"The Evil Queen" is the twentieth episode of Season Two of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Jane Espenson & Christine Boylan and directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton. It is the forty-second episode overall, and premiered on April 28, 2013.
With the aid of Hook, Regina attempts to put a plan in motion that will help transport herself and Henry back to Fairytale Land. But her plan revolves around a fail-safe that was planted within the curse, which if triggered could wipe Storybrooke off the map - and kill all of its inhabitants; and Emma's suspicions about Tamara grow. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was, the Evil Queen asks Rumplestiltskin to transform her into an unrecognizable peasant in order to kill an unsuspecting Snow White, with the twisted aim of earning the love and respect of her subjects.
In the Clock Tower, Hook is being held hostage by Tamara and Greg. He tells them that he is accustomed to this as a pirate, so if what they are doing is meant to be torture, it's not working. Greg says that he is just offering Hook a job. Hook then tells them that he already killed Rumplestiltskin, hence his life's ambition has been reached. Tamara wishes she could have seen Hook stab Mr. Gold. She also tells Hook that Mr. Gold is alive. Hook looks through his spy glass in anger as he sees that Mr. Gold is indeed alive, and happily walking with Lacey. Greg says he will never get another chance to kill Mr. Gold. Unless they help him. Hook asks how they could and Tamara says she knows how to kill magical creatures. Greg tells Hook they will help him if he helps him find his father. Hook asks Greg how he expects him to be able to find his father, and Greg tells him it is because he knows the woman who took him, Regina.
In the Enchanted Forest that was, the Evil Queen and her henchmen go looking for Snow White on horseback. They come to a little cottage where they believe she is hiding, but realize that it is abandoned once they step foot in the cottage. The Evil Queen believes that Snow White was staying there, but someone tipped her off and she fled. The Evil Queen then orders her henchmen to bring the villagers. She lies to the mass of villagers by telling them that Snow White has betrayed them by poisoning her own father, so that she can claim the throne for herself, and that Snow White now lives as a bandit in the villages. Regina offers the villagers riches for information leading to Snow's capture. Not one of the villagers budges. After the villagers all refuse to give her any information, she tells her henchmen to kill them all, and to show no mercy.
At the Storybrooke Dock, an old fisherman overhears that David Nolan and Mary Margaret Blanchard are discussing whether or not to bring Regina with them when they return to the Enchanted Forest. David tells her that they can't risk taking her because she is far too dangerous. Mary Margaret feels that Henry would want her to come, and despite everything she has done she is still his mother. David tells her that her actions would continue, because every time they have offered her another chance she has gone back to her evil ways. David then says that instead of a chance, they give Regina a choice, she can either stay in Storybrooke, or go with them to the Enchanted Forest, where she will live out her days in Rumplestiltskin's former cell. After hearing this, the old fisherman walks away from the Docks, and transforms back into his true form, Regina Mills, who shakes her head at the idea of living in a cell.
The Evil Queen comes back from the village to her Dark Palace, where Rumplestiltskin is waiting for her. She tells him that even after she offered the peasants gold and riches, they still defended Snow White. Regina asks him why the peasants are loyal to Snow White, when she is their queen. Rumplestiltskin points out that it is hard to be loyal to a queen, when she slaughters an entire village, hence the name "Evil Queen". Regina denies being evil, and says that Snow White is the evil one, and they call her the Evil Queen because of Snow White's lies. She says that once Snow White is dead, the peasants will see that she is a benevolent queen, however Rumplestiltskin still doubts this. Regina tells him that she just needs to find Snow first, and asks Rumplestiltskin to teach her Cora's shapeshifting spell. Rumplestiltskin tells her that it took her mother a month to learn it, and in a week Regina may only be able to change the color of her hair. Regina asks Rumplestiltskin to do the spell for her, and he agrees, but warns her that she won't be able to use any magic while the spell is cast. Regina scoffs at this, telling Rumplestiltskin that she does not need magic, but just needs to get close enough to snap Snow White's neck with her bare hands. He tells Regina to call him once she kills Snow White, because only he can return her to her true self. First, Regina asks him the price, and Rumplestiltskin tells her that she must cut off all trade with King George's kingdom. Regina does not understand why she needs to do this, but agrees anyway. Rumplestiltskin then transforms Regina into a peasant. Regina says that she does not feel any different, and only notices that her clothes are now rags, but once she looks in a mirror, she sees that she looks like a completely different person. Rumplestiltskin tells her to be careful, and that a queen amongst peasants might not like what they say, but Regina says that when she is done, the peasants will love her and hate Snow White.
