Once Upon a Time Creators Tease Adoption Flashback Twists, Warn of Peter Pan's Resilience

Once Upon a Time Regina Adopts HenryAppropriate for the onset of the Yuletide season, “What child is this?” is one of the questions Regina (played by Lana Parrilla) will ponder this Sunday on Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8/7c), as we flash back to Storybrooke’s very early days and Mayor Mills’ growing desire to be a mom.

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“This [storyline] started last year in ‘Welcome to Storybrooke,’ when Regina met Owen,” Once cocreator Eddy Kitsis notes. “We realized that when she cast the curse [that transported the Enchanted Forest’s denizens to Maine], it created a hole in her heart. The curse was not fulfilling for her. She needed something more, something real.” And in spending time with uninvited Storybrooke guest Curt Flynn’s young son, “She realized that the love she was looking for was in a child.”

But can a wicked witch make for a mindful mom? (After all, baby Henry doesn’t look too content in the episodic photos that have circulated.) “Regina wasn’t always the Evil Queen,” series cocreator Adam Horowitz reminds. “There’s a woman inside of her with a heart, who has felt love and who has felt loss, and now she has a hole in her heart from casting this curse. How does she go about filling that hole? And can she do it with Henry?”

Kitsis says that another question to perhaps be raised, if only because the always resourceful Mr. Gold aka Rumplestiltskin has his manipulative mitts in the mix, is: “Does Regina realize who Henry’s [birth] mom is?”

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All told — including as teased in this week’s Ask Ausiello column — “there are some twists and turns in the saga of how Regina adopted Henry,” Horowitz affirms. “A couple of ‘What ifs?’ are posed.” And in visiting that defining, emotional juncture in Regina’s life, Lana Parrilla “killed it,” Kitsis raves.

“One of the reasons we’re showing [this flashback] right now, in our 52nd episode or whatever, is to see in Neverland how far this woman has come,” Kitsis explains. “You see what she was like as a vengeful Evil Queen, and you see her now in present day as Henry’s mom.”

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Speaking of Neverland: Henry is, as Miracle Max might put it, “mostly dead” — or as the Once bosses say, “in pretty rough shape” after donating his ticker to Peter Pan for misguided reasons. As the coming hour unspools, “The drive to get him back to himself is what’s fueling our folks on the island,” says Horowitz. But despite their boldest best efforts to right this horrible wrong, Kitsis must warn, “Peter Pan does not go down easy.”

Once Upon a Time’s fall finale airs Sunday, Dec. 15.

Want more scoop on Once, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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  1. evil_ragal says:

    Great article, love what AnE said about Regina and how far she has come. She IS Henry’s mother and always will be. Can’t wait to see how this adoption sl plays out. Have been waiting for it for a long time.

  2. Eric7740 says:

    Can’t wait to see how the Neverland story ends!!! I’ve loved the first part on OUAT season 3!!! I don’t know what I’m going to do for 3 MONTHS!!!! When OUAT goes on hiatus!!! I ‘m not sure I’m going to like ABC’s plan for OUAT, Greys, and Scandal. We’ll see how it plays out.

    • Shelli says:

      i really hope it gets renew season 4, I want to see Kristin again. I`m going to miss True Blood when it’s over and I really hope she saves Eric.

  3. amanda says:

    So excited for this episode!

  4. Lauren Mosby says:

    How far she’s come? Yeah um….she ripped a boy’s heart out and was more than content to let a 14 year old girl be left on an island full of boys doing God knows what to her as long as it didn’t get in the way of her plans. She’s rash and doesn’t think and has nearly gotten everyone killed more than once.

    God, if they try to retcon every abusive thing REgina’s done to her kid by saying she wuuvvved him then I’m going to be sick.

    • Mary says:

      Well if Regina is guilty about ripping the heart out of the Lost Boy then Emma is guilty as well. She didn’t do anything to stop her, in fact, she actually helped her in a way. And please! You think that the Lost Boys hurt Wendy? Like raped her or something? Funny, cause I’ll bet you are one of the hate-bitching Regina-haters that think Leopold didn’t had sex with Regina (raped her) or that she consented his actions.
      If your mind is able to twist things so much in order to fit your obtuse vision of hate, and make Regina the culprit for every bad thing that happens to the characters in the plot, then I don’t understand why do you watch the show at all. After all, the show is all about giving second chances to the bad guys (Rumple, Hook, Regina, even Ruby (she ate her boyfriend)) So, shut up!

      • Stormy says:

        Explain how you justify Regina killing her father to further her own agenda. Or how she held Graham hostage as a sex slave. Talk about adjustable ethics.

