"Welcome to Storybrooke" is the seventeenth episode of Season Two of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Ian Goldberg & Andrew Chambliss and directed by David M. Barrett. It is the thirty-ninth episode overall, and premiered on March 17, 2013.
Emma, David and Mr. Gold must protect Mary Margaret against Regina, who is out for revenge and has made it her mission to kill Mary; and Henry, fed up with all of the feuding, devises a plan to put an end to magic. Meanwhile, Regina discovers that a father and son have somehow found their way into her allegedly undetectable town as she and the fairytale characters deal with the effects of the newly cast curse 28 years prior.
A father and his son are camping somewhere in Maine. The father teaches his son how to correctly tie a lanyard keychain. As a gift, the father gives his son a lanyard keychain that he made when his father taught him. They sit up from their lawn chairs to get dinner started, but a strong gust of wind causes them to refocus their attention to putting out their campfire. These winds continually brush against them, and they take refuge in their tent while the Dark Curse blasts through the woods.
The next morning the two wake up to find trees knocked onto the ground, one tree even crushed their car. They begin searching for the nearest highway in hopes of getting a ride from someone to the nearest town. When they look down they see a town near where they had camped the previous night. The man looks at his map, and does not understand how a whole town could suddenly appear overnight. As they explore the town, the sheriff of the town pulls up from behind them, asking the two if they are lost. He tells them his name is Graham, welcoming them to Storybrooke.
It's 1983, and mayor Regina Mills wakes up for the first time in the town of Storybrooke. As she surveys the town, she smiles triumphantly. Regina walks into her new closet and picks out an outfit for the day. Later that morning, she walks through the town that the curse has created for her. She first sees Mr. Gold limping along the sidewalk past Marco, who is struggling to repair a sign. Then, she witnesses Granny arguing with Ruby over the early shift at the diner. She walks past Archie Hopper walking his dog Pongo. Regina almost calls him cricket, but stops herself, calling him Dr. Hopper instead. She walks away from this with a big smile on her face.
A cursed Mary Margaret teaches her students how to make a birdhouse, but the students scurry off to recess after this. Regina Mills walks into her classroom, asking her how long she has taught in Storybrooke. Mary Margaret is dumbfounded, responding "as long as I can remember." Regina takes her away from the classroom and into the hospital. There, Regina shows Mary Margaret a comatose patient. Knowing that they knew each other in the Enchanted Forest, Regina asks her if she recognizes him. To Regina's pleasure, Mary Margaret does not recognize him. She explains to her that he is a John Doe. Mary Margaret is optimistic that someone will find him, but Regina says she is doubtful.
At Granny's Diner, a resident reads the Storybrooke Daily Mirror, which reads "Regan: Marines will be staying in Beirut". Granny serves Regina a plate of pancakes, and Sheriff Graham joins her. They trade compliments, but their flirting is interrupted by the boy, saying that he likes pancakes too. Regina does not recognize him as anyone from the Enchanted Forest. She asks the other people at the Diner whose child he is. She asks Marco, but he says no. The boy's father arrives, telling Regina his name is Kurt Flynn. He asks Regina if she knows where a hotel room might be. Regina acts confused, and asks him why he would need a hotel room. Kurt answers that they need a place to sleep. Graham is taken to the side by Regina, who asks him if he knows who they are. He tells the mayor that they were camping near the Toll Bridge and adds that he is just as surprised as she is. Regina says she is threatened by surprises, and that bad things happen when she feels threatened.
In present-day Storybrooke, Regina is mourning her mother's death. Mr. Gold can be heard saying "black always was your color" before he is seen entering Regina's mausoleum. She tells him to leave, and thinks he came here to gloat, but Mr. Gold remarks he is here to mourn as well. After placing a rose on Cora's casket, he explains Cora will always be in his heart despite their differences. Regina does not accept this; recalling Mr. Gold killed her mother in order to save his own life. Mr. Gold claims "desperate times call for desperate measures." Regina says he may be able to hide behind his dagger, but Mary Margaret will die for tricking her into killing Cora. He doesn't think she will not go through with it because it will cost her Henry, and asks her to give up vengeance as it will not give her happiness. Regina believes it indeed will, but Mr. Gold reasons not even the curse did, but left a hole in her heart. He tells Regina that Cora learned her lesson, she gave up love for power, and if she wants revenge she will lose Henry. Regina says she will find a way to have everything, and is left alone in her mausoleum.
