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S01.E18: The Stable Boy

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12 hours ago, Shanna Marie said:

As it is, she never seems to think "poor Daniel." All she ever thinks about is "poor me."

Exactly, that's exactly how she thinks. And its how she always thinks which makes it hard to believe she was truly in love or was truly about avenging Daniel. Regina always thinks about poor Regina. How things effect her. That's never changed.  Her reaction to all her problems is murder.

Spoiler

Like her first reaction to Marion was to murder her again. Not of course remembering Robin telling her how he felt losing his wife.  And blame Emma for bringing her back.  Her reaction to Graham dumping her? Murder. And blame Emma. The whole grieving crap she was doing in the very next episode like she had any right to grieve. Snow murdering Cora despite it being to save everyone and once again her own part in it. Blaming Snow and she's the worse. Telling Emma her first reaction to seeing Hook back alive was to want to murder him. Yeah, she totally would have turned out right if Daniel hadn't been murdered. 

Edited by andromeda331
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LOL the only thing this episode achieves is showing that the queen is even more petty and childish than she was shown previously. how could anyone even think for one second that this episode justifies her being a murderer, rapist, liar and manipulator??????

and besides all that, why did they make her stupid as hell for her not to immediately know that her mother manipulated snow into telling the secret? and i know that children who grow up with one or both abusive parents have a stunted immature personality but eventually people gotta grow up and see their mistakes. there was no way she "developed" the evil in her that quickly; that shit had to be in her from the beginning lmao. looking at her original character her marriage with her fiance, it would have been in tatters anyway. judging from this episode she was never capable of true love; she only hung out with people who made her feel good. 

and can this show stop treating the characters as well as the audience like idiots. at this point, anything that even goes slightly out of the wrong in a normal day is regina's fault. the toilet overflowed? her fault. i dropped my dinner plate? her fault. i forgot what i was going to write down in my grocery list? all her doing. so can we please stop trying to make twists for the audience that what she is doing has an dun dun ulterior motive!11!! and the characters having absolutely no clue what is going wrong, until like 17 episodes pass and it's the mayor's doing!!111 literally her every breath is used up only to ponder on how to ruin someone's life. no-one should talk to her, no-one should believe a word she says. you'd think they would have learned by now.

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I'm going to make myself unpopular by saying that I actually like the explanation given in this episode fir Regina's evilness. As I see it, she hates her mother, hates living with her, but thinks of her as essentially invincible and besides has a kind of loyalty and maybe even love for the old monster. So she pins all her hopes for resisting and escaping her life on this romantic fantasy of running off with the stableboy, and I think it's telling that it's a young , tall, blue collar worker who fulfills that fantasy rather than someone if her own class; he's in some ways the opposite of her doting and aristocratic but small, cowed and impotent father.

I agree that it's entirely possible their relationship would have been disastrous. People here speculated she'd have ruined things with her entitlement but we know so little about Danny it's entirely possible that, once the adventurous shine had worn off their romance, he'd have left her in a pigsty with their 4 kids to make his own way in the world. 

Anyway.

The way I see it, she has gotten fixated on this guy as a symbol of escape, of love and freedom and happiness and so on, then her mother kills him brutally just ran the point home that she needs to stop all this nonsense. So all her hopes for a better life are gone. Who can she blame? There are four people involved: first there's Cora, she's the most obvious but she's Gina's mother and, besides, she's Cora, hating her is (from Regina's perspective) as pointless as hating a thunderstorm or a plague. Second there's Daniel, but he represents all her ideals and wishes and he died before she got to see him as a full human being rather than her dreams come true, so he's essentially beatified as far as she's concerned.

Thirdly there's herself, she should have known better... But where does that lead her? It's almost an act of self preservation to go for the final and least responsible target:

Little Snow made a promise, and she broke it; you can't hate a storm for smashing your house, you can't blame saint Daniel for anything and you can't blame Young Regina, she's just a girl in love, she can't be held responsible for her actions... In her very twisted mind, the ten year old child is the only one with any agency because she had the option to: Just. Keep. Her. Mouth. Shut. But she didn't.

