I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks which was probably a bit of a mistake. In my last post about Once Upon a Time I was on episode 2.15, I’m now on episode 4.10, so I have nearly two seasons worth of comments swirling around in my brain, I don’t even know where to start. I can’t decide if it would be better to go by character, or chronologically – so much happened!
Best bet is chronologically in the hope I don’t forget anything. Not that if I do, that matters to anyone but me but then that’s kinda the whole point. The title of this post comes from a line of Regina’s in the season three finale. It’s oddly apt given that I clearly didn’t think of the consequences of not blogging about this show for so long. I was going to write everything today, in the one post. Given I’m at over 4500 words and I haven’t started season three yet, I figured I better split the posts.
Nearly two seasons of perspective have completely changed my view of Regina, I was starting to see her differently when I wrote the last post. Now? She’s my second favorite character. In my own words I’m on ‘Team Bad Guy’ which is funny as I don’t really see Regina or Rumple as out and out bad guys. They are complex characters but I’ll get back to this later on.
I was speaking with my friend the other day and we had an interesting discussion about character motives, and the writers opinion of characters vs the readers/watchers. This will probably be a topic of it’s own one day, but I’m going to mention it here too.
Get comfortable, this might take a while.
The Queen of Hearts
Let’s start with – The Miller’s Daughter, episode 2.16. Given some later revelations I’m not too sure about this chronological business, so it might get all a bit mixed up. Anyway the big news here is they killed Cora! I spent a good chunk of my last post saying how they should, how the world would be better off and they actually did it – color me impressed.
The how they did it, that’s the questionable part. Cora killed Snow’s mother, so even though killing Cora saved Rumple’s life, it was still fitting that Snow got a bit of justice. I know justice and vengeance aren’t the same but after everything Cora had done, it was fitting that someone she had so badly wronged was the one to put her down.
Someone she had so badly wronged – that’s it exactly. In truth even though Cora claimed that everything she did was for Regina, in reality Cora hurt Regina far more than she hurt anyone else. That she did it professing it was love, that she twisted everything, that she was her mother, just made it worse. Regina had banished her, had tried to kill her – twice – that we know of, their history was complicated and it was never going to end well.
After Cora was dead all they really mentioned was that Snow had killed Cora, that she felt terrible over this murder. Later Snow went to Regina and told her “to kill her”, therefore ending the cycle, the blood feud that had caused so much damage. Regina pulled out Snow’s heart and it had a black spot, she’d gone dark side for a moment and this was reflected in her blackened heart.
However, in my opinion she hadn’t gone dark side because she’d killed, she’d gone dark side because she tricked Regina into killing her own mother. That was twisted. I know it could be argued that Regina is the only one Cora would let close enough to put her heart back in her chest. Plus Regina had caught Snow in the vault, lying to her like that was the only way she was getting out of there, and able to complete the mission. Even so, it was a horrible thing to do. Cora had to die, that it saved Rumple into the bargain is like two birds with one stone, it’s a very efficient elegant solution. I just wish they had found another way, rather than screwing over Regina – again.
The whole Rumple/Cora thing was squicky, I know this is years before Belle but I don’t really care. It was just wrong, wrong, wrong. Cora claimed that she loved him, that she had to rip her own heart out to continue with her plan. Honestly though I don’t think Cora did love him, not for who he is, she loved his power, the magic and not the man.
I want to say more about Cora’s intertwining backstory with Snow’s family but I’m going to leave it till later, as there were more revelations to come.
Where’s the logic?
Moving on – Regina. The next episode showed the beginning of the curse, the groundhog day nature of how the town worked. At first Regina enjoys her revenge but very quickly she gets bored I suppose. How can she truly have her vengeance as the people she’s hurting, they don’t even know what she’s done or why? Here’s where the twist comes in, a normal father and son are within the curse boundaries, so they stumble on the town. They are the only ones not bound to it, which is something Regina finds after her initial concern that she likes, but at the same time it’s a problem as they refuse to do what she says. The little boy – Owen, is the spark that gave her the idea to adopt Henry.
