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The Villains of Once Upon a Time

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Yeah, I will say that I at least found Regina somewhat compelling in S1 in a "love to hate her" kind of way. Couldn't wait to see her get her comeuppance. These days, I just want Rumpel to turn her into a bug and Emma to squash her, a la the trolls in Snow Falls.

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Frankly, I think if good=boring, then the writers aren't doing their jobs.

Amen! Preach it!

 

The "good=boring" thing is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Good doesn't have to mean perfect, never making mistakes, never being in a bad mood, never saying anything snarky or funny, never hurting anyone's feelings (even unintentionally), never having flaws, or any of the other things that are supposedly interesting about villains. Good just has to mean thinking about other people, not deliberately doing harm to others (unless there are extenuating circumstances, like defending others), making the welfare of others a priority, and feeling bad about any harm caused to others (even if it isn't your fault). That leaves a lot of room to play with. Being good is difficult and a struggle, and that alone should make for an interesting character.

 

In this show, the villains are in a position of privilege -- Regina's a queen in one world and the mayor in the other and lives in luxury in both places, and she's magically powerful. Rumple owns much of the town in one world and has a lot of power and influence in the other and is also wealthy and magically powerful. They don't have to struggle to get anything. They've even managed to have people in love with them just on the idea that they might be capable of being good (without much evidence). How is a powerful person getting everything he/she wants interesting? I actually find the villains the least interesting characters on the show. They're good for a few entertaining lines, but I don't care much about stories involving them.

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How is a powerful person getting everything he/she wants interesting? I actually find the villains the least interesting characters on the show. They're good for a few entertaining lines, but I don't care much about stories involving them.

Word! At least I used to find Lana's acting interesting. These days, I'm over it because of the overdose. I really do think a lot of people root for Regina because she is so powerful. They have confused power with goodness, and whining with pathos.

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The writers are their own worst enemy.  Remember when we all said we enjoyed Regina so much more in 3A?  And then they had to shoot themselves in the foot by making the entire 3B Regina-heavy like a giant hammer pounding the same message over and over again.  

 

You can compare the villain characters/actors on a more equal footing when the villains have to act good for an extended period of time.  Rumple following that doll around and talking to Shadow Belle in 3A?  Zzzzzzzzzzzzz...  I'd rather watch Mother Superior trying to turn twigs into children for an hour.

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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.

 

While I am heartily sick of Regina getting way more character development than the heroes, I'd be less so if they didn't also spend so much time giving the Villain of the Half Season so much backstory and spread the love around to other characters. Zelena got three episodes of background and she was in exactly 9 eps (the brief video of Zelena in the finale doesn't count). Meanwhile, David got a quick story about failing his daughter/worry about the new baby and they couldn't even bother to follow through with it in the episode they brought it up in! Maybe they're afraid to give the heroes interesting stories because it would take away from the villains? Like if they show David struggling with something too much (especially with something that one of the villains was responsible for), it makes the villains struggles seem less understandable.

 

Stop with the endless villain stories! I'm over it. They aren't interesting and are becoming incredibly repetitive. Or you know, if you absolutely can't leave the villains alone, let's tie it to an Emma backstory. Like Enchanted Forest Evil Guy was banished/fled to our world a few years ago and Emma had a run in with him in her job as a bounty hunter. We could see Badass!Emma of the past. Or is it too hard to tie something in with a hero because your pet villain Regina would be sidelined?

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There's definitely a zeitgeist recently in terms of the focus being on the villains, not just in OUAT but pop culture in general. In the past in movies and on TV, it was almost always about the hero, the good guys -- the Lone Ranger, Perry Mason, Wonder Woman, the A-Team, Magnum P.I. (Dating myself here, though the first two were before my time, honestly.) The heroes were the constant, with various villains of the week that you really didn't get to know. But then we started getting these villains (or at least anti-heroes) being the focus of the story. I want to say it really kicked into high gear with Tony Soprano. He was a bad guy, but because he was the main character, people rooted for him. There was this spate of telling stories from the bad guy's point of view -- The Shield, Wicked, Dexter, now Maleficent, etc. -- because it was "different" and "edgy."

 

I don't necessarily think OUAT started out that way, because it definitely seemed at first like we were supposed to root for Snow, Charming and Emma. But then somewhere along the way, the focus became more about Regina and what SHE wanted. So to me, that makes it seem more false or forced, because it didn't IMO start out that way. Was that shift because TPTB fell in love with Regina, or because a lot of fans -- conditioned by the recent villain-as-protagonist trope -- gravitated toward her? Or a combination? My guess is the latter. But since I've never been one to really root for the villain, I don't like that change.

Edited by Souris
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But then we started getting these villains (or at least anti-heroes) being the focus of the story. I want to say it really kicked into high gear with Tony Soprano. He was a bad guy, but because he was the main character, people rooted for him. There was this spate of telling stories from the bad guy's point of view -- The Shield, Wicked, Dexter, now Maleficent, etc. -- because it was "different" and "edgy."

. . .

Was that shift because TPTB fell in love with Regina, or because a lot of fans -- conditioned by the recent villain-as-protagonist trope -- gravitated toward her? Or a combination? My guess is the latter. But since I've never been one to really root for the villain, I don't like that change.

I'm not someone who roots for the villain, either, although there are stories where it would work--where the writing or the acting is good enough, and where the character is either sufficiently complex or motivated to make there something to root for.  But Once is not that show, and Regina is not that character.

 

They whisk her character back and forth with insufficient--and often ridiculous--motivation.  There was a post earlier that talked about Regina getting more character development, and I agreed with most of it, so I liked it.  But Regina hasn't really gotten more character development.  Her character doesn't seem to actually grow or develop, there seem to be 4-5 different Reginas and they just whip out the Regina they want for the situation.  Want danger?  Psycho Regina.  Want a heartwarming touch? SuperMom Regina.  A little sadness and sympathy?  Victim Regina.

 

There's no actual growth or change--just a whipping back and forth between Reginas that don't quite connect, especially when you add in the motivation  (or lack there of) issue I mentioned earlier.

 

It makes it particularly hard for me to watch and connect with, let alone like or root for, Regina.