Meanwhile, David, Emma and Henry are all sitting in the loft, while Mary Margaret lays in bed. Henry asks Emma what happened to her. Emma is quick to say she is just sick. Henry looks up at David, who exchanges a look with Emma. Suspecting they're lying, he asks again. Emma denies lying, but Henry calls her out for lying just like she did about Neal being his dad. David shoots Emma a disapproving look, which prompts her to finally tell the truth. Emma admits Mary Margaret is responsible for Cora's death. Henry can't believe it, and tries to reason Snow White would never harm anyone. At the sound of a knock at the door, David answers to see Mr. Gold outside. David tells him to leave, but Mr. Gold assures they will want to hear what he has to say. He cautions them about Regina's plans to strike back. As Mr. Gold takes his leave, David confronts him about owing them more than just a warning. Despite that Mr. Gold argues against it, David points out Mary Margaret did save his life, and they deserve to be helped.
In Storybrooke, 1983, Regina walks into the diner to find Kurt and his son sitting where she usually does. She tells Kurt the mechanic informed her his car will be fixed by the end of the week. Kurt thanks her, and as he and his son are leaving, Owen gives her the lanyard key chain. Puzzled, Regina wonders why he is giving to her, and Owen replies it's a gift for allowing him to sit in her seat. Touched, Regina accepts the present. The next morning Regina wakes up and restarts a new day with a sleeping shirtless Graham in her bed. The day goes by as usual, she takes Mary Margaret to visit the coma patient, sees Mr. Gold limp past Marco, who is struggling to put up the sign, watches Ruby fighting with her grandmother, is greeted by Archie. She bumps into Mary Margaret and berates her for not being careful. Again, Regina wakes up the following morning next to Graham. The sequence of events go by as usual, but Regina is less enthused. When she bumps into Mary Margaret, the woman beings to apologize profusely for her clumsiness. Bored of having the town at her feet, Regina asks why doesn't she fight back. Confused, Mary Margaret doesn't understand why she would ever do that, and continues walking down the street.
Regina walks into the pawnshop, announcing to Mr. Gold she is unhappy. He does not understand what she is talking about and redirects her to see Dr. Hopper for therapy. She references the deal they made in the Enchanted Forest. To her surprise, Mr. Gold does not recall this deal. Regina tells him she should be happy in this town, but everyone does exactly what she wants them to do, and it is not real. She leaves his shop; remarking he has nothing to give her. Outside of the shop, Regina uses a payphone to call Kurt, and tells him she would love to see his son Owen before they leave town.
A present-day Regina is still in her family mausoleum, now frantically searching through her mother's belongings. She begins to cry when she opens her mother's locket which contains an image of them both. In anguished pain, she begins ripping her mother's dresses and finds a written curse in the process.. Regina smiles saying, "Thank you, Mommy".
Soon David and Mr. Gold walk into Regina's mausoleum to discover the mess she has left in her wake. Mr. Gold tells David Regina was searching Cora's belongings to find a spell to use on Mary Margaret. Mr. Gold sees two ingredients are missing from a potion case, the two ingredients necessary for the Curse of the Broken-Hearted. Later, he relays this information to Emma, along with the curse's abilities to make someone love you. Further, he explains that it can make someone believe they love you. Henry walks down, and asks them if Regina will use it on him. He walks over to Emma, requesting she be honest with him. Mr. Gold answers Henry for her; saying if Regina uses this curse she can get everything she wants, revenge on Mary Margaret and Henry's love. David asks him how she gets both by using this particular curse. He states Regina needs the heart of the person she hates most to enact the curse—Mary Margaret's heart. Mr. Gold claims informing them of Regina's plans has fulfilled his end of the bargain, but David and Emma are unconvinced with Mary Margaret and Henry's lives in the balance. Mr. Gold suggests the only way to end a bloody feud begun by death must also end by shedding more blood. David and Emma agree they must kill Regina, but Henry pipes in, saying they're heroes and cannot kill his mom. When no one has a response, Henry storms out of the apartment. Emma hurries to follow suit, and warns David they need to keep Henry as far away from this battle as possible. Mr. Gold agrees; remarking because Cora did not have a heart it made her dangerous, but Regina is more dangerous for having one.
