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‘Once Upon a Time’ Review: ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’ with Envy

ABC/Jack Rowand

Tonight Once Upon a Time gave us the backstory that led to Zelena becoming the Wicked Witch and also clued us in on what her ultimate plan is for Regina. “It’s Not Easy Being Green” continued the show’s tradition of throwing a few curve balls at the audience as it peeled back the layers of Zelena’s life.

Despite her wicked ways, it was hard not to feel for her since she’s had a rough life devoid of love. After Cora abandoned her as a baby, a cyclone carried her to Oz and she was found by a woodsman and his wife. Baby Zelena was already using magic and the woodsman was side eying her pretty hard, but still let his wife bring her home. Unfortunately, the wife died and he mistreated Zelena until finally dropping the bomb on her that she wasn’t really their daughter.

Zelena did what anyone would do and headed down the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City to talk to the wizard. I thought the show did a pretty great job with Oz – it didn’t compare to the original by any means, but it was still a lovely nod to the scenery we all know and love. The great and terrible Oz showed Zelena the truth about her family, including a glimpse of Rumplestiltskin teaching her sister Regina how to use magic. Zelena wanted to go there so the wizard provided her with magic slippers (not red ones though).

ABC/Jack Rowand
ABC/Jack Rowand

Once she got to the Enchanted Forest, Zelena introduced herself to Rumple and wanted to be the one to cast his curse. He did a quick spell to confirm she was who she said she was and then he began to train her. As much as I love that he’s changed, it was still fun to see Rumple in all of his Dark One glory. However, there was a problem with Zelena. As we all know, the person who casts the curse has to sacrifice the thing that she loves most and for Zelena, that was Rumple.

Needless to say that he was not okay with that and Zelena was furious when she found out that he was still training Regina. She literally began to turn green with envy and Rumple mocked her before telling her that he was going to have Regina cast the curse since Zelena couldn’t get him to a land without magic. That’s when she revealed that she could and told him about the shoes. It was too little too late at that point and Zelena promised Rumple that when they saw each other again, he would choose her over Regina.

ABC/Jack Rowand
ABC/Jack Rowand

In Storybrooke, everyone gathered for Neal’s funeral in the woods and headed to Granny’s. Hook tried to calm an angry Emma down and then offered to talk to Henry about Neal while Tink berated Regina for screwing up her fate with Robin Hood for a second time. That’s when Zelena burst in, holding Rumple’s dagger, and took center stage to announce that she wasn’t all that sorry she caused Neal’s death and she wanted to have a wild wicked west showdown with her sister. Regina was completely unamused by the witch’s insinuation that they were family and set out to find the truth.

Meanwhile, Belle attempted to get through to Rumple in the cage, but he refused to leave with her and reminded her that the witch was controlling him and he didn’t want to hurt her. It causes me physical pain to watch these two because they love each other so much and there’s always something keeping them apart. I like angst as much as the next person, but can we please get a longer payoff once in a while? Obviously it wasn’t going to be today because Zelena showed up, chased off Belle and then had Rumple deliver a message to the group that he’d kill them if they got in the way of the witch duel.

Regina found a letter from Cora and headed off to the forest to be alone with her feelings. Robin was there and she let him read the letter, which was to Cora from Rumple and talked about how special her firstborn was. Regina was devastated because she’d always assumed it was about her and that Rumple thought she was super powerful and it made Regina feel good when she was sad and seriously show, why are you doing this to me? My heart hurt so much for Regina. She’s already lost Henry and now she knows that her sister is more powerful than she is.

ABC/Jack Rowand
ABC/Jack Rowand

The town gathered in the street (where all great fights take place) and Zelena was not impressed by Emma’s attempt to show off her savior skills when Regina was late. Zelena was about to have Rumple start picking people apart, but Regina showed up and was ready for the fight. Unfortunately, Zelena truly was more powerful and she knocked Regina around quite a bit before throwing her through the window of the clock tower. Zelena attempted to yank out her heart, except it wasn’t there – Regina smugly pointed out that Cora had taught her to never bring her heart to a witch fight, something Zelena would have known if Cora hadn’t abandoned her (that’s my BAMF Evil Queen).

