Gierhart. It is the fifty-sixth episode of the series overall, and premiered on March 9, 2014.
After Rumplestiltskin sacrificed his life to stop Pan from enacting another curse, Regina obliterated her original curse, which erased Storybrooke from existence and whisked its residents back to Fairy Tale Land – leaving Emma and Henry back in our world with no memories of Storybrooke. But all is not well back in the Enchanted Forest when Hook comes calling on Emma in New York City in an attempt to jog her memory so that she can once again help her fairy tale family and friends out of a desperate situation.
In the Enchanted Forest, Prince Phillip rides on horseback to a pavilion where Aurora is waiting for him. She has prepared a lunch for them both. She playfully complains that he is late. Stating that she is hungry and has missed him, she adds humorously that she is cranky due to her pregnancy. Their tender moment is interrupted by the ominous sound of thunder. They turn to see a purple cloud of smoke rolling towards them. They attempt to outrun the oncoming tempest, but it passes through them. Phillip and Aurora are unharmed and see that a number of former Enchanted Forest inhabitants have appeared before them, consisting of Snow White, Prince Charming and others. Aurora is shocked to see Snow, and asks her what has happened. Snow simply replies, "We're back."
In a flash forward of one year, Emma is in New York City. She enters an up-scale restaurant to have dinner with Walsh, who is revealed to be her current boyfriend. Walsh asks about Henry's recent science project, which Emma recounts went well, partly due to Walsh's help. After their meal, Walsh excuses himself and mentions, somewhat cryptically, that he'll be back. During Walsh's absence, Hook sits in his vacant chair, startling Emma. Emma, still having no memory of Hook, insists that he leave. But Hook is persistent, telling her that her current life is a sham and warning her that her parents are in danger. Hook says he has proof of this and hands her a paper with an address on it, claiming that the truth of who Emma is and where her parents are can be found there. Emma rebuffs him, to which Hook then states that they've met before a year ago. Emma denies this, claiming that a year ago she was in Boston where her apartment had caught fire, prompting her to move to New York. Hook muses that Regina's curse is the cause of these false memories. Once again, Hook implores Emma to go the address he has given her and that he'll be waiting to hear from her at Central Park. When he leaves, Emma is left confused.
In a flashback, in the Enchanted Forest, Snow White, Prince Charming, Hook and Regina are catching up on what has happened during their absence. Aurora reports that the ogres have since been defeated and that they are in the process of restoring their kingdom. Snow White also notes that Aurora is pregnant. Prince Philip says that they have much to celebrate and offers them all refuge within their kingdom. This earns a troubled look from Aurora. Prince Charming is grateful but says that they have their own castle to go to. Snow White reminds him that their castle was decimated by the curse. Aurora says that Regina's former castle still stands, however, as Regina had protected it. Prince Charming and Regina bicker over who is the castle's rightful owner: Snow White or Regina. Snow says that they are going to reclaim it and that Regina is going to go with them. Regina finds the idea laughable, but Snow White insists, arguing that being united will give their people the hope they need at this troubled time. They then bid their farewells. Now alone with Prince Philip, Aurora gives voice to her worries: that they must tell "her" that the people of the Enchanted Forest have returned. Philip is loathed to do so, being fearful of that this unnamed woman will do to them. But Aurora is more worried what "she" will do if they fail to inform her of their return, reasoning that she may harm their yet unborn child. Aurora says they just have to hope the Enchanted Forest folks can look after themselves.
Back in New York City, Walsh re-enters to a confused Emma. He asks her what the paper (which Hook gave her) is and she replies that it's nothing. She is then given a dish with a dessert on it, and says that she's full. He tells her to look at it, in which he turns the dish over to reveal a ring surrounded by a circle of chocolate, and afterward tells her he couldn't wait any longer and that he loves her and Henry. She is left speechless as he proposes to her.
She is then seen walking out of the restaurant, and Walsh catches up to her. She tells him that it's too fast and that they've been together for only eight months. After a brief conversation, he tells her that she could take as much time as she wants.
