Once Upon a Time

Season 2 Episode 16

The Miller's Daughter

37
Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Mar 10, 2013 on ABC

Episode Recap

A young Cora approaches the mill where she and her father work. She finds him sleeping and wakes him up, reminding him that they need to work so that they have money for food. She delivers bags of flour to the castle of King Xavier, and the visiting Princess Eva trips her. When Cora spills the flour, Xavier and his son, Henry, ignore her and make sure that Eva is all right. They refuse to pay Cora for the flour despite the fact that she blames Eva, and Xavier orders the miller's daughter to kneel and apologize to the visiting princess. She refuses until Xavier threatens to withdraw his business, and only reluctantly does so.

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Neal pilots Hook's ship back to Storybrooke with Henry at his side, while Emma checks on the dying Gold. She wonders why Cora and Regina want the Dark One's dagger and gold reluctantly admits that they can use it to force him to do their bidding and kill them all. Gold suspects that Emma would be happier if he died of Hook's poisoning but Emma tells him that he's part of their family now and she'll do what she can to save him.

After Emma calls to tell David what's going on, he calls Mary Margaret with the news... unaware that Regina is using a phone tap to listen in from her office. Cora listens as well and knocks over the speaker box when Mary Margaret says that she's wicked. The sorceress insists that she's only doing what she needs to for her family, and worries that Gold can work out a way to stop them now that he's been forewarned. As they talk, Cora notices Rumplestiltskin's name fading from the dagger one letter at the time and tells Regina that if he dies, his magic will be lost. When Cora proposes to use the dagger to kill Gold and take his power, Regina wonders if that was her mother's plan all along. She reminds Cora that the plan was to secretly use Gold to kill Emma, David, and Mary Margaret so that Henry would turn to her, and that the plan won't work if he knows they can control Gold. Cora insists that she only wants the Dark One's power to protect her daughter and step-grandson, and warns that if they fail then they'll spend the rest of their lives on their knees in front of the others.

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Later, Cora slips into a palace masquerade, wearing an expensive dress and a borrowed mask. She approaches Henry and, pretending not to recognize him, dismisses Xavier's efforts to marry off his son as foolish. Impressed by her daring, Henry tells her who she is and invites her to dance. Xavier quickly cuts in and tells Cora that he can recognize her despite her disguise by the straw on her dress. Cora isn't impressed by his airs, pointing out that he's invited women there so he can marry Henry off and gain a dowry for his kingdom, but Xavier insists that he's still much more than she can ever be. The king asks what Cora can possibly offer him and she hastily claims that she can spin straw into gold. When Cora says that she won't do it because he insulted her, Xavier drags her before the entire party and announces that Cora has claimed to have magical powers. He orders her to prove it and Cora says that it will take time. Xavier gives her until morning to spin the gold. If she succeeds, she can marry Henry. If she fails, he'll have her executed.

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David, Mary Margaret, and Ruby meet the group at the dock and Neal introduces himself. Mary Margaret talks about killing Cora to protect her family and David objects, warning that she couldn't live with herself if she did. Ruby takes Henry to safety while the others take Gold to his pawnshop where he says he has magic that will protect them.

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Cora tries to find a way out of the locked tower but realizes that the only window leads to the sea hundreds of feet below. Rumplestiltskin appears behind her and offers to spin the gold for her. He demonstrates his power but then warns her that there will be a price: her firstborn child. Cora agrees with one provision: he teach her how to do it. Rumplestiltskin agrees and gives her the contract.

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Gold has Emma bring him invisible chalk and tells her how to use her recently-developed magical abilities to create a barrier. As the others go to secure the shop, Gold asks Mary Margaret to get him a blanket. She opens the cabinet and finds the candle that Cora gave her years ago to save her mother at the cost of another's life. Mary Margaret wonders why Gold has it and he explains that he saved it for an emergency.

Neal watches as Emma draws a chalk line in front of the door, and admits that he's surprised that she can do magic. Emma doesn't want to talk to him and Neal figures that she's mad at him for becoming engaged to Tamra. Before she can respond, David checks on them and they tell him that everything is okay.

Gold explains that only the candle will save him, and that they can both come out ahead if Mary Margaret uses it to kill Cora. When she says that there's no coming back from murder, Gold warns her that none of them will come back if Cora murders them. When she wonders how she can light it and speak Cora's name with Cora nearby, Gold tells her to use it on Cora's heart, separated from her body. Once Mary Margaret does so, she'll have to make sure that Cora's heart is placed back into its owner's body. Mary Margaret considers using the heart to force Cora to kill Gold, and the pawnbroker says that Henry might not appreciate that when he inevitably learns what had happened.

Emma comes back to inform Gold that she's drawn the line, and Gold tells her that she has to charge it. When she says that she doesn't know her, Gold tells him that it's a matter of emotion, not concentration. He coaches her in feeling why she's casting the spell and who she's protecting. Emma relaxes and taps into the emotions, and the barrier goes up.

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Rumplestiltskin tells Cora that to spin gold, she will have to summon up the anger that she felt, anger strong enough to make her kill. When she wonders what emotion Rumplestiltskin uses to cast his magic, he describes how a man once made him kiss his boots in front of Bae. He envisions ripping the man's throat out with his teeth and drinking his blood, and smiles in pleasure. Cora starts trundling the loom and talks about how Xavier humiliated her in front of the court by making her apologize to Eva. That was when she realized that she could never be anything greater than a miller's daughter. As Cora unleashes her emotions and says that she wants them all to bow to her, the straw turns to gold Smiling, Rumplestiltskin tells her that she can do so much gold and fulfill her fondest wish.

