Once Upon a Time really seemed like it was heading towards retreading the same old tired ground, but it managed to pleasantly surprise, if not completely shock. The Evil Queen was back again, Regina once again had to battle her darker half, and Robin Hood complicated things. Yawn. Hadn’t this been covered this already?
However, it turns out that Once reopened old wounds in order to heal them rather than watch them bleed afresh. We’ve already seen how the Queen allowed heartbreak and hatred to twist her soul, but in the episode Page 23, OUAT allows us to see just how much animosity can distort a person. Regina learned to forgive and love others, even those she saw as her enemies, but she was unable to extend that same kindness to herself, which is why she inadvertently wreaked havoc by believing she could finally be free of her darkness by giving her alter ego a flesh and blood form she believed she could destroy.
As we’ve seen, that didn’t go so well. Loving yourself is hardly a new message, but Once Upon a Time makes a pretty good case for it, showing how hatred can be just as destructive when it’s directed inward. The conclusion may be a bit syrupy, but it can hardly be avoided with a show that makes it not just a point but a mission to embrace sincerity. It was time for the Evil Queen to go, but it was great to see Lana Parrilla gleefully give it her all in a performance reminiscent of the great Disney villains. Not everyone can sell that without being animated.
That said, I wasn’t quite sold on how her and, for that matter, Robin Hood’s storylines got wrapped up. Once tried to depict it as a fresh start for them both, but their so-called new beginnings seem to happen in a place where they have a whole lot of history, most of it bad. Hope they didn’t have to fight off a battalion of soldiers after the camera cut away.
Hook is also struggling with a variation of this, having discovered that he’s the one who killed David’s father. Fearing he could lose the family he’s built (and continue, with Emma having accepted his proposal) he tries to take the easy way out and erase his memory of it. He should’ve realized it wasn’t going to be that easy, as Emma walks in on him and learns the truth, leading her to call off the wedding. This gives Hook the bright idea to ask Captain Nemo if he can leave Storybrooke with him and his crew aboard the Nautilus. But just as Hook comes to his senses, Gideon forcibly sends him on his way so he can better dispatch Emma. Sucks after all the ladies of Storybrooke gushed over a giddy Emma’s engagement ring, but can’t be completely sorry, as the next episode will apparently feature the return of Aladdin and Jasmine. With Gideon left as the only villain, hopefully Once will remember that he has a mother as well as a father.