ABC’s Once Upon a Time turns 100 and pulls out all the stops in the mid season opener reuniting some friendly and not so friendly faces to help kick off the hero’s new adventure in the Underworld.
Emma wakes up in the front seat of her bug in the middle of what looks like an abandoned amusement park. She’s startled by Neal who’s in the backseat smiling and happy to see her once again. Neal asks how Henry’s doing and Emma assures him that their is doing great but he misses his dad. She then tries to assure Neal that if she had known about the Underworld she would have tried to find him too but she’s on her way now to find Hook and wants Neal’s help.
The Underworld is meant for those who have unfinished business and Neal explains that it wouldn’t have made a difference because he isn’t there, he’s moved on to another place and is happy. Neal warns Emma though, that the Underworld isn’t a good place to be and that things aren’t what they seem. Once you’re there it isn’t easy to leave and despite her good intentions this journey may not turn out the way Emma plans and it’s imperative that she remembers who she is. Neal tells Emma he loves her and always will and just as he exits the bug Emma is jolted awake once again on the boat to the Underworld with her family just as they arrive at their destination.
The Underworld is a desolate place. It’s a rundown eerie version of Storybrooke. Emma questions why it looks the way it does but Rumple doesn’t have patience for her questions which he deems unimportant. Just then in the distance Cruella’s car screeches through town startling Emma. Rumple explains that the people in the Underworld are there because they have unfinished business, business that in many cases is connected to those in their group so it would be a good idea to get a move on.
The group decides to split up to cover more ground when Regina notices a man tagging a storefront with red paint giving her a knowing look. We are immediately taken back to the Enchanted Forest on a day which happens to be Regina’s birthday. She’s storming through the forest with her typical Evil Queen bravado approaching a group of terrified peasants. A young woman approaches the Evil Queen and offers her a pie as a birthday present. In her typical over the top flare Regina sticks her finger in a hole in the center of the pie to dig out the filling for a taste. She realizes it’s blueberry and acknowledges it isn’t bad but she prefers Apple. She proceeds to threaten the group with death if they don’t hand over Snow White when the same man we saw previously in the Underworld appears. He offers to help the Evil Queen with the location of Snow White but requests something in return. Regina responds with a threat of a quick death or a slow death as puts him in a Darth Vader style choke hold from a few feet away.
Snow White, Charming and the Dwarves jump out from the woods surrounding and outnumbering Regina. Snow wants to end their feud once and for all but Regina isn’t having it though she is feeling generous since it is her birthday after all and takes off in a cloud of purple smoke, leaving the fight for another day.
Regina appears back at her castle irritated by the situation as her father, Henry, trails behind her asking her if this is really how she wants to spend her birthday. He once again pleads with his daughter to give up her pursuit of vengeance and try to live a happy life. Regina assures her father that she’ll never give up until Snow White’s heart is placed safely in confines of a wooden box. Henry tries to remind Regina that while he knows how much she loved Daniel it was Cora who ripped out his heart in an effort to control Regina and turn her into the same power hungry dangerous monster Cora herself had become.
This enrages Regina and she assures her father that Cora does not control her that she is the one who sent Cora through the looking glass into Wonderland but Henry insists that until Regina lets go of her quest for revenge, Cora will always have a hold on Regina.
Back in the Underworld we find ourselves in what looks like Regina’s Mayoral office with the man who was tagging the storefront moments ago. He enters the room addressing his Queen who is none other than Cora herself. YES! Barbara Hershey has returned! Cora is seated behind the desk happy to receive the information about her daughter’s arrival.
Meanwhile, Snow makes her way into Granny’s diner looking for Hook only to encounter not Granny but the Blind Witch (Emma Caufield) and a few other creep unsavory characters behind the counter. The Witch is taken back by the fact that Snow has entered the establishment and offers to serve her some gingerbread or some children. She assures Snow she’s joking about the children but does tell her that gingerbread is pretty good. Snow shakes off the witches offer to explain she’s there looking for Hook. Just then David enters the diner and Snow notices that he’s changed his clothes and wonders what’s going on. David approaches Snow, grabs her in a passionate embrace and kisses her. They pull apart when he explains he can understand why his brother is so taken with Snow, revealing it was actually James and not David. James asks Snow to let Dave know he sends his regards.
