‘Once Upon A Time’ S4 Ep 18 recap: Bewitched by Zelena

What do you think of Robin Hood’s origin story? (Photo credit: Disney/ABC Press via Twitter)

Whoa! “Once Upon A Time” is on a roll of shocking us with unforeseen twists. If you haven’t seen “Heart of Gold,” beware of big spoilers. If you are still scratching your aching head and trying to calm down after yelling at the TV, then welcome to the club.

Going into the episode, we were excited to learn Robin Hood’s origin story. Much to our delight, fairytale flashbacks delivered thrilling adventure, merry manly camaraderie, and blossoming romance. Robin’s past interactions with the Sheriff of Nottingham, the Dark One, Zelena, Will Scarlett and Marion are all revealed. Unfortunately, the modern day storyline doesn’t stir up quite the same sentiments. Robin’s present day encounters in New York City keep us on the edge of our seats. While the ethical thief proves to be an honorable man in all aspects of life, Rumple returns to his scheming and radically life-altering (and happy ending destroying) evil ways when a jaw-dropping twist puts him in an uncompromising position.

Fairytale Land, past: “When you steal for someone else, that makes you a hero.”

The Sheriff of Nottingham saunters into Robin of Locksley’s tavern and demands an overdue payment. Robin has two days to gather the funds or else he will lose his tavern. As always, the Dark One can sense whenever someone is in a jam and appears to Robin right on cue. The two of them strike a deal. Rumple sends Robin to Oz to steal the Elixir of the Wounded Heart from Zelena and in return, the Dark One will give Robin the money he needs to keep his tavern.

Upon entering Oz, Robin meets Will Scarlet and tells the Knave of his mission. Will asks if Robin could procure an extra dose of the elixir for him too and the thief agrees to do so. With that, Robin dashes off to rob the Wizard. He manages to fill one bottle when Zelena catches him mid-theft. She knows the Dark One is behind the break in. She clones herself, but three Zelenas are still no match for the swift archer. He quickly grabs a nearby enchanted arrow, hits faux Zelena and gets out of there in the nick of time. Phew!

Robin encounters Will once more by Oz’s door. He apologizes for not being able to procure any of the enchanted elixir for his new friend. Will understands and shares his tale of woe. At first, those of us who watched “Once Upon A Time in Wonderland” may have assumed that Will wanted the elixir to heal the heartbreak Anastasia/The Red Queen caused. Now we learn he wanted it to heal an even deeper wound.

Will’s heart has been aching ever since his beloved sister’s death. This poor guy has endured so much sadness and loss. Michael Socha really is perfect casting because he inherently has intensely expressive puppy dog eyes that just draw you in and melt your heart. How can you resist lending him a helping hand? Right?!

Robin and Will say farewell with a bro-hug. Moments later, Will finds that Robin left him with a parting gift. Yup! The honorable thief selflessly gave the only dose of elixir to Will. Awww! This also means he hasn’t upheld his end of the Dark One’s deal and will likely lose his treasured tavern.

He returns home to Marian with an epiphany. Robbing for someone else in need is a noble cause, unlike thieving for oneself. When the Sheriff comes to collect his payment, Robin steals the money and gives it to those who are less fortunate. He realizes that he doesn’t really care about the tavern. The skillful thief has found his true calling as a virtuous hoodlum. Hence his nickname: Robin Hood.

In a tender moment, Robin tells Marian that he only regrets not being able to provide a proper home for the woman he loves. As expected, sweet Marian doesn’t care where they go, as long as they are together. Robin is the only home she needs. Sigh. There’s just one problem: what will Robin do when the authorities coming calling for him?

Clever Robin thought ahead and picked up another trinket from Zelena. He stole an enchanted necklace that can change his appearance. If anyone ever comes after him, Robin can hide in plain sight. Well that’s a very handy little item! Unfortunately, that necklace will eventually jeopardize Robin’s happy ending.

New York City, nine weeks ago: “You should run to it, grasp it and never let it go.”

We pick up from where things left off with Robin before the mid-season break when he crossed the Storybrooke borderline with his son and resurrected wife. Regina gave him the keys to Neal’s apartment, so the family has a place to call home in NYC. As they wander through the rowdy and crowded city streets, we see that old habits die hard for the heroic archer.