Back in the cursed Storybrooke, Owen and his father are eating dinner with Regina. Kurt asks Owen if he likes the food, and he says no. Kurt steps in, seemingly to reprimand his son, but Regina interrupts him, admitting she is not the best cook unless it involves apples. The mayor asks Owen if he wants to help her with the apple turnovers she plans on making for dessert, sending him out of the dining room to pick out the best apples. Kurt laughs about Owen's comment about the cooking, commenting that he gets his free spirit from his mother. Regina ask Kurt if Owen's mother is in New Jersey. Kurt tells Regina Owen's mother died six months ago. She expresses her condolences, and Kurt explains taking him to Storybrooke was his attempt to take Owen's mind off things. Regina talks of coming here for a fresh start as well, but it has not been as successful as planned. She asks Kurt what good a new start is without someone to share it with. Owen calls them from inside the kitchen. Regina puts the turnovers into the oven. As she takes off her apron, Owen asks her why she is not a mom. Regina tells him it did not work out that way. Owen tells Regina she would make a really good mom. The two discuss Storybrooke, and Owen tells her he likes Storybrooke better than New Jersey. She asks him if he misses his friends, but Owen says he hates it there. Owen reveals to Regina everyone there treats him weird, and she asks him if it is because his mother died; Owen simply nods his head. Following this, Kurt walks in. Regina proposes the idea of both of them staying in town permanently. Despite Owen's excitement, Kurt believes their lives are in New Jersey and refuses the offer. Crestfallen, Regina tries to be understanding.
Emma leads Henry into the diner. Henry is still upset about earlier, and makes it known he doesn't want to talk to her. She agrees, and brings him over to a table booth where Neal is waiting. While Emma goes over to the counter to grab coffee, Henry takes a seat across from his father. Ruby drops off Neal's order for Henry, which is a sundae with extra everything. Henry can tell it is a bribe, but asks what he wants to talk about. Neal presents the idea that he and Emma think Henry would be safer moving to New York with him so Regina will be unable to cast the curse. Henry gives him his own proposed plan to destroy magic and solve everyone's problems. Neal states that it might take a long time for them to figure out how to get rid of magic and, until then, the easier road would be for Henry to come to New York. In compliance, Henry agrees go with Neal out of Storybrooke and excuses himself to the bathroom. Emma sits at the counter when Greg walks in. Ruby approaches to bring his order on a tray, but he asks for his meal to go with plans to go on a hike. While Ruby goes to bag his food, he and Emma chat. She thought he might have gone back to Pennsylvania by now, but Greg is taking a liking to the town, and it's beginning to grow on him. Ruby comes back with the bag in time to hear Greg. After he pays for the meal, Greg leaves while Emma and Ruby exchange a look. Emma leaves the counter, and walks across the diner to where Neal is seated. She asks him how it went, and Neal says it went well. With Henry nowhere in sight, Emma asks where he is, to which Neal notes the bathroom. She sees his back pack is gone from the table booth and is shocked Neal fell for Henry's bathroom trick. They realize Henry ran away and leave in a hurry to find him.
Regina walks up to Mary Margaret's apartment and uses her magic to unlock the door. She sees Mary Margaret laying in bed and takes off her glove, prepared to rip out her heart. Upon approach, she is blocked by Mr. Gold, who is protecting Mary Margaret. Regina looks over his shoulder, telling Mary Margaret he cannot guard her forever.
In 1983, Regina Mills visits the car mechanic Billy to ask if he can take a few extra days to repair Kurt Flynn's car—in order to ensure he stays for as long as possible. Billy tells her Kurt took off a few minutes before she came. Desperate to keep the Flynns from leaving, she removes Graham's heart from its box, and uses it to tell him to pull Kurt's car over for a drunk driving arrest and bring Owen to her. As she turns around in her swivel chair, Kurt stands in front of her desk with a confused expression on his face. Horrified, Regina places the heart back in the box. In an uneasy tone, Kurt says he is leaving, though Regina pleads for him to stay and tries to explain what he just overheard. Just when Kurt exits the office, Graham grabs him from behind and pins him to the desk. Kurt begs Graham to release him and speaks about a "glowing thing that is shaped like a heart". Kurt pushes the box containing the heart onto the floor causing Graham to clutch his own chest in pain. The distraction gives Kurt time to run out into the car where Owen is waiting inside. Owen asks what happened, but Kurt urgently states they must get out of town now.
