This episode is all about Zelena and her ability to speak about herself in the third person to try and pretend all the villain stuff she did was totally not her fault and everyone deciding that she’s actually achieved redemption by refraining from cutting someone’s throat. Because we have a low bar for redemption these days.
So back in the past we see that Hansel and Gretel and the sugar obsessed witch were all in Oz. And Zelena doesn’t tolerate other magic users in Oz so she goes to give the witch her marching orders (completely ignoring the captured children and really not caring about them) only to be defeated by the sugary witch whose entire repertoire seems to involve throwing giant confections at people. I mean I get being thematic and all, but I think someone throwing hard candy at me isn’t quite as menacing as fireballs
But probably more menacing than flying monkeys because.. Monkeys, really?
Anyway she’s defeated and is found, unconscious and magicless by Ivo who takes her in and makes her feel all welcome and it’s all sweet and touching. He’s blind so can’t see her green skin and also Hansel and Gretel’s father and very worried about them. He goes out looking every night and Zelena can’t bring herself to say where the kids are and that she didn’t help them even as he is nicer and kinder and more supportive
Eventually she builds up the courage, confronts Candy Witch and even steals her eyesight for Ivo - but the kids are gone. She assumes eaten. She returns to tell ivo the bad news only to find that the kids have escaped and have already told Ivo about her complete inaction. Oopsie. Which means she was completely silent while he went out looking every night. Ouch.
Zelena protests she wants another chance, offering to cure his sight and generally claim she changed while throwing in a side about how he’s the only one who was ever nice to her. This isn’t convincing and he kicks her out. So in spite, Zelena throws the sight cure in the fire and when Hansel confronts her with a knife she uses magic to burn his arms - which is where his scars come from, not diabetes witch’s oven.
Which is the source of his grudge
And in the present Nick/Jack/Hansel, fully awake and aware has kidnapped Henry. He keeps trying to make Henry understand since they were such good friends and even goes on to how he called himself Jack and killed many giants with Henry because they had so many adventures. Of course, Henry isn’t awake and even when shown the medical proof that he is Lucy’s father doesn’t break the curse. Henry continues to try and use whatever manipulation he can on Nick who just sees through it, frustrated because he knows Henry’s tactics and annoyed because he knows Henry isn’t awake.
Zelena herself is having issued because Chad keeps calling wondering why she vanished. Zelena misses being Kelly, a nicy, if somewhat hippy-ish woman who was kind and inoffensive and had no bad history and loved by a good man. Regina realises that being cursed wasn’t a curse to her - it was a holiday. A holiday from being Zelena, from having to live with who she was. And she didn’t have to face being hunted by a serial killer - because she is the latest recipient of a box of chocolates.
She goes to the police but has to dodge Killian who is not Awake and not helpful. She does see Rumple but he’s decidedly unhelpful since he doesn’t like her much and pretty much thinks she has what’s coming to her. But he does have some advice on redemption which basically boils down to not forgetting who you are and what you were. Which is pretty much how Zelena has been talking about redemption: loving being Kelly who could forget her evil past (which isn’t redemption - it’s just self-serving salving of guilt. Ultimately she’s tried of atoning, not actually pushing to atone or redeem). He says you need to remember it, remember what you were so you don’t go back there. He does give her some jewellery, her nifty necklace, so she can continue to “fight against her past”.
Ok but a shotgun would have been helpful. Or police protection.
She returns to Regina for a lot of sisterly bonding and Regina’s belief that she can be both Kelly and Zelena - after all she’s seem people amalgamate their cursed selves with their original selves. Especially since being Kelly makes Zelena happy
But Chad is kidnapped by Nick and Zelena gets rid of Regina so she can go alone. There’s a big confrontation, Zelena appealing for Chad since he is innocent unlike her. Which is close to taking responsibility. Nick attacks - and Zelena shows him what wicked means, winning the fight and holding him at knife point
But she doesn’t kill him. She isn’t that person any more. Instead she knocks him out and delivers him to Killian (who rescues Henry who goes to a reunion with Jacinda).
Zelena then has an awkward conversation with Chad - telling him everything except the fairy tale stuff. Which is a pretty much a whole lot of everything. But he still loves her even the bits he knows nothing about and is determined to marry her.
I’m sorry but WHAT? I want to sit down with Chad and ask who hurt him. “I love you even the bits I know nothing about” uh-huh, you have no idea what they were. What if she had 11 dead husbands with hefty life insurance Chad? What if she’s a secret cannibal? What if she voted for Trump?
After this Regina encourages Zelena to go back with Chad - because she deserves to be happy and it’s a big sister moment. Robin is staying in Seattle though
And Facilier - Facilier has awoken Naveen who owes him a debt and is working for Sabine. This debt involves giving him some of her beignets, a symbol of the trust he has violated
He also goes to see Nick in prison - revealing he was the one who woke him up. Mainly because he hoped Nick’s witch killing ways would have led him to kill Gothel and remove some competition for the Dark One Dagger… now he doesn’t need this wild card he uses a voodoo doll to kill him
Ok I’m going to bring up this excellent video from Doctor Who which I have referred to over and over again because it is PERFECT
This, this is such a wonderful speech and a wonderful scene. How many villains, how many redemption arcs rely on letting one go. That one spared life. That one brief act of whimsical kindness to balance a pile of bodies. That one brief instance of not killing someone is somehow proof of being good. But just like Negan on The Walking Dead claiming to be a “Saviour” because he only kills some people, it rings hollow and the piling victims speak loudly as to the value of Letting One Go.
Especially since, unlike Regina and, to a far far far lesser extent Rumple, other than declaring herself good now Zelena hasn’t stepped on that Redemption Train. Her declaration of change feel far more like just wanting to absolve herself of what she did before - even thinking sometimes as her past self as a different person
Facilier is going all evil which promises a full trainwreck with Regina’s love interest. Again