'Once Upon a Time' recap: The many lives of Cora

On this week's episode of "Once Upon a Time", our fearless heroes learned Zelena's evil plan when Belle puts together why Zelena is collecting certain things and Snow gets possessed, Whoopi-Goldberg-in-"Ghost" style by Cora. A recap:

This week's parallel stories featured Regina, Snow, Charming, Hook and Emma trying to contact Cora (Regina's mother, killed by Snow ... awkward!), a look back at young Cora, and Rumpelstiltskin trying to charm the dagger away from Zelena. A lot of ground was covered.

Back in medieval times, a young Cora falls for Prince Jonathan, who proposes to her with a simple ring made of straw, which he promises to turn into a gold ring (Hey, straw into gold, sound familiar?) in two weeks when he returns to her to whisk her away from her life as a bar waitress. She decides to spend the night with him to consummate their true love. When she goes to the designated rendezvous in two weeks, he is nowhere to be found.

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It turns out Prince Jonathan is actually not a prince at all. He just said that to get her to sleep with him. He's actually a gardener. And he's a gardener who is good at planting seeds, because that one night left Cora pregnant with the future Zelena. Gardener Jonathan wants nothing to do with either of them, leaving Cora in tears.

And who should arrive to dry her tears? Prince Leopold, future father of Snow White. Without knowing she is pregnant, he quickly falls in love with Cora, who quickly falls in love with his money. But, in an arranged marriage, Leopold is already engaged to Princess Eva (future mother of Snow White). Got all that?

Gardener Jonathan then returns to blackmail Cora, telling her to bring him gold and jewels or he will tell Leopold about the baby. Eva overhears and spills the beans to Leopold, who promptly dumps Cora. Cora later gives birth to baby Zelena and abandons the baby in a basket in the woods, where it is whisked away by a green tornado.

Back in the present, Zelena distracts Regina while she sends Rumpel to take Regina's heart from Robin Hood, which he does by threatening to kill Robin's son. Robin Hood apologizes to Regina for failing to protect her heart (the love analogies are just flying everywhere) and she forgives him, saying "nothing is worth a child's life." Regina realizes that since she is still alive, meaning Zelena did not immediately crush her heart, that Zelena must have something horrible in mind that requires the use of her heart. Regina (after apologizing to Belle for holding her captive in an insane asylum for 28 years), asks Belle to research why Zelena would be collecting a brain, a heart and courage.

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Regina then gathers Snow, Charming, Emma and Hook at her house for the seance to contact Cora, hoping she will tell her what she did to Zelena to make her such a wicked witch. A portal opens, but Cora does not appear. Everyone leaves, except Snow. They hear a strange sound upstairs and discover the ghost of Cora, who seems to want to harm Snow. Regina tries to fight her off, but Cora possesses Snow, revealing her memories to her and allowing Snow to realize what Zelena wants: to change the past so Leopold never learns of the deception, Cora marries Leopold and Zelena becomes their daughter. Which means Snow, Emma, Henry and Regina would cease to exist. And the worst part: the final piece of the puzzle is Snow's unborn baby. And here's guessing Snow delivers in the season finale.

While all this is going on, Rumpel is having dinner with Zelena, who tells him that if he behaves, she will take him back in time with her, so he can be reunited with his deceased son. Rumpel appears to agree and attempts to seduce Zelena, but is foiled when she realizes he is just trying to retrieve the dagger she uses to control him. She orders him back to his cage.

The episode ends with a heart-to-no-heart talk between Snow and Regina, with Snow telling Regina that she feels things more deeply than anyone she knows, and that she doesn't need her heart to find true happiness. Regina rushes off to Robin Hood, who vows to find her heart and reclaim it, only to be silenced by a passionate kiss.

That was a busy episode, but another good one, as the creators have really been on a roll ever since the Never Land story arc ended.

Next week: Glinda the Good Witch arrives, but can she help defeat Zelena?


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