Welcome to Storybrooke
Season 2, Episode 17
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Airdate March 17, 2013
Written by Ian Goldberg
Andrew Chambliss
Directed by David M. Barrett
Episode Guide
The Miller's Daughter
Selfless, Brave and True

Welcome to Storybrooke is the 17th episode of the second season of the American ABC fantasy/drama television series Once Upon a Time, and the show's 39th episode overall. It aired on March 17, 2013.

It was co-written by Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss, and was directed by David M. Barrett.

This episode centers around Regina as she tries to get revenge on Mary Margaret, while flashbacks show Regina's past with Greg Mendell.

View the Welcome to Storybrooke Gallery.


Opening Sequence

A tree falls on Kurt's truck in the forest.

Event Chronology

The Storybrooke flashbacks take place right after the Dark Curse engulfs the Enchanted Forest and takes everyone there in "Pilot" and ten years before "Awake". The Storybrooke events take place after "The Miller's Daughter".

In the Characters' Past

In 1983, Kurt Flynn (John Pyper-Ferguson) and his young son Owen (Benjamin James Stockham) are camping in the Maine woods and Kurt gives Owen a lanyard he made as a child. Then the Dark Curse, which they perceive as a storm, strikes and damages Kurt's truck. They plan to hike to find help, but soon discover that the town of Storybrooke has appeared in a wilderness area through which they recently drove; Sheriff Graham (Jamie Dornan) welcomes them to town.

Regina (Lana Parrilla) is delighted to discover that her plan has succeeded. She revels in the townspeople's mundane and repetitive lives; every day, Regina wakes in bed with Graham, Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) limps along the sidewalk, Marco (Tony Amendola) repairs the sign over his shop, Granny (Beverley Elliott) and Ruby (Meghan Ory) argue, Dr. Hopper (Raphael Sbarge) walks Pongo, and Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) volunteers at the hospital where she does not recognize the comatose David Nolan (Josh Dallas). Regina is displeased that the Flynns are present, and hastens the repair of the truck so they can return home to New Jersey. However, Regina quickly becomes bored as the days pass, and it made her realize that everyone's obedience is not real. She confronts Mr. Gold about her displeasure but leaves his shop unsatisfied as he seems to not know what she is talking about. She invites Kurt and Owen to dine at her home that evening. There, Regina learns that Kurt's wife died six months earlier and Owen is no longer happy at home. She shares that she, too, wanted a fresh start but that it hasn't been meaningful as she has no one with whom to share it. Owen tells Regina she'd make a good mother. She invites them to relocate to Storybrooke and Owen is enthusiastic about the idea, but Kurt insists that their life is in New Jersey.

The next day, Regina learns the Flynns are leaving. She uses Graham's heart to order him to arrest Kurt and abduct Owen for her. Kurt witnesses this and escapes Regina's office, but Regina and Graham cut off the Flynns' escape from town after a car chase. Kurt orders Owen to run as far as he can, which he does while Graham arrests Kurt. Regina tells Owen she just wants him to stay with her, but he refuses under these circumstances; she apologizes and he runs. Owen returns with police officers, but Storybrooke is no longer evident. Owen vows never to stop looking for his father, while Regina weeps as she reaches out to him from inside Storybrooke.

In Storybrooke

As Regina prepares to bury Cora, Gold comes to pay his respects as Cora has a place in his heart. Regina intends to kill Snow White, but Gold points out that would cost her Henry (Jared S. Gilmore); he tells her she can't have everything, but she vows to have both Henry and vengeance.

Mary Margaret is near-catatonic and refusing to eat. In light of Emma Swan's (Jennifer Morrison) lies about Neal, Henry demands to know the real reason for her condition. Emma reveals that Mary Margaret had a role in Cora's death, but Henry doesn't believe Snow White would hurt someone. Gold arrives to warn them that Regina plans to kill Mary Margaret, and David demands that Gold save her as repayment for Mary Margaret for saving his life.