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I don't necessarily think OUAT started out that way, because it definitely seemed at first like we were supposed to root for Snow, Charming and Emma. But then somewhere along the way, the focus became more about Regina and what SHE wanted. S

I think it was a deliberate bait and switch.  The creators would never have gotten ABC to approve of a show where the villains win, so start it out as being about the heroes, and then shift the focus.

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If the writers had truly been edgy, they would have deconstructed their heroes and villains differently. Instead, we are given stupid reasons for Regina's anger at Snow, the whole Eva/Cora crap, etc.. For instance, they could have made Cora genuinely in love with Leopold, and Eva planting false evidence on her. Instead, we get a power-hungry liar who is called-out by Eva, but somehow the writers and characters hold Eva responsible for Cora's sins!

It's as though the writers are not clever enough to give their villains valid motivations, and are equally afraid to make their good guys do truly horrible things. But they just want to pretend they did, which makes no sense!

I saw a tumblr post going around about the "Severus Snape Syndrome", where a bad guy who has shown no regrets gets hailed as a worthier hero than the good guys, because of the way they died/intended to die. Sounds extremely applicable to Regina and Rumple!

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The self-destruct trigger could be counted as one attempt, even if that mess was her fault.

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I have a hard time giving Regina too much credit for the self-destruct trigger, given that her plan was to use it to destroy the entire town and escape with Henry, and that she wiped Henry's memory to keep him from knowing about her plan. And didn't she destroy all the magic beans so it would be impossible for anyone else to leave? Undoing your own evil when you get trapped in it doesn't really count as "good" or a "sacrifice" to me. If she could have escaped with Henry, would she have even bothered undoing the self-destruct? And just the fact that she'd planned to kill everyone should have made it hard for them to trust her again.

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If the writers had truly been edgy, they would have deconstructed their heroes and villains differently. Instead, we are given stupid reasons for Regina's anger at Snow, the whole Eva/Cora crap, etc.. For instance, they could have made Cora genuinely in love with Leopold, and Eva planting false evidence on her. Instead, we get a power-hungry liar who is called-out by Eva, but somehow the writers and characters hold Eva responsible for Cora's sins!

It's as though the writers are not clever enough to give their villains valid motivations, and are equally afraid to make their good guys do truly horrible things. But they just want to pretend they did, which makes no sense!

Yes.  Rumple was given a decent motive--so it's easier to understand why he made the decisions he did.  It makes him more sympathetic, even while you're completely disagreeing with almost everything he's done.  The actor also does a better job of making Rumple seem conflicted during some of Rumple's actions, which adds to making Rumple a fuller, more realistic character. 

 

I don't particularly like Rumple.  He's evil and manipulative and selfish.  But how he got there, and why he'd have trouble coming back from all that?  They've made that a more natural, realistic story.  I see why people would be interested in that. 

 

Their first big mistake was Regina's motive.  If they had made Leopold a little younger, and made Regina fall desperately in love with this kind man who was saving her from her abusive mother?  And then followed it with Leopold being kind, but very distant to Regina while being totally devoted to Snow and the memory of his late wife?  Regina grows angrier and more desperate, Rumple offers her a way to "fix" the problem that backfires somehow--to Snow's benefit and Regina's detriment--and you have a Regina with a furious fixation on Snow that is at least more relatable without overly victimizing anyone or retrovillaining a hero. 

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I have a hard time giving Regina too much credit for the self-destruct trigger, given that her plan was to use it to destroy the entire town and escape with Henry... Undoing your own evil when you get trapped in it doesn't really count as "good" or a "sacrifice" to me.

But that's exactly the kind of thing I meant. Regina is hailed as a hero just because she reverses some horrible thing she has done, or merely refrains from killing someone. She is painted as more heroic and selfless than the good guys and victims. Regina wasn't the only one who paid the price when she destryoed the Curse that had created Storybrooke (which she brought into existence), but it is her sacrifice that is hailed above everyone else's. Adam and Eddy praised Regina for not choking Emma on the spot for bringing Marian back to the future. That is the degree of blind coddling Regina gets in the narrative.

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I guess we can define love in an almost infinite number of ways, but I wouldn't want to be loved by someone who would brutally sacrifice me, for revenge or to get out of a jam, whether or not they cried for me or brought flowers to my grave. ... But more important than my feelings about it, for this story, Regina now claims to love Henry (and her past actions somewhat belie that, as has been discussed a lot in these threads). Does that mean she would choose wrongly again and sacrifice him to accomplish whatever goal? Whilst crying and claiming to love him? In the Regina redemption arc they're trying to sell, the answer would have to be no, but that's the equivalency I see. The end justifying the means, no regrets . . . Regina wants what she wants when she wants it.

I've been saying this since Season 2!! Why is everyone including Emma so ready to trust Regina with Henry?? The Show and Regina claim that she loved her father. And yet, it seems taken for granted that she wouldn't sacrifice Henry jr.'s life if she was pushed into desperation again. She had been emotionally abusive to Henry, but now they have retconned that she loved Henry all along. There is too much see sawing when it comes to Regina. What makes me so mad is that Regina has always profited from her evil acts. Even now, she has no regrets because it was the Curse who brought her Henry. The same way, if she ends up with Robin, she is still gaining something because of her past villainy.

Rumple was not allowed to have a real second chance with Neal, even though he spent so long to get his son back, and Hook has pretty much fully turned his back on revenge and piracy. And yet, Regina alone continues to benefit not just in spite of all the horrible things she did, but because of them.

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I completely agree with you, and this point, I fully believe that the writers are completely blind to the fact that rewarding an as-written, non-changed Regina is rewarding villainy. They fully believe she's changed, and it's like, no, no she hasn't. That no regrets speech was the single most damaging thing to Regina's redemption arc, in my eyes, because if there's nothing she regrets, she hasn't changed a single bit. It says to me that if she had to do it all over again, she would make all the same choices because she got something in the end, which, in terms of redemption, is so very problematic that I don't even have the words to describe how problematic it is.

Edited by Dani-Ellie
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And that is why character favoritism is a dark road for writers to go down. All the inconsistencies with Regina's character could have been avoided if they had given her a moment of apologetic self-awareness. If Regina had a real turning point, then she'd have a valid redemption arc. I don't know how many times I've said this, and I don't know how many times I'll say it again in the future, but it's another example of going from A to B with nothing in between, nor any logic.

