Headscratchers / Wicked

Wicked (the book)
  • Animals and animals. Put every else aside, is there a difference in pronunciation? If not, how do the people in Oz know which one you're talking about?
    • You know how you know someone's started a new sentence? Like that. Hence why it was impossible to tell when "Animal" began a line in a poem: that tone change was part of it anyway.
    • Listen to the audiobook. It's very clear which is being mentioned despite there being no noticeable difference in pronunciation.
  • Was the Pleasure Faith a real religion with actual beliefs and such, or just an excuse for kinky sex?
    • I think it was both. It seemed to celebrate a hedonistic mindset, indulge in pleasure and entertainment in all its forms for their own sake. That said, there are some real-life religions that believe in personal gratification as a path to enlightenment.
  • I haven't read any of the sequels, so maybe this is explained there, but where exactly did the Scarecrow come from? In the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the 1939 movie, no explanation is given for how the Scarecrow can move and think and talk, and none of the characters seem to need one; it's just accepted that, in the Land of Oz, a lot of weird and silly stuff exists, talking scarecrows included. But Wicked is much more of a Low Fantasy tale; Talking Animals and a handful of spellcasters are pretty much the limit of its fantastic elements. Given that, the Scarecrow's existence kinda sticks out like a sore thumb. If he's the result of an enchantment like the Tin Man, by who and for what purpose? (and I'm talking about in the book; I'm aware that the musical addressed this)
    • No it hasn't, at least not yet. Maybe in the last book.
    • For what it's worth, the original Oz books did eventually get around to explaining how the Scarecrow came to life — in book fifteen. If the Wicked series keeps going, it may eventually reach that point, but it'll probably take a while.
    • In the musical-verse, the Scarecrow is Fiyero by result of yet another spell gone awry; Elphaba accidentally turned him into the Scarecrow when trying to save him from being tortured to death. The book version seems to imply/foreshadow that it's Avaric, since there is one scene that describes him as walking as though he were made out of straw...
    • That was a deliberate red herring. It can't be Avaric. Elphaba visits him while the Scarecrow is supposed to be with Dorothy. Though I did notice the foreshadowing and thought that might be it myself.
    • Isn't there a throw-away mention of how straw men are connected to Munchkin pagan beliefs? Book!Nessarose seems the sort of person who'd think it pleasingly ironic to transform an unbeliever in the Unnamed God into a symbol of his faith. Whether or not she's good enough at magic to do so is another matter, of course.
  • A lot of the stuff in the book doesn't make a lot of sense (to me, at least); 1. Was Elphaba raped? Fiyero remarks that their first time together wasn't her first and she has a mark down there... 2. Does Elphaba try to kill herself after Fiyero died? Did she know he was going to die? Before he goes back to her hidey-hole thing, she starts crying and then disappears. And then she looks like she's slit her wrists... 3. Why was Fiyero killed off? I mean in-universe reasons... 4.And why couldn't Fiyero make up his mind about whether or not he was in love with Elphaba? Clearly he doesn't love his real wife, at several points in time he decides/comes to the realization that he is in love with her (and it's pretty clear she's in love with him), and in the musical he is...so why is he so wishy-washy about it in the book?
    • 1. She wasn't raped. It's implied that she was a hemaphrodite when she was born. 2. No, she went into a coma from depression and, no, she had warned him to stay away from the hideout. 3. He was involved with a domestic terrorist. 4. The only other woman he's had a serious relationship with was an arranged marriage, he didn't love her. So he's not sure what he feels. It hadn't been that long when he died. Love's confusing.
      • Thanks. I find it hard, in this book, to tell what is a metaphor and what is really happening...
    • 1. Not being a virgin is hardly the same thing as being raped.
  • The Tin Man in the book. The original Oz books were whimsical/fairy tale-ish enough that the idea of some tinsmith in the middle of nowhere being good enough to build fully functioning tin prostheses to turn someone into an Ozian Cyberman was perfectly acceptable, but Wicked doesn't have this excuse. Is he a tiktok construct? Was this unnamed tinsmith a sorcerer of some sort? How does he work?
