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‘Once Upon A Time’ recap: Rumple’s revenge and Regina’s redemption

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Once again, Sunday's (May 4) ‘Once Upon A Time’ delivered a loaded episode full of life-changing moments and epic showdowns. Flashbacks to Oz show how Zelena has always been an irrepressibly and wickedly envious witch. In present day Storybrooke, we see how Zelena’s inability to change results in her own undoing. Ultimately, “Kansas” demonstrates how the battle between Good and Evil begins from within.

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The Land of Oz: “Only you can shape your destiny, but if you believe you're evil, then that is what you'll become.”

Last week, Glinda told the Charmings that she used to be friends with Zelena before she became the fearsome Wicked Witch. After watching “Kansas,” we realize that Glinda has an open-minded view of friendship.

The Good Witch reaches out to Zelena and offers her a chance to use her powers for good. Glinda thanks her for exposing the Wizard’s fraudulent behavior as a trickster and takes Greenie to meet her “real sisters.”

As Glinda introduces the four witches of Oz, we finally understand what each one of them represents: love, wisdom, courage and innocence. Ironically, Zelena is up for the role of innocent witch. Even Greenie thinks there’s no way she can pull that off, but Glinda says that she can still change.

According to Oz’s Book of Records, a prophecy says the innocent Witch of the West will come by cyclone, so Zelena seems to fit the bill. All she needs to do is overcome her insanely jealous impulses, so Glinda adds extra encouragement and sweetens the pot.

If Zelena chooses to be good, all of her abilities will be harnessed in a magic pendant, which will protect her powers and help them grow. Without the pendant, Zelena will be powerless. As Glinda embraces Zelena as a sister and hands over the pendant, the wicked witch sheds her emerald skin. It is time to let go of her envy and take control of her destiny. Easier said than done.

Shortly after Zelena joins the witches’ ranks, a cyclone brings innocent Dorothy to Oz. As the kind witches dote on the girl, Zelena grows green with envy…again. She reads through the Book of Records and learns that an innocent will unseat evil. Zelena believes she is the evil of which the book speaks and fears Dorothy will be her undoing. Glinda tells Zelena, “Only you can shape your destiny, but if you believe you’re evil, then that is what you’ll become.”

The next thing you know, Zelena hails a fireball attack on Dorothy. The young girl defends herself by dousing out the fireball with a bucket of water. Cue the iconic moment! The Wicked Witch starts melting and is presumed dead. Glinda immediately believes Dorothy has fulfilled the prophecy and asks her to join their sisterhood. Although Dorothy appreciates the offer, she just wants to go home to Kansas, so Glinda takes her to see someone who can help: the Wizard of Oz.

The Wizard gives Dorothy a pair of gold slippers, she clicks her heels thrice and returns home. As Glinda thanks the Wizard, Zelena reveals herself from behind the curtain. She laughs at Glinda’s gullibility. Seriously, none of us expected Zelena to simply melt away. That would be too easy. In another act of vengeful disdain, she sends Glinda to the Enchanted Forest (where I assume she’s banished into the frozen tundra where the Charmings found her.) Zelena’s magic pendant turns green as envy is absorbed into the source of her power.

I hate to say it, but I found these flashbacks a bit underwhelming. I don’t think there was enough emphasis on Dorothy to name this episode “Kansas” because so many more important and substantial things happen in this episode that deserve a greater amount of attention. I feel like Dorothy served as a little assist in the major game of Zelena’s life. I expected more from Dorothy when we eventually met her. I know the Wicked Witch is the focus now, but still Dorothy’s introduction felt a bit lame in comparison to other characters’ highly anticipated reveals. How did you feel about Dorothy and the role she played in Zelena’s story?

I’m also confused by Glinda’s actions. If the Wizard was exposed as a fraud, then why did she take Dorothy there to see him? I think we all expected to see Zelena behind that curtain once Dorothy made her way back home, so Glinda should have known better. The Good Witch had a great deal of faith in Zelena’s ability to change for the better and she’s not the last person to feel that way.

Storybrooke: “Evil isn't born, it's made and so is good.”

Buckle up, Oncers. It is time for another roller coaster ride!

