Once Upon a Time "Kansas" Review: Ding, Dong, the Witch Is... Something

By Lily Sparks

May 05, 2014

Once Upon a Time S03E20: "Kansas"

Guys, I don’t even know where to begin. This bunch takes one step forward, then executes 17 cartwheels backwards. The Charmings believed their own hype so hard that they got another baby snatched. Emma lost her magic because it didn’t occur to her to simply magic the water out of the kiddie pool in Zelena’s front yard. Rumple distracted Belle with a proposal so he could pocket his dagger and then Zelena’s ghost? Soul? Pendant dust? And in keeping with Once Upon a Time's grand tradition of Big Bads Who Refuse to Die the Episode Before the Finale, Zelena went zipping into the center of her Witch Compass to mess up the past. Rude. 

"Kansas" began with Rumple feverishly spinning hay into gold as the Charmings rushed to get Snow into the birthin’ stirrups. Charming delivered a super-helpful pep talk during Snow's contractions about how she should just relax and have that baby because he was right there. HAHAHAHAHA Charming remember that time you tried to keep Regina out of the back of a pawn shop and woke up in front of a locked door? Charming remember the time you challenged YOURSELF in a ghillie suit to a duel and somehow you both lost? HAHAHAHA.

Not that Emma was any better, all like, “I’m the only one who can stop Zelena, so I’ll leave this incredibly vulnerable baby, who I know she is going to try to snatch, and go hike around her backyard.” And Charming was like, “Hey, be sure and bring the guy with the cursed lips who Zelena is using as a tool against you, just to be safe.”

No, Emma. As the one person who can actually protect Snow, you should be standing right outside her door until Zelena shows up, like you know she will. “Bringing the fight to Zelena” makes no sense, Snow’s uterus has already been proclaimed the battlefield, so guard it with your life. You wanna stay kissing-close to that uterus, babe! Dear OUAT writers, I know it's convenient to make Emma slower than a bag of blonde hair extensions dipped in molasses, but it sort of undermines her heroism. However, I did like how Emma and Regina were effortlessly co-parenting Henry in this scene like an ideal family unit, after Emma got so furious with Hook for presuming to kidnap Henry and then being like, “Don’t I even get a thank you?”

Of course, as Emma and Hook bickered their way through the woods about Emma's imminent return to her extremely nice apartment in New York, they inevitably ran into Zelena, who was like, “I DEMAND YOU KISS HOOK!” and Emma was like, “LOL what? No hetero, thanks.” So Zelena was forced to put Emma into a situation where she'd either have to give Hook CPR and lose her powers, or let him die and not have to deal with a pining pirate anymore.

Firstly: Emma has got to be powerful enough by now that she could've just magically frozen the water or evaporated the water or just turned the water into circus peanuts, but once again she had to be conveniently stupid for the scene to work. Secondly: CPR counts as a kiss? I guess EMS workers are just a passel of hoes! Nooo, I am not maligning the good men and women upon whom my life may one day depend, I’m making the point that CPR is not, not, not a kiss, bros. Your mouths touch, but it’s intent that makes a kiss a kiss, so, once again, rude. Emma elected not to let Hook die before her very eyes by pressing her mouth to his and blowing oxygen into his esophagus while applying pressure on his diaphragm. Romantic, n’est pas?!! The sexiest part was when Hook coughed up the pool water. 

Hook was like, “What have you doooone” because obviously Emma's magic was sort of what literally everyone in town was counting on to stop Zelena. Whoops! And then he made a quiet vow to himself that just because his leather clothes had been completely submerged in icy cold water, that did not mean he would change them. NOT FOR ALL THE STARS IN HEAVEN WOULD HE CHANGE HIS LEATHER PIRATE FORMALWEAR.

Meanwhile in the Wonderful Land of Backstory, we learned that Glenda had approached Zelena about joining her super-exclusive bridge club of powerful witches with their cleavage a-poppin’. My Lord, didn’t they all look like hardened '90s child-pageant moms? 

