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S02.E20: The Evil Queen

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When she finds out that David and Mary Margaret plan to return to the Enchanted Forest, Regina searches for the fail-safe key that will destroy Storybrooke. In the fairy-tale world, Queen Regina continues her search for the bandit Snow White. Emma begins to suspect Tamara's motives.

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This is another episode I've never watched all the way through. I'll skip my thoughts on Regina's village massacre for now and head right to one of my favorite scenes in Season 2. That's Regina and Hook in the tunnel where Hook tells it like it is and shows that he's a person who gets it and Regina misses the point completely.

So here's Hook, who thought he'd won and finally gotten revenge. This occurred mere days earlier. He should have been riding a huge high and instead he felt empty. He realized that it was all a waste. He's got no one and nothing to look forward to. Even though Rumpel isn't dead, he learned something. It's not like he's going to turn it around overnight, but a light went on for him.

Then we look at Regina, who'd actually gotten her revenge and won 30 years earlier. She'd had plenty of time to process that she wasn't happy even though she'd won. She'd had plenty of time to reflect on why that was and make some changes. She didn't do that. She's been given more than one second chance to change and never does. When Hook asked if she ever wondered if this constant pursuit for revenge is the reason they have no one who cares for them, it doesn't compute for her. She simply responds that she has Henry. No understanding that Henry isn't hers and certainly won't care for her after she murders everyone he's ever known. In her mind, murdering Storybrooke is just a small price to pay for living in peace. 

This scene right here is the best reflection of why Hook's possible path to redemption works better than Regina's. In order to make a change, you have to want it and do it for yourself. Hook figures out that he needs to do things differently because what he'd been pursuing was not fulfilling and he had no one to blame but himself. Regina never wants to change or thinks she needs to change. She blames everyone else for her problems and only acts differently because someone else (usually Henry) requires her to do so.

Motive for the change is a huge part of the change sticking. Hook verbalizes his internal thought process and it would make sense to see him live life differently in the future. He's not doing it for anyone other than himself. Regina doesn't think anything applies to her and blithely waves off Hook's warning. If these two were in rehab for evildoers, Hook would be the guy who's much less likely to relapse.

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3 hours ago, KAOS Agent said:

This is another episode I've never watched all the way through. I'll skip my thoughts on Regina's village massacre for now and head right to one of my favorite scenes in Season 2. That's Regina and Hook in the tunnel where Hook tells it like it is and shows that he's a person who gets it and Regina misses the point completely.

So here's Hook, who thought he'd won and finally gotten revenge. This occurred mere days earlier. He should have been riding a huge high and instead he felt empty. He realized that it was all a waste. He's got no one and nothing to look forward to. Even though Rumpel isn't dead, he learned something. It's not like he's going to turn it around overnight, but a light went on for him.

Then we look at Regina, who'd actually gotten her revenge and won 30 years earlier. She'd had plenty of time to process that she wasn't happy even though she'd won. She'd had plenty of time to reflect on why that was and make some changes. She didn't do that. She's been given more than one second chance to change and never does. When Hook asked if she ever wondered if this constant pursuit for revenge is the reason they have no one who cares for them, it doesn't compute for her. She simply responds that she has Henry. No understanding that Henry isn't hers and certainly won't care for her after she murders everyone he's ever known. In her mind, murdering Storybrooke is just a small price to pay for living in peace. 

This scene right here is the best reflection of why Hook's possible path to redemption works better than Regina's. In order to make a change, you have to want it and do it for yourself. Hook figures out that he needs to do things differently because what he'd been pursuing was not fulfilling and he had no one to blame but himself. Regina never wants to change or thinks she needs to change. She blames everyone else for her problems and only acts differently because someone else (usually Henry) requires her to do so.

Motive for the change is a huge part of the change sticking. Hook verbalizes his internal thought process and it would make sense to see him live life differently in the future. He's not doing it for anyone other than himself. Regina doesn't think anything applies to her and blithely waves off Hook's warning. If these two were in rehab for evildoers, Hook would be the guy who's much less likely to relapse.

Well said!

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This episode highlights why I stopped believing in Regina's redemption. (Even though that didn't happen until later.) This show loves to bring her to the cusp of self-realization, only to take it away in order to drive the plot. Every single gosh darn time she's about to apologize, or choose to change for good reason, the writers pull the rug out and we're back to square one. Snow is dumb here for going from "you killed all these people, I couldn't possibly forgive you" to "she has good in her heart still" in The Cricket Game. She saw the mounds of dead bodies firsthand and still becomes Regina's cheerleader. What the freaking heck? Whenever I gave Regina any benefit of a doubt, some crap like mass murder gets pulled and I immediately have to regret my choices. 

It's not even the mass murder that stopped me being a fan of her character. It was the whole, "She can be redeemed! JK, she's still the Evil Queen inside, you guys!" when we were supposed to react as if she was a poor, defenseless hero. Make up your minds, A&E.

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33 minutes ago, KingOfHearts said:

Snow is dumb here for going from "you killed all these people, I couldn't possibly forgive you" to "she has good in her heart still" in The Cricket Game. She saw the mounds of dead bodies firsthand and still becomes Regina's cheerleader. What the freaking heck?

