The Charming Family Tree
This is an attempt to unravel the web of extremely complex and convoluted character relationships in this, especially with regards to Henry's family. There be much Fridge stuff here.
Henry is the son of Emma and Baelfire. His maternal grandparents are thus Snow White and Prince Charming, and his paternal grandparents are Milah and Rumple. Henry's step-grandmother is Belle.
Regina is the adoptive mother of Henry. She is also the stepmother of Snow, making her also Henry's step-great grandmother on Emma's side, and Emma's step-grandmother by extension. This would also mean that Cora, Regina's mother, is their step-great great grandmother and step-great grandmother respectively.
No wonder the characters on the show spent all of five seconds trying to work this out. It'd drive anyone mad.
Once Upon A Time and the quest for Redemption
While Once Upon A Time touches on many, many different themes, ideas, sources and so forth, at its core, the show is a show about redemption. In fact, the original premise of the show even had this as Henry's promise to Emma: "You're going to bring back the happy endings."
This question of redemption can take many forms from its supporting, main and minor casts alike.
- Rapunzel needed to redeem herself for not being ready to inherit her kingdom, and only by overcoming her fears could she do so.
- Cinderella needed her story retold and redeemed after losing her husband to rumplestitskin.
- Red Riding Hood had to redeem herself several times for the actions taken as The Big Bad Wolf. And so forth.
However, the biggest point of redemption is all around its main cast and particularly its villains.
- Rumplestiltskin is a man defined by his need to redeem himself. His main motivation through most of the flashbacks and season 1 is to eventually through a complex Gambit Roulette to find his son and make up for letting him go when they were going to stick together in another world. In a way, when he finally achieved this goal, his new quest was to then make up for all the horrible things he did along the way.
- Snow White and Prince Charming needed to make up for their mistakes, and their having to send their daughter away in order to protect her.
- Emma felt compelled to redeem herself for giving up Henry for adoption, but her quest for redemption is also a quest to finally find the home she never felt she had.
- Regina Mills, the Evil Queen, needs to let go of her vengeance and learn to forgive. A good girl who slowly descended into evil, her fall lead to the premise, and her greed and emptiness plagued her for years on end. However, when Henry came into her life, she was slowly given a new lease on life, seeking love from the one person whom she didn't have emotional baggage with. The climb has been a long slow and painful one, with several moments where she would backslide. However, her story is still not over. Since she still doesn't regret all the evil she did, her final character arc is to redeem herself for the evils she committed as the queen.