While I'm ever-so-(im)patiently waiting for Once Upon A Time Season 5 to begin later this year, I've been grabbing hold of any small amount of information out there about what's in store. There isn't much at this point, granted, given that the cast and crew appear to be still on hiatus for a few more weeks and therefore even they probably don't know much of what's happening in Storybrooke just yet. But the news is starting to trickle in, and we found out this week that Zelena and Robin — or, you know, actors Rebecca Mader and Sean Maguire — have been promoted to series regulars for OUAT 's fifth season.
While the actors behind the characters seem lovely in their own rights, but the characters both have their own issues, leaving me with some serious mixed feelings about their increased presence on the show and in the major storylines come fall. Much of their purpose thus far has been to further storylines involving the main characters, meaning showrunners have their work cut out for them if they want us to start thinking about Zelena and Robin as characters in their own right rather than just plot devices that get the real villains and heroes where they need to be.
There is, of course, the not-so-small matter of Zelena and Robin's entanglement as it was left at the end of Season 4. In case you forgot (part of me wishes I could), Zelena is currently locked up in what must be the equivalent of the Storybrooke County Jail, magic-less and carrying Robin's child — a child she conceived not as a result of consensual sex, but by killing Robin's ex-wife and impersonating her without his knowledge. I don't expect Once to deal with the complexity of a storyline that's tantamount to rape, but I do think there's a lot of clean-up needed if we're ever meant to truly accept Zelena as anything other than a lazy writing move.
One such possibility for redemption will likely come via Regina, who just so happens not only to be Zelena's half-sister, but also gave a rather heartfelt speech during the season finale that felt akin to the extension of an olive branch. Regina and Zelena may be products of their terrible and manipulative mother, the now-dead Cora, but they're focusing their anger on the wrong thing. Now, they have a chance to be happy in real ways, at least theoretically, so Season 5 could see the sisters forming a bond they'd been denied — both by circumstances and their own stubbornness — for years.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, however, and if there's one thing we've learned during the last four seasons of Once, it's that redemption is never simple. And frankly, there are bigger fish to fry than repairing sisterly relations at the moment. For now, Zelena is in somewhat of a state of stasis, and it's anyone's guess as to how the writers will get her how of the mess she's created in one piece — particularly a piece that all of us can actually stand the sight of. You know, just a small suggestion.
As for Robin, well, there seems a little less to go on there. For his character to grow, he needs to be sketched out some more, given some complexities and depth so that we can believe him as a real person, so to speak. We know he's an honorable man, one who believes in doing the "right thing" blindly, even if it's the wrong decision. We know he's supposedly Regina's True Love — or at least was back in the Enchanted Forest, before she'd become the Evil Queen — but that's really not much to go on, is it?
I imagine much of Season 5 — aside from the whole "save Dark One Emma" saga (which I can't wait for) — will feature Robin and Zelena hashing things out. The circumstances may be an absolute mess, but the fact of the matter is that for now, they're having a child together, and that child is going to be born in a few months. What will it mean for them as individuals and as two people who share a child, albeit under a really messed up premise? If the writers decide to go in another direction — one in which this child never comes to be, for whatever reason — that, too, will have ramifications for everyone involved, even if it is for the best. Either way, I can't wait to see what Once brings to our screens come September.