Regina Mills Analysis
by Paige (@MsPaigeNoelle)
Regina Mills is the Mayor of Storybrooke, and has been for as long as anyone can remember. She is tough but fair (the fairest, really), and she rules the town with a firm hand. Regina is a woman who is concealing a dark past and a huge secret, and she hides a broken heart, a deep pain, and a tormented soul behind her smile. She is also the mother of Henry, a son whom she adopted ten years ago. Although in his eyes she is the Evil Queen of fairy tale legend, Regina loves Henry very much, and everything she does is for Henry’s own good; she may be strict, but she just wants what’s best for him. Regina inspires quite a bit of fear in her subjects… err, I mean, residents, and she has ruled the town of Storybrooke unchallenged for 28 years. This all changes when Henry brings Emma Swan – his biological mother – to town. As soon as Emma Swan decides to stay in Storybrooke, Regina’s calm reign as Mayor is thrown off balance, and her entire world is set into motion.
Regina immediately perceives Emma as a threat. Not only is she concerned about Emma taking Henry away from her, but Emma also threatens Regina’s relationship with Graham, the town Sheriff. For the past 28 years, Graham has been Regina’s pet; he has done whatever she’s asked him to do without question, and he has fulfilled and satisfied her every wish and desire. However, once Emma Swan settles down in Storybrooke and becomes the town’s Deputy, Graham’s loyalty to Regina starts to weaken, and he even begins to question and challenge her. When Graham decides to end their relationship, Regina descends into her vault hidden underneath her father’s grave, and we as the audience learn that Henry’s theory about the town of Storybrooke being filled with fairy tale characters who have been cursed by the Evil Queen to forget their past lives may not be as ridiculous as everyone else thinks. We learn that Regina is fully aware of her regal identity, and that Graham is the Huntsman that she sent to kill Snow White. In Fairy Tale Land, when the Queen found out that the Huntsman disobeyed her orders, she ripped his heart out and told him, “If you ever disobey me, if you ever try to run away, all I have to do is squeeze.” Now in Storybrooke, not only has Graham disobeyed and run away from Regina, but he has also begun to remember his fairy tale identity. Because of this, Regina crushes Graham’s heart to dust, killing him. While doing so, Regina has tears in her eyes; she didn’t want to kill Graham, but she had to in order to protect her secret.
Graham is not the only one Emma turned against Regina. When he first hears Emma say her name, Mr. Gold is awakened to his true identity as Rumplestiltskin. Rumplestiltskin is the one who created the curse for Regina – the curse that brought everyone to Storybrooke and made them forget who they are. As part of the deal to enact the curse, Rumplestiltskin tells Regina, “You must do whatever I say, so long as I say, ‘Please.’” Regina and Rumple have always toyed with each other in their constant power struggle, so when Mr. Gold realizes who he really is, he decides to pay Regina a visit to toy with her emotions by bringing up how close Emma and Henry are becoming. When Regina demands Mr. Gold tell her what he knows about Emma Swan, he refuses, and it is here when he utters his first, “Please.” Regina’s eyes flash in recognition, and the question she’s asking herself in her mind is written all over her face: “Does he know??” This comes to a head when Mr. Gold is arrested for assaulting Moe French, the father of his beloved Belle, whom he believes is dead. Regina confronts Mr. Gold in jail, and commands, “Tell me your name.” Mr. Gold pauses, and then replies, “Rumplestiltskin.” Now that everything is out in the open, Mr. Gold believes that because he owns the town, he still has power over Regina. However, for the time being, Regina is actually the one with the upper hand; unbeknownst to Mr. Gold, she has Belle locked up in the hospital’s insane asylum. In Regina’s mind, Mr. Gold is on her side; after all, he created the curse for her, and she tells him, “You and I, we’ve been in this – together – from the start.” However, Mr. Gold goes up against Regina when he helps Emma get elected Sheriff following Graham’s death, giving Emma more authority and influence in the town. As the season progresses, it becomes clear that Mr. Gold will do whatever it takes to ensure his own best interests – even manipulating Her Majesty.
