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KingOfHearts

S02.E09: Queen of Hearts

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Cora and Hook face off with Mary Margaret and Emma in a race to secure the compass, which will point its holder to the portal into Storybrooke. But back on the other side, Regina and Mr. Gold, desperate to keep Cora out, put a plan into action that would kill anyone entering the portal – placing Mary Margaret’s and Emma’s lives in danger as well. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale land that was, Captain Hook travels to Wonderland and meets up with a vengeful Queen of Hearts.

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I still enjoy most of this episode. The race against Cora has just enough steam in both EF and Storybrooke, capping 2A out quite nicely. It's really cool to discover Emma has magic and that it's powered by love. Cora revealed as the Queen of Hearts makes perfect sense and only adds more weight to her as an antagonist. Barbara Hershey didn't actually play her in Hat Trick, but she did provide the voice. Regina's outfit in the flashback is probably one of my favorite Evil Queen costumes. 

What I don't like about this episode? Regina being hailed as a hero for stopping the insta-kill spell she cast in the first place. I'm glad she made the right choice and all, but she was about to kill Emma and Mary Margaret. It's highly questionable. 

The sad face at the end was the beginning of Woegina's reign. Ew. I understand her feeling awkward and left out, but it's framed like the Charmings are horrible people for not giving her attention. It's BS. Regina can cry all she wants but she's still a mass murderer who cursed generations. I can't fault her character, because her reaction is somewhat plausible, but the framing is no service to the audience nor her as a character. 

Also - when you watch this episode, it's so obvious the Swan Song flashbacks are a massive plot hole and there's no way you could work it between the scenes here.

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6 hours ago, KingOfHearts said:

What I don't like about this episode? Regina being hailed as a hero for stopping the insta-kill spell she cast in the first place. I'm glad she made the right choice and all, but she was about to kill Emma and Mary Margaret. It's highly questionable. 

And before that, she lied to Henry's face, telling him she believed in Emma and Snow getting back and being all cheerful and encouraging about it when she knew she was about to go team up with Gold to kill them. Funny how that was totally forgotten. He runs to her and hugs her and talks about how she's changed, but didn't mention that she lied to him and went behind his back and only stopped the killer spell she helped cast because he begged and tried to get in the way.

The teary, sad look as the others went to dinner was one of those times I almost quit the show. It was a bit much that she would expect her victims to invite her to join the first family dinner they would ever have together when they'd been separated because of her. Not to mention, she doesn't even like them. Henry's the only reason she would want to be with them, and she'd just spent however long with Henry while he was just reuniting with them. And then there was the lying thing.

But I do like the rest of the episode up to that point, though it takes Team Princess painfully long to think about the ink being on the parchment they've been looking at. The flashbacks fit with the present, and both sides of the present fit. The fight scene is fun, and I love the moment when they realize Emma has magic.

I have to roll my eyes at Belle not believing Rumple could be hurting her father, given that he actually did later on.

The problem is mostly the stuff that comes later ...

Spoiler

The Coradome seems to be an actual dome only covering a relatively small area. That doesn't fit with what they later indicated about every other kingdom also being frozen in time. Cora specifically said Hook wouldn't know time was passing because he'd be frozen, which doesn't fit him sailing around and having adventures during the curse. The little side excursion they tried to fit into Regina and Hook's interactions doesn't fit, unless maybe it came between Regina catching Hook in Belle's cell and her enchanting the Hook, but that requires Regina to wear the same dress multiple days in a row. And for her to have let Hook just walk away in the first place before she caught up with him to give him the test. Both seem unlikely.

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I still love the scene between Emma and Hook at the cell. Hook is so bitter about her abandoning him at the beanstalk. He obviously was enjoying the adventure and she threw some serious cold water on it. 

I do like his analogy with the bean, a thing that had such promise now dried up, dead useless, much like you(Paraphrased) He saw promise in their interactions until Emma’s trust issues flared up destroying the promise he saw in their partnership. 

 

Spoiler

I’m glad season 6 hasn’t ruined these early CS scenes for me. The more I rewatch the more I feel season 6 is completely out of character and I shouldn’t even consider the behaviors of the characters that season as canon, in my mind at least.

