I’m not sure how many Once Upon a Time fans would have predicted this but somehow season 5 has become all about Zelena. Especially in the latter half of the season, Zelena has become the central figure in the battle against Hades. Zelena’s love affair with Hades and her relationship with Regina have pretty much dwarfed the reunion between Emma and Hook, which was the whole impetus of going to the Underworld in the first place. Now Zelena is in dire straits having been captured by the joint partnership of Rumplestilskin and Peter Pan. Things don’t look good for the Wicked Witch, especially when it comes to her mortality.

What Are Rumple and Pan Planning?

It seems pretty easy to guess what Rumple and Pan are planning to do with Zelena, at least Rumple. Rumple wants Belle and his unborn child released from Hades’ control. Rumple now has the one and only person Hades cares about under his control. As far as evil plots go it is a pretty clear case of one-and-one equaling ransom. More than likely, Rumple plans to exchange Zelena’s life in place of the contract that binds Hades to his unborn child. It’s straight forward plan of trading one life for another. It’s actually so straightforward that there is no way it is going to happen that simply. 

Related: Once Upon a Time: 9 Moments of Regina and Zelena’s Bond from ‘Sisters’

The only character less trustworthy than Rumple on Once Upon a Time has to be Peter Pan. The apple did not fall from the evil tree in that family. Pan is ruthless, cunning and always looks out for his own neck, a quality he passed onto his son. Pan only wants one thing this season and it is to get out of the Underworld and back into the Land of the Living. Pan set out the rules pretty clearly for this to happen in the mid-season premiere. He needs to swap places with someone who is living and he can come back to life. 


Pan now has the only person in the Underworld who is technically alive in his grasp. Hades said that he has put all of the extended Charming family’s names on tombstones following David switching spots with Snow White. Zelena though is alive and well. It is certainly within Pan’s wheelhouse to pounce on the opportunity of having Zelena and someone contrive a way to switch places with the Wicked Witch. Rumple could have even promised his father Zelena’s life in order for him to agree to Rumple’s plan. It seems obvious that Pan and/or Rumple will try to kill Zelena. The only question is if they will actually go through with it. 

Why Zelena Will Die

There does seem to be an awful lot of writing on the wall to suggest Zelena is on her way out on Once Upon a Time. The episode “Sisters” finally saw Zelena reconcile with Cora. She also got the love and acceptance of her sister Regina. Zelena’s motivation for the entirety of her Once Upon a Time arc has been driven by her desire to be accepted and loved. The more love and acceptance Zelena finds the more the show appears to be wrapping up her story.


Once Upon a Time is also going into overdrive in an attempt to make Zelena a much more sympathetic and likable character. Zelena’s issues with abandonment and love have been played up, while her more wicked actions go pretty much ignored. Everyone is pretty much over the fact that Zelena essentially raped Robin to conceive their baby. Regina even brushed off Zelena putting Dorothy under a sleeping curse in “Ruby Slippers”/ Now this could just be part of the show’s effort to give Zelena a redemption arc. It could also be an effort to make Zelena as likable as possible before the show kills her. 

If Zelena were to die, it might clear up a lot of the issues that the Charming family is having with Hades. Once Upon a Time is playing real loose with the rules when it comes to Hades’ omnipotence in the Underworld. Sometimes he knows everything before it happens and other instances he lets Cora escape his prison for her and go to a “better place.” However, Once Upon a Time has been pretty strict in having Hades be more powerful than any of the heroes and they are essentially stuck in the Underworld because he wants them to be stuck. If Zelena were to die and to do it while protecting Regina or Regina’s family, that could sway Hades onto the heroes side making him an unlikely ally.

Why Zelena Won’t Die

Of course Zelena doesn’t need to die for Hades to let the heroes out of the Underworld. In fact, the heroes probably have a much better chance of getting out of the Undeworld alive if Zelena is alive, well and working to heal Hades’ heart. It is actually pretty likely that Hades will end up working with the heroes regardless in an effort to save Zelena from Rumple and Pan. 

It feels a little dark for Once Upon a Time to kill Zelena off too. The show has killed off characters before and it has even done it in particularly brutal ways. Killing Zelena now feels a little too macabre of the show to pull off successfully. Once Upon a Time is a series that is really built on hope. Zelena dying tragically right as she aspires to become a better person is pretty much the antithesis of hope. Zelena’s death could be very emotional and effective. There’s also a fine line between emotional resonance and misery porn, if not done correctly Zelena’s death could be the latter.

But what do you think? Is Pan planning on killing Zelena? Will Pan kill Zelena? What do you hope happens? How will Hades react now that Zelena has been captured? 


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

(Images courtesy of ABC)


Derek Stauffer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Derek is a Philadelphia based writer and unabashed TV and comic book junkie. The time he doesn’t spend over analyzing all things nerdy he is working on his resume to be the liaison to the Justice League.