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S05.E16: Our Decay

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I also felt that the episode was meant to create instant Zelena sympathy so they can justify her redemption because the character wasn't meant to be good/sympathetic before. Personally, I prefer characters who can grow on me. She was brought in as a villain and I find it very hard to all of a sudden care for her and her redemption and this episode didn't make it any easier

I've been semi-sympathetic toward Zelena through 5A because she was taken advantage of by Regina and brought up some good points. I agree that this episode totally reversed the character quickly in order to facilitate a new redemption arc. She has never been a full character until now. Before, all A&E were interested in were cackling and monologues. Now, since their story demanded it, they were forced to give her personality. 

 

Whenever there's character development on the show, it's because the plot just so happens to require it.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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-the Blind Witch is a gift. Can we somehow keep her forever? At this point I think I'd be willing to trade Granny for her.

Isn't she delightful? The delivery of her lines is just perfect. Also, look at the menu on the wall over her head. The Charmings aren't just being bland heroes in ordering dry toast and plain oatmeal. That's what's on the menu. The menu is a list of bland, boring foods, with the one odd exception of "peppers."

 

-this show is so morally twisted that I was getting angry at Belle for snatching Pistachio away from Zelena in the beginning.

Yeah, the treatment of Zelena is making me kind of sympathize with her. Look how many people Regina murdered, and she nearly murdered Henry, and yet no one has any qualms about her getting to keep Henry, and she didn't even give birth to him. Regina has no room to decide that Zelena's not allowed to have her baby, and Belle's certainly not on the list of people who get any say whatsoever in who has custody of Pistachio. Robin pretty much lost all right to dictate that Zelena wasn't allowed to go near her when he abandoned his newborn to traipse off into the Underworld because that's where his girlfriend was going/he wanted to be a hero. Like her or not, Zelena is the child's mother, she's probably got some serious postnatal hormones raging and she needs to be with her child, and whatever else she may have done, she hadn't harmed the child. Even prisoners who give birth are allowed access to their infants. Shut up, Belle.

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Isn't she delightful? The delivery of her lines is just perfect. Also, look at the menu on the wall over her head. The Charmings aren't just being bland heroes in ordering dry toast and plain oatmeal. That's what's on the menu. The menu is a list of bland, boring foods, with the one odd exception of "peppers."

 

The actress, Emma Caulfield, is a Buffy alumn. She's top of my "why doesn't she get more ongoing roles?" list. Because I always thought she was amazing. Her performance in Buffy was exceptional.

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I loved her on Buffy as well.  Her role on this show is practically on the level of an extra, which is really disappointing.  I want a full-out flashback story for the Blind Witch.  

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I thought you said postnasal and I was trying to figure out if Zelena has an allergy problem.

That works, too. Ragweed season makes me pretty wicked. It's a good thing I don't have magical powers in September.

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I know they needed lots of time for conversations between Regina/Zelena/Robin, but what was the reasoning for trekking through the forest to find the baby?  Belle had the baby, so why would she immediately go into the forest?  If Robin was tracking Belle's footprints, then he was way off, since she went to Main Street first.  Why didn't Regina just apparate them to the most likely places such as the Library, Gold's shop, etc.?  How did Belle happen to stumble upon that exact same spot?  

If Hades had eyes and ears everywhere, why would it take so long to find Zelena?  

I also asked this in Unanswered Questions, but where did Scarecrow's brain go in 3B?  

For me, the C plot with the haunting booth and Henry writing their story was the most interesting and amusing part of this episode.

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I will confess that I didn't pay much attention to this episode while I was rewatching. I'm finding that I always seem to zone out on episode two when I'm rewatching if I do two back to back. I may have to start spacing them out more.

