Once Upon a Time (2011–2018)
2 user 2 critic

Desperate Souls 

Gold and Regina play dirty politics and take opposite sides when Emma runs against Sidney for Sheriff, as flashbacks show Rumplestiltskin desperately try to find a way to save his son from being enlisted into war.


Michael Waxman


Edward Kitsis (created by), Adam Horowitz (created by) | 1 more credit »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Ginnifer Goodwin ... Mary Margaret Blanchard
Jennifer Morrison ... Emma Swan
Lana Parrilla ... Regina Mills
Josh Dallas ... David Nolan
Jared Gilmore ... Henry Mills (as Jared S. Gilmore)
Raphael Sbarge ... Dr. Archie Hopper
Robert Carlyle ... Rumplestiltskin / Mr. Gold
Brad Dourif ... Zoso
Giancarlo Esposito ... Sidney Glass
Beverley Elliott ... Granny Lucas
Ty Olsson ... Hordor
Meghan Ory ... Ruby Lucas
Dylan Schmid ... Baelfire
Patti Allan ... Miss Ginger
Kate Bateman Kate Bateman ... Mother


Regina and Mr. Gold play dirty politics and take opposite sides when Emma runs for a coveted Storybrooke public office against Sidney. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale world that was, Rumplestiltskin tries to track down the ultimate power source in order to help his son avert the horrors of a meaningless war. Written by ABC Publicity

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

8 January 2012 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This episode marks the first time clips from the opening title/recap had been changed to reflect plot developments so far. Prior to this the opening only used clips from the first episode. See more »


When Regina is on the stretcher she is wearing a coat. After Regina says, "She's the competition you fool," and pushes Sidney, angle of the scene changes and her coat is now lying behind her back. See more »


Old Beggar: Magic always comes with a price; and now it's yours to pay.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening sequence gives a hint to the episodes main story line by showing a character or event happening in the dark forest underneath the title. See more »


Kool Thing
Written and Performed by Sonic Youth
See more »

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User Reviews

An episode that's hardly desperate for soul
28 November 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

When 'Once Upon a Time' first started it was highly addictive and made the most of a truly great and creative premise. Really loved the idea of turning familiar fairy tales on their heads and putting own interpretations on them and the show early on clearly had clearly had a ball. Watched it without fail every time it came on and it was often a highlight of the week. Which was why it was sad when it ran out of ideas and lost its magic in the later seasons.

"Desperate Souls" continues the very good to wonderful standard of the first season up to this point. As said quite a few times already it is demonstrative of 'Once Upon a Time's' first season growing all the time, even at this very early stage, with the dialogue and acting in particular having come on quite a long way.

There is not much wrong here, the occasional bit of corn in the writing here and there and occasionally Lana Parrilla overdoes it with the pouting lips and intense staring.

However, "Desperate Souls" is a very handsomely mounted episode, settings and costumes that are both colourful and atmospheric, not too dark or garish and never cookie-cutter. It is photographed beautifully and there were some make-up that suited the characters perfectly. The music is haunting, ethereal and cleverly used with a memorable main theme.

As said, the writing has come on a lot since 'Once Upon a Time' first started and it's humorous and engaging with emotional impact too. Really love Rumpelstiltskin's ever growing back-story, which has a lot of soul and entertainment value and nothing becomes desperate. The episode again establishes the concept and intertwines and mirrors the real and fantasy worlds very well, with standout scenes being the final fairy tale scenes and David and Mary Margaret's touching poster scene.

Robert Carlyle shows why he is one of the show's consistent high-points, he looks like he is having so much fun with the role and he does it without going over-the-top. Brad Dourif is inspired casting too and ever charming Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas are electric together. Parrilla is not at her best here but she will always be one of my favourite 'Once Upon a Time' cast members overall.

Overall, excellent. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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