Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Once Upon a Time Season 2, Episode 20: The Evil Queen

  Tamara and Gregg have Hook tied up (and he still hasn’t mussed his eye-liner) and tell him the wonderful news that Rumplestiltskin is still alive! Isn’t that nice? They have a deal for him – he help them find Gregg’s father and they help him kill Gold.

Fairyland flashback” Regina is searching for Snow White who has gone into hiding, but arrives too late. She has her soldiers gather up everyone in town to tell them what a bad person Snow is and how she will stop her. It’s not the most convincing argument. No villager speaks up and she orders them to be slaughtered.

In Storybrooke Mary Magaret and David discuss going back to the Enchanted forest and the trouble with Regina – Henry won’t want to go without her (Mary Margaret even acknowledges Regina’s motherhood! Shock of shocks!) but they don’t want to give her more chances. David comes up with a choice – Regina stays behind or she comes and lives the rest of her life in Rumplestiltskin’s old cell. Overhearing, Regina is not a fan of this plan.

Back to fairyland where Regina demands Rumplestiltskin tell her why she’s so unpopular – he points out that slaughtering entire villages doesn’t exactly win hearts and minds. Regina protests that she’s not evil – Snow is evil! She’s spreading nasty rumours! He tells her to settle for them fearing her, they’ll never love her. Once Snow white is dead they’ll see Regina’s kindness… uh-huh “through the charred remains of their homes” Rumplestiltskin adds.

Regina wants a shapeshifting spell, unable to cast it herself and not having the time to learn, she gets Rumple to cast it – though she can’t use magic while under its influence. The price? Cutting off trade with King George to impoverish his kingdom. Regina agrees.

Real world, Regina goes to see Henry and shows him the magic beans and tells him that Emma, Mary Margaret and David have been keeping secrets from him.  And that they all want to go to the Enchanted Forest without her. Henry suggests they intend to bring her and haven’t told her yet but Regina says they only see the Evil Queen – which they made her. She wants to go back and start over – as the hero. And how is she going to achieve this? Well she uses her Curse failsafe that will remove the curse as if it never happened! And destroy Storybrooke and kill everyone in it.

Henry isn’t a fan of this plan. She protests that if she slaughters everyone it will be just them 2 and he’s bound to see her as good then! Henry describes her as a villain which shocks and appals her and she alters his memory so he won’t try and stop her.

Back in fairyland and the disguised Regina is shocked to discover that the populace don’t like her very much and are even burning her in effigy! Guards run in and suspect Regina is the one behind the effigy burning and they run her in. Regina somehow forgetting both that she’s in disguise and that she can’t use magic – because they just removed her brain this episode

Back to Storybrooke and Hook approaches Regina telling her all about Gregg and Tamara’s plans and wanting to join Regina on side. Regina decides to let him in on the escaping to Fairyland while reducing Storybrooke to rubble plan – which will also kill Gold.

At Granny’s Diner Emma runs into Tamara – literally – and knocks everything out of her hands. She helps pick it all up and notices Tamara has a list of many prominent people in Storybrooke – and their fairy tale aliases.  Emma worries about the town’s secret but Tamara assures her she can trust her. To Emma – who always hears a lie. Emma rushes to Mary Margaret and tells her that she thinks Tamara is the woman August warned them about. Mary Margaret tells her not to jump to conclusions because there could be a rational explanation for this… somehow. And wants Emma to be careful since she may give Henry the idea that Neal and Emma are going to get together again.

All of this is moot because when Mary Margaret leaves, henry pops up from where he’s been eavesdropping, preparing to investigate Tamara

Hook and Regina go to Regina’s vault – and we have a fairlyland flashback of Regina being dragged to execution by her own guards before she’s rescued… by Snow White (her pre-lettuce days) – in the vault Hook considers whether their mutual quests for revenge are why no-one likes them and how, once they have revenge, his life will be empty. Isn’t that… a little convolutedly self-aware? Does anyone really think like that? Why is he dumping all of this clumsy exposition? Of course Regina has Henry since the last thing anyone can accuse this week’s Regina of being is self-aware. Also she claims back the leather bracelet Cora gave hook to help him climb the beanstalk.

They arrive in the cave which is guarded by Regina’s old friends. The same cave Emma went in – and killed the dragon way back in season 1. She plans to use Hook as a distraction/lunch for Maleficient – who is no longer a dragon but a strange screeching undead thing of half decent CGI. He slices her with his hook and she just gets bigger – drawing on dust and dirt to increase in size. While they’re distracted, Regina breaks the glass coffin she has stored there to find the gem hidden inside it.