A distraught Regina ransacks her mother's belongings until she finds a small scroll. Gold and David later investigate the vault and Gold determines that Regina has taken the ingredients for "the Curse of the Empty-Hearted." He explains to Mary Margaret's family that this spell makes its victim believe they love somebody, and that the final ingredient is the heart of the person the caster hates most—Mary Margaret. Henry realizes Regina plans to use the curse on him, and Gold explains that Regina will get everything she wants by killing Mary Margaret to compel Henry's love. Gold refuses to intervene further and advises them to kill Regina, at which point Henry denounces them and runs off with Emma in pursuit. She brings him to the diner where Neal (Michael Raymond-James) is waiting. Neal asks Henry to go with him to New York where he'll be safe from the curse. Henry would rather work to eliminate magic from Storybrooke, but he agrees to Neal's plan for the time being. Greg (Ethan Embry) buys a sandwich to take on a hike, and he tells Emma that he hasn't left town yet because he's enjoying his time there. Emma and Neal then realize that Henry's quick agreement was a ruse; he has given them the slip.

Regina breaks into Mary Margaret's apartment, but Gold stops her from attacking. Regina leaves after warning Mary Margaret that Gold can't watch her forever.

Henry literally runs into Greg in the woods, and Greg contacts Regina about the boy's whereabouts. With David, Emma, and Neal in tow, Ruby tracks Henry; they discover he took dynamite from the mine, and Neal believes he plans to use it to destroy magic. At the wishing well, Regina interrupts Henry before he can light the dynamite. He explains that he wants to get rid of magic because it's ruining everything. Regina magically eliminates the dynamite and tells Henry that he means too much to her for her to lose him; he asks her to prove it by not casting the curse. She insists that the imitation of love created by the curse will make them happy, but he refuses her offer, his response echoing Owen's in 1983. Emma, Neal, and David arrive; a battle seems imminent until Henry steps between them and demands that they help him destroy magic because of what it has done to everyone. Regina explains that what he's asking is impossible, but she destroys the curse scroll. Henry thanks her, but leaves with the others.

Gold receives a call from David and updates Mary Margaret. She asks how he can live with his own misdeeds, and he explains that he convinces himself he has done the right thing. Mary Margaret goes to Regina's house and tearfully begs Regina to kill her. Despite acknowledging that Henry would never forgive her, she takes Mary Margaret's heart. Upon discovering that it now contains a spot of darkness, she restores it to Mary Margaret rather than putting her out of her misery; she declares that Mary Margaret will destroy herself and her family, and Regina will have everything after all. Hidden nearby, Greg has captured video of the incident. He promises to find his father and is revealed to possess Kurt Flynn's lanyard; Greg is Owen Flynn.


"Welcome to Storybrooke" was co-written by producers Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg. Nikita veteran David M. Barrett served as the episode's director.

Cultural references

Owen refers to the green and red lightsabers of Star Wars characters Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

Owen is the name of Luke Skywalker's uncle in Star Wars.

Kurt mentions that New Jersey is the home of "The Boss," musician Bruce Springsteen.

Kurt and Owen's last name, Flynn, is a reference to Tron: Legacy, written by series co-creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. In that film, Sam Flynn searches for his father Kevin in a hidden world. In addition, a street bench has a 1983 advertisement for ENCOM personal computers, the fictional computer corporation in both Tron and Tron: Legacy.

The name Greg Mendell is a reference to Gregor Mendel "the father of modern genetics"



The outing saw a slight increase in the ratings, placing 2.3/6 among 18-49s with 7.45 million viewers tuning in.


The episode was met with positive reviews.

Hilary Busis from Entertainment Weekly gave this outing good marks: "Juggling work, childcare, a social life, gardening, high-tech surveillance, and an insatiable thirst for vengeance is no easy task. (Just ask the Internet!) But tonight, Regina discovered that it really is possible for a modern woman to Have It All -- as long as said woman's mortal enemy is kind enough to take care of the vengeance factor. Also, magic helps."

