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The Villains of Once Upon a Time

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The place to discuss the villains - all of them.  From the main cast (e.g. Regina, Rumple) to the shorter-term ones (e.g. Pan, Cora), etc.

 

Topics revolving around them, such as  

  • Are they still villains? Can they be redemeed? Have they been redeemed?
  • Past acts of villainy
  • Comparative villainy
  • What the future holds for them
  • Love them?  Hate them?  Love to hate them?  Hate to love them?
  • Other things not listed here

can be discussed here.  And more.

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Pan was friggin' great. I liked how he was kind of a combination of the worst parts of both Rumple and Regina ... going for the emotional jugular as fast and as often as he could while still having the patience to play the long con. And Robbie Kay was just great in the role.

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And Pan was just evil. They didn't give him some sad sob story and boo hoo his life was so hard. No, he was just a straight up villain. I also knew that he could kill our heroes at any time but was so sure of himself and his total control of his domain that he wasn't worried about keeping them around just for the fun of messing with them. I enjoyed Pan a lot. I just wish they hadn't used him to further the sad, sad story of poor misunderstood Rumpelstiltskin. There was no need to add him to the Stiltskin family tree.

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I enjoyed Pan a lot. I just wish they hadn't used him to further the sad, sad story of poor misunderstood Rumpelstiltskin. There was no need to add him to the Stiltskin family tree.

Yeah, that just seemed like overkill. He didn't need to be related to Henry to want Henry's heart. He might have had whatever vision of the future Truest Believer and tracked him down.

 

Especially since they didn't bother to keep Rumple dead after that sacrifice. If they weren't really going to kill Rumple, and if he wasn't going to come back actually changed, why even bother? When a deadly sacrifice doesn't change the character at all, there's not much point to setting up a plot leading to that sacrifice.

 

Although I would have hated to spend an entire season tromping around in the dark around the same five potted plants, they could easily have got a whole season out of dealing with Pan, just in Neverland flashbacks alone, and he could have messed more with all the characters, using Pan's mind games to delve into all their weaknesses. Just think what he could have done with Regina if they'd been willing to go there instead of treating the fact that she has no regrets about her evil as some kind of triumph.

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Pan was pretty awesome and I was really sad to see him go.  I could have done without him being Rumple's father, but I actually enjoyed that the single one thing that seemed to completely freak the guy out.  Too bad Rumple decided to be a hero.

 

Pan like Cora had no redeeming qualities and was all about himself.  He didn't throw himself some pity party for one.  He was a disloyal prick and Robbie Kay seemed to have a blast playing him.  Could've done without the heart of truest believer who ever believed ever though.

 

Pan and Cora should have come together and plotted the demise of Storybrooke and its residents.  Between Rumple's daddy issues and Regina's mommy issues, those two would've been put out of commission so fast.

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Pan and Cora should have come together and plotted the demise of Storybrooke and its residents.  Between Rumple's daddy issues and Regina's mommy issues, those two would've been put out of commission so fast.

 

I literally giggled when I read this. If the writers ever want to break the dead is dead rule (again), that would be the best time to do it!

 

I've mentioned in another thread that I really wanted a villain without magic - one that relied on their wits. Pan almost fit that bill. Him and the Jabberwocky would be a power couple for some serious psycho analysis. Come to think of it, I don't believe Pan ever brought out Regina. If the Jabberwocky got a hold of her, all sorts of stuff would be coming out of her mouth!

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I've been secretly hoping that the Jabberwocky would show upon on Once. Thinking about her tackling Regina's issue is awesome.

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I'm just hoping that next season brings Rumpel back to the forefront as the show's Biggest Bad.  I expect Regina to be pulling crap and expecting everyone to feel sorry for her, but Rumpel's villainy is far more subtle and dangerous than hers will ever be and I want someone to realize this.

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I've mentioned in another thread that I really wanted a villain without magic - one that relied on their wits. Pan almost fit that bill. Him and the Jabberwocky would be a power couple for some serious psycho analysis. Come to think of it, I don't believe Pan ever brought out Regina. If the Jabberwocky got a hold of her, all sorts of stuff would be coming out of her mouth!

 

Magic is used as such a crutch on the show when there are other ways someone can be a super villain.  Pan was completely dismissive of Regina and Emma.  Regina was just the Evil Queen (eye roll) and Emma broke "some" curse (another eye roll).

 

I'd like a villain who has no magic, cannot be defeated with magic so that the characters can actually rely on their smarts when they put their heads together to defeat the new bad.

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I'd like a villain who has no magic, cannot be defeated with magic so that the characters can actually rely on their smarts when they put their heads together to defeat the new bad.

 

I would like to see this. I kind of would also like to see a twist in a villain; since this show is Fairytale characters in our world, I would love to see a villain from our world that is considered a myth/fairytale in the Enchanted Forest, and Cruella de Vil could be the perfect villain for this case.

Edited by Joenigma
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I'm just hoping that next season brings Rumpel back to the forefront as the show's Biggest Bad.  I expect Regina to be pulling crap and expecting everyone to feel sorry for her, but Rumpel's villainy is far more subtle and dangerous than hers will ever be and I want someone to realize this.

I loved Rumple, both in Enchated Forest and Storybrooke, in season 1, and I hope that, at some point, they bring that Rumple back. Maybe in season 5 (which I think would be the last one) they can have Rumple going fully bad again.

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Magic is used as such a crutch on the show when there are other ways someone can be a super villain.  Pan was completely dismissive of Regina and Emma.  Regina was just the Evil Queen (eye roll) and Emma broke "some" curse (another eye roll).

