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"New York City Serenade"

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"New York City Serenade"
Season Three
Season 03, Episode 12
Episode Information
Premiere date: March 9, 2014
Viewers: 7.66 million[1]
Written by: Edward Kitsis &
Adam Horowitz
Directed by: Billy Gierhart
Episode Chronology
Previous Episode: "Going Home"
Next Episode: "Witch Hunt"
Related Pages

We never lived in a town called Storybrooke. We never took a flight from Boston to New York. We never did any of this.

Emma Swan to Hook

"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.[2]


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 him she needs time to think about it.

A year earlier, in the Enchanted Forest, everyone is making preparations for the Queen's castle.



Guest Starring



*: Only in archive footage


Production Notes

  • The title card features the New York City skyline.
  • The episode is named after a Bruce Springsteen song of the same name.[3] Adam Horowitz is a fan of the singer.[4]
  • 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.[5]
    • All in the group return to their original clothes. However, Snow White, Belle, Neal and Hook are notable exceptions: Snow White is wearing a cloak (to hide her real-life pregnancy on-screen), Belle is wearing prison attire and not her signature yellow dress, 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.[5]
  • Emma and Walsh have dinner at a restaurant called Ostria.[6]
  • Walsh has a scar on the left side of his neck.[7] 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.[8]
  • 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.[5][9]
  • The written address for Neal's apartment is 89 Wooster Street, New York, NY, 10012.[10]
  • 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."[11]
  • A hug between Emma and Hook,[12] after she bails him out of jail in New York, was cut from the episode. According to Adam Horowitz, the hug was not scripted.[13]
  • Emma's flower wrist tattoo can be seen when she's making breakfast in the morning.[14]
  • 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.”"[15]
  • Rebecca Mader's scenes as the Wicked Witch were filmed with a blue background screen rather than the typical green screen, which used for other characters during filming, because her green make-up blends too much into the green screen.[16]
  • At least five different shades of green are used to make Rebecca Mader's skin green for her role as the Wicked Witch.[17] Incidentally, Rebecca Mader also later stated in another interview that seven shades of green are used.[16]
  • This is the first episode that ended with a flashback.

Event Chronology

Episode Connections



Fairytales and Folklore

Pop Culture

Props Notes

  • The larger plates[18] that Aurora uses for preparing a meal under the pavilion are Arte Italica Merletto Canape Dinner Plates[21] while the smaller ones[18] are Arte Italica Merletto Canape Plates.[22]
  • The swan-shaped fruit bowl on the table of Emma's apartment[23] is a Giant Ceramic Bird Bowl made by Jonathan Adler.[24]
  • In Emma's apartment,[23] there is a poster by the famous book illustrator Arthur Rackham, which contains one of his illustrations from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The caption says "Rackham in New York".[25]
  • The cuckoo clock in Emma's apartment[26] is a white Torre & Tagus Village Cuckoo Clock.[27]
  • On the shelf beneath the clock,[28] there is a Casa White tissue box from Umbra Casa[29] and a white Menu A/S Double Candleholder.[30]
  • On Emma's desk,[28] there is a Linen Document Box from Restoration Hardware.[31]
  • There is a High and Dry dishrack from Black+Blum[32] on Emma's kitchen counter.[33]
  • Emma's plaid pants in New York City were chosen by Jennifer Morrison because of her character's blended memories.[34]
  • One of the letters addressed to Neal is from a Ms. C. Marion.[35]
  • According to the label, the bottle that Hook and Emma are drinking from contains Jamaican Dark Rum from "Santa Christ[obscured]".[36]
  • Emma has a "The End" bookend from CB2[37] on her shelf.[38]
  • On Emma's apartment kitchen table,[39] there is an Anthropologie Faccia Serving Bowl.[40]

Filming Locations

International Titles



  2. 2.0 2.1
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 File:312WeAreBack.png
  6. 6.0 6.1 File:312Leaving.png
  7. File:312Walsh.png
  9. File:312APoorThief.png
  10. File:312Note.png
  14. File:312BreakfastTime.png
  16. 16.0 16.1
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 File:312HiddenMickey.png
  19. File:312So.png
  20. File:312Bologna.png
  23. 23.0 23.1 File:312CoatOff.png
  25. File:312YoureTheSavior.png
  26. File:312Apartment.png
  28. 28.0 28.1 File:312HenryWithPaper.png
  33. File:312EmmasKitchen.png
  35. File:312Letters.png
  36. File:312Conversation.png
  38. File:312DragHimIntoAllThis.png
  39. File:312KindOfOverslept.png
  43. 43.0 43.1
  44. File:312CarMirror.png

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