In Storybrooke, Regina finds Henry playing with a birdhouse in the town square, and tells him that she has something to show him. She removes one of the magic beans from her purse, and tells Henry that Mary Margaret and David are planning to take him to the Enchanted Forest, but have been keeping it a secret from him. Regina also tells him that they are planning to leave her behind in Storybrooke. Henry says that maybe they plan on taking her, but just haven't told her yet. Regina tells Henry that they only see the evil in her, and that the bean in her way to go back and start fresh. She tells Henry that the only way for her to accomplish this it through a fail-safe built into the curse that will act like a self-destruct button. Henry asks her what would happen to everyone else in Storybrooke if this fail-safe were to be enacted, and Regina responds that they would die. Henry pulls away from Regina, and is clearly upset by this plan. Regina tells him that with everyone gone he will love her again, but Henry tells her that he could never love anyone who would do such horrible things. Henry tells Regina that he is going to stop her, but Regina pulls out her Book of Spells and wipes Henry's memory of the conversation. Henry asks her what she is doing there, and she tells she missed him.
After being disguised by Rumplestiltskin, the Evil Queen walks among peasants. She seems content, until she sees that a street peddler is selling people a chance to take a shot at the "Evil Queen", which is in reality, a dummy made to look like Regina. A man steps up to shoot the dummy, and the peddler jokes with the crowd of people, telling them that they can't shoot the Evil Queen in the heart, because she doesn't have one. The man then hits the dummy right in the heart, causing Regina to step forward. She asks the man how he could do such a thing to his own queen, and the man answers that Snow White should be the queen, which infuriates Regina. She tells the crowd gathered around the peddler that Snow White is a murderer and a bandit, but the crowd rejects that notion, and begin chanting for Regina's execution, but scurry away as soon as the Evil Queen's henchmen come through the streets. They walk up to where the Evil Queen dummy was, and see Regina, who looks nothing like their queen due to her disguise, and arrest her, because they believe that she is the one who is responsible for this act of treason. She tells her henchmen that she is the queen, but they scoff at her, before taking her away in shackles.
In Regina's mayoral office, Regina has been keeping her stolen magic beans in a special container. Hook shows up at her office, and asks her for help. Regina thinks he means protection from Mr. Gold, but Hook tells her that Greg Mendell is in league with Tamara, who abducted him, and now the pair wants him to get close to Regina and then betray her. Hook tells Regina that he won't betray her, but does want to form an alliance with her, partially to reconnect with his former ally, Cora. Regina tells Hook that her mother has since past. Hook offers his condolences to Regina, telling her that Cora always wanted one thing: Regina to be a winner. Hook then says to Regina that although his revenge failed, the best tribute he could give Cora is helping Regina with hers. Regina agrees to show Hook her supply of magic beans, which she intends to use to get back to the Enchanted Forest with Henry, much like her mother intended to do with her. The two form their alliance then and there, with Hook asking if the total destruction of Storybrooke includes Mr. Gold, and Regina again says that this destruction is total, and will indeed kill "Hook's crocodile", if he is willing to help.
Tamara and Emma bump into each other at Granny's Diner, causing the contents of Tamara's purse to fall onto the floor of the diner. Emma rushes to help Tamara with the things, among them, Emma sees that Tamara has a list of numerous Storybrooke residents complete with their Enchanted Forest identities listed beside them. After seeing this, Emma asks Tamara how she feels about Storybrooke, and that she knows it is a lot to take in. Tamara says that that is an understatement, but Emma would know that better than anyone. Emma tells Tamara that Henry helped her get through the "craziness" of Storybrooke, and Tamara tells her that Neal is doing the same for her. Emma then asks Tamara if she knows what would happen if the world found out about a town full of fairytale characters, but Tamara tells her that she has nothing to fear from her, and the two part ways.