 

I can forgive Regina for all the bad things she's done if she's truly repentant, but she's not. That is the problem and why her character got assassinated so early in the game. The writers think they can just gloss over without doing the dirty work, but not even a fairytale universe would allow a villain to go from bad to good for no legitimate reason.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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I can forgive Regina for all the bad things she's done if she's truly repentant, but she's not. That is the problem and why her character got assassinated so early in the game. The writers think they can just gloss over without doing the dirty work, but not even a fairytale universe would allow a villain to go from bad to good for no legitimate reason.

This is why I'm not as pessimistic as some about the new season. I truly think that the Regina-Marian storyline is the perfect point for Regina to self-reflect after not just her time with Robin but also her time in the Enchanted Forest. She did do some good things such as split the Charming heart to cast the curse. So while she may have initially been mad to see Marian perhaps a few days of reflection can change that.

I preface this by saying I have a huge Hook bias, but we don't get on his case for his past. He randomly killed two guards at Regina's castle. He was pretty rude to a weak Rumple. Hell, he shot Belle and kidnapped a doctor. But we've forgiven him for his change of heart because of Emma. If the writers can frame it properly, perhaps we can give the same to Regina.

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truly think that the Regina-Marian storyline is the perfect point for Regina to self-reflect after not just her time with Robin but also her time in the Enchanted Forest.

 

I think that is possible if they are careful with the writing.  The line that got me down was the "just like your mother" part, which reminded me how clueless the writers were.  But you are right... there is some hope.  And they are so lucky that the actress is good at evoking sympathy because if not for that, much of what they've written for Regina would have fallen completely flat.

Edited by Camera One

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I really want to believe that the writers will finally write a solid chapter in Regina's redemption arc, but the evidence thus far suggests it's not going to happen. 2A was a decent start, and then 2B blew it all to hell. Then I thought they were on the right track in 3A, and then we got No Regrets Regina; 3B was decent until a de-hearted Regina had sunshine and white magic coming out her ass and gave a true love's kiss and found her soulmate who apparently doesn't care that she was a genocidal maniac until like 6 months ago and generally was rewarded with literally everything she ever wanted without showing an ounce of true remorse for all her horrid deeds, giving Snow, Charming, Emma, or anyone else a real apology, or even--gasp--trying to make amends with all her victims. (And that's not even mentioning the whitewashing or the way the heroes have been sacrificed at her altar.)

 

So I'm not getting my hopes up.

 

 

The problem, for me, is that short of Marian being revealed to be Zelena in disguise, there's absolutely no way they can make Outlaw Queen acceptable. Absolutely no way. Even if Marian dies in a Final Destination way, or is just killed by the new Big Bad or whatever, I absolutely reject Outlaw Queen. But I don't see Mary Sue Regina not ending up with Robin at the end of the day, so.

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But we've forgiven him for his change of heart because of Emma. If the writers can frame it properly, perhaps we can give the same to Regina.

 

The thing is--I felt that his motivations for turning into a pirate and wanting to take revenge on Rumple were less crazy than Regina's vendetta against Snow. her general all-round sadism, and her lack of regrets. I definitely think Regina has the opportunity for real growth with respect to Marian being back. However, as I feel that the writers are going to make Regina and Robin end up together, it makes it seem like a farce, just like the price she paid for reversing her Dark Curse lasted for only a year. If the writing proves otherwise, I'll be more than happy. 

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This is why I'm not as pessimistic as some about the new season. I truly think that the Regina-Marian storyline is the perfect point for Regina to self-reflect after not just her time with Robin but also her time in the Enchanted Forest. She did do some good things such as split the Charming heart to cast the curse. So while she may have initially been mad to see Marian perhaps a few days of reflection can change that.

I preface this by saying I have a huge Hook bias, but we don't get on his case for his past. He randomly killed two guards at Regina's castle. He was pretty rude to a weak Rumple. Hell, he shot Belle and kidnapped a doctor. But we've forgiven him for his change of heart because of Emma. If the writers can frame it properly, perhaps we can give the same to Regina.

I'm hoping we get a Regina who doesn't go back to villainhood, but what would annoy me even more than her going evil again, would be Regina blaming Emma, and having to listen to scenes where Regina is woe-is-meing around in lines 2,3, 4, and 7, while denouncing Emma and the Charmings in lines 1, 5, and 6.

 

I like Hook, too, but part of that is because he is not a self-pitying character, generally.  It's easier to like him because of that.  Plus, well, while he's done some very villainous things, they've yet to show us something on the level of the Evil Queen, and has shown actual remorse.

 

Hook gets more of a pass from a lot of people, but I don't think it's just because of people fangirling.  A great deal of it is the show did a much better job of demonstrating that Hook was sincerely regretful and interested in changing.

 

Hook was never tied to a magical tree that could sense he had absolutely no regrets about killing villages of children.

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I'm hoping we get a Regina who doesn't go back to villainhood, but what would annoy me even more than her going evil again, would be Regina blaming Emma

 

If she does end up doing that, then hopefully she'll get called on it. It's been a pattern of behavior for her for as long as she can remember to blame others. If she does it again, and someone like Hook, Emma or Marian calls her on it, it might actually enlighten her on it. Regina was never called on it about Snow, but she may be with Marian. That is if blaming Emma actually happens. (Please no!)

 

Best case scenario: Regina gets over Robin and learns a valuable lesson, continuing onward to her redemption.

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Yeah, I have to say: as you all know, I'm not a big Hook fan, and I actually don't think the show has dealt all that well with his past deeds. But for me there's a big difference between Hook's villainy and Regina's. Hook didn't: destroy an entire civilization/world; murder at least one village full of innocent men, women, and children; keep a sex slave and rape him/her constantly for 30+ years, and then kill him/her when said sex slave started to throw off Hook's shackles; send numerous innocent children to their deaths; kill his own father; or gaslight, emotionally abuse, and accidentally kill the child he claimed to love more than anything else in the world. (And that's just off the top of my head.) So actually, I do think that Hook's bar for redemption should be significantly lower than Regina's. And I agree that he's come closer to the bar than Regina has; I'm still not particularly satisfied with what they've done with him to this point, but it hasn't been actually offensive to me the way that some elements of Regina's story have.