The whole "I created Underbrooke to look like Storybrooke for you because I know you wanted to cast the curse" has to be the least convincing explanation. It's beyond a hand wave on the part of the writers. For one thing, Zelena didn't care about Storybrooke. She didn't even know that Storybrooke would be created by the curse (Regina didn't know, even when she'd actually cast the curse). What Zelena wanted was to be chosen over Regina. She hated Storybrooke once she got there. For another thing, you have to wonder what the Underworld was like before Hades met Zelena and what all those people who'd never been to Storybrooke thought about the change (that might actually have made a fun episode). Milah and Liam and all those sailors had been there for centuries, so were they going along in an Underworld that looked more like their world, and then suddenly this place turned into a small town in Maine, with cars and diners and a phone booth? Was Hades hoping Zelena would pop in for a visit from the living world and be impressed, or was he waiting for her to die and be impressed?

And what's the jurisdiction of this Underworld, anyway? It has people from various places who died in Storybrooke and people who died in the Enchanted Forest world.

Spoiler

And, later, someone who died in Fictional Kansas World.

But it doesn't seem to have anyone from our world outside Storybrooke. So, is it just the Underworld for the Enchanted Forest world, with Storybrooke counting as a bubble of that world? But how can a small town in Maine hold all the souls from at least a couple of centuries? Liam made it sound like no one had been able to move on since around the time Hades made his deal with him.

Spoiler

It's really odd that we never actually see Hades' backstory with Zeus that set this whole thing off. I'm normally so-so on the sad villain backstory, but we really needed some kind of explanation or background to understand what was going on, and this is the one arc where we never get any origin story. We see what Hades does as a result, but not what set it all off.

Robin spouting off about wanting to be a hero sounds even lamer than Henry. He's an adult talking like a little kid. I bet his children would far rather actually have their father around than have him setting an example of trying to be a hero. It's rather tacky that they sent away Zelena to keep her away from the baby, and then he immediately ditched his newborn to go play hero. The baby needs parental bonding time, not an "example." Meanwhile, I guess Roland is getting actual parenting from Little John.

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56 minutes ago, Shanna Marie said:
Spoiler

It's really odd that we never actually see Hades' backstory with Zeus that set this whole thing off. I'm normally so-so on the sad villain backstory, but we really needed some kind of explanation or background to understand what was going on, and this is the one arc where we never get any origin story. We see what Hades does as a result, but not what set it all off.

It doesn't help that his backstory with Zelena isn't all that convincing. It's not that I mind having a Persephone insert, but it's retcon-y and their romance is, well, not that romantic. Cora and Rumple were so much better as a villain power couple. (Heck, even James and Cruella were.) The writers could've taken some obscure female character and done the same sort of thing. (Granny had a Tinder date with Hades?? Scandalous!!)

It doesn't really affect Zelena's character all that much.

Spoiler

Although, I can appreciate the tragedy when Zelena has to kill her own evil boyfriend. The problem with that was it was forgotten about in S6 and it was all about Robin dying. Nobody cared that Zelena had to sacrifice someone too.

1 hour ago, Shanna Marie said:

Robin spouting off about wanting to be a hero sounds even lamer than Henry. He's an adult talking like a little kid.

I really hate the whole "I'm putting myself in danger to be a good example to my kids" trope. It's in here, in Captain Marvel, and a bunch of other media. Sure my child will be orphaned, but at least they know I'm a hero for dying pointlessly, right?

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21 minutes ago, KingOfHearts said:

I really hate the whole "I'm putting myself in danger to be a good example to my kids" trope. It's in here, in Captain Marvel, and a bunch of other media. Sure my child will be orphaned, but at least they know I'm a hero for dying pointlessly, right?

It's one thing when there's a motivation beyond just showing your kids that you're a hero, if it's about a cause you'd want your kids to stand up for and support or if doing this thing is essential for creating the kind of world you want your kids to grow up in. So, going out there to fight the evil villain trying to take over the world, standing up for civil rights, or saving innocent people could all be valid things to put yourself in danger for rather than staying home with your kids. But with Robin, he's playing no role at all in rescuing Hook, so he's not at all essential to the mission. Hook isn't a close friend. Robin owes nothing to Hook. He had nothing to do with what happened to Hook. He's not even close to Emma. Hook would be the first person to tell Robin that he should be with his children and that he doesn't expect him to go to the Underworld for him. Robin is strictly going on this mission so he can be called a hero (and because he's a regular character and the writers didn't know what to do with him once they brought him back). If I'm feeling uncharitable, I'd say that Robin is there because he'd rather be with Regina than with his children.