Emma tells Mary Margaret that she believes Tamara is the "she" August warned them about. Mary Margaret tells Emma that she shouldn't be discussing these things when Henry is sitting in his room upstairs in hearing range of the conversation. Mary Margaret tells Emma that she believes her suspicion about Tamara is a manifestation of her stress because of Neal coming to Storybrooke. Emma tells Mary Margaret that it has nothing to do with her, and is about August nearly being killed by a woman that she believes is Tamara. She then tells Mary Margaret about the list she saw fall out of Tamara's purse with everyone's Enchanted Forest names and Storybrooke names. Mary Margaret blows this off, saying that there are many potential explanations for the list. Emma then tells Mary Margaret that when Tamara said that she could be trusted she lied. Mary Margaret says that Emma's "superpower" has been unreliable lately, and when Emma is "emotional". Emma insists that her relationship with Neal was over a decade ago, and all feelings she had for him are gone. Mary Margaret tells Emma not to tell Henry until she knows something as fact to prevent Henry from thinking that his parents may get back together. As soon as Mary Margaret leaves the apartment, Henry comes downstairs, asking Emma if they are "back in business". Henry asks her if he can help investigate Tamara, and Emma reluctantly agrees.
Hook and Regina go to the Storybrooke Library. There, Hook asks Regina if she needs two people for her plan, because one needs to operate the elevator for the other one to explore below Storybrooke. Regina says that before magic came to Storybroooke, that was the reason it needed two people, but now she can easily operate it by herself. With a wave of her hand the elevator is opened, and the two allies enter the elevator, and she once again waves her hand, closing the elevator and beginning their descent.
The Evil Queen's henchmen continue to drag a disguised Regina through the streets. She pleads with them to let her go, and tries to convince them that she is truly their queen by recalling past events that only she would no about, but neither of the henchmen believe her. They lay the believed traitor onto a piece of wood, ready to chop off her head. Regina calls out for Rumplestiltskin, but instead of him coming to her rescue, a masked hero comes and fights these henchmen, eventually kicking them to the side, before unmasking herself as Snow White. The realization that Snow White was the one who rescued her from death causes Regina to faint into the arms of bystanders.
Regina and Hook exit the elevator into the subterranean level of Storybrooke. Hook asks Regina if she thinks that their constant pursuits for vengeance is the cause of them being disliked, and says that after the death of his "crocodile" he will have nothing to look forward to in life. Hook tells her that she doesn't understand the nature of revenge; according to Hook revenge is not a beginning, but and ending. Regina says that after her revenge is complete she will still have Henry to look forward to, and destroying Storybrooke is a small price to pay for this. When Hook extends his arm to guide Regina further into the depths, she sees that he is wearing a cuff that once belonged to her mother, and asks for it back. Hook tells Regina that Cora gave it to him so that he was able to climb the Beanstalk, but Regina doesn't care and insists that it is her mother's and should now be hers. Hook then allows Regina to take the cuff off of him, and then the two continue on their journey. Hook asks her why she couldn't have hidden the trigger in the back of her wardrobe, and Regina responds that it is meant to be hidden and guarded. Hook asks her who it is that is guarding her trigger for her, and Regina tells him simply, "a friend". According to Regina, this "friend" is sustained by a spell that allows her to live in whatever form she is currently in. She then tells Hook that her friend is the reason getting the trigger requires two people. Regina tells Hook her plans, she'll get the trigger while Hook will distract the trigger's guardian. Once Hook resists this, Regina pushes him down a steep underground cliff into the lair of the trigger's guardian. After falling Hook lands into this lair and sees that the ashes of the guardian begin to reform. The ashes of the guardian swirl around until the formerly slayed dragon is resurrected as an undead creature. Hook tells Maleficent that he loves her in earth tones, before surging away from the shrieking creature. Maleficent lunges at Hook, and Hook manages to swipe Maleficent. This injury causes even more deafening screams from Maleficent, but the injury is healed as quickly as Maleficent was resurrected. Hook swipes at her again, this time Maleficent flings Hook across her lair, unto the rocky terrain. The screams of Maleficent can even be heard up in the higher regions of the subterranean Storybrooke, where Regina is searching for the trigger. She finds the coffin that once held a sleeping Snow White. Regina breaks through the glass coffin and finds a pouch containing what looks like a small brown diamond, but it is really the trigger capable of ending Storybrooke.