 

(That the show also hasn't victim-blamed Hook's victims or retconned away/whitewashed any of his crimes also helps.)

 

Best case scenario: Regina gets over Robin and learns a valuable lesson, continuing onward to her redemption.

KingOfHearts, from your keyboard to Adam and Eddie's pens!

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Comparing Hook's arc to Regina's is like comparing apples to oranges.

 

I never saw Hook as a full-on "villain", personally. I saw him as more of a secondary antagonist. What I mean by that is, he wasn't trying to be evil just to be evil. He didn't go around killing or causing tragedy on other people for fun like Regina or Rumple. He wasn't constantly scheming. His only goal was revenge on Rumplestiltskin. Sure he knocked out and betrayed some people along the way, but he wasn't "muahahaing" everywhere like some people. 

 

Unlike Regina, Hook has felt remorse for his actions multiple times. In this regard, I find his redemption more legitimate. He was almost in tears over betraying Ariel, and after getting revenge on Rumple, he admitted his mission for vengeance was a bad path. He's aware of his actions and he's made steps to prevent them from happening again. Regina has done none of that.

 

Hook still has some way to go, but he's lightyears ahead of a certain couple of other villains on the show. I'd even call him a hero now. I want to see him interact more with the rest of the cast to prove he's not being good just for Emma. We saw in New York Serenade that once he lost Emma, he basically quit on redeeming himself. The other members of Storybrooke need to see that he's more than a dashing rapscallion. Emma might see it, but I don't think the others are quite sold yet.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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The biggest difference between Hook and Regina's redemption arcs is that Hook actually has regrets. I believe that if he had to do it all over again, he'd choose to do it differently despite that it might mean never meeting his true love. He wouldn't stand there and say that he's done a bunch of terrible things but they brought him to Emma, so yay for my bad actions! He also understands that his actions have caused him to be alone and that they are the reason that no one liked him. It's all about self-awareness and wanting to be a better person for himself, not because Emma or Henry or anyone else tells him to do so.

 

Regina stands there like a sad panda when no one praises her for being a decent person. I'm always terrified she'll flip out if her every little deed is not acknowledged or praised. She's always needing positive reinforcement to do the right thing and going right back to the bad behavior when she isn't lauded. It should be damn embarrassing to have to have people praise you for being a normal human being. Hook doesn't look for credit or expect it and is fairly uncomfortable when he does get it. That's a marked difference between the two of them.

 

Also I think that Regina is mentally ill and Hook's not, so there's that.

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I preface this by saying I have a huge Hook bias, but we don't get on his case for his past. He randomly killed two guards at Regina's castle. He was pretty rude to a weak Rumple. Hell, he shot Belle and kidnapped a doctor. But we've forgiven him for his change of heart because of Emma. If the writers can frame it properly, perhaps we can give the same to Regina.

 

I have to agree with everyone else that: 1) Hook's transgressions weren't nearly as bad as the litany of Regina's, so he had far less to be forgiven for; and 2) He has shown and verbalized actual remorse and acknowledgement that his actions in pursuit of revenge weren't the right things to do. He realized that revenge and villainy weren't all they were cracked up to be and weren't fulfilling, and he made changes to his behavior. Admittedly, he backslid a bit when he was in the Enchanted Forest without Emma, but it seemed more going through the motions of being a pirate than actually BEING a pirate at his core. He came to realize that he couldn't go back to that life for real. And his backsliding consisted solely of returning to piracy, not murdering or raping people or going on some other new revenge quest. He wouldn't even accept a paid-for prostitute!

Edited by Souris
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He randomly killed two guards at Regina's castle.

 

Can I just say something about Regina's Black Knights?  Those guys didn't seem like they were true knights.  Regina gave orders to murder an entire village and they just did her bidding.  I've always wondered if they were men she plucked out of prisons and they were these hardened criminals who had no issues killing and maiming or if they were under some sort of enchantment and I sort of doubt that, they just seemed to enjoy the kind of power they had.  Black Knights in the Enchanted Forest equal big bad for those who live there. 

 

Hook killing Black Knights is not the worst thing he's ever done.  Him going after Belle was bad, him taking Aurora's heart was bad, but then he tried to redeem himself by making sure it didn't fall through the portal.  Once he let go of his revenge and allowed himself to care about those around him, he became a different person.  Plus self-awareness.

 

What bothered me with the season finale regarding Regina was the whole "You're just like your mother, you never think of consequences."  Not sure how much she's let go of her revenge or her resentment.  It bothers me because they spent so much time trying to build a Regina/Snow relationship.

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I preface this by saying I have a huge Hook bias, but we don't get on his case for his past. He randomly killed two guards at Regina's castle. He was pretty rude to a weak Rumple. Hell, he shot Belle and kidnapped a doctor. But we've forgiven him for his change of heart because of Emma.

 

Part of the reason I feel Hook's redemption arc has been handled better is that I don't at all get the feeling that he started to change because of Emma. He started to change when he thought he'd killed Rumple and it still left him empty inside. All those centuries of planning and waiting and wanting, and he did it. He got his revenge and it turned out that revenge wasn't what it cracked up to be. It didn't ease his pain and grief, nor did it satisfy him. He realized on his own that all those centuries were essentially wasted.

 

It's a level of self-awareness that Regina has shown time and again that she does not possess. Hook tried to tell her that vengeance is an end. Emma tried to spoon-feed that self-awareness to her down at the water in "Lacey" when she told her that not everyone goes around scheming and plotting. Rumple has tried a couple different times to tell her that vengeance won't satisfy her. And every time she gets a win and it inevitably does not satisfy her, she continually tries for more and more vengeance.

 

And then we have the remorse issue as KingOfHearts and KAOS Agent noted above. I get the feeling that Hook pretty much hates the man he was. Regina, on the other hand, revels in her evilness. That smirk when Tink told them that Greg/Owen was dead was a fantastic reaction ... for a villain. For a character on a redemption track? Not so much. I get that the guy kidnapped her son, but he was only after her in the first place because she tried to kidnap him and separated him from his father. And then when he's finally able to get back into town to find his father, she tells him she killed him. I think I'd be a little upset, too, if I were in Greg/Owen's shoes. Not kidnapping-a-child upset, obviously, but upset.