    • Why does Wicked not have this excuse? It's still Oz. Oz full of talking animals, witches, magic shoes, and flying broom sticks. It's the same world, just told in a very different way. Magical whimsical tin smiths are still a viable option.
      • Apparently, this Tin Man has the same origin as in the book (probably because it was already tragic). As a man, he fell in love with a young woman, but the Wicked Witch of the East enchanted his axe to cut off his limbs, one by one. Somehow, he managed to replace each piece of him with tin each time.
    • On a related note, the Scarecrow in the book. In the original Oz books, he was always alive, perfectly content being brainless and immobile. But what's his place in the Wicked series? Are all scarecrows alive in that Oz? Was that Scarecrow a special case? Was he even a real Scarecrow?
  • If Elphaba was allergic to water, how did she drink? IIRC, she's seen drinking alcohol at one point, which would obviously contain water.
    • Only pure water seems to be dangerous to her, or pure-ish water. Her tears also burn her, but she obviously can't be deathly allergic to everything containing water—most of the human body is made up of water.
    • This troper has a skin allergy to coconut. Incredibly painful burning that lasts for hours. Having said that, I can't use/eat soaps, foods, or other products that use coconut as a main ingredient. But I can use non-coconut based soaps/skin products (99% of which have some form of coconut-based ingredient), though tingling/pain varies. And I can also eat some food that uses coconut, if it's diluted enough. So Elphaba, like me, can probably use stuff that contains her irritant (water) so long as it's diluted enough. But a lot of stuff would give her unnecessary tingling or a light burning resembling spice.
  • So my question is this: Fiyero is brown-skinned, right? In the book, when he interrupts Dr Nikidik's class, he is described as having blue diamonds tattooed on his "dark skin." A classmate comments that his skin is "the color of shit." Sarima & her sisters, I don't recall being specified as dark, but one could assume they are because Oz doesn't seem to have much variation within each ethnic group. So I have to wonder why Nor seems to be white in "Out of Oz." "Son of a Witch" made little impression on me & "A Lion Among Men" made even less, but why would Nor be white if people from the Vinkus are dark? Unlike Liir & Rain, she has no mixed heritage, so she should look much like Fiyero unless I'm misreading something or forgetting a passage from one of the middle books.
    • i believe sarima was described as being white
    • From "Out of Oz", Ilianora (Nor), when she gives Glinda the Grimmerie early on, is introduced as having white hair (a wasting ailment, Glinda surmises), but "Her skin was dark, like a woman from the Vinkus." It just doesn't come up very often.
  • Did Elphaba actually kill Madame Morrible? I mean I know she bashed her head in but the narrative seemed to sort of imply Morrible was already dead but maybe I'm missing something?
  • If Ilianora sewed her vagina shut, how does she menstruate? Backed-up menstrual blood can cause all kinds of health problems. Did the author just not consider that?

Wicked (the musical)
  • When Nessa begins to read the spell that will enchant Boq, Elphaba hovers over her ineffectually, shouting for her to stop. Didn't she think of grabbing the book away? Or, you know, pushing her sister out of the way?
    • Maybe she didn't want to hurt her sister? Or maybe physically stopping someone in the middle of a spell is dangerous?
    • This really depends on how it's played; the production I recently saw had Elphaba pushing Nessa out of the way, which thoroughly messed up the spell.
  • It bugs me from a logic standpoint that Oz has guns as evinced by Fiyero's arbequesque like rifle, but no one tried to shoot down Elphaba at the end of 'Defying Gravity'
    • Rule of Cool, or at least he and his several in-canon and IRL Fan Girls will lead you to believe he applies. The other guards weren't cool, so they have to stick with cardboard spears.
      • Cardboard? Oh, please, that is an exaggeration. He's CAPTAIN of the guard, guys. He has to be cooler, duh.
    • The Wizard would want Elphaba to be taken alive if at all possible. I don't think they were allowed to shoot her down even if they could.
    • Perhaps weapons technology was similar to Europe in the 1500's. Guns would be around, but not very accurate (certainly not accurate enough to hit a fast-flying human sized object). That was about the era when bows were going out of fashion as well (they were more accurate, but harder to train people to use), explaining why no archers were called out.
    • Singing is a free action?
