Stealing Brains, Courage and a Heart: Once Upon a Time and the Wicked Witch

Previously, on Once Upon a Time, things—and by things I mean the plot—were incredibly messed up and pretty much impossible to summarize, and then the Wicked Witch of the West appeared and things got more confusing. Fortunately, a hot pirate sauntered around to give us something to swoon over.

So what’s happened since we last chatted about it?

I did mention spoilers, right?


Also, spoilers.

As it turns out, the Wicked Witch lives in the house of Miss Almira Gulch! Which has somehow been transported from Kansas to Maine! Possibly via tornado, though I was unable to contact any authorities from the National Weather Service to verify this theory. In a particularly nice touch, her bicycle—complete with a basket presumably not concealing a small adorable dog—is leaning against the wall. Also, a storm shelter came right along with the house only instead of being used for the traditional purposes of hiding from tornadoes (or, I guess, in this case, clouds of boiling evil curses) it’s being used for the rather more unconventional purposes of locking up prisoners and giving them kinda erotic razor shaves in order to break into their magically locked safes, thus revealing the massive, great, and frankly kinda unbelievable weakness in blood magic: to break it, all you have to do is capture the person who cast it and steal a bit of blood. Surely someone in the Enchanted Forest should have worked out this little flaw ages ago and found some spell to counteract it?

Rapunzel showed up and was remarkably, impossibly, boring. Also it was kinda unclear what exactly had happened to her hair to make it grow like that which is kinda the last thing you want from a Rapunzel story.

Neal (you remember: Emma’s ex who just happened to leave her in a jail because he took advice from, no kidding, Pinocchio, who just happened to be the son of Rumplestiltskin, who just happened to be the son of Peter Pan—look, I told you I wasn’t going to explain this) died. This managed to be sad and kinda boring all at once (though it was very nice of the Evil Spell to give Neal enough time to let Emma and Rumplestiltskin say goodbye) so we won’t linger on it.

Everyone in Storybrooke continued to believe that the best way to parent, adoptive parent, and grandparent was just to lie like mad to a 13 year-old. Who granted might not have believed them right off the bat, but when people are casually walking around spinning balls of fire in their hands and damaging perfectly innocent Mazda Miatas, you either have to believe in magic, or in a really dedicated special effects/stunt fighting crew.

Rumplestiltskin almost got away. And then, didn’t. That was actually sadder than Neal’s death.

Snow White was told that the Wicked Witch of the West was threatening everyone in Storybrooke, and promptly welcomed into her home a woman wearing a huge green emerald and a Witch’s Hat. Cracks of heads falling onto the nearest tray or coffee table or brick wall were heard across the land.

And now that we’re all caught up, this week on “It’s Not Easy Being Green”:

Despite the title of the episode, Kermit the Frog did not make a single appearance. There was much mourning, at least in this household.

On the other hand, we got to go to Oz! And… it looked rather like Maine at first, much to my disappointment. Show! Oz is a colorful land full of magical things! Work with me here! Anyway, Oz did, as it turned out, have a Yellow Brick Road, and also a cute little Zelena baby all wrapped in a blanket looking so adorable that any parents should have fallen completely in love, only, this being Once Upon a Time, where absolutely no one is allowed to live a life without some sort of Major Family Trauma or Evil or Missing Parent, poor little cute Zelena grows up only to lose her mother and get a father who, learning nothing from the Kents in Kansas, announces that he hates her guts because she’s all magical and stuff. This seems terribly impractical, given that she can also heal and fix things, like, immediately. Also, not at all Oz-like, where people in general love magical stuff as long as it’s useful, and where magic is not exactly unusual. In any case, a tearful Zelena marches up to the Emerald City because the Wizard of Oz can do anything.

(If you are wondering, yes, this is a change in the timeline from the Oz books, which had the Wizard of Oz arrive from the United States only after the Wicked Witches had overthrown the Good Witches of the East and the West. However, Baum later more or less tossed this timeline out the window as well, instead suggesting that the Wicked Witches had seized power only after the Evil Witch Mombi had stolen the infant Ozma, daughter of the king of Oz and thus rightful ruler of Oz, away from the Emerald City upon the instructions of the Wizard of Oz. And he later tossed that timeline out the window by more or less airily announcing that Ozma had been the rightful and only ruler of Oz, installed there by the fairy Lurline. The later Royal Historians researched these inconsistencies in some depth but were unable to arrive at any scholarly consensus, so, to sum up, I think the Once Upon a Time writers are on solid ground here.)

We saw the Emerald City! Green! Glowing! And surprisingly empty! Not only is it not easy being green, it’s not easy hiring green extras! Other than that, it looked great, and was one of my favorite bits from the episode.

We saw the Silver Shoes, which looked Quite Fetching, if I do say so myself. (I checked, and in this case, yes, they do seem to have been loosely inspired by the original Denslow illustrations. Denslow also seems to have been the main inspiration for the Emerald City scenes.)

We found out that Zelena has stolen Rumple’s brain, Charming’s courage (not that anyone can tell), and is now after Regina’s heart, which is totally in the wrong order, but that’s kinda the least of Zelena’s problems here, so we’ll ignore that. Also, Zelena was blown to Oz by a tornado, which makes her Dorothy, which reminds us yes, again, that the real plot of the Wizard of Oz is how a young woman kills an old woman and teams up with three strangers to kill again, thank you internet for that enduring joke.

We found out who the Flying Monkey is! It’s—the Wizard of Oz! Who is an American circus magician, just like in the books! (The reveal was quite well done.)

(This, if you were wondering, is absolutely nothing like the books, who were Flying Monkeys well before the Wicked Witch ever captured the Golden Cap that allowed her to control them, but the idea that the terror of Flying Monkeys originally came from a poster for a carnival side show is so amusing I shall reduce my ranting about this point.)

We found out why Zelena is green! It’s because of envy! Which turns you green.

Show, it’s time for us to have another little talk. I checked, and as it turned out, according to highly trained medical professionals on the internet, and people playing highly trained medical professionals on the internet, the known causes of green skin are:

  • Jewelry, especially poorly made jewelry
  • A specific type of anemia requiring immediate medical attention, now rare
  • Coloring your skin with magic markers even if your mother specifically told you not to do that
  • Tattoos
  • Getting too close to gamma radiation or alternatively getting a blood transfusion from the Incredible Hulk (this one is on Google and everything, so it’s very scientific)

I grant that Zelena, as a well trained witch, would not be caught dead with poorly made jewelry, and as a well trained witch she has presumably learned the very latest in medical nutrition and how to ensure that she has plenty of iron in her blood to guard against fairies. However, as a witch, I have to believe that she has access to magic markers, because if you look at the term for them, it specifically says that they are “magic.” And if not, if I were you, show, I’d look very very hard to see if any bits of the Enchanted Forest are currently contaminated with gamma radiation, since that seems more likely than getting turned green with a cliché.

In other, less Ozzy bits, the pirate took Henry out for some stargazing and camping chat, which seems a waste of sexy pirating; Regina handed Robin Hood her heart—no, her actual heart, without even sanitizing the thing first, like, I totally take back everything I just said about witches’ training including medical and nutritional information so Zelena probably is dying of anemia; Regina said something mean to Granny and will probably never get decent coffee there again; Zelena sent Regina flying through a clock window; and a completely innocent Mazda Miata got all smushed.

What’s up next? Well, apparently some piratey stuff, and then at least one episode called “Kansas,” which sounds sorta hopeful. Maybe, maybe, we’ll be able to click our feet to Oz at least a few more times.


Mari Ness has been accused of being just slightly obsessed with Oz.


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