Once Upon a Time Season 3.16 Review: It’s Not Easy Being Green

Once Upon a Time Season 3.16 Review: It’s Not Easy Being Green
April 6, 2014 – ABC
Rumple teaches Zelena magic. Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

The Dark One teaches Zelena magic. Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

Following the heart-wrenching end to last week’s episode, Once could have easily decided to pull some punches to give the viewers a break. But while “It’s Not Easy Being Green” did not hit as hard on the emotions as I thought it might, it still tackled some weighty material with the back story of the Wicked Witch. It also gave us some lovely Regina moments, which I always want more of. And most importantly, we got the answer to the question: who is the man behind the curtain?

FTL: Green with Envy

Even Zelena’s father thinks she’s wicked. She has a major Frozen-esque problem going on in that she cannot control her powers, and that has turned her adopted father into an alcoholic. Oh, and then there’s that. Zelena actually didn’t know that the people she had grown up with were not her biological parents. A cyclone had dropped her as a baby into Oz, where her adopted mother found her and insisted on taking her in, even though she was already exhibiting some uncontrollable magic at that young age. Some time after the death of her mother, her drunkard father tells Zelena the truth, and Zelena heads off to the wizard to find her real family.

When Zelena shows up at the Emerald City, the doors practically open for her. Ok, well there are guards who open the doors, but the complete lack of response to her presence otherwise suggests that she was expected. The famous man behind the curtain expresses just that when Zelena enters his chambers to see the fire show. He shows Zelena her real family and then gives her some silver slippers that will let her travel wherever she wants to go. In payment? He needs something of Rumple’s. Zelena instantly agrees, intent on traveling to the Enchanted Forest to take from her newly found sister what is rightfully hers!

I can understand Zelena getting to the point of resenting Regina eventually, after she gets more detail on what life Regina has lived, but it seems quite quick for her to jump to that point upon seeing her for the first time. There is no explanation about why Zelena might be so hotheaded, but I guess we are just supposed to attribute that to her alcoholic adopted father. Either way, when Zelena arrives in the Enchanted Forest it is in Regina’s bedroom, where she meets Rumple and convinces him to teach her magic as well.

Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

At this point in time, Regina isn’t doing so well in the magic department, so Rumple gives Zelena a test to see if she is the daughter who could cast his curse. Zelena passes the first test, but she fails when presented with the fact that Rumple is still teaching Regina as well. Enraged, she tries to kill Regina so that there is no choice, but Regina is just Rumple in disguise. He immediately tells her that she has lost her chance once and for all. To add insult to injury, he reminds her of what her father always said about putting on a good face, noting, “You might want to take his advice, your insides are starting to show. You’re turning green, dearie. Envy will do that to you.”

Most importantly, Rumple cannot let Zelena cast the curse because she would have to give up what she loves most: Rumple. That explains why she is so set on keeping the Rumple of today prisoner. While she resented her family for abandoning her and enjoying a better life than she had, she feels more betrayal towards Rumple’s choice of Regina. In truth, Regina never did anything to Zelena except have the audacity to exist.  Zelena leaves Rumple alone after revealing that she would have been able to take him to a land without magic without the curse, but she no longer has the desire to do so. “I’ll see you again, dearie. And next time you will choose me,” she warns. I suppose someone as delusional as Zelena would not be able to distinguish the difference between choice and enslavement.

Enraged, Zelena returns to the Wizard. Let’s meet the man behind the curtain. Our missing Walsh tumbles out. Just as in the original Wizard of Oz, Walsh is just a normal, non-magical man who is deluding the entire population of Oz into thinking he is all powerful. He tries to convince Zelena that it is not all a lie, claiming, “I may no have magic, but the things I collect do.” That was why he needed something from Rumple. But Zelena has no mercy, deciding that she has no use of a non-magical wizard and could use a nice flying automaton instead.

Most of this story could have been extrapolated from what we already knew of the WW’s origins. Still, there were a few nice touches, from the silver slippers that brought Dorothy home to the cyclone that brought Zelena to Oz in the first place. It was nice to see Walsh once more and see where he came from, but I still want to know where he has been these last few weeks. Is he the monkey that has been doing Zelena’s bidding, or is that some other poor victim? Must he always be a monkey, or can he do some secret mission for Zelena as his sexy human self?

Storybrooke: Saying Goodbye

Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

Storybrooke says goodbye to Neal. Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke, Neal is laid to rest. I never really think it’s a good idea to start with a funeral, because it’s difficult to get into the emotions easily, but the characters got me there quickly, to my surprise. What really made me feel the impact of Neal’s death once again, however, was his father. Watching Zelena taunt Rumple with the loss of his son while he is locked away from the funeral and another chance to say goodbye was brutal, as reflected by the heartbreak on Rumple’s face.

