Once Upon a Time Post-season Debrief: Can Y'all Make Any Sense of These 12 (!) Dropped Storylines?

By Lily Sparks

May 22, 2013

I’ve never been able to resist a loose end. I see a string coming out of my jeans, ten minutes later I’m sitting bottomless in a pile of denim. OUAT is choc-a-bloc with loose ends; Season 2 ended our season with all five of our favorite characters and Prince Charming on the Jolly Roger, ropin’ and riggin’ and sailin’ their way toward Neverland. Writers, you can’t chuck the tangled web of expired plot coupons behind that easily! I try not to pull apart the story logic in reviews, because OUAT is about emotional justice, not making intricate, logical plots, but since this is going to be on my mind all summer anyway, please join me in nitpicking to our heart’s content the many dropped storylines and abandoned story devices OUAT has left to dangle in the wind.


She’s Regina’s only Storybrooke friend, David Nolan’s Storybrooke wife, and she slapped Snow silly and got Snow thrown in jail/put Snow perilously close to going on trial for homicide when she mysteriously disappeared. The show implied she took off for Boston after she got out of the hospital. Where is she now? Was she affected when the curse broke? I can understand how awkward it would be for Kathryn and Snow to keep running into each other around town. Still, I’d love to know if she leapt out of her seat midway through a Friday-night viewing of Black Swan with the sudden realization she was a fairy-tale princess.


When Kathryn went missing, her heart was supposedly found in a box by Ruby. No investigation into whose heart it actually was. Either the Feds really dropped the ball on this one, or Emma burnt up the police report with a Hot Toolz-brand curler while touching up her ‘do at the station.


Remember how it was revealed that Regina had a ring of keys to all the buildings in Storybrooke? That came in handy for about 1.5 scenes and then was never referred to again. Not much to see here, folks, just calling this one out as a big ol' dollop of plot spackle.


So you’re telling me, when magic returned to Storybrooke, an all-powerful genie wasn’t affected? Didn’t regain the ability to grant wishes or, say, unlock a door? Or he wasn’t, at the very least, returned to his cursed state of living in Regina’s mirrors? Not even in that Forever 21 dressing room at the back of her tomb? Or was Gus Fring/Neville just not returning your calls, OUAT casting person?


According to OUAT, there is nothing a bitch can’t do with a heart, from eavesdropping on people to controlling people to outright killing them. It’s been established that removing the heart takes magic (Hook was briefly given the magic power to remove hearts by Cora) so how was Regina operating Graham’s heart in Storybrooke—as we saw her do when she needed someone to chase around Greg Mendell’s dad—before the curse was broken? For that matter, how did she keep Daniel’s body preserved all those years?

Also, if removing someone’s heart, as Cora did to herself, removes their emotions, then how did Graham form enough of a crush on Emma to plant that smooch on her in Season 1?

ALSO, remember in Season 2, when Mulan just shoved Aurora’s heart back in with absolutely no magic or idea how to do it? Because I do. I SEE U OUAT.


We all saw the wraith suck Phillip’s soul out of his body and skidoo off back to whatever Rite-Aid Halloween display the wraith had come from in the first place. Yet we saw Aurora, Phillip, and Mulan greet Neal’s body on the shores of the Enchanted Forest. SO. How did they reunite Phillip’s soul with his body? Writers got all summer to come up with something, but do NOT be surprised if we never get an explanation.


Why the creepy mop guy? Was there once a plotline that involved him that ended on the cutting-room floor? Or does he betoken another realm based, like Frankenstein’s black-and-white-movies world, on the oeuvre of Gritty Movies from the Late '70s Starring Jack Nicholson?


While many couples who had been torn cruelly apart in Fairy-Tale Land found each other, Grumpy appeared to continue pick-axin’ for diamonds and Nova appeared to continue hanging out with the Blue Fairy at the nunnery. Not that I was ever especially fond of this couple, but considering how much screen time Grumpy got, you’d think the show could've snuck in one reference to Nova, even if they had to do things Mulan-style and put a chain-link veil over the lower part of an Amy Acker lookalike’s face.


This is a really small thing but it truly bothered me. If Rumple could effortlessly reassemble Chip, why didn’t he do that immediately and not just when Belle needed the cup? He was just going to keep a jumble of porcelain together in a velvet bag?


Snow’s heart was getting increasingly darker there for a while (I loved that satisfying slap she gave old Marco in the woods), but apparently she put the brakes on that heart-darkening, perhaps even reversed it by… ingesting Regina’s tears? Experiencing the pain Regina went through? Not sure. I sort of feel like the writers could have done more with Dark Snow and I wish we had seen a little more of that alleged character. Wish she'd called up Dr. Whale and told him he was an ungenerous lover, then told Charming that David Nolan was a real creeper. You know, gotten some things off her chest.


