Monday, March 27, 2017
In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (6x14)
A lot of tonight's episode almost goes without saying. Regina, abused, tortured, and tormented by Cora clung to the one thing that made her feel good--Daniel. When he was taken from her, Regina turned to performing acts of darkness and evil in his name--seeking out vengeance against Snow White--because she not only hated herself for her role in Daniel's death but also the person she became. Over the years, Regina hid her self loathing behind her own narrative of being a victim. If pesky little ten year old Snow White hadn't told a secret, Regina would be happy and in love and her life would be grand. It's a nice narrative but it's failing in one regard: evil isn't born, it's made and everyone had a hand to play in Regina's turn to darkness, not the least of whom was Regina herself. Evil is a choice and she chose to go down that dark path because the darkness felt good; it felt right in the wake of Daniel's loss. Self flagellation can be a powerful tool. When reverse-engineered Cupid's Arrow found its way to Regina's closet mirror, it should have registered hard with Regina that her quest to destroy Snow White was really, all this time, a quest to punish herself for choosing evil when there was always another way. Regina still could have had love in her life be it with little Snow White who needed a step mother or even with Robin Hood had she taken that path and walked into the bar that night. Of course, that was not meant to be and in the end Regina wound up with so much more: Henry, her family, and the residents in the town of Storybrooke, who have stopped screaming and running in terror when she enters the room. But most important of all, Regina has learned to love herself, all of herself, not just the bright happy spots, but those that still belong to the darkness. The show's villains often say that they need to be better people, as if the solution is actually to rid themselves of darkness altogether but Regina is a good example of how this isn't true. It's not about getting rid of the darkness; the way to be a better person, to truly change, is to chose to do the right thing and not give into the temptation darkness offers up; the heavy handed symbolism is right in front of us: Regina takes back some darkness and gives some love to the Evil Queen. Do the right thing, learn to love yourself. So, when you know that you should tell your fiance that you murdered her grandfather, don't--instead--try to destroy the evidence of those memories instead of coming clean. Yes, this was a bash against a certain pirate but it's to prove a point. In a lot of ways, Hook has always been like Regina in that he hates a certain part of himself. Killian Jones, naval officer, was upright, noble, and honorable. When Liam (the first one, not the one Hook abandoned after he killed their father) died, Killian lost all those traits and turned into the opposite of everything he had once been and grew to loathe himself for it. Again, this does not excuse the pirate of all this many countless misdeeds, like killing Robert, but Regina and Hook are a study in contrasts this week. Where Regina has learned to love herself and stops herself from giving into another act of villainy--choosing to share her love with the Evil Queen and take on part of the darkness--Hook chooses the wrong path by ignoring all the advice given from Archie and Captain Nemo. Does Hook need to learn to love himself? Yeah, of course. But he also needs to learn to (quite simply) not do rotten things if he wants to be seen as a hero or even just a good guy.
--Okay, let's get my major criticism out of the way. Yes, major props for vanquishing the Evil Queen through love and self-love at that. However, did this story have to end with the Evil Queen finding romantic love with Robin Hood? Why isn't self love, self forgiveness, and peace enough for right now? The writers constantly put forth the idea that what cures a villain isn't love, but romantic sexual love. It's childish and frankly tedious.
--With that said, Dark OutlawQueen had the chemistry and spark I wish Regular OutlawQueen had had when they met back in Season 3B.
--Somebody might want to point out to Henry that he is sending his mom to a realm where his alter ego is trying to kill the Evil Queen for the murder of Snow White and Prince Charming. Awkward.
--"Couldn’t you use magic to dig this hole?” “I could but where would the fun be in that?”
--Seriously, how do these shears work? They are supposed to separate a person from their destiny, so is the show saying that Regina was always destined to be the Evil Queen because that throws a wrench in my whole analysis. I honestly don’t get this MacGuffin.
--No idea where Gideon is sending Hook but I suspect wherever it is will provide Hook just enough narrative to prove himself to Emma and have himself forgiven.
--I really wish Emma would have some sort of reaction to learning about Hook's murders. Her blase reaction to the body count is really disconcerting. She doesn’t even care about how it affects David, just herself and her relationship with her fiance. Ugh.
--This episode utterly wasted Rose McIver's appearance. It's okay, Liv Moore. You're still my favorite zombie!
--“And now I love myself. And so should you.”