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"Desperate Souls" is the eighth episode of the first season of the American Fairy Tale/Drama television series Once Upon a Time. It was written by consulting producer Jane Espenson, and was directed by Michael Waxman. Espenson wrote it to give viewers some "crucial facts" about Rumpelstiltskin's origins. Guest stars included Brad Dourif, Giancarlo Esposito, Beverley Elliott, Ty Olsson, Meghan Ory, and Dylan Schmid.

The series takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, in which the residents are actually characters from various fairy tales that were transported to the "real world" town by a powerful curse. In this episode, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) runs for Sheriff against Regina's (Lana Parrilla) candidate, Sidney Glass (Esposito). Meanwhile, in the episode's flashbacks, Rumpelstiltskin's (Robert Carlyle) backstory is revealed.

Plot

In Storybrooke

It has been two weeks since Sheriff Graham's (Jamie Dornan) death, and the citizens of Storybrooke continue to mourn. Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) convinces Emma (Jennifer Morrison) she ought to be sheriff, but Regina (Lana Parrilla) has already appointed Sidney Glass (Giancarlo Esposito) for the job. Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) suspects Regina is responsible for Graham's death and starts to believe good cannot defeat evil because good plays by the rules. Mr. Gold offers Emma his support and reveals to her the town charter which states the Mayor can only choose a candidate for Sheriff and therefore an election must be held. Emma decides to run so Regina declares Sidney Glass will as well. Henry becomes worried when he finds out Mr. Gold is Emma's benefactor, considering how dangerous it is to owe him one favor, let alone two. Regina is furious that Mr. Gold would run against her.

Mr. Gold's plan was to set a fire at the Mayor's house with Emma there, knowing her conscience would force her to save Regina and look like a hero. This goes off perfectly, making Emma the town favorite going into the debate. When she finds out that Mr. Gold did this, Emma realizes Henry might be right about evil not playing by the rules. At the debate, Sidney explains what would make him the best sheriff following Regina's script to the letter. Emma reveals to the public that Mr. Gold set the fire, demonstrating her own honesty and integrity as well as Mr. Gold's ruthlessness. Later that evening at Granny's Cafe, Emma consoles herself with liquor when Henry walks in with the walkie talkies, saying that he was proud of her and they might continue "Operation Cobra." Regina, Archie (Raphael Sbarge), Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Sidney arrive to tell Emma she was elected Sheriff. Regina gives her the badge and admits they have one thing in common: their distrust of Mr. Gold. Emma receives a visit from her new ally who reveals the rest of his plan. Mr. Gold knew Emma would do the right thing and tell everyone what he did, winning her the election. He also tells her that while the town feared Regina, they feared him more. In standing up to him, Emma became even more compelling to the townsfolk than when she rescued Regina. Now that Emma is Sheriff, Gold expects to be paid back for his favors.

In the Characters' Pasts

In the Enchanted Forest, Rumpelstiltskin's (Carlyle) backstory is revealed. During the ogre wars, children are conscripted to military service at age 14. The Duke's men gather young soldiers with the help of "The Dark One" who possesses great magical power. Rumpelstiltskin's son, Baelfire (Dylan Schmid), will turn 14 in three days and he is desperate to keep his child out of battle. As father and son flee from the village, they are confronted by the Duke's men. They mock Rumpelstiltskin for running away when he was supposed to serve, and reveal that his cowardice caused his wife to leave him. Rumpelstiltskin begs for his son's life but he has nothing to offer but loyalty. The Duke's chief soldier commands Rumpelstiltskin to kiss his boot, but when the desperate man bends down the soldier kicks him to the ground. The old beggar (Brad Dourif) by the side of the road sees this and offers the pair assistance since they spared him a coin. The beggar tells Rumpelstiltskin a secret, the Duke possesses a dagger that allows him to command The Dark One and all his power. If Rumpelstiltskin steals the dagger, he will control The Dark One himself. If he kills The Dark One with the dagger, he will possess his magic. Rumpelstiltskin sets fire to the Duke's castle (in a parallel with Mr. Gold's actions) and steals the dagger which reads the name of The Dark One, "Zoso."

