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This article focuses on the operation.
For the Season Four episodes, see Operation Mongoose Part 1 and Part 2
Henry: I'm trying to help you.
Regina: Help me what?
Henry: Find your happy ending. In my world, we called it "Operation Mongoose".
Henry Mills and Regina src

Operation Mongoose is a mission featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It makes its début in the first episode of the fourth season.


After Second Curse

Operation Mongoose begins after Robin Hood chooses to honor his marriage vows to his wife Marian, who was saved from a past timeline where she died, by breaking up with Regina. At first, Regina plots to get rid of Marian, only to accept Robin is now lost to her. Emma consoles Regina with the promise that she will help her find her happy ending. Upon hearing this, Regina realizes that the storybook, not Marian, is the reason for her suffering. Regina then decides to the find book's author so she can have the person to give her a deserving happy ending. After Henry learns of his mother's plans, he is pleased with the idea and agrees that they must change her story in the book since she is not the person she once was. Operation Mongoose continues with Henry going undercover at Mr. Gold's pawnshop to obtain more information about the Author. While Marian's life hangs in the balance because of the Snow Queen's magic, Regina tries everything possible to find a cure, to no avail. She eventually tells Robin to forget about his feelings for her and that he must fall in love with his wife again because only true love's kiss can save Marian. Afterwards, Regina admits to Henry that she and Robin are over for good, however, she'll be ready when her happy ending truly does happen. ("A Tale of Two Sisters", "Rocky Road")

Things take another unexpected turn when Robin decides to follow his heart instead and goes to Regina, which ends with them spending the night together. The morning after, Regina explains the storybook's workings to Robin. She shows him an image of her younger self walking away from him when she had the chance to meet him, which she believes means they aren't supposed to be together. During a heart-to-heart, Mary Margaret insists Regina's story can change since she is making good decisions over her prior bad ones. Robin calls Regina to the library, where he shows her a storybook page he found, which depicts them together in the tavern had they met. He uses it as proof her fate could've gone a different path, and that she isn't doomed to be unhappy. ("The Apprentice", "Smash the Mirror")

As the Snow Queen's Spell of Shattered Sight approaches, Regina brings Henry to her office, where she apologizes to him for letting herself be distracted by Robin and forgetting about Operation Mongoose. He believes they will eventually find the Author, though Regina ominously remarks that they just survive the spell first. After the spell is stopped, Regina says goodbye to Robin, who leaves town forever to ensure Marian's well-being in the Land Without Magic. However, there is hope for Operation Mongoose when Henry finds blank storybooks in a mansion. He believes the room belongs to the Author, and this means they are getting closer to finding him. Emma learns about Operation Mongoose in this instance, and she decides to join Regina and Henry in their mission. ("Fall", "Heroes and Villains")

Six weeks later, Regina continues with Operation Mongoose by looking through the storybook for clues about the Author, with nothing noteworthy. She later asks Mother Superior about how she can find the Author and get a rewritten happy ending, but the latter states that the Author hasn't been seen for a very long time. The search for the Author leads Regina to a storybook page depicting a door, which used to be in August's possession. Once August returns, he reveals the Author is trapped inside the door illustration. Emma frees the Author with a key that Henry found in the mansion, but the Author flees on his own soon after. ("Darkness on the Edge of Town", "Unforgiven", "Enter the Dragon", "Poor Unfortunate Soul", "Best Laid Plans")

Operation Mongoose comes to a standstill once Regina learns Zelena has been impersonating Marian all this time, and that her sister is pregnant with Robin's child. Regina then tries to take matters into her own hands by having the Author write Zelena out of existence, but she backs out of the plan after realizing how self-destructive her actions are. In the end, she accepts the fact Zelena is having Robin's baby, but refuses to let this complication ruin the love she and Robin have for each other. ("Heart of Gold", "Lily", "Mother")

During Alternate Reality

Under the alternate reality that Isaac created, Henry finds a very different Regina, who is a bandit hiding from her stepmother Queen Snow White. He attempts to tell her about Operation Mongoose, and theorizes that she must give a kiss of true love to Robin Hood for the alternate reality to cease to exist, a claim she finds ludicrous. Upon meeting Robin for the first time, Regina feels a connection with him, however, this is soon crushed, as he already is madly in love with Zelena and getting ready to marry her. Henry tries again to set things on the right path by freeing Emma, but in the process, Hook dies helping them escape. Heartbroken by this loss, Emma then persuades Regina that she must tell her true love, Robin, how she feels before she loses the chance to do so. The trio attempt to stop Robin and Zelena's wedding ceremony, but they are unable to go into the church when the Light One, Rumplestiltskin, engages them in battle. Before Henry is nearly killed by Rumplestiltskin, Regina steps up to take the blow instead and begins dying from her injury. Robin stays by Regina's side in her last moments, but before the life flickers out from her eyes, Henry harnesses Isaac's quill and becomes the next Author. With his newfound ability, he uses Regina's blood to rewrite everything back to normal, allowing Regina and Robin to reunite in the actual reality. Isaac tries to escape town after the reversion, but Mary Margaret and David apprehend him in time. As for Mr. Gold, his blackened heart causes him to expire, which will kill the human part of him and give the Dark One free rein to cause havoc for the townspeople. To prevent this from happening, the Apprentice reverts Mr. Gold's heart to a blank slate by absorbing all the darkness in it and putting it into the Sorcerer's Hat. This concludes Operation Mongoose, which later gives way to Operation Light Swan when there are unforeseen consequences from the Apprentice's actions. ("Operation Mongoose Part 1", "Operation Mongoose Part 2")

Weapons, Items and Magic Involved


On-Screen Notes

  • Henry and Regina's mission, Operation Mongoose, references the real-life carnivorous animal of the same name. Mongooses feed on cobras in the wild,[1] and are usually unaffected by cobra venom at low doses.[2] This is ironic considering Emma and Henry's first mission together was named Operation Cobra.


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


  2. Mongooses: Their Natural History and Behavior, H. E. Hinton and A. M. S. Dunn, University of California Press, 1967, page 17. Facsimile by Google Books.

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