Previously on Once Upon a Time, a witch named Zelena, who is wicked as she is pretty, dropped in and shook things up for everyone in Storybrooke.
We open on a tornado infused with clouds of green. When it passes, a woman in a green cloak stumbles across a baby in a basket. Despite her husband seeming perfectly willing to leave the infant right where they found her, the woman knows they can’t leave her alone. The husband is more hesitant still when the baby moves a tree branch with the power of her tiny hand (despite the fact that it seemed to save their lives) and once again says maybe they shouldn’t keep her. The wife insists, however, and they pick up their trek along the yellow brick road towards the Emerald City. The woman declares that her name will be Zelena, and she will be the happiest baby in all of Oz.
Flash forward to present-day Storybrooke, where everyone in town is gathered around Neal’s grave. They bury him slowly, and Regina casts a sorrowful glance at Emma, but she is staying strong for her son.
Also she already mourned him once.
Starting with Hook and ending with Emma, everyone puts a shovelful of dirt onto his grave. I guess he’s really and truly dead this time. May he rest in peace. And not come back as a zombie. That’s the last thing this town needs right now.
In her storm cellar, Zelena is taunting Mr. Gold about spending years and curses and battles and more years fighting and clawing and scraping to get Neal back, only to lose him again. Gold says it was worth every second, because he’s family, something she wouldn’t understand.
Flash back to a young Zelena, shaving her dad the way she shaved Rumple. He reminds her to always put on a good face, and she accidentally nicks him with the blade. He starts to shout and her hand starts to glow and he freaks the freak out. She tells him she can’t help it, and he once again tells her to conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show. He calls her wicked and she is appalled that he would speak to his own daughter this way. He takes this opportunity to tell Zelena that she is not his daughter. Now that Zelena’s mother and her annoying “love her like she’s our own” business is gone, he can finally express the fear of her powers he has felt all her life.
She tells him she’d “rather be wicked than a sad old drunk” and storms off to see the wizard.
In present-day Storybrooke, at Granny’s, Hook is trying to calm Emma down, telling her that vengeance is not the answer right now. She says she wants to be angry so leave her the hell alone. Zelena killed the father of her child who doesn’t even remember all the things he learned about his dad in the few months he knew him. Hook offers to talk to the boy, and Emma hilariously wonders aloud if they’ll talk about leather conditioner and eyeliner. Zing!
Hook’s actual suggestion was that he could talk to Henry about Neal as a boy, so he still gets to hear good things about his dad without being too confusing. Also it would get him out of the way for a while, so Emma agrees.
Across the diner, Regina is sitting at the counter, probably annoyed Hook is talking to Emma, and definitely annoyed by the stupid lion tattoo that’s taunting her and making her feel less in control of her own fate. Tinkerbell (!) sidles up to her and is like, “Oh hey look! Your soulmate!”
If you won’t be with me, I’ll pester you about him!
Regina glares at her and says she has more important things going on right now (read: wicked witch) and doesn’t want to “gossip about boys.”
Robin Hood tries to follow up with that drink he offered her yesterday in the farmhouse, but Regina politely declines. She introduces Tink, who is not obvious at all in her excited leering. After Regina assures Robin that she didn’t run out of the farmhouse because of gay panic, but because her spidey sense was tingling, he leaves the ladies be.
Tinkerbell tells her not to screw things up with Mr. Lion Tattoo again, but Regina isn’t having any of her shit.
The wake is interrupted by Zelena, crashing the party like a regular Maleficent. She storms around all scary-like, waving the Dark One’s dagger around like it’s nothing. David shouts for her to stay away, but Zelena merely smirks at him and tells him that she’s not here for the baby…yet.
The wicked witch announces that she’s here to visit her little sister, and when Regina asks who that would be, Zelena says, “You!” Half-sister, if you’re keeping score. Zelena says that she’ll give Regina some time to dig around and figure out that it’s true, but then she wants to meet Regina on Main Street at midnight for a proper duel.
Regina raises her one magical eyebrow and is like, “Slow your roll, Billy the Kid, this isn’t the wild west.”
But Zelena, like any good bad guy, wants to make a spectacle of her victory. She wants everyone to see the Evil Queen lose. Both women claim they never lose, and the deal is set.
Team Charming gathers around Regina and starts badgering her with questions. I do have to mention here that this episode had a different, quippier feel to it than usual, and I liked it. It was much more fast-paced, especially as far as the dialogue was concerned, and I think it real helped the flow of the episode, and added to the heightened sense of stress they’re surely feeling.
Anyway, Regina is handling the interrogation perfectly. No, she didn’t know her mother had a lovechild with a scarecrow, no she never met anyone green before, and no she’s pretty sure she didn’t murder anyone she loved. So lay off!
How many times does a girl have to save your life…
Done with being attacked by these people she thought were over accusing her of being evil, she decides to go off and figure all this out on her own.
Flash back to a teenage Zelena, finally free of her father, marching to the Emerald City and right up to the Wizard of Oz himself. An impressive shadow appears and says he already knows why she’s here — to find her family. The floor starts to swirl and in it, Zelena sees everything she ever wanted to know.
First, it shows her as an infant being left for dead by Cora because she would never allow her to be royalty (which at least eliminates a small handful of people from the potential father pool).
Next, it shows her Regina, the daughter Cora kept, the daughter who became queen.
Finally, it shows her that sister being taught to control her gift of magic by a man (?) called Rumplestiltskin. It was a brief moment, almost overshadowed by her tantrum about wanting to be taught like the sister she never knew, but the most heartbreaking thing Zelena said during all of this was, “Magic is a gift?” Poor little misguided Elsa.
Overwhelmed with the knowledge of everything she could have had, Zelena demands to be sent to this Rumplestiltskin so she, too, can learn to control her magic. The Wizard gives her a pair of silver slippers — if she clicks her heels three times, she can go wherever she pleases. (Where’s that blasted good witch? She needs to hear this. You tell someone how the shoes work right when you give them to a person, Glinda!) All the wizard asks for in return is something of Rumplestiltskin’s. He sends her off with a final warning — it’s fine to want to learn about your past, but don’t be envious of the things you can’t have.
Zelena click click clicks her way into Regina’s bedroom. Like she would one day do in the Enchanted forest, she touches all her things and smells are her perfumes. She then performs the magic trick she had seen Regina try and fail in the Wizard’s magic floor. Rumple starts to give his praise but stops short when he realizes it’s not his pupil before him. She introduces herself as Cora’s first born, but Rumple knows better than to take anyone for their word, and plucks a hair from her head and runs a quick test in a vial. The contents of the vial turn green, and he smiles his eerie smile at her and says, “Hello, dearie.” (I think it’s important to note here that he didn’t necessarily confirm that she was Cora’s daughter, nor do we know if he knows who her father is, we just know that he was pleased by the results he got.)
Back to today, in Storybrooke, Regina is rooting around in her vault and finds a letter. She reads it and her whole face falls. She tells Mary Margaret that it’s true and says she’ll fight her own battles.
After she runs off, the town starts to gather on Main Street. Someone asks Emma if they should go look for Regina, and Emma says they should respect her wishes to not interfere. They all look at her carefully and ask her if she’s sure she wants to let her do this alone, because it doesn’t seem very like her to leave her love high and dry… Emma quickly clarifies — they’re not interfering, they’re helping. Whether Regina likes it or not.
“Where can we find a bucket of water?”