So was Zelena.  I mean, her response to Emma's statement that she wasn't an "amateur' -- she was the Savior?  "My, someone certainly has an exaggerated opinion of herself?"  After which she had Rumpel knock Emma squarely on her ass.

 

Say what you will about Zelena, but she feared absolutely nobody.  I'll bet she'd have even taken on Cora directly if she could have.

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So was Zelena.  I mean, her response to Emma's statement that she wasn't an "amateur' -- she was the Savior?  "My, someone certainly has an exaggerated opinion of herself?"  After which she had Rumpel knock Emma squarely on her ass.

 

Say what you will about Zelena, but she feared absolutely nobody.  I'll bet she'd have even taken on Cora directly if she could have.

Zelena though was dismissive of Emma to her face.  In the Jolly Roger though when she cursed Hook, there was that whole exchange between them about how Zelena really couldn't touch Emma and that's why she had a flying monkey looking after her in New York.  And all of that was before Emma used magic on Zelena.  I think where things sort of broke down for Zelena was when Emma started training.  And that's why she threatened her family when Hook told her he would tell Emma everything.  I think she was probably more scared of the white magic part than she was of Emma herself.

 

I wish they had had actual scenes with Emma and Zelena, you know one on one to at least flesh out these things.

 

And a Cora/Zelena showdown would be kind of epic I think, no?  Those two crazy biatches going at it!

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I think Cora was the best and most sussessful villain on ONCE. Her motivation was always power--to be royalty, and to control people. It would have been great if they had kept her around and eventually have her turn against Regina and have them battle it out, instead of Zelena.

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Also, Cora actually just got shit done. She didn't prance around for 8 episodes making empty threats before being defeated by a drunken monkey with one paw tied behind its back. For as powerful as they were both supposed to be, Pan and Zelena went down way too easy. Cora was nowhere near as hyped as those two, but at the end of the day did just as much or more damage, and way quicker, too. And Team Hero had to take her down by being sneaky (and of course promptly got raked over the coals for it)--they couldn't defeat her one-on-one.

 

I do think that Pan is second to Cora in the villain sweepstakes, and then it's a wide margin before you get to everyone else. I loved that Pan was a sadistic little shit with no sob backstory, just a whole lot of malice, but he was way too much of a windbag at the end of the day.

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I loved Rumple, both in Enchated Forest and Storybrooke, in season 1, and I hope that, at some point, they bring that Rumple back. Maybe in season 5 (which I think would be the last one) they can have Rumple going fully bad again.

 

 

I'm just hoping that next season brings Rumpel back to the forefront as the show's Biggest Bad.  I expect Regina to be pulling crap and expecting everyone to feel sorry for her, but Rumpel's villainy is far more subtle and dangerous than hers will ever be and I want someone to realize this.

 

What would be his goal, though? 

 

Not excusing Rumple--he's an evil, manipulative, and frequently cruel person.  But most of what he was doing before he could tell himself he was doing to protect or be reunited with Baelfire.  Much of the rest of it he could tell himself was because he had given people what they wanted and he deserved payment.

 

So far, while he's left a swath of chaos and destruction, it hasn't been on a whim, and it hasn't usually been for the sheer pleasure of destruction.    And unlike Regina, based on past behavior he would need a good motive to go supervillian again.

 

Looking back at season 1, they actually did take Rumple more seriously as a source of evil than they did Regina--he was even kept under very strict guard in a specially made magical cage.  I think the Storybrookers have just downgraded his villain status in their heads because they're (delusionally) counting on Belle to mitigate his badness and  he's (mostly) been on their side in the recent history.  (Not counting what he did while being controlled by Zelena.)

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I've been secretly hoping that the Jabberwocky would show upon on Once. Thinking about her tackling Regina's issue is awesome.

 

The Jabberwocky as originally presented -- So powerful she could get into anyone's mind and needed an army and a special knife to be contained.  Not the mewling mess at the end, kowtowing to Jafar when she should have been able to control him as well.

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So far, while he's left a swath of chaos and destruction, it hasn't been on a whim, and it hasn't usually been for the sheer pleasure of destruction.    And unlike Regina, based on past behavior he would need a good motive to go supervillian again.

There could be some interesting potential for Rumple as villain, since right now they all seem to see him as reformed or even a hero who sacrificed himself to save them all, and he's at least pretending to be on his best behavior and under Belle's control, all while lying about who really has the dagger. But, yeah, he would need some kind of goal, and he's already found and avenged his son. Is he so obsessed that he might try to do his own time spell to go back and save Bae, or does he have better sense than that? About the only thing I can think of that might turn him supervillain again might be the appearance of an old enemy with whom he has a personal grudge who isn't actually a bad guy and who unites with the heroes. But then you've got the problem of what to do with him after that arc. They apparently aren't willing to kill him permanently, and there are only so many times he can be redeemed or reformed without the good guys looking like idiots for ever trusting him again. How can he come back from backsliding into true villainy?

 

I think Cora was a good villain on paper, but the execution just didn't work (I know, that's so rare on this show, right?). I think part of the problem was that while her motivation was clear -- a drive for power -- her actual goal was pretty fuzzy. The character's story goal really needs to be something so concrete that you know what it would look like if she got it, so what exemplified power to her? Ultimately, she wanted to get the Dark One's dagger and to become the Dark One herself, but she went on all kinds of tangents where it looked like she was trying to get revenge against Regina, but then she teamed up with Regina, and then was it revenge against Rumple she wanted or was it the dagger, until finally it was the dagger. The other problem with her was that she was mostly used to make Regina into a woobified victim -- you think Regina's bad, her mother's worse, and all Regina's problems are because she had a mean mommy. Regina looked like a complete idiot for teaming up with the woman who had just framed her for murder, and then somehow the defeat of Cora became all about how it hurt Regina. What a waste of a good villain.