Spoiler

Though I guess there's some irony in Robin being part of the mission to help save another version of his daughter's future father-in-law.

33 minutes ago, KingOfHearts said:

It's not that I mind having a Persephone insert, but it's retcon-y and their romance is, well, not that romantic.

I guess this particular episode is the Persephone story, the part with the abduction, since he kidnaps her from the world above (though I think he was just going for the baby and getting Zelena was an accident). Otherwise, it's a very loose connection. It doesn't help that I'm still not entirely sure how genuine Hades's feelings for Zelena really are and how much he's setting her up to help him free himself. I think the "romance" would be a lot more convincing without the ulterior motive. As it is, it looks mostly like a lot of scheming to get her to TLK him so he can be free. You'd think that the prospect of a True Love's Kiss would require actual feelings on his part, but they've already weakened that concept to the point you could believe that what he truly loves is the fact that she can free him, and that could still work.

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This episode really makes you want to swoon.  That bike ride was just so romantic, I mean, seriously, who hasn't dreamed about dating the God of the Underworld or the Wicked Witch.  It's clearly one of the most epic romances in TV history, much less this show.  

5 hours ago, KingOfHearts said:

It doesn't really affect Zelena's character all that much.

That is so true. 

Spoiler

It's yet another one of those arcs that you could have skipped entirely and you wouldn't need to know this romance ever happened.  It didn't contribute to Zelena's personal backstory at all, or give any insight into her character.

These Writers' system of brainstorming seems to be to inorganically force characters into the plot.  They wanted to bring back Zelena and so they found a reason to squeeze her in.  They could have cut out all the Zelena stuff and replaced it with Hades' backstory solely involving the other Greek gods and other characters from Greek myth, and the whole subplot might have made more sense.  Heck, they could have tied Greek mythology in with the Dark One/holy grail stuff from 5A.  Maybe Hades could have escaped from the Underworld if he got his hands on the Dagger and siphoned the powers of the Dark Ones and thus his interest in Hook and Rumple, etc.  

I wonder how many Greek myths the Writers read before coming up with 5B.

Hercules leaving and not doing a thing to help his "friends" in the Underworld in 5B reminded me of Ursula learning her lesson but then disappearing and not doing anything to make up for being part of the Queens of Darkness in 4B.  They want you to be moved, but doesn't follow through with what those characters would do afterwards following their one-off epiphanies.

Edited by Camera One
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14 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

Robin spouting off about wanting to be a hero sounds even lamer than Henry. He's an adult talking like a little kid. I bet his children would far rather actually have their father around than have him setting an example of trying to be a hero

This show has a real problem with its use of hero. I think the only time where an adult talked about wanting to be a hero and it was okay was when Emma did it in Season 1. She wasn't looking for glory, wasn't putting herself in danger (that she knew about anyway) and was genuinely trying to show that good could win by playing fair. All she wanted to do was win the Sheriff's election to set a positive example for Henry. The use of hero in that case was not as literal as it's become as the series goes on.

Wanting to be a Hero is a time honored trope in so many stories, but most address the issues that come from it and usually ask the wannabe hero why they are looking to be that hero. Why are they risking life and limb in their pursuit of heroism? Robin is a moron here because he claims he wants to set an example for children that will never know what he was doing. He's not even capable of articulating why he is needed. There are plenty of better qualified people in the Underworld who can fight Hades. Sometimes it's more heroic to sit back and provide aid while others fight even though that is often a thankless task with no glory.

