We begin "many years ago" (which keeps from confusing the viewers with a timeline) in the merry old land of Oz.
Zelena in a great callback to the pilot episode, is seen about to blow out a lonely green birthday cupcake with a green candle. She interrupts this to deal with the scarecrow, who is honestly a terrific bit of CGI.
Zelena wants his brain for her yet-to-be-enacted time travel spell, but in strides a now grown up Dorothy like a total badass to save her friend. Of course, she carries her dog into battle (hey, who doesn't, right?) and Toto pulls a powerful magical curtain down on Zelena. It must be because it completely incapacitates her and rips all her powers away long enough for them to run off without her even trying to stop them. Okey dokey.
Forward to the Underworld, where Hades is getting pissy with Rumple because he isn't making a portal fast enough. Rumple's Dark One tainted blood can make the portal - and I'm guessing it only makes a portal to and from the Underworld or he would have tried it ages ago - and Hades wants him to set it down in Storybrooke.
And finally! We're back on the surface in Storybrooke and away from the sepia tones. Belle is bringing formula to our favorite shady fairy, Blue, so she can feed the abandoned-while-we-go-to-hell babies. I guess Snow didn’t pump before she left. You'd think she'd have left a few frozen bags for them at least. Then again, you'd think one of the parents would have stayed behind - like, the one with the breast milk. There I go with that logic again.
Uh-oh, Zelena’s back, and she was pretending to be Blue. She’s come for the baby. Unfortunately, so has Hades, and Rumple's portal opens right in the middle of the nursery. Belle yanks the baby out of Zelena's arms just in time to get sucked down to hell, and Zelena, realizing this is Hades' work and knowing he wants that baby, dives in after them. They don't show up in Hades office, however, so he's still pretty pissed at Rumple.
They land hard on the ground and Zelena hurts her leg and can’t fix it because her magic won’t work. Belle runs off with the baby as Zelena begs her to hand the baby over.
Flashback to Oz again where Zelena offs a munchkin and sweeps up his ashes with her broom. She's trying to find out who tipped off Dorothy about the scarecrow when Hades steps in, in full turn-of-the-century wear. He’s quite dapper. He’s also heard that she wants to time travel and he offers to help. He's obviously smitten, but his social skills are more than a little rusty. He points out that absolutely nobody loves her, and then he offers to team up. Despite his bad pickup line, Zelena seems intrigued.
Ahead in the Underworld, Snow and David are eating at Granny’s, where the blind witch knows their order by heart, referring to them as "regulars." Snow's not happy to be considered a regular in hell. "If only we could talk to the baby," she whines. The blind witch tells them that's a piece of cake - just head for the local phone booth, dial up and and you're good to go. "It’s a level one haunting," she tells them matter-of-factly.
"Let's just haunt the baby. This will in no way warp him for life."
All the witch wants is their breath in return. This of course, is treated like no big deal, but I'm betting it's more. We'll have to see. This witch has been a leeetle too friendly, don't you think?
Henry, meanwhile has written that whole scene from the diner in his sleep (and nothing about Hades) and he’s pretty damn crochety about it.
Emma and Regina ooh and ahh over his work like good Moms should, but Killian points out that writing about Snow's oatmeal and David's dry toast is about as thrilling as middle-school fanfiction. Henry storms upstairs, and in walks Zelena. She pleads to Robin to help her because the baby is in danger.
Flashback to Oz again. Hades is holding Zelena's birthday cupcake, and ask her if she's celebrating "Abandonment Day," (ouch!) since she doesn't know her real birthday. He offers to help her once again.
"I know exactly how you feel, he croons (referencing his own relationship with his brother Zeus). When he was banished to the Underworld, Zeus stopped his heart, and only the kiss of true love can restart it and allow him to return above as a fully-formed man.
"No one is more hated than me," he sighs.
“I could give you a run for your money," Zelena counters.
What Hades really wants is to travel back in time and change history so that he rules Olympus. He’s promises to help Zelena find the scarecrow.
Forward again to the Underworld, and Belle makes her way to the library. Up from the elevator steps Rumple. He’s strangely happy to see her which is weird because you think he'd be freaked that she's in hell. He tells her that he sent the portal, and Belle’s pretty pissed that Rumple would steal a baby. He tells Belle about the deal he made with Hades and then he lets her know she’s preggers. Belle is crazy happy until she realizes how shitty the situation is.
Rumple tips his hand - letting her know he's the Dark One again, and begs her to understand that the darkness is part of him and he won’t let it go. He gives her some malarkey about how she fell in love with the man and the beast, but she’s smart enough to tell him she’s not falling for that. She leaves with the baby, terribly upset, as Rumple assures her she'll want him eventually - darkness and all.
This whole scene left me feeling terribly uncomfortable, and I don't know if it's because Rumple is finally, finally telling Belle the truth about himself, or if it's because I want her to smack him so badly and she didn't. Anyway...