Just as James exits out the back David, Emma and Rumple come inside realizing what just happened. They have all come up empty finding any trace of Hook and Emma is starting to wonder if he doesn’t have any unfinished business. Rumple reminds Emma that Hook died a Dark One so of course he has unfinished business. Rumple’s tired of following their plan and takes off to look for something he thinks is still down there that might help them find Hook. Henry shows up after looking through the rooms hoping to find his dad so he could let Neal know he’s ok but Emma assures Henry his dad knows he’s ok and that Neal is in a better place.
Regina and Robin are roaming Main Street where Robin is beside himself with how much it looks like Storybrooke but really it is far from it. Regina reminds him that the dark curse created Storybrooke so it isn’t far off to think it had something to do with the Underworld as well. Regina sees the man who’s been following them and demands to know what he wants. He tells her someone would like to see her.
Back in the Evil Queens castle, Regina is pulling the petals from a black rose listing the countless things about Snow White she hates when her father shows up. Regina walks out heading to her own birthday party she has no desire to actually attend leaving Henry alone in her chambers. A desperate Henry calls the magic mirror and insists he contact Cora in Wonderland. At first mirror refuses but Henry is insistent that this is the only way to try and break through to Regina by requesting her mother’s help.
Henry tries to get Cora to speak to Regina and convince her to help Regina and stop the feud. Only Cora has no intention of helping Regina stop in her quest, she’s there to help her achieve it. In his hast to find Regina and try to convince her on his own, he leaves Cora in the mirror unattended now capable of entering their realm through the mirror more determined than ever to help her daughter.
Flash forward to the present we see Regina reunited with Cora. Regina and Cora embrace both happy and sad to see one another. Regina had hoped that Cora had moved on to a better place and Cora has sent into motion a plan to get Regina, Henry and Robin out of the Underworld as quickly as possible. Regina wants Cora to help her find Hook but Cora thinks Regina’s friends and family are holding her back. It’s too dangerous for Regina to be there and if Regina wont make the choice to leave on her own Cora will do it for her. She takes them down to the firey depths of the Underworld to show Regina the consequences of her actions. Cora’s flunky is standing at the edge of the fire pit and she tosses him in. She wants Regina to realize that if she doesn’t leave her father Henry Sr. will suffer the same fate.
After splitting from the group, Rumple makes his way to his shop in search of an item he believes still exists that will help them locate Hook. He quickly encounters his father Peter Pan waiting to strike up a deal of his own. He allows Rumple to find the item he’s searching for as a sign of good faith but Peter wants a way out of the Underworld and is intent on leaving with Rumple on his awaiting boat. Only problem with this plan is Peter will have to take the place of someone from Rumples group to do so. Rumple isn’t willing to make a deal but Peter assures him he’ll be back.
Back at Granny’s Regina explains to the group Cora’s threat to her father if she, Henry and Robin don’t leave on the boat in one hour. Regina struggles with the decision to leave because she won’t kill her father a second time. Emma wants Regina to take the deal, to take Henry and Robin and save herself. The Charming’s think it’s a terrible idea because they all need to stay to find Hook. Rumple steps up with the potion he found in his shop and explains that if they pour its contents over Hooks grave they’ll be able to locate him. Apparently everyone in the Underworld has a grave. Go figure. Snow thinks they can find Hook and hope that boat to the land of the living in under and hour and Rumple encourages the group to get moving because he’s had enough and is getting the hell outta hell asap. Emma’s fed up with Rumple and threatens to tell Belle about Rumple still being the Dark One if he doesn’t help them. Rumple takes off and Snow stops Emma from following reminding Emma they don’t have much time.
Flashback to the Enchanted Forest we find Henry Sr. Alone in the dark waiting for Snow to arrive. When she does she’s surprised by a second Henry Sr. showing up just behind her. Turns out Cora followed her ex-husband and disguised herself to capture Snow on her own which she does. She pulls Snow’s heart right out of her chest with a horrified Henry watching helplessly. Cora places Snow’s heart in a wooden box but not before she instructs Snow through her heart to forget this ever happened and to go back to her friends. Cora and Henry head to Regina’s birthday party planning to give her one hell of a gift.
In the Underworld we find our group at Hooks grave where Emma cautiously tries to summon him only it’s not quite working the way they anticipated. Hook’s showing up in flashes looking more like a zombie from The Walking Dead than the cocksure Pirate. They can’t seem to reach him and are no closer to finding than there were when they arrived. Emma realizes they only have 30 minutes left before the boat leaves for home and she wants her family to take it before they all end up stuck in the Underworld. Charming refuses to accept this and tells Emma they aren’t going anywhere until they find Hook. They believe in Emma and they won’t leave her. Emma turns to Regina trying to convince her to save herself and at least take Henry and Robin to the boat. Regina tries to refuse but she knows if she stays her father will find a fiery fate.