Henry's quest for the pen to "fix" his mother and be a hero is equally dumb. I really desperately want an adult to sit him down and explain a few home truths about his glory seeking. Emma is probably the most qualified for this role since she's never been all that keen on being forced into the role of hero. At least with Henry, he is the Author and could conceivably provide aid to the people stuck in the Underworld that no one else is able to provide.

Edited by KAOS Agent
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19 hours ago, KAOS Agent said:

Wanting to be a Hero is a time honored trope in so many stories, but most address the issues that come from it and usually ask the wannabe hero why they are looking to be that hero.

And usually the person wanting to be a hero is shown to be naive and gets all that idealism knocked out of him. Often, his desire for heroics gets someone else hurt or killed. He has to learn to do the right thing whether or not he gets any credit for it or to be safe and sane instead of rushing into something for the glory. If someone expresses the desire to be a hero, someone older and wiser will tell him that's the wrong goal.

I wouldn't mind Henry talking about wanting to be a hero because he's a kid, if only the adults who heard him talking that way told him what was wrong with that kind of thinking. Robin talking that way just sounds stupid. You'd think he'd know better by now, but he talks like Henry, or worse, since Henry doesn't have young children relying on him.

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I only watched the scene with Robin, Regina and Zelena in the woods and when they found Belle, and maybe it's because it's out of context but I was struck but how unlikeable all these characters were. and how little I cared about all of them.  Considering Robin Hood has been on the show since 3B, it would make sense that he would want to come along to help his friends except they're not his friends.  In 2 seasons, Robin Hood and the other characters are practically strangers.  His whole "set an example" for his children explanation was ridiculous.  Then, you have Zelena making "snarky" remarks about how Robin probably named the baby Marian.  Excuse me for not laughing at Marian's murderer and the rapist of her husband.  Are we supposed to want Robin to let Zelena feed the baby?  Regina was finally treating Zelena with more respect now, which was nice to see, I guess.  

Edited by Camera One
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I forgot that the baby was as yet unnamed. Pistachio was still the best option. What kind of father is this guy that he ditches his newborn baby to go to hell for no real reason and doesn't even bother to give her a name before he leaves? Now he's going to take said newborn out into the woods because it's safer there alone without the support of all the magical people and the all powerful Hades would never find him there. Come on, writers. You can do better than that to write out a character you can't figure out what to do with.

Who wrote this dreck? It seems Tze Chun takes split credit for this one. He also wrote "Heart of Gold" featuring Robin the idiot. Remember this lovely gem? "When you steal for yourself, that makes you a thief. But when you steal for someone else, that makes you a hero." Now I kind of want Robin and Henry to have a hero talk. It would be fascinating to see what kind of idiocy would come of it.

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4 hours ago, KAOS Agent said:

Now he's going to take said newborn out into the woods because it's safer there alone without the support of all the magical people and the all powerful Hades would never find him there. Come on, writers. You can do better than that to write out a character you can't figure out what to do with.

Spoiler

Especially considering that this is Robin Hood's farewell tour and he was going to be killed off soon.  But he pretty much goes MIA to the forest, which weakens the premise that Hades is so scary and the Underworld is such a dangerous place.

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10 hours ago, Camera One said:

Then, you have Zelena making "snarky" remarks about how Robin probably named the baby Marian.  Excuse me for not laughing at Marian's murderer and the rapist of her husband.  Are we supposed to want Robin to let Zelena feed the baby?  Regina was finally treating Zelena with more respect now, which was nice to see, I guess.  

These writers were so tone deaf. If you're going to make a joke about this show's obsession with naming babies after dead people, don't make it come out of the mouth of one of Marian's murderers. 

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Am I the only one who thinks that not naming your baby until you "get to know her" is kind of stupid? I mean...shes a baby, how well can you get to know the intricacies of her personality? Yeah babies do have personalities, but enough to figure out a name? And what does that even mean anyway? Certain names fit certain people? And what do they call her now? baby?

