Week Z – Packing a Good Punch

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Season 3, Episode 16 (It’s Not Easy Being Green)

As this show has proven, villain backstories are much more intricate and interesting than the traditional heroic narrative. While it is easy to make a cut-and-dried villain who is evil for the sake of it, such a villain is not realistic nor relatable to the viewers. Far more scary (and far more familiar) is a villain with shades of moral grey…or, in this episode, green.

This week truly began to delve into the origins of the Wicked Witch of the West. We learn that she was abandoned by her mother, adopted by a couple who alternatively naively adored her (her adoptive mother) and despised her to the core (her adoptive father). We don’t know what became of the adoptive mother, who seemed in her only scene to be very loving and cuddly, but the adoptive father alludes to Zelena being responsible for her demise. The young woman is then rejected again by the man and goes to see the Wizard of Oz, who shows her that her birth mother had a second daughter (Regina) who got everything that Zelena ever wanted.

Zelena seeks out Rumplestiltskin – who is in the process of training Regina to enact his curse – and shows him that she is much more powerful, magic-wise, than her little sister. He agrees to train her as well, but she cannot contain her envy and ends up being rejected by Rumplestiltskin too. The kicker? Zelena had silver slippers that could have potentially negated Rumplestiltskin’s need to have the curse cast in the first place.

As a result, Zelena spent the rest of her life attempting to figure out how to turn back time until she would be the favoured one by Cora and Rumplestiltskin, negating the birth of Regina – and likely the whole sequence of events for our main characters, including the existence of Emma and Henry.

Once Upon a Time - Episode 3.16 - It's Not Easy Being Green - Promotional Photos (21)

Learning Zelena’s true motivations and plan is certainly important at this point in the story. The pace of the plot has quickened nicely. Regina has turned into a strange heroine, but from the perspective of the audience, it is much more satisfying to watch her be dark and powerful on the side of good – or at least on the side of self-preservation that does not involve killing the other heroes. It was pleasant to see her give Zelena a good punch – finally, she have someone who deserved it a good smacking!

Zelena attempted to stage a showdown with Regina in front of the whole town, but ended up being unable to kill her sister. Why? Because Regina – though weaker than Zelena – had knowledge from their mother.

To be fair, neither woman had control over their circumstances of birth and childhood. Zelena holds Regina responsible for her being abandoned, but Regina’s existence is not something that she can help. Nor does Zelena’s miserable childhood negate Regina’s miserable childhood. In fact, both have a lot in common – Cora ended up abandoning one daughter and manipulating the other in her image.

My main question from this episode is: how did both Zelena and Regina inherit their magical power? Zelena is clearly born with it. Regina may have had to learn it from scratch, but she clearly had an aptitude for it. (In fact, Zelena’s innate abilities and power were part of what made her a less attractive pupil to Rumplestiltskin. She was harder to control.) However, Cora seemed to have to learn magic – or was she born with it, too?

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2013-4 Murdoch Mysteries Season7 castMURDOCH MYSTERIES

Season 7, Episode 18 (The Death of Dr. Ogden) – SEASON FINALE

Finale episodes, whether of a season or an entire series, are difficult to write in such a way that maintains the balance between the usual tone of the show, the characters experiencing growth (or taking big steps in their lives), the large plots of the season/series being wound down, and providing either a worthwhile ending or a worthwhile cliffhanger.

The Death of Dr. Ogden, a title that sounds like it came directly off of a shelf of mystery novels, maintains the above delicate balance very well. There is still a “murder of the week” and two ongoing investigations – none of which hint at anything out of the ordinary for the show. What is unusual is that a) the second victim is Dr. Ogden’s father, the “Dr. Ogden” of the title; and b) one murder is investigated by Brackenreid and Crabtree, while the other is investigated by Murdoch and Dr. Julia Ogden. Brackenreid and Crabtree trying to adopt Murdoch’s reasoning and deduction skills makes for enjoyable comedy as well as giving us viewers a puzzle to solve.

Character development was integral to this episode: Crabtree and Dr. Grace seem to be acting cordial to each other again; Brackenreid is considering turning over a new leaf; Julia makes peace with her father; and Murdoch and Julia decide that their relationship is worth upgrading, much to the delight of the stationhouse. If the series had not been renewed, ending the story with Murdoch gleefully announcing his engagement in front of his colleagues would have still been satisfying to the audience. Perhaps there would have been a flashforward to their wedding.

However, the episode instead ended with thugs attacking Brackenreid as he left for home. Murdoch’s expression of joy at announcing his impending nuptials vanishes as he, Julia, Crabtree, Dr. Grace, and various other constables surround their boss’s body badly beaten. Cue fade to black, with Murdoch shouting desperately in the background as the credits begin.

As far as season finales go, this episode did a fine job. The general feel of the show didn’t radically change to be high-stakes drama. All of the murders were solved. Character dilemmas were resolved and our leads finally seem to be getting what they have wanted for several years. The cliffhanger at the end comes as a shock, but a welcome one.

Like Leslie Bennett in Republic of Doyle, Inspector Brackenreid is going to spend the summer in mortal peril. While I love Brackenreid’s character, seeing Murdoch and company with a new boss would definitely shake up the story. Perhaps this new inspector would not care for Murdoch’s methods! A whole wealth of new plotlines could be created, even as it would destroy the dynamic of the show and of the stationhouse. Brackenreid looks to Murdoch as a quirky but valuable colleague – an equal who usually gets the job done. He has come to respect Crabtree and his strange ideas and theories, as well as his oddball sense of humour. Despite giving the other constables a hard time, he cares for and respects them. It would definitely be a shame to see him go.

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This entry was posted in Murdoch Mysteries, Once Upon a Time, Reviews, Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Week Z – Packing a Good Punch

  1. mckinley90 says:

    Thank you for that helpful blog post. Even though I closely follow this show, I find it hard to understand, this post really helps.

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