Okay, this one is advanced math for me, but: All magic comes from diamonds that are mined by dwarves, then ground into powder and distributed by fairies. Except True Love, which is the greatest magic of all and can break any curse. When Rumple poured True Love juju into the well, he caused diamonds to grow that were later mined by the dwarves, but how were he and Regina suddenly able to use magic? They were what, harnessing the power of true love? Didn’t Rumple LOSE his power when confronted with True Love’s kiss? Also didn't Mr. Gold steal all the magic from the diamonds at one point in "Queen of Hearts" before Regina helped Emma and Snow climb out of the well and if you can do that then why even grind them in the first place? And where did the Blue Fairy get new magic from if they took all the magic out of the diamonds? Y’all. 


Now that there’s a memory cure that the Blue Fairy made offscreen (Grumpy basically said “The Blue Fairy made this offscreen, Mr. Gold. Just pretend it’s a storyline we’ve been following all season and ignore the fact we just thought it up”), can the Blue Fairy synthesize MORE of this potion so Storybrooke people can come and go? What could she possibly be doing that’s more important than that?

So yes. After a season of telling you we must not dissect gossamer, consider this the post where we get into the nitty-gritty and really hash out the dead-end storylines, redonkulous story devices, and other things that made us go HMMMMM. Get it all out of your systems before Season 3. Because I bet none of these points will be addressed, there will likely be a whole new setting and another cavalcade of weird and wild adventures, and I could not be more excited for them.

Finally, feel free to spend your summer playing with these OUAT paper dolls.


… This whole post, basically. Plus your own questions! OUAT hive mind, let’s do this!

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  • mistaria Jun 08, 2013

    I can't wait to see how season two feels when rewatching it but just watching it week by week and then after a rewatch of season one to compare made season two feel seriously unplanned. It's like they planned the first couple episodes and some interactions and then just winged it. I'm really sad they sacrificed the character-driven, smart and subtle storytelling of season one for dumb plot lines (and useless episodes about characters like Tiny) and lame villains in season two. I don't know why they were so desperate for mystery villains. I know they did Lost but... that's really not what they should strive for with this show in my opinion. If they do it's just going to keep getting more and more disappointing.

    Also another dropped storyline: the zombies Cora raised up in the Enchanted Forest. What happened to those things?

  • ionee24 Jul 12, 2013

    Its not like the resultions were any better: Pinocchio was the best part of Emma's childhood, until they lost him in a couple of flashbacks and turned him into an 8 year old boy (that Emma can't date).

    Regina's entire revenge curse was based on Daniel the stable boy, until he was unceremoniously killed off to make room for her mother (who was also killed off).

    Frankenstein and Little Red Ridding Hood shared a total of 1 episode, wasting most of the back and forth from the first season, not to mention an accidental one night stand with Red's best friend (Snow White).

    Hook had a thing for Emma, Willa, Milla, Regina before he went back to Neverland without ending his revenge on Belle or Core.

    Archie Hopper seemed to have a crush on Regina until he was killed off, only he wasn't, only he was, only he wasn't without so much as Geppeto or Pinocchio saying a Word at his funeral.

    At least someone told on camera that Lancelot was killed off and Lady Marion was pregnant with Robin Hood baby, still doesn't explain them on though.

    With such a disppointed results, I'm not looking forward to answers either.

  • ionee24 Jul 12, 2013

    This comment has been removed.

  • Jdg98 May 28, 2013

    I believe the writers've said that Kathryn reunited with Jim (Frederick) and the two of them are living happily in Storybrooke.

  • Cassandra161991 May 28, 2013

    Yes they did.Not within the show of course, but they did confirm that in an interview.

  • OuAt May 29, 2013

    Because heaven forbid viewers of the SHOW should actually know that information. Somebody said here in the past, and I totally agree, that people shouldn't have to dig in podcasts and obscure interviews with show creators to find out what is going on. The fact that they do this so often is proof that a) they are pulling these answers out of their asses when confronted with a question they haven't given any thought to, b) they are brazen egoists who enjoy people having to track them down to get information about a storyline that should be revealed in the show itself, or c) they are such inept and uncreative time managers that they can't figure out how to pepper a 22-episode season with a few scenes of characters we spent a year getting to know. Most likely answer: d) All of the above.

  • fre_jim May 29, 2013

    give me a moment to think! ¬¬
    no need to!
    the answer is "d"

    did I win something???

