Once Upon a Time Season 4 Episode 18 – TV Review
What could make the tedium of the Author being an excuse for Snow and David’s horrifying infanticide better?
Why, that would be bringing back a tired, seasons past villain with a ridiculously stupid retcon.
What is this? Revenge?
TL;DR Zelena is back, and she’s impersonating Marian to rob Regina of her happy ending; she also puts pressure on Gold to find the Author by dangling a cure for some deathly illness he has now; Robin is hopelessly manipulated by everyone because he has a code of honour; Enchanted Forest flashbacks show how he visited Oz to steal something for Rumple.
It’s all very unimportant.
So the actual present day plot this episode is pretty tiny: Gold helps the Author escape from the Good Guys Gang. Gold also wakes Regina up from her knocked-out slumber and uses Robin’s endangerment to force her aid. The second plot thread is a flashback to nine weeks ago, just after Robin had left Storybrooke with Marian and their son. They bump into Gold in New York, but then Gold has a heart attack and we find out that his lifetime of villainy is causing his heart to fail. He gets goody two-shoes Robin to procure an elixir remedy, but Marian intercepts it and reveals herself to be the not-so-dead Zelena. Zelena survived her Gold stabbing and snuck through the time portal in last season’s two-part finale. She killed Marian and assumed her image, and the Marian we know and hate has been Zelena all along. She wants to complete her destruction of Regina’s happy ending with Robin, but needs the Author for that. And who better to track down the Author than Gold? She offers the cure elixir as payment, and he reluctantly accepts. And in Enchanted Forest flashback to a few years ago, Robin makes a deal with Rumple to steal the elixir from Oz in exchange for money to keep his tavern open (Robin and Marian had recently gone straight). Robin ends up giving the elixir to Will, who is apparently a native of Oz (I assume this is their first meeting), and returns to his life of crime to stick it the Sheriff.
This whole episode just reeks of stupidity. The Zelena reveal is so absurd. Yeah, we all knew her weird “death” was going to turn out to be fake, but it’s bizarre that Once Upon a Time decided to hamfist her back in at the eleventh hour almost a season later.
And her plan is no more impressive than it’s always been: make Regina sad.
Chuck some omnicide in there or something if you’re gonna take the time to return, baby. Have some ambition.
Zelena is a bad feminist.
Why I hate this episode:
And now Gold is being forced into working with the woman who murdered his son. Regina even points this out to him, but he’s like “Meh, I need dat medicine, honey.” Yes, that sudden, convenient medicine for that sudden, convenient heart condition. Way to build a high-stakes, satisfying story.
Even more disappointingly, the Zelena reveal saved us from what was otherwise an entirely Marian and Robin focused episode. That should be fucking illegal.
Robin’s jaunt into Oz in the farther flashback is futile. He steals one dose of the elixir, which has the power to cure a broken heart or whatever, and is almost about to return to collect payment from Rumple. But he makes sure to have some girl talk with Will just before he goes. He had promised Will he’d get an extra dose for him, but claims he didn’t get any at all. Will, who Robin knows is a thief, then gives some perfectly timed little weepy story about how he wanted a dose to cure his own broken heart from his sister’s tragic death as children. So Robin fucking sneaks the elixir onto Will before returning home with nothing. What the fuck? Is Will’s likely bogus story more important than your own family? Jesus.
This is all supposed to be an affirmation of just how keenly Robin sticks to his code of honour. But mere seconds before slipping the elixir into Will’s pocket, Robin was fucking lying to him and saying he didn’t get any in the first place. So the code only matters when it would be least advantageous? Cool.
The dose of elixir that Gold tasks Robin with procuring in New York is in the store Christopher Gorham’s character, Emma’s boyfriend who turned out to be a flying monkey, used to own. Gold reasons that Zelena probably outfitted her monkey with magical artifacts just in case. But why would she have given him a cure for a broken heart? What would he have ever needed that for? Did she just have too much of the elixir, and handed it out at the office Christmas party just to offload it?
Oh, and Zelena having been Marian all along is such a bullshit retcon. There’s no way Zelena would have put up with half the crap that happened to Marian in Storybrooke without a fight.
But it’s not all bad:
Zelena may be a petty dipshit, but she is campy as hell. Chew that scenery, witch.
Her entire scene with Gold while he’s immobilised in his hospital bed is delicious. Her aims may be low, but her capacity for crazy eyes is high. And doesn’t everything automatically sound more legitimate with a British accent?
She manages to force his help in finding the Author by promising to give him the elixir. Given that Gold had that little tender moment with Belle a couple of episodes ago where he all but admitted he was dying, I suspect he’s going to renege on this deal and go rogue. Which gives me minor hope that he won’t totally fuck Regina over.
Can you imagine if he secretly teams up with Regina against Zelena? That’d be hot.
Regina is the voice of reason when it comes to his alliance with Zelena. She gets a very simple best line of the episode: “She murdered your son!” Gold hasn’t been too forgiving when it comes to harming Baelfire, so my suspicions about his betrayal of Zelena seem fair.
Regina initially refuses to help Gold turn Emma to darkness, but when given the ultimatum between saving Emma or saving Robin (Regina calls Robin and Zelena answers and taunts her), Regina’s expression indicates that it’s time for Emma to schedule a bikini wax. ‘Coz she boutta get fucked.
Emma, stunningly, is another voice of reason this episode. David and Snow have a whinge to her while they’re chasing the Author about how he’s the one who sent them down the road of attacking Maleficent’s baby. But Emma, for once, holds personal responsibility above “because fate/magic” and says yeah, but you still attacked a baby, cunts. Exactly.
Gold persuades the Author to come with him by offering him a magic quill, which he needs to be able to write his stories. For what it’s worth, the Author is not Gold’s biggest fan. When a man who writes fanfiction about baby murder hates you, then you’re doing something right as a villain.
Oh, and Zelena outright states that she killed Marian. Not knocked out, not teleported away somewhere else; killed. Let’s hope that doesn’t get retconned, too. Because it’s brilliant.
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