Here’s the problem with that. Owen and his father were there at the start of the curse, Regina doesn’t adopt Henry for another eighteen years. Why did she wait? Why did she go through another eighteen years of the same, before doing anything about it? The simple reason is that the writers needed it to be that way, that the child she adopted was Henry, son of Emma and therefore the person who gets the savior to come to the town on her twenty-eighth birthday as Rumple prophesied.
I said above that readers/watchers have to look for character motivations, as the writers don’t always spell it out. They make things happen and then, if they are good writers, they let the reader/watcher draw their own conclusions about why and whether it’s good/bad of the character. However, sometimes things happen for the sake of the plot and the why is a bit elusive, as nothing seems to make sense.
This is the time when I really wish I still wrote fanfic. I would totally write a one shot, where Belle didn’t lose her memories and therefore talked with Rumple about breaking his curse after finding Bae, more on this in the aside at the end. I would also think about possibly doing an AU – what if? Which would be longer than a one shot, exploring what happened if Regina had adopted a kid before Henry, just a normal regular kid and how that had turned out. This older brother/sister has such crossover potential too, imagine all the characters from other stuff who could be that adopted child.
Darker, much darker
Right moving again, back full circle to Belle and Rumpelstiltskin. The episode ‘Lacey’ started off on a high note, Rumple wasn’t dead, Belle was pleased, they were getting along and everything was good. Belle was going to check out from the hospital, I could see that maybe just like with Snow and Charming, true loves kiss would work on Belle for her memories as she was maybe able to fall for Rumple again. Then Regina ruined it and I hated her for this because it was mean and unnecessary.
Except it kinda wasn’t. Regina wanted revenge for her mother’s death, vengeance was all Regina had for so long, it’s sort of the hardwired default mode when she didn’t know what else to do. Once again she blamed Snow for what happened and she was the main target. She went to her apartment and was stopped from that particular attempt by Rumple. I have to say Gold’s sudden appearance, just stepping out of the corner as like a bodyguard thing was seriously cool.
In the end obviously Regina changed her mind, she wanted to have everything – all villains want everything. She didn’t want to choose between vengeance and Henry so decided to have both with a curse but in the end Henry persuaded her not to do it. However, while she gave up actively pursuing Snow, Rumple deserved part of the blame and as Hook had pointed out “I hurt his heart, Belle is just where he keeps it.” so by giving Belle false curse memories of Lacey, she postponed Rumple’s happy-for-now and gave him new heartache.
In Lacey we saw in flashbacks to the early days of Belle after she made the deal with Rumpelstiltskin to go with him forever. We saw what made her see, for the first time, that he was more than just a beast. She hit home with her words, unintentional though it was at the time, that ‘he was not the kind of man to leave a child fatherless’ and that broke through the mask he showed the world. In the flashback to FTL, we saw Belle bring out the light in Rumple. However, back in Storybrooke, the cursed Belle brought out the darkness.
There was some comedy in Lacey, Charming being Rumple’s wingman springs to mind. However, it was heartbreaking seeing Rumple try his best, be so hesitant and careful, the way he would with Belle, trying to be the better man for her, and for Lacey to throw it all back in his face. The episode ended with Gold beating the hell out of a man Lacey had kissed earlier in the episode. Lacey liked it, that he was darker, much darker than she had thought. In that moment I guess Rumple saw his only option, if Lacey wasn’t interested in the man Belle had wanted him to be, then he needed to be the man she wanted in order to ever hope that true loves kiss would work. Not to mention keeping her near him, and away from others, he is pretty protective.
The problem with this, and which I wish they had explored more in the show, is that Belle will presumably remember everything that happened while she wasn’t herself. She will hate what Gold did, even though I hope that she will understand why he did it. The additional problem with Rumple embracing the darkness to try and woo Lacey, is what it did to his tentative relationship with his son.
Bae, or Neal as I suppose I should call him, has got little sympathy from me in the past. However, the episode that I started off talking about – The Miller’s Daughter – saw Bae bring Rumple back to Storybrooke, by sailing Hook’s ship. The moment that I softened to this real version of Bae, as opposed to wishing he was more like I had imagined, was in the back of Gold’s shop. Rumple lays dying and he holds out his hand, he wants to hold Bae’s hand. Bae is initially non-receptive, until he takes it and holds it tightly, mumbling that he’s still mad.
