- “We're gonna show Victoria Belfrey that when you truly believe in something you can change things. So, if you're willing to fight with me, sign this. And when you're done, start planting. We're gonna show Victoria Belfrey that we're not just gonna stop her from destroying this garden. We're gonna make some something wonderful here together.”
- ―Jacinda to the crowd
"The Garden of Forking Paths" is the third episode of the seventh season of ABC's Once Upon a Time and the one-hundredth and thirty-sixth episode of the series overall. It aired on October 20, 2017. It was written by David H. Goodman & Brigitte Hales and directed by Ron Underwood.
When Cinderella finds herself staring danger in the eye, she receives help from an unlikely source. Her rescue leads to an alliance that could aid in the defeat of Lady Tremaine's rule and reveals a dark secret from Cinderella's past. In Hyperion Heights, Jacinda goes to extreme measures to stop Victoria Belfrey from destroying Lucy's beloved community garden, while Lucy tries to convince Henry that Victoria is after more than just a plot of land. Meanwhile, Victoria makes a discovery that could alter everyone's fate.
A excavator is featured in the background.
In the Characters' Past
The Magical Forest
At the location of the portal where she was supposed to meet Henry, Cinderella encounters Lady Tremaine's guards. However, the guards were attacked by Cinderella and at the last minute are ambushed by Princess Tiana, who happens to be the leader of a resistance group. As the two forged a alliance upon introducing each other, Tiana tells Cinderella that Tremaine initially set up the plot to have her father killed and the prince was involved, which is why Tremaine killed him. As Cinderella agreed to join Tiana, she also left behind her glass slipper for Henry to find. The following day, Tiana informed Cinderella that Tremaine has moved something of importance in the palace, and Cinderella believes she knows what it is. Soon they're joined by Henry, Hook, and Regina, whom Tiana believes the latter can prove valuable in their fight against Tremaine.
That night, Cinderella made a secret return to the palace to confront Tremaine over why she murdered her father, but Tremaine explained that it was also Cinderella's fault as she revealed a coffin that she had moved earlier, which contained the preserved body of her Tremaine's daughter Anastasia. Tremaine offered a deal to spare Cinderella and the resistance on the condition that she steal Henry's heart because Anastasia needed the heart of the truest believer. This puts Cinderella in a dilemma, so uses another idea. The next day, Tiana introduced Cinderella to a resistance member who is ready to devote himself to the cause, but when Regina sees what Cinderella was planning to do she stopped her, telling Cinderella that doing so would be a major mistake. The next day, Regina catches Cinderella trying to return to the palace, then gets to open up about her relationship with Tremaine. Cinderella tells Regina that her father's death is tied to Anastasia and she's at fault that led to Tremaine's hatred for her. Regina suggested to Cinderella that the only way to fight back is to use forgiveness, and Cinderella agreed to stay with the resistance, just in time to warn them about Tremaine's plot, and eventually put the plans on hold for now.
At the community garden, Jacinda is still upset over being separated from Lucy as she shared letters between the two with Sabine about protecting the garden. However Victoria has shown up at the garden and is ready to replace the lot with a new building and refuse to listen, even if is for Lucy's sake. After stopping by Roni's, Roni tells Jacinda the only way to stop Victoria's plan is to launch a petition that would lead to an injunction in order to prove that Garden is viable to the community. The petition campaign gathered enough signatures for Jacinda to get the injunction, but Victoria shows up with a offer to give up the petition in favor of giving her a Condominium for her and Lucy. Unfortunately, when Lucy sees this, she turned on Jacinda for giving in to Victoria's scheme. Hours later and getting advice from Roni, Jacinda decided to fight back against Victoria by gathering the residents to sign the petition, which impressed Henry and Lucy.
Lucy suspects that Victoria is trying to destroy the garden because she might be hiding something. When an excavator hits an object that they cannot break, Lucy believes that there's something at the bottom of the site and jumps into the hole and Henry followed. As Lucy continue to ask Henry about where his family was buried, she came across a piece of she believes was from Cinderella's glass slipper and she gives it to Henry as proof that Jacinda was Cinderella, and started to somehow believe her. However, later that night Henry went to the gravesite and found the bodies of his late wife and child.
Meanwhile, Roni informs Henry and Rogers about a customer who came into the bar for drinks, and tells them that he was the building inspector, leading Rogers to suspect that he might be bribed by Victoria. Rogers decided to keep an eye on the official to see if his hunch is right, but Weaver becomes suspicious after Rogers lied to him and followed him. As expected, the official meets with Victoria and Rogers confront him, only to have the inspector turn the tables by bribing Rogers with Victoria's money, and Rogers arrests the official. Later on at the station, Rogers sees Weaver release the inspector due to Rogers arresting him without launching an investigation, but tells Rogers that they might use the inspector as a informant to get more information on Victoria and will contact Weaver at the first opportunity, which doesn't sit well with Rogers.
Finally, the construction workers delivered a coffin to Victoria, and she opened it, revealing the still preserved body of Anastasia, as it turns out that Victoria was never cursed, thus revealing that she was Tremaine all along. She then visits a secret location in Belfrey Tower to see a witch who she had chained up. Tremaine wants the witch to come up with a spell to strip Lucy's beliefs in order to revive Anastasia, but the witch refuses and warned Tremaine/Victoria that by doing so will not only destroy Lucy, but will have to deal with the witch herself as there could be consequences.
- This is the last episode of the season to feature Mekia Cox as a guest star. Following "Greenbacks" onward, she is upped to a series regular.
- In the past Operation: Next Chapter has begun.