 

And the Writers wrote "The Cricket Game" BEFORE they came up with the plot for "The Evil Queen".  I seriously don't think they give serious thought to previous events they wrote themselves, before coming up with new crap, uh, I mean, stuff.  I can't believe they decided it was a good idea for Regina to be responsible for a village massacre.  Unless they meant for us to think Regina didn't mean for all those people to die?  Did they just "Mulan" and all sympathesized with Shan Yu?

Edited by Camera One

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2 hours ago, Camera One said:

And the Writers wrote "The Cricket Game" BEFORE they came up with the plot for "The Evil Queen".  I seriously don't think they give serious thought to previous events they wrote themselves, before coming up with new crap, uh, I mean, stuff.  I can't believe they decided it was a good idea for Regina to be responsible for a village massacre.  Unless they meant for us to think Regina didn't mean for all those people to die?  Did they just "Mulan" and all sympathesized with Shan Yu?

Weirdly, I don't actually think the village massacre is the most unforgiveable thing Regina has done, in context. It is the worst in terms of quantity of evil, but it seemed to me that she gave the order thoughtlessly, as a kind of reflexive show of power and performance of evil, and really wasn't thinking about the consequences. For my money, as someone who judges redeemability more by things like motivation and level of sadism, horrific as it is, it isn't as destructive to her chances of redemption as things like sending children to the witch, her current plans for Storybrooke, or even what she did to Owen and Kurt. 

What is frustrating in this episode is that you can see the seeds of an interesting character here. It would require massive rewrites of multiple episodes, but it would be doable. There is something potentially worth mining in a Regina who is, in, spite of everything, sincerely touched and heartened to find that Snow still sees good in her, who on some level does want to be that person who saved Snow from the horse again, who quite clearly passes up an opportunity to kill her, and who may actually be horrified at seeing the consequences of the massacre. 

What spoils all of it is two things. One, that, while as I said quantity of evil isn’t my primary metric, you're going to have to work really hard to convince me that someone who has done as much as Regina has is capable of change. Instead,  we’ve seen Regina given multiple chances, past and present, to change her ways and choose a different path, and every time she turns to sadistic murder (or, as Mary Margaret and David put it in a laughable euphemism, “she slips”). To use an analogy, it would be as if not only was a show or novel trying to present a committed Nazi as a complex, sympathetic and redeemable figure – which I don’t think would be impossible, but it would be tough –but they make him a committed Nazi who is also abusive to his wife and nasty to his supposed friends and who escapes to Brazil after the war, where, given the chance to start a new life, he proceeds to murder a few more people for hurting his feelings, and then joins with another genocidal leader for a while in a fit of pique when the local Jewish community doesn’t invite him to their Chanukkah party. 

But the other is that her lack of understanding, both in the past and present, of the transparently obvious fact that people regard her as a villain rather than a hero because she is doing things like mass murder puts her in the category of too delusional to be interesting. It would be like a drama spending a lot of time on a character who hallucinates that she is being pursued by a herd of pink elephants: that wouldn’t happen because, while it might be very sad that someone is so in the grip of mental illness that she’s lost all hold on reality, it isn’t otherwise a pathology that is nuanced enough to warrant extended exploration. They’ve created a character who demonstrates sociopathic lack of empathy, to the extent that she is baffled and hurt that Henry – who she knows is a “good” person who has come to love the members of his biological family – isn’t on board with a plan to kill everyone in the town except for him. Even her reaction to the village massacre doesn’t seem to be horror at what she has done, but horror at Snow’s reaction, which cuts into the self-flattering belief that she is really a good person.

Basically, the show thinks Regina is simply someone who has given into the dark potential that resides in all of us, someone who is different in circumstances and degree, but not in kind, from someone like Snow or Emma. In theory, that’s not a bad idea to explore. Unfortunately, they’ve written her – unlike Hook, as becomes apparent in this episode – as someone who is on a different moral and psychological map entirely from even the other villains.

Edited by companionenvy
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Sorry for the double post; I thought the last had run long enough that I'd split my thoughts.

Mostly, I want to talk about Hook here, but first some thoughts/questions on Emma and Neal. As with their brief scene in the last episode, Neal comes off pretty decently here. He is justifiably incredulous about Emma’s suspicions about Tamara, but he’s pretty gentle with her and recognizes how sensitive the whole situation is. I also found his “oh, hell no, I taught her that!” when he realizes she’s broken into his room kind of cute – although it does raise the still open question about what Neal has been doing since Tallahassee; the last Emma knew of Neal, he was robbing convenience stores, so you’d think she and the viewer would want some sense of what he was up to now. Fencing the watches and getting Emma arrested for possession of stolen goods shouldn’t have gotten Neal out of legal trouble. How is he still living under the same name? Does he -as he appears to – have a legitimate job, or is he involved in another con? Forget being the son of Rumplestiltkin. Does Tamara know that her fiancee spent years as a small to medium time crook? Does Rumple know his resolutely noble son turned to theft? Does Henry, or Mary Margaret or David know that Neal set Emma up, or that he himself was a criminal? I also don’t see a basis for Mary Margaret’s belief that Emma may still be in love with Neal, which isn't in evidence, to the point where it comes off as gaslighting. It is part of the laziness that continues next episode with Rumple making a similar comment to Neal about still carrying a torch for Emma; there's no real reason, as a viewer, to think these two people who were together for a few months eleven years ago in a relationship that originated in a life of crime that they have both now abandoned and culminated in a massive betrayal would want to get back together, so the writing relies on simply having other characters assert that they still have feelings for each other. 

