Perhaps the most terrifying thing about Cora Mills isn’t her literal heartlessness or her penchant for taking others. It’s her psychotic take on her relationship with her daughter.

Here’s a woman who genuinely loves her daughter. There’s no question of it. She doesn’t resent Regina. She doesn’t hate Regina. She loves her–adores her even. She holds onto a wilted rose for twenty-eight years because her daughter gave it to her and she moves heavens and earths just to be with her. It’s almost…touching.

She’s so pleased to reveal herself. I’m so pleased by her costuming. All the fairytale costumes were spectacular this episode.

Except woman is unquestionably EVIL. It’s a great perversion of love and combined with the “good guys” epically mean girl snub of Regina at the end of the episode it’s building towards a rather disturbing notion of good and evil and fate.

Once Upon A Time has always maintained a rather funny concept of good and evil. This is a show where pragmatism is a negative trait and optimism a good one. Where the good always win, princesses talks to birds and true love’s kiss cures all. Good is absolute. A werewolf who is innately good will always be forgiven–even when she eats her boyfriend. A man who kills a child’s parents can spend a few years as a bug and become everyone’s favorite wise man. And the truest of true love couples in town can both have affairs while under a curse and let it go in as soon as the curse is lifted.

There is no pathos for our heroes outside of the external. They do not wrestle with themselves or make bad decisions. They’re “good” and thus free of many of the struggles most people face. And because of those struggles Regina is evil. She’s a victim of circumstances, an abusive household, and a manipulative old man. She has in herself a desire to be good but an addictive personality and some bad choices early on slotted her as evil and it seems that no matter what she does she’ll always be that Evil Queen.

Everyone else went off to get pancakes. No one invited Regina. It was stone cold and not even on purpose. Ouchies.

That snub man. It was the most fantastical point in a story where a woman born of true love has an unsnaggable heart and a pirate has a hook that removes snaggable hearts. Because Snow and company are the good guys! Good guys are supposed to forgive. It’s one of a good guy’s usual defining traits–right next to all that optimism and hope. They see goodness in others and encourage it to flourish.

This is relevant to the review. I just like doing one Emma derp face per episode.

But not when it comes to Regina. Somewhere along the way a decision was made that she cannot be forgiven. That she is forever to be Emma’s dark shadow. A mirror of our heroine. Both women are challenged by destiny and manipulated into achieving a pre-ordained fate. Only Emma gets second chances and loving parents and a doting son while Regina gets to have her son call her evil to her face, proclaim she will never win because she is inherently evil, and then get rejected by everyone not out to use her in some way.

To a degree it is realistic in the context of a recovering addict’s journey. It isn’t easy getting back on track and normal people aren’t prone to forgive. But Snow isn’t normal. She’s Snow White. While Henry not immediately forgiving is perfectly acceptable (Regina was nearly as bad a mother as Cora) and an argument can even be made for Emma–whose entire personality is dictated by plot instead of characterization–to snub her archnemisis Snow is a whole other story.

But she likely forgot to nod in Regina’s direction or offer to bring her back some dinner pancakes because Cora and Hook are sailing into town to exact all kinds of revenge and it’s important that Regina possibly be tempted by them because they show her more affection than the people she’s now chosen ever will.

Maybe it’s all an effect of this new world. It would be easy enough to fanwank away odd character moments for Snow and other Storybrooke citizens by noting that funny things happened when their fairytale and earth counterparts merged. If that’s the case does this mean we’ll start seeing Snow, Charming, Red and the others acting a little more imperfect? That they’ll stop having conflicts entirely manifested by “evil” characters?

I’m crossing my fingers and looking no further and Mulan and Aurora. Stuck together because they ostensibly love the same man the two women have become more devoted to each other with each passing episode. Were either a man than last night would have sealed the deal as Mulan vowed to get Aurora’s heart back and then left the Whites to battle the evilest witch in the land so she could smush Aurora’s heart back into place.

Mulan, this reflection is showing who you are inside.

But as soon as things were righted the embarked on a new quest: to bring Prince Philip back. A noble endeavor ladies but I’m feeling for the guy because it’s looking more and more like that time Ross tried a threesome with Carol and Susan in an alternate universe and ended up just, like, reading a magazine. But that’s a love triangle relatively devoid of external influences I can get behind, and a focus on that would be a welcome change of pace from the Charming/White saga which could easily be solved with some sort of tethering device.

