"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.
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.
*: Only in archive footage
- The title card features Munchkins.
- The title of this episode was announced by Adam Horowitz via his Twitter account on January 17, 2016.
- REUSED ACTOR: Paul Scheer, who plays the voice of the Scarecrow, previously portrayed Hart Archer on the Season Two Blu-Ray/DVD extra "Good Morning Storybrooke".
- CAST NOTES: This is the only episode of the arc to feature all the main characters.
- HIDDEN DETAILS: When Zelena is viewing the past through the mirror, most of the image – Zelena's baby eyes, the baby blanket, the basket, Cora's cloak and the sky – take on a greenish tint, which is different from the actual scene in the Season Three episode "Bleeding Through".
- REUSED FOOTAGE: The establishing shot of Storybrooke in the morning is taken from stock footage filmed for an establishing shot in the Season Four episode "Mother". 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", where the time on the clock tower is the same as in "Mother".
- The scene where Zelena masquerades as Mother Superior was filmed with Keegan Connor Tracy and a body double with the same costume and hairstyle. CGI was used to transform the body double into Mother Superior in post-production.
- During the filming of the scene with Hades and Zelena in the Emerald Castle, Greg Germann FaceTimed his daughter from set as he, Rebecca Mader and the crew sang "Happy Birthday".
- The Oz flashbacks take place years after "Kansas" and before "Where Bluebirds Fly".
- The Storybrooke events take place after "Devil's Due" and before "Last Rites". (For more details, see the Land Without Magic timeline)
- Zelena lights a candle on a cupcake to celebrate her birthday, similarly to what Emma did in "Pilot".
- Zelena talks about how she sent Dorothy back to Kansas, an event shown in "Kansas".
- Zelena asks Dorothy what happened to her in Kansas. Her question is answered in "Ruby Slippers".
- Zelena was banished to Oz by Regina in "Swan Song".
- Prince Neal and Robin were left in the care of the Sisters of Saint Meissa in "Swan Song".
- Belle's pregnancy was first known to Mr. Gold in "Devil's Due".
- Henry began using the Author's pen again in "The Brothers Jones".
- Robin's baby is named in "Last Rites".
- HIDDEN DETAILS: The bike that Hades finds, was first seen next to the remains of Dorothy's house in "Kansas".
- There is a statue of the Virgin Mary inside the convent nursery.
- 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 implies that he was banished to the Underworld by his brother Zeus. In Disney's Hercules, Hades was unwillingly granted ownership of the Underworld by Zeus. (In Greek mythology, Zeus and his brothers drew lots to decide which parts of the world each would rule.)
Fairytales and Folklore
- This episode is a rendition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz story, with the Wicked Witch of the West and Dorothy and the adventures in Oz. Also featured are the Scarecrow, Toto, one of the Royal Palace Guards, Boq and the other Munchkins from the novel.
- Zelena also makes a reference to the Quadlings from the novel.
- This episode features the ugly duckling from the titular fairytale, Hades from Greek mythology, Captain Hook from the Peter Pan story, Robin Hood from the ballads, and the witch from the "Hansel and Gretel" fairytale.
- This episode marks the beginning of Zelena's relationship with Hades. Zelena being transported to the Underworld and being romantically involved with Hades, is an allusion to Persephone's story from Greek mythology, where Hades abducted Perspehone to the Underworld to be his consort.
- Dorothy traveled from Kansas to Oz using the silver slippers, just like she travels from Oz to Kansas in the novel.
- ARTWORKS: Venus and Mars, a famous painting by the Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli, is hanging on the wall inside the convent nursery.
- 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.
- Dorothy's checkered skirt, seen in this episode and "Ruby Slippers", is a reference to the original checkered dress worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.
- The munchkin Boq is also a reference to the character of the same name from Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.
- The books What Do You Hear from Walden Pond? by Jack Douglas and Fleeced by Carol Higgins Clark are sitting on a shelf in the Underbrooke library.
- Hades takes Zelena to find Dorothy's old bicycle and persuades her to hop on for a ride with him. This is a reference to the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, in which Miss Gulch, the Wicked Witch of the West's Kansas counterpart, is a strict woman who rides her bicycle everywhere. In addition, Dorothy's bicycle has a rear rack basket similar to Miss Gulch's.
- 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!".
- HIDDEN DETAILS: The icing on Zelena's birthday cake is green, as are the candles Hades uses for their dinner.
- REUSED PROPS: Zelena's mirror, which she uses to look into the past, is the same prop used for the mirror in Rumplestiltskin's castle in "It's Not Easy Being Green". The same prop is used for one of the mirrors in the World Behind the Mirror in "I'll Be Your Mirror". It is best seen in the shot where Regina says, "There is no way out", where the mirror can be seen behind her.
- USE IT AGAIN: Emma's unicorn mobile in the Royal Castle, which was in Mr. Gold's pawnshop during the Dark Curse, can be seen hanging in Prince Neal's nursery room in the Storybrooke convent.
- REUSED PROPS: The lamp seen sitting in Zelena's quarters at the Emerald Castle is the same prop used in the Season Six episode "The Black Fairy" when Mary Margaret, David and Hook are searching the clock tower.
- 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.
- ARTWORKS: The giant painting in the Underbrooke library is Pandemonium, an oil painting from 1841 by the English romantic painter John Martin. The painting is based on John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost and depicts Pandemonium, the capital of Hell, with Satan himself standing on a rocky outcrop in the foreground – a subtle reference to Hades and the Underworld. In the painting, the Devil is depicted with a shield and feathered helmet, like Achilles outside Troy in Greek mythology, a subtle nod to Hades and Greek mythology. Also, in the episode, Hades and the Underworld are compared to Hell and the Devil. The painting is currently on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
- CUT CONTENT: The Underworld version of Ruby's car was supposed to appear in the scene where David and Margaret use the haunting booth, but it does not appear in the final episode.
- BRAND INFO: There is a vintage Dobbs hat box from Hatco (a leading hatmaker of western hats) in Walsh's workshop. The lid says "New York".
- HIDDEN DETAILS: The green/gold color scheme of Dorothy's outfit is similar to the Emerald Castle and the floor of the Munchkin village.
- Belle's brown coat was custom made by the costume department to cover up Emilie de Ravin's real-life pregnancy.
- The uniforms worn by the guards of the Emerald Castle are inspired by the design created by Adrian Greenburg for the winkie guards in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
- The scenes inside the Storybrooke convent were filmed on a television set built inside a sound stage.
- Everett Crowley Park in Vancouver doubles as Oz for this episode.
- The scenes inside the Emerald Castle, and the scene in the Munchkin village, were filmed on a blue-screen set at The Bridge Studios.
- When Zelena is disguised as Mother Superior, she wears a nun outfit with long sleeves. The real Mother Superior appears wearing rolled up sleeves. 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.
- When Belle and Robin are found by Regina and Robin, Regina is suddenly wearing a hat despite not wearing one earlier 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.
|Finnish||"Yhteinen rappio"||"Shared Decay"|
|French||"Jamais sans ma Fille"||"Not Without My Daughter"|
|German||"Vom Zerfall und Erwachen der Tugend"||"From the Decay and Awakening of Virtue"|
|Italian||"Le nostre rovine"||"Our Destruction"|
|Portuguese||"A nossa ruína"||"Our decay"|
|Czech||"Naše hniloba"||"Our rot"|
|Spanish||"Nuestro deterioro"||"Our Decay"|