    • The spell protects her from attempts to shoot her down. As she said, "And nobody, in all of Oz, no wizard that there is or was is ever gonna bring! Me! Down! Besides, it's going to be much harder from a PR standpoint to explain killing her that just capturing her alive. If they shot her down, they would have made her into a martyr.
  • Why, oh dear Oz why wouldn't Elphaba take Fiyero with her to save her sister. Yes, setup for a big save, but that's a meta-reason. She isn't a soldier, and doesn't have any training at arms, and she has with her a big honking captain of the guard who can and will fight to protect her.
    • She didn't think it was a trap, nor that it might be used as one.
    • More than that, why didn't Fiyero go with her when she made her escape? They could both have got on to the broom, it wasn't even like he needed to stand in the centre of the guards to keep his gun pointing at them.
      • This bugs just about everyone. Even the Glinda/Elphaba shippers. The only reason it really has is meta: He died in the book, and they expected the book lovers to love the play. While I don't think it really would be that big of percentage (What with having Idina and Cheno in OBC and Schwartz as the composer/lyricist) of the audience it seemed to be serious enough at the time of writing that Fiyero had to die, or at least seem like he was for a while. I managed to come up with a story explaining it, but it really grasped at straws that shouldn't be there.
      • Who would have thought of it? Glinda and the guards definitely wouldn't say anything even if they thought of it. Fiyero is there to save Elphaba, and so may have his own safety as a high enough priority to be thinking that far ahead (and may not even know if her broom can carry two), and Elphaba herself is still getting used to the idea of someone that close, she might not be considering the option he'd want to come along. And, she's been on the run a while, probably not getting the best rest/food, along with the stress going along with her sister dying.
      • My view is that he would not have been able to stop the guards shooting at them once they got up into the air if he didn't stay behind and continue to threaten Glinda until she got to safety, I still think he swung into the cornfield knowing full well that he wouldn't get out alive.

  • Why oh why oh why does everybody in-story blame Elphaba for the Cowardly Lion? Why not, for example, blame the frigging cage that he as a cub was trapped in before Elphaba took it? Or, for instance, the ginormous syringe that the Wizard's stooge was going to inject him with? How was he supposed to "fight his own battles" when he couldn't fight in the first place? It might be everyone "drinking the Wizard's kool-aid", as the troper above so succintly summarized, coupled with Boq's fiery and self-serving oratory, but at this point it just seems as though they looking for excuses to tear her down.
    • First of all, "excuses to tear her down" — you've hit the nail on the head. Second of all, people might be going off of the Lion's own account of things. He was apparently very young, and it was a terrifying experience for him. He might not remember it all that clearly. Certainly he wouldn't remember the names, faces, or anything of any of the people there — except "I remember there was this one girl with green skin, she did something freaky, gave everyone else in the room seizures, then grabbed my cage and was running and I was so scared..." Elphie's green skin makes her really memorable.

  • Isn't Glinda a redhead? She's described as such in the books (or at least the one I've got) and shown as such in the movie. Am I missing something, or do I just have Enchanted and The Wizard of Oz movie on the brain?
    • Yep, she was originally. Her blondeness in the musical is probably a combination of Cheno's influence and to code her as a stereotypical dizzy airhead, Libby type. Plus there's far fewer redheads in showbiz. I have to admit I was disappointed that they changed this, being a self-confessed redhead lover.
      • She's blonde in Maguire's book, though.
    • I always thought that the blondness (and the whole Galinda thing) was simply a way to not immediately conclude that this was Glinda we were seeing. Of course It Was His Sled set it, and that was that, but it probably worked for the first generation of readers.
    • Don't you think she seems an awful lot younger in the show as well at the bits where the book and the movie put her in her late thirties to early forties?
      • The musical takes place over a much shorter period of time than the book does. Remember, in the book, it is five years after Shiz before Fiyero meets Elphaba, and she Elphaba spends several (seven?) years in the mauntery before she ever goes out to the Vinkus, and then lives out there for another seven or eight years, making the witches approaching their forties at the end. The musical doesn't seem to indicate more than four or five years, if that, have passed between "Defying Gravity" and the end of the play.