Henry runs through the woods on the outskirts of Storybrooke carrying his backpack. He bumps into Greg, who is taking a hike. He picks Henry up from the ground, to ask him what he is doing in the middle of the woods. Henry lies, telling him it is for Boy Scouts, and points him in the correct direction of the hiking path.
Ruby, Neal, David and Emma search for Henry in a place he has been before—the mines. David's flashlight shines on a box of dynamite, which Neal believes Henry is using to get rid of magic.
Back in the woods, Henry removes the dynamite from his bag, placing it on the wishing well, the source of magic for Storybrooke.
Greg calls Regina inform her about the whereabouts of Henry in the woods. He's concerned about a young child being all by himself. Regina says she is on her way.
In the past, Kurt and Owen are racing out of Storybrooke, but Regina and Graham follow behind in a police car. Owen is confused and afraid of what they want. As the police car swerves past them, Graham rams his car into the side. To catch up, Graham takes a shortcut, managing to get in front of Kurt's car before he passes the Storybrooke border. Cornered, Kurt tells his son to run as far off into the woods as possible, then to call his uncle. Owen refuses to leave his dad, gripping his key chain tightly in his hand. Kurt promises Owen that, as long as he carries it, he will always be with him. Owen listens to his father, leaving Kurt to be arrested by Graham. Regina approaches Owen, telling him she just wants him to stay with her. Owen chokes out he does not want it like this. Regina apologizes, saying she just wanted them to be happy. Owen runs out of the border from a distraught Regina.
At the wishing well, Henry lights a match to blow it up. Regina cautiously walks over to him. He explains his intent on bringing an end to magic, saying it is ripping apart his family. Regina argues it will not end magic and will instead only get Henry killed. Henry disagrees as he knows Regina only wants magic to cast the spell over him. As Henry brings the match to the explosives, they disappear in a cloud of Regina's magic. He continues to persuade Regina to spare Mary Margaret. Regina does not listen, claiming it is imperative for Mary Margaret to die for what she did. Neal, Emma and David arrive in time to hinder Regina's efforts in regaining Henry. Emma perpetuates she is Henry's rightful mother, but Regina claims after the curse is cast, he will be hers. Emma challenges Regina to get through them first before she kills Mary Margaret. Regina has no qualms with this, and creates a fireball. In defense, David rips his gun out of his holster to point straight at Regina. Henry places himself in the middle of this conflict to get both parties to stop. He says magic has caused them to fight, but Emma believes magic is not the problem—Regina is. Henry stubbornly says magic is what makes good people do bad things, citing Regina and Mary Margaret, which makes David lower his gun. Henry pleads with Regina to help him eliminate magic. She refuses, but agrees to burn the curse.
The police follow Owen to where he said the border of Storybrooke was. To their surprise, there is nothing to be seen. Though they say no town named "Storybrooke" exists, Owen looks straight forward in desperation. On the other side of the barrier, Regina almost touches his face. The police take Owen back into their car and leave.
Mr. Gold is notified by David via a phone call that the curse has been destroyed by Regina. With his protection services no longer necessary, Mr. Gold begins to leave. Quietly, Mary Margaret asks him how Mr. Gold can live with himself after all the evil he has done. Mr. Gold states that it is best to keep telling oneself the right thing was done until one truly believed in it. Unable to follow his advice, Mary Margaret shows herself to Regina on her doorstep and asks to be killed for what she did. Regina says Henry would never forgive her if she did, and instead rips out Mary Margaret's heart. When Regina examines the heart more closely, she sees that it has a black spot on it, which signifies a growing darkness. Regina tells an anguished Mary Margaret the darkness will grow and soon it will infect her own family, too. She shoves the heart back in, and asks Mary Margaret to leave. Behind the bushes, Greg has caught the whole encounter on his camera. He enters into his car and from the ignition key also hangs a familiar looking keychain, revealing Greg is the grown-up Owen. He promises to find his father, Kurt.
