Darkness on the Edge of Town
Season 4, Episode 13
Airdate March 1, 2015
Written by Edward Kitsisand Adam Horowitz
Directed by Jon Amiel
Episode Guide
Heroes and Villains
Darkness on the Edge of Town is the thirteenth episode and spring premiere of the fourth season of the American fantasy drama series Once Upon a Time, which aired on March 1, 2015.

In this episode, Hook and Belle attempt to find a solution to liberate the fairies from the Sorcerer's hat. Emma, Henry, and Regina continue their investigation to track down the author of the storybooks, while a strange darkness called Chernabog threatens Storybrooke. In New York, Mr. Gold acquires a new ally named Cruella De Vil with the help of Ursula. Flashbacks show how Ursula, Maleficent, and Cruella met.

View the Darkness on the Edge of Town Gallery.


Opening Sequence

Cruella De Vil's car arrives in the forest.

In The Characters' Past

"Many years ago" in the Enchanted Forest, a gathering takes place at Maleficent’s Forbidden Fortress, with Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella De Vil being brought together by an unknown person. Before they can fight amongst themselves, the person responsible for this meeting, Rumplestiltskin, appears with a plan to change their happy endings. The ladies are skeptical about his plan at first, but they listen and agree to join him.

At a nearby mountain, Rumplestiltskin points out to the ladies that the curse, concealed in an orb, lies within the deepest part of the area, but to reach it they must first get through a series of obstacles perfectly suited to their talents. After they complete the tasks, they hand the orb to Rumplestiltskin, who reveals he was simply using them and leaves them to die at the hands of the demon Chernabog, the Guardian of the mountain. The ladies hide from the demon, who seeks the person with the heart that has the darkest potential, until Maleficent notices a large crack in the wall that would provide escape. The ladies come out of hiding and while Chernabog targets Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella escape. Maleficent, thinking they are abandoning her, fights off the demon until Ursula rescues her by using her tentacles to pull her to safety.

Outside Storybrooke

It has been six weeks since Mr. Gold was banished to the real world. Since then, he has been making himself at home at Ursula's apartment in New York City, eating Ramen and mooching off of a furious Ursula, leading to tensions between the two. However, they put their differences aside when Gold receives an e-mail he states will end their troubles. Following this, they go to Great Neck, Long Island, where they meet a distraught Cruella de Vil watching her belongings being seized by the FBI after her criminal husband is arrested. After Gold arrives to see her lose everything, he tells her about joining him and Ursula on a trip to a place where magic exists, Storybrooke, where they hope to seek out the author of the "Once Upon a Time" book, whom Gold believes ruined their lives in the first place and can give them their happy endings.

In Storybrooke

During the six weeks, long after Gold was banished from Storybrooke, the residents are shown to be going back to their regular lives. Henry going to school, Mary Margaret goes back to teaching, Regina resumes being Mayor of Storybrooke and Emma Swan continues her job as Sheriff and her growing relationship with Hook. During the six weeks, Hook and Belle have been working together attempting to find a solution to liberate the fairies from Sorcerer's hat, they talk about their feelings towards Gold and their lives as they attempt to move on from what Gold did to them. Finding a solution, the two visit Regina and Emma in Regina's office, where Regina talks about the torn page of her and Robin Hood embracing after Emma finds it in a drawer. Hook informs the two that they managed to get a professor to translate a counter spell to free the fairies from the hat, but only Regina can enact it. When the foursome, along with Mary Margaret, return to the woods, Regina uses the Dark One's dagger to release the fairies. Unfortunately, just seconds after the fairies are freed, the hat releases a thick, black smoke that begins to ooze out, floating into the sky and forming the shape of the winged demon Chernabog, and starts flying away. As the town, save for a remorseful Hook, celebrates the fairies' return, Regina asks the Mother Superior about the author. She responds that the author and sorcerer are two different people and that the author had left behind clues to his identity in his works. The celebration is interrupted by earthquake-like thunder and strange cries. The people rush outside to find Chernabog perched on the clock tower. Realizing he must have been released from the hat, Emma asks if they can capture him again but Belle tells her that because he was released from the hat, he can not be placed back in. Emma and Regina attempt to use their magic to destroy the demon but quickly discover all they can do is temporarily repel it.

Meanwhile, Gold, Cruella and Ursula arrive at the town limits, where Gold placed a marker on the tree after his banishment. Both Ursula and Cruella are skeptical at first to trust Gold, but since he was banned, he tells them that he has to trust them to enter Storybrooke first and then come back for him if they choose. Gold then hands Ursula his phone to call Regina, and the queens ask to enter Storybrooke, saying they have realized the error of their ways and have decided to turn over a new leaf and be good. Regina does not trust them but makes a reluctant deal to let them in if they can help destroy Chernabog. The queens inform them what Chernabog is looking for and Regina suspects he is after her because she has the darkness in her heart. This gives Emma the idea to coax the demon to the town border since a creature made of magic should disappear when crossing into a land without magic. Regina and Emma drive to the town border as Chernabog attacks them. As the demon smashes the windshield, Regina vanishes and reappears at the line, trying to distract him. Emma slams on the brakes as she approaches the border and Chernabog is thrown off the car and across the line, where he disappears. Regina and Emma see Cruella and Ursula standing on the other side of the town line, but both David and Mary Margaret, who have just shown up, are reluctant to let them, in which surprises Emma since they both always want to see the good in people. They decide to give Cruella and Ursula another chance and the two are given the Snow Queen's magic scroll which allows them to cross the line. Hours later, the queens return and let Gold in using the same scroll. With that plan out of the way, Gold tells the queens that he, posing online as a professor with knowledge of translating ancient texts, was the one who told Belle how to free the fairies while releasing Chernabog at the same time, and plans to resurrects Maleficent and reveals that the Chernabog was actually after Emma, as Gold sees her as the one with the "darkest potential."

