Once Upon a Time (2011–2018)
2 user 4 critic

The Heart of the Truest Believer 

Tension runs high as Hook's ship sets sail for Neverland to rescue Henry, Neal travels to Rumplestiltskin's castle with Mulan, and Henry finds himself on the run from the Lost Boys after Greg and Tamara are ambushed.


Ralph Hemecker


Edward Kitsis (created by), Adam Horowitz (created by) | 2 more credits »

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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
Emilie de Ravin ... Belle French (credit only)
Colin O'Donoghue ... Captain Killian 'Hook' Jones
Michael Raymond-James ... Neal Cassidy
Jared Gilmore ... Henry Mills (as Jared S. Gilmore)
Robert Carlyle ... Mr. Gold
Sarah Bolger ... Princess Aurora
Jamie Chung ... Mulan
Ethan Embry ... Greg Mendell
Robbie Kay ... Peter Pan
Sean Maguire ... Robin Hood
Sonequa Martin-Green ... Tamara


Tensions arise as Hook's ship sets sail to Neverland to search for a kidnapped Henry, while Neal travels through the Enchanted Forest with Mulan. Meanwhile, Henry finds himself on the run from the Lost Boys after Greg and Tamara are ambushed. Written by ab1995

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

29 September 2013 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


Henry is shown being born at 8:15. This is the same time Storybrooke was perpetually in. See more »


Aurora's dress goes from being strapless to having straps between shots. See more »


Mary Margaret Blanchard: Bring back the mermaid.
Regina Mills: And what, you'll win her over with your rainbow kisses and unicorn stickers?
See more »


References Mulan (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

Heartfelt and truly believable
26 February 2018 | 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.

Personally found a lot to like about Season 2. There were some not so good episodes (especially "In the Name of the Brother" and "Tiny") and ones that should have been great but only decent. The introductions of new characters and their stories had mixed success, mostly successful but there was sometimes a trying to do too much vibe. There were also however some really interesting ideas and plot developments that actually progressed, cleverer connections between fairy tale flashbacks and Storybrooke plotting, efforts in giving more dimension to characters and forwarding their development and generally the writing and acting came on such a long way since 'Once Upon a Time' first started.

"The Heart of the Truest Believer" had a tough act to follow, after the last two Season 2 episodes brilliantly set up the main storyline here and made one truly excited as to how the story would progress. Season 3's premiere "The Heart of the Truest Believer" doesn't do anything to waste what was set up before, the plotting and characters continue to forward in development and even with a lot going on and having a lot of elements and characters over-stuffing is far from an issue here.

As said with "Second Star to the Right" and "And Straight on Til Morning", 'Peter Pan' (character and story) is turned on its head. The story is told in a way that's darkly twisted fresh and entertaining. And there is a very interesting, and not disrespectful considering the premise of the show, interpretation of Peter. This Peter is a darker, more manipulative but also conflicted, with questionable motivations but ones where it's not so hard seeing how he came to be that way, version, not the reasonably likeable and mischievous but flawed and cocky Peter Barrie imagined and that fans are used to.

Other standouts are the opening with Emma (here a likeable and relatable character, not the frustrating one from Season 2) and how Rumplestiltskin is used, always one of 'Once Upon a Time's' best characters but portraying him with not having not so obvious motivations and not being part of the group gave him a lot of distinction. The existing characters have enough to do too and there is a lot going on but handled very neatly and not in a way that feels convoluted or like "too many cooks spoil the broth". The connections between fairy tale and reality and past and present continue to be neatly done and cohesive.

Can't fault the acting, especially Robert Carlyle (enjoying himself hugely as always), Robbie Kay and Jennifer Morrison (with the best acting she did up to this point of 'Once Upon a Time', one feels sorry for Emma here and relates to her emotional situation). Also love the bond between the characters and actors, and that we feel the exactly right feelings towards each character without it trying too hard going that way that there isn't room for growth and dimension.

Furthermore, "The Heart of the Truest Believer" is a very handsomely mounted episode visually, the settings and costumes are both colourful and atmospheric, not too dark or garish and never cookie-cutter. It is photographed beautifully too. The music is haunting, ethereal and cleverly used with a memorable main theme. Writing has the right balance of humour, pathos, mystery and intrigue, the humour and pathos are especially well done.

In conclusion, brilliant Season 3 opener. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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