Caged Rumple has been spinning away, turning straw into gold. Zelena comes in, reaches into the pile and plucks out Rumpy’s brain. She ironically quips, “Spinning clears your mind.” Now Baby Charming’s innocence is the only ingredient left. Rumple remains cool and collected (given the circumstances) and assures Zelena that she will fail because “destiny is destiny.” Changing the past will not change who she is. No matter what kind of privileged life she leads, Zelena has always been destined to be wicked. While Rumple tries to psych Zelena out, Emma and Co. do their best to protect Baby Charming.

Emma and Regina cast a protective spell around the hospital, so that Zelena can’t simply waltz in and take the baby. Once the Charmings are under the magical dome, Emma decides to take the fight to Zelena. Hook wants to go with her, but she harshly shuts him down and still holds a grudge over his secrecy about his cursed lips. Papa Charming steps in and defends Hook. The pirate did his best with a difficult situation. David insists that Emma takes Hook along for protection or at the very least, as a distraction. Seriously, this conversation is super insulting to Hook:

Emma: What is he going to do? I have magic, he has one hand.

David: At the very least he can draw fire.

Hook: What, now I'm cannon fodder?

Let’s just take a moment to observe how unnecessarily hurtful Emma has been to Hook. She mocks his one-handedness, allows him to be used as “cannon fodder,” and severely rejects his sincere, whole-hearted advances. What more does she want from this poor heartbroken man? Nonetheless, when the chips are down, Emma proves that she cares for the swashbuckler’s well-being.

While Hook and Emma venture through the woods to Zelena’s farm house, she tells him that she still plans on taking Henry back to New York when all of this over. Unbeknownst to Emma, Henry is already making plans to stay in Storybrooke.

While he scours the newspaper for available apartments, Dr. Hopper tells Henry to shares his feelings with his mother before getting too far ahead of himself. Likewise, Hook encourages Emma to confess her true intentions to Henry because the boy clearly considers Storybrooke his home. Hook believes Emma is afraid to stay because she may actually have a happy future there. Naturally, she scoffs at the idea of a happy family life with Hook. Again, Emma’s bitter retorts are like little daggers in Hook’s heart. The lady protests too much and at this point I think Hook can see right through her. Unfortunately, their heart to heart is interrupted by Zelena’s latest maneuver.

Zelena and Rumple are prepared to greet Emma and Hook when they arrive. Emma taunts Zelena, saying she should’ve cursed the lips of someone she’d actually kiss. So the wicked witch compels Rumple to drown Hook. They leave Hook’s fate in Emma’s hands and walk away.

Emma resuscitates Hook with mouth-to-mouth. As their lips touch, Zelena’s spell extracts Emma’s powers. When the pirate awakes, he’s surprised to see that Emma made such a grave sacrifice to save his life. They hurry back to the hospital and hope to stop Zelena before it is too late.

Zelena charges into the hospital, taking out every obstacle in her path, from Robin Hood and his Merry Men to Regina. Mary Margaret barely has a moment to hold her baby boy before Zelena snatches him up and vanishes with her final ingredient.

Emma and Hook arrive on the scene and tell the gang that their plan of attack has changed. Emma no longer has her powers. Henry turns to Regina and says she can defeat Zelena. Regina broke the curse with True Love’s kiss, which comes from light magic. History repeats itself as Henry gives Regina the pep talk he once gave to Emma. She just needs to believe in herself.

Jared Gilmore's delivery as Henry in these scenes is always a delight to see. Regina and Henry moments have become one of my favorite parts of the show. He says it best. Once upon a time Regina was a villain, but now she’s a hero. She is the perfect example of how people can change if they truly want to. Now she just needs a little faith and some help from her friends.

Zelena sets her time traveling spell into motion. All the ingredients are laid out around a weird circular symbol etched on the ground and the door to the past is prepared to be opened. As Zelena excitedly prepares to travel back in time, Rumple makes her a promise. He says, “No matter where you go in time, I will find a way to kill you.” Suddenly, the rest of the gang appears and the battle is on.

When the Dark One’s dagger drops from Zelena’s hand, Rumple instructs Emma and Hook to take it so that he can help them defeat the witch. Zelena tries her hardest to fight them off, but she is no match for Regina’s light magic. The Wicked Witch doubts the Evil Queen’s ability to change and Regina proves her wrong. Tired of being bossed around and belittled by her half-sister, Regina declares, “I make my own destiny.”

Regina takes Zelena’s pendant and strips the witch of her powers. Zelena taunts the Queen to put her out of her misery, but Regina refuses to do so. The following exchange shows how much Regina has grown throughout the course of this series:

Regina: Heroes don't kill.

