'Once Upon a Time': It's evil vs. wicked in witches' duel to the death

In this "It's Not Easy Being Green" epsiode of "Once Upon a Time," we finally get to see the back story of Zelena, the wicked witch, and as with many fairy-tale creatures, it's tinged with a bit of tragedy.

Left in the neighboring dimension of Oz by her bad mom, Cora, Zelena was picked up by a nice couple -- the woman being a lot nicer than the man. They are a poor couple, but they decide to raise the girl as their own, teaching her to always at least look as if things are OK. Her "father" finds the courage to tell Zelena that she isn't his daughter years later following the death of his wife/her mother-that-she-knows. He goes so far as to call Zelena wicked because she exhibits the ability to channel and use magic. Zelena leaves him to find the only man/being who might accept her, the Wizard of Oz.

Back in Storybrooke, the townspeople have gathered to lay Neal/Baelfire's body to rest. The scene feels a few minutes long as Charming, Emma and even Henry throw dirt on the coffin to commit Neal to the ground. It's a sad, stirring moment that they didn't take too long on and didn't spoil with dialogue or fighting. At the same time, to drive the point home that Zelena is wicked, she asks the imprisoned, grieving Rumpelstiltskin if his son's life was worth it. If he'd have chosen her back in the Enchanted Forest, after she tried to kill Regina with a straight razor, maybe none of this would've been happening. Rumpel chose Regina to enact his big ole curse, leaving Zelena green with envy and rage.


Back to Oz. Zelena finds the wizard, and he shows her the dimension that she came from, and her heretofore unknown little sister, Regina. She's being taught how to use her magical powers by Rumpelstiltskin, and Zelena is suddenly green with eny -- though not literally, yet. She's granted green slippers with the ability to traverse dimensions, and she goes to the Enchanted Forest to be tutored by Rumpelstilskin as well, proving to actually be more powerful than Regina.

Switching gears. The townsfolk have gathered at Granny's to mourn Neal, and Tinkerbell sees the lion tattoo on the arm of Robin Hood. She knows what it means and confronts Regina about finding her true love. Regina can't afford it right now; there are more important things to think about, like the wicked witch Zelena who has just walked right into the diner. Bold! She first tells Regina that they are sisters, which we already knew but they didn't -- and that kind of takes the climactic part out of it. Anyway, she challenges Regina to a duel at sundown -- to the death. No one dares try to jump her, and everyone in the diner seems scared stiff.

Regina decides to find out for herself, and she does through a letter in her vault. She also finds that Zelena is more powerful, or at least Rumpelstiltskin thinks so. She's interrupted by Robin Hood later, coincidentally, who also finds out this information. She actually trusts him with her heart, literally, when she takes it out to protect herself. She decides she'll need to fight this fight.

In the town square, the witches face off. Zelena's display of power is awesome. She tosses Regina around as if it's nothing. Was waiting for a sword slice from Charming, maybe some Tinkerbell/Blue Fairy magical interference, or even a few rounds of ammo from Emma's gun, but I guess they saw it as futile. Zelena even tries to take Regina's heart, but as we know, Regina has removed it. Regina knows that Zelena has bigger plans than just killing her or taking David's courage or taking Snow's baby. Hmm ... a heart, some courage -- seems a brain would be next, right? Oz-adjacent spells ...  love the little touches.

Zelena's plans are now solidified, at least to the viewer, with glimpses of the past and the present. After the botched attempt to take Regina's life in the past, Zelena returns to Oz. While there, she reveals that Walsh, the onetime almost-fiance of Emma Swan, was actually the wizard -- a charlatan, whom the wicked witch exposes by pulling back the curtains on his show. Guess this is way after Dorothy has left? And, no, she doesn't need him, since he's actually powerless, except as a flunky. (Come to think of it, maybe "flunky" comes from the mash-up of "flying" and "monkey. Eh, no time to research.) Anyway, she turns Walsh into her flying monkey to do her bidding. And, as villains tend to do, lays out to Rumpelstiltskin in the present that she doesn't want to destroy things; she wants to reset them, going back in the past to change events in her favor.

Captain Hook offers to talk to Henry about his newly deceased father. Emma lets him do it, and Hook takes Henry out toward the ocean to regale him with tales of him and Neal on the open seas when Neal was a boy. But aren't they the same age? Uhhh ... I'm with Hook at this point. Maybe it's time to tell Henry what's going on. If he freaks out, oh, well. He's among friends and family -- even if he doesn't remember that they are friends and family.

-- Jevon Phillips