Baelfire is worried about his father's plan to wield the dagger's power but Rumpelstiltskin just sends him home. Rumpelstiltskin summons Zoso and declares he is The Dark One's master. Zoso is not impressed and wonders aloud what the timid little man would have him do. Rumpelstiltskin's answer "Die!" He kills The Dark One who reveals himself to be the beggar from before. Zoso laughs and tells Rumpelstiltskin that "All magic comes with a price." Rumpelstiltskin becomes the new Dark One and his name is now inscribed on the dagger. He returns home and uses his power to save his son from the Duke's men. Baelfire is terrified of this man who no longer seems like his father at all.

Gallery

Production

Portrait of Jane Espenson

Consulting producer Jane Espenson wrote "Desperate Souls," her second such credit for the series.

"Desperate Souls" was written by consulting producer Jane Espenson, while Friday Night Lights veteran Michael Waxman served as director. The episode was Espenson's second writing credit for the series at that point.[1][2] She intended the episode to reveal "some crucial facts about where Rumpel comes from," believing him to be "a wild card" whose "ulterior motives are still always very complicated."[3]

"Desperate Souls" partly deals with the aftermath of Sheriff Graham's death from the previous episode. Though her character is associated with evil, actress Lana Parrilla attempted to keep Regina as human as possible. She clarified, "You will see how there is a genuine love and care for Graham…There was a physical connection to the character. He did become sort of a boy toy in both worlds. But, you know, at the end of the day, in Storybrooke, she’s still trying to fill this void that Maleficent warned her about." Leading up to the episode broadcast, Parrilla also gave a preview of what viewers could expect. Of the episode's plot, she explained, "We will be seeing some dirty politics between Regina and Mr. Gold. You’re going to see how threatening that is to Regina, and, as you know, she really takes on these challenges full force."[4]

In early October 2011, TV Guide reported that actor Brad Dourif would be making a guest appearance as a "beggar who befriends evil Rumpelstiltskin."[5] Other guest stars included Meghan Ory as Ruby, Patti Allan as Miss Ginger, Beverley Elliott as Granny, Giancarlo Esposito as Sidney, Dylan Schmid as Baelfire, Conner Dwelly as Morraine, Ty Olsson as Hordor, Michael Phenicie as The Duke (scenes deleted), C. Ernst Harth as Burly Man, David-Paul Grove as Doc, and Gabe Khouth as Mr. Clark.[2] The episode was included in Reawakened: A Once Upon a Time Tale – a novelization of the first season – which was published by Hyperion Books in 2013.[6][7]

Cultural References

Morraine, BaelFire and the Dark One are inspired by the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. A large Mickey Mouse figurine and small Minnie Mouse figurine are visible during Emma's confrontation with Gold over the fire. Zoso, the name of the Dark One, is a reference to the band Led Zeppelin, as it is a nickname for the guitarist Jimmy Page.

References

External links

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Media
Shows: Once Upon a TimeOnce Upon a Time in Wonderland

Books: Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the QueenReawakened: A Once Upon a Time TaleOnce Upon a Time - Behind the MagicOnce Upon a Time: Out of the PastOnce Upon a Time: Red's Untold TaleOnce Upon a Time: Regina Rising
Special Bonus: Good Morning Storybrooke • Three Who Stayed • Tales From The Underworld: A Knight With Cruella

