It’s a match made in hell in this episode of Once Upon a Time, titled “Our Decay.” When Hades orders Rumplestiltskin to open up a portal, it brings more Storybrooke residents to the Underworld — including a certain wicked witch.

Meanwhile, flashbacks offer a look at an almost-love connection, as Hades pays Zelena a visit in Oz, with an offer to team up so they can both get what they want: what their siblings have.

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Wicked Hell in Oz

In flashbacks to Oz, it’s Zelena’s birthday and she’ll cry if she wants to. Or, rather, it’s her abandonment day and she’ll try to take the Scarecrow’s brain for the symbol of wisdom part of the time travel spell. However, Dorothy bursts in before she can, telling her she’ll never stop her because she has the most powerful weapon, one that Zelena doesn’t: the love of the people. Toto brings a curtain down on Zelena, and they escape with the Scarecrow.

Zelena then turns on the munchkins to try to find out who told Dorothy that she’s still alive and where the Scarecrow is, but Hades interrupts. He’s impressed by her handiwork and he knows what she’s trying to do. But he too knows that Dorothy has what Zelena doesn’t (the love of the people) and suggests that she could stop her with an ally. As for why Hades wants a time travel spell, it’s all in good time, he promises her. But Zelena doesn’t think she needs anyone’s help.

Hades doesn’t give up, and Zelena finds him waiting for her. Yes, his offer to help came from a place of self-interest, he says, but he can help her. He knows she’s thinking about her sister and how she got everything she ever wanted while Zelena was left with nothing. Well, Hades feels the same. His brother, Zeus, is a god, and he did get everything while Hades is trapped ruling the Underworld, his heart stopped until he gets the kiss of true love. If he can travel back in time, he can see to it that he is the one who ends up on Olympus and his brother is the one who suffers.

Hades brings her to Dorothy’s bicycle, and after taking a ride on it together (complete with the rom-com requisite of falling off together and laughing) he explains that if Zelena enchants it, it will take them to Dorothy and the Scarecrow. And so she does. When they find her, they have a moment, with Hades telling Zelena that he’s never seen anyone as brilliantly wicked or beautiful as her, but after she goes and takes the Scarecrow’s brain — and leaves Dorothy alive as a symbol that she can’t protect everyone — Hades is gone.

When Zelena returns home, Hades is waiting with dinner to celebrate — and quite the proposal. See, he thinks they’re true love. And after he felt his heart flutter while they rode the bike together, he thinks that once they kiss, his heart will start again. But she pulls away, refusing to believe that he’s after anything but the time travel spell to go after his brother. No one can love her, she insists, wanting him to leave, but as he does he promises her that she’ll regret this.

To Protect a Baby

Hades has Rumplestiltskin open up a portal to Storybrooke to get Zelena’s baby, just as Belle finds Zelena pretending to be the Blue Fairy in an attempt to get her daughter back. When Belle grabs the baby and goes through the portal, Zelena follows her, and they end up in the Underworld. Zelena knows that she’s the reason they’re here, that Hades wants her baby, but Belle refuses to give her to her. Nothing good came from anyone trusting her, she points out, leaving Zelena to deal with her injured ankle on her own without magic.

Belle ends up in the library with Zelena’s baby, and to her surprise, Rumple steps off the elevator. But there’s no happy reunion here, as she finds out that he opened the portal and the baby was the target. He then explains about the deal he made, which probably isn’t the best way to tell her she’s having his baby, and, to make matters worse, tries to assure that he can fix everything with his power. Yes, he’s the Dark One again and he thinks he can have both that power and her love. He argues that she fell in love with him because there was a man and a beast, as neither exists without the other. (So to recap, Belle is having a horrible day. She ends up in the Underworld, has been told she’s pregnant, her baby’s father sold their child before they even met and has found out that Rumple is the Dark One again.)

Zelena turns to the others to find her baby, and Regina and Robin head out with her to find her. Zelena worries that they named her daughter something “dreadful” like Brittany or Nancy, but Robin tells her he hasn’t named her because he hasn’t been able to get to know her yet. Zelena blames that on this “heroic quest” he set off on, and she can’t see how finding a pirate is more important. That’s when Regina decides to give her a quick lesson in caring about others: she too once cared only about vengeance, and then her enemies became her family and that was when she finally felt happy. Her family needed her help, so she stepped up.  

When they run into Belle, Zelena manages to talk them into letting her feed her daughter, and that of course backfires on them. She uses her magic and runs off with her daughter, but after she discovers that her magic hurt her baby, when the others find her she has realized she can’t protect her. Hades wants to use her for the time travel spell, as the symbol of innocence. And because her magic is unpredictable, she is trusting that Regina can keep her safe. But because they can’t trust that the apartment where everyone is apparently staying is safe, Robin is taking her into the forest.

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Heroes Phone Home

Meanwhile, Snow White and Prince Charming have to face the fact that they’ve been in the Underworld a lot longer than they had planned. They’re now regulars at the diner. But when the Blind Witch hears them wishing that Neal could hear their voices, she tells them of a booth where they can do just that, in exchange for Charming’s breath. (The breath of the living buys a lot on the black market.)

While waiting for their turn in the phone booth, they can’t help but wonder what they’ll say and if Neal will even hear them. The man behind them admits that he doesn’t even know if the messages get through.

Fortunately, while Henry’s power as the Author may not be an exact science — the pages write themselves — his newest ones are about Neal hearing his parents. That knowledge gives Snow the motivation she needs to want to make it home sooner rather than later. They’re going to take down Hades now, she has decided.

Their Decay

As the episode draws to a close, Zelena finds Hades near the fallen clock tower. He’d never hurt her, he insists. That’s the thing about true love: it endures and can’t be broken. He was trying to rescue her baby from the heroes for her, he says, because he didn’t know she was there. In fact, the reason that the Underworld looks like Storybrooke is because he did it for her. He saw how much she wanted what her sister had, and so he made her her own Storybrooke.

After all these years, he still chooses her. They can get her baby back together. But she refuses to go along with him, unable to trust him. She’ll get her baby back on her own. Before she walks away, he tells her her birthday (April 15), something he got from a certain miller’s daughter that he tortured and took care of for her. She may not need anyone, but if she changes her mind, he’ll be waiting for her.

Once Upon a Time season 5 airs Sundays at 8pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Meredith Jacobs

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

If it’s on TV — especially if it’s a procedural or superhero show — chances are Meredith watches it. She has a love for all things fiction, starting from a young age with ER and The X-Files on the small screen and the Nancy Drew books. Arrow kicked off the Arrowverse and her true passion for all things heroes. She’s enjoyed getting into the minds of serial killers since Criminal Minds, so it should be no surprise that her latest obsession is Prodigal Son.