Like, moments before Zelena showed up they were having an extremely heated fight about whether it was appropriate to have the girls dance to “MMMbop” by Hanson for the opening number of the Little Miss Oz Supreme Toddler to Tween Pageant? I mean, their hair! Zelena was all, “What, me join you? What, oh wow friends like what? Okay!” and Glenda was like, “On Wednesdays, we wear pink. And here is your official Witch Sister necklace: it will make you more powerful but if you ever lose it all your power is gone instantly, forever.” 

I personally would not agree to attach life-or-death consequences to wearing a horrible statement pendant for all eternity, but OUAT needed a simple, dramatic, and visual way to disarm Zelena, so that’s why that happened. Let’s keep it real! It made things easier for the writers, bam. That’s the only damn reason, babies! I am ADDICTED to the truth tonight, watch out. 

So back in Storybrooke, with Rumple helping to clean up the giant rune Zelena had carved in her garage, Zelena placed Regina’s heart and Gold’s brain and the Prince’s courage in big salad bowls and then sniffed the air, like, “A very strong placenta has discharged... SIMBA!” and made for the hospital to collect Snow's baby, the magical True Love Baby so pure it was born without an umbilical cord. BTW, guys,whose baby was that? I mean actually, what set of stage parents were like “Please, use our five-month-old infant. Smear it with vaseline and fake blood and then have your actors toss it around like a watermelon, we've got like three more. Per diem rate of $75? Awesome. We were going to let you use the kid for free but cool.”

Zelena snatching up that baby was embarrassingly easy. Like, pathetic. I laughed out loud when Robin Hood was like “Steady men... steady...” and then they all were like:

And then Belle came out dressed up like a sexy school girl and was like, “The buck stops here, buster!” And then she was like:

And then Regina was like, “I got your candy bitch!” but she was like:

And then Charming could barely reach for his sword when this happened:


And then Zelena snatched the baby right out of Snow’s arms and Snow’s face was like “My... life... ” But really, Charmings, the first time this happens—the first time you lose your baby due to an evil enchantress’s magical means—it's shame, shame, shame on whoever has parted you from your child, fair enough. BUT THE SECOND TIME you lose a baby to a meddlesome sorceress? Well, shame on you, Charmings. Shaaaaame on you. Ginnifer Goodwin did lovely work in this scene; I felt terrible for her, even if I was laughing pretty hard.

Emma turned up moments after the baby had been nabbed to reveal she was no longer going to be of any help. Regina was LIVID, as she should have been.

Then the show ground to a halt for Henry to give an extremely condescending speech to his own mother about how he knew she had good in her, and she was a hero now and he believed she could be a hero. Bitch, do you believe that because she saved your ass from Peter Pan, twice? Or maybe because she saved the whole town by attempting to sacrifice herself to stop the magic failsafe diamond? While it was super redundant for OUAT to point out that Regina is now a good guy, (a.k.a. her interests have aligned with the Charmings') still, it was nice to see Henry make that endorsement, even though, to quote Radiohead, it was No Alarms and No Surprises that she had to save everybody, again.

Meanwhile, in Oz, Dorothy Gail appeared via Cyclone and Glenda and the other witches started hanging out with the approximately 14-year-old girl, and Zelena immediately felt threatened. So she staged an elaborate ruse to make it appear as if Dorothy had killed her with a bucket of water...

...so that she could send Dorothy back to Earth and also send Glinda to Fairy-Tale Land. Zelena is very defensive guys, she’s sensitive, she’s a little insecure. This may have something to do with how her father called her Satan’s Spawn and the Face of Pure Evil all her life, and self-fulfilling prophesies have so much to do with zzzzzzzz. I don’t think anyone needs me to decode this trope. The writers had some points to make about CHOOSING not to be wicked. I’d argue that immorality is rarely that clean-cut of a decision, rather it’s a million tiny rationalizations, but whatever.

