"The Queen Is Dead" is the fifteenth episode of Season Two of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Daniel T. Thomsen & David H. Goodman and directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton. It is the thirty-seventh episode of the series overall, and premiered on March 3, 2013.
Upon discovering Cora and Regina's plan to find and take possession of Rumplestiltskin's dagger, Mary Margaret, with the aid of David and Mother Superior, makes it her mission to find it first; and while Mr. Gold continues his quest in New York to reunite with son Bae, Hook devises a plan to rid himself of a crocodile. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was, the Blue Fairy offers Snow White an unconventional enchantment that could help save her dying mother, Queen Eva.
Long ago, back in the Enchanted Forest, Queen Eva lived in a palace with her daughter Snow White. The Queen prepares Snow White for a ball in honor of her birthday. She guides her daughter to her tiara that once belonged to her mother. When they find the tiara it is on the head of one of their servants, Johanna. She apologizes for wearing the tiara and puts it back into its box. Snow White is clearly angered and yells at Johanna for doing such a thing when she is only a servant. Eva scolds Snow White for doing this to Johanna, and tells her that being royal does not make them better than anyone else. A little while later, Eva asks Snow White why the ball is being held. When asked, Snow White says it is being held in honor of her birthday. Eva does not agree and tells her it is being held to honor her subjects. After this lecture, Eva takes the tiara and places it on Snow White's head, before coughing uncontrollably. Snow White comforts her sick mother as she lays down, meanwhile Johanna leaves to find the royal doctor.
In Storybrooke, it is Mary Margaret's birthday as well. David is making her pancakes because he thinks she might enjoy her birthday more in this world. When she turns she notices a present and tries to tell David not to get her a birthday present. He is adamant that he is not the one who sent it to her, but Mary Margaret tells him he is the only one who knows. When she continues to confront him he tells her that someone else must know it is her birthday because it was left outside her apartment. Mary Margaret reluctantly opens the present to find the tiara given to her by her mother years ago. The couple looks on in amazement, realizing that the tiara was not lost in the curse like they had thought. Upon opening the card that came along with the tiara, she finds out Johanna was the one who sent it to her, revealing that Johanna was sent to Storybrooke as well. In a rush, Mary Margaret leaves to find Johanna.
David is later seen walking through the sheriff department. When he turns his head, a disgruntled Hook knocks him unconscious with a metal pipe. Then he pries open a drawer with a pair of keys to retrieve his hook. He removes his prosthetic hand, and reattaches his hook, before departing for New York City.
Mary Margaret finds Johanna working in her backyard garden. They immediately embrace, and Johanna shows Snow White the snowdrop flowers she is planting. They remind Johanna of Snow White because they can survive the harshest winter, and she was born during the harshest one of all. After reminiscing about Eva, they hear a noise coming from the woods. Mary Margaret decides to find out what caused it. She hears Cora and Regina Mills, who are digging up Rumplestiltskin's dagger. Using a map, the pair have found the supposed location of his dagger. Mary Margaret is shocked when she hears of their plans to force the Dark One to kill whoever they want by controlling him with his dagger.
Mary Margaret comes to the sheriff department to tell David, but she finds him lying on the floor. When David awakens, he recalls Hook knocking him out, and sees the hook is missing from the desk drawer. Mary Margaret gives him the more urgent news of Regina working with Cora to find the dagger. They discuss the possible intentions for doing so; such as using it to control Mr. Gold, or stealing the Dark One's powers. David picks up the phone to call Mr. Gold himself, but Mary Margaret says she already tried, and no one is answering the phone. She hatches up a plan to put some doubt in Regina regarding Cora.
In New York City, Neal and Henry walk around, and stop at Neal's favorite pizza place while Emma and Mr. Gold wait outside. After some small talk, Mr. Gold tries to get Emma to convince Neal to come back to Storybrooke. Emma reminds him she was in his debt to fulfill only one favor, and no more. He presents her with the alternate scenario that Henry will run away to New York to stay with Neal, which will be problematic. Emma admits to lying to Henry about his father, but stubbornly insists she did it to protect him, to which Mr. Gold compares her akin to Regina. Speechless, Emma is unable to respond and the conversation is cut short by the reappearance of Neal and Henry coming out of the pizza store. Henry asks Emma if they can go back to Neal's apartment to fetch a camera and take photos at a museum. She agrees to his request, and asks him if he likes his pizza. Bluntly, Henry says it is, "delicious, cheesy and doesn't lie", showing he still has not forgiven Emma for not telling him about Neal.
