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The Villains of Once Upon a Time

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Power and the need for it is really at the heart of the matter for both of the redeeming villains on this show (I exclude Hook from any talk about this because he never had any power. See: Captain Floor). The truth is that I'd doubt Regina would have let Zelena live if Regina hadn't had all of the power at the end. The show played it as "heroic" that Regina didn't kill her because that would be the wrong thing to do, but that's really not why Regina didn't kill her. And we saw that when Regina was lording her power over Zelena later in the jail. She even told Zelena that if she didn't do exactly as Regina said, Regina would kill her. Regina held all the cards, had all the power and could do whatever she wanted. It was easy to make the choice not to kill her sister and seem all magnanimous and "good" because she could always just kill her later if need be. The grossness of Regina using the dagger and controlling Rumpel and forcing him to make the "right" choice was just the icing on the cake of the Regina power trip from "Kansas". The true measure of Regina's heroism and goodness is if she would choose to make the right choice without having power or getting anything tangible in return. In fact, it would be best if making the right choice would actually have a negative effect on her power. Until she demonstrates that the corrupting influence of power no longer has a hold on her, I can't buy into her being redeemed. She also needs to have regrets, but the show thinks not having them is a good thing so that's not going to happen.

 

Rumpel has the same issue with power. He can't live without it. It's why he brought magic to Storybrooke and why he can't allow Belle to have his dagger (outside the fact that Belle wandering around with his dagger in her purse is the worst. idea. ever.). I'd say his past makes it even harder for him to be willing to let go of it. Beyond the endless number of enemies he's made over time, he knows that there are bullies like Hook and the Kiss My Boot Soldier out there and he can't live with the idea of being put back into the position of the village coward again. I think this is one of the reasons he respects Emma. She came from a position of no power and privilege and worked her ass off to earn some without being corrupted along the way. It must puzzle him how she went about doing that. Accruing power has been what Rumpel's been about for centuries, he has to let that go before he can ever start on the path to redemption. 

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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.

 

Yep. Rumple seems perfectly aware that he's doing wrong. He just doesn't care. He does it because he can.  Not only does he have the power to do it, he knows he will get away with it.

 

Some people do the right thing because it is the right thing to do (that is what the Charmings and other heros on this show do).

 

Some people only do the right thing because society makes them (either with rules, rewards or punishments). That would be people like Rumple. Rumple doesn't need to listen to rules, can avoid punishments and gives himself his own rewards. Neal was the only one who could punish or reward Rumple into following the rules. With Bae gone, I'm not sure Rumple can ever be brought under control unless he loses his Dark One's powers.

 

Some people only see the world through their own lens (how things affect them) so they don't even recognize right from wrong. That would be Regina. She thinks when she's punished for not following the rules that people are just being mean to her and that justifies her doing more wrong. She's slowly starting to learn, though.

 

I do think that Rumple has a strange soft spot for Emma. Even before he knew of her relationship with Bae, he seemed almost to treat her a lot like him. He allows her to lecture him. Sometimes allows her to modify his behavior. And doesn't deal all that harshly with her (the average person making the open-ended Cinderalla baby deal would had to have owed him a lot more than a roadtrip to New York). He even teaches her magic using love instead of focusing on her darker emotions (indications are that Regina might have done better with light magic as well since she quickly became more powerful than Glinda (who could not stop Zelena) while she struggled with learning dark magic).

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Continuing on KAOS Agent's thought, Rumple and Regina want power because they're essentially cowardly. Power, or magic, is their crutch. Without it, they fold like paper. (Rumple being bracleted by Pan in the shop, Regina hiding after the first curse was broken) The only way to get rid of their fears is to face it. Rumple won't get over his dagger obsession until he doesn't have it any more, and Regina won't grow until she can't use magic to solve all her problems.

 

In We Are Both, Regina realized magic wasn't going to keep Henry at her side. She had a growing point when she agreed to stop using it, even apologizing to Henry for what she'd done to him. Not a huge breakthrough, but it was a critical point to her even beginning to redeem herself.

 

In Going Home, Rumple sacrificed himself when he could no longer use magic. That was huge. If he had magic, he might not have done that. But because he didn't, he faced his fear and confronted Pan, giving up his life in the process for those he loved.

 

Power is seductive, as Henry Sr. said. If Rumple and Regina lost their magic, at least for only a time, it's guaranteed they both would get major character growth.

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Power is seductive, as Henry Sr. said. If Rumple and Regina lost their magic, at least for only a time, it's guaranteed they both would get major character growth.

 

They did both lose their magic and it didn't seem to help very much.

 

Once Emma broke the memory curse with Rumple, he was without magic. He still nearly beat Mo to death with his cane because he suspected the man had stolen his teacup. He also kidnapped Katharine and helped to frame Mary Margaret (before letting Katharine go for his own reasons) which was psychology traumatic to both women and caused a major schism in the David/Mary Margaret relationship (which Katharine had just decided to bless before she was kidnapped to cause that schism). He fully intended on forcing Cinderella to keep her deal to give him her baby. He also sent Emma on a wild goose chase to kill a dragon so that he could get magic back when she could have been giving her kid a True Love kiss. If the dragon had killed her instead, Henry would have spent the rest of eternity in a death-like coma and the curse would not have been broken. Rumple didn't care, he wanted his magic (even Belle suddenly arriving didn't stop him on that path...he dragged a clearly confused woman in a hospital gown out into the woods to re-establish magic).