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I love every part of the episode except the end. That sad face ticked me off so much. To think that was the beginning of the woegina Yes, let's see Regina all sad face. I didn't buy it then and honestly I didn't care. And still don't. She caused it all herself. I was so happy to see the Charming family reunited finally.  I loved seeing Team Princess talking at the jail, Snow figuring out what the scroll meant, Hook and Emma exchanged (even thought I hated him at the time). The three squaring off against Cora and Hook. I did love that Hook gave Aurora her heart back. Emma and Hook's fight was awesome and I love when she finally clocked him. Snow and Cora's was really good too. I love Emma throwing herself between Cora and Snow. My favorite part is still Cora not able to take Emma's heart. It was such a good scene and I remember thinking finally. Yes, magic in a good person. That love wasn't weakness but strength. I love Snow and Emma's freak out at her magic and going home. The reunion between Emma and Henry, Snow and Red, and Snow and Charming. The happy family at the end. Emma thinking Gold was responsible for her magic but realizing he didn't know.   

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Oh, one other thing that doesn't hold up well when we consider what comes later:

Spoiler

Regina's attitude toward her mother. In the past, we see that she sends an assassin after her mother and is glad when she thinks her mother is dead, even though she admits that she does love her mother. In the present, she's utterly terrified of the idea that her mother could come to town. She's willing to lie to Henry and go behind his back to do the magic that will keep Cora out, even if it means killing Snow and Emma, and when Henry catches her, she justifies what she's doing on the grounds of Cora being a threat to him. So her reaction to Snow killing Cora is a bit extreme (and unfair), especially continuing to refer to it as a "murder," even more than a year later. It's rather hypocritical of her to be so harsh on Snow for doing something she'd tried repeatedly to do.

One more reason the Sad Face is annoying is that part of Regina's reason for doing the magic that would kill Snow and Emma, the reason that was a win-win for her, was that she was getting any competition for Henry out of the way. So she's sad that the people she was scheming to kill didn't want her joining them for dinner. Not that they know she was scheming to kill them because that's how this show works. She gets all the credit and called a hero for stopping her own scheme to kill them, but nothing's said about the fact that she was planning to kill them right up to the last second.

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Agree that this is a mostly satisfying episode. I actually don't even mind the Sadface Regina that much, as I didn't actually see it (at this point) as the show demonizing Snowing for not inviting her, and I didn't think the moment of sympathy for her was enough to seriously jeopardize the Charming-family focus of the episode as a whole. I do, however, seriously side-eye the concept that Regina "saved" Emma and Snow. No, Emma and Snow mostly saved their damn selves. Regina gets credit for an assist for casting the sleeping curse that let David tell Snow about the squid ink, but she doesn't play substantially more of a role in their return than David, Rumple, Aurora and Mulan or even Hook, for the help he gave Emma in getting the compass. The fact that Regina decided not to go through with the deadly plan that she herself set into motion does not constitute having "saved" Emma and Snow.

Moving onto villains who don't make me want to tear my hair out, Hook continues to be interesting. What I find so satisfying about his depiction is that the show is managing to create a character who is a legitimately terrible person, at this point, but shows just enough signs of depth and even conscience that he isn't just a mustache-twirling villain. On one hand, he steals Aurora's heart, knocks Belle out and leaves her a prisoner, agrees to carry out an assassination for Regina with no concern for whether or not Cora deserves it, proves willing to switch sides on a dime, and generally acts like an entitled jackass in his behavior to Emma. On the other hand, he's not wrong to hold Belle in contempt for her defense of Rumple, he does make the effort to save Aurora's heart and give it back to her, and you get the sense that he's dead serious when he tells Emma he wouldn't have done to her what she did to him on the beanstalk. Although I'm not 100% sure that the showrunners intended it, he also has to have been holding back in the swordfight with Emma at the portal; even as it is, it is really stretching credulity that she does so well against him, but there's no way in hell that it should have taken a skilled swordsman more than a couple of seconds to take out a woman who just used a sword for the first time a few weeks ago.

I love the first appearance of Emma's magic, as well as her conversation with Rumple, which reinforces for me what a great character he was, at this point. Rumple is always looking out for Rumple, and just this episode, he was engineering a plan that would have led to Emma's death. But, in contrast to his behavior in some of his flashbacks, SB Rumple is not purposelessly cruel, and is even capable of a certain decency if it doesn't conflict with his overarching goals. He's willing to kill Emma and Mary Margaret in order to stop Cora, but once Emma does survive, he's also capable of reassuring her about the limits of his interference in what winds up being a genuinely lovely scene. This is consistent with much of his behavior in S1, in which I'd argue that there are scenes in which he seems to be at least somewhat fond of Emma and Henry independently of his desire for the curse to break. Not fond enough to avoid selling them out in the finale when he chooses bringing back magic over saving Henry, but enough that, all things being equal, he's in their corner. 