And then there’s Mary Margaret Blanchard – Henry’s teacher and Emma’s roommate, who just also happens to be Regina’s number one enemy: Snow White. Mary Margaret is the one who gives Henry the book of stories that opens his eyes and mind to the reality of fairy tales, and when Regina learns of this book and sees the effect it is having on her son, she immediately takes it away from him. In the Pilot, there is a shot of Regina looking in her mirror after she takes Henry’s book away; for a second, she appears worried, but then her confidence returns. For the past 28 years, Regina has been able to ignore the woman who ruined her life and rule her town in peace, and she sees no reason why that should change. However, once David Nolan (AKA Prince Charming) awakens from his coma and it appears that Mary Margaret’s happy ending is within reach, Regina does everything in her power to keep them apart, including conveniently finding David’s wife, Kathryn; planting fake memories in David’s head; and threatening and intimidating Mary Margaret. But, no matter what Regina does, Mary Margaret and David just keep finding ways to be together. Against her better judgment, Regina strikes a deal with Mr. Gold: she will dismiss his battery charges if he helps her frame Mary Margaret for Kathryn’s murder. However, Mr. Gold does not actually have Kathryn killed, and when she is found frightened but alive behind Granny’s Diner, it appears that all the evidence that was planted will lead right back to Regina. Thank goodness Regina has the devoted, lovesick Sidney Glass, whom she convinces to admit to kidnapping Kathryn, discounting any apparent blame that could be placed on her. Regina makes one final attempt to keep Mary Margaret and David apparent by seducing David. Out of everyone in Storybrooke (besides Henry), Regina has shown the most care and concern for David. They have built a pretty decent friendship, but when she tries to take their relationship to the next level by leaning in for a kiss, David pulls away. Regina apologizes and says she “got caught up in a moment,” but when David leaves, Regina takes a look at herself in the mirror, and she despises what she sees. Even though her mother’s voice saying, “Love is weakness, Regina” is always in the back of her mind, she still wants love in her life; she wants so desperately to be loved by others, and she hates herself for that, because no one accepts her love, and no one loves her back in return. Regina is so angry and heartbroken that she throws her wine glass at her mirror, shattering it and distorting her image, much like the way people perceive Regina herself.
With each passing episode, Emma becomes more and more determined to get custody of Henry. Not only that, but the longer Emma stays in Storybrooke, the more the curse begins to weaken. After Regina has a nightmare about Emma tying her to her own rotted apple tree and killing her with Prince Charming’s sword, she decides to get rid of Emma once and for all. With the help of her old friend Jefferson and his magical hat, Regina is able to retrieve something from her fairy tale past: the infamous poisoned apple. Regina uses the same apple that she used on Snow – Emma’s mother – to bake an apple turnover that she then gives to Emma. However, Henry realizes Regina’s plan, and he sacrifices himself and eats the turnover before Emma does. After Henry passes out, Emma finally lets herself believe in magic. Emma confronts Regina and forces her to admit that everything Henry said is true: she is the Evil Queen of fairy tale legend, and everyone in Storybrooke really is a fairy tale character. With their son’s life on the line, Regina and Emma team up to save Henry. When Henry appears to be dead and all hope seems lost, Emma gives Henry a kiss on the forehead. This turns out to be True Love’s Kiss, and it not only awakens Henry, but it also breaks the curse. Everyone in Storybrooke now knows who they really are, and they all know Regina is the one to blame for the past 28 years of their cursed lives. When Mother Superior (AKA the Blue Fairy) tells Regina that she should find a place to hide, Regina does not immediately run away. Instead, she goes to Henry’s hospital bed, looks at her son with tear-filled eyes, and tells him, “No matter what you think, no matter what anyone tells you, I DO love you.” These are the last words we hear from Regina in Season 1, and it is one of the most significant quotes of the entire season.
There is a brilliant yet heartbreaking parallel between our first and last images of Regina Mills in Season 1. When we first see Madam Mayor in the Pilot, she cries tears of joy with her son in her arms after he is returned to her. One of our last images of Regina in the season finale is of her crying into Henry’s pillow after she’s lost him. Not only has Regina lost her son, but she has also lost her upper hand against Rumplestiltskin: Jefferson has released Belle from the insane asylum, and when the beauty is reunited with the beast, she tells him that Regina had her locked up. Regina started the season as the confident Mayor of Storybrooke; she was the only one who knew the truth, and she had the upper hand on everyone. Now, it appears that Regina has lost everything… that is, until Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin unleashes magic in Storybrooke. The very last image of Regina in Season 1 is of her smirking as the purple clouds of magic consume the town. Even though the whole town is against her, with magic, Regina can regain her power, get her son back, and destroy Mr. Gold. Whether or not she will be successful in these endeavors remains to be seen, but with the return of her magic, Regina now has the most important thing anyone can have: hope.
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