 

Regina just got busy getting magical  when she realized she was without magic. It didn't change her perspective.

 

Both of them were cuffed with Pan's anti-magic cuff and other things that transpired while in that state convinced them to sacrifice themselves. Pan's threatening of everybody that Rumple loved did the trick for him, but he seems to have reverted back to lying, manipulating and killing by the end of Season 3. Regina decided to sacrifice herself to save Henry after Tamara/Greg had already activated the fail-safe she was going to use. That sacrifice was to give them more time to find some beans. She does seem to have improved after that incident, but it was the group sacrifice, realizing that she almost lost Henry and the teamwork that seems to have had the greater effect (rather than temporarily losing her magic).

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Power is seductive, as Henry Sr. said. If Rumple and Regina lost their magic, at least for only a time, it's guaranteed they both would get major character growth.

 

I really wish they would both lose their magic.  Magic comes with a price but they're the only ones who seem to not pay the price of all the dark magic they unleashed.  Regina, Rumple, Cora all went on doing what they do. 

 

Rumple actually paid a price at the beginning when he lost Bae, but he learned nothing from that judging by his most recent actions after Neal died, so it's a moot point as far as I'm concerned. 

 

Seems like the price of magic was paid by people like Snow and David and Emma and everyone else who was torn from the Enchanted Forest, orphaned, or stuck in Coradome.  Everyone who was not Rumple, Regina or Cora suffered.

 

If the show has any kind of balls, they will demagic the hell out of Regina and Rumple for the whole season and let them struggle. 

Edited by YaddaYadda
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If the show has any kind of balls, they will demagic the hell out of Regina and Rumple for the whole season and let them struggle.

 

I actually would love that, not only on the comeuppance side of things (yes, show, villains should get some kind of comeuppance, imagine that) but a lot of the fun of Season One Storybrooke for me was watching the Evil Queen have to play by this world's rules. She couldn't just open up a can of magical whoopass on her enemies so she actually had to think and work for it. It was fun.

 

Magic can be fun, too, but it ends up being one of those rock and a hard place kind of deals. When your villains are super-powerful and can magic their way out of anything, it's both boring and frustrating. Boring because there's no tension; of course they're going to win if they can just poof their enemies into a snail or whatnot. Frustrating because if the power is so unbalanced, why bother even hoping for the good guys to win? Either the good guys are just going to keep on losing or the bad guys have to be stupid and not turn them into snails at every juncture.

 

I fully believe that Emma is going to be a force to be reckoned with once she develops her magic, but she's not there yet, and even then, she's one person. So yeah, take away Rumple's and Regina's magic for a bit. Make them have to work for it. Give them a lesson in humility; make them have to rely on the good guys for a change. (Ooh, the fanfic just writes itself ...)

Edited by Dani-Ellie
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They did both lose their magic and it didn't seem to help very much.

 

Once Emma broke the memory curse with Rumple, he was without magic. He still nearly beat Mo to death with his cane because he suspected the man had stolen his teacup. He also kidnapped Katharine and helped to frame Mary Margaret (before letting Katharine go for his own reasons) which was psychology traumatic to both women and caused a major schism in the David/Mary Margaret relationship (which Katharine had just decided to bless before she was kidnapped to cause that schism). He fully intended on forcing Cinderella to keep her deal to give him her baby. He also sent Emma on a wild goose chase to kill a dragon so that he could get magic back when she could have been giving her kid a True Love kiss. If the dragon had killed her instead, Henry would have spent the rest of eternity in a death-like coma and the curse would not have been broken. Rumple didn't care, he wanted his magic (even Belle suddenly arriving didn't stop him on that path...he dragged a clearly confused woman in a hospital gown out into the woods to re-establish magic).

 

Regina just got busy getting magical  when she realized she was without magic. It didn't change her perspective.

 

S1 was an entirely different playing field, though.

 

Magic is power. It's not just magic they want, but the power it gives. In S1, Regina and Rumple were the two most powerful people in town. Rumple had all the wealth and property, and Regina was mayor with a whole cast of puppets to do her bidding. They both ended up trying to get their magic back in the end. (Regina with her vault and Jefferson's hat, Rumple getting the True Love potion) 

 

After the curse broke, their non-magical power in Storybrooke fell. The townspeople wanted Regina dead, and if Rumple didn't have magic so immediately, the townspeople might have been out for his head as well. But they both got magic rather quickly, so they didn't suffer for too long.

 

If they lost their magic now, they would be forced to rely on other people. They don't have much power besides that.

 

Give them a lesson in humility; make them have to rely on the good guys for a change. (Ooh, the fanfic just writes itself ...)

