Monday, January 25, 2021

Character Spotlight: Zelena

My wife and I are currently working our way through Once Upon a Time again for the second or third time since the series concluded. We’re coming up on the introduction of one of my favorite characters from the series: Zelena, the Wicked Witch of the West. Because she’s awesome, I’m going to feature her in my first character spotlight. But first a brief history on the Wicked Witch, in case it’s been a while since you’ve seen the series. 

Zelena was fathered by Jonathan, Prince Leopold’s gardener, under the guise of being a prince himself. Knowing she couldn’t climb the social ladder as a single mother, Cora sent Zelena through a portal to Oz to give herself a fresh start. She was taken in and raised by a couple in Oz, but her adopted father becomes more abusive after her mother dies. He convinced her that her magic was a curse that made her wicked, which was only reinforced by others in Oz as she grew up.

As an adult, she was taught by Rumpelstiltskin to control her magic. When he rejected her affection, she retreated to Oz and plotted to travel to the past to change her fate. Along the way, she made friends with Glinda and Dorothy and fell in love with Hades, but because of her past she got insecure and self-sabotaged any attempts at love. 

Years later after Regina’s dark curse was reversed, she plotted to take the Charmings’ baby to complete her time travel spell. This scheme led the Enchanted Forest back to Storybrooke where she would eventually cast her time travel spell before seemingly being killed. She lived on and managed to masquerade as Robin Hood’s wife, Maid Marian, to split him up from her half-sister Regina.

By the time her masquerade ended, Zelena was already pregnant with Robin’s child, ensuring her safety (and it resulted in her being dragged to Camelot). After the baby was born, she was banished by Robin and Regina to Oz. However, it wouldn’t be long before she followed them to the Underworld where she reunited with her daughter and her love, Hades. After Hades and Robin are killed, she tries to bond with Regina. It’s touch and go for a while, but by the end of it all, she becomes an anti-hero we can all love.

Long after the “Final Battle”, Zelena and her teenage daughter Robin go to the New Enchanted Forest to help Regina, Henry, and new friends. When Drizella’s curse hits, Zelena takes on the persona of Kelly West, who eventually leaves Hyperion Heights to fall in love and teach spin classes in San Francisco. She’s brought back to Hyperion Heights by Regina/Roni and Henry, but heads back home when her fiance is put in danger. In the end, she joined her friends and family in the United Realm/Storybrooke.

She started out as the most despicable villain, willing to hurt a child to accomplish her plans. But as time went on and she felt love from her daughter Robin and her half-sister Regina, she softened and became a good person. Looking at her as a survivor of abuse and abandonment, it makes more sense. I’m no expert on abuse, but something we all need is love. And when you give someone love (and they choose to receive it), things can change. Like her sister, she had a heaping of character development over her five seasons and she became (along with Regina) one of the most redeemable aspects of Once's soft reboot in Season 7. Honestly, it wouldn't have been worth it without the two of them.

I think the reason I love Zelena is because she’s relatable. We all have trials we’ve gone through and we all crave love. And especially nowadays, I think we all have a little bit of dark humor. Even when she becomes a hero, Zelena isn’t too far away from a snarky comment about their current situation. What’s more relatable than that? I think my only complaint about her character is that her character was all wrapped up and done and they insisted on bringing her back and redeeming her. Am I upset that she came back? Not at all. But her original story arc was perfect already, they didn’t have to add anything.

What’s your favorite Zelena moment? Do you prefer Zelena or Elfaba as the Wicked Witch? I’m anxiously awaiting her story as my wife and I approach her Oz story arc once again. And in the meantime, don't forget...

1 comment:

  1. I think one of my favorite moments is when Zelena comes and rams the black fairy with a car (after learning how to drive it). I think Regina is my favorite redemption story. But of course, that paved the way for Zelena.