  • tv_reporter May 28, 2013

    1) I'm not sure if they actually said that Kathryn fled the scene after getting out of hospital. It was her original plan yes, but the curse pretty much made it impossible for anyone to leave (see her getting in her original car accident and a bunch of stuff Henry said during S1). I think she's just been forgotten or, once regaining her memories (after the curse was broken), probably remembered catching a glimpse of her true love in gym shorts and high-tailed it to the school and they now live happily (and therefore boringly and unstory-worthy) ever after in her and Davids old house. If she did make it out she would be lost to storybrooke forever as she'd retain her Kathryn persona and never think to return.

    2) My guess would be that Regina thwarted any actual involvement from the Feds. Much like she had the results of "whose heart is it" tampered with.

    3) Plot spackle. Exactly. It'll come up in three seasons time as a convienant 'Wait! LEts use the big key ring, which is so handy for our current dilemma' and that will be it.

    4) I was wondering this! I dont think he would have been voodoo'd back into the mirror, he'd probably still be human shaped, just like the dwarves and the fairies (and giants, imps, gnolls etc), as the curse breaking seems to have given back peoples memories but not much else. Remember it wasn't the broken curse but Gold's spell that brought magic back to storybrooke and that doesn't seem to have altered anyones shape just given those innately magical back their powers. And he is a genie but genies are pretty powerless unless given a wish by their masters. So he's probably an all powerful genie still working for the newspaper. Or in hiding. He did piss a lot of people off.

    5) I'm going to go out on a magical limb here and assume that since the curse was created around what Regina wanted (her idea for peoples memories and story background), she would have included a few stop gaps like an undead ex. She did have that room in the tomb where she secreted away a few magical objects, like she used to activate the hat. So she must have brought a bit of temporary mojo with her. My guess (in relation to the hearts) is that once a persons heart is out and all magicked up it still retains some of its basic properties, like controlling the mind of its owner. After all Dr Whale brought one into his non-magical world and was able to use its funky properties.
    As for Graham. I dont know if he had a crush when he kissed Emma, so much as he was reacting to her magic-begone nature. He said he felt nothing and then lay one on her and BLAMO, some of his memories came back and he started... not feeling but reacting. Emma seemed pretty much to be magical curse-repellent for most of S1.

    6) You just know that this is going to be a flash back series next season. The Adventures of Prince Phillip and the Evil Wraith.

    7) Hahaha. I want to see this story.

    8) It's the fact that grumpy never mentions Nova that really bugs me.

    9) I can't even remember when chip was broken...

    10) I'm not sure if Snow actually is cured. I think she's just trying to fix herself by acting good. I think she'd have to do something more dramatic then a location spell gone horribly wrong for her heart to be cured. Does beg the question though. I wonder what Regina's heart looks like...

    11) It's much like I said before. Golds spell brought magic back to the land. Those diamonds were just an off-shoot. Those that are naturally magical dont need the diamonds to use magic. But it does work differently in our world and so it took them all time to learn how to access it properly. Like Red turning into a werewolf. She couldnt control that, not to mention Regina epically failing to use magic at first, against the angry mob. They all (Regina, Gold, the Blue Fairy) had to go back to the basics. Regina needed a magical book, Gold his dagger, the fairies needed diamonds. Now that they've learnt how to adapt they dont need their magical crutches.

    12) I suppose the real issue would be, would the SB characters remember why they were leaving town in the first place and that they really should come back?

    So many questions! It'll be interesting to see how it all turns out.

