Before the First Curse
Shortly after the death of his mother, a young boy, Owen, goes on a camping trip with his father, Kurt Flynn. His father is teaching him how to make a lanyard keychain, and then gives him an already finished one, which Kurt made himself as a child. Just as Kurt is about to get dinner started, a powerful wind approaches their camping ground. They put out the fire and hide inside the tent. Owen sticks his head out to watch the storm approach, and is puzzled to see green and purplish smoke. His father pulls him away from the tent flap and holds him as the storm passes through. In the morning, they venture out to see a tree has fallen on top of the car. With no other option, they take what belongings they can carry by backpack and follow a map to the highway to possibly get a ride to the nearest town.
Before they can do that, Owen notices a town in the distance. Kurt is in disbelief because they drove through that area yesterday, and there was no such town on the map. A sheriff car stops behind them on the street, and Sheriff Graham steps out to ask if they need help. He introduces them to the town of Storybrooke. Sheriff Graham takes them to diner, where Owen sees a woman, Regina Mills, sitting the counter having apple pancakes, and casually says he likes apple pancakes, too. Regina has no idea whose child he is, but upon meeting Kurt, and finding out they will be staying in town, she hurriedly excuses herself to speak with Graham. While they are gone, Granny, the owner of the diner, fixes up a room for Kurt and Owen at the bed and breakfast.
Later, Regina enters the diner again, and is upset that Owen is sitting in "her" seat. Even after she points out to him she always sits there, he states plainly that he already is in her seat. Regina gives up, and takes the seat next to Owen. She tells Kurt his car will be fixed in a week. Kurt expected it would take weeks, but Regina put in a good word for him to have it fixed sooner. As Owen and his father leave the diner, he gives Regina a gift―the lanyard keychain he made while camping―for letting him sit in her seat. Surprised, Regina is touched by the gesture.
Unhappy and lonely, Regina invites Owen and Kurt over for dinner. She grows fond of Owen, despite his blunt comment about her terrible lasagna. Regina sends him off to the kitchen sink to pick out the healthy apples to make apple turnovers for dessert. While Owen is busy in the kitchen, Kurt and Regina converse about new beginnings in a new place; as Owen's mother passed six months ago, and for Regina, too, with reasons she does not disclose. Their discussion is interrupted by Owen calling from the kitchen to make dessert.
Later, Owen watches as Regina places the turnovers into the oven to bake. As she takes off her apron, Owen asks why she isn't a mother. Startled by the spontaneous question, she responds it just didn't work out that way. He says it is too bad because she would be a good mother. They talk as the turnovers are baking. Regina asks him about his home in New Jersey, which he hates because the other children at school treat him differently since his mother's death. He is frustrated no one gets "it", which is how his mother's passing affected him, and in Regina's words, "it's like a part of your heart is missing".
His father comes in to check up on them. Regina suggests to him that they could stay in town permanently; an idea that excites Owen, but Kurt refuses the offer saying their home is in New Jersey. After a week, Kurt goes to pick his car up. Before he drives out of town, he decides to give his last regards to Regina, and stops his car in front of her office. Owen waits in the front passenger seat as his father goes in.
After a few minutes, Owen sees his father running out and jumping into the car. He asks what is wrong, and Kurt says they have to get out of the town. Graham's sheriff police car, with Regina inside, quickly catches up with Kurt's car. Momentarily, Kurt is able to lose them and nearly makes it to the town border, but Graham's car speeds out of nowhere and blocks the way out. Worried for his son's safety and Regina's fixation on Owen, he tells him to get out of the car and run as fast as he can into the woods. Owen is reluctant to leave his father, and does not want to go without him. Kurt assures Owen that as long as he has the keychain, he'll always be with him.
She has Sheriff Graham arrest Kurt for false charges of drunk driving at the town border to get Owen to stay with her. Owen does as he is told and runs, but stops in horror when he sees Sheriff Graham cuffing his father. Regina approaches and tries to calm him down. Owen questions why she is doing this. She only wants him to stay with her, but reluctantly lets him go after he says he doesn't want to; not like this. She understands, and watches as he runs out of the town border.
Owen brings the police to the border of Storybrooke, but the town seems to be nowhere in sight due to the invisible barrier Regina put up to keep outsiders from seeing into the town. Despite his pleas for the police officers to keep looking, the police have already given up. Tearfully, Regina watches from the inside of the barrier, and her hand almost grazes past it to touch Owen's face, but she draws away as the police take him away.
After the Curse
After the Curse,while Mr. Gold attempts to cross the Storybrooke border, Hook shoots Belle, causing her to fall over the border and lose her Enchanted Forest memories. As Mr. Gold is about to kill Hook by use of magic, a car runs into Storybrooke and hits Hook before swerving into a tree. Sheriff Emma Swan comes by with David and Mary Margaret to check out the site of the accident, and the trio is astonished to discover a stranger has made his way into Storybrooke from the outside.
Dr. Whale performs surgery on the stranger, whose phone Emma hacks into and learns his name is Greg Mendell. After the surgery is a success and Greg is resting up, Emma acting as sheriff goes on to ask what he saw and he tells her nothing, as he was looking down at his phone when the car got out of control. When she leaves his room, he calls someone and tells her he is okay and that she "won't believe what he saw".
While still resting up in the hospital from his injuries, he visits Belle in her room. Greg explains he overheard what she said about having seen a man with a fireball in his hand. Belle thinks he is here to chastise her for her wild imagination, but instead he says he believes her because he saw the same thing as well.
