Queen Regina: Evil Isn’t Born, It’s Made
by Marissa (@ShortNdSweet15)
As Evil Regals, we know it is biased for us to say that Regina is without a doubt the most fascinating character we have ever seen. But no matter where your loyalties lie, we believe it is safe to say that Regina is surely one of the most dynamic and most beautifully complicated characters of this show. Throughout Season 1, we as an audience were able to unravel the many layers of Regina through countless flashbacks back to FairyTale Land, and we quickly learned that she is so much more than just a jealous royal consumed by vanity. She is a woman with her own story, her own hopes and secrets, and her own pain. Despite the larger than life persona that has always been associated with the legendary Evil Queen, it is her very human moments that forever change who she is, and who she becomes.
(1) Stable Boy. “The Stable Boy” introduced us for the first time to a young and innocent Regina, before the crown, and before the curse. Moments into the episode we learn that Regina’s life has been far from easy, as we are also introduced to her mother, Cora. Cora takes every opportunity to belittle, condescend, and humiliate Regina, and it’s clear that Regina has never received the love and protection that a daughter should have from her mother. All Regina has ever wanted is to just be herself, and she’s told by the one person who is supposed to love her unconditionally, that she’s not good enough. Regina has also been subjected to endless physical abuse, and as we see in Stable Boy, Cora has used magic to bully Regina into submission. The expression on Regina’s face when she states “I’ll be good” when her mother has her bound in the air, a face of such pain and vulnerability, is unlike anything we have ever seen before from our powerful and confident Queen. The only light in her life is Daniel: her love, her hope, and her escape from the despair and loneliness that has defined her life. He allows her to be everything that her mother is not. Daniel is her saving grace and her only source of warmth and love. For her entire life she has been the victim of dark magic . But the love she and Daniel share proves to her that true love is the most powerful magic of all, and that anything in this world is possible…and not only can she have her own happy ending , she deserves it. Then suddenly, it all gets ripped away from her, and Regina is forced to watch as her mother rips out Daniel’s heart. Daniel had been her sanctuary, the promise of a life away from Cora and emotional and physical abuse. He was the one thing that convinced her that her mother was wrong about everything: that love, friendship and happiness does exist. But this defining moment in Regina’s life changed everything, and Cora is able to successfully corrupt Regina’s mind and lure her into darkness. Everything that Regina believed, everything that she cared about, is now destroyed. Her happy ending gone. And now with nobody left to save her and show her the light.
(2) Snow White. Regina’s relationship with Snow White is arguably one of the most tragic of the series so far. Within seconds of them meeting, you could tell these women share a special bond, and it’s heartbreaking to see how a relationship that started out full of such love and promise would turn into a broken relationship fueled by pain, anger, and revenge. It’s clear Regina has not had many friends (if any) while growing up, and besides Daniel, Snow is the first one to come into Regina’s life and offer her compassion and a genuine smile. Regina immediately becomes a mother figure for Snow, offering her words of wisdom and hope. It’s amazing to see how everything Snow learned about true love she learned from the none other than the Evil Queen herself. When Snow encounters Regina with Daniel, and promises to keep what she saw a secret, Regina truly believes that she has a true friend and ally. After Cora kills Daniel, Regina soon discovers that Snow had told her mother about her secret. When Regina turns away from Snow in disbelief, everything about her face changes. Her eyes first full of disbelief, and then anger, turn cold – and we can see right then and there her transformation into the Evil Queen she would soon become. She had been betrayed by the one person she had trusted with her deepest secret, and her faith in the goodness of people is immediately shattered. She realizes everything her mother ever told her was right…love, in any form, is weakness, and it will always betray us in the end. Snow had promised to not say anything to her mother about Daniel, and she had lied, and in Regina’s mind, had acted on her own selfish needs so that Regina would have to marry King Leopold. Regina’s life from that moment is consumed by her desire for revenge against the young princess. Her hatred for the girl who took away her happy ending only grows with intensity. And it all leads to arguably the most iconic moment in Fairy Tales, Snow White eating the poison apple.
(3) The Curse/Killing Her Father. As we learn in “The Return”, the ability to enact the Dark Curse would require great sacrifice, and it becomes clear why Rumpelstiltskin creates the curse for Regina, for she is the most desperate of souls, determined to do whatever it takes to destroy Snow White. Regina’s only concern is revenge which she is convinced will ensure her happiness, and if that means bringing devastation to all, then so be it. She is even willing to cut the heart out of the thing she loves most. As we see throughout Season 1, Regina cares very much for her father, but he has never been the man she most desperately needed. As we see in Stable Boy , Henry Sr. merely watches as Cora abuses their own daughter and does nothing to shield Regina from the torture she is constantly forced to endure. Regina has never known the nurturing of a mother, nor the protection of a father. Yet he still has a firm place in her heart, and for the first time she feels conflicted in her quest to defeat Snow White. But it is not enough, for despite pleading from Henry, and warnings from an old friend, she succumbs to evil and rips out his heart. After watching season one in its entirety, it’s clear that it is in this moment where we see just how far into darkness Regina has fallen, how easily she now uses the dark magic she so feared and despised years ago, and that the young girl we see 16 episodes later seems to be all but lost.
As we see throughout Season One, Queen Regina is a strong, bold and powerful woman full of confidence. But hidden behind her outward confidence is her desperation to conceal a private pain and vulnerability, as well as a heartbreaking past that never truly leaves her, no matter how hard she tries. We see it when Hansel and Gretel’s father states how family always finds one another, as she thinks of the loving family she never had. We see it for a moment when she stares at the Huntsman’s heart she has just ripped out, just as her mother tore out the heart of her true love. When she is about to abandon Jefferson in Wonderland who pleads to let him return to Grace for tea as promised, she thinks of the broken promise Snow made to her all those years ago. The pain and hurt she feels over her past defines everything she does, and now her magic is all that she has, the only part of her life she has ever been able to control. It is this magic that she uses as a shield to combat any feelings of regret or sadness from rising to the surface It is also this need for magic that fuels the intense power struggle we see between the Queen and Rumpelstiltskin, a rivalry that will continue in our world. We will undoubtedly see more of their complicated history in season 2.
As she hugs her father for the final time, she states with tear filled eyes that she just wants to be happy. At the end of Stable Boy, Cora stands over Regina and a deceased Daniel, ensuring her daughter that THIS is her happy ending. In a brilliant parallel, a triumphant Queen Regina stands over Snow White, now believing (or at least desperate to believe) those words to be true. Happiness is all that Regina has ever wanted, and life has taught her that the only way for one to achieve it is power. And it is her anger that fuels this power. This is the last time we see Regina before the curse hits. It will be very interesting to see what Season 2 will reveal, and what other events in Regina’s life before Storybrooke will reveal about our beautifully complicated sovereign.
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