"Heartless" is the seventh episode of the sixth season of ABC's Once Upon a Time and the one-hundredth and eighteenth episode of the series overall. It aired on November 6, 2016. It was written by Jane Espenson and directed by Ralph Hemecker.
In a flashback to the Enchanted Forest, Bandit Snow dodges a bounty hunter known as the Woodcutter while shepherd David goes on a fateful journey to sell his family’s farm. In Storybrooke, the Evil Queen threatens to destroy the town and everyone in it unless Snow and David surrender their hearts. As Emma, Hook and Henry prepare to defend Storybrooke, Snow, David and Regina search for a magical sapling created by the first spark of true love. Regina uses Gold’s and the Evil Queen’s burgeoning romance against them, and Zelena offers Belle some friendly advice.
Wilby walks through the forest.
In the Character's Past
Snow White, hunted by the Evil Queen but not yet a bandit, sells her last heirloom to a nobleman for a pittance, only for him to betray her to the Woodcutter, a bounty hunter whom she fights off with help from the Blue Fairy. Having saved enough money to buy passage on a ship, Snow plans to head for the port city of Longborn. At the same time, Ruth sends David to Longborn to sell their farm, as they lack the resources to maintain it. Disguised as a peddler, the Woodcutter drugs David in order to use his sheep dog, Wilby, to track Snow, whom he captures. When David comes to, Wilby leads him to the Woodcutter's wagon; Snow, locked inside, advises David to run. He instead tries to break the lock with a rock, but is interrupted by the Woodcutter's return. They fight, and the Woodcutter bashes a hole in the wagon, enabling Snow to hold back the Woodcutter's arm so David can kill him. Snow tells David that it would be safest for him to never see her face, so he hands the key through the hole. David's faith in Snow's resourcefulness convinces her that she can live by her wits and stay in her own kingdom; hearing that David is in need of money, she gives him her savings as a reward. As their hands touch, a magical spark gives birth to a sapling into the soil at David's feet.
In the present day, Snow is waking up in the middle of the night, and finds herself in the middle of the woods when the Evil Queen emerges from behind a tree, reminding her of how lucky she has been, only to remind Snow that she still desires her heart, and with David having the other half, the Evil Queen tells Snow that she'll acquire it too for a “little bit more.” She gives Snow a mysterious potion and disappears, Snow then shows Regina the potion, and identifies it as water from the River of Lost Souls. Regina believes the Evil Queen obtained it from Gold as a part of a plan to destroy the whole town. Mother Superior believes that a magical sapling could be powerful enough to entrap the Evil Queen, and Regina hatches a plan by sending a note to Zelena demanding that she meets her other half at Gold's Pawn Shop.
Earlier on, the Evil Queen promised Zelena that there was nothing going on between her and Gold, but when Zelena stops by the Pawn Shop, she catches the Evil Queen and Gold kissing, just as Regina planned. Around the same time as it turned out they were using this moment to their advantage, Mother Superior enacts a spell that should help Snow, David, and Regina get to the sapling. It leads them to a trap door in the ground, and they hop right in. As Snow and David find the sapling, they both touch it and the history of their love flashes back right before their eyes, only to have The Evil Queen appear to steal the sapling, snaps it in half, and vows to destroy Storybrooke if they don't surrender their hearts. At the vault, Hook calms Emma down bout her hand tremors & he uses Henry's storybook to make Emma feel better and to remind her that her parents’ love can overcome any obstacle "always found found each other", as she grows worried about her parents' fate and (possibly her visions); and how Emma inherited the strength of that love. “You can overcome these visions. You can overcome anything,” he assures her. “Remember who you are, the product of true love” — at which moment her hand stabilized.
Later on at the cemetery, the Evil Queen gathers the town to tell them her plan to kill them all, if Snow and David don’t appear in the next few minutes, but just as Emma is ready to fight, the couple arrives and asks Regina to lift her protection spell from them, allowing The Evil Queen rips out their hearts and holding them in her hands, declaring that killing them would not be easy enough and that she wants them to feel her loneliness. She thrusts their hearts back in, and Snow quickly passes out. The Evil Queen calls it a sleeping curse “with a twist,” and makes Snow’s body disappear, then taunts David to go find her, he searches Snow out at the loft & leading him to run towards the woods and he finds her asleep in a fallen tree. Snow is awoken by true love’s kiss, but after David zonks out, he falls onto the ground. The Evil Queen used the sleeping curse by spreading it across both of their hearts, meaning that one will always be asleep while the other is awake.
Finally, after Zelena told Belle at the cemetery about the Evil Queen and Gold having a kiss, Belle visits Gold at the Pawn Shop, and although she isn't concerned about him being involved with the Evil Queen, she is incensed and furious over the fact that Gold would acquire the Fates' Shears with The Evil Queen's involvement. Belle warns Gold that she'll forbid him to change their unborn child for his own selfish reasons. After she leaves, Gold becomes furious with Zelena, and isn't too happy about it.