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Oh god. This episode was going along so well, lots of action and suspense and feels and such, and then...we meet our once and future god empress Woegena. I just hate the implication that we arent supposed to be happy that this poor family that has been kept apart is finally together again, but are supposed to be sad because the woman who screwed their lives up for the pettiest of reasons didnt get invited to a dinner at the one place to eat in town. I mean, I cried when I didnt get invited to a party to once...because I was in the third grade! And I got over it in about a day!* And I hadn't tried to murder anyone at the party! Regina is lucky that they put down the torches and pitchforks, let alone getting invites to every damn get together.

Anyway, other than that horrifying foreshadowing of what this show is soon to become, I do still really like this episode. Its a great ending to this arc, and the heroes got some good wins, with a lot of interesting character beats all around. Cora really had such a great presence, she was/is an awesome villain. Even when she isnt doing much, she almost always seems totally cool and in control. Honestly, I wanted a flashback to how she ended up being the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland to begin with. I have no doubt that she could (Cora is the kind of person who would end up running things anywhere she went), but I would like to see some of her rise to power! This is also probably the first episode that really got me interested in Hook as a character the first time around. He did awful things, and is clearly shown to be a rather amoral villain, but he also has some hints at depths, and a code of conduct that he actually follows. Maybe its just Colin's big, soulful eyes, but I did buy it when he said that he wouldn't have left Emma behind on the beanstalk. And, of course, him saving Auroras heart from being sucked away, even if it gets him nothing. He even basically says "I might be a bad guy, but not a bad enough guy to doom someone to losing their heart" and its a nice bit of shading from his character.  

This is also a great Emma episode, with her fears that she is nothing but a pawn, and then realizing that she has her own power, and can be a hero, and not just a prophesied savior. I love her stuff in the jail with Team Princess, and reuniting with Henry, and when Cora couldn't rip her heart out. I even liked her brief back and fourth with Regina ("your mom is a real piece of work") and I love her last scene with Rumple. I really love this era of Rumple/Gold, he is such a fascinating character, and you never really know what your going to get with him. He plotted to possibly kill Snow and Emma, but it was for what he considered pragmatic reasons, and his scene with Emma at the end is just wonderful, and I am amazed that I forgot about it. Its a surprisingly warm scene from him, assuring Emma that while he did lay the groundwork for all of this, what she did was all on her, and not him, and that she was a hero because she is Emma, not because of his machinations. Gold is the kind of guy who can write someone off as collateral damage and give the same person a much needed pep talk in the same day, while making it seem less like a pep talk, and more of just stating facts, which is just what Emma needed. At this point, he could pull that off without it seeming like moral whiplash. 

I also love the call back to Charming waking up Snow as Snow wakes Charming up, with the dwarfs surround Charming like they did with Snow, and the "Glass coffin/red room of flame did give me pause" dialogue, it was super adorable. 

*

Spoiler

Maybe this is just me being retroactively bitter about how Regina will be portrayed later in the show. Maybe in a vacuum, this could be alright, and her backsliding into evil at the first hardship and then learning a lesson would be a compelling arc. But thats not what happens, and Regina and her stupid tears become the stars of the show. Now, I dont feel bad for her, I see a person who was only putting on a act of being good so that she could get rewards and affirmation, not because she actually wanted to be a better person, and a person that is immensely immature, and needs to be constantly placated like a little kid to keep her from throwing fits. 

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50 minutes ago, tennisgurl said:
Spoiler

Maybe this is just me being retroactively bitter about how Regina will be portrayed later in the show. Maybe in a vacuum, this could be alright, and her backsliding into evil at the first hardship and then learning a lesson would be a compelling arc. But thats not what happens, and Regina and her stupid tears become the stars of the show. Now, I dont feel bad for her, I see a person who was only putting on a act of being good so that she could get rewards and affirmation, not because she actually wanted to be a better person, and a person that is immensely immature, and needs to be constantly placated like a little kid to keep her from throwing fits. 