So anyway, Regina showed up at Zelena’s Rune Barn just as she had all four symbols in their salad bowls leaking powerful magic color to open a portal to the past. 

The final showdown involved everyone being completely useless as Rumple apologetically dispensed one-liners and smackdowns. I get that he’s supposedly throwing people into hay bales against his will, but does he have to be so sassy about it?

Then Regina showed up, and OUAT, because it has been relying so heavily on Lana Parrilla for these last three seasons was like, “Hey, we know she can do powerful emotional acting standing upright. But can she sell one of our incredibly ridiculous lines while pretending to be in a chokehold, suspended from wires?” I mean, the ordeals they put this woman through. All you thespian hopefuls in acting classes where they make you do animal body movements and perform voice and breath work: Shows like this are why. They will write the craziest shit they can, just to see if you can do it, and if you pull it off they will only up the ante. So Regina gave the “hero speech” apparently three feet off the ground while pretending to be squeezed by an invisible Darth Vader grip.

So everything seemed to be solved: Regina was now officially a good guy and had ingratiated herself enough with the inlaws for her and Emma to plan their wedding drama-free, and the Charmings had their baby back for the first time, which was adorable. 

Emma didn’t have her power back, and that was worrisome but I figured the first time Regina so much as swiped her arm, logically it should come return (since Regina’s came back when Emma touched her).

Then Belle showed up at Rumple’s Pawn Shop, because God forbid he go find her ever. Did Rumple rush to Belle’s side when he was finally free from Zelena’s control, after seeing her risk her life multiple times to free him? Nope! He went straight back to his store to, I don’t know, price up the hookahs or something. Belle arrived looking desperately sexy in a black bra and white blouse, and he was like “Seriously why are you still into me?! I don’t understand. How did you get in here? I thought you gave me back that spare key. Did you make copies?” and Belle was like “See this dagger? Regina gave it to me but I’m giving it to yoooou even though I know you are literally made of darkness, like I saw the tar that formed you in the woods that day with the crazy candelabra, but still: I trust you to do the right thing from now on.” And Rumple was like, “This dagger represents perfect trust. I ask that you keep it along with my heart and marry me!!!” And she was like “Of COURSE [face smush face smush].” I know you Rumbellers out there have been through a lot, you deserved this moment, I’m sure it was richly enjoyed, and it was plenty cute, and if you like watching actors smash their faces then this was right up your alley.

Unfortunately, we would all question all the legitimacy of this moment just minutes later. After Regina gave a jailed Zelena a “scared straight” speech about how she deserved a second chance and she could turn things around etc. etc., Rumple came in and revealed he had performed sleight of hand to get the real dagger from Belle. Dude: She OFFERED you the real dagger, so you could have just kept it? Also, you proposed to her while holding a fake dagger, so that kind of makes your whole proposal super shady. Then Rumple straight-up stabbed Zelena with the dagger, she turned into a ceramic figurine, the dust went to her pendant, and then the curse in the Rune Barn happened anyway?

I’m confused about the ending as I trust many of you are, but the episode promo for next week's two-hour finale is more than enough to keep me on board. I’m guessing some element of the time-travel curse worked, but without removing Regina. So we’re going to see how everything would have been if Emma had grown up in Fairy-Tale Land? Suddenly I’m not even mad about how ridiculous this episode was. IT WAS RUDE-DICKULOUS.


... Was Rumple super rude to Belle by betraying her trust DURING a proposal? Are you sort of furious the writers undermined that moment?

... How do you think Emma will get her magic back?

... What should the Charmings name their bb boy?

... Did Emma act quite stupidly this episode? Was she dressed appropriately for a magical/non-magical showdown?

... How do you think Zelena’s death changed the time-travel curse?

  • Comments (652)
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  • annelash5 May 21, 2014

    The iron man comment cracked me up so bad! Awesome review!