A thief snatches Marian’s purse and Robin Hood pulls a move straight out of “Kate and Leopold” (enjoy Hugh Jackman’s swoon-worthy rescue here). Robin high-tails it on a horse, rides after the culprit, tackles him to the ground and gives him a lecture on a true thief’s code of honor: never rob from those in need. With that settled, the Hood family moves along and checks out their new digs.

Moments after entering Neal’s apartment, Rumple barges in and boots them out. Neal was his son, therefore this apartment belongs to him. As Robin tries reasoning with him, Rumple clutches his chest and drops to the floor. Again, Robin does the honorable thing and rushes Rumple to the hospital.

The seemingly invincible Rumple has suffered a heart attack, but not in the way we may think. As he explains to Robin, all of the Dark One’s evil deeds have taken their toll on his heart. He was able to protect himself with magic, but he needs something stronger to buy him some time now that he’s stuck in the real world. The tables have turned and Rumple is in a jam this time, so Robin takes advantage of the situation and strikes a deal.

The Dark One needs the Elixir of the Wounded Heart and Robin is the only one who can get it for him. Robin agrees to steal the elixir if Rumple lets his family keep Neal’s apartment. Well, that’s more than fair. (It also explains why Rumple was crashing on Ursula’s couch.)

Robin successfully steals the elixir and evades the police, but he has different consequences to face when he returns home. He explains the situation to Marian and she thinks Robin should just let Rumple die. Whoa! That’s harsh, especially for a sweet and virtuous person like Marian. Despite his wife’s unexpected opinion, Robin adheres to his code and keeps his promise.

Robin gives Rumple the elixir, clarifies that Neal’s apartment now belongs to his family and goes on his merry way. The Dark One chugs the potion, but it doesn’t work. Suddenly, Marian struts into the room and reveals that she swapped the elixir when Robin wasn’t looking. Now for the mind-blowing twist…

In a shocking reveal, we discover that Marian is actually Zelena. What?! How? Zelena gives us a quick debrief. She never died in the cell. Her spirit escaped and followed Captain Swan through the portal to the past. Zelena found the perfect opportunity for revenge when Emma saved Marian’s life. She killed Marian in the Enchanted Forest and has been sabotaging Outlaw Queen’s happy ending after ever since. What makes your blood boil even more is that Zelena is using the enchanted necklace Robin had stolen from her to pose as his dead wife.

Rage!!!! This may be one of the most aggravating “OUAT” twists ever and we certainly didn’t see it coming. However, looking back on it now, perhaps we did miss subtle clues. If Marian was really Robin’s True Love, then he should have felt something deeper for his wife upon her miraculous return. Instead, all that True Love was gone. Plus, Robin was fated to fall in love with Regina after his wife died. If Marian really was alive, then you’d think his feelings for Regina would begin to fade and he would fall for his original True Love. Right?

What do you think, Oncers? Did you pick up on any hints along the way? Was there always something a little fishy about Marian? Did you believe Zelena was gone for good? Is this plot twist making your skin crawl? Unfortunately, things are about to get much worse.

Rumple hates seeing Zelena again, especially since she is literally holding his life in her hands. As Rumple starts flat-lining, he is forced to make a new deal with Zelena. He will help her get the ultimate revenge on Regina in exchange for the elixir. And so he does.

The elixir helps hide Rumple’s symptoms once again and he is released from the hospital. The first thing he does is have a heart to heart with Robin. Rumple explains how blind he was when he first became the Dark One. He had true happiness, but never recognized it until he lost it all. He urges Robin to be aware of the true happiness in his life and grasp onto it while he still has the chance.

We know Rumple is prompting Robin to play right into Zelena’s charade, yet we still feel bad for the guy. That is the power of Robert Carlyle. We should hate Rumple for what he is doing, but we just can’t. The Dark One is severely damaged goods and we still are hoping he will one day change his evil ways. Sadly, that day isn’t coming anytime soon.

Rumple’s tale of woe works and Robin rushes back into Zelian’s arms. Marian was once his True Love and she can be again. He deletes Regina’s number from his phone and embraces his wife. As they hug it out, Marian’s reflection in the mirror reveals her true identity. Ugh!

