"Once Upon a Time" The Shepherd (TV Episode 2011) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • David - aka John Doe - must choose between staying with Kathryn or leaving her to be with Mary Margaret, with whom he's fallen deeply, and inexplicably, in love; and Emma catches Sheriff Graham in a lie. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale world that was, Prince Charming is about to encounter a life-changing event that will forever alter his destiny.

  • David is caught between his feelings for Mary Margaret and his marriage to Kathryn, as flashbacks detail information about Charming's life.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • David Nolan is with his 'wife' Kathryn (Abigail, in the fairy tale) and she is showing him their house. She comments about an old windmill on the front lawn that he disliked very much. Everyone is waiting inside for him (a surprise Welcome Home party). As David works through the crowd of guests, he does not remember anyone except for people he met after he woke up from his coma. Nolan's doctor, Dr. Whale, is also at the party. Henry tells Emma that the reason David (John Doe) does not remember anything is because the curse is not working on him yet. His 'false' memories has not set in yet. Henry tells Emma they have to jog Davids memory so he remembers he is Prince Charming. David comes over and Henry asks him if he ever used a sword, which he laughs about. Alone in the kitchen, Davids wife Kathryn, is upset because she feels like she still does not have her husband back. She confides in Regina about the matter. Regina tells her she shares a similar experience of losing a lover, who is now dead. Regina mentions that Kathryn is lucky that David is still alive, as they will have another chance to reconcile - Regina tells her to go to back to her husband at the party. As Kathryn goes back to the party and looks for David, he has already left.

    Meanwhile David walks over to Mary Margarets house and asks her why she did not come back to the hospital (as a volunteer), and if he was the reason she resigned from the hospital. Mary Margaret tells him he is married. David tells her he is choosing her, and not his wife Kathryn.

    Back in the fairytale Prince Charming (James) is fighting a brute and he wins, supposedly killing his enemy. His father (King George) and the rest of the court who were watching him all congratulate him. Prince James' father makes a deal with King Midas for gold and other riches, if Prince James can kill the dragon that terrorizes his village. As Prince Charming stands and speaks of plans to slay the dragon, the brute who he thought he had killed, drives a lance through Prince Charming's back and out his chest.

    The dead Prince James is taken away as his father says goodbye. The knights tell King George they must move fast to kill the dragon, or else Midas will find another dragon slayer. In turn, the King would lose what Midas promised to him (gold, prosperity) in exchange for slaying the dragon. The King tells the knights he already called for help. Rumpelstiltskin shows up and says "nice way to treat a gift I gave to you" (refering to the dead Prince James). It is revealed that Rumpelstiltskin found the child (Prince James) for the King because he and his wife could not have children. The King wants another deal, he tells Rumpelstiltskin he will give him anything if he brings his son back to kill the dragon ailing Midas. In return, Rumpelstiltskin tells the King he wants the magic wand owned by the Fairy God Mother (who often helps out the King), demanding her whereabouts. The King agrees, but Rumpelstiltskin tells the King the dead can not be resurrected and the King is upset because they had an agreement to have Prince James to slay the dragon. Rumpelstiltskin reveals to the King that Prince James has a twin brother, and will have him slay the dragon in place of the dead Prince James.

    Back in Storybrooke Mary Margaret is washing the dishes and talking to Emma. She is too focused on what David said about choosing her, and not his wife, Kathryn. Emma tells her to stop cleaning and have a drink. Emma tells Mary Margaret if she thinks doing something is wrong (being with a married man), then it is. She tells Mary Margaret to let David figure out his life.

    David is looking through his pictures and Kathryn tells him he looks different, that he always use to have a buzz cut. His wife tries to convince him to go to bed. David asks her if they can sit and talk some more. They share a kiss but David pulls her away and tells her it is not right.

    Going back to the fairytale, the slain Prince James' twin brother (the Shepherd) is chasing a goat as his mother returns from the market. His mother tells him she had an interesting talk with the grain merchant. He has a daughter that would make a good match because she has a big dowry and it will save their farm. He insists that true love is the one thing he can not afford to sacrifice, and that when he chooses to marry, it would be for love. Rumpelstiltskin shows up and his mother tells him she gave his twin brother to Rumpelstiltskin (for King George) in order to save the farm. He asks Rumpel what he wants, and he tells him that the King needs someone to slay a dragon. He tells Rumpel he is not a dragon slayer. Rumpel tells him if he succeeds in slaying the dragon, his mother shall never want for another thing in her life, and he will be the conquering hero.

    Mary Margaret is at the restaurant and the Doctor shows up and asks if she quit the volunteer position at the hospital because of him (refering to their less-than-spectuacluar date). The Doctor leaves just as Regina shows up to talk to Mary Margaret about David. She tells Mary Margaret that David and her do not belong together. Regina tells Mary Margaret, David left his wife and she should stay away because he is fragile and Mary Margaret is close to destroying many lives.

    In the fairytale, King Midas comes up to Prince James (who is now the twin) and tells him if he kills the dragon he will be a legend. Prince James is nervous because he does not know how to fight with a sword, or being a knight - let alone slaying a dragon. The Knights tell him to stay out of the cave as they will take care of killing the dragon. Even though Prince James may not literally slay the dragon himself, as long as Midas sees the head of the slain dragon will be sufficient to save the kingdom.

