Once Upon a Time Goes to “Kansas”—Sorta

Previously on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, the fairy tale show decided to add to its already mixed-up cast of traditional fairy tale stories and Disney cartoons Robin Hood, Dr. Frankenstein (his monster has decided to look for opportunities in other lands), and the glorious green skinned Wicked Witch of the West. You go, Zelena you witch, you. Then the plot got Even More Complicated.

So what’s happened since we last checked in on the show?

Warning: Spoilers follow. Like, actual spoiler spoilery things. Spoilers. We’re all good with this now? Yay! Onwards.

Ok, so, since we last chatted, Zelena, AKA the Wicked Witch of the West continued her Wicked Wicked Ways, going so far as to impersonate Ariel the Cheerful Little Mermaid and trick a confession out of a certain sexy pirate that suggested he was wildly, wildly in love with Emma Swan, which is not particularly difficult since said pirate has been pretty much saying this for months now. Then, in a more mean than wicked way, she cursed Captain Hook’s lips. Zelena, that is, not Emma. I think we can all agree that Emma does not want THOSE lips cursed. Anyway, if—if—those lips ever touched those of Emma Swan’s—cue gasps—Emma would lose All of Her New Magical Powers. Hearing this, several people on Tumblr passed out and died. Things got worse. If—if—those lips never touched those of Emma Swan’s—cue more gasps—Zelena would just kill all of Emma’s family, which seemed like literal overkill, putting our sexy pirate into Quite a Dilemma. Zelena, we need to have a little chat about sexual harassment and why even Seriously Sexy Pirates cannot just rush up to Heroic Saviors and force a kiss on them just to save family members. It’s Wrong, I tell you, Wrong. Though Emma probably wouldn’t have been all that unwilling, because, sexy pirate.

Regina, Snow, Charming, Emma, and Hook then did what every heroic group does in times of need: they summoned the spirit of an Evil Dead Witch (Regina’s mother, Cora) who helpfully explained that Snow White’s mother was a terrible, terrible person and this was All Her Fault. I did what I do every time I watch this show: stopped to wonder why a show supposedly about the joy and love of family keeps saying such terrible, terrible things about parents. And sometimes children. Cora also broke several things, because, ghost.

All of this served to tell us that Zelena needed four things to create a time travel spell: Charming’s courage, Regina’s heart, Rumple’s brain, and Snow and Charming’s baby. I don’t get this. Zelena had access to Magical Shoes that could take her anywhere, so why not Magically Shoe her way to a land that had time travelling machines? Like, say, an H.G. Wells world? Before anyone protests, Dr. Frankenstein is on this show. It’s possible. It’s more than possible. Always go for the efficient way, Wicked Witch!

Also we found out that the most recent curse had been cast by Regina, Snow, and Charming because they thought it would be a good way to let Emma know what was going on.

The lesson here is that this is not a group good at communicating.

Hook, still in a Dilemma, decided to solve said Dilemma by more or less kidnapping Henry, which worked about as well as you might expect except even worse because he was almost immediately attacked by Flying Monkeys, something that puts a damper on even the best planned kidnapping attempts. Team Hero showed up and started blasting away at the Flying Monkeys, apparently forgetting that these monkeys were transformed friends, and Zelena showed up and explained that Hook had been All Evil, which made various people Very Mad, but fortunately young Henry was still Full of Belief and Fairy Tales even after several video games, which meant that after one touch of The Book (you remember The Book, right? The Book from season one that clued Henry into the fact that everyone in town was some sort of fairy tale person?) and a nice moment with Regina, Henry was able to Remember Everything and help temporarily defeat Zelena. It’s best to have your hands free during this show for all the handwaving you’ll be doing.

Aside: A number of people contacted me during and after the episode to express dismay that Our Heroes had so happily killed off various Flying Monkeys, given that, as the show had previously explained, the Flying Monkeys were actually just transformed people of the Enchanted Forest, and thus, friends of Our Heroes. Others were just upset that Our Heroes had killed at all, since in this show the heroes have generally avoided killing the bad guys to the point of being seriously short sighted and stupid about it. But, you know, they are supposed to be the Good Guys, and Good Guys don’t kill.