It wasn’t the forgiveness that Rumple had wanted so badly but as I said in my last post, I don’t know if Rumple would have trusted forgiveness if he had been offered it. Bae hears Rumple talk to Belle, which was the sweetest phonecall ever, and is surprised his father is in love and I think it makes Bae look at Rumple differently, as maybe someone who can change. Well a couple of episodes later Bae observing Rumple tormenting Whale, that was the end of that. He didn’t consider why, he just saw his father being dark – again – and he was disgusted.
At the time I wondered where Rumple’s head was at, I think it was just sheer desperation. Everything he’d done in his life had been for Bae, but now he’d found him, he had him back and he wasn’t going anywhere far due to his ties to Henry. I think Rumple hoped that he would do whatever he had to, in order to get Belle back, and then he would mend fences afterwards. Belle would hopefully understand, he was doing it for her after all. Bae might not understand but when Belle was back then he would stop, he could then be the man that they both wanted him to be, unless something threatened either of them I guess. Plus I’m not saying it would be easy, but I think that’s maybe he would have been thinking – that he had time.
However, he didn’t have time. Greg, the grown-up alias of Owen, more than a little crazy over the loss of his father and presumably the fact that no-one believed him over what happened, was in town. Tamara, Bae’s fiance wasn’t what she pretended, had in fact just been using him in order to get to Storybrooke. They were both unwitting pawns of Peter Pan, the nemesis in the first part of season three.
Greg kidnapped Regina, tortured her and Regina she definitely doesn’t go easily. Snow felt what she felt for a moment and couldn’t hack it, Regina took the pain over and over and didn’t give in. I wonder if she believed she was going to die. There was a flashback to FTL, I can’t remember what episode so it might have been later than this, where Regina was captured by Snow and Charming and put to death. She is given the opportunity for any last words and she says “I regret my actions, I regret not causing more pain, more suffering, more death.” etc.
The words were horrifying but they were strong, if she was going out then it was on her terms with as much dignity and pride as possible. It was the same with the torture, she waits just for the right moment to tell Greg/Owen that his father is dead, something which really anyone not completely crazy would have already known. He was a liability, a child would be written off as fantasies, but maybe a man would be listened to and Regina was angry at losing the fleeting connection she had, there was never any doubt, Owen’s father died and possibly died horribly.
Which brings me to the end of season two – finally. 2300 words so far on seven episodes, and I’m not yet done. I’m starting to think I’ll need to split this post as the epic length could just get stupid. Anyway, the destruction of the town. Initially prompted by Regina as she was tempted by the easy option. Really the whole of season two was about her changing, I won’t say redemption arc, but like Rumple she made some bad choices and season two showed her starting to make the right ones.
Regina turned to magic, putting up a barrier spell to keep Henry inside the house. Just like her mother had once done to her but unlike Cora, when Henry unknowingly repeated the words Regina had one uttered ‘I don’t want to be you’, she backed down, she let him go hoping he would choose to come back, rather than force him to stay. She was then going to have her vengeance on Snow, by killing her and casting a curse to make Henry love her at the same time. Only the curse wouldn’t make him love her, as magic can’t force love, and so it wouldn’t have been real. Regina let it go, destroyed the curse scroll, if she couldn’t have everything she chose Henry over vengeance.
Then, finally Regina discovers the crop of magic beans, she learns that the Charming’s are planning on returning to the enchanted forest and that they want to leave her behind. Therefore she decides to turn their plan back on them, destroy the town and everyone in it, before leaving for the enchanted forest with Henry. However, before she could begin Greg and Tamara do what she intended, they take the magic beans and they set the self destruct.
Why? Why? Why did they believe Bae dead? Yes he was shot, yes he fell through a portal but the clue is in the name, portals take you to other places, they don’t kill you. I suppose they thought with his injury, without medical care he would likely die wherever he ended up but they didn’t know that for sure. Yet, they don’t explain anything, they just tell Rumple he’s dead and then they ask him for help. You have just shattered the man’s world, he has nothing to hold onto as his true love is still cursed, and you want him to function?
