Once Upon A Time: It’s Not Easy Being Green (S3E16)

Emma: “I promised Henry I’d find the person responsible for his father’s death. It’s really all I can do for him right now.”

Hook: “That can’t be true. Have you tried talking to the boy?”

Emma: “As far as he’s concerned, I haven’t seen Neal since he left me in jail. So anything I tell him about his dad being a hero sounds like I’m making it up just to get him to feel better.”

Hook: “Perhaps I could talk to him.”

Emma: “About what? Leather conditioner and eyeliner?”

Anyone who was hoping for some sort of twist or extra depth to Zelena’s backstory and why she enacted this curse might wind up feeling a little disappointed. And probably remain unsympathetic, although I’m guessing that’s what the showrunners want us to feel. We explore what exactly happened to the Wicked Witch and what made her green. Meanwhile Storybrooke is reeling from the sad events from last episode (although most of the town gets over it pretty quickly), and now that everyone knows who Zelena is, Regina prepares for a duel. And in the unrequited love department, Emma and Hook continue to have|conversations|like|this because personal space be damned.

A twister! A twister! A baby gets dropped from a giant green tornado in front of a plain old couple, and the woman wants to keep this beautiful girl while the man is somewhat reluctant after witnessing some horrible CGI effects (always this show’s Achilles heel) that cause tree branches to sway suspiciously within the baby’s reach. The woman brushes him off and they continue down the yellow brick road, for we are in Oz. The girl’s name? Zelena. (If it were a boy, Clark Kent).

In Storybrooke the town is gathered mournfully at Neal’s funeral. It’s a big group considering I think Neal wasn’t with the town that long, if we’re talking about the show timeline, but this is the first big permanent character death we’ve seen in a while. The character positions are pretty obvious; Regina is next to Robin, and Hook is next to and angled towards Emma. Hook is the first person to shovel dirt onto Neal’s grave, and it’s a pretty heartbreaking scene. Everyone else follows suit and Emma fingers her swan necklace before being the last person to bury Neal.

Rumple is in despair at the same time, and Zelena brings up what I thought made Bae’s death so heartbreaking for him. His whole curse, his reason for training and manipulating Regina to enact the curse and then bring him one step closer to his son, is almost pointless now that Bae is gone. He was family, and now he’s gone, and that’s something Zelena wouldn’t understand.

Or wouldn’t she? Flashback to a younger Zelena, shaving her father’s beard like she did for Rumple a few episodes back. He tells her that she must always “put on a good face.” And then she accidentally knicks him (for real and not “accidentally” doing it like she did to draw Rumple’s blood), and uses magic inadvertently, which causes her father to panic and exclaim that she’s “wicked” and, oh yeah, she was basically adopted. Damn, how long was he holding this in for? She tells him she’ll find out who her real family is and runs off to see the Wizard (… the wonderful Wizard of Oz).

Back in Storybrooke, Emma is killing the dartboard much like she was killing the eggs the morning she, Hook and Henry left from NYC. Much like Graham also did to the dartboard back in season 1. Hook comes in to feel the waters and Emma is in a pretty vengeful mood. Hook advises against vengeance – and if he tells you that’s the wrong path, then oh is it the wrong path. Emma is also frustrated because she can’t say anything about Neal to Henry because it will sound like a lie based on his memories. Hook offers to talk to the boy, and Emma disdainfully retorts if he’ll teach him about leather conditioner and eyeliner. (Okay, now you’ve crossed the line, Swan). Hook takes it in stride and says that because he knew Bae as a boy, he’ll tell Henry what his father was like at that age. Then he promises that no harm will come to Henry and finally Emma’s heart starts to melt a little. And Hook conveniently takes Henry away from anything Wicked-Witch related for the rest of the episode.

Regina meanwhile is awkwardly staring at Robin’s lion tattoo, which Tink then notices and asks if he isn’t Regina’s soulmate. Robin comes over to talk but Regina brushes him off. Tink wonders why she even bothers and then dun dun dun, the Wicked Witch barges in and makes inappropriate remarks about Neal’s death. Regina asks what Zelena wants, and Zelena says she just wants to talk to her sister. Half-sister, technically, through Cora. Regina and the town are surprised to say the least, and Zelena tells Regina to find the truth and then to meet her on Main Street at sundown. Regina says she doesn’t lose. But neither does Zelena. After she leaves, Regina looks concerned.

