IconMoveProtect IconOUAT IconEvent IconStorybrooke IconS2
This is about keeping Storybrooke secret.
Henry to Emma about Operation Praying Mantis src

Operation Praying Mantis is a mission featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It makes its début in the twentieth episode of the second season.


After First Curse

Operation Praying Mantis begins shortly after Emma suspects Neal's fiancée, Tamara, is the "her" that August attempted to warn her about. Henry overhears Emma telling Mary Margaret about her theory about Tamara, but the latter does not believe her. After Mary Margaret has left, Henry surprises Emma by asking if they are "back in business". The two have a stakeout in Emma's car, which is parked outside the inn, as they are wait for Neal and Tamara to leave so they can break into the couple's guest room. During this, they brainstorm new names for their current mission. Emma suggests Operation Tiger, but Henry disagrees because he wants a name that reflects the idea of the town hiding in plain sight. Eventually, he settles on the name Operation Praying Mantis. Once Neal and Tamara have exited the inn, Emma breaks into the guest room and has Henry stand guard outside while she searches inside. When Neal unexpectedly returns, Henry begins kicking the door to alert Emma, with Neal recognizing this technique as something he once taught Emma. Neal confronts Emma, and she questions him about Tamara, who has a list of Storybrooke residents and their fairytale counterparts. Neal explains that he gave that list to Tamara in order to help her assimilate into town. Regardless, he allows Emma to search the floorboard compartment, where nothing suspicious is found. Emma leaves, with her theory seemingly debunked, but later at the apartment, Henry insists her instincts about Tamara are correct. ("The Evil Queen")

Suspecting that Regina destroyed the bean fields, Emma and her parents investigate the mayoral office, but they do not find her. Emma discovers the office was last entered by an override code, an oddity which makes her suspect Tamara again. She questions Neal, who states Tamara is out jogging in the woods, however, she notices sand left behind on the floor, indicating Tamara is at the beach rather than the woods. Under Operation Praying Mantis, Emma searches the beach as Neal tags along with her. Tamara, not wanting her cover to be blown, jogs up with an excuse for why she changed running locations. With a concoction from Mr. Gold, Mary Margaret uses it to breach a temporary bodily connection with Regina, in order to find her location. They track Regina to the cannery, where she is, unknown to them, being held prisoner by Greg and Tamara. While David and Mary Margaret rush deeper into the cannery to find Regina, Emma and Neal stay behind to search the halls. Operation Praying Mantis soon comes to a head, as Tamara, attempting to flee the building, clocks Emma, and then aims her gun at Neal, who finally discovers his fiancée has been lying to him this entire time. Choosing her job over him, Tamara shoots Neal, as Emma knocks her to the ground. During the scuffle, Tamara redirects the pair's attention by opening a portal with a magic bean, before she escapes. Despite Emma's efforts to pull Neal up from the portal's opening, he falls in, while she is unable to save him. ("Second Star to the Right")

With plans of destroying Storybrooke's magic, Greg and Tamara activate a trigger to cause the town to self-destruct. Emma and Regina, combining powers, manage to nullify the trigger. Directly after, Greg and Tamara secretly kidnap Henry, revealing their actual intent was to distract everyone so they could take him to Neverland. ("And Straight On 'Til Morning")

Weapons, Items and Magic Involved


Popular Culture

  • The name of Henry's operation for keeping Storybrooke secret is Operation Praying Mantis, which was an U.S. army attack on Iran in 1988.