 

That's kind of where I come down on this episode. If I look at it as the start of Woegina nonsense, it destroys everything. But taking the episode in isolation, I can deal with sparing a moment to consider Regina's loneliness and sense of loss. I didn't feel like the Charmings were being vilified, either; for this one scene, the show was able to have Regina feel bad without suggesting she was being victimized. It matters, too, that Rumple, who has always been the devil on Regina's shoulder, is the one who implies that maybe the others are being ungrateful in not inviting Regina along. And even in his line, there's the (wholly rational) implication that she's never going to be accepted.  - how we get from that to her actually being invited to the party an episode later, I'll never understand.

Above all, this still winds up being a quite Emma/Charming family centric episode, as it should be. This is a sharp contrast to next episode, where somehow, the earliest moments of this family's reunion wind up being All About Regina. 

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2 hours ago, companionenvy said:

I can deal with sparing a moment to consider Regina's loneliness and sense of loss. I didn't feel like the Charmings were being vilified, either; for this one scene, the show was able to have Regina feel bad without suggesting she was being victimized. It matters, too, that Rumple, who has always been the devil on Regina's shoulder, is the one who implies that maybe the others are being ungrateful in not inviting Regina along.

I think they'd have been better off skipping Regina's reaction in this episode and maybe moving it to a later episode so that the focus could remain on the Charmings in this episode. Regina got an actual scene, with dialogue, to address her sadness at not being included, while we just got the brief clip of the Charmings and their friends walking down the street. We didn't get to see their first dinner together as a family, and we'd already been shortchanged on their reunion. The scene doesn't have any real purpose other than stirring up sympathy for Regina -- and that does seem to have been the intent, given that the writers mention this scene as something they're particularly proud of because they were able to make people feel bad for the Evil Queen. They've said in interviews that her crying here shows that she's a complex character.

Spoiler

It might have made a difference if they'd used this scene to set up something for the future, like if Rumple was trying to stir things up by making Regina resent the others and this was the start of a new plot arc, or if this was a tipping point sending Regina back into evil. But Rumple doesn't seem to really care what Regina does in the following episodes, and Regina acts like she expects to be accepted in the next episode and is surprised when they suspect her of murder, so it's not like this was the start of her stewing in resentment.

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On 9/15/2018 at 4:05 PM, tennisgurl said:

And, of course, him saving Auroras heart from being sucked away, even if it gets him nothing.

In screenwriting, this is called a "save the cat" moment -- a way of getting audiences to like and relate to a character is to have that character do a good thing that doesn't benefit them or fit in with their agenda. Usually, it's when a character is being introduced. One example cited in the book Save the Cat is the opening of the Disney Aladdin, when Aladdin gives the bread he stole to a starving child. We've learned that he's a skilled thief, but this shows that he's not a bad person.

Hook was nice to Emma in "Tallahassee" but he had an agenda. Him saving Aurora's heart, when he got nothing out of it (even maybe put himself at some risk, since he was in the middle of a fight) and when that wasn't required for the plot to work, seems to have been the first step toward rehabilitating Hook. It was a sign that he was capable of good and had a spark of decency.

But that makes me think about our discussion during the season one rewatch about whether Regina was being set up for redemption in season one. I don't think they gave her a "save the cat" moment during season one. There's her rescue of Snow, but that came late in the season, and that was before she went evil. It wasn't so much a "save the cat" as it was a sign that she wasn't always horrible. Was there anything she did in season one that was a sign of humanity, any goodness that wasn't part of an agenda? She acted like a friend to Kathryn, but that was strictly out of putting obstacles between Snow and David, and she tried to arrange Kathryn's murder. Building the playground was about setting Emma up. I don't think she ever saved a cat.

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I suppose Hook could have given Aurora's heart back because he wanted to impress Emma in case they ever crossed paths again.

Maybe they felt Regina didn't need a save the cat moment in Season 1 because it was obvious she loved Henry.

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28 minutes ago, Shanna Marie said:

Hook was nice to Emma in "Tallahassee" but he had an agenda. Him saving Aurora's heart, when he got nothing out of it (even maybe put himself at some risk, since he was in the middle of a fight) and when that wasn't required for the plot to work, seems to have been the first step toward rehabilitating Hook. It was a sign that he was capable of good and had a spark of decency.