As for Hook, he fascinates the hell out of me in this episode. Given his penchant for switching sides, and having forgotten the details, I was legitimately worried that he was allying with Regina and accepting her plan to kill everyone in town, so I was relieved that that wasn’t the case. His agreeing to work with Greg and Tamara makes much more character sense anyway, as he would be more likely to sympathize with Greg’s motivation than Regina’s. But what I still really don’t know, even after watching four more years of Hook’s character development, is to what extent his comments on Cora were sincere.

My own read on it is that, on some level, they were, which is all kinds of messed up and gives real insight, I think, into his headspace at this point. Cora and Hook had a frequently antagonistic alliance in which she generally had the upper hand, and took full advantage of it; it was marked by mutual betrayals, and, after the Haven massacre, Hook knows exactly what she’s capable of (we never get confirmation one way or the other, but I don’t assume Hook was in on that; at worst, he may have known it was coming and done nothing to stop her). Yet, what gets me in this episode is just how profoundly lonely Hook is. When he talks to Regina about vengeance, he puts it in terms of their villainy being the reason that they have no one who cares for them, which is a kind of touching way of framing it (as opposed to putting it in terms of why they are unhappy, or why they can’t win). So I do think just the fact that they spent significant time together interacting in sometimes companionable ways is enough for Hook to feel some regret for Cora and look at her as a friend, because it isn’t like he has other options.

This also sheds some light to what I saw – and still see as, though I’m not sure the show does – as his unwarranted hurt at Emma’s beanstalk betrayal. Really, it was delusional for him to have expected anything else. He’s a known villain who has confessed to allying with an even bigger villain. He has joined with Emma after betraying his previous ally, and for admittedly self-serving motives. His declared purpose for wanting to hitch a ride to the LWOM is to kill someone (for good reason, but he doesn’t give Emma quite enough information that she would necessarily trust that). She’s doing the only sane thing in taking the opportunity to ditch him, and the merciful thing in negotiating for his safety. But because Hook is so desperate for connection to another person – and feels a particularly strong sense of kinship with Emma --, it is devastating for him to get confirmation that he has fallen so low that even when he is legitimately being decent (as he was risking himself for Emma during the adventure, and really didn’t intend to double-cross her), he’s someone that no one worth making a connection with is going to want to touch. In the moment, it manifests as unjustified anger, but by this point, it has transformed into self-reflection, probably reinforced by the reactions he has recently gotten from not only Emma, but a bunch of other “good” people who rightfully treat him like untrustworthy trash.

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The scene with Hook and Cora is my favorite part of 2b outside of the finale. It's here when I started to see that they might actually go there with Hook and Emma. I could see a path for redemption for Hook.

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The finale threw cold water on that but the s3 premiere brought back my hope. It was quite the ride for a few months.

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16 hours ago, companionenvy said:

But the other is that her lack of understanding, both in the past and present, of the transparently obvious fact that people regard her as a villain rather than a hero because she is doing things like mass murder puts her in the category of too delusional to be interesting.

That's a lot of what makes this episode so frustrating. It's not just that she orders the wholesale massacre of a whole village. It's that she does so based on a lie that she knows is a lie, and yet shows no sign of knowing it's a lie. She talks with a straight face about how Snow poisoned her father in order to take over his kingdom. It's one thing to do so when she's talking to the villagers, since that's part of her propaganda, but later when she's talking to Rumple, she continues that line, and it's like she actually believes it, even though she knows she was the one who poisoned Leopold (or had it done) and she's the one who took the throne when she had no right to it. She's so convinced of her own lies that she feels mistreated when other people don't go along with it, and that's where she's delusional.

Then there's the fact that nothing seems to make her change her view of things -- she becomes a victim of her knights carrying out her policies, and it doesn't seem to change her understanding of why she's hated. She's treated with kindness and compassion by Snow and sees how Snow stands up for the people, and it doesn't change her perception of Snow.

Worst, it's like the show is actually trying to tell us that it's all Snow's fault, that if she'd just been able to forgive Regina for slaughtering a village, Regina might have changed. And Snow and David talking about incarcerating Regina (which she deserves) is blamed for Regina getting out the failsafe.

16 hours ago, companionenvy said:

Fencing the watches and getting Emma arrested for possession of stolen goods shouldn’t have gotten Neal out of legal trouble. How is he still living under the same name?

That's what I was wondering back in "Manhattan." He doesn't have a name on his doorbell, but he's going by the name Neal, and I don't think that Emma going to jail for having one of the watches would have got Neal off the most-wanted list, so he shouldn't have been able to live openly under that identity. Then again, he took off down the fire escape just because someone rang his doorbell. He didn't know until Emma tackled him that it was Emma or that she had Rumple with her, so that does suggest he was still involved in something shady, or perhaps still living as a fugitive.

16 hours ago, companionenvy said:

So I do think just the fact that they spent significant time together interacting in sometimes companionable ways is enough for Hook to feel some regret for Cora and look at her as a friend, because it isn’t like he has other options.