        • xav says:

          The same way people explain Neal having a relationship with an underage Emma or Rumple abusing his son or Snow killing or Charming and Snow orchestrating a coup because someone was mean to them: they’re flawed characters.

  5. abz says:

    I kinda feel horrible for saying this because he’s just a kid (he’s supposed to be annoying and not 100% great at acting), but I hope they don’t #SaveHenry.

  6. River says:

    Sunday cannot come soon enough. This is a backstory I have been looking forward to since season 1 and I’m partially nervous about how it will be handled and partially excited because I have no doubt that Parrilla “killed it”. I liked what had to writers said about this story here and I’m looking forward to see how they paralleled the two stories, flashbacks and Neverland, to illustrate Regina’s journey.

  7. meme says:

    Lana Parrilla “killed it,” – well of course she did. :D I am really, really excited about this. Mama Regina is my favorite Regina.

  8. Dominique says:

    “Peter Pan does not go down easy.” I should hope not! Robbie Kay is easily the best addition to this cast and I hope the producers are smart enough to keep him around for the long haul.
    As for Regina and how far she’s come… yeah sorry but some of us are actually not all swooning over this woman; she’s still an evil queen who doesn’t care who dies, as long as henry and she live.

    • xav says:

      What? You mean people don’t all like the same characters? I’m SHOCKED!

    • xav says:

      Also your last statement is flawed. I’d suggest a rewatch of the S2 finale.

    • GingerSnap says:

      It isn’t how far she’s come, but how much she is committed to saving Henry. Because there are only 2 people powerful enough to defeat Pan. One is Rumple, but he’s blinded because his father knows his weaknesses. The other is Regina. With Emma helping her.

      “Saving Henry” is a lot like the season finale of Season 1. Henry ate a poisoned apple and hovered near death. It was an act of true, selfless love that saved Henry in Season 1. It will be a similar act again. But this time, it is Regina who will pull it off. And maybe with Emma’s help.

    • Abc says:

      Ugh I think he’s awful and there is nothing redeeming about him.

  9. Maki says:

    I honestly can’t wait for this ep. I hope we get a bit inside how Henry started to realize the curse stuff.

  10. M&M says:

    Aw yiiiis, finally! Regina and baby Henry.
    Regina and Henry is a pivotal relationship on OUAT. Glad they’re getting their special episode.

  11. “Peter Pan does not go down easy.”

    When he does, no one clap, just to be sure!

  12. Katy says:

    Adoption episode, finally. I like what they said about Regina. She has really come so far and it’s been great to watch her progress. She’s one of the most fascinating characters on this show.

  13. trainwreck says:

    Lana Parrilla ALWAYS kills it! She is one fine actress – so convincing and spot-on with her character that she makes us empathize with the evil queen! #EvilRegals!

  14. ihr says:

    Regina and Henry relationship is so important in understanding her and I’m glad they finally explore that.

  15. Jus says:

    looks interesting. I have love/hate relationship with Regina, but I admit – she is a fascinating character. Although I’m not sure why some people shout “retcon!”. I thought it was pretty clear that Regina loved and still loves Henry. Am I missing something?

    • meme says:

      It’s their headcanon that Regina abused Henry.

    • ALL says:

      Regina may love Henry, but she has an odd way of showing it. In the first season she let her 10 year old son stay home by himself (and of course he didn’t actually stay at home), she constantly lied to him and tried to convince him he needed psychological help for believing in what Regina knew was the truth, and she didn’t show him any affection.

      And so much for “how far she’s come.” And last season she was willing to let everyone in Storybrooke die in order to stop the Home Office, and then she wiped Henry’s memory and lied to him again when he “shocker!” wouldn’t go along with the plan.

      Maybe we’re supposed to believe she finally redeemed herself by being willing to sacrifice herself at the end of last season, and then to team up with Emma and Co. to save Henry. But she only did that for Henry, and she has yet to even apologize to Snow or anyone else whose lives she f-up, let alone do anything “good” that wasn’t just for Henry.

      • Jus says:

        ah, ok , I get it. But at least we agree that she loves Herny ;)
        I remember season 1 a little bit and I remember she was acting like a wild animal in a trap. I can’t blame her. Mystery woman appears in her house and claims she is Henry’s mother. She felt threatened.

        But I still don’t know what happend during those 10 years. I have a hard time to believe that through all those years, she physically and mentally abused Henry.