"Magic Is Here"
After seeing Regina destroy the Curse of the Empty-Hearted, David, Emma and Neal are hopeful that they can begin to rebuild their family. A crestfallen Henry reassures them that will never be so as long as magic exists and walks away, followed by his family
As described by Benjamin Stockham:
While having Kurt and Owen over for dinner, Regina asks how her homemade lasagna tastes. In response, Owen says she should add red pepper flakes to it. This is a reference to the scene in "The Cricket Game", where Regina mentions red pepper flakes as her secret ingredient for lasagna.
- The title card features a tree falling on Kurt's truck.
- The title of this episode was leaked by Vancity Filming via their Twitter account on January 30, 2013, and officially announced by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on January 31, 2013.
- This episode shares its name with the first chapter of the Once Upon a Time novel, Reawakened: A Once Upon a Time Tale, by Odette Beane.
- This is the first episode to only be set in Storybrooke.
- The different color treatment for the present day scenes and the 1983 flashback scenes, was added to help the audience tell the two stories apart.
- The funeral scene inside Regina's vault, was originally meant to take place outside, in the Storybrooke Graveyard.
- The scenes where Mary Margaret gives the same lesson at school, again and again, day after day, is a mixture of archive footage from "Pilot", and new footage filmed inside a studio, since the location that doubles as the Storybrooke Elementary School was not available for filming.
- The scene at the Marine Garage, originally opened with a sequence where Billy shows Ruby a Chevrolet Camaro he is working on. It was the origin of Ruby's car. The sequence was cut for time.
- A sequence where Sheriff Graham's glove compartment was full of Hall & Oates tapes got cut from the episode.
- The Storybrooke flashbacks begin a few hours after Pinocchio and Emma arrive in the Land Without Magic in "The Stranger", and most likely before the scene with Pinocchio and baby Emma at the group home in the same episode (this scene takes place at an unspecified time after the two of them were remanded to the foster system, which took place "weeks" after they were found, according to a newspaper article in Emma's case file in "True North"), since Billy assures Regina that Kurt Flynn's car will be repaired "by the end of the week" and Kurt picks up the truck before the time is up. The flashbacks also take place 6 years before "The Dark Swan".
- The present-day Storybrooke events occur after "The Miller's Daughter" and before "Selfless, Brave and True".
- Owen interest in Star Wars was first established in "In the Name of the Brother" when his cell phone played the Star Wars opening theme as his ring tone.
- Regina almost calls Archie "cricket", which references his life as an actual talking cricket in "That Still Small Voice".
- The scene of Mary Margaret teaching her students how to make a birdhouse first occurred in "Pilot".
- Marco says he was never lucky enough to have a child, which is also referenced in "Pilot".
- Cora's death resulted from the events of "The Miller's Daughter".
- Mr. Gold and Cora's past relationship was explained in "The Miller's Daughter".
- Mr. Gold mentions Cora giving up love for power that occurred in "The Miller's Daughter".
- The reason of Regina's unhappiness during the curse is explained in "Save Henry".
- The reason for Mary Margaret's saddened state is due to events of "The Miller's Daughter".
- Regina's lasagna also appears in "The Stranger", "The Cricket Game" and "The Other Shoe".
- Owen asks Regina why she isn't a mom, and Regina answers that it just didn't work out that way, sadly. This is later explained in "Mother", where the Evil Queen drinks an infertility potion to not be able to bear a child.
- Henry notes Emma is lying to him again just as she did in "Manhattan ".
- Emma mentions Henry's previous mine expedition in "That Still Small Voice".
- Henry tries to destroy magic again in "Only You". He succeeds in "An Untold Story".
- Kurt's fate is revealed in "Second Star to the Right".
- The real reason behind Mary Margaret's blackened heart is explained in "Best Laid Plans".
- There is a cross on two of the headstones in an establishing shot of Regina's Heart Vault.
- In the flashback story from 1983, Mary Margaret wears a cross.
