Signature Line: “The Queen may be evil, but I’m wicked. And wicked always wins.”
Once Upon a Time’s version of the Wicked Witch of the West is indeed deliciously wicked. You hate what she does but love to watch her do it. Zelena is portrayed to perfection by Rebecca Mader who plays Regina’s older sister with both over the top insanity and rare but interesting glimpses of humanity. She is a magnetic character to watch.
- “Zelena reveals herself to be Marian in disguise, lording over a near death Rumplestiltskin.” (Season 4, Episode 17, “Heart of Gold”)
It was a wicked plot twist to discover that the woman we believed to be Robin Hood’s presumed dead wife had been Zelena in disguise the entire time, and the scene where she reveals the entirety of her plot was fabulous to watch. Each villain on Once Upon a Time has different shades of evil and motivations, and in this scene the witch is at her most evil as she is taking great pleasure in the pain of others, not only unsuspecting Robin Hood and in turn her sister Regina, but also Rumple, who is defenseless in a hospital bed and so shocked that he flat lines for a moment. The sadistic pleasure she takes over his failing heart, knocking on it and calling it hollow shows how borderline psychotic she can be. Her behavior is horrible but fantastic to watch.
- “Zelena tells Regina she is just like their mother Cora when she says the author will write her (and her baby) out of their existence.” (Season 4, Episode 20 “Mother”)
In rare moment of humanity, you can see the genuine fear in Zelena’s eyes, the harsh truth that Regina needed to hear, and the realization from both of them that they each have suffered at the hands of their mother. The multitude of layers in this scene can only be accomplished by a high caliber actress, and it was fascinating to see Zelena, who is always so confident and snarky, express emotions that actually are, dare I say, sympathetic. In that moment, she did not resemble a wicked witch, but a simply a very sad woman. It probably won’t last, but these glimpses of more grounded human behavior help to make her character well rounded and endlessly watchable.
- “Zelena curses Kilian’s lips and threatens Emma and her family.” (Season 3, Episode 17 “The Jolly Roger”)
When this moment happened I remember being completely shocked that the whole time time Killian was trying to help Ariel find Prince Eric, it was actually Zelena in disguise. And the scene that proceeded was one of the moment intense, poignant and captivating the show has ever seen as these two formidable characters spar back and forth. Zelena’s confidence and gloating that she knows all, and will succeed in her nefarious plans made my heart break for Killian while I was also completely enthralled by her. These two should share more scenes together!
- “Zelena and Regina battle each other on Storybrooke’s Main Street.” (Season 3, episode 16 “It’s Not Easy Being Green”)
Billed as a great showdown akin to a wild west shootout, this battle between sisters was great fun to watch. And before Regina even shows up, Zelena makes short work of both Emma and Sneezy’s Miata with her typical sassy demeanor. She and her sister have more in common personality wise than they think, but in this scene Zelena proved more powerful than even the Evil Queen as she blasts her through the window of the clock tower with great ease. Of course, her plan was thwarted when Regina is smart enough to not have her heart with her- and all the lucky for the audience because it results in one of the more sadistically fantastic expressions in TV history. Judge for yourself.
- “Zelena lets go of her envy and Glinda invites her to be a member of their sisterhood, erasing her green appearance.” (Season 3, Episode 20 “Kansas”)
Although it did not last long, I enjoyed seeing that, albeit briefly, Zelena was able to let go of her envy and have a chance to be a part of something good. Zelena’s appearance is tied with how she feels on the inside and seeing her “envy” disappear was a nice symbol that our past does not have to dictate our present, and importantly our future. It is uncertain, and if we’re being honest probably unlikely, she will ever reach this point again, but it was great to see that it was possible, even if only for a moment.
Favorite Little Moments:
-Her signature line also presented an iconic Once Upon a Time moment as we see Zelena in her full glory, boasting that wicked always wins, and introducing her unforgettable character to the world.
– Although the moment where we see that Neal will pay for Rumple’s life with his own was sad, one cannot help but also laugh at her delivery of the line “Oops.” Classic character moment!!
Favorite Reader Moments:
When it came to Zelena only one moment was a repeated favorite among readers:
- Zelena reveals herself to Rumple in his hospital room.
The rest of the favorite readers moments are ones both included and not included on my list.
They are as followed (in episode order):
- Zelena’s first appearance and iconic line “Wicked Always Wins” in “New York City Serenade”
- Zelena first meets Regina in “Witch Hunt”
- Zelena fights Regina in “It’s Not Easy Being Green”
- Zelena turns Walsh into a flying monkey in “It’s Not Easy Being Green”
- Zelena curses Killian’s lips in “The Jolly Roger”
- Zelena and Regina talk about choices in “Kansas”
- Zelana says Regina is just like Cora in “Mother”
- In the alternate reality Zelena’s jealousy still comes out as she complains about getting Regina’s blood on her wedding dress in “Operation Mongoose Part 2”
Thank you to the following readers for sending in their favorite Zelena moments: Mimi, Melissa, Meredith, Emily, and Alyssa.