 

And like I said previously, Regina's "no regrets" speech is the single most damaging thing the writers have done to Regina's redemption arc for me. If she doesn't regret the woman she'd become when she was holding on to darkness, where the hell is her motivation to change? It can't just be for Henry, because Henry's not going to be around her forever. At some point, he's going to meet someone, get married, have kids, have a life of his own. He can't be her moral compass forever; she needs to find her own moral compass, but she can't do that if she regrets nothing she's done.

 

Hook, I believe, has found his inner moral compass again. There's still an edge to him, granted, but I believe that his change was internal first, and it was only after that internal change (and Emma offering him a chance to be a part of something good) that he began truly falling for Emma. We saw how he tried to backslide after he lost Emma and it just didn't take because he'd changed.

 

I would be thrilled to pieces if this coming season premiere is Regina's "Jolly Roger," where she tries to backslide but her heart just isn't in it anymore. That would put her redemption right back on track for me. But if it becomes Regina vs Emma and the Charmings Round 734, I'm going to be even more pissed that we spent pretty much all of 3B fast-tracking redemption and giving her True Love's Kiss and white magic all without a heart because the end result would be that nothing's changed.

Edited by Dani-Ellie
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So how do you view the good things Regina has done? She saved the town with Emma at the end of season 2. She helped save Henry in Neverland. She helped break into her castle to help everyone and saved Roland from flying monkeys. She even broke the new curse with true love's kiss. She's definitely not as redeemed as Hook yet, but I think she's getting there and I think we sometimes forget about the good things she has done recently. You can't use Hook's confession to Ariel as redemption and not then also include Regina's TLK.

I think the problem is that the last scene we have of Regina is definitely a negative one with Emma and Marian. But if they can get her some self reflection once the shock of Marian's return wears off, I think she can still have a redemptive arc, especially if she continues to help Emma with magic and maybe help Elsa as well.

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Hook's confession to Ariel included an apology because he recognized that he was wrong. Regina's apologized to Henry but there's been no apology to Emma, Snow, or Charming for ruining their lives, which added to "you're just like your mother" leads me to conclude that Regina doesn't recognize that she was wrong.

 

I agree that Regina's not as redeemed as Hook and I was actually buying into the redemption story right up until the no regrets speech. That just set her redemption right back to square one for me. In my eyes, there can't be redemption without the one on the redemption track recognizing that they need to be redeemed in the first place. The True Love's Kiss and white magic came out of nowhere for me, then, because as far as I was concerned, Regina hadn't earned it. All of "And Straight On Till Morning" and 3A up until "Save Henry" was reset for me by the no regrets thing.

 

Actually, you know what? They should just leave Regina de-hearted! She had True Love's Kiss and white magic without one, after all. Heh.

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So how do you view the good things Regina has done? She saved the town with Emma at the end of season 2. She helped save Henry in Neverland. She helped break into her castle to help everyone and saved Roland from flying monkeys. She even broke the new curse with true love's kiss.

 

I view those things as either partially self-serving, or the baseline of normal human behavior that anyone would do to save a child, etc.  The only regrets she has are about things that affect her, hurt her, cause her loss. 

 

I agree with your analysis totally, Dani-Ellie.  Killian regrets what he has done because he sees the emptiness and  is sorry he chose the path he did.  Regina can't have regrets like that, does not have insight into herself, and refuses to take responsibility.  Once again, it's not her fault about Marian, it's Emma's.  People like her are at high risk of repeating their past behavior. 

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So how do you view the good things Regina has done? She saved the town with Emma at the end of season 2. She helped save Henry in Neverland. She helped break into her castle to help everyone and saved Roland from flying monkeys. She even broke the new curse with true love's kiss. She's definitely not as redeemed as Hook yet, but I think she's getting there and I think we sometimes forget about the good things she has done recently. You can't use Hook's confession to Ariel as redemption and not then also include Regina's TLK.

Regina saved the town with Emma in S2, but it was in essence a suicidal attempt at fixing a mess of her own making, so Henry wouldn't be left alone when everyone else died, and wanting her son to remember her as Regina. So, while it was (yet another) good start to her redemption, her progress has again been rocky.

Breaking into her castle in 3.13 was yet another suicidal moment on Regina's part because she has lost Henry and wanted to put herself under the sleeping curse. It is a moment of regression--understandable perhaps, but hardly redemptive, as she decides to live only because of a chance to thwart Zelena. Saving Roland from the flying monkey at least shows she won't be feeding him to the Blind Witch, but her first thought on Marian's return was for herself, not for the boy reunited with his mother.

I think Regina is definitely a better person than she was before, and I don't think she will rape and murder again, but she still has the anger and self-pity that has motivated her for a long time. I hardly feel like crediting her for the True Love's Kiss when it was done without a heart, because her emotional abuse of Henry has been retconned by the show, and the first thing she tells Henry once he's regained his memories is that she's never going to let him go again. Hasn't too much possessiveness always been her main issue wrt Henry?

Going Home was a really good moment for Regina, because she finally acknowledged that she was a villain, but 3B seems to have backtracked that thought with her telling Robin that the "Evil" monicker was merely a ploy for intimidation. So, while I do think Regina is behaving better than before, I think her redemption has been rocky and problematic, and the fact that she continues to benefit from her past makes me feel that she will never truly pay the price for her evil deeds.

Edited by Rumsy4
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Hook's confession to Ariel included an apology because he recognized that he was wrong. Regina's apologized to Henry but there's been no apology to Emma, Snow, or Charming for ruining their lives, which added to "you're just like your mother" leads me to conclude that Regina doesn't recognize that she was wrong.

 

I agree that Regina's not as redeemed as Hook and I was actually buying into the redemption story right up until the no regrets speech. That just set her redemption right back to square one for me.