Afterward, Henry is seen playing a video game after Emma walks in. He asks her what she said, and she tells that she didn't say "no". After she says she needs more time, Henry points out that Walsh is not like his father because he isn't going to abandon them.
A year earlier, in the Enchanted Forest, everyone is making preparations for the Queen's castle. As the dwarves celebrate how handsome they look, Jiminy lands on Grumpy's shoulder and informs him that 50 more people from Storybrooke have arrived. After Prince Charming hears this, he find Hook loading up his horse. He tells Hook that he doesn't need to pack that much, as the Dark Palace in less than a day away, but Hook tells him that he is going to find the Jolly Roger. Neal then comes up to Snow and Charming, asking if he can revive his father, so he can bring him to Emma and Henry. They tell him that his desired task is impossible and he should leave it alone to give them their best chance.
As Henry is getting ready to go to school, he accuses Emma of worrying. She tells him that she is thinking and when he asks if it is about Walsh, she responds with a yes. After Henry leaves, Emma looks at the address Hook gave her and she goes there. She unlocks the door and when she sees a dreamcatcher, she realizes that she is in Neal's apartment. After looking around, she finds a camera with Henry's name on it.
Emma immediately meets Hook at Central Park to discuss with him. She asks him about the camera and if Neal is trying to get into Henry's life, but Hook insists that Henry left his camera there when he last went to Neal's apartment. When Emma asks for real proof, Hook tells her to drink the potion, she then handcuffs him to a bench and has him arrested for assault.
As everyone is making the journey to the Dark Palace one year ago, Neal meets up with Belle and she assures him that they will find a way to revive Rumplestiltskin. Snow White tells Prince Charming that she never imagined to return to Regina's castle with her. As she says this, Grumpy informs her that Regina is no where to be found. When she finds her in the woods burying her heart, Snow White manages to persuade her to put her heart back in her chest. As they are leaving, they are attacked by a flying monkey. Luckily, Robin Hood and his Merry Men are able to shoot the monkey down.
As Emma and Henry walk home, she tells him that she is thinking about marrying Walsh. He tells her that her arranged a date with her and Walsh. When they finally reach home, Emma tells Henry she forgot something and tells him to go. Emma takes a look at the photos she was carrying and is shocked with what she sees. At this, she bails Hook out of jail and asks her about the photos. He tells her it will only make sense if she drinks the potion. When Emma drinks it, she remembers everything that was wiped away.
Robin Hood, Regina, and Snow White rejoin the group and Robin Hood reunites with Neal and Belle. The group soon reaches the castle and realize that there is a protection spell surrounding the castle.
Emma and Hook have a drink and discuss the current situation back in her apartment. When he tells her there is a new curse, she asks what could've happened, but Hook doesn't know. She then asks him what he should tell Henry. As soon as she says this, the doorbell rings and it is revealed to be Walsh. Emma takes him outside and tells him they can't get married because she has to face her past. He tells her he wished she never drank the potion and tries to attack her. She fights back and eventually throws him off a cliff, killing him. When Hook finds her, she says that they will leave for Storybooke in the morning.
The next morning, Emma is making breakfast when Henry asks about Walsh. She tells him that she just wants it to be the two of them. After Henry takes a bite of breakfast, he tells her he has to run to school, but Emma says he is not going to school because she has a "case" in Maine. He agrees to the trip and when Killian comes knocking on the door, they get ready to leave for Storybooke.
When they arrive in Storybooke, night has fallen and Henry is asleep. Emma tells Hook to wait with Henry while she talks to her parents. Emma goes to the Blanchard Loft and finds David on the other side of the door. Him and Mary Margaret tell Emma that they do not remember the last year or who cast the curse.
A year ago, Zelena walks down a hall in Regina's castle and asks a flying monkey if she had Regina's blood. It drops the blood into a potion and it glows. Zelena gloats, saying that since she is wicked and regina is evil, she will win.
