Welcome to Once Upon A Time Observations — your weekly clues and connections guide through the ABC‘s fantasy series. This week we bite into “An Apple Red As Blood”.


The episode’s title clue is that of a hooded Snow White leading the seven dwarfs through the Enchanted forest of Enchantment, alluding to their role in the episode.


  • Talk about framing. The episode opens on a plate of apples as Reggie and Henry tuck into a hearty meal. This foreshadows the role that Regina’s poisonous fruit would later play in leaving the apple of her eye in mortal peril.
  • Of course, this turns out to be Regina’s dream, which might imply that she subconsciously detected that Henry might befall her evil plan.

  • Regina might be “evil” but she clearly has a conscience in there somewhere. Though her dream/nightmare can also be viewed as concern at losing her own ‘happy ending’.
  • Indeed, DreamGina reiterates her motivation for enacting the curse: “I just wanted to win, for Once”. Though dreams can be unreliable narrators, her confession can be taken as true.
  • The dream helps peel back the layers on Regina, as we’re allowed to view her majesty in more damaged light. We know that even Once Upon A Time concedes that evil isn’t born, so seeing her vulnerability helps contextualize the character, even if she ultimately doesn’t learn from it by the end of the episode.

  • Regina’s dream foresaw that her apple tree would rot, reinforcing Regina’s visceral attachment to the curse — she can almost feel it weakening.

  • Gold doesn’t seem concerned, he wants the curse to break. We also get confirmation that he “designed” the curse.
  • One of the “rules” of the curse is that Emma cannot be killed, otherwise the curse breaks. Gold implies that the rule can be changed with magic.
  • As for why Gold spins the globe? An allusion to his famous straw/plot spinning. It also mirrors the spinning force of the curse, not to mention Jefferson’s hat. Regina spins him right back towards the end of the episode.

  • Regina sticks a white rabbit playing card on Paige’s bicycle, leaving a message for the returning Jefferson. Of course, it was a white rabbit Regina tempted Jefferson with, leading to his separation from Grace in the first place.

  • Jefferson reveals that Regina changed Paige’s name to Grace. It’s Regina’s happy ending so she got to choose the new names. This also explains why she is one of the few characters to retain her original FTL name.
  • Regina says she can wake Grace up. We’ve seen moments where characters have begun to wake up (Graham, David), so it would be interesting to see how Regina would go about doing this.
  • However, Jefferson doesn’t want the same mad fate to befall his daughter:

“I want you to write us a new story, a fresh start, here.”

  • Not only is this apparent ability a powerful tool for Regina, it’s intriguingly close to pitting her as a kind of narrator within the story itself.

  • Regina unveils her iconic apple of doom that Hansel and Gretel retrieved from the Blind Witch in “True North“. At the time she said it was for a “wicked and powerful” enemy, emphasizing her contempt for Snow.

  • An allusion to LOST while conveying the notion of ‘mirror worlds’. Plus: Snow gets her ‘Mirror, Mirror..’ moment.

  • Regina and Snow transposed onto the same reflective canvass — illustrating Regina’s dominance in this situation, but also their intertwined story. As noted previously, Regina’s influence on young Snow helped shape her into the person she would become, and vice versa.

  • To return to the land that was, Reggie must first sacrifice the item that represents the memory of her true love, Daniel (once again love is portrayed as magic).
  • The magic is enough to “reach through and retrieve something”. Using her own memory, Reggie’s able to “guide the hat” to a specific moment in FTL past to bring back the apple of doom that she used to poison Snow.
  • Surely one of the most intriguing reveals of the first season; a skill not far removed from remote viewing, which ties into some of our suggestions in the previous Observations about memory being a mode of travel between realms.
  • It also brings into question the nature of FTL when based on memory. Could the hat could work on false memory? Can the hat be…tricked?

  • The result is an intersection, as Snow willingly eats the apple of doom — sending her into a deep, perpetual sleep — which Regina retrieves to use against Emma.
  • Predictably, Henry finds a way to notice the baked morsel, and does his best Grandmutha Mary impression — right down to the belated unfurling of the hand — metaphorically, joining her in the land of nod.
  • Of course, the mirroring also juxtaposition’s Regina and Emma as pigeon-holed representations of ‘good and evil’.