This episode continues in the grand Once tradition of having its main character be a total monster and murder and torture random innocent people, while asking us to feel sorry for them because people dont like or trust them, just because they keep killing people. Like, maybe dont bring up Marian and how she gleefully murdered a woman and raped her husband. Just because he dosent care doesent mean I dont! And she even makes "snarky" comments about it, so hilarious! Cora's daughter are the most hilarious murderous tyrannically rapists ever!  And who cares that she lobotomized the Scarcrow, her mom left her! Feel sorry for her!

Of course, I do actually feel a bit bad for her considering the people being snippy to her about how much she sucks are Belle (Dark One cheerleader), Robin (happily couples with a mass murderer who killed his wife one) and Regina (actual mass murdering rapist), so it comes across as just a might hypocritical. 

On 5/26/2019 at 7:46 PM, Shanna Marie said:

I wouldn't mind Henry talking about wanting to be a hero because he's a kid, if only the adults who heard him talking that way told him what was wrong with that kind of thinking.

Someone needs to talk to him about what a "hero" actually is, and what it really means. Granted, its hard to tell who would talk to him, as this shows morality are so warped, but maybe Hook or Emma could handle it. Of course embarrassingly 

Spoiler

He is still whining about going off to be "a hero" and looking for quests instead of actually doing anything worthwhile with his time like a glory seeking five year old when he is a grown ass man. So much that Hook had to get his pirate buddies to LARP around with Henry on a fake heroes quest just to make him stop complaining. His obsession with good and evil and heroes is already getting old as Henry enters his teen years, and its going to be even worse when he becomes an adult.

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14 hours ago, tennisgurl said:

Of course, I do actually feel a bit bad for her considering the people being snippy to her about how much she sucks are Belle (Dark One cheerleader), Robin (happily couples with a mass murderer who killed his wife one) and Regina (actual mass murdering rapist), so it comes across as just a might hypocritical. 

As bad as Zelena is, she is at most equally as terrible as Rumple and Regina, the ones who get every benefit of a doubt. She's treated as an outcast while R&R go eat at Granny's with their lovers. I will never understand why she's the devil. Her body count is not even that high.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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That's where it's easy to see the strings behind the puppet.  Regina and Rumple are all part of the core main cast so they are constantly part of the group even when it makes no sense character-wise.  I suppose they could say the others make an effort to include Regina because of Henry.  Rumple is not as accepted by the others but he gets a free pass because they need to make Rumbelle work romantically.

She definitely has less of a body count than R&R but everything works on a messed up moral scale on this show.  Percival apparently deserved to die but Dark Swan was cruel for choosing Zelena as the sacrifice in 5B.  

They have also often showed Regina and others being mean to Zelena to garner some sympathy for her (quite successfully it seems from viewer reaction).  Even in this episode, we're supposed to feel bad that she's separated from her baby.  

Despite the double standard, it's pretty clear that Zelena was an A&E darling (like Hook, who is never happy but consistently got centrics and storylines that allowed his character to emote).  They constantly brought her back (often unnecessarily).  It seems like Zelena got more centrics than Charming and the Zelena/Regina relationship was explored more than Emma/Snow.

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17 hours ago, tennisgurl said:

Am I the only one who thinks that not naming your baby until you "get to know her" is kind of stupid?

The weird thing is that they gave a perfectly reasonable explanation in practically the next line, that there were things Hades could do with a name (like put it on a tombstone that would keep her trapped there) that he couldn't do if she didn't have a name, and it makes some sense that they haven't had a chance to name her, considering the pregnancy was rapidly accelerated, so she was born long before they'd have had reason to think about names, then almost immediately after she was born there was all the crisis about Dark Hook running amok and the Dark Ones in town, and then Hook died, and Robin decided it was more important to pretend to be a hero and go to the Underworld than to even look at his day-old baby. There hadn't been time to name her. So there was no need to use the "get to know her" excuse.