 

You read my mind! Without magic, they'd have to learn to trust people to help them. In order for that, they'd have to learn to build relationships.

Edited by KingOfHearts

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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.

 

The problem with that saying is that it presupposes that the objects of your "revenge" even care that you're living, much less how you're living.  Regina knows deep down that she could have had a far better life if she had taken her father's advice and given up any idea of revenge against Snow and her allies by casting the original Dark Curse, but that doesn't matter to her because it wouldn't have mattered to anyone else -- which is the entire point of getting revenge.  It has to be done in a way that will actually matter to those against whom you're seeking vengeance.

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If the dragon had killed her instead, Henry would have spent the rest of eternity in a death-like coma and the curse would not have been broken.

 

Not true.  The curse would have automatically broken upon Emma's death, which Regina and Rumpel both knew.

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If they lost their magic now, they would be forced to rely on other people. They don't have much power besides that.

For me, there's a distinction between Regina and Rumpel losing magic and choosing to be magic-less. I don't think it's a coincidence that their most authentic moments/periods of change have come when they have actively chosen to be magic-less, when they have made a decision to forego magic even when they could have used it: Regina in 2A, Rumpel when he killed Pan and sacrificed himself. So imo it's not as much about stripping them of their magic as it is about truly convincing them that they don't need magic (or, alternately, stripping them of their magic but helping them be okay with that long-term).

 

Just taking the power away won't be as effective because I still do think that they would both work toward re-powering themselves like bats out of hell (though for my low tolerance for Regina's smugness's sake, yes it would definitely be nice for Regina to have to eat some humble pie). The trick is convincing them that they don't need the power at all.

 

The problem with that saying is that it presupposes that the objects of your "revenge" even care that you're living, much less how you're living.

Well, even more than that, the problem is that Snow would have thrown Regina a frigging ticker tape parade if Regina had given up vengeance. It's not really a "screw you" if the object of your "vengeance" is waiting for you to come back to the light and would be ecstatic if you did so.

Edited by stealinghome
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I think stripping their magic without their consent would better enable them to stop relying on magic. It won't solve the whole problem, but it would be a stepping point. Like I said before, Rumple's magic was forcefully removed from him by Pan. He could have cut his arm off to get his magic back, but he made the right decision to sacrifice himself. Power is blinding, and when you don't have it, you begin to recognize what's going on around you instead of your own self. Rumple could have made the wrong decision, even without magic, but losing his power definitely helped him see the light.

 

In the Evil Queen, when Regina was in disguise mode, she started to realize the error of her hatred for Snow. That is until Snow found the slaughtered village. Regina had a possible turning point there, but her own power-hunger got in the way.

 

When everyone was in Neverland, there was probably more character growth there since S1. Rumple and Regina could not rely on their magic to assist them like they wanted to. In that arc, Rumple and to a lesser extent Regina had some nice development. The bonding between the "good" and "bad" guys was probably the most pivotal part of the story told in 3A. In S2 they were still enemies, but during 3A, they became a team. That only happened because the playing field was leveled, and Rumple and Regina couldn't plow through with fireballs.

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Regina knows deep down that she could have had a far better life if she had taken her father's advice and given up any idea of revenge against Snow and her allies by casting the original Dark Curse, but that doesn't matter to her because it wouldn't have mattered to anyone else -- which is the entire point of getting revenge.  It has to be done in a way that will actually matter to those against whom you're seeking vengeance.

And that's the futility of vengeance -- you're making yourself unhappy by trying to make someone else unhappy. Or as has been said, drinking poison and hoping someone else dies. It's all about looking to someone else for your own happiness (or lack thereof). If your happiness is dependent on what happens to another person, you'll never be happy. The way "living well is the best revenge" works is that it comes down to just living your own life and being happy without letting the other person get to you. I guess in a sense that's how Snow is getting back at Regina: she's living her life, having love and friends and family, regardless of what Regina does, and that's what drove Regina nuts, but it only works for Snow because Snow doesn't really care what Regina thinks about it. She just pities Regina.

 

I think the way the "magic comes at a price" thing seems to work is part of this show's wonky morality because magic only seems to come at a price for the good guys. Regina and Rumple get just about everything they want, with almost no consequences. Regina in particular. Even when she was prepared to face the consequence of giving up Henry, that got erased pretty quickly, which was one reason I didn't want Henry's memories fully restored. I wanted at least some consequence to stick for Regina. He could have regained his belief in the fairy tales and magic and figured it all out the way he did the first time around, but never remember Regina as his mother and instead she'd have to forge a new relationship with him that would never be quite what she wanted. But instead she gets her castle and is still a queen in the Enchanted Forest, she gets to be mayor in Storybrooke, she gets her son back, who still loves her in spite of some nasty stuff (in the pilot, he pretty much hated her). When one tiny thing doesn't go her way -- the wife of her new boyfriend of just a few days turns out not to be dead -- it's treated as a grand tragedy. And this is a woman who's destroyed how many lives?

