Why Is Cora Back On 'Once Upon A Time'? Regina's Mother Always Has An Agenda

This season of Once Upon A Time has brought back as many character as it has introduced, and we're about to hit the mother load. The Darkest Queen of all, Cora is returning to Once Upon A Time in Sunday's episode, appropriately titled "Mother." In Storybrooke, our heroes will be dealing with two other mothers — Lily will meet Maleficent for the first time and we recently learned that Zelena got pregnant with Robin Hood's child child while masquerading as Marian.

However, I'll put my frustrations with the noble Robin Hood on pause to focus on Cora. What is she doing back? What piece of her story is left to tell and what does she want? Perhaps this episode will explain how Cora took over Wonderland and became the Queen of Heart. Barbara Hershey has appeared on Once Upon A Time and Once Upon A Time In Wonderland but we've never seen Cora's rise to power. If the show managed to toss in some context for Will Scarlet being in Storybrooke at this time, I wouldn't complain.

According to the official ABC press release for "Mother," Cora is on a mission in the flashback.

In a Fairy Tale Land flashback, Cora returns from Wonderland to beg Regina’s forgiveness on the anniversary of Daniel’s murder. Cora vows to help her daughter find true love, but Regina remains suspicious of her mother’s intentions.

I'm with you, Evil Queen. If you don't quite remember the OUAT matriarch's history or, here's a quick refresher. Cora was a miller's daughter. She was tricked and got pregnant with Zelena, the future Wicked Witch of the West. She then fell in love with Prince Leopold, but was exposed by Princess Eva, who later married him and gave birth to Snow White. Cora abandoned the baby Zelena to Oz. She met Rumplestiltskin, learned magic, and married Prince Henry. Years later, Cora killed Eva and arranged for her daughter to marry Leopold and become Queen. She also killed Regina's stable boy soulmate Daniel when Snow White spilled the beans about their affair.

Seeking revenge, Regina starts studying magic with Rumplestiltskin and banished her mother to Wonderland. There, Cora discovered how powerful both her daughters had become while crossing paths with Alice, Will Scarlet, Hook, Jefferson the Mad Hatter and Anastasia the Red Queen. She makes a deal with Hook, and returns to rule over the frozen Enchanted Forest during Regina's curse. She got to Storybrooke and was killed by Snow White. It was a lot.

So what are Cora's intentions? What reason could she have for wanting to disrupt the marriage between her daughter and the King? Is Wonderland planning an invasion? At the very least, I think this must be when Cora kidnaps Henry and takes him back to Wonderland with her in a heart box. Remember that from Season 1? Regina and the Hatter went to rescue him.

Does Cora want to take Regina with her to Wonderland and set her up with the Red King so they can rule the duel kingdoms side by side? However that definitely fits with her M.O. and it would be a good way to tie Will into the story and reference Anastasia.

Finally, is she trying to catch Zelena? It seems likely that this has something to do with Regina's witchy sister. It's too convenient that, in the present, Zelena ended up with the man fated to be Regina's true love — especially if Cora's return has to do with Regina finding happiness. There has to be something bigger at play. Both Regina and Emma are learning that nothing in their lives was ever coincidental. The author has seen a future where Robin and Regina lived happily ever after. I'm willing to bet that Cora is the reason that never came to pass.

Images: Kelsey McNeal/ABC; Giphy