It's not justified and it's not rational but it is, to me, interesting, which is far more important in a story, particularly for a villain.

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I don't think many would argue that Regina's irrational response makes sense in a twisted way. It was an interesting way to make Snow pretty blameless and still fully responsible in Regina's mind. I looked at the TWoP archive from this episode, which gave the immediate episode reaction, and most agree with your sentiments. 

The issue is that the responses in this thread are all from at least two years after the episode aired, such that her backstory has been much more fleshed out and all of Regina's actions after this event occurred are being evaluated based on this inciting event.

That said, there are still a lot of evil actions that had been depicted in S1 to evaluate and question how the Young!Regina pictured here turned to full fledged psychopathy. Irrational hatred and need for vengeance on Snow make sense, but we've seen her send little children to their deaths, murder her own father, gleefully enslave, rape and murder Graham, arrange to have her friend Kathryn murdered, and curse an entire kingdom. And yet she feels not a twinge of guilt. She shows little emotion at all except when she's hurting people. Then she's reveling in it. The murder of Daniel does not explain her utter joy at torturing people not related in any way to Snow. If she were simply coldly going about getting the ingredients for her vengeance, I could see it - especially when combined with other events in the story. But she just flat out gets off on hurting others and that isn't something that would come out of Daniel's death.

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I agree with your psychological reasoning, except for the fact - as is often the case with Regina and her supposed redemption -- that the response was just so severe and prolonged. Regina lashing out at Snow in preference to blaming herself? Sure. Regina is actually more culpable for being manipulated by Cora than a ten-year old child, but Regina can't own up to that so she takes out her rage at herself at Snow.

But...that simply can't account for literally decades of gleeful violence directed at many, many more people than Snow, in many, many different situations and contexts. Or, to the extent that it can, it at least can't do so while making Regina a remotely sympathetic character. A relatively well-adjusted young woman, even one with some very real mommy issues, does not become a total psychopathic killer because of a single tragedy, no matter how horrific. 

Frankly, I'm not sure if any backstory would have been enough to credibly make Regina sympathetic to me given the extent of her crimes. They would have had to dial down the pure evil by at least 30 % or so to have a chance; this is a woman who sent children to their deaths on the off-chance that one of them might prove useful to her in her revenge campaign against Snow, and raped a subordinate for years before killing him out of jealousy. This is also the woman who was a severe and emotionally distant mother to Henry even apart from her gaslighting of him, and who was miserable to Emma even when she simply thought she was a random Muggle and not Snow's daughter the Savior. But for there to be a chance, she would have to have had a truly horrific backstory to come close to explaining the sheer breadth and extent of her actions. I mean, there are, sadly, tons of real life people who have experienced atrocities - the murder of their entire families in a genocide, being sold into sex slavery --, and very few of them have wound up becoming remorseless mass murderers. 

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1 hour ago, companionenvy said:

I agree with your psychological reasoning, except for the fact - as is often the case with Regina and her supposed redemption -- that the response was just so severe and prolonged. Regina lashing out at Snow in preference to blaming herself? Sure. Regina is actually more culpable for being manipulated by Cora than a ten-year old child, but Regina can't own up to that so she takes out her rage at herself at Snow.

But...that simply can't account for literally decades of gleeful violence directed at many, many more people than Snow, in many, many different situations and contexts. Or, to the extent that it can, it at least can't do so while making Regina a remotely sympathetic character. A relatively well-adjusted young woman, even one with some very real mommy issues, does not become a total psychopathic killer because of a single tragedy, no matter how horrific. 