 

But then while she was going cold turkey on magic for Henry's sake, it was treated as some kind of moral dilemma whether or not she should use magic to save everyone from Zombie Daniel. That's one time when I was yelling, "Use the damn magic, Regina!" at the TV. It's not magic that's bad. It's how it's used.

 

It would be funny if Regina and Rumple were put under some kind of curse that meant they could only use magic to benefit others -- they could save someone else's life or give someone else something, but any selfish use, including self-defense when no one else needs defending, wouldn't work.

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I think the way the "magic comes at a price" thing seems to work is part of this show's wonky morality because magic only seems to come at a price for the good guys.

 

Exactly.  If *every* time Regina, Rumple (Cora, Peter Pan or Zelena) did something magical, there was a price, they would all be swimming in a chamber of magma 108km below the surface by this point.

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I think the way the "magic comes at a price" thing seems to work is part of this show's wonky morality because magic only seems to come at a price for the good guys. Regina and Rumple get just about everything they want, with almost no consequences. Regina in particular.

Rumple has paid a price, his son's life (even if it was because Neal's own stupidity), but you are right about Regina. She has done a lot of damage and yet, she has everything she wants. And the big problem is that we know she is not going to pay any price for what she has done, and not only that, the writers want us to feel bad for her because of the return of Marian.

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"Magic comes with a price" might just be a superstition. It's definitely not a cardinal rule. What about "everyday" magic like teleporting or poofing giant cupcakes? The price might rather be the natural consequences of the action. But if there IS a magical price, there better be some serious debt payoff in future seasons.

 

Regina's price may be her inability to care for others and truly turn around. She can do things like save Henry or use light magic, but she hasn't had a true change of heart. She wants to be good, and it's always just a few yards away, but she can't actually repent completely. There's that hole she can't fill that Maleficent talks about. That hole can only be filled with love.

 

As a character, It's my belief Regina should have repented a long time ago. Sadly the Evil Queen is one of the most popular caricatures in the show, so the writers will never have her repent fully.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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"Magic comes with a price" might just be a superstition. It's definitely not a cardinal rule.

 

Rumple was the one who used it most, though others have said the same thing since then.  Others have commented previously that maybe half the time, he just says it to extract a price for himself.

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It's kind of funny, but if magic has a supernatural price, then Rumple does everyone a favor by laying it outright for people. He decides the price for his clients and tells them so no one has surprises.

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He decides the price for his clients and tells them so no one has surprises.

 

And he reaps the rewards too.  So selfless of him.

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Rumple has paid a price, his son's life (even if it was because Neal's own stupidity), but you are right about Regina.

That was where the "just about" and "almost" came in. He lost his son due to his magic when he let Bae go alone through the portal. And then if it hadn't been for that magic, Neal's idiocy wouldn't have killed him in that way. But there doesn't seem to be any cost for his actual use of magic. He's still in a position of power, Belle still loves him and his long-term enemy (and one of his victims) has called a truce and given up trying to kill him. The town doesn't seem to care that he was once the meanest landlord ever or is keeping lots of their stuff in his store (presumably to sell it back to them).

 

Supposedly, Rumple was holding onto his Dark One curse and didn't let Belle cure it with a True Love's Kiss because he needed his powers to get to his son. Well, now he's found (and lost) his son, and he knows how he could get rid of the curse, but apparently he's still holding back because even at their wedding, a kiss with Belle didn't seem to cure him (then again, how would we know when he's in Gold mode and not all sparkly?). So, did he really learn anything?

 

The price for magic may be a long-term karmic thing, but in terms of fantasy storytelling and world building, there really does need to be some built-in cost for using magic. Otherwise, with so much power flying around, it's difficult to have real stakes and conflict. That's been the problem with some of the villains -- they can do anything, with no limits, so the good guys can't stop them -- until suddenly they can. It makes for a much better story if there is some cost, even if it's in physical strength/exhaustion -- do magic until the power runs out, and then you really need a pizza and a nap before you can do anything again.

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The town doesn't seem to care that he was once the meanest landlord ever or is keeping lots of their stuff in his store (presumably to sell it back to them).

LOL, that puts a new spin on that scene where Snow tells Emma that this mobile used to hang above your crib, without asking "Why the hell is it here right now?" and telling Rumple that she hopes he's okay with her using the shop as their storage locker because there's no way she's going to pay for something which actually belongs to her.

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You know what I realized? The writers want us to see Regina and Rumple as these underdogs we should all root for, without giving them any of the typical underdog characteristics. But a lot of viewers seem to have drunk that kool-aid, which I really don't get.

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I have serious problems with Rumpel's pawn shop and the fact that Belle was actively selling stuff out of it in 3B. What the hell? Those are stolen goods and Belle knows it. It would be a tiny step towards redemption, a show of good faith if you will, if Rumpel would have an open house and allow people to come in a claim their goods free of charge. 

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When Zelena came in and asked what Belle would suggest?  LOL when she said she knows *just* the thing.  Just the thing Snow used to own?