        • Stormy says:

          I don’t think she abused Henry, but i do believe she manipulated and mislead him. And after 10 years of “loving” him she had Archie treat him because he was guessing the truth. Also, after being on a 10 year redemption curve she killed the sheriff, kept Belle in prison, and kept Jefferson from his natural child. She’s not redeemable.

      • Jennifer says:

        So teaming up with her mortal enemies to save Henry is an odd way of showing her love for him? Your argument doesn’t make sense when you contradict yourself.


        Actually she didn’t leave Henry by himself often, it’s a misconception I actually counted them, in fact Henry’s schedule was pretty simple, school, Archie, Regina’s office/park, home. The only reason Henry saw Emma a lot was because he skipped appointments, told Regina he’d be somewhere else, etc. the only days we could count would be Saturdays but that wasn’t every Saturday (”sometimes they’re just unavoidable”) *sometimes*.
        Regina didn’t send Henry to Archie’s because of the curse, he’d been seeing him long before and according to Archie their talks were about his adoption and birth mother. I remember this old interview A&E gave long ago where they stated Henry had ”woken up” from the curse when he got the book and that he hadn’t been aware of time not passing and all that shiz, you can look it up, I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.
        The reason for his appointments shifted though and that’s why Regina apologized to him in ”we are both”.
        About the no affection part, I think you need to rewatch the first season, although she didn’t touch him much (he push her away when she tried, though she was able to hug him sometimes) it was pretty obvious she loved him, if you don’t remember all the times she touched his face, tried to hold him, her desperation when he was trapped in the mines, etc, etc then maybe you had your hate goggles on too tight.
        She wasn’t ‘willing to let everyone die to stop the home office, did you watch the episode? ’cause that wasn’t the reason, please rewatch if you wanna bring that up, wait I’ll save you the effort: The charmings where planning to leave her in storybrooke and take Henry with them to FTL and give Regina the option of going with them but she’d be locked up in Rumple’s cell (while he walked freely >.>) so she came up with a stupid plan, she told Henry and then erased the memory of their previous conversation >.> in her defense she had just been tricked into killing her own mother thinking she was doing the right thing, and Cora even died in her arms… such things can mess up your mind real bad.
        If she has to apologize to Snow then Snow should apologize to her too, you know for using her need to feel loved to make her kill her own mother which was pretty sick btw, Emma should apologize to her for believing a dog over her, the blue fairy should apologize to her for not helping her even though she knew what was happening, Jefferson and Whale should apologize to her for helping Rumple turn her into a ”monster”, Rumple should apologize to everyone but especially to Regina for all the things he’s done to her, and etc, etc, etc. Everyone needs to apologize to everyone, not just Regina.

  16. nats says:

    Regina’s episode!!! yess! and of course Lana Parrilla “killed it”, she is amazing. Love Lana and her character

  17. suzi says:

    You know we are in for a real treat when Kitsis says LP killed it. As if that’s not what she does every week. Heck yeah, bring it!

  18. Michu1945 says:

    I think “person who almost adopt Henry” was Neal.

  19. jenferner8 says:

    I suspect the show will do something to keep Robby on show as Pan the way they did with Hook. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pan somehow “lives” inside or becomes “part” of Henry thus keeping Henry alive and keeping Pan on the show. My biggest probem with Pan is he’s such a brat (channeling your inner Justin Bieber is not a good way to win fans) and the show thus far has let him get away with it. Up until Henry pulled his little stunt I was more disgusted with Pan but now it seems there’s plenty to be disgusted with. At least I loved to hate Regina, Pan just sickens me.

    • GingerSnap says:

      Well there is reason to believe that Pan will be transformed in an upcoming episode. What that will mean to the Robby is yet to be determined.

  20. Babygate says:

    I hope things turn around with OUAT because that Peter Pan arc has been a drag. They’ve been walking around that tiny island for weeks doing nothing substantial. The whole Peter Pan thing could have been wrapped up in half the time. Now it’s just overkill and I’m seriously losing interest. The adoption story sounds pretty great though…

  21. Aly says:

    I’ve been waiting for this ep ever since I found out it was about Henry’s adoption. So excited!

  22. kath says:

    Another Regina episode already? I had enough last season, when it seemed like the whole season was about Regina.

    Anyone want to bet that Kitsis and Horowitz will forget that Regina lied to Henry and tried to make him think he was crazy in season 1? She’ll just turn out to be the perfectest mother ever.

  23. sacha says:

    OMG Can’t wait to see the wonderful Lana on my screen

  24. DRush76 says:

    Mr. Mitovich,

    Why do you have a love/hate relationship with Regina? What about Rumpelstiltskin? Do you have a love/hate relationship with him?