‘Once Upon A Time’ S3 Ep 16 recap: The green-eyed monster

Zelena’s troubled history is revealed and it explains her hatred for Regina. (Photo credit: Disney/ABC Press)

Well, Oncers, now we know why Zelena is Storybrooke’s resident nut-job nemesis. Sunday’s “It’s Not Easy Being Green” revealed Zelena’s troubled past. We already know she felt slighted by Rumple when he chose to mentor Regina instead, but now we get a better understanding of why she obsessively hates them both. ‘Once Upon A Time’ also unveils the Wizard of Oz’s identity, which helps explain Zelena’s choice of simian servants. In present day Storybrooke, Zelena challenges Regina to an Old Western style magical duel and gives us a glimpse of her endgame.

Oz/Fairy Tale Land: “Your insides are starting to show.”

A cyclone sends baby Zelena into the Land of Oz, where she is discovered and immediately adopted by a couple. Consider this her Clark Kent/Moses moment, unfortunately, her father doesn’t even compare to the likes of Jonathan Kent or even the Pharaoh. As her new mother holds baby Zelena in her arms, the infant magically brings down a tree. Her new father quickly fears that this child is inherently wicked, but mama begs to differ.

Years later, Zelena’s mother has died and her father has become an abusive drunk. As she shaves him (like she shaved Rumple), her father spills the beans. Zelena’s wickedness drove him to drink, especially after his wife died. He knew they should’ve never taken her in. Zelena is shocked by the news of her adoption and ventures off to see the powerful Wizard of Oz to get some answers.

A projected grand shadow of the “great and terrible” Oz shows Zelena flashes of her past. Cora disowned Zelena because she did give the power hungry Queen of Hearts the ability to become royalty. When Cora left Zelena in the woods, a cyclone swept her off to Oz. Zelena then sees the kind of life she could have lived if Cora did not discard her like trash. Rumple tries to help Regina develop her magical abilities, but she pales in comparison to Zelena. The abandoned child declares that Rumple should be teaching her instead and she asks the Wizard for help. Since Rumple is the most powerful wizard in all the lands, the mystery man from Oz asks that Zelena bring him back an item of Rumple’s when she returns from her visit to the Enchanted Forest.

The Wizard of Oz gives Zelena a pair of golden slippers. She clicks her heels thrice and they will take her wherever she desires. The Wizard simply cautions Zelena not to be jealous of what she cannot have. There is a fine line between wonder and envy. With that said, Zelena clicks her heels and appears in Regina’s room.

Rumple stumbles upon Zelena and she happily reveals her identity as Cora’s first born. Rumple says that’s not possible. Naturally, this raises a lot of questions for us. Why is it not possible? How does he know? Did he help Cora get rid of the baby? Is Zelena his child? His reaction merits further thought, but we’ll just have to wait a while before we get the answers. Moving on…

Rumple begins to teach Zelena the basics. Magic is not what you see, but what you feel inside. Magic comes from emotion, so you must learn how to manage your emotions. Use happiness to reign in anger. Zelena revs up with the thought of her abandonment (something Rumple can relate to) and then taps the magical breaks by thinking of the moment Rumple agreed to train her. Okay, major sign that Zelena will go ‘Misery’ all over poor Rumple. She is beyond fan-girling over him.

The more Rumple works with Zelena, the more she begins to reveal her true colors. She should be living Regina’s life, especially since she has more natural talent. Rumple reasons with her and asks what her father used to say: “No matter what you feel on the inside, you must put on a good face.” Zelena’s insides are starting show as she begins to literally turn green with envy. (Nice touch, ‘OUAT’). As time goes on, Rumple realizes that he needs to test Zelena before making a very important decision.

One day, Zelena sneaks up behind Regina and stabs her in the neck. When Regina transforms into Rumple, Zelena learns that she has failed his test. Zelena just disqualified herself from the running. In order to cast the curse, you must give up the thing you love most. Since Zelena loves Rumple, he knows she will not be able to fulfill the requirements of the curse. Of course, Zelena is enraged, but then things get really annoying.