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There could be some interesting potential for Rumple as villain, since right now they all seem to see him as reformed or even a hero who sacrificed himself to save them all, and he's at least pretending to be on his best behavior and under Belle's control, all while lying about who really has the dagger. But, yeah, he would need some kind of goal, and he's already found and avenged his son. Is he so obsessed that he might try to do his own time spell to go back and save Bae, or does he have better sense than that? About the only thing I can think of that might turn him supervillain again might be the appearance of an old enemy with whom he has a personal grudge who isn't actually a bad guy and who unites with the heroes. But then you've got the problem of what to do with him after that arc. They apparently aren't willing to kill him permanently, and there are only so many times he can be redeemed or reformed without the good guys looking like idiots for ever trusting him again. How can he come back from backsliding into true villainy?

 

 

They have two ways of bringing him back to full evil mode: they can kill Belle (or she can discover his lies and left him), or they can do sometihing more personal and have him being consumed by his lies to Belle and by his son's death until he loses his mind again. We all now Robert Carlyle would act the hell out of this.

 

And he doesn't need to be redeemed, not every villan needs to be reformed. They can save this for the last season and that way the show can go with a bang.

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In There's No Place Like Home, I was seriously thinking Rumple was going to not drink the forget potion, then mess up the timeline. I thought drinking it was a bit out of character for him. He was taking a woman from the future's word for it. Even in Bleeding Through, I was half-way expecting him to take Zelena's offer on going to the past to find Bae. 

 

I don't find Rumple's love for Belle as strong and passionate as it was for Bae. So, I don't *consider* her a reason for him to go all Big Bad. Anything could happen on Once, though.

 

Rumple is a man with a purpose - there is always a plan ticking in the back of his mind whenever he does anything. All of his deals have ulterior reasons behind them. He thinks big, so he needs a big goal.

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I think I would find Regina and Rumple's redemption arcs more believable if they still did not wield power, and did not hold protected status. In fact, as far as I am concerned, Rumple's redemption arc can hardly said to have begun. He is still very much a vengeful murderer, except he's learned to play lip-service to basic human behavior.

 

As for Regina, I do think she is on a redemptive arc, but it has been horribly handled. If Regina had lost ability to do magic when Emma broke the Curse it would have been different. The power differential between her victims and herself is still so huge. Would she have started having regrets if she had to fear being mugged by one of her victims while walking back home late nights? Also, Snow, David, and Emma have been protecting her from the consequences of her actions. Just because Snow White and Emma have decided to absolve her of her past crimes does not mean the rest of her victims wish to do the same. Yes--she has stopped murdering and brainwashing people, and she has done things to help save the citizens of Storybrooke, but these acts are typically reversing some wrong she herself has done, or to defeat a common enemy. Her giving her sister Zelena a chance, but threatening her the next minute if she refused to toe the line is a prime example of her continued privilege. She is also still the Mayor. 

 

Much as it annoyed me when everyone turned on Hook in 3.19, it was still believable that people have trust issues when it comes to him. He also does not have any magic or privilege protecting him from the wrath of his victims. He and Rumple mutually agreed to call truce. Belle demanded and obtained an apology, and let's hope Archie got one too. As for Emma, he has done quite a lot to prove that he is contrite and has turned away from the kind of man he used to be. 

 

What I would love is for Storybrooke to hold a Mayoral election. It's about time, anyway. I think David would make a great Mayor, as long as she doesn't listen to Mary Margaret's speeches. But he is too closely connected to Regina and Rumple. I would LOVE it if Marian stood against Regina and won (and wasn't handled as an expendable plot device). A victim rising against her oppressor, and defeating her by fair means, would be a fantastic arc! 

Edited by Rumsy4
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I don't think Cora and Pan were necessarily on the same level of evil although they both seemed to have similar paths. They both made selfish choices in the beginning which led to them becoming evil. Cora seemed to want power, status, and to get back at the people who looked down on her in her youth. Pan wanted to get rid of his responsibilities and couldn't handle having to take care of Rumple when he just wanted to have fun. He was a liar, con artist, drunk but he did seem to have some love for Rumple before they went to Neverland. The difference between them for me evilwise is that Cora did the majority of bad things without her heart. Not an excuse since even Regina could still be good but I think that makes Pan more evil than Cora. They both had different reactions to their chldren when they each died. Cora got her heart back and let Regina know she was loved while Pan was still trying to manipulate Rumple til the end. He would have said anything to get Rumple not to kill him but Cora was genuine in letting Regina know having her heart back made her realize Regina that she was enough.

 

I loved Pan and Robbie Kay was amazing in the role. He was just so fun and he liked being manipulative over magic most of the time. He relied on his wits rather than physical abilities. I understand why he couldn't be around longer storywise although in the 3x21 and 22 I was wishing with the changing of time he was somehow the one in Rumple's dark magic storage unit. I don't think there was enough of his back story to warrant him being Rumple's Dad over a childhood friend or brother. I think we would get a better picture of Pan's change. When he gave up Rumple for youth and freedom he wasn't the evil he was in current time. I didn't get the feeling he had reached that point yet when Killlian and his brother came to the island for the first time. He didn't seem that smart or witty as an adult either. Somehow he became a lot more cruel and cunning and less pathetic than adult Rumple's Dad/pre-Pan (can't remember his real name).

