Once Upon a Time 3.16: “It’s Not Easy Being Green”

(Continuity note: this doesn’t fully track with the second season episode, “The Doctor,” in which Jefferson delivers a crystal ball to Rumple that he seems to have taken from the Wizard of Oz, though it could be another one from the wizard’s collection, I suppose. What does track perfectly is that Rumple had sent Jefferson to Oz in an attempt to procure the slippers. And now we know how he knew about them, along with confirmation that he was, after all, hoping to use them to avoid the Dark Curse!)

And then there is also, of course, the whole green thing. Zelena’s skin turns green because of her extreme envy, which is perfectly in keeping with the mythology of a show in which metaphor is so often magically literalized, and hearkens back to story elements such as the repeated heart removal motif, as well as the time when Mary Margaret literally darkened her own heart by killing Cora, albeit indirectly. It’s also very in keeping, of course, with the literal/metaphorical brain, heart, and courage of The Wizard of Oz.

Other odds and ends:

–Neal’s opening funeral scene is beautifully done, and just as heartbreaking as his death in the previous episode. I’m so glad they take their time with this scene, to further underline that this death is extremely meaningful and sad and will continue to rock the other characters deeply.

–I love that Hook agrees to take Henry for the day, in order to show him a bit of what Neal was like as a boy. As with last episode, this continues to pick up the thread of Hook having temporarily raised Baelfire on the Jolly Roger, however briefly, and allows him to continue to mourn that boy who he nearly loved like a son but lost due to his own selfish need for revenge at the time, in addition to giving Henry a further link to a father who, as far as he knows, he never met.

–The revelation that Zelena wants to turn back the clock to the past in order to somehow get Cora to keep her and–as far as she expects–not have Regina is fascinating. For one, it thematically parallels Jafar’s goals on Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. He wanted to rewrite the laws of magic–the third of which prohibits meddling with time–in order to avenge himself on his cruel father. Zelena similarly wants to break those rules in order to change what happened with her parent, but instead of by collecting genies, it seems that her spell requires the various elements from The Wizard of Oz–brain, courage, heart–that she has been collecting. We’ve seen her get the first two and discover here that she wants to get the third from Regina.

–“Never bring a heart to a witch fight.” This was an absolutely brilliant moment for Regina. I love that she is able to outwit Zelena here by following their mother’s playbook, a playbook that Zelena doesn’t actually know but Regina does, all too well.

–I love even more that Regina entrusts her heart to Robin Hood. My theory continues to be that she is starting to trust him not only due to recognizing his tattoo but because something romantic occurred between them in the Enchanted Forest last year and that subconsciously, this is drawing them to each other, as with Mary Margaret and David in Season 1. I love that Regina, after all this time, is finally learning from her mistakes. As scared as she might be to embrace this possibility of new love, she no longer has Henry (at least for now) and she realizes that she could remain lonely or she could tentatively begin to place some level of faith in someone who her every impulse is now telling her she should believe. On one level, keeping her heart away from her is smart at this point, so that it remains free of Zelena’s clutches, but on the next, there’s of course a lovely metaphor here with Regina entrusting her heart to this man. We haven’t seen her expose herself to this level of vulnerability since she took away her own memory of Henry’s parentage years ago, and it is both touching and lovely to see, and feels truly earned due to the gradual, careful character evolution she’s had, particularly over the course of this season.

–Zelena breaking the clock by tossing Regina through it…such an ironic twist on how it broke last time, with Cora tossing Snow’s beloved maid, Johanna, through it to her death. It also metaphorically comments on Zelena’s goals of literally breaking the clock i.e. time.

–Last week, I was pretty sure that Neal was gone for good, due to Once‘s strict policy of no resurrection magic. Now, however, I do kind of wonder whether there might be a loophole in the form of Zelena’s time spell. If she actually manages to make it happen, I could see it not working out exactly as she expected. For example, perhaps Regina is born after all, only other things have changed, and one of them is Neal never having died because by enacting the spell, Zelena has paradoxically removed the need to ever have cast it? This is a mythology loophole I could get behind.

–The only thing I continue to find a bit strange is that, although the Wicked Witch has theoretically taken Charming’s courage, he doesn’t seem to be particularly fearful. I wonder if that just happens to be due to the writers not having had time yet to include scenes that focus on this new lack of courage, or if perhaps it’s that although she’s holding his courage, it won’t actually disappear from him until she puts it into the spell? Something else to ponder over until next week!

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Author: Robert Berg

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