At the diner, Regina arrives and sits in a booth across from Mary Margaret. She asks if Henry is okay, and Mary Margaret affirms he is, but admits the real reason for calling her to the diner was to talk about something else. Mary Margaret brings up Regina's plans with Cora to find Mr. Gold's dagger and use it against everyone in town. Regina states it's none of her business, but Mary Margaret pushes the subject. She wants to give Regina a second chance to choose the side of good. Scoffing, Regina says she was always good, and it wasn't until Mary Margaret added the "evil" to her name that everything changed. Curious about her motives, Mary Margaret asks her why she would revert to her old ways after trying so hard. Angrily, Regina notes it only got her a dinner with a bunch of hypocrites who never believed she could change. Before leaving, Regina warns Mary Margaret she is giving her a chance to stay out of her way. As a last resort, Mary Margaret tries to convince Regina that Cora doesn't care about her or Henry, and it's only power she wants. Sarcastically, Regina wonders what she would know about mothers; hinting at the fact Mary Margaret grew up without one.
In the Enchanted Forest, the royal doctor tends to a bedridden Eva. Snow White is anxious over her mother's current state and asks the doctor what is wrong, though he has no idea. While Snow White tries to comfort Eva at her beside, the doctor notifies Johanna to get King Leopold to hurry home soon. Snow tells her mother they can cancel the ball and have the celebration once she gets better, but Eva doesn't want her daughter's day to be spoiled and insists it will go as planned. Suddenly, Eva begins having a violent coughing fit, which causes Johanna to whisk a tearful Snow White out of the room. As the two walk through the palace, Snow White asks if her mother will survive, and the implication of death. In fright, she cries and seeks solace in Johanna's arms. Johanna comforts her with the knowledge magic can save Eva's life. She instructs Snow White to find her mother's mentor; a fairy that can grant a wish as long as her heart is true. Believing her heart is true, Snow White further questions Johanna on how to do it. Johanna redirects her attention to the night sky, and states she must wish on the blue star to reach the fairy.
Awkwardly, Emma and Neal walk side by side on the streets. She tells him that they must go back to their home, and he should come with them too. Neal has something important to reveal to her, though Henry cuts into the conversation by asking if they can go get the camera now. When the group returns to Neal's apartment, he and Henry go back up to the apartment room to retrieve the camera while Mr. Gold and Emma wait for them in the lobby. Mr. Gold asks her about Neal coming with them to Storybrooke, and Emma responds he might need some time. From behind, the apartment complex door bursts open, and before either of them can react, Hook runs into the lobby and stabs Mr. Gold in the chest with his hook. Vehemently, Hook reminds Mr. Gold of how he took away Milah from him, and now his life will be taken as penance. As Hook raises his hook to inflict the final blow, Emma grabs a garbage can and smashes it over his head; rendering him unconscious. Neal hears the commotion and runs down from his apartment. He sees Hook and notices the blood pouring from his father's chest. They take Mr. Gold up to the apartment room to try and stop the chest wound from bleeding. Emma mentions locking Hook in a storage room until further notice. After finding Hook's map, they realize that he sailed his invisibility cloaked ship to New York. When Henry walks up to Mr. Gold, he expresses concern for the older man. Even so, Mr. Gold blames Henry for bringing them to New York, and pushes him away. Confused, Henry backs away, and then is tasked by Emma to find a charger. Neal and Emma notice blood oozing from Mr. Gold's chest as well as something else, which Mr. Gold himself says is poison. The only way to save him is to go back to Storybrooke as soon as possible with the fastest route being Hook's ship. Neal agrees to captain it, to Mr. Gold and Emma's surprise.
David and Mary Margaret meet with Mother Superior, who notices dark magic has been expelled, and agrees to do whatever is necessary to help. David informs her of Regina and Cora's plans to find Mr. Gold's dagger, and Mary Margaret asks her if her magic can find it first.
