Once Upon a Time recap: That '80s Show

A rad flashback takes us back to Storybrooke's early days as Regina prepares to take her revenge
Ep. 17 | Aired Mar 17, 2013

WELCOME BACK, SHERIFF SKINNYJEANS Who knew those clothes would be in style again in the 21st century?

David Gray/ABC

Juggling work, childcare, a social life, gardening, high-tech surveillance, and an insatiable thirst for vengeance is no easy task. (Just ask the Internet!) But tonight, Regina discovered that it really is possible for a modern woman to Have It All -- as long as said woman's mortal enemy is kind enough to take care of the vengeance factor. Also, magic helps.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Tonight's story begins a long time ago, in a patch of woods far, far away. Well, not really: We're in rural Maine in 1983, where a father and son are bonding and making synergistic Star Wars references. Their quality time is rudely interrupted by what appears to be an electrical storm -- one that covers their campsite and all that surrounds it in a weird, green and purple fog. If they were bigger Stephen King fans, the guys might know to be extra wary of that weather.

The next morning, Dad and Kid -- a.k.a. Kurt and Owen Flynn -- awaken to discover that the previously uninhabited wood near their campsite has transformed into a quaint little town, complete with its own familiar-looking hipster sheriff. (Graham!!) That's right: The campers have stumbled onto a baby Storybrooke, currently muddling through its very first day of existence.

The town is new -- but thanks to the curse, its ex-Fairy Land residents immediately find themselves playing the roles they've been assigned. Meek Mary Margaret teaches her elementary schoolers a loaded lesson about birds and cowers whenever Regina is near. Comatose John Doe lies in the hospital, completely oblivious even when his Twue Wuv brings him flowers. An exasperated Granny is constantly bickering with the scantily clad Ruby, a wolf in tart's clothing. Sheriff Skinnyjeans is at Regina's beck and call, not even flinching when she undresses him with her eyes in broad daylight. It's all exactly as the queen dreamed it would be... except for those pesky interlopers Kurt and Owen, who threaten to throw off the equilibrium the Wicked One has worked so hard to achieve.

But the unease Regina's feeling in the past is no match for the emotions she's enduring in the present. Snow's role in Cora's death has sent the Evil Queen careening toward Vengeanceville, with stops in Murderdale, Homicide Hills, and New Retaliationsberg. In other words: She's gonna kill Snow. Thankfully, the Charmings get advance word of Regina's plans thanks to Rumpelstiltskin, who reluctantly agrees to pay his life debt to Snow by helping to save his savior's hide.

A trip to Regina's crypt easily reveals her big plan: She's plotting to cast the Curse of the Empty Hearted, a powerful hex that has the ability to generate devotion. Regina will use the curse to force Henry to love her unconditionally. Casting it also allows her to kill two Charmings with one spell, since one of the curse's ingredients just happens to be the heart of the person she hates most. Yeah, that's got the stench of Cora all over it. (It smells like uneaten ballerina cake.)

NEXT: Where's Ned Ryerson?

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