In Storybrooke, Emma and Regina team up to find out who cursed the town (again); in Fairy Land, Regina learns something surprising about her new adversary
Credit: Jack Rowand/ABC

All right, class, please pull out your Once Upon a Time workbooks — today, we’re going to be adding a branch to your family trees.

That’s right: another one. Yes, Guinevere, I know your diagram barely has any room left; I’m afraid we’re all in the same cramped boat. Just do your best to squeeze it in, between Cora and Rumpelstiltskin. In fact, now that I think of it, you should maybe consider drawing a line between those two names…

Ever since we first learned about Young Cora and Young(er) Rumpelstiltskin’s Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque love affair, speculation has swirled that the Dark One may, in fact, be Regina’s true father. (Which would make the Evil Queen Bae’s half-sister, and Henry’s half-aunt, and… on second thought, maybe we should just forget about the family trees.) The show itself has never actually questioned Regina’s paternity — but the big revelation that came at the end of tonight’s episode may confirm that a child was, in fact, spawned by the Enchanted Forest’s creepiest literal power couple.

To wit: Zelena, a.k.a. the Wicked Witch of the West, claims that she’s Cora’s firstborn. It’s a mark of fairy tale characters’ innate gullibility that Regina immediately believes this claim, but that’s neither here nor there.

And though the witch doesn’t tell us (or Regina) who her birth father was, she does mention that she also used to be Rumpelstiltskin’s pupil — giving her a double-decker dose of resentment toward Regina, whom Zelena thinks of as the Jacob to her Esau. (Or the Wheeze to her Caroline, if you’re more well-versed in Katherine Paterson than the Old Testament.) Given who her mother is — and, uh, the fact that she apparently resurrected Rump and is keeping him locked in an underground cage; more on that later — it certainly seems as though Zelena and Rumpel have a closer connection than they’d share if he had merely been her teacher. And the plot only thickens when you throw in fan theories about how in Once‘s universe, the Dark One and the Wizard of Oz might end up being the same person. (Then again, Kitsis and Horowitz might want to stay away from such an obvious Wicked echo.)

But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m nearly 400 words in already, and I’ve spent them all meticulously dissecting the night’s final few twists — rather than telling you fine people about all the other stuff that happened in “Witch Hunt.” Maybe that’s because this is the TL;DR version of the episode: Nothing else really happened.

NEXT: But if you insist…

Fine, here’s the “just long enough, do read” version: In the Enchanted Forest of one year ago, the Storybrooke Squadron is preparing to storm Snow and Regina’s castle. But before they can attack with their ragtag army of dwarfs and magical crickets and sexy werewolves — oh, hello there, Red! — they’ll have to wait for that pesky corrupted protection spell to be lifted. This is where Regina comes in: She volunteers to enter the castle through the tunnels that conveniently run below it, then switch off the spell so that everyone else can ride in. And here I thought ABC’s adaptation of Under the Dome would last just a little bit longer.

Regina insists on performing this task all by herself. But when she arrives at the mouth of the tunnel, she finds that she’s got a surprise sidekick: Robin Hood, who plans to tag along. He tells the queen it’s because he owes her one — she protected Robin’s adorable son, Roland, during a flying monkey attack earlier that day — but we all know the real reason. Hint: It starts with “twue” and ends with “wuv.” Once really doesn’t waste any time thrusting couples together, does it?

So the two banter their way through the tunnels, avoiding Indiana Jones-esque booby traps as they bare their souls to each other. Robin learns that Regina lost her son; Regina learns that Robin is single (yay!) because his beloved wife died (eh, we can deal with that). They’re bonding quite nicely before they hit a few snafus. First of all, Regina is dismayed to discover that somebody’s been rummaging around in her mother’s crypt — a room that was sealed by what she thought to be unbreakable blood magic. And secondly, Robin is horrified when he discovers the real reason Regina wanted to go to the castle: She’s planning to dose herself with a sleeping curse as soon as she removes the castle’s protective spell. So pretty much, she’s choosing not to be.

Robin tries to feed Regina some hooey about forgiveness and love and second chances, but she’s resolved. So she shuts off the corrupted spell — by putting out a magical fire burning in the world’s fanciest trash can — prepares to prick herself with the draught of living death, and… is interrupted in the nick of time by Zelena, who engages in a bit of light bitchery before expositing their family history. Wow, she really is Cora’s daughter. This is how Regina reacts to the news: “That’s impossible. You’re green.” This is how Zelena reacts to her reaction: “And you’re rude.” Already, my heart is writing a fanfic about the two of them becoming besties and coming over to watch Scandal with me.