When Zelena realizes that Rumple has just created the curse to find a land without magic, she reveals that she could’ve taken him there all along. He just had to ask. Now it is too late. (Ugh! Really? It was that simple. Rumple must be kicking himself.) Before clicking her heels and heading back to Oz, Zelena warns: “I’ll see you again, Dearie. Next time, you’ll choose me.”

Zelena returns to the Wizard of Oz and says she wants to travel back in time to change the past. The great and terrible Wizard says that cannot be done. Zelena brings the curtain down and exposes the Wizard’s identity. The Wizard of Oz is Emma’s almost fiancé Walsh. (What?! Did you see that coming?) He is simply a showman from Kansas who collects magical items. (Any relations to Dorothy?) In all of his travels he has never discovered any kind of magic strong enough to go back in time. Zelena disagrees. She says she needs someone who will obey her and help achieve this goal. She looks at the huge flying monkey on the poster behind him and thinks a silent simian servant is exactly what she needs. Before getting monkey-fied, Walsh quips that Zelena is pure evil. Zelena corrects Walsh, saying that she isn’t evil, she’s wicked. Then she watches a vision of Rumple training Regina and makes a vow. Zelena will travel back in time to make sure that Regina was never born.

That’s a pretty epic end-game that would change everything. However, I can’t help thinking of the laws of magic that were constantly emphasized during ‘Once Upon A Time in Wonderland’: You can’t change the past, you can’t bring people back from the dead, and you can’t make people fall in love. Jafar found a loop-hole. What is Zelena’s plan? How will she break the laws of magic? Maybe that is why she wants Charming’s courage, Regina’s heart, and everyone’s memory. Could she have found a new spell to break the laws?

Storybrooke: “I’m casting a second chance. Not a curse.”

Tis a somber day in Storybrooke as the town lays Neal to rest. Everyone feels the full weight of his death and understands the sacrifice, except for Henry. As we see everybody pay their respects we notice a very important person is missing: Rumple.

A devastated Rumple toils in his cage, as Zelena continues taunting him. She wonders if Bae was worth all the trouble. Without hesitation, Rumple says his son was worth every second of trouble because he was family, which is something Zelena will never have. Oh, burn! Looks like Rumple just added more fuel to the fire.

During the reception at Granny’s, Hook pulls Emma aside to talk about Henry. He offers to help the boy feel closer to his father. Hook wants to tell Henry what Bae was like as a boy, so that he knows they had more in common than he realizes. After quipping at the kind of advice Hook could offer (“leather condition and eye liner?”), Emma realizes that Hook is sincerely trying and appreciatively accepts his offer. It’s a good thing too because Hook gets Henry out of the diner in the nick of time before trouble arrives.

Tinker Bell still tries to persuading Regina to pursue her True Love, Robin Hood. She doesn’t want Regina repeating the same mistakes she made in the past. But Regina insists that this is not the time to “gossip about boys” and she kind of has a point. Moments later, Zelena bursts into the diner and announces herself as the Wicked Witch. She decides to use this sad day to dig into her past with Regina. The Wicked Witch challenges the Evil Queen to a duel in the town square at sundown. She warns that nobody can help Regina in this fight, although an audience is welcome. After Zelena vanishes, Regina does some digging to figure out if Cora actually had “a love child with a scarecrow.”

Regina finds one of Cora’s old letters, which confirms that Zelena is her sister. She wanders into the woods and stumbles upon Robin Hood, who is keeping guard against Zelena’s “simian army.” He sits down beside Regina and offers her a chance to get this troubling news off of her chest. He can tell she wants to talk about since he hasn’t been “charred to a crisp.” So Regina finally opens up and explains why her feelings are hurt. The letter was very complimentary. It was something fond that she would cling to. Now she realizes that Cora was speaking of Zelena. Rumple thinks she is stronger than Regina, so she is rightfully distressed. While she figures out her next move, Belle and the others hope to get a little help from Rumple.

Surprisingly, Zelena has kept Rumple’s cage in the same location. As Belle walks into the farmhouse cellar, Rumple warns her to step away. Zelena has turned Rumple into her person attack dog and it is super annoying. This is not the strong-willed Rumple we have come to know. He has literally become Zelena’s little bitch. When Belle gets close to his cage, Zelena emerges from the shadows with the Dark One’s dagger in her hand. Rumple barks at Belle to back off. He fears that one day she will send him after the ones he loves and he will not be able to control himself. This is not going to end well and it is making me nervous. At least we know Henry is in safe hands with Hook.