I completely agree that this was in, to borrow Hook’s phrase, very bad form, and I wish our Good Guys hadn’t done it. That said, I can think of three mitigating factors:

1. It was acknowledged (kinda) in the most recent episode, so at least the showrunners were (kinda) aware of the moral implications.

2. Our Heroes have, for the most part, never spent much time thinking about anyone else in the Enchanted Forest, friends or not friends. It’s all: “We need to go home to the Enchanted Forest and away from hot tubs, lattes, and hamburgers no matter what anyone else thinks! No, scratch that! We need to go back to Maine to deliver a message to Emma and in the process wipe everyone’s memories no matter what anyone else thinks!” So blasting Flying Monkeys, former friends or not, out of the sky is perfectly consistent with this show.

3. Flying Monkeys ARE CREEPY, guys, like TOTALLY CREEPY to the point where years later they can give you nightmares where you are desperately trying and failing to save cute little puppies from their horrible wings.

So, to sum up, I didn’t like this part, but I can deal with it.

Also, Regina and Robin Hood officially Fell In Love. Try not to think about this too much.

So now that we’re all caught up, how’d this episode go?

1. Snow White gave birth! To an Adorably Cute Little Baby, not to, as you might have thought, a dragon. With Dr. Frankenstein as her obstetrician! Yes, the same guy she once had a one night stand with! Try not to think about any of this too much.

Also, Charming brought a sword to the birth. Show, it’s time for us to have another little talk. Appropriate things to bring to childbirth include cute little baby blankets and teddy bears and a willingness to agree with the mother that OWWW THIS HURTS and this baby should have been born already OWWW. Swords, not so much. Let’s keep this in mind for the next baby, shall we?

2. Emma did CPR on Hook even though CHEST COMPRESSIONS would have worked just fine, show, but that was enough to rob her of ALL OF HER POWER.

3. Zelena, a lot more enthusiastic about cute babies than you would have guessed from her behavior so far in the show, strolled into the hospital, knocked everyone out, knocked Dr. Frankenstein into a couch, and stole the baby. This was, I have to say, kinda awesome. She then set up a nice time travel spell using Charming’s courage, Regina’s heart, Rumple’s brain (which, I was amused to note, was represented by a very lightweight prop), and the Adorable Baby.

4. With Emma the Savior powerless, All Seemed Lost. Luckily, Henry was able to remind Regina that she’s now All Good, or at least Good Enough to Work Good Magic. If you are wondering how this works, it means that you shoot white light out of your hands instead of red or green light. Thanks for clearing that up, Special Effects Department.

5. Meanwhile, back in Flashback Oz, Glinda the Good showed up to congratulate Zelena on turning the Wizard of Oz into a flying monkey! This incident apparently convinced Glinda that Zelena’s Rightful Destiny was to take over the West and Be Good, which, since turning people, good or bad, into Flying Monkeys does not seem to be a particularly Good Thing To Do, seems like quite a logical leap, but whatever.

Glinda’s lack of logic got a bit of a boost here from Glinda’s Great Book of Records, a tidbit from the later Oz books that L. Frank Baum had always used as a convenient way to let his characters know stuff they would ordinarily have no way of knowing. Once Upon a Time took this concept and leapt over tall buildings with it: this Book of Records doesn’t just tell the past and present but also prophesizes the future. If you are thinking that given the show’s history with prophecies, this is going to go badly, you’re right. If you are thinking that this means that the show would give us more tidbits from the Oz books, you’re wrong. Alas.

In any case, Zelena was so desperate to be valued by anybody that she eagerly agreed to become the Fourth Witch of Oz and take over the West, which also meant that we finally got to meet the Good Witches of the East and North, who, like their counterparts in the books, didn’t actually get to say much. Alas, shortly after this, yet another girl arrived in Oz by surprise cyclone (I really feel Oz needs to work on its weather forecasts in general) a girl clad in a very familiar blue gingham dress.