Frankly, I'm not sure if any backstory would have been enough to credibly make Regina sympathetic to me given the extent of her crimes. They would have had to dial down the pure evil by at least 30 % or so to have a chance; this is a woman who sent children to their deaths on the off-chance that one of them might prove useful to her in her revenge campaign against Snow, and raped a subordinate for years before killing him out of jealousy. This is also the woman who was a severe and emotionally distant mother to Henry even apart from her gaslighting of him, and who was miserable to Emma even when she simply thought she was a random Muggle and not Snow's daughter the Savior. But for there to be a chance, she would have to have had a truly horrific backstory to come close to explaining the sheer breadth and extent of her actions. I mean, there are, sadly, tons of real life people who have experienced atrocities - the murder of their entire families in a genocide, being sold into sex slavery --, and very few of them have wound up becoming remorseless mass murderers. 

See this is where I differ from most of this forum, and I dont know if this makes me a horrible person or not, but I think her actions are understandable; I've certainly experienced times when something made me angry or bitter and I allowed myself to stew in that anger until I just became angry and bitter at life and people in general and thought that I'd be happy to see other people be unhappy. I don't know if I'd actually have taken pleasure in the pain of others and I certainly didn't go around trying to hurt random people, I DEFINITELY  never fed any children to witch 😉 But I understand the feeling, and, you know, my parents are nice people, my wife is alive and well and

Spoiler

I didn't have an immortal warlock egging me on every step of the way, or make use of objectively useful superpowers that required me to make myself crueler, angrier and more resentful in order to use them.

Regina's problems are my problems, enlarged? Try 'scrawled across the sky in letters of fire stretching from horizon to horizon', but adjusting for scale I think I can understand her thinking and even sympathise with her. And the fact that I can do that makes her an interesting character to me.

Spoiler

And the way the narrative seems to refuse to let her face the consequences of those actions and make her into a hero without any apparent transition phase makes her less interesting as the series goes on makes her less and less interesting. I understand why she'd be so fixated on her vengeance, but I think we were robbed of a storyline where she truly came to terms with how wrong her obsession had been and how she'd wasted her life.

Edited by Speakeasy · Reason: Spelling

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I don't think it makes you a horrible person, or, frankly, different from anyone else on this forum, since what you're describing is very human. Where I part from you is in thinking that this creates a parallel between you and Regina. 

Past a certain point, differences that might on their face be seen as just differences in scale, in my opinion, become differences in kind as well. 

Let's take the example of theft. I think it is reasonable to draw an analogy between fairly petty theft - or even things like illegal streaming -- and theft of more expensive items. Yes, you're going to be punished more harshly for grand theft auto than for shoplifting but conceptually, both involve disregard for the property rights of another. The person who shoplifts might well be willing to steal the Ferrari if he thought he could get away with it.

On the other hand, I don't think we can draw a line between theft and someone who bilks loads of people out of their fortunes by running a Ponzi Scheme. Sure, it is arguably just theft on an even grander scale, but I don't think the logic of "Hey, I like that watch so I'm going to take it. It isn't fair that some people have so much more money than I do anyway" is comparable to the logic of "I'm building up relationships of trust with people over the course of years, while knowing that my actions will eventually bankrupt them." One requires selfishness and maybe some resentment, the other has passed into what I would consider sociopathy.

Yup, when people are hurting, it is natural, if ugly, to sometimes take it out on others, and even to want others to experience some of your own pain. And yes, part of the reason Regina is more destructive than the average person with these feelings is simply that she has the power to be more destructive. But first of all, most of us - except in petty and perhaps subconscious ways like maybe being rude to other people -- stop short of actually taking steps to actively harm others, even to the small extent we are capable. Yes, if a person loses her job, she might actually be kind of glad when a friend loses hers as well. If a new employer calls her as a reference, she might even wind up being less generous than she otherwise might, if not subtly undermining. Maybe she does this subconsciously, and maybe she does it consciously, but finds a way of justifying it to herself: "Well, I have to be honest. Julie really is late to work occasionally, and though she was good enough at her job, I don't know that I'd call her an excellent employee. It isn't like I said anything that wasn't true, or said anything so bad that she might not still get the job. And if not, I can't be blamed for honesty." And that isn't attractive, or kind, but you can do it and still be a generally compassionate and decent human being. 

