Thanks to Once Upon a Time's reliance on flashbacks, even 100 percent dead characters are never really gone, because they can always come back for scenes from the past. As we recently learned, that's the case with Cora — Rose McGowan will be reprising her role as young Cora in the second half of Season 3.
Of course, we can't help but wonder why the writers are Cora back into the picture, even in flashback form, given that she's dead in the present. If it were older Cora, we'd assume the flashback was Regina related, but since it's young Cora, we're left with some big question marks.
And what do we do when we have a question about Once Upon a Time? Speculate, of course! So, here are a few theories about why Cora might be back on the scene.
More Rumple revelations. We know Cora and Rumple were once in love, so we might have more flashbacks focusing on that period. "The Miller's Daughter" gave us a pretty clear picture of the arc of their failed romance, but it's possible the writers wants to dig into it deeper, perhaps to create a comparison or contrast with his present relationship with Belle.
Wicked Witch! We also think it's possible that Cora is connected to this season's villain, the Wicked Witch (of Wizard of Oz fame). After all, showrunner Adam Horowitz had this to say about Rose McGowan's return: "Thrilled to welcome @rosemcgowan back to #OnceUponATime! Why?!? How!?! #nospoilers #WickedisComing."
The inclusion of the "wicked is coming" hastag makes us think Cora is linked to the witch. Perhaps they're related? Or could Cora have even been Dorothy in the Once Upon a Time verse? This show does love to blur the line between hero and villain...
She's back to life. We find this the least likely theory, but since Adam did write "Why?!? How!?!" we have to wonder if Rose's return isn't actually in the past. After all, "how" isn't a particularly difficult question to answer if the answer is "in a flashback." Can the Wicked Witch raise the dead? Or does she perhaps masquerade as young Cora?
Share your theories in the comments below!