The showrunners like to sum up Regina’s story arc as a tale of redemption. She, and really every villain has operated in shades of gray and black–the difference being that she desperately, desperately wants to be a white hat. She wants to be one of the good guys invited to a pot luck at the diner, while the other villains would like to burn the diner to the ground and pee on the ashes.

But her story is also one of addiction. She’s the alcoholic or drug addict that changed seemingly irrecoverably and has struggled ever since to find satisfaction. When she’s viewed through that prism her story becomes all the more heartbreaking and the actions of the “heroes” become all the more understandable.

Because otherwise they come off as asshats.

They spend a lot of time clutching one another and dodging weak ass magic originally fired off by a weak ass Blue Fairy who just flipping DARTED out from behind that tree.

That’s the problem when you attempt to give fairytales an “adult” edge but insist on maintaining a very black and white concept of good and evil. The good guys stop being pure and idealistic and start edging the line of sanctimonious, and seriously if I wanted sanctimonious I would mainline 7th Heaven reruns.

But when you look at it as though Regina were an addict not quite to the “amends” part of her recovery, well suddenly Snow and Charming’s refusal to see the good in her in the present and Emma’s self-righteous fury become a lot more palatable.

Snow and Charming are the abused daughter and the daughter’s husband. They’ve been burned enough times by stepmoomy that they’re reluctant to trust her again. That’s natural when they’re not the superheroic leads of a fairytale. I mean, Snow saved Regina from skewering by arrow and Regina responded by shiving by magic knife and an epic world ending curse to end all world ending curses. One can see, after all that, while Snow would be reluctant to extend an olive branch. She already did it once and got scorched in the process.

Chica was 40 kinds of psycho once upon a time.

And Emma’s explosive anger on Regina’s doorstep? It’s easier to swallow when you interpret Emma as a fellow recovering addict who has had her trust betrayed. When everyone else is ready to string Regina up by her toes for existing Emma insists that there’s good in the woman. So she invites her to dinner and she defends her and she repeatedly brings up her own past. Yeah, it doesn’t feature rape, murder and world ending curses, but neither was Emma the beatific hero like her parents. As mentioned before in this space, Emma and Regina are two sides of a mirror and Emma recognizes that, and she recognizes that the tool of their redemption is their shared love for Henry.

That’s why she’s so furious. Regina (ostensibly) betrayed Henry and Emma, proving love cannot redeem all and that sometimes lovey dovey super parents can be right and Emma’s super power can be wrong.

Only, and this is where the episode’s gut punch comes in, Regina? Not actually the big evil murderer in this one particular instance! She really has been good and endeavored to be the mom Henry desires. She’s a victim–her reputation has been devastated and her resolve has all but crumbled.

And worst, her nightmare has come to pass. The town will now call for her head, she’s lost her son, and Emma (playing a really crazy birthmother card) has rejected her status as Henry’s mom.

Which is perhaps my one massive massive quibble with this episode. Early on Emma and Regina have a little snarkfest of a fight about custody of Henry that is just–tops. It plays into that addict allegory perfectly, and eye sexers will be pleased to see how it plays into the divorced parents interpretation of these two and their relationship.

They’re the most divorced couple to have never banged ever.

But then, man, Emma throws down with Regina and bellows “he’s not your son” which, yeah, that comes from a place of hurt and anger. But it also continues the whole trend of delegitimizing Regina’s lawful relationship to Henry because Emma has some birth mom regrets.

I don’t know if someone on this show is just a bitter adopted child or birth parent out to create a really unhealthy fantasy or what but it’s extremely problematic. Ms. Emma thang spends half the episode insisting on real world law, but as soon as it suits her purpose she throws it out the window so she can reclaim Henry.

Yet the most problematic moment in this episode? THE SURVIVAL OF JIMINY CRICKET.

The costuming and Snow’s super filled in eyebrow weren’t problematic moments as much as elements.

Look, I’m not saying I didn’t see it coming. For the murder of a major character there were not nearly enough tears shed over the corpse for it to be a permanent death. Everyone was waaaaay too busy hunting for the murderer and interrupting Rump’s picnic with Belle for the death to stick.

Still, wouldn’t it have been grand if he’d stayed dead? He’s kind of disposable and he’s easily the most sanctimonious of the good guys. (Like dude, you are a bug because you murdered Gepetto’s parents once, from what high hill be you preaching?)

The only good thing about his abduction is a) he’s muffled and b) it was an opportunity to see Hook smile and marvel at his chest hair.

You’re welcome fair internet.

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the most problematic moment of the show.

Notes

  • Man, Charming’s hatred for Regina in the flashbacks is kind of out of control. Also his love of the death penalty. Now we know where Emma gets her flawed human stylings?
  • And props to Regina for basically saying as much during their jailhouse scene.
  • Also props to Regina for being offended when they accuse her. Like she’s mainly upset that they think she’d be so stupid.
  • Dreamcatchers are dumb. Also they’ve only been around since, like, the 60s? Groovy Rump. Way to embrace the Pan-Indian movement.
  • Henry’s confusion over Snow and Charming in bed was tops. He actually acted like an actual ten year old kid this entire episode.
  • Emma’s horror over that same image. In jpeg form.

Henry doesn’t even care.

  • Loved watching Cora and Hook just hang out on rooftops the whole episode. Like little evil Batmans.
  • RIP dude turned into a fish. You looked like Hugh Jackman.
  • In other news, Hugh Jackman is not looking so hot these days. Dude needs to eat a sammich.
  • Why is Red not a deputy yet? I would watch a show about Deputy Red just sniffing out criminals and jogging up into arguments.
  • Regina lurking in her car at the end of the episode was a little sad, but mainly hilarious. Because you know that the script likely called for her to be watching from a rooftop and they realized that that’s a little too like mother
  • Next Week: Cora and Hook decide to collect more Pokemonfairy tale characters. This time they collect Belle. Rumpybooskin is not pleased. The rest of the town probably won’t give a hoot because they thing of him as that kindly uncle that gets drunk and beats them? Or because they’re busy wanting to go to their apocalyptic former home and dealing with non-fairytale visitors.
  • WT

    The Pokemon joke, that I was hoping for. Seriously, are Cora and Hook going to stash these people away in Wonder Woman’s invisible boat? Everyone will be gone and the rest will make a derp face?

    I agree with all, except with the identity of the most sanctimonious good guy(TM). I think that title belongs to Belle, tbqh.

    Next Time on OUAT: Another character that could stay dead but won’t.

  • lee66132000

    ["But her story is also one of addiction. She’s the alcoholic or drug addict that changed seemingly irrecoverably and has struggled ever since to find satisfaction. "]

    Please don’t tell me that you’re buying this magic addiction crap. Because it’s crap. If Season One is anything to go by, Regina’s problem is emotional – her continuing anger at Snow White and inability to put the past behind. She didn’t have magic to achieve her goals in Season One, yet she continued to indulge in her obsession in making the Charmings’ lives miserable. And she’s also obsessed with winning back Henry’s love. But she still cannot get over her anger toward Snow.

    Before you think I’m anti-Regina, I’m not. She is my favorite character on that series and I like her a hell of a lot more than the Charmings. But I’m not buying the magic addiction nonsense, because it wasn’t a problem in Season One. If Regina truly was addicted to magic, Season One would have made that clear. Instead, it focused on her obsession with her anger toward Snow and maintaining Henry as her son.

    If the writes on this series were truly decent, they would eventually acknowledge that magic was never Regina’s problem to begin with.