The Evil Queen is startled when she awakens, in Snow White's makeshift tent in the woods, to Snow White dabbing her forehead with a warm towel, but Snow White tells her that she has to stay still, because she has a fever. Regina looks confused at first, but realizes that the reason Snow is treating her so differently is due to her altered appearance. Snow White asks Regina her name, and Regina makes one up, telling Snow White that her name is "Wilma", and adds that her family works in the mills. Snow White then assures this "Wilma" that she is going to live. Regina asks Snow how long it will be until she can get up, and Snow tells her that she should be fine after two days of rest. When Snow White mentions that she will kill livestock to get her some food, Regina claims that Snow doesn't know how to kill livestock. Snow doesn't understand why "Wilma" would say this, so Regina pretends that what she said was an assumption based on Snow White's reputation as a princess. Snow tells her that she was taught by someone from another forest. Regina asks Snow why she is helping a stranger when there is a bounty for her. Snow White doesn't answer, but begins bathing Regina's wounds, and tells Regina to listen to her to distract from the pain. She begins bathing her wounds, and also telling the story of being saved from a runaway horse by a random woman. Regina knows that it was her that saved Snow's life, but continues listening. Snow tells Regina that her mother always told her to keep goodness in her heart, and that the woman who saved her proved that. Regina asks how that changed her, and Snow says that it proved to her that two people can have a genuine and selfless connection. She then finishes the bathing process, but Regina asks to hear what happened to the woman who saved her, and Snow says that the woman is now gone, but says that she hopes she comes back. As Snow leaves the tent, Regina starts crying.
Outside of Tamara and Greg's room at Granny's Bed and Breakfast, Henry and Emma wait outside in Emma's car. Henry asks Emma what their new operation should be called. He recalls that their last operation "Operation:Cobra" was all about breaking the curse, while this one is about keeping Storybrooke safe. Emma suggests that "Operation:Tiger" be the working name for their plan to stop Tamara. Henry decides that this is not a fitting name, and instead says that it should be named after something that hides in plain sight, therefore he offers "Operation:Preying Mantis" as the name. They duck in the car when they see someone leave Granny's Diner, but it turns out to be Greg Mendell. Henry tells Emma that he thought that by now they would be having adventures in the Enchanted Forest. Emma asks Henry if that would be something he would want, and Henry asks her if there is a way to get back. Emma tells Henry that there isn't, but Henry sees through her lie, and asks her if the Giant brought a magic bean. Emma tells Henry that he is a "smart kid", and Henry tells Emma that her, him and Neal could go back and get a castle. Emma is about to respond, when Henry tells her to duck. They both see Tamara and Greg leave the building, prompting Henry to say that "Operation:Praying Mantis" is on.
After they get into the Inn, Emma begins picking the lock of Neal and Tamara's room. Henry asks Emma if Neal and Tamara's wedding will be called off once they discover proof that Tamara is evil. Emma looks away from the door, and reminds Henry that her and Neal will not get back together, but Henry says that if their plan works it could happen. Emma continues to tell Henry that it won't change her and Neal's relationship, and her theory about Tamara being evil has nothing to do with breaking up her and Neal. She then tells Henry to stay on the look-out for Tamara and Neal, while she finishes pick locking the door. Emma gets inside, but tells Henry that he has to stay outside to see if Tamara or Neal come back. Henry asks what he should do if he sees them, and Emma tells him to hit the door, but make it look like an accident, or to kick the door like he is bored. Emma begins sifting through Neal and Tamara's things in the room. After coming up empty handed after searching their closet and under their bed, Emma hopes that a creaky tile in the floor will yield some evidence. Meanwhile, Henry sees Neal so he kicks the door. Neal recognizes what is going on, because he taught Emma that trick when they were thieves. Inside, Emma hears Henry kick the door, and tells Neal, once he gets in, that the door was open so she just went in. Neal doesn't buy her story, asking her what is actually going on. Emma tells Neal that she believes Tamara is playing him, and that she is who August was trying to warn them about. Neal criticizes her for breaking into his room, and Emma tells him that Tamara lied to her. Neal says that he never believed she could detect lies, but Emma says that he did. Emma confronts Neal about Tamara's list of fairytale characters, a potential danger to the secrecy of Storybrooke. Neal tells Emma that he made her the list to help familiarize her with the town. Emma says that there is a loose floorboard that could have evidence of Tamara's alleged evil hidden underneath. She agrees to back off from Tamara if there is nothing under it, and Neal agrees. Upon Neal and Emma removing the floorboard, it is shown to contain nothing. Neal tries to talk to Emma about their situation, but she leaves with Henry.