I was annoyed initially that Rumple didn’t help, especially with how they saved the town in the end. I mean if Emma and Regina’s combined magic could do it, then surely Rumple could have fixed it relatively easily. However, why would he want to? He doesn’t care about the town, about anyone in it, aside from Belle and perhaps Henry for Bae’s sake. Although given that he believes Henry to be his undoing, perhaps deciding that they should all go up together just solved his conundrum of what to do. Bae’s son, his grandson, I don’t believe Rumple could ever have actually hurt him however tempted he might have been. It’s like having his darkest fears played out, that fateful split second decision, power over Bae, and doubting himself that he’ll make the right call should that decision be offered him again.
I was also very annoyed that we saw barely anything of Rumple and Belle after he restored her memories. As I said earlier in this post, I’m sure they would need a very long talk to cover everything that happened. It’s like they don’t get a minutes breath between issues. I suppose perhaps they didn’t have time for the necessary conversation because Henry was kidnapped and Rumple had to save him – for Bae.
That really bugged me, and yes I know I shouldn’t apply logic, but what kind of rescue mission was that? Snow later admits it was a ‘last minute trip’ but seriously? They don’t stop for a minute to appoint a temporary leader of the masses, I mean the sheep really need a caretaker. However, all the leaders are on that ship. I guess by giving Belle the protection spell, she’s kinda the temporary leader but it should have been more official. Hook knows about Neverland and what they’ll face, shouldn’t they have quizzed him for intelligence before they were in the dragons den? I know no plan survives first contact, but having some plan other than ‘find Henry’ would have been useful. At least a discussion about potential tactics, maybe in conjunction with Hook’s intel, would have been an idea. They were not prepared at all.
They also didn’t take weapons, supplies or far more importantly discuss a way back. It’s hardly a rescue if the big plan is to get trapped there too, although I suppose at least they would be together. I can understand Hook not caring, he spend decades in Neverland, it’s nothing new. I can understand Snow, Charming and maybe even Emma not thinking about it because they are reckless heroes. I can understand Rumple not thinking about it because as far as he’s concerned he’s not going to survive the mission. He hasn’t quite made the logic leap between he might not need to get back, but everyone else will. Given his usual self-protecting behavior I let it slide.
However, Regina should have known better. I get she’s all emotional, she did just make the choice to be the hero to buy everyone enough time to escape by sacrificing herself. That had to be a shock, plus it’s Henry who is at risk, her son and I guess that makes reckless heroes out of normally sensible people. Still, I expected better.
I said in my last post, or possibly the first one, that I didn’t understand Regina. I said that I couldn’t see her conflict, I couldn’t understand it as I did for Rumple, that she seemed to be back and forth between understandable and evil and I didn’t think she actually cared. I honestly thought that she viewed Henry as a possession almost, that she only cared for what he could do for her but I’ve changed my mind. I think perhaps it initially came across that way because she didn’t know how to show that she cared. Given her mother, plus well everything else that screwed her over, it’s more than understandable. I really like Regina now, she’s better in terms of not being evil, but she is still very much herself. I love that they didn’t change her personality, her lines are the best.
One last word
Hook, a character I said in my last post should be killed. He had caused nothing but pain, continually trying to wreck vengeance on Rumpelstiltskin. I remember at this point I knew my friend shipped CaptainSwan, and I just couldn’t see it. If I was going to see Emma with anyone then it would be with Bae, for all that he did abandon her because Pinocchio told him to and because he was scared.
He’d spent his life running from magic, so perhaps thinking of telling Emma the truth, of trying to support her in her destiny was too much for him to handle. I don’t agree with what he did but I understand he felt it was the right thing to do. I believe that was a mistake but people make decisions and I don’t think his was done with malice, he had the best of intentions and while that doesn’t make it ok, it means he gets a shot at trying to fix it.