 

I think it would have been better for Pan to have been a boy who chose immortality and to never get old over reverting from a man to a kid/teen. RK did a great job of bringing so much to the character and the scene between he and Rumple when Rumple tries to put Pan in his pandora box thing made you really believe the 18 year old was the father to Rumple. Going from adult to teen just brought up too many questions for me if he was still in the mind frame of a sexually active adult or if he somehow lost his libido. I don't know if I just missed it or if they ever explained how Neverland came to be created either. He dreamed about it when he was a boy so where to this magical island come from and who was controlling it then? What was the shadow and how did it become Pan's? Or was it really just dreams and he made it real with the bean porthole?

 

I'd still love another Hook centric episode that flashes back to his second time on the island in S4. We missed out last season on both Hook and Pan's middle part of their transformation and what type of business arrangement they had. It would be a great way to bring back RK/Pan for an episode. Pan had been my favorite villian by far but like the writer's previous show Lost he and his story created more questions than they answered.

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The difference between them for me evilwise is that Cora did the majority of bad things without her heart. Not an excuse since even Regina could still be good but I think that makes Pan more evil than Cora.

 

They're both bad, but I found Elderly Cora even more despicable.  Yes, Pan didn't love Rumple whereas Cora supposedly loved Regina, but Cora massacred an entire safe haven and threw Johanna off the clocktower, even though she already had what she wanted, and of course killing Eva.  Talk about petty and pathetic. The only "good guy" we saw Peter Pan (or his shadow) "kill" was Blue, and Henry, I suppose.

 

As for the villains, I hate them all.

Edited by Camera One
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To be fair, it seems like Pan did abduct a whole lot of boys, and didn't particularly care if any of them lived or died. And wasn't it implied that some of them had lost fingers/hands "playing" on Neverland? I'm sure several boys must have died over the centuries there, in fights with Hook and his crew if nothing else, and Pan clearly didn't give a crap about any of them.

 

To me, Cora was a slightly more relatable villain because her motives were, at their core, so damn human. Pan as Pan was fine, but the backstory with him also being Malcolm made some elements of that character not work for me, so I found him not as accessible at the end of the day. But with that said, I agree that while Pan was way worse as a parent and, probably, generally speaking as a human being (he always seemed to me malevolent in a way that Cora just wasn't...I don't know that I think Cora reveled in the darkness the way Pan did), he also seemed to content to just rule over his fiefdom and abduct a few kids here and there (not that that's okay, but you know what I mean). If he hadn't needed "the heart of the truest believer," it seems to me like he would have happily stayed in Neverland forever just doing his thing. Whereas Cora was in Inflict Maximum Damage mode all the time, even before she was de-hearted (though I certainly think de-hearting herself probably made it worse).

 

It makes for a really interesting parallel with Rumpel and Regina (the next generation, I suppose). I think objectively Rumpel has done way more evil than Regina and is farther away from real redemption, but a) his motivations were, generally speaking, more understandable to me (find Bae, punish the people who humiliated him as a man, kill the woman who caused Bae's death) as opposed to Regina's craziness in blaming Snow instead of Cora, and b) while I think Rumpel revels in being powerful, and has definitely enjoyed certain instances of inflicting pain on people who he feels has wronged him personally, he doesn't seem to revel in doing evil the way Regina does. There's a consistent streak of sadism in Regina that I don't think I see in Rumpel. He's also showed more of a sense of, not quite regret, but knowing that what he's done is wrong (his speech to Snow in 'Welcome to Storybrooke' comes to mind, where he basically says "I handle my guilty by telling myself that I had no other choice/it was the right thing to do/etc.,"), whereas we know No Regrets Regina doesn't regret a damn thing and I really don't think she has that much of a sense (yet) of the wrongness of her actions. (Mostly because I don't think someone could have that level of self-awareness and not be catatonic with guilt. You know, since Regina feels so much and all.) It's like Regina got Pan's personal malevolence but also Cora's desire to make the world burn, while Rumpel got Cora's single-minded focus on a more understandable goal, morality be damned, but like Pan lacks that "I'm going to destroy the world just because I can" mentality.

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They're both bad, but I found Elderly Cora even more despicable.  Yes, Pan didn't love Rumple whereas Cora supposedly loved Regina, but Cora massacred an entire safe haven and threw Johanna off the clocktower, even though she already had what she wanted, and of course killing Eva.  

 In light of the fairyback where Cora met Leopold and abandoned Zelena on the side of the road, I think it's dubious that Cora actually loved Regina, or that she was  sincere in her emotional comments at the end.  I think it's entirely possible--and within her characterization--for that last "you would've been enough" to be a manipulative comment meant to damage all the people that were involved in killing/beating her. 

 

Like Regina, she seemed to be more stable/less selfish without her heart.

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To be fair, it seems like Pan did abduct a whole lot of boys, and didn't particularly care if any of them lived or died. And wasn't it implied that some of them had lost fingers/hands "playing" on Neverland? I'm sure several boys must have died over the centuries there, in fights with Hook and his crew if nothing else, and Pan clearly didn't give a crap about any of them.

 

Both Pan and Cora were sociopaths and despicable, and giant vault of hearts, murdering hundreds of people in cold blood and turning them into zombie armies vs kidnapping children, all are equally disgusting though at least Pan kept them alive (for what that's worth, and all the Lost Boys did fit on one ship).  Unfortunately, I don't find Cora relatable at all.  

Edited by Camera One
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I think objectively Rumpel has done way more evil than Regina and is farther away from real redemption, but a) his motivations were, generally speaking, more understandable to me (find Bae, punish the people who humiliated him as a man, kill the woman who caused Bae's death) as opposed to Regina's craziness in blaming Snow instead of Cora, and b) while I think Rumpel revels in being powerful, and has definitely enjoyed certain instances of inflicting pain on people who he feels has wronged him personally, he doesn't seem to revel in doing evil the way Regina does.

