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The Stable Boy
Season 1, Episode 18
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Airdate April 1, 2012
Written by Edward Kitsis
Adam Horowitz
Directed by Dean White
Episode Guide
Hat Trick
The Return

The Stable Boy is the 18th episode of the American fairy tale/drama television series Once Upon a Time, which aired in the United States on ABC on April 1, 2012.

The series takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, in which the residents are actually characters from various fairy tales that were transported to the "real world" town by a powerful curse.

In this episode, Emma looks for evidence to prove that Regina framed Mary Margaret. In flashbacks, Regina must make a decision for her future: either marry Snow's father or be with her crush.

It was co-written by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, while Dean White served as director.

View the The Stable Boy Gallery.


Opening Sequence

A young Regina riding on a horse through the forest.

Event Chronology

The Enchanted Forest events take place years after "Sisters" and before "We Are Both". The Storybrooke events take place after "Hat Trick".

In Storybrooke

A week before Kathryn Nolan's (Anastasia Griffith) disappearance and suspected murder, Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) and Regina Mills (Lana Parrilla) plot to frame Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) for the crime. While Regina plays with the ring Daniel gave her while staring out the window, Mr. Gold asks her for a favor in getting District Attorney Albert Spencer to drop the battery charges against him, and in return he offers her an idea on how to inflict pain upon Mary Margaret. It also turns out that Mr. Gold and Regina know what happens to people when they try to leave town. When Regina asks how she can trust him, Mr. Gold truthfully responds that he always honors his agreements. A week later, elsewhere, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) comes out of the diner as David Nolan (Josh Dallas) catches up with her where he tries to apologize for saying that Mary Margret was guilty, but Emma informs him that she needs a miracle. Back in the sheriff's office, Mary Margaret is woken by Regina, who offers her a chance to confess, but Mary Margaret stands by her innocence. Regina tells her that confession or not, she is leaving Storybrooke. Later that morning, Emma, Mr. Gold, and Mary Margaret talk about the upcoming case, where Mr. Gold suggest using their most valuable asset, Mary Margaret herself. Sidney Glass (Giancarlo Esposito) then arrives to say that he can’t find anything on Regina. Mary Margaret says she will talk to the district attorney, knowing she has nothing to hide. Unfortunately Regina shows up with Albert Spencer (Alan Dale), the DA and King George's Storybrooke counterpart. He then badgers Mary Margaret during questioning, eventually goading Mary Margaret into admitting she wanted Kathryn gone. Not pleased with Spencer's hostility, Mr. Gold ends the questioning early.

Hours later, Emma studies the book as August Booth (Eion Bailey) approaches her. Emma explains that she is struggling to prove Mary Margret's innocence, to which he suggests re-looking over what she has already done, causing Emma to re-evaluate the crime scenes. Emma finds a shard of shovel in the ground where the box containing Kathryn's heart was found. Henry Mills (Jared S. Gilmore) radios Emma via a walkie-talkie, explaining that Regina is in the shower and the key is under the mat. Emma and August search the garage and discover a broken shovel, revealing that Regina buried the box. Emma later returns with a search warrant to find that the shovel had been replaced. Emma then accuses August of telling Regina before walking away.

Back in the Sheriff's office, Mary Margaret cries in her cell when Regina comes in to gloat causing Mary Margaret to apologize for anything she did wrong, however Regina tells her she deserves this. Emma later talks to Mr. Gold, who tells her that there is still time for him to work a little magic. In frustration, Emma smashes the vase with the tulips that Sidney brought in, discovering a bug inside and realizes that Sidney was working with Regina. As August comes out of the diner, Emma approaches and apologizes for doubting him and shows him the bug when Ruby (Meghan Ory) screams out after finding Kathryn who is alive.

In the Characters' Past

In the Enchanted Forest, a young Regina rides her horse as her father (Tony Perez) watches. However, her mother, Cora (Barbara Hershey), approaches and scolds her. Daniel (Noah Bean), the stable boy offers Regina a saddle, but Regina says she’s done riding for the day and begins to stomp away only for Cora to drag her back with magic. An angry Regina tells her to stop using her magic to control her. With that, Regina promises to be good. Later that evening, Regina meets up with Daniel and kisses him.

The next day, Daniel tells Regina to tell her parents about their love. Regina explains to Daniel that she is afraid of her mother’s magic, although Daniel counters that the magic of true love is more powerful. Meanwhile, a young Snow White (Bailee Madison) loses control of her horse nearby, prompting Regina to save her. Later on, Cora changes Regina into a ball gown using magic and explains that King Leopold (Richard Schiff) is coming to thank her for rescuing Snow White. King Leopold comes in and asks Regina for her hand in marriage as she is the first person to have taken an interest in Snow. Later that night, Regina asks Daniel for his hand in marriage, explaining her situation in the process, as well as suggesting that the only way out is to run.

Suddenly, Snow White walks into the stable to witness the pair kissing before running away. Regina manages to catch up to Snow after she trips and falls. When Snow asks why she was kissing Daniel, Regina explains that she loves Daniel and not her father and explains that true love is the most powerful type of magic. Snow smiles after the explanation but Regina makes her promise to keep this secret, to which Snow agrees.

