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ONCE UPON A TIME “Where Bluebirds Fly” Review

By on April 24, 2017

ONCE UPON A TIME - "Where Bluebirds Fly" (ABC/Jack Rowand) LANA PARRILLA

By Meredith Loftus

The Wicked Witch Pays a Heavy Price in “Where Bluebirds Fly”

In Sunday’s installment of the fantasy series, the Black Fairy tries to create an alliance with our favorite wicked witch, Zelena. After she sees the Black Fairy holding Baby Robyn, Zelena goes into full attack mode, ready to take her on alone. Regina tries to stop her, but the two Mills sisters fall into the Black Fairy’s trap, using Zelena’s unstable magic to turn the light magic crystals dark. Meanwhile in Storybrooke, the newly engaged couple begin wedding planning with Snow and Charming, who have their own opinions on what venue is worthy of their princess’ big day. With the final battle looming over the Savior, Emma tells her parents to hold off picking a venue until the Black Fairy is taken care of and the moment is right. Regina gives her half-sister one of the dark crystals to create a portal back to Oz. Zelena chooses to stay and make a huge sacrifice to help the heroes defeat the Black Fairy: she drains herself of her magic using the crimson heart she found in Oz years ago. Without her magic, she helps Emma, Regina, and Belle revive the Blue Fairy to gain information from her regarding her former colleague, the Black Fairy. Look out: this Savior is not going down without a fight.

Wicked Always Wins

Once upon a time, about three seasons ago, audiences were introduced to the deliciously wicked witch of Oz, Zelena. A formidable villain, she was a force to be reckoned with going up against our heroes, keeping them on their toes while she gathered her ingredients to make a time travel spell. She was eventually defeated, but she became such a fan favorite, she was brought back to throw a wrench in Regina’s happily ever after. Villains come and go, but Zelena to this day has lived up her personal motto:  wicked always wins. 

However, under her green exterior, Zelena is a woman just seeking affirmation and approval from her family after being rejected as a baby. The family that took her in as a child did not nurture with that love and she spent many years seeking revenge against her sister who believed had a better life. Zelena is constantly trying to prove to the world (and if she’s honest, herself) that she is deserving of love. However, how she responds to her own fear of loneliness pushes people away. For instance, in the flashback in Oz, Zelena befriends Stannum while still an adolescent after using her magic to save an unborn bluebird. Years later, he seeks her help in finding the crimson heart before he is fully turned into tin. Zelena agrees to go in order to disprove his claim that she is lonely and prove to herself how powerful she is. During their journey, he calls her out her futile attempt to invest in a person who clearly did not care for her. (It’s fascinating the lengths we can go to prove ourselves instead of seeing the value we carry just as we are, and likewise exhausting spending our days seeking the approval of others in order to feel complete.) They find the crimson heart, but the heart has the ability to drain a person of their magic, which is not a price Zelena is willing to pay; so Stannum, a man who tried to be a friend to her, was turned to tin and left there while Zelena held on to her magic.

In Storybrooke, the same beats play out: Zelena goes off to face the Black Fairy alone to prove that she is more powerful than everyone else in town. Only this time, the Black Fairy uses that to her advantage, using her magic, something unstable and precious to Zelena, to gain the upper hand. This strikes a blow to Zelena’s confidence, and frustrated with her sister, Regina suggests that Zelena leave Storybrooke and go back to Oz. Maybe it would be easier to run rather than face the cold reality; except, she does.

After years of attempting to be the best, Zelena finally comes to the realization that she makes herself strong. She will never have the unconditional acceptance from her sister or even her daughter. Gaining that will not fill the hole in her heart. She calls out her fear for what it is and chooses to do something about it. Zelena confesses to Regina, and the rest of the heroes, that Storybrooke is all she has left and that can be enough for the chance of a real family. It doesn’t stop there for the Wicked Witch of the West. Zelena willfully gives up what she couldn’t all those years ago:  her magic. She believed for years that her power made her special; however, she makes herself special, magic need not apply. Zelena gives up the thing that she loves most to give Emma a fighting chance against the Black Fairy. The lack of magic may leave her physically feeling weaker, but nothing shows more strength than cleaving yourself from your vices. Zelena gives her magic to be a part of something even more magical, which are family and community. This is her happy ending. Heroism has never looked this wicked, and we love it.

Salvaging Sisterhood

To say Regina and Zelena have a complicated relationship is quite the understatement. These half-sisters have been at odds long before they ever really met. It really begins to get messy after Zelena gets pregnant by Robin Hood. Even when they are on the same side for once, a moment does not go by without some bickering. This season in particular, Regina mourned Robin’s death by pushing Zelena away and blaming her for his death. As a gut response, yes, this is understandable. Yet Regina makes no effort to restore that relationship with her, let alone try to empathize with what Zelena went through in losing Robin. Remember, she was in love with Hades, and she helped kill him after he ended Robin’s existence. She had her own mourning to go through. Plus, Regina offered no help in taking care of her niece, Baby Robyn. Zelena may be guilty for acting impulsively and falling straight the Black Fairy’s trap, but blame can be placed on Regina for not stepping up to be a real sister and friend to Zelena.

Sometimes, it takes a little to give a little. For Regina, Zelena owns up to her mistakes and admits that Regina is all she has left; she desperately needs a friend. For Zelena, Regina promises to care for Robyn should the worst happen, stands by her side as she gives up her magic, and affirms her strength after doing what most people with magic can’t do, which is to give it up. Not since their tearful goodbye to Cora in the Underworld do we believe that finally these two can be each other’s family. It would appear that each of their individual happy endings is to love and accept themselves entirely. P

erhaps the final piece to their happy endings is forgiveness and family that they can find with each other. 

Worth Mentioning

  • While there were some great one-liners, there is one word that stands above them in this episode: PANCAKES. Need I say more?
  • Daddy Charming was in overdrive, shooting down each venue Snow would suggest for Emma’s big day. He just wants his daughter to have her perfect wedding day, free from any interruptions or unpleasant fates hanging over everyone’s head. Emma in her thirties will always be daddy’s little girl, and our hearts will continue to melt over precious moments like that. On a side note, since we know the musical wedding episode is in two weeks, this whole “waiting until the final battle is over” plan is about to fall apart.
  • After Charming convincing Henry to take a break from researching symbols, Henry joins his grandpa to help him find a wedding venue for his mom. As they leave the loft, Charming stares at the symbols for moment. Does anyone else get the impression that Charming either a) has seen these before or b) knows exactly what they mean? 
  • Fun fact:  Stannum is Latin for “tin.” Were his parents setting him up for his fate or is that how the Wicked Witch of the North decided how she would punish him? Either way, this was a unique origin story of the Tin Man. 
  • When is Snow and Charming going to take Baby Neal to get fitted for a tiny tux?
  •  Black Fairy got so mad when she found out that Blue Fairy is waking up because Blue holds the key to the Black Fairy’s story and the truth about why she gave Rumple up. While I’m itching to unpack that story, I’m more looking forward to Blue and the Black Fairy’s history. Look out, Oncers:  Shady Blue is back!

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