On this post-Turkey Day weekend, let's all give thanks to "Save Henry" for finally getting us off the dark, dreary island of Never Land, tying up the first half of season 3 with a magical little bow... and then, in true Once fashion, reminding us once more that happy endings are never as uncomplicated as they seem.
The episode also explained something that fans have been wanting to know for years: how, precisely, Regina came to adopt Henry. Strike that: The episode sort of explained this. According to tonight's fairyback -- er, Storybrookeback -- er, garden-variety-flashback -- Regina's earthbound yearning for a child is a direct result of her earlier patricide. Killing Henry Sr. left the Evil Queen with a hole in her heart, one she's decided to fill 18 years later by procuring a child. But as Smash viewers know all too well, the adoption process can be long and torturous -- which is why Regina turns to Storybrooke's friendly neighborhood Dark One, a man who knows a thing or two about cutting through red tape with bedazzled scissors.
Naturally, her instincts are correct. Quicker than a cackle, Rumpelstiltskin -- still, at that point, known around town only as Mr. Gold -- finds a baby for Regina in Boston. (Um, how? Let's hold onto this question.) Because the queen agreed to a closed adoption, it's some time before the kid's incessant crying prompts her to have Sidney Glass dig up the birth mother's medical records... thereby revealing that baby Henry is none other than the spawn of Emma "Notso" Charming-Swan.
After Regina discovers the kid's parentage, she's understandably bemused. But when she confronts "Gold" about his apparent string-pulling, she's met with a calm mask of apparent naiveté -- one that may or may not be genuine.
Hang on a minute. Kitsis and Horowitz have said that Rumpelstiltskin regained his Fairy Land memories when Emma came to town in Once's pilot -- specifically, when he heard the prodigal princess say her name aloud. So even though this detail has never really been made clear on Once itself, at this point in the narrative, Rumpel shouldn't know the true identity of baby Henry's mother. How, then, did he just happen to set Regina up with the one kid in this universe who has ties to the magical realms -- not to mention the Enchanted Forest's savior? Especially given his current lack of magic? Maybe I'm missing something obvious, but it sure seems like there's something funny going on here -- either retconning or misdirection that has to be more fully clarified at a later date.
NEXT: Regina takes a tipple