Back to fairyland where the disguised Regina is cared for by Snow White in the woods, she has a fever and will be down for a couple of days. Regina is surprised by Snow’s woodcraft skills and questions why Snow would help a complete stranger and put her life at risk. Snow tells her how she was inspired by a woman who risked her life to save her from a runaway horse (which is, of course, Regina) and how you can be such a wonderful, selfless person.

Back to Storybrooke with Henry and Emma having a fun stakeout to spy on Tamara and Emma discussing whether Henry wants to go the Enchanted Forest. Emma’s questions mean Henry makes a leap to magic beans and that there is a way back – and is excited at the idea of him, Emma and Neal all in a castle. Emma tries to put the brakes on that, but then Tamara leaves. Henry pushes for Emma and Neal to get back together once Tamara is proved “evil”. He stands watch while Emma searches Tamara’s room. But Neal shows up and recognises Henry’s warning signal because he taught it to Emma.

Neal isn’t impressed and doesn’t believe there’s anything wrong with Tamara, and adds that he helped her make the list so she could be more acclimatised to Storybrooke. They search the hidden floorboard just in case, but find nothing.

Back to fairyland with Snow and Regina moving on from the camp to avoid patrols and, just in case, Snow gives Regina a sword and tells her to stay behind her. But Regina’s conscience bothers her and she asks Snow about, well, herself. Snow talks about the pain she thought Regina was in and how she wanted revenge more than love and she thinks there is good inside the queen – she’s just afraid to look vulnerable.

It’s a touching moment until they come across a huge pile of bodies of people who helped Snow White. Regina is shocked at how far her guards went (WHY? She ordered them to KILL A VILLAGE?! How is this not what she expected?!) and Snow melts in tears because they died because of her. This break Snow and she decides, actually, it is too late for Regina if she’d do this. Regina protests about saving her on the horse and Snow realises it’s Regina in disguise. Of course Regina forgets she can’t use magic (AGAIN) and ends up running.

Back to Storybrooke and Regina emerges from her vault to find Hook has survived – and Tamara and Gregg join him. It seems they have a way against magic – an anti-magic tool that cancels Regina’s power.

Back to Emma and henry and Henry has fully invested in proving Tamara evil and going back to the Enchanted Forets

Leeroy, Mary Margaret and David check on their bean crop – and find it has all been burned. All the beans have been stolen.

Back to fairyland where Regina demands from Rumplestiltskin why he didn’t come when she called. He points out he said she could call but he didn’t promise to answer. Rimplestiltskin wants to play “I told you so” and Regina accepts that people will never love her. And for that she will punish them and she embraces the name of Evil Queen.

Back to Storybrooke – the leather cuff Regina is wearing that she got from Hook has been rigged with anti-magic technology which Gregg apparently developed and while she’s wearing it, she can’t use magic. And she’s now their prisoner.

Regina’s history just became awfully spotty. If she has committed massacre upon massacre then why wasn’t this mentioned more in the arguments against rehabilitating her in the past? I smell a little bit of a… readjustment of the story to make Regina’s role of The Most Evil of them All more solid. Especially the idea that she would stomp to Rumplestiltskin and say “I’ve been slaughtering them and they’re still not loyal!?” Seriously, Regina is not so mind numbingly stupid as to think “the beatings will continue until morale improves” is actual sound advice. “I’m not evil I just slaughter who villages, it’s all Snow White’s fault…” seriously? No. This is ridiculous. “I’m going to reverse the curse and kill the whole town but I’m sure you’ll sign off on this Henry.” No. This is ridiculous.  Did Regina develop a severe crack habit that we all missed? There is no way that the woman who saw Henry willing to blow up the well with dynamite to stop magic would think Henry was going to agree to this it’s ludicrous. She’s have been far better off saying “Mary Margaret and David intend to put me in a cage, forever” and playing on his sympathy.

It’s character breaking. It’s bemusing. It’s a complete retcon. It’s a hot mess. Even aside from issues of motherhood or the redemption of Regina vs Gold, the WOC villain vs the white man villain, this is just blatantly awful writing.

I do like the little hints of Rumplestiltskin’s master plan. By impoverishing King George, he forces him to make a pact with Mithras, which means tapping David as a Prince to kill the dragon which leads to Snow and David being involved which, in turn, leads to Regina’s downfall and using the curse.

On Henry being excited about the Enchanted forest. Both he and Emma are the product of the 20th and 21st century west. More, he has been raised with immense wealth. He has access to electricity, indoor plumbing, hot water on demand, chocolate, television, computer games, easily produced ice cream in a thousand flavours (which he is eating), in fact all the variety and easily available food he will be used to. He has cars and an array of printed books and a gazillion billion trillion uberzillion more things he will miss in a medieval setting