Season 2, Episode 17:
Welcome to Storybrooke
Emma, David and Mr. Gold must protect Mary Margaret from Regina, who is out for revenge and has made it her mission to kill Mary Margaret, and Henry, fed up with all of the feuding, devises a plan to put an end to magic.
In flashback sequences, we see Storybrooke's beginning, just after the curse was cast twenty-eight years ago—and Regina has to deal with a mundane father and son who were camping in the woods and suddenly find themselves in Storybrooke.
- Adult Fear: A strange woman becoming obsessed with taking your child as her own.
- Arc Words: "I will find you!"...this time coming from little Owen as he swears to find his father Kurt, and repeated by his adult self Greg as The Reveal of the episode.
- Badass Boast: Kurt Flynn remains defiant to Regina while yelling "You may have this whole town wrapped around your finger, but not my son!"
- Boredom Montage: On the first day of the curse, Regina's high on her victory at "winning," due to finally being able to cast the Curse. However, because of the Curse, every day in Storybrooke is so similar it's effectively a mundane version of a "Groundhog Day" Loop. By day three, she's bored enough to run to Mr. Gold to complain about not being happy.
- Continuity Nod: After Emma, Neal, David, and Ruby follow Henry's trail and discover he went to the mines, Neal questions why he would. Emma then quips, "It wouldn't be the first time."
- Contrived Coincidence: Kurt and Owen just happened to be out camping in the backwoods of Maine, right where the Dark Curse brought Storybrooke. And because Owen just lost his mother six months ago, he's open to Regina's kindness and the chance to escape the home he now hates. At first, anyway.
- Cruel Mercy: After Snow tearfully begs Regina to kill her, Regina opts not to. Instead she takes a crueler/more satisfying revenge by showing Snow that her heart has been corrupted by Cora's murder, and rubs it in Snow's face how this corruption will destroy Snow's happiness and connection with her family better than Regina herself ever could.
- Cutting the Knot: After being told by Neal that going to New York would protect him from Regina's spell because there's no magic there, Henry concludes the only way to solve the problem, save Mary Margaret and the rest of his family, but not also kill Regina, is if he destroys magic. Although he can't actually do so (at least not with dynamite), the confrontation he precipitates between Regina and the rest of his family at the well does end up cutting it in a different way—after being reminded of what she did wrong with Owen by Henry's refusal to be with her, Regina shows she has learned her lesson in one small way, by destroying the "love" spell in her fireball.
- Cycle of Revenge: Lampshaded by Gold:"This is a blood feud, Dearie. One that goes back a very, very long time. And the only way you can end a blood feud is by the spilling of more blood."
- Disappeared Dad: It turns out the stranger that crashed his car into Storybrooke didn't arrive by accident, he intended to come to the town because it's the last place he saw his father before he was captured by Regina.
- Determinator: Regina is determined to get "everything".
- Dramatic Irony: As usual, between past and present, where Regina repeats her mistakes with Owen, only now with Henry, until she finally realizes what harm she is doing to him and that what she wants won't be real, allowing her to destroy the spell and let him go. Though there's also the specific ironies of her using Graham's heart to make him arrest Kurt, during which the struggle knocks the heart box on the floor and makes Graham collapse in pain so that Kurt can escape; and that the one who ran into the runaway Henry in the forest and called Regina to warn her is Greg...who is not only revealed to be Owen, but who used this situation to get more evidence of magic by filming Regina taking out Mary Margaret's heart.
- Extreme Doormat: Mary Margaret in the flashbacks. Regina actually gets frustrated with her for not fighting back.
- Genre Savvy: Emma, at least enough to note that making someone love you "break(s) magic laws." Making someone think they love you, however, is apparently fair game.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Granny to Ruby: When I put over easy on the menu, I was talking about the eggs."
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: A variation. Technically it's not the exact same day that's repeating over and over again, but they're all so similar that they may as well be, and Regina gets bored of them very quickly.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Kurt Flynn lets himself be arrested by Graham so his son could escape Regina and her cursed village. Also, even if kills him, Henry is willing to use dynamite to destroy the well and magic so as to break the Cycle of Revenge.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: After Neal's talk of being able to escape magic in New York gives Henry the idea to save everyone by destroying magic, Henry gets away to the mines by claiming he has to go to the bathroom. When Emma shows up and asks where Henry is, she points out Henry took his backpack with him, proving he had actually given Neal the slip. As Neal bemoans his idiocy, Emma quips that "he's your son!"
- It Was Here, I Swear!: Because of the nature of the curse, not only can Owen no longer see or find Storybrooke when he returns to it with the cops, they have no knowledge of there even being a Storybrooke, and chalk up his story to being distraught over losing his father.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite not wanting to become (more) involved in the aforementioned Cycle of Revenge, Rumpelstiltskin gives some pretty well-intentioned and friendly advice both to Regina and Snow White in this episode.
- Lonely Funeral: For Cora.
- Meaningful Echo: Both Owen and Henry tell Regina "Not like this" to show her her need for love is destructive and they want no part of her.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: It's implied that Regina ended up adopting Henry because she desperately wanted someone who wasn't under her control. It worked.
- Papa Wolf: Kurt Flynn's very protective of his son Owen.
- Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You: Snow, after asking Gold's advice on how to live with herself, decides she can't, and begs Regina to kill her.
- The Reveal: Greg is Owen, returned to find his missing father and get revenge on Regina for separating them. Occurs via the Tragic Keepsake of the knotted rope Kurt gave him.
- Title Drop: Done courtesy of Graham in the flashback at the start of the episode.
- Victory Is Boring: Regina quickly becomes frustrated with her newfound absolute control.Regina: Everyone in this town does exactly what I want them to.
Gold: And that's a problem?
Regina: They do it because they have to. Not because they want to. It's not real.
- Villain Ball: After she finds out from Billy/Gus that Kurt already picked up his car and is heading out of town with Owen, Regina completely ignores the very reasonable answer Kurt had given her and decided to make Owen stay in Storybrooke with her—by using Graham's heart to make him arrest Kurt for drunk driving. And he happens to walk into her office behind her as she does so, when he was just coming to say good-bye...letting him know what she's planning, that she's a villain, and (indirectly) about magic.
- Wake Up Make Up: Regina has make up and her new haircut right after waking up in the real world.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Henry to the entire Charming family after Gold suggests the obvious solution to their problem with Regina.Henry: "Stop! Listen to yourselves! You're talking about killing my mom! You used to be heroes! What happened to you?
- Yandere: Regina for Owen, though she wants a mother/son relationship rather than a romantic one.
- You Keep Telling Yourself That: Gold's advice to Mary Margaret as she wretchedly struggles to overcome her guilt over killing Cora: "You tell yourself you did the right thing. And if you say it often enough, one day you might actually believe it." To make it even more poignant, he's clearly talking about himself as much as her.
- You Owe Me: David pulls this on Gold when, after he learns of Regina's plans for Snow White and comes to warn them, he insists Gold help protect her and stop Regina—not only because he's Henry's grandfather but because he wouldn't be alive if not for Snow. Emma pulls the same thing when he tries to weasel out of it later by saying his warning fulfills his obligation. It works, of course, thanks to Rumple's penchant for deals.