Rumple always reminds me of the movie version of a mafia don. 

 

He knows what he's doing is evil, but he sees it as important for the well-being of his family and himself.  It's something that's . . . necessary, not a pleasure, usually.

 

It usually means that while he's got a pretty high body count, and he is evil, but going by past characterization, he's not killing villages just because he's angry or his feelings were hurt. 

 

He'd be killing the village because they were doing things like trying to burn Belle at the stake, not giving him the magic whatsit to get to Baelfire, or because they hired him to do a job and are now refusing to pay him.

 

For him, the evil seems to be something he sees as regrettable, but worth doing if it achieves the power or safety he's aiming for.  Does that make him more evil, less evil, or equally evil than Regina?

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Rumple definitely more purposeful, and I agree about that village scenario.

 

Still, he derives definite pleasure from playing with people's emotions and manipulating them, and that's disgusting too.  

 

That's why I don't like any of the villains, no matter how many sob stories the writers pull out of their you know where.  Granted, Rumple and Regina both have their moments where I can feel slightly for them, partly due to the acting.  Pan, Cora and Zelena all leave me cold, and their full-of-themselves monologues put me to sleep.

Edited by Camera One

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Rumple is wiser about what he does. He's done many many many cruel and unusual deeds, but he's also helped people when he found it beneficial to himself. Regina is more of a blind fury, while Rumple plans out his steps. I hope he gets a better goal - doing random bad deeds isn't like him. When he killed Zelena, it was about avenging Bae. He had been planning it for all of 3B. Now there's no telling what he'll do for the long run.

 

I'm going to go out on a limb and say Regina is by the far the most psychotic of all the villains in Once. She doesn't have logical reasons for doing what she does. Not that I want to feel sympathy for her, but "evil isn't born, it's made." How and when did she go from kindhearted Regina to raging Evil Queen? What was her turning point? If Snow had done more than just tell a secret, if she antagonized Regina over and over, their rivalry would have worked better. But she didn't

 

Where was goodhearted teen Regina in all of her reign as queen? It seems she never had second thoughts about what she was doing. Even Rumple showed mercy once in a while. His core intentions were calculated. Regina had to be a total psycho to think killing Snow was going to fix all her problems. The Evil Queen just seems so out of character for what she came from. Oh well, it makes for exciting plot, right?

 

I liked her in 3A and most of 3B besides Outlaw Queen, but how did she go from murdering masses to using light magic? It's doable, but for the way it was written, it played out poorly. There was a beginning and an end, but no middle. I would pay money to see her apologize and admit her wrongs. She knew better before she became queen. What the heck happened?

 

All that being said, Regina is one of my favorite characters. Her actress and concept are both phenomenal. It's just that darn writing execution!

Edited by KingOfHearts
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I kind of hate the sort of message the writers convey with the villains.  Regina, Zelena and Rumple had shit parents, cry me a river. 

 

For all intents and purposes Regina had a loving father, Zelena had a loving adoptive mother and Rumple was raised by those lady spinsters who cared for him.   

 

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, that's really where it's at.

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Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, that's really where it's at.

That's exactly why Regina and Rumple's redeptive arcs are so problematic. They still wield so much power and privilege. Why will they change? Regina has a strangle-hold on her magic and anger, as much as Rumple has on magic and power. Her brief stint at Light Magic is clearly not going to be replicated until she gets her boyfriend back. And Rumple is not going to be letting go of that Dagger until the end of the series.

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 Her brief stint at Light Magic is clearly not going to be replicated until she gets her boyfriend back. And Rumple is not going to be letting go of that Dagger until the end of the series.

That's one of the things that bothers me about the morality on this show--it's easy to be nice to people and make reasonably good decisions when things are going your way and you're getting what you want. It shouldn't be "Poor Regina was unhappy, so those villagers had to suffer.  But, now she has Henry! and Robin!  She's good.  She's super-good!" 

 

Getting what you want shouldn't be a prerequisite for not treating other people badly.  If Regina's truly changed, she not only needs to recognize the actual humanity of other people, but should be able to continue making good decisions and treating people well.

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  If Regina's truly changed, she not only needs to recognize the actual humanity of other people, but should be able to continue making good decisions and treating people well.

 

I think we'll find out if she does in S4!

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The reason I'm iffy on whether I'd consider Regina or Rumple "redeemed" or even truly reformed is that I don't think they've yet recognized their actions were wrong or even figured out where they went wrong, which means that if similar circumstances arose, they might go right back to where they were.

 

Rumple does seem to recognize that many of the actions he took in his quest to get to Bae were wrong, but he feels justified in having done them because of that goal. On the other hand, he did a lot of nasty things that had absolutely nothing to do with Bae and doesn't seem to have any regrets about that, either. If he had the chance to do it all over again -- not time travel like Zelena was trying to do, but a true do-over, knowing what he knows now -- I'm not sure he'd change anything. He might say that he'd go with Bae through the original portal, but I'm still not entirely sure he'd be able to bring himself to do it. He might change some of his tactics along the way just because he has better info, but I don't think he'd change anything on the basis that he made a morally wrong choice. For instance, he'd probably cut off Killian's other hand because he'd know the bean was moved, but he wouldn't think of telling Milah why he needed the bean to find Bae and see if Milah and Killian would be willing to help. So Rumple may be behaving moderately well at the moment, but if there's something he wants, he doesn't seem to have many qualms about doing whatever it takes to get it.