I think that's where my disconnect is. Yes, Regina said that but she had finally found someone that was making her happy and his dead wife just showed up. How would you expect her to act? I feel like we're basing "Regina went back to square one" on one line at the very end of the cliffhanger season finale. I agree with many of you, but I just feel like we need to wait and see what she does once she has a day to sleep on it, you know? We've all said harsh things in the moment that we think differently of once we have a little time to process it.

 

I guess I'm not so much a Regina apologist as much as I am a writers apologist. I'm putting my faith in the writers handling this properly in the season premiere and giving Regina some perspective after she takes a breather and can reflect on it. I'm hoping Regina sees what Emma did is actually a good thing -- all things considered. Of course, I know the writers haven't always done the right thing with Regina and there's reason to doubt them, but I guess I'm trying to be an optimist towards the season premiere. :)

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I feel like we're basing "Regina went back to square one" on one line at the very end of the cliffhanger season finale. I agree with many of you, but I just feel like we need to wait and see what she does once she has a day to sleep on it, you know? We've all said harsh things in the moment that we think differently of once we have a little time to process it.

I guess I'm not so much a Regina apologist as much as I am a writers apologist. I'm putting my faith in the writers handling this properly in the season premiere and giving Regina some perspective after she takes a breather and can reflect on it. I'm hoping Regina sees what Emma did is actually a good thing -- all things considered. Of course, I know the writers haven't always done the right thing with Regina and there's reason to doubt them, but I guess I'm trying to be an optimist towards the season premiere. :)

I don't think Regina is back to square one, but I do think her continued fundamental lack of self-awareness is evident by her knee-jerk reaction. I suppose I don't trust the writers to resolve this anytime soon, as they are fond of dragging angst for angst sake, and have spoken of an emotional reset for some of the characters.

So, while I think and hope that Marian's return will be an opportunity for Regina to realize that the implications of her past actions, it will take time for that to happen. Perhaps the whole of 4a, or all of Season 4, by the end of which, Regina will be rewarded with Robin, and my knee-jerk reaction has been a huge "Nooooooo!!!!" ;-)

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I think that's where my disconnect is. Yes, Regina said that but she had finally found someone that was making her happy and his dead wife just showed up. How would you expect her to act? I feel like we're basing "Regina went back to square one" on one line at the very end of the cliffhanger season finale.

 

To clarify, I don't consider "you're just like your mother" to be back to square one. I consider "I did cast a curse that devastated an entire population. I have tortured and murdered. I've done some terrible things. I should be overflowing with regret but I'm not because it got me my son" to be back to square one. (That's verbatim.) That speech right there is my big problem, and it's what completely undid everything from "And Straight On Till Morning" on for me.

 

As Rumsy4 said, "you're just like your mother" isn't necessarily indicative that Regina is capital-E evil, but I do see it as indicative of a self-awareness and self-recognition problem. It's another line that could very well wipe out half a season's worth of character growth, because if she still blames Snow for Daniel's death, where's the change? If she still believes her vengeance on Snow was justified, what's to stop her from taking further vengeance every other time something unfortunate happens to her? At some point, she needs to grow up and learn that the proper response to the challenges in her life does not involve blaming/cursing/doing horrible things to everyone else.

 

As I've said, I really hope that Marian's return is what puts the human face on all Regina's devastation for her. I really hope the fact that she's the one who took Robin's wife from him and Roland's mother from him because she didn't care about what happened to the families of the people she imprisoned is what finally gives her that self-awareness. I really hope that Regina sees the good Emma did by saving a woman's life and reuniting a family, even if it means Regina loses something either for a little while or in the end. But I've also been burned as far as this show is concerned when it comes to the writing favoring Regina, so I'm also preparing myself to watch the story play out as "Poor Regina can't catch a break because the Charmings keep inadvertently interfering with her life."

 

Even in the finale, Emma says that all she was trying to do was save Marian's life, but not only was Regina still given the last word, she was made to look absolutely correct because the scene cut from "you just better hope to hell you didn't bring anything else back" to Elsa's appearance. The moral correctness of what Emma did -- saving an innocent woman from certain death -- is now caught up in the "stupid time travelers messing things up" bias the end of the finale had.

Edited by Dani-Ellie
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Regina's consequences speech was a ploy by the writers, I theorize. It was solely to stir up controversy (which obviously it has) to keep viewers talking in the hiatus. They gave reasons both to believe that she was going to redeem herself and that she was going to back to being evil. It's effectively a writing scheme at the expense of character integrity. Marian seems to tick off both Woegina haters and Evil Regals alike.

 

It may be perhaps Regina will get over it in the first episode. I'm willing to bet her initial reaction was a red herring built in by the writers. This isn't the first time the writers have setup something in the finale, only to resolve it in the premiere. Take Going Home, for example. Emma is back in Storybrooke and remembers in the next episode. In the finale of 2B, Greg and Tamara kidnap Henry, only to die in the next episode. 

 

From that perspective, I'm going to wait and see how Regina reacts after cooling off. Outside of the writing, I think Regina's character would get over it quickly if her character really changed so much in 3B as we were shown. I don't want to see her character get taken advantage of again.

Edited by KingOfHearts
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So how do you view the good things Regina has done? She saved the town with Emma at the end of season 2. She helped save Henry in Neverland. She helped break into her castle to help everyone and saved Roland from flying monkeys. She even broke the new curse with true love's kiss. She's definitely not as redeemed as Hook yet, but I think she's getting there and I think we sometimes forget about the good things she has done recently. You can't use Hook's confession to Ariel as redemption and not then also include Regina's TLK.

I don't give Regina any points for saving the town in 2x22 given that she was the one who endangered it in the first place. The only reason Regina didn't destroy the town herself is actually, literally, because Greg and Tamara beat her to it and stole the diamond from her. They wouldn't have been in a position to destroy the town if not for Regina's own murderous desires. Giving her points for that would be like giving me a gold star for, I don't know, walking up to some poor schmuck on the street, holding a gun to his head and being about to pull the trigger, getting disarmed by someone who then points the gun right back at the guy's head, and knocking the person currently holding the gun out. I'm pretty sure I'm not any sort of hero in that equation.