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I think it would have been an awesome twist the knife moment if Zelena had shown up at Snow's apartment with the mobile. I was so sick of the fawning Zelena and Snow's stupidity, but that would have been a truly heinous move for Zelena to make. Stuff like that would have made her a better villain - even if I'd have to handwave how Zelena would know that was supposed to be Emma's.

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Zelena represented everything wrong with the Evil Queen as a villain - stupid goals for petty reasons and boasting about absolutely everything. She's all theatrics. If Zelena was a bit more subtle about her plan, it might have worked. But no, it was all a show for attention. She never even killed anyone. Bold and audacious yes, but not evil! At the end of the day, Zelena was a brat who happened to have super magic. What's even sadder is she did really dumb things and still evaded Team Hero.

 

Better plan than Time Travel: Cast the Dark Curse, make herself mayor, and take away everything Regina loves. Have Walsh and Hook tag team to lure Emma and Henry to Storybrooke, and put Regina through the misery of seeing Henry but not knowing him. Give Rumple a spell that makes him think he loves Zelena, and she's got herself what she's always wanted. Oh and give everyone fake memories. 

 

I think most of us here could make great OUAT villains, haha. Our plans are usually much smarter. 

Edited by KingOfHearts
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Better plan than Time Travel: Cast the Dark Curse, make herself mayor, and take away everything Regina loves. Have Walsh and Hook tag team to lure Emma and Henry to Storybrooke, and put Regina through the misery of seeing Henry but not knowing him. Give Rumple a spell that makes him think he loves Zelena, and she's got herself what she's always wanted. Oh and give everyone fake memories.

 

That would have been so much better, and more fun to watch to boot.  I came away from 3B thinking Zelena... what a loser.  

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Zelena could have been an epic villain if her plan was better and more climactic. She does a wondrous job of chewing scenery, but also being the creepiest woman ever. The mystery behind her kept my interest in her right up until her time travel plot was revealed. Her backstory was also a bit of a letdown. Her character was great on paper, it just executed weirdly. She got boring after nine odd episodes of just boasting and collecting talismans. If her story and writing was better, she would have been a good villain. Her overpowered magic shouldn't have been her only real weapon. 

 

I legitimately enjoyed her for the first few episodes though!

Edited by KingOfHearts
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I finally got the DVDs, and I must say that I'd forgotten what a terrible person Regina was in the beginning. It's strange how they've kind of whitewashed that, not by acting like it didn't happen, but by acting like it somehow didn't matter. I guess they hadn't fallen quite as madly in love with her yet at that time because she was allowed to be all-out awful. I definitely feel like we're missing a lot of steps between "the only happiness I care about is my own!" and her being reconciled to everyone and deserving of love, without so much as an acknowledgement of the harm she did.

 

And I'm really baffled by how her relationship with Henry is now True Love when it was pretty clear that she either didn't love him at all or loved her revenge more. She treated him like someone she wished she could control and like an accessory in creating the life she thought she wanted. It's particularly telling in the bit where she schemes to get Emma to say she thinks Henry's theories are crazy at a time when she knows Henry will be present to hear them. She thinks of herself as having won that encounter because as his mother she knows his schedule. Her child has just run off, heartbroken and in tears because of something she planned to have happen, and she's sitting there smiling smugly in victory. The only reason I'm willing to entertain the "loved her revenge more" option is that they seem to be paralleling Henry with Henry Sr., whom she apparently did love, but not more than her need for revenge. She was willing to sacrifice Henry Jr.'s happiness and emotional well-being to get rid of Emma, the threat to her curse, just as she was willing to sacrifice Henry Sr.'s life to enact her curse.

 

And now her love for her son counts as True Love even when she doesn't have a heart? And he's totally okay with her?

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It's strange how they've kind of whitewashed that, not by acting like it didn't happen, but by acting like it somehow didn't matter.

 

Responding in the all-seasons thread.

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Yeah, I've been wondering about that too Shanna Marie. In S1, I don't think the writers knew what they wanted to do with Regina beyond the first season. She was portrayed as the main antagonist, but then in S2 they started on her redemption arc almost immediately. Now in S3, I kind of see Regina's entire character as a retcon.

 

In Going Home, Henry's opinion of her was a far cry from what he said in the pilot. He even mentions he wishes he had stayed with her in Storybrooke. If Regina was abusing/mistreating him in the way she's originally portrayed as doing in S1, Henry wouldn't feel that way. Even in Save Henry, Regina wanted to be a legitimately loving mom. She took the forget potion to put her revenge behind her. That's a big contrast from her behavior in the beginning of the series.

 

Smells like a retcon to me.

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Yeah, I've been wondering about that too Shanna Marie. In S1, I don't think the writers knew what they wanted to do with Regina beyond the first season. She was portrayed as the main antagonist, but then in S2 they started on her redemption arc almost immediately. Now in S3, I kind of see Regina's entire character as a retcon.

This happens in a lot of shows. The writers fall in love with their villians and they try to keep them on the show no matter what. Sometimes it can be done right (Hook's arc has been really well done), but usually it doesn't (Regina here, or Sylar in Heroes, just to name two).