Pause: a number of people have protested that the Wicked Witch of the East was not, in this show, Wicked, but Good. In the show, this was mostly to allow the Four Witches to represent good things that paralleled the courage, heart, brains, and innocence from the first book and the movie, but it also served as a nice nod to Oz history, where the East and West were originally ruled by Good Witches who were later overthrown by Bad Witches. So I’m actually good with this. I am considerably less good with the idea that either the Wizard of Oz or Zelena really represents Oz’s worst ever threat, because to my mind, this is either Mombi, the Nome King, or, for those of you who read my Oz posts, Ozma Fail, all three of whom/which made multiple appearances in the Oz books.

In any case, because both Dorothy and the Good Witch of the East are Good, the fall of Dorothy’s house does not, in this case, kill anyone, which is very nice. It does, however, freak out Zelena, who becomes convinced, with even less evidence than Glinda, that Dorothy, not Zelena, is actually the Destined Savior of Oz, which means that Zelena has to get rid of Dorothy, like, immediately. With fire. Which leads to Dorothy throwing water all over Zelena, which taught us one very important lesson: nobody except for Margaret Hamilton should ever be allowed to say the “I’M MELTING” line again.

However, as it turned out, Zelena hadn’t actually melted so much as played an elaborate trick to get Dorothy to go back home, which, like, THANKS Zelena, who is going to be able to save Oz NOW? Given Oz’s history of invasions from both inside and outside Oz, this is a very important question, one I’d be more worried about if I didn’t feel pretty certain that Dorothy will make it back to Oz someday.

And since Rumplestiltskin killed Zelena a few minutes afterwards, that may be all that we get to see of Oz on this show—maybe. After all, the finale is still called “There’s No Place Like Home,” which leaves with some hope that we might get one more taste of Oz before the show heads elsewhere, to a place that ABC’s publicity department, at least, is very excited about. (Or they are all drinking WAY too much caffeine. You decide.)

I hope so. I am, of course, very biased, but I genuinely do think that this show, for all the fun it’s had with the Emerald City, the Wizard of Oz, glimpses of Yellow Brick Roads, nods to the four witches of the land of Oz, Miss Almira Gulch’s house in Maine and Dorothy’s kinda crumpled house in Oz; and nods to the book and film, never really given itself the chance to explore Oz, and I’d love to see what else they could do here.

Which is not to say I don’t have my problems with what they’ve given us so far: apart from the issue of the biology of the Flying Monkeys, I’m not thrilled to see the kindly and ELDERLY Good Witch of the North reduced to a pretty girl with only a couple of lines and no plot role, even if this matches the way she’s been treated in most film adaptations; I’m equally unthrilled to see the intelligent, wise, powerful, always pragmatic, and above all, cautious Glinda reduced to this naïve, easily tricked, and somewhat useless role; and I wish that the show had included other Oz characters—any other Oz characters. But despite these complaints, I’m greedy. I want more.

In other bits, Rumplestiltskin and Belle are mostly engaged only NOT REALLY since Rumple only proposed to Belle to trick her and get his Evil Dagger back; Dr. Frankenstein was slammed into a couch right after delivering a baby which was unintentionally hilarious; Archie Hopper popped up to remind us that he’s still in the show; Zelena’s evil power appears to have been turned into a Smoke Monster, and Emma wants to go back to New York City not, as you’d think, for the food, the nightlife or the museums, but because New York City is safe and fairy tale things don’t happen there which is like, EMMA, DO YOU NOT REMEMBER A MAN TURNING INTO A FLYING MONKEY RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU WHILE YOU WERE IN NEW YORK? Not to mention the memory potion you sipped. Geesh. We should give you a lot more of that.


A few people have claimed that Mari Ness might be just a touch—a touch—obsessed with Oz. When not thinking of ways to get to the Emerald City, she lives in central Florida.

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