Zelena is off to see the Wizard in one of the better sets on this show. Much like the movie, the Wizard only talks from behind the curtain and knows Zelena is seeking her family. He activates a magic floor crystal ball. In it, Zelena sees that Cora abandoned her because she couldn’t become royalty. (Not really sure what that means? Was Zelena an illegitimate child?) Then she sees her sister Regina being instructed by Rumplestiltskin. The Wizard tells her Rumple is the most powerful wizard of all the realms and that magic is a gift. Zelena wants him to teach her, but instead he gives her magic red ruby silver slippers (to be accurate to the book) that will take her wherever she needs to go. He just needs a certain item from Rumplestiltskin as payment. His last words are advice on just to find out the truth, and not to become envious. This advice will come back to haunt her.

Zelena transports herself to Regina’s bedroom. Rumple finds her and mistakens her for Regina, but Zelena says she is also Cora’s daughter. Rumple doesn’t believe this but takes a strand of her hair and throws it into a potion that immediately turns green in some sort of magical maternity test. Rumple seems quite pleased with this revelation.

Back in Storybrooke the town is egging Regina on if she knew about Zelena, and if she didn’t remember Zelena maybe she pissed her off in the year they all forgot. Yes townspeople, getting on the bad side of your one powerful ally is smart. Regina goes to her vault followed by Emma and Snow, and Snow stupidly wonders out loud if Cora booby-trapped the vault, saying a sleeping curse would be bad for the baby. That’s what you’re worried about, Snow? Never mind that you just asked your stepmom about her mom, whose death you were mostly responsible for (justified or not). I’d be much more concerned about letting the Wicked Witch take care of you the past week or so despite not knowing who she was at all. Regina recovers a letter which proves to her that Zelena is her sister. And then she runs off, while Emma and Snow are left wondering what was in that letter.

In preparations for the duel, Charming tries to think of ways to attack Zelena, but Emma says Zelena forbade any interference. Emma says they need to retrieve the dagger to help Regina, and Belle suggests maybe she can reach Rumple without using the dagger. So Emma and Company do what you never want people to do in a horror movie, go back to the killer’s house and break in when they don’t appear to be there. Silly fools! Because someone magical can’t just apparate out of anywhere? They send Belle down to talks to Rumple, who tells her to get out of there, but she grabs his hand. And right on cue Zelena poofs into the room, and then sends Rumple to threaten that he will kill them all if they try to interfere again.

Regina mulls over her letter alone until Robin sneaks up as usual. He was patrolling the woods to guard against this “simian army” (thanks, Hook, for the term). Robin asks about the letter she’s secretly reading but has already managed to pickpocket it. Regina says she won’t stop him from reading it, and we finally hear what was in it. “Cora, dear, I finally got my hands on your firstborn.” And she is more powerful than Cora. Regina says that letter was always comfort to her, but now she realizes it was not about her at all. Regina can’t win if Rumple thinks that Zelena was stronger than her.

In the Enchanted Forest, Rumple is busy teaching his new pupil Zelena, because he needs Cora’s daughter to cast the curse. In his reverse-Yoda methods, he tells Zelena to use anger as her power. Then he tells her she needs one moment as her focus. Then he tells her how his father abandoned him, and how raised by spinsters, his one moment of forgetting all of that was right after they all baked meat pies together, he would get the first bite. Zelena uses the moment Rumple agreed to train her as her moment of strength – her moment when she forgets that she wasn’t wanted.

All seems to be going well for Zelena until Rumple leaves after one of their lessons, saying he can’t stay. But Zelena baked fresh meat pies for him! But he’s off to teach Regina, and this news does not make Zelena happy. Zelena is the one, not Regina! Then Rumple tells her she should heed her father’s advice and put on a good face, because now, her insides are starting to show. Yes, she’s turning green, literally turning green from envy. That was rather simple and expected, wasn’t it?