- There are two references to the movie Tron and its sequel Tron Legacy in this episode:
Fairytales and Folklore
- One of the ingredients needed for Regina's spell is chimera blood. The chimera is a fire-breathing monster from Greek Mythology.
- The song playing on the radio beside Kurt and Owen's campsite is "This Must Be the Place (Native Melody)" by Talking Heads.
- Owen has a Return of the Jedi sleeping bag.
- Owen mentions Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader from the Star Wars movies, and also makes a reference to lightsabers.
- One of the newspaper headlines is "Reagan: Marines Will be Staying in Beirut" referring to the bombing of American and French troops in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War in 1983.
- Kurt mentions he's from "New Jersey, home of the Boss", referencing rock singer Bruce Springsteen.
- The newspaper Regina reads the morning after the curse is dated October 23, 1983. This means Emma's birthday is either October 22, or October 23, depending on whether she was born before or after midnight. The show premiered on October 23. 2011.
- Adam Horowitz has stated that Emma's birthday is October 23. However, the show itself indicates that her birthday on October 22. In "Pilot", Emma celebrates her twenty-eight birthday on this date; the day she arrives in Storybrooke (which was the day before she spends the night behind bars and decides to stay; she even says to Regina that "yesterday was my birthday"). This is further confirmed when August's wooden state is triggered in Phuket, Thailand at 8:15 A.M. on October 24—the very same moment that Emma accepts the room key at 8:15 P.M. (the time zone in Phuket is twelve hours ahead of Maine's timezone). ("Pilot", "The Stranger", "Selfless, Brave and True")
- Moreover, Emma is put in the magic wardrobe before the Dark Curse completely transports everyone to Storybrooke. When the Dark Curse reaches the Land Without Magic, it's October 23 of 1983 night time. However, when Emma arrives in the Land Without Magic, it's day time, meaning she has to be born in October 22 of 1983, not 23. ("Pilot", "Welcome to Storybrooke", "Selfless, Brave and True")
- There is an article called "Shelter Dog Adopted by the Couple that Stole him." It is directly adapted from a real news article from October 2012, from the news section on the official website of WMTW, channel 8, an ABC-affiliated television station, serving the Portland, Maine television market.
|ORIGINAL VERSION||SHOW VERSION|
Dog adopted by
couple that stole him
Anonymous donor pays adoption fee
BRUNSWICK, Maine – An anonymous
|Shelter Dog Adopted by|
the Couple that Stole him.
An anonymous donor stepped up to [obscured]
- The curse scroll for the Curse of the Empty-Hearted is later re-used as Fiona's curse in the Season Six episode "The Black Fairy".
- The clock in the corner of Granny's Diner has stopped. It says 11.35, even though the clock in the Blanchard Loft shows the same time earlier in the episode. The clock remains stuck at 11.35 in "Selfless, Brave and True" and "And Straight On 'Til Morning". In "It's Not Easy Being Green", the clock has started moving again.
- In Mary Margaret's apartment, there is a framed drawing of an apple tree, which is remarkably similar to the Storybrooke coat of arms.
- Owen's pom pom hat was Edward Kitsis' idea. It was something that he himself had as a child.
- Kurt's vest is inspired by the 1982 science fiction horror movie The Thing, where George Bennings (played by Peter Maloney) is wearing a west similar to Kurt's. Kurt Flynn was named after Kurt Russell, who plays the main protagonist of the film.
- In the 1983 flashback, Ruby is wearing red Disco Pants from American Apparel and Pleaser Buckle And Lace Up Red Thigh High Boots.
- When Regina is dining with Kurt and Owen, she is wearing a Stretch-silk Bow Blouse and a London Leather-Trimmed Pencil Skirt from Burberry (no longer available).
|Finnish||"Uusi alku"||"A New Start"|
|French||"Bienvenue à Storybrooke"||"Welcome to Storybrooke"|
|German||"Willkommen in Storybrooke"||"Welcome to Storybrooke"|
|Hungarian||"Isten hozta Storybrookban!"||"Welcome to Storybrooke!"|
|Italian||"Benvenuti a Storybrooke"||"Welcome to Storybrooke"|
|Portuguese||"Bem-vindos a Storybrooke"||"Welcome to Storybrooke"|