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ONCE UPON A TIME Recap & Review: “Chosen”

Zelena loses her happy ending in one realm, only to find it as Kelly in another in Season 7 Episode 17 of ONCE UPON A TIME, “Chosen.”

If there’s one thing that still confuses me about Once Upon a Time, it’s the passage of time and how people age. If Nick (Nathan Parsons), of the appropriate age to be the father of Lucy (Alison Fernandez), is also Jack the Giant Killer, the former best friend of Henry (Andrew J. West), how is he still so young when at least thirty-five-odd years must have passed from the time when he was Hansel, a little kid in Oz? And for that matter, how did he get from Oz to the realm of Ella (Dania Ramirez) and Tiana (Mekia Cox)?

I digress, because while Nick/Jack/Hansel plays a large role in “Chosen,” it’s Zelena (Rebecca Mader) who really steals the show. Well, Zelena… and Kelly. It’s easy to see why Lana Parrilla chose this episode as her directorial debut; the parallels to Regina are easy to spot.

Happy Ending Lost

First, let’s dive into Zelena’s arc this hour. The flashbacks take us to Oz, where we find Zelena the Wicked Witch in all her emerald glory. She’s hunting witches so that she can be the last remaining one in Oz. Her hunt leads her to the Witch in the gingerbread house, which consequently leads her to a young Hansel and Gretel, trapped in the Witch’s cages. Gretel begs her for help, but Hansel is more cynical – and Zelena is quick to prove him right, refusing to help them in favor of attacking the Witch. This doesn’t go so well for her, however. The Witch quickly overpowers her by breaking her necklace and kicking her out of her house.

Zelena comes to in a cabin. A man found her in the woods and brought her to his house to recover. He even repaired the clasp on her necklace; when he goes to put it around her neck, Zelena realizes that he’s blind. He introduces himself as Ivo. Zelena intends to leave, but she’s still too weak to stand; he helps her to the table, where she compliments him on his beautifully carved chairs. He says he doesn’t have time for such hobbies now, because he’s always searching for his children, Hansel and Gretel.

As Zelena recovers, a budding romance springs up between her and Ivo. He’s sweet and kind to her, and for Zelena, it’s a relief to be around someone who’s blind – he can’t see her green skin and judge her for it. He says that, in his mind, he pictures her as someone with a passionate smile, feisty eyes, and a fierce, beautiful heart. His words, and the reminder that his children are in danger, prompts Zelena to return to the gingerbread house and take on the Witch again. This time, she succeeds (and takes the Witch’s sight to give to Ivo); but she finds the cages empty and the children gone. She thinks she came too late.

She returns to Ivo’s cabin to tell him what happened, but Hansel and Gretel have beaten her to it. They escaped and told their father everything, including her refusal to help them. Ivo orders her out, calling her a monster. In a rage, Zelena throws the dust of sight into the fire and burns Hansel’s arms before disappearing in a cloud of green smoke.

Happy Ending Found

Before we get to Kelly in Hyperion Heights, let’s remind ourselves where Henry is right now. If you’ll recall from last time, he’s a little tied up. He hardly leaves the floor of Nick’s apartment in this episode; he spends his time alternately trying to convince Nick that he’s crazy, or that he believes him and really wants to use his Author powers to help him. Of course, Nick isn’t having either of those things. The big development for Henry in this episode is the moment Nick shows him the results of his blood test that prove he’s Lucy’s father. Henry doesn’t believe him, of course, but the evidence is there for him to see.

Meanwhile, Kelly is aware that she’s the candy-killer’s next target, but she’s distracted by the fact that her fiance from San Francisco, Chad, keeps calling. She tells Roni that she misses just being Kelly. Kelly didn’t have a sordid past; she was just Kelly.

Roni: “This curse wasn’t really a curse for you, was it?”

Kelly: “It was more like a vacation.”

Kelly and Weaver (Robert Carlyle) are much alike in their sordid pasts, so when Kelly goes to him, he agrees to help only after Kelly reminds him of his desire to reunite with Belle. He gives her back her necklace. She asks how this is supposed to help, since Kelly doesn’t have magic.