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Zelena represented everything wrong with the Evil Queen as a villain - stupid goals for petty reasons and boasting about absolutely everything. She's all theatrics. If Zelena was a bit more subtle about her plan, it might have worked. But no, it was all a show for attention. She never even killed anyone. Bold and audacious yes, but not evil! At the end of the day, Zelena was a brat who happened to have super magic. What's even sadder is she did really dumb things and still evaded Team Hero.

 

Better plan than Time Travel: Cast the Dark Curse, make herself mayor, and take away everything Regina loves. Have Walsh and Hook tag team to lure Emma and Henry to Storybrooke, and put Regina through the misery of seeing Henry but not knowing him. Give Rumple a spell that makes him think he loves Zelena, and she's got herself what she's always wanted. Oh and give everyone fake memories. 

 

I think most of us here could make great OUAT villains, haha. Our plans are usually much smarter. 

 

Not to nitpick but while she didn't directly pull the trigger, Zelena was responsible for Neal's death.

 

And she couldn't have cast the Dark Curse, first of all because Rumpel expressly rejected her as a candidate for the original task on the grounds that the heart of "the thing she loved most" belonged to him, and allowing her to cast the Dark Curse would have defeated the purpose of casting it in the first place (it would have been hard for a dead Rumpel to reunite with Baelfire in our world, after all), and because aside from Rumpel, the person she loved the most was Zelena herself.  Whose else's heart could she have used to cast the Dark Curse?

 

There's also the problem with the Second Law of Magic which states that magic cannot be used to make someone fall in love with you.  Granted, Zelena was able to break the Third Law of Magic (under which the past cannot be changed) with no difficulty, but that doesn't mean that she could have magically made Rumpel fall in love with her.  Had that been the case, she could simply have used the dagger to do so.

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There's also the problem with the Second Law of Magic which states that magic cannot be used to make someone fall in love with you.  Granted, Zelena was able to break the Third Law of Magic (under which the past cannot be changed) with no difficulty, but that doesn't mean that she could have magically made Rumpel fall in love with her.  Had that been the case, she could simply have used the dagger to do so.

Actually, there is a spell. Regina tried to use it on Henry in S2, iirc. It makes Rumple think he's in love with her, when he's actually not. If everyone has fake memories, then remember back in S1 where Kathryn thought she loved David. If she had the dark curse in her control, she could arrange it.

 

Since apparently anyone can cast the dark curse, she could find someone on the street to kill they thing they love most for her.

 

As for Neal, I meant she never directly killed anyone. I agree she was partially responsible, but Neal would have found the dark one's vault eventually. Him and Belle didn't even bother to research it before going in. I pin the blame on both Neal himself and Zelena for that one.

Edited by KingOfHearts

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This happens in a lot of shows. The writers fall in love with their villians and they try to keep them on the show no matter what. Sometimes it can be done right (Hook's arc has been really well done), but usually it doesn't (Regina here, or Sylar in Heroes, just to name two).

I think the difference was that the writers knew from the beginning that they were gonna redeem Hook. He was explicitly created to be Emma's love interest in the future. His first ever episode was his Tragic Backstory, so we knew from the very first what made him go bad - unlike with Regina, where we had to wait 18 episode for her motivation, while in the meantime we saw her raping and murdering an innocent man, abusing her own son, murdering children (and then her motivation was stupid, too). From the very beginning, too, we saw Hook's good and bad qualities both, and they balanced each other out. So when he swings one way or the other (in his beginning of S2B arc, when he swings mostly bad, and towards the end of S2B and S3, where he goes back to good), it's not "where the hell did that come from?", it's "yeah, that part of his personality that we've seen since his first episode is coming back". 

Plus, Hook's reason for revenge just made more sense than Regina's. If Regina had launched an epic revenge scheme against Cora, a lot more people would have been understanding. At the same time, if Hook had decided to inflict revenge on Smee, because if it hadn't been for his bean, Rumple wouldn't have gone after Milah (or whatever), people would have been like "dude, you're stupid". 

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Plus, Hook's reason for revenge just made more sense than Regina's. If Regina had launched an epic revenge scheme against Cora, a lot more people would have been understanding. At the same time, if Hook had decided to inflict revenge on Smee, because if it hadn't been for his bean, Rumple wouldn't have gone after Milah (or whatever), people would have been like "dude, you're stupid".

 

This is where things go to hell as far as Regina is concerned.  Her great motivator.  Daniel died because of Snow and then Victor couldn't (wouldn't because of his deal) bring him back.

 

The person Regina should have tried to kill was Rumple.  She could hate on Snow all she wanted for what Cora did to Daniel, but Cora is ultimately responsible for her own actions when it came to Daniel and Rumple manipulated the hell out of Regina but again she is responsible for her own path.  She went from this is wrong, wrong, WRONG to ripping a woman's heart and crushing it which was basically a direct result of her not being able to bring Daniel back.

 

Hook's choices during his revenge seeped years is absolutely questionable, but he went after the person who caused him pain and even when he manipulated Bae, he ended up thinking better of it and decided that he should do right by him.

