Zelena's wicked plot reaches its climax -- but naturally, there's a twist

By Hillary Busis
April 30, 2015 at 08:35 PM EDT
Katie Yu/ABC

And it came to pass, all that seemed wrong was now right, and those who deserved to were certain to live a long and happy life.

Or, you know, not.

Around 8:55 p.m. tonight, it seemed that every conflict at the center of season 3B had finally been resolved. Zelena was roundly defeated — not by a bucket of water, but by The Force/Old Magic/The Power of Luuuuv. Regina had completed her journey from villain to anti-hero to full-blown heroine, gaining a strapping new soulmate in the process. Rumpel had regained control of his dagger and formally proposed to Belle. (He’s a powerful, enigmatic, once-married longtime bachelor finally re-committing after a lengthy stretch of solitude; just think of Rump as the Enchanted Forest’s answer to George Clooney.) And to top it all off, Snow and Charming’s royal bundle of joy had finally been born, kidnapped, and returned to his loving parents — all before the couple even had a chance to give the baby a name. (Who wants to bet they’ll go with “Baelfire”?)

And that, of course, is when Rumpel threw a wrench into the works of this particular happy ending. Actually, make that a dagger.

As usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the Merry Old Land of Oz, where a jealous Zelena’s daily sit-and-sulk is interrupted by Glinda. The two haven’t met before; quick as a lighter, Zelena conjures a fireball to take out the blonde. Ah, but the Good Witch of the South has come to praise Zelena, not to bury her. See, Z actually did a good thing by transforming Wonderful Wizard Christopher Gorham into a monkey — and in return, Glinda’s hoping to welcome the new arrival into her coven. There’s an open seat there; things just haven’t been the same since Shannen Doherty left Oz.

Zelena easily falls in with Glinda’s unnamed pals from the North and East, each of whom represents a different element of harmony. Wisdom (a.k.a. the brain), love (a.k.a. the heart), and courage (a.k.a. the… courage) are all spoken for; Z, as the representative from the West, will be in charge of kicky hats. Kidding! Actually, her role in the quartet is to epitomize innocence — or, in this case, innocence regained. If this were a musical revue, now would the the perfect time for Rebecca Mader to bust out a show-stopping rendition of “I Am Changing.”

Alas, there are no tunes to be had on tonight’s Once — even though what happens next might as well have been scored by the guys who wrote “Over the Rainbow.”

NEXT: Is she a good witch or a bad witch?

That’s right: It’s time to meet a certain gingham-clad teenager, one who just took an express cyclone to Oz. (Noticeably absent: Her little dog, too.) Her name, of course, is Dorothy Gale — and though her big landing doesn’t flatten any members of Glinda’s sisterhood, Zelena is immediately suspicious of the girl. (First sign something’s amiss: Why isn’t she wearing braids?)

For awhile now, the Witch of the West has been operating under the assumption that she’s the subject of a grand prophecy — one that proclaims a great sorceress will come to Oz via cyclone and serve as the realm’s protector. But Dorothy also hitched a ride to Oz on a whirling windstorm — meaning that she, not Zelena, might be the witch who was foretold. Meaning that Zelena’s new family — the one thing she’s been longing for her entire life — might be snatched away as quickly as it appeared. Meaning that the jealous green tinge that vanished from Z’s skin as soon as she turned over a new (less green) leaf is already starting to come back.

Short story shorter: Zelena discovers that according to a bit of prophecy Glinda never told her, the Cyclone Sorceress is also destined to defeat a great evil. And the witch figures that if the evil foretold is a reference to her own wickedness, she might as well go whole hog. (Cue “No Good Deed.”) After her total re-greenification is complete, Zelena meets Dorothy by a well one fateful night. She tries to take out the kid with one of her patented balls of flame, but Dorothy decides to fight fire with water — and, just like that, Zelena’s meltiiiiing! She’s meltiiiing! Ohhh, what a world, what a world!!

Of course, getting rid of Z isn’t actually that easy. Dorothy leaves Oz with a spring in her step, thanks both to her perceived evil-fighting abilities and the pair of magic slippers she snags from the Wizard himself, newly un-monkeyed by Zelena’s defeat. Glinda watches the girl go with a smile — one that fades as soon as she learns that Zelena is actually very much alive. The Wicked Witch faked the whole melting thing to get Dorothy the hell out of Oz. But even though she’s banished her rival to Kansas, Zelena won’t be content to take her old seat at the coven’s tea table. Instead, she’s determined to change her past after all… and as the Storybrooke portion of the evening begins, Z is just about ready to finally put that plan into action.

NEXT: Head into the light, Regina!

