Column: Dark Matter: Review: Once Upon A Time 2.20: The Evil Queen

 

[spoilers ahead]

Written by: Christine Boylan and Jane Espenson

Recap: Storybrooke: Tamara and Greg offer Hook a deal to help them defeat magic, but Hook has no interest in it…until they tell him that Gold is still alive. Hook ends up taking the deal when they tell him that they have a way to kill magical creatures. Greg tells Hook they want him to access Regina and find Greg’s father.

Fairytale Land of the Past: Regina and her soldiers break into an empty house, Regina looking for Snow White. She orders the villagers to be brought to her and tries to get them to turn on Snow, telling them that she killed her own father to be Queen. She offers them a reward, but there are no takers. No one will betray Snow. Furious, she orders her men to kill them all and demands that they find her Snow.

Storybrooke: David and Snow discuss returning to Fairytale Land without Regina, Snow pointing out that Henry won’t like it. David suggests giving her a choice: Stay in Storybrooke or return to Fairytale Land, to live out the rest of her life in a prison cell. A spying Regina overhears, determined not to let that happen.

Fairytale Land of the Past: Regina goes to see Rump and demands to know why the people won’t love her over Snow. She ignores Rump’s sensible pointing out that slaughtering entire villages won’t get people to love her. She rants for a few minutes then demands that Rump teach her to shapeshift. Rump tells her it will take her a long time to learn, so she demands that he do it for her. He says he will, but she won’t have power or magic while she does. She doesn’t care, as she wants to get close enough to Snow to murder her. In exchange, Rump demands that she cut off trade with King George, James’ father. She agrees and he changes her. He warns her that she will have to be careful, but she’s too enchanted with the idea of being able to kill Snow.

Storybrooke: Regina approaches Henry and tells him about his family’s plan to go back to Fairytale Land without her. He tells her that she must be wrong, but she starts whining to him about how she wants to be good and they made her evil, and they can go back and she can be the hero for a change. She shows him the beans and tells him about a failsafe in Storybrooke, that when they leave, that will destroy Storybrooke, killing everyone who remains. Henry is, of course, horrified and argues against Regina’s assertions that if everyone is gone, he will love her again like he used to. He tells her that he will stop her, but she puts a spell on him and erases his memory. Then she shares a moment with him as if she didn’t just wipe her son’s mind with magic.

Fairytale Land of the Past: Regina, in disguise, arrives in a village and is horrified to see the villagers throwing knives at an effigy of her. They clearly despise her and want Snow as their Queen, much to her shock. She tries to stop them from burning the fake her, but, when the soldiers arrive, they believe that she was the one who was trying to do it and arrest her, despite her protests that she is the Queen.

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Storybrooke: Hook comes to Regina, and tells her about Greg and Tamara’s plans, but offers instead to form a new alliance with Regina. He’s surprised when she tells him Cora is dead. He offers to help her in her revenge. Regina shows him her escape plan and he approves of it. She asks him for help, telling him that Gold will die, as well, if he helps her.

Emma and Tamara literally run into each other at Granny’s. When Tamara spills her purse, Emma is shocked at a sheet of paper that Tamara has, listing the town’s residents and their alternate Fairytale Land residents. Later, she goes to Snow and tells her she believes that Tamara is the “she” that August was trying to warn them about. Snow doesn’t believe her, though, pointing out that Emma’s powers of truth telling are unreliable, especially when she is emotional.

Emma denies her mother’s belief that she still has feelings for Neal. Snow cautions Emma, especially about telling Henry about it, in case the boy gets his hopes up over the possibility of his parents getting back together. But, when Snow leaves, Henry reveals himself, telling his mom that he heard everything. He tells her Operation Cobra is back on, as they investigate Tamara.

Fairytale Land of the Past: Regina is being taken by her own men to be executed, despite her protests that she is the Queen. Just as they are about to kill her, a hooded savior comes and fights off the soldiers. To Regina’s shock, she discovers that her savior is none other than Snow White.

Storybrooke: Hook and Regina discuss their possible new alliance. She sees the leather wrist bracelet that he got from Cora and he reluctantly gives it to her when she demands it back. She takes him down to the caverns underneath the library to find the trigger to destroy Storybrooke. Turns out she plans to use Hook to distract a warped Maleficent (She looks like skeletal remains) while she gets the trigger.

Fairytale Land of the Past: Snow has an injured Regina in her hideout, unknowingly taking care of her former stepmother. As she takes care of Regina’s injuries, she explains why she is helping her – because of when Regina saved her when she was a little girl on her runaway horse. That moment changed her. It taught her that there can be a genuine, selfless connection between strangers. When a touched Regina asks what happened to her savior, Snow says that she is gone, but she hopes to see her again, someday.

Storybrooke: Henry decides to rename his latest mission with Emma from ‘Operation Cobra’ to ‘Operation Praying Mantis.’ Henry and Emma talk while they are on stakeout for Tamara. Henry seems eager to go to Fairytale Land, to Emma’s surprise.

Mother and son break into Tamara’s hotel room, while Henry broadly hints that when his dad and Tamara break up, maybe Emma and Neal can get back together. As Emma is rifling through Tamara’s room, Neal arrives and realizes what is up. Emma tries to explain to Neal that she thinks Tamara is the “she” that August tried to warn them about, but Neal isn’t buying it. He tells her that the list Tamara had was something he helped her with so she could come to grips with the town’s residents. Emma gets him to agree to look under a loose floorboard in Tamara’s room but, when they do, there is nothing there. Emma storms out with Henry.

Fairytale Land of the Past: Regina and Snow leave the hut. Regina fishes for Snow’s feelings about herself. She asks if Snow would want to kill Regina. Snow explains that she would not. She knows there is good inside Regina, if only she would let that person come out again.

