Once Upon A Time Character Review: Zelena

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In 1939’s The Wizard Of Oz, Margaret Hamilton’s The Wicked Witch Of The West left an indomitable mark on our culture. She was the ultimate baddy, taking Toto from Dorothy and using her monkeys to terrorize the residents of the land of Oz.  In Once Upon A Time, the character of Zelena (Rebecca Mader) appeared to be a direct cut from that same cloth. But in usual Once Upon A Time fashion, there is a twist to the character and the narrative.

Zelena is Regina/The Evil Queen’s (Lana Parilla) older half-sister. Abandoned by their mother and raised without the luxury or the access to the magic that was part and parcel of Regina’s childhood, Zelena grew up to be spiteful and angry. Arriving in Storybrooke, Zelena made it her goal to get back at Regina for everything she never had. She also manipulated Robin Hood to believe that she was his late wife and became pregnant by him.

Giving birth to their daughter (also named Robin) changed Zelena. No longer seeing life in terms of black and white,Zelena  started to change. She became close to her sister, but she fell in love with Hades (Greg Germann), who also fell in love with her, but she chose her sister over Hades. Unfortunately, Robin was lost in the battle.

To sum it up: When a character is written properly, her or she can easily transcend the archetype that is the skeleton of that character. A good writer is able to flesh out a character, giving them dimensions, failings and complications. Zelena may have started out as the archetypal Wicked Witch Of The West, but she grew into a woman who was more than her archetype. As writers, we have to remember that archetypes are fine,  just as long as we remember that the archetype is only the skeleton of the character. We need to add more to the character than just what is expected. If we don’t do that, then the character is just an archetype and frankly, who wants to read about an archetype? I don’t and I’m sure there are other readers who feel the same.


I Can’t Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street: Book Review

From the eyes of an optimist living a post-Obama world in 2017, racism is a thing of the past. We view our fellow citizens, as fellow human beings and individuals, not by the color of their skin or where their families originated from. A realist will say otherwise, racism is still alive and well in America.

On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner was killed by several New York Police Detectives during an arrest.

Earlier this year, journalist Matt Taibbi published I Can’t Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street, a detailed expose of the circumstances that led to Garner’s death, the trial that resulted from the murder and the pervasive racism that is still part and parcel of American society.

While this book is difficult to read at points, it is I believe a necessary read. It is difficult because of the subject matter, the book forces the reader to examine and challenge their own prejudices while reading about a man who has unfortunately become another representative of the injustice that still exists in America.

I absolutely recommend it.

Throwback Thursday-Mystic River (2003)

Law and Order fans are used to crimes solved within the time span of an 1 hour television show. In real life, this process is not always so quick or painless.

In the 2003 movie, Mystic River, Dave (Tim Robbins), Sean (Kevin Bacon) and Jimmy (Sean Penn) have been friends since they were boys. In 1975, Dave is abducted and sexually abused by strangers. He escapes his attackers, but the scars of that experience are always just below the surface. Flashing forward to the present, Jimmy has a prison record and three children. When his daughter, Katie (Emmy Rossum) is found dead, and Sean, who now works the homicide beat accuses Dave of killing Katie.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, this film is not so cut and dry when it comes to the narrative. There are questions to be answered. The problem is that the answers are murky, complicated and tied to unresolved issues from the past. But that is what I like about this film. It has enough drama and intensity to keep the audience’s attention without going over the top.

I recommend it.

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