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'Once Upon a Time' recap: 'Our Decay'

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Jack Rowand/ABC

Once Upon a Time

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla
Fantasy, Drama

Once upon a time, many years ago, there was a girl named Zelena, sister of Regina, banished to Oz when her mother gave her up. Today, she celebrates herself with a green cupcake (of course) and a sad look at the memories of when she was abandoned. But her day is about to get better and then worse at the same time: Her flying monkey brings her the scarecrow because Zelena needs help making the time travel spell work. Problem is, the time travel spell involves a lot of very complicated and hard-to-acquire things, including wisdom, a.k.a. a brain, a.k.a. why she needs the scarecrow.

Before she can take what she needs, though, Dorothy shows up. With silver slippers. (We’re going the L. Frank Baum route here, rather than the 1939 movie version of the story.) Even though Zelena sent her home via the shoes, she apparently she returned when she got word Zelena was alive and had taken over Oz (because that’s a thing that can happen in this world, I guess). The most important thing about this scene is that TOTO IS THERE. And since all you need to best a wicked witch is a dog, they all manage to get away.

In Underbrooke (can we agree to call it Underbrooke now?), Hades is looking at the torn out storybook page of him and Zelena while the clock ticks annoyingly. Rumple is trying to build a portal because Hades can go through portals fine but can’t bring people back alive. But if Rumple and Hades combine their powers, they can achieve anything! Where does Hades want this portal to go? Storybrooke, of course. Why? Because Zelena and her baby are there. And if Rumple helps him get Zelena’s baby, he’ll let him tell Belle about his mistakes and he might even tear the contract up.

In Storybrooke, Belle is doing her daily duty of bottle feeding the baby when Zelena shows up (as the Blue Fairy) to try to take her baby. Before she can, however, Rumple and Hades open the portal, and in a desperate attempt to get away from Zelena, Belle takes the baby and jumps into the portal. And Zelena follows. But Hades doesn’t get what he wants because they don’t come through the other side to them. They do end up in Underbrooke, though, as Zelena realizes. She also realizes she’s injured and can’t use magic, which is just adding insult to actual injury. Belle can’t deal with the fact she’s gone to the UNDERWORLD of all places (I don’t blame her) and takes off with Zelena’s baby. This poor kid… She’s going to have so many therapy appointments.

In Oz, Zelena pays the terrified munchkins a visit because they were apparently the ones that told Dorothy she was still alive. Hades shows up and terrifies everyone with his blue hair because that’s his favorite party trick (and even though we’re not going with the movie version of this story, I liked the nod to the 1939 film when all the munchkins ran away terrified and hid during Hades’ arrival, the same way they did when the Wicked Witch showed up). “Is the devil flirting with me?” Zelena wants to know. First order of business, he’s not the devil. Second order of business, he just wants to help her.

He knows she’s trying to do the time travel spell and needs the scarecrow for it, but the fact is, Dorothy has something more powerful than Zelena’s magic: the love of the people. And since no one loves Zelena, well, she can’t really compete. But, like he told Rumple, if we join forces, ANYTHING is possible! Zelena, unsurprisingly, rejects his offer. But when she returns home, Hades is waiting for her. He manages to get her to admit she’s not even celebrating her birthday because she doesn’t know when it is, thanks to being given up. Hades bonds with her by sharing terrible sibling stories (he gets it, ’cause his brother Zeus was the one who got everything, and that’s how he was killed in the first place). Only true love can restart his heart and return him to the land of the living as a fully formed human, but predictably, no one is going to love the Lord of the Underworld. Then again, no one is going to love someone as terrible as Zelena, so how about joining vindictive forces, eh?

NEXT: For the first time, I feel wicked


Snow and Charming have a moment of horror when Snow realizes “we’re regulars at the diner on the way to hell.” I kind of can’t argue with that horror. But when they lament about wishing baby Neal could hear their voices, the Blind Witch tells them that it’s totally possible. It’s just a level-one haunting! All they need is a booth and they can make a simple phone call to the land of the living. I learn new things every day.

Belle, for her part, ends up wandering into town, where she somehow manages to run into Rumple coming out of Hades’ lair. He instantly realizes when he sees her that the reason the spell didn’t work properly is because three people came through the portal instead of two. Belle, in turn, realizes he was the one that made the portal, and at this point, Rumple just goes for it. He comes clean about the deal he made long ago about his child, he tells Belle she’s pregnant (this is actually a really adorable reveal and exchange), though the mood is quickly dashed by Belle realizing angrily, like Mina did, that her baby has already been sold. But wait, says Rumple! We can fix that! Sure, okay. Things go from bad to worse when Rumple references power and Belle realizes he’s still the Dark One. This is the most honest Rumple’s been with Belle probably ever, and I think it was a development that needed to happen — especially when Rumple tells Belle that he can’t change the person he is, not even for her. Finally, Rumple is embracing his fault maturely! Whether or not Belle will work through them with him, however, remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Emma and the group are interrupted by a surprise visitor: Zelena, who limps into the room looking for her baby. Robin and Regina elect to go with her to find her child, which basically results in a couple’s argument between Robin and Zelena, until Regina steps in and tells them how she used to think all she needed was vengeance. But then when her enemies became her family, she realized how much she had missed by having no one care about her because she was too hateful. See, this is Zelena’s problem: She’s got mommy issues, and it makes it hard for her to trust anyone.

