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I gave you what you wanted, what she had. It's not... perfect. The Underworld is a place of, uh... well, destruction. Despite my best intentions, things don't grow here. They decay. But it's our decay.

Hades to Zelena

"Our Decay" is the sixteenth episode of Season Five of ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by Tze Chun & Dana Horgan, and directed by Steve Pearlman. It is the one hundred and fourth episode of the series overall, and premiered on April 3, 2016.


Emma, Snow, David, Regina, Robin, Henry and Hook continue to search for a way to free everyone from the Underworld. At the mercy of Hades, Gold creates a portal to Storybrooke, which transports Belle, Zelena and Baby Hood to the Underworld. While Zelena and Regina get into a sibling squabble, Belle is reunited with Rumple only to learn some tremendously shocking news that will change her life forever. Meanwhile, Snow and David hopelessly attempt to send a message from the Underworld to their son, Neal. In flashbacks, Hades learns about Zelena's very special spell and pays her a visit in Oz with the intention of striking an alliance, but finds himself with more than just a partner in crime.[2]


This section is a detailed recap of this episode. There are major spoilers. Click to expand.

Several years ago, Zelena is celebrating the day she was abandoned by her mother Cora in the Land of Oz. Her flying monkeys bring back a Scarecrow, who she hopes she can use to create a time travel spell to change history by ensuring her mother does not abandon her. However, the Scarecrow is saved by Dorothy, who has come back to Oz using a pair of silver slippers.

In present-day Storybrooke, Belle tends to baby Neal at the convent when she sees Mother Superior. Another Mother Superior shows up, telling Belle that her double is an impostor. Zelena then reveals herself. She found a way to return from Oz in the hope of taking back her child. However, when she tries to leave the convent, a portal opens that sends Belle, Zelena, and the child to the Underworld.

In the Underworld, the clock hand ticks again, signifying that yet another soul had moved on. Hades reflects on the page depicting him with Zelena. Gold is trying to create a portal to bring Zelena's daughter to the Underworld so that Hades won't take his own child.

Meanwhile, Snow White and David Nolan discover that they can use a special phone to contact their son Neal. At the loft, Henry is showing Snow, David, Regina, Robin, Hook and Emma illustrated drawings that mysteriously appear to him. Zelena then surprises them. They believe Zelena may be dead but she explains that a portal brought her, her child and Belle to the Underworld.

At the same time, Belle surprises Gold at the shop who then comes clean about still being the Dark One and his reacquired powers, as well as her pregnancy. Gold tells Belle that she will have to choose whether or not she wants to be with him even though he will never change.

Back in the past, Zelena confronts the Munchkins who told Dorothy that Zelena was still alive. Hades appears and offers his assistance to capture the Scarecrow, only Zelena replies that she needs no help and vanishes. However, Zelena later reconsiders. Hades reveals that his power is limited to the Underworld unless he receives a kiss of true love.

Robin, Regina and Zelena catch up with Belle and return the baby to Zelena so she can feed her. However, Zelena was about deceive everyone by escaping with her daughter, only to have a change of heart and returns her baby upon learning that her magic isn't powerful enough in the Underworld to protect the baby by herself. She believesthat Hades brought her to the Underworld so that he can use her daughter to enact a time-travel spell.

Meanwhile, at the loft, everyone starts to believe that Zelena, even without her powers, can help them. Henry also shows them more drawings, including the story of baby Neal hearing his parents, indicating that Snow and David succeeded in getting the message to their son.

Back in Oz many years earlier, Hades brings Zelena to Dorothy's bicycle so that they can find the Scarecrow. Hades enchants it so it will bring the two to Dorothy and they find an attraction between them. They arrive and Zelena takes The Scarecrow's brain, but leaves Dorothy alive to prevent turning her into a martyr and to humiliate her. As Hades reveals his love for Zelena, but she believes that he is only manipulating her for true love's kiss and the time travel spell which he will use for his revenge against Zeus. Zelena demands that Hades leave Oz.

Outside in the street, Zelena later confronts Hades to tell him that she will never give him her baby. Hades later admits to having feelings for her, claiming that he was simply trying to summon her daughter to keep her safe, even going as far as creating an Underworld version of Storybrooke for them to share together. However, Zelena turns down Hades again. He finally tells her that if she ever changes her mind, he'll always be waiting for her "at home" in the Underworld.



