Once Upon a Time recap: The Green Zone

A fairyback shows what makes Zelena tick -- and how she got that verdant glow
Ep. 16 | Aired Apr 6, 2014

Jack Rowand/ABC

Zelena grows more and more powerful as their magical lessons continue. Rumpel teaches her how to channel her rage into magic, then use a happy memory to dial things back before her powers spin out of control. She excels, but there's always something a bit unhinged about her success -- probably because her entire goal is to prove that she's better than the sister she's never met. At this rate, Zelena's established herself as the perfect vessel for the curse Rumpel has been planning for decades -- a curse he's designed to be cast by Cora's daughter.

There's just one problem: In order to actually set the curse in motion, the caster's going to have to give up the thing she loves most. In Regina's case, that's Henry, her beloved father. But in Zelena's case, it's Rumpel himself -- and the Dark One has no interest in getting sacrificed. So he starts to pull back from Zelena, driving her so mad with envy that her skin begins to turn the color of toxic ooze -- and she attempts to assassinate Regina. Rumpel foils her plot -- shape-shifting sure comes in handy -- but the damage has already been done.

Wounded, the witch tells her former mentor that she could have taken him to the Land Without Magic by simply using her silver slippers, then swears vengeance on him. (Zelena, in my dreams, pointing to her shoes: "Say goodbye to THESE, Rumpel!"). Z then returns to the Emerald City so she can give the Wizard a piece of her mind. Of course, it's not long before Zelena tears down the Wizard's curtain and reveals him as Walsh, nothing more than a humbug from Kansas with magically thick eyebrows but no actual magic to speak of.

Zelena's feeling too vindictive to simply allow Walsh to continue swindling the people of Oz. So she decides instead to transform the "Wizard" into a loyal servant, drawing her inspiration from a poster of a monkey that hangs in Walsh's hiding spot. Good thing it didn't happen to picture, like, a manatee. Zelena swears also to devote all her time to taking down Regina, whom she bizarrely blames for everything that's gone wrong in her life. Just as she's promising to find a magical way to prevent Regina's birth, the green patch on her neck grows and grows until her entire body's gone jade. Man, good luck trying to find foundation in the drug store now.

Meanwhile, in present-day Storybrooke, Once pays fitting tribute to the fallen Neal by devoting a long, wordless sequence to his somber funeral. It's a nicely done scene that gives this death more weight than the ones that have preceded it -- though the effect is ruined somewhat when Zelena swans into Granny's, declaring that since her cover's blown, she might as well fight Regina in the town square that night. What are you, Z -- a witch, or a schoolyard bully?

NEXT: You gotta have heart

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