I do think that to some extent what he said to Regina about Cora was genuine. She was the closest thing he'd had to a friend for a long time, even if it was a little warped, given that it started with him being sent to kill her and her threatening to rip his heart out. He largely saw her as a means to an end, but I think he also had some respect for her, and he may even have sometimes enjoyed her company. But at the same time, he was playing Regina like a Stradivarius, telling her the absolute truth and leaving it to Regina to come to the conclusion she wanted. I suspect that Hook was being his usual opportunist self, not committing until the other person had truly committed. If Regina hadn't betrayed him, it's possible he might have gone along with her up to a point. I don't know that he'd have gone through with letting everyone in town die. He might have intervened to save others, so long as he could ensure that Rumple would be killed. But I also suspect he'd figured Regina out enough to know what she'd do. He was brilliantly subtle at letting her make the decision to put on that cuff, just letting her see it, making her think that he wanted it, and that, of course, made her demand it. The interesting thing about Hook's interaction with Regina here is that I get the impression that he was going through the motions. His usual mode is all-in, 100-percent committed, and he comes across here like he's just sitting back, waiting for her to react in the way he expects her to. He's not actively and enthusiastically going after this goal. It's more like he's just letting things happen.

17 hours ago, companionenvy said:

But because Hook is so desperate for connection to another person – and feels a particularly strong sense of kinship with Emma --, it is devastating for him to get confirmation that he has fallen so low that even when he is legitimately being decent (as he was risking himself for Emma during the adventure, and really didn’t intend to double-cross her), he’s someone that no one worth making a connection with is going to want to touch. In the moment, it manifests as unjustified anger, but by this point, it has transformed into self-reflection, probably reinforced by the reactions he has recently gotten from not only Emma, but a bunch of other “good” people who rightfully treat him like untrustworthy trash.

I've referred to it as Emma saving him not with her love, but with her contempt. When he met someone he admired and respected, someone he really wanted to like him, for perhaps the first time in ages, and she couldn't trust him because she saw him for what he was, that was a wake-up call. I think that continued when he saw her again in Storybrooke, and she acted like he deserved his injuries. Being locked up gave him more than enough time to think about all that. It also had to hit him that the good person he liked and respected had dumped him in New York, and it was sleazy people like Greg and Tamara who wanted him -- but only for their purposes, not because they liked or respected him.

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3 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

Worst, it's like the show is actually trying to tell us that it's all Snow's fault, that if she'd just been able to forgive Regina for slaughtering a village, Regina might have changed. And Snow and David talking about incarcerating Regina (which she deserves) is blamed for Regina getting out the failsafe.

I think that's what the show was sort of saying.  That it was so sad at the point when Regina WAS about to change, she didn't get the forgiveness and understanding she needed.  Her timing was just so unlucky!  

It's a bit galling we're supposed to believe that her change of heart would have stuck, or were we not supposed to think that far.

The whole conversation in the woods was rather manipulative.  Regina's whole wide-eyed "So if she wanted to change.  If she wanted to be family again.  If she wanted to be good.  Would you forgive her for that?  Would you let her back in?"  Since when did Regina want any of that?  She knew full well how good Snow was inside and how easily she forgave and forget.  

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20 hours ago, companionenvy said:

Weirdly, I don't actually think the village massacre is the most unforgiveable thing Regina has done, in context. It is the worst in terms of quantity of evil, but it seemed to me that she gave the order thoughtlessly, as a kind of reflexive show of power and performance of evil, and really wasn't thinking about the consequences. For my money, as someone who judges redeemability more by things like motivation and level of sadism, horrific as it is, it isn't as destructive to her chances of redemption as things like sending children to the witch, her current plans for Storybrooke, or even what she did to Owen and Kurt. 

What is frustrating in this episode is that you can see the seeds of an interesting character here. It would require massive rewrites of multiple episodes, but it would be doable. There is something potentially worth mining in a Regina who is, in, spite of everything, sincerely touched and heartened to find that Snow still sees good in her, who on some level does want to be that person who saved Snow from the horse again, who quite clearly passes up an opportunity to kill her, and who may actually be horrified at seeing the consequences of the massacre. 

What spoils all of it is two things. One, that, while as I said quantity of evil isn’t my primary metric, you're going to have to work really hard to convince me that someone who has done as much as Regina has is capable of change. Instead,  we’ve seen Regina given multiple chances, past and present, to change her ways and choose a different path, and every time she turns to sadistic murder (or, as Mary Margaret and David put it in a laughable euphemism, “she slips”). To use an analogy, it would be as if not only was a show or novel trying to present a committed Nazi as a complex, sympathetic and redeemable figure – which I don’t think would be impossible, but it would be tough –but they make him a committed Nazi who is also abusive to his wife and nasty to his supposed friends and who escapes to Brazil after the war, where, given the chance to start a new life, he proceeds to murder a few more people for hurting his feelings, and then joins with another genocidal leader for a while in a fit of pique when the local Jewish community doesn’t invite him to their Chanukkah party. 

But the other is that her lack of understanding, both in the past and present, of the transparently obvious fact that people regard her as a villain rather than a hero because she is doing things like mass murder puts her in the category of too delusional to be interesting. It would be like a drama spending a lot of time on a character who hallucinates that she is being pursued by a herd of pink elephants: that wouldn’t happen because, while it might be very sad that someone is so in the grip of mental illness that she’s lost all hold on reality, it isn’t otherwise a pathology that is nuanced enough to warrant extended exploration. They’ve created a character who demonstrates sociopathic lack of empathy, to the extent that she is baffled and hurt that Henry – who she knows is a “good” person who has come to love the members of his biological family – isn’t on board with a plan to kill everyone in the town except for him. Even her reaction to the village massacre doesn’t seem to be horror at what she has done, but horror at Snow’s reaction, which cuts into the self-flattering belief that she is really a good person.

