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

A Bitter Draught 

When a mysterious man from the Land of Untold Stories arrives in Storybrooke, David and Snow work together with Regina to neutralize the threat. Belle seeks Hook's help finding a safe place... See full summary »


Ron Underwood


Edward Kitsis (created by), Adam Horowitz (created by) | 4 more credits »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Ginnifer Goodwin ... Mary Margaret Blanchard / Snow White
Jennifer Morrison ... Emma Swan
Lana Parrilla ... Evil Queen / Regina Mills
Josh Dallas ... David Nolan / Prince Charming
Emilie de Ravin ... Belle French
Colin O'Donoghue ... Captain Killian 'Hook' Jones
Jared Gilmore ... Henry Mills (as Jared S. Gilmore)
Rebecca Mader ... Zelena
Robert Carlyle ... Rumplestiltskin / Mr. Gold
Lee Arenberg ... Grumpy
Beverley Elliott ... Widow Lucas
Craig Horner ... Count of Monte Cristo / Edmond Dantès
Raphael Sbarge ... Dr. Archibald 'Archie' Hopper
Andrea Brooks ... Charlotte
Craig Erickson ... Butler


When a mysterious man from the Land of Untold Stories arrives in Storybrooke, David and Snow work together with Regina to neutralize the threat. Belle seeks Hook's help finding a safe place to hide away from her husband, Mr. Gold. Elsewhere, the Evil Queen continues to try to win Zelena over to her side, while Emma resumes her therapy sessions with Archie and shares her terrifying vision of the future.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

2 October 2016 (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?


Snow mentions the Count of Monte Cristo and Granny says, "Sorry. Not on the menu. Never a fan of the eggy bread". The 1950s saw many awful foods popularized: TV dinners; lime jello with mayonaise; any caserole topped with little marshmallows. The Monte Cristo is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich made with French Toast instead of bread, often served with powdered sugar or maple syrup. See more »


Henry says that Temple of Doom is a sequel, but Temple of Doom is set in 1935, while Raiders of the Lost Ark is set in 1936, which makes it a prequel, not a sequel. See more »


Evil Queen: You're worried I'm going to hurt my better half, aren't you?
Zelena: It remains to be seen which half is better.
See more »

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User Reviews

Neutralising threats
25 September 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.

The sixth, and penultimate, season opened with a great, and very promising first episode in "The Saviour". An episode which sees new characters in Aladdin and Jafar, the saviour arc introduced, the return of a long neglected character in Dr Hopper and more of Hyde, having been introduced in the last two episodes of the previous season. This promise continues with this second episode "A Bitter Draught", which has less familiar elements, what there is of those are built upon rather than reiterating what is already known, while starting to expand upon what was introduced before. It is great to have something new after the unevenness of the Underworld arc that dominated the second half of Season 5.

Not really all that much wrong here. Do agree though with the criticism that the teaming up between Belle and Hook doesn't make any sense considering their characters, it was also introduced too out of the blue and with no build up or foreshadowing.

Have not always been a fan of Belle, apart from the episodes where there has been notable development to her. She does lack the personality and presence of the other characters, while Season 6 started to see her behaving idiotically and there are signs here.

Conversely, there is lots of evidence of forward momentum and character development advancing, the characters true to personality and not distorted or going round in circles. One learns a lot and things are made clearer. It doesn't get over-stuffed or jumpy, making it not a difficult episode to follow. A feat for such a lot going on and with so many characters.

Still love the characters, both the existing characters, the new ones and the relatively new ones continuing to grow. Will always love Regina and Gold especially. As well as the characters, what is particularly good about much of the show and "A Bitter Draught" is the interaction between them, apart from reservations with Hook and Belle's teaming up.

Particularly good about "A Bitter Draught" story-wise is knowing more about the Saviours, development to the Evil Queen and her motivations being made clearer and being introduced to the Count of Monte Cristo, though not how we remember him or know him as. The moments between Emma and Hopper are beautifully done too.

Much of the acting from the solid ensemble cast is hard to find fault with, the weak link is Emilie DeRavin and this was due mainly to not having much to work with. Lana Parrilla especially is splendid and makes Regina rootable in a way that's very moving, while also relishing portraying the Evil Queen without being too scary or camp. Robert Carlyle is similarly riveting, he has fun with Gold and has the right amount of charisma, gravitas and shadiness that doesn't make him a standard villain or a character softened too much. How wonderful to see Raphael Sbarge again, here written sympathetically and it is hard not to be touched by his chemistry with Morrison.

Jennifer Morrison brings intensity and vulnerability, never being overwrought or too passive, Colin O'Donoghue shows charisma and swagger while Craig Horner does very well with the interesting spin on the Count of Monte Cristo.

Furthermore, "A Bitter Draught" is a very handsomely mounted episode visually, the settings and costumes are both colourful and atmospheric, not too dark or garish and never looking artifical. It is photographed beautifully too. The music is haunting, ethereal and cleverly used with a memorable theme tune.

Writing has the right balance of humour, pathos, mystery and intrigue, nothing campy or soap-operatic. Compared to when 'Once Upon a Time' first started, the writing mostly came on a long way (less so in the last season).

In conclusion, very well done. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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