The next morning, Cora demonstrates her ability before Xavier and his court. Xavier is impressed despite himself and fulfills his end of the bargain. Henry kneels to Cora and proposes, and Cora accepts.

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David and Mary Margaret wait for Regina and her mother, and David realizes that his wife is upset. He asks what Gold told her but Mary Margaret avoids the question and worries that Cora will hurt her. David assures his wife that he'll do whatever it takes to protect his family, and Mary Margaret agrees. Cora and Regina arrive and combine their magic to blast through the barrier. The group waits for them and Emma tries to remind Regina that she vowed to give up evil. As they talk, Mary Margaret slips out the side door. Meanwhile, Regina throws David out of the shop, sealing the door behind him. Cora knocks Emma down and teleports away to avoid Neal's sword thrust. Emma manages to grab Regina and hold a knife to her throat, and Cora teleports back in. Regina wonders if her mother will let her die to kill Gold, but Cora knocks Emma down. Neal and Emma retreat into the back room, drawing another barrier to cover their retreat. As Cora prepares to blast through it, she clutches at her chest and realizes that someone is after it. She tells Regina to go to the vault and stop the intruder, and then prepares to blast through the barrier while her daughter leaves.

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As Cora tries on her wedding dress the day before the ceremony, Rumplestiltskin teleports into her chamber and kisses her. He congratulates her on getting everything that she wanted, but Cora admits that she's fifth in line to be queen. She asks if Rumplestiltskin can give her love and he says that he can, but only if she alters the contract so that she gives him his child by her. Cora agrees but says that she wants her revenge by removing his heart and showing it to him as he dies. She asks Rumplestiltskin to teach her how to do it and he agrees, saying that's why he loves her.

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Mary Margaret goes to the vault and realizes that Cora's heart is stored somewhere among the dozens of others that she's gathered.

David recovers consciousness and calls Emma on his cell phone. She tells him that she's drawn another protective spell and they realize that Mary Margaret isn't with either one of them.

Mary Margaret finally locates the chest holding Cora's heart. She takes it out, lights the candle, holds it over the heart, and whispers Cora's name.

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Cora goes to Xavier's chamber and finds him counting all the gold that she has made for him. She tells him that she doesn't love his son but Xavier has already realized that and tells her that love is weakness. The king figures that Cora understands that as well and asks if she plans to run off with Rumplestiltskin, having learned of the Dark One's presence. Cora puts her hand to Xavier's chest and tells him that love is a liability.

A few minutes later, Cora returns to her chambers with a chest. She opens it and looks at the heart inside.

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While Neal and Emma guard Gold, the pawnbroker says that it's for the best that he die and let his power dissipate so that no one can have it. He has Emma call Belle at the hospital and takes the phone. She still doesn't remember who he is or who she is, and Gold tells her that she's a hero that helped people and loved an ugly man, encouraging him to go back to what he once was. When he hangs up, Neal admits that he's surprised that Gold could express such sentiments. His father says that he spent a lifetime trying to find Neal so that he could tell him that he loves him, and admits that he made the wrong choice. Gold asks Neal for his hand and Neal takes it despite his anger. After a moment he clasps it tight and breaks into tears.

Regina enters the vault and Mary Margaret confronts her, holding Cora's heart. When Regina tells her that she has no right to it, Mary Margaret agrees and offers it to Regina. She tells her nemesis that Cora can never love her because she removed her own heart, and tells Regina to consider how Cora would change if her heart were put back. Regina insists that her mother always wanted the best for her, but Mary Margaret assures her that Cora can love her for real when she gets her heart back. She then gives Regina the heart and tells her to choose.

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Cora goes into the forest to meet Rumplestiltskin where they agreed. She kisses him but he realizes that something is wrong. Cora tells him that she chose not to take Xavier's heart, and she plans to go to her wedding. Rumplestiltskin wonders whose heart is in the chest and Cora admits that she removed her own heart. Removing her feelings was the only way she could ignore her love for The Dark One and marry Henry for power. When Rumplestiltskin threatens to take her firstborn child, Cora reminds him that he changed the deal so he can only take his child by her. She regretfully tells Rumplestiltskin that she will never have his child.

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Cora realizes that time is running out as Rumplestiltskin's name continues fading from the dagger. She concentrates all of her magic on Emma's barrier, trying to break through.

David goes to the cemetery and finds Emma sitting outside the vault. He wonders what she's done and she admits that it isn't her.

Cora shatters the barrier and teleports Neal and Emma away with a wave of her hand. She then advances on Gold, who says that his visions of the future told him that this day would come. He tells Cora that his visions didn't reveal the one thing he wanted to know most, and asks if she ever loved him. Cora tells him that she had to remove her own heart because it was her only weakness, and the only thing that would make her give up power for love. She admits that Rumplestiltskin is the only man that she has ever loved and prepares to stab him with the dagger and take the Dark One's power. Before she can, Regina comes up behind her mother and shoves Cora's heart back into her chest. Cora drops the dagger and Rumplestiltskin's name appears on it, restored. Staring at her daughter, Cora hesitates and then gives a loving smile.

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Sometime later, Cora steps up before Xavier's court and presents baby Regina to the court. She smiles in satisfaction as the entire court bows before the child who will one day be their queen.

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Cora laughs in joy, smiling at Regina... and then clutches at her chest at Hook's wound on Gold appears there. Simultaneously the wound disappears from Gold as it transfers, and he picks up the dagger. Cora collapses and Regina holds her dying mother in her arms. With her dying breath, Cora tells her that Regina would have been enough. Regina asks Gold what happened but he warns her that Cora did her no favors. He assures her that he had nothing to do with what happened, just as Mary Margaret runs in, yelling at Regina to stop. She understands that she's too late and Regina realizes what Mary Margaret tricked her into doing.