Basically, the show thinks Regina is simply someone who has given into the dark potential that resides in all of us, someone who is different in circumstances and degree, but not in kind, from someone like Snow or Emma. In theory, that’s not a bad idea to explore. Unfortunately, they’ve written her – unlike Hook, as becomes apparent in this episode – as someone who is on a different moral and psychological map entirely from even the other villains.

 

3 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

That's a lot of what makes this episode so frustrating. It's not just that she orders the wholesale massacre of a whole village. It's that she does so based on a lie that she knows is a lie, and yet shows no sign of knowing it's a lie. She talks with a straight face about how Snow poisoned her father in order to take over his kingdom. It's one thing to do so when she's talking to the villagers, since that's part of her propaganda, but later when she's talking to Rumple, she continues that line, and it's like she actually believes it, even though she knows she was the one who poisoned Leopold (or had it done) and she's the one who took the throne when she had no right to it. She's so convinced of her own lies that she feels mistreated when other people don't go along with it, and that's where she's delusional.

Then there's the fact that nothing seems to make her change her view of things -- she becomes a victim of her knights carrying out her policies, and it doesn't seem to change her understanding of why she's hated. She's treated with kindness and compassion by Snow and sees how Snow stands up for the people, and it doesn't change her perception of Snow.

Worst, it's like the show is actually trying to tell us that it's all Snow's fault, that if she'd just been able to forgive Regina for slaughtering a village, Regina might have changed. And Snow and David talking about incarcerating Regina (which she deserves) is blamed for Regina getting out the failsafe.

You both summon up the frustrating and angering parts of Regina perfectly.  

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6 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

Worst, it's like the show is actually trying to tell us that it's all Snow's fault, that if she'd just been able to forgive Regina for slaughtering a village, Regina might have changed.

Yeah. Snow is awesome enough in the flashbacks that I'm not sure that the show is entirely blaming her - even when she turns on Regina, she has that great line "Ïf this is what good looks like, I want no part of it" -- but the whole setup reinforces the persistent, disgusting message that it is somehow the responsibility of victims to redeem perpetrators. Regina is an unrepentant tyrant liable to kill others if she escapes? Doesn't matter - she has good in her, and she's only lashing out because she's hurt and angry, so we can't kill her. Rumple locks Belle in a dungeon and has to be prevented from flaying Robin to death? Whatever; he really has a good heart, and so Belle is right to commit herself to saving him. In the case of Snow in this episode, the writing stops short of framing her too negatively, but we're still clearly supposed to think it is a real shame that she gave up on Regina at precisely the moment she could have changed. It also doesn't help that the writing for her when she reverses her position is so bad - she doesn't just say Regina has gone too far, she says that there was never any good in her, which she should know is false and doesn't follow from Regina being evil in the present. Because she's arguing a strawman, we can discredit her otherwise valid position and continue sympathizing with woobie Regina. It is sort of like "The Cricket Game," where everyone is after Regina for something she actually didn't do rather than the many, many things that she did.

This also explains another odd element of 2B, which is the show's absolute lack of sympathy for revenge. Now, I'm not saying revenge is a good or justifiable thing, and it is perfectly valid to have a story that rejects that as a response. However, there's a reason that people love Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride: even if there's a level on which we know obsessive vigilantism of that sort is wrong and unhealthy, there's a visceral, human satisfaction in the idea of a person wronged being able to execute justice on someone who has done a terrible thing to them, especially when you abstract the story from our day to day context and create a world where normal laws don't apply. Yet in a show in which people who kill for terrible, sadistic, frivolous reasons are given endless chances to reform while the viewers are constantly being reminded that they still have goodness, we're not only never allowed to have a natural "hell, yeah" reaction to one of them getting their comeuppance, we're expected to regard the avenger and his or her act with total condemnation. We see that with Hook, where no one bothers to acknowledge that, yeah, Rumple kind of does deserve severe punishment for killing Milah in cold blood, and we're supposed to take seriously Belle's "Rumple has a good heart and yours is totally black." We see it with Greg, where he is alternately so dull and so mustache-twirly in the present that we're not allowed to sympathize with his desperate quest to find out what happened to his father and destroy the woman who abducted/killed him. Certainly, no other character is allowed to sympathize with him. And we see it even with Snow. She doesn't kill Cora primarily out of revenge, as Cora is a real threat in the present day, but the show's unwillingness to have anyone say, as Snow is catatonic and suicidal with guilt, "Look. She killed your mother. She killed Joanna. She's killed tons of other people. And she was trying to kill all of us" is more evidence that the show has no concept of righteous anger or deserved punishment.

6 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

I've referred to it as Emma saving him not with her love, but with her contempt. When he met someone he admired and respected, someone he really wanted to like him, for perhaps the first time in ages, and she couldn't trust him because she saw him for what he was, that was a wake-up call. I think that continued when he saw her again in Storybrooke, and she acted like he deserved his injuries. Being locked up gave him more than enough time to think about all that. It also had to hit him that the good person he liked and respected had dumped him in New York, and it was sleazy people like Greg and Tamara who wanted him -- but only for their purposes, not because they liked or respected him.