Anyway, I didn’t see how Hook and Emma could possibly ever be a good match. I can’t really remember 100%, it’s hard now that I am so much further on to remember what I thought of the characters now, I’ve learned so much more about them. However, at this point Hook did show a softer side. He might have started off using Bae to get information on Rumple, learning how he could kill him but I think Hook did genuinely grow to care for Bae. Maybe that was because of Milah, although clearly neither of them cared that much as they didn’t want a child, he could only join them when he was older and presumably needed less care. I don’t think Hook was interested in being a dad, I think he liked his life and was unwilling to change it.
Despite the danger to himself, his ship and his crew he protected Bae for as long as he could. When Bae learned the truth about his mother he wanted off the ship, unable to change his mind Hook made the most beneficial choice for him. Pan would have got Bae anyway, so Hook’s actions changed nothing. This is actually why I like villains more than heroes sometimes, they are more pragmatic.
Knowing what I know now, I can say that the season two finale was a bit of a turning point for Hook. If Regina had her chance to change, to learn to make better choices, in season two, then Hook’s chance came in season three. Much like Regina was motivated by a child (Henry), Hook was motivated by the memory of a child. Rumple joined the rescue because Henry was Bae’s son, he did it to honor Bae, well unfortunately though Rumple wouldn’t like it, that gave him something in common with his old nemesis.
I’m glad Hook didn’t die. Although how much that is because he stopped trying to attack Rumple, and therefore everyone around him due to collateral damage, and how much that is because of who Hook was at this moment (forgetting I have seen season 3+) I don’t know. Later on I liked Hook for himself, like Regina he really does have some excellent lines but more about that in the next post.
The dark one and true loves kiss
As a random aside I’ve been trying to work out why ‘true loves kiss’ hasn’t broken Rumple’s curse since he and Belle have been reunited. There is magic now in Storybrooke and Rumple’s dagger works there, as does true loves kiss, so why hasn’t the curse been broken? I think it’s for the same reason that true loves kiss can’t restore memories, as seen with Charming and Snow, and later Belle and Rumple, as the true love needs to be felt from both sides which obviously it can’t if one of the couple doesn’t remember who they are.
There is an element of choice involved, the kiss started to break his curse and Rumple stopped it, the power of the kiss doesn’t overrule choice. Nobody chooses my fate but me – not even magic. Therefore the kiss doesn’t break his curse because he still chooses not to let it. Plus that first time Belle kissed him with the intention of breaking his curse, perhaps now she doesn’t as it’s a part of him she has to accept, maybe an argument she might have revisited given the opportunity once Bae had been safely found. Unfortunately there wasn’t really a chance for this because of circumstances.
Anyway, Rumple’s most obvious motive for needing his power would have been gone, with perhaps a new motive that maybe things would be better without it, especially given Bae’s opinion on the matter. Would he have been receptive? Given his natural fear of being powerless and helpless, and the drive to protect those he cares for even if it drives them away, I don’t know if he would have even considered it for more than a moment. It’s a shame the show didn’t get into this, it would have been a good subplot.
As I said at the start I’d intended to write up all my comments and thoughts but this post is already too long, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. Consider this post a conclusion to season two. I’ve got season three and half of season four to go, we’ll see how many relatively reasonably sized posts that will take. Anyone want to make a bet? Nope, it’s a fools bet, the answer is undoubtedly – lots.
I’m no longer in the honeymoon period with this show. I should probably save these comments for the season they are meant for but the show isn’t perfect. The cast is too big for one, so I don’t think individual characters get the screen time that they deserve. This is shown increasingly in season four. However, I suppose if that’s my only major complaint, then the show isn’t doing too badly.
In fact my primary thought about the show right now is that I want to watch the rest of season four. I then want to go back and start season one from the beginning. I haven’t felt that drive to rewatch a show before I have even finished it, since I saw Stargate SG-1 for the first time. Once Upon a Time isn’t Stargate but in terms of how much I like it, well it’s close, definitely closer than anything else I watch. Something I would never have thought when I impulsively decided to try it out.
You know if I can’t be ‘Team Bad Guy’ as that doesn’t really apply, then maybe I’ll be ‘Team R’ for Rumple and Regina. Who says villains can’t have a happy ending?