Characters
Once Upon a Time: Emma SwanSnow White/Mary Margaret BlanchardPrince Charming/David NolanRumplestiltskin/Mr. GoldEvil Queen/Regina Mills/RoniBelle/Lacey FrenchKillian Jones/HookHenry MillsHappySneezy/Tom ClarkBashfulDocDopeySleepy/WalterJiminy Cricket/Archie HopperStealthyVictor Frankenstein/Dr. WhaleAuroraPrince PhillipFa MulanBlue FairyWidow Lucas/GrannyKing George/Albert SpencerGenie/Magic Mirror/Sidney GlassMad Hatter/JeffersonMilahPrince Henry/The ValetMaid MarianKnave of HeartsSheriff of Nottingham/KeithFairy GodmotherPeter Pan/Malcolm/Pied PiperWendy DarlingArielZelena/The Wicked Witch of the WestGlinda/The Good Witch of the SouthThe Wizard of Oz/WalshElsa the Snow QueenAnnaKristoffHansGrand PabbieSvenTinker BellBlackbeardLumièreAbigail/Kathryn NolanUrsulaRed Riding Hood/The Wolf/RubyHuntsman/Sheriff GrahamBaelfire/Neal CassidyPinocchio/August W. BoothFrederick/JimSevere NurseMayor TomkinsQuinnAnitaHansel and Gretel/Nicholas and Ava ZimmerThe Woodcutter/Michael TillmanMartinMyrnaStephenDonnaPrince JamesJackBlind WitchKing XavierPeterSirenPongoAntonWilliam SmeeDorothy GaleThe Witch of the EastGastonGreg MendellTamaraGeppetto/MarcoThe DragonRapunzelThe King/Mitchell HermanRapunzel's MotherRapunzel's FatherKing LeopoldQueen EvaLost BoysJohn DarlingMichael DarlingThe ShadowThe Sheriff of HamelinKing MidasNanaMary DarlingGeorge DarlingMedusaGus/BillyMarshmallowZosoPrince Thomas/Sean HermanPrince EricLittle Bo PeepThe ApprenticeIngrid/Sarah FisherLily PageNovaSeerGraceDaniel ColterLancelotColetteStephenLiam JonesOakenThe King of ArendelleQueen GerdaCruella De VilPoseidonThe Duke of WeseltonHans' BrothersChernabogBriar RoseKing StefanIsaac/The AuthorMadelineMerlin/The SorcererMeridaQueen EleanorKing FergusHarris, Hubert and HamishThe WitchLord MacGuffinLord MacintoshLord DingwallRuthKing ArthurSir KayGuinevereCharonBrennan JonesMegaraHerculesHadesCerberusThe ScarecrowTotoCleo FoxAuntie EmDr. JekyllMr. HydeEvil ReginaTom SawyerAladdinGideonJasmineIagoCaptain NemoLady TremaineClorindaTisbeJacobOracleRoyal GuardsThe SultanGenieBlack FairyTiger LilyRobertPrince AchmedStanumCowardly LionLucyTiana

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: AliceCyrusAnastasia/The Red QueenPercy/The White RabbitJabberwockySilvermistThe Sultan/The Old PrisonerTweedle Dee and Tweedle DumMrs. RabbitElizabeth/LizardAmara
Both series: Will Scarlet/The Knave of HeartsCinderella/Ashley BoydRobin HoodLittle JohnFriar TuckGrumpy/LeroyCora/The Queen of HeartsCaterpillarMaleficentJafarDr. Lydgate

Episodes
Season One: "Pilot" • "The Thing You Love Most" • "Snow Falls" • "The Price of Gold" • "That Still Small Voice" • "The Shepherd" • "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" • "Desperate Souls" • "True North" • "7:15 A.M." • "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" • "Skin Deep" • "What Happened to Frederick" • "Dreamy" • "Red-Handed" • "Heart of Darkness" • "Hat Trick" • "The Stable Boy" • "The Return" • "The Stranger" • "An Apple Red as Blood" • "A Land Without Magic"