 

With Regina, I still don't think she quite grasps where she went wrong. She still seems to blame Snow, even if she's taken on some blame for Daniel's death in that her seeing him put him in danger. She doesn't seem to have taken full responsibility for her own unhappiness, that her life wasn't miserable because Daniel died or because Snow existed, but because her obsession was keeping her from doing the kind of things that lead to a happy life. When the curse didn't make her happy, she blamed the curse without ever realizing that she was always going to be unhappy unless she changed. She even seems to be trying to whitewash her own history, like saying that Emma was collateral damage in her quest to destroy Snow, when she actually sent her guards to kill Emma at birth. That's a target, not collateral damage. If Regina found herself back at the moment after Daniel died, I'm not sure she would actually change anything other than maybe trying to modify details of the curse to try to make it more fun for her. The real test for her will be to see how she responds now that she's lost another love (never mind that it's not even enough to really count as a relationship).

 

This is why I think Hook's reformation is likely to stick. It's pretty clear that he knows exactly where he went wrong, and if he got to do it over again, about the only thing that might keep him from making entirely different choices is the fact that if he did, he would never meet Emma -- and I'm not even entirely sure if he'd choose that over the chance to be the man he wants to be (maybe he'd think of a way to not be a pirate, not get caught up in vengeance, but still go hang out in Neverland for a while). If a similar situation came up now, I think he's learned enough that he would respond differently.

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For him, the evil seems to be something he sees as regrettable, but worth doing if it achieves the power or safety he's aiming for.  Does that make him more evil, less evil, or equally evil than Regina?

I do, actually, think that's one of the more interesting existential questions that the show has--well, not raised, but makes me think about, at least. One some level, if Regina is just batshit insane and her "empathy" circuit breaker is just irreparably tripped, is it more horrifying that Rumpel knows in a way she can't that he's evil? Or would you always take the person who at least knows that they're wrong, and feels some stirrings of guilt/regret, over the psycho, because at least you have a .01% chance that on that day, Rumpel might feel especially guilty/regretful and let you go?

 

On a different topic--I really do think that Regina will never fully be able to admit that she was wrong when it came to Snow, because I actually believe it would wreck her entire psyche if she did. The lies she tells herself about Snow and Daniel are the foundation for her entire psychic world. If she were to admit that they're lies, I actually think her entire mind would come tumbling down like a house of cards.

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On a different topic--I really do think that Regina will never fully be able to admit that she was wrong when it came to Snow, because I actually believe it would wreck her entire psyche if she did. The lies she tells herself about Snow and Daniel are the foundation for her entire psychic world. If she were to admit that they're lies, I actually think her entire mind would come tumbling down like a house of cards.

That is an excellent observation! Basically, if someone with the psyche of a Hitler suddenly grew a conscience, would they be able to live with themselves? I doubt it.

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Rumple considered getting rid of Henry, even when he knew that he was his grandkid.  That whole "incident" at the park with the swing, the rope and the jagged rocks while Granny was standing guard with her crossbow...nice going grandpa!

 

They always have the  character teetering on the edge of full blown madness/villainy.  For my money, just shove him over the edge and let him be this batshit crazy nut job.

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I find crazy Rumple more entertaining than crazy Regina. Contrarily, "sane" Regina is more fun to watch than "sane" Rumple.

 

Regina has some core issues that go beyond Snow. Snow was just an scapegoat. Regina took her problems out on her. She was mistreated by Cora, then taught to live in hate by Rumple, and finally neglected by Leopold in favor of Snow. She couldn't take her anger out on Rumple or Cora, but she could take it out on Snow and Leopold. Notice Regina had problems before ever meeting Snow - specifically with her mother.

 

Regina's core problem is fear, or in essence, paranoia. She thinks everyone is out to get her. Remember the nightmare in An Apple Red As Blood? She feared everyone turning on her. That's how she views everyone - people not to be trusted. She was paranoid when Emma came to town, thinking she was out to take Henry away from her. She was afraid of Cora, so when Cora came back to town, she went back into fear mode. You could see the look on her face when she found out Cora was alive in Enchanted Forest - sheer terror. When the kingdom called her the Evil Queen, and when she was blamed for murdering Jiminy in Cricket Game, her insecurities bubbled up.

 

In reaction to her fear, she became hellbent on obtaining power. She murdered and punished everyone she saw as a threat. She tried running Emma out of town in S1 because she was scared of her. The situation with Stable Boy happened in a similar way - Regina concluded Snow was against her. Magic is what she hides behind, and without it, she would be forced to open up to people because she wouldn't be able to hide behind her magic

 

This also explains the Marian situation a bit. Regina, in her paranoid state, jumped to the conclusion that Emma was against her. Hence, she freaked out and went in offensive mode.

 

None of this is an excuse for her behavior, by the way. I'm attempting to wrap my brain around a solution. Losing her magic is a possibility. When she couldn't defeat Zelena with magic, she had to turn to Robin for support. If Regina could have just beat Zelena with magic, Robin's assistance would have been unnecessary and she probably wouldn't have opened herself up to him. Ironically, it was because of her love for Robin she could use magic to defeat Zelena in the end.

 

I would still like to know what caused her to go super-victimized psycho in the first place.

Edited by KingOfHearts

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Is it more horrifying that Rumpel knows in a way she can't that he's evil? Or would you always take the person who at least knows that they're wrong, and feels some stirrings of guilt/regret, over the psycho, because at least you have a .01% chance that on that day, Rumpel might feel especially guilty/regretful and let you go?