Later that night, David and Mary Margaret meet Cruella and Ursula and Mary Margaret says that they will allow them to stay on the condition that they must never speak to anyone about what happened between them in the Enchanted Forest, especially to Emma. If they do, Mary Margaret threatens to personally rip out each of their hearts.

Cultural Reference

  • In episode title: Darkness on the Edge of Town is reference to the title song from Bruce Springsteen's 1978 album as the same as title episode.
  • Chernobog is a nocturnal demon from Slavic mythology that lives in Bald Mountain; it made an appearance in Disney's 1940 film Fantasia & flashback in Fantasia 2000.
  • Bald Mountain is a real mountain in Blaine County, Idaho.


  • Gold, Ursula, and Cruella go through the drive-thru at Mr. Cluck's, Hurley's place of employment in Lost.
  • The clue board that Hook looks at in the beginning of the episode has a post-it reading: "the landlord is Yen Sid." Yen Sid is Disney backwards. This is also the name of the Sorcerer in the "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" section of Fantasia.
  • The voice in the Drive Thru at Mr. Clucks is Daniel Dae Kim who played Jin on LOST. Before he speaks, Cruella says the word Gin.
  • Cruella's number plate has been regarded as wrong as it is spelled Dev Il instead of De Vil, however, this is because it is a British number plate (DEV 1L). This is the same plate as in the animated film, 101 Dalmatians.
  • Gold says "mea culpa" to Cruella and Ursula in this episode. This is a Latin phrase meaning "my fault" and is commonly used as an apology.
  • The title of this episode is the same name as a episode in CW ARROW season 1.
  • This is the second episode of the series, after a Season 3, New York City Serenade, to be named after a song by Bruce Springsteen.
  • Mr. Cluck's that Cruella, Rumple and Ursula go to before setting off on their journey, is owned by Hurley from Lost!
  • The episode's title, "Darkness on the Edge of Town" is the final track of Bruce Springsteen's 1978 album of the same name. This is the second time a Springsteen song has been used as an episode title for the mid-season premiere (Season 3's "New York City Serenade" being the first).
  • Henry is shown to still be a student in Mary Margaret's class. However, Mary Margaret teaches 4th grade and Henry would've been around 12 at the time which means he should be in 6th grade.
  • The object/animal/person in this episode is Cruella De Vil's car.
Season 1
PilotThe Thing You Love MostSnow FallsThe Price of GoldThat Still Small VoiceThe ShepherdThe Heart Is a Lonely HunterDesperate SoulsTrue North7:15 A.M.Fruit of the Poisonous TreeSkin DeepWhat Happened to FrederickDreamyRed-HandedHeart of DarknessHat TrickThe Stable BoyThe ReturnThe StrangerAn Apple Red as BloodA Land Without Magic
Season 2
BrokenWe Are BothLady of the LakeThe CrocodileThe DoctorTallahasseeChild of the MoonInto the DeepQueen of HeartsThe Cricket GameThe OutsiderIn the Name of the BrotherTinyManhattanThe Queen Is DeadThe Miller's DaughterWelcome to StorybrookeSelfless, Brave and TrueLaceyThe Evil QueenSecond Star to the RightAnd Straight On 'til Morning
Season 3
The Heart of the Truest BelieverLost GirlQuite a Common FairyNasty HabitsGood FormAriel (Episode)Dark HollowThink Lovely ThoughtsSave HenryThe New NeverlandGoing HomeNew York City SerenadeWitch HuntThe TowerQuiet MindsIt's Not Easy Being GreenThe Jolly RogerBleeding ThroughA Curious ThingKansasSnow DriftsThere's No Place Like Home
Season 4
A Tale of Two SistersWhite OutRocky RoadThe ApprenticeBreaking GlassFamily BusinessThe Snow QueenSmash the MirrorFallShattered SightHeroes and VillainsDarkness on the Edge of TownUnforgivenEnter the DragonPoor Unfortunate SoulBest Laid PlansHeart of GoldSympathy for the De VilLilyMotherOperation Mongoose
Season 5
The Dark SwanThe PriceSiege PerilousThe Broken KingdomDreamcatcherThe Bear and the BowNimueBirthThe Bear KingBroken HeartSwan SongSouls of the DepartedLabor of LoveDevil's DueThe Brothers JonesOur DecayHer Handsome HeroRuby SlippersSistersFirebirdLast RitesOnly YouAn Untold Story
Season 6
The SaviorA Bitter DraughtThe Other ShoeStrange CaseStreet RatsDark WatersHeartlessI'll Be Your MirrorChangelingsWish You Were HereTougher Than the RestMurder Most FoulIll-Boding PatternsPage 23A Wondrous PlaceMother's Little HelperAwakeWhere Bluebirds FlyThe Black FairyThe Song in Your HeartThe Final Battle
Season 7
Hyperion HeightsA Pirate's LifeThe Garden of Forking PathsBeautyGreenbacksWake Up CallEloise GardenerPretty in BlueOne Little TearThe Eighth WitchSecret GardenA Taste of the HeightsKnightfallThe Girl in the TowerSisterhoodBreadcrumbsChosenThe GuardianFlower ChildIs This Henry Mills?HomecomingLeaving Storybrooke
Down the Rabbit HoleTrust MeForget Me NotThe SerpentHeart of StoneWho's AliceBad BloodHomeNothing to FearDirty Little SecretsHeart of the MatterTo Catch a ThiefAnd They Lived...
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.