Zelena: So now you're a hero?

Regina: Today I am.

I’d like to think that Regina is more than just a hero for a day. Unfortunately, Rumple doesn’t feel the same way. He

wants the witch dead, but Regina stops him from instantly exacting his revenge. Instead, Regina locks Zelena up in the prison cell, setting up yet another moment of déjà vu.

Regina empathizes with Zelena. Cora ruined them both, so Regina wants to offer her sister another chance. She tries to provide Zelena with some hope by saying, “Evil isn't born, it's made and so is good.” Like Glinda, Regina offers Zelena another opportunity to change her destiny for the better. If Zelena doesn’t change, Regina will crush her heart.

In a questionable move, Regina locks Zelena’s pendant up in her chest of magical treasures instead of destroying it. Yeah, this is going to come back to bite her in the butt. I wonder what happens if someone else gains possession of the pendant. Can someone gain magic powers simply by wearing the pendant? Or do you need to start with magical abilities so that the pendant has something to draw its power from? I fear we may get answers to those questions in the future.

Elsewhere in Storybrooke, we have a bittersweet RumBelle reunion. Rumple doesn’t understand how Belle continues to have faith in him and stand by his side when he has done so many terrible things. When the battle finished, Regina gave the Dark One’s dagger to Belle for safekeeping. Belle hands the dagger over to Rumple, saying she trusts him with all of her heart. Aww. Rumple then uses the dagger as an engagement ring and proposes to Belle. Yay! It almost seems too good to be true. And maybe it is…

While newly engaged Belle is basking in glory of love, Emma continues breaking hearts. With one sentence, Emma shatters the dreams of the men in her life. Once Zelena lost her powers, the flying monkeys returned to their human form (welcome back Little John!), so Hook wonders if it also restored Emma’s magic powers. Unfortunately it did not, but it doesn’t really matter. Emma says she won’t need magic in New York.

Ugh, surrender to your heart already, Emma! Henry wants to stay, the Charmings want their baby boy to know his older sister, and Hook is crazy in love with her. She really needs to stop resisting her destiny. Emma can’t simply walk away from who she is and go back to living in denial. Especially since the fight isn’t completely over yet.

As the episode ends, Rumple visits Zelena. He explains how a little sleight of hand enabled him to give Belle a fake dagger. He needed to be his own man so that he could take care of his unfinished business. Years ago, Rumple broke his promise to Bae. It is a mistake he does not wish to repeat. Neal sacrificed his life in order to defeat Zelena and Rumpy promised to avenge his death.

In a very cool move, Rumple magically turns Zelena into a statue and she shatters into tiny pieces. As the wicked witch turns to dust, her pendant is released from Regina’s treasure chest and seems to activate Zelena’s portal to the past.

Afterthoughts:

I’m going to make a confession, Oncers. I don’t blame Rumple for killing Zelena. Let’s face it. When the big baddies have been spared in the past, they’ve gone on to destroy countless lives. There is a wake of death in Regina’s past leading up to the moment of her redemption. Sure, Regina may have had faith in her half-sister, but not everyone feels the same. Zelena proved to be pretty wicked and downright evil to her very core. The odds of her changing were pretty slim. Yes it is wrong to kill, but for the sake of narrative and mixing things up on ‘OUAT,’ the powers that be made a bold move.

In a twisted way, Rumple felt like he was redeeming himself. He broke a promise to Bae once before and he wasn’t going to do it again. Essentially, Rumple killed Zelena in his son’s honor. A life for a life.

If you think about it, Regina spared Zelena’s life for Henry’s sake. She wants to be Henry’s hero and heroes don’t kill. If Zelena had taken Henry’s life, Regina would totally want revenge just like Rumple. Regina said it best, she is a hero for the day. If Zelena slipped up again, Regina wouldn’t second guess her instincts to eliminate the wicked witch’s threat.

No matter how terrible Zelena has been, Rebecca Mader has been so much fun to watch. She is a wonderful addition to the cast and I hope we haven't seen the last of her.

What did you think of “Kansas”? Were you surprised by Regina and Rumple’s actions? Do you think Emma is being too hard on Hook? Do you think Zelena may still be alive? What’s the deal with the magic pendant?

Share your thoughts below!

Check out the embedded promo and get excited for next week’s explosive two-hour finale!

The epic ‘Once Upon A Time’ finale airs Sunday, May 11 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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