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In Oz, Hades brings her to the house where Dorothy first landed and finds a bicycle that Zelena is mesmerized by (“it’s like a broom with wheels!”). The bicycle is useful because it belonged to Dorothy — all Zelena needs to do is enchant it, and it’ll bring them right to Dorothy and the scarecrow. But Hades is always thinking, and he has another idea in mind for the bike: a little impromptu ride together. This whole thing should be romantic, but I feel like this is one of the oddest pairings Once has thrown at us. (And I’m used to them turning fairytales on their heads at this point.) I do see where the connection is, but I’m going to need some time to process this.

Robin, Regina, and Zelena do run into Belle and the baby eventually because, just like in the world of Xena, everyone just automatically finds everyone else easily, even in a huge place like the Underworld. Robin lets Zelena hold the baby to feed it, on the condition she’ll give it back, but Zelena takes off with it instead. (Side note: I know the baby is a girl hence the color of her blanket and all, but I did enjoy watching Zelena hold her baby dressed in all black. After all, “black is this year’s pink!” Do they deserve each other?) Zelena hides out, trying keep her baby away from Belle and Robin and Regina but realizes she can’t protect her. She essentially gives herself up, telling them what happened with Hades years ago and how Hades now needs the baby for the time travel spell. (As Regina realizes, the baby represents innocence.) A crying Zelena hands her baby over to Robin, and this might be the one thing Zelena actually cares about in life. Maybe she’s realizing her sister was right.

NEXT: To me, you are perfect


Robin brings the baby back, and I guess the baby will continue to be nameless because Hades can do things to names while they’re down here. Henry, who is deep in cranky, angsty, teenage-author mode, shows them another story that he just happened to write without realizing it (this has been going on since Henry decided last week to re-write everyone’s story, including Hades’. Henry is just kind of writing stories without realizing where or how they’re appearing in his brain. It’s causing a lot of teenage angst.) This particular story is a story about Snow and Charming talking to their baby and what he heard. Snow realizes that means the haunting has worked and that she wants to get back to her whole family. They can save themselves, and they’re going to take down Hades. Now. Hurrah, Team Storybrooke!

In Oz, the enchanted bike brings Zelena and Hades to Dorothy and the scarecrow. Fed up and done wasting time, Zelena quickly takes the brain she needs, much to Dorothy’s horror. Only, when she turns around to share her good news with her new beau, she finds Hades gone. He’s waiting for her when she comes home, complete with dinner as a celebration for her accomplishments, and Zelena realizes he saw what happened. But then Hades says he’s not going back to the Underworld. He feels something with Zelena: that true love’s kiss that beasts often feel for people who can’t love them. He thinks that they can truly be happy together. And he’ll be free! He genuinely LOVES Zelena and is trying so hard to prove it, but Zelena is too caught up in her own issues to feel the same way. She thinks he only wants to be with her so he can take advantage of the time travel spell, because, like Alexander Hamilton, whether it’s love or his brother or revenge, he will never be satisfied. Hades gets pissed enough that he disappears, and I guess that’s one way to have a fight.

In the Underworld, Zelena finally comes face-to-face with her former lover for the first time in forever. She knows he wants the baby for the time travel spell, but Hades says he just wanted to get the baby away from everyone in the land of the living. He swears he would never hurt Zelena, and why does she think the Underworld looks like Storybrooke? (Yes, why? Because I’ve been curious about that, too.) Apparently it’s because of Zelena. He did it all for Zelena! He tried to give her what she always wanted, what Zelena never had because of Regina. And Hades doesn’t want to be alone anymore. He still chooses her. (There are no adorable Andrew Lincoln Love Actually cue cards in this exchange, though.) He took care of her in the way he never could, and if she decides that she wants him? He’ll be here. Waiting.

Stray Odds & Ends:

  • So Zelena’s birthday (which she never knew) is April 15. How does Hades know that? He tortured it out of a miller’s daughter apparently. THAT is how much he loves Zelena, and that is how genuine he is about his feelings.
  • Speaking of Cora, nice touch of Rumple building the portal by turning straw into gold, like he taught Cora how to do magic.
  • Apparently, the breath of the living goes for a lot on the Underworld black market. In other news, the Underworld has a black market.
  • Robin apparently took the baby to the forest to hide it from Hades, which I get, but I mean, really? I hope he’s not just leaving her somewhere in the forest…
  • BOQ! (Biq?)