In the woods near the palace, Snow White has trouble telling which star is the blue star Johanna told her about. Somehow, the Blue Fairy appears anyway, though Snow White doesn't understand how that's possible when she hasn't made her wish yet. The Blue Fairy wistfully says she could sense it, and can tell her mother is sick. Snow White pleads for the Blue Fairy to use magic and save her mother. Though the Blue Fairy says there is no way to prevent a death, she lets Snow White in on the secret of using dark magic in the form of an magical candle. The candle can give life to one person, but another's life must be sacrificed for it to work. Conflicted, Snow White is torn between following her own morals or being selfish. In the end, she can't go through with taking away someone else's life and refuses to use the candle.
Neal texts someone to get a car so they have a way to get Mr. Gold to the ship. Emma asks him how he knows Hook, and Neal reveals this land was not the first world he stopped in on his way to this one; also mentioning had that not happened, he would be a couple hundred of years old. Henry walks in, and shows Emma a text from David and Mary Margaret. Emma tells Mr. Gold the bad news of Cora and Regina searching for his dagger. She asks him the location of it, so David and Mary Margaret can nab it first. He is wary about letting anyone know where the dagger is, but Emma assures him he can trust them because they are family.
Outside of the pawnshop, Mother Superior uses her wand to weaken the spell placed on the building, but to no avail. The wand starts overheating to the point she drops it. Mary Margaret asks Mother Superior if she can use dark magic since it is the only way to stop Cora from getting the dagger. She recalls the time the Blue Fairy gave her the candle in the woods, and hints at it, but Mother Superior is puzzled and doesn't recall such a thing. A few seconds later, David gets a call from Emma revealing the dagger's hiding place.
After rejecting the candle, Snow White hurries back to the palace. Collapsing at her mother's side, she apologizes for not taking the Blue Fairy's candle and for being so weak. Eva is proud of her for remaining strong and doing the right thing, which shows strength. Furthermore, Eva breaks to her daughter gently that she has reached a point where one is not meant to get better, and she will make a great queen in the future. Snow White hopes her mother will never leave her. Eva promises will never happen as long as there is goodness in her heart. Succumbing to her illness, Eva passes away peacefully.
In the clock tower, Mary Margaret and David climb the steps to the very top where the clock face sits. David reaches at the minute long hand of the clock face and pulls out the dagger. Mary Margaret rejoices at having beat Regina and Cora, but it is short lived. Regina and Cora materialize in front of them, and ask her to hand over the dagger. Mary Margaret tells Regina she should have chosen good because it has won, though Cora summons Johanna to the clock tower to use as leverage. Triumphant, Cora asserts it is not good or evil that wins, but power. To prove this, Regina reaches into Johanna's chest to remove her heart.
Back in the Enchanted Forest, it is the day of Eva's funeral. Dressed in mourning clothes, Snow White stands in front of a mirror while Johanna takes out Eva's tiara. Johanna affirms the kingdom needs Snow White to show strength in time of grief, and the princess accepts accepts the tiara. Snow White places it on her head, and for a moment, smiles at her mother's previous statement about the tiara's heaviness, which she knows now to be true. At the funeral ceremony, Snow White walks in and conveys grace and respect and approaches the bier where her mother is laid to rest. The kingdom stands in the palace mourning the loss of their queen. To Eva, she whispers, "I miss you, so much" and places a snow drop flower on her mother's chest. When Snow White kneels down before her, everyone else in attendance does the same. Time passes, but Snow White stays transfixed until Johanna approaches her, and tells her it is over. As the two walk out of the palace, what looks to be the Blue Fairy flies towards Eva's corpse. Upon approaching Eva, she transforms into Cora while expressing disdain at the fairy outfit. She walks up to Eva, and declares poison looks good on her. Cora takes the snow drop flower off Eva's body, and inhales the scent of it. Speaking to the deceased queen, Cora admits Eva raised Snow White well, though she does not get the same kind of love from her own daughter. She laments Snow White would have made a great ruler, but instead, hers will, and all Snow White will be left with is knowing how it feels to be the miller's daughter. Cora remarks the candle will not be Snow White's only test as further challenges will turn her soul black, and destroy Eva's legacy. As a farewell gesture, Cora touches her fingers to her lips, and places them on Eva's.
