Once Upon a Time Season 3.20 Review: Kansas

Once Upon a Time Season 3.20 Review: Kansas
May 4, 2014 – ABC

The Charmings welcome an addition. Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

Is it odd to call an episode that features a power-leaching kiss, the long-awaited birth of a baby, and the unleashing of a time bending curse a filler episode? For the moment that we have been building to for half a season (and doesn’t it feel like a full season, with the long hiatus?) everything seemed a bit anticlimactic. I suppose when you are building up to a two-part finale that promises to play like an epic movie, then you can’t expect too much for the lead up. To be sure, the stage has been set for some pretty awesome happenings next Sunday. Before we can get to our season ender, however, we do have a few things to address, including the introduction of another windblown Ozian.

Oz: A Seat at the Table

Completely green with envy, Zelena is unable to let any of Regina’s successes or failures go unnoticed or uncataloged. Even in Oz, she is watching her sister’s every move, half mocking, half covetous as Regina struggles in her magic lessons with Rumple. Her pity party is cut short with the arrival of Glinda. The good witch is actually happy that someone revealed the wizard for the fraud he was. And maybe some time as a monkey will do him good. Personally, I think some time as a human would do me good because I have been missing some Christopher Gorham in my life. Either way, Glinda is there with an offer for Zelena. She wants her to meet her true sisters.

When a house falls down on your head... Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

When a house falls down on your head… Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

Cue the introductions of the Witches of the North and the East. With the addition of Glinda, they represent love, wisdom, and courage. The fourth seat at their table has been vacant for many years. Why? The Witch of the West represents innocence, the hardest to fill. Apparently the book of records, for which Glinda is responsible, tells of a prophecy where the most powerful of witches will be brought by a cyclone to fill the seat. All Zelena has to do is believe and choose to be good, and she will belong. Of course, those familiar with the history of Oz know that someone else arrives via cyclone. But since no one else knows that, Zelena chooses to be good, at least for the moment, and she gets rewarded with the harnessing pendant. And with it, the green goes away.

It doesn’t take long before what we knew would happened, happens. Glinda is showing Zelena the West and all that it could be when Dorothy arrives. She gets trapped under the house and the good witches need to help her out. An insecure Zelena immediately distrusts this stranger, despite her being a little girl. To protect herself, she steals the book of records to discover the truth. The book says the protector will first need to unseat the greatest evil Oz has ever known before stepping into her new role. Seeing the innocent Dorothy in her seat makes Zelena realize that she must be that evil. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Even though Glinda claims that you cannot read into the book to closely, that the future is still yours to make, it seems pretty clear that Zelena would have to jump to that conclusion.

Meet Dorothy Gale. Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

Meet Dorothy Gale. Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

Faced with the knowledge of her imminent destruction, Zelena tries to kill Dorothy with fire. Dorothy throws water on her; Zelena starts to melt. Tale as old as time, right? Oops, wrong fairytale. Whether or not you expected it, the result was more The Walking Dead than Once Upon a Time. That was pretty gruesome. Dorothy calls Glinda, explains the sitch, and the prophecy is fulfulled. Too bad Dorothy has no interest in being the Witch of the West and only wants to go home. Maybe the wizard can help; now that Zelena’s magic is gone, he should be back to normal. Too bad Zelena is still alive and pretending to be the man behind the curtain.

Dorothy gets her gold slippers and her return to Kansas all the same. Without Dorothy, the prophecy can’t be realized. Glinda gets banished as well, and Zelena’s dominance over Oz is complete. Long live the Wickedest Witch of them all. With two witches missing from the table, I am curious to see what will happen to Oz. I doubt that will happen though. Everything is tied up in a nice little package with few loose ends, but everything is a little bit boring. For Dorothy and Glinda to be relegated to the background so fully is disappointing, though I suppose the time is needed for the rather full cast of characters left back in Storybrooke. Perhaps Oz can be explored at a later date, though if the portal in the preview for next week is to be believed, we will probably be seeing a different world entirely come next year.


Storybrooke: When Evil Wins

I love the juxtaposition of urgent music, Snow in labor, and Rumple spinning straw into gold, even if the connection is not quite clear to begin with. Oddly enough, it is the spinning that jives best. I almost could have done with that alone. Apparently, spinning clears Rumple’s brain, which allows Zelena to collect the gold and turn it into a brain to use for her spell. I assumed Rumple would have to die for the spell to be cast. It’s a bit of a cop out, yes? Although I suppose if Regina can lose her heart and still live, then Rumple can live without a brain. It shouldn’t surprise me, since the writers seem to play fast and loose with natural laws, but sometimes my mind just balks at accepting everything, and this was one such moment.

