Season 1, Episode 13:
What Happened to Frederick
Emma: Maybe. Or maybe I'll find out the truth before everyone else.
In the Enchanted Forest, Prince Charming decides to do a favor for his ex-fiancee, by helping to restore her true love: Frederick.
Meanwhile, in Storybrooke, Emma gets to know "the stranger" a bit more, and the problems of Mary Margaret, David and Kathryn come to a head.
- Absentee Actor: Rumpelstiltskin doesn't show up in any capacity this episode.
- Blessed with Suck: Anything King Midas touches turns into gold, so when his daughter's fiancee pushes Midas to safety, he's reduced to a gold statue. This is exactly why Midas tries to stay covered and wear gloves at all times.
- Brick Joke: After the town finds out about Mary Margaret's affair with David, someone spray-paints "Tramp!" on her car and she is exasperated, wondering who would do such a thing. Towards the end of the episode, we casually see a used can of red spray paint in Regina's desk drawer.
- Cliffhanger: Two different sorts. The Enchanted Forest segments end with Red and Charming, having just figured out King George is behind Snow White breaking up with her prince, suddenly having to flee when George and his men appear. The Storybrooke segments end with Kathryn, having decided to leave town for Boston and start a new life, having an accident at the town line and disappearing from her car, all while Regina burns her note to David to hide her decision.
- Complete-the-Quote Title: In-story rather than to something from Real Life media—the title finishes a phrase from all the way back when King Midas gave a warning as he prepared to demonstrate his curse: "Remember what happened to Frederick." It's here, of course, that that Belated Backstory is finally revealed.
- Cruel to Be Kind: Ultimately this is why the affair got out so poorly. David's unwillingness to hurt anyone ended up hurting everyone.
- Dramatic Irony:
- Just before confronting (and slapping) Mary Margaret, Kathryn accidentally runs into the gym coach at school; he's later the one to find her abandoned car when she disappears. Meanwhile in the Enchanted Forest, when Charming breaks the gold spell and his helmet is removed, he's revealed to be Frederick, Abigail's true love.
- Abigail sadly tells Charming that one of the worst things you can ever experience is to be without love (whether that of family or romance). In Storybrooke, Kathryn finds out from David that he no longer loves her (and was in fact having an affair), and learns the second part from Regina, her supposed best friend who had known for some time but kept the truth from her, leaving her alone and unloved. She also admits to realizing her life and love with David were "just an illusion" (referencing what the Siren tempted Charming with)...to the very person whose curse had created it and forced it on her.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: When David discovers that Kathryn found out about the affair, his first instinct is to wonder who told her. Mary Margaret rightly points out that he should have told her in the first place.
- Enthralling Siren: One appears guarding Lake Nostos. Rather than singing, she takes the form of Snow White to seduce David.
- Everybody Knew Already: When Mary Margret shamefully admits to Emma that she's been having an affair with David, Emma is far from surprised.Emma: Because...I'm sheriff, and you are a love-sick school teacher. Covering your tracks is not exactly your strong suit.Mary Margaret Blanchard: Oh, I've been discr...discreet.Emma: Two teacups in the sink, new perfume, late nights, plunging necklines—it was not hard to connect the dots.
- Considering how much the wishing well plays into the story in the season finale (and especially the rest of the show), it's amazing how innocuously it gets introduced here. It also allows a fun cryptic clue about August's real identity when he says he never lies, sets up for its connection to Lake Nostos through the legend on the plaque, and is the first means by which August attempts to work on Emma's belief through having an open mind.
- Once again, when Kathryn asks Regina about having had love, her reaction calls ahead to "The Stable Boy."
- Funny Background Event: As Emma goes into Granny's diner after finding out August's name, one can see a "No Dogs Allowed" sign on the door...or maybe that's "No Wolves Allowed."
- Foil: Once again, the difference between David and Charming are made clear. Charming was brave and noble, willing to help the woman he didn't love out of selflessness. David meanwhile can't be honest with the same woman (cursed) when he says their marriage is over.'
- Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Near the end of the episode, when Charming and Red compare notes about what Snow had told him versus her intended reason for going to the castle, Red thinks something changed her mind. Grimly, Charming responds, "Not something...someone." And then who should come riding up with his men but King George...
- Love Hurts: Ultimately, this is why Charming beat out the Siren. He wants a real love that can hurt sometimes rather than constant affections.
- Meaningful Echo: Abigail tells Charming that one of the worst things you can ever experience is to be without love. Ironically, Regina said something very close to this all the way back in "Snow Falls", when her machinations to bring Kathryn and David back together left Mary Margaret the one isolated without love.
- Not So Different: Abigail has no intention of marrying Charming (and vice versa!) and if it helps her get her true love back, then she'll help Charming get his back.
- Once More, with Clarity!: Last time we saw Charming in the flashbacks, he randomly rode up to the farmhouse where Snow had been hiding, with no explanation as to how he found the place (other than their exchange of birds) or why he was suddenly pursuing her instead of simply accepting her supposed lack of love for him. This time we get to see the scene again in context—having fled George's men to escape the loveless marriage he didn't want, and snuck to freedom in Midas's kingdom thanks to Abigail, he has been galvanized to find Snow by the Siren's temptation and restoring Frederick. And the extra dialogue with Red that wasn't in the first iteration of the scene allows him to figure out the deception and George's part in it, hence his pursuit of Snow that carries on into "Heart of Darkness".
- Rule of Symbolism: The presence of a Siren in this episode relates to the overall theme. 'Siren song' is an expression used to describe something that seems like an attractive idea but will ultimately lead to disaster. In this case, the siren song is David lying to Kathryn once again to spare her feelings. She eventually finds out about the affair and it makes things worse for everyone.
- Sexy Soaked Shirt: The Siren emerges from the water wearing a soaking wet dress as part of her seduction.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: This is sadly the last appearance of Abigail in the flashbacks, so we never find out why King Midas didn't appear in Storybrooke, what happened once Frederick was freed, or what their kingdom thought of the Dark Curse. We never see Frederick in Storybrooke again, although Abigail/Kathryn does pop up in the Season 3 finale. All that can really be assumed is that once the curse was broken, the two of them got back together again like all the other divided couples. The authors confirmed on Twitter that they're living happily in Kathryn's house.
- Worthy Opponent: After he resists her spell because of his desire for real love and not an illusion, the Siren compliments Charming on being the first to do so...just before tackling and trying to drown him.
- You Just Told Me: A rare example where neither side intended this, even though one side would have if she'd been aware of the need—Kathryn tells Regina that David broke up with her without saying why and Regina, assuming David told her everything, drops the bombshell about the affair with Mary Margaret. So she ends up hurting Mary Margaret after all, but unintentionally. Even more ironically, the fact she does this (proving she'd known of the truth for some time) and actually has the evidence in her desk turns Kathryn against Regina for a time (which, if she'd intended the 'accidental' reveal, would have been a nice backfire for her).