I agree that this moment was key (and thanks for introducing me to the concept of the "Save the Cat moment,") but I'd say that we had signs that Hook was capable of good from the first, given the noble way he accepts his near-certain death in "The Crocodile". It isn't the same as what he does for Aurora, since he obviously loved Milah, but the fact that he wasn't willing to risk Milah by telling Rumple the truth about her, even though it was the only thing that might have even had a slim chance of saving his life, is telling, as it means he is capable of wholly selfless love. I also think the whole set-up of that episode prepares us for a villain who can surprise you - though the revelation that Milah ran off with him isn't totally surprising, given her obvious dissatisfaction with Rumple and the earlier tavern scene, at first it seems like Killian really might have kidnapped a woman he found attractive to force her into "service" with his crew. Finding out that she went with him willingly, and is apparently in a position of authority on the ship, doesn't take away from his various villainous behaviors, but it suggests there is more to him than we might have guessed. Hook is really quite evil in 2x09, however, so I can see why the writers put in the moment with Aurora's heart to keep the character a little bit gray.

Spoiler

The same is true with the fish moment next episode, which is otherwise another episode of Hook at his worst. 

 

And no, I don't think Regina had such a moment in S1, which is the precise reason her redemption came from out of nowhere. I don't think her love of Henry counts, as, until he is literally dying, she really doesn't do anything that suggests she feels deep love for him. She is hurt that he is rejecting her, and she doesn't want Emma to have him, but until the last episodes, it wasn't clear to me that she would pass the King Solomon test, as she seems to care a lot more about using Henry to hurt Emma than she cares about Henry as anything more than an extension of herself and her power. 

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4 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

Building the playground was about setting Emma up. I don't think she ever saved a cat.

Over on the Arrow boards, I mentioned something that I call the "Get Out of Jail Free Card", a term I use when when a show/movie/book wants to redeem a previously villainous character, and to do that, they slide in some kind of sympathetic reason for the bad guy to have been a bad guy. In that context, it was about why one villain turned kinda heroes redemption was not working, while the same franchise had previously had success in turning some of its villains into good guys. It can often be things like mental illness, being forced into evil at a young age, good intentions, etc. are all solid "Get Out of Jail Free Cards"for me, and I think, for many audience members. The problem was, Regina didnt really have that. They probably thought that losing Daniel was enough, but, based around the level of evil she committed, its not. Thats the other part of my GOoJFC idea, that the worse the evil, the bigger the card must be. And Regina would need a HUGE card to get her out of jail, and that never happened. 

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On 9/16/2018 at 5:30 PM, companionenvy said:

I agree that this moment was key (and thanks for introducing me to the concept of the "Save the Cat moment,") but I'd say that we had signs that Hook was capable of good from the first, given the noble way he accepts his near-certain death in "The Crocodile". It isn't the same as what he does for Aurora, since he obviously loved Milah, but the fact that he wasn't willing to risk Milah by telling Rumple the truth about her, even though it was the only thing that might have even had a slim chance of saving his life, is telling, as it means he is capable of wholly selfless love.

That falls into a different category of techniques to make audiences like a character. In addition to a "save the cat" moment (which is more of a random, casual act of goodness), there are things like showing that a character has a sense of humor, is very brave, is capable of love, or is loved by another. In Hook's clash with Rumple, he's brave in being willing to fight even against impossible odds, he's willing to sacrifice himself for someone he loves, and we see that he is loved, since Milah exposes herself and her lie in order to save him.

This episode is probably Hook at his worst against the regular main characters -- it's when he's actually in opposition to Emma and doing something to hurt her -- so I guess they needed that one moment to show that maybe there was hope for him.

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On 9/16/2018 at 5:30 PM, companionenvy said:

And no, I don't think Regina had such a moment in S1, which is the precise reason her redemption came from out of nowhere. I don't think her love of Henry counts, as, until he is literally dying, she really doesn't do anything that suggests she feels deep love for him. She is hurt that he is rejecting her, and she doesn't want Emma to have him, but until the last episodes, it wasn't clear to me that she would pass the King Solomon test, as she seems to care a lot more about using Henry to hurt Emma than she cares about Henry as anything more than an extension of herself and her power. 

Regina's love for Henry is akin to Rumple's love for Belle. She appreciates him as a possession, not a person. You take care of your Mercedes and would be upset if a meteor fell out of the sky and demolished it. But you wouldn't put it above yourself or sacrifice yourself to insure its well-being. It's a selfish love out of convenience and emotional attachment. 