Okay, so maybe all is not lost. The necklace and her reflection are two ways of exposing Zelena. Let’s just hope Robin or even little Roland catches a glimpse of that reality sometime soon. Until then, the honorable hoodlum has become the perfect leverage with which the Villains can blackmail Regina.

Storybrooke, present day: “I won’t let you do the same to Emma.”

The Dark One upholds his promise and proceeds to make Regina miserable. When she awakens from the Villains’ knockout, Rumple has her call Robin’s phone. Zelena gleefully answers and rubs her nasty vengeance in Regina’s face. This witch is beyond wicked. Poor Regina is devastated. Rebecca Mader and Lana Parrilla deliver powerful performances in this episode. We cringe at Zelena’s behavior and can feel Regina’s pain.

Wow! This is a truly awful dilemma for Regina. Zelena can kill Robin whenever she pleases and there is nothing Regina can do about it. She seems to be left with no choice but to surrender to the Villains. Regina vows not to let Rumple darken Emma’s heart. Zelena’s threat may be the right motivation to rekindle the Evil Queen’s self-serving instincts. However, Regina has come too far to throw her heroic efforts away.

Elsewhere in Storybrooke, Emma is still peeved at her parents for lying, but she remains focused on the task at hand: they must find the Author before the Villains get ahold of him. Unfortunately, Rumple beats the Heroes to the punch…again. The Author is displeased to see Rumple, claiming that he has been the most pain in the ass character to write. Nonetheless, the Author feels compelled to go along with Rumple.

Geesh, this episode has been so frustrating to watch! This gripping episode contained some epic shockers. A lot of life changing decisions will be made in the remaining episodes and characters’ true loyalties will be revealed. On the bright side, Sean Maguire had the chance to truly shine as we delved deeper into Robin Hood’s complex life.

Will Regina be able to save Robin and Emma from ruin? Will the Author change Emma’s destiny and fulfill Rumple’s wishes? Can Zelena be defeated? Will Robin be rescued? We’ll just have to wait and see. What are your thoughts on “Heart of Gold”? Were you shocked by the Zelena twist? Did you enjoy the episode? Are you enraged by these disturbing events? Do you hope to see more interaction between Will and Robin after learning about their first encounter? Share your thoughts below.

On the next “Once Upon A Time” (airs Sunday, April 19)

Here is ABC’s official description for “Sympathy for the De Vil”:


Kristin Bauer van Straten (“True Blood”) and Victoria Smurfit (“Dracula”) Guest Star

“Sympathy for the De Vil” – In fictional 1920s England, viewers meet a young Cruella, whose oppressive mother uses her Dalmatians to terrorize her daughter. Cruella is confined to her mother’s attic until a mysterious stranger arrives and empowers her to challenge her captor. In Storybrooke, Regina gains leverage to keep Gold from interfering with her plan to rescue Robin, but her trip to New York takes the backseat when she and Emma learn that Cruella has kidnapped Henry, on “Once Upon a Time,” SUNDAY, APRIL 19 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

“Once Upon a Time” stars Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White/Mary Margaret, Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan, Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen/Regina, Josh Dallas as Prince Charming/David Nolan, Emilie de Ravin as Belle, Colin O’Donoghue as Hook, Jared S. Gilmore as Henry, Michael Socha as Will Scarlet and Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold.

Guest stars include Victoria Smurfit as Cruella De Vil, Patrick Fischler as Isaac, Kristin Bauer van Straten as Maleficent, Anna Galvin as Madeline, Milli Wilkinson as Young Cruella, Morgan Tanner as Dancer #1, Scott Augustine as Dancer #2, Tony Giroux as Dancer #3, Michelle Dawley as Dancer #4, Kelly Konno as Dancer #5, Julia Harnett as Dancer #6 and Jolene Bothwell as Dancer #7.

Are you excited to learn more about Cruella’s past?  Promotional photos indicate that the Author is the mysterious stranger who visits Cruella. Is the Author responsible for Cruella’s villaneous fate? Was he trying to make her a hero and it backfired? Is he willing to give her a happy ending now? What leverage does Regina have on Rumple? Tune in to find out!

“Once Upon A Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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