Monday, April 24, 2017

In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (6x18)

What makes a person special? Is it their innate magical abilities or is it what they choose to do with magic? I know this isn't exactly a hard question. If Einstein was still Einstein but he never did anything with this genius brain, then he wouldn't be remembered or cherished by those who came after. If you have gifts and choose not to use them for good and the benefit of all, then it's a lot like you don't have gifts or abilities at all. This is a moral we all learn fairly early on in our lives; it might actually be a Kindergarten lesson, right after sharing is caring and the ABCs. "Help others when you can" is plastered on schoolrooms across the world. Of course, we know nothing of the Oz education system so I guess Zelena missed out on that life lesson. The rudimentary lessons found in this week's episode "Where Bluebirds Fly" make for a boring flashback and doubly so when the character in question is one who's never managed to get a proper foothold in the series outside of the one year she was the Big Bad. But, hey. There were no earth shatter retcons, so I'll take it. Grab your baby pink heart and let's go!

Green Is The Loneliest Number

I honestly don't have a lot this week. There is a definite throughline with Zelena in this episode; much like all the other villains on the show, such as Rumple and Cora, Zelena sees magic as a way to set her apart from others around her. It makes her special when before all she felt was alone. This serves as a piece of irony because it's this magical ability and superiority complex that really causes Zelena to be alone. It doesn't hurt the parallel that also like Rumple and Cora, Zelena's two closest links to magical "parents," she was a poor and under privileged child of misfortune. There's a bit of nasty classism that runs through OUAT if you look for it. When it comes to anyone who serves as a villain, either for an arc or just an episode or even series long, there's a pretty good chance they were once poor and downtrodden. Rumple, Cora,, Zelena, Arthur, Jafar, and even Jekyll all start off life as part of the working class. They use magic (or science in one case) to set themselves apart believing the actual having of talents makes them special, but it's also more than that. Magic and science are also used to gain control of one's life. Zelena might tell Stanum that using magic for wickedness is more fun but it also allows her control over her life, something she dearly lacked when she was in rags and living in a hovel. It's the same for Rumple and Cora. Both of them were dirt (literally) poor and at the mercy of a rich and powerful overlord, either a Duke or a King. Neither of them were able to rise above their station and were constantly fearful that this overlord could end their existence with a flick of his tiny finger. Thus their villainy is linked to their desire to control their own destines and lives. It's hard to tell if the writers making their villains originally deprived financially is a lack of creativity or if there is a classist argument at play that being poor breeds resentment and hostility. At any rate, Zelena's attempt to seize control of her life and set herself apart magically also made her life a lonely one. Few people are blessed with magic and when you believe that your gift makes you better than those who are ungifted, you're naturally going to find yourself eating at an empty table. Thank heavens for random friends who were once a passerby to make you realize your misfortune and that abilities don't make you special, what you do with them does!

This, of course, leads us into the present day storyline where Zelena once again takes control of her life but this time uses that control to give up the one thing she has felt always defined her. I won't lie Zelena sacrificing her magic is a pretty big move, though--as one of my readers, I'm sure, would like me to point out--it doesn't put her in the column of redeemed because giving up something doesn't fix the problems Zelena has caused for people. For example, I'm pretty sure Stanum is still a tin man in the woods and Oz is still without a wizard and goodness who knows how many munchkins died when Zelena got restless and bored. However, the idea of a villain trying to make atonement by giving up a vital part of themselves is a long standing tradition on OUAT. Rumple gave up his life in season three; Regina gave up Henry; Hook gave up his ship and now Zelena has given up her magic. All of these things are tokens or talismans that are vital to the psychological makeup of these characters and bit by bit they break down their former selves and become someone else. It'll be quite interesting to see just how Zelena manages to navigate motherhood and Storybrooke as just Zelena and no longer the Wicked Witch of the West.

Miscellaneous Notes on Where Bluebirds Fly

--The flashbacks this week felt very incomplete. Did Zelena and Stanum hang out more than just for a few moments on the Yellow Brick Road as kids? Cause if not, it's really strange that he'd go to the Wicked Witch of the West for help after having only met her once.

--Also, we can add the Crimson Heart to the list of idiotic MacGuffins in season 6B.

--I understand the writers wanted to wrap up the Regina and Zelena hostility but, man, Regina was downright nasty to Zelena in this episode. So, Regina would be totally fine with Zelena taking her and Robin Hood's daughter to Oz forever?

--"Your mother has a key. Good to know.”

--Emma’s coat is obnoxiously ugly.

--Hey it's Belle! Oh, she's a babysitter again.

--The visual of the Black Fairy standing up, laughing, and walking against Zelena’s magic was very effective.

--"You really want to pick out centerpieces on the eve of the final battle?”

--“Why is it that even when your sister isn’t the villain we’re fighting…she's the villain we're fighting?”

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