In the clock tower, Cora tries to get the dagger from Mary Margaret. David pulls out a gun and Regina warns her, so she magically flings it out of his hands. Regina continues to crush Johanna's heart in her hands, and Cora tells Mary Margaret she will follow her mother's example. At those words, Mary Margaret realizes it was not the Blue Fairy who gave her the candle all those years ago, but Cora. She comes to the horrific conclusion her mother wasn't sick, and Cora poisoned her. Cora admits she did it so her own daughter could be queen instead. This surprises Regina, but she says nothing and continually squeezes Johanna's heart. Despite being in excruciating pain, Johanna shouts for Mary Margaret not to surrender the dagger. Cora pressures Mary Margaret to give what she wants if she wants or lose another important person. Falling on her knees, Mary Margaret drops the dagger. It flies up at Cora, who catches it with ease. Then, Regina reinserts the heart back into Johanna. Safe from harm, Johanna begins making her way over to Mary Margaret, who waits with open arms, but is suddenly flung out the clock face by Cora. Her still body lands on the streets below as Mary Margaret and David look on in shock. Regina taunts this is what being good will get her. As she and Cora disappear in a puff of smoke, Mary Margaret dissolves into sobs in David's arms at the unexpected tragedy.
Cora and Regina return to the mayoral office with the dagger in tow. Regina is glad to be out of hiding while Cora likes what she's done with the place, but notices her daughter's disturbed expression. Regina is upset at never being told about the history she shared with Snow White's mother. Cora wanted to spare her the burden of knowing, but Regina expresses a desire to have known what it took for her to become queen. In a flashback, Regina recalls the day Cora set up a riding lesson for her and Rocinante. In doing so, she had the excuse to go riding, but also secretly meet up with Daniel at the stables. Remembering how Snow White's horse went wild, and the timing was perfect so Regina herself could save her. She grows suspicious of why her mother needs the dagger if her being queen is what she wanted. Regina wonders how they will use it to get Henry back if David and Mary Margaret are aware they have the dagger. Cora strokes the dagger, telling Regina soon Emma, David and Mary Margaret will be nothing more than a memory when Mr. Gold is back.
In New York, Neal and Emma walk swiftly through the streets, and she asks him about helping Mr. Gold. He is unwilling to sit by and leave his father to die. When they find a car, Emma believes he is going to hot wire it, but he grabs the keys. He says it belongs to a friend, who coincidentally runs up to greet him. She reveals herself as Tamara to Emma, and Neal tells Emma he is engaged to her.
Mary Margaret places one of Johanna's snow drop flowers on her recently dug grave. David tells her she did the best she could, but Mary Margaret ignores this. She looks up at Regina's family mausoleum, and says that it has been left untouched. David tries to reason with her, but she explains that after holding onto goodness her whole life, it has only taken lives. He insists Cora wants her to lose faith in who she is as a person. Mary Margaret brings up the times her kindness has backfired, namely stopping Regina's execution, sending Emma through the magic wardrobe and letting her mother die. David believes they have time to get the dagger back, but Mary Margaret says instead of other people changing, she must change, and announces her plans to kill Cora.
*: Only in archive footage
- The title card features the clock tower.
- The title of this episode was announced by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on December 25, 2012.
- Actress Rena Sofer wore a wig for her role as Queen Eva due to her natural hair being too short.
- When Neal takes Henry out for pizza in New York City, a business called Soparlo can be seen in the background, a reference to Mark Soparlo, a member of the production staff on the show.
- Eva's bedchamber is the same one later used by Regina when she becomes queen.
- The Enchanted Forest flashbacks occur just after Regina Rising and two years before "The Stable Boy". (For more details, see the Enchanted Forest timeline)
- The Storybrooke events take place after "Manhattan" and before "The Miller's Daughter". (For more details, see the Land Without Magic timeline)
- The casting of the Dark Curse is noted by Mary Margaret, which occurred in "Pilot".
- How David became temporary town sheriff is explained in "We Are Both".
- The reason Hook lost his hooked arm is revealed in "In the Name of the Brother".
- During Regina's diner conversation with Mary Margaret, she mentions how the townspeople treated her during the welcome home party celebration in "The Cricket Game".
- Henry wants to go back to the apartment and get his camera, which is found by Emma a year later in "New York City Serenade".
- Henry's words "cheesy, delicious and doesn't lie" references the events of "Manhattan" in which he learned Emma lied to him about the identity of his real father.
- Hook's vendetta against Mr. Gold is explained in "The Crocodile".
- Milah's backstory with both Hook and Rumplestiltskin is shown in "The Crocodile".
- Mr. Gold's anger directed at Henry is a result of the Seer's prophecy in "Manhattan".
