Title Heart of Gold
Two-Sentence Summary As flashbacks to Sherwood Forest reveal the origin of Robin Hood and the strength of his relationship with Marian in the past, he faces a difficult choice in the present between what his heart wants and what his sense of honor demands. Unbeknownst to him, though, Marian isn’t who she says she is; she’s actually Zelena in disguise, and she makes a deal with Rumplestiltskin to save his ailing heart in return for a happy ending of her own.
Favorite Line “You are quite possibly the biggest pain in the ass I have ever had the displeasure of writing about.” (The Author, to Rumplestiltskin)
My Thoughts Sometimes episodes deviate from the norm and fail. Sometimes they’re a breath of fresh air. “Heart of Gold” was an example of the latter, mainly because of the strength of the actors involved, its thematic connection to the overall arc of this half-season of Once Upon a Time, and one crazy twist. This episode could have felt boring or unnecessary; instead, it captivated me from start to finish.
Maybe my love for “Heart Gold” comes from the fact that I’ve loved all versions of the Robin Hood story since I was a little girl. There’s just something about an outlaw with a kind heart and a deep sense of honor that never fails to draw me in (which also explains my love for Killian Jones). And Sean Maguire brings the perfect balance of dashing fairytale spirit and real, grounded moral conflict to this character, whose deep sense of honor might turn out to be his undoing.
The Sherwood Forest flashbacks in this episode did a stellar job of giving depth to Robin and Marian’s relationship, which was absolutely necessary given Robin’s choices in the New York City portion of the storyline. For as much as I’ve loved Robin Hood since childhood, I’ve loved Marian even more, so I was thrilled to see Christie Laing capture both Marian’s kindness and her strong spirit in those flashbacks. Whether she was telling Robin she could speak for herself or supporting him in his new life as Robin Hood, this was the Marian I spent hours pretending to be when I was little. I thought Maguire and Laing had a lovely, easy chemistry in those flashbacks that allowed the audience to see what Robin was trying to recapture with Marian in New York.
The flashbacks also set up the idea of Robin being the kind of man who chooses to help people in need, sometimes at the expense of his own happiness. I loved his interactions with Will—not just because the world needs more Will Scarlet (Even in this episode I was left wanting more.) but because it showed just how big Robin’s heart is. When Will discovered the bottle after Robin had gone, I was surprised by how emotional I became. Robin is an incredibly selfless character, which in many ways makes him the perfect match for Regina. She spent much of her life devoted to her own selfish goal of vengeance, so I think loving a man like Robin helped her become more selfless. In the flashbacks, Robin sacrificed his own safety and happiness to help someone who was vulnerable. That same kind of sacrifice was put in front of Regina at the end of the episode, and I really believe she’ll make the choice Robin would want her to make (but more on that later!).