Before Cora was a younger Cora, who well, has always been the Cora we know and...hate. Just more or less powerful.
Cora, as you can guess by the episode title, came from humble beginnings as a miller's daughter. True to the Rumpelstiltskin classic, the miller's daughter was locked in a tower to spin straw into gold for the king. What Rumpelstiltskin didn't share was that she actually got there on her own terms, seeking only power from the greedy royals who have nothing better to do than trip mere peasants bringing flour and sell off their princes. So, Cora talked her own way into the palace and into a straw-filled tower. While she had no clue how to spin straw into gold, that was beside the point. She wanted only to bring the royals down a peg or two. But now that she's in this situation, the only person who can save her is Rumplestiltskin himself.
The creepy imp appears, only too happy to provide his services for a price. But Cora has a different plan in mind. Yes, golden straw would be nice, but even better would be turning the straw into gold herself. Of course, it would only be fair to get back at those snobbish royals, too.
Ah, Rumplestiltskin is pleased. So pleased is he that he becomes blinded by instant love.
And who said love at first power-hungry, bloodthirsty word didn't exist?
Rumplestiltskin teaches Cora to spin gold, which pleases the king, who gives Prince Henry's hand to Cora. This is a mere bump in Rumple's and Cora's love. As the two strike up a whirlwind romance, Rumplestiltskin alters his first contract for helping with the whole straw/gold thing. Originally, Cora would need to give up her first-born to Rumple; but what if the first-born was Rumple's?
The power would be endless!
And truly, the two do love each other. But Cora knows that love is weakness. And love comes from the heart. And she can't have weakness for her plans.
Using her newly refined powers, she rips out her own heart, seals it in a fancy little box, and meets Rumple to reveal the changed plans.
Cora desires power more than love. And she loves Rumplestiltskin too much that their love can only get in the way of her evil, power-seeking ways.
Rumplestiltskin is shocked and angered! How could she do that?! Fine, he'll just take her first-born child as planned.
But wait, that was no longer in the contract. Without Cora, Rumplestiltskin would never have a child with Cora, would never have her first-born.
Rumplestiltskin has no choice but to leave. Cora has her child, Regina, but she does not love. Because love is only weakness.
The group, which as expanded to include Mary Margaret and David, escort the dying sorcerer to his shop. Mr. Gold talks Emma into casting a protection spell on the store to keep Regina and Cora out. If they attack, the Charmings will die at the Dark One's hands.
So, Emma, gains a lesson in spell casting. The spell works and the store is secured. But Cora is powerful and has learned from the best. Having listened to a bugged cell phone, the two women learn that Mr. Gold is back. His name on the dagger is fading, which clue's Regina into his injury. While the plan was to control the Dark One post-haste, the haste will have to halt. If they try to control him now, it could kill him for sure, then all his power will be lost forever.
So, the two women show up at Gold's shop and Cora begins to weaken the protection.
In the backroom, the room has cleared except for Mary Margaret and Gold. Gold instructs Mary Margaret to open a cabinet. Inside is a dangerously familiar object. The candle that can trade one life for another. Mary Margaret is horrified. But Mr. Gold blackmails her into using it. If she doesn't, Cora will kill them; if she does, well...what is her family really worth to her?
All she has to do is burn the candle, hold it over Cora's heart, which is not kept inside her chest, whisper Cora's name and...here come the tricky part....put the enchanted heart back inside the evil witch.
Easier said than done, even if you don't have a conscience.
But for Mary Margaret, the chance to save her family from Cora's destruction outweighs her snowy white namesake.
David is thrown out the door, trapping outside the store, but the storeroom fight is short-lived. The good guys retreat to the backroom, magically barricading themselves between good and evil. But someone is missing. Emma calls her father who chases after his wife.
Mary Margaret, deep underground in Regina's mausoleum, has found Cora's beating, bodiless heart. Candle in hand, she lights the wicks and whispers her enemy's name. Cora! Cora!
The deed is done! But has good truly won? Or has evil merely entered good's domain?
Nevertheless, the spell has been felt by Cora. Someone is near her heart. Regina leaves the store to check it out.
Regina finds Mary Margaret, heart box in hand, in the tomb's basement. Regina confronts her, but Mary Margaret knows how to wield a silver tongue. Cora simply needs her heart to love again. That's all she's been missing. Regina can have her mother's love, just put the heart back in its rightful place.
Blinded by wanted love, Regina does Mary Margaret's bidding, sealing her mother's deadly fate.
But as the two chase down Regina, it is too late.
Cora has entered the backroom, removed Emma and Neal from her presence, and attempted to kill Mr. Gold, but not before revealing that her love from so long ago was real. So real that he was her weakness. She had no choice but to give him up to seek the power she desired.
But before she can murder Mr. Gold and take his dark powers, Regina slams her mother's heart in her chest. Cora becomes delirious with love for Regina only to suddenly keel over.
Regina is horrified. And to make matters worse, Mr. Gold is healed and the culprit for the crime just ran into the room.
Mary Margaret will pay for her mother's death, if is the last thing she does!
1) Did you think Mr. Gold's deathbed call to Belle was sweet?
2) Can you believe that Mary Margaret/Snow White committed murder?
3) Do you think that Regina and Mary Margaret are even now, Regina killed Mary Margaret's father and Mary Margaret killed Regina's mother, etc? Or is Regina justified in going after Mary Margaret, again?
4) Did you think Cora's and Rumplestiltskin's romance was sweet or awkward?
5) What are your theories for the remainder of the season?
The countdown is on...5 episodes left until the Season 2 finale!