Flashback opening – back to Regina in her Storybrooke days, pursuing her eternal quest against Snow White while an increasingly sad and even slightly desperate father who continually tries to take her off the path of vengeance and to find happiness
Especially since Tinkerbell shows up to again remind Regina that she had a chance to go for True Love and failed. Look I’ve said before how much we hate that particular storyline. How Regina is shamed and blamed for her own lack of happiness because she wasn’t willing to jump into a romance with a complete stranger. Especially when we consider how much more pain that whole romance has brought Regina. (or, for that matter, that her whole path to the darkside began because her true love died on her. You want to blame Regina for being reluctant to enter a romance?) Add in that Once Upon a Time is really pushing that romance needs true love. So, yes, someone slap Tinkerbell upside the head.
Anyway, daddy dearest has got on this train and tries to get her to use cupid’s arrow to track down the person she loves most in the world thinking this will lead her to Robin. Actually, no daddy, it will lead to you. Which will be the laziest use of magic ever. At this stage she hasn’t met Robin and knows precisely one thing about him –he has a tattoo. The idea that he is already her true love is really bizarre even if Regina has a huge thing for guys with ink
Not being into this game, Regina instead corrupts the arrow to make it lead her to who she hates most in the world – and it leads her tooooooooo a mirror.
Yes, Regina loathes/d herself more than anything, loathed what she became, loathed who she was. And oh isn’t that painful
To the present and EQ is running around doing her evil, promising Henry (who still thinks she’s redeemable) that she’s going to do more dark and evil and terrible things because evil. She has grabbed the shears of fate snipping, intending to use them to break the bond between her and Regina and therefore free herself to kill her. And she’s going to use kidnapped Robin to bait the trap.
And even Robin realises EQ needs a fresh start and saving from herself. Not that she’s ready to hear that.
Despite knowing it’s a trap, Regina walks into it – there’s a snipping of fate and the fight is on. Sadly it’s more swords than magic, c’mon CGI department, Regina vs Evil Queen should not be a sword fight!!
More than the fight itself is the nice way they exposition their emotional conflict while still fitting naturally: with Evil Queen pouring scorn on how Regina has “filled the hole inside her” (recognising, in the foundation of that self loathing, that there is a hole inside her) with love and family while Regina is equally determined that they’re real and powerful and have changed her.
And then Regina wins the upper hand… and doesn’t kill Evil Queen. The EQ spits “I hate you” but Regina doesn’t hate her/herself… not any more. She has found love, redemption, family, she has been redeemed, she isn’t that self-loathing person any more. And because she loves not hates she’s going to not kill the EQ
I admit I cringed and thought she had been infected by Snow White’s sappiness!
Instead she removes not only EQ’s heart – but her own. She pushes them together, taking some of EQ’s darkness and giving the EQ some of her love – filling that hole, sealing the self-loathing, letting her feel what she does and becoming redeemable.
“I you part of me. I love myself. And so should you.”
They talk – about Robin not being her happily ever after and how she doesn’t even regret not going to him when Tinkerbell showed her because if that was the case she wouldn’t have Henry or the family she has now. Robin isn’t her happily ever after, the life she’s leading here is. And the EQ is redeemable – because Regina is redeemed – and the EQ is Regina
Ok, yes, I’ll run with this. I’ll run with this more than Regina finding her true love in many ways – though I want a moratorium on Regina pain. I’ll run with this because Regina loving herself, because Regina finally ending up loving herself, embracing her redemption, and accepting her past rather than trying to excise it is a wonderful conclusion to this. This is the ultimate path for Regina – no more wallowing in guilt, no more suffering, no more “I’m a villain so don’t deserve happy endings”
The rest of the gang is a little suspicious, but EQ makes nice to Snow White and they magically whisk the EQ away to a different realm – the realm fake!Robin has been shipped to – so they can probably forget a HEA there.
Y’know, I’d have preferred a “we don’t know where she’s gone but I know she’s on a better path” mystery than “ha even she’s going to get a love interest, unlike Regina”.
So time to catch up with Killian who is full of angst and sharing this with Nemo who points out that Killian needs to deal with his guilt – either by telling Emma and hoping for her forgiveness or by learning to forgive himself
He does neither and instead tries to burn his memory away in one of the magical Dream Catchers – and is seen by Emma doing so. Emma also sees the memory
Emma isn’t furious with Killian for what he did – I mean, she does know who Killian was. She knows his past. Knows he has changed. Knows he loves her and knows he is working very hard to be a better person. I’m less inclined since I don’t think Killian has had near the arduous redemption train that Regina has nor do I think love is inherently redemptive – but he HAS proven to the Charmings that he is a better person (so it’s his actual victims at least, who we’d be looking to for redemption)
Emma has no doubt that David and Snow would forgive him and, honestly, nor do I because that’s them. But it’s less about that for Killian and his own guilt – whether he could endure living so close to his victims and not be completely overwhelmed by it. Self-loathing, not fear of rejection
In some ways this could be a third part of our redemption posts: when self loathing and guilt in itself can be an over the top barrier and how part of it is, again, very self-indulgent (see also Stefan from the Vampire Diaries)
Emma is angry that he didn’t come to her with this – he doesn’t know how to deal with it: the answer is to come to her and let her support her, to trust her and work through it with her. Him not doing so is both an item of secrecy (and, yes, I’m not generally in the “you’re a couple share everything camp”, but Emma has a definite point here) and a failure to act as a couple
She gives him back his engagement ring until he’s ready to commit to what it actually means. Again, I’m impressed by how this was handled – not with high drama but with a lot of feeling
Killian is all ready to run off to see with Nemo on the Nautilis to find himself when Snow White arrives and recaps him on Regina and the Evil Queen. Killian realises that the Evil Queen (even more than Regina) just got her Happily ever After. Despite the refrain being that villains can never get that – he realises if she can be redeemed and accepted as redeemed then he certainly can. He runs to tell the good news to Nemo and that he’s not coming
And then Gideon screws it all up by sending the nautilus out to sea