 

The writing parallels a lot of characters, so when I see Hook's change towards Baelfire where he actually wanted him to be his family and how Regina just basically pretended to love Snow...I don't know...it makes Regina even less redeemable imo.

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This happens in a lot of shows. The writers fall in love with their villians and they try to keep them on the show no matter what.

It's a downfall of many a series. A villain is more interesting to write for a lazy writer because villains can say and do whatever they want, with no filters, and that gives them the great lines, and expectations are low enough for their behavior that just doing one good thing makes them look like saints (while expectations for heroes are high, so one little slipup makes them look tarnished). And even if the writers aren't indulging themselves in writing the villains, we live in a world where there are apparently a number of tumblrs dedicated to fangirling the dreamy, misunderstood Boston Marathon bomber, so the villains are likely to become popular characters. That makes showrunners reluctant to kill off the villains. But it's hard to sustain an ongoing villain over the course of multiple seasons without both the villain and the heroes looking utterly incompetent for not being able to defeat each other. That leaves redemption or, at the very least, an "enemy of my enemy is my ally" situation against a worst villain. But then redeemed villains, if they're truly redeemed, realizing the wrongs they've done, being contrite, and changing their behavior, are seldom as interesting as they were in villain mode. Or else you get something Regina, who became a Mary Sue because she was so popular as a villain that the writers wanted to give her stuff, but then they like her as a villain, so she's somehow redeemed enough to deserve stuff but not totally redeemed because they want her bitchy.

 

Hook works because the qualities that made him interesting as a villain didn't have to go away when he became a hero. He had a grand romantic intensity, a quick wit, and a great deal of courage. As a villain, he was interesting not because of his nastiness but because of his passion and his wit. The only thing that had to change when he turned on the evil/good axis was his goal. With Regina, it was largely her nastiness and her power that made her interesting. Make her no longer truly ruthless and soften her tongue, and she's just not very interesting. Maybe they could have let her remain a non-villainous bitch -- not trying to destroy anyone (because they resist), but still rather selfish and forced to team up with the good guys when it's in her best interest, even though they really don't like each other. But then they can't play Happy Families between her and the people she's been trying to destroy and Henry can't suddenly become her biggest advocate after being the one to recognize her as the Evil Queen.

 

I'm curious where they'll go with Rumple, since he achieved the goal that was driving his villainy, but he still has those power issues. Will he really try to change his behavior, or has he really changed? I think just waiting for the other shoe to drop with him may be interesting for a while -- watching to see what's actually going on with him.

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If Regina goes to the good side, someone else needs to go to the bad side. My vote is Rumple. He's supposed to be the freaking Dark One, master of dark arts and evil, but he's just honeymooning with Belle while having dagger trust issues... really? His son, which he centered his life around, just died. He has to crack eventually. If he went straight-up imp in Storybrooke, he'd be more entertaining to watch. With all this "happy families" stuff, the bottom has to fall out somewhere for somebody. 

Edited by KingOfHearts
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Yeah, I do agree that I prefer imp!Rumpel to Mr. Gold. I could appreciate both "characters" in S1 largely because they got about the same amount of screentime, so it was fascinating to see them juxtaposed. Since S2 began, however, we've had way more Mr. Gold than Rumpel, and it's starting to wear on me--the show really misses imp!Rumpel. Gold just isn't nearly as fun a character to watch as Rumpel (and it seems to me like Carlyle gets more of a kick out of being imp!Rumpel, too).

 

But then redeemed villains, if they're truly redeemed, realizing the wrongs they've done, being contrite, and changing their behavior, are seldom as interesting as they were in villain mode.

I don't know, Xena was pretty awesome. ;) But seriously, I agree with you--aside from tossing off bitchy, sometimes funny one-liners, the things that made Regina a good villain are not qualities that you can really have in a reformed character.

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I think Rumpel could be somewhat interesting as a reformed character who has to struggle with his dark impulses, but Carlyle has said he doesn't want to play him that way, he would be boring as an ex-villain.  No matter what they do with Regina to accomplish redemption, it won't work with me -- she's a sociopath.  They would be better off keeping to her true nature. 

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I think there's still a lot of room for maneuvering in terms of writing for Rumple at this point.  He hasn't fully reformed and just lied to Belle, so his downfall is yet to be.  Still, he wouldn't work as a full-out villain and that would be a mistake.  To me, he works best when he has some goals in common with the "good guys", and even the killing of Zelena falls into that category.  

 

As someone else said (I thought it was in this thread but maybe it was in All Seasons), the writers have written themselves into a corner by going 800000 miles per hour with Regina redemption and rewards in 3B. She can't turn evil again over the Robin/Marion problem without being blatantly repetitive and contradictory to their message that her love of Henry trumps all.  They can't keep her goody goody since she would be boring.  The only solution for Regina would be to have a villain who Regina could be bitchy to (eg. Zelena), but even that was mostly played out by the end of 3B.  So they're in a really tough spot.  I would feel sorry for them but I totally don't since they caused this problem in 3B while neglecting and ruining other characters.