    Personally, i agree that just about every character on this show has been undermined by the writers. The good guys are made to be naively stupid, and anyone with a dark past who are the most interesting are always super emotionally blind to their persoal pitfalls.

    regina for all her evil past truly can't seem to escape the evil guy prejudice displayed by everyone. She is the most powerful, reliable and intelligent character who has repeatedly saved the day for all the "good guys". And they're the ones giving her speeches about how she has good in her? I don't think they're trying to convince her she can use light magic, they're trying to convinve themselves. I find it condescending.

    the writers really have been rude to emma. I get she used to have trust issues but this episode she sounded like a whiny brat. I had it sooooo much better in new york. I don't want to stay here in story brook. Let me be not only whiny but stupid as i leave the hospital to go fight zelena when everyone knows right now i'm the only person wielding light magic and could help protect mary margaret and the baby.

    but the most infuriating part to all of this is the undermining of rumplestiltskin. What a brilliant actor. And season one was so emotionally gripping and captivating with the dark one and his past. How could they take this beautifully devious, intelligent, heart breaking and intense man and make him into nothing but a lying thug? He lies to everyone he loves and now basically resorts to something more like a punch or stab and ask questions later type of fellow. Rumple wasn't just a dark one, in the earlier seasons he was meticulous. He was crafty. Clever as well as cruel.

    belle always did disappoint me even tho the romance between her and rumple always charmed and delighted me. How can she love him if she's always being so restrictive of him? Does she actually really like him at all? I think she deserves to be duped by rumple with his slight of hand proposal. You want a belle to be proud of, go read bed of thorns by fanfiction writer nym. That is a belle who truly loves rumplestiltskin, all of him, good and bad.

    my theory on the time travel curse is that zelina is smarter than everyone thinks. Perhaps this particular spell required the death of the castor. Knowing that but also knowing that if you change the past how you want it to be you could be alive in the new time continuom, she literally threw all her eggs in one basket and baited everyone to kill her.

    great post as always!

  • NechamaKravi May 20, 2014

    I'm sure someone's mentioned this but... CPR is no longer taught to include mouth-to-mouth resuscitation; just chest compressions. Made Emma look super-dumb.

  • aaustin22 May 11, 2014

    Great Scott y'all! I have my DeLorean washed and I'm getting my Mr Fusion ready! I've been pretty meh on a time travel premise, but the more I think about it, next year is 2015, so it's fitting; and since Zelina's séance last week provided the 1.21 gigawatts to the flux capacitor, and her green smoke is apparently providing the necessary 88mph, I am starting to look forward to all the Back to the Future references and puns I can use during season 4. I just don't want to see a young Prince Charming find Emma concussed in the Enchanted Forest and try to seduce her when she wakes up while calling her Victoria, Victoria Secret. Hopefully Emma and/or Hook has the presence of mind to pick up an Enchanted Forest sports almanac before they get sucked into the time warp vortex.

    (If you don't get any of this post, rent, download, stream, or pirate Back to the Future I and II NOW)

  • googlehoop May 11, 2014

    I can't wait for the finale! I'm not sure what happened after Rumple stabbed Zelena...as in, is she really dead? We've seen her come back several times already. In any case, Emma and Hook in the past will be interesting. It is also disappointing that Rumple lied to Belle...she is so good and trusting. How many times can she be expected to forgive him? And I fear if she leaves him, he will completely go over to the dark side. He needs her far more than she needs him.
    Just in general...I hope there are others out there who enjoy this series for what it is...pure fantasy. It is after all a show about fairy tales. It can be as 'ridiculous' as it wants and I will still love it.

  • lynelltiller May 11, 2014

    Emma wanted to give up her powers. She even said "don't need them in New York"

  • lynelltiller May 11, 2014

    Has Dorthy ever heard of a hairbrush, or a bra. She was looking kind of dumpy.