NEXT: Regina and Emma play Rizzoli and Isles

We’ll have to wait at least a few more weeks before that can happen. For now, the half-siblings spend a few more minutes sniping at each other before Zelena peaces out by literally hopping onto a broomstick — and Regina goes to find Robin, her face aglow with the promise of a new enemy. She explains to him that she won’t be cursing herself after all, because she’s finally found the one thing she’s been missing since, like, season 1: “Someone to destroy.” I so prefer Vengeful Regina to Mopey Regina; don’t you?

The Regina of present-day Storybrooke is slightly less giddy. Maybe that’s because she went into Granny’s expecting coffee — and instead found herself face to face with the son she thought she lost forever. Though if Snow and Charming are correct and the last thing anyone can remember is saying goodbye to Henry and Emma, as far as Regina can recall, she just saw Henry like, yesterday.

Ahem. Anywho, Storybrooke’s citizens are freaking out because once again, something horrible is happening any time somebody approaches the town’s limits. Last time, crossing over the line meant losing your memory; this time, it means being carted off by a vicious winged simian. (Watch one of these monkeys turn out to be King Louie.) Everyone immediately suspects that Regina is behind this newest magical malady — and the queen doesn’t exactly convince them of her innocence when she explodes during a town hall meeting, causing a miniature earthquake before disappearing in a purple cloud of smoke.

As it turns out, however, the whole “me so evil” thing is merely an act; Emma and Regina are in cahoots, and they’re hoping that Regina’s little show will help them smoke out the real culprit. Though they fail to replicate the memory restoration potion Hook gave Emma, Henry’s two mommies do manage to convince everybody that Regina’s efforts to make said potion were actually successful — a lie they’re hoping will lure the real curse-er to Regina’s office.

Meanwhile, Snow meets an unusually friendly stranger who says she “missed the last curse” and takes an immediate, probing interest in the princess’s unborn baby. Absolutely none of this strikes Snow as the least bit odd, perhaps because pregnancy hormones have addled her brain.

NEXT: Breadcrumbs and… banditry?

The good news: Emma and Regina’s master plan works. The bad news: They don’t catch the curser, who manages to escape from Regina’s office despite the room’s magical protections. She disappears in a cloud of green smoke — which, along with the whole flying monkey thing, is enough for our heroes to deduce their new adversary’s identity. (Emma is surprised to learn that the Wicked Witch is real, perhaps because Snow’s pregnancy hormones have addled her brain.)

What they don’t know, of course, is that Zelena’s got another trick up her sleeve — or, rather, in her secret cellar. That’s where she’s keeping a resurrected, weirder-than-usual Rumpelstiltskin, who seems to have gone just a little bit nuts since last we saw him. Buckle up, dearies: I have a feeling that this is when season 3B really starts.


– Robin and Maid Marian’s son Roland shares his name with a legendary French hero. Probably not a big deal in the long run, but then, breadcrumbs generally aren’t.

– Kinda buried the lead about the whole flying monkey thing: If you get mauled by one, you soon become one. Sort of like vampires or werewolves, minus sex appeal.

– Speaking of wolves: I bet you gave a howl of approval when the real, live Red showed up tonight. (And Dr. Whale! It’s like season 1 up in here.) Given Intelligence‘s subpar performance, it’s reasonable to expect even more of her next season.

– How did Hook know to come fetch Emma in the first place? A little bird told him. Literally. Oh, and it brought along that memory-jogging potion as well. He assumed it had come courtesy of Snow, who denies sending him anything. (Charming, though, sees where Hook was coming from: “Message by bird — it does sound like you.” Hee.) So, who might the messenger be — perhaps Zelena, hoping to reunite the fam before tearing it apart again?

– Still no Mulan among the Merry Men. Blame NBC.

– “What the hell was that thing?” “It looks like a monkey — but with wings!” What is with everybody’s reluctance to just call a flying monkey a flying monkey?

– Present-day Snow panics when meeting memory-wiped Henry and sputters that she and Emma know each other because they were cell mates. Henry, skeptical: “Really? What were you in for?” Snow, winning my heart forever: “…Banditry?”

– And though I’m not too wild about the Fairy Land residents spouting pop culture references, I did like this quip from Regina about the Witch: “I don’t care if the Lollipop Guild is protecting her!”

– Ta ta for now, Little John; hope you enjoy the monkey buffet. (Many different bananas.)

– Emma’s “superpower” isn’t perfect, but it always works on Regina, because reasons. Gotcha.

– Do not Google “cradle cap” unless you want to be scarred for life.

– So does this mean Regina should start watching out for falling houses?

– Next week: Rapunzel, Rapunzel, please explain why we’ve never seen you around town before!

Episode Recaps

Once Upon a Time

Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.

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