Notes

  • I’m noting all the gayness between them because writers have assured us the show is getting some gay characters at some point and I’m crossing my fingers its them because the only other choice I can think of off the top of my head is the Cricket and NO. Do not want.
  • Though it could be a dwarf or two. But aren’t they brothers? I do not want incest either. Is it technically incest if they’re born fully grown out of eggs? Things to ponder.
  • Charming rested up the whole episode and Rumbel and Regina seemed legit worried about him.
  • Speaking of Rumbel. Carlyle was largely quiet this episode and yet he was acting the hell out of every scene he was in. Rumbel is slowly becoming an open book if you know where to look.
  • Emma fightin’ is the best. She’s just runs in screaming and waving her sword like she just don’t care. Meanwhile Snow continues to be Legolas.
  • So Regina has always hated magic but then succumbed to it and then chose the one curse that would remove magic from her system forever? Giiiiirl. She was trying even when she was evil!
  • As you’ve now guessed, Regina is my favorite. This is mainly because she is the most consistently written character on the show that isn’t Henry. Because she is my favorite I must note that she could be dying after sucking up all that magic, or that magic suckage revealed just how powerful she is. Either way Rumbel seemed interested.
  • Hook, who is bad because it’s easy, and Regina, who is bad because everyone told her to be, should bang. I’m just sayin’. And creators it can contribute to that whole Emma/Regina mirror thing and then there can be a love triangle…and never mind. I really don’t have any desire to watch Emma and Regina fight over a dude.
  • Poor Belle. Doomed to be locked up by people all the time and or punched in the face. Has she had a single moment of agency beyond making a pass at Rumbel? Ever?
  • Next Month: OUAT takes a break for the holidays and is back in January with Cora and Hook descending on Storybrooke and Regina and Emma returning to their season one tug of war over Henry. Only one of those plots has me excited.
  • Anon

    I agree, I’d love to see Mulan and Aurora being a lesbian couple. The writers did promise LGBTQ+ characters, I can’t wait to see them! I do hope they are not token characters, I really do. Though I admit I’d be happy either way, knowing that a family show has an interracial queer couple. Fingers crossed!

    Btw, why do you think that Jiminy Cricket could be a gay character? I’m curious.

    • http://fempop.com/ Alex Cranz

      The Jiminy Cricket thing is me being incredibly cynical. Because for a long time the middle aged guy who has shown no romantic interest in anyone on the show would automatically be the gay guy and then we’d never see their sexuality explored.

      But who knows. It could end up being August and his boyfriend could show up looking for him and they’d be all tragic because August is wood.

      Though if I had a choice I’d choose BOTH Augusta and Mulan/Aurora.

      • Anon

        So sad, yet so true. You know what they say: Fans don’t want old people having a healthy sexuality, because ew old dude and not hot fetish.

        “August’s boyfriend” made me think of Neal. Unlikely, but it was the first image to pop out, ha.

        August, Mulan, and Aurora being queer? May the gods hear you, it would truly be a blessing. To be honest, I’d be thrilled if they actually go for August, Mulan, Aurora, and Jiminy being queer. It makes me guiddy to think about more than one or two token characters. And like I said before, an interracial queer couple? Yes, yes, yes.

  • MsJack

    This show is taking its sweet time revealing that Rumplestiltskin’s son is Emma’s ex-lover and Henry’s father. BUT IT’S COMING.

    • Not A Creative Name

      Doubtful, considering the new description of Ethan Embry’s so far nameless character: “An outsider, someone without a fairytale counterpart”, quickly adding, “Someone the residents of Storybrooke won’t recognize as a fairytale citizen.” Sounds a lot like Baelfire. Of course they won’t recognize him, since he is not “fairytale famous” (i.e Snow White, Rapunzel…), but he still is from their land.

      • MsJack

        Oh, how I love the sweet, sweet taste of being right.

        • http://fempop.com/ Alex Cranz

          I felt compelled to come back and like this comment. BECAUSE YOU CALLED IT.