Once Upon a Time went old school with another origin story in “Welcome to Storybrooke.” The episode explores the town’s early days, and explains the motives of its most mysterious resident.

The Players:

  • Director: Dave Barrett
  • Writer: Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss
  • Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Robert Carlyle

Episode Title: “Welcome to Storybrooke”

Until Emma showed up in Storybrooke, the town had been frozen in time. This episode takes viewers back to 1983 when Regina first broke ground and sheds light on the new stranger.

The Good:

  • Regina Declares War: Last week, Mary Margaret caused the death of Regina’s mother, Cora. This week, Regina escalated the bloodshed vowing to kill Mary Margaret and ending the shaky truce between good and evil. She unearths an ancient, powerful curse to do the job and Gold knows the only way to end the war: More death.
  • Origins Explained: The truth behind Storybrooke’s stranger has come into focus. Back in 1983, Regina encountered a father and son who were camping in the woods when Storybrooke appeared. Bored by the sleepy town’s lack of change, she invited them to stay. When they refused, she tried to keep them as prisoners. The son escaped and attempted to bring help but when he returned, Storybrooke had vanished. Now, guess who that little boy grew up to be…
  • Snow, Corrupted: In an attempt to end the feud, Mary Margaret goes to Regina and offers up her life. Regina pulls out  her heart, but notices the beginnings of a black spot: Snow White has been corrupted. Regina decides to return the heart and watch the corruption take hold because that’s way more fun.

The Bad:

  • Henry Takes Action: Neal and Emma try to talk Henry into going to New York, where he’ll be safe. They won’t be winning any Parents of the Year awards, because after agreeing to go away, Henry heads straight to the wishing well to “fix” the situation. He throws dynamite into the well, hoping to destroy the magic. Eventually, Regina agrees to end the curse because of his explosive tantrum.


“Welcome to Storybrooke” is a rare instance of a flashback episode answering more questions than it raises. The stranger was around too long without explanation and now his true motives have come to light. Bringing in a human (i.e. non-fairytale) adversary helps ground the series.

Rating: 7/10

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

What did you think of this week’s show?