The tornado forms in the forest.
In the Characters' Past
In the years before the first curse, a young bar girl named Cora is swept off her feet by a gentleman named Jonathan, who tells her that he is a prince. He makes an "I promise you the world"-type vow that he will come back in two weeks with a ring of gold, and proves it by giving Cora a ring he made out of straw. But when Jonathan tells Cora that he has to leave the next day, Cora decides that she is going to sleep with him that evening. Two months later, we find a now-pregnant Cora soaking wet in the rain and her straw ring coming apart, upset that Jonathan never returned. When she reaches the castle, Cora is shocked to learn Jonathan is actually a gardener; She screams in shock and as he takes off, a person comes to her aid, and it's revealed to be Prince Leopold, the future husband of Princess Eva (who he has yet to meet) and the future father of Snow White.
As Leopold and Cora start to bond together, this eventually leads the two to get engaged. However, this union would start to unravel when Jonathan visits Cora in the gazebo and threatens to blackmail her because she hid the truth about the unborn baby and he has become greedy by using her. Cora decides to buy his silence by giving him gold in return, not knowing that Eva, who just arrived to the palace, has been eavesdropping on their conversation. She uses that to her advantage later on at the banquet hall, where after Leopold, who has been hearing rumors of Cora's deception, learns from Eva about her after Cora lies to him about not being pregnant. Eva then tells Leopold to check Cora's pockets, which he discovers is laced with jewelry. Cora is then escorted out of the palace and Eva consoles Leopold, promising that she'll be able to give him an heir that is pure as snow after they are married. Months later, Cora gives birth to Zelena and afterwards leaves her near a tree, telling her daughter that because she is a miller's daughter she can't give her the life she always wanted. After she leaves, a green tornado arrives and it carries the baby.
In the present day at the Mayor's home, Zelena has come up with a way to distract Regina, first by offering her green apples, then initiating an argument between them. It appears that Zelena's plan has worked because Zelena has used the distraction to track down Regina's heart, and has Gold serve as her tracker, leading him to Robin Hood. When Robin tries to stop him, Gold uses his power to point Robin's arrow towards Roland. Robin is left with no choice but to hand over Regina's heart to Gold in order to spare his son's life. As Regina arrives to see Robin, she tells him she was not worried because “nothing’s worth the life of a child,” but now that her heart is with Zelena, Regina suspects that Zelena's real motive for taking her heart might be part of a bigger plot since Zelena has not killed her yet. So she pays a visit to Gold's Pawn Shop and starts searching for the answers, but not before getting an earful from Belle, who rattles off a laundry list of things that Regina did to her, prompting Regina to apologize to her. The two then discover that Regina’s heart is related to her late mother’s life when Regina finds the two-sided curse candle that was responsible for killing Cora a year before.
As Zelena celebrates her latest conquests by storing the heart in a box with her winged monkey watching, she turns her attention to Gold by asking him to wear a suit to a dinner she has planned. It also turns out that she is planning to bring Neal back so he can be reunited with Gold. Gold starts pretending to think that he wronged her and he starts seducing her as a way of apologizing, knowing that she still has feeling for him. But when she discovers that Gold is after the dagger Zelena quickly realizes his scheme by keeping the dagger away from him and sends him back to his cage.
Hours later at the Mayor's home, Emma, Mary Margaret, David, and Hook arrive to join Regina in a seance to try to contact Cora from the dead, but after seeing a gust of wind blowing in, Regina comes to the conclusion that Cora is trying to keep the secrets buried with her. But just as Mary Margaret tries to finally cheer up Regina and finally bond, the two are unaware that the spirit of Cora is in the house. All of a sudden there's a knock from one of the rooms and when Regina opens it, the spirit of Cora pushes Regina aside as she goes after the person who killed her, Mary Margaret. Regina sends the two into another room, where she uses purple dust to hold Cora off, but Regina's power wears off, which allows Cora to easily knock Regina aside and possess Mary Margaret, who now sees what happened in Cora's past. However, Regina refuses to let Mary Margaret die, so she uses her magic to remove Cora from Mary's body and sends her back to the realm of the dead. Afterwards, Mary Margaret mumbles out the reasons behind Cora giving up Zelena. As she comes to, Belle, along with Emma, Hook, and David, enters. Then, Belle reveals why Zelena needs Regina's Heart, David's Courage and Mr. Gold's Brain: Zelena is planning to create a time-travel spell, in which Zelena is planning to go back to the past and prevent Eva from being born so Snow White/Mary Margaret would never be born, and in the process would mean that not only will Emma and Henry never exist, Regina will no longer exist as well. David then realizes that Zelena still needs a baby to enact the curse and she believes that's why Zelena is trying to accelerate the pregnancy of Mary Margaret, in order to cast the spell. The revelations result in Regina and Mary Margaret putting aside any differences they had in the past, as Mary Margaret tells a tearful Regina “I know you, and you feel things deeply,” regardless of having a heart or not. Moments later Regina returns to see Robin and they embrace and kiss.
- Why Cora resorts to the scare tactics is never explained in season 5, when Regina meets her in the Underworld.
- Emma saying "I'd watch out for the apples in this house" to Killian, it was a clear reference to the Poisoned Apple from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Emma's mother is Snow White.