Snow White begins cooking the livestock she killed for her and "Wilma" to eat. Regina wakes up, and Snow comes into the mossen tent, commenting that she looks better and must have slept off her injuries. Snow hands her a sword for protection against the Evil Queen's soldiers, when they go into the woods. While walking with Snow, Regina almost unsheathes the sword quickly before sheathing it again. Regina asks Snow whether or not it is true if the queen sent the Huntsman to rip her heart out. Snow tells her that it is true, and Regina says that it is just awful. She then asks Snow if she would kill the queen for doing that for her. Snow says Regina is in constant pain and is constantly looking for someone to blame for her misery. She says that she lived with Regina, but she could still not see that she was on her side, instead she just wanted to get revenge over receiving love. Snow then says that she wants to be guided by love and would not kill her. Snow tells her that Regina is good inside, she is just afraid to look vulnerable. Regina asks Snow if it is too late for Regina, but Snow says that it is never too late for anyone. "Wilma" asks Snow if she would forgive Regina if she was willing to change, and Snow says that she would. They continue going further, but stop at the piles of bodies Regina ordered her henchmen to kill when they wouldn't betray Snow White. Snow starts crying, because she knows that they are dead for helping her. Regina assures Snow that she wasn't the one who did this, and Snow says that she takes back everything she said about forgiving Regina and Regina being able to change. She then says that Regina is evil and was never good. "Wilma" asks Snow about the time Regina rescued her, which causes Snow to realize that she never told "Wilma" that Regina was the one who saved her. Regina says that she read between the lines, but Snow points her bow and arrow directly at Regina, and says that although her magic may have disguised her she can still tell that it is her. Regina tells her that there is good in her, and almost summons magic, but remembers that the disguise disables her from using magic. She calls for Rumplestiltskin the second time, but he again does not come. Regina then drops her sword, running off into the woods.
Regina comes back up to the Storybrooke Library with her trigger and without Hook, only to discover that he is waiting for her. She asks him how he got out, and Hook just says that he is "striking", but Regina doesn't believe that he could have survived an encounter with Maleficent. Hook says that he excels at survival. He tells Regina that her speech about moving on from revenge touched him, but he won't let it put a stop to his plan, in other words he words he tells her that he won't let it put a stop to Greg and Tamara's plan, who both come walking into the Library. Hook tells Regina that he owes it to them for saving him from Maleficent. He tells Regina that Tamara and Greg have a way of stopping magic. Regina has had enough, and prepares to destroy them all with one wave of her hand, but nothing happens. Greg then tells her that her magic isn't going to work anymore.
Henry is eating some ice cream with Emma, at Mary Margaret's apartment. He breaks through the silence by telling Emma that he believes her about Tamara. Emma says that he should. Henry smiles, saying that once they prove that Tamara is evil, him and the rest of his family can all go back to the Enchanted Forest.
David, Mary Margaret and Leroy drive out to where all of their magic beans are being grown only to discover that they have been ravaged. Leroy says that no one steals from a dwarf, while Mary Margaret questions who would've done something like this.
After Regina narrowly misses being killed by Snow White, she goes to Rumplestiltskin's Dark Castle. She asks him why he didn't come to her when she called him, but Rumplestiltskin just asks her if he knows her. Regina knows he is joking, and confronts him about not coming to change her into her true form. He tells her that he told her she could call, not that he would answer her call. She yells at Rumplestiltskin to remove the spell from her, but first he was right about transforming being a bad thing, and that the people will never love her. He asks her what she is going to do, and once she says that she is going to punish them, he transforms her back into her true form. She looks into the mirror and says "The Queen is dead. Long live the Evil Queen".
In Storybrooke, Regina is still not able to use her magic. She realizes that the cuff Hook gave her is what is preventing her from using magic so she tries to take it off. Greg tells her that it is able to block her magic, and that even if she were to get it off, her magic would still be blocked by the machines inside countering all of Regina's magic. Tamara takes out her list of the names of Storybrooke citizens, and asks Greg which one Regina is. He tells her that she is the Queen, the Evil Queen to be precise. Greg tells her that she was the Evil Queen, but here she is nothing. Regina once again tells Greg that if this is all to find his father, then she does not know where he is. Greg says that she does, but that he has a very different mission to accomplish here, but he refuses to tell Regina. Tamara then puts a bag over Regina's head because of Greg's orders.