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‘Once Upon a Time’ Review: Wicked Doesn’t Always Win After All…or Does It?

ABC/Katie Yu

The tagline for the second half of Once Upon a Time’s third season has been ‘Wicked vs. Evil’ and last night we witnessed the ultimate showdown between Cora’s daughters. But that was only one part of the story playing out in “Kansas.” A lot went down in one short hour of television so let’s jump right into it.

We began where last week’s episode left off with Snow going into labor and our heroes gathering at the hospital for the birth while Zelena and Rumple waited at the farmhouse for her final ingredients (which included turning Rumple’s spun gold into a brain). Regina and Emma put up a protection spell around the hospital to keep out dark magic, but Emma wasn’t satisfied with that. She wanted to hunt down Zelena herself and finish things once and for all.

Charming insisted that Emma take Hook with her and his daughter resisted pretty hard since she’s still mad at him for keeping the truth about the curse from her. He explained himself and it was good enough for Charming, but Emma still had her walls up and told Hook that she regretted coming back to Storybrooke. She also made it clear that when the witch was melted, she had every intention of taking Henry back to New York. But like always, Hook wasn’t just going to standby quietly and let Emma bury her head in the sand.

He pointed out to her that the reason she wanted to leave and go back to her fake life was because she could see herself being happy in Storybrooke and she didn’t know how to handle that. Emma, being Emma, immediately got defensive and made a snide remark asking Hook if she was supposed to be happy with him. But despite her attitude, it was pretty obvious that was exactly what Emma was running from. On the one hand, I can’t blame her because this is a woman who has known nothing but pain for her entire life and she doesn’t want to risk her heart. On the other, she really needs to take a leap of faith because being scared is no way to live and it’s not a good message for Henry.

Zelena also saw right through Emma’s reasoning and she was quick to comment on Emma wanting to get away from her feelings for Hook – as she was ordering Rumple to kill him so Emma would be forced to make a choice: Hook or her magic. Rumple and Zelena disappeared and Emma pulled Hook out of the pool of water Rumple had been drowning him in, but instead of using her magic to stop him in the first place or trying true love’s kiss to bring Hook back, Emma used CPR. It did the trick and woke Hook up and it took away her magic. But here’s the thing: I don’t think it was Zelena’s curse that cost Emma her magic. I think it was her own unwillingness to believe in herself, her power and her love for Hook. Once Emma accepts those things, I think her magic will come back.

In the meantime, there’s still a witch to defeat. Snow gives birth to a baby boy and Zelena and Rumple make a clean sweep through the hospital, easily getting past Robin and his Merry Men, Belle, Regina and finally Charming. She takes the baby and Charming leaps into action to get his son back just as Emma and Hook return to the hospital and she confesses that she no longer has her magic. That’s not going to stop Charming and Henry urges Regina to keep them safe. She doesn’t think there’s anything she can do since Zelena has beaten her every time they’ve fought. But Henry believes in her, he believes that she’s changed and that she can use light magic. Emma agrees since Regina was able to use true love’s kiss. The queen is still skeptical, but then Robin joins in to reassure her as well and the group heads out to stop Zelena.

At the farmhouse, Zelena has the four ingredients in place and Rumple promises that he will kill her, no matter how she changes the past. Zelena is not the mood for his sass after everything she’s been through to get here. The flashbacks from the episode took us back to Oz and we got to see Zelena taking her place among the four witches of Oz. But she never quite gave up her thirst for revenge, even after her magic pendant and acceptance into the sisterhood turned her skin back to a normal color. Once Dorothy came to Oz, Zelena was convinced the young girl was there to replace her and she even faked being melted just so she could pose as the wizard and send Dorothy back to Kansas before banishing Glinda to the Enchanted Forest (As a Wizard of Oz fangirl, I loved the flashbacks, but overall, they were fairly unnecessary when there was so much happening in the present).

The heroes showed up to save the day, but Zelena and Rumple easily dispatched of them. Rumple urged Hook and Emma to get his dagger and take control of him while Zelena sent her last remaining flying monkey after Charming and Robin. Everyone was knocked down as Regina attempted to make a grab for her sister’s necklace. Zelena began to choke her with magic as she taunted her, but Robin picked up Regina’s heart and she found the power inside of herself, the power that Henry had told her was there and Regina was able to use white magic to stop her sister. It was a fantastic moment and beautiful character development for Regina, who has come a long way from the Evil Queen that originally cursed all of these people.