Edited by KingOfHearts
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22 minutes ago, KingOfHearts said:

Regina's love for Henry is akin to Rumple's love for Belle. She appreciates him as a possession, not a person. You take care of your Mercedes and would be upset if a meteor fell out of the sky and demolished it. But you wouldn't put it above yourself or sacrifice yourself to insure its well-being. It's a selfish love out of convenience and emotional attachment. 

I think it is even worse than that, again until the finale. Rumbelle is a dumpster fire, but there are consistent moments of real tenderness between them almost from the first. Selfish as Rumple is, he shows warmth and affection for her - as long as it doesn't require him to give up his power, he at least seems genuinely fond of Belle. Whereas there's really nothing, for almost all of season 1, that would suggest that Regina even really likes Henry. She's frequently leaving him by himself, never engages him, and is consistently stern and withholding on even minor things, like not letting him have sweets or telling him to spend the whole day doing work in his room. It is like she knows that a child is supposed to fill the void in your life, but lacks the emotional piece that would have given her real motherly feeling. 

1 hour ago, Shanna Marie said:

That falls into a different category of techniques to make audiences like a character. In addition to a "save the cat" moment (which is more of a random, casual act of goodness), there are things like showing that a character has a sense of humor, is very brave, is capable of love, or is loved by another. In Hook's clash with Rumple, he's brave in being willing to fight even against impossible odds, he's willing to sacrifice himself for someone he loves, and we see that he is loved, since Milah exposes herself and her lie in order to save him.

This episode is probably Hook at his worst against the regular main characters -- it's when he's actually in opposition to Emma and doing something to hurt her -- so I guess they needed that one moment to show that maybe there was hope for him.

This, too, reinforces in several ways how the show goes so wrong with Regina. For 21 episodes, the writers put essentially all of these humanizing techniques - showing bravery, capacity to love and inspire love -- into the single episode "The Stable Boy," and think that, combined with her sad backstory, is supposed to do all the work of making us root for her. Whereas, even if the sad backstory hadn't been so stupid as a pretext for revenge, it was too little, too late. We've seen a lot of this woman in the present day, and in later points in the past, and she doesn't ever again demonstrate any of these qualities. As opposed to Hook, where we're getting frequent and diverse reminders that he has other qualities even as the show really does allow him to be a villain.

I also think, in story if not moral terms, it does make a difference that neither Hook nor Rumple are consistently in conflict with our heroes. Logically, we may know that Rumple is actually at least as culpable in the casting of the Dark Curse as Regina, but he's not actively trying to ruin their lives in every scene, and is sometimes even helpful. Hook, to an even greater extent, is usually concerned with his own agenda; this may incidentally put him in opposition to Team Princess (and, of course, there's an element of revenge for the beanstalk in this episode), but all things being equal, he's not  particularly interested in harming them and would have even preferred to team up with them than with Cora. If upwards of 90% of a character's scenes for a full season are going to place her in deadly opposition to the good guys, then a show has to be really, really careful about seeding in these more ambiguous moments, because it is just a basic reality of narrative that we're going to be more invested in crimes against our heroes than crimes against random redshirts. And, of course, if the majority of your crimes are perpetrated against the good guys, it is proportionally harder to imagine them ever accepting or forgiving you.

I think the show just took it for granted that we would accept that  Regina loved Henry, even though they never bothered to show it (and, bizarrely, actually had a line in the pilot that strongly implied that she didn't), and thought that that plus Daniel was enough. But for that to work, Henry's relationship with Regina had to be something closer to Rumple's with Bae, and it just wasn't. 

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I think a problem you run into with Regina/Henry is that most people understand sacrificing for their child's happiness. Let's take a simple example. Someone with little money might forgo eating lunch for a while to help them save up for that special present their child wants. It's not required for the child to live, but it's something that will bring them happiness which in turn makes it worth the sacrifice. It's something a parent just does and would expect to see this quality in other parents who love their children.

In this episode, you see Regina actively working to kill Snow & Emma (or at the very least ensure that they can't return to Storybrooke). She does this largely because it means that she gets Henry all to herself. She pretty easily defeated Cora in "The Stable Boy" so I don't buy this sudden fear of Cora. I don't buy Rumpel's worry about Cora either. This is the problem with such powerful magic users. But I digress. Not only are Regina's actions incredibly selfish, but it would also lead to Henry being completely devastated. This would deeply hurt the little boy that she purports to love so much. This isn't a wound that will heal quickly or ever. A mother who truly loves her child would not harm him in this way for her own selfish gain. This is a reversion to her actions in early S1, which Emma rightly called out as monstrous. I'm confused as to why the writers thought this was a good direction to take Regina. Giving in to Henry's begging doesn't fix her original intent. She got caught and had to reverse things. The writing tries to portray this as a heroic moment for Regina, but for me, it's pretty meaningless.