It’s clearly WAY too soon to talk about moving on, so I love Hook being a friend to Emma in her time of need. It makes sense, though, given he was a gentleman before he was a pirate, and he loved Neal too. Which is way it is appropriate for him to offer to speak with Henry about Neal when he was Henry’s age. Emma can’t tell him the truth, but maybe Hook can find a way for Henry to connect with this father he believes he never knew. At the start, Hook’s boat trip and stargazing lesson seem to fail, but he finally gives Henry something to latch onto when he mentions that he met Neal shortly after Neal lost his father. It was a sweet moment, despite the brief confusion over how Hook could have taught Neal to sail if they were supposedly the same age now.

But enough about the lovely Hook and how amazing he is. The main action all happened back at Granny’s, where Zelena waltzed right in to make the announcement that she is no longer hiding, she is not here for Snow’s baby (yet!), and that she is Regina’s half-sister. And if Regina has any doubt as to the last one, she just has to go digging through her mother’s stuff. Once she has found the truth, Regina is supposed to meet Zelena at the clocktower at midnight for an epic showdown. Whatever you say about Zelena, you have to admire her drawn-out sense of drama. She is in no hurry to enact her revenge. Rather ominously, Zelena declares, “One of us is about to make history,” since neither are in the habit of losing a fight. With March Madness winding down, this hit closer to home than usual. When two unbeaten teams meet on the court, one has to feel the sting of loss. Is it too much to hope that Regina takes home the W? Probably. It is far too soon to dispatch the WW, and I really don’t want her to go yet.

Regina finds a letter in Cora’s things that confirms Zelena is her sister, but the news seems to hit her even harder than expected. Robin stumbles upon her where she is rereading the letter in the forest and offers an ear. Regina knows the letter., which is one from Rumple to Cora detailing how her first born is the most powerful witch he has ever seen. Regina often went back to the letter when she was low on self-esteem, thinking it could only be about her. But now Rumple’s letter tells her that she is about to battle that witch, and she has no chance at victory. Robin immediately tells her not to place stock in the words of the Dark One. I love that Robin is so supportive of Regina despite barely knowing her, and I am so glad that Regina is ready to open up to him a little, despite fearing what it means that he is her soulmate.

Regina loses her fight. Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

Regina loses her fight. Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

In the end, Regina does lose the battle when Zelena pushes her through the tower’s clockface. But Zelena does not want to kill Regina; she just wants her heart, and if Regina ever learned anything from her mother, it was not to bring her heart to any battle she had a chance of losing. Frustrated, Zelena flies off on her broom, leaving our heroes time to regroup. Again, it is Regina who points out that Zelena’s magical plan is pretty clear. She must be brewing something if she has Charming’s courage and needs Regina’s heart. The only question is what will her ingredients help her make? I love the many Oz tie-ins, but this one scares me. Does Zelena need to perform a full lobotomy on someone? Even for Once, that’s a little macabre, and that is a way I do not want to see any more main characters die. Don’t get me wrong, more characters can be cut from the bloated cast; that is just not a way I want to see anyone go on a show that isn’t Dexter. No matter how she gets her ingredients, though, the end result of her magic could be even worse. Zelena is not about to cast a new curse. She wants to go back in time and get a second chance. With everything I’ve seen with time travel, that seems to be the most dangerous threat that Storybrooke has ever faced.

So let’s take a quick time out from pure terror to revel in a little love. After having faced Zelena, Regina realizes she needs to enjoy the good she has in her life. So she returns to the woods where Robin helped her bury her heart. “Would you mind holding on to this for a little bit longer?”  she asks as she hands her heart to him… literally. That has got to be the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen, and I am so ready for Regina to find happiness through love. Too bad Robin only has a shallow idea of how significant that request is, though holding anyone’s heart is a pretty steep task as it is. And of course these romantic moments will have to be few and far between since they don’t exactly have time to relax while Zelena wreaks her havoc. Still, these two have got to be my new favorite couple, even replacing Rumple and Belle.

Quotes of the Night

“Every bit of it. He was family. Something you know nothing about.” Rumple, when asked by Zelena if searching for his son for so many years was worth it now that he has lost him again.

“Are you sure Cora didn’t booby trap her stuff? I don’t think a sleeping curse would be good for the baby.” Snow expresses some mild concerns over Regina’s search of her mother’s tomb.

“Like a GPS?” Henry tries to wrap his mind around the concept of a sextant. Are kids really that stupid these days, or is it just Henry? I have to blame the fact that he keeps getting pulled out of school to help with his mother’s cases.

Next Sunday, on “The Jolly Roger,” we get a Hook flashback complete with Ariel! Two of my favorite characters featured in the same episode? Yes, please!