*: Only in archive footage
- The title card features the New York City skyline.
- The title of this episode was announced by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on November 14, 2013.
- The episode is named after a Bruce Springsteen song of the same name. Adam Horowitz is a fan of the singer.
- When the residents of Storybrooke reappear in the Enchanted Forest, there are some notable changes. The Blue Fairy and Tinker Bell are nowhere to be seen, but it is possible they are in the second group of fifty inhabitants, who landed in the Enchanted Forest two miles away, as mentioned by Jiminy to Grumpy. Red Riding Hood is also added to the group despite not being with them originally.
- Emma and Walsh have dinner at a restaurant called Ostria.
- Walsh has a scar on the left side of his neck. The flying monkey that attacks Regina and Snow White is hit by an arrow in exactly the same spot.
- Henry reaches level twenty-three while playing a video game. This is a nod to the official Disney fan club D23.
- When Prince Charming asks Robin Hood if they are armed with weapons, he responds by saying, "We're lousy with them." The commonly used meaning for "lousy" is "of poor quality", but in this case, Robin Hood is using a different definition of the word, which means "amply supplied."
- A hug between Emma and Hook, after she bails him out of jail in New York, was cut from the episode. According to Adam Horowitz, the hug was not scripted.
- The city view from the top of Emma's apartment building is the same as the view seen from the top of Neal's apartment building in "An Untold Story", indicating that the two buildings are located in the same neighborhood.
- Ginnifer Goodwin's real-life pregnancy was written into the show's storyline, although Mary Margaret's pregnancy had already been planned for a long time. According to Ginnifer, the series creators knew that she and Josh Dallas wanted to start a family, and everyone was hoping that the timing would overlap. The writers had given themselves some wiggle room, "so once we became pregnant in real life, they could say, “All right, here we go.”"
- This is the second episode that ended with a flashback, the first being "The Doctor".
- The Enchanted Forest events occur after "Quite a Common Fairy" and before "Witch Hunt", and one year before the casting of the new curse in part two of "A Curious Thing". (For more details, see the Enchanted Forest timeline)
- The Land Without Magic events occur after "Going Home" and before "Witch Hunt". (For more details, see the Land Without Magic timeline)
- Aurora's pregnancy was first revealed in "Quite a Common Fairy".
- The citizens of Storybrooke were transported to the Enchanted Forest in "Going Home"
- Emma and Henry were given new memories, and moved to New York, in "Going Home"
- Emma threatens to punch Hook in the face. She did the same thing with Mr. Gold in "Broken".
- Hook mentions Emma and Henry's last visit to New York City in "Manhattan" and "The Queen Is Dead".
- Hook learned about Emma's "superpower" in "The Doctor".
- Hook asks Emma to use her "superpower" on him and she responds that just because he believes something is true it doesn't make it true. The same thing happened between Emma and Henry in "Pilot".
- What Philip and Aurora are hiding from Snow White and Prince Charming is revealed in "A Curious Thing".
- The dream catcher in Neal's apartment first appeared in "Broken". Its backstory is told in "Tallahassee".
- Emma refers to the dream catcher as "flypaper for nightmares"; just like she did in "Tallahassee".
- Emma finds a blood-stained rag in Neal's apartment from when Mr. Gold was stabbed by Hook in "The Queen Is Dead".
- The camera that Emma finds, was mentioned during their stay in New York in "The Queen Is Dead", where Henry talks about going back to the apartment and get his camera.
- What happened to Hook after he left the others, and how he found his ship, is revealed in "The Jolly Roger".
- Neal and Belle revive Rumplestiltskin in "Quiet Minds".
- Robin Hood mentions Belle rescuing him in "Lacey".
- This is not the first time Hook has been chained up by Emma; she also did this in "Tallahassee" and "In the Name of the Brother". She chains him up again in "Birth".
- When Emma regains her memories, she regains flashbacks from "Pilot", "A Land Without Magic", "Broken", "Manhattan", "Second Star to the Right", "Ariel", and "Going Home".