  • sleepingbeauty May 11, 2014

    She was trapped inside a house that just crash-landed in Oz. I suppose she can be forgiven for having forgotten to bring her overnight bag. She didn't get the Bob Mackie treatment for some reason, even though the witches did. Seems unfair somehow.

  • lynelltiller May 12, 2014

    Yeah, the witches have plenty of glam equipment. They could have sharied some.

  • sleepingbeauty May 11, 2014

    p.s. I guess even the directors of this show aren't brave enough to drag Dorothy's wardrobe out of the depression era, even though everyone else in this show seems stuck in the 80's in so many ways.

  • barneyscherbatsky77 May 09, 2014

    the scene 'come back to me' is so awesome and made me cry...and I can't wait for the finale!! Emma & Hook's adventure in EF will be so amazing and Epic &33 and their dance omg....my dream comes true...also i'm so curious for snowing's baby name... and why did Rumple lie why...poor Belle, she always believe in him...he should always listen to her... aww yess i'll see Roland again in next ep and Regina will meet him again.... cuteness overload... i hope Henry could meet Roland too but seems unlikely...

  • aaustin22 May 09, 2014

    I haven't figured out what yet, but there is something special about Hook (and it's not his cursed lips or guy liner). In season 2, he asked Cora if she was going to kill him and then he said "try," implying she couldn't. He wasn't taken in Regina's initial curse, it was also implied in season 2 that he wasn't in Neverland at that time. He did go back to FTL in the mid season finale, but he was the only one who retained his memories from Zelina's memory wiping spell. He is the only fairy tale land character that's able to cross the Storybrooke town line without repercussions. I have to believe all that means something. The writers can't be writing an entire character as a plot hole, can they?

  • Aeidail May 09, 2014

    There were a lot of people not taken in the original curse. Which they have never really explained. And he retained his memory in the real world because he didn't get taken in the curse. Because he wasn't part of the original curse when Regina undid it, technically it shouldn't have affected him at all, except it did return him to his land (that is a plot hole). Which meant that he was still free to portal jump. The others couldn't change lands, because of the curse reversal, but like I said it shouldn't have affected him. So the reason he can do all those things is because he wasn't part of the original curse, just like Emma. That being said, I do feel like Hook is special.Even though the things he can do aren't plot holes, he is still the only one, besides Emma who is in storybrook who has never been cursed. I feel like that should be significant, but who knows.

  • aaustin22 May 10, 2014

    I respect what you're saying, and am not arguing, just pointing out:
    "There were a lot of people not taken in the original curse. Which they have never really explained." &-- big ol plot hole

  • Aeidail May 10, 2014

    I still want to know the answer to that one.

  • YeomanRand May 09, 2014

    I was glad Rumple exacted revenge on Zelena. He is The Dark One, after all, doing what he does best. And she did cruelly torture him. I hope sooner or later Belle gets the memo, however.
    Emma seemed very casual/apathetic about losing her MAGICAL POWERS. I dunno, I know NYC has it's charms but, it seems like finding out your parents are fairy tale characters and live in a magical land is better. She is kind of getting on my last nerve. Although I would completely miss indoor plumbing, Ibuprofen, and Starbuck's/Dunkin.

  • Sqlady210 May 08, 2014

    The cleverest way I can think of Emma getting her powers back would be by accepting who and what she is and realizing no one can take away anything you are born with, only give you the belief that they are more "powerful" if you by it then yeah your susceptible.

    On Rumple....very rude, but Belle keeps going back. I know about wanting to see the good and hope for the change...not gonna happen sorry Belle.

    At least Hook in the final 2hrs will get a change of clothes.....

    What say they take the crew to Narnia? Face the White Witch/Queen?

  • Sqlady210 May 09, 2014

    I was just thinking in the finale we see Midas again, he is not fairy tail he is Greek (love Percy Jackson) so what if they start incorporating other mythologies?

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