It’s a birthday party in the Enchanted Forest. What’s a party without a cake? A black cake with a less than amused Evil Queen blowing out the candles irritated by an annoying jester who meets an untimely death. Regina is over this birthday party and just as she’s about to leave her mother shows up gift in hand wanting to provide Regina with the one gift that has alluded her. Snow’s heart. Cora presents her daughter with the box but Regina isn’t convince that her mother doesn’t have something up her sleeve so Cora summons the mirror to show Snow White so Regina can see for herself as she crushes Snow’s heart in her own two hands.
Unfortunately the only thing Regina sees is Snow giving a toast to Regina and as Regina crushes the heart in her hand Snow doesnt’ die. The heart belongs to a poor soldier who drops dead behind them. Cora is confused but quickly realizes that Henry got ahold of the heart and must have switched it out before she could give it to Regina.
Henry Sr. enters Regina’s chambers to an irate daughter. He tries to convince Regina to end this and save her soul. He fears his daughter will be lost to the darkness and end up like Cora once and for all. Regina can no longer trust her father and decides that she’ll need to keep him close to make sure he doesn’t betray her again. She shrinks him down to size and places him in the wooden box meant for Snows heart. Cora shows up annoyed by Henry’s interference but Regina assures her mother that she’s taken care of her father. She shows Cora box with Henry inside and decides it’s time to send her mother back to Wonderland. Just as Cora is being sucked back into the mirror she grabs the box that holds Henry thinking she’ll take him with her and doom Regina to a life completely alone.
Back in the Underworld Regina is standing at her father’s grave wanting to contact him. He arrives to a tearful, broken Regina unable to look him in the eyes. Regina repeatedly apologizes to Henry through remorseful sobs and Henry goes to his daughter holding her, reassuring her that it’s ok. Regina can’t believe that he could ever forgive her. Henry tells her of course he forgives her and he loves her no matter what because that’s what father’s do. Regina won’t let her father’s suffering get any worse but Henry doesn’t want Regina to leave. He wants her to stay and help find Hook. He knows that Cora is once again using Regina. Regina has a job to do and she needs to stay and help Snow and Emma. Henry wants to see Regina do something good and by staying she spreads hope which is a powerful thing.
Down in depths of the Underworld Cora has Henry Sr. ready to drop into the fire pit when Regina and Henry rush in to stop her. Cora tries to convince Regina she needs to take the boat home but Henry Sr. Wants her to stay and fight for what’s right. Regina refuses to leave and Cora throws Henry Sr. towards the fire regretful but resolute that she’s doing the right thing trying to protect Regina. Cora disappears in a cloud of purple smoke and Regina runs to her father while her son watches stunned by what just happened. Regina cries out to her father apologizing for what’s happening when the flames start to dissipate and he seems to be fine.
As the flames fade away a bridge appears to what looks like a bright white light leading up to a better place. Henry Sr. realizes what his unfinished business was…Regina. His biggest regret was letting Cora prevent Regina become the woman he always knew she could be. Regina is free and Henry couldn’t be prouder of her. Regina’s son Henry steps forward to introduce himself to his grandfather. Henry thanks his grandpa for believing in his mother as much as he does and Henry Sr. thanks his grandson for looking after Regina when he couldn’t. It’s time for Henry to go but a tearful Regina doesn’t want him to. Henry tells Regina he loves her and wants her to never forget who she really is and he walks into the light.
Regina and Henry make their way down Main Street holding each other as they approach the rest of the group. They inform them that Henry Sr. is in a better place leading them to realize that everyone in the Underworld can be saved igniting a new mission. Rumple doesn’t want anything to do with this new plan and leaves the group to fend for themselves. Operation Firebird is born. As the group continues down the street Regina turns and notices the demolished clock laying in front of her starts to tick and time begins to move once again.
Unfortunately for Cora things take a darker turn. She makes her way to the depths of the library where Hades (Greg Germann) is waiting. He is none too happy that she failed in her mission to get Regina to leave his world. She doesn’t understand why Hades needs Regina to leave the Underworld so badly. Hades reminds Cora that he’s in charge and that her failure has consequences. Hades taunts Cora telling her he knows what she did to her other daughter in an attempt to climb the social latter. Cora is sent off transformed back to the miller’s daughter pushing a cart in tattered clothes. Blue hair ablazing Hades enjoys a glass of wine while watching a humiliated and dejected Cora leave.
Once Upon a Time airs Sunday’s 8pm on ABC.