That's qualitatively different from, say, calling Julie's boss to falsely accuse her of financial malfeasance because you want everyone to be as unhappy as you are. Especially if, you know, she winds up being criminally prosecuted for it. Doing that is well beyond ordinary human fallibility, even allowing for the corrosive effects of power. 

I'd also point out that a) Regina didn't just do this for a while after Daniel's death, she lashed out for years and b) that she did this even when she had a lot of objective advantages and privilege in life. I'm not saying that any of them negate the pain of Daniel's death, or growing up with Cora, but a morally normal person is able to maintain at least a modicum of perspective in assessing her situation in comparative terms. First of all, in the context of the world Regina lives in, while her mother killing her fiancé is still horrible, it isn't any kind of singular tragedy; as depicted, life in the EF is pretty grim for most people. Extreme poverty, violent deaths, unjust imprisonment - these are facts of life in the EF. Secondly, Regina has tons of other things going for her. Maybe her marriage with Leo - freely entered into, I might add -- wasn't a love match, but she was queen, living in a palace. Once she had killed Leo, she was solely in charge of a kingdom. That's a position that gave her a lot of agency in bettering her life in productive ways; instead, she continues acting as if - and presumably feeling as if - she is the most unfortunate and injured person in the history of humankind.

After the curse, her behavior becomes even less understandable. Regina has gotten literally everything she has been working for. It is understandable that that doesn't make her instantly happy and fulfilled. But she has a comfortable life, tons of power and, eventually, a son to love and raise. Even if she wasn't going to give up on the curse, you'd think this would be a moment to acknowledge "I've won; I've gotten my revenge; now I can work for my own happiness rather than sadistically hurting others." But from what we can see, she remains just as committed to causing pain as ever, even when it isn't necessary to maintaining her design. We don't know much of what she's been doing before Emma comes to town, but everything we see suggests that, in this reduced context, she's still finding ways of exerting petty power over everyone, including her own son.

This isn't a relatable extension of normal feelings.

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I too have always believed it plausible that Regina would focus her anger on Snow.  I never needed Snow to have actually done anything intentional to hurt Regina, and I agree that obsessive anger could possibly build over the years especially with 

Spoiler

Rumple's manipulations.  

As of this episode, I thought Regina couldn't blame her mother because deep down, she did love her and didn't want to blame her.

Spoiler

This was one of the reasons that became more difficult to believe as the show went on, especially with the episode where Regina ordered someone to kill Cora, and with multiple episodes suggesting that Regina did despise her mother.

My problem with this episode was making Regina the most innocent, selfless and open person that ever existed prior to the Daniel incident.  

Spoiler

They doubled down on this in another flashback of Regina's childhood when she first met Zelena.  Heck, in that one, she might as well have been Snow as a child.

This internal goodness that was supposedly a core part of her pre-Daniel personality makes it harder to understand how she would eventually not only kill innocent people, but enjoy doing it.

I suppose it might be explained by the corruptible influence of magic, but even other villains didn't go to those extremes.

Edited by Camera One
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8 hours ago, Camera One said:

I suppose it might be explained by the corruptible influence of magic, but even other villains didn't go to those extremes.

Which is where Regina's long term actions become less understandable. Rumpelstiltskin was the Dark One. He was the living embodiment of evil and even he was taken aback by some of Regina's actions. When the Dark One is questioning your life choices, it might be time to reassess. 

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15 hours ago, companionenvy said:

I don't think it makes you a horrible person, or, frankly, different from anyone else on this forum, since what you're describing is very human. Where I part from you is in thinking that this creates a parallel between you and Regina. 