 

I think for Hook, they're done with his villain angle, so they don't have that problem.  Since this is the villain thread, I won't go into the good guys, but the writers couldn't care less about them so it's totally appropriate they get no mention (and no real story).

Edited by Camera One
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I get the impression that Rumple will be going off the deep end next season.  I'm sure he'll be losing Belle, but I don't know in what capacity.  She leaves him or something happens to her because of him which would be a rethread of sorts of him losing Baelfire.

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I get the impression that Rumple will be going off the deep end next season.  I'm sure he'll be losing Belle, but I don't know in what capacity.  She leaves him or something happens to her because of him which would be a rethread of sorts of him losing Baelfire.

 

Responding in speculation thread.

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Still dissecting Regina and her writing. Hiatus does this to me.

 

It's plain to see Regina is written, at least as of S3, as a misunderstood villain. It would help tremendously in the storytelling department if she struggled with good and evil, as she did before Frankenstein failed to resurrect Daniel. If, as reigning queen, she was only after Snow White, it would be a different story. Killing masses for fun, to me, was really out of character. All her life growing up she knew she didn't want to be like her mother in that way. As traumatic as the events are of The Stable Boy, it wasn't enough to create a psychopath. Regina was generally a good person like most of the heroes as a teenager. The other heroes of the bunch have gone through stuff as, if not more, devastating than the Stable Boy, and they didn't go off the edge. Regina wasn't a sociopath pre-Evil Queen, either - her problems surmounted to a controlling mother.

 

I'm still looking for the point Regina truly cracked. Rumple might have corrupted her more than what we saw onscreen, but it still doesn't add up for me. You'd think Regina's conscience would have bothered her during her Evil Queen days. It did in Storybrooke - it spoke through both Jiminy and Henry. Being the Evil Queen should have started to wear after a while. 

 

Anyway, the writing problems are strongest with Regina. She's one of my faves, so I hope the writers make a decision and stick with it. Regina needs to stop hopping the fence back and forth. She needs to redeem herself already. These unnecessary roadblocks like Marian don't help. A slow redemption arc would have worked, but so much ground has already been covered. It wouldn't make sense to backtrack this late in the game. Let someone else be evil -  most of us are tired of EQ.

 

Leave the snark - ditch the witch.

Edited by KingOfHearts

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As traumatic as the events are of The Stable Boy, it wasn't enough to create a psychopath.

 

We will have to chalk it up to her being a fairy tale character--where everything is amplified and exaggerated to the point of unbelievability in the Real world. However, by that same logic, anyone who suffers from trauma or childhood abandonment in FTL would also turn into a murdering psychopath, but that's clearly not the case. I guess it was a mixture of unstable mental condition + magic that pushed her over the edge.

Edited by Rumsy4

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Personally, I find villains to be more compelling because of the way they are written.  I find they are more carefully crafted than the heroes.  Someone brought up Loki upthread.  I find Loki to be far more compelling than Thor.  Thor bores me, and him walking around shirtless can't even hold my attention.  Even when they sort of redeem the character of Loki in the second movie, he is still an ass and still a trickster and true to his nature which is totally fine because he is a villain. 

 

I liked Regina is seasn 1 a lot because she was a villain and no one was trying to excuse her behavior.  She has lost so much!!!  But how is her loss more important than everyone else's loss?  Because it's not.  And the whole whitewashing, Regina is good now, but then she's strutting her stuff in the Enchanted Forest and gleefully bar-b-queing people, but she really feels more than everyone else because she's so special.

 

Which is it with Regina?  At least with Rumple, I'm under no illusion that he is a crazy bastard.  I was ok with the character and I still like the character, but the writing ruined her for me personally.  If anyone had asked me after S1 which was my favorite character, Regina would have been it.  She's rather close to the botton of the barrel these days.

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I often find villians fun and entertaining to watch, because they do often get the best lines and plots, but I seldom ROOT for them. I don't particularly want them rewarded for their evil deeds, but they are a key component to most stories.

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Personally, I find villains to be more compelling because of the way they are written.  I find they are more carefully crafted than the heroes.

But I think this is the key problem (at least as far as Once goes): it's precisely that writers take way more time with the villains' characters than with the heroes'. Like, the writers devote 500% more thought and effort to Regina than to any of the heroes. So of course she's going to seem more compelling than the heroes. When any character gets 80% of the writing/emotional journey/etc etc etc, of course they're going to seem more compelling than the 10 other characters than have to squabble for the remaining 20% of writing time/screen focus.

 

I am a firm disbeliever in the notion that good has to equal boring. Frankly, I think if good=boring, then the writers aren't doing their jobs.

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I am a firm disbeliever in the notion that good has to equal boring. Frankly, I think if good=boring, then the writers aren't doing their jobs.

 

I totally agree with this.  Good can be great if they took the time to write it.  That being said, to me personally, Regina was compelling until they gave her that contrived reason for hating and wanting Snow dead.  Still liked her but didn't give two figs about her pain.  These days, I just actively skip over her scenes when I re-watch the show. 

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