Greg recovers well enough from his injuries to be up and walking around. He is on the phone communicating with the same unknown person, and telling her that he wants to stay in Storybrooke a little while longer. When asked why, Greg proceeds to send a video of the town mayor, Regina, using a spell to summon the objects out of an unconscious Belle's purse.
Greg makes a trip to the diner, and asks that his order be packed to go, which the waitress Ruby wraps in a bag for him. He explains to Emma he is going hiking in the forest as per Dr. Whale's doctorly advice, and that he likes nature photography. Emma thought he would be back to Pennsylvania by now, but the town is beginning to grow on Greg.
He bumps into Henry in the woods, and states he is taking a nature walk and snapping some photos. Henry points out that the hiking trail is over that way, and Greg acts like he just found that out. Soon after, he makes a concerned phone call to Regina notifying her that Henry Mills is by himself and seems upset. When Mary Margaret goes to Regina's doorstep to talk, he secretly records them from afar. He captures on film Regina ripping Mary Margaret's heart out, and then proceeding to put it back into her chest minutes later. Heading back into his car, he repeats the same words he said from childhood in vowing to find his father, and proceeds to turns on the ignition key, which has the woven leather keychain his father once gave him.
Shortly afterwards, he runs into Regina again at the diner, overhearing her make snide comments to Mary Margaret about the darkness in her heart. Regina almost guesses the truth; thinking that they have met before; but Greg quickly dismisses the idea. No sooner had he returned to his hotel room, Greg meets Regina again, who now knows he is Owen Flynn. Greg demands to know what happened to his father, to which Regina explains Kurt was allowed to leave soon afterwards. Greg does not believe her, threatening to not leave until he finds his father. However, he is given a counter threat―contrary to what he believes, people can vanish into thin air. He later meets with "Her", who turns out to be Tamara, Neal Cassidy's fiancée; who is actually his secret lover.
Greg shows Tamara on a map all the places he saw magic in Storybrooke. She asks him if he had any luck finding his dad. Greg says he hasn't found him but knows he is there. Then, before Tamara leaves, he asks her if the "package" is ready. She replies that she will be bringing it into town tonight.
Later in the evening, Greg meets Tamara by the town border where she drives a truck in with the package inside. He asks how the package would help and Tamara says that if there's anyone you could count on to do dirty work, it's a pirate. Then, she lifts the trunk revealing a captive and bound up Hook.
With unholy intentions of stealing the magic from Storybrooke and finding his father, Greg and Tamara hold Hook captive in the clock tower. Hook questions why he was kidnapped and they explain if he helps them, they will assist him in killing the Dark One. Hook assures them he had already succeeded, but both prove him wrong and show him, through a telescope, a well and alive Mr. Gold. Hook is shocked and doubts whether the outsiders could help him.
Hook visits Regina at her office and warns her about the outsiders and their plans. Regina, who has discovered a method of escaping Storybrooke, clarifies to Hook he will get what he wants―the death of Mr. Gold―and be able to escape with her and Henry from the total destruction of Storybrooke, in return for his cooperation.
After Regina's successful attempt of acquiring the fail-safe trigger, she finds Hook alive in the library. Hook admits he has betrayed her to help Greg and Tamara in achieving their goal. Regina tries to use her magic against them, but fails. Greg explains her mother's glove―which Hook gave to her in the bottom of the library―was cuffed with the most powerful metal that man has ever known, which is why Regina was rendered powerless. When Tamara searches for Regina's identity through her list of Storybrooke residents and their true identities, and Greg states she is the Queen. Then, Greg commands Tamara to bag Regina.
Greg and Tamara kidnap and take Regina to the town's cannery storeroom where they strap her to a table and hook wires to connect her to the electrocution machine. Greg asks for Hook's help with the process, but Hook is not interested and curtly says he'll be back when they want to help him kill Rumplestiltskin. Left alone with Regina, he takes great pleasure in turning the machine on and sending high powered electricity waves to shock Regina's body to get her to reveal his father's whereabouts.
Unknown to Greg and Tamara, Mary Margaret seeks out a way to gain a bodily connection with the missing Regina, and begins experiencing the same physical pain she is feeling from being electrocuted over and over. David reports to Emma and Neal, who are also on the lookout for Regina, of what Mary Margaret can remember from the momentarily connection. Upon mention of a strange smell of sardines in the area Regina is trapped in, Emma realizes they have to go to the cannery.
Tamara alerts Greg that Emma is onto them, and is closing in on the room, but he refuses to stop the procedure with Regina until he gets an answer out of her. He gives Regina one last chance before he turns the machine's power to the max. Finally, she admits to killing Kurt right after Greg left Storybrooke, and buried him at their former campsite. Then, she goads him into killing her himself. In his rage, Greg attempts to do just that, and shocks Regina until she passes out from the physical toll. He is forced to make his getaway after David bursts in and fires his gun.
Greg rushes off to the woods, and begins to shovel away the soil at the campsite location. When he hits something solid, desperation overtakes him and he uses his hands to claw away the dirt. His hands touch clothes he recognizes as his father's, and is saddened to see a skull. As he is reburying his father's remains, Tamara regroups with him. She gives her condolences about his father, and then shows him the diamond shaped item Regina had. Tamara had sent it to be analyzed by the people they work for, and she says they need to take the next step with it.