Once Upon a Time Season 3 Episode 16 – TV Review
It’s not easy being green.
Especially when you’re a bratty, mummy issues orphan with a wicked (ugh) entitlement complex.
TL;DR Zelena’s backstory involves parental abandonment, the Wizard of Oz, and poisonous jealousy (and Rumple); present day Zelena challenges Regina to a duel; everyone mourns Baelfire’s death; Hook regales Henry with tales of Baelfire’s youth.
Because if anyone was better suited to being a father than an absentee Baelfire, it’s a pirate. Duh.
So the bulk of the plot this episode actually happens via flashback. We go to Zelena’s youth, where Cora dumps her butt in Oz because she doesn’t believe she has what it takes to become royalty (Cora apparently fancies herself as a judge of babies’ futures). Zelena grows up with a drunk dad who is scared of her magic powers. She also isn’t green, btw. She goes to the Wizard of Oz to find out where she came from, and he shows her vision of Regina living the life she could have. With some silver slippers, another gift from the Wizard, she journeys to the Enchanted Forest. There she meets Rumple, who takes her under his wing just long enough so that she gets mad when he ends up dumping her to keep tutoring Regina, anyway. Upon her return to Oz, Zelena turns the Wizard (revealed to be Walsh/Christopher Gorham/Henry from Harper’s Island) into a flying monkey and vows vengeance on Regina. Her jealousy also finally turns her green. Meanwhile in the present, Zelena shows herself to the town, and sets up a duel with Regina. Zelena is objectively stronger than Regina, but Regina comes out on top when Zelena unsuccessfully tries to steal Regina’s heart (Regina had already extracted it for sakekeeping). Regina realises Zelena is gathering ingredients (like David’s courage) to turn back time. And Hook takes Henry out on his boat to tell him about his now-dead daddy-o.
If only Hook was as adept with women as he was with kids.
I think the only thing I really had a big problem with this episode is the chronology of Zelena’s skin colour change. I remember her having a whinge at Regina in the Enchanted Forest flashback a year ago about how it’s hard to grow up when everyone can see your wickedness via your skin tone.
But this episode shows that Zelena had already descended into evil as an adult when her skin changed. So what the fuck was all that earlier sulking about?
Bitch, you need to turn the brattiness down about 20 notches.
Why I hate this episode:
It’s a little strange that Rumple/Gold knew Regina had a more powerful sister floating around all this time, yet never mentioned it. Retroactive plotting will do that to you.
Zelena’s plan of using magic to turn back time or whatever and undo Regina has a distinctly Jafar flavour to it. And that kind of bullshit plot pointing got his show in trouble, baby. Might want to back off that one.
I don’t think anyone’s surprised by Cora’s callousness by now, but it’s pretty ridiculous that she could decide that a baby would definitely not have the potential to be a royal. It’s simply a move that’s convenient for the plot.
Zelena really should take a look at just how Regina’s life turned out if she still thinks it’s worth being jealous over.
She also hastily develops some ridiculous attraction/affection for Rumple in the flashbacks. God, she’s so desperate for attention that she’ll fall in love with a hideous beast. And Belle’s already got that base covered, bitch. Stop cutting her grass.
Zelena is ungrateful to the Wizard. He gives her visions of her sister and tosses some interdimensional slippers at her for a minimal fee of bringing back any artifact of Rumple’s. Which she 1) doesn’t do. And 2) she then turns him into a flying monkey. Rude.
Everyone in Storybrooke spends so much time worrying because Zelena is more powerful than Regina. Umm, I don’t know. Can’t Emma just, like, shoot her in the head or something? I don’t think it’d be that hard. Just give it a shot, at least.
The gang totally just waltzes into the farm house cellar and finds Gold in his cage, as expected. Zelena manages to scare them off by threatening to sic Gold on them (because she controls him). But come on, Z. That’s poor planning.
Oh, and Henry admits he’s struggling to mourn a man he didn’t even know. Well no shit. The fact that anyone expects him to is baffling.
But it’s not all bad:
Hook’s tender side is distractingly attractive. So I’ll allow him to get sentimental with Horrible Henry. This time.
Rumple fucks flashback Zelena around very well. Her anger at him is almost justified. He decides to teach her how to improve her magic once he knows she’s a more powerful daughter of Cora’s. He manages to bring out her strength, which is her jealousy of Regina, and that’s responsible for her greening. And then when he realises that she’s too selfish and immature to be able to give up the thing she loves the most, a core component of the curse, he dumps her to allow Regina to cast it.
He then tries to kill her so he can get her slippers. Sadly, he fails.
And the thing Zelena apparently loves the most is Rumple. They flirt a lot. So I both dread and hope that he turns out to be her father.
The Wizard is actually very competent with magic in the Once Upon a Time universe, despite not having any magic of his own. He very quickly whips up the accurate visions of the Enchanted Forest to show Zelena. And is even generous enough to gift her the silver slippers. It’s a shame she’s so poor in appreciating that generosity.
I loved that present day Regina was one step ahead of Mean Green. She gave her heart to Robin to protect while they battled. And she allows him to keep it for now. Symbolic, much?
Zelena does a fair job of intimidating the Storybrooke townsfolk. Having Gold as her bulldog-on-a-leash is an effective way of accomplishing this.
Zelena gets best line of the episode. Regina is late to the duel, so Emma offers to fight Zelena. Zelena isn’t amused: “I see someone’s got an inflated sense of self worth.” Someone finally fucking said it.
She also gets second best line with a little fantastical racism:
Zelena: “Out of my way, munchkin.”
Random Dwarf (if it’s not Grumpy, I don’t know which one it is): “It’s ‘dwarf.'”
Zelena: “That’s even worse.”
Heightism must be in vogue in Oz.
Tinkerbell sees Robin’s lion tattoo and advises Regina to get on dat dick. I concur.
Henry is puzzled by Hook appearing to be around Baelfire’s age, but his story involving a child Baelfire. Henry isn’t perceptive very often, so on these rare occasions, we must applaud him.
Regina finds a letter in Cora’s things that proves to her that Zelena’s claim of sisterhood is legitimate. It’s a letter Rumple wrote to Cora about how he met her daughter and was utterly impressed with how powerful she was. Regina had known about that letter for a long time, but had always thought it had been written about her. Aww.
Flashback Zelena tries to straight-up murder Regina with a cutthroat razor. She even sinks it in, but it turns out to be Rumple in disguise, testing her ability to resist her envious urges. She failed.
Oh, and Zelena really likes getting close to Regina’s face when threatening her. Has our favourite homoerotic subtext returned? With a splash of incest (well, half incest) on the side?