  • This is a vary minor niggling, but during the opening number of the musical, Elphaba's father and the midwife are able to see Elphaba's nose and apparently her entire head, but don't realise until she's born that she's green. Are children in Oz born with a temporary coating of green slime?
    • Poor Lighting? I mean, in-story.
    • You might not be far off. Could have been a discoloured caul.
    • Babies are pretty ugly weird colors when they're born (purple, red, etc). It's possible that they weren't really sure what they were seeing until they had the whole picture.
    • Maybe she was covered in blood/placenta and they couldn't see her color until they cleaned her up.

  • Another minor niggle: in the song-within-a-song "Wizomania", celebrating the Wizard of Oz, the lyrics proclaim "Whose enthuse for hot-air ballooning / Has all of Oz honeymooning?". However, the people of Oz aren't supposed to know about hot-air ballooning; they assume the Wizard has magical powers because he flew into their kingdom, a feat they believe is only possible by magic.
    • They assume that hot air ballooning is some kind of magical technique, the Wizard told them what it was called just not how it's done. But this also reminds me of another niggle, if the land of Oz is full of sorcery; why the hell is someone flying so special! Logically the Wizard would be met with polite applause not assumptions of godhood.
      • Presumably flight is really difficult and rarely seen magic.
      • Some evidence to the above: When Elphaba flies up during Defying Gravity, all the guards fall to the ground and look scared. All the trained, armed guards. She probably knocked them down, too, judging by staging, but they seem genuinely surprised she can fly despite her being a powerful magic user. It would also explain why the people of Oz are so scared of her, despite having the Wizard and Glinda to protect them.
    • This makes a little more sense in the book where it is seen that Elphaba has a huge advantage over everybody else because her flying allows her to make trips that would normally take months in a matter of days. Considering the rumors about Elphaba, (she is an evil insane monster and witch who acted as a terrorist against the government and rules an army of Winkies with an iron fist) it shouldn't be surprising that people are afraid because she could be anywhere, at any time. Imagine Osama Bin Laden and Freddy Krueger's love child given efficient teleportation and loose in America, and you get roughly the same notion. The Wizard probably gave people the same fear when he first arrived, the difference being that he does not really have that advantage because hot-air balloons are much slower and less manageable than Elphie's broom.

  • Glinda's excuses for giving Dorothy the ruby slippers seem kind of spurious. Wouldn't it just be better to hold onto the shoes until Elphaba came for them, and then hand them over to her? And if Glinda absolutely had to give them to Dorothy, why put a spell on the slippers so Dorothy can't remove them? What good would that do? Then again, it did keep the Wizard from obtaining them, since Dorothy couldn't remove the slippers when he asked for them...
    • I don't know about the musical, but not letting the Wizard have them is exactly why she does it in the book. Problem was, book Glinda was never talented enough in magic to make a spell as customized as shoes that would only come off for Elphaba. Why she doesn't go to Kiamo Ko after doing this? She can't fly and has to deal with the power vacuum in Munckinland. By the time she was already on her way there to undo the enchantment, the news of Elphaba's death would have hit the fan.
    • As far as the musical (and the 1939 movie, to an extent) goes, I've come up with two theories: 1) Glinda is obviously feeling guilty about Nessarose's death; by giving Dorothy the ruby slippers, as well as putting a spell on them so Dorothy will be able to go back to Kansas, Glinda is trying, in a roundabout way, to make up for unintentionally bringing about Nessa's death. 2) Glinda gave the slippers to Dorothy out of spite towards Elphaba, since she was still upset that her best friend had basically stolen her fiance from her. It's possible that it's a mixture of both theories. (And for the record, I believe that Glinda was bluffing when she told Dorothy about the slippers' magic being very powerful; she never saw Elphaba enchant the shoes, and even then, they were only enchanted so Nessa would be able to walk. In other words, Glinda was making crap up.)
    • My guess is this: Dorothy is an innocent enough girl with no idea how dangerous Oz really is. Glinda isn't a powerful witch, so she gave Dorothy the shoes with the hope that they would give her some sort of protection. How was she to know that Elphaba would be so badly affected?

  • Air balloons. As in the original novels, no one knows what they are..Why exactly? They have steam trains and other somewhat modern marvels however no one can figure out how to get a balloon to fly? That's 18th century stuff.