Zelena took off on her broom, promising that she’d get Regina’s heart sooner or later. Regina went back to the woods where Robin was protecting it. That’s right, people – Regina trusted Robin to keep her heart safe. Not only that, she asked him to continue to do so because she knew Zelena would come after it again. Robin was surprised she’d trust a thief with her heart, but Regina pointed out that he can’t steal something he was given. Now if you excuse me, I’ll just be over here crying and screaming from how beautiful it is to see Regina trusting someone so much.

Speaking of trust, let’s talk about Hook and Henry for a moment. First of all, there was the glaring absence of the Jolly Roger. Hook’s been pretty cagey about his ship so it’s not surprising that it’s missing and hopefully next week will give us some answers (I fully support the popular theory that he lost it/traded it to get back to the land without magic to save Emma). But that wasn’t the only interesting thing about this scene. Henry mentioned that Emma often pawned him off on friends with boats. I love that because the show always throws in little bits like that to remind us that even without their memories, the characters are still drawn to things that make them feel safe. And Emma’s had some good luck when it comes to a man with a ship boat.

Anyway, shipper bias aside, I think it’s weird that Henry isn’t asking more questions. Sure, he seemed pretty well-adjusted in his fake life with Emma, but Storybrooke and the people in it are super weird and Hook totally slipped up about knowing Neal when he was a boy even though they physically look like they’re the same age. Then there was Snow’s cellmate story, Regina wanting to be close to him, etc. I just think a teenage boy would have a lot more questions and I’m not saying that I want scenes of Henry annoyingly demanding answers, but his attitude doesn’t ring true to me. But hey, if that’s my biggest complaint, the show is absolutely doing everything right.

So let’s wrap this up with the two big reveals. First, after Rumple rubbed it in that he would still choose Regina, Zelena made it clear that wasn’t going to be an option. She doesn’t just want to cast another curse – she wants to go back in time and stop Regina from being born. Seriously, her plan is to undo Regina’s birth. And you know that when people make any kind of changes to the past, there’s bound to be a domino effect.

As for the second reveal, once Zelena made it back to Oz, she stormed the castle and angrily confronted the wizard. It turned out that he wasn’t a wizard after all – he was just a former circus performer that collected magical things. He was also Walsh. That’s right – the flying monkey that Emma almost got engaged to is the Wizard of Oz. I definitely did not see that coming, even knowing that he was in the episode. Well played, show, well played. But Zelena had no use for a fake wizard so she turned him into a flying monkey that would do her bidding.

The second half of season three has been pretty close to perfect and I love that this episode had so many surprises. Of course there are still things we don’t know – like who Zelena’s father really is. I’m guessing that’s going to come into play sooner or later. I’m really hoping Rumple finds a way to break her hold on him because he’s being wasted trapped in that cage and there’s still the question of why Zelena is so interested in Snow White’s baby.

Next week, we get to see a lot more of Hook, which I am beyond excited about. We’re going to meet Blackbeard and presumably find out what happened to the Jolly Roger and maybe learn more about what Hook was up to in the missing year. Not only that – Ariel is back! I cannot even handle how excited I am for this episode. I’ll just be over here counting the minutes until it airs.

In the meantime, it’s your turn to tell us what you thought of the episode. Were you surprised that Walsh was the wizard? What do you think about Zelena wanting to undo Regina’s birth? Any guesses as to why Zelena wants the baby? Hit the comments elow and share your thoughts and theories with us!

About the author

Mandy Treccia

Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceMandy.

  • Vanialynn

    Yes, I cannot wait for the next episode either. New captain swan scenes and hook’s backstory is a legit combination. For tonight’s episode also isn’t a disappointment, I totally adore it. Can’t wait what the writers gonna do with “The Jolly Roger”