  • Lauren_Shole May 27, 2013

    For me, the most glaring plot hole is the sudden memory cure. I was so pissed at Pinocchio becoming a child again. It made no bleeping sense and even the memory cure fixing Belle does not make up for it. Also, Fairy magic has been really inconsistent. Is it limited or powerful? Does it come with a price or not? The third thing that really pissed me off was the "I know you're Baelfire" reveal. That was so stupid! I expected to see Tinker Bell! That was such a cop-out. It's like the writers couldn't come up with anything better. And they still haven't explained how August even knew that. Pinocchio didn't know anything about Rumpelstiltskin back in Fairy Tale Land cuz he was just a child. A freaking gun would have been more convincing. "Leave Emma alone or I'll kill you." All the other things you brought up can be fixed. Let's just say that Kathryn crossed the town line permanently becoming her Storybrooke self and continued on with her plan to leave town. We just need a confirmation to come through Regina, like an email. I never thought the heart was Kathryn's. Regina has a gajillion, remember? And lots of cases "go cold" so people stop looking for answers. Until some new guy intrigued by the case picks it up and looks at it with a fresh pair of eyes. I HATED the Grumpy and Nova storyline since its inception. I heard of love at first sight but that was just ridiculous. In any case, they're not allowed to be together anyway so perhaps for now they are honoring that. Then again, the fairies and main cast have had a lot of contact. Is it that hard to make the two stare at each other for a moment? I agree the heart mythology has been a bit inconsistent but I thought it came full circle with the Cora plot. Without a heart, a person doesn't feel. That was the first rule established and that's what it came back to with Cora. She was evil and cold cuz she didn't have her heart but once it was reinserted she returned to normal. "This would've been enough." That was a touching moment. To be honest, I think that things that were addressed were more frustrating than these "dropped plots" you listed. They can be properly addressed at any time in the future. The keys don't benefit anyone but Regina cuz she's the only one that knows what their for and she was evil or scheming most of the season. I thought the same thing about chip at first, but like someone else said, Rumple probably didn't want to do magic in front of Belle and then just forgot about it. #11 just hurt my head. I don't know what to make of it. Oh here's a dropped plot that pissed me off: the whole town returning to Fairy Tale Land. The main characters go off sailing. The rest of the town: "Weren't we supposed to die or something?" "I thought our King and Queen had made a plan for us to return home." "Where are they anyway?" "Idk." "What the fudge happened?" "Why does no one keep us in this loop?" "I say we riot!" "Hang on. It looks like we're not dead and not going back to the Enchanted Forest." "Now what?" "The wicked witch is dead, or at least gone, so how about we elect a new mayor for starters?" "Well, why you do that I'm going to plot revenge against our leaders who abandoned us." "I know. Let's do both!" *applause and cheering* The way they just dropped everything and left pissed me off. And if they're out of magic beans I'm going to be really mad. Eventually, I want the whole town to return to the Enchanted Forest. So much more interesting than Storybrooke.

  • hbf716 May 24, 2013

    My head hurts.

  • SalmanKhalid1 May 24, 2013

    Once Upon a Time lost its footing in Season 2 for sure. Season 1 was simply superb and moved at a good pace with enough surprises and oooo-ahhhh moments!

    However Season 2 has definitely missed out not in just the areas that you raised here but others as well. It shamelessly started grasping at straws!

    My only hope is that it does indeed work out better in Season 3 with proper continuity and storylines. I don't expect them to answer all the unleft questions and cover all the gaping holes in their story that they left in Season 2 - heck, they'd need a whole season just to do that! but i do hope that they make Season 3 better!

  • totomomo182 May 24, 2013

    OUAT is the greatest show on tv nowadays because one of its greatest strength is great continuity unlike many other shows (The writers that came from Lost came with to mind not to repeat all off the Lost mistakes like no more episode with useless flashbacks that don't move along the story)
    No show is perfect but this show is at least tries to keep everything logical and consistent
    Addressing your points
    1) Kathryn most likely is dead since bad things happen to all those who try to leave town before the curse was broken except of course for Emma,Henry and August she may have told Charming that she is going to Boston but I don't think he ever checked that she got there
    2) Who cares it could be a pig heart for all we know and you forget Regina had a collection of hearts in the tomb which I think it is Cora collection
    3) Who cares Regina has magic she don't need no stinking keys :)
    4) The genie lost all his power when he got into the mirror and just because the course broke that does not mean he has to go back to the mirror just like the shrink does not go back to be a cricket (I am so glad we don't see that actor no more cause seeing him make me want to punch Charlie from Revolution in the face :) )
    5) maybe shoving the heart back does not require magic.we saw the even without a heart a person can some little measure of feeling like Graham and Regina lover Cora just chose to ignore whatever little feeling she has left
    6) I sure this is one thing we will find out next season
    7) So The Undertaker is mopping floor in Storybrooke if there is Fairytale Land Wonderland and Neverland why not WWF land :)
    8) Who cares I am so glad we got rid of the dwarf for season 3 he is useless like many other character the were left behind (except Belle)
    9) Who cares maybe Mr Gold did not want not use magic in front of Belle so she would not be more afraid of him and he never got around to peacing it back since his mind was on Bae
    10) Who cares dark Snow or Snow white she is still stupid useless Snow :)
    11) Mr Gold and Regina uses black magic which I guess work different not to mention that in this series The Blue Fairy like almost all the "Good" guys is pretty clueless stupid and useless which is such a shame because I would much rather have on the show at least one magical wise "Good" guy (or in this case girl :)) but I guess all the brain on the show is on the "Bad" guys side
    12) I think The blue fairy is working on it maybe with the help of the seven stupid dwarf:)

  • Carla-Wexler May 24, 2013

    This is why I shut my brain down when watching this show! Suddenly everything is everything and nothing matters...

  • shootingstar609 May 24, 2013

    agree with all of those, but as you said logic isn't this show's strong suit. ha ha.

  • FarrShadow May 23, 2013

    All good points. As for #6, I just assumed that Neal somehow ended up in the past, which could accidentally affect what we just watched unfold in Season 2.

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