“Where Blue Birds Fly”
Original Airdate: April 23, 2017
THE LION, THE WITCH, AND A TIN MAN
The episode’s main story takes place many years ago in Oz, with Zelena in the height of her power. The flashback seems out of place at first, but its timing makes sense at the end of the episode. In another hidden tale from the Land of Oz, Zelena was friends with the boy who would eventually become the tin man. As a grown adult, he returns to her Emerald Palace to ask for help in finding him a heart. Without finding the supposedly magical crimson heart, he will turn into a tin man forever.
Like all evildoers, Zelena wants to prove her old friend wrong by defeating the beast that guards the magical heart. While looking through the nearby forest for the object, the pair encounters a ferocious lion. To add some humor to the episode, Zelena turns the lion from brave to cowardly. All we were missing from this party was a brainless scarecrow. After her hard work, Zelena learns that the magic heart actually has to steal someone’s magic in order for it to be useful. Being the wicked witch that she is, Zelena refuses to give up her magic to save her friend, which she feels guilty about to the current timeline.
This missing piece of Zelena’s history doesn’t really add anything to what we already knew about her, but rather confirmed her evilness in Oz. The only thing the flashback adds is the crimson heart, which comes into play at the end of the episode. I guess it also was a moment of reflection for Zelena, who shows that she has gone through a 180-degree character arc. In just one episode, Zelena was able to show her entire character arc for the series, which is an impressive feat... but more on that later.
To take everyone’s minds off of the doom and gloom that is about to go down, Snow plans a day of wedding venue shopping! The big day is approaching quickly (the musical May 7th episode will feature the TV wedding of the year). Like any good mother, Snow interrupts Emma and Hook’s breakfast-with-benefits to start a day of wedding planning. Snow, David, Emma, Hook, and Henry embark on a journey throughout town to find the perfect location fit for a royal wedding.
Like any good father, David isn’t satisfied with any of the locations that Snow thinks would be good. Through a heartfelt conversation about being overprotective, David admits that he wants the final battle to occur prior to the wedding because he doesn’t want the weight of the battle in Emma’s mind on her wedding day. The noble speech rings true for Emma, who feels the same way as her father. It is nice that there is some happiness left in the sea of darkness that has plagued this season. Each of the actors in these scenes was particularly great in this episode, and I saw the most genuine smile from Jennifer Morrison than I have in the past five or six episodes.
MAKING PROBLEMS AND SOLVING THEM
Zelena was the character of the hour, so it’s fitting to end with her present-day arc. Just like in the clips from Oz, Zelena feels that she has to yet again prove herself as the best to Regina after they learn that the Black Fairy is hiding out in the mining tunnels beneath the town. Zelena has been the most unstable and questionable character in the entire show, so it was no surprise that she stormed down into the tunnels to fight the Black Fairy herself. What could possibly go wrong when a crazy character goes to fight the most powerful fairy in the show’s universe?
Zelena walks right into the Black Fairy’s trap, and her magic turns the fairy crystals growing in the tunnels into dark magic. Of course, Regina blames Zelena for what happened and reverts back to her old self by essentially banishing Zelena back to Oz. Regina doesn’t want to deal with her sister anymore, which is more characteristic of the Evil Queen. Surprising us all, Zelena shows Regina up again by not listening, sticking around, and using a crystal to get the crimson heart from Oz. She uses the crimson heart to take away her magic, which reverts the crystals to light magic.
Zelena rarely does anything that doesn’t directly positively impact her own selfish motives, so the sacrifice is a bit shocking. The character has come a long way and really hasn’t been used much in the latter half of this season, so it was good to see her get her due. With big shakeups coming to the show to keep it afloat, it wouldn’t be surprising if Zelena’s time on the show is up, especially since she doesn’t possess magic anymore. At the very least, Zelena’s story has been fully told and has allowed the character to develop to her full potential.