Oliver Sava of The A.V. Club gave this episode a "B+" and wrote, "After two strong episodes, it’s beginning to seem like Once Upon A Time is preparing to end the season on a high note, but things can fall apart at any instant. And that’s the big problem with shows as inconsistent as this one."


  • As Regina is entering the garage a benchback advertisement for a computer is visible in the foreground. The computer manufacturer is Encom, the company from the movie Tron
  • The object/animal/person in this episode is a tree falling on Kurt Flynn's car.
  • The father of Owen is Kurt Flynn. This is similar to Kevin Flynn from the Tron movies. Kurt goes missing in this episode like Kevin goes missing in Tron, leaving their sons to try and discover what happened, and where they are.
Season 1
PilotThe Thing You Love MostSnow FallsThe Price of GoldThat Still Small VoiceThe ShepherdThe Heart Is a Lonely HunterDesperate SoulsTrue North7:15 A.M.Fruit of the Poisonous TreeSkin DeepWhat Happened to FrederickDreamyRed-HandedHeart of DarknessHat TrickThe Stable BoyThe ReturnThe StrangerAn Apple Red as BloodA Land Without Magic
Season 2
BrokenWe Are BothLady of the LakeThe CrocodileThe DoctorTallahasseeChild of the MoonInto the DeepQueen of HeartsThe Cricket GameThe OutsiderIn the Name of the BrotherTinyManhattanThe Queen Is DeadThe Miller's DaughterWelcome to StorybrookeSelfless, Brave and TrueLaceyThe Evil QueenSecond Star to the RightAnd Straight On 'til Morning
Season 3
The Heart of the Truest BelieverLost GirlQuite a Common FairyNasty HabitsGood FormAriel (Episode)Dark HollowThink Lovely ThoughtsSave HenryThe New NeverlandGoing HomeNew York City SerenadeWitch HuntThe TowerQuiet MindsIt's Not Easy Being GreenThe Jolly RogerBleeding ThroughA Curious ThingKansasSnow DriftsThere's No Place Like Home
Season 4
A Tale of Two SistersWhite OutRocky RoadThe ApprenticeBreaking GlassFamily BusinessThe Snow QueenSmash the MirrorFallShattered SightHeroes and VillainsDarkness on the Edge of TownUnforgivenEnter the DragonPoor Unfortunate SoulBest Laid PlansHeart of GoldSympathy for the De VilLilyMotherOperation Mongoose
Season 5
The Dark SwanThe PriceSiege PerilousThe Broken KingdomDreamcatcherThe Bear and the BowNimueBirthThe Bear KingBroken HeartSwan SongSouls of the DepartedLabor of LoveDevil's DueThe Brothers JonesOur DecayHer Handsome HeroRuby SlippersSistersFirebirdLast RitesOnly YouAn Untold Story
Season 6
The SaviorA Bitter DraughtThe Other ShoeStrange CaseStreet RatsDark WatersHeartlessI'll Be Your MirrorChangelingsWish You Were HereTougher Than the RestMurder Most FoulIll-Boding PatternsPage 23A Wondrous PlaceMother's Little HelperAwakeWhere Bluebirds FlyThe Black FairyThe Song in Your HeartThe Final Battle
Season 7
Hyperion HeightsA Pirate's LifeThe Garden of Forking PathsBeautyGreenbacksWake Up CallEloise GardenerPretty in BlueOne Little TearThe Eighth WitchSecret GardenA Taste of the HeightsKnightfallThe Girl in the TowerSisterhoodBreadcrumbsChosenThe GuardianFlower ChildIs This Henry Mills?HomecomingLeaving Storybrooke
Down the Rabbit HoleTrust MeForget Me NotThe SerpentHeart of StoneWho's AliceBad BloodHomeNothing to FearDirty Little SecretsHeart of the MatterTo Catch a ThiefAnd They Lived...
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