Weaver: “The Wicked Witch I knew didn’t need magic. She found a way to survive even when it killed her. You know how I know that? Because you’re still here, annoying me.”

Kelly: “Yeah, well, that Witch is the one who got me into this mess. I’m tired of paying for her sins.”

Weaver: “Well, make amends, because she’s a part of you whether you like it or not. And that’s how you’re gonna win this fight.”

Kelly: “I suppose no matter how much we change, there’s still this nasty little piece of us that we can’t get rid of.”

Weaver: “And we shouldn’t, because it’s that piece that shows us how far we’ve come and how much we have to lose.”

While Weaver protects Margot (Tiera Skovbye) back at the station, Kelly returns to Roni’s to wait for the killer to show up. At this point, she’s aware that it’s Hansel coming for her, but she doesn’t know his Hyperion Heights identity. She feels ready – baseball bat and quick wits in hand – but she’s not prepared for Nick to call and inform her that he has Chad, her fiance, and he’ll hurt him if she doesn’t do exactly what he says. She tricks Roni into leaving and heads into the basement, where she finds a tied-up Chad and a very angry Hansel, whom she now recognizes as Nick and Jack.

A fight ensues, and it takes only a minute for Kelly to gain the upper hand. She holds a knife to Nick’s throat, but declines to kill him, knocking him out instead. She takes a very confused Chad upstairs to the bar and explains that everything Nick said about her was true – she was a terrible person. She sets the ring on the table and leaves, saying she’ll make it easy for him to do the same.

But unlike Ivo, Chad asks her to stay with him, saying that when he gave her that ring, he signed up for everything, even the things he didn’t know. He could tell during her altercation with Nick that she had been someone else once, but she was different now. He loves her, Kelly and Zelena both. They have a sweet moment, with Kelly’s ring back where it belongs, before the police arrive to arrest Nick.

Let’s round out Kelly’s story before we talk about the side plot that suddenly became the main plot. She’s happy with Chad, as she confides to Roni, but she hasn’t yet told him that she needs to stay here and help Roni break the curse. Roni encourages her to go with him, saying that both Kelly and Zelena deserve some happiness. They hug it out, and Kelly then has much the same conversation with Margot, albeit without the fairy tale details. Kelly asks her to be her maid of honor, saying that any happiness she has now started when Margot was born.

Another “Big Bad” Shift

At the beginning of the season, we assumed that Lady Tremaine was the Big Bad. Then we thought it was Drizella; then Mother Gothel. It turns out that Gothel has some competition, and he’s not afraid to kill to get what he wants.

Dr. Facilier (Daniel Francis) filled a first-season Rumplestilskin role here, tricking Drew/Prince Naveen (Jeff Pierre) into providing him with powerful magic in the form of broken trust between him and Sabine. His intention quickly became clear: he used the magic to empower a voodoo doll, and then to break into the police station and kill Nick with it. It turns out that he was the one who woke Nick from the curse in the first place, hoping he would take care of Gothel for him so he’d have less competition for the Dark One’s dagger.

(Which raises the question AGAIN of why everyone but Henry hasn’t been woken up yet. Clearly this is not as hard as they’re making it seem.)

Anyway, Prince Naveen is also awake thanks to Dr. Facilier, and he owes him a debt – and they’re not done until Facilier says they’re done. Clearly, Naveen doesn’t like it, but he can’t do anything about it.

A few additional notes:

  • When Henry showed up at a very worried Jacinda’s apartment, the hugs between him, Jacinda, and Lucy brought tears to my eyes.
  • Also, Sabine’s straightforward advice – to text Henry back like an adult – and her snide remark to Henry after his return – about whether he was still trying to make that interview – brought tears to my eyes for an entirely different reason.
  • Per the usual, there was not nearly enough Rogers (Colin O’Donoghue) in this episode, but he did put the pieces together and save Henry, so there’s that.
  • Roni found the magical moss she needed to cure Henry and break the curse! Yay!
  • And speaking of Roni, on hand in her bar she keeps the following items for… emergencies:
    • A baseball bat
    • A crowbar
    • Handcuffs

Five episodes left and counting! How many more storylines will they bring to a close before series end?