3 hours ago, Camera One said:

Despite the double standard, it's pretty clear that Zelena was an A&E darling (like Hook, who is never happy but consistently got centrics and storylines that allowed his character to emote).  They constantly brought her back (often unnecessarily).  It seems like Zelena got more centrics than Charming and the Zelena/Regina relationship was explored more than Emma/Snow.

Zelena is one of those cases where they seem to have brought the character back just because they thought she was fun and they liked the actress even though her character had pretty much run her course and they had absolutely no idea what to do with her. She doesn't morally flip flop as much as Rumple, but they do constantly go back and forth on whether we're supposed to hate her or sympathize with her (usually it depends on where Regina stands -- if she's with or neutral to Regina, she deserves sympathy, but if she's against Regina, she's the worst). Though I don't think it's as bad as with Robin, where the only reason behind his character was that Lana wanted Regina to have a love interest, but they had no other purpose for Robin in the story and they weren't even interested in writing a relationship with Regina. He basically just sort of existed as a love interest without actually having a romance written. With Hook, it sounds like they had a plan and purpose for the character before he was even cast, and the fact that they ended up liking the actor and what he did with the character (and the fact that the network apparently really liked the character) meant that they gave him a lot to do. Sometimes. You'd think this arc would have really focused on him, but he was barely in the first three episodes, had a centric, and then they more or less forget him for a while.

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On 4/4/2016 at 2:25 PM, Jul 68 said:

I'm wondering if Henry doesn't remember writing the pages because he DIDN'T write them, Hades or Mickey did.

If the pen has "unfinished business", it seems as though, at least in the underworld, as long as it has the author as conduit, it can fill in the blanks by itself.

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On 4/5/2016 at 3:49 PM, legaleagle53 said:

 

Yeah, I noticed that Zelena addressed Dorothy as "my pretty," but I was disappointed that she didn't say the whole iconic line:  "I'll GET you, my pretty -- and your little dog, too!"

Speaking of which (ish), unless I'm mis-remembering something, wasn't that bicycle always the one that belonged to Miss Gulch (Wicked Witch) rather than Dorothy? I haven't actually seen the movie in years, so I might be wrong, but the image that I got in my head was that of Miss Gulch taking Toto away in the basket on her bicycle before he runs back to Dorothy.

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11 minutes ago, Jynnan tonnix said:

the image that I got in my head was that of Miss Gulch taking Toto away in the basket on her bicycle before he runs back to Dorothy.

You are correct - that was an upsetting scene for me as a kid.  You also see Miss Gulch riding her bike in the tornado before she -- spoiler -- turns into the Wicked Witch on a broom.  For as many times as I saw the movie as a kid -- every year as a Special Event before the arrival of VCRs, I don't think I have seen the movie in decades.  I am kind of tempted to watch it.

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21 minutes ago, CCTC said:

You are correct - that was an upsetting scene for me as a kid.  You also see Miss Gulch riding her bike in the tornado before she -- spoiler -- turns into the Wicked Witch on a broom.

That scene really upset me when I was a kid, too. I had to hide behind the sofa until Dorothy was safely in Oz. But I lived in a place where we regularly got tornadoes, so I was scared of tornadoes in general. Add a mean old lady/witch, and it was too much.

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3 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

That scene really upset me when I was a kid, too. I had to hide behind the sofa until Dorothy was safely in Oz. But I lived in a place where we regularly got tornadoes, so I was scared of tornadoes in general. Add a mean old lady/witch, and it was too much.

Same here. Bex Mader made Zelena her own, that's for sure (and Zelena eventually became one of my favorite OUAT characters), but Margaret Hamilton REALLY knew how to sell the scarier aspects of the Wicked Witch's personality in the movie, despite being (from what I've read about her and can remember from her later years) one of the nicest people to work with in real life. 

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I had always thought it was cool how she went from being the grouchy old lady on a bicycle to the Wicked Witch on a broom.  It didn't scare me, but then again, I liked Miss Gulch.  We can't forget that she was the one who got bitten by the dog in the first place.  

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