 

One thing that we see with Rumpel is that he doesn't run out and have a kill everyone mode. A good example of this occurs in "Snow Drifts" when he tells Emma to just run along and let him enjoy his killing Hook. He didn't care about Emma at all and told her to go away even though she was with Hook because he didn't have any reason to hurt her. If that had been Snow & Emma faced with the Evil Queen, Regina would have killed them both because Emma deserved it for hanging out with Snow. I'd always take Rumpel over the Evil Queen because he has reason and accountability something which Regina completely lacks.

 

There's also the mythology of the Dark One that's behind a lot of Rumpel's actions. We've seen Rumpel the man and he did not become a crazy psycho freak show when bad things happened. He went on with his life and was a good father to his son until he tried to protect him and became the Dark One. At which point, as Neal said, things went bad. Rumpel the man wasn't the psychopath and parts of that man must be screaming inside at what a monster he's become. I think there's some hope that the man happens to have more control over the body than the Dark One. And I'd say that even the Dark One can be reasoned with to some extent, which doesn't seem to be the case with the Evil Queen. 

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One thing that we see with Rumpel is that he doesn't run out and have a kill everyone mode.

But he does have a pretty strong sadistic streak. He took great glee in torturing Robin Hood and in beating the hell out of Nottingham (with Lacey cheering him on). He seems to relish turning people who thwart him or even just annoy him into things he can squash. Even without magic, he unloaded on Belle's father. He doesn't just lay waste to everyone and everything, but he does have a power trip kind of sadism in which he seems to enjoy the fact that he has power over people.

 

That's why I kind of wonder about this:

There's also the mythology of the Dark One that's behind a lot of Rumpel's actions. We've seen Rumpel the man and he did not become a crazy psycho freak show when bad things happened.

Is it the Dark One that makes him do these things, or were the seeds of that already there? A lot of his behavior looks like the kind of thing a cowardly person might want to do but doesn't have the nerve to do, so when he gets the kind of power that allows him to do these things, it all comes out. Like in dealing with Hook -- pre-Dark One, he was too afraid to put up a fight. As the Dark One, he ripped out hearts and cut off a hand. Did he actually change, or did he always want to do those things but didn't have the nerve or ability? How would he act if he faced someone who had equal power rather than people who were powerless against him? Does he only fight if he's guaranteed to win?

 

As for Regina, she has a weird kind of envy sadism (it seems to run in the family). No matter how well her life is going, she's not really happy if other people are happy, especially if they're happier than she is. Her way of making herself happier is making other people suffer more, and then she feels better about herself. I guess she's never heard that living well is the best revenge.

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That's why I kind of wonder about this:

Is it the Dark One that makes him do these things, or were the seeds of that already there? A lot of his behavior looks like the kind of thing a cowardly person might want to do but doesn't have the nerve to do, so when he gets the kind of power that allows him to do these things, it all comes out. Like in dealing with Hook -- pre-Dark One, he was too afraid to put up a fight. As the Dark One, he ripped out hearts and cut off a hand. Did he actually change, or did he always want to do those things but didn't have the nerve or ability? How would he act if he faced someone who had equal power rather than people who were powerless against him? Does he only fight if he's guaranteed to win?

I agree. His behavior is classic bullied kid syndrome (I've just made up that). Someone who used to be at the bottom of the power chain, and when he gets power, instead of treating others like he would have wanted to be treated, he becomes the bully. Not just against the ones who used to bully him, but also against the ones weaker than him who used to be in the same position. Like a mute maid, really?

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Is it the Dark One that makes him do these things, or were the seeds of that already there? A lot of his behavior looks like the kind of thing a cowardly person might want to do but doesn't have the nerve to do, so when he gets the kind of power that allows him to do these things, it all comes out.

I don't disagree that a lot of Rumpel's evil is cowardice combined with power tripping, and I do agree that he should be held fully accountable for all the evil he's done (because at this point it's clear that he could control himself at least more than he does, and chooses not to)--but I just always go back to the way that, in 1x08, he had blood all over his teeth and the implication was that he'd ripped out a lot of the ogres' throats (which recurs in 'Miller's Daughter'). That is not normal human behavior, imo, that is not simply "I'm on a massive power trip, hear me roar." So I actually do think that something in Rumpel, some level of him, really was changed by the curse.

 

But as I said, I also think he could control it (more) and often chooses not to, so--no excuses.

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I don't even think Rumple was that cowardly.  Going to a pirate ship, where he'd be outnumbered by men who each individually could beat him up or kill him, to get his wife who he thought had been kidnapped took a LOT of courage.  He didn't want to fight because he knew he would lose, but he didn't run either.  Up until that point, the most cowardly thing he did was not fight in the war.  And that was a misguided attempt to avoid having his son grow up w/o a father based on visions from a seer.  And we have learned he knows first hand what that's like.  I'm not saying it was smart, but it wasn't like he left because he was on the front line, saw the enemy and ran.  

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but I just always go back to the way that, in 1x08, he had blood all over his teeth and the implication was that he'd ripped out a lot of the ogres' throats (which recurs in 'Miller's Daughter').

 

Did he have blood all over his teeth? I thought his teeth looked a little jagged, but that went with his new skin colouring and transformation into the Dark One. The Ogre Wars still seem to be raging in the background at the end of 1x08. Rumple's immediate impetus was to save Bae from the soldiers. He later stops the Ogre wars.

 

When he talks about ripping out throats and crunching veins in the "Miller's Daughter", he's refering to the head soldier who made him kiss his boots, not the ogres. The "Miller's Daughter" occurs hundreds of years after the original incident and after losing Bae. Rumple says "Now, in my mind, I go back and I rip out his throat, and I crunch his veins with my teeth." It is what he wishes he had done and what he thinks about to motivate his magic. We are shown that at the time, Rumple was content to stab the soldiers and snap the neck of the one that made him kiss his boot.