 

I also agree with ShadowFacts that a lot of Regina's "good" behavior in S3 is self-serving. I still think Regina is motivated largely by self-interest, and to her credit has generally been able extend that to being motivated by what is in Henry's best interests, as in 2x22 and 3x11 (although I am still uncomfortable with the way she sometimes talks about him, because it still at times has the ring of possession to it...it's like when Regina was standing over Henry's heartless, almost-dead body in 'Save Henry' and all she could do was whine "YOU still have people, Emma, but ME, without Henry I have no one!" Well, glad that as you stand over his cold, almost-dead body, all you can think about is how YOU'RE being deprived, Regina). So I do genuinely think Regina has taken some steps there, because goodness knows she wasn't acting in Henry's best interests in S1/S2. But most of the things you cite Regina did out of her own self-interest. Like, yeah, she helped the Charmings break into the castle in 3x13--so that she could get herself to her sleeping potion. And sure, Regina allied with the Charmings against Zelena--because Zelena's whole mission statement was to erase Regina from existence. I'm not sure why "being willing to ally with her enemies to save her own ass" is somehow indicative of this great moral turn on her part. (Frankly, if I was the Charmings, up until Zelena threatened my baby I would have been like "buzz, off, Regina, go handle your own battle against Zelena, don't get us involved.") And I don't consider a True Love's Kiss to be redemption or indicative of it. Does it indicate that Regina has changed and grown as a person? Sure. But Regina was the person who was able to cold-bloodedly kill Henry Sr. even as she claimed to love him. Rumpel does terrible things still, despite the fact that he has a confirmed True Love. To me, having True Love doesn't mean you're redeemed. It doesn't mean you're a good person. It can mean those things, but it can equally mean that you're a serial killer who actually does care about one other person on this earth.

 

Here's my thing with Regina, as is summed up so well in this comic about Nice Guys: in the same way that guys don't get points for not raping women, Regina doesn't get any points for doing good when doing good aligns with her own interests and gives her everything she wants on a silver platter without her having to show an ounce of remorse for the terrible, evil things she's done. When Regina actually has to struggle to be good in the future, or do something going directly against her own self-interest to be good, then I'll be more willing to entertain the notion that she's actually, fundamentally, changing. (And in fact, I'd extend that to saying that you don't get points for being a non-murderous member of society. That's baseline behavior that no one should be given a cookie for. You have to actively help people and want to change the world for the better to get points, imo. Again I go back to the example of Xena. Xena wouldn't have been redeemed if she'd just retired from warlording and, like, retired to a farm. She had to actually go out and atone and make amends and do good deeds to earn her redemption.)

 

Regina's apologized to Henry but there's been no apology to Emma, Snow, or Charming for ruining their lives, which added to "you're just like your mother" leads me to conclude that Regina doesn't recognize that she was wrong.

Straight-up this. Until Regina can look Snow in the eye and say "I'm so sorry I ruined your life and have spent years trying to murder you and your family. I was wrong"; can look Emma in the eye and say "I'm so sorry I ruined your life and deprived you of growing up with loving parents. The vendetta that led me to do those things to you was wrong"; and can look Charming in the eye and say "I'm so sorry I've tried to kill you multiple times and deprived you of your daughter's first 28 years. I was wrong," she's not redeemed. Period.

Edited by stealinghome
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Regina can't have regrets like that, does not have insight into herself, and refuses to take responsibility.  Once again, it's not her fault about Marian, it's Emma's.  People like her are at high risk of repeating their past behavior.

Exactly. Because if she hasn't acknowledged that the way she was behaving before was wrong, then why is she changing? Changing behavior generally means a realization that there was something wrong with the prior behavior because otherwise there's no reason to change. If she's not changing because she realized she was doing wrong, then that leaves more external motivations, like getting something she wants or getting someone's approval, and that's not likely to last. I believe Hook's redemption will last because he's so ashamed of his past behavior. He hit his past self. I think if Regina had traveled back in time and saw her past self, her reaction would be more like, "You go, girl!"

 

Breaking into her castle in 3.13 was yet another suicidal moment on Regina's part because she has lost Henry and wanted to put herself under the sleeping curse.

And then there's the fact that it's not really her castle. It's Snow's castle that Regina stole from Snow when she usurped what should have been Snow's position (since Snow would have been her father's heir and Snow should be queen). And they had to break in to that castle because the castle where they'd been living was destroyed by Regina's curse. I'm not sure I consider it a good deed if you stole a home from someone, destroyed the home they moved to, and then you helped them break into their original home when someone else changed the locks after you abandoned it.

 

As for Regina's reaction to Marian, I can totally see feeling hurt. That's a normal, human response. But most people in that situation would probably just suddenly remember that thing they have to be doing elsewhere, slink out, then go home and have a pity party, murder a bottle of wine and eat all the chocolate. They wouldn't attack someone else and bring up a past, entirely unrelated, deed done by that person's mother. I would also think that a truly good person who wasn't entirely selfish would have very bittersweet feelings, since she was seeing something amazingly wonderful happen to someone she supposedly loved. Robin had just been talking to her about how hurt he was by his wife's death, and now he gets a joyful reunion. Adorable little Roland has his mommy back. No matter how disappointed Regina is, I would think that if she really did love Robin and cared at all for Roland, she'd be at least a little happy for them. I guess the big test would be What Would Emma Do -- If Emma had come out to the patio, looking for Hook after that grand, romantic adventure in the past, and she'd found that Regina had somehow magically brought Milah back to life without having any idea that's who she was, just rescuing some woman from Rumple, and she saw the joyous reunion between Milah and Hook, I think Emma would be hurt and disappointed, but she'd also be happy for him, and then she'd clear out pretty quickly and go sulk alone and wait to see what decision he'd end up making about it.

 

Though I think it's far more likely that Regina would deliberately bring back Hook's past love as a way of hurting Emma. That's very much her style. Maybe she's projecting.

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No matter how disappointed Regina is, I would think that if she really did love Robin and cared at all for Roland, she'd be at least a little happy for them.

 

Yes, very much so for the Roland part.  Because even if she harbored hopes that Robin and Marian would somehow be put asunder, she should still, as a mother, care about that reunification.  Oh wait, no, it's not her default setting at all to care about parents and children (Hansel & Gretel, Owen, Snow, Emma. . . ) but a changed, on-the-way-to-redemption Regina should be able to muster up the empathy now.  Maybe she will, I guess we'll have to see.