  • Did FTL Regina notice the apple falling down the Storybrooke hole? Probably not, otherwise present-day Regina would have known that her ‘future self’ had nabbed the apple. That said, this memory travel might be defined by different ‘rules’.
  • Gold puts forth the notion that Regina might have to sacrifice Henry in order to keep the curse unbroken. As touched on above, it’s possible that she was subconsciously prepared for Henry to eat the turnover of doom. It’s not made explicit in the episode, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be.
  • Gold wants the curse broken. We’ve speculated before whether he changed his mind about the curse once he realized that Baelfire doesn’t appear to be in this particular land without magic. Presumably, he wants the curse broken to continue his search.
  • While Rumples designed the curse, Regina enacted it. I’m still curious as to the relative power of both individuals. It seems they need each other in some respects, just like they did when evoking the curse — which does raise the question why Rumples couldn’t enact it himself? Perhaps he didn’t have a loved one to sacrifice? He does (in this episode) tell Regina that she no longer has anything that he wants, so perhaps her love for Daddy Henry (among other reasons) was why he ‘chose’ her?
  • Mary berates Emma for almost leaving without saying goodbye. Where does she get off? Anyone would think she’s her Mutha, or something.
  • Although we don’t see her specifically (thank goodness), Grumpy references Nova when saying he knows someone who can provide the gang with air support.
  • The simmering ‘attraction’ between Regina and David from “The Stranger” was born in FTL, as Regina acknowledges that Charming isn’t too shabby in the right light.
  • Regina throws up quite possibly the best line of the episode when posing the question to Charming: “I wonder if you’ll be quite so incorruptible after your precious Snow is gone?” It’s a fantastic question that bites into the core of Regina’s own downfall. It shows awareness from Regina, who is almost probing human (or fairytallie) nature.
  • Grumpy: “I miss stealthy”. Don’t we all, Grumpy, don’t we all. :(
  • It takes 1 billion fairies to only put a mild dent in George’s army? Really, Mother ‘Superior’?
  • August gives Henry a look “at the unvarnished truth” sending the squawking moppet into overdrive. Apparently, this is his first tangible confirmation of the curse. His relief at being right, serves to highlight that he was going out on a limb himself.
  • August’s answer for why he’s changing back — “I haven’t exactly been a good boy” — doesn’t exactly explain why he’s getting wood. Unless it  specifically has to do with breaking the terms of the deal with TBF.
  • If August dies perhaps Marco can make him into a chair, or something?
  • It was quite poignant seeing Regina and Snow going back to where it all began. The fact that Regina didn’t tell Snow that Daniel died changes the complexion of things slightly. Could things have been different if Regina had told her instead of punishing her for something she wasn’t even aware?
  • Regina says she lied to spare her feelings, which is debatable. I think she did it (largely) because it made it easier for her to hate Snow. She needed that hate. I imagine it became too much when Snow found happiness with Charming, hence trapping her in an endless sleep (Which, ironically, is a decent metaphor for the curse):

“Your body will be your tomb, and you’ll be in there without nothing but dreams formed from your own regrets.”

  • This also offers insight into what Henry is going through after eating the bake of doom. I can see it now, Henry trapped in a world filled with endless squawking!
  • Nice moment when Snow tells Regina: “you’ve won” before taking a MASSIVE bite into the apple (and probably sparing Henry from more damage).
  • Charming feeling the vibrations from the Fall of Snow was rather melodramatic, but the moment does bring the story full circle, though there are some more gaps to be filled.
  • I appreciate the show’s desire to illustrate the notion of sacrifice, but as with the faith themes, it felt verbally forced. I think the actions of the characters conveyed the idea fine enough.

Previously on Once Upon A Time Observations: 1.20 “The Stranger”

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  1. Groupsrv says

    Grumpy: “Uh, Red, you’ve got something on your chin.”

    It sounded more like “Uh, Red, you’ve got someone on your chin”. I enjoyed this version much more

    Like: Thumb up 5

  2. Virginia says

    A few things:

    “it was a white rabbit Regina sold to Jefferson that led to his separation from Grace in the first place”
    EQ didn’t actually sell the rabbit to Jefferson in the episode. She asked for more money than he could pay just to see him squirm, and Grace told her father she didn’t really need it after all.

    I don’t necessarily believe that Regina really has the power to do all the things she’s been promising Jefferson, or that she was even in control of the new names. She kept her own name because she retained her awareness when the curse struck – and it seems anyone else who retained their awareness also retained their names. If Regina chose the new names, how in the world could she have known the significance of “Mary” and “Margaret” to Snow, if only Red and Granny knew of those? Nope. I think Regina’s completely BSing Jefferson in order to get what she wants. It’s why she’s so happy he simply wants “to forget”, because she can just hit him with a memory charm (assuming she has any magic left to do so at this point) and make him forget he even asked her for anything in the first place.

    Agreed with Groupsrv and Lucy that Grumpy said “someone” on your chin, not “something”.

    Like: Thumb up 1

    • Virginia says

      Also, I don’t think Regina needed to bake the WHOLE APPLE into a turnover. She could have just used a piece of it in a tart or something, and achieved the same effect while retaining the rest of the apple for any future use. Huge waste of magical resources, Reggie!

      Like: Thumb up 0

    • Sherr says

      Agree on the white rabbit and “someone” on Red’s chin comments.

      I also tend to agree with you about the naming of Storybrooke citizens. It seems to me they must have been pre-assigned by Rumpel in the design of the Curse, rather than by Regina. In “That Still Small Voice,” when Jiminy brought some pilfered loot to Rumpel, he also brought a list of the names to whom the items had belonged. I got the impression those names were more valuable to Rumpel than the loot he paid for. Then in “True North,” Gold was able to give Emma the name of the owner of the broken compass, who was the father of Hansel & Gretel in FTL, from a blank file card. How or why would Gold/Rumpel have known mechanic Michael Tillman unless he sold the compass to his FTL counterpart?

      Possibly, Jefferson would believe that Regina gave the name Paige to his daughter Grace just because she’s the one who unleashed the Curse, and it wouldn’t be entirely false of Regina to take credit for it.

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