Past a certain point, differences that might on their face be seen as just differences in scale, in my opinion, become differences in kind as well. 

Let's take the example of theft. I think it is reasonable to draw an analogy between fairly petty theft - or even things like illegal streaming -- and theft of more expensive items. Yes, you're going to be punished more harshly for grand theft auto than for shoplifting but conceptually, both involve disregard for the property rights of another. The person who shoplifts might well be willing to steal the Ferrari if he thought he could get away with it.

On the other hand, I don't think we can draw a line between theft and someone who bilks loads of people out of their fortunes by running a Ponzi Scheme. Sure, it is arguably just theft on an even grander scale, but I don't think the logic of "Hey, I like that watch so I'm going to take it. It isn't fair that some people have so much more money than I do anyway" is comparable to the logic of "I'm building up relationships of trust with people over the course of years, while knowing that my actions will eventually bankrupt them." One requires selfishness and maybe some resentment, the other has passed into what I would consider sociopathy.

Yup, when people are hurting, it is natural, if ugly, to sometimes take it out on others, and even to want others to experience some of your own pain. And yes, part of the reason Regina is more destructive than the average person with these feelings is simply that she has the power to be more destructive. But first of all, most of us - except in petty and perhaps subconscious ways like maybe being rude to other people -- stop short of actually taking steps to actively harm others, even to the small extent we are capable. Yes, if a person loses her job, she might actually be kind of glad when a friend loses hers as well. If a new employer calls her as a reference, she might even wind up being less generous than she otherwise might, if not subtly undermining. Maybe she does this subconsciously, and maybe she does it consciously, but finds a way of justifying it to herself: "Well, I have to be honest. Julie really is late to work occasionally, and though she was good enough at her job, I don't know that I'd call her an excellent employee. It isn't like I said anything that wasn't true, or said anything so bad that she might not still get the job. And if not, I can't be blamed for honesty." And that isn't attractive, or kind, but you can do it and still be a generally compassionate and decent human being. 

That's qualitatively different from, say, calling Julie's boss to falsely accuse her of financial malfeasance because you want everyone to be as unhappy as you are. Especially if, you know, she winds up being criminally prosecuted for it. Doing that is well beyond ordinary human fallibility, even allowing for the corrosive effects of power. 

I'd also point out that a) Regina didn't just do this for a while after Daniel's death, she lashed out for years and b) that she did this even when she had a lot of objective advantages and privilege in life. I'm not saying that any of them negate the pain of Daniel's death, or growing up with Cora, but a morally normal person is able to maintain at least a modicum of perspective in assessing her situation in comparative terms. First of all, in the context of the world Regina lives in, while her mother killing her fiancé is still horrible, it isn't any kind of singular tragedy; as depicted, life in the EF is pretty grim for most people. Extreme poverty, violent deaths, unjust imprisonment - these are facts of life in the EF. Secondly, Regina has tons of other things going for her. Maybe her marriage with Leo - freely entered into, I might add -- wasn't a love match, but she was queen, living in a palace. Once she had killed Leo, she was solely in charge of a kingdom. That's a position that gave her a lot of agency in bettering her life in productive ways; instead, she continues acting as if - and presumably feeling as if - she is the most unfortunate and injured person in the history of humankind.

After the curse, her behavior becomes even less understandable. Regina has gotten literally everything she has been working for. It is understandable that that doesn't make her instantly happy and fulfilled. But she has a comfortable life, tons of power and, eventually, a son to love and raise. Even if she wasn't going to give up on the curse, you'd think this would be a moment to acknowledge "I've won; I've gotten my revenge; now I can work for my own happiness rather than sadistically hurting others." But from what we can see, she remains just as committed to causing pain as ever, even when it isn't necessary to maintaining her design. We don't know much of what she's been doing before Emma comes to town, but everything we see suggests that, in this reduced context, she's still finding ways of exerting petty power over everyone, including her own son.