Edited by KAOS Agent
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1 hour ago, KAOS Agent said:

 I'm confused as to why the writers thought this was a good direction to take Regina. Giving in to Henry's begging doesn't fix her original intent. She got caught and had to reverse things. The writing tries to portray this as a heroic moment for Regina, but for me, it's pretty meaningless.

Spoiler

That could almost be the number one question for the entire show. Why make Regina so horrible throughout season one when they wanted us to feel sorry for her and see she's a victim? They could have given us moments of vulnerability, regret or anything else. Why make Regina clearly see that her mother was responsible for Daniel's death but blame Snow a ten year old completely? Show us massacres just as they want us to feel sorry for Regina? Show Regina clearly raping Robin only to "claim" later they only played chess. Show Regina who got everything she wanted in Welcome to Storybrooke only to be sad and try to kidnap Owen in the same episode and murdered his father? All their moves regarding Regina makes no sense for someone they want us to sympathize with?  

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11 hours ago, KAOS Agent said:

Not only are Regina's actions incredibly selfish, but it would also lead to Henry being completely devastated. This would deeply hurt the little boy that she purports to love so much. This isn't a wound that will heal quickly or ever. A mother who truly loves her child would not harm him in this way for her own selfish gain. This is a reversion to her actions in early S1, which Emma rightly called out as monstrous. I'm confused as to why the writers thought this was a good direction to take Regina. Giving in to Henry's begging doesn't fix her original intent. She got caught and had to reverse things. The writing tries to portray this as a heroic moment for Regina, but for me, it's pretty meaningless.

She does multiple awful things here that all get written off because she gave in to Henry's begging at the last second. She outright lies to Henry about everything being okay even though she knows she's already decided that she's going to work with Rumple to stop anyone from coming through, which will kill Emma and Snow, or at least keep them stranded in the Enchanted Forest. She knows that this outcome will devastate him, but she chooses to do it because, in part, it will allow her to have him to herself. And she steals all the power from the diamonds, which will ruin any efforts from their side of things to reach Emma and Snow. She would have gone through with all of it without the slightest qualm if Henry hadn't caught her, and it's only the realization that he'll see her as a monster again if she goes through with it, so she probably won't have him to herself, no matter what, that stops her. It's not heroism but clashing self-interests, choosing the option that will make Henry not hate her even if she has to share him over the option that will make him hate her, even if she has no competition for him.

As for

11 hours ago, KAOS Agent said:

I don't buy Rumpel's worry about Cora either.

At this point, we've seen nothing to even slightly suggest that he has any reason to fear her. Even when we see their backstory ...

Spoiler

She outwits him, slightly, by altering the terms of the deal to be their first-born rather than her first-born -- and, really, that shouldn't even have been necessary because her first-born was Zelena, and she'd have figured Rumple would be welcome to her, if he could find her, and that means that her and Henry Sr.'s child would have been perfectly okay even if she hadn't got him to change the deal. But I don't recall any indication that she was so powerful that she could have easily defeated him or that he would have seen her as a real threat. I don't recall any other past interaction between them. Was there more?

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14 hours ago, companionenvy said:

I think it is even worse than that, again until the finale. Rumbelle is a dumpster fire, but there are consistent moments of real tenderness between them almost from the first. Selfish as Rumple is, he shows warmth and affection for her - as long as it doesn't require him to give up his power, he at least seems genuinely fond of Belle. Whereas there's really nothing, for almost all of season 1, that would suggest that Regina even really likes Henry. She's frequently leaving him by himself, never engages him, and is consistently stern and withholding on even minor things, like not letting him have sweets or telling him to spend the whole day doing work in his room. It is like she knows that a child is supposed to fill the void in your life, but lacks the emotional piece that would have given her real motherly feeling. 

My interpretation probably applies more toward later seasons. In S1, it's almost unclear why Regina even bothers with Henry other than a desperate need for control. Mothering is a complex thing that evolves over a child's lifetime. Regina's treatment of Henry seems to imply she didn't spend that much time with him, like an evil stepmother constantly throwing her step-child to the nanny. It's difficult to talk about because..