Season Two: "Broken" • "We Are Both" • "Lady of the Lake" • "The Crocodile" • "The Doctor" • "Tallahassee" • "Child of the Moon" • "Into the Deep" • "Queen of Hearts" • "The Cricket Game" • "The Outsider" • "In the Name of the Brother" • "Tiny" • "Manhattan" • "The Queen Is Dead" • "The Miller's Daughter" • "Welcome to Storybrooke" • "Selfless, Brave and True" • "Lacey" • "The Evil Queen" • "Second Star to the Right" • "And Straight On 'Til Morning"
Season Three: "The Heart of the Truest Believer" • "Lost Girl" • "Quite a Common Fairy" • "Nasty Habits" • "Good Form" • "Ariel" • "Dark Hollow" • "Think Lovely Thoughts" • "Save Henry" • "The New Neverland" • "Going Home" • "New York City Serenade" • "Witch Hunt" • "The Tower" • "Quiet Minds" • "It's Not Easy Being Green" • "The Jolly Roger" • "Bleeding Through" • "A Curious Thing" • "Kansas" • "Snow Drifts" • "There's No Place Like Home"
Season Four: "A Tale of Two Sisters" • "White Out" • "Rocky Road" • "The Apprentice" • "Breaking Glass" • "Family Business" • "The Snow Queen" • "Smash the Mirror" • "Fall" • "Shattered Sight" • "Heroes and Villains" • "Darkness on the Edge of Town" • "Unforgiven" • "Enter the Dragon" • "Poor Unfortunate Soul" • "Best Laid Plans" • "Heart of Gold" • "Sympathy for the De Vil" • "Lily" • "Mother" • "Operation Mongoose"
Season Five: "The Dark Swan" • "The Price" • "Siege Perilous" • "The Broken Kingdom" • "Dreamcatcher" • "The Bear and the Bow" • "Nimue" • "Birth" • "The Bear King" • "Broken Heart" • "Swan Song" • "Souls of the Departed" • "Labor of Love" • "Devil's Due" • "The Brothers Jones" • "Our Decay" • "Her Handsome Hero" • "Ruby Slippers" • "Sisters" • "Firebird" • "Last Rites" • "Only You" • "An Untold Story"
Season Six: "The Savior" • "A Bitter Draught" • "The Other Shoe" • "Strange Case" • "Street Rats" • "Dark Waters" • "Heartless" • "I'll Be Your Mirror" • "Changelings" • "Wish You Were Here" • "Tougher Than the Rest" • "Murder Most Foul • "Ill-Boding Patterns" • "Page 23" • "A Wondrous Place" • "Mother's Little Helper" • "Awake" • "Where Bluebirds Fly" • "The Black Fairy" • "The Song in Your Heart" • "The Final Battle"
Season Seven: "Hyperion Heights" • "A Pirate's Life"• "The Garden of Forking Paths" • "Beauty" • "Greenbacks"

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: "Down the Rabbit Hole" • "Trust Me" • "Forget Me Not" • "The Serpent" • "Heart of Stone" • "Who's Alice?" • "Bad Blood" • "Home" • "Nothing to Fear" • "Dirty Little Secrets" • "Heart of the Matter" • "To Catch a Thief" • "And They Lived..."

Locations
Once Upon a Time: Boston, MassachusettsDark PalaceDark Castle/Rumplestiltskin's CastleLibraryPrince Thomas' CastleCinderella's ChateauDwarves' CottageDwarf MinesNew YorkKing Stefan's CastleThe BeanstalkGiant's LairNeverland Skull RockHamelinMaritime CastleRapunzel's TowerVault of the Dark OneLand of OzYellow Brick RoadEmerald CityGolden CastleArendelleArendelle CastleWandering Oaken's Trading Post and SaunaBald MountainRing of StonesDunBrochWitch's CottageCastle DunBrochUnderworldMount OlympusPoppy FieldsAuntie's Chicken & WafflesCave of WondersPleasure IslandSeattleHyperion Heights

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Wonderland CastleThe Mad Hatter's HouseWhite Rabbit's HouseUnderlandTulgey Wood
Both series: StorybrookeMaineEnchanted ForestForbidden FortressWonderlandWonderland MazeAgrabahSherwood ForestThe Sultan's Palace

Objects
Once Upon a Time: Once Upon a Time (Book)Maleficent's StaffMagic WandGlass SlipperPoisoned AppleSpinning WheelMagic LampDark One's DaggerChipped CupJefferson's HatCaptain Hook's HooksMagic BeansEnchanted CandlePixie DustDreamshadePied Piper's PipePandora's BoxSilver SlippersSorcerer HatEnchanted BroomTridentEnchanted ShellHeroes and Villains (Book)Merida's BowMagical RoseExcaliburOlympian CrystalCinderella's DressGolden Scarab Beetle

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Vorpal Blade
Both series: Jafar's Snake StaffEnchanted HeartsJafar's Lamp

Songs Featured
Give a Little WhistleHeigh-HoWith a Smile and a SongBeauty and the BeastPart of Your WorldFathoms BelowCruella De VilSome Day My Prince Will Come

Original Songs: Powerful MagicThe Queen SingsLove Doesn’t Stand a ChanceRevenge Is Gonna Be MineWicked Always WinsCharming vs. Evil QueenEmma's ThemeA Happy Beginning

Vehicles
Geppetto's BoatThe Jolly RogerMagic CarpetRoyal ShipCruella's carNautilus
Species
FairiesUnicornsDragonsBridge TrollsWraithOgresMermaidsKrakenFlying MonkeysRock TrollsWill O' the WispsFuriesMunchkins