Zelena makes for Regina’s bedroom, and draws out a razor to Sweeney Todd Regina because she doesn’t deserve Rumple, but it wasn’t Regina at all. It was Rumplestiltskin, and he tells her he made this a test for her, and she failed. Casting the curse will require a price – to give up the thing you love the most. In Zelena’s case, it is Rumple himself. In which case he is flattered, but this renders her useless to take him to a land without magic. But jokes on you, Rumple! Zelena has her magic slippers, and she could have helped him but now she won’t. Rumple recants and backtracks, but it’s too late, Zelena says he’ll need to kill her for the slippers, and that the next time, he will choose her over Regina.

In Storybrooke, the town is gathered on Main Street and everyone is antsy since Regina isn’t there when Zelena shows up with Gold. Emma says she’s the savior and will fight her, which I will admit does come off a bit self-absorbed in this moment. But Regina comes suited up in red gloves. What did Regina ever do to Zelena? She was born. And thus begins a mercifully short telekinetic, fireball-throwing battle. The one highlight is the poor Miata that gets crushed under Regina. Zelena gains the upper hand very quickly after Regina discovers the main source of anger is basically jealously over Rumple. Regina tells her to just kill her already, but Zelena wants her heart and reaches to take it. Regina laughs and tells her Cora taught her well, and that you never bring your heart into battle. (That’s also a lovely metaphor if you think about it). Zelena flies away after not getting what she wanted, and Regina says that with her heart and David’s courage, Zelena is gathering ingredients for something. But what could Zelena possibly want now?

Regina retrieves her heart from the woods where Robin is and tells him her plan worked, but then gives him her heart and tells him to keep it for her a little longer. He worries about someone stealing it, but she tells him it can’t be stolen once it is given to someone. Wait is Regina in love already? That’s awfully quick. Is this to balance the woefully slow Hook/Emma pairing? (I kid, I kid. The payoff will be worth it… right??)

Hook and Henry have a very peaceful night compared to everyone else. Henry is learning how to tie knots, and then Hook tries to teach him how to use a sextant for navigation (no, Hook, it doesn’t work like a GPS at all), and it’s pretty clear Hook isn’t trying to hide how he knows Neal/Baelfire. Because Henry figures it out pretty quickly that Hook and Neal being the same age is fishy (unintentional pun) if Hook was Neal’s teacher in some way. Hook tells him that Emma is just trying to protect him, but then caves and tells him that Neal also lost his father at the same age, and they have more in common than Henry knows. He tells Emma this same thing when he drops Henry off. She thanks him for taking care of him, and Hook reasons that she just can’t leave without telling Henry anything more about Neal and forget that Storybrooke never happened afterwards. She’s not keen on his advice though, and thanks him again before slowly closing the door on him. Oh I suspect Emma’s super protective nature around Henry will backfire in a few episodes.

Back at the farm Rumple taunts Zelena for failing. Zelena says she’ll find the heart but he says he’d still choose Regina and that whatever curse she was planning would fail. Zelena laughs though, saying she’s not casting a curse but rather a second chance.

Back in Oz, Zelena tells the Wizard she wants to go back in time to change the past. But that is impossible, and Zelena easily knocks down the curtain to reveal that this great and powerful Oz is actually Walsh, from Kansas. (OH THANK GOD EMMA WASN’T DATING A REAL FLYING MONKEY). Walsh says he’s not a wizard, just a collector, but his collections all work. (What did he want of Rumple’s?) Zelena isn’t happy about this since he’s useless now unless he obeys everything she says. Hmmm, I guess she’ll have to turn him into a circus poster of a flying monkey he has on his wall. (I suppose things could have been much worse.) Continuing her jealousy streak, Zelena reveals that she wants to change the past so that Regina will never be born. And this is when she goes full-on green to reflect her inside jealousy. So Regina, who went on a heart-ripping rampage after becoming queen still gets to remain beautiful? I guess I might be a little jealous too.

Oh now I get it. Zelena will alter time, and we’ll see a whole new season of characters living out lives completely differently than what we’re used to. I have mixed feelings if this actually develops into the plotline for next season; it could be intriguing but at the same time I hope the showrunners have an endgame in mind and we’re not just constantly erasing and restoring memories. On the other hand, I suppose having an even bigger big bad continue to show up every season can get repetitive too. Or if this is just an excuse to get Emma in pretty princess gowns (although I love the leather too) and Hook in dashing outfits I won’t complain too much.

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