The next day, Snow White is looking at the flowers and reaches up to grab one when Cora comes in and tells her to be gentle. As the two talk, Cora tells Snow White not to fear her, then asks the little girl why Regina has pulled away from her. Snow tells her to not make Regina get married if she wants her to be happy, and that she doesn't love her father. Not wanting Regina to lose her mother like she had, Snow tells Cora about Daniel.

That night, Regina runs into the stable where Daniel is ready to go to make their getaway. They embrace just before Cora arrives and locks the stable. Cora says she will not stop her and Regina hugs her with thanks, then takes Daniel aside and rips his heart out and crushes it. Regina falls to his side and asks her mother why she has done this, to which Cora tells her that it was because it was her happy ending. After Regina yells and screams of how she loved Daniel, Cora explains that love is weakness.

As Regina is being fitted for her wedding dress, Snow White walks in and tells her that she is the fairest of them all. Snow tells Regina about how she told her mother about Daniel. As Regina listens in horror, she turns and Snow notices how upset she is and she apologizes. Snow White asks Regina if she was mad, but Regina pretends to be happy and tells her no stating that she's happy, and lies that Daniel has left her so that they're both going to be a family. But after Snow White leaves, Regina's behavior starts to change. Cora walks into the room, while Regina guesses that Cora was the cause of Snow's wild horse. Regina then tells Cora that she should have let Snow White die on her horse.


"The Stable Boy" was co-written by co-creators/executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, while V veteran, Dean White, returned to direct this installment. The episode was included in Reawakened: A Once Upon a Time Tale – a novelization of the first season – which was published by Hyperion Books in 2013.



The episode's ratings and viewership was down slightly, but continued to remain steady, scoring an 18-49 rating of 2.8/8 and was watched by 8.36 million viewers, as well as winning its timeslot for the third week in a row despite competing against The Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS.

In Canada, the episode finished in fourteenth place for the week with an estimated 1.409 million viewers, an increase from the 1.337 million of the previous episode.


  • In the flashback, the Evil Queen is shown being far older than Snow White, yet in the present day Lana Parrilla is only 1 year older than Ginnifer Goodwin.
  • Towards the end of the episode, August says to Emma "Sometimes it's hard to see what's right in front of us." This foreshadows that later in the season, August tries to show Emma his wooden leg, but she only sees a normal leg, hence her not seeing what's right in front of her.
  • First full appearance of Regina's mother Cora.


  • In the Storybrooke Daily Mirror newspaper that Emma is reading at the docks, Kathryn Nolan's name is spelled "Katherine"
  • When Gold is talking to the mayor and the camera angle is over his shoulder, he bites the apple he is holding. In the next shot, he tosses the unbitten apple to her.
  • When Regina and Daniel are in the stables, her hands are on his face in one shot and held between his in the reverse shot.
  • When Regina is talking to Snow while getting ready for the wedding, Regina's lipstick changes color between shots.
  • When meeting the King for the first time the King tells Regina that they lost Snow's mother many years before. However in later episodes showing the Queen's death Snow is played by the same actress. If it had been years she would have been very young when her mom died not the pre-teen she actually was.


Regina Mills: The trial starts tomorrow, and it won't be a long one. And you'll be sent out of Storybrooke for good, and I will never have to see you again. Oh, I want to enjoy this while I still can.
Mary Margaret Blanchard: Enjoy what?
Regina Mills: Justice.
Mary Margaret Blanchard: Justice? Watching an innocent suffer?
Regina Mills: You've always seen yourself that way, haven't you? Innocent.
Mary Margaret Blanchard: [crying] I am innocent! I don't know what this is about, I don't know what I ever did to you, but whatever it was, Regina... I'm sorry. I truly am.
Regina Mills: Apology not accepted.
Mary Margaret Blanchard: Please. Don't do this to me. I don't deserve this. I did not kill Kathryn!
Regina Mills: Oh, I know. But you do deserve this.
[Regina just learned that she had essentially lost her lover Daniel because of young Snow's gossip]
Regina: You knew the King was travelling through our land, didn't you? That steed with Snow on it... didn't go wild on its own. Did it?
Cora: I have no idea what you're saying.
[Regina just smiles knowingly and walks off]
Regina: [under her breath] I should've let her die on that horse!
Regina Mills: We got her, Daniel. We got her.
[Cora has put an end to Regina's love]
Cora: You have to trust me, Regina. I know best. Love is weakness, Regina. It feels real now. At the start, it always does. But it's an illusion. It fades, and then you're left with nothing. But power - true power - endures. And then you don't have to rely on anyone to get what you want. I've saved you, my love.
[Mary Margaret is to be tried for murder]
Emma Swan: Mary Margaret is a good person. She doesn't deserve this.
Regina Mills: Ms. Blanchard is a liar and a murderer. No matter what accusations you throw my way, that won't change. She's going to pay for what she's done. That woman has destroyed the last life she is ever going to destroy.
Regina: [Regina finds out that Snow White had betrayed her secret] I should have let her died on that horse.
Henry Mills: The eagle is in the nest, and the package is secure.
Emma Swan: Henry. I left the code book at home.
Henry Mills: ...She's getting in the shower and the keys are under the mat.
Cora: Now clean yourself up. Wipe away your tears. Because now... you're going to be queen.
Emma Swan: How do I know you're not lying about this? About everything?
August W. Booth: I'm not a liar.
Emma Swan: That is exactly what a liar would say.
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...