Spoiler

her relationship with Henry is totally retconned later. The writers reveal they had bonding moments, that they actually "loved" each other, and that Regina was willing to sacrifice the protection of the curse for him via the memory potion. S1 and S3 onward are so different you can't convince me they're coherent. 

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Early in this season, Henry and Regina had the moment where she is repeating Cora's abusive tactics on Henry. It was acknowledged that she doesn't know how to love. It was also clear that she was flat out abusing Henry at that point. He lists multiple reasons why he doesn't want anything to do with her. None of this can be erased. If she shows remorse and starts working toward a better relationship with Henry, then I could see a way towards a better future relationship for them. It seems like they were working towards this up until this episode where Regina had a choice to prove herself and immediately reverted to her selfish ways.  It's so frustrating because I liked what was going on with Regina in 2A and then they pulled this and acted like it was okay because she changed her mind after she was caught. It doesn't compute. If in a fictional S8 they decided to spend the entirety of their flashbacks on Henry and Regina's relationship from age 3-7 and she's shown as a better mother than June Cleaver, it wouldn't matter because all of this other stuff occurred. Who in their right mind would just handwave child abuse that starts at age 9 because she was totally awesome for the child's first few years? They could retcon the hell out of everything, but the entire plot of the show is still based on Henry being so depressed and unhappy that he believes his adopted mother is the Evil Queen and needs to find the Saviour to rescue them all.

Edited by KAOS Agent
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11 hours ago, KAOS Agent said:

but the entire plot of the show is still based on Henry being so depressed and unhappy that he believes his adopted mother is the Evil Queen and needs to find the Saviour to rescue them all.

To be fair, his adopted mother is the Evil Queen, so in theory he could have loved her, figured out the truth in the face of the overwhelming evidence that SB was completely abnormal, and still gone to find Emma. But if she had been an otherwise good mother to him until that point, we should have, in the first place, seen signs of warmth or affection on her end, and in the second, seen a lot more conflict from Henry. Even abused kids usually love their parents; there's really no sign that Henry sees Regina as anything but an enemy.

I will say that from the perspective of Regina's arc, I don't mind her willingness to kill Emma and Snow here, and don't see it as incompatible with her growth. Given how much it is stretching credibility to redeem S1 Regina at all, if you were going to redeem her, it couldn't be automatic or easy. Frankly, compared to where she was last year, this episode does show growth from Regina - and would have even if Henry hadn't intervened and she had gone through with it. This is a woman who, very recently, tried to poison Emma, and, among other attempts on both women's lives, once sent her soldiers to kill Emma as an newborn. In relative terms, the fact that she is conflicted about killing them now, needs to be talked into it by Rumple, and only does it because she is convinced that there's a "greater good" justification is a huge ethical step forward. I think it is open to interpretation to what extent her desire to have Henry to herself factored into her decision; certainly, I believe it played a significant role. But even if she's almost totally lying to herself in claiming that Cora has much to do with it, the fact that she needs the lie makes a crucial difference. 

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I think you could buy Regina's reversion and her difficulties here provided she continues on the better path going forward. Anyone with her history is going to slip up a few times - especially someone who seems to have problems understanding and empathizing with the negative consequences her actions have on people who are not her. I hate all the spoiler tags in the episode threads so I don't want to discuss any particulars, but I'd say that her arc later in 2B with regards to Cora should inform her actions here. Since the writers knew where they were going with the story, I tend to look at things through that lens and project a more informed POV on the characters. Where an event from S5 would not inform my opinion of what the show is trying to portray here,  something that occurs in the next few episodes is definitely in my mind when analyzing actions here since it should be setting up Regina's reactions to future events.  

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On 9/19/2018 at 12:10 AM, KAOS Agent said:

Early in this season, Henry and Regina had the moment where she is repeating Cora's abusive tactics on Henry. It was acknowledged that she doesn't know how to love. It was also clear that she was flat out abusing Henry at that point. He lists multiple reasons why he doesn't want anything to do with her. None of this can be erased. If she shows remorse and starts working toward a better relationship with Henry, then I could see a way towards a better future relationship for them. It seems like they were working towards this up until this episode where Regina had a choice to prove herself and immediately reverted to her selfish ways. 

Taking this over to All Seasons because we're getting beyond the scope of this episode and I want to bring up stuff without spoiler bars.

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