Guest Starring



*: Only in archive footage



Production Notes

  • CAST NOTES: This is the only episode of the arc to feature all the main characters.
  • REUSED FOOTAGE: The establishing shot of Storybrooke in the morning[7] is taken from stock footage filmed for an establishing shot in the Season Four episode "Mother".[8] This can be seen from the purplish sky and the parked cars in the streets, which are exactly the same; however, the time on the CGI clock tower is different. Footage from this shot was also used for an establishing shot in "Only You",[9] where the time on the clock tower is the same as in "Mother".

Event Chronology

Episode Connections

  • Zelena says to Dorothy, "Not sure where all this back talk is coming from. What happened to you in Kansas"? Her question is answered in "Ruby Slippers".
  • Hades and Zelena share a true love's kiss in "Firebird". Hades' heart is restarted in the same episode.


  • There is a statue of the Virgin Mary inside the convent nursery.[13]
  • According to Hades, people are always confusing him with the Devil.
  • Zelena tells Hades to go back to his brimstone. "Fire and brimstone" is a figurative expression of signs of God's wrath in the Bible. "Brimstone" is another word for sulfur, and evokes the acrid odor of volcanic activity.


Hades refers to Zeus as his older brother and implies that he was banished to the Underworld by Zeus. In Disney's Hercules, Zeus is also the older brother and Hades was unwillingly granted ownership of the Underworld by him. (In Greek mythology, Hades is the oldest brother, and he and his brothers drew lots to decide which parts of the world each would rule.)


Fairytales and Folklore

Popular Culture

  • HIDDEN DETAILS: Although they do not show very well on-screen, the painting shows the titular characters surrounded by baby satyrs, which are nature spirits from Greek mythology, a body of myths featured in this episode and the rest of the second half of Season Five. In addition, the titular characters are the Roman equivalents of the Greek deities Aphrodite and Ares, respectively; Ares is the son of Zeus, the deity that Hades bitterly describes as his downfall in this episode.
  • The way Zelena calls Dorothy "my pretty" is a reference from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, where the Wicked Witch of the West says to Dorothy, "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!".

Props Notes

  • HIDDEN DETAILS: The icing on Zelena's birthday cake is green,[16] as are the candles Hades uses for their dinner.[17]

Set Dressing

  • PAUSE AND READ: The Underbrooke diner's daily menu offers dry white toast, tapioca, oatmeal, porridge and custard. The evening menu consist of peppers, pound cake, ricepudding, plain risotto and tofu. Every dish costs 10.95.[26]
  • BRAND INFO: There is[31] a vintage Dobbs hat box[32] from Hatco (a leading hatmaker of western hats)[33] in Walsh's workshop. The lid says "New York".

Costume Notes

  • BRAND INFO: Belle is also wearing[38] a Sea Tie Neck Daisy Print Silk Dress (no longer available).[39]

Filming Locations


  • When Zelena is disguised as Mother Superior, she wears a nun outfit with long sleeves.[50] The real Mother Superior appears wearing rolled up sleeves.[51] However, in the next shot (after Mother Superior says, "Who are you?"), it switches; Zelena has the rolled up sleeves and Mother Superior has long sleeves.[14]
  • When Belle and Robin are found by Regina and Robin, Regina is suddenly wearing a hat[52] despite not wearing one earlier[53] and having spent the entire day out in the woods with Robin.
  • When Zelena is taking the Scarecrow's brain, her skin is not entirely green.[54]