    • The narrative still needed to present the Wizard as a Wizard to his subjects. In-story, flight was possible through sufficiently powerful magic or Magitek like Glinda's bubble in the musical, so I can imagine either the citizens didn't feel the need to learn, or the mages who could fly put some kind of a stigma on flight research to keep their specialness. Also, since the Wizard's been in Oz for at least 20 years by the time we see the train in the musical, maybe steam technology is another thing he brought with him from Earth?

  • Why the hell is there that scene in the cornfield? Munchkinland/the spot where Dorothy's house fell on Nessarose was NOT farmland!
    • Um, yes it was. In the original wizard of oz book Dorothy spends her first night in oz sleeping in a farmhouse owned by a munchkin named Boq.
  • Where exactly is Shiz in relation to the Emerald City? The play kind of suggests it's in the Emerald City, what with how quickly Morrible gets to the wizard...
    • The book's Shiz is a train ride away from the Emerald City.
    • So is the musical's Shiz: there's an entire scene where Elphaba is saying goodbye to everyone before getting on the train, followed by another entire scene where she wanders around the Emerald City singing about how amazing it is and how glad she is to finally get there. It's pretty clear that Shiz is not in the Emerald City.
    • The map of Oz at the start of the play puts Shiz somewhere north of the Emerald City, near what I think is Gillikin Country. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong though.
      • The book's map places Shiz in almost the center of Gillikin, so yes, you're correct. North of the EC, which is almost in the center of Oz itself.
  • So, let's see here, Elphaba is born to a munchkin after she sleeps with a human, who likes to drink a green elixir, and that makes the baby both 1) green, and 2) REALLY powerful magically? And no longer a munchkin? Did we step onto Namek somewhere along the way?
    • Elphaba is magic because her father came from another world, not because of the elixir.
    • I'm pretty sure magic in the books is considered something you have to train yourself to be good at. But Elphaba seemed to just be naturally good with it, even though she has no idea how she really does it, or have any conscious control over it. Like when she turned the water to ice beneath her feet when she ran into a lake without thinking.
    • I thought magic was UTTERLY RANDOM- considering Madam Morrible has it, and she had normal conditions for conception, presumably.
    • The Grimmerie isn't even that magic in the books. Elphaba barely understands what's in it, and it has a tendency to function more like an occult cookbook rather than a book of incantations. The most she gets out of it is a recipe for coffee and the page on dragons. There is some implication that a human has unnatural powers(Reality Warper) in Oz, and Elphaba has access to this because of her heritage.
  • If Elphaba is only half munchkin why doesn't she tower over everyone, except the wizard...
    • Answer to both above questions: Her parents were the Governor of Munchkinland and his wife. Nothing was ever said about them being Munchkins themselves.
      • Elphaba is not Half Munchkin. In the book, she says herself, any intelligent munchkin family of nobility breeds for height somewhere along the line and purity of the bloodlines is not a big concern, meaning that Melena is of reasonable height because she is a Munchkin noble, and Elphaba's father is not even a Munchkin. Also note that most of the Shiz students are not Munchkins, they are Gilikinese. The only real noticeable height difference in any of the characters should be with Boq, who should be, well, munchkin-sized.
      • Elphaba's mother is a Munchkinland noblewoman who just happens to have height in her genes. Her father is heavily implied, if not out right confirmed to be the Wizard, while her "dad," Frex, is a Munchinkinland native, though probably not short. That would make Elphaba half Munchkin.
      • Seeing as I was using the information given in the play, Elphaba is the daughter of her mother and the Wizard, plus a green elixir. And it's not like it's ever specified in the play that the students at Shiz are Gilikinese... I did try to read the book, but I couldn't stand more than a few chapters before it got just too dense for me.
      • Actually, as far as I'm aware, in the original Oz books there's no mention of the Munchkins being shorter than other people from Oz. They're described as short when Dorothy first meets them, but they're the first Ozites she's seen, so the features that make them different from Kansasians are given extra emphasis. A decent argument can be made that everyone in Oz is very short by Real Life standards, and L. Frank Baum just rarely bothered to mention it. As for Wicked, the only non-Ozites we see are the Wizard (who, if the original illustrations are anything to go by, is a rather short fellow) and Dorothy (who's a small child); if everyone's more-or-less equally short, and their surroundings are of an appropriately small scale, there's no reason the height difference should ever come up.