Hook takes Henry to the docks and has a heart to heart with the boy. As they wait for the stars to come out, Hook tells Henry that Neal lost his father too. Hook thought the sea would ease his sorrow, so he taught Bae how to sail. Unfortunately, Hook slips up a bit and Henry catches him. If Neal and Hook are roughly the same age, then why is Hook talking about the way he kind of mentored Bae at a young age? He may have lost his memory, but Henry is still sharp and he knows something is going in Storybrooke. Emma has her reasons for keeping secrets from Henry, so Hook steers the conversation back to the point at hand. Henry has more in common with Neal than he realizes. Once Henry realizes that, he enthusiastically wants Hook to teach him how to use the sextant. Aww. Hook is really stepping up his game. It is also really sweet how he told Emma this moment of bonding would help them both cope with Neal’s loss and start healing. While Hook and Henry stargaze, the rest of the town gathers for the Evil versus Wicked showdown.

As they throw each other around and smash up some scenery, Zelena finally reveals all of her resentment. Regina got everything Zelena ever wanted and she didn’t deserve it. Regina never appreciated all the good things and advantages she had in her life. Now, Zelena will make her pay. Zelena corners Regina in the clock tower and admits she wants to destroy Regina, not kill her. She reaches into Regina’s chest and is enraged to discover that her heart is missing. Regina teases, mother always said don’t bring your heart to a witch fight. Zelena cackles away on her broom, vowing to get her hands on Regina’s heart.

It is interesting to consider exactly what Zelena is collecting: courage, heart, and memory. Could this tie-in with the Cowardly Lion, the heartless Tin Man, and the Scarecrow without a brain? There is another ‘OUAT’ twist hidden in Zelena’s end-game and we might be able to figure it out. What are your thoughts, so far?

After the duel, Regina goes back to Robin Hood, who has been guarding her heart in the woods. Surprisingly, Regina hands Robin her heart and asks him to hold onto it. He’s a renowned thief, why would she trust him with it? Regina smilingly says, “You can’t steal something that’s been given to you.” Aww. Regina has given her heart to her True Love. Another cute and poetic move on ‘OUAT’s’ part. I guess this makes Robin the “owner of a lonely heart.” I’m excited to see their romance unfold. This is definitely a great start. Unfortunately, things are sailing as smoothly for Hook right now.

Emma thanks Hook for keeping Henry out of harm’s way, but she remains stand-offish with the swashbuckler. So Hook keeps the focus on Henry. He says there is a lot more of Bae in Henry than Emma realizes. Will Emma allow Hook to spend more time with Henry, so that he can learn more about his father? By trying to feel closer to his father, will Henry forge a stronger bond with Hook? Maybe he’ll start lobbying for Captain Swan after he’s taken with the pirate’s paternal charms. (Feel free to gush about the thought of a Captain Swan family below.)

Lastly, Zelena reveals her hand to Rumple. She may have control over his actions, using him to intimidate the gang and break Belle’s heart. However, Rumple can still freely speak his mind. Echoing Zelena’s sentiments in the past. Rumple promises that he would still choose Regina over her. But it doesn’t matter anymore. Zelena is going to rewrite history and do it all over again. She is casting a second chance, not a curse. And by eliminating Regina as another option, Rumple will have no choice but to choose Zelena…or will he?

This episode has left us with a lot to ponder. I really like the explanation behind Zelena’s skin-tone and think envy provides a great motivation for her overall demeanor and vendetta against Regina. I’m still curious to learn who Zelena’s father is. If it is Rumple, then this is starting to get disturbingly creepy.

What did you think about “It’s Not Easy Being Green”? What were your favorite moments? Were you surprised by this week’s flashbacks? Do you think Regina is falling for Robin? Will Emma open her heart to Hook? Could Henry start to see Hook as a father figure? Is there a way to release Rumple from the dagger’s curse so that he can be free from Zelena’s control?

Share your thoughts below and stay tuned for more news!

‘Once Upon A Time’ airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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