International Titles



  1. Porter, Rick (April 5, 2016). Sunday final ratings: ACM Awards and all scripted shows hold. TV by the Numbers. “Once Upon a Time (ABC) (...) 3.78”
  2. 2.0 2.1 LISTINGS: ONCE UPON A TIME. The Futon Critic. “Air Date: Sunday, April 03, 2016. Time Slot: 8:00 PM-9:00 PM EST on ABC. Episode Title: (#516) "Our Decay".”
  3. File:516Title.png
  4. TwitterLogo.svg @AdamHorowitzLA (Adam Horowitz) on Twitter (January 17, 2016). "Here's another #OnceUponATime #titlespoiler -- hope to see ya March 6th!" (screenshot)
  5. File:516PoorBabe.png
  6. File:318HaveYou.png
  7. File:516Storybrooke.png
  8. File:420WhatIsThis.png
  9. File:522SoFar.png
  10. InstagramIcon.png keegolicious (Keegan Connor Tracy). April 4, 2016. "That scene with @bexmader and @emiliederavin was so meta my head hurts." (archive copy)
  11. 11.0 11.1 InstagramIcon.png vfxsup (Craig Clarke). May 11, 2018. Bridge Studios. "That time Greg Germann FaceTimed his daughter from set as the crew sang happy birthday" (archive copy)
  12. File:320OverThere.png
  13. File:516MotherZeleniorArrives.png
  14. 14.0 14.1 File:516WhoAreYou.png
  15. File:516BothArePossibleFlipped.png (upside-down screenshot)
    File:516BothArePossible.png (original screenshot)
  16. File:516GreenCake.png
  17. File:516Dinner.png
  18. File:516LookingAtTheMirror.png
  19. File:316GreenDearie.png
  20. File:608NoWayOut.png
  21. File:101TalkToHim.png
  22. File:104Unicorns.png
  23. File:516ShakeShake.png
  24. File:516EverythingHeEverWanted.png
  25. File:619YouMustKnow.png
  26. File:516HereAndThere.png
  27. File:516YouDoingHere.png
  28. 28.0 28.1 Pandemonium. Web Gallery of Art. Retrieved on February 1, 2021. “In the 1820s Martin produced a series of paintings depicting scenes of disaster, set in infinite, visionary spaces and full of theatrical, nightmarish lighting effects. Their basic mood largely derived from the artist's familiarity with John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost and with the biblical Apocalypse. The Pandemonium of 1841 goes back to a passage in the first book of Milton's Paradise Lost, in which "Pandemonium, the palace of Satan, rises suddenly built out of the deep." In a diagonal perspective characteristic of Martin, a gigantic building complex extends along the waterfront. This recalls fantastic reconstructions of cities of antiquity. Martin's Satan, whose invocatory figure stands on a rocky outcrop in the right foreground, has the look of an ancient Greek hero. Like Achilles outside Troy, he appears with shield and feathered helmet, but commanding an army not of besiegers but of demons and damned souls in their Cyclopean city.”
  29. File:104TowTruck.png
  30. Once Upon a Time... in Steveston. Leah Thom Photography (January 21, 2016).
  31. File:516StoppedMyHeart.png
  32. VINTAGE DOBBS FIFTH AVENUE GENTLEMAN'S HAT WITH DOBBS HAT BOX. Cyberattic. Retrieved on January 15, 2019.
  33. History of Straw hats & Felt hats - Dobbs hats. Hat History. Retrieved on January 15, 2019. “Hatco Inc. is a leading hatmaker of western hats and the maker of the Dobbs dress hats line”
  34. File:516IHadToStopYou.png
  35. File:516YouAgain.png
  36. File:516MunchkinsFlee.png
  37. InstagramIcon.png emiliede_ravin (Emilie de Ravin). January 15, 2021. "You TOTALLY can’t tell I was preggers here huh?! 🤪😂😉 Throwback to being like 7 months pregnant with Vera filming #onceuponatime , but “covering it up” with this cute little @eduardocastro293 designed coat, since Belle had not yet (or only just) discovered she was pregnant in the show 😛❤️🥀" (archive copy)
  38. File:516GreenBlast.png
  39. Tie Neck Daisy Print Silk Dress. Nordstrom. Retrieved on January 15, 2019.
  40. File:517GastonFalling.png
  41. File:518Belle!.png
  42. File:519SleepingBelle.png
  43. File:520SleepingBelle.png
  44. File:601PouringTheSand2.png
  45. File:602YoureHereYoureAwake.png
  46. "Robin Hood" Oz Guard ensemble from Once Upon a Time Season 4, Episode 18.. iCollector. Archived from the original on March 4, 2019. “Inspired by the legendary designs by Adrian for the MGM musical.”
  47. InstagramIcon.png vfxsup (Craig Clarke). April 13, 2016. "this is a set piece inside of a sound stage" (archive copy)
    InstagramIcon.png vfxsup (Craig Clarke). January 9, 2019. Bridge Studios. "#wickedwednesday is here again, it was so nice to catch up with you before I went to the DR Bex! We have to do it again!! As for Keegan, can't wait to talk to you about your short film !! Looks amazing btw!!" (archive copy)
  48. TwitterLogo.svg @whatsfilming (What's Filming) on Twitter (January 8, 2016). "Once Upon a Time is filming @ Everett Crowley Park in #Vancouver today/tonight." (screenshot) (filming notice)
  49. InstagramIcon.png vfxsup (Craig Clarke). August 15, 2018. Bridge Studios. "Wicked wednesday'a [sic] are reserved for Rebecca, the best damn green witch I have ever worked with 😂😘" (archive copy)
  50. File:516Belle.png
  51. File:516NoItsNot2.png
  52. File:516ThankYou.png
  53. File:516JustLikeYou.png
  54. File:516TakingABrain.png