Regina asks hopefully if the Queen wanted to be family again, if she wanted to be good again, could Snow be a family with Regina again? Snow answers yes, until they get to the village that Regina slaughtered and she sees the dead bodies piled up. Snow says she takes it back – there is no good in Regina. Regina protests and asks her about when she saved her on the horse, if there was not good in her then, and Snow realizes that the woman with her IS Regina. She grabs her bow and arrow, and calls Regina out. Regina admits who she is. Regina tries to gather her magic, but it doesn’t work. She tries to call on Rump, but it doesn’t work. But Snow isn’t able to actually shoot her arrow into Regina’s heart, so Regina turns tail and runs away.

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Storybrooke: Hook manages to survive Maleficent’s attack, much to Regina’s shock. Hook calls her out on the fact that Regina set him up. He reveals that he was in cahoots with Greg and Tamara the entire time when they show up. When Regina tries to use her magic against them, turns out she can’t.

Henry and Emma are sharing a sundae. Henry tells her that he believes her about Tamara. He tells her that when they discover the truth, they can all go back to the Enchanted Forest, though Emma doesn’t look enamored of that idea.

Meanwhile, David, Snow and Leroy go to the bean fields and discover the destroyed land that Regina left behind.

Fairytale Land of the Past: Regina goes to Rump’s castle and calls him on the fact that he never came when she called. She demands that he take the spell off her, admitting that he was right: The people will never love her. She decides to punish them, instead. She will actually be the Evil Queen they call her. Yeah, and what had she been doing before this? Slaughtering entire villages is her version of being good? Okay.

Storybrooke: Turns out the leather bracelet that Hook gave back to Regina was rigged by Greg and Tamara to stop Regina’s magic. Greg explains to her that she will not be able to take it off. He tells her that he is a man on a mission. When Regina snarls that he’s after his father, he tells her that that’s not it. But he won’t tell her what it is. Tamara throws a hood over Regina’s head while Hook watches silently.

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Review: Ugh. I have to say that I am seriously, seriously over Regina’s whining about how she’s not really evil and why won’t anyone love her as she commits murder and mayhem with no qualm whatsoever. I really wish this show would understand that making Regina both evil and whiny is not a good thing. Truthfully, making anyone whiny, ever, is not a good thing, but it’s especially annoying when the whiny person is doing heinous things and trying to portray herself as a victim. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if the show weren’t trying to declare that, as well, but, since it is, it makes it doubly worse.

Not fond of the flashback to mind-numbingly-goes-beyond-naive-into-flat-out-stupid Snow White and her “There’s good in Regina, really, there is!” mantra. I think it’s made worse by the fact that the whole “epiphany” she had on seeing that Regina had slaughtered an entire villageful of people didn’t stop Snow from allowing Regina to escape justice when they finally did catch her later on, so she could go on and terrorize and murder more people. I was really hoping we were done flashbacking to Snow White being the dumbest fool in the forest. Alas, it was not to be.

Speaking of fools, I really find it annoying that the show is once again bringing up Emma’s incredibly erratic “superpower of lie-telling” as if it were a real thing. Sure, she’s right in this case, but, considering how many, many, MANY times they have had her be wrong in the past, it just looks silly. I wish they would drop it. If they aren’t going to take it seriously and keep it canon, then drop it. Having it be that it’s some power, when it rarely actually works, is just bad writing.

I do hope it comes out soon that Tamara is a traitor. I’m not fond of her and her schemes, so I’m all for them being revealed. Frankly, she and Greg are lame bad guys. They just feel toothless, despite the fact that Tamara has taken down some magical creatures with her super special Taser and that they have scientifical ways to stop magic. They’re just…boring villains. It’s sad. I can’t even be excited that Regina may finally get her comeuppance at the hands of someone that she wronged because Greg is so banal.

I found myself really disturbed that Regina was protesting and declaring her love for Henry all over the place, while also having no qualms about not only murdering his entire biological family that he loves, but using a magical spell to wipe his memory. I found that last part pretty horrible.

I think the biggest problem that I have with the Regina character isn’t so much what she does – which is pretty horrible – it’s that the show seems to always excuse it and act as if there is some justification for it. If they played up the horror of this twisted love she has for Henry that allows her to tell him she loves him with one breath, while raping his mind with another, it would be one thing. But I have a really hard time with the idea that this show is presenting to me that this love she has for him is pure and will save her. What about him? He’s a child who was raised by a woman who has no problem literally raping his mind with a spell to hide how evil she is. That’s not love or anything admirable that I would want to celebrate on Mother’s Day. The show trying to sell me that it is really disturbs me most about Regina.

And now, Regina’s going to blow up the entire town and murder everyone, so Henry will have no one to love but her. Oy.

This show has always had questionable writing when it comes to some of the characters, but it’s frustrating to see it being highlighted as we build to the climax of season two. First, last week, with the lazy writing for Gold’s character and his motivations, now going back to some of the worst writing issues when it comes to the three lead female characters. I’d really like to see the writers grow past this, but I’m starting to worry that they don’t have the ability to.

Next episode: We find out what happened to Baelfire when he disappeared from Fairytale Land in “Second Star To the Right.”

You can watch “The Evil Queen” on Amazon Instant Video here.

About Heather S. Vina

Heather's been a fan of science fiction since she was five years old and developed a crush on Captain Kirk, while watching reruns of Star Trek: The Original Series. A huge Anglophile, she loves reading and watching (and mocking!) TV, but hasn't figured out a way to make a living doing either, yet. But she lives in hope!

Heather S. VinaColumn: Dark Matter: Review: Once Upon A Time 2.20: The Evil Queen