This isn't a relatable extension of normal feelings.

Hmm. I suppose this is where I think her being interesting is more important than her being reasonable or likeable (I did like her though, partly this is because Parilla was charismatic and partly because the way the character was done was fun and inventive particularly seeing the maniacal Evil Queen alongside the calculating Madam Mayor and tracing the similarities). When it comes to the extent of her cruelty I just take what we're shown and try to imagine how it is that she'd be driven to that kind of action, and I've never found 'some people are just bad' to be a satisfying explanation. Some people might have a tendency toward particular behaviours but I don't like the idea of that just making some people inherently and irredeemably evil.

As far as her doubling down on her sadism when she had other ways out, I understand that as another self defence mechanism; if she stops trying to punish Snow White for her crimes she'll have to take a look at herself and realise how hollow her quest for vengeance has really been. That should be liberating, right? Not when she's sunk so much into it, especially once she's in Storybrooke, it would destroy her to actually admit that the curse was pointless, that she killed the only person in all the worlds she loved and who could love her in return, and it was all based on delusions.

I guess I see her as a tragic figure. I definitely don't agree with her creators that she's suffered more than anyone else... at least not due to anything that anyone else has done to her. She suffers a lot but the vast majority of her suffering is self inflicted, based on her own obsessions, her wilful isolation and her, ironically considering the mirror fixation, lack of reflection. 

And there's a long tradition of tragic and fascinating protagonists who do evil things because of their own misplaced feelings of resentment or obsession. People can have some kind of sympathy or empathy with Captain Ahab, Macbeth and Milton's Devil, right? All monsters (though I guess of those only Satan himself meets Gina in terms of evil... Better to reign in Hell, indeed) but all compelling and even sympathetic because you can see how they're trapped by their own dysfunctions.

Ok, I'm not sure if that answered your point very well... Basically I try to connect with her on the basis of thinking about how she is feeling and I'm interested in her because the reasons she feels that way are interesting. 

15 hours ago, Camera One said:

I too have always believed it plausible that Regina would focus her anger on Snow.  I never needed Snow to have actually done anything intentional to hurt Regina, and I agree that obsessive anger could possibly build over the years especially with 

  Hide contents

Rumple's manipulations.  

As of this episode, I thought Regina couldn't blame her mother because deep down, she did love her and didn't want to blame her.

  Hide contents

This was one of the reasons that became more difficult to believe as the show went on, especially with the episode where Regina ordered someone to kill Cora, and with multiple episodes suggesting that Regina did despise her mother.

My problem with this episode was making Regina the most innocent, selfless and open person that ever existed prior to the Daniel incident.  

  Hide contents

They doubled down on this in another flashback of Regina's childhood when she first met Zelena.  Heck, in that one, she might as well have been Snow as a child.

This internal goodness that was supposedly a core part of her pre-Daniel personality makes it harder to understand how she would eventually not only kill innocent people, but enjoy doing it.

I suppose it might be explained by the corruptible influence of magic, but even other villains didn't go to those extremes.

The abrupt change in personality is a weakness, in this episode and in general and, hell, in fiction nin general, this idea that people flip from good to evil on a personal tragedy, it's just not true and it's not interesting. I am still trying to headcanon up some reason she would seem all sweetness and light in this episode without falling into that trope. Maybe she was trying to impress Daniel or to distance herself from her callous mother and cowardly father, of both? One thing you can say for Regina is that, as far as physical danger goes, she is brave, or at least not cowardly (I've always considered bravery to be acting in spite of fear, and if she is, clinically, a psychopath, she'd just have less fear than most people). 

I like seeing her home life in this episode because you can imagine that, if this is her model for relationships she'd really have some work to do to connect with anyone in an honest way. The model her parents are presenting is one where a relationship is based on fear and dominance, you can either instill fear of you can submit to domination. She certainly seems to take that lesson to heart later on.

Edited by Speakeasy · Reason: Correction

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