Zelena has a few problems with fate. Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

Zelena has a few problems with fate. Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

With all the other ingredients in place, Zelena just needs one more: the Charming baby. At the hospital, protection spells are going up and protectors are put in place. Emma gets to be the proactive one and take the fight to Zelena, and Hook wants to help. Even Charming wants to give Hook the benefit of the doubt with the whole withholding information debacle, so he forces Hook to go with Emma. Emma is more distrustful, because she has a tendency to be annoying like that, but the tide will hopefully turn soon. Maybe she is not ready for a relationship, but Emma deserves a strong man in her life that has her back and is not her father.

When Emma and Hook find Zelena, the witch tests Emma’s loyalty by forcing Rumple to drown the pirate. Either lose her powers or let Hook die. Of course Emma cannot let good old Killian die! She promptly loses her powers and must return to the hospital, tail between her legs. Zelena had already been through, easily blasting away the defenses and taking the newborn from his mother’s arms. Yes, his mother. Snow and Charming had a bouncing baby boy (Henry’s uncle!), but his life will be short if Zelena is not stopped.

Without magic, Emma can no longer play hero. It’s Regina’s turn. Henry gives an inspiring speech to encourage Regina to try. She is a hero now, and he believes in her. She just has to believe in herself. The speech is sugarcoated, but the delivery is not as belabored as usual. Maybe it’s because Robin comes to back him up. That’s perfect. She gets enough support to give it a go. The cavalry heads out.

Once Rumple has dug an elaborate design into the ground, Zelena casts her spell. But since there is always time to act before curses take root, our heroes have just enough time to wage battle. Though things look grim for a split second, Regina’s ability to harness light magic blasts Zelena off her feet, giving Regina time to steel the pendant. Battle over. The hero now, Regina keeps Rumple from killing Zelena. Sister dearest gets a second chance.

Storybrooke: The Emotional Fallout

In the end, it is pretty anticlimactic. The fight lasts barely a few minutes and Zelena is easily defeated with her necklace torn away. That is even enough to kill the curse, so no last minute magicking is needed. It is excellent timing too, as the attacking flying monkey changes to Little John just before Charming can chop off its head.

Regina imprisons Zelena and locks her pendant away in the crypt. Why keep the pendant? Why not destroy it? That seems like an incredibly stupid idea that anyone with a modicum of intelligence would have the foresight to question. But everything is safe now, right? Charming returns his child to Snow’s arms. Emma gets to meet her new brother just before she decides to skip town with Henry. Yes, that horrible idea is still on the table. Henry will not be happy once he finds out though, now that he has his memories.

Ready to defend his family with his life. Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

Ready to defend his family with his life. Photo courtesy of ABC.com.

Elsewhere, Belle and Rumple reunite at the shop. Regina gave the Dark One’s dagger to Belle to make amends for locking her away for so long. Belle gives it back to Rumple as a sign of faith and love, so long as he will not go after Zelena. He returns it to her and asks her to marry him. That’s a darn good marriage proposal and a great idea. Given their recent separations, they shouldn’t wait any longer to seal the deal.

Problem is, Rumple lies when family is involved. He visits Zelena, dagger in hand. He gave Belle a fake with a little slight of hand learned from his cheat of a father (Peter Pan, remember that?). That makes things a bit less romantic. He stabs Zelena to avenge Neal’s death. She shatters into dust. But then her power releases from the pendant and into the ground where she cast her spell. Game over. Time reset. Every good destroyed because Rumple could not keep a promise made to his new fiancé. Again, a nice set up as we now get to see the past change, but getting there was a bit slow given all the hype. I mean, an episode entitled “Kansas” should deliver some major impact, shouldn’t it? Blah is just not good enough.

I expect my tune will change in a week’s time. Once has to bring it for the finale, especially as a gift to mothers everywhere who will spend part of their special day on the edge of their seats, watching. Make some time to spend with the dear mothers in your life, but reserve some time to tune in with me as usual, ok?

Quotes of the Night

With all the “drama” this week, there was not much time for levity. So instead of the best zingers, I must now bring you the most significant quotes. There were quite a few moments of heroic and romantic speechifying, so that must count for something, right? Right?

Zelena to Rumple: “With the right ingredients, I can do anything.”

Henry to Regina: “Once upon a time, you were a villain, Mom. But you’ve changed! You’re a hero now. And defeating bad guys is what heroes do. I believe in you. Now you need to believe too.”

Zelena to Regina: “Only light magic can harm me, and you’re as dark as they come.”

Rumple to Belle: “This. This is trust. It means you trust me with all your heart. Then I shall trust you with mine. I am now and for all the future. Yours.”

Emma to Regina: “Go, I’ve got your back.”

Robin to Regina: “And I’ve got your heart.”