So much for those “Rumpelstiltskin is the Wizard of Oz” theories.
Once‘s version of the Man Behind the Curtain emerged for the first time tonight. When he did, we learned that the guy in question is none other than… Benjamin Linus. Just kidding! It’s Walsh, a.k.a. Christopher Gorham, a.k.a. the dude who would become Emma’s flying monkey beau. This week’s episode gave his truncated origin story — but more than that, it delved into Zelena’s past to shed a glowing green light on how she became such a cold-hearted witch in the first place. (Given how literal Once can be, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Zelena’s ticker is literally encased in a layer of ice.)
We begin when Zelena’s just a wee, blue-eyed baby, torn from the Enchanted Forest via cyclone and dumped unceremoniously in the merry old land of Oz. There, she almost literally falls right into the laps of a simple cockney woodcutter and his wife, like a less strapping Kal-El. The woman is instantly charmed by the babe’s Gerber-worthy face — as well as her magical knack for moving tree branches with her mind. What an advanced child; she’s already using telekinesis at a first-grade level!
The years between babyhood and aging into Rebecca Mader seem to be pretty good to Zelena, although her adoptive mother does die at some point between those two poles. When she’s grown, though, the woodcutter tells Zelena the truth about her parentage in pretty much the meanest way possible — between his raving and his determination to make Zelena believe she was born evil, he’s sort of the Ozian version of Margaret White.
And so Zelena decides to set off down the Yellow Brick Road in hopes that the guy at the end of it — the Wonderful Wizard, natch — can help her find her true family. She’s so determined to get his help that she’s barely fazed to learn that the wizard allows himself to be seen only in silhouette; the guy is literally shady. He can, however, show Zelena a window into her past, revealing that her mother — a magically-inclined social climber named Cora — abandoned her but kept Zelena’s half-sister Regina, who also has royal blood. The Wizard also tells Zelena that Regina’s getting magic lessons from the powerful sorcerer Rumpelstiltskin. Instantly, it’s clear which of the deadly sins has Zelena in its thrall. (Hint: It ain’t gluttony.)
The Wizard gifts Zelena a pair of magical silver shoes — sup, accuracy to source material? — and tells her to use them to find Rumpelstiltskin. All he asks in return is that Zelena bring back an item from Rump’s lair. (Maybe there’s a talking clock lying around…) Zelena whisks herself away to the Enchanted Forest, where she immediately tells Rumpel who she is and enlists him as her magical tutor. Side note: It seems pretty clear from the way they interact that Rump is not, in fact, Zelena’s father. So who is?
NEXT: Sister, sister