Dear Good Guys: If a pirate has been cursed with the power to remove your savior’s magic, maybe don’t send them to try to take down the curser together. Alas, because Snow is currently in labor, Charming is left to call the shots… which would be why everything immediately falls apart. Emma and Hook head to the farmhouse to stop Zelena once and for all; she easily impedes them by nearly drowning Hook, forcing Emma to administer mouth to mouth. What a ripoff — after all that, the “kiss” that deprives Emma of her powers is about as romantic as a ninth-grader locking lips with Resusci Anne?

The baby is born — awww! — and the erstwhile members of the Magical Breakfast Club, plus their auxiliary pals, are determined to stop Zelena from snatching away the little prince. They are, to a man, utterly, utterly useless once Emma’s powers are gone and the protection spell she cast is lifted. Z barely breaks a sweat as she moseys into the hospital and steals away Kid Charming, who will be a very powerful DJ someday.

And so Zelena has everything she needs to cast her time-travel spell, four ingredients that happen to correspond both to the cardinal directions and to the elements of magic Glinda mentioned earlier tonight: Rumpel’s brain, Regina’s heart, Charming’s courage, and the baby, a representation of innocence in its purest form. And with Emma decapacitated, there’s nothing standing between Z and the glowing wormhole about to open in the giant compass she’s had Rumpel dig in the dirt floor of the stables. Right?

Wrong! Because here come Regina and co., who have just realized that the so-called Evil Queen also has the power to harness light magic. (After all, she broke Curse #2 with it last episode; why not give it a go again?) With that, Regina transforms from a morally ambiguous caterpillar to a beautiful, heroic butterfly, snatching away Zelena’s honking emerald and all the powers contained with in it. Dear New Good Guy Regina: If your wicked half-sister keeps all her magic in a piece of fairly cheap-looking jewelry, when you finally get your hands on said pendant, consider destroying the damn thing. Immediately. Oh, what’s that? You’d… you’d rather just stick it in a heart box and worry about it later? Whatever, lady; it’s your funeral.

NEXT: The final number in Once: The Musical!

That’s mistake number one. Mistake number two: Regina grabs the Dark One’s dagger and orders a vengeful Rumpel not to kill the woman who murdered his son, because “heroes don’t kill.” Let’s pause for a moment and recall that nearly every main character on this show has killed someone at one point or another. Oh, and that just last week, Charming etc. offed like, five flying monkeys, each of whom used to be a Storybrooke townsperson. But okay, Regina, whatever you say; let’s pretend that Once‘s good guys are strict adherents to Commandment Six.

Pause over. The battle’s won; everyone but Zelena is in a pretty good place, even if Emma’s powers apparently haven’t returned to her. (She says she won’t need them when she and Henry move back to New York. Sigh; this again?) Regina, good but maybe not that good, takes some time out to taunt her half-sister in jail, letting her know that if she doesn’t mend her ways, she’ll find herself the victim of sororicide. And then Zelena gets another visitor: Rumpelstiltskin, fresh from asking Belle to marry him. In lieu of an engagement ring, he offered the bookworm some ancient weaponry — specifically, the Dark One’s dagger. Except here’s the twist: That dagger was a fake. The real one is in Rumpel’s hands… and, soon enough, he’s stuck it deep within Zelena’s chest.

Seems an act of pure vengeance must be enough to undo even the most powerful of light magics. Because after Rumpel stabs Zelena, she turns into some sort of life-sized porcelain figurine — a reference to Oz’s China People? — then shatters into a million pieces. He doesn’t stick around to see the pieces turn to ash, disappear… and trigger a column of green smoke from that emerald Regina certainly should have destroyed. The smoke snakes out from Regina’s crypt, travels to the compass still drawn on the dirt floor… and just like that, the wormhole Zelena created has officially opened. Gentleman, please cue up the last song of the night: Huey Lewis’s “Back in Time.”

Breadcrumbs

– How weird must it have been when Snow realized her baby was being delivered by her one-night stand?

– Storybrooke has, oh, 15 citizens, and yet the real-estate section of the Daily Mirror is robust enough to sport multiple apartment listings. Also, Henry is looking for apartments in an actual analog newspaper. Between this and the Game Boy, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he’s actually a time traveler from 1989.

– Like most TV towns, Storybrooke is also a magical land where babies are born without umbilical cords.

– “What is he going to do? I have magic! He has one hand!” So… many… innuendos…

– Part of me thinks Glinda asked Z to become her “sister” because she wanted the coven to be one giant “a blonde, two brunettes, and a redhead” joke.

– Regina’s light magic only really activates when Robin grabs her heart from Zelena’s spell compass. Awww.

– Wait — the whole time between Zelena’s defeat and the gang’s return to the hospital, nobody thought to call Snow and let her know the baby was okay? That’s so mean!

– Next week: Season 3 comes to a close, and Once will introduce a new world. The smart money’s on Narnia, as it’s both a beloved name-brand fantasy realm and one Disney owns the rights to — but I’m holding out for Where the Wild Things Are. Any other guesses for where we could be headed next?

Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.
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