28 years prior, Regina (Lana Parrilla) admires her curse in "Welcome… (David Gray / ABC )
In this "Welcome to Storybrooke" episode, we see that a father and son, Kurt and Owen Flynn, were camping when Storybrooke was created back in 1983. One moment there was a forest, then a purple storm, then there was a town. Graham returns, greeting them as they tour Storybrooke.
Regina's first words back in 1983: "I won." But she checks by walking through the town, making sure that the curse had worked. Her first visit -- well, after her wardrobe closet -- was to the elementary school to test Snow White/Mary Margaret. She knew nothing, including David/Prince Charming, who was still in a coma at the time.
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Initially liking her new existence, Regina is a bit put off when Kyle and Owen invade her town. They're nice enough, but unknown, and something not controlled by Regina "Do you know what happens when I feel threatened? Bad things."
In the present time, Regina mourns Cora, and receives a visit from Mr. Gold at the family crypt. He came to pay his respects, but Regina was not very welcoming. Fireworks? No, at least not magical. Regina, though, vows to kill Mary Margaret.
Back in '83, Regina is feeling a magical Groundhog Day effect from the curse. She's the only one who knows that there's a curse (even Rumpelstiltskin -- unless he's faking?), but having a bunch of people who do exactly the same thing every day, fearing you and going out of their way to do whatever you say, apparently gets boring.
Mr. Gold warns Emma, Charming and Mary Margaret that Regina is out to get revenge on Mary Margaret for killing Cora. Snow is pretty distraught over it and doesn't add much to the conversation. They talk about how to stop her, with Gold saying there's no way to stop a blood feud except to spill blood -- basically nothing short of killing her. Henry can't accept that they'd even be thinking about killing her, and he runs off. Kids.
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Regina finds something, a spell perhaps, in her mother's belongings. Gold later surmises that it's the curse of the empty-hearted. She can make someone think that they love her. Against the magical rules? Apparently not ... even if it's a curse she's goign to put on her own child!
Back in '83, Regina bonds with Owen, the kid who, with his father, barged in on the curse back in '83. They cook apple turnovers, and she offers Kurt a job in Storybrooke if he wants to stay. Kurt refuses -- they have a life back in New Jersey.
Emma tries to get Neal to talk some sense into Henry -- take a trip to New York, where magic can't harm him. Seems logical, and Henry agrees. Then goes to the bathroom. Really, Neal? Henry escapes.
In '83, Regina decides to keep the Flynns around, forcing the sheriff to hold Kurt, who escapes. A car chase through the streets of Storybrooke ensues. But Graham and Regina win. Little Owen runs out of the town limits, though, per his father. When he returns with the authorities, there's no trace of the town -- or his father.
In the present, Henry gets the bright idea to destroy the wishing well, thereby destroying magic in Storybrooke. Not sure about that plan, or the plan to light a bunch of dynamite and run away. Not bright, Henry. Anyway, the stranger tipped off Regina, and she got there in time to stop him, and possibly put the curse of the empty-hearted on him. Emma and Snow and David and Neal arrive. It's a standoff. Ball of fire versus bullets. Luckily, Henry's plea for calm makes Regina relent and destroy the curse.
After all of this -- the protection by Mr. Gold, Henry almost blowing himself up -- Mary Margaret walks right up to Regina's door and asks her to kill her in order to end the feud. Regina surprisingly reaches in Mary's chest and pulls out her heart, but doesn't kill her. What she finds is a spot of darkness growing in Mary Margaret's heart. Seeds possibly planted by the death of Cora. Snow White has been corrupted, and it could eventually lead to her downfall. Regina puts the heart back in -- better to watch this inevitable train wreck happen than hasten it along. "Now get off my porch!" Oh, Regina...
And capturing all of this heart-pulling fun on his smartphone is Greg Mendel, the stranger who drove into Storybrooke. We now see the connection -- Greg is Owen, the little kid from 1983 who vowed to find his father. He's back, and still looking.
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