This week on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, there was much baby talk as a new battle ensued over Baby Hood, Belle was brought up to speed on things and the Charmings gave Neal a “call.”
Leveraged as he is into doing Hades’ bidding, Rumple is tasked with creating a portal for the Underworld overlord, who can come and go as he pleases but cannot bring anyone back. The destination: Storybrooke, so that Hades can steal Zelena’s baby. After which, he will rip up his contract with Rumple and keep his lip zipped about the Dark One… being the Dark One again.
Rumple works his magic, and the swirling, red portal appears inside the Storybrooke convent, where Belle was paying Neal and Baby Hood a visit when Mother Superior/Blue was revealed to be Zelena. “My sister can’t keep me down,” Z says of her thus-far-unexplained escape from Oz. “I’ve come for my baby, so step aside!” Belle though grabs Baby Hood and tumbles into the portal, and Zelena jumps in after her. They surface outside the Underbrooke convent, where Z quickly realizes she is on Hades’ turf.
Throughout the hour, flashbacks inform us of Zelena and Hades’ past — namely, how he showed up in Oz years ago, having heard of the time travel spell she was working on, requiring symbols of innocence, love, wisdom and courage. (Sound like a famous foursome we know from literature/the movies?) Like Zelena, Hades suffers from sibling rivalry, in that his brother Zeus was awarded Mount Olympus, while he was assigned to the Underworld with a stopped heart. If Hades could turn back time, he could swap those fates.
In showing Zelena how to track the Scarecrow that previously escaped her, Hades begins to fall in love with the Wicked Witch. And after she stares down a slightly older, warrior-mode Dorothy Gale to procure the Scarecrow’s brain (but leaves the Kansas girl alive, as proof to the Munchkins who love her that she can fail), Hades celebrates their win with a dinner date. When he goes in for a True Love’s kiss, to restart his recently fluttered heart, Zelena just says no, worried that he is duping her to get his mitts on her time travel spell. Scored, Hades warns, “You’ll regret this” before poofing away.
Robin and Regina help Zelena search for Baby Hood, whom Belle ran off with to keep safe. (Why they didn’t make a beeline for the library versus some random part of the woods, I do not know.) Because Belle did make a beeline for the library, where she found Rumple emerging from the elevator to Hades’ man cave. Delighted to see his wife, Rumple drops two bombshells in quick succession: 1) He created the portal because years ago he promised his second born child to Hades, and 2) Belle is carrying said child. Belle enjoys a moment of joy, before latching onto the first reveal, that her unborn child has been pre-sold. Rumple promises he will use all his “power” to fix that. Oops! Yep, I’m the Dark One again, he affirms.
What followed was a solid (if semi-familiar) bit of character work. Rumple attests that he loves the Dark One’s dagger and he loves Belle, and that it’s possible to do both. He also explains that while he is a better man because of Belle, he is not a different man — nor does he desire to ever be. Because great power is just that yummy. When Belle busts out the “Not even for me?” card, Rumple contends that she didn’t fall in love with the man behind the beast, “You fell in love with me because I was a man and a beast.” Belle insists on reuniting with her friends, and Rumple undoing his contract with Hades, before she makes any decisions about their future together.
Once Zelena is reunited with her baby, she convinces Robin and Regina to let her feed it. Afterward, Zelena reneges on their deal and poofs away with the baby, only to realize later that the wittle one got scraped during the ordeal. Zelena returns the baby to Robin and Regina, tasking them with protecting her from Hades, who likely wishes to use her as the “innocent” ingredient in a time travel spell. Robin meanwhile decides to hold off on naming his daughter, lest Hades use that info against them.
Hades and Zelena eventually reunite in the town square, where she threatens to “demolish him if he lays a finger on her baby. He says that was never his intent, that his “true love” for her has endured all this time, that he snatched the baby for her. As an even greater gesture, he modeled The Underworld after Storybrooke, knowing that Zelena wanted to cast the Dark Curse that her sister did. This way, she has her own ‘Brooke, albeit an imperfect one prone to decay — “but it’s our decay,” he contends. Zelena says she still can’t trust him, that she’ll get her daughter back on her own. Before Z leaves, Hades informs her of the birth date she never knew — April 15 — and points out that he “took care” of her mother, as well.
Elsewhere in the episode: Upon realizing that they are now considered “regulars” at the Granny’s in Underbrooke, Snow and David become resolved to reach out to Neal back home somehow. In trade for David’s living breath (that stuff fetches a premium on the black market), the Blind Witch directs the parents to a “phone booth” where they can administer a simple “Level 1 haunting.” Snow and David wait in line, and then step inside to deliver their message to Neal, though the word on the street is there’s no way of knowing if the “call goes through.” But by episode’s end, prone-to-petulance Henry-the-Author comes downstairs at the loft brandishing new, magically written storybook pages, which tell the tale of the little prince’s sweet reaction to hearing his patents voices on the other side.
What did you think of “Our Decay”?