Unfortunately, Rumple was not ready to forgive and forget. He wanted to make Zelena pay for everything she’s done to him and to get justice for his son. But Regina picked up the dagger and refused to let Rumple hurt Zelena, who was now officially powerless since Regina had taken possession of her pendant. Heroes don’t kill and today Regina is a hero (character development!). Instead, Zelena was sent to the sheriff’s station and locked up. Regina told her sister that she was going to offer her another chance because it had done wonders for her and brought her Henry. Zelena didn’t seem interested and Regina warned that she would yank her heart out and crush it if Zelena tried anything else. And this is why I love Regina. She has changed and she’s not evil anymore, but she can and will do what needs to be done if the situation calls for it.

Rumple returned to the shop to wait for Belle and they shared an amazing reunion. If there is a couple more tortured than these two on television, it’s definitely not happening on any show that I watch. Belle had the dagger because Regina had given it to her as a way of making amends and Belle offered it to Rumple because she trusted him to do the right thing and she asked him to promise that he wouldn’t go after Zelena. Rumple was touched by how much Belle continued to love him in spite of everything and he gave her the dagger back and then asked her to marry him! It was beautiful and sweet and the kind of thing I’d normally happy sigh over, but I couldn’t get past the fact that Rumple had not promised her that he’d let Zelena be.

Sure enough, Rumple headed for the jail. Zelena knew that Belle had his dagger and she asked if Belle wanted her dead. Rumple assured her that wasn’t the case and Zelena got a lot more confident all of a sudden since if Belle had the dagger, Rumple couldn’t hurt her. The key word in that sentence was ‘if’ because Belle actually did not have the dagger – Rumple produced it and admitted that he’d tricked Belle with a slight of hand he’d learned a long time ago from his father (ugh, that guy). This broke my heart because even though it is perfectly in character for Rumple to choose revenge over love, I was so proud of him a few weeks ago when he chose not to go back with Zelena and undo Neal’s death. But Rumple is still Rumple and he had no qualms about killing Zelena as she stood defenseless in the cell. RIP Zelena…maybe (I am a Vampire Diaries fan and have a hard time believing anyone supernatural can die)?

Once Rumple left, the shattered remains of Zelena disappeared and reappeared in Regina’s vault where she’d placed Zelena’s pendant for safekeeping. Green smoke began to billow out and moved through the town toward the farmhouse where the time travel portal once again opened. But is Zelena actually still alive like she was in Oz? I think it’s a possibility and that might have been the point of the flashbacks. Maybe her essence is in the pendant and the time travel spell will allow her to come back. Either way, the portal is open and I’m guessing Rumple and Belle have a bumpy road ahead that probably won’t led to the altar any time soon, not after she finds out that he betrayed her trust in the worst possible way.

There was a much happier moment when Charming brought their son back to Snow and Emma and Hook were there to witness her parents’ happy moment. I was never too worried about the baby, but I’m still relieved they worked this out in one episode and Snow and Charming didn’t have to be separated from their child again for longer than necessary. They don’t deserve that. As they watched the happy scene, Hook thanked Emma for saving him and she was surprised that he actually thought she’d let him drown. It was a sweet moment, one Emma had to ruin a few seconds later when she informed him that she didn’t care that her magic was gone because she wouldn’t need it in New York (again, that’s why I think she’s blocking her own magic. The flying monkey turned back into Little John so I think Emma’s magic would have been returned if Zelena had actually taken it).

Next week is the two hour season finale and it looks like Emma and Hook will end up falling through the time travel portal to land in…season one! I have no idea what’s happening, but I’m excited and I cannot wait to see this finale play out. I kind of wish I had a time travel spell…

Check out the full promo below and then hit the comments and share your thoughts and theories with us! Do you think Zelena is dead? Were you proud of Regina? How upset are you over Rumple’s actions? What do you think will happen to Hook and Emma in the past? Will we finally find out how Hook got back to Storybrooke? What will Snow and Charming name the baby prince? Are the dwarfs that were turned into flying monkeys okay too or did the good guys kill them last week…?

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.