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[...] If Emma had come out to the patio, looking for Hook after that grand, romantic adventure in the past, and she'd found that Regina had somehow magically brought Milah back to life without having any idea that's who she was, just rescuing some woman from Rumple, and she saw the joyous reunion between Milah and Hook, I think Emma would be hurt and disappointed, but she'd also be happy for him, and then she'd clear out pretty quickly and go sulk alone and wait to see what decision he'd end up making about it.

 

Though I think it's far more likely that Regina would deliberately bring back Hook's past love as a way of hurting Emma. That's very much her style. Maybe she's projecting.

I also think it's a testament to how much better Hook/Emma were developed than Robin/Regina that we've been debating all summer about "what will Robin do?", but if the scenario you just outlined had come to pass, I don't think anyone would believe for a moment that Hook wouldn't choose Emma. Even though R/R are supposedly fated lovers, the writing hasn't been there. It's been all tell, not show.

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I also think it's a testament to how much better Hook/Emma were developed than Robin/Regina that we've been debating all summer about "what will Robin do?", but if the scenario you just outlined had come to pass, I don't think anyone would believe for a moment that Hook wouldn't choose Emma.

I think it's very likely that he'd choose Emma, since he seems to like the person he is with her more than he likes his past self and since he doesn't want to be a pirate anymore, and I'm not sure Milah would even be into him the way he is now.

 

But in general, my "is this a normal, human reaction, or villain behavior?" test is how Emma would respond if the same thing happened to her. Given that she's had all kinds of horrible things happen to her due to Regina's reactions and her only opposition to Regina has been to stop her immediate evil behavior rather than going off on a convoluted revenge scheme, I think it's safe to classify Regina's reaction to Daniel's death as villain behavior. And since I'm pretty sure Emma would give Hook space and try to be happy for him if his believed-dead past love returned, I'd classify Regina's "you're like your mother and don't think about consequences" -- never mind that she'd had no problem with Marian having been brought from the past a moment before -- as edging closer to villain behavior, or at least extreme selfishness (it wasn't a problem until it affected her).

 

On another villain note, there's a lot of fun potential for the mischief Rumple could get into while everyone thinks Belle is in control of him, and he therefore can't possibly be the one doing anything evil, and how dare you suggest such a thing. It would be interesting to see the Rumple vs. Regina feud from season one pick up again. I've wondered why they let the former evil queen who cursed them all continue to be mayor. What if Rumple ran against her? Now that Bae's dead and he no longer has the goal of reuniting with him, his other driving need is power. Without that other goal, might he focus more on obtaining power for himself? Would he be content just running a pawn shop and being landlord for much of the town? We've been theorizing elsewhere about the Blue Fairy being the real series-long big bad, and there's been the talk about how Carlyle doesn't want to play reformed Rumple. He might make a good series big bad if they play it subtly until the last season -- let him have a hidden agenda of making himself some kind of all-powerful dictator, but doing it gradually and playing nice all the while so that no one notices what's really going on until things get bad enough that they have to team up to finally overthrow and defeat him at the very end.

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I love the idea of Rumple being the hidden bad guy from now, but my favorite scenario is that, give her a couple of years to get used to this land, and Marian can run for Mayor. She is unrelated to Henry (no neopotism), has integrity, and in my head, will refuse to drink the victim-blamey kool-aid everyone else seems to have drunk.

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I love the idea of Rumple being the hidden bad guy from now, but my favorite scenario is that, give her a couple of years to get used to this land, and Marian can run for Mayor. She is unrelated to Henry (no neopotism), has integrity, and in my head, will refuse to drink the victim-blamey kool-aid everyone else seems to have drunk.

 

This would be so great.  To have the villains in this town actually go up against people without magic who have lots of strength of character and are not related and therefore don't have to worry solely about Henry . . . just wow.

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I've been thinking about which villain would be a bigger threat--who should the population see as a bigger threat? 

 

Who has the bigger body count?  Regina or Rumple?  Anyone have an idea?

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Regina has the biggest body count in the Show, and people have been used to asking Rumple for help, even as they feared him. So I feel like Regina was more openly feared than Rumple. However, Rumple is the more subtle mastermind of the two, and hence more dangerous in the long-term, apart from the whole immortal thing.  

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Hard to say. You'd think Rumpel, just based on longevity. But we've never heard of him committing mass murder, as we know Regina has. So I guess I'd still put her slightly in the lead.

Edited by Amerilla

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Regina has the biggest body count in the Show, and people have been used to asking Rumple for help, even as they feared him. So I feel like Regina was more openly feared than Rumple. However, Rumple is the more subtle mastermind of the two, and hence more dangerous in the long-term, apart from the whole immortal thing.  

Rumple's death toll was more spread out, but was it less?  He was pretty blasé about those mass ogre killings--and that was before his "find Bae" quest started.  (Note:  Not comparing actual military situations and soldiers to the magic guy who was a one-man weapon of mass destruction.  I know the difference and am not trying to draw that parallel.)  He's also the guy with they made the special magic-nullifying cell for, and kept under far greater lock and key than they did Regina, even before they sent her off to dowagerhood at Knifngham Palace.

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Rumpel just seems to have this casual cruelty to him that has been spread out over the centuries. He turned that one guy's father into a pig, for example, and doesn't even remember doing it. Who knows how deadly he's been over the centuries? I do think he's more reasonable to deal with than Regina and he seems to be tied into a certain code - he won't break a deal - so if I had to choose one of them to work with, I'd go with Rumpel. However, he's definitely the bigger threat given his immortality and the fact that he can be used as a weapon when someone is holding his dagger.

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Yeah, my guess would be that Regina would be slightly more feared, but it's a really close race. Ultimately, though, I think the average village person's life was probably more endangered by Regina, because Rumpel didn't go around slaughtering entire villages. He seems only to have killed if someone crossed him (granted his definition of "crossed him" is pretty broad).

 

I guess the way I see it is that Rumpel is the one whose bad side I'd probably be more afraid to get on, but Regina would freak me out way more on a day-to-day, "is she going to turn up and order my entire village murdered" level.

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