  • I'm probably looking too much into this, but I recently watched The Wizard of Oz while keeping Wicked in mind, and during the scene where the Tin Man is introduced, he mentions that he became rusted a year ago. But according to Wicked, Tin Man/Boq becoming rusted couldn't have been more than two days before Dorothy and Scarecrow/Fiyero encounter him. I can readily agree with the theory that Scarecrow/Fiyero is lying (or stretching the truth, at the very least) about not having a brain, but what reason does Tin Man/Boq have to lie about how long he was rusted?
    • Well, the short answer is the people writing the musical didn't think it out very well. Maybe Boq just felt like being melodramatic or something. Of course in the book the tin man actually had been in his metal state for years, though he still wasn't Boq.
    • Boq was trying to manipulate both Nessa and Elphie. Remember "The March Of The Witch Hunters"?
    • Time doesn't work the same way in musicals.
    • I figure that, even though the musical is clearly using the movie's version of Oz, we're not supposed to assume things happen exactly the way they do in the movie. Think of the movie as a dramatization of how the story was told later, by people who weren't there and only know the public version.
    • It's best not to try to make the musical fit with the 1939 movie, especially with characters like the Tin Man and Scarecrow. The Tin Man in the movie is Nick Chopper, a completely different character with a completely different personality who became the Tin Man in a completely different way (though it was still Nessa's fault). You could also wonder how the Tin Man got completely rusted stuck in one rain storm and didn't think to seek shelter at any point beforehand.
  • Okay, so "March of the Witch Hunters" takes place after Dorothy and company meet the Wizard and decide to kill the Witch of the West. Ignoring for a moment that we have the citizens of the Emerald City singing, "Kill the Witch!" (how do they even know that Dorothy's group are setting out to kill Elphaba? What, did Dorothy blurt it out after leaving the Wizard's palace or something?), Tin Man/Boq sings lines like, "I have a personal score to settle with El—with the Witch!" and "And the Lion also/Has a grievance to repay./If she'd let him fight his own battles/When he was young,/He wouldn't be a coward today!" and, if I remember correctly, he mentions that he witnessed the lion cub incident while at Shiz University. Wouldn't singing/saying stuff like that lead to Dorothy asking questions, questions that Tin Man/Boq might not want to answer?
    • The Wizard has been making Elphaba a scapegoat, Public Enemy No. 1 for years. A very public campaign to murder the Wicked Witch of the West would be great for his approval rating, especially if they're flagging, so there's a good reason to make the voyage to kill the Witch public.
    • I always got the impression that Dorothy wasn't present during "March of the Witch Hunters," that it was a mob or riot that started up very late at night, that only the Tin Man and Lion attended to stir up more anger and bloodlust. Dorothy mightn't have known it was happening.
    • The timeline's a bit confusing because we don't get to see any of the scenes with Dorothy in — maybe "The March of the Witch Hunters" happens after Dorothy gets captured by the Witch, with Boq going back and using that as the final straw to rouse up the mob against Elphaba.
  • "The Tinman had a crush on Glinda the good witch, but she pushed him off on the Wicked Witch of the East cause she was only interested in the Scarecrow. The Scarecrow, however, ran off with the Wicked Witch of the West."...I love Wicked, but you have to admit, it sounds like a crazy fanfic.
    • It is a fanfic, if you define fanfic as taking an existing source material and expanding/changing/rewriting it to suit you.
  • Why did Elphaba ask Glinda not to clear her name and to keep people thinking she really was the evil one?
    • Because Elphaba believes that the citizens of Oz would turn against Glinda if she went around saying that the Witch of the West wasn't actually wicked.
    • Personally, I saw it as a bit of Fridge Brilliance. The Wizard made an important point of mentioning that the best way to unite people is to give them an enemy to band against, which he tried to do by making the Animals of Oz scapegoats. It's possible that Elphaba remembered this and decided to use herself as a scapegoat so that the people could stay united.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Headscratchers/Wicked