'Once Upon A Time' Season 5 Will Put Zelena In The Spotlight, But Can The Character Ever Be Redeemed?

As we all wait with bated breath for the beginning of Once Upon A Time Season 5 — which, I'm sorry to inform you, is still more than two months away — we're left with perhaps slightly too much time on our hands to dissect each and every spoiler and news tidbit that comes our way. This can be fun, of course, but also maddening, given that we have so little knowledge to work with and things might end up working out entirely differently (and in the case of this show, often do). While the whole Dark Swan scenario has been garnering most of our attention, there's another aspect of Once that deserves dissection, as well, and that's the problem of Zelena — and soon, her baby.

Many fans of the show were not happy with the decision to write Zelena as Marion's killer and eventual impostor who not only essentially raped Robin Hood by deceiving him into thinking she was his recently returned wife, but became pregnant with his child. We can assume that the pregnancy was Zelena's plan all along, as her raison d'être throughout has been to destroy Regina's life by any means possible. (Why her ire has been focused on her sister, whom didn't even know she existed, rather than upon the mother who abandoned her is beyond me, but more on that another time.) Of course, this has backfired spectacularly thus far, since Zelena is magic-less in Storybrook's equivalent of Bedlam and Regina isn't really all that bothered by her wicked sister's impending motherhood.

While it would probably seem prudent to somehow have reversed this disaster by, I don't know, claiming that Zelena had been lying all along about the pregnancy, Once has decided to trudge forward with what is likely the show's most controversial storyline yet, and Zelena's baby will indeed be born in Season 5. And, though even the most notorious villains have been offered their own chances at redemption, Regina being the most obvious, you can forget about Zelena following her sister's footsteps on the path to righteousness. In fact, the mean green one will likely get even worse, according to the showrunners.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly published on July 11, Once executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis assured fans that Zelena is "certainly not aiming for" redemption when we catch up with her next season, and that half the fun is in the darkness, which is fair enough. Horowitz admitted that Zelena's presence "presents many issues," adding, "I would say it’s the guest who won’t leave, but instead of just eating your ramen, they’re trying to kill you." But will she really pose problems for Regina and Robin's relationship? I doubt it. (Emma's sacrifice in becoming the Dark One on Regina's behalf will do that, anyway.)

It's hard to see past the pregnancy storyline when it comes to embracing and enjoying Zelena's character, and it's unfortunate that it's happening, because Rebecca Mader's vibrance and energy in the role was a refreshing and welcome addition to what was becoming a slightly boring Storybrooke. And let's be honest — we're in serious need of a new villain, one that's rotten by nature and going to stay that way. Emma will no doubt be restored to her former Savior self by the end of the season (and likely well before), and Gold's bark will be far worse than any bite he has left, if he manages to even wake up from his magical coma. Zelena could have been great, and now I'm just not sure she's up for the job.

There are, of course, villains beyond repair, but what Once needs is a villain that still retains some level of humanity so that, even if we're rooting against them, we at least find them worth caring enough about to detest in the first place. Making Zelena capable of despicable acts with seemingly zero motivation — or at least not enough motivation to be at all believable — doesn't make us hate her, it makes us want her gone from the picture completely because we're too disgusted to care.

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