 

Rumple doesn't go immediately from cowardly peasent to psycho vein cruncher. As a peasent, he is evil enough to torch a castle (he must have realized that some in there would be trapped and unable to escape) and kill the Dark One (rather than simply controlling him). His first actions as the Dark One could be seen as reasonable reactions to provocations (those soldiers had gleefuly abused the peasents and sent their ill-prepared children into battle instead of going themselves). At that time, in that world, killing them while preventing them from taking your son could probably be seen as reasonablish (if we ignore that the foot-kissing soldier had already surrendered). From there, he progressively gets worse. Killing people for accidently skinning Bae's knee or possibly over-hearing his secret to eventually murder his wife when she tells him that she never loved him. There is no evidence he ever vein crunches, he just dreams about it.

 

I do think he felt he was powerless pre-Dark One. Once he becomes the Dark One, he abuses his power because he can, because he can pay back historical slights and because he never wants to go back to being powerless. The previous Dark One didn't seem all that bad. He seems to reluctantly do what he is ordered to do and actively courts death rather than continue being the Dark One. He seems pleasent enough when tricking Rumple into killing him while Rumple rarely behaves as anything other than a jerk when working deals with people. I don't think we ever see  him as the Dark One taking anything other than a position of some power (the lowest he ever goes is to be in prison, but that was always an illusion and everybody is still very scared of him). I don't think he would have ever approached a deal/mark like Zosa did. He always comes from a position of power.

 

I don't think that the curse can totally be blamed for who Rumple became. Rumple started with a pretty dark streak and let the absolute power corrupt him further. History is rife with people who were nice to their families or pets, but absolute monsters to the rest of the world.

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From there, he progressively gets worse. Killing people for accidently skinning Bae's knee or possibly over-hearing his secret to eventually murder his wife when she tells him that she never loved him. There is no evidence he ever vein crunches, he just dreams about it.

. . .

I don't think that the curse can totally be blamed for who Rumple became. Rumple started with a pretty dark streak and let the absolute power corrupt him further. History is rife with people who were nice to their families or pets, but absolute monsters to the rest of the world.

I think you're right--the curse can't be blamed entirely for Rumple's darkness.  I do think, though, that it contributed in more than a "he has power now" way. 

 

I just don't think you get an (inherited) title like "The Dark One" and have it be established in canon as a curse, without it having at least some corrupting influence beyond the  I have Power anthem.

 

Maybe it tweaks your conscience or boundaries, so that if you aren't hyperaware, you slowly become more and more morally corrupted?

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I think for Rumpel the absolute power handed to him definitely corrupted him and allowed him to carry out all the secret fantasies he'd had of getting back at all of those who'd wronged him over the years. However, I highly doubt Rumpel the man had such extremely gruesome fantasies. More likely they were that he'd like to kill that guy someday with a sword or something, not that he'd like to rip open his throat with his own teeth and crush his veins. I wonder if maybe the Dark One curse is something that removes your conscience such that evil and terrible things become continually less horrible to the cursed individual over time. It's also been established by Rumpel that he uses anger/hate to fuel his power, so it seems the darker the acts, the more powerful the Dark One would become. This would also spur more and more sickening acts. Perhaps whoever created the Dark One's Curse in the first place may have considered this sort of thing. The Dark One craves power and in order to get more and more, he needs to do darker and darker things.

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I think you're right--the curse can't be blamed entirely for Rumple's darkness.  I do think, though, that it contributed in more than a "he has power now" way.

I just don't think you get an (inherited) title like "The Dark One" and have it be established in canon as a curse, without it having at least some corrupting influence beyond the  I have Power anthem.

Maybe it tweaks your conscience or boundaries, so that if you aren't hyperaware, you slowly become more and more morally corrupted?

However, I highly doubt Rumpel the man had such extremely gruesome fantasies.... I wonder if maybe the Dark One curse is something that removes your conscience such that evil and terrible things become continually less horrible to the cursed individual over time.

Yeah, I think these are better ways of saying what I was trying to vocalize earlier. I do think that the Dark One curse seems to remove certain inhibitions against violence, and/or amp up violent instincts. However, I don't think that removes any moral culpability from Rumpel, because he knows better and should fight those instincts. It's like...say you were to remove whatever part of my conscience/mind/empathy/whatever that prevents me from having an instinctively horrified reaction to killing someone. I should still know better than to kill someone, however, and still be able to control my instincts. Because I know, intellectually if nothing else, that it's wrong. Similarly, if you were to amp up my bloodlust, I should still be able to fight it and restrain myself from hurting people because I know better and you haven't impaired my self-control any. (Because I'm super into Person of Interest right now, I'll say that Shaw makes a great example here. She's neuroatypical, lacking empathy, and so doesn't feel bad about killing people/obviously enjoys violence--but she also has dedicated herself to the Greater Good. She wanted to be a doctor and help people, she worked for the US government to hunt down terrorists. She doesn't walk around beating up on innocent people for the hell of it. She still has a basic moral sense, understanding of right and wrong, and tries to stay on the "right" side and be good. That's the effort I don't see Rumpel making.)

 

Maybe the way to say it is that the Dark One curse seems to make the id both darker and stronger--but it doesn't affect the superego any. So while it's a corrupting influence, Rumpel should be able to fight against it--at least more than he currently does. But that's where the "absolute power corrupts absolutely" thing comes in.

Edited by stealinghome
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