While still driving the plot forward, Ruby Slippers took a bit of a detour. Recurring/guest characters took the spotlight, as Ruby (Red Riding Hood) tracked Zelena to the Underworld in order to save Dorothy. It was a lovely story, even if it felt a bit disruptive overall.
The problem with guest-character arcs for one episode is that we as an audience get very little time to get invested in these characters and/or their stories. In 45 minutes, the writers have to introduce (or reintroduce) the characters, give us a reason to care about them, have them do something or have something happen to them, and then have the plot resolved to the point that the audience is satisfied with not seeing them again for a long time – or if ever. That is a tall order!
Ruby, Dorothy, and Mulan are interesting in their own right, but trying to convince viewers that there was romance between Ruby and Dorothy with only one awkward dialogue scene between them was stretching credulity. I could not get invested in their relationship and I just decided to take the writers’ word for it. It made sense, but it was unsatisfying. Sadly, I don’t think that a heterosexual relationship would have been scrutinized for not being convincing quite to the point that this one was. How many so-called love stories have insisted that two characters are in love after only one scene? Many, and most are simply believed.
It was not that it was a relationship between two women; it was that there was no enough reason for the audience to care. For sure, we want Ruby to be happy. Also, her interactions with the main cast in the Underworld do keep the primary storyline progressing forward. But why did we need to have such an awkward romance shoehorned in? While the writers get many points for trying their best to portray a homosexual pairing respectfully and no differently than a heterosexual one, they also lose some for making it a bit too obviously awkward.
As for Ruby herself, I am glad that she is moving forward with her life. I was really please with how the story was resolved neatly. It was a nice guest-character episode. I think it was the best that could be done considering the circumstances of the show. Time will tell if they revisit these characters. If not, I hope that they go off happily into the sunset together.
Sisters was a family-centred episode focused on Regina, Zelena, and Cora. Finally, each of them got some closure to the outstanding issues that they had with one another, especially Zelena and Cora, who barely even met. For the first time, Zelena gets her mother’s love. Cora gets to apologise for abandoning her. Zelena realises that Regina was as much a victim as she was. Truly, the episode was heartwarming and cathartic. It also changes the dynamics between the two sisters, much to the chagrin of everyone else.
I admit that sibling rivalries have always seemed pointless to me. In this show, Zelena’s constant anger at and resentment of Regina was childish and spiteful, as well as completely misguided. What she was truly envious of was that Regina seemed to have Cora’s love, while Zelena never seemed worthy of it. Hence Zelena was angry at Cora, but she could not bring herself to hate her mother because then she would never get the maternal love that she felt was rightfully hers. Thus, she convinced herself that Regina was the problem. If only Zelena could eliminate her sister from the equation, she could get the love form her mother, so she reasoned. She could prove that she was a worthy successor to Cora – a powerful witch even moreso than her mother – while Regina was a pale and weak imitation. Zelena could not bring herself to really believe that Cora was never going to love her the same way as she did Regina because Cora only cared about herself and what her daughters could do for her. Nothing Zelena could have done would have changed that. Regina was Cora’s ticket to power. Only Cora’s repentance could fix the problem.
An improved sisterly bond between Zelena and Regina sets the stage for a shift in the fight to defeat Hades and escape the Underworld. For the first time, Zelena wants to genuinely help the heroes – even if it means falling in love with the God of Death. She is willing to work with them if it means she could have her daughter back.
The other heroes, however? Their reactions to the “newly-trustworthy” Zelena remain to be scene.