- Who cast the new curse, and who sent the message to Hook, is revealed in "A Curious Thing".
- Walsh's reason for getting close to Emma is revealed in "The Jolly Roger".
- Emma's lingering question about Walsh's origins is answered in "It's Not Easy Being Green", which also explains how he became a flying monkey.
- Emma calls Hook by his real name, Killian, which was a name first revealed in "The Crocodile".
- Emma's iconic red jacket, the "one last thing" she needs before going back to Storybrooke, was first seen in "Pilot". The story behind the jacket, is revealed in "Firebird".
- Storybrooke's destruction occurred in "Going Home".
- The new curse is broken in "A Curious Thing".
- When Emma arrives in Storybrooke, the clock tower is currently at eight-fifteen. Eight and fifteen are two of the Lost numbers.
Fairytales and Folklore
- This episode features Belle from the Beauty and the Beast fairytale, Red Riding Hood and her grandmother from the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale, the Talking Cricket from The Adventures of Pinocchio, Aurora and Prince Phillip from the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, Captain Hook from the Peter Pan story, the seven dwarves, Evil Queen, Prince Charming and Snow White from the Snow White fairytale, Friar Tuck, Little John and Robin Hood from the Robin Hood ballad, and the Wicked Witch of the West and a Flying Monkey from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz story.
- The line spoken by Regina, "Nobody eats my porridge and nobody sits in my chair", is a reference to Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
- As Emma leaves the restaurant in New York City, a USA Today vending machine can be seen on the street.
- Henry reaches level twenty-three in the video game Diablo III.
- Neal's apartment is decorated with poster promoting musicians signed to the Vancouver-based record company Mint Records. While most of them have previously appeared in "Broken", "Manhattan" an "The Queen Is Dead", there are two new ones:
- When Emma walks Henry home, a newspaper vending machine says "New York Bugle"; a reference to the Daily Bugle, a fictional New York City tabloid newspaper that is a regular fixture in the Marvel Universe, most prominently in Spider-Man comic titles.
- Another "New York Bugle" vending machine was sitting next to the Arco Di Trionfo Pizzeria when Emma and Henry visited New York in "The Queen Is Dead"; however, in this episode, the name was obscured.
- In "Operation Mongoose Part 1", one of the reviews quoted in the book blurb for the Heroes and Villains paperback, is from New York Bugle.
- When Emma bails Hook out of jail, a Daily News vending machine is seen.
- The gazebo that Phillip and Aurora have a picnic under, is a redressed version of the prop/set used for the Agrabah Well of Wonders in the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland episode "Dirty Little Secrets".
- The larger plates that Aurora uses for preparing a meal under the pavilion are Arte Italica Merletto Aqua Dinner Plates while the smaller ones are Arte Italica Merletto Aqua Canape Plates.
- The book that Henry is putting into his schoolbag in the morning, is the same book prop that was used for Mary Margaret's copy of The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne, in "7:15 A.M." and "Skin Deep", and the scene where Ruby gives Belle a copy of the same title in "Tiny". However, Henry's book is too far away to make out the title.
- According to the note, the written address for Neal's apartment is 89 Wooster Street, New York, NY, 10012.
- One of the letters addressed to Neal is from a Ms. C. Marion.
- This is a reference to Cheryl Marion, an art director on the show.
- The sender's address is 157 East 67th Street New York, NY 10065, which is the headquarters of the Engine 39 - Ladder 16 firehouse.
- Cheryl Marion is also listed as one of the reviewers on the book blurb for Isaac's novel "Heroes and Villains" in "Operation Mongoose Part 1".
- The name tag on Henry's carries the Honeywell logo.
- According to the label, the bottle that Hook and Emma are drinking from contains Jamaican Dark Rum from "Santa Christ[obscured]".
- The swan-shaped fruit bowl on the table of Emma's apartment is a Giant Bird Bowl by Jonathan Adler (no longer available).
- On Emma's wall, there is a Japanese internment camp mail bag from World War II.