    As Prince James and the Knights walk to the dragons lair high up the mountains, they pass many burning bones and ashes of past dragon slayers who were unsuccessful. Although Prince Charming is supposed to stay out of the caves (need him to be alive), he couldn't stand around having several knights dying and to not help them in slaying the dragon. He runs towards the dragons lair as the dragon flies around and spits fire. James manages to save the Head Knight out of the cave and drags him to safety behind a stone. The dragon spots Prince James and starts going after him. He grabs a sword, runs to entrap the dragon's neck in a narrow cave, and chops its head off with the golden sword.

    David shows up at Mary Margarets classroom and she is upset that he left his wife. He tells Mary Margaret his wife Kathryn needs someone to feel for her like he feels for Mary Margaret. David tells her he wants her. He asks Mary Margaret to meet him at the toll bridge, where she found him, at 8 p.m. The scene cuts to the station where the Sheriff brings Emma donuts and asks her to work that night for him. He volunteers at an animal shelter and needs to feed the dogs for the shelter's supervisor who is sick.

    Mary Margaret shows up at the station and tells Emma that David left his wife Kathryn. She tells Emma he wants to meet her that night. She asks Emma what to do and Emma tells her to go and meet him because David has made a choice.

    The King tells King Midas that his son has slayed the dragon. Midas tells the Prince they respect him because of what he did. Midas tells them he does not think small, as he thinks big and then they bring in a girl who Midas introduces as his daughter, Abigail. He tells them he values her more than gold and he wants to offer her hand in marriage to the Prince. The one who slays the dragon also means he is worthy to marry Midas' daughter and unite kingdoms. Prince James is humbled but begins to decline the offer, his 'father' grabs him aside and tells him he must marry her. If he chooses not to, he will be responsible for the destruction of everyone and everything in their kingdom. The King will also kill him and his mother.

    At around 7:45 p.m., David he sets out to find the toll bridge with a map in his hands. On the way, he encounters Regina. She asks him if he is lost and he tells her he is looking for the toll bridge. When Regina asks why he is looking for the bridge, he tells her he is looking for someone. She realizes who he is looking for and says So you made your choice. He tells her he cannot change his feelings. Regina gives him instructions to the toll bridge and wishes him luck.

    Meanwhile Mary Margaret is waiting at the toll bridge for David. David is lost Regina actually gave him false directions to the bridge. Regina's directions takes David to Mr. Gold's pawn shop. He goes into Mr. Golds shop and asks him where the toll bridge is. Mr. Gold gives him the correct directions and on David's way out, he sees a windmill and he asks Mr. Gold where he got it. Mr. Gold replies that it has been gathering dust forever. David tells him the windmill used to belong to him, and that he remembers everything. Mr. Gold = Rumpel grins as David makes his way out

    Prince James comes back to his mother who is happy he is alive. She is excited about how good he looks and how he looks like a Prince. She tells James the King is taking care of them and has made improvements to their house. He tells his mother that Midas wants to unite the Kingdoms and wants him to marry his daughter. His mother says he was right to refuse the offer, assuming he turned down down Midas' offer, as he did to the grain merchant's daughter. But in order to save the whole kingdom, he must take his place as his dead brother James, and marry Midas' daughter Abigail. He tells her no one can truly know his identity as James. He also tells her given his new identity as Prince James, he never see her again. He came to say goodbye.

    His mother gives him her ring from his father she says the ring follows true love wherever it goes - and they embrace and say goodbye.

    David finally shows up at the toll bridge and Mary Margaret is waiting wearing the same ring exactly like the one in the fairy tale from James' mom but David tells her he remembers everything. Mary Margaret asks if he loves his wife, and he says he does not know although he knows he did, and he has to honor it. He tells her he has intense feelings for Mary Margaret, but he is going back to his wife because it is the right thing to do. Mary Margaret is hurt and upset, and tells David the right thing to do was to not lead her on. She leaves the bridge hurriedly in disappointment and tears.

    Patrolling the streets on the night shift, Emma is driving in the deputy car and she sees a dark figure escaping from the 2nd story window of the Mayor's house. She hits and stops the dark figure walking out the drive way with a baton that is revealed to be Sheriff Graham. Emma questions what type of "volunteering" that Graham does, as she finds out that Regina and the Sheriff are sleeping together. The Sheriff tells her he snuck out of the window because Regina does not want Henry to know they are sleeping together.

    David rings the doorbell and his wife Kathryn (who is Abigail, Midas daughter) answers the door and he tells her that he remembers everything. He tells her they were not at a good place when he got hurt, he needed time, and he has had time he remembers the windmill (he hated) that triggered his memory in Mr. Golds shop. He tells her they have work to do, it will take time, but he wants to see what happens.

    Prince James and Midas daughter Abigail are getting married. Prince James' father King George tells him he is confident he has made the right decision. King George calls James son and James calls him father. Abigail does not look pleased with Prince James, and Prince George (Prince James' father) tells him to smile he is on the route to true love. Prince James and Abigail are in the carriage driving as Snow White is hiding in the trees (bring us to the plot of "Snow Falls").

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