This is interesting because it actually runs directly counter to the trend I'm talking about above, where it is the responsibility of the good and the victimized to redeem the evil. I'm not totally sold that the writers saw it in precisely that way, because I do think Emma is depicted as wrong for leaving Hook on the beanstalk, which sends him running back to Cora. As a whole, however, yeah, Hook is a case of someone who winds up turning because he isn't being coddled by everyone around him. He is treated like the villain he is, comes to the recognition that people are right to treat him this way, and does something about it. 

 

7 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

I suspect that Hook was being his usual opportunist self, not committing until the other person had truly committed. If Regina hadn't betrayed him, it's possible he might have gone along with her up to a point. I don't know that he'd have gone through with letting everyone in town die. He might have intervened to save others, so long as he could ensure that Rumple would be killed. But I also suspect he'd figured Regina out enough to know what she'd do.

I think I'm both more and less negative about where Hook is at this point than you are. On one hand, I don't think Hook was going to ally with Regina even if she hadn't betrayed him. He would have switched allegiances if it became clear that she was getting the upper hand over Greg and Tamara, but I think regardless of what happened with Maleficent, he was planning on getting that cuff on Regina. On the other hand (or, you know, hook), had he been in a position where allying with Regina made sense, I don't think he would have bothered to consciously plan on saving others 

Spoiler

given that he comes really, really close to leaving everyone to die at the end of the season as is, and that's after Emma has pricked his conscience. 

Had he happened to run into a group of kids as he was leaving SB, then yeah, he might have felt bad and invited them onto the JR in order to save them. But as a more abstract thing, I think he would have been perfectly capable of shrugging his shoulders, saying "that's a shame," and moving on. 

I do think that he was giving Regina a chance in his "Do you ever wonder why no one cares about us" speech. If she had responded differently there, he probably would have allied with her - but if she had responded differently there, she presumably would have abandoned her plan to kill everyone and found a less extreme path forward. 

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Hook and Regina always provide such a weird dichotomy with this show. Hook follows a path that makes sense where people rightly distrust him and treat him accoringly, while Regina is generally given a pass on everything because her life is just so hard. Hook recognizes where he went wrong and considers ways to change that in the future. Regina gets eighty million second chances and never bothers to reflect on how she needs to change what she's doing to get a different outcome. Hook will actually apologize and show remorse. Even while he might be doing something bad, he demonstrates that he has a conscience and will occasionally change his actions (ex. saving Aurora's heart). Regina never apologizes and never feels bad about anything. Murdering an entire town? Meh, it's a small price to pay. Well, obviously, because she's not paying it. Hook/Regina conversations that aren't plot heavy almost always have Hook telling it like it is and showing that he gets it, while Regina sticks her fingers in her ears and goes lalalalalala.

If they didn't have both of these characters in the same story, I'd think that they really have no idea what a bad person needs to do or how they should act to change and how others should react to them after numerous villainous and destructive actions.  But this show seems to think both Regina and Hook's paths are perfectly reasonable. Given the choice, I'd totally pick the Regina route since you don't have to do anything different except maybe not kill quite so many people.

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Regina was too close to the Writers' hearts.  They conceived the show on the basis that The Evil Queen was an underdog that they related to.  They brought on Hook later and decided the story they wanted to tell was a villain working towards redemption.   To them, Regina was a villain who was misunderstood whose actions come from a place of deep hurt and lack of acceptance, so to the Writers, it was more a switch that Regina needed to turn on again.

They also couldn't resist making Regina commit bold and audacious crimes because she (and Rumple) were such scene-stealers.  Whereas with Hook, they were capitalizing more on the sex appeal of a dark and brooding handsome rogue, a bad boy who could be tamed, who needed to earn trust like the leading man in a romantic comedy.  They probably related to him in some ways as well, since to his love interest and her family, he was never enough.

And at the end of the day, they "won" on both fronts garnering a legion of defenders and shippers.  

By this point in the series, the heroes were simply reactors.  Their actions and decisions simply drove the villains' actions and emotions in various ways.  

Edited by Camera One
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4 hours ago, Camera One said:

egina was too close to the Writers' hearts.  They conceived the show on the basis that The Evil Queen was an underdog that they related to.  They brought on Hook later and decided the story they wanted to tell was a villain working towards redemption.   To them, Regina was a villain who was misunderstood whose actions come from a place of deep hurt and lack of acceptance, so to the Writers, it was more a switch that Regina needed to turn on again.

They also couldn't resist making Regina commit bold and audacious crimes because she (and Rumple) were such scene-stealers.  Whereas with Hook, they were capitalizing more on the sex appeal of a dark and brooding handsome rogue, a bad boy who could be tamed, who needed to earn trust like the leading man in a romantic comedy.  They probably related to him in some ways as well, since to his love interest and her family, he was never enough.