Snow and David head to the phone booth, waiting in line with the others.
There's a guy behind them that has been calling the world of the living for thirty years, but he's not sure his messages are getting through. Snow and David are apprehensive, but decide to give it a try.
Meanwhile, Robin, Regina and Zelena head out to the woods, intent on tracking Belle and finding the baby. Zelena points out that Robin took off and abandoned the their daughter and he insists that he had to be a hero to set a proper example. Whatever helps you sleep at night, Robin....
Regina takes this opportunity to share a little wisdom, and for once, Zelena seems to be listening. "I used to be just like you," Regina says. She points out that not caring about anyone also means no one cares about you. She also throws down the family card, making it clear that she's there to help. Zelena - surprisingly - works up some real tears over the fate of her daughter.
Flashback again to Oz and Hades leads Zelena to the site of Dorothy's crashed farmhouse, where he pulls out the Dorothys old bike. Once enchanted, the bike will lead them to Dorothy, and therefore to the scarecrow as well. He offers to take Zelena for a spin, sitting her on the uncomfortable bar. For some reason, he’s gasping and acting like he’s having angina. Then they go on a happy-funsy rom/com bike ride.
After crashing and laughing and staring like besotted teenagers into each other's eyes, they have an almost-kiss and then Zelena spies Dorothy and the scarecrow. Dorothy draws a sword as Zelena immobilizes her and takes the scarecrow's brain. She turns to gloat, but Hades has disappeared.
Ahead in Storybrooke, Robin, Regina and Zelena run into Belle and Robin is reunited with his daughter. Zelena thanks Belle very sincerely for keeping the baby safe. Unfortunately, the baby is hungry and Robin reluctantly passes her to Zelena for feeding since she’s still got the bottle (guess she wasn’t pumping either). Zelena gives her exactly half an ounce of formula before she takes the baby and runs. Seriously, the kid got like, two swallows. Poor thing.
Oh, and Robin hasn't named the baby yet because he doesn't want Hades putting the baby's name on a tombstone. So baby Nameless, it is.
Back at the apartment, Snow is pretty down, because she's not sure if the baby even heard them when they called. In strolls Henry, with some freshly minted pages.
He reads a heartfelt story about little baby Neal, lying in his crib, watching the unicorn mobile as he hears his parents singing a lullaby. Awwww. Well, a level one haunting is almost as good as breast milk, they say. Snow is empowered to know that their baby hears dead people, and vows to take Hades down so she can return and feed her baby formula, now that her udders are a barren desert.
Across town, Zelena is at the Under-farmhouse when Robin, Regina and Belle show up. She hands over the baby, upset because her zipping away like that cut the baby's face and she can't heal it because her magic is wonky. She finally tells them that Hades wants to use the baby for his time travel spell. She begs Robin and Regina to keep the baby safe because she’s more important than anything - even more important than saving herself. She tearfully kisses the baby and hands her over.
Flashback to Zelena showing up to the Emerald City and Hades has dinner waiting. He awkwardly and gasping-ly tells her that he thinks they have true love - that angina attack on the bike was actually the feeling of his heart fluttering. He wants to smooch Zelena to restart his heart.
Zelena spurns him, reminding him that no one loves her. She thinks he’s going to steal the time travel spell and she needs it for herself. He begs her to reconsider and swears his love is true, but Zelena sneers and won't budge. He finally leaves, warning her that she’ll regret her decision.
Forward to Main Street, the Underworld. Hades is standing in the middle of town like a gunslinger and Zelena walks out to meet him. He tells her he won’t hurt her because his love still endures. She's not buying it until he assures her that he went after the baby to rescue her from the heroes for her. He made hell look like Storybrooke just for her - as much as he could.
"Things don’t grow here," he says with a shrug. "They decay. But it can be ours. Our decay."
Fist pump for the episode title!
Hades tells her they should team up and go get the baby. Zelena says no, and turns to walk away only to stop dead in her tracks when Hades gives her something she's always wanted: her birthday. He tortured it out of a certain "miller’s daughter" for her.
And oh, you clever writers! Zelena's birthday is April 15th - for those of us in the USA, that's tax day. And you know the old quote (courtesy of Benjamin Franklin) "Nothing is certain but death and taxes." Ha!
Zelena seems to be softening, but she still isn't won over.
"If you change your mind, I’ll be waiting," Hades tells her. He leaves Zelena with tears in her eyes.
I'm giving this one a full five phoenixes out of five, despite a serious lack of Killian Jones.
Killian and Emma spent the episode making out in the apartment and straightening their clothes every time Henry stomped down the stairs. That's the scenario I'm envisioning. This was a very, very fun episode, and I just love the juxtaposition of a selfless Zelena and a thoroughly unrepentant Rumple. Good stuff, writers.
Oh, and here's a gratuitous Captain Swan shot. Just because.
"Henry! We thought you were asleep!"