- The reason behind why Neal did not age for a period of time is revealed in "And Straight On 'Til Morning".
- Neal's past acquaintance with Hook is explained in "Second Star to the Right" and "And Straight On 'Til Morning".
- Cora's hatred of Eva is explained in "Bleeding Through" and "The Miller's Daughter".
- Regina learned how to rip out hearts from Rumplestiltskin in "The Doctor".
- Regina's favorite riding horse, Rocinante, is used for purposes in "We Are Both" and "The Thing You Love Most".
- The stable boy, Daniel, is briefly mentioned by Regina, and their relationship is explored in "The Stable Boy".
- The initial meeting between Regina and Snow White is alluded to and made known in "The Stable Boy".
- Neal and Tamara's initial meeting and acquaintance is explained in "Selfless, Brave and True".
- Mary Margaret makes mention of Regina's stopped execution from "The Cricket Game" and sending Emma through the wardrobe in "Pilot".
- Mary Margaret's intent to get rid of Cora is resolved in "The Miller's Daughter".
Fairytales and Folklore
- This episode features Snow White, the King and the Queen from the Snow White fairytale, the Fairy with the Turquoise Hair from The Adventures of Pinocchio, Captain Hook from the Peter Pan story as well as the miller's daughter from the Rumpelstiltskin fairytale.
- According to the return address on the back of the envelope, Johanna's address is 42 Langdon Street. 42 is the sixth and final Lost number.
- USA Today vending machines can be seen on the streets of New York City.
- By the entrance to Neal's apartment building, there is are many promo posters for Canadian musicians:
- The album Tintype (2008) by the garage rock band The Pack A.D.
- Several posters promoting the band's tour kick-off on February 27th 2009 at Vancouver's Railway club can also be seen. In addition to The Pack A.D., the posters list the Vancouver-based garage rock band The Beladeans, the rock duo The Speaking Tongues from Toronto, and DJ Bryce Dunn from Vancouver.
- A third promo poster for the band can also be seen.
- The cover of the 2004 album Grab That Gun by the post-punk band The Organ.
- Life Through One Speaker, a 2003 album by the indie pop band Young and Sexy.
- A poster promoting the 2007 calendar Punk Rock. The caption says Nardwuar vs. Bev Davies. The former is a celebrity interviewer and musician from Vancouver, while the latter is a punk-rock photographer from the same city. It shows a 1980 photograph of Greg Ginn and Ron Reyes from the American punk rock band Black Flag.
- The indie pop band Bella from Vancouver.
- The indie pop band Immaculate Machine.
- The rock band The Ramblin' Ambassadors, promoting their albums Ramble On (2012) and Vista Cruiser Country Squire (2008).
- A promo poster for the album Ramble On can also be seen in Neal's apartment.
- The album How Come I'm Dead by the Vancouver-based indie rock band Hot Panda.
- The Queen of Vancouver Island, a 2012 album by the alternative country singer Carolyn Mark.
- The album Tintype (2008) by the garage rock band The Pack A.D.
- Snowdrops are used as decorations on Snow White's birthday and Mary Margaret plants the same flowers on Johanna's grave. In "Selfless, Brave and True", David puts a small vase of snowdrops on Mary Margaret breakfast tray. The flower that Prince Charming gives to Snow White in "A Curious Thing" is also a snowdrop.
- The birthday card Mary Margaret receives from her old nanny, reads "Thinking of you today. Johanna".
- The book Regina is reading at the estate, is called On Horsemanship. The cover illustration is "Small Horse", a 1505 engraving by the German painter and engraver Albrecht Dürer. Note that the book's version is mirror-inverted, and has been modified for the show.
- When Emma and Neal are walking down the streets of New York to meet Tamara, the artworks Red Riding Hood by the Russian artist Lora Zombie and The Morning After by the Welsh artist Hidden Moves are on display in a store window.
- One of the headstones in the Storybrooke Graveyard says:
March 27, 1837
|Finnish||"Kuningattaren kuolema"||"The Queen's Death"|
|French||"Un Poison Nommé Cora"||"A Poison Named Cora"|
|German||"Vom Verlöschen des Guten"||"From the Extinction of Good"|
|Hungarian||"A királynő halott"||"The Queen Is Dead"|
|Italian||"La regina è morta"||"The Queen Is Dead"|
|Portuguese||"A rainha está morta"||"The queen is dead"|