I think there's a lot of truth to this. What still doesn't make sense to me, though, is that an episode like this one suggests to me that there were ways they could have had their cake and eaten it too. Maybe they could never have quite pulled off Regina as misunderstood rather than evil without such substantial rewrites as to make her a totally different character, but they could have still written Regina as a scene stealing villain without making her so profoundly sadistic and lacking in empathy. They could have given her a backstory that actually suggested someone misunderstood, rather than someone who had again and again created her own misery despite ample opportunities to reverse course. They could have shown some evidence that she cared for Henry outside the bare minimum of wanting him alive and safe and the thoroughly selfish obsession with wanting him to love her. In this episode alone, if the scene had been written to reflect Regina being horrified at what she had done in ordering the massacre, rather than Regina being upset that Snow had rejected her, that would have helped in establishing her as a potentially redeemable person. Instead, not only does she revert to "why don't people love me" in the past, she is still equally baffled that she isn't getting insta-acceptance in the present as she once again plots mass-murder. 

At a certain point, I don't care if you're coming from a place of hurt. It isn't a misunderstanding when people judge you because you're a psychopath who is going around slaughtering people. It is truly bizarre to me that K&H set out to write a misunderstood underdog who was going to be redeemed, and this is what they came up with. 

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1 hour ago, companionenvy said:

They could have given her a backstory that actually suggested someone misunderstood, rather than someone who had again and again created her own misery despite ample opportunities to reverse course.

If Regina had spent all her days in her chambers and was completely out of touch with her people, she'd be a little more "misunderstood". If A&E had played up Cora and Rumple's manipulations of her and given her a complete lack of experience in caring about others, then I could see it. But we know that Regina is capable of sympathy, that she is aware of what's going on in her kingdom, and that she had a lot more agency than what she claimed to have. She wasn't oblivious to the pain she caused. 

1 hour ago, companionenvy said:

Instead, not only does she revert to "why don't people love me" in the past, she is still equally baffled that she isn't getting insta-acceptance in the present as she once again plots mass-murder. 

Rumple even remarked that torching random villages wouldn't make people love her, so it's not like he was playing this deception that everything was great. He might be one of the most evil characters on the show, but he doesn't kill random villagers if it hurts his bottom line.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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15 hours ago, companionenvy said:

I think I'm both more and less negative about where Hook is at this point than you are. On one hand, I don't think Hook was going to ally with Regina even if she hadn't betrayed him. He would have switched allegiances if it became clear that she was getting the upper hand over Greg and Tamara, but I think regardless of what happened with Maleficent, he was planning on getting that cuff on Regina. On the other hand (or, you know, hook), had he been in a position where allying with Regina made sense, I don't think he would have bothered to consciously plan on saving others 

Regina already had taken the cuff before she threw him to Maleficent, so I think the cuff was, in a way, a test. She demanded it, then betrayed him. I don't know what he would have done if she hadn't gotten grabby about the cuff, if she'd been generous and allowed him to keep it as a souvenir of his friend. As for whether he would have saved others, his worst actions tend to be impulsive, things he does in a rage and soon regrets, so I suspect that if he'd actually been part of the planning and knew what was coming, he'd have been less likely to be willing to go through with it. He wouldn't have been able to bring himself to kill Milah's son, so he'd have tried to find a way to save Neal. And he liked Emma, so he would have wanted to save her, but he wouldn't have stood a chance with her if he'd let her whole family die, so he'd have found a way to save the Charmings. And then he'd look really good if he managed to help save the whole town, and he might even find it highly amusing if he managed to use Regina to destroy Rumple but doublecrossed her and saved all the people Regina was trying to kill.

Spoiler

I think the differences between this potential situation and him later stealing the last bean are that 1) he wasn't behind setting it all up, so he wasn't the one who'd be responsible for killing them all (splitting hairs, but that's the kind of rationalization that would allow him to sleep at night); 2) they all had the chance to save themselves with the bean but chose not to use it because of some vague idea of there being a "better way" that would also save Regina, which probably made him feel less responsible for saving them from their own death wish, with that being an impulsive act when he got frustrated with them; and 3) he wasn't able to go through with it then, either. He turned back rather than using the bean to save himself.

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After rewatching the finale, I'm actually pretty convinced that Hook turned against Tamara and Greg because he was uncomfortable with the idea of killing the town, rather than to save himself. So, his default was to try to save people, and as you say, I think he briefly turned away out of exasperation with the idiocy of the "we must save Regina" plan, rather than because he had mostly been out for himself from the first; he wanted to save others, but he wasn't going to martyr himself for Regina when he had an escape route. Even so, he does come close to leaving even when he knows that Emma is going to die and Bae's son is, at best, going to be left totally on his own. So I'd say while the whole sequence confirms that Hook is not mindlessly brutal and his inclinations are often decent, he's decidedly not willing to stick his neck out too far for others, and he's historically proven pretty willing to accept the actions of much worse people to serve his own ends.

I'd also note that his initial inclination when he rescued young Bae is not a good one - until he learns who Bae is, he is planning to hand him over to Pan simply to curry favor, and doesn't seem unduly troubled by this. It is only later that he bonds with Bae and his motives become far less selfish, even if they aren't enough to stop him from turning Bae over to Pan once Bae has made it clear he wants nothing to do with Hook.

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I should add that I don't think Hook ever seriously considered joining Regina's "kill the whole town" plan. I just think that he approached Regina without having truly committed to Greg and Tamara's plan and with the idea that he'd betray them and join Regina, depending on what Regina was up to and whether she coerced him (though with the cuff, he was less at risk than usual from her), since he definitely wasn't going to die on behalf of Greg and Tamara. If Regina had been plotting something that had a better chance of getting rid of Rumple, he'd have kept the cuff hidden and played along with her up to the point he had to choose which side to really go with. But when her plan was mass murder, he decided to go through with Plan A and conned her into putting on the cuff. I think that her crazytown plan was part of what had him so philosophical as they went through the caverns -- was this the way he sounded to others? If it was, no wonder no one liked him. However, if Greg and Tamara's plan had fizzled or it looked like Regina was going to succeed, he'd probably have switched sides. The odds were in Greg and Tamara's favor, given that Regina's power was shut off.

