The terror reign of the Candy Killer comes to a grinding halt tonight as Hansel finally gets his big showdown with Zelena. After weeks of building up to this moment, however, does Once Upon a Time deliver on its big battle? Eh. Let’s take it from the top.
The opening scene takes us back to Hansel and Gretel’s past, as they’re filled to the brim with gingerbread cookies in the hopes that they’ll get plump (and tasty) before the full moon feast. Their hungry witch gets an unexpected visitor in the form of Zelena, who’s not so much interested in helping these doomed siblings as she is banishing a witch who might equal or surpass her in strength. Unfortunately for her, the latter already seems to be true because she’s easily vanquished by the Gingerbread Witch and sent scurrying through the woods with her innards aglow from a curse. Ouch.
Back in Hyperion Heights, Zelena is experiencing an entirely different kind of alienation; her life as Kelly was a better fit for her, plain and simple. Her engagement ring and the voicemail from her former fiancé are pure proof of what she’s sacrificing by being here. As Zelena, she has to reckon with all the terrible things she’s done in her past, and we’re about to revisit a really bad one.
Nick hijacks Henry’s phone to check in with Jacinda so that everything seems on the up and up. As far as she (and by extension anyone else who checks in on him through her) is concerned, he’s still in New York for his big podcasting interview, and her biggest concern is whether he’ll get the job and how they’ll navigate the difficult waters of a long-distance relationship with one another.
Little does she know, it’s Nick texting (and scheming) on the other end. He doesn’t appear to be interested in hurting Jacinda, for now at least, so Henry tries to figure out what his bigger plan really is. Like Hansel, Henry can identify with loss and says he wants to help Nick rewrite his story with whatever ending he’d like. But Nick knows that he only offers that arrangement to villains and insists he’s not the baddie of this tale. That, he explains, is actually his Aunt “Kelly,” who’s really the Wicked Witch in disguise. Henry, who’s still cursed and thinks of his own stories as pure fiction, doesn’t know her as Zelena, and he refuses to accept that she’s anyone but the kind San Francisco-based, granola-loving woman who’s got a fiancé and a cycling gig. He won’t help Nick with killing her. Except that by telling him those details about her, he already has. Whoops.
Kelly (wisely) decides to get some help and heads to the police station. Although it’s Rogers who jumps to her assistance most eagerly, she knows that it’s Weaver who’ll really understand what kind of mess she’s in right now. Of course, he has nearly no desire to help her, considering their history, but if he ever wants to see Belle again, he can’t just let her get murdered all of a sudden, so he’ll have to play nice this time around. Instead of arming her with a weapon larger than Roni/Regina’s bar bat, he decides to simply give her back her old necklace. This fight isn’t just about outmuscling Nick; she also needs to defeat her own past to make her worthy of a future. (Yes, she and Weaver have a lot more in common than either of them would care to admit.)
Back in Oz, Zelena wakes up from her sugary melee to find that she’s been rescued from nearly freezing to death by a blind man. He seems nice enough and even mended her necklace for her, but there’s a catch. He’s the father of Hansel and Gretel, the very same children whom she refused to rescue from certain death before.
Prince Naveen is still running recon for Dr. Facilier, whether he likes it or not. He’s gotten Sabine to fully trust him at this point, which means she’s taught him her special recipe for beignets, just as our witch doctor wanted. He’ll take that and use it to light up his little voodoo doll and…well, we don’t know what he’s got in store just yet, but Regina is right to second-guess his intentions in coming here, that’s for sure.
Zelena accepts dear old dad’s hospitality by day and watches him go out in search of his children by night. She’s charmed by his ability to “see” her for all her good and decides to set out in search of the children herself. Not only does she get her revenge on the witch — by taking her sight, no less — but she manages to get into the Gingerbread House to spring the kids from their simmering fate. They’re already gone, but it’s not as tragic as it sounds. She finds out, upon returning to the house, that they managed to escape themselves and filled their dad in on everything he didn’t know about Zelena’s wicked ways. She’s desperate to keep the connection she forged with him, but it’s just not possible. She didn’t save his children, and if that wasn’t bad enough, she didn’t even tell him she knew where they were and that they were alive. She tries to redeem herself by saying she knew he’d surely die if he faced down the witch, but it’s not enough. He banishes her from his house and his life, and it hurts. So much so that Zelena’s wicked ways come crashing back to her and she decides to teach Hansel a lesson by wrapping coils of hot fire around his wrists, which is where he got his scars so long ago.
Although it’s Weaver whose help Kelly really wants, Rogers does prove useful in connecting with Jacinda to discover an abnormality in “Henry’s text” to her. He called her “J,” which is something he never does, and Rogers quickly infers that it was Nick who sent the text (thanks to that alphabetic anomaly and the fact that he gave a gingerbread house kit to Lucy). They head to the house and spring Henry from his trappings. Too bad Nick’s already gone hunting.
He captures Chad, her fiancé unaware, and lures Zelena into a trap in the bar basement. She may be ready to accept her punishment for what she’s done to him, but she doesn’t want Chad to pay for her mistakes. She and Nick square off amidst a wall full of beer kegs — a subdued scene for such an epic brawl between Hansel and the Wicked Witch, but we’ll go with it — and Zelena easily gets the upper hand. After all the witches he’s killed, she’s just too strong for him. Instead of killing him, though, she decides to hand him over to the authorities.
That moment of mercy is enough to show Chad that whatever Kelly did as Zelena — minus all the fairytale business, of course, because that’s just too weird for him to even comprehend at this stage — she’s changed now and he can still love and marry her. With Roni and Margot’s blessing, she’ll go back to San Francisco, pumping cardio and becoming a simple bride with a fresh new start. Who knew the Wicked Witch could have a happy ending?
The most wicked witch of all, however, is still high on the must-kill list, at least where Facilier is concerned. Nick wasn’t able to pull it off, but that doesn’t mean the bad doctor’s giving up on taking Mother Gothel down.
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