- In Emma's apartment, there is a poster by the famous book illustrator Arthur Rackham, which contains one of his illustrations from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It shows Alice surrounded by a group of people, including the Dodo. The caption says "Rackham in New York".
- The cuckoo clock in Emma's apartment is a white Torre & Tagus Village Cuckoo Clock.
- There is a simplehuman tension arm paper towel holder on Emma's kitchen table.
- On Emma's desk, there is a Linen Document Box from Restoration Hardware.
- On the shelf beneath the cuckoo clock, there is a Casa White tissue box from Umbra Casa and a white Menu A/S Double Candleholder.
- There is a High and Dry dishrack from Black+Blum and a Joseph Joseph Elevate carousel kitchen utensil set on the kitchen counter (note that Emma's kitchen tools are facing inward, to hide the brand name).
- Emma's dish brush is a green Plastis dishwashing brush from IKEA.
- A white Sockerärt vase/mug from IKEA is sitting on Emma's kitchen shelf.
- Emma has a "The End" bookend from CB2 (no longer available) on her shelf.
- On Emma's apartment kitchen table, there is an Anthropologie Faccia Serving Bowl (no longer available)  and a Knyck napkin holder from IKEA.
- When the residents of Storybrooke reappear in the Enchanted Forest, most of them return to their original clothes. However, Snow White, Belle, Neal and Hook are notable exceptions: Snow White is wearing a cloak (to hide Ginnifer Goodwin's real-life pregnancy on-screen), Belle is wearing her signature yellow dress and not prison attire, Neal was not in the Enchanted Forest when the curse originally hit yet he still has Enchanted Forest attire, and Hook's vest is changed from black to red despite that he was never cursed.
- Belle's attire does not remain consistent in the episode. When she reappears in the Enchanted Forest with the main group, she is wearing her signature yellow dress with a light brown cloak, however, when she is speaking with Neal and Robin Hood, she is wearing a new purple dress with a red cloak.
- Emma's plaid pants in New York City were chosen by Jennifer Morrison because of her character's blended memories.
- The residents of Storybrooke are returned to their original, pre-curse clothes when they reappear in the Enchanted Forest. However, there are some inconsistencies.
- Snow White is wearing a cloak over her night gown. This was to hide Ginnifer Goodwin's real-life pregnancy on-screen.
- Belle is wearing her signature yellow dress instead of prison attire from her time imprisoned by the Evil Queen.
- Neal is given Enchanted Forest attire despite the fact that he was never cursed nor was he wearing such attire when the curse hit.
- Hook's vest changes from black leather to his pre-curse red vest despite the fact that he was never cursed.
- When Emma drops Henry off at their apartment, she tells him to beat level 24 on Diablo III, but he is only on level 23.
- The Wicked Witch of the West's protection spell surrounding the Dark Palace changes in size. When the spell is first discovered by the Evil Queen, it's located by scorch marks on the surrounding ground and shrubbery. However, when the spell is lowered in "Witch Hunt", it is located significantly closer to the palace with the scorched trees appearing in the foreground.
- The streets of New York City were filmed in Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada, where production for Once Upon a Time is based.
- The Brix Restaurant and Wine Bar on Homer Street, Yaletown, Downtown Vancouver, doubles as the Ostria, the restaurant where Walsh proposes to Emma.
- When Emma leaves the restaurant, The New Oxford pub on Yale Street is reflected in a car mirror.
- Stanley Park doubles as New York's Central Park for the scene where Hook is arrested.
|Finnish||"Unelma New Yorkissa"||"Dream in New York"|
|French||"Un Pirate Dans la Ville"||"A Pirate in the City"|
|German||"Grün ist das neue Schwarz"||"Green Is the New Black"|
|Hungarian||"New York-i szerenád"||"New York City Serenade"|
|Italian||"Segui il tuo istinto"||"Follow Your Instinct"|
|Portuguese||"Serenata de Nova Iorque"||"Serenade of New York"|