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Trying to figure out what happened between this and Cricket game where Snow was crying over how Regina was still good boggles the mind. This is also following a trend that starts this season, where the show asks us to feel sorry for Regina..as they show her doing increasingly horrible things. Its just so bizarre. "Dont feel bad for that father and son who were cruelly separated! Dont feel bad for all those dead villagers! Feel bad for Regina! Regina damn it!"It also makes the decision to let her go along her merry way after she was arrested by Snow and Charming seem even stupider, and even more irresponsible. Snow has seen first hand what Regina does when she gets mad, why would she want to unleash that evil on innocent people?! Even outside her kingdom, the woman is still clearly a threat!

I love Rumples snark about why people dont love Regina, and still consider Snow their queen. "Yes, I am sure they'll see it through the charred remains of their homes," If nothing else, Rumple has always been a self aware imp. I think there really is a great story with Regina here, a person who is so unaware of her own genre that she has cast herself as the hero and the others as the villains, and use that as a way to deconstruct various genre and character tropes, and see what happens when someone tries to make a story work for them, even when it clearly doesn't.  And I admit to getting some joy out of Regina in disguise running around town, seeing everyone trowing darts at the Regina doll and saying how awful she is. I mean, is this really so shocking to her? Snow saves a woman from beheading while looking fabulous, complete with superhero landing, while Regina struts around wearing all black, with guards who all have weird pointy hats, slaughtering random townships. I just have no idea why people would like Snow more! I do actually like that scene, because its interesting to get a little slice of day to day life in the EF, and adds some actual character to what their culture and markets and gatherings are like. 

Really, its just so hard to get behind Regina and her redemption while watching this. In both the flashbacks and the present scenes, she does awful things, gets upset when other people dont automatically forgive her or ignore them, and then does even worse thing, while acting like she was the wronged party the whole time, not the scores of dead victims littering the floor. Its like on The Good Place, where they talked about doing good things just to get something good for yourself, and called it "moral dessert". Regina is constantly looking for her moral dessert, and when she doesn't get something good immediately for being good (and for her, being good could mean not actively murdering anyone) she goes right back to evil.

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11 hours ago, tennisgurl said:

Trying to figure out what happened between this and Cricket game where Snow was crying over how Regina was still good boggles the mind. This is also following a trend that starts this season, where the show asks us to feel sorry for Regina..as they show her doing increasingly horrible things. Its just so bizarre. "Dont feel bad for that father and son who were cruelly separated! Dont feel bad for all those dead villagers! Feel bad for Regina! Regina damn it!"It also makes the decision to let her go along her merry way after she was arrested by Snow and Charming seem even stupider, and even more irresponsible. Snow has seen first hand what Regina does when she gets mad, why would she want to unleash that evil on innocent people?! Even outside her kingdom, the woman is still clearly a threat!

I love Rumples snark about why people dont love Regina, and still consider Snow their queen. "Yes, I am sure they'll see it through the charred remains of their homes," If nothing else, Rumple has always been a self aware imp. I think there really is a great story with Regina here, a person who is so unaware of her own genre that she has cast herself as the hero and the others as the villains, and use that as a way to deconstruct various genre and character tropes, and see what happens when someone tries to make a story work for them, even when it clearly doesn't.  And I admit to getting some joy out of Regina in disguise running around town, seeing everyone trowing darts at the Regina doll and saying how awful she is. I mean, is this really so shocking to her? Snow saves a woman from beheading while looking fabulous, complete with superhero landing, while Regina struts around wearing all black, with guards who all have weird pointy hats, slaughtering random townships. I just have no idea why people would like Snow more! I do actually like that scene, because its interesting to get a little slice of day to day life in the EF, and adds some actual character to what their culture and markets and gatherings are like. 

Really, its just so hard to get behind Regina and her redemption while watching this. In both the flashbacks and the present scenes, she does awful things, gets upset when other people dont automatically forgive her or ignore them, and then does even worse thing, while acting like she was the wronged party the whole time, not the scores of dead victims littering the floor. Its like on The Good Place, where they talked about doing good things just to get something good for yourself, and called it "moral dessert". Regina is constantly looking for her moral dessert, and when she doesn't get something good immediately for being good (and for her, being good could mean not actively murdering anyone) she goes right back to evil.

Yes its just so WTF they want us to feel sorry for Regina even though she's now massacred an entire village. Regina confused that people hate her and call her the Evil Queen. Well, gee, maybe stop murdering them Regina. Its so WTF that Snow decides Regina still has a good heart despite all of her crimes and nothing at all that would suggest she does. Even in the present she does nothing to deserve the sudden swift of being good now. Even less when you remember she teamed up with Cora. Now if she decided to lock her away. Okay that would be fine. But no way Snow the real one not this new version on the Woegina train would ever let Regina go. She'd want justice for all Regina's victims including her own father. It still makes more sense for Regina to poof out of there when she lost rather then being arrested.  

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